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#62108 - 08/06/04 09:15 PM What's for dinner?
Catness
Ching Shih


Registered: 04/02/02
Posts: 1863
Loc: Chicago, Illinois

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I am spoiled rotten.

No seriously, I am. Mr Catness does the majority of the cooking, and he's really good at it. He can put together healthy and interesting meals every night of the week and not bore either one of us. Before him, I was the expert cook amongst my friends. We do everything fresh. No dinner from a box here -- it's pretty much a daily trip to the grocery store.

But now I have a problem. I didn't realize it until Mr Catness was out of town for a few months last summer: I don't know how to do it myself anymore. And now, with the dude working late two or three nights a week (more during the busy season), I am responsible for making our dinners.

Left to my own devices, I'd subsist on sandwiches, a bacon, egg and rice dish I make, or chicken and rice in a pot every night. Or cookies. Or chocolate donuts and coffee. Or chips and rough cut avocados and tomatoes for a quick and dirty guacamole. Obviously, I can't do that for him. He likes... vegetables.

So, what do you do for meal planning? What'd you have for dinner? How do you figure out what to make next?

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#62109 - 08/06/04 09:46 PM Re: What's for dinner?
always-anne-shirley
Ching Shih


Registered: 01/02/03
Posts: 190
Loc: Knoxville, Tennessee

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aren't men who cook the greatest?

I am highly cooking impaired. I have committed such feats of failure as burning Easy Mac and leaving a first degree burn on my forearm from the microwave. So when I found out the boy loved to cook, I knew he was a keeper.

Most nights, he makes some kind of pasta, because we both love it. I'm a challenge to cook for, since I'm a vegetarian who happens to be extremely picky about vegetables. But when it comes to pasta, I'm extremely easy to please.

If left to my own devices, I'm likely to eat pb&j or just snack food. If I wasn't engaged to someone who cooks, that would probably be all I ever ate.

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#62110 - 08/08/04 05:04 PM Re: What's for dinner?
ms.strident
Ching Shih


Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 515
Loc: Newfoundland, Canada

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I love to cook and I make lots of easy things but my expertise is in meals that look complicated but are actually very easy.

Catness and Always-Anne-Shirley have you tried making midnight spaghetti? You just heat olive oil in a frying pan, add chopped garlic, dried red pepper flakes, basil, salt, and pepper, stir it for a while then toss it with some pasta. You can add cheese before tossing if you are so inclined.

The Italian professor who taught me this recipe told me his family use to make it as a midnight snack - hence the name 'midnight spaghetti'.

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#62111 - 08/08/04 06:43 PM Re: What's for dinner?
Orlando
Ching Shih


Registered: 10/22/00
Posts: 335
Loc: Australia

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At the moment I'm all about soup. It's winter and I'm doing long hours at work so I tend to spend Sunday cooking up a bit pot to use for lunch or dinner during the week - that way I'll have a least one decent meal a day and try to avoid takeaway. Yesterday I made green pea soup - mainly because I'd bought green split peas under the misapprehension that they were green lentils and I had a big bagful to use up. It tastes delicious though, it's nicely spiced with cumin and coriander and fresh grated ginger.

Anyone else got good soup recipes?

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#62112 - 08/08/04 09:19 PM Re: What's for dinner?
Catness
Ching Shih


Registered: 04/02/02
Posts: 1863
Loc: Chicago, Illinois

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 Quote:
Originally posted by ms.strident:
Catness and Always-Anne-Shirley have you tried making midnight spaghetti?
Mr Catness is Sicilian-Irish, his grandmother came over from Sicily. This is a man who won't go to Italian restaurants lest he get pissed off for dinner. Although he did take my technique of adding fresh fennel and feta to the red sauces, anything even vaguely Italian is really his domain.

So no. I leave the pasta dishes to him. It's just safer that way. Heh.

It's not that I can't cook, I have good kitchen skills, I just ... eh, never learned how to put a proper meal together. Meals in my mother's and grandparent's house usually consisted of one meat item, one starch (usually potatoes), and one overcooked, maimed, and inedible vegetable.

