Entries Tagged as 'Uncategorized'
June 21 has been circled in the girls’ calendars since last fall. You know where my Pixarheads are going to be as soon as their parents figure out a way to get them there.
I am about as sick of the “Keep Calm and Carry On” parodies as the next person, but this one, printed on cocktail napkins really made me laugh. (Thanks, Bonnie!)
A 5-day menu-plan for Vacation House Cooking.
The learning from this: Weekend behavior is very unlike weeknights when it comes to cooking. And: Mothers are crazy.
The power of rituals. (Thanks, Todd!)
A brand new blog for childrens’ books. (I think we must’ve grown up in the same house because our taste in books is identical.)
She believes in family dinner. She just can’t make it happen every night.
Always fun to hear what New York Times staffers are reading.
My summer reading, so far.
An absolute treasure trove of summer-ready ice cream treats, cheesecakes, pies, parfaits.
Have a great weekend!
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Every year, right around this time, Jenny and I have the same conversation. We will have just finished dinner, and the kids will have disappeared upstairs to take baths or be mad because we are forcing them to take baths even though just they took baths last night, and Jenny will turn to me and say, “I think I could be a vegetarian.” And I am right there with her. Because (a) I like vegetables*, and (b) when this conversation takes place, we are inevitably transitioning from the gray of winter to the technicolor of prime produce season, when the carrots taste like carrots and the beets are like dessert and the kids can easily snack their way through a pint of snap peas, sitting in a bowl on the counter, in the course of a single afternoon.
It’s kind of crazy how a giant box of fresh produce — from the farmer’s market, a CSA or, if we were better people, from our backyard — in the refrigerator can reset your magnetic north (chicken, must have chicken, what can we do with chicken, remember to defrost chicken) when it comes to family dinner and just, in general, get the inspiration juices flowing again. The other day, as I was sitting at my desk, Jenny texted me a photo of some sick-a#s produce, along with a challenge: “What’s for dinner?” Not to go all Alice Waters on you here, but I let the green stuff be my guide. The truth is, you could throw any of this stuff in a bowl with a light dressing, some salt and pepper, and it would taste good. Apart from the roasting of the beets, nothing we did took longer than 15 minutes, start to finish — and the beets, if I’d been smart enough to plan ahead, could easily have been prepared the day before. Which is what I will do next time, because they were the best thing on the plate by far.
“The beets were the star,” Jenny said.
“Phoebe, what’d you think?” I asked.
“Yeah, good,” she said. “Can I have Oreos on my sundae?”
It was after this meal, as we were cleaning up, that Jenny turned to me and said she thought she could be a vegetarian. Will we ever do it? Who knows. It’s possible. That’s a conversation that, for now, gets derailed by Abby’s love of bacon… and Phoebe’s attachment to cheeseburgers… and that also might ultimately be contingent on fish also being in the mix, given our attachments. But what would definitely help speed our conversion along is if I inherited a fertile plot of land in, say, Northern California that would supply us with fresh produce all year round, or at the very least, if this CSA deal could be extended, ad infinitum, until I am old and sick to death of beets. Short of that, we’ll have to see. – Andy
*Except for zucchini.
This is the photo Jenny emailed me: A sampling of our idiot-proof raw materials — tiny Napoli carrots, dragon radishes, kohlrabi, Oregon giant snow peas, super sugar snap peas, red ace beets, and an herb called winter savory. And this is what we ended up having for dinner… (more…)
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In a few days it will be Memorial Day, two words that are, of course, code for: white pants, grilling, and holy-sh*t-there’s-so-much-to-do-before-school-ends!
If you’re like me, one of the things that inevitably falls through the cracks until the very last minute is teacher gift ordering. Not this year! To pre-empt the angst, I’m figuring it all out now. Or at least after I take care of the other dozen things on my falls-through-the-cracks list. (See: immunization records to camp.) Herewith, some go-to ideas (both storebought and DIY) from a star-studded panel of teachers, friends, and bloggers: Marcie Cuff of Mossy
, Joanna Goddard of Cup of Jo
, Yolanda Edwards of Momfilter
, Alana Chernila of Eating From the Ground Up
, Caroline Fennessy Campion of Devil & Egg
, Donna Duarte of Motherburg
and one or two from yours truly. First gift up (above) from Joanna: Silk Peonies
( Terrain, $24).
McGotes! Because it’s so much more exciting than the ABCs! Click on your teacher’s initial to see your options. If you’re feeling ambitious fill it with a beach read
. (Alphabet Bags
, $12-21. They are UK-based and ship worldwide with delivery options that seem reasonably priced, but I would order like RIGHT NOW to be safe.) –via Donna
Homemade Dulce De Leche
A sugary, milky, gooey sauce that’s takes ice cream, coffee, and waffles to new levels. To make: Pour 1 can sweetened condensed milk into a double boiler. Bring water in the bottom pan to a boil and then lower to a simmer. Cover the pan and continue to simmer for about an hour. (You will need to add more water to the bottom of the pan if it simmers off.) Check on the milk occasionally and stir–it should thicken and gradually change colors from milk-white to butterscotch to a light caramel color–then you know it’s done. Let the dulce cool and then place in a jar. (Chalkboard Labels: Martha Stewart for Staples
.) Keeps in the fridge for 2 months. –via Caroline
Much as I’m sure they hold their class photo mugs near and dear to their hearts, most of the teachers canvassed for fave gifts had no problem stating their preference for Gift Cards. For a Blow-Out
, a spa, a mani-pedi, the coffee shop where she gets her lattes, any place
where pampering is on the menu. One teacher, who preferred to remain anonymous, said his favorite gift is credit at the local gourmet store where they sell alcohol. “Because what I really need at the end of the year is a drink.” (Above: Drybar
gift card, $35 – $40; select cities only) –via Joanna and Yolanda (more…)
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Tags:bake a gift·teacher gifts
When Jenny and I were in our mid-twenties, we both had jobs in publishing – she at Real Simple, me at Esquire – and worked a few blocks apart, in midtown Manhattan. Sounds pretty glamorous, doesn’t it? It wasn’t, not really. But it was fun. For Jenny, who had spent two decidedly unfulfilling years, post-college, at a financial consulting firm in suburban Connecticut, it was a chance to flex those creative muscles, to unleash that side of her that can make a dollhouse out of a pile of clip-art and a cabinet door. For me, it was a chance to work with a bunch of writers I’d long admired and, in the process, come to understand just how little I really understood about writing. Work-wise, everything felt new and different back then, if that makes sense; when each day presents you with something you’ve never done before, you are constantly learning and constantly being challenged and, as a result, constantly feeling like a screaming fraud on the cusp of being found out. This was both motivating and, in hindsight, good for the soul. I can remember telling an older co-worker and mentor, when he asked me how I was holding up during a particularly tough week — one with a lot of late nights — that I was doing GREAT, thank you for asking. I told him, with total sincerity, that in the two years I had been at Esquire, there had not been a single morning when I dreaded coming to work! And I remember the look on his face when I said it, too: a kind of tight smile that said, Ahhh, yes. I remember being twenty-five and naive once, as well, my son. And I am smiling somewhat inscrutably like this right now because it is the only way I can keep myself from informing you that there will come a day when the prospect of editing your 43rd “Women We Love” cover package will make getting out of bed in the morning seem very, very hard.
