Feb 20 2015
Bread alone? I could make a meal of it, but it isn’t what we’d have for dinner. Is it some sort of heady responsibility, being the one to decide what to have for dinner every night? It shouldn’t be.
Still, I’ve been in such a funk with respect to deciding what to have for dinner. I just don’t seem to be able to bring up, in my mind, my list of usual meals – the “rotation”, so to speak. The problem is, we really have never instituted a rotation. Did that ever exist for our family? Did I have that growing up? Would my family like to have the same meals week-in and week-out? A fortnight rotation? Is there a responsibility to cook variety all the time? Need we try so many new dishes? Does there always need to be a recipe (no!)? Magazines leave me uninspired and cooking blogs are so numerous, it is overwhelming.
The issue is, I think I’m looking for new ideas inside of old ones. What is it that we like to eat? I looked all through this blog, and while I have recorded some recipes, I realize that our usual dinners are not well represented and I’m not finding inspiration. Finding a place to consolidate our usual fare has proved difficult – the menus for the week are somewhat scattered and I haven’t kept that up, the categories of meat dishes prove that I haven’t posted very much of what we eat.
S came up with an idea that was actually a repeat of something I had, literally, posted on the inside of a kitchen cabinet door, but pitched for some reason. “What about making an excel spreadsheet of the things that you cook?,” said he. So, I’ve gone about that task over the last few days and come up with a great number of dishes. I’ve perused this blog, my saved recipes on Epicurious and Everyday Food (so sad they aren’t keeping that app up to date). What I really need to do is put links into the spreadsheet….I’ll leave that for another day. The spreadsheet has SALAD under Vegetables, but that could be a side, a meal, or pretty much anything. The category needs to be expanded.
I have not put desserts on the list – that seems to be something I am not having any trouble with, on the blog or elsewhere. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to add a repertoire of favorite baked goods, desserts and treats, somewhere.
It turns out, there are a lot of meals to be made from this list. I don’t want to be overwhelmed by my own list, though. Many of the foods – e.g., flank steak – don’t need much more explanation. And, just knowing the protein that I would want to make will help me narrow the search for a recipe if, indeed, I even need one. Do I always start with the protein? Pretty much. Just like on a menu at a restaurant, it seems to be the centerpiece. However, increasingly, our portion sizes of protein are getting smaller and the portion of the plate taken up by vegetables is larger. For the better.
The Fish category, and pasta too, would be much longer if shrimp were still on the menu. But, sadly, for environmental reasons, it is not. We decided to stop eating shrimp about 9 months ago. The shrimp fishery just does too much damage to the marine environment – wild shrimp harvesting destroys the bottom of the ocean and shrimp farming pollutes/destroys mangroves around the world. We have also taken most tuna off the menu because of its mercury content and we eat it only rarely, and swordfish and other large fish almost not at all. Our family has instituted, or we are trying to, a Meatless-Monday routine. To be honest, however, finding good, satisfying non-pasta vegetarian dishes has proved challenging. It is one of the areas in which I plan to improve.
I will update the spreadsheet as needed, either within this post or another. And, I think, I’ll print it and tape it to the inside of the cabinet door again, so that inspiration is there when I need it. Perhaps the menus for the week will reappear, as they are very helpful for the efficient use of ingredients which helps reduce grocery bills and wasted food – a win-win.
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