Over the last couple of months I've really focused on getting back into the kitchen. This probably doesn't surprise those who know me, but I once considered culinary school rather than a traditional university. Coming home after a long day and cooking myself a nice meal while enjoying a glass of wine can almost be meditative.
My goal has been to really focus on my eating - increasing fruits and vegetables, decreasing processed ingredients, and saving money by having quality meals on hand rather than grabbing something quick and easy. Yes, cooking for one can be a drag, but hey, you're worth it, aren't you?
I had previously looked at Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs, but for a variety of reasons never signed up for one. A friend at work told me about one nearby that didn't have a long term commitment or upfront cost. The week to week option fits my lifestyle completely, if there's a weekend I know I will be busy and unable to prepare meals, then I simply don't sign up for a share.
The CSA and Pinterest have also made meal planning fun and interesting. It's forced me slightly out of my comfort zone by making me try things I have cooked with little to no times before, like cauliflower, eggplant, brussel sprouts, Romensco, etc. I do my best to pick recipes that are interesting and don't require a large investment in additional ingredients.
Yes, all of this is very time consuming. Fortunately I know before pick up what will likely be in my bag. Meal planning probably takes a couple of hours, and I carve out Sunday to cook for the week. I've learned that if I don't use the fruits and veggies when I get them, then it is likely alot will go to waste. The plus side is that grocery shopping takes probably about half the time since I only have to go in for a few ingredients, and don't wander the aisles and risk impulse buying.
This week's bag had: tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, Romanesco, red potatoes, garlic, shallots, eggplant, and cranberries. (Note: The cranberries were a substitute, another reason why I love this particular program. I was supposed to get mushrooms but asked if I could get something else instead.)
How everything got used:
Tomatoes, cucumbers, and lettuce where cut up for salads.
Shallots (and local honey from a prior week's bag) - Chicken with Honey-Beer Sauce
Brussel sprouts - Maple, Balsamic and Bacon Brussel Sprouts
Cranberries (and the rest of an open bottle of red wine) - Spiced Cranberry Sauce (placed in freezer until Thanksgiving.
Broccoli and red potato - Broccoli Cheddar Soup
Cauliflower and garlic (and a butternut squash for a prior week's bag) - Butternut Squash & Cauliflower Casserole
Eggplant - Eggplant stuffed with eggplant, onion, and ground sausage with Bechmel sauce. (The recipe I found was not very good, so I kind of winged this one. It came out pretty good.)
Romensco and garlic - Romanesco and Rigatoni (I also added in some diced pancetta that I had in the freezer)
Lots of great things to eat this week (and leftovers to freeze for busy weeks)!
What's your favorite seasonal thing to make?