Beginner's Heart


via wikipedia

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Last night’s dinner was brought to you by some obscure soup company. Canned clam chowder, w/ the addition of cracked pepper & white corn. YUM! Served w/ water crackers, & a side of tabbouleh I made a couple of days ago. What my grandmother used to call ‘fixed’ food, compared to ‘cooked’ food.

When you cook, you end up w/ things like roast, or a casserole, or stuff that comes from ‘real’ ingredients. But when you ‘fix dinner,’ you throw things together: a can of clam chowder, the sweet corn. Gussy it up w/ the fancy crackers, the cracked pepper. There’s gelato for dessert, too, which makes it all seem a bit more…polished. 🙂

I actually LIKE many canned soups, although certainly what I ‘cook’ is better than what I ‘fix.’ Still, where in landlocked Oklahoma am I going to find reliably fresh clams?? Hence the can thing. And I think much of life is like this: what do we deny ourselves, or downgrade, because it’s not exactly perfect? Should I never eat clam chowder again, unless I’m lucky enough to be on the shores where they live?

I’m trying hard to be happy w/ the less-than-perfect. As in: Hellman’s mayo is just fine in tuna salad; you don’t have to make mayo from scratch. Now, if I was making a from-scratch 7-layer salad? I’d probably take the time to make homemade mayo — it makes all the difference.

By contrast, today’s brunch (we eat too late for it to be traditional breakfast!) was ‘cooked’: sautéed green onions & tomatoes, a few leftover fried potatoes, a clove of garlic. Beaten eggs poured over, and then cheese sprinkled at the end, to melt in. Again, not fancy. Just good (enough). And that’s just fine. In life, as well as cooking.

I used to tell my students: it’s just school. Not life. And even in life, perfection is almost always the enemy: what comes in nightmares to laugh at us, and mock our best efforts.

Trust me: most of the time good enough is, well, good enough. In all areas. Honest. Ask my grandmothers, who often threw dinner together from what was around. And believe me: it was ALWAYS good.

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