At last I return, with another week of retroactive menu planning! Putting together this week’s menu plan was a bit of a triumph. I have chronic fatigue syndrome, which means I am very, very tired. Quite often I am can’t-get-out-of-bed tired, which means lots of delivery and take-out and burritos from the place down the street.
The reason I participate in Menu Plan Monday is because I love to get inspiration from other people’s menus, so I want to offer my own inspiration and ideas in turn. I am one of the few people creating menu plans that are vegetarian (mostly vegan) and gluten-free, as well. What this all means is that usually my “weekly” menu plan is a compression of several week’s worth of meals, since my actual week looks more like: cook something, eat leftovers, get delivery, go to bed without dinner, cook something, eat leftovers/get delivery, go out to eat.
But not this week, kiddos! This week was an awesome week full of easy-to-make food with plenty of fresh veggies and fruit for dessert. This week I ate out three times less than before.
Here are the dishes that kept the home fires burning:
Tinkyada brown rice spiral pasta with baby broccoli and white beans sauteed in fresh rosemary and garlic (a distant relative to Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Suppers, p.187)
I am DIY Rice Bowl with black Chinese “forbidden” rice, avocado, kale, scallions, nori and sesame seeds
Sweet potato and kale soup (from freezer)
GF toast with olive and pine nut spread (Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home, p.49)
Stir-fried baby bok choy with hijiki (MRCH, p.89)
Broiled marinated tofu (MRCH, p.261)
Spanish stew with chick peas, potatoes, and artichoke hearts
Red chard with pine nuts and raisins
*(Duck used to make this dressing all the time when he was a cook at the meditation retreat center where we used to live)
You can find a bazillion more great menu plans over at Organizing Junkie. This week Asparagus Thin is hosting the delicious Gluten-Free Menu Swap, with the theme umami. There is umami all over this menu! The original umami research began as an investigation of kombu, a kind of seaweed that infuses the Tangy Red Lentil recipe with absolutely no seaweed or fishy flavor but plenty of savory deliciousness. There’s also nori (another umami heavy-hitter) on the rice bowl and hijiki with the baby bok choy. Add to that nutritional yeast in the Hollyhock dressing, balsamic vinegar in the kale sauce, soy sauce in the rice bowl dressing and the tofu marinade, sweet potato fries and yellow potatoes in the Spanish stew, and this week’s menu is an umami explosion! I also find that broiling and roasting are two cooking methods that bring out that savory, “meaty” umami flavor, and both found their way into this week’s cooking.
Read on after the break for more about how I avoided eating out ALL WEEK! and download my what-to-cook-when-the-fridge-looks empty spreadsheet to tape to the fridge!
There were two reasons for this delightful change. The first is that I started getting a CSA box again. This time it’s from Eating with the Seasons, and it lets you choose what you get from a big list of options, which means every single thing that came in the box was something we wanted to eat and knew how to cook with ease. (To read more about EWTS and to see a comparison of it to my previous CSA, Eatwell Farms, check out this post.)
The other reason for this change is that I simultaneously found a new cookbook and made a new decision about how I am going to relate to cooking. At Goodwill a few weeks ago I found a copy of the book Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home. At the same time, before I’d had the chance to look through the book, I had a stern little talk with myself. Now is not the time for my old style of cooking, for making elaborate, multi-course meals with subtle layers of seasoning and exacting ingredients that usually require a trip to the store before I can start cooking. I’m too tired and overwhelmed right now to make all the fabulous things I’ve bookmarked online and in my cookbooks, much less get creative and invent my own dishes.
On the other hand, we can’t just eat kale, tofu, and brown rice for dinner every night (well, Duck probably could, but I can’t, and besides we keep running out of kale!), which is what we do when we want to keep things simple. I don’t know simple. My stir-fries involve five or six vegetables and exotic combinations of sauces and mushrooms which must be soaked in advance. My idea of a one-pot dish is a risotto where first I make the stock from scratch and then I tenderly ladle it over the rice, one scoop at a time for an hour. Maybe it’s more accurate to say I don’t know fast. Many of my favorite things to make are not complicated, but they do require many steps and take a very long time to get to the table.
But one night I sat down with the rather plain fare of Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home and noted every recipe in the book that was gluten-free, vegan, and sounded tasty. To my delight I saw that most of them didn’t call for more than one or two fresh ingredients (we have a pantry stocked to get us to the next millenium – it’s getting to the store for fresh veggies that’s a trial) and most of those were interchangable with several options. I made a quick spreadsheet to post on the fridge that lets Duck or me check what vegetables (if any) we have on hand and what 30-minutes-or-less recipe we can mindlessly follow to get some nice, hot, healthy food on the table. If you have the cookbook, or you come across it in a Goodwill, here’s a link to the spreadsheet so you can have one of your very own!