Dinner Every Night

I found a link recently to a blog that was doing a Home Cooking 101 online class. That’s cool. But it was a lot of money. I just hate the idea that anyone should have to pay to learn how to cook!

I was wondering if there are any of you readers who would appreciate more instructive posts on the art of home cooking? It seems like most of you know your way around a kitchen, and have your thang going. But believe me, I would love to go on and on for hours the way I can about How to Be a Home Cook, if anyone out there wants help. I touched a little on it in this post. Being a home cook is about so, so much more than the actual cooking. I think it mostly boils down to creative thinking, and a familiarity with ingredients that can only come from lots and lots of fucking around in the kitchen.

The other night when I realized at the last minute I was out of potatoes and decided to brave substituting cubes of homemade wheat bread in my chick pea, tomato and spinach casserole (!) I thought of you, dear readers. I thought it would be fun to give a more intimate peak into what goes on in my brain when the dinner hour approaches.

I do so much leftover management that I hardly know how to cook without something that needs using. That particular day, without any scraps to start from, I had felt adrift. Hmmm… I have…. Well, lets see. (Start with starch.) We had rice last night, pasta the night before and rice the night before that. So. Potatoes it is. Okay. (Next, protein.) We don’t have more than a few special occasions worth of meat and fish from home. So. Chick peas from the freezer? That sounds good. Ummm, potatoes, chick peas… Should I go Moroccan (a favorite of mine), northern Mediterranean or Indian curry? I had just made those roasted garlic in oil yummies, so a Mediterranean style casserole of potatoes, chick peas, plenty of olive oil and garlic, tomatoes, and (always last on my mental checklist for no good reason) what vegetable? Unlike the FDA I do not consider potatoes a vegetable when meal planning. And tomatoes are a fruit, plain and simple. So. Spinach from the freezer?

Sounds like dinner! I blundered along, assuming the constant presence of potatoes in my fridge, until, Crikey! Could it be? But I don’t feel like pasta again! Let alone rice. Or even quinoa. The mix would be good dumped out on a pizza crust. But I didn’t have a pizza crust. I was stumped. I scanned the fridge 12 times before the loaf of neglected bread finally registered. Hmmm. Could you maybe…? Like– stuffing? Sort of? Without even toasting/drying it first? It seemed like complete culinary heresy at the time. Now it doesn’t sound so strange at all. But that could just be because now I’ve eaten soggy bread, chick peas and tomatoes and yes, it was perfectly good food. Don’t know that I’d do it again, exactly like that. The pasty bean texture next to the slightly soggy bread texture was just a bit not right for me, but My Man loved it. Toddler ate her share. And it was a revelation that stuffing doesn’t have to start with dried bread cubes, and doesn’t have to taste like celery, onions and turkey.

In this vein, I thought I would follow myself around for a week of dinners, and report. I could just describe my thought process and ingredients, one cook to another, or I could give real instructions, if you’d like. Vote here and now if you want instructions!

11 thoughts on “Dinner Every Night

  1. I need the most help (from you!) with how to stop wasting so much food. I do a weekly grocery shopping trip with planned menus but am not good at maximizing the use of items. So… what do you do for an entire week?

  2. yep – would love it if you’d do more thought-process-narration. for me, i think this would be the closest i can get to actually seeing someone with your skilz in action, and i think that’s the way people pick up on stuff, and why we’re all floundering. we didn’t grow up with it, so we’re all left wondering ‘what do *normal* people eat??’ and because everything seems so instruction-centred, so recipe-based – we’re not mentally able to wing it. after years-n-years, i got to the point where i thought in terms of ‘what do i have’ and could just throw things together, but i’m still very narrow, and would love to have an opportunity to peer over your shoulder – i’ve already started to stretch cos of what i’ve read here. more would rock.

  3. Yes please! Dogberry, I lol’d at “what do *normal* people eat?” That’s what I think whenever I read about food ;)

  4. I’d love to hear what you do… I’ve been winging it since we signed up with a CSA last year… but I still feel like too much ends up in compost (either as leftovers proper, or as unused “pieces”).

