When I was little, it was a rare, nearly unheard of thing for us to go to a restaurant, even if it were the big McDonald’s on the edge of Columbia, after we had a day trip to the orthodontist or such. We begged and pleaded of course, but Dad would always say that we were going to have dinner at the Crosses Restaurant… and never, never did we order something in for the family to have for supper. First of all, in the 60s in South Carolina, I don’t know of a restaurant that delivered, especially on the air base where we lived.
No, we had basic food, like hot dogs and macaroni and cheese, or sometimes we would make pizzas from the Chef-Boy-Ar-Dee box, which involved taking the little packet of yeast and dissolving it in warm water, and then stirring in the flour and letting it set and rise. It was actually pretty complicated when compared with sticking something in the microwave and zapping it for a few minutes. That was what the Jetsons did on TV, way into the future. But Mom was a good cook, and knew how to cook for the masses, and so, besides navy bean soup, which is the bane of all human existence, we ate pretty well, and even had Chinese food now and then – Chung King Chow Mein, which I expect if it were examined today, would consist of 30% salt, and 20% MSG, and something that was supposed to look like Chinese noodles, and tiny chunks of chicken. We gobbled it up like we were living in the Orient. Oh, and almost as rarely as stopping at McDonald’s, we would be treated to a Swanson TV dinner, with my favorite being the chicken, which consisted of a small nugget of meat (probably chicken of some sort) and 10 ounces of deep fried breading, along with corn, mashed potatoes and the obligatory tiny bit of cobbler for dessert. Those were the days, my friend…
But it was all home cooking of one level or another. And so I come to you today to confess that I have really dropped the ball, dinner-wise, over the last couple of weeks. Whether it was the whole time occupied with funeral and such, or I’ve just had no motivation to go shopping at the grocery store, it seems that almost every evening, we have succumbed to the lazy gene, and instead of cooking, we have ordered in from one of the three restaurant delivery services here in town. Granted, there is a wide variety of places you can order from, from German to Chinese to sandwiches to Mexican and more. The trouble is – it costs a lot of money. A few months ago, I decided to buy a big load of snow crab legs for a fancy dinner. I realized, in buying crab, that it cost about $20 less than ordering some stuff from a yucky restaurant that may or may not come to us even lukewarm.
I got busy yesterday trying to clean up and carefully stow away the hundreds of pounds of depression glass that has become ours, that I just forgot – once again – to go to the store and buy something for supper that everyone would eat. Now, of course, both the freezer compartment of the refrigerator, and the entire freezer in the garage is filled with any number of food possibilities, but all that gets ignored about 4:30 in the afternoon. Instead, we once again ordered in from a sandwich place, spent too much, and ended up truly unimpressed with the meal.
So, this morning, I am once again recommitted to actually going and buying a set of delicious meals to feed the family all week. You see, I have always been the cook of the family, and now, in my retirement life, it’s even more so. I just need to get on the stick and make it happen.
The challenge in all this is that the ability to get four adults to agree on what to have for dinner, with all their different tastes, is daunting, to say the least. I mean, I have frozen walleye in the freezer – perhaps the tastiest fish known to humans – but a significant percentage of the family simply does not want to have it, at any cost. Crab, yes – walleye, no. Instead, what happens is the inhabitants of the lower level go online and find all sorts of recipes for meals. These recipes usually require the purchase of an entirely different set of spices – to be used once – and ingredients that cost more than ordering in. On top of that, the recipe is normally broken down into a simply 500 steps, which include parboiling, mincing, creating sauces, but not making it too spicy, or another member of the house will just have toast and cheese for supper, which is not good for her on a regular diet.
I’m a simple guy. Let’s make hamburgers. Let’s have spaghetti. Let’s fry or grill chicken. Tacos? Sloppy Joes? French toast? These are all great menu options, but depending on which way the wind blows, it becomes a fool’s errand to try to slip that meal choice through. It’s kind of like when in elementary school, they tried to serve Mexi-corn – taking wonderful, delicious corn, sent straight from God, and mixing it with green and red peppers, which totally destroys the flavor of the corn. The lunch ladies would have saved time just by mixing it up and throwing it directly in the big plastic food dumpster…
But, like all significant work that happens in the world, we’ll try something anyway. Maybe tonight we will have large size turkey pot pies. I might be able to slip that through – it’s been a while, I think.
I just have to then think of what to have tomorrow night, and the night after…
I know this is all rather trivial, when faced with what millions of folks in the world face each day – not what to have for supper, but whether there is anything to have at all. I’ll try to keep that in mind, as we move through the week. Perhaps start first with a word of gratitude to God for the incredible abundance around us, of all sorts and forms. Perhaps we can begin to create every meal as a word of thanks, and live more simply and more open to what comes to us. There’s a great approach to life, don’t you think?
So long as there are no lima beans. We all have our limits…
Word for the day: lustrum. Pronounced very simply as LUSS-trum. It comes from the Roman term, which today means “every five years.” However, the word carries much deeper and more profound meaning that just the ticking of time. The Latin, luere, means “to wash, or to make bright.” In the Roman era, every five years a census would be taken across the entire Roman Empire. Tied with that, after the census was completed, the leaders of Rome would lead the entire empire through a ceremonial purification ceremony – sort of as a way to start over, and they used the census as the marking point, instead of just publishing the fact that there was this much increase or this much decrease in the population.
We humans are used to ritual to mark the passing of time – so, after five years…
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.