But in the meantime, Jenny and I were happy just living in the moment. We had no kids yet, no mortgage, no boxes of baby pictures accumulating in the basement, no ballet shoes, lacrosse sticks, soccer bags, emergency granola bar stashes, or Taylor Swift CDs rattling around in the back of our car. (Actually, we didn’t have a car.) Working in the same business, and the same neighborhood, we had so much to talk and commiserate about. (I’d always send her a list of possible titles for a story I was working on before running them by my boss, for example; she was my insurance against public humiliation.) Every couple of weeks, we’d meet for lunch – usually at the local Au Bon Pain or the dreary, sneeze-guarded salad bar at the deli on 54th Street – but once in a while, we’d splurge and walk over to Uncle Nick’s on 9th Avenue. Uncle Nick’s was a cramped and busy Greek place with exposed brick and a sweaty, open kitchen populated by people who yelled a lot. It had too many tables, chairs so heavy you could barely push them back, and excellent souvlaki. An Uncle Nick’s lunch was what I call a “day-ender” – absurd portions of food that is simultaneously so flavorful that you can’t stop eating it and so filling that you immediately resign yourself, upon eating it, to an afternoon spent mourning the decisions you have made in life, and yearning for sleep. We’d get the tzatziki and a salad with blocks of fresh feta, a kebab or souvlaki platter, a side of Greek potatoes and, of course, rice pudding. None of it was what I would call light, but it was the potatoes that dealt the most crushing, and pleasurable, blow. They were roasted, but not crispy, oily but not greasy, crack-like in their addictive qualities.
I haven’t been to Uncle Nick’s in ten years, easy. I don’t even know if it’s still there, and am too lazy at the moment to google it. But in our house, at least, it lives on: I made Greek potatoes to go with a leg of lamb we’d grilled on Jenny’s birthday last weekend and boy, did it ever take us back. There it was, exactly. That fantastic texture, that deep yellow color, those hints of lemon and oregano. Damn! And oddly, given my sappy tendencies, the only thought after eating them was not, Wow, where did all the time go? It was, Why the heck do we ever eat potatoes any other way? – Andy
3 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1″ chunks
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 cup water
1/2 cup good olive oil
Juice from one lemon
1 tablespoon oregano
Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 500°F. Place cut, peeled potatoes into a baking dish large enough for each potato to rest on the bottom. In a bowl (I used a large measuring cup), combine water, olive oil, garlic lemon juice, oregano, and salt and pepper. Mix and pour over potatoes. Cook for 45-50 minutes, or until potatoes are slightly brown on the edged and most of the olive oil has been absorbed. Finish with some sea salt.
The main course: a leg of lamb, grilled for about 15 minutes, until medium rare.
Side #2: Arugula salad with radishes, tomatoes, cucumbers, scallions, and mint. (We added the bulghur later, after we’d served the kids. Kids no like bulghur.)
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If you weren’t already convinced that cooking dinner might just save you and your family, here’s an even better argument: Dinner might just save the world. From Michael Pollan’s Cooked:
To cook or not to cook thus becomes a consequential question. Though I realize that is putting the matter a bit too bluntly. Cooking means different things at different times to different people; seldom is it an all-or-nothing proposition. Yet even to cook a few more nights a week than you already to, or to devote a Sunday to make a few meals for the week, or perhaps to try every now and again to make something you only ever expected to buy — even these modest acts will constitute a kind of vote. A vote for what exactly? Well, in a world where so few of us are obliged to cook at all anymore, to choose to do so is to lodge a protest against specialization — against the total rationalization of life. Against the infiltration of commercial interests into every last cranny of our lives. To cook for the pleasure of it, devote a portion of our leisure to it, is to declare our independence from the corporations seeking to organize our every waking moment into yet another occasion for consumption. (Come to think of it, our nonwaking moments as well: Ambien anyone?) It is to reject the debilitation notion that, at least while we’re at home, production is work done by someone else, and the only legitimate form of leisure is consumption. This dependence marketers call “freedom.”
Thought you’d like that.
Related: Michael Pollan and Michael Moss go shopping.
Also: I’m at Anderson’s Books in Larchmont, NY tomorrow, May 4 (2:00-4:00) signing copies of Dinner: A Love Story for Mother’s Day. Stop by if you are in the neighborhood.
Lastly: You have just about one more week to fill out the DALS questionnaire and become eligible to win some cool prizes. Thank you to those of you who already have! Love what I’m reading so far.
Have a good weekend.
Photo above: Best family dinner scene in the history of movies, from Annie Hall.
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Here’s something hard to wrap my head around — this little entry you are reading marks Dinner: A Love Story’s 600th (!) post. I know! Hard to believe –seems like only yesterday we were turning 500. We plan on celebrating with a big ol’ pot of Grandma Turano’s meatballs and hope you’ll do the same from your own dinner table — wherever that dinner table happens to be.
So, you wonder, what would I like for my 600th birthday? That’s easy. I’m no dummy — I could never have made it this far without my smart, thoughtful, dedicated readers — so I’d love to get a little feedback from you. If you are so inclined, fill out this two-minute questionnaire to help make Dinner: A Love Story better, stronger, more book-centric, beef-centric, baby-centric, whatever-centric! The point is: I want to hear from you. There are only a dozen multiple-choice questions which I promise are completely painless. And here’s something cool: Even though it’s my birthday, YOU get the gifts. By participating in the questionnaire, you become automatically eligible to win either a Komachi chef’s knife, a copy of Dinner: A Love Story, or a four-pack of the official DALS “Make Dinner Not War” bumper sticker. (Three winners, who must live in the 48 contiguous states, will be selected and can choose whichever prize they’d like.) Deadline for entry: Sunday, May 12.
You’d like that link again, you say? Sure! Here you go. And thanks from the whole DALS team.
PS: Questionnaire or not, remember you can always just purchase a bumper sticker here.
Update: Keely, Chelsey, and Erin are the winners, but you can still fill out the survey if the spirit moves you. Thanks to everyone who participated.
