Well, one result of cutting way back on restaurants is that I spend more time in the kitchen. Since I am committed to avoiding processed foods, it can be a little labor intensive. Good thing I like cooking!
On one afternoon, I spent a good bit of time chopping vegetables, roasting tomatoes, onions, and garlic, and making up a big batch of spaghetti sauce. I divided them into one-meal sized bags and stashed them in the freezer. Any time I make a sauce or soup, I try to make enough to freeze at least a couple of meals worth.
When I met a friend for dinner last month, I had a delicious chickpea salad. The menu listed mixed greens, lemon herb marinated chickpeas, cotija cheese, pickled red onion, radish, grilled zucchini, citrus vinaigrette. I thought, "I could make that." The first thing I had to do was find a quick pickled onion recipe, which turned out to be much easier than I thought. I made those the day ahead and also marinated the chickpeas in lemon and herbs. The next day I roasted the chickpeas, potatoes, and beets (which I subbed in for radishes) and assembled the salad. Easy and every bit as good as the one the restaurant offered.
A week or so ago, my son and his girlfriend were over for dinner. I had a Persian jeweled rice recipe I'd wanted to try and found a recipe for golden turmeric tilapia. I checked at the grocery store and couldn't find the mango chutney it called for and again thought, "I bet I could make that." Turns out it is easy. And so good - I could just eat it by the spoonful. We liked the turmeric fish recipe so much that I made another batch of chutney and my husband made the fish with sweet potatoes and broccoli for another dinner.
I'm back to making whole wheat sourdough bread more regularly, too. The last loaf I made with turmeric. It gave it a faint gold color and just a hint of the flavor.
I put poppy seeds on top but next time I think I'll mix them into the dough on the second kneading.
And then came Valentine's Day. We had already agreed not to buy unnecessary items, but groceries are exempt from the ban. I had the day off and put some of my time into prepping ingredients for dinner. I know I've said it before but it's just truth - I make a mean seafood risotto. There is something so peaceful about stirring the wine and broth a little at a time into the arborio rice and watching it absorb. I made it this time with crab meant and two kinds of shrimp, and add in caramelized onions, peppers and garlic, sautéed zucchini, and chopped greens.
It's heaven on a plate. We had some of the bread and a salad with field greens, cucumber, strawberries, feta and almonds. I also made dark chocolate-covered strawberries for dessert and we cracked open a bottle of chardonnay we'd brought back from a winery we visited in Tuscany on our honeymoon. I'm realizing I'm happily able to forgo gifts for good food.