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Category Archives: Salad Days

Getting Ahead?

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Alright –

Let’s just establish right off the bat that this is something of a lament, or maybe I’m just trying to fancy up that it’s a whiny complaint, but not a complaint in the “oh, could it get any worse?!” sense. No. This is more of a “have you ever wondered why you bother?” variety of rant.

And, ultimately, a tale of resilience! But — again — not in a way that would be anything impressive; just a minor personal victory.

You’re glad you stopped by today, right?

OK, so a couple of weeks ago, during VBS, I came home and decided to try to cook up some extra meat for the freezer. You would think that summer would be a time when one has more time and energy to whip up lovely feasts every night, but I’ve not found that to be the case. I have found that taking the fully cooked main component out of the freezer makes dinnertime at least feel like it’s totally do-able, even on the busiest day. (This book is definitely the flavor of the month around here. I love it!) So, back to the meat: I browned up three pounds of chuck roast and set it to simmer away in the crock pot. Then I went to pick up the kids at my sister’s house, and proceeded to hang out for a couple of hours. It shouldn’t have mattered one way or the other, except — what do you know! — the power blinked off for a minute and shut down the crock.

Yes. We came home to a stone-cold crock filled with three pounds of spoiling meat. The hour I spent browning all that meat? Could have cut that down to thirty seconds had I just cut out the middle man and thrown the whole roast in the trash.

So, live and learn. The next time I tried it, which was a week ago, I stayed home while it was slowly cooking. And it’s a good thing I did, because when my husband shut off the breaker to the dishwasher…yeah. It shut off the crock pot. But I saved that batch — score!

Also last week, I planned a whole feast which required the grill. Roasted corn (and I had twelve ears shucked, so that there would be plenty for the freezer), marinated chicken — delicious. Oh, but the grill had run out of gas. But we replaced the gas! But…I still couldn’t get the grill to turn on. So I waited for my hero to return home from the salt mines, aaand of course it was a night where he had gotten hung up and was running late.

Super late.

And then he did get home, and discovered that the grill was actually dead.

No feast. Chicken: to the freezer, raw. Corn: bagged, in the fridge, getting dry.

By Saturday, new grill. Kevin really wanted to make pizza on the grill. It’s never worked out for us, but we were feeling good about the new grill and the crusts have been coming out nice and thin in the oven — maybe we were ready to kick it up a notch!

Or, maybe we thought that cinders would taste better than they do. I don’t know. It was disgusting.

Also, the sun-dried tomato pesto that I made to spread on that hot mess just about killed the food processor. Who knew those leathery little suckers were steel-belted?

Tonight started out with a bag of pita that had gone moldy (despite the fact that today was the sell-by date listed on the package) and a bowl of potatoes that I forgot to roast for the roasted potato and steak salad until it was too late. Not only that, but when I realized that I’d forgotten to roast the potatoes, I also remembered that I’d forgotten to even bag up the potatoes when I went to pick up the veggies from the CSA drop this afternoon. Doh!

And this is where what passes for resilience comes in, because I so wanted to just get some takeout and call it a day at this point. I ditched the potatoes, pitched the pita, and went to the freezer for a loaf of ciabatta. Crostini would be great with the salad! So many good spreads in the fridge!

What’s this? No ciabatta in the freezer. Well, sure.

What I did find was a heel from a loaf of rustic sourdough. And croutons it was, and the salad was fine without the potatoes, and everyone is fed and happy and out of the kitchen.

So, there you have it: a tale of good intentions, poor execution, and questionable organizational management. An everywoman story? I like to think so; please don’t rob me of my delusion.

 

When Life Gives You … Chard

Spring is here, and — thanks to the mild, somewhat rainy winter — our CSA bag has been filled to the brim with lots of goodies. Mostly greens.

Lots and lots of greens.

I’m not going to lie: it has taken me a full year of receiving shares to get the hang of efficiently making use of the veggie assortment. Seeing as how we really didn’t eat all that many vegetables before, it’s been a little overwhelming at times. Maybe some of the beautiful produce went to waste; I’d rather not say.

But! This is a new year, and I’ve been putting those greens to good use.

Kale in the morning smoothies? Check!

Yakisoba to use up the cabbage? You bet!

Salad with dinner? Natch!

And then there’s chard.

 

Lovely, no?

The thing is, I only know how to make one or two dishes with it, and I’m kind of sick of them both. It’s really good in smoothies, but, you know, there’s all the kale to consider. When we received another bundle in this week’s share, I knew that I had to do something big. To the internet! Hmm…grind it up into pesto, you say? Perfect!

[In my haste to get dinner on the table, I forgot to snap a pic of the finished product. Total amateur hour around here. It looks just like the picture in the link, but you probably guessed that already. Pesto is pretty much pesto.]

