Sunday, September 11, 2011

Meal Plan #14: Tail end of summer

Autumn literally rode in on a wind this evening, with the temperature dropping 10 degrees in a couple of hours, and a rainstorm ending our week-long heat wave. I'm wavering between disappointment and relief, because I was loving the bonus hot days, but was actually running out of hot weather meal ideas (well, that's not really true. It was more like I had mentally started preparing for cooler weather, and then had to shift gears back into hot weather mode, which was hard to do).

Yesterday when I served D some pasta (a kid-friendly recipe that puts zucchini to good use), he announced that he didn't want that; he wanted pizza. So tonight I decided to do pizza on the grill, since it was too hot to use the oven. By 5:30pm, the temperature was plummeting, and we could have used the oven, but I was already committed. The pizzas were simple, but delicious—homemade pesto as a base, and then sliced tomatoes and bocconcini laid over top. D had a great time helping me roll out the pizza crust and messing around with the dough, which makes me think that an afternoon of making buns that he helps me shape might be a really enjoyable activity. I'll tack it to my to-do list and try to remember to take photos.

Here is the remainder of the week's meal plan, which is a concerted effort to use up a long list of seasonal ingredients. Although I realized, after I had made the plan and done my grocery shopping, that I have a gallon pail of ripe tomatoes sitting on my counter, and I neglected to put them to use in any meaningful way. I have an abundance of chicken stock at the moment, so perhaps I will be making them into soup...

Grilled pork chops (my favourite seasoning for good quality chops from happy pigs is to do a quick cure in the morning, sprinkling them with generous amounts of kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, a tiny pinch of allspice and some crushed bay leaf. So simple, but that's all that is required when you eat the meat of healthy, happy animals. Thanks to Alice Waters and the Chez Panisse Cafe Cookbook for this perfect recipe)
Roasted beet salad with beet greens and feta (I mentioned in my last post that I am always looking for the 'best' of everything. So far, I haven't been able to top this beet recipe for simplicity and flavour. This is a standard summer dish at our house, and I have shared it with countless friends and family members who have tried it and then asked for the recipe)
Baked spaghetti squash (simply done, cut in half, seeded, baked cut side down for about 40 minutes, served with farm butter and sea salt)

Meat and grain loaf (The recipe, from Mark Bittman's Food Matters, has been posted on the blog "Simple Food. Healthy Life". I've chosen the recipe primarily because it uses a large amount of spinach, which is one of the things I have to use up this week)
Grilled patty pan squash
Fresh tomatoes

Wednesday (my husband is away for two nights at a conference. I have cleared my schedule of all other stresses so that I can be a happy and calm mom for my boys for those two days. I'm grateful to have the luxury to do that, but at the same time, I will still be doing my best to keep the cooking simple)
Teriyaki noodles with broccoli and edamame (also from Food Matters—you'll note the original recipe calls for asparagus, but the asparagus at the store came from Peru. I figured I'd opt for broccoli that had been grown a little closer to home)

Hubby still away, so I'm thinking I'll just plan for leftovers, of which there should be plenty. If I can find a sitter, I may also have to go to a preschool executive meeting that evening, so limiting the amount of prep and dishwashing is probably a wise coping strategy.

My husband is back, but not until right at dinner time, so I'm thinking of doing something simple and popular: our chicken wing/sweet potato oven-fry/veggie sticks and dip supper. And probably a beer. Or some more rosé

Speaking of my 'quest for the best', I have just made my all-time favourite muffins, which are a perfect option for this time of year, since the recipe calls for large quantities of grated zucchini, carrots and apples, all of which are in ample supply right now. These morning glory muffins, sourced from a bed and breakfast's website, have to be one of the most requested recipes I make. My kids, my family, my volleyball team, all either want me to bring the muffins or share the recipe or both (I have occasionally been persona non grata at volleyball tournaments when I neglect to bring a bag or two of these muffins.) They have also been fantastic sellers at bakesales and fundraisers. I thought D was a huge fan of muffins in general, but it turns out that his concept of 'muffin' equals these particular muffins. All others are at risk of rejection. Try them—and let me know if they fulfill your own 'quest for the best'.

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