the process of dinner

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I grew up with there being a stained piece of computer paper taped onto the side of my fridge.  It was only there for mom.  It was penciled in (she only ever used pencil and still does till this day) with the entire month's menu.  I'm pretty sure we used to tease her about it, it being a menu for an entire month but now in my mature more humble years I think she had something.  Not that I keep a menu for a month (although I've thought about it every time I put my menu together) but it seemed so efficient.

I'm at least at the point of a weekly menu.  Since the new year I've started something new for me.  I pick one good cookbook and choose the week's meals based on its recipes.  Yes, it means a lot of new recipes, but that's the kind of mood I've been in.  We've had some successes at dinner time and some failures.  (Note: A failure does not mean the kids won't touch it-we'd then have too many failures.  It simply means the time and work didn't produce something of equal value.)

A few weeks ago I exhausted [amazon_link id="0061658197" target="_blank" ]The Pioneer Woman Cooks[/amazon_link] and this week it has been [amazon_link id="1400054346" target="_blank" ]Barefoot Contessa at Home.[/amazon_link]  I am a lot more excited to head into the kitchen early to start chopping and roasting and such if I have a visual image in my mind of the outcome.  Are you that way?  Bobby isn't.  He has a gift of taking a mental inventory of all the produce and raw ingredients and then using the right about of this and sautéing that to create a beautiful and delicious meal.  Thankfully he cooks sometimes and cooks well so that the element of surprise is alive in the kitchen.

I keep a little magnetic note pad on my fridge with the week's menu.  I check it everyday, throughout the day, just to make sure I'm mentally and physically energized for what ever is to come that evening.  One of my New Year's resolutions is to try a monthly menu.  You know, just give myself a long period of uninterrupted time to plug in recipes, account for some leftover nights, other nights we may be out, etc.  I think at this point in the game it will stay in the "good idea" category of my brain, waiting to be tapped into someday.

P.S. Ironically, none of these photos above are from either mentioned cookbook.  I needed to use up produce, thus the recipes.  The soup is my favorite tomato soup from Michael Chiarello to make and now, I can happily say, I have basil growing and the recipe uses up quite a lot of it.  Bonus.

And its side, Brussels sprouts and smoky onion on cheese toast. Bobby and I loved it.  I planned ahead and made plain cheese toast for the little ones.  I didn't even want to start explaining what was on top.

How do you organize meals in your home?

the sleepy time gal