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I made this salad last night. Actually, that’s not true. Andy fried some flounder and made this salad last night. Yesterday morning, he declared, as he is wont to do, that he felt like being in charge of dinner. That was fine by me because I had a lot of email to catch up with, and figured I could work while he cooked. I flipped open my laptop at the kitchen table and sipped a glass of wine, while he dredged some flounder and set the Sonos to Gravity’s Gone. On repeat. As he is wont to do. Then I saw him remove the kale from the fridge as he is wont to—
I just…I just…couldn’t do kale again. It’s not so much that I’m over kale (which seems to be the trendy thing to say these days), it’s just that visions of beets and oranges had been swirling in my head all weekend. Also — and I am aware how this sounds — I knew beets would be less of a fight with the girls than kale, especially when pared with oranges. And I don’t like fighting at Sunday dinner.
“Kale salad sound good?” he asked as he pulled down a bowl from the shelf.
“Sure,” I shouted over the Truckers. “Or beets with oranges? I’ll make it — just going to finish writing this email.”
But by the time I pressed “send” — couldn’t have been more than 10 minutes — there was a genius winter salad on the table. Beets and oranges, yes, but also feta, almonds, some chopped mint and freshly ground pepper.
I think it’s the new kale salad.
Beets with Oranges and Feta
Lately, Abby’s been tossing the pre-cooked beets from Trader Joe’s into the shopping cart. They look kind of strange all slimy and tightly shrink-wrapped together. But seriously, who am I to stop her?
In a large bowl whisk together 1/4 cup red wine vinegar (or white balsamic if you have it) with 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, salt, pepper, a sprinkle of sugar.
Amounts to taste: Add greens, cooked beets (roughly chopped), oranges (sliced or supremed if you are man enough), almonds or pistachios, a few mint leaves (chopped), a sprinkling of feta, a handful of chopped scallions, salt and freshly ground pepper. Toss.
Book owners: Fried flounder recipe, page 143.
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What’s happening in Family Dinner-Ville this week:
*Have you read Lean In yet? What do you think? I found myself skimming over all the studies reminding me of what I already know (women make less money than men; women do more housework even when they work full-time; leaving your kids to go to work is harder for moms than kids, etc.) and absolutely devouring the (somewhat measured) glimpses into her high-power life — like how she forgets to put her kid in green on St. Patrick’s Day and how her kids came down with lice while flying on the private jet of eBay’s CEO. Also: I don’t know if this is just a case of me wearing my family dinner goggles, but there are countless references to getting home in time to eat with her kids and how good it makes her feel. How centered.
*Due to popular demand – Deconstructed Dinner on DALS now has it’s own category. If you click on it (right over there in the right margin under “Categories”) you can get a list of dinners that are more conducive to separating into individual components (for kids) while not messing with the integrity of the whole (for parents).
*Every time I head to Stone Barns I think a) How lucky am I that this farm is right here in my neighborhood? then b) What can I buy at their gift shop? Locals know what I’m talking about — the mix of cookware, cookbooks (you’ll recognize at least one), tableware, kids toys, canning jars, and way more is one of the most beautifully curated gift collections anywhere. Some good news for non-locals: I had no idea until a few weeks ago that they have an online store as well. Head over there and check out my current obsessions: Lidded “working glasses,” a classic market tote, and a table runner that I bought for my mom’s birthday last year and liked so much I went back to pick one up for myself.
*I know, at this point you probably think that I’m a publicist for “Here’s the Thing,” but Alec Baldwin’s interview with NBC Nightly News host Brian Williams made me run a mile longer than I wanted to so I could hear the entire thing. (Ask Andy, this was an unprecedented event.) Favorite moment: Williams recallling his mother showing young Brian a photograph of a famous broadcast journalist, then telling Brian, “You can do better than him.”)
*Apropos of nothing, I just bought this fabric to cover a bulletin board in my home office.
*Apropos of all niece and nephew and “special” birthdays coming up this year, here’s my new favorite gift. (I love my childrens’ friends, but I ain’t spending $40 on them.)
*I’ve loved every essay I’ve read so far in The Cassoulet Saved My Marriage: True Tales of Food, Family, and How We Learn to Eat, and based on the luminaries that editors Caroline Grant and Lisa Catherine Harper lined up for the anthology, I’m guessing this will continue. The last paragraph of Catherine Newman‘s essay “Talk With Your Mouth Full,” about the evolution of her family’s dinner table conversations, has been haunting me for days — even if the entire essay leading up to it had me in stitches. Here it is:
There are doubtless measurable benefits to dinner-table conversation. It’s a natural check on overeating, for example. Even if you’re talking and eating at the same time, you simply can’t generate the same food-shoveling velocity that you could if you were eating silently. Plus, I’m sure it’s good for mental health, for social health, for learning how to become a good date — although, my god, I’ll miss them when there’s someone they’re dating besides us. Bust mostly the benefits are immeasurable. What dinner table conversation gives us is time to stop and appreciate how much we have, right now, even as we imagine, deliriously, that it could go on forever.
To celebrate this quote specifically and the book’s publication generally, I’m giving away one copy of Cassoulet to a random commenter below. Good luck and have a great weekend. Update: Chris (#194) is the winner. Congrats! (more…)
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Tags:cassoulet saved my marriage·Deconstructed Dinner·design my meals·lean in sheryl sandberg
If you had to use one word to describe a Dinner: A Love Story recipe, what would it be?
A reporter asked me this last year when my book came out. Is there a harder question to answer in the world than one that begins “If you had to use one word…”? I mulled it over for a little bit. I thought about “real,” (there’s my dinner diary and all); I thought about “nostalgic” (porcupine meatballs!); I thought about my friend Sally, who, when asked by a younger, cherubic coworker “If you had to use one word to describe your newborn what would it be?” replied: “Annoying.”
Over the years, the one word I’d use to describe a DALS dinner has evolved right along with the family and the family’s dinnertime needs. Early on, pre-kids, it might have been “ambitious.” With new babies around, probably “Quick” or “Easy.” With toddlers: “White.” But these days, for a recipe to earn a spot in the family dinner rotation, above all it has to be flexible. And by that I mean not only flexible because of how beautifully it can be deconstructed for picky eaters and flexitarians, but because of how you, the cook, are able to prepare it.
Take these burrito bowls, which I have been meaning to make ever since the girls walked into Chipotle for the first time and declared it the best restaurant in New York City. I knew the burritos-without-tortillas would become a major player in our family dinner lives because I could make the meal as simple or as complicated as my time and energy allowed. In other words: Every component in a burrito bowl can be either storebought or made-from-scratch (or some combination of the two) and still yield a healthy dinner. The black beans can be just black beans — or they can be black beans simmered with a bay leaf and some onions. The avocado can be chopped avocado, or it can be avocado mashed with cumin and red onion and salt. As I was making simple white rice — one of the few things I thought was a pretty straightforward task — Andy wandered by the stove and said, “You’re gonna add cilantro, lime and a ton of salt in there like Chipotle rice, right?”
On a weeknight, you’d probably want more of the components to be simplified. On the weekend, it would serve you well to go all out because, obviously, if you put that much work into it, it’s gonna be badass. Come to think of it, maybe that would be a better word that flexible.
