The other day, I invited a few people over to dinner, ten to be exact. There are five in our house already, but I really didn’t think I’d be feeding 15 people. Assuming a lot of people had plans or were out of town, I was hedging my bets. I had two pork roasts, bought for a pretty good price, and I wanted to make pulled pork. That was more than enough for just the five of us, and I figured inviting ten more would give me a few more faces at the table. I mean, not that many people will say yes on a weeknight, right? Wrong, happily!
I ended up buying a third pork roast and coming home from work at lunch to throw them all in the slow cooker with some sliced onions and red peppers and a healthy slug of Savvy Foods’ All Purpose Sauce, which you may know from Yellow Dog Barbecue. But what about sides?
Summer makes sides easy for two reasons: There is an absolute ton of fresh produce to be had, and anything that doesn’t have to be cooked doesn’t heat up your kitchen, keeping your air conditioning bill just ever so slightly lower. This is also why I like to use my slow cooker in the summer, even though most people associate it with hearty winter stews. Unlike the oven, a slow cooker doesn’t add to the heat in your house.
I examined my vegetable drawer and found a bunch of kale, a lovely cucumber, and a ton of randomly sized tomatoes. The kale became a simple salad. The cucumber was sliced and tossed in a zippered plastic bag with a little vinegar and water, some sugar, and a spoonful of gochujang chili paste. (Why do I use a plastic bag, even though it’s wasteful and bad for the environment? Because squeezing the air out means it takes a lot less marinade to cover the cucumbers, so I save money there.) The tomatoes were the easiest of all: They’re just perfect sliced and salted with Seasonello (which you can and should go get at the Piggly Wiggly on Devine, because you will never look back).
One of our guests brought a cake and some chips, and I had made pimiento cheese earlier in the day with leftover bits of cheese, and another friend brought sliced watermelon, so we were good to go. As for beverages? That seemed to just come together, and there’s always water, and usually rosé. We ended up with an Instagram worthy meal for 15 (at least in my book). In the end, we had a large container of leftover pulled pork, and I have no doubt it’ll get eaten over the course of the week. (In fact, I’m eating some of it for lunch as I type.)
So often, we worry that there isn’t enough to go around. But there is. It’s often a matter of being willing to share and also throwing caution to the wind. Or, um, inviting a bunch of people to dinner and not panicking when they accept. It can be hard to give things up when we fear not having enough, and for many people, that fear is a real part of their lives. For the rest of us, when we’re honest, we have a lot more than enough. We can always feed a few more people, or let go of some gently used household goods and clothing for people who don’t have enough. The next time you’re filling the bag to take to Goodwill, ask yourself if you have enough. And consider how much someone else needs and would love what you have. And go ahead and fill the midlands’ newest location, and get what you need.