Mr Catness has the metabolism of a hummingbird (don't get me started on Mr Never Gets A Hangover) and so his meals have to be pretty substantial. I usually make recipes that serve four, that way he has two portions for dinner, one for lunch, and then there's one for me.

My favorite thing about the Moosewood Inn cookbook I have is that it has a sidebar in which the authors list other dishes that would go well with what you're currently making. I guess my problem is two-fold: what do you cook for a cook? And how do you escape the boredom of making the same thing over and over?

Edited: Orlando, I have four really good soup recipes which I use. Do you need vegetarian or will any do?

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#62113 - 08/09/04 03:31 AM Re: What's for dinner?
Fiordiligi
Ching Shih


Registered: 11/25/03
Posts: 206
Loc: London, UK

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Catness I empathized with your post! Mr Fiordiligi does almost all the cooking these days even though I am a perfectly competent cook. I rouse myself from my stupor when we have guests but for the most part the kitchen is his. We are both very long-term vegetarians (about 35 years for him and close to 30 for me) and he has learned to be very inventive with simple, fresh ingredients.
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#62114 - 08/09/04 10:43 PM Re: What's for dinner?
sunflow
Ching Shih


Registered: 09/12/00
Posts: 1156
Loc: Brighton, UK

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I have become a huge fan of roasting whole chickens (although, as Catness knows, I'm a complete fool when it comes to carving them.) If I have the time, I roast the whole bird, rubbed with herbed butter and stuffed with lemons and whatever else is in the fridge. If I really need to make a meal of it, I throw in some vegetables to roast for the last hour. This requires some advance planning, since you need at least 2 hours cooking time, but the prep work is easy.

If I want something even easier, I butterfly the chicken and throw it in a plastic bag with an oil and herb marinade. I let it soak for a day or so, then cook it for about 45 minutes. I got the basics for this dish from Nigella's Forever Summer (it's a bit embarassing how many of my regular dishes came from a Nigella cookbook), but now I pretty much just make it up each time. I like to let the season and that week's budget dictate the marinade. Add a fresh salad or some steamed greens and a big hunk of fresh bread, and I have a very satisfying dinner.

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#62115 - 08/10/04 06:46 AM Re: What's for dinner?
alizarin
Ching Shih


Registered: 01/17/02
Posts: 425
Loc: Boston, MA

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sunflow, which Nigella cookbook would you recommend starting with? Every time I think to pick one up I end up wanting them all and getting none of them. I need more cookbooks.

In the summer I am all about salads for dinner. Two of my favorites:

Mixed greens, walnuts, apples, & feta cheese with blush wine vinagrette.

Baby arugula, sliced tomatoes, goat cheese, almonds & dried cranberries with sweet vidalia onion dressing.

Sometimes I add chicken if I have it on hand. Both of these make great side salads as well.

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#62116 - 08/10/04 09:20 AM Re: What's for dinner?
goovie
Ching Shih


Registered: 11/14/01
Posts: 808
Loc: chicago, il

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Catness, I love you for starting this topic. The goovieboy is an excellent cook with a repertoire of good-Jewish-mother recipes. I, on the other hand, come from the Betsy Ray/Anne Shirley school of cooking, and can barely make brownies from a mix without getting distracted and screwing up. But we work at least an hour away from our apartment, so when we finally get home at night, we're usually too tired to cook much of anything. So any suggestions for quick and healthy meals, or any advice on making food prep easier, would be much appreciated.
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#62117 - 08/10/04 09:22 AM Re: What's for dinner?
sunflow
Ching Shih


Registered: 09/12/00
Posts: 1156
Loc: Brighton, UK

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I don't have How to Cook, so I can't speak to that, but I love and use Nigella Bites and Forever Summer all the time. The chicken recipe originated from the latter, which has more recipes, but is also definitely geared toward summer produce.

Your salads sound good. I think I need to cram in a few more summer salads before October arrives.

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