We did not get a regular grocery shopping trip in last weekend. Our refrigerator is smallish, and our daughter had a seven girls sleeping over on Saturday night. Only enough room in the fridge for party food. We never got back to the store once the party was over, so this week has been a bit of a scavenger hunt: what do I already have, and what on earth can I do with it?

Fortunately, along with the chips, three kinds of salsa, five kinds of ice cream and three kinds of sundae toppings that my husband came home with, he also bought salmon. So we had Salmon Roasted in Butter on Sunday night, with sides of steamed green beans and some broccoli left over from a couple of days earlier, when I made quesadillas.

Monday night, I made penne with meatballs. Had a box of penne. Had the ground beef, because we’d picked up our month’s meat share on Thursday. And had a can of crushed tomatoes that I’d opened by mistake a couple of days earlier. Plus most of a carton of fresh basil, which I bought too much of, because it seemed like a good deal (the recipe, as I made it, is below)

Since it’s a school vacation week here, we took the kids out for dinner on Tuesday. Last night (Wednesday), I fried some tofu slices seasoned with salt, pepper and a little cayenne pepper, and served with brown rice and kale (what I didn’t use in last week’s sweet potato and kale stew). I  sautéed the kale with some chopped garlic and a very imprecise splash of soy sauce. And threw the whole thing together in a bit of a rush, because we were trying to get out to Les Miserables. You can cook the tofu as is in grapeseed oil, heated on high in a wok, or dredge it in some rice flour, or arrowroot powder, to give it a crust. I usually have some arrowroot powder around for this purpose, but I was out of it. Tried cornstarch instead, but it took on a flavor that masked the seasonings. I don’t think I’ll do that again.

Tonight, veggie chili from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites. Tomorrow, I’m going to roast a chicken, potatoes and carrots.

 Scavenger Meatballs, Pasta and Tomato Sauce (serves 4)

I know some people have a real recipe for meatballs. Alice Waters has a great one in The Art of Simple Food which I follow sometimes (hers uses fresh bread crumbs soaked in milk, and some grated Parmesan cheese in the mix). But in fact, pasta and meatballs is a sort of perfect meal to make when you’re in a hurry and you need to make something that’s forgiving of ingredients.

 1 box penne, or some other pasta, cooked al dente

1 tbl olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, or, to taste, finely chopped
1/2 a green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 tsp oregano or, to taste
some chopped basil leaves (about 1/4 cup. Parsley is good, too)

In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion and garlic and saute until the onion is translucent. Add the bell pepper and saute until it starts to soften. Stir in the can of tomatoes and oregano, and simmer until the meatballs are done. Add the fresh basil right before serving.


1 lb or so ground beef
1 small onion, grated
1 egg
1/4 cup toasted bread crumbs (homemade, from stale bread. I keep a container in the freezer)
1 tsp dried oregano
some chopped fresh basil (about 2 tbl)
salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat oven to 450 F. Put the meatball ingredients together in a bowl and mix well with your hands. Shape into meatballs of a size that appeals to you. Place the meatballs on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, using tongs to turn them halfway through so they brown sort of evenly (we’re getting dinner on the table quickly here).

I know many people cook their meatballs at least partially in sauce, but I’ve got into the habit of serving them separately because different family members have different sauce preferences. I do, however, stir the sauce into the pasta before serving. Top it all with Parmesan cheese.

Complete the meal with a salad and/or a green vegetable. I like green beans. But then again, I’ll eat green beans with nearly anything.

If You Give a Kid a Cookbook


When we renovated our kitchen a few years ago, one critical question was where to store the cookbooks. We ended up building a shelf into the island, where we do most of our prep when we cook. In practice, this means there are always cookbooks (and also cooking magazines) on the counter. This morning, when my daughter came downstairs for breakfast, the binder where I keep magazine clippings was there, open to the recipe for the sweet potato and kale stew we had last night.

