Despite the fact that it's still scorching outside, “fall” is here.
Area schools reopen this week, college football is in the air and the culinary mood is shifting from lazy summer fare to lunchboxes, fast family dinners and tailgates. It's a welcome change, but a high pressure one that can leave the best intended home cooks in a frenzy of list-making and grocery runs. Here are a few tips to ease the pain.
Stock the pantry. You know your preferred staples. Whether they include cans of tomatoes, certain oils and vinegars, dried pasta or fresh garlic, make sure you always have your favorite items on hand. And while you're taking inventory of the pantry, embrace the opportunity to reorganize it. Culinary experts love to advise a pantry clean-out before the holidays or for the new year, but as a working mom, I like a fresh start at the beginning of fall.
Get inspired. Then modify. The recipes pictured, sesame noodles with vegetables and Indian pea spread were created by my favorite method: understanding the intention of several recipes, and creating my own version. The noodles resulted from leftover vermicelli combined with raw vegetables, sesame oil and rice wine vinegar and were inspired by this recipe. The pea spread is a simple combination of thawed frozen peas, small dices of sweet potatoes boiled until just done, chickpeas and Greek yogurt blended with curry powder, rice wine vinegar and grated fresh ginger. It stemmed from a recipe by Vermont Chef Kathyrn Vanderminden that could be further modified with other combinations of legumes, yogurt, herbs and spices.
Freeze sandwiches. The morning lunch brigade is a real chokepoint in my world. Just as I'm trying to get a decent breakfast on the table, the pressure mounts to complete lunch boxes. But one thing that's sped up the process is preparing and freezing sandwiches (those with meat and/or cheese only). Grab one from the freezer, pop it into the lunchbox, and by the time they—or you—eat, the sandwich is thawed, and its consistency maintained.
Lean on Louisiana's one-pot culture. No matter how sophisticated our palates become, our regional food roots are based on thrift and flavor. If we've perfected anything, it's the ability to toss local raw materials into a great big pot and feed the masses with something warm and wonderful. Lean on this legacy and cook a pot of red beans and rice, jambalaya, gumbo and etouffee and put up weeknight containers in your freezer. These are dishes that never go out of style.
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Better Block BR
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