Darwin is still away in California and won't return until Christmas Day (circumstances permitting), so for the last week and a half there's been one less person at the dinner table. In some family situations, it makes no difference, practically speaking, to be down a person at mealtimes -- I doubt it made any dent in the overall food consumption of my family when I went away to college. (Now when my brothers left...) However, without Darwin we're down to one adult and two toddlers at the dinner table. Noogs and Babs have been very good girls for the most part during Daddy's absence, but this may be partly attributable to their sporadic bouts with high fevers and lethargy. Though easily treated with Tylenol, these factors, along with a current slowing of their growth curves, have left the girls with little to no appetite. Effectively, I'm cooking for one person -- myself.
I never realized it before, but cooking for one is dull. I went from my family's kitchen to the caf at college to a house with roommates to a newlywed apartment with Darwin, never once living on my own. As a result, I never had to deal with the culinary challenges of cooking for just one person. Every little decision, it seems, takes far more thought than it ought to. Should I spend time dicing vegetables for a soup when I'm the only one who will eat it? Is it worth it to roast a chicken breast just for myself? Why should I put loads of time and effort into culinary triumphs when no one else cares or will even partake? Do I feel like boiling water for one serving of pasta?
I know single people who enjoy whipping up new and exciting dishes and venturing into uncharted territory, but at the moment I have the responsibilities of caring for two toddlers by myself -- which leaves me little time to devote to gourmet preparation -- without the benefits of an appreciative, or even hungry, audience. I begin to see the allure of t.v. dinners and fast food (though I've succumbed to neither, just so you know). Fortunately, kind friends have taken pity on us and invited us for dinner and adult companionship several times, but there are still occasions such as tonight. Both girls fell asleep early and I so I was left staring into the refrigerator wondering if I really wanted to go to the trouble of cooking up something, and also wondering why it was that there's never anything good to eat in the house! (By which it is meant that there's no junky snack food around.)
All of which is to say that I miss Darwin and we'll all be glad to see him home. Then it will be time to pull out the stops and have a feast.