Eat the Quinoa, not the Roast
by KJ Hannah Greenberg
Adult children get hungry. If they are training in mixed martial arts, nursing a baby, living on their own at college, or bored from having just graduated high school, they can become especially ambitious when visiting their parents refrigerator. Couple those circumstances (each of which hold true for various of my offspring) with midlife fiduciary challenges wrought by downsizing, inflation, and career changes, and up pops a familial conundrum; the kids need to feel welcome at home, but the grocery budget cant be exceeded.
First, I faced that perplexity by offering up pots. I made vast quantities of soups, stews, sauces, lentils, pastas, and braised fruits from scratch. While the novelty of healthy and of fresh lasted, the crowd didnt clamor. Subsequently, my grown sons and daughters, some of whom have children of their own, grew impatient and cried for meat.
Philosophically, Im not opposed to sucking down cuts of two or four-legged farm friends. Chicken, cows and sheep are, in my esteem meant to be eaten. My problem, in the aforementioned scenario, though, was that animal-based protein quickly gets expensive when served in the quantities my dear ones seek. So, I offered them quinoa.
That grain, as well as amaranth, spelt, teff, kamut, and a few others, is possessed of a fairly high level of protein. Also, relative to flesh, its affordable. Accordingly, I boiled that stuff, baked it, sautéed it with onions, and made casseroles out of it. Nonetheless, I had few takers. Rather than eat bovid food, my sons and daughters raided the freezer for the bits of cloven-hoofed, ruminants that I had planned to reserve there for future, special occasions.
During my next attempt to feed the big ones, I tried a compromise; stir-fry. That mostly wholesome meal features a small amount of hot oil, herbs, lots of vegetables, and a measure of animal pulp, served over generous amounts of rice (or leftover quinoa). I figured it would satisfy my off springs carnivorous tendencies while helping me maintain my fiduciary fidelity.
All initially went well. My young men and women praised the smells emanating from our kitchen. As politely as sibling relationships permitted, they assembled for portions. Thereafter, the scene grew ugly.
My kids insisted, because they were emerging adults, they could serve themselves. Barking, they reminded me that they worked, went to university, parented, served in the armed forces, and more. Surely, I ought to trust them with a spatula. Consequently, I stood aside and let them regulate the division of goodness.
The first one took more than half of the stir-frys meat, the second one took seventy-five per cent of the rest of the meat, and the third took most the rest of the remaining meat, leaving exactly two tiny strips of meat for the last one and none for my husband and me. Meanwhile, only some of the vegetables and herbs had been scooped up and none of the quinoa had been claimed.
After shaking my head at my grown children, I returned to my scheming. I tried something novel.
The next time that everyone was home, there were signs posted, in two languages, in the fridge and in the pantry. I believe that Mommy, Daddy, and the youngest need to eat choice food as much as do the faster, older children. The signs I made indicated portion size and warned of dire happenstances than might befall anyone who failed to heed my very explicit rules. Despite freely uttered grunts and groans, balance was restored to my familys plates.
These days, everyone receives a similar amount of dead animal to eat. Everyone can access as much vegetables and carbs as they desired. No one is emotionally sated, but everyone is physically full.
The system still needs some adjustments, however. In the end, all of the roast, some of the salad, and none of the quinoa gets eaten.
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