M, age 4, has been refusing a higher percentage of dinners lately than I would like, so I’ve been trying something: she and I made a list of dinners that we agree that all the solid-food-eaters in the house like. Then, I plotted the dinners out over the course of a couple of weeks — I used a blank calendar that I’d been given. This means that I’ve got her buy-in, as we say in business jargon, for those meals, and then I can schedule new recipes as well, and she knows we’ll get back to something familiar the next night.
We’ve been following this new system for a couple of weeks now, and as it turns out, I’m enjoying it quite a bit, myself. Due to last weekend’s days-long, storm-induced power outage, I had to throw out almost everything in the fridge. (D and I agreed that I should err on the side of caution. After all, eating, like, ketchup that had gone bad would be a particularly silly way to die.) It was a cathartic, if wasteful, process that left us with this amazing situation:
Since then, I’ve gone to Stop & Shop and BJ’s once each, and have had groceries delivered (a spendy indulgence that we are embracing while the twins are so little) from Wegman’s once. Thanks to the dinner planning, the groceries we’ve bought are much more directed. I get specific ingredients for specific meals, plus stuff for M’s and D’s lunches, plus assorted breakfast items. And a few staple-type snacks. Our fridge now looks as close as it ever will to the kind of fridge that might belong to someone who is professionally healthy:
Look at the salad dressings in the middle of the left door! Only three, and all brand-new! Nothing is falling out of anywhere! The celery is not rubbery and is destined for one of our favorite recipes (that D will make) this weekend. I’m sure we’re not following any of the rules about where you should keep which produce in order to maximize freshness, etc., but one step at a time, folks.
Anyhoo, on the calendar for tonight was pork, but I wanted to try something more savory than sweet. I settled on This Old Gal’s Pressure Cooker Pork Chops in Homemade Mushroom Gravy. Here’s a before photo:
I didn’t think we had any sherry and didn’t feel like looking, so I substituted white cooking wine. I also opted for cornstarch because it’s what I had. For the seasoned salt, I used Jane’s Crazy Mixed-Up Salt because, say it with me now, it’s what I had.
Here’s a sort of mise-en-place stage, with two of the pork chops obscured by the head of the mysterious mustachioed man who showed up at our house tonight.
For sides, I did some sweet potato mash (trim tough ends off three sweet potatoes and prick them with a fork before microwaving them for 8 minutes. Cut in half and scoop out the flesh with a spoon. Mash with a masher or fork and a little (1 Tb?) butter and salt to taste).
I also roasted some cauliflower, which I bought in floret form from BJs. I lined a pan with aluminum foil, sprayed on a little olive oil, laid out the florets in one layer, sprayed with a little more olive oil, salted, and roasted in our Breville mini oven thing at 425 degrees with convection for 11 minutes, or until a little brown at the edges.
Here’s a sample plate:
And here’s the one for M, who says she doesn’t like mushrooms, but who did end up asking to add some gravy — without mushrooms — to her pork:
We all liked the meal enough to add it to our regular rotation. D thought the pork was a bit tough, but that might have been due somewhat to my impatience — I released the pressure directly after cooking instead of waiting for 10 minutes of natural pressure release. Next time, I might try decreasing the pressure cook time from 8 to 7 minutes.
I returned to work from maternity leave on February 28, and just today I discovered that someone there (hi, coworker H! You rule!) had read at least one of these blog posts! O frabjous day! So here are a few cute kid photos to celebrate.