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Closing the kitchen for the summer

July 14, 2012

Did you know that there are some places in the world where the kitchen has become optional? People of the younger generation are actually building homes without kitchens, opting for a mere corner for the latte maker and microwave.

I think this is happening mostly in New York and other highly populated areas where space is limited and folks under the age of 50 never learned to cook and don’t plan to start.

Until about two weeks ago I was cooking 90 percent of my meals at home and making a mess reminiscent of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius every day of my life. (That’s the volcano that buried Pompeii and I was working on a similar fate.)

The endless repetitiveness of it all — cooking and cleaning up, cooking and cleaning up — was beginning to get me down. Cooking and cleaning are boring, lonely activities, and it never ends. But I guess I said that already.

I decided to liberate myself from this act and close down my kitchen for the rest of the summer. Now I’m using my kitchen to incubate dinosaur eggs and fire the odd piece of pottery. Freed from kitchen duty, I feel like a new woman. There’s no grocery shopping and no dish washer to clean out. This is the most brilliant idea I’ve ever had!

What about eating, you may ask. No problem. I just ditched the china and silverware and eat from Styrofoam containers with plastic forks and dine on food someone else cooked.

While researching a magazine article on that seductive genre of cuisine known as the “Blue Plate Special,” I was forced to test the “meat and three” options in no less than 14 local restaurants. I lined up with all the other comfort-food junkies and chowed down on meatloaf, mac ‘n cheese, turnip greens, fried green tomatoes, mashed potatoes and gravy.

I started out wearing my skinny jeans and concluded the experiment wearing a 1980s vintage muumuu. I did all this in a two-week period when my washing machine went on the blink and shrunk my jeans by at least two sizes. (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)

Realizing I couldn’t continue on that path to obesity, I now allow myself one Blue Plate special per day — purchased at 11 a.m. while the selections are freshest. I go home, carefully half the portions and dump them into another container to save for dinner. Since most area blue plates average about $7, including drink, I figure I will spend around $200 which is way less than I was spending on groceries when I was doing all the shopping, hard labor and clean up. My water and power bill should plummet too. 

This is a win/win situation for me. When fall returns and temperatures moderate, I’ll probably reopen the kitchen and slog around making my usual messes. Til then, I’m on summer vacation and enjoying the extra time I get to read, relax and think. I wear myself out thinking sometimes. But I have no menu, grocery list or plan. I’m just a free wheeling, happy-go-lucky lazy girl, waiting for the line to form at the nearest diner.

Emily Jones is a retired journalist who edits a website for bouncing baby boomers facing retirement. She welcomes comments at http://www.deludeddiva.com.

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