Just a quick one today, since I’m on deadline. This was an utterly unremarkable dinner the other night: fried chicken and cucumber salad. The chicken didn’t even get a buttermilk marinade, because there was neither time nor buttermilk; it just got tossed in seasoned flour (salt, pepper, smoked paprika, chili powder) and fried in a mixture of canola and peanut oils. It was perfectly fine. What made this meal something that you really want to put your face in was the sauce, which I threw together based on what was in the fridge.
I used roughly equal parts of the mango salsa, barbecue sauce from the lamb ribs, and kimchi. And those three links right there show exactly why it ended up being so transcendently good: rather than bottles of various store-bought condiments, they were all homemade. That richness and depth of flavor (and uniqueness, since apart from the kimchi they were one-offs) is the key to making ordinary food into a celebration of sustenance. Anything you can do to equip yourself with homemade tomato purée, chutneys, salsas, and pickles will reward you with interest when you need to phone in something on short notice.