Sunday, March 4, 2012

Simplify, Simplify!

Recently, while preparing dinner for my brood I got to thinking. Back in the day, although my mom put on quite an elaborate spread for holidays and Sunday dinners, the rest of the time she didn’t fuss too much. A salad consisted of iceberg lettuce and a slice of tomato. Peas and other veggies either came straight from my uncle’s farm or from a frozen package. Her seafood repertoire was basically one of two things: frozen fish sticks or cod baked in milk. Either way: yuck. As for the rest, it was pretty much meat and potatoes.
            Fast forward to my own kitchen many years later where I insist upon organic vegetables, breads, and meats (for the carnivores, of which I am not one), and an absurd number of ingredients and choices. For instance, just tonight I made lemon chicken and brown rice for the “kids.” For me (and hubby who eats both entrees), cabbage sautéed with mustard seeds, cayenne, and turmeric, roasted beets and sweet potatoes, steamed broccoli, and a salad that contained spinach, romaine lettuce, kalamata and green olives, tomatoes, carrots, dill, and feta along with a homemade fresh lemon/olive oil/black pepper dressing. Hello??
            Now, don’t get me wrong: I love to cook. But something is fuzzy about this picture. Why did my Mom have it easier than I do when it comes to cooking? Is it because of my self-imposed restrictions? Is it because I was so bored to tears with our white-bread diet as a child that I’ll never settle for that kind of food again? Is it because we like to complicate matters in our already complicated lives?
             A little of all of the above, I think.  As I surveyed the mountain of dishes and pots and pans that must be washed after my nightly culinary performance, it occurred to me that maybe, just maybe it wouldn’t kill me to make a salad with just say, two or three components. Or to serve one veggie main dish and not worry about the carnivores. Or to not think that every meal must be done up to the max instead of to the minimum.
            And…I can’t resist asking… what about the rest of life? Do we have to go hogwild with everything? Must we always choose the less simple route with all the bells,whistles, knobs, codes and breakable parts? Why, just the other day I had to call customer service, waste a half hour on the phone and follow the steps to return my handheld reading device to its factory settings because it had conked out.
Remember the days when we just had to turn a page? And what ever happened to bread and water?

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