I gave two versions of each component below: the “weeknight” (quick) and the “weekend” (less quick). Take a look, then expend energy building flavor on the things you like the most — or whatever the clock allows. (The only thing I insist you don’t shortcut is the chicken.) To serve: Present fixins on the table or counter, serve everyone a half cup of rice, then let them top as they please.
I like this meal to be more veg-heavy, so I only cooked two (boneless, skinnless) chicken breasts. You can add another if you think your family will eat more than shown in the above bowl. To make: Cube two medium-size chicken breasts into pieces as shown above. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat a tablespoon of canola or vegetable oil in a skillet set over medium-high heat. Add 1/2 onion (chopped finely), then the chicken. Sprinkle everything with 1 tablespoon chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano and more salt & pepper. Let chicken brown a little before tossing around in pan. When chicken is cooked through (about 5-7 minutes total), remove to a bowl. Squeeze a little lime juice on top.
Weeknight version: Heat a 14-ounce can of black beans in a small saucepan until warmed through, about 5 minutes.
Weekend version: Heat 1/4 onion (sliced) in a small saucepan with a little vegetable oil. Add a 14-ounce container of black beans, a bay leaf, and simmer until beans are heated through, about 5 minutes.
Weeknight: Prepare white rice according to package directions — enough to yield 2 cups of cooked rice. (This is based on a 1/2 cup rice per diner — you know your family better than I do, so make more if you think you’ll need it.)
Weekend: Prepare white rice according to package directions — enough to yield 2 cups of cooked rice. When rice is finished, toss in a generous handful of chopped cilantro, the juice from 1/2 lime, and a generous sprinkling of kosher salt.
Weeknight: Use your favorite storebought salsa. (We like Trader Joe’s Salsa Autentica or Roasted Tomatillo.)
Weekend: Finely chop 2 cups grape tomatoes (or any tomato if it’s summer) with 2 tablespoons chopped red onion, handful cilantro, splash of red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, 1/2 minced jalapeno pepper.
Weeknight: Slice an avocado into chunks
Weekend: Using a fork, mash one avocado with 1/4 teaspoon cumin, salt to taste, and a heavy squeeze of fresh lime juice.
Sharp cheddar (sliced or grated), fresh cilantro, sour cream, shredded lettuce. (Me: “What do you think about using shredded kale instead of romaine?” Andy: “Sounds great as long as I don’t have to have it.”)
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Tags:burrito bowl recipe·chipotle burrito bowl·Deconstructed Dinner·healthy family dinners
Two weeks ago, I flew down to Fort Myers, Florida to spend a couple of days with five college friends, some of whom I hadn’t seen in a decade, maybe more. It hurts my heart to type this, but it’d been nineteen years since we’d graduated. Nineteen years since we’d borrowed each other’s toothpaste on the way to the bathroom before class, nineteen years since we ate almost every meal together in the dining hall — a big, smelly-footed family — and did the stupid things that, as long as we survived them, would provide us with the stories we would sit around and laugh about nineteen years later, when we were middle-aged men at bro-downs in Florida. In the intervening years, we’d scattered across the country — Utah, Chicago, Baltimore, Vermont, New York, Florida — and had twelve kids between us, more than a few recessed hairlines, and the requisite number of cranky shoulders, bad backs, and surgically repaired stuff. (I had my old roommate Buck, now an accomplished orthopedic surgeon in Salt Lake City, examine my shoulder as soon as we got there. “Torn labrum,” he told me. “I’ll email you some PT exercises.”) We were not what we used to be, but come on, who is?
We met up at a half-empty hotel with mile-long hallways in Cape Coral, where we’d rented two sprawling, chandeliered suites with water views. We’d spend a couple of days going to spring training games, and maybe even drinking a beer or two before the sun went down. It’d be like The Hangover! We were free! No school lunches to be made. No one shaking you awake at 6:45 to ask if you’d like a tour of her dollhouse. No shuttle service to soccer practice in the freezing, indoor bubble. No one to ask — true story — if “tickling is allowed in boxing.” Our nights would undoubtedly be spent eating 48 dollar ribeyes, drinking martinis, and playing card games into the wee hours. (Only problem there: I don’t know how to play any card games and I go to bed at 11.) We would, in short, turn back the clock. We would party like it was 1999.
Only we didn’t.
On Saturday, after an afternoon game (Sox-Twins), we huddled up to discuss the plan for dinner. The choices, it dawned on us, were grim. I wasn’t strong enough for the hotel bar, which had a sad, swinger-y vibe that depressed the living sh*t out of me. Locally, there was a Chik-Fil-A and a Hardee’s and not much else that we could see — well, beyond a massage parlor, which probably didn’t serve dinner.
“Our room has a kitchen,” Billy said.
“Why don’t we get some groceries on the way back from the game,” said Dave.
“And cook in?” I said.
“Yeah,” said Brian, “you’re the family dinner guy.”
I wish I could say I was bummed or horrified or annoyed at the prospect of staying home, in my shorts and socks, and cooking for six grown dudes. But at this point in my life, why even pretend? The truth is, I loved the idea. It was a relief. So we stopped at the Publix supermarket and loaded up on ingredients for chili — turkey chili, no less — and, lock up the womenfolk… a spinach salad. Oh, it got crazy! We went off! We put on some music and hung out in the kitchen, just like at home, Brian helping with the meat-browning duties, me showing Dave how to chop an onion, Buck loitering in the living room to check the scores on SportsCenter, Dave — who was keeping me company by the stove — peeking over my shoulder to see how much chili powder went into the pot (eight tablespoons; I doubled our usual recipe), Brian making a fresh round of gin and tonics, Billy saying, Huh, he’d never seen anyone put sausage in chili before, but I told him to trust me on this, and he did. All the familiar rhythms reasserted themselves. I was at home. It’d been nineteen years, but these guys were like family. And what do you do for family? You cook for them. And then you sit down and eat. – Andy
Served with bowls of the usual trimmings: avocado, sour cream, cilantro, shredded cheddar, tortilla chips.
Spinach Salad with Almonds and Cranberries (Florida Supermarket Version)
Two bags fresh baby spinach, shredded
1/4 cup slivered almonds
Couple handfuls of dried cranberries
1 tbsp finely minced red onion or scallion
1/4 cup crumbled feta or blue cheese
Simple Balsamic Vinaigrette (Hotel Kitchen Version)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
Few healthy pinches of kosher salt
Fresh black pepper
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp cayenne or hot sauce
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If you’ve picked up a newspaper in the past decade, you might be aware of a few basic strategies for shopping smarter in the grocery store. Most of us, for instance, likely know that:
♦ It’s wise to stick to the perimeter of the store — produce, dairy, meat — where the fresh products are sold. (Interior aisles are filled, floor-to-ceiling, with processed foods.)