She doesn’t like kale. Her brother doesn’t like sweet potatoes. But my husband and I do, and so sometimes, they have to eat what we like, even if it comes with a side of complaining. Especially when it’s food that we think they should love. It’s not so important to me that they like the turkey liver mousse I make on Thanksgiving.

She started flipping pages. Pointed to a recipe for cucumber soup. “How come you’ve never made this?”  A couple of pages later: “Can you make orange chicken? How come there are all these things here you’ve never made?”

This is a change, from asking for what’s familiar. Better run with it.

What we’re eating this week:

Sunday night we broiled some steaks rubbed with salt and pepper, which we served with skin-on mashed potatoes. I also tried a saute of chickpeas and spinach, tweaking the seasonings in a recipe I have. I’d never made it the prescribed way, though, so didn’t really know exactly what I was doing to it. You know how some experiments go. On Monday we went out for Greek food. And last night, I made the sweet potato and kale stew, but with mixed olives and served over brown rice and topped with feta.

For tonight, to thread the needle between late afternoon and early evening lessons, appointments and sports practice, I’m defrosting some chili left over from a couple of weeks ago (recipe soon, I promise) and will serve that with a green salad and some bread.

On Thursday, it’ll be cheese quesadillas with refried beans, rice and, I’m thinking, steamed broccoli. ‘Cause we like broccoli. And it’s easy. And I need easy right now.

Friday, we’ll have chicken soup. Last weekend my daughter had to cook a meal to earn a Girl Scout badge. She chose sweet and sour chicken. The CSA packages chicken legs whole, and we only used the thighs, so I had six drumsticks and nothing to do with them. I baked them and put them in the freezer. There may not be quite enough meat for four servings, though, so I think soup is the best option. I’m having a sudden craving for Thai, but I would need to get lemongrass and some other ingredients.

Saturday we’re hosting a sleepover. Stay tuned.

What to Eat in a Blizzard


A meaty stew, because it’s cold outside. And hot dogs. Because you wish it wasn’t. And in between, French toast, because you want to indulge before you grab the shovel.

For Friday night, the stew: lamb, carrots, prunes and pearl onions seasoned with ginger, cinnamon, garlic and cumin (see the photo). A Moroccan tagine of sorts, served with a loaf of whole-grain sourdough, which filled us as we watched the Blizzard of 2013 fill up the driveway.

On Saturday, French toast for breakfast. And hot dogs for dinner: A brainstorm, inspired by cold fingers and sore shoulders. A meal that reminds us of summer and being outdoors. Our first idea was to roast the hot dogs in our wood-burning fireplace, but the fireplace is small and we didn’t want to risk a grease fire. Instead, we broiled the hot dogs and ate them with steamed green beans, baked beans from a can and tater tots. Afterwards, we roasted marshmallows in the fireplace and made s’mores while we streamed episodes of Fawlty Towers.

I’d planned the lamb stew, sort of, earlier in the week, roughly following the method, and some of the suggested ingredients, in a master stew recipe by Molly Stevens in the February/March 2013 issue of Fine Cooking. I already had the leg of lamb, as well as the carrots, prunes, spices, chickpeas, wine and chicken stock. We did not have hot dogs, buns, green beans, or, for that matter, marshmallows. But the small grocery store/farmstand about a mile and a half from us was open, and they did.

Lamb Stew with Carrots, Pearl Onions and Prunes

I made this stew for the first time on Friday, and so some of the measurements may need a little adjusting. But it’s stew, so if you use a little more of this or a little less of that, it will probably be just as good. I might pick up the seasonings a bit next time, and try a dry wine to counteract the sweetness of the prunes. It takes about an hour to prepare before putting it in the oven, then about 2 hours to braise while you go do something else. Originally, I was going to try this in the slow cooker but since I knew I would be home all day, and I had a lot of work to do in the morning, I opted to wait until late afternoon to start it and cooked it in the oven. Serves 4-5

