Pie of the Tiger…

People periodically pose the query: can I cook, and what types of food do I like to make? I quickly explain how things are now pre and post MS regarding my cooking skills. For example, I could cook very well pre MS, and I received many complimentary accolades every time I cooked. I shared how I prepared meals using the stove and oven from a young age and not merely assembled cold-cut sandwiches. I learned how cooking is like art, meaning if you dislike something, simply omit it from the pan. On the other hand, baking is like chemistry; it will not bake correctly if you do not add everything. From the age of thirteen, I was cooking for my mom, so she could simply sit and scarf, no fuss, no muss when she got home.

Since we did not have cable, I vigilantly viewed many cooking shows on public broadcasting television. I observed these shows, soaking up every drop of education they served, becoming an outstanding student. They educated me on the difference between making onions translucent and sauteing them and how to sear, stir-fry, and even when to bake versus broil. In addition, these instructors shared how to steam and not boil your veggies, as you should be able to eat them with a fork and not drink them through a straw. I learned so much about cooking as a young boy that I became pretty good at it. Cooking became second nature to me, meaning it was as easy as tying my shoes. I cooked not only for my mom and occasionally friends but also as other situations would arise. I was extremely good at cooking and baking, doing whatever the case demanded.

I was so creative with my provision preparations that it amazed others that a middle schooler cooked it. In the beginning, I made magical meals like an open-faced beef patty sandwich topped with broccoli and provolone cheese. I knew how to steam the broccoli, so it was hot but not mushy, and how to superbly season it with salt. Then, my favorite high school teacher got married, and as a fourteen-year-old boy, I made her a gift basket to celebrate the occasion. This offering had a loaf of my homemade zucchini bread, homemade chicken noodle soup, and a bottle of sparkling wine.

Mostly, my multiple sclerosis has eliminated the idea of actual cooking from my brain. Also, I do not want to put in any significant effort for cooking or cleanup because I am only one person. My multiple sclerosis put me in my charming chariot, making stovetop or oven use literally as well as figuratively out of reach. “So what, pray tell, do you eat?” was their query, and I explained it depends on how I am feeling, meaning how much energy I have. I have stepped up my eating game from the days of eating poorly since I had no money, and now I am in a much better place mentally and financially. I now use a hot plate when I need to cook my food just for the record. So let me give a few examples of some of my current go-to meals.

Go-to meal number one: soft chicken tacos. I take three flour tortilla shells and heat them in the microwave one at a time as needed for twelve seconds to soften them. Next, take a heated taco shell and place a line of chicken pieces and an onion and pepper blend in the middle. Next, add some shredded cheese and a spoon of salsa to taste and make a tasty Mexican-style soft taco entrée. I have all three with a can of seltzer water to make a satisfying meal complete, making more if I am extra hungry.

My second go-to meal is shrimp and pasta. I buy pre-cooked shrimp. I cook my choice of pasta in the microwave, although I usually use penne pasta for this meal. Once the pasta is ready, I place it in a bowl and add the amounts of my choosing of sun-dried tomatoes, black olives, Feta cheese, salt, and pre-cooked shrimp. Lastly, add Italian dressing and then place the bowl in the microwave and heat for a minute or two until it is your temperature preference. I serve it with a side of cold seltzer water, and I have a simple and flavorful meal, so I eat and enjoy it.

The next meal is chicken quesadillas. Again, I use my hot plate for this one. I put frozen chicken strips in a small bowl, add the pepper and onion blend, and microwave for one minute. Then I take one midsize tortilla shell and put it in the microwave for twelve seconds to soften it up. Leaving the skillet turned off, I immediately assembled the quesadilla in the pan. I place one tortilla shell in the skillet, and on one half, I lay sliced pieces of chicken and add some of the pepper and onion blend. Next, I add shredded cheese to my liking and several leaves of fresh cilantro on top of the cheese.

Keeping the unused side bare, I fold it over onto the other side and hold it down for a few seconds. I set the temperature at about medium and let it sit on the first side for seven minutes before I flip it. Once I flip it onto the second side, I let it go for another three to four minutes, as I like mine a bit more crispy than some. Once it is crisp enough for me, I put it on a plate and serve it with a bowl of salsa and seltzer water, completing another delicious Mexican-style meal.