♦ Everything is positioned where it is for a reason — i.e., the most alluring items didn’t end up directly in your line of vision (and, more diabolically, your kids’ line of vision) by accident. To find the healthy stuff, you need to look up high and down low. (To see what we mean, check out the photo above.)
♦ It pays to read the label. I know that a quick scan of the nutrition facts panel will give me a sense of when something is high in fat or calories. And thanks to recent campaigns waged largely by enraged parents, I know to avoid trans fats, high fructose corn syrup, horse meat, pink slime, etc. I also know that it’s not a good sign when an ingredient list is so long, you need a magnifying glass to read it. (Unless it’s a birthday party or a barbecue; in our house, it’s never a birthday or a barbecue without the Reddi Whip or some S’Mores made from Hershey bars.)
But what I didn’t know until I had the opportunity to work with Michael Moss on his book, Salt Sugar Fat, was the degree to which processed food companies have formulated their products to not only get us to eat them, but to eat more and more of them. I didn’t know about the “bliss point,” or “mouthfeel,” or the high-stakes race for “stomach share.” I didn’t know that sodium was not the same thing as salt. I didn’t know that the average American now eats 33 pounds of cheese a year, that the most die-hard Coke drinkers — known within Coca-Cola as “heavy users” — drink up to 1,000 cans a year, or that the processed food industry accounts for $1 trillion dollars a year. Michael is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter, and it shows: If you’re interested in the inside story of how the food giants have hooked a nation, if you believe that knowledge is power, if you want to know the marketing strategies that are behind those “convenient” items so many of us are feeding our children, this book might be a life-changer — or at the very least, a family dinner-changer. (You may have seen Moss’s book excerpted in The New York Times Magazine last Sunday.) We asked Michael to annotate the labels of a few of the country’s most popular, kid-friendly supermarket items to illustrate just how bad it is, and what we’re up against. He was kind enough to oblige. – Andy
- Hot Pockets is owned by Nestle, the Swiss-based food giant. In 2002, it paid $2.6 billion for this microwavable snack, and now counts it among its “billionaire brands” — with annual sales in excesses of $1,000,000,000.
- At a mere 4.5 ounces per sandwich, who wouldn’t be tempted to eat them both? But doing so could get you up to 12 grams of saturated fat (3/4 of a day’s max for most adults), 1,180 milligrams sodium (more than 2/3 of a day’s max), 5 teaspoons of sugar, and 700 calories.
- No trans fats? Well, yes, thanks largely to the fierce pressure consumers put on the manufacturers when the deleterious health effects of these fats became more widely known. But beware of any brag like this on the front of processed food labels. The fine print on the back usually reveals a host of items just as problematic for one’s health.
- Nutrition advocates have a simple rule of thumb when it comes to ingredients: avoid anything you can’t pronounce. Laden with chemical preservatives, emulsions and conditioners, this would not be a label for them. (Seriously, try counting the number of ingredients in there — if you can even read the microscopic type.)
- This label is actually a fascinating study on food processing. Consider the chicken alone, represented here as both “ground and formed,” whatever that means. And note the numerous mentions of salt, sugar, and cheese, including imitation.
- The FDA bears responsibility for failing to update its serving sizes, which grossly underestimates the power of salt/sugar/fat-heavy processed foods to compel overeating. But the food giants reap the benefit. A “serving” of these gushers weighs less than an ounce, which helps keep the numbers in the nutrition facts panel from looking too scary – 3 teaspoons of sugar per tiny pouch, versus 17 teaspoons per box. The problem is, lots of kids can’t stop at one pouch.
- First launched by General Mills, these “fruit” snacks have exploded in popularity and now have their own stretch of the grocery store, a million miles from the real fruit aisle. The reason for the growth: a huge, fruit-centered marketing ploy is driving sales. These sugar-bombs convey the illusion of health.
- Real Fruit? Not really. In truth, real processed fruit. Companies add these fruit derivatives to foods and drinks, sometimes in miniscule amounts, which allows them to splash the word fruit on the front of the label.
- Is table sugar worse than corn syrup? Nutritionists say they are indistinguishable, bearing the same number of empty calories.
- Pears and grapes are the most commonly used fruits in processed foods because they are cheapest to buy. The processing typically “strips” them of the fiber and the filling water that makes fresh fruit so wholesome. The result is just another form of sugar (often known as fruit sugar or stripped fruit).
- In this small of an amount, partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil likely has negligible effects on your health. But nutritionists say there are far better choices to look for, like canola.
- Each year, the dairy industry spends tens of millions of dollars trying to get Americans to eat more cheese through a marketing scheme overseen by none other than the USDA, and it’s a boon for the food giants. Average consumption has tripled to 33 pounds a person a year, thanks to new products like this all over the grocery store that use cheese as an alluring, fattening ingredient. Cheese used to be something we ate on occasion, when friends were over, before dinner. Now it’s in everything.
- The more cheese, the better: it’s an industry mantra. And companies are vying to outdo one another with the types of cheese they can pack into one can or box.
- With more than half of the calories coming from fat, it’s no surprise that oil is the largest ingredient after potatoes. Companies use these four oils — corn, cottonseed, soybean, and sunflower — and others interchangeably, depending on market supply and cost. Oil and fat are what give processed foods their sought-after “mouthfeel,” as industry types call it, which is a crucial part of a product’s allure.
- These Pringles have moderate loads for salty snacks… if you stick to a single, one-ounce serving. But let your child eat the whole can over two days, and they’ll get more than a full day’s max of saturated fat, two-thirds a day’s sodium, and a teaspoon of sugar thrown in for good measure. (Not to mention 2,000 calories.)
- People trying to limit their sodium have a lot to worry about when it comes to processed foods. These Pringles have four sodium compounds, including MSG, along with salt (added by itself and in each of the four cheeses).
Tune in to Fresh Air today, Tuesday, February 26, to hear Michael Moss talk more about Salt, Sugar, Fat.
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Tags:how to grocery shop·how to read a label·michael moss·salt sugar fat michael moss
I first met with Emily Bazelon to discuss the idea that became her book, Sticks and Stones, two and a half years ago, when my kids were six and eight. As we sat in a conference room and talked, I remember two things going through my mind: (a) Wow, this person is way more smarter than I am, so please let me get through this meeting without humiliating myself, and (b) the topic of bullying is fascinating, complex, and (dreaded word) important, but God, am I glad my kids are still too young to be dealing with it. Much has changed in those two and half years. Mainly, our kids went ahead and got older. They’re 9 and 11 now, and while they enjoy school and — knock on wood — have yet to experience the problems that Emily explores in her new book, the social dynamics, not to mention the world they’re living in, are growing ever-more complicated. I didn’t know it then, but this book – and the lessons to be taken from it, from the danger of the rush to judgment to the absolute importance of empathy – has been a fertile and valuable source of conversation at our dinner table. It has helped Jenny and me talk about these issues, while sounding like we know what we’re talking about. And that’s all thanks to Emily. Emily is an incredibly reassuring presence, somebody who actually bothers to do the research before opining. She’s an editor at Slate, a beloved fixture of their political Gabfest, a contributor to The New York Times Magazine, and – see point (a) above – a fellow at Yale Law School. Knowing that we have a lot of parents who read this site, Jenny and I thought it might be helpful to have Emily answer a few of our more pressing questions. – Andy
What’s step number one if my kid is being bullied at school?
