Three weeks ago I abandoned all meal planning, food preparation, cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping and dish duties to Allan in order to focus on exams unfettered. Only having fleeting concern for how my husband might fare under this mountain of housework, I instead worried about how I would deal without my favourite procrastination activity of putzing around the kitchen. But to my delighted surprise, I learned that the only thing better than cooking is not cooking.

Seriously, I haven’t missed cooking one bit. Not when Allan is in the kitchen making tasty, fresh salads like the Mexican bean one you see above. It’s all crispy-crunchy colours, the recipe makes a ton, and leftovers keep for days. It’s also right in line with our modest efforts to consume less meat and refined starches, and eat more lean protein and vegetables.  The recipe is here (and you should definitely heed the reviewers’ advice and halve or even quarter the amounts of vinegar and olive oil).

I should caveat my statement about our health-conscious eating habits by saying that this applies only when we eat at home. Outside the home we are no-holds-barred meat-and-fat-loving white-carb devourers. For the past four weeks we’ve ramped up our eating-out a bit, partly to temper Allan’s burden of cooking 21 meals per week by himself but mostly because I found an amazing free deal online where, for one month, we get a 50% discount at thousands(!) of restaurants across the UK, including plenty within walking distance of our home. We’ve been eating very, very well and cheaply, stuffing our bellies with Vietnamese, Lebanese, Italian, Japanese and Antipodean cuisine (which is just a fancy way of saying food from Australia and New Zealand… which turned out to just be a fancy description for burgers). But it’s made us put extra effort into making wiser food choices at home.

Our church runs a drop-in brunch on Tuesdays for homeless and underhoused people in the area, and since they were short some volunteers Allan and I decided to help out today. Watching him interact with all the different people who walked through the door I was reminded of some of the gifts that Allan possesses that are not mine. I marveled at the easy, natural, engaging way Allan can strike up a conversation with absolutely anyone with no hesitation or awkwardness, and no worrying about saying the right thing. I love that he doesn’t over-think things or take things personally. I admire his genuine interest in other people, the way he asks lots of questions, and his belief that everyone has something to say that we can learn from. I’m really glad that these are some of his strengths because they certainly aren’t mine – but then, that’s maybe why we complement each other so well. In the same way that Allan’s salads have been the perfect foil to our plentiful restaurant meals, Allan is the perfect foil to me.

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