1 leg of lamb, about 2.5 lbs, boned and cut into 1.5-inch chunks and trimmed of fat (or approximately 2 lbs lamb stew meat).
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
3  slices of ginger root, about 1/8-inch thick, peeled (I had a wide knob of it, at least 2 inches in diameter. If yours is narrower, you might want to try 4-6 slices)
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3/4 c white wine (I had an open bottle of Gewürztraminer, which is somewhat sweet. But dry would be better.)
2 c chicken stock
1 c water
2 c pearl onions, peeled
2 c carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 c whole prunes
1 can (15 oz.) chickpeas
Juice from one lemon
Some chopped parsley (about 1/3 c) to sprinkle on top
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Use a dutch oven, or another heavy bottomed, ovenproof pan with high sides and a lid (I used a 2-quart size). Put a rack in the bottom 1/3 of your oven and preheat the oven to 325 F.

Heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil in the pan over medium high heat. Dry the lamb pieces, season with salt and brown them in batches, a third at a time, adding up to 1 tbsp of oil and adjusting the heat if necessary so the meat and drippings don’t burn. Transfer the browned meat to a plate.

Pour off all but 1 tbsp of oil from the pan and add the chopped onion and celery. Turn the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally and scraping the bottom of the pan, until the onions and celery soften. Add the sliced ginger, cumin, cinnamon, garlic and a few grinds of pepper, and stir for a minute or two until you can smell the spices.

Add wine to the pan and bring to a boil, until it is reduced by half. Add the stock and water, and bring to a boil, then add the meat and any juices back into the pan. At this point, you’re going to put it in the oven for a while. Molly Stevens suggests covering the surface of the stew with a large piece of parchment that you crumple up and then flatten out again (it should be big enough to come up the sides of the pan. I did this, and it does keep the stew moist. Cover the pan and cook for an hour.

Add the carrots, peeled onions and prunes. If too much liquid has evaporated, despite the parchment, add a little more stock or water (I forgot the water initially and added it when I added it during this step. You want enough liquid in the pan to almost cover the meat and vegetables). Cover the surface again with parchment and cook for another hour.

At this point, the meat should be easy to cut with a fork. Add the chickpeas and return the pan to the oven to heat through, about 5 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven. Stir in the lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle parsley on top.

French Toast

Almost everyone has a recipe for this. But here’s mine. Challah, a traditional Jewish bread made with eggs, is my favorite.

A few 1-inch thick slices of challah bread (2-3 per person)
Some eggs (2 large for every 4-5 slices)
1/4 cup milk per 2 eggs
a dash of vanilla extract
1/4 to 1/2 tsp grated orange zest (optional)
unsalted butter

Beat the eggs, milk, vanilla an optional orange zest in a medium bowl. Melt the butter over medium heat in a skillet large enough to hold a couple of slices of bread at a time. Dip each slice of bread in the egg mixture so it soaks through, and put it in the pan. Adjust the heat so that the surface of the bread toasts slowly and doesn’t burn. When the first side is golden brown, turn it over and toast the other side. The egg mixture should cook enough so that the inside of the bread isn’t soggy.

Serve with maple syrup, or topped with confectioners sugar, with some fruit on the side.

Beaten and Squashed


You would think that by now I’d have a better-developed sense of time. As in, how much of it I really have. As in, I probably should not have bought either the beets last week, or the sunshine squash the week before that, because I got all the way to Friday I hadn’t had time to do anything with them despite my intentions. I did manage the beet salad yesterday, finally, after roasting the beets on Friday (that’s the salad in the not-so-wonderful photo above. My method, below). The squash was the real mistake, because I put off cooking it until it wasn’t going to be good to eat much longer. So I peeled and cubed and roasted the squash, too  to have with dinner. As a result, we didn’t eat until almost 8 pm. And we were hungry before then. Now, I have leftover squash, but not enough to serve as a standalone side dish again. It’s going in the freezer until I can figure out what to do with it. But at least you can roast multiple vegetables in the oven at the same time.

