Work Less, Cook More

I retired a few days ago, so Ditalini has put me in charge of the kitchen.  We fend for ourselves at breakfast and lunch but I’ve been cooking dinner at night.  Readers of this blog, if there are any, will have noted my preference for one-dish meals, so this week’s menu should come as no surprise:

  • Monday, chicken noodle soup
  • Tuesday, pad thai with chicken and shrimp
  • Wednesday, 15-bean soup with ham
  • Thursday, leftover sauce with pasta
  • Friday, roast Rudy

Monday’s chicken noodle soup was easy and good.  Ditalina made her little chicken dinner a couple of weeks ago.  Since she had to boil a chicken, she made stock and saved it.  I used two cups of Ditalini’s stock, two cans of store-bought chicken stock, chopped onion, celery, and garlic, two cut-up chicken breasts, and a pinch of salt.  It all went into the pot together.  I brought the soup to a boil, then put it on simmer, covered, for a couple of hours.  For the noodles, I used campanelle, tossing in about half a pound for the last 30 minutes of simmering.  Mmm, comfort food!

Tuesday.  I wish I knew how to make pad thai from scratch.  There’s a Thai cookbook somewhere in the house, so I’ll put that on my to-do list.  For Tuesday’s meal I used a package, which provided the rice noodles and sauce.  I supplemented that with chopped scallions, half a thinly-sliced serrano pepper, a handful of snow peas, chopped cooked chicken from Ditalini’s freezer stash, a dozen peeled shrimp, one scrambled egg, some bean sprouts, and dry roasted peanuts.  I stir-fried the veggies, chicken, and shrimp in a wok, added the cooked noodles and sauce and stir-fried a little more, then added the scrambled egg (cut into squares) and bean sprouts.  We sprinkled peanuts on top and served it with lime wedges, and it was pretty damned good, even if it did come out of a package.  If I do this again, though, I won’t used cooked chicken, because it breaks up quickly when you stir fry it.

As a side dish, I sliced a little red onion, one whole cucumber, and the other half of that serrano pepper.  I put it in a bowl and let it soak all day in the fridge in an equal-parts mixture of sugar, vinegar, and water.

Wednesday.  After dinner last night I put the dried beans in a pot and let them soak while we slept.  This morning I chopped up an onion and three cloves of garlic, drained and rinsed the beans, and put everything back in the pot with two cans of vegetable stock and a little water (enough to cover the beans).  I added a smoked ham hock, five or six whole black peppercorns, and a bay leaf.  I threw away the packet of chili seasoning that came with the beans.  I brought the beans to a rolling boil, reduced the heat to low, and covered the pot.  I’ll let the beans cook a few hours, then add the slice of ham Ditalini has in the fridge, cut into small squares.  That’ll be tonight’s dinner, and there’ll be leftovers.

Thursday — tomorrow — it’s leftover sauce with whatever pasta is handy.  Ditalini’s meat sauce gets better the longer it sits in the fridge or the freezer.

Friday our friend Rudy arrives for the weekend.  He’s taking us out to dinner, so I’m off the hook.  This weekend?  Don’t ask me to think that far ahead!

About Crouton deMenthe  Amateur cook and barbecue fanatic.


Amateur cook and barbecue fanatic.

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