Thursday, September 9, 2010

Where we've been

Hello, Theo here. As Sixer wrote yesterday, we actually did an experiment last month where we planned and cooked dinner for a week. There were a lot of factors involved in the decision but mainly, we wanted to eat on a regular schedule, and we wanted to feed 9 people. To that end we formed a working 'meal template' that looked like this:

Monday : Pasta ( With red sauce / Green spaghetti )
Tuesday : Meat with a veggie side
Wednesday: Pasta ( Green spaghetti/ White sauce )
Thursday : Meat with a veggie
Friday : New recipe

The idea was to have a set list of easy-to-prepare meals that everyone would eat. I personally don't cook much, and spaghetti is generally my go-to dinner option. I like the idea of having a set pasta day and spicing it up each week by simply changing out the type of sauce used. I'm hoping we'll continue to keep 'pasta day' in our new schedule this month, but I'm ready to admit that twice a week - while convenient - might not be too appealing on a long-term basis.
Tuesdays and Thursdays are 'meat and veggie' days, this way we can go down a list of meats and sides and mix and match to make an endless verity of meals. I'm partial to combinations of steak and mashed potatoes, chicken and steamed broccoli, and pork and corn, myself.
While continuing to cook a set rotation of meals that are tried-and-true, that we know will taste good and that every one will like, (or at least eat), We knew we wanted to constantly expand our repertoire of culinary feats, so we decided to make Friday 'experiment day', where we could try new things without having to worry about either completely failing, or making something so unusual that the kids refuse to touch it. The beauty of doing this on Friday's is that, if it turns out inedible, we can fall to our back-up plan: "leftovers."

For me, the highlight of our week of experiments was definitely Thursday. We had breaded pork and roasted vegetables. The vegetables were mostly a failed experiment. At the time our oven was broken, so I tried to roast turnips, potatoes, & sweet potatoes, on the stove in our cast iron skillet. In addition to salt & pepper, I also added in some chicken stock which turned out to be a mistake. The chicken stock made all of the vegetables soggy. The vegetables also didn't all cook at the same rate, and cutting them to be the same size didn't really help much with that. Even though they weren't perfect, they turned out well enough that I'll want to try them again for sure.
I didn't used a recipe for the breaded pork, or write down what I did, but it was very simple. Basically I just coated the pork chops with flour & salt and fried them in a skillet for 3-4 minutes on each side. Yum!

The other meal I wanted to mention was Wednesday's Green Spaghetti.
To make this dish, you put chopped spinach in a blender with some garlic, parmesan cheese, and 1 cup of either milk or stock. (I used chicken stock), and then pour it over the pasta. The family liked it, so I have to view it as a success, but I thought the flavor was very bland. I'm thinking about tweaking the recipe in the future, either adding more garlic, or maybe some vinegar or lemon juice to give it an extra twang.

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