Monday, May 10, 2010

dinner on a deadline

I've read Married with Dinner for years but never commented; Anita's recent challenge has lured me out of lurking to actively participate. The gist of it is that busy people who arrive home exhausted and in no mood to cook at the end of the day can eat well, without resorting to convenience food or take out.

That hits me where I live. Weekends my life revolves around food. The kitchen is a playroom. We plan, we shop, we cook, we eat. And while we're eating, we talk about what we'll have for the next meal. Weekdays are another story. I work long and hard and when I get home I rarely have the energy and inspiration to make something wonderful. And our typically tiny NYC kitchen doesn't make it any easier.

But each time I take the easy way out I hate myself a little.

Anita proposes to spend the next 12 weeks sharing cooking tips for real-life, working folks who love to eat well. Her first week's post is about the value of planning, having a well-stocked larder, and knowing what leftovers might be lurking in your refrigerator. Beginners are tasked to plan 2 meals that won't take more than 30 minutes prep per meal. Experts should "make at least one full meal this week from what you already have on hand in your fridge, freezer, or pantry, without shopping for anything new. Bonus points for dessert."

I may not be an expert, but I'm compulsively organized, and as many of you know, have a well-stocked pantry. I thought I'd go for the gold.

This morning I got up at 5:45 to make a Long Island plant run. Bought for three gardens, delivered all three and planted one. In other words it was a full day and I was tired when I got home. Plus I only had two chicken thighs and some embarrassingly old potatoes in the fridge. But I like a challenge.

I pulled together chicken cutlets with Myer lemons and cilantro, roasted potatoes, and a zucchini-tomato-feta extravaganza with some leftover rhubarb (from our garden) cake for desert. It took about 30 minutes prep time, and we had everything on hand in the freezer, the fridge, or the cupboard. I feel virtuous for taking the challenge.

Anyone out there want to play? Check out Married with Dinner and get in the game.


At May 14, 2010 at 5:01 PM , Blogger Anita (Married... with dinner) said...

hey, that is an awesome-looking weeknight dinner -- way to step up to the challenge. :)

Next week we're going to talk about stocking the pantry, so I suspect you will have a lot of tips to share.

At May 15, 2010 at 7:05 AM , Anonymous Leda Meredith said...

Not surprised you rose to the challenge so well! Won't be doing this one myself since A)I'm not married (though I am ever "with dinner), and B)I'm on the road and without my well-stocked pantry at home. But I'll definitely be recommending Anita's blog!

At May 15, 2010 at 3:22 PM , Blogger Marie said...

Well done!

And I can't quite believe that day. Three gardens' shopping, all delivered and one planted??? Heilige Kuh. Bionic woman.

I'm going to start timing myself...I do cook every night, and did every night even when I was single; and I think I'm a big fan of the everything roasted/braised in one pot/skillet/pan mantra. Which cuts down a great deal on time. But then there has to be something fresh and crunchy like salad on the side.

The well stocked pantry and fridge - however small - is key, but I almost always pick something up in terms of groceries, for inspiration.

At May 15, 2010 at 7:42 PM , Anonymous Chris said...

Great job with your dinner on a deadline--and I love the tomato/zucchini/feta side dish. Sometimes those pull-together-what-you've-got meals can be quite impressive!

At May 16, 2010 at 9:15 AM , Anonymous Mark said...

Looks delish ... I'll be right over. I've been doing this in a way, trying to eat from the freezer to make room for summer produce. It leads to some very creative surprises, like your dinner.

The rhubard cake sounds especially good!


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