Thursday errands had me running late. I adjusted my plan, picking up groceries at Target instead of making the additional stop at the grocery store. I’d pick up one of those quick meal kits and get dinner on the table before Bubba got home at 8:20pm.
I’d found a simple Ginger Dumplings and Kale Salad meal kit. The plan was to pop those things out of the package, simmer them on the stove, feed the dogs, mix up the dipping sauce, toss the salad and be ready for Bubba with pearls, heels and a cocktail.
I opened the package and found a pound of raw pork. “What’s this?” I next pulled out a beautiful orange carrot. “Huh?” Then I saw the package of 20 potsticker wrappers.
“Oh HELL no!”
That’s when I packed all the ingredients back into the box and had toasted turkey and bacon sandwiches in construction when Bubba walked in. And a pickle. Bubba needs a pickle with his sandwich.
So Friday I was ready for it. I rolled up my sleeves and cleared a space to assemble potstickers and slightly wilted kale salad. Now, I’m not new to cooking, and I can appreciate the mindful art of preparing meals from scratch. But I thought people bought these meal kits for an easy store-to-table from-scratch taste. This was not that.
First, it suggested I read through the instructions before beginning to cook. So naturally I dug in. The first step (actually second if you count reading the instructions) was to prepare all the ingredients. I got out a knife and cutting board and minced the shallot. Next I was to grate the ginger root. The ginger root? What ginger root? My kit was missing the ginger root. Luckily I always have some tucked conveniently in my freezer. I got out my zester and, because the kit doesn’t mention quantities, I guessed as to how much to shave off.
I pushed several cloves of garlic through my press and used a mandolin to render the carrot into matchstick-sized pieces for the salad. I stopped to look around my very small kitchen. Every counter was full with kitchen gadgets, cutting boards, knives and food. The last time the place looked like this was Thanksgiving 2019.
The next step, after muddling the garlic, shallots and ginger, was adding the pork and pork sauce. Pork sauce?
Hmmmm . . .
Three little pouches in varying hues of clear brown sat before me. I turned them over a number of times and held them to the light hoping they would hint as to their contents. I turned the instruction manual over a few times, hoping for a clue. Ah! A video link! Surely it would reveal all. So I halted construction to open my laptop and plugged in the address.
I pressed the play button and watched an advertisement for their meal kits. I scrolled up. I scrolled down. That’s all there was.
Okay, back to the little pouches of brown. The instructions mentioned Dipping Sauce, Pork Sauce and Salad Dressing. By process of elimination I decided the smallest was the salad dressing. The larger two I opened and sniffed — a few times — and finally made an educated guess as to which was which.
I want to jump to the end of the story and tell you how they came out, but I just can’t. I feel the need to mention that I built each dumpling by hand on yet one more cutting board. I want you to know I stopped in the middle when I lost patience with the putzy task to breathe and come into the present; tell myself it’s a journey, not a destination.
Some journeys are just like driving through the flatlands of South Dakota scanning the horizon for the Corn Palace.
I want you to imagine my resignation when I admitted my frying pan was too small and heated up a bigger one, setting the abandoned one on the side to cool.
We did finally eat this meal. In my opinion, the salad was delicious and the dumplings were so-so. Bubba ate it with relish. I mean with dipping sauce, but he verbalized much enjoyment and ate until he could eat no more. To be honest, I’m not sure if he really liked them that much or if he looked at the kitchen landscape and thought he better like them or else.