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.
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.
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.)