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What do you mean, tomatoes...

We had a house full of grandchildren, and when I went to make supper, I pulled a package of what I thought was barbecued pork out of the freezer. It turned out to be pureed roasted tomatoes.

Which is different.

Sometimes in life, you have to be flexible.

So, the menu went from pork sandwiches and fries to grilled cheese, homemade tomato soup and fries


Wondering about the pairing of grilled cheese and fries? I’m not saying it was nutritionally ideal. I’d already sliced the potatoes for the fries, while the pork, I mean the tomato paste, was defrosting, so that ship had already sailed and I wasn’t going to start over.

It gets more complicated. I only know one way to make tomato soup. What I grew up with were stewed tomatoes canned by my mother. You’d open the quart jar, dump the contents into a pan, add some baking soda to neutralize the acid, stand entranced watching it fizz, then add a couple cups of milk. Served with black pepper for seasoning and a fistful of crackers, it was so good you’d eat about three servings until your stomach felt like it was going to explode and pick seeds out of your teeth the rest of the day. That was a Saturday-in-January-lunch from my childhood.

I don’t know how make tomato soup from roasted pureed tomatoes.

The wonders of the internet showed me several recipes that involved sautéing and chicken broth, with sherry and basil and…other stuff. I didn’t have all the ingredients, but I had most of them, and even without the missing components, I was using about seven more ingredients than Mom ever did.

It got worse. Once I committed to the tomato soup, I figured the only way to go was make grilled cheese sandwiches. I figured they’d be as easy as Mom’s tomato soup, but because things that make sense to me occasionally don’t make sense for other people, I thought I’d double check my recipe.

Good thing I checked, because I know nothing about how to make a grilled cheese sandwich. The first recipe said to use mayonnaise instead of butter on the bread, which seemed like crazy talk to me. The next one said I should use provolone, muenster, and mozzarella cheese. I was 0 for 3 in recommended cheeses, so I went on to the next of 196 million results on Google.

I may have been overthinking supper, but five grandchildren with the hungries can add some pressure. When our kids were little, I had no problem telling them to eat what I made or starve, but I’ve lost my edge. I yearn for approval from Grand One through Five.

I could have gone and picked up a pizza, but that seemed too much like a surrender to me. Granted, the larder wasn’t overflowing with possibilities, but it seemed like there were enough options.

To make a long story short, I turned out enough food to keep them all in functioning order. Even with using just one kind of cheese, the sandwiches all went down, and three of the five kids ate the tomato soup. The fries were a big success and we have one less bag of mystery in the freezer.

I’m calling it a win.

Copyright Brent Olson 2020

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