Corona Chronicles: Missive 7

Well, it's been a while...there's been a lot going on, but we are still here.  Still in the same house.  Still all together.  Still all the time.
Anyway, I've had even MORE time to think about this corona crisis, life, problems in general.  It turns out that having even more time to think is not good for me. Just gives me more time to obsess about the many ways things can go even more wrong than they already have.  
So, no more thinking right now.  I'm focusing on doing.  Today what I am going to DO, is figure out what to make my family for dinner, while absolutely NOT going out to a store to do so.  I'm sick of waiting on lines to get in, the awkward shoulder-lean away from the people I pass in the aisles, waiting on lines to pay, the awkward full-body lean at the check-out counter to socially distance from the cashier.  Lines and leans.  That's what simple grocery shopping has become.  So I'm staying home.
But I still have to figure out dinner.  And a perusal of the cabinets and fridge is not promising.  There's stuff I thought I had that I don't, stuff I thought was still good that isn't.  What's happened to me? I used to be so good with inventory.  Now I'm in the house all the time, and I have no idea what's here with me. 
So, I have what looks like a frozen package of chicken, some VERY iffy bananas, a box of shelled walnuts, and a huge bunch of dill.  It's getting late, and the kids are already circling, "Whadarya making??? I'm HUNGRY!!!"  It's like an episode of Chopped meets Survivor.  This basket's what I've got for dinner and the natives are getting hungry.  
I suddenly have a flashback to college, more than 20 years ago.  Several friends and I lived in a suite-style dorm which had a private kitchen.  I didn't do too much cooking in college--cookies seemed like the most important food group at the time--but one of my roommates did.  One thing she made all the time was this baked good (I use the term loosely) called "Dump Cake."  Now Dump Cake, both in theory and practice,  was disgusting.  The idea was, start with a basic cake batter: sugar, eggs, butter, flour, etc, then just "dump" whatever things you find in the cabinet into the cake and viola, that becomes the flavor of the cake.  Got some raisins? Then you've got raisin dump cake.  How bout some nuts?  Enjoy your nut-dump cake (sounds delicious).  Can only find ketchup, marmalade and canned tuna?  Well, now you can fully appreciate how the name "Dump Cake" encapsulated the experience.  Seeing it, smelling it (although I never, ever tasted it), it almost put me off cake for good. 
But here I am, 20 years later, stuck at home in the midst of the first global pandemic in 100 years, with a very odd ingredient list, and you know, the concept starts to make sense.  
Maybe I make some herb-and-nut-crusted roasted chicken and just save the bananas for another time (or never). This would be winning idea if the chicken was not still in frozen blocks.  Yeesh.  Ok, it's boneless chicken breasts, so here comes plan B: zap the chicken in the microwave, mix a bunch of chopped dill with salad dressing, dump (ah, it comes in handy) the dressing over the chicken and blast it on the grill as quickly as humanly possible.  Serve the walnuts and sliced bananas to the kids and stall with detailed explanations as to what "appetizer" and "entree" mean.  I execute while the clock ticks down.  And you know what?  It works!  Well, not the appetizer thing.  The kids don't like nuts and the two-year old thought it was a great idea to drop banana slices on the floor and see how far they rolled. But miraculously, the chicken got done and (most of) the kids even ate it!  So phew, mission accomplished, game over, mommy wins.  And that is literally my biggest achievement of the day in this weird new era of Corona.  
So until the next exciting achievement report,  I'll be wishing you good luck, good night, and good health!

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