Fate threw Amy Impellizzeri and I together several years ago when she relocated to Pennsylvania and I was her realtor. At the time, little did we know that we were both closet writers. I am excited to share her success with you and to have her guest blog today!
Amy is a reformed corporate litigator, founder of SHORTCUTS Magazine, and award-winning author. Amy’s first novel, Lemongrass Hope (Wyatt-MacKenzie 2014) , was a 2014 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Bronze Winner and a National Indie Excellence Awards Finalist. A favorite with bloggers and book clubs, Lemongrass Hope was named the #1 reviewed book in 2014 by blogger, The Literary Connoisseur, and topped several bloggers’ “Best of” Lists in 2015. Amy is also the author of the non-fiction book, Lawyer Interrupted (ABA Publishing 2015), and is a Tall Poppy Writer and President of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. Her next book, Secrets of Worry Dolls (Wyatt-Mackenzie) will be hitting shelves December 2016! Amy currently lives in rural Pennsylvania with her husband, three kids, and one energetic weimaraner, where she keeps up on all of the latest research confirming that caffeine is, in fact, good for you.
Amy’s Food For Thought:
The first time the box arrived, it was like Christmas morning.
This is it! I exclaimed.
My daughter and I attacked the package of fresh produce, meat and seafood on our doorstep, unwrapping the surprise recipe cards, and the small pre-measured packets of vinegar, miso and herbs with all the ooh’s and ahh’s usually reserved for more glittery gifts.
In a never-ending quest to try to feed my family of 5 in a somewhat healthy manner around a bursting-at-the-seams schedule filled with school and other activities, writing deadlines, and the most neurotic, highly demanding dog you have ever met, I signed up for one of those home delivery food services advertised frequently on social media. In the past, when the grocery shopping/cooking for my house had begun to overwhelm me, I had tried other temporary options. When my kids were babies and toddlers, and I was practicing law full-time in New York, I had a courier grocery service that I came to rely on as a near necessity. When we moved from New York to rural Pennsylvania however, no such option was readily available. Instead there was an abundance of farmers’ markets with which I became enamored immediately. I joined a Cooking Club which met monthly to create healthy recipes with local fresh ingredients. I tried to keep the momentum going, but our rural location and frenzied lives started to compete with my fervent desire to hit farmers’ markets, organic fruit stands, and butcher shops each shopping trip. On my long list of things “to do” – shopping, and later cooking, started to feel like impossible tasks.
While finishing my first novel, I enlisted the help of a professional cook who used recipes I shared with her as well as her own recipes to drop off weekly food trays, but after a month or so, I started to really resent the idea that someone else was cooking for my family and I took the task back – cutting out sleep in its place.
So when I heard about the weekly food delivery services, and heard some friends and family rave about them, I jumped on the bandwagon. My daughter and I love to cook together – we simply had run out of time to plan and prepare grocery lists – so the idea of someone doing it for us again – as they had in New York – was a welcome solution.
Each Wednesday my daughter and I would dig into the package as soon as it arrived, chopping vegetables and marinating meat for hours. My sons would pop in and out of the kitchen to help too, and with everyone’s guards down, the kitchen was filled with laughter and spilled secrets.
This is it, I thought smugly.
I have solved the problem of how to feed my family on our schedule with healthy fresh food. I may have even called myself a genius – very quietly – but still …
As the weeks and months went on, the recipes became more complicated. Some deliveries used up nearly every pot in my kitchen and took longer to clean up than to cook. I thought about requesting less exotic recipes, but that felt like a concession of defeat. They must think I can do this! Other people must be able to do all this! I’d lament as I peeled open the box week after week. Unfortunately as the recipes became more involved, my kids started eating less and less on their plate that had taken hours to fill.
My daughter and I started putting off Wednesday’s box to Thursday and even Friday – trying to fit the hours-long cooking/aftermath sessions into our days punctuated by hockey and tap lessons and vet visits and soccer and math homework and life.
One Wednesday, I arrived home to see that tell-tale box on my doorstep and rolled my eyes a little. I felt immediately guilty until I looked over at my daughter and saw her eyes in mid-roll too. I laughed. “You’re tired of it too?” She nodded with a guilty smirk. We opened the package – threw out the recipe cards without even looking at them, and dumped everything in a cast iron skillet to make impromptu bok choy stir-fry. One pot. Thirty-five minutes. It was ok. We laughed until our stomachs hurt. I even had time to log onto my home delivery service account to hit “Cancel.”
The truth is I’m still a fan of home delivery services, and food boxes, and professional chefs, and farmer’s markets and all night cooking marathons. I’m also a fan of Chinese take out, restaurants with a robust wine list, and vacations where someone else does all.Of.The.Cooking.
I’ve stopped being smug about my temporary solutions for feeding my family well around our impossible schedule. They are just that. Temporary. I will keep trying new things, new recipes, new gimmicks, never getting it completely right, but always trying. Let’s face it – there’s no one-size-fits-forever solution until the kids move out and start cooking full-time for themselves. And frankly, I’m not really rushing toward that day.
We’ll do the home delivery food again in the future, I’m sure. Maybe reduce it to a monthly schedule so we don’t burn out as quickly. I’ll stop being proud and request less work-intensive recipes. Some weeks I’ll hit the farmers’ markets with zeal, and some weeks I’ll order take-out without guilt. Some days the kitchen will host us making elaborate farm-to-table meals and some days it will just host a quick baking session of box cake mix and a donut to go.
Either way we’ll still be laughing and spilling secrets, and I will probably whisper to myself from time to time:
This. This is it.
Here’s one of my favorite go-to healthy recipes from my local Cooking Club, perfect for quick summer dinners and potluck barbeques. I promise you it won’t take hours of prep or cleanup – but it’s so lovely, you can tell everyone that it did!
Amy’s Thoughtful Food:
Confetti Quinoa Salad
1 cup quinoa salad
1 can black beans
1 can of sweet peas
1 can of corn
4 tbsp Brown Rice Vinegar
2 Tbsp umeboshi plum vinegar (you can substitute other infused vinegar to taste)
2 tbsp EVOO
1 tsp mashed garlic
Prepare the quinoa (including rinsing!) according to package.
Add black beans, peas, and corn to cooked quinoa. Mix well.
Prepare plum vinaigrette dressing by mixing rice vinegar, plum vinegar, EVOO, and garlic, and mix into quinoa salad.
Serve warm or cold!
I hope you enjoyed Amy’s post. If you’d like to subscribe to Amy’s SHORTCUTS Magazine, click here. I’ll be back on the blog next Sunday. Have a wonderful week!