Archive | December, 2014

Homemade veggie tempura as a first volley in the fight to get dinner on the table

31 Dec

I can’t believe I haven’t blogged since February. Not that I’ve been diligent about it recently, but that’s kind of ridiculous.

This has been a bit of a crazy year, with me back in school, Dave starting a business, the Bug becoming a full-fledged toddler, and us expecting her little brother in March. I can honestly say that I haven’t cooked much beyond subsistence cooking for the past four months, and when I have attempted something more adventurous, it’s been a disaster (I am thinking ruefully of the Brussels sprouts I burnt while watching the Bug and making dinner for my in-laws).

The lack of making things has made me feel very unlike myself, and now that finals week is over (or, for me, finals weeks since I had a bunch of huge projects due), I have gone into a bit of overdrive, catching up on Christmas crafts and trying to figure out a better approach to cooking, one that will help us get fast, reasonably healthy meals that include at least one vegetable that’s not potatoes on the table before the Bug gets so hungry that she starts to throw a fit, which gives us about 15 minutes after she gets home from daycare.

My friend Kitty recommended Dinner: The Playbook: A 30-Day Plan for Mastering the Art of the Family Meal, which is for people like Dave and me: parents who care about family dinners (and who used to cook all the time) but who just can’t seem to get something healthy and tasty on the table. After an aborted attempt at starting a couple of weeks ago (I forgot that I wouldn’t be home for something like 3 evenings), I cooked the veggie tempura, and it was really, really good.

Part of the plan is to do a report card on each dinner to see which ones are worth incorporating into your regular routine. I’m going to try to do that here. My ultimate goal is to have two weeks’ worth of easy, tasty dinners and then just work the repertoire until I can cook them without a recipe. I have two and a half months to do it until the lil guy comes. Crossing fingers…

Vegetable Tempura, Dinner: The Playbook p. 178

  • Meal: dinner,
  • Kid tried?: Yes
  • Keeper?: Yes
  • Cook’s grade: A-. Tasty, short list of ingredients, but frying is messy and took a while. Next time, I would use the bigger Dutch oven to do larger batches and reduce overall cooking time. However, there was plenty of time for the first batches to cool down and not be so “hot! hot!” for the Bug by the time we ate dinner.
  • Kid’s grade: A-. Bug ate carrots and enjoyed them.

Curried carrots, Dinner: The Playbook p. 155

  • Meal: Dinner for the Bug only (side to an Amy’s frozen burrito)
  • Kid tried?: Yes
  • Keeper?: Reserving judgement. Need to try again.
  • Cook’s grade: A. Super easy to prepare. I made it as a quick side to make me feel better about giving the Bug a frozen burrito (heated up, of course) for dinner. However, I was only making a little bit, so I didn’t measure the ingredients and didn’t really watch the clock as it cooked. Carrots came out a bit too mushy and with less flavor than I expected, but again, this is probably cook’s error not fault of recipe.
  • Kid’s grade: D. Bug ate one, then put two more in her mouth and spit them out. “No like.”

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