Some days the pizza craving comes on strong and fast. Too fast to think ahead and have dough prepped. Too strong to put off another day. You need the pizza and you need it tonight. If you find yourself suffering from pizza fever, for the love of god, don’t settle for mediocre (or worse) takeout pizza. Making pizza at home isn’t a big undertaking and the results (maybe with a little practice, but not much) are far, far superior to your average suburban pizza shop.
Dinners you know and trust. Everyone has them. They are time-tested and family-approved. The recipes or meals that you can pencil in on the weekly plan or pickup the ingredients without thinking while strolling the aisles during the weekly shopping and you know people will eat, or at least not grumble out too much when placed on the table.
For us, quick fish dinners, tacos or burgers, rank high in our easy, repeat dinner rotation. It’s something that I know I can get on the table quickly, will be nutritious and filling, and the girls won’t complain. Mostly because we’ve given up on Ally for the moment, she gets beans and rice, but still easy!
My plan to work through a lot of the recipes in Shalane Flanagan’s Run Fast. Eat Slow. during marathon training last fall never happened because I was injured before I even started the plan. Turns out I might never run a marathon again with the arthritis in my knee. It took awhile but I’ve come to grips with that and I’m finding a happy medium with running in my life again.
I also cracked open that cookbook again and was reminded, runner or not, there are some really good and healthy recipes in here. I especially like their view on using fats in cooking. Looking at the big bag of sweet potatoes I needed to use, I tried the wild salmon sweet potato cakes recipe for a weeknight protein topper on a big salad.
They say you can judge a really good restaurant by how well it does a really simple dish. A simple dish gives the cook no room to hide. If the restaurant can do a really good roast chicken or pizza margherita than you know you are probably in good hands. Maybe we can say the same thing about cookbooks? If they can teach an amateur to make something simple or make it look simple than you have found yourself a good cookbook.
I feel that way about Ken Forkish’s Flour Water Salt Yeast. This is the cookbook I find myself reaching for most when I want a foolproof loaf ready for tonight’s or the next night’s (when I have my act together) dinner. These are not fancy or high concept breads, just simple, tasty, every day basics. If you can understand the concepts and follow the instructions for these loaves, you will not only make great bread but also have no problem with those fancy breads in other cookbooks.
We are getting closer but not yet to the point where all four of us eat the same dinner. The girls still have foods that they refuse or simply don’t like to eat. So, in 2017 I favored quick and easy recipes that hit one of three things: the girls can help, the girls will eat, or I can get it on the table quickly.
Weeknight pizza is not typically in the cards at our house. Too many other moving parts: piano practice, homework, day care pick up. The pizza making is usually reserved for Friday or Saturday given the number of pies and the amount of time it typically takes me.
However, we are hosting Christmas dinner this year and, before we shop this weekend, we needed to clear out some space in the fridge and freezer. After I pulled out all the half-eaten jars, containers and bags, the only thing I could think of was put it on some dough, cover it all in cheese and bake it till bubbly.
On the cookie spectrum, I am firmly in the chewy camp. I don’t mind a little crispness on the edge, but give me 85% soft, gooey and chewy and I am a happy man. My favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, maybe just plain my favorite cookie recipe, is Alton Brown’s The Chewy. But I don’t let those personal preferences limit my baking.
I aim to please the people, so when Michelle needed something to bring to a neighborhood ornament swap, I went for this simple cookie brittle. It’s completely on the opposite site of the cookie spectrum from my taste, but it’s simple to make, a little different than the norm and tastes really good, even to a chewy guy. I support that!