Copyright 2003 Linda Marcas - All Rights Reserved
Salsa is a Vegetable
After nearly eight years of marriage, I've suddenly found myself home
alone for a few weeks, because hubby has run off to join the Russian circus.
No, really, he's working for Your Favorite Band, the Red Elvises, as stage
manager, lighting guy, and all-around-roadie, galloping all around the
country on their spring tour. You can see where he is on any given day by
checking the tour dates at the band's website, www.redelvises.com. I've
stayed home to tend the cats and the Hell Hound, and have been getting
daily reports from hubby and various RE fans and friends along the way.
While he's gone, I've been falling into my old, "single" eating habits.
I seldom used to cook real meals for myself years ago; if I felt like
making bean soup, I'd usually have a party so my friends could help me eat
it. Instead, I lived on snacks and nuke food; an English muffin here, a
microwave burrito there. I'd nibble a chunk of cheese now and then; for a
while, I had a thing for Velveeta cubes with a dab of horseradish. If all else
failed, I'd make some toast.
For the past week or so, I've been working my way through the
"orphans" in the freezer, those odd pot pies and nukeable soups, rice bowls,
stray burger patties, and other things that I never threw away, but also never
cooked, because there wasn't enough for two people. If I didn't have to go to
the store for pet food, I could probably survive until mid-summer on all the
frozen and canned odds-n-ends of stuff around here, espescially if I grabbed
some sour cream, butter, and bread at the carryout.
I have no idea how long I'd had the can of sauerkraut that I added to
the frozen giant hot dogs of questionable vintage that I sliced, fried, and ate
last week; the inner plastic coating hadn't disintegrated yet, but it was
starting to show signs of failure. On the other hand, I don't think it's possible
for sauerkraut to go bad. There are a couple cans of corn chowder in the
pantry that have practically sent down roots; I might thaw a couple frozen
ham hocks and experiment with those next week, if I feel ambitious.
Mostly, though, I go for instant gratification, those things that take
less than fifteen minutes to prepare. I have many packets of Sapporo
Ichiban, which is the original, better form of Ramen noodle soup; cook one
and drop in a couple of stirred-up eggs while it's still boiling, and you have a
filling meal in a jiffy. And, ever since I was a kid, I've had a soft spot for
Kraft Mac-N-Cheese; one box makes a meal and a small snack (unless I'm
really hungry) and a few splashes of hot sauce make it more interesting.
I couldn't make these "meals" for dinner while hubby was home,
because of his "meat receptors," as he calls them. If we had mac-n-cheese,
we had fried smoked sausage alongside it; if we had soup, we needed a
meaty sandwich, too. Don't get me wrong, he's not a die-hard "meat and
potatoes" kind of guy, but he does like a bit of meat with his supper. It
needn't be much; I could slice three leftover bratwurst into a big pot of pasta
and sauce, and he'd be happy to eat it for a couple nights. But meals with no
meat, whatsoever, just don't fly with him.
I, on the other hand, while no vegetarian, can skip meat for more than
24 hous with no sense of deprivation. Reverting to my Hungarian roots, last
night I cooked a pound of egg noodles and drowned them in a quarter pound
of butter that I had melted and browned to just shy of burning, because I
know that the special flavor of this dish lies in those little brown specks. I
dished myself a bowl, then topped it with a generous dollop of sour cream.
This is the quintessential comfort food of my childhood, even though we
used to use cottage cheese instead of sour cream back then. For beakfast this
morning, I fried some leftover noodles just like you'd fry hash browns, until
I had a crispy starch mat, and, of course, I topped that with just a dab of sour
Don't be horrified; if one really thinks about it, there really isn't much
difference between a bowl of Rice Krispies for breakfast and a bowl of
leftover Rice-A-Roni, except that one is sweet and the other is salty.
Noodles are basically the same as puffed wheat, and what difference is there,
really, between cheesy nachos and corn flakes with milk? A grain, a dairy,
and salt or sugar as your fancy takes you.
Speaking of nachos, I think I'll make some for supper, since hubby is
in Texas tonight. I know my "singular" diet is heavy on starches and fats,
but it's probably no worse than that of most folks who hit Mickey D's three
times a week. I'll try to even things out by adding a lot of salsa to the
nachos; just like the ketchup in school cafeterias, when we're counting food
groups, salsa is a vegetable.
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