I like the challenge of cooking on vacation. I like the different stove. The different equipment. The weird spices. The limited cupboard. I think just being in a different kitchen and a different place can spark your creativity.
Of course, after a day in the sun or a day touring the sites, sometimes you don’t want to cook. You just want something easy. Or for someone to put a plate in front of your hungry face.
We spend a lot of the summer weekends in Brewster on Cape Cod and we take plenty of advantage of all the local, fresh seafood to make some great meals, but sometimes vacation means taking a break from everything, including cooking dinners.
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!
With just a little bit of forethought, you can dress up fish tacos, or burgers, with only a little additional effort. Sort of like putting the occasional bow tie on your dog.
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.
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.
It worked out ok. This pie was quick, easy, unique and relatively healthy. It paired well with the side salads from the crisper drawer clean out.
Sometimes you just need bread fast.
I like to plan. I operate best when I know what is coming. Changes or unanticipated surprises make me grumpy. Like when meal planning goes awry and we end up having soup or stew and I don’t the time or dough ready for bread.
Soup or stew without bread is only half a meal. It all makes me grumpy!
First, of all any recipe that not only includes beer, but includes it prominently in the title definitely has my attention.
Second, this incredibly simple bread is easy to make and tastes like Thanksgiving.
Third, do you really need another reason to make this quick bread?