Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Simple Dinner on a Lonely Night

If there is anything you will learn about me (and fast), it is that not only do I love to cook and bake, but I truly love to eat. I know I am not alone in that sentiment! Eating is one of life's most pleasurable experiences, one that is often deeply connected to our emotions, memories, and cultural backgrounds. It links generations and is, in my mind, one of the foundations of family life. So many of my happiest memories throughout my life center around the kitchen and table - there is nothing like a plate of delicious, fragrant food in the company of those you love!

Sometimes, however - and more frequently, unfortunately, in these nonstop busy days of ours - many of us find ourselves alone at dinnertime. Lately I find myself alone more often as my husband has recently started a job which requires him to be from home at mealtime more often than not. I miss him, and I tend to make a special effort over dinners when he will be home simply because one of my favorite ways to show I care is through a lovingly prepared meal. I do think there is something to the idea that food can nourish the soul, too!

I have to admit, though, that there can be special charms in being alone at dinnertime. Often I jump on this chance to eat something only I like, such as pasta carbonara (the dear boy cannot bear undercooked eggs - he is missing out!), beef tartar, or cream of wheat with parmesan cheese. There can be real pleasure in making something simple and soul-satisfying and having a quiet evening all to oneself. Tonight was just such a night for me, and I made one of my very favorite things: lima beans with butter, rosemary, and salt.

I know it sounds crazy - you're probably thinking to yourself, "That's a side dish! What kind of dinner is that?" Well, what can I say? I'm a girl who loves her veggies! And truly, I am VERY omniverous (no one will ever accuse me of being picky or squeamish), but I find that when I eat vegetables by themselves, I taste them in a whole different way. A big bowl of limas, steaming and fragrant with piney rosemary and coated gently in buttery goodness, is a joy to eat. The little jade beans are creamy and somehow manage to be earthy and fresh at the same time. When I close my eyes, the taste they leave in my mouth puts me in mind of warm, green fields drenched in golden sunlight. On a cold winter evening, they are warming and wholesome, and utterly perfect.

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