It’s something about the way they made food just happen for us back in the day that always stands out. They didn’t have so many convenience foods and they didn’t have the kind of delivery options we do. When my kids used to complain that we didn’t have food in our house, only ingredients, this is what they meant. They wanted a frozen pizza, not flour, tomatoes, and cheese.
Back in quarantine was one of the first times we all had to really sit and think about dinner. There was no sit down at a restaurant, some drive-thru places were closed, just a completely different lifestyle. We had to pull a meal together out of whatever odds and ends and staples you might have on hand. Cooking like that isn’t really about recipes – it’s more like a game. Check out Sheri’s, from Bob & Sheri, basic formula for whipping up dinner – out of things you might already have, and things that cost very little.
As long as you have:
- an onion
- garlic (fresh or powdered – these are extreme times so let’s not be stuck up)
- olive oil
- a box of pasta OR a bag of rice OR a bag of grits
- canned tuna OR canned clams OR canned chicken OR frozen shrimp
- OPTIONAL: a bag of frozen broccoli or frozen spinach – you get the idea
- OPTIONAL: a squeeze of lemon, a splash of white wine or chicken broth
Cook pasta/rice/grits according to directions. If pasta, save a cup of cooking water. If rice or grits, add an extra half cup of water and when it comes to a boil, skim that extra half cup of water right off the top and set aside. Melt a couple tablespoons of butter and an equal amount of olive oil in a pan over low heat. Saute onion till slightly translucent and tender. Toss in minced garlic (or powdered – I’d go with a heaping teaspoon), stir for another minute or two. Add in your protein of choice and sauté till heated through. (Note: if using frozen shrimp, thaw, clean, and shell before adding to pan – and cook till shrimp are pink.) Remove your protein from pan,; set aside and keep warm. Add a half cup of wine or broth if available. (If not, now is when you use that starchy water you set aside!) Add a couple more tablespoons of butter and another splash of olive oil. And bring to a boil. Add cooked pasta and protein to the pan, and remove from heat. Give it all a wicked good stir and a squeeze of lemon if you have it, maybe a sprinkling of parmesan cheese if it’s around and boom.. Dinner!
It’s not gourmet, it’s not the Food Network, and it’s definitely not fancy but it’s fast, easy, cheap, and available. If you have some other pantry cooking ideas, share with us on socials! Fun cooking!