Resolution for January 2

I do resolutions throughout the year. Last year, I had a New Year’s Resolution for December 27, 2015. It didn’t have anything to do with cooking. My resolution for today does: plan better lunches for the weekend. Guess what? I resolved for today and I achieved my goal!

Saturday Lunch
Saturday Lunch

How pretty is that? During the week, Spouse usually takes dinner leftovers-don’t worry, they are really good and I’m usually jealous-while Junior & I get what I’ve foraged from the fridge or freezer or from stopping by PCC after karate, or I forage and he makes himself some Annie’s Homegrown Mac/Cheese. Weekday lunches will get their own resolution to improve, but it’s the weekends that are the most problematic. We’re all home doing projects, I’ve thought about food all week, I’ve managed something for breakfast, and I’m planning something maybe more labor intensive for dinner and I’m asked: What’s for lunch? A simple question. Drives me batty. I don’t want that negative energy, don’t want remodel monies going to take out, I’m here, I love to cook, so plan for it. This minestrone is so easy & I already was baking bread that could go with. Having the pantry items of cannellini & tomatoes, the fresh onion, garlic & carrot, and the celery seed pounded with salt are standard, why not eat this for every winter Saturday lunch? We just might! Cheers!

Minestrone Soup                               

Preparation time: 15 minutes     Cooking time: 30 to 40 minutes        Serves 4 to 6

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium red onion, chopped

2 medium carrots, peeled and diced

1 large celery stalk, diced (or about 1/4 teaspoon pounded celery seed)

Pinch of red pepper flakes

1 clove garlic, minced

1 ½ teaspoons salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

1 (14 ½-ounce) can whole tomatoes, drained and finely chopped (save liquid)

1 large potato, diced

1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary

5 cups water, as needed

1 (10-ounce) bag frozen green beans (or anything green-kale is awesome!)

¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

Place a large pot on the stove over medium heat. Pour the olive oil into the pot. When the olive oil is warm, add the onions, carrots, celery, red pepper flakes and garlic. Stir the vegetables to coat with oil. Stir in the salt and pepper. Cook for 5 to 8 minutes, until the onions begin to turn golden.

Add the tomatoes, potatoes, beans, rosemary, the saved tomato liquid and about 5 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and let the soup cook for 15 minutes. Test the vegetables for tenderness.

During the last 5 minutes of cooking, add the frozen green beans. Taste for seasoning and adjust if needed.

Ladle the soup into bowls and sprinkle with Parmesan.

 

 

 

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Mix Up

I am a saver. I am not a hoarder, I have full ability to clean, purge, recycle, and toss, but I do hang on to things that I might need. I am currently reducing this collection of Might Need Someday, clumsily inching my way toward minimalism. My fridge and freezer reflect my attitude toward saving. Any usable leftover, be it tomato sauce, pinto beans, grated cheddar, or small chunks of mozzarella, can be found squirreled away in my freezer, a myriad assortment of Pyrex & Kerr & Deli containers. Items stay in the fridge if I know I’ll use in a day or two. This system usually works for me, but confusion or misidentification can happen.

My favorite story of incorrect freezer ID, was the lunch I sent to work with Spouse a few years back. It was post Thanksgiving and there were turkey leftovers in the fridge and I was certain I had mashed potatoes in the freezer. Still jammied in a dimly lit kitchen, I pawed around the freezer until I found that container with the frozen white mass inside. Success! I opened it, threw some turkey on top,  and packed it, the last item in Spouse’s lunch carrier. Later that day, Spouse sent what I thought was a rather cryptic email regarding his lunch, so I ignored as one of his less-than-better jokes. Pizza was on the menu for dinner and I readied my longer-rise partial Emmer pizza dough. When it came time to assemble ingredients, I pulled items from fridge and freezer: strained tomatoes-frozen, mushrooms-fresh, pesto & pepperoni-frozen, arugula-fresh, but I could not find the made-by-me mozzarella that I knew I had saved, the reason we were even having this meal, it was not in the freezer. A quick drive to QFC allowed me to purchase an inferior replacement, and pizzas were baking when Spouse returned home.

Ever so smug, Spouse quipped about more mozzarella, and described to me his lunchtime experience. He had heated up his lunch, but the mashed potatoes weren’t responding as they usually did. They were remaining pretty solid and frozen. He removed the turkey and heated the rest for a bit longer. When it was finally pliable, he realized instead of potatoes, I had given him a large, healthy portion of mozzarella cheese to eat with his turkey. Delicious. He ate it, finding it completely hilarious. I was mad that I didn’t get to use my beautiful cheese on the pizza, but eventually found myself laughing out loud at the faux pas.

Ok. So fast forward to this morning. In my fridge I had a baggy of butter bits, leftover butter from my current class, butter still papered but handled by kids so my assistants didn’t want it for themselves. I had taken it home, knowing I could use it in something baked. In the same fridge compartment as the butter bag, I had found another bit of something that I assumed was more butter, so all of it, plus a little more to reach 6 ounces, went into the bowl of fresh-ground Einkorn, orange zest, currants, kefir, and the leaveners. Scones for Junior on Veteran’s Day.

The scones mixed and baked up beautifully. I did however notice a small anomaly: some of the butter seemed to be coagulated rather than melted-how weird! I sampled a scone and the light crisp butter/flour magic was there, along with the slight of orange, the bit of currant-sweet and…what was that? The coagulated something was cheese! That extra bit I threw in? Parmesan. Not butter. It was a tiny amount so the scones aren’t so much savory as they are confusing. I’m hoping the jam Junior adds will cover my crime, an offense his taste receptors, if detected, will not appreciate. Oh well. Perhaps it’s time for a fridge system overhaul!

ps: this is the same scone I always make!

Mmmm sweet cheesy goodness!