May 31, 2005

The cobbler's son...

Have you ever hear the expression "The cobbler's son has no shoes"? Well, in this house, it's "The Chef's husband eats macaroni & cheese and fish sticks for dinner." I was caught off guard last night, with no leftovers to speak of and nothing defrosted. Kelly came over with Kraft's little blue box, and I had some fish sticks in the freezer. Let's not talk about why those things are in my house to begin with... Let's instead focus on the revelation I had this morning:

Whenever I make food for other people, whether it's a Personal Chef gig or a catered event, I plan out everything. I buy all the ingredients, I practice the techniques, I bring the equipment I need to make it, and I even plan out what platters it's going to be served in. So why don't I do this for myself? Because cooking for myself doesn't generate revenue? Well phooey. I have to admit, feeding gourmet food to my clients while eating plain old thrown-together dinners myself is a little foolish. Practically hypocritical!

So I decided to do something about it. I've put together a daily plan, varying with the kind of protein used, the starch used, and the nationality of cuisine. It's skewed to my own (and Kelly's) tastes, for example, we hardly ever eat turkey, and we rarely eat eggs for dinner. Also, it only applies to weekdays: Nearly all weekends, one day I'm catering, and on the other we tend to go out.

Each day's menu is really quite broad in scope, and the whole menu covers all of the cuisines I enjoy eating. Also, it's intentionally vague. For example: Bread can indicate for tortillas, pita, French bread, naan, rolls, biscuits, stuffing and other flour-based kinds of foods. Pork includes all kinds of piggy products, such as sausage, ham, proscuitto, tenderloin, chops, ground pork, and whatever. It doesn't include veggies because what's seasonal is usually what's best, cheapest, and most readily available.

Also, I have given myself an "out" once in a while, making something plain for dinner and instead spending a little time on making a fancy dessert. Kelly's not a dessert kind of guy --that is, he'll never ask for dessert-- but he'll eat something I've made if I put it in front of him.

Here's a week's worth of examples of what I would probably make, off the top of my head:
pork/bread/mexican = pulled pork tacos, with a black bean, bell pepper & corn salad
chicken/choice/chinese = sesame ginger chicken stir fry, over brown rice
beef/pasta/greek = pastisio, and a green salad
fish/rice/potluck = sole amandine, with green pea risotto
vegetarian/potato/african = South African vegetable curry (on page 191 out of my new book!)
It's a starting point. It's a thing to help me think of what's for dinner in advance of the 30 minutes I'll be cooking it. It will force variety and help me to be as creative as possible. If you eat differently, use it as a template. If you don't eat pork, then perhaps you'll substitute turkey. If you don't eat any meat, then substitute the meats for Tofu, Beans, Tempeh, TVP, Seitan, and whatever you typically use to meet your protein needs. Play with it. Have some fun. Some of them will be challenging... but that's the fun of it, for me. If you're stumped, perhaps you can use RecipeSource to find interesting recipes.

This is a gift, okay? If you think it's beneath you, or you don't think it's any good, then just don't click on it. But if you think it might be useful, give it a try for a couple of weeks. It's here, as a PDF: Chef JoAnna's Menu Helper

Last thing I ate or drank: I made pancakes for breakfast.

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1 comment:

  1. I love this! I've seen a lot of menu planning guides, but they are usually so rigid that I give up on them after just a few days. Thanks!


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