Double-Duty Dinners — Simple Scratch Suppers

My motivation for cooking has changed somewhat over the last eight weeks. Every meal I prepare serves as a reminder that Mikey is no longer at our dinner table. I still have two young children to feed, though, so the kitchen has not collected dust in the days and weeks since his death. In fact the contrary has happened, and I often find solace in chopping and sautéing.

Cooking is a constant, a variable that hasn’t changed. I still can chop an onion the same way I did before August 7, albeit the tears are for a different reason now. I’ve also found myself relying on the standards: the meals I can prepare with my eyes closed. Roasting a chicken is easy and I get the double reward of having leftovers to make soup, pot pie or even chicken croquettes. The same goes for steak, and even beans — leftover homemade pintos get new life as refried beans for tacos.

Cooking through this new lens can be challenging. Most nights I’m not particularly hungry, but I try to do more than muster through meals for the sake of my girls. I want them to find the same joy I always have in food. I also know this alternate universe will not last forever. Eventually, we will settle into a new kind of normal. Until then, I’m going to rely on my oldies but goodies to get us by at dinnertime. I know in my heart that our memories of good times and great meals are what will put us on the road to happiness once again.

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Jennifer Perillo is a recipe developer and food writer living in Brooklyn, N.Y. Her recipes and tips for feeding families homemade meals are a regular feature in Working Mother magazine, where she’s the consulting food editor, as well Relish Magazine , Parenting , Kiwi and her blog, In Jennie’s Kitchen.

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