Thanks to WOSU television, my cooking education was extensive and varied. I watched these Italian, Mexican, Japanese, and even southern chefs cook foods worldwide. My mom, of course, fed me well through my childhood, as I always had three meals every day. However, there were many times when she was still at work and would not come home simply to make me a snack, and that was abuse if you asked me. Nevertheless, I ate great goodies during those times because I had the needed skills to cook and the required appetite to eat. All of that WOSU food education affected my entire life when it came to mealtime, and I would not change it for the world.

If all else fails, there is always cold cereal.

Living in an app world… 

I have spoken about how technology has advanced and helped us in life tremendously. I told how fantastic futuristic inventions have made my life significantly better in various ways. For example, it has helped me open and close blinds that are out of my reach and let me answer the doorbell without being at the door. Using this tech verbally, I can set a reminder, check the weather, listen to music, phone a friend, or even call for help. In addition, I can turn on lights or the television, open the garage door, and turn on ceiling fans with these advancements.

When I was a kid, I knew a senior woman who desperately depended on others for everything. She could not drive a car, and her handwriting was hideous, making her dependency on others even more essential. She needed these assistive people to transport her everywhere she desired to go shopping, like groceries and clothes. Others even helped with her many money matters and assisted by writing her checks, paying bills, and opening and reading her primary mail. 

I am a very private person who does not want to break the privacy palisade. However, it is easy to keep my things confidential in this world of “there is an app for that.” I have banking, scheduling, budgeting, and even delivery apps. My app list has a library app, a photo app, and even an app for reviewing all apps. These applications, secret or otherwise, make it easy to keep a dividing barrier between private and public information and help me manage my life with ease.

My banking application has a variety of skills, like it allows me to pay my bills by setting them up to be paid automatically or as needed. I can write checks, pay individuals, or schedule a transaction for a later date. Using this banking function, I can transfer money or send a cashier’s check anywhere and to anyone, all with the cell phone in my hand. My online financial institution is also open 24/7, so I can occasionally call if an account query puts me in a quandary.

I have food delivery apps that will deliver dinner from a diner at dusk or other forms of food on Friday. In the past, I needed treasures for tipping and papers for purchasing, but that is a part of history as technology has raised modernity to new heights. So instead, I open the app for groceries or mealtime and pick what form of food, where I want it delivered, and when to consume it. The application holds my details, including address and payment method, and even allows me to tip all with the push of a button, meaning no longer is there a need for cash.

When most people grocery shop at the brick and mortar store, they can roam like nomads wandering through the desert. If you forget an item, that lazy stroll through the store might give a needed reminder to aid your brain box as to what that missed item is. You cannot stumble upon a hint while gliding through the aisles when ordering groceries through the app. The application will suggest things like hot dog buns, chips, and drinks if you buy hot dogs. On the positive side, a plethora of purchases provoked by hunger will not happen while using this grocery store app. 

There is an app for delivering a delicious dinner, a luscious lunch, or for that matter, a meal at any time of day. Many restaurants offer their menu through a delivery service, yet the choice is yours for whom you should use. There is a lengthy list of restaurants that use a delivery service, and the list is growing by Leaps and Bounds. So whether you want food from a Sports Pub or a meal from a white tablecloth restaurant, the options are plentiful. Finally, a similar systematic strategy for setting up these applications, downloading, signing up, and giving them the address makes it simple. It is unquestionably that easy. 

When you are hungry and want a snack, it is really that simple: just open the app. Find the restaurant whose food you crave and go crazy with your order, like you live in a cave. Merely browse the menus that they offer and find the enticing edibles, and they will chauffeur. Once you have the vittles from the restaurants you fancy, sit down at the table and eat carefreely. 

At that point, your order sets a series of events in motion, all from that one button push that manipulates mealtime forever. First, they send your order to the restaurant to begin prompt preparation to execute expeditiously. Then, before your order is ready, they send a message through the delivery app to let drivers know it is available for diligent delivery. Then a driver comes to the restaurant and picks your meal up for a quick quest to find your house. While being transported, you can even track the driver in real-time through the app’s technological advancement. 

Gone are the requirements of getting dressed, entering public, and having a sit-down meal. Instead, you can have fast food for one or slow food for ten, and all delivered quickly and conveniently to the location of your choosing. I feel I was born at the right time, as I love my independence and require no help from others for tasks like these. I cannot wait to see what technology comes up with next.

The cashless world is now.