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The Unnatural Cook

a chronicle of weekly meal plans from someone who can't just throw a meal together

Tag Archives: Vegetables

An unexpected night out – Korean food at Kang Suh in Manhattan. When we eat out I love to go to restaurants which serve food we could never make at home. We’ve only recently added vegetables every night to the meal – I can’t imagine we’ll ever get to meat, vegetables, rice plus eight types of kim chee on the side! Maybe after the kids leave for college we’ll get bored and learn to pickle cabbage.

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I remember the first time I went away without my kids. I spent four days with a friend and her sister at the Saint Lawrence River. No one else had children. The first meal they served was lamb with three kinds of vegetables. Three! I remember thinking that was a perfect representation of of how my life had changed since having children: the days of three vegetable side dishes were gone.

One of the reasons last night’s broccoli went awry is that basically, I’m a vegetable novice. When I first started meal planning the kids were about to turn four. The goal was simple – get one dish on the table. It was all about the main course. Until very recently they only took their vegetables raw (carrots, celery, cucumber, eventually peppers) or frozen (corn and peas). The fact that I can now experiment with cooked ones is great but I’m still at the stage where if it can’t be roasted it may end badly.

Tonight I got to work with two very forgiving vegetables potatoes & peas. I made Shepherd’s Pie by adding worcestershire sauce & frozen peas to leftover beef stew and topped it with mashed potatoes. I usually use pot roast but the stew worked out really well. It was another easy meal for a school night and no vegetables were harmed in the process.

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Yoga. It’s another thing, like meal planning, that I like the benefits of but don’t enjoy while I’m doing it. I like yoga because it makes me strong, and I dropped ten pounds and I get sick less. I also like it because I’m a beginner, and in yoga its always okay to be a beginner. Yoga is a way to practice being okay with being uncomfortable. I need that kind of practice. I’m a 44 year old woman, back in school, trying to start a new career writing in mid-life. I’m scared out of my mind.

Every week that I make it to yoga once, that I write another meal plan, is proof to myself that I can change.  That I can find a way, within my own limitations, to do something I want to do but don’t consider myself good at. I need the constant reminder of the little things (yoga and meal planning) to build courage for the big thing (writing). Every time a new meal plan gets tacked on the blackboard I think to myself, you’ve been doing this for five years, you didn’t think you could do it, what else can you do that didn’t think was possible? Holding uncomfortable poses and making a list of what to eat once a week seem a ridiculous way to go about changing careers, but I know in my heart they’re related.

The blog seems to be adding a new level of detail to my perception that I can change. Tonight’s dinner, pesto, was made from basil that I bought for another meal but only used a few leaves of. I actually thought ahead to use the rest for pesto before it went bad. I said at the outset I never remember to check the refrigerator for produce to see if it can get used up before it rots. But just saying it, writing it, made it seem stupid – so I didn’t let the basil rot. And the side dish, Candy’s Vegetables, I said I never get inspired by ingredients at the grocery store. But then I was wandering around trying to figure out what vegetable to serve with the pesto, wondering how much green I could take in one meal, and I saw a lady holding an eggplant and got inspired. Yes, inspired by an eggplant to try an old recipe I hadn’t made in years. And it was so good! The pesto and the vegetables were a perfect combination. And so it seems that the blog itself a vehicle for change. I had no idea what the purpose of it was, but by doing it, I’m finding benefits I wasn’t expecting.

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