Sunday, January 8, 2012

Kitchen Lessons

I've tried in the past to not buy a lot of groceries at a time, to go along with the European trend of getting fresh food from the market every few days, instead of doing a big shop one day a week. The problem for me with that is that if I haven't already planned and done some prep, well, then I end up buying junk. Fridays on my way home from work is when I typically do most of my grocery shopping. This serves two purposes, the first is that I'm not fighting with a million people on Saturday (at any given time), and I've discovered that I find fresher stuff Friday night, that's been stocked for the crowds that will be in on Saturday. I live in what I call a 'country-city'. We're actually a city, but a significant part of our property tax base is rural or semi-rural. My grocery store options are Albertson's, Wal-Mart, Brookshire's, and Save-A-Lot. Most of my staples come from WalMart simply because they have the best prices, and I trust the quality of what I've always gotten there. I don't buy a lot of bulk, especially perishables, because it will go bad, either from not being frozen in time, or from freezer burn, because bulk is generally just entirely too much for one person to use. I do sometimes stop at Central Market on my way home from church on Sundays to pick up something special, or stock up on bulk spices. I'm thrilled beyond belief that when I shift back to the main office, instead of the field office I'm in right now, I will pass an HEB going to & from work!
Today I did my main prepwork for this week's dinners (and lunches, probably, since I need to learn to give up my naps at lunch, so I'll be able to actually sit down and eat something, instead of grabbing a sandwich on the run back to work). I made a meatloaf in my new, smaller slow cooker. It turned out better than I expected, but not quite as good as I'd hoped. Of course, I wasn't paying attention, and forgot to put my sauce on the top for the last 15 minutes, though I'm not sure the sauce would have done a whole lot. I also made homemade macaroni and cheese, using the 5 cheese macaroni & cheese recipe that was used at TGI Friday's a few years ago. I tweaked it a little bit, because I couldn't find any fontina cheese here in the country-city, so I substituted gouda instead, and it was still quite tasty. I halved the recipe, however it still made more than I can eat before it goes bad, so I'm thinking I'm going halve it again, and hope that it will be a more reasonable amount, to minimize the waste.
Tomorrow I'll be having a beef stir-fry, with some brown rice, red peppers, & snap peas to use up a small piece of steak that I froze a couple of weeks ago and need to get cooked before it dies.
Tuesday I've got some chicken breast tenders in the freezer that I'm going to grill on my little countertop grill, and have with some more of the mac & cheese, and some green beans
Wednesday is dinner with my crew, and my one night out this week.
Thursday I may roast up a piece of the pork roast I bought Friday night. I'm going to halve it, because it's almost 2 lbs, and I'm going to save the other half to cook later, so I don't end up wasting at least of half of it.
I browned another pound of ground beef to make a casserole. I've not decided for sure yet, but as it's browned with just some onion & some red pepper, I can turn it into sloppy joes, or Mexican food, or even Italian, though I did spaghetti last week, so it's not likely to be Italian again this week. And since I'll be gone on Saturday evening, and all my other evenings are covered, I may just bag it up and toss it in the freezer to have ready for the next time I need to grab some out of the freezer quickly.
I also made my first loaf of bread just for me. I used a basic Country Bread recipe that I found. I'm satisfied with it, but not totally pleased. I'm planning to use it for sandwiches for lunch or breakfast, and it's a little bit dense for that. I think I just didn't let it rise long enough the second time around. Lesson learned.

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