© 2023 WFAE
90.7 Charlotte 93.7 Southern Pines 90.3 Hickory 106.1 Laurinburg
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Each Monday, Tommy Tomlinson delivers thoughtful commentary on an important topic in the news. Through these perspectives, he seeks to find common ground that leads to deeper understanding of complex issues and that helps people relate to what others are feeling, even if they don’t agree.

On My Mind: A New Meal Plan

Tommy Tomlinson

The other night I made fried rice.

The ingredients in this fried rice were leftover white rice from the night before, leftover brown rice from a couple nights before that, the last of a bag of frozen vegetables, a rotisserie chicken breast from Sunday takeout, and a few cloves of garlic that were starting to look a little green in the middle.

I had gotten out soy sauce to add at the end. But when I went to get it, the bottle was gone. I figured my wife had put it back in the fridge. So I got it back out, doused the rice with a few healthy shakes … and then thought to myself, hmm, that doesn’t look like soy sauce.

It turned out to be Lexington Barbecue sauce.

The table was set. Alix and her mom were waiting. Sometimes all you can do is shrug your shoulders and serve it up.

And you know what? It was good.

These days, when we’re staying at home and trying not to go to the store, make for a lot of improv in the kitchen. It’s the time to defrost that weird package in the back of the freezer to see what it is and if it’s still good.

We’re lucky to have enough food in the house when so many are worried about their next meal. But our supplies are more spare than usual. Yes, some of you went into quarantine with pantries and freezers so well-stocked that you could cook everything in that book “How to Cook Everything.” Congratulations. We are almost as proud of you as you are of yourselves.

But at our house, we’re experimenting with a dab of this and a scrap of that and something from those half-empty jars in the door of the fridge.  

Last night, Alix found a recipe that combined a few things we had on hand: a chicken soup with chickpeas and sweet potatoes. It called for a few things we didn’t have – a fresh turnip and tomato paste, among other things – but she tweaked and substituted and figured out her own way.

Dear listener, I will be honest: If she had told me in advance that she was making a soup with chickpeas and sweet potatoes, I would have started wondering what pizza places still deliver. But it tasted incredible.

It turns out it’s OK to try new things, and it’s good to trust ourselves and each other. Who knew?

Tommy Tomlinson’s On My Mind column normally runs every Monday on WFAE and WFAE.org. It represents his opinion, not the opinion of WFAE. You can respond to this column in the comments section below. You can also email Tommy at ttomlinson@wfae.org.

Want to read all of WFAE’s best news each day? Sign up for our daily newsletter, The Frequency, to have our top stories delivered straight to your inbox.

Tommy Tomlinson has hosted the podcast SouthBound for WFAE since 2017. He also does a commentary, On My Mind, which airs every Monday.