Have you had this year’s flu strain? There’s probably a good chance that you have since the more I talk to people, the more people I find have been stricken. I spoke about my run in with this flu a few weeks ago when I was just recovering, but what I didn’t mention is a very weird side effect that seems to be corroborated by others. Not only is there fever and a cough, but this flu also does something to the brain. It’s like the little flu bugs have decided to take up residence in the corner of the brain where our mental executive assistant lives, and then they never move out. That brain corner becomes too crowded for the executive assistant to function. Suddenly something as simple as executing a recipe becomes as difficult as learning to walk for a one-year-old.
Or, maybe that’s just my excuse for why I can’t tolerate preparing complex recipes lately. I’m looking for simple dishes to cook, and then I make them even simpler in the execution because once I hit a certain number of ingredients, my patience is gone and I find myself feeling overwhelmed and stressed.
This isn’t really me people. At least not the stress piece. Yes, I’ve become lazier about my interest in complicated recipes, but they don’t really stress me – normally.
For example, two weeks ago I planned to cook this Pork Scallopine with Egg Noodles and Gem Lettuce recipe that I found in the April issue of Everyday with Rachael Ray. I purchased all of the ingredients, and then each time I thought about preparing it I found a reason not to cook the dish. Oh, it will take took long to defrost the pork chops in the microwave. Oh, I don’t feel like making a recipe with three parts. Oh, Joe, you want to go out for dinner – sure! Last Friday, however, I ran out of excuses. We had returned from our New York adventures and without having done a weekly food shop, I had no choice but to turn to the unused, unloved ingredients that were already in my refrigerator. Well, most of them. As you can see, there aren’t any egg noodles on the plate. I mean, why prepare egg noodles – a whole other pot to wash! – when I had that fabulous loaf of fennel and raisin bread, my new secret obsession, to substitute as a side dish?
Simplify, simplify, that’s my new middle name. I saved myself the trouble of washing another pot, and cooking the noodles in a skillet with butter and herbs. passing on this extra complicated step. My brain had entered panic mode just considering those instructions, as yummy as they sounded. Hey, that butter would be just as good slathered on our bread. Instead, I prepared the pork as directed which took all of about 5 minutes to cook after the pork had been defrosted, I asked Joe to slice the bread, and I dressed the lettuce with a great olive oil given to me by my parents, a little bit of lemon juice, salt and pepper. In case you were wondering, I have no idea what Gem lettuce is, I’ve never seen it before. Instead, I picked up a tub of Maché lettuce that looked similar to the photo in the magazine.
As simple as it was, this was my favorite dinner I’ve cooked in a long time. Perhaps my taste buds can’t handle complexity any more than my brain.
Simplicity, my new middle name. And it was all so tasty.