The day started at 4 am, off to yoga and then work. By the time I arrived home, the early start to the day was taking its toll. Both the hubby and I had skipped lunch and we were past being ready to eat. Nothing was planned for dinner so I was going to have to be creative. Looking in the refrigerator I found 2 heads of broccoli, green onions, and eggs. The beginnings of a quiche, now what did we have for cheese? There was about 3 oz of Monterey Jack, 1 oz of Gruyère, and about 2 oz of cheddar cheese this would have to do. I grabbed the milk and got started. After preheating the oven I mixed up the pie crust and got it in the oven. I then steamed the broccoli for about 3 minutes. When slightly cooled I chopped the broccoli, onions, and grated the cheeses, sat all aside and mixed 4 eggs, 1 ½ cups milk, salt, pepper. When the pie crust was just slightly firm and starting to change color I spread all the chopped ingredients and cheese over the bottom of the crust, added the liquid ingredients and returned the pie to the oven for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. The pie is done when the center no longer jiggles like Jell-O. Voila! Dinner in under an hour. I’m sure Rachel Ray could do it in 30 but speed has never been my strong point. This is frequently how I decide what dinner will be. Survey the refrigerator, freezer, and cupboards and cook with what is in stock. There are frequent substitutions and it works more times than not.
While in college I lived a short time with my husband’s grandmother. She had always been an extremely hard-working woman and had just been forced to retire at the age of 75. Soon after her 50th birthday and raising 5 children Grandma Hutton suddenly found herself single and needing to work outside the home. Her husband of many years was traveling salesmen, who lived up to all jokes and character of traveling salesmen, while making a very meager living. She was an excellent cook on a very small budget. I think one of the best lessons I learned was how to stretch a meal from 2 servings to 6 or 8. Three of Grandma Hutton’s children lived close and many of their children lived nearby. She always had drop in company and nothing would do but they stay and eat. There was always a variety of home canned fruits and vegetables in the pantry and a variety of meat and fish in the freezer. On one occasion she had a small roast cooking with a few root vegetables. Two of her boys and their wives dropped in on their way home from their monthly shopping trip to the city. Soon the grandson, from next door, and his wife dropped in to visit with the uncles. It wasn’t long before all the women were in Grandma’s modest kitchen. Dorothy started peeling potatoes for mashed potatoes, Martha put a pot of water on to boil for ice tea, Linny boiled and prepared two eggs for the iceberg lettuce, egg, and mayonnaise salad. In the meantime Grandma opened a quart jar of peach halves and made a cobbler and got it into the oven. She then took our 2 pound roast and vegetables cut them into small pieces and put them in a dark brown gravy she had stirred up. I, being the ripe old age of 19, was put charge of cooking a bag of homegrown frozen peas. It took less than an hour to put the meal together. The laughter and conversation flowed as easily as did the preparation. This was a frequent occurrence in Grandma’s house. I have never forgotten that meal and the seamless ease it took to prepare. I have worked hard to develop this skill and done so with some success. I ‘m sure I will never be as adept as Grandma Hutton. I’ve always had a store within 10 miles and never worked as hard as she did to feed my family and maintain my home. As it turned out I spent more time with Grandma Hutton than I did either of my grandmothers. In that short time I took with me many valuable lessons and wonderful memories