Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Bought meat like I said I would

The last ten days or so have been a total blur of parties and contractors and disputes in parking lots. I took the day off yesterday, with Marlo at her grandparents' house, and watched movies in bed. It was delightful. Today I feel like I've come home after an extended absence, and nothing is the way I left if or want it to be, so I'm overwhelmed all over again. Add to that the long weekend for which to prepare, and I feel stuck square behind the eight ball.

Let's see. Hearken way back to the day I was going to barbecue the pizza. I did, in fact, barbecue the pizza, and I remembered why it was I had a faint memory of there being some difficulty about barbecuing the pizza. It's because it tends to set the barbecue on fire. At least, it does if you use the pizza stone, which I do, because it is just silly difficult to put raw pizza dough directly on the grill. The pizza stone gets it all extra wicked-hot in there, and then any crud you have let accumulate catches on fire and you peer out the window to discover your grill has become a fireball and you are about to become That Idiot Who Burned The House Down With The Barbecue.

Bonus: After you get the fire under control and it burns itself out, you have a shiny clean grill!

Then we went to an auction and because apparently I think I am Mrs. Johnny Big-Shot, we bought a trip to Africa. It is a decision that seems slightly less wise without the complimentary white wine in me, but they auctioned off as many trips as there were buyers in the room for 1/2 off the list price. It seemed like too good a deal to pass up. It was Groupon psychology that a whole bunch of people fell for, including my sister and her husband, so at least we can all go together maybe. Wrench in plan: the trip has to be used within two years, and I was planning on getting knocked up in the Fall. Whoopsie! Looks like my second child will not be appearing on the cover of Time Magazine attached to my breast in May 2018.

Then it was Mother's Day and I got two cases of wine, one from my husband and one from my parents. I took a couple long looks in the mirror but mostly I'm fine with that. Giddy about that, in fact.

See, now this post is way long and I have only caught up to a week ago. Suffice to say I spent all last week running around getting ready for Marlo's second birthday party, which I was real smart about and only invited, oh, 12 of her little friends and their parents. I bought meat for that, in the form of a six month-old baby sized pork shoulder and some chicken. I really did think about trying to cobble together some party food out of the remainder of stuff in our freezers, but then my party hosting vanity won out and I bought the food to go with the theme. We have plenty of meat left. We are not going to finish it all before the month is out. I think that might say something awful about me. Time for more long looks in the mirror, I guess.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Eight, nine, ten, I'm losing count

This was much simpler when I updated on a daily basis.

I can't for the life of me remember what we ate on Tuesday. Does that ever happen to you? It was three dinners ago, and I have no idea. Oh wait, that was the night that I went to spin class and came home around eight and then we got sucked into a baseball game and ate chips and salsa in lieu of spending time cooking anything. So I guess I can remember, it just took a while.

Wednesday night was the frozen salmon's big debut. I made my favorite salmon recipe, which is a Martha Stewart recipe. I don't think I have any other Martha recipes amongst my favorites, so this is not blind Martha devotion. The recipe is for salmon with lentils and mustard vinaigrette, because I need my salmon mixed with lentils and coated in zingy mustard sauce before I consider it palatable. I may be a Pacific-Northwesterner and of almost purely Scottish and Norwegian descent, but I don't jump out of bed in the morning looking to get my mouth on some salmon. Also: Took me five attempts to spell "Norwegian" right.

Last night was another spin class and another failure to plan any sort of dinner in advance. So I finished off the leftover taco meat-ish and the leftover quinoa in a sort of burrito and Husband ate a couple of tamales from the freezer that some nice church lady friend of one of his coworkers made at least a year ago.

Tonight is pizza night! The most exciting night of the week. I'm thinking about attempting it on the grill this time, but pizza on the grill is always a high-adrenaline proposition. It seems seconds from total disaster every step of the way. We shall see how confident I feel about it when the time comes slash how emboldened by liquor.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Days four, five, six and seven

Day four, Friday night, was pizza night. I've been wanting to do Friday Family Pizza Night for years, ever since I read some blog post about happy Friday nights in the kitchen drinking wine and listening to jazz while the children happily top their own pizzas. Well, I like the wine part, anyway. I made the pizza dough and sauce recipes from Make the Bread, Buy the Butter, and both were perfect. The mystery freezer sausage turned out to be of the Italian variety, which was fortuitous, and quite tasty despite extensive freezer burn. In addition to the sausage we used olives, mushrooms, and fresh mozzarella, and the whole thing was so delicious I burned the ever-lovin' crap out of my mouth because there was no waiting for it to cool down.

Saturday we ate out - first I had a little fried chicken at a Kentucky Derby party, and then a hot dog at a baseball game.

Sunday we had burgers, because the sun was out. It's like a knee-jerk reaction. In the Spring and Summer we probably do burgers on the grill once a week. Now I am going to be sad with no burgers left for the rest of the month, unless I get wild and grind up one of those ribeyes, which is a distinct possibility. I also made a little roasted corn and tomato quinoa salad with a simple lemon juice and olive oil dressing, which used up some frozen corn and three Roma tomatoes I had slowly rotting on the counter.

