We’ve been busy as heck lately. Since my transition from underemployment to overemployment it’s not uncommon for me to work until 9 pm. DPaul’s back pain and mobility issues are a continued drain on his time and energy. I still go to tai chi on Tuesdays but haven’t been to the gym in weeks. And we do still have a rather full social life to maintain. So what gets sacrificed? Unfortunately, our food situation suffers in such times.
When we’re crazy busy like this, it’s easy to switch into food-as-sustenance mode, ultimately resulting in some less than stellar decisions: A little more delivery pizza and Indian than is wise; subjecting ourselves to completely substandard sushi at Hamano just because it’s close; slap-dash meals made from whatever nuts and berries we can find in the encrusted corners of the fridge. I’m not happy about it.
Mind you, it’s not all bad. We did have a lovely dinner with friends last night. We’ve had a yen for risotto lately, and it’s definitely a more-the-merrier kind of dish. So we kicked things off with a simple caprese salad of heirloom tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and what will probably end up being the last of the basil from our window boxes. (I am determined to kill the stuff, clearly, as I end up forgetting to water it for days at a stretch. But it’s going all woody and is evidently near the end of its natural lifespan.) Some lavender salt, a crack of pepper and a drizzle of McEvoy EVOO made it very nice indeed.
We stuck to a basic cheese risotto made with light chicken stock, but I cooked some romano beans alongside to add a little green. Simplicity sometimes is best. Besides, we deliberately made more than we intended to serve. Do you get where we’re going with this?
Alas, we didn’t have the time or energy to make dessert from scratch, but that’s OK because we live very close indeed to Noe Valley Bakery. For those not in the know, NVB sells ready-to-bake cookie dough, as well as a few other treats, in the freezer case. It’s wonderfully convenient, except for one thing: They sell it in two large wads, wrapped in plastic and shoved into a plastic bin. I would so rather they actually portion the dough and sell them as frozen balls of sweet yumminess. But ultimately it’s not hard to chunk it up and lay out on a Silpat.
All this, and we got home literally a matter of minutes before our guests arrived. There’s a lesson in this that I seem to need to teach myself again and again. It is possible to eat well even under duress. I just need to get my head out of the sand. With a little advance planning, thoughtful prepping and the inclusion of acceptable shortcuts, we shouldn’t have to sacrifice anything at all.