A former room mate of mine had a book titled “What to Eat When there’s Nothing in the House for Dinner” (or something similarly labeled). We were in college then, subsisting on a stipend from our parents and the pittance netted from various part-time jobs (copy editing at the University of Maryland’s daily for me, serving up plate-fuls of organic cafe cuisine for her). Somehow we managed to do quite well on very little — perhaps in part because of her deep discount at the local organic market where she worked, or the lack of variety in our diet (I don’t remember an over-abundance of salads). We were creative, and did make the most of what we had –or didn’t.
Things are different now. I have a job that pays more than $8/hour, and access to a wonderful farmers market. I pick up extra vegetables or bananas at the organic market up the street from my apartment; they are, on average, of superior quality, if a bit expensive. I save pasta dinners for when I’m fairly worn out and inspiration has fled — they are no longer a requisite part of my weekly menu when I have so many other options.
But this week, the larder is a bit more bare than usual. I was away for five days, and will be out of town again this weekend, so I have refrained from buying too many delicacies. My (new) refrigerator is questionable, and I am loathe to stock up in case it fails and I lose everything. So I was reminded of my friend’s cookbook last night when I thought about what to make for lunch. I didn’t have much, and I wanted it to be fairly healthy. I made some quinoa of dubious quality, added some frozen corn, and a cut up block of tofu. It’s not ambitious, but I hope it will be edible and filling (it’s certainly protein-rich).
What do you make when you don’t have much in the pantry?