I call it the tyranny of the six-o’clock meal. It’s usually late afternoon and I’m deep into whatever project I’ve finally gotten to after blowing through the day’s dull tasks. Be it drafting an article, piecing a quilt, doing research, or playing the piano, I must stop and cook an entire meal. I want to take that walk everyone says someone my age should do daily, but no, my stove calls. I want to hire a chef!
Time was, I would have made a quick trip to a fast-food joint, throw some lettuce and tomatoes together, and ring the dinner bell. But no, I’ve seen the light, the light that shines on vegetables, whole grains, and non-processed food. In other words, more time in the kitchen than I want.
After making several bean burgers (in an hour), I thought, I could have fried up a few hamburgers and in less than a quarter of the time I’ve been messing with these beans. I know, it’s healthier. It takes time to cook with real food and not food- like substances. No getting around it. Trust me, I tried.
Like most fans of whole food, plant based dining, the meat and potatoes bunch in our homes want no part of our creations, so we end up cooking two meals, when I didn’t even want to cook one. I want a chef!
To disarm that six-o’clock tyrant, I tried batch cooking. Now batch cooking works if you can spare the lion’s share of one day to pre-cook or pre-prepare for every meal you plan to eat that week.
I brought my laptop to the kitchen, turned up the volume, and listened/watched every video I’d been meaning to get to, all the while chopping, peeling, sauteing, bagging, and freezing. It did not take long for me to dislike batch cooking day as much as that six-o’clock dinner. I want a chef!
So I got one — kind of. Organic, vegan, prepared home delivered meals to the rescue. The first company I tried led me to ask, “What kind of horrible cook was your mother, that you would think this tastes good?” Surely, there’s got to be one company out there whose chef has functioning taste buds.
Not ready to surrender my hard won couple of hours, I moved on to another company. This one’s food was tasty, vegan, and organic. I loved the heat- and- eat aspect of it, but I soon grew tired of the limited menu. And the items that were to die for, like ice cream made without dairy, tasted delicious because of the 22 grams of fat and 20 grams of sugar in a serving. I want a chef!
Over time, I learned to make some of my home-made go-to recipes quickly, sprinkle in the prepared meals when short on time, and occasionally bite the bullet with my more involved favorites — in large enough quantity to freeze half.
Still, when for some reason I eat a typical standard American meal, I find it’s not as enjoyable as I thought, and my Brussels Sprouts aren’t so bad after all.
But I still want a chef.