Sunday, July 29, 2012

MPM--The Unstructured Month

Is anyone else having trouble finding the memo about it being August this week? Because, dang.

Camp ended. The surgery went well (thanks for the prayers).  My health is better. (Now I sound like an old person. Oy.) The kids are ok. Now we are just trying to settle in to these unstructured weeks before school. I'm excited for them, and nervous too. Wish me luck.

Monday: Taking advantage of my husband coming home early to rest from surgery: he'll be grilling. Along with what we grill (which will include zucchini), beets, tomato salad (ok, tomatoes and feta tossed with vinaigrette...I call it salad) and some dessert. Maybe. I think there are chicken breasts in the freezer, in which case--yogurt chicken. I know you are shocked.

Tuesday: still love taco Tuesday. Rock on.

Wednesday: Ack, last day of summer work for me. So, stuff from the box. And something to go with I have a pesto chicken dish (from Dinner A'Fare) that will work for this night.

Thursday: Man, leftovers would be great about now. Barring that, probably Dinner A'Fare, and the buttermilk edamame-cherry tomato salad, and something.

Friday: Kids are back in to pizza Fridays. Who am I to judge?

So I finally made the salmon salad from Dinner: A Love Story. It was a hit with the grownups (and I wasn't even bothering for the kids, though the older boy piped up, "I'll have the salad without the salmon," so I guess I need to remember this expanding palate lives with me now). It was awesome. Even the day after surgery, my husband loved it, and it felt like a big bowl of summer. It did, of course, take me days to make it, doing it piecemeal, but eventually I had enough momentum that it worked. And it was delicious.

And? Extra tip, especially for local folks but I bet it would work at a lot of places: I went to my favorite grocery store (which has a great meat/fish selection) and noted they had a bunch of smallish pieces of salmon left over. When I told the man at the counter I needed salmon but it was just for a salad so I would be happy to take small pieces, his face lit up and he said, "If you want the tails, you can have them for a song." And next thing I knew, he cut the price by a little over half. It was awesome. I knew it was going in a salad so I didn't need a pretty piece, and it still tasted phenomenal.

Here's wishing you a lazy summer week full of happy surprises and old favorites (still eating tomato sandwiches every day for lunch, yum). Go check out I'm an Organizing Junkie! for more inspired summer menus!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

MPM--I Should Know Better Than to Declare a Hiatus

Because then something amazing happens.

Ok, I use "amazing" loosely here. But foodwise, it was pretty epic.

This weekend, my husband was away and I was on meds that made me unable to drive. So it was like a summer snow day, full of house projects. I decided since we couldn't go anywhere for food, I should convert the stuff in the fridge into edible things. I sliced and diced celery, carrots, and cukes for the week. I made strawberry-rhubarb crumble, and scalloped tomatoes. Potatoes were roasted with rosemary from the garden and I tipped and tailed and parboiled all the green beans. I got by on some takeout samosas (from before the meds) and noodles for the kids. And the older "I don't like noodles" boy? Now likes noodles. Glory be. Though so far, he thinks it might be just medium shells, but he also identified: he does NOT like pesto on pasta. Just quinoa. Allrighty.

But then I was in despair trying to use cabbage and made the cabbage and white bean skillet dish from Heidi Swanson. And I chopped half a red onion, and older boy came along and freakin' ATE THE OTHER HALF. RAW. Piece by piece, just peeled it along. And asked what I'd made with the other half...and asked if he could have some too. And he did. He asked for soy sauce-fine by me. He had two whole bowls of it. I could have wept. I have no idea why this weekend they are all adventuresome with food. Maybe because I was gone last week, and Dad is gone now, and all the rules are shot to heck. Maybe because we are very very very very very low on convenience foods and so everything looks good. (Note to self: remember this. They do eventually eat when hungry. Well, one does, anyway.)

Meanwhile, Little Guy gets it in his head he wants to make lemon squares. I don't even know how he knows what lemon squares are. But, lemon squares it is. So he learned to cut a lemon in half and how to juice it with the reamer and strainer. He learned how to look it up in the cookbook! And the How to Cook Everything cookbook index intimidates me! So I am totally impressed.

So now I'm baking cookies for all the friends and neighbors who were so helpful in my emergency the other day, the kids are playing with other neighbors, and life is pretty sweet.

This week:

Monday: well heck. We might as well have the cabbage and white bean skillet, side of green beans. Probably a salad of cherry tomatoes and feta as well with the Catherine Newman vinaigrette on it. My mouth waters just typing the words.

Tuesday: I have been so out of it, I can't even tell you the last time we had a taco Tuesday, so it's time.

Wednesday: very unclear. My husband is having surgery (minor, but it's surgery) so I will try to have something easy. Heck, now that noodles are back on the "OK" list, that might work, though he should probably have something more fibrous.

Thursday: depends, but probably CSA vegetables and Dinner A'Fare meal or my favorite boxed chicken nuggets for the kids.

Friday: we'll see.

