I’ll just say it up-front, so you know what to expect: I’m a neurotic, hyperorganized geek when it comes to planning what, where, when, and how my family is going to eat.
No, seriously. The Gourmet Geekfest ensues about once a month, when I sit down with whatever ratty spiral notebook is command central for the moment, and plot out a full month’s worth of dinners. No repeats, no take-out, just a list of 30 different meals that I will cook — from scratch — for my husband (who is generally both starving and grateful) and our two boys (who, at ages almost-4 and 16 months, fluctuate both in degrees of hunger and degrees of gratitude). Lest you think “That’s not terribly geeky!”… Allow me to explain. I don’t stop with the dinners. I then progress to planning the following:
1) An extra meal for each week, because leftovers never seem to stretch as far as I think they will
2) A baked good, such as muffins, that will be suitable for both breakfast and snacks each week
3) Lunchbox menus for each of my children, so I know they won’t starve at preschool and daycare, or show up to school with a lunch of raisins, croutons, black olives, and whatever other odds and ends I pulled from the back of the pantry in a frenzy after realizing that there was NOTHING IN THE HOUSE TO FEED THEM. (No, this has never happened. Yes, I realize it’s absurd. But this is what happens in my imagination.)
4) A number of assorted items, intended to tempt the children into eating more fruits and vegetables, to be made and packed into said lunchboxes so they can be shining examples of health and well-being who routinely eat from all the major food groups, or at least throw away food that was lovingly prepared from all the major food groups.
Did I mention that I’m a geek?
Once in a while, though, my culinary whimsy overwhelms my common sense, and I throw something on that meal plan that comes under the mental heading of “Will Figure Out When We Get There.” Tonight’s dinner is such a random contribution. Generally, once a week I make dinner in the slow cooker to ease the evening rush a bit. In the summertime, however, I find this practice to be a bit more trying, since I haven’t found many slow cooker recipes that really feel, well, summer-y. (My husband tells me I have a “strange obsession” with seasonal eating. I tell him he has a “strange obsession” with analyzing my obsessions.) So I wrote something down for tonight that I think was initially meant to combat that feeling, something that I probably thought would help me make new and creative use of farmer’s market produce: Crockpot Chicken Curry Thing.
No, I don’t have a recipe, and no, I don’t know what this thing is. Or I didn’t, until 8 p.m. last night, when I had to throw it together. So the contents of my slow cooker, which has been dutifully simmering away while I’ve been at work today, are as follows:
Boneless, skinless chicken thighs; heirloom tomatoes (from Pak Express Farm); Asian eggplant and cubanelle peppers (both from Long Entry Farm); onions and garlic (from Zephyr Farm); and a mixture of chicken broth and various vaguely Indian-ish spices, encompassing turmeric, coriander, and a whole bunch of other stuff that I can’t recall at the moment. Fingers crossed that what awaits us tonight is a reward, not a punishment, for my lapse in geek judgment.