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On the news beat: Take that milk and bread

January 17, 2011

It’s no secret I’m somewhat challenged when it comes to whipping up meals in the kitchen.
My fridge is usually full of microwaveable meals, all the fixins’ for cold sandwiches and diet soda — not exactly the ingredients for a Julia Child-like masterpiece. To say my surname isn’t fitting is an understatement. I’m a disgrace to the Bakers of centuries before who actually cooked for a living.
My kitchen remained stocked with my traditional fare days before the threat of snow entered the weather forecast, but when Sunday dawned cold and dark in Catawba County, I found myself at an area superstore shopping for groceries.
You see, I nonchalantly promised someone that I’d prepare Sunday dinner. It went a little something like this:
Him: What do you want for dinner?
Me: I’ll make dinner tonight. No problem.
Wait. What did I say?
The suggestion came out of my mouth before I could stop it, and suddenly, I had about four hours to go from diet soda and canned soup to a respectable meal for two. He volunteered to help, of course. But by that time, my pride was already in play, and I declined.
So, I unexpectedly found myself behind a buggy at an area superstore Sunday afternoon with hundreds of other frenzied Catawba County residents. It took about two seconds for me to realize my choices for making dinner were seriously limited. The explosion of winter-weather shoppers in the superstore quickly eliminated the possibility of making anything involving sliced bread and/or milk. Any kind of alcoholic beverage was also not a possibility. Apparently people stock up on that stuff, too.
When I say there was no bread or milk at the store, I’m not exaggerating. There was a sign on the milk section announcing no milk was available until Monday morning. Even the low-carbohydrate bread, the kind people only pretend to like, was gone. Only empty shelves remained on the bread aisle.
I made my way through the store, desperately trying to piece together a meal without getting bombarded by shopping carts. In the end, I selected my dad’s go-to meal for cold weather: shepherd’s pie. It’s a traditional British dish of ground beef and mixed veggies baked into a casserole with mashed potatoes on top. The recipe is hardly complicated, and for me to say that means a child could make it.
I grabbed the makings for my main course, along with some lettuce for salad. I even managed to snag one of the last cans of frozen cans of biscuits. Looks like you can have bread in a blizzard, after all.
The dinner went surprisingly well. Nothing caught on fire and everything was edible. And since it’s been more than 24 hours since the dinner, we can rule out any potential food poisoning complications.
It might not be something I’ll repeat every night, but cooking dinner by myself made me think I’m not completely hopeless in the kitchen. I can add one entree to my cooking repertoire, and who knows, maybe there will be more additions to come.
As I sat in my apartment Monday night watching snow fall outside, I discovered yet another advantage to actually cooking a meal instead of simply microwaving something frozen. Leftovers.
While some people in Catawba County enjoyed their milk and bread Monday evening, I enjoyed a hot meal. I opened my fridge Monday to find dinner was already prepared. All I had to do was microwave it, and that’s one thing I know how to do.

Jordan-Ashley Baker is a reporter for The Observer News Enterprise. Her column appears in the Wednesday edition of The O-N-E.

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