Tuesday night I had a bowl of cereal, a handful of radishes and a bottle of Summer Shandy for dinner. Wednesday, I ate chicken from a can. Literally. I stood over the sink and forked it up right out of the can.
After nearly 30 years of sit-down family dinners, I asked myself, “Is this what an empty nest tastes like?”
If so, I kind of like it.
I’m still all about the family meals; I still love to cook and I still crave those lingering conversations that happen around a big messy table full of people I love.
But, I’ve answered, “What’s for dinner?” easily eight thousand times in my life.
Sometimes, I made the answer up. In fact, when they were younger, my kids’ favorite meal was “Spaghetti People.” I threw it together one night for my own amusement and because I really didn’t want to run to the store. “Spaghetti People” is just a plate of plain pasta, with fresh vegetables arranged in a face on top — broccoli hair, tomato mouths, carrot eyes. I let them sprinkle their own parmesan cheese over it and they thought it was, like, totally cool. Rad. Boss.
I tried not to laugh when they requested it. Another empty pantry, lazy cook dinner they loved was baked potatoes. I let them stuff them with whatever we had (and sometimes that broccoli was as tired and uninterested as its cook), but they scarfed it up.
For other meals, I really leaned it. I stuffed chickens, braised beef, roasted vegetables, and baked roasts. We ate tacos, carnitas, stir fry, meat loaf, beef tips, fried chicken, and every kind of soup imaginable.
When my kids come home, I really look forward to cooking for them again. And, I know what you’re thinking, I’ll be cooking some tasty two-person meals during the year as well, and so will my husband Vince.
But, in the meantime, on a hot summer night, when I’ve had a long day, sometimes there’s nothing better for dinner than a hunk of cheese, a glass of wine, some pita chips, and a couple of grape tomatoes. Ahhhh.