Saturday, January 31, 2009

Shopping (I started this post Friday 1/30)

I hate grocery shopping.  It's tedious and my local Whole Foods plays lousy music -- the kind of songs that get so stuck in your head that no amount of humming "The Girl from Ipanima" will dislodge.  But I must go: my children are too young to drive and if I send my husband, he always comes home with some sort of condiment that then sits in the fridge 'till it molds.  Change it up, my friend Jamie says -- go to a different store -- which I do on occasion.  I go to Target for paper and cleaning goods, I go to Acme for the non-organic things we eat.  I even go to the Spring Garden Whole Foods in Center City Phili, which is about 10 minutes further, (and which plays significantly better music) but I can't do that every week.  It doesn't really matter, grocery shopping is a total bore, and that's all there is too it.  The only way to manage it is to treat it like the Tet Offensive: get in, get out.

To do this I create a bunch of menus for the week.  This week I decided, steak on Friday night (we've all been feeling a bit iron deprived), Chicken on Saturday, Chicken soup later in the week (I'll make stock from the bones& freeze it).  Monday I'll use the leftover chicken in my famous left-over-chicken & pasta recipe (see below).  In the freezer I already have some fish and a pack of ravoli.  That takes care of  Tuesday and Wednesday (we're going out Sunday for the superbowl).  I have lots of beans, I have couscous, I have several cans of tomatoes and a jar of pasta sauce.   I also have frozen broccoli florets, and frozen peas.  In the crisper I've got a red pepper, a head of cauliflower, some flat leaf parsley (very wilty).  I have lemons, onions and garlic -- lots of good stuff.  I hope I'll be able to get enough food so I can, not only avoid shopping for 10 days or so, but get in and out of Whole Foods for under $100.  This should be possible, since I am stocked up on so many basics, (like pasta, onions, garlic) -- and I'm not shopping for Kleenex, bandaids, toilet paper -- the kinds of things that shove me over the edge.  The only real variable is if there is a sale on Chicken parts or pasta or something.  If there is a sale, I always stock up.

Ok, I'm back: and I just barely sneaked under my goal.  I'd have done better if I hadn't fallen to the siren call of 70% Kallari Chocolate (fair trade, no less) that cost me $4.99.  Sadly my shopping cart had no mast to which I could lash myself, and the chocolate came home clutched in my hot little hand.  Other than that, I got the London Broil ($8.03), a Bell and Evan's Chicken & and extra pack of wings ($12 and $3.99 - big ouch), a variety of cereals, some fruit, a couple of avacados... bla bla bla.

So, what am I having for dinner?  
Steak & Roasted Potatoes (adapted from Nigella Lawson's fabulous book Nigella Express):

preheat oven to 450.  Slice up potatoes into 2 inch chunks, toss with olive oil & sea salt, slam into oven until done (20min or so)

Meanwhile, slather steak with olive oil and salt on both sides and let it sit while you heat a skillet large enough for the steak to sear comfortably. When your pan is smoking, turn the heat to medium and slap in the steak.  Sear on each side for 4-5 min, without checking or you'll lose all the lovely crunch from the salt and oil.

While your meat is searing, cut up a lemon and squeeze 1/2 of it into 1/4 cup of olive oil.  Throw in some herbs (I used the wilty parsley, Nigella prefers thyme, but oregano, cilantro, just about what ever you have will be awesome -- even capers would be good), along with a couple of smashed garlic cloves, a couple of pinches of sea or Kosher salt and a grind of pepper.  Swish with a fork or a whisk, then pour it all onto a rimmed plate or baking dish large enough to hold the steak.

When the steak is done, plonk it onto the serving dish right into the olive oil and lemon juice, and wait 4 minutes, then flip it and wait another four.  Cut it up into slices -- and swish the potatoes in the sauce.  This is amazingly yummy and easy. 

Famous Chicken and Pasta

Roast a chicken, or use left over roast chicken -- or better yet, send someone to the grocery to buy a hot rotisserie chicken.  Take all the meat off the bone*.  While you are doing this, boil some pasta.  I always seem to have half bags or boxes of pasta lying around, and I just throw it all into a big pot and hope it all cooks to the same doneness.  Moments before the pasta is done, toss a bag of frozen peas into the water, then drain it all and return to pot. Swirl a tiny bit of olive oil into the pasta so it doesn't stick.  Throw the chicken into the pot with the pasta and peas, as well as any accumulated juices.  If there are no juices -- or if the juices don't seem to be enough,  then open a small can, or box of low sodium chicken broth and pour about 1/4 to 1/2 a cup into the pot with the chicken.  If you have some parsley, throw that in.  If you have thyme, strip the leaves off the stems and throw that in.  Salt and pepper to taste -- I always use kosher or sea salt.  Turn the burner on low, and stir like crazy while you reheat the whole thing. This is the easiest meal you will ever make, and it is so delicious that your children will always ask for it.  At least, mine do.

* stick the bones in a freezer bag and freeze to use to make chicken soup later.

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