Sunday, May 27, 2012
Eats & Treats: Weekly Menu Plan
As you may recall, lunches are sort of suggestions. Ironically I think I stuck to my lunch plan last week better than the dinner plans. In any event!
* Fruit Salad: I love this because it's a product of looking to see what's on sale and in-season this week, finding lots of produce that's great for salad, and taking advantage. Seasonal eating at its best. On top of that, making a little extra means we can use it for lunch sides the rest of the week.
* Brats: Of course, who can resist a cook-out on Memorial Day? I was once at a Memorial Day celebration where a recently-returned soldier who had been serving in Iraq was asked how he felt about the holiday becoming synonymous with the first real cook-out of summer (complete with a rant about rampant consumerism in our culture, and the disconnect between our citizens and real values). This soldier got a thoughtful look on his face, clinked bottle necks with his neighbor, sipped his beer, and said something I will never forget: "Grilling out seems to be a favorite American pass-time. We were told we were fighting to preserve America's freedom. So I don't really see anything wrong with people celebrating the work of generations of veterans by celebrating the freedom to stand outside with their friends and family and neighbors, cooking slabs of meat and tofu dogs alike, and relishing in the fact that unlike so many people on this earth, we're not afraid of a bomb dropping into the middle of the party. Someone pass me another beer?" Still, I like to quietly light a candle for all those who have died for our right to hang out and grill on a Monday night. Even if it is Mr. Moon's usual "Saturday" off anyway.
* Chicken & Broccoli: A couple weeks ago, we tried the nice trick of grilling up extra chicken and then stripping it off the bone the next day for a different meal. I'm not a fan of "leftovers" in most instances, but re-purposing of ingredients just makes me feel accomplished.
* [Pasta] Alfredo & Garlic Bread: Mum requested that we have this on the menu, so I could teach her how to make Alfredo sauce. I told her I do it by opening a jar, because I've made it from scratch a few times and it's just not worth the trouble. The way my hands are these days, I don't relish standing over a Béchamel sauce for the better part of an hour whisking together a roux, tempering in milk, and then stirring in cheese. Don't get me wrong, my alfredo sauce is the best that one of my instructors ever had, and I hate that it's so difficult to find one that hasn't been preserved with sugar to help keep the emulsion stable in the jar and during reheating. I haven't yet decided whether I'll be making it from scratch, but I'm picking up a jar as a back-up (I already have a jar for myself, anyway). Plus this is an opportunity to personalize dishes to taste: Pops gets veggies, Mum & Mr. Moon and I can get some leftover chicken pieces and whatever veggies we want without putting anyone out. I like to have just a little pasta in for flavor with most of my dish being veggies. Others, not so much.
* Pork Chops & Rice-a-roni vs. Ribs: Mum's been craving her pork chops cooked in applesauce, but I have never been a fan of pork chops so I'm eating ribs instead. Bonus, clearing out the pantry of an item I won't eat or cook, Rice-a-roni packets. I haven't decided what I'm doing for a side yet, though. Somehow I never have trouble throwing a side together for myself at the last minute.
* Butternut Lentil Soup: I get into kind of a rut with slow-cooker meals, mostly chili and spaghetti sauce, so this past week I started breaking out of it. Yesterday we had chicken & dumplings. This week it will be butternut lentil soup, an idea I got out of one of my slow-cooker cookbooks. I like to just flip through the books and get ideas, even if I rarely ever follow the recipes exactly. And it's any wonder I'm a terrible baker??
* Leftovers: Sunday Night as leftovers night has been working really well so far! Some weeks if we get the fridge too full or just don't feel like cooking, it makes it easy to switch Leftovers to a different night and have whatever we'd planned on Sunday. It's kind of the day to clean out the fridge, and use up whatever is wallowing in the back that got lost during the week. My only complaint about it is that it follows the day where we are most likely to have food left over, which means eating the same meal two days in a row. I'm not really a fan of that.
* Lunches: I especially like to write things in for lunches that need to get used up. Things like TV dinners, tamales, and the metric ton of canned beets. Three weeks now we have planned TV dinners on the menu and three weeks now it has been supplanted by eating out or eating leftovers or making something else because no one wants to eat them. Newsflash: If we don't want to eat them, it's no use keeping them! Time for them to go. I'm much happier keeping small portions of soup and chili and casseroles in the freezer for those OhShit! meals instead of cardboard packaged sodium bombs. If I can't get these beets to move themselves out at all this week, they'll be getting donated to the local food bank.
What does your menu look like this week? Are you focusing on solving any planning issues, or getting rid of certain ingredients that have been sitting around longer than you'd like?