I cannot believe that I have been making dinners for countless nights (years and years and years) and I still feel like I do not have it together. I started my own three-ring notebook years ago to compile my family’s favorite recipes, but our tastes have changed. I’m starting a new three-ring binder filled with clear, heavy weight sheet protectors to hold these perfect(for now?!) recipes, as well as a recommended menu list for me in the front as an informal way of reminding myself of those dinners (main dishes, side dishes served) that came out really well so I don’t feel like I’m starting from scratch every time. So, simplifying and knowing what we’re eating for the week will in turn simplify the grocery list and time spent at the market. Oh, who am I kidding, it will still take an hour but I’ll be able to maintain a walking meditation and listen to the fruits and vegetables that want me to pick them (you know, by not having bruises and by being freshest) instead of wandering around wondering what in the world are we going to eat, not only that but what have we been eating, what did we even eat last week, I’m drawing a blank, oh just grab something and make sure they go together so I can at least come out of this shopping experience with the ability to form one complete meal. Yes, organized shopping with a menu list, that’s the way for me to go…those days go so much smoother. But it takes time. I have to peruse through cookbooks, find a few recipes, check the ingredients to see what I have, write on my list what I need and remember what ingredients go with what recipe because inevitably the coop I go to will not have some of the ingredients. So knowing which ones are essential for the dish helps me be creative with finding a substitute if needed.
The goal is to eat healthier with dinners that are more consistently delicious and to be more organized so that menu planning and dinner making magic is simplified and not (as much of) a chore. I have found that when I have my children help chop, shred, and mix cooking goes faster and is a little easier (but not all the time!) and then they are involved and not fighting upstairs because they are bored. I think it is important for kids to be involved in the family meal. There are times though when I just have to get the meal done and on the table; I don’t like that. Then, there are those more desired times when I light a couple of candles in my kitchen and sometimes play some music and make it a cooking experience. I embrace the honor (unfortunately not often enough) of being able to make magic in my kitchen. That’s what I want every day. I feel so blessed with all of the market and meal options (healthy and unhealthy) that I don’t want to just shove a meal on the table. So here’s to cooking with candles, new recipes, and the intentions of love, honor, respect, health, joy, and many blessings that become intermingled with our magical meals!
“Anyone who can read and shop can follow a simple recipe. But the consciousness of the cook, the presence of holiness in the kitchen, and the shared desire, by cook and guest, to be healthy world mates is something only love can provide. Be in love while cooking. Be love itself.”
“Ritual in the kitchen reminds us that preparing food is a celebration of life. Perform some ritual when you are about to cook–light a candle, play music, arrange fresh flowers….Love is the essential ingredient….We are not only what we eat, we are the thoughts that go into what we eat.”
**quotes from A Simple Celebration: A Vegetarian Cookbook For Body, Mind, And Spirit (The Nutritional Program From The Chopra [Deepak Chopra] Center For Well Being) by Ginna Bell Bragg and David Simon
Okay, since I’m just starting this more organized process, I’m going to start easy, especially with spring break. I’m starting in earnest Sunday April 2, 2011. (I’ll try not to go back and edit the date!)
Since I’ve already been to the store and then decided to do this, I’m giving myself the space to work my way into this. So pizza from the pizza place with a green salad (I know, I know wheat and dairy gasp–but it’s so good! and I don’t have to cook!) Wheat and dairy again in manicotti (large tubes of pasta stuffed with a mix of ricotta, mozzarella, and parmigiano reggiano) with soup and a salad. Also this week I’m making as the meat package reads “organic pork center cut chops boneless” which I cook by heating a pan with some olive oil over medium heat and sea salt or kosher salt both sides and cook maybe 5 min each side? depends on how thick they are. Sometimes, I’ll put a lid over them to keep the heat in at the end. Very easy and good. I’m also going to be making “Harvest Gratin of Butternut Squash, Corn, and Leeks” but with yams instead of squash (I love both but this time I have yams) from the cookbook Fast, Fresh, and Green by Susie Middleton. It does call for a little cream, but I’m sure you could substitute almond milk or something like that. This gets made before the pork because it bakes for approximately 40 min. If I don’t have a lot of time, I chop smaller pieces so they will cook faster shaving off some time. We usually have leftovers from this which is one leftover I love because it is just as good the next day and can be a side dish to another meal making that next meal easier.
I also make fish the same way as described with the pork above and then seve it with the Harvest Squash or broccolini or rice. I love serving it for fish tacos with tortillas (corn or flour), shredded cabbage, shredded cheddar cheese (for those in your family who eat cheese), salsa, lime, sour cream. My kids love this because they get to choose what goes on their taco.
**Grocery List of Magical Items
(or if you prefer “Grocery List (of drudgery and anxiety within me because I’d rather be reading or knitting or something else that’s more important than holy love cooking in my ritualistic kitchen and preparing food as a celebration of life))wait let me look at the first item on my list:
- one good attitude with pure-hearted intention
- fish (about a pound-depends on how much you and your family eat)
- squash (or yams, or sweet potatoes)
- frozen corn
- kosher salt
- olive oil
- heavy cream
- chicken broth (I use Better Than Bouillon Vegetable (or Mushroom) Base
- red leaf lettuce (or whatever looks good for salads)
- balsamic vinegar (for salad dressing)
- cheddar cheese
- sour cream
- organic canned minestrone soup
- manicotti noodles
- ricotta cheese
- red lentils (for soup or dahl I haven’t decided which)
- items for my green lemonade–lemons, romaine lettuce, greens (dandelion, kale, chard), fresh ginger, apples–I have a Breville juicer which I love love love
- write down