Skip to main content

This Week is Brought to You by the Letter M

I really love to cook, the whole process from beginning to end (except the clean up; I hate cleaning up).  I enjoy putting together menus and choosing interesting dishes for my family to try. I feel at home in the grocery store, the farmers market, or specialty foods shop perusing the fresh items. Handmade pastas, delicate pastries, exotic produce, luscious yogurt, butter, and cheese. Fantastic! There’s a simple joy in feeling the weight of a ripe peach in my hand or bringing it closer and taking in its sweet scent. I feel connected to the land, connected to God, and bursting with love for my husband and our friends when I take the time to prepare good meals and offer hospitality.

I’ve been in a bit of a cooking funk lately, where I’ve gotten out of the habit of putting much care and thought into my meals and instead have been just throwing things together at the last minute. Quick, easy, and lacking passion, this has been the status quo for our meals in June. Part of it no doubt is the oppressive summer heat. And then there is also the project I embarked on to consume our existing store of meat and vegetables in our freezer. This is a project I conduct at least once a year to ensure we never have food over a year old remaining in our freezer.  It’s a practical idea in theory but it really puts limitations on menu planning. While the project is ongoing I am constrained to building meals around the ingredients I have on hand which means I either have to wing it or do a manual keyword search through my cookbooks for recipes that use these ingredients. That just takes an excessive amount of time – hours really – compared to choosing recipes from my cookbooks that I’m in the mood for and then building my grocery list from the recipes.

This week I’m still operating under the project but I’ve taken the extra time required to pre-plan the full week of daily menus built around ingredients on hand. This week is brought to you by the letter “M” for multicultural cuisine.

Sunday I prepared Japanese dumplings, fresh corn on the cob (in season, so we are eating it daily regardless), and spiced edamame. If you’re not familiar with edamame, it’s soybean, and it’s quite lovely served steamed at room temperature. I took my cue from a Japanese restaurant I enjoy in the Atlanta airport and tossed the steamed edamame with sautéed garlic and shallots, toasted sesame seeds and diced pickled ginger. It was really good.

Last night I prepared pork schnitzel and accompanied it with potato dumplings and corn on the cob. The plan was to make use of the mashed potato leftovers from our Sat night fried chicken dinner so the dumpling recipe out of my Vienna cookbook was a perfect fit as it called for a quantity precisely equal to the amount we still had. Except that the dumplings were pretty bland and unappetizing, even with gravy. Win some, lose some I guess.

Today I am putting together a fondue menu for dinner. There will be the usual oil fondue (Jon’s favorite) with steak and shrimp as well as a Caraway Gouda cheese fondue (with the cheese we brought back from Holland), and a cheesecake fondue with fresh berries and kiwi for dessert. This is a menu I’ve successfully executed many times so I’m confident it will go over well with our houseguest Michael. All of the recipes I’m using are printed in my copy of The 125 Best Fondue Recipes cookbook.

Tomorrow Michael heads back to his family and home in the Chicago area for the holiday so it will be just the hubby and I for the rest of the dinners this week. I’ve got some unusual and interesting dishes slated for Wed night – tomatoes roasted in coconut and cardamom, Vietnamese greens stir fried with ginger and fish sauce, and beet cake for dessert – that I’ve found in one of my British vegetarian cookbooks, Tender.

Thursday is our nation’s birthday and so we are having a festive party with a handful of guests. I’ll be preparing my favorite BBQ baby back ribs, my brother-in-law’s ranch bean recipe, my mother-in-law’s potato salad recipe,  and corn on the cob. My husband is preparing a massively complex holiday trifle that required him to begin the preparations two days ago. Should be amazing.

Friday we are going out to dinner in DC at a house restaurant called Thai Xing. It’s basically a restaurant operated out of a Thai couple’s home and gets rave reviews from all the guests. I’ve dinner here once before but it will be Jonathan’s first foray into fixed menu home restaurant dining in DC.

Saturday we swing away from the Thai food of the night before and right into the heart of Mexican cuisine with beef empanadas, Anasazi bean soup, hibiscus tea, and cornmeal berry cakes with cream for dessert. All of the recipes are pulled from my Food of the Americas cookbook that I picked up at the Smithsonian Native American Museum a few years ago.

Sunday I’m diving into recipes from a newly received cookbook that I’ve a deadline to review titled The Lebanese Kitchen. Our menu is comprised of a few mezze plates (hummus with chili oil, eggplant garlic dip, mixed salad), a main course of zucchini stuffed with lamb and orzo, and rosewater crème brulee to finish the meal.

Japanese, Austrian, Swiss, Vietnamese, American, Thai, Mexican, and Lebanese. Seems like a well rounded adventure in multiculturalism. Stay tuned for the eventual cookbook reviews that will be posted later this month.

As always, I’d love to hear from you about what you’re cooking up in your kitchen this week. Any new favorites?

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Board Game Review: Brass Birmingham

Here’s a story of a lovely lady (spoiler: it’s me) and her pride and how it has led to the discovery of the single greatest board game I have ever played. It’s probably also a good primer for other reviewers on increasing your reach.At GenCon this year, I was perusing the wares of the various booths and my eyes caught a glimpse of two beautiful game boxes. Each had crisp metallic lettering with an old world feel and artwork that radiated European class. I made my way to the booth and waited patiently to speak to to the team manning it as there were many buyers lined up to purchase the games. I didn’t know anything about the games (Brass Birmingham and Brass Lancashire), or the publisher – Roxley Game Laboratory – but I knew I wanted to review one or both of the games. Almost every board game love story I star in in can be summed up this way: I am seduced by the artwork or theme and then I stay for the right mechanics. When the lead rep spoke with me, he gently rejected my request. He …

Spirit Island Jagged Earth Preview: A First Look at the New Kickstarter Expansion from Greater Than Games

Exciting news this week! The Spirit Island Jagged Earth expansion launches on Kickstarter October 16th, 2018. I had the chance to preview and play this upcoming release from Greater Than Games multiple times this week, and I can’t wait to tell you all about it.

Update: the Kickstarter is live here.


Our Spirit Island collection keeps growing. First there was the base game, which debuted in 2017 and turned the traditional narrative of the conquering colonists on its head, allowing players to take on the role of island spirits determined to keep the colonists at bay through any means necessary to preserve the serenity of the island. My husband and I picked up the game at retail (having missed the Kickstarter window) and fell in love with it immediately, enthused to work together as powerful spirits and put the invaders down. Next, we added the Branch and Claw expansion. This expansion (also part of the original Kickstarter) expanded the board, added new spirits and powers, new blight card…

Board Game Review: Brass Lancashire

A few months ago, I fell in love with Brass Birmingham (you can read that review HERE). I fell hard. It was an all time top 10 best games ever kind of love and so when Roxley Game Laboratory offered to send me Brass Lancashire to play and share my thoughts, I was a bit hesitant.  Is there even a chance I could enjoy it as much as Birmingham? Lancashire was the original game designed by Martin Wallace, and while it’s been updated for the most recent release, I was concerned it might prove to be an older, tired version that couldn’t compete with Birmingham.

My concerns were unfounded. Brass Lancashire is fantastic. Playing Lancashire after playing Birmingham is a bit like dating someone and then dating their sibling. Sure, there’s a resemblance, but the kissing feels different.
The artwork for Brass Lancashire is beautiful, radiating a classic style evocative of the theme (industrial era production). The artists have shown great attention to detail such as the raised gold lettering on …