Turning One Empty Fridge into Two Full Bellies

Brian’s birthday is this week, so you get to hear from me – Abbie – about foodstuffs today. I actually do love cooking a lot, but there’s one thing you’ll need to understand before we go much further.Essentially, I use creativity to mask my laziness in cooking. Brian brags a lot on here about how lazy he is and how he takes shortcuts as he goes in order to save time and effort. I take that to a whole new level. See, when Brian cooks, he almost always uses a recipe. Sure, he may alter it as he goes, but there’s at least some structure there. Bell Pepper MealI, on the other hand, feel that thinking through what you’re going to make beforehand is a complete waste of time, probably better spent doing important things (like binge-watching Heroes on Netflix). As such, I wind up creating some entirely unique dishes along the way.

This meal in particular was invented with a large heap of creativity, a nearly empty fridge, and an overpowering urge to not have to wash any dishes before I got started. I might mention that every pot, pan, cookie sheet, and bowl was dirty as I prepared to make this meal. This meant no boiling, no sauteeing, no microwaving, and no frying. But that wasn’t about to stop me. I would create something from nothing, even if it killed me.

I took a quick inventory of all the “nothing” that I’d be making “something” out of. The gears in my brain turning steadily faster, I pulled everything out of the fridge and immediately tossed out some possibilities (I mean that literally… tomatoes don’t keep for long). My eyes flicked from the groceries on the table to all the dirty dishes piled in the sink and back to the groceries again.With three green bell peppers, one purple onion, one handful of portabella mushrooms, a container of feta cheese, and one really nasty beer leftover from Cinco de Mayo, I mentally prepared about 17 dishes in my brain with these ingredients, all of which required at least one of the dirty dishes that I was determined to ignore. Prepped veggiesThis would not stand! I looked in the cupboards and found that there were, in fact, a coupleof clean dishes.I had casserole dishes, a knife, and a cutting board to work with. Now I was getting somewhere.

I washed and chopped up all of the vegetables and tossed them in the casserole dish. I then found a package of egg noodles that had approximately five noodles left. I shrugged and said, “I’ll take it,” and tossed those in, too. Next, I covered the whole thing with that terrible Cinco de Mayo beer, and made sure to submerge all of the noodles so that they would cook in the beer. Cinco de Mayo beer and vegetablesThen I topped off the whole creation with the package of feta cheese and a few seasonings.I had no idea what I’d just created, but I crossed my fingers when I covered it in foil and tossed it in the oven.

The closing of the oven door only seemed to seal the fate of the evening’s dinner; there was no going back now. Brian looked up at me with curiosity in his eyes, obviously wondering what his birthday meal would be. I just shook my head dismissively and tried not to dwell on every possible horrendous outcome.

Bell Peppers Onion FetaOne episode of Heroes later, I took the concoction out of the oven, biting my lip to release a little anxiety. I held my breath when I lifted the foil; everything looked okay, but that means nothing in the culinary world. Before serving us up with our last clean utensil (an orange slotted spatula. Eh, whatever works, right?), I braced myself and snuck a quick bite. I was pleasantly surprised with what I came up with, especially considering the circumstances! Now for the real test: Brian’s reaction.

I intentionally didn’t ask Brian what he thought of dinner since I was too nervous about what his answer would be. So instead, I watched him out of the corner of my eye like the creepy stalker that I am. After taking his first bite he did one of those shrugs that said, “huh. I could live with this” and he continued eating. I chalked that up to a success and told my internal self-criticisms to kindly quiet down as we enjoyed the rest of Brian’s birthday together.

When we finished our meal and I was putting away the leftovers, I noted the now empty fridge. Although my brain was quickly compiling a grocery list for the next day, I was more-so silently celebrating that the Cinco de Mayo beer had now been depleted (three months later). Overall, it seems that going without a recipe doesn’t always equate to a recipe for disaster.

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