30 July 2010

feeding the masses.

People have many things that matter to them.

Things they love.

Things at which they're gifted.

Things to which they look forward.

Mine all revolve around food. Which can be a problem, although I've come to understand it as perfectly normal, and perhaps even a good thing. I mentioned in the post on birthdays that I think we makers of homes are called to create these celebrations to point to the fact that life has meaning. I think we do the same thing with food (a fact highlighted dramatically in the Old Testament).

I love to host with food - to have small, intimate gatherings, big, boisterous gatherings, casual and fancy. I love it all.

But the primary thing we do with food each day and week is to figure out a way to keep all these people nourished.

Yes, I could keep them nourished on a grilled chicken/big green salad diet, and that would do the job. But this is when it comes back to my love for the planning, shopping, preparing of food. Sure, if I didn't love it, we wouldn't be up a creek.

And not everyone does, which is fine.

But I do.

So, I'm going to endeavor to more often than not post our weekly menu. I'd like the kids to remember what they ate as kids, and for me to know what I fed us, and for my couple of friends out there who request menu info to benefit from it now. I love to know what people are cooking.

What are you people out there cooking?

Friday: We're hosting 12 extra children tonight for supper. Some dear friends of ours are celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary with a fancy dinner party. Their children, and so consequently their grand children are all in town to celebrate with them. Paul and I are hosting 12 of the 14 grandkids at our house, plus our kids. I've decided to have a truly decadent child menu. They're not my kids, so I can do this to them.

Boxed Mac & Cheese, Pizza Rolls or Bagel Bites, which ever is cheaper at the store, Broccoli with Cheese Sauce, Fruit, Ice Cream Sandwiches. I'm pumped. Ada and Eason will not know what hit them, which will be so fun. Yes!

Saturday: My daddy and his lady are coming for supper. She's a pescetarian. We're having Redfish with mashed potatoes, asparagus and shrimp cream sauce. It's a favorite of mine and I'm kind of excited. Also, I'm making peach pan dowdy (like a combination of a crisp and a cobbler), which is Daddy's favorite and we're kind of celebrating his birthday three weeks late.

Sunday: We have different friends here for lunch and supper (Sunday is for feasting, and who better to feast with than friends) - for lunch, a new recipe i've not made for chicken enchiladas (I roasted chickens this week and have tons of yummy shredded chicken to use). For supper, I'm cooking with two girlfriends, and I think spaghetti and meat balls. Yes sir ree bob.

Monday: We're having Baked Potato Soup and Veggie Paninis. We do soup and paninis about once a week. I vary the soup and the panini options. We really, really enjoy our panini maker. I highly recommend one.

Tuesday: Chicken Romano. My mother has been making this for years and years and years and years. And we love it. It is angel hair pasta with a red sauce and lightly breaded and pan sauteed chicken. Sometimes I do it without the chicken. It's not quite as good, not quite as filling, but better for us, cheaper and weeknight appropriate It is a staple, fairly easy, and yes we're having pasta twice in one week. It just worked out that way.

Wednesday: This is always my night off - we usually go to church, where there is supper served.

Thursday: I think yes, we're having enchiladas twice in one week as well. We have my daddy and baby brother coming to visit with Paul about their upcoming camping trip. Daddy's favorite food in the world is cheese and onion enchiladas. Which is secretly my favorite food as well. So, I use him as an excuse to make them.

So, that's what we're eating. I don't plan out vegetables and sides - I just keep green things and starchy things on hand. Big Sam's box of mixed greens, broccoli, green beans, rice, pasta, risotto, potatoes.
I try for one red meat, one chicken, and one seafood each week. Then i fill in with bean and veggie dishes. This week is a bit meat heavy (because of the leftover chicken, mainly).

This week is a bit atypical - it's kind of food-heavy. But I haven't cooked anything that has left overs (other than the chickens) in a couple of weeks and the fridge has seemed bare. So, if we have too many, I'll freeze some or deliver some to friends.

I have people other than my immediate family at my dinner table two or three nights each week, and we like it that way. We love to feast with friends, especially casually.

If something comes up in the week (i have a bad day or we have an impromptu invitation somewhere), I try to have at least one to two meals that will keep for the next week. You don't want to plan out an entire menu that is a bunch of fresh ingredients or, obviously one that is a bunch of canned or processed stuff. I try to frontload the week with fresh stuff and backload it with less fresh requirements.

For breakfast, we have cereal and fruit. For lunches: leftovers; good cheese, bread and fruit; or peanut butter and honey sandwiches - diners choice. For snacks, I keep raw carrots, celery, pretzel sticks and plenty of fruit. The sheer amount of fruit we go through is ridiculous.

I highly recommend shopping the same day each week and doing it as close to the beginning of your prime cooking/eating times. We eat more and better stuff on the weekend, and so if I shop on Thursday or Friday, my best, freshest stuff (redfish) is for the weekend, while my more staple stuff (potato soup) is for a week night.

As for the economics of it all, I do not use coupons (don't have the patience and fortitude), but I shop sales - I review the McDades and Kroger circulars and I know what things usually cost at Sam's. I base all of our fruit decisions on what's in season and cheapest. I do believe in frozen vegetables - from what I know, they are just as nutrient rich as the produce you buy in the grocery store, if not more so, but if you can get farmers market stuff, obviously that's best.

I do try to have 'treats' during the week. We have Monday Muffins (usually banana - so good for everyone and the family favorite, but this time of year, clearly berries make appearances), and I make dessert once or twice a week - usually for Saturdays or Sundays.

Ada Brooks and increasingly Eason get in the kitchen with me. They make things take longer, but ada brooks can do amazing fractions in her head all because of measuring spoons, and Eason is learning to be more careful with his physical surroundings because I'm training him to pour ingredients into pots and mixing bowls. I love cooking with people - little and big.

Now, if I only I felt this way about laundry.


  1. impressive, and yes, it is a gift!

    i'll sit down and read this a little more slowly soon. maybe study it a little for inspiration. :)

  2. Thanks for sharing this. I keep trying to motivate myself to keep a weekly food journal of things I make. I have such a hard time remembering what we've had that we enjoyed/hated, etc. But I do love planning a good weekly menu.

  3. Well... I am now addicted to your blog. Love love your writing, reading your opinions, and especially hearing about what part the kids are playing in everything. NOW... I appreciate you letting me know what you're cooking but you haven't told me HOW. And for this, I may need a blog all to myself. Or maybe you and Ada Brooks can give me joint lessons... Hope you are doing well and would love to see the new digs! LOVE

  4. i'll work on posting some recipes with some step by step instructions! With all my extra time.

    Jessie - i'm working on your grocery list for the week... =)

    New digs! soon, anna. I gave a cooking lesson as a wedding present recently and thoroughly enjoyed myself. Call me - we'll calendar it.