Sunday, January 31, 2010

Week 41--Sam's Club Menu

MonRotisserie chicken and squash (rotiss chickens are $4.98 at Sam's)
TuesSalmon and sweet peas
WedsSteak and mashed potatoes
Thurs BBQ pork in crock pot
Fri Rigatoni Isabella
Extras Lots o' leftovers in that fridge...
I went to Sam's Club on Saturday to buy 3 items: a giant can of Ovaltine, milk, and orange juice, and then see what other deals looked appealing. $140 later I had what I hoped was a generous supply of foodstuffs for the next week and beyond. Pork loins for $1.98/lb? Gigantic food-service size crushed tomatoes for $2.48? Pineapples for $2.88? Crazy.

I'm still getting used to shopping there since I don't like to warehouse food, but I'm also realizing there are some items that might be convenient to have around. We'll see how it goes. If I'm still staring at 3.5lbs of salmon ($21!) in 6 months in my freezer, then I'll know I waste less by keeping things slim. For now, if anyone needs to borrow a cup of rolled oats, we've got enough to fill a small sandbox. Happy cooking.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Pizza Day-in-the-Life

How late afternoon proceeded on Wednesday:

No one is napping. Bodily eliminations discovered in various areas of the upstairs couch and carpet. Thank goodness for removable couch covers. Suddenly feel motivated to clean entire upstairs. Plan to begin cooking dinner delayed.


Clean-up done. Get an IM from husband saying it would be a good pizza night. BUT we have a plan for dinner already and we both want to exercise some pizza-eating discipline. I tell him what the dinner plan is and he reminds me this dish was blamed for killing a small town in a Monty Python sketch.

4-year-old suggests it would be a good pizza night. Something in the air? Family-wide dread of salmon loaf more likely. She must sense it's coming because I haven't mentioned it yet.

I casually look up some online pizza deals at Green Mill. Conclude there are some offers not-to-be-missed, and besides, it's getting late to make The Loaf. Everyone wearing thin from a long afternoon.

Husband IMs he's leaving work. Sideways reference that IT WOULD BE BAD TO GET PIZZA. I take the cue.


Family happily eats pizza in clean upstairs.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Week 40–Peach Pies + At Least Three Meals Only Parents Will Eat

Monbeef stir fry
Tuessalmon loaf (everyone in the family is dreading this but me)
Wedsbistro mac n' cheese
Thurs Jamaican fish chowder with kale
Fri presto chicken tacos
Alts Rigatoni; Chicken fingers, oven fries, squash
On Sunday I tried a recipe for mini-peach pies that I saw in Parent's magazine. You make little personal-sized peach pies which are: peaches, cinnamon & sugar on a little bed of graham cracker crumbs within a 4" pie crust round. Bake 400 for 30 min. I made the pie crust from scratch be/c I like to, but you can use pre-made pie crust and just roll it out a bit. The result was ok, but for the time it took to assemble and shape the mini-pies, I will just make a whole pie in the future. More pie that way too!

Discovered several great baking recipes over the weekend I'm anxious to try. Some lemon bread, homemade donuts, others. Will let you know how they are as I get to them over the coming weeks, months, years. You know. Happy cooking.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


My mom has a fairly extensive collection of potato mashers in her house. None of them are ever used, although with a healthy dose of Irish ancestry, she loves potatoes beyond any other food. She prefers to use a hand-mixer when making mashed potatoes, but her interest in old potato mashers persists. The one shown here is actually a delightful bike rack and has nothing to do with my mom's collection other than being probably the coolest potato-masher-bike-rack I've ever seen.

I was considering the other day my own kitchen gadget preferences. I've been through a lot of garlic presses, finally landing on my favorite (designed by my friend Willy Loor--thanks Willy! Lovely photo here from the OXO website). But that was more about finding a preferred tool than a collector-type interest.

Of all the gadgets I enjoy using the most in my kitchen, it's probably a whisk. I always get a child-like thrill when I need to "whisk" a particular part of a recipe. Pastry blenders are similarly delightful. I once tried to hand whisk egg whites like the pros and about lost a limb in my efforts. It's not personal proficiency that makes these things fun. I just like the way these wiry devices look, and how they come in so many forms.

I've polled on this site about the quantities of gadgets people have, but what I'd love to know is which of them people collect or particularly enjoy using. Does it have something to do with personal history? Enjoyment of the food you prepare with the tool? Pure aesthetic satisfaction? Ahh, the questions that keep a person up at night. Ok, this probably isn't one of them, but if you feel like sharing a story about your gadget-of-choice, comment away! I would be a happy reader.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Week 39—Salmon and Steak

Monsalmon with carrots and collard greens
Tuesgrill steak with baked sweet potatoes
Wedslasagna (left-over from the freezer) w/salad and cottage cheese
Thurs chicken salad with bread/crackers, cheese and tomato soup
Fri stuffed peppers
Alts Chachere's dirty rice; chip plate w/homemade chips and refrieds
Variety was the motive behind this week's menu. I looked to land, sea, and freezer for ideas to bring some colorful things to the table. My husband made some fabulous homemade cinnamon rolls this weekend with a healthy (!) layer of cream cheese frosting. That, plus the cookies I made with my daughter on Friday means we are not lacking for calories as the week begins. Happy cooking.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

That was easy - !

