So my wife and I both work full time and we have two small children. As you might imagine, life is pretty busy. For the last couple years my wife has gotten more and more into cooking and preparation, even to the point of forming a “Freezer Cooking” Meetup for women to create make-ahead meals. As a result I’ve been lucky in some ways that I’ve not had to spend much time in the kitchen for the past couple years. Anyway, my second daughter was born 4 months ago and just after Thanksgiving my wife started back at work. Work, home, and kids were already enough and then she decided to expand her law practice into California which requires several months of studying and prep for the California Bar. Clearly something had to give so we made an agreement that it would be up to me to make sure there was dinner on Mondays and Wednesdays. We picked these days more or less arbitrarily, it simply made sense to have it on a schedule of some kind since we both rely heavily on our calendars for work and home management.
Having been a bachelor for quite a few years before getting married, I am not the biggest chef. When I cook, you can generally expect top ramen or if you are lucky, a pot of pasta and a jar of Classico sauce (which, by the way, is one of the best tasting and healthiest pre-made sauces around). For several years, I actually ate dinner at a dive bar every night. Accordingly, expectations for my meals are not high.
The rules were simple for my dinner nights, actually only one real rule: The meal must include some sort of veggie or salad to help make the meal somewhat healthy. On the first night of my dinner reign, I stopped by my local Safeway and picked up a filet of Alaskan Salmon, combined it with some potatoes we had and pulled out some leftover apple salad that my wife had made for a party. During the last few weeks of 2012 and into 2013, I’ve been experimenting with different meals and yes, I’ve been perfecting my spaghetti sauce, something I’ll post about later.
As inspiration and influence, earlier last year we spent two weeks on an amazing vacation in Italy and one of our takeaways was that the food we eat at home is too processed. The quality of every meal in Italy was extraordinary, in part because the ingredients are all fresh and local at every restaurant. Ever since that trip we’ve been making an extra effort to cook from fresh ingredients whenever possible. We’ve started getting fresh produce delivered from a CSA and the neat thing about it is that it forces you to be creative with your meals, in order to use whatever fruits and veggies that you happen to get that week from the CSA.
I’ve got to be honest, the veggie-with-every-meal requirement is actually much harder than I thought. It’s easy to throw together a simple side salad but you can’t have the same old side salad every night so I have to find alternative ways to get veggies into the meal. I’m not super creative when it comes to cooking but I’ve been getting better at this.
So now that I’ve set the stage, stay tuned as I write about my continuing journey from take-out techie to an engineer of extraordinary edibles!