In Defense of Dining Rooms


For the first time in many years, I have a dining room.

I eat most of my meals at my desk. I don’t know if this is “average” or not.  I feel bad about it every time.

 

Not that long ago, I had a guest staying with me for a couple of weeks, and I said, “We could eat in front of the television, or we could eat at the table, like humans.”  He wanted to eat at the table.  My opinion of him skyrocketed.  We sat and ate and talked to each other.  The conversation was hardly profound, but it was present.  We had each other’s undivided attention.  When his phone buzzed with a text, a quizzical look from me was enough to make him say, “I don’t need to talk to anybody else right now.”

When I moved into my apartment, I spent hours painting my new dining room.

I know. At first I couldn't get used to the green. Did I really choose that green? That green? Did I just spend 8 hours taping around those white frames delicately and getting out an actual paintbrush, and ever so carefully coloring within the lines, to sit in that green? I mean, this is really, unmistakably, unforgivably green. I must put pictures up. Yellow and white, and any manner of green-cutting pictures I can find, I must put them up right this very second, what moderately crafty store is open at this hour, I'll stay up all night if I have to....But the pictures looked weird in the natural wall frames and the gold furniture and yellow accents (and that clock, thank god for that clock) tempered the green just enough and strangely, it's grown on me. To the point where I couldn't imagine it another way, and it's now one of my very favorite rooms. Side note - glass tables are cool looking. They are a terrible pain to keep clean. Especially when a certain cat who shall remain nameless trounces all over it on a daily basis.

I vowed to spend my mornings there with my first cup of coffee, breakfast, and my book of daily poetry.  When I eat, I want to eat.  Not have eating squeezed in between checking facebook, email, and wikipedia surfing.  I want to ruminate, relax. Feed my brain too.  I had recently let myself drift back to my desk with my plate.  Then yesterday, as I was carrying my plate over to the desk, I passed the dining room table and thought, “Sit down.  Won’t the world wait for 30 minutes?”  I was not surprised at all to find out that it did.

Here’s what I ate on my return to civilized dining –

The first time I did this, I used a bread bowl that I had gotten at Au Bon Pain for half off because it was after 5 p.m.  Under normal circumstances, I would never purchase a bread bowl from Au Bon Pain because I don’t feel good throwing half of my food away, and nobody needs 620 calories worth of bread.  Yeah.  620.  The little sign right next to it said so.  If a sign could look chagrined…

So the next morning, I repurposed my beer burger buns, which are a mere 241 calories according to the USDA calorie tracker and fashioned a bowl of one of them.  Toasted it in my toaster oven.  Pan fried some bacon (which I would normally do in the toaster oven as well), and then fried my egg in the bacon grease on medium low so as not to bruise the whites. When I’m in a hurry, that’s when my eggs taste “eggy”, rather than the precious gems of creamy goodness that they are. I cook mine just until the whites set so the yolk would be nice and runny.   And the what yolk doesn’t soak directly into the bread, it’s easy enough to sop up.  My dog takes care of what little is left on the plate.  What?  She loves it.  She’s only going to live fifteen years or so, let her have her little pleasures.

Bacon

2 strips bacon

Start in a cold pan.  It is weird.  I would never recommend this for anything else, but we’re trying to render fat here so start in a cold pan.

Put cold pan full of cold bacon on a burner set to medium high.

Fry until desired color on one side.  Flip. Repeat.  Drain on plate lined with paper towels.

Pour any bacon grease not needed to fry your egg into a container and save it.  That grease can do amazing things.  What if you wanted to make a bacon vinaigrette later, or pie dough for a bacon quiche?  C’mon.  You know you want to.  I give you permission.

Fried Egg

Reduce heat to medium low.  Almost low.  Add fat o’ choice, enough to lightly cover the bottom of your chosen pad.  Crack egg(s) directly into pan.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  The outer whites will cook first.  Once the inner whites have just set, remove pan from the heat.

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