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  • Last modified 32 days ago (June 19, 2019)

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ANOTHER DAY IN THE COUNTRY:   A one-trick pony

© Another Day in the Country

When it comes to putting a meal on the table, I’m a pretty quick cook. There are ingredients in my cupboard and items in the pantry, so I can always have something on the table in less than half an hour.

Between the chickens and me, there is never a need for anyone to go hungry.

“Glace” (a German dumpling with diced potatoes) is one of my go-to quick dishes. It’s a one-trick dish that takes about 15 minutes. I have a pocket full of one-trick meals I can have on the table in a dash.

When I travel to California, as I often do, it’s a different story. My daughter, Jana, is a good cook, a fast cook; but every meal entails a trip through the local food store. Sometimes it is for inspiration, but often it is for most of the ingredients.

When I’m “home alone” with my grandson, often without a vehicle for quick grocery hops, I search the cupboards and the lost world of the refrigerator for things to eat, with little success.

I can tell that my daughter makes an effort to accommodate me in the kitchen when she knows I’m due for a visit. Things are more visible on the shelves.

Korean food is on the highest shelf, out of the way, and she’s purchased paper towels. (I’m addicted to paper towels, especially in someone else’s kitchen, where being able to clean up a mess quickly or sop up a spill immediately hinges on where you can find a dishrag or a towel, fast.)

As adventurous as I feel that I am with regard to cuisine, I’m pretty much a one-trick pony. Potatoes are my favorite vegetable, followed by corn. “Carbs, carbs, carbs,” my sister says.

My grandson is getting to that stage in his life where’s he is growing fast, and his appetite is growing in direct proportion to his height. He’s a delight to feed — a far cry from the days when all he wanted was rice!

The other day I went hunting for something lunchable. He loves homemade french fries! That was the new magic that “Baba,” me, brought with her a couple of summers ago. We could make fries that were just as tasty as the ones at the A&W, and he was impressed.

In my search for staples I found only a bag of those little new potatoes in trendy colors. You can’t make fries out of those. Even fried potatoes look weird in shades of yellow and lavender.

The only thing I could think to do with them was boil them. It’s way too hot to turn on the oven and roast them with beets, carrots and Brussels sprouts which seems to be the rage even in Kansas.

I found peas in the freezer. With new potatoes and peas, I would usually make what the ingredients imply: creamed new potatoes and peas, a one-dish wonder. But alas, in my daughter’s health-conscious environment, cream is not something you would find in the fridge.

Neither could I find any quantity of oil or salt. There was a little salt in the shaker, so I used that for seasoning gravy for the potatoes — pepper gravy you make with milk, which we had.

When I called my grandson to lunch I said, “What do you want on your potatoes — Butter or gravy?”

“What’s gravy?” he asked.

That was the minute that I knew I lived way too far away from this child. Gravy is pretty much a staple of country life. Everybody knows what gravy is, right? I grew up on it, and gravy is another of my quick tricks, fixing mashed potatoes and gravy, biscuits and gravy, egg gravy on toast. Who doesn’t like gravy?

But I was patient. What are grandparents for if not to introduce, nudge, present something new to the younger generation?

“Oh,” he said when I showed him the gravy. “Sauce? Looks good. I’ll try it!”

So the two of us sat down to a country meal of potatoes and gravy, peas and salad.

We sat on the couch in California, rather than at the table in Kansas, and had lunch rather than dinner at noon, just as if it were another day in the country.

Last modified June 19, 2019

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