On the Table

Dinner: April 28, 2010

I had higher hopes for cooking and blogging this week, but it became clear to me on Tuesday that what I had hoped was a raging case of seasonal allergies was actually the nasty bug that has been circulating at my office. I’ve gone through countless boxes of tissue and can barely smell or taste a thing, so I was grateful that Mike had already offered to make another one of his delicious pizzas last night.

If you’re new to the site it may seem like we eat a heck of a lot of pizza, mac & cheese, roast chicken, and the like, and I guess we do – or at least we have done so, of late – but I have to remind myself that at least we’re cooking real food at home most nights of the week. Despite illness or busy schedules, despite life throwing curveballs of all sorts, our meals have come to matter to us enough that the farmers’ market visit is a weekly (or more often, in summer) ritual, and that we’re more interested in spending money on sourcing out the best food we can buy than in owning a car, in taking vacations, in having new, shiny *stuff*.

Our friend Anita wrote a great post today in response to the Michael Ruhlman kerfuffle, and I think I’m going to play along with her. As Anita writes, “[w]e (by which I mean all of us who care about food, and health, and community) need to teach people to make good food in whatever time they have available, not heap scorn on those who think that 30-Minute Meals are the answer. I can make dinner — organic, local, balanced food — in 15 minutes if pressed. It may not be pretty, but it’s real and it’s delicious.” I think this will be a great opportunity to share and learn, and I look forward to seeing what results.

12 thoughts on “On the Table

  1. Susan B. says:

    That pizza looks wonderful.

    And I support you and Michael and Anita and all the other home cooks out there on the cooking of real food!

  2. I have the same bug. Meh.

    I read her post- it’s good. I think that the reconnection of many people with the source of their food is going to be a long process, and pleasure needs to be the principal motivating force (as opposed to guilt or health). Fitting it in becomes moot when it’s part of the routine. Canceling the cable is the best place to start, IMO.

  3. Rebecca says:

    Exactly. I rarely get home from work before 7:30 and can have a lovely meal on my plate in 30 minutes most nights. I actually once timed myself and got a dinner of smashed potatoes, sauteed kale and salmon on the table in 25 minutes. I often think that when people say they don’t have time to cook, it’s that they are too tired to cook–a big difference.

    I will need to follow Anita’s experiment.

    Thanks again for inspiration.

  4. That pizza, as always, looks divine. It’s hard to think of it as a fall-back option.

    Thank you for the shout-out about the Dinner on a Deadline project — I’m excited you and Mike will be playing along. :) I started brainstorming on the “homework assignments” last night, with different tasks for people who don’t plan ahead and people like you guys who do. I think it’s going to be a fun summer!

    ps to Peter: I agree — we cancelled our cable (and used the money to hire a house-cleaner) 4 years ago and we never looked back. It’s awesome. And I do think that you’re right about pleasure as a motivator. Hopefully if we make the process easier and more automatic, we can make space for people to feel less harried and enjoy cooking more. Speaking from experience, even avid cooks lose their cooking mojo when it starts to feel like drudgery.

  5. JAMIE says:

    Why are you and Mike not teaching classes? Taking groups around the farmer’s markets to shop. Give them recipe handouts to use for what they purchase. There is such a need for these surfaces. I take cooking classes here in KY. They are private and in small groups. I would love to have someone with you viewpoint to teach me. Your interests can be a source of income as well.
    Love your blog.

  6. Yes, how hard can it be to create a simple and lovely meal quickly? We fall back on pasta, olive oil+garlic+chilis, green vegetable of the season frequently. A few choice things in the freezer and a well stocked pantry and dinner is up in 20 mins. I think it’s more the shopping and the thinking that people find daunting. But, if you love to eat, that is just part of every day life, no?

  7. Amanda, I love your cooking style and like you, I cook at home almost every night.

    Michael’s comments really interested me because I’ve been employed developing “quick cooking” recipes for my local newspaper for almost 12 years and there have been times that the shortcuts I took to develop quick recipes were ridiculous now that I look back on them (like using prepared au gratin potato mix to prepare corn chowder…urgh!). I started moving away from using convenience products to decrease meal prep time in the recipes a while back. There are so many good things that can be made simply and quickly. I’m re-envisioning my role and am looking forward to teaching the art of well prepared meals made with simple, fresh ingredients.

    Sorry you’re sick! I’ve had the crud for the past week myself. Yuk! Take care!

  8. mmmmm, Jen, that looks *so* good. sorry to hear youve been feeling poorly, hope you get better soon. my aunt has similar allergies and she curses the flowers every time the pollen swirls all over the place! x shayma

  9. Followed the dough recipe last night … a-maz-ing! The best pizza dough we’ve made in a while. I usually like to knead the dough but used the KitchenAid and definitely appreciated the easy cleanup. Also—parchment paper on the pizza stone? Genius!

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