The Food Doldrums (aka stuck in a rut)

I’d suspected as much, but when I listened to the professor tell a friend ‘yeah, we’ve been hitting the chicken hard lately,’ I knew we were stuck in a bit of a food rut.

If you’re roasting three chickens a week….you’re probably in a food rut. To my credit, I used the chicken for different things: burritos, pita sandwiches, and the Gort’s newest lunch obsession (chicken-mango wraps). But everything’s better when dispersed in smallish doses. Or so I learned when we’d eaten guacamole and chips ten days in a row and my jeans stopped fitting.

Similarly, when you have chicken-chickpea pita sandwiches once a week for dinner, you tend to get tired of them. Unless you’re the Gort who happily proclaims ‘I love this kind of food’ or ‘that’s my favorite’, every time I make it.

So in an effort to extricate us from food-boredom, I consulted the inordinate pile of recipes I’d collected over the last fourteen years. I began the collection shortly after we got married, when I realized I couldn’t spend ‘the rest of our lives’ making Lipton noodles. The pile – neatly organized in manila folders, by category – is a bit of a ‘hot topic’ in our home. Because the gargantuan stack of print-outs and tear-outs weighs a lot, and I’ve insisted on moving it with us…everywhere…though it almost never sees the light of day.

So, I tackled ‘the collection’ last weekend with the hope of (once and for all) reducing it in to something I might actually use.

Going through the folders was like making a trip down memory lane. Because the recipes represented whatever culinary phase I was going through when I printed them. There was the cheesecake phase which had me obsessively looking for cheesecake recipes. Even though I made cheesecake once or twice…a year. The cheesecake recipe collection grew so large it required its own folder. And, seeing as I’ve made two cakes in the last three years, I decided to be ruthless. In all likelihood, I was probably never going to make that Dutch chocolate-mint cheesecake. Or the Cherry Cheesecake with chocolate crust.

There was also a Tiramisu phase, which added at least ten recipes to my expansive dessert section for something I’ve made once in my life. And the creme brulee phase: Chocolate creme brulee. Maple creme brulee. Sweet potato creme brulee. And I’ve only ever made vanilla.

In addition to the over-the-top, unlikely ever-to-be-made in this life recipes, I found a few gems. Ever since I had the chicken-black bean-tostadas at Tres Marias, I’ve wanted to recreate them at home. As ‘luck’ would have it, I found a recipe that was exactly what I was looking for. Right there in my ‘chicken’ folder. From 1999.

Better late than never, I suppose.

Part of my quest to ‘mix it up’ on the cooking front, is to incorporate more vegetables. Because we Johnsons are not good about eating our veggies. Carrots, broccoli and the occasional sweet potato, yes. But little else. Once again the collection came through for me, in the form of a recipe for swiss chard. And a ‘new’ recipe for salmon.

I went to the farmers market and bought swiss chard. I diligently made swiss chard. And then it was dinner time. The boys sounded the alarm the second they saw the wilted chard on a plate. ‘I don’t like that,’ they announced in panicked voices. I gave each of them a couple of bites and proceeded to serve the professor, who got an ‘extra-large’ helping since he ‘prefers’ not to eat the cubed sweet potatoes and apples that I make (twice a week!) for the boys.

As I piled the greens onto his plate, he implored me with his eyes to ‘stop’. Because we are parents and can’t speak our minds freely, for fear of teaching the next generation that they can complain any time they don’t like what’s on their plate.

The Johnsons conquered chard. But the Johnsons didn’t like chard. Next up, Kale?

Post edit: Apparently, when your 13 month old bangs on the keys while you try to type, you end up with an older version of the blog post you thought you wrote. And after rereading the (wrong) version, I second-guessed my use of the word ‘inordinate’ but dictionary dot com told me it is something ‘not within proper or reasonable limits’.  Sounds about right.

6 thoughts on “The Food Doldrums (aka stuck in a rut)

  1. I’ve had good luck with veggies lately because of they way I am preparing them. I will throw a bunch of raw veggies in a skillet. Add 2-3 tablespoons of teriyaki sauce and a 1/2 cup or so of frozen pineapple. It really is yumm-o!

    Btw, I enjoy reading your blog!

  2. I have yet to eat chard and like it, but we love kale. what about brussel sprouts? they are quite tasty when skillet roasted…but then, what does not taste good fried in olive oil and salted? 🙂 and, yet the kids don’t eat them.

  3. Dutch chocolate mint cheesecake sounds delicious. You should make that.

    And for the record, I don’t believe you don’t cook vegetables. Anyone who makes chicken-chickpea pitas and who cooks up sweet potatoes & apples is cooking with real veggies.

  4. Thanks Karen! Amy, I will definitely try the kale and the brussel sprouts. Anything is edible with salt and olive oil! Vicky, I’ll make you that cheesecake next time I see you.

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