Marissa Lingen (mrissa) wrote,
Marissa Lingen

Having, eating.

On Saturday, we introduced my folks and Grandma to dim sum, which was a good thing not only in that we all enjoyed it, but also in that we ate mountains of dim sum for lunch and did not have to come up with much for supper. Which is good, because on Saturday everything I cook had gone completely out of my head. It wasn't that I had forgotten how to cook. It's that I'd forgotten what to cook. I got it back yesterday morning with only minor deliberate effort, but enough of my friends have complained recently about having to come up with what to cook that I thought I would mention what I do sometimes, with an addition you could do if this is a constant problem.

Me, I put meals on a PostIt on the fridge. Right now it says:
lamb stew
plum scallops
potato hotdish
pasta bake
Span rice
Swed meatballs

and so on. I write the stuff down, and for me this is enough: we can make decisions on the individual nights based on which of those things we feel like, or which of those things has ingredients that will go bad if not used soon, or etc. Last night we picked the lamb stew because markgritter did not have an opinion, and timprov and I wanted something that would go well with a side dish of roasted yams, and also timprov will be eating at his desk a lot this week (this is very atypical), so we wanted to have one of the sloppier things on a night he would be eating at the table with us. Tonight we will have the scallops because scallops are better fresher, and we will have asparagus with them because it's cold and the oven will be free, and we will have quinoa because it goes well with both other things. After that we'll poke around the fridge and see if anything is looking dodgy or sounds particularly good. For us that tends to be enough planning.

If you have difficulty thinking of or deciding what to cook on a regular basis, and if it's a source of stress for you and yours, my first suggestion would be to write down what you know how to cook on a big master list. You can mark up the master list if you like--which things are easy, which things are fast, which things are cheap, which things involve a lot of something you'd prefer not to have often or to have more of (if, for example, you're trying to eat less sodium or more potassium or whatever), which things one member of your household or frequent visitor can't have at all or doesn't like, etc. This list may give you ideas for what you'd like to learn to make--if you notice that there are very few vegetarian meals and you'd like some, for example, or that you have nothing that looks like it would be tasty with a favorite side dish, or that you always say you're going to cook more one-pot meals but everything on your list is meat and two veg, or that you never seem to make soup, or that nothing sounds like it'd be good on a hot day.

Then from the master list you can just take things and put them in order: easy things on Thursday because you are always worn out by Thursday, or fast things on Tuesday because you have to get to a meeting Tuesday evening, or like that. Then you've made the decisions at once and written them down and all you have to do when the time comes is follow the list.

If you don't have a master list, then maybe you make friends with people like me who talk about food a lot, and when we say, "mushroom risotto," you say, "What's in that? How do you make it? Is it hard? Can I have the recipe?" Maybe if you want to play it cool you use phrases like, "I've been wanting a good recipe for that," instead.

Every once in awhile I read an article where someone is snarking about people who blog or twitter or in any other way communicate about what they're eating, and it annoys me. People talk about food. It's a very human thing. Someone says, "I got a gorgeous branch of brussels sprouts at the store," and before you know it there are half a dozen other people trading recipes for whether you want them roasted or steamed, garlic or nuts or bacon, or else just saying to themselves quietly, "Hey, brussels sprouts, I haven't had those in a long time!" or, "I didn't realize you could do that with brussels sprouts," or even, "Brussels sprouts come on a branch?" So no, I don't update my Facebook with every meal so that you hear that I had blackberries at dinner last night and then the remainder of them at lunch today. On the other hand, they were darn good blackberries, and I had an English muffin with some of porphyrin's raspberry jam, and I had some bought pecans quick before the pecans my cousin sends me from her trees get here and we are overwhelmed with fresh gift pecans. And it is not bad for me to say I enjoyed these things, and it is not bad for you to hear it. And if it is, skip along to the next entry on your friendslist without great harm done.

I am still awfully run-down, and porphyrin says I will be awhile longer probably, but I found the time and energy to make something else in the kitchen yesterday, beyond the lamb stew and yams and blackberries that were the main part of dinner. I made chocolate castle cakes in the mini-castles pan. Then I turned them out into my second-best lasagna pan, and I poured the frosting in so they would be chocolate castle cakes in a chocolate moat. And then after the frosting was cooled I put Swedish fish along the top of the moat. Rob and Lil were pretty impressed. To tell you the truth, I was kind of impressed myself. I am mostly not that good at presentation, but I got inspired over the fish in the moat.

There was extra cake batter, so I baked it in two ramekins, and I frosted them, and I stuck each one in a Ziploc in the freezer. There will come a day when the castles are gone and one of us says, "I could really go for a piece of chocolate cake," and then there they will be, ready and waiting. Do you know what this means? It means I am having my cake and eating it too. Which is a pleasant thing.
Tags: so juicy sweeeeet
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