I’d like to say that this photo is a visual depiction of the peaceful, sanguine nature of this past week, and report that all of our days and all of our meals went off as planned, and were met by the roar of the happily feasting crowds, and everyone lived happily ever after. Instead, what I will say is that despite the fact that we were all low on sleep, tight on time, and feeling the grips of overbooked schedules, difficult people, deadlines, emotional and physical stressors, not to mention the frustratingly freezing cold temps, we were able to churn through our collective responsibilities without too much turbulence, and eat tasty and healthy every day, without thinking about it or adding extra work into our week, when our collective focus was required elsewhere, as it was.
This photo, of the tranquil and breathtaking Newport Bridge, was taken from the venue where I was working on Tuesday morning, at an exhilarating press conference to announce the sponsors for the “local” race boat and team for the 2018 Volvo Ocean Race. It was fun! and exciting! and awesome! And at this moment, it feels like it was a hundred years ago. Here are Charlie Enright and Mark Towill, Skipper and First Mate, and the sponsors of the 2018 boat (Vestas wind and 11th Hour Racing) at the press conference. And the Vestas boat in action during the race in 2015. Pretty awesome, right?
Let’s just say, that with a week’s lineup like the one our household just tackled, it’s a good thing we went into it with a fridge (ok, two) full of prepped, baked, breakfast, lunch and dinner food ready to warm, grab, pack and eat… because there certainly wasn’t a spare moment all week for extra cooking, shopping, or thinking. I had made chocolate cherry flaxseed muffins, quiche, red sauce, eggplant parm, farro tabbouleh and carrot ginger soup (a late addition to my meal plan) over the weekend. I had stocked up on bananas, apples and mandarin oranges, yogurt, milk and coffee. I had peeled, cut and bagged carrot sticks and washed and bagged red grapes and sugar snap peas for snacks, so when I was making breakfasts, lunches and prepping dinner before sunrise each day, there was no thinking involved. Just assembly. Whew.
I made Bring Spring Risotto and baked chicken on Tuesday night (I don’t know why I always make risotto on Tuesdays: it just happens that way) with ingredients I had prepped in advance (cleaned and chopped leeks, pre-cooked asparagus and peas). And on Wednesday night, we celebrated my sister’s birthday by going out for impromptu Mexican! So, one day at a time, we made it. And so did you. Nicely done.
But, guys, I’m wiped. I had a small meltdown yesterday morning when I realized that it was Friday and I didn’t have a single thought in my head for meals next week… ANOTHER week of March. Cold, dreary, MAD March. And we have dear friends coming over for dinner tonight and my family is coming over on Sunday! So, I pulled the following menu/meal plan out of thin air and hit the grocery on my way home from work last night (terrible time to hit the grocery, but you do what you have to do). I don’t know if I’ll have time to go back out for forgotten or specialty items, so it will be a “rely on the pantry” kind of week. If we don’t have it, we won’t need it. Here’s the plan:
Today, we will be smoking a brisket, two sockeye salmon filet, and a turkey, on this excellent smoker we acquired last fall. As you can see, it’s nice and enormous, so we can fit all of that in there. And I am not needed for its operation, which is perhaps the best part. I’ll be making baked stuffed shells, lemon squares and quiche while the boys smoke!
We’ll have a cheese plate and crudités (green beans, red peppers, cucumbers, carrots and sugar snap peas–leftovers get bagged for lunches) with hummus, and two baked brie– one savory and one sweet. I’ll make two pans of baked stuffed shells today (one for tonight, one for tomorrow), shaved asparagus salad and a big fresh green salad. And lemon squares will make the perfect sweet-tart, bright, clean dessert after all of that smoked meat and cheese. Lemon squares are loved around here and they’re easy, too. I’ll show you.
To carry us through the rest of the week, tomorrow I’ll make another batch of peanut butter protein cookies and probably another quiche. The quiche has been disappearing faster than I can make it around here. My guys like to eat it with red sauce for breakfast.
Between that and the leftovers from this weekend, with a few extra veggies along the way, we should be good for our sprint to the finish of March. How are you guys holding up? What strategies are working for you? Does anyone know anything about smoking fish? What will you be in the mood for, come April? I, for one, can’t wait.