It’s very annoying that some of my updates get rejected by LJ; no idea why that happens. (This is why yesterday’s update from here just went up over there – if you read an LJ and you didn’t see it, it’s about workouts, migraines, massages and thyroid function and involves some minor kvetching. Nothing too exciting.)
I love where I live in many ways, but I do really miss having lots of restaurants close by. We have lots of great burger places and brewpubs, but it would be nice to have a couple of fancier places. Beaverton (the next town in) has a few, but otherwise they’re all in town, a bit far for weeknights. I do really like BJ’s brewpub, which has a large and varied menu, but I don’t want to go to the same place every week. (I have read plenty of older books in which people eat at the same restaurant every night. These aren’t even always wealthy people – in some cases they’re poor and just don’t have their own kitchen. I would hate that, but if I had to do it I could do worse than BJ’s.)
The upside is that we have a really excellent grocery store (a Fred Meyer), plus nearby Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and New Seasons in case I feel the need to spend more or get lesser-known vegetables or a wider variety of grains. (To be honest, though, I think the meat quality at Freddy’s might beat any of those pricier stores for taste.) So I’ve been doing a lot more cooking than when we were in previous cities.
Normally Ted does his fair share of the cooking. I do more of the planning, at least in broad outline, though he’s come up with some interesting riffs on the main ingredients. For the last few weeks, though, he’s been working 12-15-hour days – lucky if he gets home in time to eat the food, forget about cooking it. He’s been doing some work at home on weekends, too. So it’s been mostly me.
I just got a copy of Ree Drummond’s The Pioneer Woman Cooks, which is also helping for inspiration. She cooks the way I do (not a lot of measuring, quite a lot of butter). I much prefer weekend to weekday cooking – I get the feeling that cooking for her husband, four kids and ranch cowboys pretty much is a full-time job, which may explain why she isn’t in such a hurry on weekdays. I understand that most of the recipes are on her blog, but it is easier to cook from a book, and I’ve gotten enough use from her online recipes that I’m happy to throw some money her way. (Which got me thinking so I just checked – and what do you know, Kenji Lopez-Alt has a cookbook. coming out. If you’re wondering whether to buy his book, just go get a thick steak, a cast-iron frying pan, and follow his directions.)
Last Saturday night was steaks, caprese salad, homemade bread, homemade kruidenboter (herbed butter), and some tapenade from Freddy’s, with a Syrah from Abacela. It was so similar to what I’d have eaten at a Dutch steak restaurant (except that the beef and wine came from Oregon, rather than Argentina and France respectively) that I had to have coffee to top it off. I even dug out some little pieces of mint bark left over from Christmas (we had a couple kinds – the better one is long since eaten!) because Dutch coffee is always served with a cookie or sweet on the side – the koekje bij. Sunday was enchiladas, made to Ree Drummond’s recipe, which are definitely going on our rotation. They’re a bit fiddly, because you have to make the sauce (starts from a can, but mixed with broth and seasoning), brown the beef and onions, fry the tortillas, then dip each tortilla in the sauce and assemble the enchiladas. They’re not horrible for a weekend meal, though – maybe an hour or so. And last night was back to Ree Drummond again, for her recipe for shrimp penne with tomato cream sauce – I made a full batch and have just had some more of it for lunch. Unusually for Drummond, this one actually does work for quick weeknight cooking, and I’d probably be able to make it again without looking at the recipe.
The other thing I’ve been doing to balance all this cooking is just skipping dinner some nights – just having popcorn or soup or a salad or a baked potato. With the more intense workouts I seem to always be starving int he late morning and at lunch, but there are also times when I’m just not to hungry at dinner (probably because of how much I eat earlier in the day!) so I figure it’s better to honor that than to cook food I don’t want. (And if Ted comes home and does want food, well, that’s why we deep-fried an extra turkey at Christmas and froze all the meat. We’ve got that and plenty of other stuff handy for him.)