Once upon a time I lived in an office cubicle. The corporate culture there did not consider food a priority. Feeding oneself was done reluctantly or late in the day when prompted by blurred vision and severely low blood sugar. Everyone was too busy working; there was software to be tested and tax code to apply. Lunch hour swept past briskly without a glance, dressed in black like a New York City pedestrian, on to more important people like Mark Bittman and Anthony Bourdain.
For years I acquiesced to microwaving frozen burritos or zipping to the subpar deli downstairs and returning to my desk to devour blog posts about Stir Fried Minced Beef with Chiles and Basil and Dulce de Leche Cupcakes. Then one day an angel arrived in the form of a young brunette software developer named Saina (pronounced SY-nuh). Lunchtime changed forever.
We became instant friends. When two people working in corporate tax software discover a shared love for dancing in public and Cher Horowitz, the bond is sealed forever. Thus began our journey in Office Kitchen Adventures.
Both valuing our youth and figures, we agreed to eat as healthy as possible while maximizing our talents for innovation and experimentation. We began recklessly as most worthwhile endeavors do. We’d both bring whatever items were reaching expiration in our refrigerators or healthy leftovers from last night’s dinner. Then we’d sort of look away and toss things atop one another in a bowl, fingers crossed, hoping for a magical culinary combustion. These dishes were interesting. Saina’s Persian influence proved to be the saving grace as we soothed these amalgamations with cool yogurt and fresh squeezed lime juice; two ingredients I now respect more than good olive oil.
After running our palates through the gamut, strategy improved. We began to bring fresh organic vegetables and accompaniments like quinoa, rice, tortillas, nuts, and cheese. Harmony at last! To further our delight, we unearthed and revived a blender from the back corner of the cupboard and strode into the land of smoothies and soups. Some meals were acceptable, but others were pretty darn tasty and fun to make. The potential beginnings of a cookbook emerged. The meals were unique and surprising because we never pre-planned what to bring. We took whatever we had and combined.
Our happy days in the kitchen were cut short along with the company’s budget so we never got to progress with any sort of book, but I found a Word document with a few things jotted down. Apologies for the occasional use of a microwave. Office kitchens have limitations. And further apologies for the lack of ingredient quantities. Apparently, spending your day coding and technical writing causes a refusal to engage in any left-brained activities during lunch break. Just guesstimate. It’s adventurous.
California Veggie Rice Bowl. Combine the following: Lettuce with tomatoes, cucumbers, light dressing, basmati rice, avocado, a Dr. Praegar’s California Veggie burger (heated in microwave and cut into pieces), yogurt, and a garnish with chopped fresh mint.
Flower Power. Lightly blend cauliflower and carrots. Thinly slice raw zucchini and mix everything together with pesto.
Presto Salad. Hard-boiled egg smooshed and mixed with raw basil pesto.
Quick Excel Dressing: tomato, yogurt, olive oil, salt, pepper blended together.
Color Me Beet. Blend one roasted beet, five baby carrot sticks, ginger, acai juice, and Evolution Incredible Vegetable juice. No colds here
Quinoa Queen Bowl. Quinoa, kale, raw yellow squash, tomato, avocado, walnuts, fresh cilantro, and vinaigrette dressing.
Office Thai. Rice noodles (cooked in microwave) with yellow curry (curry sauce, potatoes, carrots, corn, water chestnuts) over a bed of chopped romaine.
Squash Rap. Steam (in microwave with a little water) yellow or white squash, sprinkle of shredded parmesan, plain yogurt, salt and pepper, a few pecans, rolled into a toasted tortilla. Side of green grapes.