Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Food and Love

This evening's dinner: Compliments about the food flowing from the mouths of babes; happy faces stuffed with parmesan, rigatoni noodles, sausage, peas, and garlic bread. We ate, talked, and enjoyed the food and each other. There was only one pea-hockey outbreak which was quickly reigned in. We ended with a small celebration of banana splits which were half eaten—no room for all the pasta that had been devoured.

I was moments from popping a frozen pizza in the oven when we got home at dinner time, hungry from an afternoon at the wading pool with friends. I hadn't brought any snacks, barely making it out the door between wily kids and my darkening mood. I kept thinking: Just get to the park and our spirits will all brighten. No time to pack pita chips! Go!

As I drove home a minivan packed with hungry monkeys, I dedicated myself to a homemade meal and a banana or apple snack while we waited. We made it through the 30 min prep-time, and the meal was better than any frozen pizza could have ever delivered.

Food is powerful.

I went to visit my 95-year-old grandpa last week. I'd seen him the week before as well, and noted that instead of suggesting food from the gas station restaurant that we often have (it's a tiny town and there aren't many options), he wanted a simple meal of noodles and jar pasta sauce. Not exactly homemade, but a step closer than the little restaurant.

So, when I went to visit him this past week, I threw together my grandmother's simple goulash recipe to bring along. At one point there were 8 of us hanging out on his east porch* with bowls of goulash and sleeves of saltines.

Making a meal for him was special for me. It was a simple thing to do, something I've seen my mom do many times for him. It made me really happy to know that I had done something for him, and that we all shared that simple meal together.

Food is memory.

*Note that ordinal points are always called out by my grandpa. It took me all of my childhood and part of my adult life to finally figure out which was the east bedroom upstairs.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Week 128—Grilled

Mon – Picnic sub-sandwich w/fruit and pita chips
Tues – Turkey sausage grilled foil pack
Weds – Fruit Grilled Pork Tenderloin (allrecipes.com)
Thurs – Rigatoni w/Sausage and Peas (Viva Italia)
Fri – Grandma Barb's Spaghetti
Alts – pizza; brats & beans
The menu, in all its glory! Happy cooking.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Yes, Dear. They're delicious.


These biscuits are proof that the less time you spend cooking, the more difficult Bisquick biscuits are to make.

I have begun doing the lion's share of cooking since children have entered our lives. No names here, but let's just say that cooking skills can get rusty if they're not often practiced (especially in conditions where you are constantly being distracted). It was really funny watching the kids trying to eat these since they're typically a favorite. They each ate 3 or 4 bites, didn't say anything, choosing to leave them "for later."

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Week 127—Now that the chicken is gone

Mon – Steak, corn on cob, fingerling potatoes
Tues – Sweet potato pancakes 
Weds – Chicken fingers and squash (never made last week)
Thurs – Grilled chicken and tabbouleh
Fri – Chicken or steak stir-fry
Alts – Spaghetti
I feel ok about cooking chicken again, now that we are no longer chicken-sitting my son's preschool hen. Lots of it on the menu this week, as well as some left-over steak and possibly a breakfast-dinner to save myself a serious trip to the store this week. It's summer. Who wants to grocery shop anyway? Happy cooking.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Abandoned food

At least I discovered it before it melted completely.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

You oughta be in pictures

Don't these tamales look lovely? I picked them up at Trader Joe's to try. Heated them for a little appetizer in the microwave...then proceeded to forget about them until the next evening when I was preparing dinner. 24 hrs in the microwave=tamales fit only for photographing. Bought more tamales yesterday that I hope to actually eat this time.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Week 126—Does this mean I have to make lunch?

Mon – Picnic sub-sandwich w/fruit and pita chips
Tues – Chicken fingers and squash
Weds – Shrimp Monterey (Taste of Home)
Thurs Rigatoni w/Sausage and Peas (Viva Italia)
Fri – Mac w/Ham and Cheese Delux(Allrecipes.com)
Alts – Burgers; spaghetti
Just realized that my daughter, who loved school lunch all year long, will probably be expecting me to actually make something now that she's out of school for the summer. Hm. Our mainstay has been butter and honey sandwiches (hey, at least the bread was wheat!), yogurt w/oats, and a piece of fruit. We'll see how that flies tomorrow. Happy cooking.

The Mom Files

Maybe I am a little too thrilled by my 20% savings via coupons at the grocery store last week.

Life priorities have shifted, not always for the more thrilling. What was once "going out money" is now "Ooh! I'll use this to buy paint for my decrepit garage" money.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Freaky Good

Wow. Made the Lasagna Bolognese from my New York Cooks cookbook yesterday, and am still having heavenly memories of its pure Italian deliciousness.

First, I'd like to thank my 2-year-old for performing the miraculous feat of falling asleep 30 minutes before I needed to pick up my daughter from school, staying asleep as I transferred him into my Boba carrier so we could walk to meet her (chest-facing to encourage slumber), then RE-transferring back to his crib once we got home 25 mins later. That gift allowed me to spend the next 2 hours cooking, which is what this recipe required. Not one for my average weeknight.

Both my other kids helped by chopping veggies and then watching a solid hour of a new DVD picked up at a garage sale of some "Ben10" character. I don't care what they say. TV is an AWESOME babysitter at times like these.

This is a recipe I had tried a few years ago and had written in a very average review. "Nice. Too moist--drain meat well before finishing the ragu." I have to say that I was completely off-base. Maybe I didn't use pancetta last time, or maybe I didn't mix some 1/2 and 1/2 in with the skim milk to add some body since it simply calls for "milk." Maybe I omitted the wine before, because I don't often have a bottle of white on hand.

Anyway, whatever it was that made it come together this time has made this a new favorite. We all had multiple helpings, youngest to oldest. Ok, there was one hold-out (waaaaay too much mixing of foods with lasagna), but he made up for it in peas and buttered bread.

[Update: Thanks for finding this recipe online, Sylvia!] You'll feel like a real Italian Mama with 3 pots going on the stove and a nice beaded sweat above your upper lip. That is, if you don't have central AC and you're cooking on a hot summer day as I was.

Speaking of Italian things that are awesome, doesn't this place look fun? Next time you're on Marcel Street in Paris... Maison Momoni! I'm not even sure the taste of the items suits me. I just like how it's all displayed.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Week 125—No more school, no more books

Mon – Lasagna Bolognese (New York Cooks)
Tues – Grill steaks from Von Hanson's
Weds – Grilled chicken kabobs
Thurs – Pasta-Somethingorother a la Buttera (New York Cooks)
Fri – Pizza party
Alts – Groupon to Greenmill
This marks the last week of school for 2 of my kids. Wooo! Summer vacation is exciting, even in the minds of soon-to-be graduated preschoolers and kindergarteners. So, this week we make a nod to the fresh start that summer vacation brings by trying some new recipes.

If you're in a reading kind of mood, check out my friend Julie's blog. She is an inspired and witty writer, no matter the topic. Her most recent post is about thank you notes -- her best and worst ever received. Good food for thought. Happy cooking.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Camping Cooler

Recent camping cooler: cheap beer, milk, salami, yogurt, worms. I'm not sure what else there is to say.