I am overwhelmed by choices, particularly with regard to food, methods of preparation and other assorted culinary affairs. I let them rule my life and my family's so much that I'd swear I'm running a B&B called Catharine's Cafe and Bakery.
Putting on my "kitchen shrink" hat, I'm undergoing some self-analysis for my obsessive-compulsive choice disorder. Perhaps this stems from my desire to please the world or be the perfect host ... or maybe it's from my own appreciation for variety or my secret career desire to run a restaurant. So please forgive and indulge me as I vent about this problem that seems to be a pervasive one in our culture.
The myriad of choices begins at the breakfast table when I ask my kids if they want orange, apple or grape juice, and then throw in the calcium alternatives of moo, rice or almond milk.
Now for the food part. Do they want bread or cereal, eggs or pancakes? If the former, I can offer honey white, plain or raisin challah and whole wheat. Whatever their druthers, do they want it plain or toasted, straight up or with butter, jelly, hazelnut spread or something else?
If they choose pancakes, do they want buckwheat, buttermilk or original, with blueberries, chocolate chips, apple slices or bananas? Cereal — hot or cold? Eggs — scrambled, fried, soft-boiled, omelets, frittatas or Mexican style?
When I'm preparing lunch, the choice monster begins to rear its ugly head again. Salad or sandwich? If the latter, once again, what kind of bread and filling, and snack and veggie accompaniments?
I blame the supermarkets in part for offering too many alternatives, so my market spree turns into a half-day food field trip. The produce aisle alone is dizzying with at least eight varieties each of apples, oranges, potatoes, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms and squashes along with a dazzling variety of hybrids, heirlooms, miniatures and other gourmet selections. Of course, I only buy organic, so that helps narrow the playing field somewhat.
Eggs are guilty of too many choices, too — coming in petite, average and big and tall man sizes, brown and white, yolks containing extra omegas, and those from free-range, vegetarian-fed chicks.
But the worse offenders are teas, coffees and bottled waters — flat or carbonated, distilled or filtered, flavored (from mint to kiwi peach and a hundred other choices) or electrolyte infused.
And then finally, how about paper or plastic? That's not a choice I'm having trouble with since I bring my own green reusable bags. But wait a minute! What am I complaining about? We live in the land of plenty. Even during these difficult times we should all be grateful. ..
Here are two of my favorite spring pasta dishes. But for children, offer just one so you don't confuse them and drive yourself nuts!
Prima Vera Orzo
- 12 ounces of orzo pasta (whole wheat or plain)
- 1/4 to 1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil
- Juice from one lemon (Meyer or Eureka)
- 4 ounces of mushrooms (button, crimini, beech, trump, oyster) sliced
- 8 asparagus spears (1-inch slices)
- 1/2 sweet red, yellow or orange pepper (diced)
- 1/2 small red onion
- Sea salt and cayenne or black pepper to taste
Cook orzo according to package directions and set aside. In a medium frying pan, heat the oil on low and saute the asparagus, peppers, onions and mushrooms until tender. Add the lemon juice and spices. Pour the vegetable mixture over the orzo and toss well. Garnish with lemon zest.
Penne Pasta Pizza
- 12 ounces of penne pasta (whole wheat or plain)
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 cup of cherry or grape tomatoes cut in half
- 1/4 cup of black olives
- 4 ounces of shredded mozzarella cheese
- 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- Sea salt, basil, oregano and cayenne to taste
Cook the pasta to desired texture. Set aside. In a large skillet, heat the oil on low and saute the garlic until tender. Add the tomatoes, black olives and spices. Heat through. Add the pasta to the tomato mixture and toss. Blend in the cheese and stir until melted. Serve with garlic bread fingers, bread sticks or lavosh. (There I go again).
Did you know?
The average supermarket stocks 47,000 different products.
— "Food Inc." documentary
Many more choices are available at
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