Yesterday, my mom came upstairs for our usual afternoon discussion on what we should make for dinner that night. Instead of immediately throwing out a couple different options, as she usually does, she looked at me blankly and said, “I’m out of ideas.” And honestly, so was I.
I can feel that my mom, dad, and I have all started to hit a wall this month. The cheese plates my dad used to enthusiastically put together every night are no longer a guarantee. Instead of researching new cocktails to pair with dinner, my mom often just pours herself a beer. I’ve gotten tired of dreaming up weekend baking projects. Last Sunday, I watched television most of the afternoon, and I felt simultaneously guilty and relieved to be doing nothing but lying horizontally on the couch.
I told my mom we needed to give ourselves permission to have more chill dinners. Ones that involve no cooking, or only two or three ingredients. They don’t have to be junk food. But my point is: we’ve all been cooking up a storm, far more regularly than usual. We deserve a break.
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We peeked into the fridge and saw that we had an abundance of cheddar cheese, and broccoli that was a day away from going bad. Mom proposed we make broccoli cheddar quesadillas, using the roti we had in our freezer (as I’ve written previously, roti is a great substitute when you don’t have tortillas, and it’s relatively easy to make). It’s been a long time since quesadillas have been made in our house. When my sister and I were little, we would have pool parties with our friends and relatives, and cheese quesadillas and guacamole were the default lunch—easy enough for my mom to put together fast, and popular with kids and adults alike. Because of this, I’ve always thought of quesadillas as kid food. Not the kind of thing you’d make for a sit-down dinner.
But that kind of thinking is silly and myopic. Quesadillas are great. They’re hard to mess up and one of the more satisfying fast hot meals. I grated the cheddar. My mom steamed the broccoli. I assembled the quesadillas, while my mom made a quick guacamole. The smell of cheese crisping on a pan brought my mom and me right back to those childhood pool parties. All in all, the process took us maybe twenty minutes.
Some Dallas restaurants have opened up since last Friday, but my family and I still don’t feel comfortable going out to eat. Staying at home for the near future means there are plenty more meals we are going to have to cook. But with every day, the inventive cocktails and vast cheese boards become less and less important to me. All that matters is that I continue to be able to sit down to a meal with my family every night. It doesn’t matter if that meal is an elaborate pasta or a broccoli and cheese quesadilla. We’ve made it another day, and we’ve fed ourselves. And that’s good enough for me.