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Home Cooking, Quick and Easy

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Sometimes lack of time or energy makes it important to have at hand items on which we can dine well, in a short time and with little effort.

Judging from the many friends and acquaintances I frequently meet in Costco, I'm not the only one who does some grocery shopping there. While I prefer to make most meals from "scratch" - and some day I'll look up how that term originated - there are times when having some basic heat-and-serve items in the pantry or freezer is helpful. We use little that comes in cans, but I do have a small stock of prepared foods in jars and bottles, and a freezer and refrigerator.

Yesterday we needed a dinner which could be quickly and easily prepared, as we were away from the house until almost five. In the pantry I found a jar of Dave's Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce; in the refrigerator was a package of spinach and cheese ravioli - both from Costco. We said at the same time, "Shrimp," and headed toward the freezer. We buy these from Fred Meyers, as they carry wild-caught shrimp and I haven't found them at other stores.

Always on hand are salad greens - at this time of year, from Costco - pears or my own lightly pickled beets, Blue, Roquefort or Gorgonzola cheese and toasted walnuts: mostly from Costco. As yet, Costco doesn't carry arugula, which we have nearly every day. Dan's Market in Leavenworth has fresh beets and pears, always at a good price, and almost always found in our refrigerator. For this meal the salad was dressed with toasted walnut oil, balsamic vinegar (Costco again), and topped with slices of fresh pear, blue cheese and walnuts. We eat salad after dinner, as a kind of dessert. With most meals, a green salad will make red wine taste harsh and bitter.

In less time that it is taking to write this, pasta was cooked, sauce was warmed, shrimp were cleaned and sauteed, salad was prepared, and plates were warmed.

We had a Karma Gewurztraminer on ice; fragrant, lightly sweet and fruity, it went well with the dinner and the lightly sweet squash sauce. We also had a small amount of Silvara Riesling left over (? how did that happen?) from the night before; it also paired well with the food.