Sunday, July 11, 2010

Summer Eats

I've never been good at menu planning. I've tried -- I've read books and blogs, all excitedly touting the benefits to your health and your poketbook. I make a beautiful menu that doesn't look so beautiful by Tuesday's Lentil Casserole. I'm giving up for the summer. There's no point -- and with a lovely garden outside, there's no need!

My summer cooking routine is simple:

  1. Choose protein. There's a wide variety of frozen, cooked beans and meats ready to go, as well as some quick-cook meats like ground turkey. Set selected protein on counter to sort of head towards thawing.
  2. Choose starch. We love rice here and go through the 25lb bag from Sam's every 3 months of so. I set rice or brown rice up in the rice cooker (yay single button cooking!) or a pot on the stove for noodles. If I'm really lazy we just eat bread.
  3. Visit the garden and pick whatever's ripe. Lately there's been nothing but squash, but today I found my first red tomato and two lovely jalapanos -- Mexican-ish it is! I can't wait for the green beans!
  4. Chop veggies, stir fry or something with the protein, grab a can of sauce if desired (I've always got spaghetti sauce and italian salad dressing ready to go) or spice if you'd rather.
  5. Serve the veggie mix over the protein and GO!

One caveat -- I almost always know what should be ripe in the garden, so I do think ahead a tiny bit with the protein. Like, I knew the tomato was ready today... only one, and none others even close, so it would have to be eaten alone.

Today's Garden Simple Meal

  1. Black Beans (precooked and frozen in a meal size package. Never canned -- too salty)
  2. Brown rice (rice cooker love. This and my crock pot are the only two appliances I couldn't live without)
  3. Tomato, 2 jalapanos from the garden, plus a couple cloves of garlic from the store

Put the rice on to cook even before going to the garden. Cook the peppers and garlic, chopped, in olive oil til fragrant. While cooking, chop tomato and toss in when ready. Stir until tomato starts to break down. Break frozen chunks of black beans into the pot, stir til thawed. Hit with a little water, little salt and pepper, then let simmer. This kinda made its own gravy... yum. Put in a generous helping of rice (more for the boy, he's always hungry!) and top with the beans. It was literally heaven in a bowl.

We've lately also had squash with tomato sauce and noodles, zuccini and spinach soup, Thai chicken (theres a recipe I've got to share!), and all sorts of salads. Garden dinners are never boring and never preplanned, so we can eat what we want each evening. And, I'm pretty sure we've doubled our veggie diet! I love summer :)


Sarah Jane said...

Ymmm. . .that sounds like the PERFECT summer menu. How simple. . .protein, starch, and veggies. I could SO do that! I may have to adopt this practice. :) We are finally getting squash, peppers and ripe tomatoes and soon will have green beans so I'm excited about adding those to our everyday meals. I can't wait to saute my first squash. There is nothing like new onions, squash and mushrooms and sauteed together in a tiny bit of butter and sprinkled with a bit of salt and coarse ground black pepper.

Amy said...

MMmmm!!! I think I'm gonna try that today! I have some jalapenos and tomatoes just picked too.

And please share your Thai chicken recipe! I love Thai food!!!


Jenny P. said...

Sarah, Green beans fresh out of the garden are my absolute favorite. Mine just started blooming. I can't wait. I love cooking this way because it makes lazy look good :). It takes so much less time than planning, as long as I make sure we've got enough protein ready cooked and frozen. Seriously... 5 minutes active work to get dinner on the table.

Amy, I'll post the Thai recipe very soon! Its our favorite meal by far... and disappears so quickly I might be posting a picture-less post :). If you do try this recipe, let me know how it turns out for you!

Gillian said...

I'll have to try this when my slow Northern garden decides to get its act together and actually produce some vegetables! I've got tomatoes, peppers, zucchini and leeks coming but they are slooooow! I wish I had remembered to plant green beans - I love them.