1. Really plan ahead. We’re off to a busy year. Spontaneity is fun, but too much of it leads to frozen burritos for dinner. My goal is to post menus weekly. They may change, but at least I’ll have an answer when I’m asked what we’re eating.
2. Focus on local. We’re getting most of our meat from a CSA through Chestnut Farms in Hardwick, Mass. Now that the local farmers market is operating year round, I’m trying to build the weekly meal plan around what I find there. (Maybe this will satisfy my need for spontaneity, sort of.) Right now the market has mainly squash, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, potatoes, sweet potatoes, beets and winter greens, so I will have to supplement with some vegetables, like peppers, and all our fruit, from the supermarket. There’s a vendor at the farmers market selling locally-caught fish and shellfish as well, though I have to get there early to snag what I like. Got some lovely looking scrod yesterday and made beer-battered fish, which I served with coleslaw, the last of the buttercup squash I made last week and a lettuce/tomato/cucumber salad.
3. Get everyone involved. My husband and I have been cooking together for more than 20 years. Now that the kids are, or nearly are, teenagers, it’s time to advance their kitchen skills beyond brownies, fried eggs and toasted bagels (not that there’s anything wrong with either of those). I’d like us to do more cooking together. The other day my son asked if, instead of going to camp for the entire summer, we could spend a couple of weeks learning how to make sushi and bake things. I don’t think we necessarily need to wait.
Now, to the menu. Mainly, I’m thinking about dinners right now:
Tonight: I’m not a huge football fan. But the Patriots in the playoffs provides a good excuse to make some slow-cooked beef chili. I’m tweaking a recipe I found online and not sure of the results yet. We have some pinto beans, sour cream, cheese and onions as toppings. And some salad leftover from last night, too.
Monday: A tofu stir-fry, maybe?
Tuesday: White Bean and Chorizo Stew with Spinach (from Bon Appetit), over rice
Wednesday: A good night for cheese quesadillas, probably. With leftover stew if there is any
Friday: Something with chicken
And since I found a small head of cabbage at the market, and I have a couple of beets in the fridge, I’m thinking of making some borscht that I can have for lunch during the week.