At the end of the week, I’ll be 27. Honestly, I don’t have much apprehension about getting older. Maybe it’s because I’ve always felt, to some degree, that I’m older than I am. Don’t you worry: I don’t always act that way. At all. I don’t always think that way. And certainly, I am often reminded in one way or another, that I’m still in my mid… oh, crap… my latter-20’s.
The older I get, the more open to meal flexibility I find myself. And flexibility in general, which is neat for someone who has slight control issues. Or often finds herself in need of plans, schedules, an idea of what’s going on between the time she gets up and goes to bed. Perhaps it has to do with keeping up with busy kid-schedules, or keeping up with so many family schedules in general. I like preparing elaborate meals, but when it comes down to it, I actually like the times where I find myself scoping out the fridge and pantry, trying to piece together dinner for two, or three, or four, avoiding the grocery store and more money spent, at all costs.
Now that summer is approaching, we’ve got curly endive growing faster than I can pick and a bin full of baby romaine and leaf lettuces that also need constant picking. It’s heavenly. Paired with various fresh herbs sprouting all over the garden and yard, last minute meals seem to have more flexibility, too.
So. The last couple of weeks, our food co-op has been placing Henry & Lisa’s Wild Alaskan Teriyaki Burgers on sale from nearly $7 to 99 cents. We have bought many boxes. Then inhabit the majority of our freezer. Right next to the Ben and Jerry’s, sweet corn, and frozen berries intended for smoothies (not all three for smoothies; just the berries!). Upon first taste, I decided these were disappointing, just because I expected teriyaki flavored burgers. Instead, they were just salmon-y. Good, but just plain fishy. No real punch, kick, flavor. What to do with these burgers, then?
One of the keys to last minute meals, thrown-together dinners, or adaptations of recipes you want to attempt but don’t want to make a special trip to the grocery store for, includes having good basic staples on hand. Some of the key ingredients I like in my pantry and fridge, or this time of year, the garden, include:
fresh basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, parsley, marjoram, dill
whole nutmeg, vanilla beans, and dried peppers
dried beans (including black, pinto, red kidney, and cannellini)
long-grain brown and white rice
vegetable and No-Chicken stock
canned tomatoes (preferably fire-roasted)
dried cumin, red chili flakes, turmeric, sea salt, coriander, and sage
fresh garlic and onions
tofu and/or tempeh
pastas of various types
tamari or soy sauce
vegan Worcestershire sauce
AND! One of my favorite items to have on hand, either in the fridge or as backup in the pantry, is Soy Vay’s Veri Veri Teriyaki Sauce. It is veri-veri-good. Good as a marinade, as a topping, on its own, or mixed in another homemade sauce.
Tonight’s dinner was simple: greens pulled from the garden tossed with sundried tomatoes, along with pan-seared teriyaki salmon patties, first browned lightly with sunflower oil, salt, and pepper, then lightly coated with veri veri teriyaki, cooked until the sauce slightly caramelized onto the fish, and finished off with sharp cheddar cheese. It was quick, easy, and surprisingly good. Really, last minute meals are only limited to two things: ingredients at hand and your imagination. My method: dive in, have fun, let go of everything but the desire to make something tasty.