After nearly three decades of marital cooking, I've finally got the menu down to a manageable list.
Which isn't to say there isn't variety. There's meatloaf with onions, if that's what's in the frig, and sometimes meatloaf with bell peppers. And sometimes, meatloaf with both onions and bell peppers. A little ketchup, some Worcestershire sauce, bread crumbs, an egg, salt and pepper, and voila.
If I want to get creative, I add garlic or italian seasoning. If I want to live on the edge, I don't measure.
Throw in a bag salad, and there's dinner from a pound of ground beef in 45 minutes. Not just one dinner ... but at least three dinners for my husband, since I became vegetarian about six weeks ago.
I'm married to a man who once -- in all seriousness -- declared that fish and chicken are vegetables. That steak should be measured not in ounces, but in commode lids.
So when I announced my intention to stop eating meat, he was initially nonplussed. Just another one of my nutso phases that would pass.
"Just one question," he mused. "Why?"
"I'll give you a two-part answer," I answered. "I read a book. And it was on public broadcasting."
What I don't tell him, is that although the book and the program made a great case for the health benefits of a vegan diet, they made an even better case for the weight loss benefits, which have yet to show themselves. That's possibly since I'm not yet on the kind of vegan diet that means you don't eat DQ Blizzards and cheese, but I digress.
Regardless, I knew that without part two of my answer, part one would result in a logical (i.e. engineer's) argument about why giving up meat was a bad idea. Instead, I got the inconvenient (i.e. husband's) argument about why giving up meat was a bad idea.
"But you'll never cook for me again!" he whined.
"Nonsense!" I declared. "There'll be no change in your diet, my Prince! I wouldn't want to impact hardening your arteries! The coalesing of your cholesteral!"
This, I say, to a 6' tall man who weighs 134 pounds dripping wet.
Which leads us back to meatloaf.
Since my Love developed Parkinson's four years ago, his ability to masticate and swallow have been compromised. His once beloved steak, roast beef, pork chops and barbeque have fallen out of favor for fare that is easier to pass through the gullet to the digestive tract.
It's there, hopefully, that some of those fatty calories will stick to his skinny little frame, now about 30 pounds lighter than he was at his "beefiest" 165 pounds when I met him.
That's irony for you. The one person on the planet who can eat all the red meat and fat anyone could want without getting fat or hurting their arteries, and he gets a disease that keeps him from swallowing the stuff.
So. Now that I'm eating beans and rice, and Bob either doesn't like or can't eat fish, chicken, steak or pork, what do we have left on the menu?
And for a change, Bob goes to his favorite local steakhouse, where all the waitresses know and fuss over him. There, he gets his "usual" a couple times a week.
It's just meatloaf without the spices. Except maybe from the cute waitresses.
Photo by Clearly Ambiguous