I got a taste for what life is like as your kids become more independent (and capable) yesterday.

My preschooler helped me make cookies. Funny thing was, she was actually helpful. She even commented at one point, "This is a lot easier with just two of us, isn't it?" I think referencing the fact that her little brother was napping at the time so it wasn't the usual moderate chaos that cooking with a 2-year-old will inevitably bring.

It even made a teeny tiny part of me a little sad about the fact that they do grow up quickly. Mostly, though, it was just a really nice time together.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


I don't have much luck getting my kids to eat soup. For my part, I've been enjoying trying these fun little alphabet letters in soups periodically this winter. They're so fine that they don't even require cooking time. You just put them into hot soup and they're done. Love.

At lunch today, I put together a "chicken alphabet soup" from rotisserie left-overs, some broth, mashed sweet potato and chopped carrots. I went heavy on the letters, thinking it might make it more pasta-like and somehow help interest the kids. My 4-year-old, non-plussed, started slowly eating. My 2-year-old looked at the bowl and with hardly a moment's hesitation threw the bowl against the dining room windows. Alphabet letters streaming down the window pane, plastering the radiator below, and pooling on the floor.

I was furious.

I manage to pick him up fairly calmly to lift him over the mess and tell him, "Time to clean up." He is a food-thrower by nature, so he knows the routine. He grabs a kitchen towel and starts mopping. I start on the windows. We clean for awhile, as I fume. We then spend a futile 2 minutes in time-out together (I hold him on my lap to get him to stay put but at this point, he's bawling. He wants lunch.) We return to the dining room, he asks for a cookie. I said, "No." He says he's hungry. I tell him that throwing your food against the wall is not a good way to indicate hunger. He'll have to wait until afternoon snack time. The next 20 minutes was a bit rough as we prepare to take my daughter to preschool. But somehow, we both move on with the day.

I admit to myself that had I been watching this scene unfold from my neighbor's house, I would have been deeply, deeply amused. Especially when the window-washing started.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Week 38--Winging It

MonSpinach souffle
TuesFish with mashed sweet potatoes and sweet peas
WedsBarb's spaghetti
Thurs Rigatoni w/sausage and peas
Fri pizza
Extras rotisserie chicken; dirty rice (Chachere's box mix)
Made the menu while at the grocery store since I had 45 min to do the planning AND shopping on Sunday. Naturally this means I forgot at least 2 ingredients which I'll try to pick up as the week goes on. Busy times right now with potty training going on (i.e. daytime clean-up and sheet-washing), finally getting the Christmas stuff cleaned up. Spouse is job hunting, I have some work coming in. Word that it is finally supposed to be above 10 degrees outside for once. Change is in the air! Happy cooking.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Meatballs Are Not Photogenic

Since it's cloudy here today with 100% chance of meatballs (given Monday's batch of 120), I figured I'd post the one moderately appetizing photo of a meatball I took. This photo reminds me of a story I heard about the challenges of photographing casseroles for magazines. Your average Taste of Home issue, for example, has probably 357 casseroles in it. What do you DO with all those? Barring photoshoots in tropical climates that will automatically make anything in the picture look good, they're all going to look like slabs of lumpy stuff under melted cheese in elongated pans.

In the design world we always said no matter your product, if you stick an animal--or more specifically a puppy--in the photo with the product, it'll sell. That imagery really breaks down when you're talking food, though. If it's good enough for the dog, it's, well...

Monday, January 4, 2010

Week 37 - Meatballs for 100?

MonParty Meatballs (Taste of Home)
TuesBeef stir-fry with soba noodles
Thurs Chili and baked potatoes
Fri BBQ chicken a la crock pot
Extras pancakes; chip plate
Made the meatball recipe tonight, not realizing it said it would make THREE 9x13 pans worth. Fortunately I had the pans, and fortunately the meatballs were pretty good. We have a lot of meatballs in the freezer now. We had them with some fresh pineapple on the side, which reminded me of the Taste of Home Polynesian Meatball recipe I usually make. I prefer the latter because it has a nice blend of meatiness and tartness. Great juices with mashed potatoes too. Happy cooking.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Bloggy Movie

I watched "The Julie/Julia Project" over the holidays. I enjoyed the story, and took a look at the blog for the first time tonight.

Matt and I saw the Julia Child kitchen a few years ago, immortalized in the Smithsonian. It makes an appearance in the movie--make sure to check it out if you're ever doing museum rounds in DC (shown here). The pans you see on the back wall are hung on peg-board with marker outlines that make it easy to tell which pans hang where. Like a well-organized workshop where function drives form.

I write this without much point other than to say that if you're remotely into food (even if it's not French cooking), and if you periodically take the time to read THIS little blog, then you'd probably enjoy the movie. For reference, here's the blog that inspired the movie:

I think the closest I ever get to French cooking is a healthy use of butter and frequent purchases of baguettes. Don't think cooking my way through a Julia Child cookbook is in my near future, but maybe "Mastering the Art of Great Tortillas." Something south of the border... yum.