With a Treat for Gathering It All Together …
Back in the last century, but really not that long ago, American families felt lucky enough to have even one car. Since the dad usually took it to work every weekday, while the mom managed everything else on the home front, that meant grocery shopping (and family chores) could only happen on Saturday. Stores weren’t open at night or on Sundays, and you had to make sure to stock up and menu plan for the whole week.
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These days that sounds very confining. But I’m afraid the supposed modern convenience of being able to hop in your very own car to “run” to the store on a whim any time of day or night, often ends up costing us more than it provides. And the resulting fragmentation has also rippled back in to disrupt those carefully coordinated cooking and eating rhythms that can best sustain our true happiness, health and well-being.
When we approach both marketing and cooking as an integrated and ongoing process, rather than a series of isolated events, we actually buy back so much more time, energy and productivity, as well as a more satisfying sense of connection on every level. And when instead of eating meals while working at our desk, driving or sitting in our car, or mindlessly watching tv, we further respect the primal need for gathering around the fire and/or table to nourish ourselves and each other in every way, then that’s what I’d call an enlightened and dependable schedule that not only supports but embraces the joy of living.
So here are some of the recurring and compatible tips from both my decade of cooking classes and continuing blog posts, that can keep rising to brighten and shine through our every day lives, as we focus on gathering it all together:
- Establish your favorite marketing day(s) and destinations. (I always start with our Thursday and/or Sunday farmers’ market.)
- Maintain a master shopping list of basic staples and seasonal foods as a simple ready reference.
- Use up what you already have on hand before buying more.
- Instead of heading out with a fixed idea, let what actually looks best, freshest and affordable at the market inspire what you decide to cook. That way you won’t feel frustrated or disappointed, and you can always find recipe guidance once you know what you have to work with.
- Rely on inherently flavor-rich fresh seasonal foods to make your cooking that much easier, tastier, and more nutritious.
- Try to buy a balanced amount of companionable ingredients in each category (e.g.: green vegetables, onion family and other aromatics, salad possibilities, fresh fruit, starchy elements, dairy, meat/fish/poultry items…)
- Don’t buy large quantities of anything you can’t reasonably use up before it rots or expires.
- Start with and make the most of what you already have and know how to do.
- Keep a freshly stocked pantry full of ready possibilities.
- Set yourself up to have the benefits of cooking from scratch without having to start from scratch every time.
- Commit to the generosity and ease in creating intentional overflow.
- If the oven’s hot, fill it up! You’ll figure out what to do with that already cooked bounty later when you need it.
- Always making some for now and later too doesn’t have to mean reheating and/or serving up the same old thing for days to come. Use it in different ways or combinations with other elements. Or transform it in an evolution of progressive creations (like the mainstay roast chicken that can turn into stock, salads, sandwiches, and/or soup, pasta or rice dish additions).
- Take advantage of your common sense abilities to make meals that serve your purpose.
- Gather together to share the joy and give thanks for such abundance.
As far as I’m concerned, these heart-of-the-matter tips are the treat itself, in that they make everything else I care about possible too. But I’ve often very kindly been accused of gilding the lily, so please just click on your extra treat link below to open my Casual Recipe for Sweetly Spiced Carrots. I hope they’ll help keep your taste buds going hippety-hop through all your spring feasting and playful celebrations. And then next time we’ll focus on Taking a Break to keep everything in balance.
Bon Appétit! Kay
Here’s grilled spring lamb dijonnaise with creamed leeks and potatoes, blanched asparagus, and sweetly spiced carrots.