Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Lunch Club

Summer demands light, fresh, and easy meals, with little to no cooking if possible. I like to sweat as little as possible (not at all) (God help me in menopause) and the last thing I want to do is overheat after I’ve finally gotten my body temperature down at the pool. I do enjoy eating out of course, but because I have to stretch my last paycheck (albeit oversized) and live on a budget from the beginning of June to the end of August, I do not eat out very often in the summer. Especially in August. Quickly sautéing of a piece of fish; boiling a pot of water for a simple pasta with a no-cook sauce; or slicing, seasoning, and arranging fresh mozzarella and tomatoes are about my speed in the summer. Some nights cheese and crackers count as dinner.

Once my air conditioner is off for the season and the days get shorter and colder, I find my way back to the kitchen. I experiment with new recipes and make old favorites like chili, whose recipe I developed decades ago, before anchovy paste was among my refrigerator staples and I knew what Sriracha was. Recent faves include an Italian sausage soup, and spicy sesames noodles with pork tenderloin medallions. Because I am my mother’s daughter I usually make more food than necessary, so I tend to freeze or share. Sometimes both.

As I have mentioned before my friend Amy is also a foodie and avid cook, so she and I developed a lunch club of a sort, where we take turns trying out new recipes on each other or sharing leftover favorites. There is no formal schedule or pressure to supply (even though Amy apologizes a lot when her husband leaves no leftovers), but on occasion one of us will deliver to the other a lunch, packed nicely in a gift bag or small shopping tote, including any necessary accoutrement, like a hard roll for soup, or grated cheese, or tortilla chips for said chili, and a sweet treat. Neither of us claim or desire to be pastry chefs, but can usually muster a couple of Hershey kisses from our pantries, or something from our respective chocolate stashes like anyone with two X chromosomes should.

I though about making chili the other day, but wasn’t there yet. Soon enough. Again, I’m not ready to rush the seasons, just looking forward to the treasures they bring.

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