One more thing to make this week: I have these adorable little eggplants and since they are too small to grill, I'm making some sauce to put up for winter from my old reliable Glamour magazine recipe from 1990...? ish. And pray that nothing goes wrong with our freezer.

Lastly, we finally tried the Clover Lane feta dip and it was a huge hit. Our Greek seasoning is round the bend (how does that even happen? embarrassing how dusty it tasted) but with just oregano and salt and pepper, it was still great and a huge hit with the grandparents when they came. We skipped the bread and ate it as a salad. Delicious. (But hence the feta hanging around waiting to be made into salad. I was at BJ's.)

Deep breaths. Last week of camp. Last paycheck well and truly cashed and reserves dwindling. This weekend was good practice for the ultimate cupboard challenge that is August. And that's not fair; I know I have resources to tap (this is why I had the money in savings...this is why I had the money in savings...repeat as necessary...when the paychecks start again so will the savings...when the paychecks start again so will the savings...); and my parents lived like this, with one ten-month and one 12-month salary, so while I always had the 12 month, for a first time, this wasn't too bad in the 10-month category.

So here we go! Here's hoping for a healthier, happier August for all. Go get inspired by other meal plans at I'm an Organizing Junkie!

Saturday, July 21, 2012


I know, all 20 of you were just watching your reader, hoping for an update from me. Sorry to disappoint. There was a business trip (!), and, alas, continued sickness. Nothing contagious (so I'm out and about) but it's been pernicious. Oh, the 40s, the changes you bring my body are not exactly surprising but not exactly welcome either. I won't go in to it except to say that the sickness is morphing in to cousin-to-asthma reactive airway, and that leads to meds...sigh. I like going to a doctor or dentist and saying "none" to the "What medicines are you on?" question and would like to get back to that if I can.
Between the pesky no-summer-paychecks, the no idea what's in the CSA box, and the hoarding of frozen meals, I have nothing too inspirational here anyway, so I'm going on a summer break. But I didn't want to leave anyone hanging and wondering what was happening. The answer is: not much. And that's a great thing. I'll collect any good summer recipes I try and pop back when there's more to report. Happy summer!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

MPM--Back from the Brink

Well. That was unpleasant. That whole feverish-to-the-point-of-delusional thing? Really hideous. Don't try this at home.

My husband was a champ and came home every night and swung in to action so I could crawl in to bed, whimpering and listening to NPR. Seriously. That was my week. But I'm back. And while I am desperately afraid one boy has picked it up, I'm praying I'm wrong. This week:

Monday: the in-laws are over. Happily, my husband hit the "store closing" sale at a local supermarket and grilled an amazing rib eye. We'll have that and the salmon salad, I think, and the feta dip for a side/appetizer. Oh, and probably either zucchini rice gratin (sidebar) or just Smitten Kitchen's favorite zucchini on the side. Oh--or zucchini pizza. I have pizza dough from last week to use. (And, clearly, a large zucchini from the neighbors.)

Tuesday: Back to taco Tuesdays. Last week was interrupted in a big way.

Wednesday: Dinner A'Fare meal, plus lots of veggies from the box.

Thursday: Dinner A'Fare meal, plus lots of veggies from the box.

Friday: No clue. Can't think that far ahead. Here's hoping there are leftovers.

Seriously? I'm so glad to be back in the land of the living. Here's hoping you and your loved ones are well and happy and enjoying good summer meals together. Go see I'm an Organizing Junkie! for more great meal ideas.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

MPM--In Which I Confess I Have No Vision

So I actually did what I wanted to do last week (woohoo!) and made the new pork recipe last week. I wanted to try it because I had the leeks and carrots and also had something to do with the second pork tenderloin. That part of my plan worked; I had the stuff for the bourbon-mustard marinated pork tenderloin in the house from the bulk cooking experiment, so I bought the two-pack, froze one, and made the new recipe with the other. And hence the title: Of course it tasted like pork in a cheesy sauce. It was heavier than it seemed it would be in my head, and was a little "off" for summer in that it used such a heavy sauce on such delicate veggies. I did like the "cook in strips" part (me & my raw meat issues) but overall: not a winner here. Not to say it might not be for you. But for me? Not a favorite. (To be fair: I was missing the parsley, which I think would be a key ingredient. But--still, a very heavy sauce for some very delicate veggies.)

I am sick as a dog this week so boy howdy I'm going for easy.

Monday: whatever is the easiest Dinner AFare thing in the freezer

Tuesday: taco Tuesday

Wednesday: Happy 4th! Cookout on the street. Will probably make quinoa salad to share and grill burgers and dogs with the neighborhood.

Thursday: I'll feel better by then, right? Right? Please tell me I will feel better. Still something Dinner AFare-y.

Friday: something. probably a frantic effort to use the csa veggies.

Also? MorningStar Farms "Facon" (as my kids call it) has changed our summer. The older boy eats BLTs (or now, FLTs) every day. I can live with that. I love real bacon but it's nice to not be totally creeped out wondering whether you are poisoning your family with whatever pathogens are swirling in that package every lunchtime.

That's all I have in me this week, go see Org Junkie for more inspired summer ideas than "get well pronto."