A little over three years ago, pre-blog and pre-food obsession, I used to be like most twenty-somethings. I made grilled cheese sandwiches with pre-sliced provolone and cans of Amy’s chunky tomato soup for dinner. I used Knorr’s dry pesto mix to make sauce for whole wheat tortellini from the grocer’s refrigerated section. I’d even eat frozen Gardenburgers on slices of whole wheat bread with regularity.
While my convenience dinners make me shudder now, back then I was perfectly happy to eat like a regular person. Bored, yes, but content with cutting as many corners as possible so I could, well, eat dinner as quickly as possible.
Today, I don’t have a single can of soup nor package of dried sauce in my cupboards, and most of my dinners are the opposite of convenient. I whip up soup from scratch, spread goat cheese over roasted veggies for gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, and make my own pesto and veggie burgers. It often means that I will spend over an hour in the kitchen every night for a meal that I eat in fifteen minutes.
Now that I’ve developed some semblance of skills in the kitchen, I feel a certain pressure to use them – to do above and beyond what is necessary for an ordinary week night. This pressure is especially acute when I’m cooking for other people. I can’t just serve a guest cheese and crackers for an appetizer; I have to make risotto cakes. I can’t just prepare an entrée for a dinner party; I have to have broccoli soup, roasted vegetables and Skor bar cake with banana creme fraiche, as well!
This past Friday evening, I was unexpectedly charged with the task of creating some sort of edible appetizer from a refrigerator/freezer that was in dire need of replenishment. I found half a package of frozen edamame in the freezer and originally planned on just serving that. Mid-way through the boiling process, however, the nagging voice that frowns whenever I reach for Tribe hummus at the grocery store started to assault my conscience.
“You can do better than that, Diana.”
While the voice isn’t necessarily right about the hummus (it can actually be cheaper to buy it than to make it), I knew the voice was right about my lackluster attempt at a snack.
So I began chopping up a large clove of garlic, and then whisked together 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 teaspoon sesame oil and 1 teaspoon maple syrup in an effort to recreate the addictive garlic edamame at Bar Hayama.
After the edamame was finished cooking (approximately 5 minutes), I toasted the garlic in some olive oil, and then added the edamame and soy sesame sauce. I stir-fried everything together until the green pods were well-coated and then served in a fancy white bowl. While the appetizer required a liberal supply of napkins to eat, the humble soy beans were transformed from mundane to special with just a few extra steps.
Do I miss the days when there was no nagging voice telling me that my frozen pizza would be so much better if I add roasted garlic, mushrooms and roasted red peppers to it? And that I really should be making my pizza from scratch anyway?
But not enough to go back to eating Gardenburgers.