I subbed out pecans for walnuts, since there’s no way a walnut is making it into the house on my watch, and added some pecorino. It’s like a really mild, slightly bitter version of the traditional basil sauce. The family’s response was so-so on night one, but I used it on a sandwich the next day for lunch and that was really super good. And we’re back down to one bunch of chard leaves in the fridge!

 

I’m not sure that Big Turnip’s story will have such a happy ending. So far, I’ve managed to use part of it in a slaw, only to be reminded that I don’t like the taste of turnips. Our lovely farmers included a couple of recipes to help clueless folks such as myself, but, well, there’s the whole not liking the taste aspect. Still, we’re trying new things all the time around here — there’s still hope!

TGIF, friends. T.G.I.F. It’s been a long week, which hasn’t gone at all the way I’d planned (because who actually plans for their kids to get in an orderly fashion?), but the weekend is here and the boy may finally be on the mend! And, on the bright side, I’d forgotten that being housebound and somewhat stressed out is actually the perfect formula for spurring this girl into action. Looking forward to sharing some of the progress with you next week. Til then, here’s wishing you a happy and healthy weekend!

This and That [Photos Not Included]

I couldn’t just let Pi Day go by without wishing you a happy one. Hope you nerds celebrated in style! We feasted on chicken turnovers for dinner, followed by Apple Pie Pops.

Here’s a tip I’ll give you for free: When the recipe says to seal the edges, go ahead and crimp them twice for good measure. I had a couple of oozers, but most of them turned out just fine. Tasty little two-bite pie!

While we’re on the subject of treats on sticks, I made a few of these for the shower on Saturday (but my cookies were star-shaped.) And here’s another tip: Pack your patience before you start trying to insert the sticks into the dough, and just go ahead and patch the back for good measure, even if it looks like it’ll hold. I about lost my mind trying to get them to work, but in the end every one of them baked up nicely and stayed on its stick — we’ll list that in the “success!” column. Oh, and don’t be skimpy when you roll out the dough; you want it to be a good 1/4-inch thickness.

In other tasty dessert news, this is my new favorite frosting recipe (the chocolate version, specifically.) Glorious Treats is a new-to-me blog, but I’ll definitely be going back when I get a minute to check out her other recipes.

On a lighter but still delicious note, please try this super good Balsamic Vinaigrette on your next salad. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve whipped up this dressing since stumbling upon the recipe a couple of months ago — many jars — and it still hasn’t lost its flavor-of-the-month status. Swirling that crushed clove of garlic around just makes it!  I’m pretty sure that I’ve almost figured out how to doctor it up to resemble my other favorite dressing, which is what passes for exciting around here.

Sorry for the lack of mediocre pictures to go along with all of these tasty links, but the batteries in my camera ran out of juice and we’re actually out of AAs. Imagine my surprise when I went to the cupboard for more, and found only one replacement floating amongst a sea of … 9 volts? Who has a bunch of 9 volts lying around?

That would be us, the same crew gleefully celebrating Pi Day.

 

Quick Meal Monday: Sweet Pork Lettuce Wraps

 

This week, I’m jumping on-board for Heather’s Quick Meal Monday. Oddly enough, Mondays are probably my least busy day, but a quick meal is a must because I hate to spend my one free evening with the kids tied to the stove. However, since it is the least busy afternoon, I do have time to devote a little more time to dinner prep at the last minute. Tonight, we’re having one of my favorites: Sweet Pork Lettuce Hand Rolls (from one of my favorite get-it-on-the-table cookbooks, Time for Dinner.)

The kids have come around to liking salad, so the lettuce doesn’t provoke much of a fuss. That’s a plus. We’ll be having this with brown jasmine rice, which I’ll drown in the sauce [for me, this recipe's all about the sauce!] and maybe a pat of butter. Maybe.

Some nights, instead of serving this as a make-your-own feast, I’ll just toss everything together as a salad. I’m crazy like that.

But Not Meatless

So far, it feels like I’ve spent most of 2012 in the kitchen.

We are trying very hard to be ever-so-slightly healthier around here. The first step was to implement a No Drive Thru January; that lasted about a week. It’s new name is Less Drive Thru January.

Next on the list: Eat more greens. Lucky for me, I have a crew of pretty good eaters. They like most veggies, and even the salad-hating boy has come around to being something of a fan. There was fear in the eye of the man of the house, though, when I started flipping through vegan and vegetarian cookbooks.

“We’re not getting rid of meat, are we?”

“No.”

“Because I’m all for upping the vegetables…as long as they’re served with meat.”

“Gotcha.”

Here’s my compromise: pork tenderloin, served with collard greens and sweet potatoes, and a quinoa salad [not shown].

The greens and sweet potatoes were super good, much to even my surprise. The rest of the week, we had soups, pasta, and then some of the leftover pork in a big salad. Yes, we had big salad — in the middle of winter. Every time we have a vegetarian dinner, I’ve gotten to hear how tolerable it is in light of the fact that “we still get to eat meat, which is important.”

Gotcha. Again.

 

 

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