First, make sure you have all the facts. Sometimes an accusation of bullying can seem straightforward, but then turns out to be more multidimensional once you understand the full context. Your job, of course, is to support your child. Sometimes it will be clear that he or she is the victim and needs your protection. Other times, however, you will learn that she is caught up in “drama” and has played an active role, rather than being simply at the mercy of bullies. Job number one, then, is to make sure that you have as thorough an understanding of the situation as possible. It’s important to protect your child but it’s also important not to cry wolf. If what’s happening really is bullying, the more specific examples you can cite, the better for making your case.
Even legitimate complaints can boomerang in bad ways if not carefully framed. If school officials are not responding the way you think they should, you may have to keep pushing by going up the chain of command. But remember: school officials are people, too, with a heaping plate of responsibilities and limited time, and the more you respect the role they play, the more likely they will be to sympathize. What I mean is, give them the benefit of the doubt and save the frontal attack for when you feel you have no other choice.
A lot of bullying doesn’t happen at school these days, though, right? So what do I do if my kid is being bullied on line?
You can ask a social network site to take down any content that violates its rules, as many harassing posts clearly do. At Facebook, for example: When the target of an abusive post reports it himself, they will generally take his word for it. So your child should report the abuse immediately. You should also keep a record of the cruel content—even if it’s painful and you just feel like deleting it forever. It’s almost never a good idea to reply to a harassing post. If your child is having continuing trouble, I’d advise taking a break from social networking for a while (though I know that can be a hard sell!). Kids can always go back on when things have calmed down. Finally, police have the authority to address cyberbullying under the harassment laws of most states. But calling in the cops should be a thought-through decision rather than a knee-jerk reaction because it often triggers a response that’s more heavy-handed than called for.
A possibly stupid question, but: What’s the difference between general meanness between kids and true bullying — and is this a distinction that matters?
There is a difference and it does matter. Yes, absolutely. The best definition of bullying, which psychologists who do research use, is verbal or physical aggression that occurs repeatedly and involves a power differential—one (more…)
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Tags:bullying prevention·emily bazelon bullying·emily bazelon sticks and stones·sticks and stones
I’m gonna come right out and say something pretty crazy right now. Please don’t think less of me, OK? Ready? Here we go:
I really don’t like coming home to a dinner that’s already made. Or one that just needs to be reheated in the oven at 350°F for 20 minutes. Or ladled out of a crockpot.
Right about now the vinyl should be screeching. What the…? Hey, aren’t you supposed to be the one preaching efficiency? The one who tells us to start dinner in the morning, to assemble a big batch of grains or freezer meatballs on the weekend, to whisk a vinaigrette on a Sunday…all in the name of throwing together something quickly when it’s 6:30 on a weeknight, aka Go Time?
Yes, and well, no. Obviously, it’s how we are forced to cook most of the time. But I’m convinced that those kinds of dinners are not the ones that will convert dinner infidels into believers. This is what I hear from readers all the time: It’s so frustrating to spend all that time making a meal, getting all those dishes dirty, only to have my kids reject their food in five seconds flat. I hear you. I totally, 100% do. The reason why our spring garden is a tangle of overgrown weeds and why I don’t own one of those cute hand shovels (my friend Bonnie, upon hearing that, informed me “Jenny, that’s like not owning a spatula”) is because I have yet to embrace the weeding and planting and tending involved in gardening. And I never pay attention to which plants need mostly shade or mostly sun. And because I hate that feeling when my hands get all dry and cakey. But THE POINT IS….like dinner, gardening is about the process. The reason why Bonnie and all you green thumbs out there love to garden is because you love to be outside, digging in the dirt, every day investing in something that will pay back in beautiful dividends. And you lunatics probably even love that dry caked-dirt feeling on your hands, too. (more…)
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Tags:family dinner pep talk
For me, it’s not Ravens vs. 49ers. It’s Queso Fundido (above) vs. Chips with homemade liquid Nacho Cheese Sauce.
In-restaurant Childcare? Now there’s an idea.
In honor of Schoolhouse Rock turning 40, I watched this 17 times yesterday. (“He even has the nerve to tax our cup of tea; To put it kindly, King, we really don’t agree” was the lyric on a continual loop in my brain from 2004-2006.)
Speaking of birthdays, Grand Central Terminal turns 100 today. Dad, I’ll meet you at the Oyster Bar!
How do I get my children to love me as much as Lena Dunham loves her mother? She goes deep with Alec Baldwin on Here’s the Thing.
Related: I don’t know how I ever made it through a workout without the Girls Vol 1 soundtrack. (Specifically tracks 1, 4, 9)
Aunt Trish visited us all the way from Hong Kong this week and arrived bearing a quintessentially NYC treat: Black & White cookies. I think we’re going to attempt them in our own kitchen this weekend.
Which reminds me that I need to replenish my Cacao Barry supply (especially with Valentine’s Day coming up).
Are trophies a waste of time? (You know what I have to say about that.)
Only bad thing about Luisa’s new series “Cooking for Hugo” is that it wasn’t around when I was feeding my own babies.
I want one.
For parents of George O’Connor crazies: Have you pre-ordered Poseidon?
For anyone looking for extremely pleasurable ways to spend an hour, check out this story about a pickpocket extraordinaire.
For anyone looking to spend an hour on an important piece of journalism, you can’t do much better than this.
If you’re in need of some good music to accompany your Super Bowl stromboli preparation, check this out.
Have a good weekend.
P.S. In case you’re wondering why everyone’s commenting about the Lodge cast iron skillet, it was featured as the giveaway in this week’s newsletter. To be eligible for the next freebie (and for the latest recipes, news, and DALS events) please sign up for my newsletter/mailing list.
Photo by Romulo Yanes for Bon Appetit. It was part of a story I wrote on Hors D’oeuvres and starters back in October.
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I hear from a lot of you that what you like the most about our site is that you never know what you’re going to find from one post to the next. I love getting this note — because it confirms that a) you guys are paying attention, and b) because it allows me to write inside-baseball posts like this one and know that you will still come back tomorrow in search of the perfect tandoori burger. Correct?
