For me, if I don't put a little thought into what I'm cooking, I'll end making garlic and oil pasta 5 nights of the week. On Saturday night or Sunday morning, I pull together a general menu for the week, naming a recipe and listing out main ingredients. I try to cook something new every week, I try to make half the dishes vegetable based. Having a menu makes me look at what's on my shelf in the pantry and try to use up stuff I already have on hand.
This is what I cam up with this week:
|Monday||Fennel-Rubbed Pork||Pomegranate molasses, tangerine, shallots, butter, red wine vinegar, pork tenderloin, fennel, garlic, cumin, salt, pepper, couscous|
|Tuesday||Fish-Fragrant Eggplant & Tofu||Eggplant, chili bean paste, soy sauce, black vinegar, rice wine, sugar, garlic, ginger, cornstarch, Szechuan pepper, tofu, noodles|
|Wednesday||Pasta in Tomato-Beer Sauce||Capers, sun dried tomatoes, garlic, anchovies, red onions, chile flakes, gherkins, bock beer, canned tomatoes, olive paste, pasta|
|Thursday||US Senate Bean Soup||Mayacoba beans, ham hock, onions, potatoes, fennel, parsley|
|Friday||Black-eye Peas and Bulgur||Bulgur, black-eye peas, canned tomatoes, red onion, walnuts, spices, sausage, potato, sambal oelek|
|Saturday||Braised Black Vinegar Chicken||Chicken thighs, shallots, ginger, dried chilis, scallions, Shiitakes,black vinegar, sweet soy sauce, light soy sauce, sugar, salt, water, rice|
|Sunday||Goan Beef Curry||Cardamom, fennel, cloves, cinnamon, fenugreek, black pepper, cumin, onions, garlic, ginger, tri-tip strips, turmeric, chili powder, coconut milk, potatoes|
As you can see, I'm not yet into a meatless diet. The soup on Thursday got cooked over the last few days and was lunch today. It will taste even better on Thursday and provide plenty to freeze for another meal. The Fish-fragrant eggplant will get served with some kind of noodle. The sauce for the pasta on Wednesday is a new recipe and is simmering in the crock pot right now to allow flavors to develop as well as be heat-and-eat on a weeknight. The Black-eye peas and bulgur and the Goan beef curry are also new recipes. Hmm, so is the fennel rubbed pork. I meant to have that for tonight, but friends asked up over for dinner, so it's bumped to Monday.
So, three recipes with meat, four new recipes, four that have been/will be cooked in a slow cooker (Pasta in Tomato-Beer sauce, bean soup, Braised black vinegar chicken, and Goan beef curry), three with legumes, and all with a lot of flavors.
The cost of each dish as a whole to cook comes out to:
- Fennel rubbed pork - $5.75 - serves 4/$1.44
- Eggplant & Tofu - $2.60 - serves 2/$1/30
- Pasta & beer-tomato sauce - $6.00 - serves 4/$1.50
- Bean soup - $7.00 - serves 6/$1.16
- Black-eye Peas & bulgur - $4.01 - serves 4/$1.00
- Black vinegar chicken - $3.03 - serves 2/$1.52
- Goan beef curry - $8.53 - serves 4/$2.13
I also like to emphasize that, except for the Szechuan peppercorns, nothing I buy is "organic" or a specialty food product or otherwise different than what can be obtained from a local grocery store. Some of my Asian condiments come from Ranch 99, an Asian supermarket chain in southern California. The peppercorns come from a gourmet cookware store, were outrageously expensive, and I won't buy them there again. I don't shop Whole Foods ever.
Food is political because it is used to identify insiders and outsiders, who belongs to the tribe and who does not act within the proper social norms. It takes work to make it both delicious and affordable.
We need to think about our food.