Which leads us to Monday, day seven of this little experiment. We had taco leftovers. And here I am at the beginning of another week with no meal plan in place, no grocery shopping done. I even missed the cut-off for modifying my CSA box, and now I have to figure out what to do with radishes. What in the world am I going to do with radishes? Does anybody actually like radishes? I thought they just made easy seeds for kindergarteners to grow.

As far as the freezer clean out goes, you may have noticed none of those salmon fillets have been used yet. That may have to change this week. The dill in my little herb garden could stand to be taken down a notch. I'm also planning on collecting all the little half bags of nuts from the freezer and making granola. The one thing in the freezer I can't decide if I should try to eat or not? The cake from my baby shower. That baby shower having happened almost exactly two years ago.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Day three

Looks like meat, right?
If I were going to pick one genre of food to eat the rest of my life, it would be Mexican. And it would be nothing to do with Rick Bayless, either. It would be plain-cheese-on-flour-tortilla quesadillas and crunchy tacos. Sorry. But it's the truth. American style crunchy tacos are are my favorite food, ever.

Why am I telling you this? Because we had tacos last night. I had about a half a pound of ground turkey left over from Monday night, when I still thought I needed to ration our meat. But half a pound of turkey was not going to get us very far - did I mention I love tacos? I thought about mixing in beans, and then I thought of mixing in quinoa. I got so far as actually cooking the quinoa when I remembered the cooked pearl barley in the freezer. 

Maybe there are already a million blog posts out there about making pearl barley into taco meat, but I  haven't read them. It worked perfectly. I had about 2 and a half cups, and I gave it a quick couple of pulses in the food processor to give it more of a ground meat-y texture. I threw it in the pot once the turkey was cooked through, and then added the spice mixture and tomato sauce.  The barley soaked up all the flavor of the spice mixture, and in the end you couldn't *really* tell what was turkey and what was barley. It was all delicious. The texture may have been slightly softer than all-meat, but it was more pleasant than the texture of tofu tacos, which are really sort of gross. 

I use ground turkey in most recipes that call for ground beef, because I feel like using ground beef is usually a waste of beef. Especially in tacos, where what you really want to taste is the spicy taco flavor. I would much rather use barley, or maybe a barley-wheat berry-even quinoa combination, if all things are equal. It just seems like a good place to eliminate meat, if you're into that sort of thing.

Tonight: Mystery Freezer Sausage Pizza. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Day two

Tonight we had chili from November. I forgot to take a picture of it, but hey, it was leftover chili. It was served over a bag of Trader Joe's frozen brown rice, which I am probably going to regret later on when I reeeeaally don't feel like dragging out the rice cooker, as opposed to tonight when I only sort of didn't feel like it.

I went to the store and spent an insane amount of money, considering it was two bags of non-meat groceries. I blame it on the twenty dollar jug of maple syrup and the vanilla extract, which I had to buy because I have yet to order my vanilla beans and make my own damn vanilla extract, already. Maybe also the three dollar-twenty-nine apiece lemons I bought because I forgot that I ordered lemons in my CSA box. I told you guys I suck at this stuff.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

"Meatless" May, day one

Turns out that I'm a total a-hole! Remember how I was all like, "it's not like we have a chest freezer full of beef" or whatever? Yeah, I inventoried one freezer and came up with 16 meat items. And one of those items was a bag of eight salmon fillets. There is enough meat in this house for us to eat meat three meals a day, all month. Which begs the question, what the hell have I been doing spending a hundred dollars at the grocery store every week? I guess the only explanation is that I am actually a food hoarder. Well, and maybe a little bit that I suck at meal planning and often go running out to the store for the chicken I didn't defrost the night before.

Since I'm so meat rich, the plan has morphed again slightly. Now it is more of a "clean out the freezer and the pantry" sort of event. I'm aiming for bare cupboards and desolate arctic tundra in the freezers. It's the same spirit as the meatless thing, though - I am trying to be more aware of what we're eating and where it comes from, and I am reducing our carbon footprint by not requiring as much new food be generated. It just seems silly to call it "meatless" when we're probably going to end up eating more meat than we would usually.

I did go ahead and make a meatless dinner for night one of my so-called Meatless May. Nothing exotic, nothing that will convert the masses to vegetarianism, but it did use up things that needed using.

Food photography is not my forte
There you have it. Broccoli cheddar soup, adapted from this recipe from Eating Well magazine. I thickened it with a can of navy beans that had been in my cupboard for probably three years instead of a potato, which I would have had to buy.  It wasn't exactly sexy, but it got the job done. The bread was a Boudin bakery sourdough boule that Husband brought home from one of his trips to San Francisco, but not the last one or the one before that I don't think. Regardless of how long it had been in the freezer, it made an excellent butter delivery system.