Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Everyday Conundrum



On a day to day basis, I think it's safe to say that I do most of our grocery shopping and cooking. It's not that M doesn't like cooking (the shopping is another matter), it's just that me making dinner is what makes sense. I get off earlier from school and work, so I don't have to suffer the post-traumatic stress it is to go to the store after 5 o'clock and generally, I say I like cooking us dinner. Only problem: what to make?

I usually ask M in the morning what he may feel like having for dinner, but being the man that he is, knowing what he'd like to eat anywhere further away than 20 minutes from the present is a question along the lines of "What is the meaning of life?" He hardly EVER has a clue. So much for inspiration, I'm telling you.

We've tried a lot of things: picking out recipes from randomly selected cookbooks that looks or sounds good; I've had M go over my delicious bookmarks, so he could find things he'd like eating; I've taken "what we had for dinner" notes for an entire month, to have that as inspiration for forthcoming months; we've scoured both Danish and American magazines to find drool-worthy (and everyday-cooking managable) recipes. I've tried to do week-to-week food plans, but something always pops up and wrecks my best attentions and the chicken ends up spoiling in the fridge. Just buying what looks good at the market on Saturday invariably leaves me with something that doesn't look nearly as good on the following Thursday. Which is also a terrible, terrible waste.

All I want is recipes that are easy, managable, not using crazy expensive ingredients, or things I have to go to specialist stores to get, or that requires hours and hours of prep work or marinating or. That lives up to my - self-prescribed - requirement of protein and two veg. This last one is probably what gives me the most problems. If I was to make dinner for myself alone, I'd live happily ever after on brown rice and avocado, but when I'm cooking for the man, I feel like there should be both protein, starch and carbs on the plate. Don't ask why, it makes no sense, and I'm trying to shed myself of it.

Making nice, nutritious food on an everyday basis is just not as easy as I would like it to be, and fast becomes a chore. A dud. An energy- and life-draining one at that. And I want my time in the kitchen to be pleasurable.

But then, then, it happens that I stumble upon keepers. Like the chicken meatballs up there. I was, once again, at the end of a day of work and trying to figure out what to eat that night, and ended up on the Gourmet website. Ta-dah! Dinner solved!

I've always passed on the minced chicken in the cooler at the market. Why, I have no idea, minced chicken just seemed a little odd to me - considering the amount of other types of minced meat we eat, it really makes no sense, but I guess I just never really knew what to do with it. Now, I make this. I've served them with a chopped salad (with this dressing) and the peperonata suggested, but I think they'd be the bomb in a sandwich, too. They even freeze well, so make a double portion and you won't have to think about what to make next Wednesday for dinner. What do you do to make sure you don't live of pasta and jarred tomato sauce every day?

I followed the recipe on the Gourmet site almost to a T, but forgot to put in the parsley, hence the scattered greens in the photo.