Sometimes, when I'm on my own as a parent for an extended period of time, I feed my kids cornflakes for dinner.
There, I said it.
I have many friends and family members who are single parents, who get dinner on the table night after night on their own, and I think they're amazing. I do my best, but usually by my third or fourth evening of working, parenting, and managing the household solo it's all I can do to slap bowls, spoons, milk, and cereal on the table. Someday soon, my kids will be accomplished enough cooks that I can curl up in bed with a novel and a glass of wine while one of them makes dinner, but for now, with one kid away in college, one just fourteen and still learning the cooking ropes, and my partner out of the country for two weeks, it's pretty much up to me.
So when I realized that it had been over two days since Henry and I had eaten a vegetable, I tried to cut myself some slack, but the guilt overwhelmed me. I assume that guilt is a universal product of parenting, whether you're partnered, single, or one in a righteous team of sister wives. We all often feel woefully inadequate to the task.
There wasn't much I could do about the guilt, but I did the best thing I could think of in the moment - I stir-fried greens, vast amounts of greens, putting approximately three days worth of vegetables into one meal.
It takes a little time to prep this quantity of vegetables (I taught Henry a neat technique for cutting collard greens), and to make the scrumptious sauce, but once the wok is hot the thing only takes a few minutes, not all that much longer than pulling cornflakes out of the cupbord. You could serve the stir-fry with rice and baked tofu for a more rounded-out meal, or you could let it be dinner on its own; a heaped plate of greens with a small side of guilt.
Greens with Peanut Ginger Sauce
Serves 2 as a main dish
2 medium - or 3 small - bunches of greens (I like a mixture of collard greens and kale), stemmed and sliced thinly. To cut collards: stack stemmed leaves, roll up tightly, and slice (see photo at top)
2 cloves garlic minced as finely as possible
2 tablespoons coconut or peanut oil
1 scallion, sliced, optional
3 tablespoons smooth, unsalted peanut butter
2 teaspoons garlic chili hot sauce
1 tablespoon ginger juice (Grate 3 or so inches of ginger, gather into a ball, and squeeze to extract juice. Worth it, I promise)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/3 cup hot water
Prep vegetables: Wash and chop greens, garlic, optional scallion, and set aside.
Make the sauce: In a small bowl, mash together peanut butter, hot sauce, ginger juice and soy sauce with a fork. Add a little of the hot water and stir or whisk to blend well. Whisk in remaining water. Set aside.
Heat a wok over high heat, add oil and swirl to coat wok. Add greens, in batches if necessary, and stir-fry 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and stir-fry 1 minute. Add sauce, pouring down the side of the wok, stir well, and cook 1 minute more.
Serve immediately, with optional scallion sprinkled on top.
Now be happy: you ate your greens, you fed your kid, and you are probably not really the world's worst mom!