Mise en Place

Last week was hard. Nothing even happened – it was just hard.

One problem was that even though we meal planned, made a grocery list, and grocery shopped the weekend before, cooking was a fiasco. J actually ended up coming home from a full day at work and then and cooking us dinner twice last week. He said he was happy to do it, and he probably really was. That’s just the kind of person he is. (<3)

But I’d like to re-take the cooking this week.

My parents were in town this past weekend, and I seized the free childcare time to put the week’s recipes Mise en Place. Which in this context means the veggies are chopped and labeled through most of the week, and the beans are soaked. I might try to cook the spaghetti sauce ahead too.

So even if it’s another hard week, I stand a better chance at successfully cooking. And if I fail again, I’ve at least taken steps that will make it less work for J when he bails me out.

Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

F and I made these cookies from Simply Recipes on Friday morning. They’re fabulous.

cookies

I’ve never deliberately browned butter before, and as per Elise’s directions, I followed my nose and waited for that delicious nutty butterscotch scent. It’s worth washing out the extra pot and single-mindedly stirring butter just for that smell. But then you get to eat it, too. I think this is my go-to recipe now. Note: I omitted the cinnamon and used dark chocolate chips.

A quick website search got me a whole list of Simply Recipes goodies that use browned butter.

Also, did you know that Deb of Smitten Kitchen lists Brown Butter as one of her food groups and also has a long list of recipes that use it?

I have to admit that this is a selfish post, because when I find myself in my next food rut, I’m going straight back to this post to find these lists. Brown butter shall fix all of the things.

Under the Weather

I’m so pleased to report that none of us is horribly ill! F has a runny nose (that I really really really don’t want Baby C to catch…), and J and I have sore throats. So far, Baby C has no symptoms and is happy as a clam.

Also, the basement freezer didn’t close right last night, and so all of a sudden we have quite a bit of cooking to do on our sick day! Frozen pizza, soup, more pho broth, and two sausage recipes (sausage and peppers, and this one with kale and spaghetti squash) will minimize the waste. Bye bye to my small stock of frozen breast milk though.

We’re also planning to rent Frozen! None of us have seen it yet, and today seems like the day. F is beside herself that special movie plans are in the works.

Picnic!

F, baby C and I ate lunch on the porch today. It was warm but quite blustery.

Then F watered the herbs and the pots we planted seeds in. I don’t expect those seeds to sprout, by the way – spring wasn’t early (but no way to know up front), and those pots seem to have been dug through (squirrels, probably) many times.

Peaceful and spring-like!

Starting the Week

So, Deb’s pho recipe: not a minimalist undertaking! Quite good – F and I liked it, and J really really liked it.

Another not-so-surprising revelation: leftover pho would require a fairly elaborate system of packing to become a brown-bag lunch. Too elaborate. I opted to make tonight’s planned dinner casserole last night after dinner and use it for today’s and tomorrow’s lunches instead. Dinner tonight: pho again! We’re all pretty happy about that. 🙂

We took F to the playground yesterday, even though the cool breeze was cutting through me while I nursed C on the sidelines. J didn’t mind it because he and the other dads were all playing some no-rules version of tag with the kids.

Hoping to get outside again today, at least as far as the shed to finish raking up our leaves. Major mulching plans are afoot with our supply of leaves from 11 oak trees.

It feels good to start the week with dinner already cooked, all three of us dressed and ready for anything right after getting up, blog blogged, and a very modest, flexible plan that inches us toward our goal of a garden.

Weekends and Cooking

I’m trying to use weekends more intentionally than I have been.

Get things done while F is glued to J, being glued to J myself for at least a little while during daylight hours, seeing friends, meal planning so J can grocery shop, and cooking ahead.

We cooked a fair bit ahead in the time leading up to C’s birth. We didn’t plow through it all immediately – I was feeling good, we had family in town to help, and we’re not too bad at throwing together quick meals. But it was sooo nice to have them on days when a home-cooked meal wouldn’t have otherwise happened.

Last weekend, we banked three (yes, 3) lasagnas, straight into the downstairs freezer. Score. And by “we,” I mean that I intended to do it but J did it because I was obviously not going to get it done. I’m telling you – he’s good. ❤

Then I cooked a batch of slow-cooker lentils, divided it into several mug-sized servings and one larger serving, and froze it all.

With that all done, I’m eyeing Deb’s pho recipe while the weather is still cool.

Early Dinner Prep

I think the keys to getting anything done around here are:

  1. do it early
  2. either involve F or get someone else to hang out with her

We’re having some family over this evening for dinner, and dinner and dessert were pretty much ready to go by lunchtime.

The menu:

The prep:

  • J and I threw the BBQ in the slow cooker this morning (even better would’ve been to mix up the dry rub and the sauce last night) and it’ll be done cooking by 4:15.
  • F and I mixed up the corn bread’s dry ingredients in one bowl, and the wet ingredients in another. When it’s almost dinner time, we’ll mix them up in the bigger bowl, toss them in the pan, and toss that in the oven.
  • The frozen veggies and fresh salad were purchased pretty much ready.
  • And F and I made the pudding right after the corn bread was prepped. It’s setting in the fridge right now.

I’ve already mostly cleaned up the kitchen, too. It’s a good feeling!