Sunday, 4 October 2015

Like a virgin

When my youngest daughter, the hippie one, suggested I start a blog it was probably because I was clogging up her Instagram and Facebook feeds with food posts.  I don't think she ever imagined I would actually do it, as my tech savvy is, shall we say, limited.  But the ability to say more, expand and explain, to have more than 140 characters is irresistible. So here we are with the first post.

Today is a planning and cooking day, or it will be as soon as I get my lazy self to the grocery store.  I've found that at least having an idea what will be for dinner most nights means I waste less food, grocery shopping is more focused and I'm not (quite) as likely to give up and go out for dinner when I come home from work and find "my house is dark and my pots are cold."

Here's how the planning stage starts.  I try to use some of the food I already have in the fridge and freezer, try some new dishes and repeat some successful ones.  Then I write a grocery list.  The unsanitary-looking book on the top is the way I store all my old clippings, recipes from other people and so on.  I apologize for the strange text wrap - it's not working well and I have no idea how to fix it.Told you I was an amateur.  Anyway, the next step is shop, then plan out the cooking order.  Back soon.
Grocery shopping complete.

The week's menu looks like this:

I have the meatballs and asian BBQ tenderloin in the freezer.  The plan is do the Biriyani first as we are eating it tonight - throw the food at my men while I continue with the rest, and convince Kenny, my youngest,  to do as many of the dishes as possible by pretending they are all from making dinner.  You start with marinating the chicken with yoghurt and spices.  I left out the chili entirely from this recipe because my husband does not do spicy.  At all. Let it sit while you prep the rest.
 Pour a glass of wine because it's 6 o'clock now and you deserve it.  I did the prep of the aromatics and rice on the stove in a cast iron pan because my rice cooker doesn't have a "cook" option.  I used the chicken broth I had made last week and put in the freezer.  Once the rice cooker was going I started the sausage and peppers for the pasta tomorrow.  It's from the new Michael Smith book, Make Ahead Meals, but honestly you could wing it.  Take a couple onions, 4-5 Italian sausages, 3-4 chopped red peppers and 2 heads of garlic, peeled, separated and halved if large, I added a chopped eggplant not in the original recipe, and mix with a tablespoon of oregano, sea salt an pepper, a cup of red wine and a couple tablespoons of olive oil.  Mix it all in a large bowl then roast it at 375 for an hour, stirring every 15-20 minutes.  It gets heated up and served on penne, stirring in a couple of cups of greens.  I reserved a ziplock bag of the mixed kale/spinach/chard blend I'd bought for soup.

Now it's time to start the chicken - 4 organic, skin on bone in breasts that were on sale.  I often cook a whole chicken or two to use during the week but this was cheaper.  I used the same spice blend I always use on the chicken.  It's adapted from a paleo recipe for slow cooker rotisserie chicken.  Combine more or less equal amounts of sea salt, thyme, garlic powder, smoked paprika, and freshly ground pepper.  Rub the chicken with olive oil, then the spice blend.  If using a whole chicken use the slow cooker.  Put a few balls of tinfoil on the bottom to keep the chicken elevated, then cook on low for 10 hours or so.  They tell me it's good - certainly it comes out moist.  This chicken I just baked since I had the oven on for the sausage/pepper mix.

Break for dinner.  If you make the biriyani, DO NOT omit the cashew/fried onion/raisin topping.  It makes the dish.  We had it with Major Grey chutney and a very spicy cilantro chutney for Ken and I.  I forgot the naan.  Sigh.  It was supposed to be served with broccoli but I forgot to buy it.  Now we will all go to carb hell.
Note the classy label on my homemade spice jar.
We ate dinner right after I put the chicken and the sausages in the oven.  We had some leftovers which will be used for lunches during the week.  Here's where Ken did a lot of the dishes - I'd done some but he is a machine.

Then I started the soup - an amalgamation of several recipes.  It's essentially a split pea soup with greens added at the end, then blended with the immersion blender.  Looks a bit Exorcist-esque but tastes good.  Once it was simmering, it needed an hour to soften the peas, just the right amount of time to do the pumpkin bread.  My recipe comes from my old friend Suzanne, she gave it to me sometime in the '80's .  It makes two loaves, and is by no means a healthy recipe.  Also it contains 2 cups of pumpkin, which is somewhat less than a large can and somewhat more than a small one.  It's a testament to how good this recipe is that I keep making it given this and the three cups of sugar.  I'll post it when I figure out how to do that and make it look good.
You will only wind up with about half this amount.
 All told it takes about 4 hours to do 5 dinners.  I started about 4:30 and was finished before 9.  After I watched Dr. Who with Ken and Alice and ate a slice of the evil pumpkin loaf.  Here are the meals:
Prep for the meatball subs and soup, thawing meatballs, cheese, panini buns, marinara sauce.  The Green Soup jarred and cooling.  I will use either tofu or veggie burger in my sandwich.
To the right are the pumpkin loaves.  They didn't stay intact for long.
Below are two previously cooked Asian BBQ tenderloins, chinese noodles, stir fry vegetable mix and bean sprouts.  I'll add veg broth, soy sauce and oyster sauce and other seasonings to the stir fry vegetables, add the boiled noodles and stir in the bean sprouts and some green onions right before serving.  I might add some sticky rice if we have a full complement of diners.   Again, I may add some tofu for me.
 This is the sausage and pepper "sauce".  It gets heated up while the pasta boils, then added to the cooked penne with some of the reserved cooking water and the greens.  It's supposed to be served with shaved parmesan on top but I will just put the parmesan and grater on the table .

Serving with a green salad with cucumbers. I just serve myself pasta with the vegetables and pick out the meat.  Yeah, I am not so much a vegetarian as a person who doesn't eat meat.  Jimm, the recipient of the meat, doesn't judge.  If a dish is too meaty, like stew or something with ground meat I eat something else.
 The roasted chicken breasts.  I will shred some for the enchiladas, and serve any remaining with Friday's Greek food, hence the pitas.

I made hummus a few days ago - hopefully there will be some left, otherwise it's back to the grocery store. The enchiladas will be put together on the day I bake them or they tend to get soggy.  It's one of the most popular things with my family and ridiculously easy to make once you have all the ingredients together.  I had an enchilada sauce in the freezer from the last time I made Mexican food.  On the day we are going to eat it I'll combine shredded chicken, a tub of cream cheese, a jar of salsa, a can each of 

 black beans and corn, and roll the mixture in tortillas.  I have used both corn and whole wheat tortillas successfully. Some sauce goes in the bottom of the pan, just enough that they won't stick.  Oil the baking dish a bit.  I usually make 2 without the chicken and with some added zucchini or other veg for me, putting them at one end of the pan in a kind of vegetarian apartheid.  When all the enchiladas are rolled pour sauce over, then top with a little shredded Mexican cheese (I use Oaxaca but you can use Mozza or Monterey Jack).  Bake until hot and serve with Mexican rice and shredded lettuce.  I use mild salsa to make this and keep the sauce mild for Jimm so the kids usually put some hot salsa on top.

So there you have it.  I don't get this much done every week, but my life is easier when I do.  It's always a toss up any day I'm not working what will be neglected.  Cooking?  Office work?  Laundry? Leisure?  Doing one means not doing the others.  (nb, most of the "extras" on my original plan did not get done because I wasted too much time.  C'est la vie.)

1 comment:

  1. Update. Monday night I didn't get home from clinic until after 9:30 p.m. Wound up at the Townhall eating a veggie burger and salad at 10. 9 hours after my lunch. No amount of prep can save work days like this, it seems. Boys had eaten Subway. Sigh.