"The only real stumbling block is the fear of failure. In cooking, you have got to have a what-the-hell attitude." ~ Julia Child

Kids away at college: Do you even remember what to do with tofu, Mom?

by Julie on October 26, 2019

in Adventures in Parenting, Uncategorized

All Mom needs to eat

It’s what’s for dinner…with a nice large glass of suave blanc…

It’s come to pass.

After my morning workout a few weeks ago, I swung by Trader Joe’s to restock my larders. It was the second weekend with both kids away at college. I had the house to myself. And the larders.

It’s not unlike the first time I went grocery shopping for myself on my own at 18, many many many moons ago.  I remember the quiet thrill of autonomy. I chose REAL butter, not the margarine my mom always bought. SOURDOUGH baguettes not Wonderbread. NO soda.  I snubbed the Kraft American Slices and Hostess products, both staples of my childhood. I didn’t buy a single diet anything.

It was a heady, self-actualizing experience.

In between then and now I grew up and worked and traveled and married and then had kids. Somewhere in there the white bread returned because they requested it and wouldn’t eat my sourdough.  And they liked that orange macaroni and cheese in a box. And canned soups. And string cheese. And So. Much. Milk.

I still only bought sodas for birthday parties.

For nearly 20 years mealtime was a calculus of What-they’ll-Eat times Nutritious plus Quick and Convenient.

But now, suddenly, they’re both in college. While the kids will be coming home from time to time, they won’t be living with me under the former contract. They can ask me to cook for them, but it won’t be expected that I have their preferred foods on hand.

The end of an era. A little discombobulating. A little sad.

On the other hand, I never have to buy another frozen pizza again as long as I live.

Hello, extra firm tofu. It’s been a long, long time. You’re going to be my protein now that I’m weaning myself off chicken. And since the 6 foot 2 man boy is now being amply if expensively fed in his college commons, there will be no animal protein in my house for the foreseeable future.

For the first time in 19 years there will be no more collection of half-eaten boxes of cereal on my kitchen table. No more gallons of milk taking up space in the refrigerator.

OMG I can ignore whole aisles!

Get thee behind me, frozen foods!! There will be no more chicken pot pies or mini pizzas or frozen meatballs. No more mac and cheese in a box, either. No sandwich bread. No mayonnaise. No deli meats! No string cheese!

Next time I buy dino-nuggets it will be for the grandkids.

Breakfast now might be three spoonfuls of cottage cheese eaten right out the container in the morning, washed down with the tiniest glass of grapefruit juice. The kids hated that stuff. TOO BAD!!

Lunch is whatever leftover I have handy. Or a chunk of feta and olives. Who’s gonna judge? My kids were fed well and now are well-built, good-looking and clever young people who are (presumably) feeding themselves.

Leave me alone and let me eat what I want.

Dinner might be a grain bowl—black beans, avocado, diced preserved lemon over faro or brown rice. If I’m feeling wild I’ll add a poachie.

Dinner might also be half an avocado and a glass of sauvignon blanc.

For the first time since I got pregnant in 1996, I’m only eating for one.  Food shopping is once again a hedonistic exercise.

So it’s local honey and hummus and all the fresh fruit I can reasonably manage on my own.  It’s tofu I will marinate in soy sauce and stir fried with veg. It’s steal cut oats with blueberries and diced preserved lemons and iced tea in a mason jar (not all at the same time).  Sometimes it’s a small jar of umiboshi plums.

My entire shop doesn’t even fill my Trader Joe’s tote. I am delighted. I feel free! Liberated from the tyrannies of mealtime responsibility.

Before I leave I consider buying a whole case of my favorite sauv blanc….

Better not. Can’t let myself be too liberated.

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