There is a feeling of relief today from both wife and husband regarding an evening of entertaining that has instead become a quiet evening at home. A call yesterday reminded both the caller and me that I had made – and promptly forgot – a two-week old invitation to dinner for young man and his date to our home Friday – tonight.
With both of us leaving our jobs late – the holiday Tuesday made a three-day workweek somewhat longer, over breakfast we had a improvised some strategic planning: a grocery run, expedited house cleaning, and games and such to make a welcoming evening. A call from our prospective guest asked us to reschedule. Date night – even ones that were to be had at our home – would be less hurried when the date – and the hosts have some time to prepare.
But the menus that I have enjoyed since our youngest left home, and we became Empty Nesters, is the thing that my wife has made quite encouraging – when she has time to prepare. I have, unashamedly, taken a liking to my spouse’s insomnia which tends to express itself now in cooking. Whether inspired by the Food Network or recipes shared on Facebook, we tend to have tasty lunches and dinners all week long. For the last six months, on weekends we make a “date” shopping for organic vegetables and fruit, and to COSTCO for meat or poultry. In the evenings, – as long as I remember to buy propane – I will barbecue the meat that makes up that week’s menu.
Mango salsa, sweet potato, braised chicken, beef stew, and so on were never part of my diet when I ate at military chow halls. Even when I became a Chief Petty Officer, and the food improved from chow identified by the day of the week, rather than taste or aroma, I never knew about mango salsa. And as a parent, when you have teenagers living at home, burritos and big pots of food that could be flavored to taste – were the norm. And when kids hurry out the door at mealtime or promise to eat later, food I might have secreted away in the fridge for myself – were usually gone before morning.
But when you aren’t cooking for an army, we can experiment with some of the things that we otherwise might have gone to a restaurant. Home cooking, when you can tip the chef with a smooch or a little convivial time — is better than anything.