Our dinner story… a wintery March…

Hi all…

Here we are in our second week of March, but it looks like we will be getting a full solid week of winter. Cold, cold temps, and, currently, a strong possibility of a major snow storm early on in the week… I’ll believe it when I see it, as this has been a particularly un-snowy winter here in Virginia, but, boy, would I love a good snow. Having grown up in the northeast, I am a little put off by Virginia’s meh winters. I like proper cold and snow from November through February, thank you very much!

Because of the blustery weather, dinners this week will trend toward heavy and warm, with something fresh and green thrown in for a hint at spring. Today we’ll be having that Kalpudding that I spoke of last week, which hopefully will help to thaw out Noah and Riley who are spending the weekend in the 30 degree weather at a soccer tournament. Brrrrr!

We’ve shifted our family meeting this week to Monday as we don’t know when the intrepid travelers will return from their weekend activities. In addition to the soccer tournament, Will is at a robotics competition both Saturday and Sunday. For both kids it is a situation where if their teams do well, the weekend gets longer… and not in a relaxing way… I’m always torn between wanting them to succeed and wanting us all to get to cozy up at home and have a nice, gentle end to the weekend. Regardless, Monday should be a good night to gather for family dinner/meeting and I’ve had this slow cooker Indian Fish Curry recipe tucked away  for a while. I believe we would all benefit from more fish in our diets, but due to a shellfish allergy among us as well as the many varieties of fish that are unhealthy or environmentally unsound, the options are few and boredom can quickly set in. This recipe, however, seems spicy and flavorful, a departure from plain, broiled whitefish. Here’s hoping…

It is predicted that Tuesday could be a snow day home from school. We’ll see, but there are certain recipes that seem just right for a snow day, and they all involve a big pot of something simmering away on the stove. This Tuesday, a pot of beans should do the trick. I intend to turn them into Moosewood Restaurant‘s Chili Burgers with some sweet potato fries. If our grocer delivery makes it through the snow I’ll add add in this Alabama Hot Slaw, also a Moosewood recipe.

Now Wednesday’s dinner is a prime example of how you can plan and plan and life still gets in the way. If you read last week’s dinner story, you’d have read about the Brazilian Fish Stew I was planning to make, but, here’s the thing… sometimes you forget the extra steps it takes to prepare for a meal. Sometimes you forget to take the meat out of the freezer to defrost and when it comes time to make the meal… whoops! So that’s when you have to shift some things around and make barbecue lentils over polenta (loosely base off of this recipe) because it comes together quickly and without defrosting. Then you make the Jalapeno-Turkey Burgers on Thursday and the Brazilian Fish Stew the next Wednesday… ta-da! And, extra bonus, you get one more week to have your kids look at the menu board and make the joke, “Brazilian Fish Stew? That’s a lot of fish!” ha. ha. ha.

Come Thursdays I am often left feeling like I really need things to be simple. It tends to be a catch up day where I’m trying to get all the things done that I don’t feel like doing on Friday… which is everything… And then Thursday nights seem to be when the kids each have at least one activity a piece. So dinner needs to come together easily, as well as be something that anyone can eat at any time. This is why a Mezze Platter is a perfect candidate. I like to collect my favorite pre-made appetizers, like the stuffed grape leaves, hummus, and tabouli that I can pick up from Costco. Throw in some greek olives, pita, crudité and you have a dinner! If you want it to look like a proper dinner, you can lay it out on a platter like a composed salad, but feel free to just set out off those containers and let me have at it. You’ll know deep down that it is a proper dinner in disguise.

I’m so very excited for our Friday dinner. The art department at the kids’ high school is doing an Empty Bowls dinner. Have you even gotten to enjoy one of these? The students have spent the past few months making and firing bowls and, in conjunction with the home economics classes, they will be serving a soup dinner to raise money for one of our local relief organizations. You buy a ticket and with it receive a handmade bowl and soup. It’s such a lovely, heartwarming fundraiser that I can’t wait to be a part of it!

This weekend is still kind of up in the air. There is another robotics competition; this one far enough away to likely require a hotel stay, so at least one of us adults will be away. Usually it is my husband to take on those types of responsibilities, but at this point the poor guy is probably pretty tired of staying in hotels… If I’m around and in charge of dinner then I think I will fall back on another version of last Saturday’s Sheet Pan Dinner. Roasted Fall Vegetables with Chicken fits the items we have coming from the grocer. I’m looking at a bed of beets, fennel, and parsnips, slicked up with olive oil, and some chicken thighs that I’ll likely rub with lard, thyme, sage, and salt and pepper. I’ll roast the vegetables at 475 degrees for 20 minutes or so and then add the chicken for another 30 minutes. Hopefully it will really be as low key as this last Saturday’s veggie with sausages. They were a dream…

Knowing that Thursday is St Patrick’s Day, but that there just isn’t going to be time for a proper dinner, I’ve saved our celebration for Sunday. My plan is to do a very traditional  Corned Beef and Cabbage with Irish Soda Bread. The corned beef is coming from our grocer and I am planning on a recipe from Epicurious that is new to me, but looks simple and straightforward. And it was created by an actual Irish woman so its got to be the real deal, right? The Irish soda bread is my mum’s recipe from when I was a kid. I am just giddy to make it… the flavors of my childhood winters… ahhhh…

Well, I think that about does it for this week’s story. I suspect that our impending snow storm may cause some upheaval in the plan. The grocer’s delivery on Monday night may have to wait until later in the week. Days off of school and work can mean impromptu neighborhood gatherings by the fire. More people at home will mean more food being eaten, period. But part of the plan is to also roll with the change and I’m ready to roll… I’ll let you know how it goes…

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