When I was a kid, my family did not eat out all that much. Special occasions, sure, the occasional Friday or Saturday, okay, but for the most part my mom cooked, every single night. Meat, starch, vegetable, glass of milk. (Well, my brother and I had to drink milk. It was a rule, a whole glass. I don’t drink milk now, like, ever. But I think it was good that I did back then.) Fast forward to me at eighteen, in my first new apartment. Did I cook? Hardly ever. I lived with my friend Kelly, who could make a fab dinner out of Stovetop stuffing, blackeyed peas and cornbread, although I was not equally inspired. Frozen pizza I could handle, pasta with a jar of sauce on occasion. My boyfriend (now husband) used to whip up one of those Lipton rice packs (broccoli cheese was a favorite) put some on a plate and then, if he felt fancy, toss a slice of American cheese on top. Good eating, it was.
We used to eat out a lot, when we actually lived near restaurants. In fact, since I worked at a restaurant—where I got a free meal with every shift—I pretty much ate out constantly, because it wasn’t like I wanted to cook the few nights I was home. Once I quit waitressing though, and then moved out to the country, things changed. They had to. So now, I plan meals. Every week. I sit down with my list, pull out my messy stack of recipes, and try to brainstorm. And I am SO SICK OF IT.
I remember when I was a kid my mom would occasionally go off on a rant about cooking. One time, she actually sat down and calculated how many meals she had cooked, approximately, since she and my dad got married. It was some insane number, in the tens of thousands, and I remember thinking, “Well, then, just don’t do it.” As if. Now I know that cooking dinner is required. And I actually DO feel better when I make a healthy meal for us, with a vegetable. But it just gets so old, which is why I have now had to institute total meal cheats, like Veggie Burger Night and Frozen Pizza But It’s Okay Because It’s Amy’s Organic Night. Lately, I’ve had actual pangs of longing, remembering my friends in New York who can order ANYTHING to come RIGHT TO THEIR DOOR, fully prepared. The closest we get to this is when my neighbor David, the best cook I know, pops over with something fantastic for us. But it’s not like I can count on that. I wish.
I have actual fantasies about what it would be like to live in town again, say, walking distance to Whole Foods. Can you even imagine? Just popping over to the hot bar, then back to plop down in front of your TV, all within minutes? I cannot. The truth is, I love living out here. The benefits are massive: huge starry sky, lots of space, cows, great neighbors who feed us, room for the dogs to run, and on and on. But just ONCE, I’d like to be able to order a pizza. Or some Kung Pao chicken. As it is, tonight, around 5pm, I’ll pull out my ground turkey, my taco seasoning, some greens, and whip up some tacos and a salad. Not delivered to my door, and there will be dishes to do. But it’s a fair trade, I guess. And it’s better than rice garnished with cheese. Right?