07 February 2010

Waste Not, Want Not

I have cable TV for two reasons. First, it makes my internet cheaper. Second, I do enjoy the Food Network. One of my favorite shows is Chopped. The basic premise is to give 4 chefs/cooks a basket of odd ingredients and see if they can make something edible out of the miscellany within 20 minutes.

Sometimes they freak out and pull an “I can’t WORK with this!” routine. When this happens I cuss the wuss out via my television and tell them to rinse the sand out of their bikini bottoms.

My kids and I have been living at varying degrees of single-parent poverty for a really long time. The mortgage has never been late but there have been many a night when the pantry contained the barest of ingredients and it was the dregs or hunger. We learned to adapt and be creative out of necessity.

After a while, it became almost a game for my oldest kid. I often challenge her. “Chopper, we have garbanzo beans, curry powder, strawberry jam and one dried out portabella mushroom. Can we squeeze dinner out of that?” More often than not, she scoffs and calls me a “weeney” for my lack of vision. In 10 minutes she can make something out of almost nothing that will feed a party of six and does a pretty fine job of it.

Hopefully, I’ve armed them a life skill and an appreciation for (on a good week) fine ingredients and (on a bad one) ingredients at all. My mom’s basic grocery list included eggs, cheese and bread. We always had those things and I learned to use them in a hundred combinations. I’ve passed along to Chopper and Runt a relatively constant supply of jasmine rice, butter and coconut milk. Different list but same philosophy.

To date, none of us have starved to death.