Tonight: My daughter is working on the Girl Scout “Simple Meals” badge with her troop, and the girls each have to plan and cook a meal at home. She wants to make something with chicken, and we have some chicken legs in the freezer. She’ll be figuring out what to do with them this afternoon.
Monday: Perch was the least expensive fish at the farmer’s market yesterday, so I bought about a pound and a half. We have some potatoes, so I’m going to play a bit with a Mark Bittman recipe for Roasted Monkfish with Crispy Potatoes, Olives and Bay Leaves. I’ve never actually made this dish with monkfish. I don’t currently have enough bay leaves. But I do have quite a lot of fresh dill that needs to be used up. I don’t think the dill would stand up to the heat in the oven, but might be good sprinkled on top at the end.
Tuesday: Might really  make calzones or pizza this time, after having them in the plan for a couple of weeks now. The first time I thought I’d make them, we had lots of leftover chili instead. And yesterday, instead of pizza, we had an onion extravaganza. My son found a recipe for some French-inspired onion soup, and he asked me to teach him how to make it. To go with the soup,  I (once again, blithe to the time constraints) decided to try pissaladiere, which, if you’re not familiar with it, is sort of like a pizza, but with an egg in the crust, topped with caramelized onions, stewed tomatoes, olives, anchovies and no cheese. It was delicious, but wasn’t done until about 20 minutes after everyone had finished the soup (there was also salad).
Wednesday: I am going out to dinner with a client. The family gets take out.
Thursday: There’s a recipe for broiled tofu with a couscous salad in my Simply Ming One Pot Meals book that looks promising, though I’m going to make the salad more of a winter salad somehow. If I freeze that leftover squash for a few days, I can use it as a substitute for the the summer squash, which isn’t in season right now.
Friday: I have a leg of lamb in the freezer that wants to be a stew. Maybe with prunes or apricots. And which I could make in the slow cooker . Although I need a recipe. And I’ll need to bone the lamb, which is one downside of the CSA—they don’t provide boneless cuts of anything very often.

Roasted Beet and Chevre Salad
Inspired by the Roasted Beet Salad in Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health. It’s designed to be flexible. I’ve written the ingredients list for a single serving* so you can make this just for yourself for lunch with a slice of crusty bread (I like rye bread with it), or multiply as needed.

2 large beets
1 tablespoon olive oil
a little salt and ground pepper
salad greens, about 2 cups per serving
1/3 cup of Chevre per serving, sliced into 3 or 4 pieces
a few pecans. If you’re not as lazy as I am,  toast them first.
some citrusy salad dressing. I whisked together 1/2 cup olive oil, 4 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 cloves of garlic chopped, 1/2 tsp of salt and a couple of grinds of pepper.

To roast the beets: Preheat the oven to 400 F. Peel the beets and cut into 1/2 inch cubes. Toss the cubes with oil and a few pinches of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Spread the beets in a single layer and roast for 15 minutes. Stir the beets and roast for another 10-15 minutes. The cubes should be tender, not crunchy.

Let the beets cool, then toss them in a bowl with a couple of tablespoons of salad dressing. Wash and dry the greens, and toss them separately with dressing. Arrange the greens on a plate, and top with a half cup to 1 cup of beets. Distribute the Chevre slices and pecans here and there around the plate.

*I bought two large beets at the market. If you are making this just for yourself, this amount provides enough beets for three or four servings. If you don’t want leftover beets, roast one medium-sized beet tossed with a teaspoon or so of oil and salt and pepper to taste, and when they’re cool, toss with a teaspoon or two of dressing.

My Yogurt Mania


I love breakfast, but I don’t want to have to think about it. Plain yogurt, mixed with granola, some fresh fruit and  a handful of walnuts, pecans or almonds,  generally does the trick (the yogurt in the photo is topped with apple, walnuts and pomegranate seeds). If I want it sweeter than the fruit makes it, I’ll add a little honey, maple syrup or jam. It’s filling, with enough protein to wake me up, though coffee helps, too.

