Thursday, June 14, 2007

Confessions of Althea

A few years ago, I read in a favorite cooking magazine an article written by a guy who decided to not shop for food for a week, that he was going to prepare meals only from what he already had in the house. By the end of the week, he had made a meal out of a few cans of vegetables and maple syrup. It was a creative endeavor, and he even included recipes. Some meals he admitted were pretty dismal, and some exceeded his expectations.

I am a little proficient at just opening up a door in my kitchen and making up recipes on the spot. Last Sunday, we had a few friends over on a spontaneous dinner invitation on Den's part, and I didn't know about it until noon. Den offered to pick up some ribs and corn at the store. Hmmm...we have a stand alone freezer downstairs in the basement and a pantry pretty much loaded. No need for that. I told him that he doesn't have to worry about running to the store. Due to various chores around the house, the yard sale disorganization and a full morning at church I didn't start dinner until a half hour before our friends came, I was not sure where to begin, either.

I pulled a package of shrimp out of the freezer, planning to defrost it for a salad. Randy, our houseguest for the week, came walking through the door and I remembered that he was allergic to shellfish. Not good hospitality to kill off your guest. I had to think of something else, the rest of our company were on their way.

I dug salmon out of the freezer and defrosted it. I found summer squash and zucchini in our fridge, as well as vidalia onions and cilantro. There was a lone lemon hanging around with a couple of limes I planned to use for iced tea, so I used it for dinner instead. Getting heavy foil, I made dinner packets for the grill with the fish, layered with veggies, cilantro, salt and pepper and the citrus fruit. Paired with a spinach salad with leftover tuscan bean salad I bought from the farmer's market, and Kalamata olives over the top, dinner was great.

So, inspired by this adventure in cooking, I decided to make an inventory of all the food in the house and plan to cook with it until all of it is used. This includes a leg of lamb, buffalo burgers, venison, a bag of chicken quarters, hot dog buns, rigatoni, the hugest can of tuna you could ever imagine and several cans of V-8 juice. I will shop for some staples, like bread and milk. But most of my meals will be made at home with food I have stored already.

For tonight, I thawed out italian turkey sausage. I'm thinking of using it in some kind of pasta dish, with swiss chard and some carrots from my veggie drawer in the fridge. Perhaps invite someone over for dinner to critique my work.

From the previous yard sale and generally thinking about stewardship, I am convicted of wastefulness in my choices. From an irrational reason along the way, I have started to hoard. I don't think it is a deliberate choice, but a reaction to a sense of insecurity. Maybe because of job instability with Den's changes of direction over the last two years, a whole lot of doctor bills because of my health, and just general costs of living going up. Whatever the case, I need to put my heart right with God and look to Him instead of falling back on my freezer and a well stocked pantry. That would be obedience. The other option would be sin.

"Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and delight yourself in abundance." Isaiah 55:2

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