I am delighted beyond reason to be cooking again these days, and I have expanded my duties to include cooking dinner for my parents three nights a week. Those meals must be un-spicy and easily transported. In the mean time, I am adjusting my menu planning for nights when Mr. Annie is on the road (nursery food) and the realities of the season and the economy. I pretty much missed farmers’ market season this year, and a Michigan November is not a great time to plan meals around fresh produce. Furthermore, food is just getting really expensive, and although knowing how to cook takes the sting out of it a bit (I can braise a tough cut of meat into silkiness like nobody’s business) I still have to make some choices, particularly in terms of quality. I could drive to a farm in a nearby community and buy eggs, or drive to the City Market to replicate the farm-fresh eggs I buy at the farmers market in the summer, but in either case I would be increasing my gas expenditure and my carbon footprint in order to get better eggs. I could buy Eggland’s Best,” which do (in my opinion) have a slight edge in taste and a definite edge nutritionally, but they are at least twice the price of the less exotic eggs in the dairy case. We eat the regular eggs.
Here’s what we’re eating this week, based on the parents, the schedule, the budget, and what called to me from my cookbook collection. I have never made several of these recipes before; I was in that kind of mood.
That’s a Great Question
My niece is making her stage debut Saturday night in a production of something called “Captain Bree and the Lady Pirates,” and since the curtain goes up at 7:00, we will need to leave here by no later than 6:15. I am not personally capable of eating dinner earlier than that, so I am hoping that Mr. Annie will prepare a sumptuous post-theater feast that will be ready when we return home, put our opera glasses away and slip into our respective smoking jackets.
Chicken and Indian Spices with Yogurt, Basmati Rice & Spiced Acorn Squash
The chicken recipe is Mark Bittman’s, the rice is on a bag in my cupboard and the squash is to be invented. This is a just-us night; I knew as soon as I saw the spices called for in the chicken recipe that it was not suitable for the faint of heart.
Short Ribs in Chipotle and Green Chile Sauce, Tijuana Tangerine & Mixed Green Salad and Grits
I realized recently that, although I love to eat short ribs, I had never cooked them. The beef and salad recipes are from The Bon Appetit Cookbook, and I don’t know why I’m making grits other than the fact that I needed a starch that would nicely soak up the sauce, and I wanted something different.
Pork Tenderloin, Homemade Applesauce and Baked Sweet Potatoes
This one goes to my parents, so it’s non-spicy and fairly comforting. I’ll probably bake the pork with some maple syrup glaze, and start the applesauce in the morning so the house smells good.
Cheese Tart, Spinach Salad and Fresh Pineapple
This meal will be served only to my parents and me; Rob will be in a motel somewhere, abnd Sam will be at Youth Group (which we are hoping will improve his character). The Cheese Tart is a Moosewood recipe I haven’t made for maybe 25 years (it’s really a quiche) and although this will be a nice, light vegetarian meal, it is possible that the half pound of bacon languishing in my meat drawer may be used. It’s really just being thrifty….
White Bean, Tortellini & Pancetta Soup and Homemade Ciabatta
This one will be for my parents, Sam and me; Rob will still be eating at the restaurant nearest the Red Roof in some Midwestern city. The soup is Giada De Laurentises (tough call on the possessive, there) and the ciabatta is my old, beloved recipe.
Chicken Marinara, Pasta with Butter & Parmesan & Green Salad
The chicken recipe is Mark Bittman’s, the rest is from the recesses of my tormented brain.