One woman's adventures in cooking for her Dutch-American family.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Menu Monday: Week of February 14

Before my brain injury seven years ago, I hardly cooked at all. In fact, other that dinners out with vendors and friends, I have a hard time remembering much of anything I ate at home. Granted, I was single then, working full time and freelance writing, but still, I surely ate something! I remember shopping for groceries, but there was never a plan for the food I purchased.

Some have asked me what appeals to me about cooking now, in my post-TBI life. I thought about this week as the answer became clear. While I was motivated to start cooking at home when I had a husband to fatten up and a young son to feed, the appeal for me is that is gratifying, yet forgiving. I lost a lot of my sense of purpose when I could no longer work or write, and it took a while to rebuild my identity. When I see my boys enjoying I meal I planned and prepared, I feel a sense of satisfaction and value. Cooking is forgiving in that even if the final result isn't exactly as planned, it's usually still edible. There's no failing grade or performance review scheduled. The stress is completely removed, which is good for my brain. And, on those days when I'm just not up for the kitchen, we have a pretty healthy stash of leftovers in the frig--so I can get that sense of satisfaction to boost my ego even when I haven't cooked that day. So again, no stress, no fail, only ego building. That is why I enjoy cooking.

Last week was a bit rough and we improvised quite a bit. My headache is on an upswing, but I'm battling killer fatigue. We've hit the leftovers hard. I'm giving myself an easy week this week as I continue to get my energy back.

Here's what's cooking at our house this week:

Slow Cooker Beef Stew. This is one of those recipes that you make and say, "Wow! I need to make this more often." Then you forget about it for awhile until you start craving it again. It's just so good. I follow this recipe pretty closely. I substitute whole wheat for regular flour, but that's usually about it. This time I had had some extra rutabega from the pasties I made a few weeks ago. I will forever more add rutabega to the mix. It was really, really good!

Chocolate Pretzels.* Since my son loves to help me in the kitchen, I decided that it's time to start a family tradition of baking together. I found this recipe on Megan's What's Megan Making blog. I don't know her personally, but found her through some Grand Rapids friends on Facebook. We had a lot of fun making these. My 2-year-old like mixing the sprinkles together the best.


Some Valentine's Day. I'm tired, the kiddo is nap-striking, and I pulled something in my hip and have been cuddling with the heating pad. Leftover stew for us tonight!

Elegant Orzo. I didn't get this made last week, so it got pushed to this week. Can't wait to try this variation I found.

Cinnamon Raisin Bread. Another week, another loaf of this bread.

Banana Bread. The bananas are going bad, so I'm going to make some banana bread again. I think this time I'll use carob chips, but I'll leave it as a game time decision.


Rosti.* Another challenge recipe. This could be described as either a potato pizza or glorified hash browns. Could be interesting.


Crockpot Chicken and Dumplings.* We are blessed to live so close to Amish country, so we have easy access to all sorts of bulk foods, and I learned, locally-grown hormone-free meats. This past week the hubs and I loaded up on 40 pounds of hormone-free chicken breast for $1.49/pound. Since the hormone-free chicken at the store is usually about $5/pound, I am very pleased. Look to see a lot more chicken on this blog.

Rustic Italian Tortellini Soup.* I found this recipe on Spark People. I've had great luck finding healthy, tasty recipes. Maybe it'll give me the kick in the pants I need to finish my weight loss goals.

* New to me recipe

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