Sunday was a day of catching up on the food business of our home, since I’d slacked off and we had been spending a lot of time and money in restaurants or drive-throughs.
I started the day by cooking a pot of brown jasmine rice, which filled a large Tupperware container on the fridge’s top shelf. I also boiled nine eggs, then set out to clean the fridge of all the leftovers, unused condiments and poorly arranged baskets and bins. The amount of food waste was discouraging.
Rabbit and I went grocery shopping after visiting PC at the job site where he’s been working. Shamefully, we took him a hamburger and fries from Culver’s (which isn’t bad for a fast food place, but it’s still fast food). After that, we went to HyVee for groceries, replenishing our stock of food for the week.
After we got home, I didn’t even sit down. Rabbit rested with a popsicle while I got down to work. I steam-baked four large chicken breasts at the same time I was baking five large russet potatoes. While that was going on, I cut up a whole head of cauliflower into little florets, sliced radishes, washed and dried and tore up salad greens, and sliced baby cucumbers. I made two salads in quart jars, including sliced chicken breast after it was baked and cooled, dressing, veggies, cheese and lettuce. The rest of the cooked chicken went into freezer bags for later.
I made a container of egg salad with some of the boiled eggs, for PC to take for lunch. I sliced up two pints of strawberries and froze them, along with a pint of blackberries our neighbor had picked in his back yard and given me earlier in the day. I washed grapes and drained them, organized the baskets in the fridge containing extra produce, sandwich fillings, cheese and snacks.
I made a lasagna and froze it for later, then set out on the big project: homemade Greek yogurt. One gallon of whole milk from a local dairy, heated in my stock pot to 185 degrees (there are crock pot recipes for this, but I am not a patient person). At 185, I took it off the heat and put the lid on, to cool it down to 110, per the recipe instructions. My impatience got the better of me by 11:00 p.m., so I threw some ice cubes in and called it good. At that point, I added 8 ounces of active culture yogurt (leftover organic Greek yogurt from my last Azure Standard order) and then secured the lid, wrapped the whole pot in a blanket and set it on the table to rest and transform over night.
In the morning, it was a gelatinous and pungent concoction – yogurt! I lined a colander with a tea towel so worn and thin “it has only one side!” (a joke my husband makes) and poured the yogurt in to drain and thicken. I put the pot under the colander to catch the liquid being strained out – this is sweet whey, which can be used in other recipes.
After about three hours, there was more than a quart of whey in the pot and the yogurt had thickened up considerably. I put it in containers in the fridge. The whey was used today in a double recipe of honey wheat bread – I just substituted the whey for the water called for in the recipe. The bread turned out beautifully.
For lunch I had one of my go-to easy and healthy meals, which PC and Rabbit find appalling: baked beans mixed with brown rice. I love it, they hate it, and I don’t care.
For dinner, we had homemade chicken and stuffing casserole (okay, we used stove top stuffing, but the sauce used homemade yogurt instead of sour cream), steamed veggies, and homemade bread. Fruit for dessert. And a lot of options to put in PC’s lunch cooler for tomorrow to avoid fast food.
I’ve been reading Michael Pollan’s new book “Cooked,” and it’s inspiring me to do more in the kitchen, on a more regular basis. I always find that when I stray away from cooking for my family, I feel uncentered, and disorganized. Cooking in large batches or cooking many things in a day to prepare for the week is a remarkably calming enterprise.
I can’t wait to have toasted homemade bread with orange marmalade for breakfast tomorrow. And later this week? Homemade strawberry-rhubarb pie.