“I don’t have time!”
We all say it at one time or another. If I say it to you, what does that tell you? Probably just that I’m up to my ears in “things to do” — most of which have some sort of deadline. It has nothing really to do with you. If you just asked me to go somewhere or to take a few minutes for you, however, it’s a real downer. You might be tempted to take it personally. Don’t!
Downtime is rare for most of us these days, and everybody’s busy. Our obligations, plans and appointments have a way of oozing into each other, filling the spaces of time that are otherwise unscheduled. There doesn’t seem to be time for spontaneity. Thus, one becomes very busy trying to plan and organize time — to not be as busy!
Well, there’s some solace to be found in the old adage that tells us, “If you want to have something done, give it to a busy person.” I’d just like to not be that person all the time.
I really like having friends and family in for dinner. It’s a nice end to everyone’s day. However, you guessed it, I’m busy! Too busy, at least, to leave work at the normal time, go home and prepare a really good dinner from scratch. Dinner at 10 p.m., anyone? I thought not!
One thing I try to do is keep some accompaniments in reserve to use when time’s short. One of the simplest ingredients to keep on hand is capers. They’re in a little jar, in the fridge, always on hand when a salad or simple sauce for meat needs some flavor zing. Black and green stuffed olives are easy to keep. They’re good in macaroni and green salads and tossed with chicken and fish dishes. And how about cottage cheese, minced spring onions and a little mayo to have with sliced tomatoes and raw sliced yellow squash?
Serving food that tastes like I made it fresh for the occasion isn’t as easy as it used to be, but by changing how I do a few things, it’s still possible. I can go to the ever-popular rotisserie chicken if I kick it up a notch, and fish cooks really fast in a skillet or on the grill. With the right sauce waiting in the fridge, a rotisserie chicken makes a favorite family meal or a quick entrée for a last-minute company dinner. An overnight chill in the fridge blends the flavors. Yum!
This is especially good on chicken or a thick fish fillet. It keeps nicely for 3-4 days refrigerated, or you can freeze cubes in self-sealing bags.
CHICKEN OR FISH
3 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons butter
4 cups chicken broth (preferably homemade)
1 large clove garlic, crushed
Handful of fresh parsley, minced
Melt butter over low heat in a 2-quart skillet; stir in flour. Allow to brown slightly.
Add chicken broth and garlic. Turn heat to medium, stir and simmer until slightly thickened.
Remove from heat and stir in parsley.
This simple sauce can be used right away or frozen in an ice cube tray and popped out into plastic bags to keep in the freezer.
Makes four cups.
You can also add a few capers, finely chopped fresh tomato, bacon bits, mushrooms, or 1 teaspoon of an herb you especially like — mine’s tarragon.
Linda Conway Eriksson can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.
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