What’s for dinner? My mystery meals


These days, I just never know what’s going to end up on my plate for the evening.

With recently having to acclimate to feeding two people over a week’s time, my former two-meal plan which I usually prepared on Sundays no longer carries me through the week. With little time during the week for either of us to take a meaningful trip to the supermarket, we’re often left having to get a little creative in the kitchen and cook on the fly when supplies run low. Since we are not a pre-fab food type of couple, it can make things difficult in our busy lives that we have to find time to prepare something. Yet we both find it a sexy challenge to root through the cupboards to come up with something rivaling a gourmet restaurant meal.

As a character on the TV show Six Feet Under once said, “Cooking is alchemy!”

So tonight was one of those lean nights. After work, a 10-minute shopping spree and $20 later, I was on the way home tonight with only a couple of items to throw in a frying pan for dinner with nothing else in the fridge worth mentioning. Or so I thought. At this point, I still only had the vaguest idea of what this concoction would be. I knew it would be some version of a stir fry over some brown rice noodles I’d had sitting in the cupboard for awhile. Stir fry’s, particularly, have become our best friend. They are quick, easy, and we’ve found that just about anything works when cooked together and thrown over rice, quinoa, or noodles.

To start off with, I cut up a white onion and let it fry in the pan with a generous portion of low sodium soy sauce and a good dash of vegetable stock. I washed a carton of pre-cut mushrooms and stirred to steam cook with the onions. Hmm. Still looked empty. And rather unappealing, not to mention tasteless. The mouth-feel likewise would have been atrocious.

So, back to the fridge.

There were all manners of odds and ends. Hmm. Half a zucchini? Why not. Leftover yellow squash? Sure! A dash of turmeric. A bouquet of cilantro. Chopped up leftovers of a red bell pepper. The last few leaves of a bunch of kale from last week. A not so subtle sprinkle of garlic powder.

Aahhh. Getting there. Smelled quite intriguing.

Ah well, I was hungry, and the rice noodles were waiting. I took the pan off the stove, ready to serve. That was until I stumbled over the package of soyrizo (vegan chorizo, or spicy sausage) laying on the counter. I had bought it specifically as the star of the show and had forgotten all about it! I had seen it so many times at the market, so tonight I gave in to the urge to give it a go.

Snip snip of the plastic casing. I squeezed the pulpy innards into the pan, and stirred until everything was piping hot again. Hmm, what else was missing? I rummaged through the spice cupboard. A container of black sesame seeds winked at me. A good few shakes went into the pan, and stirred.

DinnerAh. Dinner yet? I poured the cooked concoction over the noodles. I then sat down to one of the best impromptu meals I’ve ever made. I even managed to make three meals out of the mixture to carry us through the next couple of very busy days. I had slapped together a creation that I had completely made up as I went along. Something I’ve learned to excel in.

Why is it the greatest things we make or do are usually done by the seat of our pants? Best part of tonight’s dinner is, it was completely vegan, organic, and gluten-free (well, except for the soy sauce). It was colorful, tasty, bright, and I would definitely make again!

By the way, it was the first time I’d ever had brown rice noodles. L.O.V.E. I could almost give up pasta completely with this stuff! I am still a pasta junkie trying to dry out my addiction, though.

And thus it goes, these days, as my companion and I forage through our pantry and fridge in lean, pre-market spree times to generate something to keep us fed between work, class, and sleep. And we never disappoint each other. What’s in your mystery meals? Ever had one become an instant favorite?

Bon apetit, friends!

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