Paper Plates


I enjoy working in my kitchen. There was a time when my meals involved lots of planning, researching the inventories of local supermarkets, gourmet shops and specialty food stores.

That was then and this is now.

Today I am older; I live alone. I rarely entertain but when I do, food is still the theme around which social activities revolve. Menus are simpler; ingredients fewer. The palettes remain but the toll on aging bodies requires knowledge of the remaining resources allowed after taking into consideration the prevailing restrictions that I and my aging friends must endure. IBS, diabetes, thicker waistlines and vanity (a weakness which appears to have been pre-selected as the very last affliction to leave us) are the new guidelines for the few, gustatory pleasures remaining.

And, so……………………

We go on.

My number one restriction is animal products; if it doesn’t have roots when growing it is not to be allowed in my digestive track. I do cheat a little. Since it has been decided that my main source of protein, legumes, are also to become just another memory, I add a few crumbs of bleu cheese or its cousins and always within arm’s reach my old standby, broken bits of walnut. I can eat squash and root veggies and I make some truly unbelievable salads. The only prepared food that I use is a line of salsas which I find at Safeway. I use them as bases for soups and occasionally add them to other dishes. Their greatest gift is that they are made of glass. I own several dozen of these wonderful containers; they hold basic food stores and are great for leftovers.  

But that’s enough about the food part of this article. The title identifies a subject which is nutritionally attractive to no one except perhaps goats.  I share with you now, my enthusiasm for paper plates:

Paper plates are the bane of good cooks everywhere. What better way to insult guests than by placing the results of two hours of carefully prepared ingredients on a white disk of shaped and dried squirts of trashy wood pulp?  

But use them I do. On an average day of food preparation for one individual, I estimate that my paper plate consumption exceeds a dozen. And never do I allow a finished product to touch their surface.

I noticed one day that the dishes from which I ate, occupied a mere third of a full dishwasher. And then it struck me that the paper plate was a natural for preparing food.

Yeah, so……

When using a knife I protect the cutting block with a paper plate. When in need of a funnel I make a cone from a paper plate and cut the small end to the desired size opening, using my second most important kitchen tool, a sturdy pair of kitchen scissors. On those rare occasions when I use the microwave, perhaps to soften a dab of butter or a crust of bread; the paper plate. And, when I spill crumbs on the kitchen floor, half a paper plate cum dustpan, also made by using my second most useful kitchen tool allows me to quickly scoop the mess from the floor, overcoming the need for a germ-gathering dustpan also eliminating the search for the darn thing in the first place.

And when preparations are complete and the tension gathers among my guests, I make another paper plate cone and bring the small end to my lips and announce “Dinner is served.”

(I also do this when no one is around.)



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