Then there are those times where you just have to make decisions about what you’ve got time for. And I really hate giving up making meals for myself and the Beloved Husband just because I’ve got a work binge on. It’s making those meals that’s a lot of my entertainment in life. I love thinking about them and making them almost as much as I love eating them.
So there I was, with only a week between trips out, and with a huge amount of work to get through, too. Well, the obvious answer is to get in fast foods, or eat out, or just starve, I guess, and since none of those options is an appealing one, I just had to think of some way ’round. Really, the only way ’round is to just get as efficient and creative as you can, and cut yourself some slack when you hit your own personal efficiency and creativity ceiling.
This was the attitude I took.
I hit my own ceiling when it came to shopping. My brain was just too full of other stuff to really focus on what I might need for a series of a.) varied meals and b.) meals that would create leftovers that I could leave for the Husband when I was away on the next trip. Now, I know a lot of you women out there are saying, “let the guy get his own meals, for God’s sake!” and I agree, I totally agree, in fact, HE totally agrees, bless him. But the thing is, I LIKE leaving meals for him, just like (I assume) he likes getting in the wood for me every winter. I LIKE it. I could give it up, but I don’t really want to if I don’t have to. It adds something to my life.
Well, so here were my parameters: Not much time. Just what I had in the cupboard and fridge already. An attenuated attention span.
(It helps when you’re playing this kind of culinary game that you have loved ones who appreciate what you do, and are not given to finding little picky things to complain about to bring you down when you can’t do as much as you usually do. Although, if you have the latter, I suggest seriously thinking about either retraining them, or keeping them well away when you have key work to do of your own.)
I was so involved in my own work that I didn’t even notice what I cooked last night. I mean, I can barely remember eating it. But I think it was good–and I know it gave me some leftovers for the husband to reheat (mashed potatoes with pesto spread in a baking dish, covered with grated Swiss cheese and baked till bubbly; carrots and parsley; salad with avocado and blue cheese).
So today I had to finish a proofing job. Well, I am not crazy about proofing, so I take it one chapter at a time. One or two. Or three. I did this at the kitchen counter. And in between, I wandered over to the stove and the sink and made:
Vegetable soup for lunch. Chopped a couple of onions (I knew I was going to make a couple of other things, too, from those onions, so get it done all at once), put a bit of chopped onion in a pan with some melted butter and curry powder. Peeled and diced the lone potato left from last night’s potato fest, added that to the pot. A little thyme. Covered with a couple of cups of water and brought to the simmer. When the veggies were tender, I added the leftover carrots from the night before and cooked to blend flavors. There was so much of it — flavor, I mean–that I added a little more water, with the idea of leaving one extra serving for Alex for a lunch when I’m away. When that was done, shoved it to the back of the stove to wait for a final enrichment with a little butter, a sprinkling of parsley and toast for lunch.
Back to the proofing. Two more chapters. Even three.
Then back to the stove. Heated two separate skillets. In one, a dollop of sunflower oil as the base for enchilada sauce. In the other, olive oil as the base for a sauce for polenta and mushrooms. Split what was left of the chopped onion between the two and sauteed them till they were golden. Then opened a can of crushed tomatoes and puree and put half in one skillet, half in the other. Chopped garlic and added to each skillet (of course, who did you think you were dealing with, anyway?) Added three minced chipotle chiles and some of their sauce to the enchilada sauce. Added a sprig of rosemary to the polenta sauce. Salt to both. Then I needed to thin them. Leftover beer to thin the enchilada sauce. White wine to thin the polenta sauce.
Put them both onto simmer and went back to proofing. Three more chapters.
Back to the stove, gave them both a stir, turned off the heat and covered them.
And tonight, the enchilada sauce will drape some corn tortillas that will then be rolled around grated cheese and minced green onion, lined up in a baking dish, and covered with more sauce, cheese, and onion. Baked till done, and the leftovers can be reheated at will by the Beloved Husband. We’ll eat refried beans with this (I already have them in the fridge from another day), the beans spooned on top of lettuce, and an avocado and cilantro salad on the side.
Lunch tomorrow will be reheated beans on top of grated carrot on a whole wheat tortilla, the whole thing topped with more cilantro and avocado and grated cheese.
Then dinner will be polenta stuffed with sauteed mushrooms (just happen to have some lurking in the fridge), and topped with tomato/rosemary sauce and grated Parmesan. Plenty of leftovers, terrific reheated. We’ll have it the first time with what’s left of the lettuce in the fridge, mixed with grated carrot, as a salad.
I finished the proofing job right on time. Now on to packing for the next trip. But in the meantime, we’ve got to eat, and, as you know, my motto is: Anything you’ve got to do, you might as well have a good time doing.
And I’m serious about that, too.