I was preparing dinner as I do many nights. Last night was pesto glazed salmon and garlic-marinaded skirt steak with sauteed spinach, garlic bread, and a spicy salad. Thanks to Marion Zinn, my mother-in-law, I have the best marinade for the steak. She was a wonderful hostess and served many delicious dishes. Conversely, my mother would get anxious when hosting guests. Nonetheless she deserves a shout out as an excellent baker. All three of my siblings and I have fond memories of annual birthday cakes baked from scratch, stored on a glass cake plate with an aluminum cake dome. I used to cook and bake regularly, but as life’s responsibilities expanded, my domestic duties dwindled.
Sometimes, though, I want to have a home cooked meal. I shopped at the farmer’s market gathering some ingredients for dinner, and foraged the refrigerator for the rest. Even as I began the prep work, I remained hopeful for a nice dinner. Inevitably, by early evening, I was forgetting one thing or another, and my hope slipped to a tepid aspiration for a good enough meal. Perhaps it’s this feeling along with my full schedule that diminishes my fondness for cooking these days.
I realized, which might mean I’m late to the game, that planning, and subsequently serving, dinner is a process that mimics the complications of caring for oneself and perhaps others. First there’s the consideration of taste. What do I like? What does Larry like? Are there foods that appeal to us as the same time? If not, what variations do I make? Will I challenge myself with a new recipe or will I rely on the tried and true? Not only does flavor matter, but so does nutrition. I’m not a stickler that every meal meets the daily requirements of a balanced meal plan. However, I do like to have a variety of tastes, textures and basic health guidelines met.
Now and again meals are more fly by night, others are indulgences, and more often meals are simple and easy to put together after jam-packed days. I always enjoy good food. I’m flexible in that I truly enjoy an array of possibilities from vegan to Omakase, and so much in-between. I prefer local and organic, but I also shop at Trader Joe’s appreciative of their vast and changing selections. One thing is for sure, I prefer choices, as I do in so many parts of my life.
In getting dinner together, last night and previously, I’ve noticed the range of feelings I experience. I start out hopeful, I have moments of frustration, periods I feel relaxed and trusting, and times I get annoyed, wishing I was being served rather than doing the serving. And I challenge myself to get through the feelings of anxiousness closer to putting the meal on the table. All in all, it replicates the processes I go through in other areas of my life, which include the original idea, the thought process and the execution. So much stuffed into a quotidian endeavor.
- Recipe for Marion’s marinade: ¼ cup olive oil, just less than ¼ cup cider vinegar, 3 Tablespoons or more of soy sauce, ¼ cup honey, lots and lots of chopped garlic, ½ teaspoon grated ginger (can use fresh, jarred or dry ginger if that’s what you have) Enjoy!
- Take an everyday activity and break it down, checking in to see the array of feelings you have throughout the process. Can you insert kindness and care when it feels uncomfortable? Are you able to go with it when it feels pleasant? If so, acknowledge yourself. If not, see if you can make room for whatever comes us.
- Chapstick. It’s a great way to get through the winter. Choose from a host of aromas, flavors, textures and ingredients. Find the one that’s good for you.