Sunday, August 8, 2010
Before you cringe, I offer you this bucket of freshly cut flowers to put you in a good mood. Yes, before we sit down to plan and organize our tasks in the kitchen we need inspiration, stamina and a plan.
Fresh food raised by organic methods is very expensive. So, good planning will save us money and frustration.
Forget what everyone else has told you to do, to plan a weekly menu and go shopping with a list. If you did this, you'll feel rushed and frustrated. If you abandon your list, you feel guilty. Your list did not have corn or peaches.
So, my suggestions are to simplify your planning by having everything you could ever need already on hand in your pantry or your freezer by shopping in bulk ever so often at whatever big store you prefer. Canned goods, frozen vegetables and fruit, condiments and oils should all be in your pantry or in your freezer, replenished regularly.
Your meat, dairy and produce, however, should be purchased from local sources as close to the time of cooking as possible. If you have a CSA( community supported agriculture), near you, take advantage of it. Their prices may be higher than your supermarket, but their products are superior. Their vegetables and fruit, even meats, will come with recipes and ideas.Improvise with the rest. Be flexible with your palate. Sometimes, a plate of raw vegetables with fresh aioli is all the food you need.
Visit local farmers' markets to see what is new. Have you had grilled fennel lately? Or favas? When was the last time you cooked whole beets? Have you tried all the different kinds of vegetables displayed? If not sure what you are looking at, ask the farmer how best to prepare that food in a simple way.
Have standbye quick meals.
My secret? I cook extra meals and freeze in portions. So, at any time, I can pull out a container of minestrone or eggplant parmigiana and loaf of bread out of the freezer and dinner is ready. For dessert, cheese and fruit.
In the next post, I will share a recipe for minestrone. Who said vegetables couldn't be stars?