Today I want to answer a question I’ve been asked a lot: How do you write this blog? Which I’m also going to interpret as How do you write and How did you start? It’s an involved question, one I’m not sure I’m entirely qualified to answer yet, and one that, you’ll see, sends me in several different directions below. (To give you an idea, the working title of this post for the past few months had been “Everything I Learned About Blogging I Learned in Magazines” before I realized I had so much more to say.) The truth is, I had no idea what I was doing when, three years ago, GoDaddy told me that Yes! The URL dinneralovestory.com is available! But I’ve figured a few things out along the way and thought it might help those of you thinking of starting your own blog. (As for starting a career in food writing, you cannot get any better than this post by Amanda Hesser.) What I wrote below should not be mistaken for The Definitive Rules of Blogging 101. There are about eight million people out there generating eight million hits a day and maybe even making money from it — and if that’s what you are after, you should skip this post and seek their advice. I’ve accepted now that this site will most likely never be the source of a down payment on that house in Block Island overlooking Mohegan Bluffs. (Why God, Why?) But for a satisfying job that has led to unexpected places, these are the rules I’ve lived by.
Lesson 1: Shorter Isn’t Necessarily Better. Better is Better
My crash-course in blogging lasted about two weeks. I had just lost my job at Cookie, the parenting magazine where I was editing features, and a website called to see if I could help out launching a few blogs on their lifestyle vertical. I was feeling a little lost — not to mention there was not one more corner of the house to organize, which seemed to be my way of dealing with my sudden daily aimlessness — so I said yes and pretty soon was on the 8:43 commuter train again, headed to a downtown office where the staffers seemed to check every box for website start-up. (Skull caps: Check; Bright Eyes station playing on Pandora: Check; Enrollment in artisanal, fetish-y food project: Check.) Everything happens faster online (first lesson) so my supervisor did not waste anytime laying down a few crucial rules about blogging to his seemingly prehistoric new freelancer. Don’t write in long paragraphs. Don’t write long at all. Online readers like quick hits. They like lists and bullet points whenever possible! Say things that will start a conversation in the comment field. (Or better yet, incite a riot in the comment field!) Tweet everything! Post everything on facebook! And my favorite, which I think about every single day: Remember: Producing content is 10% of the job; Promoting it is 90%. Ay yi yi.
For week one I just followed orders and repeated to myself “Don’t be old.” But by week two, I was done. Here’s the thing. My supervisor was right about every single thing above. If you want more visitors (and any blogger who tells you he or she doesn’t is lying) you can get there more readily by following all of his rules. But you could also assume a certain amount of intelligence from your reader and write the way you want to write, the way most readers want you to write, that is, honestly. The masses might not come right away, but if you take time to write something that is pure and resonant and comes with no behind-the-scenes agenda, people will respond. And you will respond to their response. I remember early on in my DALS life when my ambitions were a little grander, I called my VC friend Roger in Palo Alto for a counseling session on building the “business.” He gave me the best piece of advice — or at least the best piece of advice that I felt most comfortable with. Don’t think about anything but the content for the first year. You need to earn the trust of readers and you need to distinguish yourself. The only way to do that is by paying close attention to what you are producing every day. Roger flip-flopped the formula for me and set me back on the path I knew so well from magazines, and that had never really led me wrong before: 90% of your time should be spent thinking about content, fresh new ideas, and presenting those ideas from a fresh perspective. Your perspective. Everything else? 10%.
Lesson 2: Define Your Mission
One of my earliest magazine jobs was at a major women’s lifestyle title. The editor at the time was a veteran magazine editor named Carrie — she had been in the industry for 25 years, wore all black along with trademark black-framed editor glasses. I didn’t know a whole lot, but I knew enough to know that I should write down every single thing she said and commit it to memory. At our Tuesday line-up meetings, she’d hold up some new book that we should be paying attention to (I one-clicked Botany of Desire as soon as she held it up saying less as a suggestion than an absolute command, “Pay attention to this guy. His name is Michael Pollan”); or of a magazine that was doing something new and exciting visually (Everyday Food! RIP! ); or simply what her latest fashion philosophy was. (“Gap Clothes, Prada Accessories!“) On the Tuesday meeting after September 11th, she told us that she had thought long and hard about our magazine and its place in the new world and decided there was going to be a revamped mission. “We are not a magazine people come to for the news” she told us. “We are a magazine that tells people how to handle the news.” She went on to say that from that point forward the mission of the magazine could be pared down to three simple words: Comfort, Community, and Control. They became known as the three C’s, and if we had an idea we wanted to assign for the magazine, it had better fit into that description. Boy did we roll our eyes at the Three C’s! But boy did they ever work. Having a mission sharpened our focus. It helped us define who we were and why people came to us. When I moved on to my next job and oversaw a large section of the magazine, the first thing I tortured my team with was defining its mission. I also spent about six months writing the mission for this blog. I knew it would be as important for me to lay a blueprint as it would be for anyone who happened to drop by to see what the heck I was up to. This page is one of the most visited of the site. Which is another way of saying This is where I reel them in.
Lesson 3: No Harm in Making Things Pretty
If you spend a little money on a good designer, you will be ahead of 99% of the websites out there. It can take a lifetime to articulate to a designer the look you are after (I was lucky to earn my Masters in this at Conde Nast) but it helps to “pull scrap” as Carrie used to say. Bookmark anything online that you respond to — not just blogs, but websites, textures, colors. Create an inspiration board on Pinterest to stay organized. Or do it the old fashioned way, cut layouts out of magazines and pin it on an actual physical bulletin board. Fonts are incredibly important. Colors are incredibly important. I knew I didn’t have have a lot of time with online readers so I knew the visual first impression would be crucial. When I was working with my very gifted designer, Ava, I sent her photos of baby birds with their mouths wide open. (Because my dad used to say that his three kids asking to be fed and clothed and, you know, parented, conjured up this image.) (more…)
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Tags:how to blog·how to start a blog·how to write·jenny rosenstrach
Our friends Kendra and Mike are what Abby would call “good cookers.” Mike’s a legit restaurant guy, and Kendra is an all-around enthusiast, with excellent taste, who happens to know her way around a kitchen. In other words, they can be trusted. A couple of weeks ago, Kendra poked her head into my office and said, “You know what you gotta make for the girls?”
“Laser-cut paper doll dioramas of unicorns frolicking in shimmering fields of goldenrod?” I said.
“No, dude. Stromboli. Mike and I made one this weekend, and it was insane.”