This is similar to the breakfast my father has been eating for about 50 years—or longer, maybe. I made it a regular habit myself when I was pregnant with my son and needed to eat something more nutritious than a bagel with cream cheese. I started making my own yogurt about 4 years ago, after I attended a demonstration by Ricki Carroll of New England Cheesemaking Supply. She made mozzarella and ricotta, but had yogurt samples, too. I haven’t got into making cheese (the first time I made mozzarella, my kitchen looked like it had exploded), but I’m pretty obsessed with homemade yogurt now. Supermarket yogurt is way too sweet for me. My husband eats the homemade stuff, too, so I make anywhere from  a 1/2 gallon to a gallon a week, for about a quarter of the price I’d pay for factory yogurt. We still buy the store brands for the kids, but I figure they’ll come around eventually. At least they eat yogurt.

A batch of yogurt involves a few minutes of active time, about an hour of intermittent attention and 6-10 hours  of waiting while you go about your business. I make it on weekend mornings, or start a batch late in the afternoon so it’s done before I go to bed at night. There’s some incubating right now on my kitchen counter. The recipe below is adapted from several different sources, though the basic method is from the label on the powdered Y5 yogurt culture I buy from New England Cheesemaking.

Your Own Yogurt

1/2 gallon milk. (I use 2 percent. When I’ve used milk with lower fat content, the yogurt doesn’t set properly.)
1 packet yogurt culture, or 4 tablespoons of yogurt from your previous batch

Special equipment:
Yogotherm insulated container

Pour the milk into a 3 quart saucepan. Heat on medium low until the milk reaches 185 degrees F (a skin will form on top; you’ll remove it later). Turn the heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes. The temperature of the milk should remain at 185 degrees.

When the 15 minutes are up, remove the pot from the heat and remove the skin from the top of the milk with a wooden spoon. Cool the milk to 112-115 degrees F. To hasten the cooling process, I put the saucepan inside a larger pot filled partway with cold water, slip  a reusable ice pack into the water between the sides of the two pots and stir the milk periodically. Depending on the temperature in your kitchen, this process takes about 15 minutes.

Pour in the 112-115 degree milk into the plastic Yogotherm container. If you’re using powdered yogurt culture, sprinkle it over the surface of the milk and let it rehydrate for a couple of minutes, then stir it in.  If you’re using yogurt from your previous batch, mix it first with a few spoonfuls of the milk before adding it to the warm milk.

Cover the plastic container with its lid, making sure you remove extra air from the container. Put it inside the insulated container and cover it with the insulated lid.  Set it in on the counter where it won’t be disturbed for 8-10 hours. When the yogurt is done incubating, putting it in the fridge for a few hours will thicken it a bit (it won’t be as thick as store-bought ’cause you’re not using emulsifiers or stabilizers. The yellowish liquid that has risen to the top of the container is whey. I stir it back in, but others pour it off and use it in other recipes.

Before you eat any, stir it well and spoon 4 tablespoons into a small container to save  for the next batch. I usually won’t reuse the culture for more than five or six batches—the yogurt gets more tart with every batch and eventually it’s too acidic for me. The yogurt, and the starter, will last more than week in the fridge, though as I said, we usually go through a half-gallon in a few days.

There’s a bit of art to this process, though: you may need to experiment a bit within the temperature range and the incubation window before you get the consistency you like. For me, it’s 115 degree milk, incubated for 8 hours.

Carrots, Cabbage and Kale


IMG_0275 - Version 2By this point every winter, my cooking whipsaws between attempts to evoke summer or tropical weather (for instance, last week’s beer-battered fish) and comfort foods. Those comfort foods include ingredients such as cabbage, root vegetables and beef that were at the heart of many of the Central and Eastern European-inspired dishes I ate growing up. Yesterday’s forage at the farmers market included carrots and kale, as well as beets and potatoes (the cabbage is left over from last week’s borscht). I also picked up some cherry tomatoes, more scrod, and smelts—which the woman in line ahead of me convinced me to try (just pan fry them, she said). They’re tiny, and remind me (by their looks, anyway) of herring.

