Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Eating Well in 2009

For the second day in a row, I had something delicious for lunch. That's not a common occurrence, as usually I am looking for something to magically appear from the bits and pieces of nothing that exist in my refrigerator most days. I'm not a sandwich person, so unless there's something heatable in there, I'm just not satisfied.
There has recently been a good stock of leftovers in there to choose from, thanks to the January issue of Eating Well magazine. If you're not familiar with it, it's a cooking magazine that also devotes itself to articles and news about health, diet and nutrition trends. There's always something of interest in the way of research or a cooking technique, but I'll admit I don't always cook out of it. The recipes can occasionally be daunting in the amount of time they take to prepare, or the extra ingredients they require me to plan ahead to purchase. However, almost every recipe I've made has been a successful one. Old favorites include Lebanese-Style Kafta and Cucumber Tzatziki, Cranberry Curried Chicken, and Braised Carrots. (I couldn't find the kafta or carrot recipes online, unfortunately. They were from 2003 and 2006 issues, so I'm not sure how long they archive recipes on the site)
I don't know if this month's issue was particularly approachable, or if I simply had more time to cook over the last few weeks due to J. being home on vacation, but when I went to rip pages out of the issue to add to my recipe file, I realized I should have just stuck the whole magazine in my cabinet, as I had either already prepared or intend to try so many of the recipes.
Many of these trials are due to the fact that I received an enameled dutch oven as a Christmas gift, and the magazine had a whole section on One Pot recipes designed especially for such a vessel. Think of it as a slow cooker without the "plug it in and forget it" quality. I love my slow cooker, but there are times when it actually works out better for me to assemble a dish around naptime. For those times, these recipes work well.
One that was particularly successful was Ragout of Pork with Prunes, which I made on New Years Day as the traditional "good luck pork" dish (with a side of sauerkraut, of course). Two of the consumers of this dish made skeptical comments about the prunes, which I of course tried to hide during the preparation and failed. The reports of the finished dish, prunes and all, were good. The pork was nice and tender, and the sauce was delicious. I dined on the leftovers for two days after.
From this same article, I also tried Braised Beef with Mushrooms, which was also tasty, though not quite as much as the pork. It took a lot less hands on time to prepare, though, so it will probably get repeated first. J. is not a fan of mushrooms, so he had a few shudders in reaction to this one. However, his complaint was about texture, not flavor, and the fact that he couldn't tell the difference between the beef and the mushrooms in the sauce, and thus got more of the unpleasant texture than he'd like. I served it over noodles and was quite pleased.
Other trials from this issue included Marmalade Chicken, Beef and Cabbage Stir Fry. While these were both tasty, they were really only variations on dishes I already make, and the extra steps/ingredients they called for probably won't make them replace my old standards.
Brown Sugar Beets were an interesting experiment. I've always wanted to buy beets, they are strangely compelling to me with their bright color and all those leafy greens still attached. Or maybe I just have nostalgia for Ramona the Pest pulling that big weed and staining her new dress.* Anyway, continuing the theme of new recipe skepticism, there were many questions about why exactly we were having beets for dinner. Not from my preschooler, but from my husband. I told him to try to be a good model of trying new things. I thought they were scrumptious, but in the end, finished the skillet by myself. I also used the same recipe to prepare carrots, and they too, were tasty.
Still to try: Paprika Shrimp and Green Bean Saute, and Gnocchi with Chard.
The new issue of Cooking Light arrived yesterday. I'm hoping this trend of actually shopping with new recipes in mind continues. And let's hope there is similar leftover abundance awaiting my future lunchtime scavenger hunts.
What about you? Made anything new and interesting lately?

* I just looked this up to make sure I wasn't misremembering, and sure enough: this happened to Ellen Tebbets, also of Beverly Cleary invention, not to Ramona. How can it be that I am so old my memory fails me like this? I was so sure it was in the same book as the question about Mike Mulligan using the bathroom. Sigh.


mep said...

I am totally inspired and very impressed. Everything sounds amazing! I have not yet cracked open the most recent issue of Eating Well, but I will look forward to doing so.

I am glad you checked the Ramona reference because I did not remember it and thought, "Ramona, I thought I knew you so well." I think I only read Ellen Tebbets once though, whereas I returned to my Ramona books again and again.

I can't wait to hear more about your good eating in 2009 and envy you your beautiful new Dutch oven.

mep said...

One more thing, I'm like a broken record on this issue, but I so wish we lived near each other so we could restart the cooking, craft, and book clubs.

Bailey said...

I should get Eating Well for my husband, who does all of the cooking. The other night he made pork tenderloin medallions wrapped in bacon with a maple/mustard/onion sauce. It was delicious for dinner as well as for lunch the next day.

He just got the America's Test Kitchen 2007 Companion cookbook and loves Dave Lieberman cookbooks for weeknight dinners.

CaraBee said...

I've seen that magazine but I am notorious for not using those sorts of things. Perhaps now that I'm a hausfrau, I will be more dedicated. I printed out the recipe for curried cranberry chicken, it sounds amazing! I'm looking for a recipe for my night to cook during our ski trip next week. 7 adults, one 2.5 year old, who will probably not eat any. Any recommendations?