There’s plenty of food in our house, more than enough for the two of us, actually, but I’ve found myself being much more careful about waste.
Whereas I would have normally tossed the third of an onion I didn’t use in making dinner, now I wrap it in plastic and tuck it into the refrigerator drawer. Last night when I made chicken with a package of coconut ginger rice, I found three nubs of questionable ginger in the back of the drawer. I peeled it with a spoon and it was perfect inside and just enough to make the chicken into a tasty garlic-ginger dish.
Yesterday while rummaging through the pantry, I found a partial bag of split green peas hidden in a basket. I’d rolled the open end down and taped it with packing tape. I checked the date—BEST BY MAY 2011. I got my iPhone out. My husband said, “You’re not going to take a picture of that and post it.”
“Oh, yes I am.” And I did, with the hashtag #coronadiaries.
I got a laughing emoticon right away. Later when I checked social media, I had comments from two friends: one, my cousin’s daughter, a former bodybuilder and fitness model, now a certified hypnobirthing practitioner and mother of two who owns and runs a health food store and restaurant in Southern California; and the other, an executive and visual artist, the friend of a friend who I met when she, her husband, and two children graciously hosted several women (including me) at her farm house north of D.C. for the Women’s March on Washington in 2016. These are women I trust. These are women who said the peas should still be good.
I responded, “I’ll let you know how it goes,” and fished the bag out of my kitchen garbage. (I wiped the bag with a Lysol wipe.)
I rinsed the peas and soaked them overnight. I didn’t have all the ingredients called for on the back of the package, so I improvised. I took that third of an onion out of the fridge. I used a garlic clove that I saved from the end of the bulb even though I normally would have thought it was too small to bother with. I cut up three strips of bacon. I found a vegetable bouillon cube. And I cut up the baby carrots that were part of a party platter of assorted crudités I got at Costco last time I was there for just over five dollars. My husband asked why it was so cheap. “No one is having parties,” I said. I bagged the veggies individually, and they’ve come in handy.
Now I have the peas on the stove, cooking. As I was putting everything into the pot, my husband went out for his walk/run through our neighborhood to the north shore of our nearby lake, where he’ll see ducks, anhingas, a few egrets, and maybe an iguana or alligator. When he gets back, he’ll report to me what he saw. And, it’s spring, so he may see rabbits. A friend of ours texted a photo from the our local nine-hole golf course (closed) this morning showing a bright blue sky and a small brown dot. “Bunny alert,” it said.
When my husband gets home, more than looking forward to telling me about his jaunt, he’ll be eager to see and smell the split pea soup simmering on the stove. I know this because he said “Mm, split pea soup!” just before he kissed me goodbye. Coming home to a bowl of fresh (ha) split pea soup at noon wouldn’t have happened before this coronavirus pandemic, which has heightened my awareness that now, more than ever, we need to make the most of everything we’ve got.
I’ll let you know how it turns out.
Update: The soup turned out tasty, but not creamy and thick the way we want pea soup to be. I added cup after cup of water and cooked them sooooo long, but they were just too dried out. I made pea soup again a few days later with new peas and my husband said, “Not pea soup again! I mean, oh, good, pea soup.” Hahaha! The new pea soup was excellent, of course.
My children loved this scene from The Rescuers Down Under. I love it, too.
While writing this post, I was reminded of the children’s story, Stone Soup, by Ann McGovern, which I read to my children over and over. “Soup from a stone? Fancy that!” I like this reading of it, especially because the young man is Irish. I was lucky enough to meet Ann many years ago at the Key West Literary Seminar, where she was taking a poetry workshop with Billy Collins. Ann was a wise and happy woman, an adventurer, a fine poet, a prolific writer, beautiful inside and out. She became a dear friend. She’s gone now, but we still have Stone Soup, and I have a copy she signed to my future grandchildren. The first two will be born this year, and you can be guaranteed that their Nana will read this beautiful story to them over and over.
Categories: Suzannah's Voice