Stromboli? Here’s what I knew about Stromboli: Nothing. Or, that’s not quite true. I had a vague sense it was something I shoveled into my mouth, wolverine-like, a few times in college, at 2am, after several bottles of Golden Anniversary beer. I think. The point is, it was not what some food types today would call a “mindful” eating experience. (I think I also remember tipping my head back and drinking the cup of marinara dipping sauce it came with; hey, I was hungry!) But last week, Stromboli and I got to know each other a little more deeply. I made one to eat — at halftime; that’s how quick and easy it is — while we sat on the couch and watched the NFL playoffs. The kids, as per usual, could not have cared less about the game, but the Stromboli won in a rout. After cleaning her plate, Abby declared: “That’s the best thing you’ve ever made all year.” If I were a betting man, I’d put a lot of money on this happening again for the Super Bowl. – Andy
Step One: Spread dough (we used pre-made from T. Joe’s, and left it out on the counter for an hour, to make it easier to work with; you can also, obviously, use homemade) on cookie sheet rubbed with olive oil; get it as far into the corners as possible.
Step Two: Sauce it up, almost to the edges. If you have homemade pizza sauce, awesome. But honestly, a good storebought, like Don Pepino or Rao’s Marinara, is fine, too.
Step Three: Sprinkle some fresh basil and dried oregano on this bad boy.
Step Four: Add your meat (if you like that sort of thing; we used pepperoni), and onions. At this point, I threatened to add roasted red peppers, but Jenny shot my sh*t down.
Step Five: Add spinach (thawed, squeezed, no trace of liquid) or kale and shredded mozz.
Step Six: Add some fresh ricotta (and some grated parm, if you want) and red pepper flakes.
Step Seven: Very carefully (so as not to tear the dough), roll the dough up like a giant joint. Brush the top with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.
Step Eight: Put into 350°F oven for 45 minutes to an hour, or until golden brown. Brush again with oil in the last five min. Slice into 1 1/2 inch thick pieces and serve.
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Wow! I don’t even know where to begin. Your response to the Seven Days, Seven Meals challenge (which begins this week!) was awesome. I hope you are all PUMPED for a week of delicious, rut-busting dinners. (Repeat to self when small person protests occur: It’s an adventure, it’s an adventure, it’s an adventure.) The hardest part is over: Committing. From here, follow these five steps.
Step 1: Look at your week. Are there some nights that are busier than others? Pick three weeknights and one weekend day that you think is realistic for both a) family dinner b) trying something new. I’m going to choose Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
Step 2: Got your nights picked out? What I’ve done below is organize recipe ideas (yours and mine and many other third parties) into the following four categories:
- Classic Weeknight – Exactly what it sounds like. Quick, simple, healthy, meals that require minimal effort when you are charged with getting dinner on the table fast after all the usual stresses of the day.
- Make-Ahead – Some of these would also fall under “Classic Weeknight,” but the beauty of them is that you can do a large chunk of the work on the weekend and store in the freezer.
- Keep the Spark Alive – These are a little more involved than regular weeknight dinners, but they are every bit as crucial to your psychological health because they take time and love and have the potential to get you excited about cooking again. Save them for Sunday Dinner (as in beginning of the week, Jan 6) or Saturday Dinner at the end of this week.
- Security Blankets – These are not recipes, per se, but suggestions for finger-foody things (peanut butter, hummus, baby carrots) that don’t need to be cooked. You might need to fall back on them when your son spies the pomegranate seeds on or near his chicken.
Please choose TWO from “Classic Weeknight” ONE from “Make-Ahead” ONE from “Keep the Spark Alive and as many as you need from “Security Blankets.” If you don’t like what you see here, think about your own list of recipes you’ve been meaning to make and think about what categories they belong in. If you don’t think you can do three nights of new meals, make it two (one from the freezer and one Classic Weeknight). I’m going to make Lamb Meatballs for the freezer (to eat on Thursday); Orrechiette with Peas and Ham on Tuesday; Spicy Black Bean Burgers on Friday; and Stromboli on Saturday. Remember: If you chose fish, write it down for early in the week.
Step 3: Click on each link, print out the recipes, write your shopping list (including staples and any other meals you plan to make), go shopping.
Step 4: When you return from your shop, carve out 30 minutes to an hour to prepare your Make-Ahead dinner.
Step 5: Read through the rest of your new recipes and see if there’s anything you can do in advance. Chop ingredients, make a vinaigrette, blanch some vegetables. No such thing as too small a task when it comes to preparing in advance.
You are now ready for Week 1. (You’ll do it all again next week.) Keep me posted with your progress either here or on facebook. I promise we will all be extremely generous with our thumbs up-ing. And remember: Not all the things you make will be home runs with the kids or with you. There are all kinds of ways to measure success here. If you come away with two out of seven new meals that you like, that is huge. If you come away with zero meals for the rotation, but the challenge has re-ignited some sort of excitement about dinner, that is even huger.
OK, GOOD LUCK and THANK YOU to everyone who took the time to suggest recipes. I highly encourage you to return to the original post with the un-edited list of go-to weeknight meals.
Classic Weeknight [CHOOSE 1 OR 2]
- Broiled Salmon with Herb Mustard Glaze – Suggested by Sarah
- Spicy Black Bean Burgers (pictured top right) – Suggested by Sarah
- Quick and Spicy Tomato Soup – Suggested by Ada-Marie
- Sticky Salmon with Rice — – Suggested by Elle
- David Leibowitz’s Olympic Seoul Chicken I might cut the garlic by 9 cloves though –Suggested by Scheherazade
- Thai Coconut Curry I actually worked on that page a few months ago and earmarked it, too! — Suggested by Stephanie -
- Poached Eggs in Tomato Sauce – Sarah
- Roasted Chicken Legs with Potatoes and Kale – Suggested by Natasha (Note: Takes 1 hour)
- Orrechiette with Peas, Country Ham (regular ham will be fine), Parm, and Mint — from my brain; can’t remember how it got there
- Crispy Black Bean Tacos with Cabbage Slaw — Suggested by Kerry
- Orange Broccoli & Beef I’d prob skip the mushrooms — From Bon Appetit
- Brussels Sprouts, Sausage, & Cannelini Beans from Mark Bittman’s Food Matters Cookbook. Basically saute minced garlic in olive oil, add sausage removed from its casings and saute for a few minutes and then add shredded brussel sprouts (or just roughly chop). Add white wine, cook for a few minutes then add beans and cook until they warm through. I serve with cooked barley, or some kind of grain and top it with Parm. — Suggested by Sasha
- Pasta with Caramelized Cabbage, Anchovies, and Breadcrumbs — Suggested by Cay
- Deborah Madison’s Pasta with Chickpeas — Suggested by Rosie
- Roasted Cauliflower Capellini (pictured bottom left) – From The Sprouted Kitchen Cookbook
- DALS Recipe You’ve Perhaps Been Meaning to Make: Avgolemeno, Pan-Roasted Chicken Thighs with Mushrooms, Tacos with Chorizo, Avocado, Spinach; or from the Book: Chicken Mustardy Leeks, Salmon with Yogurt-Dill Mustard
- Anything you’ve been dying to make forEVer
Make-Ahead [CHOOSE 1] (more…)
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