Those who know me well have heard me say, “I’m never bored,” and yet I worry my life appears boring. My life is as predictable as the sunrise, especially in the culinary department. Bob and I get up, make the bed, and sip coffee and cocoa at our desks, before wandering down the well-worn paths of our day. I drive to work three days a week, and divide my time at home between yardwork, desk, and kitchen.
My fourteen or so hours in the kitchen yield a rotating menu of our favorite dishes. We used to be gourmets, were never foodies, and have settled in the middle with extraordinarily simple, down-home comfort food. Of late, Bob’s been pulling potatoes out of the garden at a furious rate, so there are plenty of potato meals. You can tell we came from Irish stock! We’re eating new potatoes with sour cream and garden chives, potato salad, oven fries, scalloped or mashed potatoes and fried potatoes in our Saturday night burritos. When people drop by they leave with a bag of potatoes. German Butterball, Yukon Gold, Colorado Rose, Rose Apple Finn, French Fingerling, Red Thumb – yum!
Shelley and I swap tomatoes for potatoes. There’s nothing better than a slice of home-grown heirloom on toast with lots of mayonnaise after my Sunday morning walk with Shelley. Last week she put up a half a bushel of her tomatoes sauce and gifted us a couple of jars with one of her Delicata squash. I went right home and put eggplant parmesan with roasted squash on the menu for Tuesday. The next week she gave me cucumbers which I turned into tangy refrigerator pickles. On Thursday’s Bob returns from farmer’s market with eggplant, sweet corn, cucumbers, and squash. Most of our other neighbors aren’t keen on potatoes. “No thanks,” they say, eyes rolling, “We’ve got plenty of potatoes.”
On Sunday I plan the upcoming week’s menu on a dry erase board. Lately, I don’t have to do much erasing or writing. We may as well have cheezburgers with potato salad on Monday again this week. Ditto for new potatoes and sauerkraut on Thursday (did I mention that Bob makes delicious sauerkraut using cabbages from Granite Springs Farm) chick’n sandwiches and sweet corn on Friday, Saturday burritos with fried potatoes, and potatoes again on Sunday.
We bake all our bread and meat analogs: veggeroni, ribs, veggie burgers, breaded seitan cutlets. Whenever possible we buy this season’s dried legumes for black bean soup, Greek butter beans, chili, garbanzo Brunswick stew, baked beans, and cassoulet. These are nice served with a crisp salad and corn tortilla quesadillas. We doll up our salad with homemade croutons and pickled beets, refrigerator pickles, tomatoes, and homemade balsamic vinaigrette.
I love the instant gratification of the kitchen and will often go there rather than my desk. A few years ago I started listening to audiobooks while I cook which made it even more addictive. Hunger Games, Game of Thrones, The Evanovich “One for the Money” series, “Gone With the Wind, War and Peace, Gone Girl, Poisonwood Bible, and Go Set a Watchman. I get them from the library or stream them off Youtube. Next up, one of my very favorite reads, 100 Years of Solitude.
As if this weren’t enough fun, Bob set up a projector and screen in our living room so we can watch part of a movie or TV series while we eat dinner. We found Downtown Abbey especially enjoyable, and are addicted to House of Cards. Loved Stranger than Fiction, Whatever Works, Sweet Bean, Zootopia, and Sully. Between Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Youtube, we are seldom at a loss for something good to watch. “Dinner and a movie with my best friend, again!” Bob predictability exclaims.
This is predictability by design. We two old folks have spent years fine-tuning recipes and rituals that bump our quality of life into the “no comparison” zone. No matter what challenges our day presents, we close with a stellar meal, and this time of year it usually involves potatoes. Call it boring, I call it delicious!