I write about food. And dream about it too. Without saying it explicitly, I preach week in and out to make food from scratch. It’s better that way. But come 5:00 pm on a weeknight, I’m without a message to preach or an idea of what to make. Dinner’s hard. It’s even harder now that we have a tiny little person who needs to be in bed by the time we once started making it. Unlike the rest of our life, we kept dinner spontaneous because we could. Long-winded when we felt like it. It wasn’t a burden then.
This post is the first of a 4-part series on reclaiming your kitchen sponsored by Wolf. We’ve gone from making 98% of our meals in our homes to less than 50%, a move in the wrong direction. Through a beautiful video and helpful resources,Wolf is inspiring us to start small. Plan ahead. And cook one meal a week, maybe even two. This is my kind of revolution. Visit reclaimthekitchen.com for more inspiration.
Growing up, our next-door neighbors laughed at our dinner time. Our dining room window backed up to theirs. Every night around 8, light escaped through the cracked blinds and people swarmed the table. They were getting ready for bed. We were sitting down to a meal. Despite the crude jokes that bounced around the table, that time was sacred even at 8 pm, sweaty from soccer practice.
It used to be the norm to gather around the table to eat meals. But today it’s more often than not that our tables are tidy, pans clean, and dishes stacked. Dinner’s hard when you work until 6:30. When you didn’t plan meals for the week. When your fridge is empty. When your brain is spent. When you have a tiny person at your feet wanting food 10 minutes ago. When soccer practice goes until 8. But my mom quietly taught us night after night that sharing a meal together is worthwhile even when it feels like a burden. I think it’s a bit like working out. The results outweigh the process.
We’re working on building our first and last house right now (see the progress here). As we pick out materials for the kitchen, I keep asking Mike, our builder, how they’ll hold up. He responds with something like, “Well, do you want it to look perfect 10 years from now, or do you want it tell your story?” He tosses around the word patina a lot too—the process of a material, like wood or copper, aging and increasing in beauty and value. (I had to look it up after hearing it the first time.)
I like things tidy and uncomplicated. I like predictability and the comfort that follows. But I also want rich memories, well-nourished bellies, a joke-filled conversation (crude or not), and stains on my counter and etched markings on my table that tell about that one time. I write about food. I dream about it too. That doesn’t make the dishes go away or mean the fridge is always stocked or make the what’s for dinner question any easier. Dinner’s hard for thousands of different reasons. But I think my mom was right and Wolf is on to something—it’s worth the effort. We’re trying (and failing) to think ahead and meal plan. Until I get that down, this quick, one-pot pantry pasta dish has been saving our dinnertime lately. What’s dinner like for you?
When I eat pasta at a restaurant, the sauce and the noodle are one, but I’m never able to achieve that at home. The one-pot pasta recipes that have been floating around like mad lately are not only quick and easy, but the sauce and the noodle become one. It’s the miracle of all pasta recipes. You can make it a thousand different ways. We’ve been making this pantry pasta dish on repeat. It takes no planning and most of the ingredients, if not all, are in your pantry. This recipe is my gateway drug into making dinner doable again.