  5. I love the idea of “what do normal people eat”, omg, insert coffee coming out of the nose now! I watch the food channel, or used to, to get ideas for dinner. What a waste of time that is for the norms! First of all, most of us don’t have 9 pounds of butter, huge cartons of heavy cream or elusive concentrated juices in our refers/cupboard or pantries.

    I live 6 miles from the nearest grocery store and refuse to go unless I REALLY need to or to go shopping for the week. I can relate to not having the potatoes and thinking I did. I have stopped buying alot of processed foods, not just for the MSG and nasty taste but the cost too. Canned/boxed stocks was the first to go by the wayside.

    I started making my own stock for soups, gravies and stews, from scratch. I make my own beef and chicken stocks but haven’t tried the vegetable stock….oops, never tried that one don’t have a recipe! My husband has noticed that his food is tasting better. I didn’t think he would notice.

    I enjoy your blog alot and especially reading about what your cooking or your trips to the market and the reasons behind why you buy what you buy. I will admit that I have never really put much thought into where some things come from. I have noticed that our market puts a little tag on our fresh foods now that tells you the country or origin. Now, I know you’re out of your element in La and are from Alaska. I live in NE Texas originally from Washington state. I yearn for real salmon, Cooper River SALMON. There are so many things I can’t eat…but thank you God, I can eat seafood and fish! I was in the market and saw some trout and salmon…my mouth was the proverbial Pavlov dog…then I read the label. Both fish from Chile? wtf? Now that made me nealy physically ill. I refused to buy it, what can I say? I don’t know how the fish were caught, how the meat was treated after it was caught. Do they require the fisherpeople to wash their little dukes after they pee or worse? Are the fisherpeople treated fairly, paid well? Oops, can’t buy it. Hmm, must have read about that somewhere!

    We had invited our kids over for bar-b-que ribs, etc. I just about lost it when I opened the package of meat. First the smell, then the red dye staining my fingers….omg, and we put that shit in our bodies? wtf? You know, I have been plagued with health issues for nearly 3 years now and I have tried just about everything on the market. I am now at the point where I can’t eat fresh fruit, fresh veggies or alot of processed foods. I am sick of being sick.

    I want to grow my own food, raise my own animals. I have chickens now and will slowly add more and varied animals as we can afford to. I had, like so many women my age, never really thought about where my food comes from. Pathetic, I know. I think this is one of the main reasons I follow your blog so voraciously. I have learned so much, constantly taking notes from your adventures in the kitchen, etc.

    I would love to read more behind your dinner choices and pics to go with them. I applaud you for raising your children the way you do…and don’t think they won’t appreciate you when it’s really important!

    Elaine

  6. me!

    y’know, besides me (and i am not an amazing cook), d thinks you’re an amazing cook, and she’s an amazing cook so she would know. i am not convinced that i could get a machine to turn trix like you do. i would need LOTS of instruction. call it whatever you want (fucking around in the kitchen, throwing stuff together…) but you are very, very skilled aside from being gifted w/ the culinary bug. just wanted to toot your horn.

  7. yes please!! I have a hard time putting stuff together and having it turn out right. Its just not my thing. I do try though and hubby is really kind about it but… you know I could use some help. One thing Ive been working on is less meat… but he’s such a carnivore that its tough. hes not into beans and rice (which I love) but if I mix beans and meat it may work!
    I can wing the sweet stuff. cookies cakes pies etc. no eggs.. no problem.. shit no butter ah well ok ….
    it almost always turns out!
    Teach away… we will all be waiting!

  8. Yes, please- sounds fun! I’m new to your blog- a pretty half-hearted and disorganised cook, aiming for 3 veggie days per week, feeding an easygoing husband and a toddler, wheat-free and desperately hate wasting leftover food. Thanks in advance for any inspiration!

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