Sunday, May 28, 2017

Weekend cooking

Over the years I have regularly read food writing and blog posts that make offhand remarks about how it's so easy to do prep or batch cooking on the weekend, and how it makes your life so much easier during the week. Sound familiar? Roast some veggies! Cook up a big pot of grains! Make a stew! Etc.

I have the same response to this oft-repeated sentiment that I do to people saying, "Oh, and just make a salad!", like that's no big thing. I don't know about you, but even on weekends when I have no formal plans, I usually have a lot of things I want to accomplish and if I want to carve out 3 hours (or even 1 hour) for non-meal cooking I'm going to have to do some planning, and something else that I wanted to do is going to fall by the wayside. As much as I love cooking, I don't want it to take over my regular weekend routine to that extent.

So instead I've started trying to develop cooking routines that fit in with our typical weekend schedule, at least on the weekends when we're just hanging around and have some time. On Saturday afternoon, I'll start dinner prep a bit early - say around 4:30 - to allow time to start a batch of bread dough, get potatoes in the oven to bake (Saturday night dinner at our house is invariably steak, Italian potatoes, and a vegetable or two, unless and sometimes even if we have guests), and make something sweet for that night's dessert and lunchboxes for the coming week. This week it was a batch of cupcakes:

One of which I had for breakfast dessert this morning - breakfast dessert is one of the perks of being an adult.

Sunday breakfast in our house alternates between pancakes and waffles, both of which involve a fair amount of down time during prep. I've got the routine down now to where I get them going, and while each batch is cooking I do things like empty the dishwasher, make a big batch of fruit salad (I started this in January as you can see here), and start a batch of homemade cereal in the slow cooker if I'm out (first mentioned here - my version uses 720g oats, 240ml canola/olive oil mixed, 180ml maple syrup, and lasts me about 2 weeks).

Today I made a start at adding another regular to the routine: I made a big kale salad for lunch. Having Miss B's Food Tech salad in the fridge reminded me how great it is to have something tasty and healthy waiting when you're hungry and too impatient to chop salad (see first point).

All of that leaves me feeling pretty well set up for the week, while still having had a weekend - after all, here I am updating my blog for the second week in a row! And I spent the better part of Saturday afternoon getting to know my sewing machine - I read the manual, figured out how to thread it, and started practicing straight seams on fabric I bought for a project about 3? (4?) years ago.

Inspired by this tutorial - which I forgot to look at before my first attempt, so not perfect. But I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to making this part of my weekend routine too!

Hope you got to spend the weekend doing whatever you like best.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Sunday digest

Hey, it's only been 3 weeks! Here's the latest news from around here:

Work/school We are deep into Term 2 and everyone is working hard. DP has started teaching his intensive master's program; I'm trying to help launch a major organizational initiative which is taking a little longer than planned; and Miss B is into her second round of Year 7 electives - which involves cooking!

Last weekend I helped her with her first Food Tech assignment - designing a recipe for and making a salad. I managed to capture a few action shots; here's Miss B chopping celery:

And here's the final result:

Miss B's personal tweaks to the standard salad recipe included chopped salami and pickles - surprisingly delicious, since guess who ended up eating this salad for lunch all week?

Recreation Hanging around our local places playing cards and board games; streaming lots of movies now that we've finally figured out how to work our cable system (it only took 18 months); and indulging Miss B's renewed interest (not to say fangirling) in Doctor Who.

Food Two sets of dinner guests in the space of a couple of days this week meant thinking of ways to be efficient in the kitchen. For the first round, I made my favorite slow cooker chicken recipe, served with potatoes and peas; then, for today's guests, I used the leftover chicken, sauce, and peas as the base of a chicken pot pie:

I rounded out the filling with sauteed bacon, red onion, carrots, and celery, plus a few porcini mushrooms, then stuck it in the oven to heat through and combine. I made a variation on my Emergency Scone recipe for the topping (swapped out sugar for rosemary salt, and some of the cream for olive oil to make it more savory), cooked it separately (I don't like a soggy bottom on my pot pie topping), and slipped it on just before serving. It made a great and frugal late-autumn Sunday lunch (with bread and salad and brownies for dessert) for four adults and three children.

Weather As I may have already mentioned, it's late autumn here: fall foliage, warm days and cold nights, flannel sheets and hot water bottles. And my latest discovery about this season in Australia - native flora are back in season:

 Hope you're having a lovely weekend wherever you are.
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