I am getting a bit introspective about my blog lately. Pondering where it's been, where it's going and what I've learned from it.
Well, here's something I learned....
It was around a year ago I first read the term, menu planning. My idea of menu planning has changed. At first, I thought it was a way to save trips to the store. Decide 7 days in advance what you want to make, plug your menu ingredient lists into a data base and shop once a week.
This not only kept my pantry stocked, it forced me to be a disciplined cook. It saved money. And i always had a plan for the day.
I hated every week (OK, only 2, but I hated those two weeks) I did this. Took all the spontaneity and joy out of my cooking. Look, I know I have a luxury many of you all don't. I spend my day cooking three squares a day for my wife and me, and the rest is spent playing on-line poker, walking the island, swimming, sun bathing, reading and catching up on West Wing and Smallville reruns. I don't work outside the home. Cooking for me is a hobby, not a family necessity. If I were cooking for children, I would probably view cooking different. But, for me, I like waking up in the morning with no real plan.
But I still menu plan. In fact, my idea of menu plan is closer to Iron Chef.
Surprise, here's an ingredient, now make something...
Food is very expensive here. But even if it were free, I would still try to be a good steward of the earth, and not throw food away. I am ashamed at the thought of my attempts to menu plan the old way, and the amount of food I threw away at the end of the week.
So, for me, menu plan means to use what I have. If I have vegetables about to go bad, make a stock. If I have milk and bread going bad, make a bread pudding. Good stewards do not waste good food.
BUT, also, for me, menu plan means to use up the leftovers in creative ways. If you make 2 pounds of mashed potatoes (last night), don't be boring and just warm them up in the microwave... Play Iron Chef and ponder what you can do with them. Shepherd's pie, fried cheesy potatoes are in my data base, but who knows what I can find or create?
For example, make a pound of Mango Glazed Bacon. I did (see Mango Glazed Bacon ala Bobby Flay). Now, I could have taken that bacon and eaten a piece here, a piece there. I tried a slice when it was finished just to see what it tasted like. Next, I used them for the purpose I originally had in mind, Bacon Wrapped Sea Scallops - Mango Glazed Bacon Wrapped Sea Scallops. But then, one with an egg in the morning, one for a morning snack, two for a morning snack, three for a morning snack (they are that good), and in no time, these beauties that you spent time cooking are gone. Or, you can guard them, hide them from your wife (who wanted a piece for her morning snack, and we all know what a slippery slop that can be).
And ponder what an island Iron Chef would do with these...
Oh, one more thing... Earlier in the week, you should make OHIO PESTO (a basil pesto made with black walnuts instead of pine nuts). Since basil here comes in HUGE bunches, I made a HUGE batch of Pesto. I baked some on a flatbread with tomato and goat cheese, for an Economical Gourmet Treat from "the Long Quiche Goodbye" . And the next day, I served some "raw" as a bed for Polenta with Talegio Cheese. But even after using the pesto twice, I still had some left.
Oh, and one more thing... PIZZA NAPOLETANO dough. I had a batch of the dough in my freezer.
A menu planner looks at what is in the refrigerator, and ponders how to "Iron Chef" the leftovers into something new, different and delicious. I got tired of microwave leftovers.
So, here you go. It's not Iron Chef TV quality, but it is new, different, and makes me feel like a cook.
1 batch of PIZZA NAPOLETANO dough.
1 1/2 cups OHIO PESTO.
3 pieces of Mango Glazed Bacon ala Bobby Flay (diced)
3 pinches of sweet Paprika
3 ounces Fresh Mozzarella Cheese sliced
- pre-heat oven to 425 degrees
- 1 batch of pizza dough will make 3 - 6 inch pizza rounds, thin crust.
- sprinkle the paprika around the edges to add color
- top with 1/2 cup of pesto on each round.
- top with 1 ounce of mozzarella, center the slices so some of the pesto shows around the edges (pretty)
- add the bacon
- Bake for 10 minutes
- Pretend to your wife that you had this planned all week, and that you wanted to do something special for her (she likes pizza).
Some may call it serving leftovers...
I call it menu planning...