As a writer and an editor, stuck at a computer all day , I check recipes online the way that some people take cigarette breaks. I jot down the ones that look good and, if they still sound appetizing later, add the ingredients to a shopping list tucked inside the dictionary.
Growing up, a typical meal was hamburger gravy on toast and a “company” meal was roast beef with pan potatoes. Food shopping was a Friday night ritual. The family cashed the weekly paycheck, went out to eat, then stopped off at one of two grocery stores to fill a cart – two carts for holidays.
I still like a nice hamburger gravy, but I am also enthralled with the options I now have for where to shop, what to buy, and which cuisine to try. The cheeses at Mint are way better than those old cheese logs. The farmers’ market of my childhood was at the side of a dusty road and open only in summer and fall. These days, harvests are trucked into my community center all year long.
But workdays are longer than they were for my parents; so even though I like playing around in the kitchen, the time allotted for meal prep is less than ideal, even on the weekends. It helps that I live in a place where my family can walk to the restaurants of Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown.
I once had the opportunity to follow a chef-in-training around the kitchens at the Culinary Institute of America for a story. That’s when I knew for sure that the artistry that goes into a first-class meal is not in my skills repertoire. As a cook, I’m just a happy wannabee. But . . . I am “expert” at enjoying a great meal, and I like to write, which is why the opportunity to blog for Restaurant Week feels like a memory in the making. Time to call in those reservations.