Also on today’s agenda: beef stock, and a new batch of yogurt. Our CSA, Chestnut Farms, had beef knuckles for sale, and I bought enough for several pots of stock, though I’m going to do only one today (more about making stock and yogurt at some point soon).

For dinners this week, I’m thinking:

Today: Having fresh scrod again is as good a reason as any to try Crisp Cod with Soy-Ginger Dipping Sauce, which I found in my binder of magazine clippings. Will serve this with rice, and bok choy or maybe chard (but really, bok choy, probably).
Monday: Green chicken enchiladas, with rice, refried black beans and salad. To use up leftover chicken from Friday night. I’ll use jarred salsa verde this time. Can’t take the time to make it from scratch this week.
Tuesday: Spicy chickpea stew. Essentially the recipe for Tunisian Vegetable Stew from The Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home book. I’ll be able to finish up that head of cabbage here.
Wednesday: Our schedule for the day leaves little margin for error, which suggests something in the slow-cooker is our best bet. Chili again, this time with ground beef. And something. Cornbread? Salad? Some veggie side?
Thursday: Another of the Moosewood Collective Books, The Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health has a recipe for Orange-Glazed Tofu on Greens, which will use the kale.
Friday: Meatballs with ground lamb, couscous and, to use the cherry tomatoes, this Shaved Fennel, Roasted Tomato and Pistachio Salad with Yogurt Dressing from TheKitchn.
Saturday: Perhaps pizza

I’m going to make the smelts for lunch today. At some point this week, when I have time, I’ll roast the beets for a salad. Otherwise, they’ll keep, as will the potatoes, for a bit. We’ll probably end up snacking on any carrots that don’t end up in the stock.

A Fish Story


IMG_0882.JPG - Version 2During college, I worked as a marketing intern for a consultancy in Cambridge, Mass., assembling conference materials, writing direct mail promotions and stuffing envelopes. Because it was summer, and our basement space was air-conditioned more for the comfort of computers than people, we plotted where to escape for lunch and whether we could convince the office manager to take us for a spin in her vintage VW convertible.

In a city full of immigrants and students, in a neighborhood halfway between Harvard and MIT, we were minutes from whatever we craved, whether it was a chicken sandwich or felafel. I was usually up for anything. Our controller hated fish.

Up to that point, I don’t think I’d ever met anyone who wouldn’t eat anything that came from the ocean. I grew up outside of Boston, pretending to choose lobsters from the tank at the grocery store while my mother bought scrod, bluefish or scallops for dinner. Being allowed to order a whole, fresh-off-the-boat lobster in a restaurant was a rite of passage. But K. was from Indiana. What she knew of fish and seafood came mainly, she admitted, in the form of frozen sticks and days-old fillets. I couldn’t really blame her.

I like to think this beer-battered fish, made with fresh scrod, would have changed her mind. When I eat this with coleslaw, it’s summer.

Beer-Battered Scrod (serves 3-4)
Adapted from Beer-Battered Fish with Smoked Paprika Mayonnaise, Gourmet March 2006

1.5 lbs scrod fillets
3/4 cup flour
3/4 tsp kosher salt
3/4 c beer (something light–an ale or lager)
canola oil

1/2 c mayonnaise
3/4 tsp smoked paprika

Pour about 1/2 inch of oil into a large skillet and heat on medium high heat. Cut the fillets into 6-8 pieces, making sure each piece is roughly uniform in thickness so it cooks evenly. Mix together the flour and salt, and stir in the beer to make a thick batter. Don’t worry if the batter is a tiny bit lumpy. When the oil is hot, coat each piece of fish with batter and place it in the oil. Fry, turning once, until golden on each side.

Make the sauce: mix mayonnaise and smoked paprika (the original recipe includes capers, which makes it a bit like more like tartar sauce).

Serve with coleslaw or a salad of mixed greens tossed with a good vinaigrette.

Cooking Resolutions


IMG_0929Welcome to The Whole Kumquat! January isn’t over, and so I feel justified making some cooking resolutions for 2013:

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
Thursday: Calzones
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.