Week 25: Eating with your Eyes

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One of few photo worthy dishes. And even so it looked way better in person.  

Food pictures are something I have so much trouble with as you all may have gathered. I forget 90% of the time and of the times I remember I’ve either already dug into my meal or it isn’t a very photogenic dish. Perfectly tasty, but not super appealing if you aren’t sitting there with us. Travis and I used to make a game of comparing our dishes to the pictures in the magazines. Sometimes we were close-ish and other times it looked like we’d made a completely different dish. The good news is that it didn’t bother us a wink either way though sometimes it did truly amaze us. How could we have (mostly) followed the same recipe and gotten a dish that looks nothing like theirs? I know presentation is so important since you eat with your eyes first but as a home cook I don’t think a lot about how a meal will look until we are sitting down to eat it. A meal with fish, couscous and yellow squash may be a good meal on paper with three food groups and some good recipes but when it all goes together on a plate it is white on brown on yellow. Not at all amazing to look at. But thankfully there are good smells, my knowledge of what is in each dish having prepared them myself, and a general enthusiasm for food that gets me excited about every meal I eat. But it makes me think a lot about Stella who is still learning about food, flavors, textures and tastes. Appearance of food and a meal is so much more important to her than it is to Travis or me. Making a plate that is colorful, appealing and nutritious for her as well as us is a challenge. Loving to cook and eat I have a huge fear of having a child who doesn’t love food or is really picky beyond her toddler years. Since Stella is not in school 100% of her food choices and habits, good or bad, come from us. It certainly feels like a big responsibility but I guess we will just add it to the list along with keeping a tiny human safe and alive. As a part of that big goal I’m beginning to think Stella should wear a helmet more often than not…

p.s. This post was late because Travis was an idiot (his words) and cut the internet wire coming into our house. Meal Plan & Grocery List

Monday: Maple-Spiced Apples & Red Cabbage with Pork Chops and Quinoa with Dried Fruit

  • Maple is a recurring theme this week in the menu, so brace yourself.
  • We had more than a head of red cabbage so this seemed like a nice fall dish. I cooked the cabbage for longer than the recipe called for to make it extra tender. The flavor wasn’t wowing me so I added some raisins and a little caraway seed and served it mixed with the quinoa.

Tuesday: Tofu Curry with Lemongrass & Green Beans and Brown Rice Noodles

  • Before I cut the tofu lengthwise I cut it in half widthwise so I would end up with 8 tofu squares instead of 4. I didn’t want too thick of a “raw” tofu bite so I opted for more browning.
  • Otherwise I followed the recipe for the most part. I used a ½ cup of coconut milk and left out the water for a more flavorful sauce.

Wednesday: Squash & Red Lentil Curry with Green Salad

  • This was a very tasty fall dish. Travis is not wild about lentils and even he thought it was good!
  • I bought a whole butternut squash and cut it myself, but otherwise followed the recipe fully. I definitely had more than 20 oz. but that was not a problem.

Thursday: Maple Ginger Roasted Salmon, Sautéed Kale with Apple Cider Vinegar and Red Rice

  • I had never cooked red rice before but it ended up being a great side for the salmon. It’s a whole grain with a pretty nutty flavor and it only takes 35 minutes unlike brown rice. I’m definitely a fan.
  • Even if you don’t have enough time to marinate the salmon, since you reduce the sauce and serve it with the dish there is ample flavor.
  • I had some kale that was a bit tough and bitter, more so than usual, so I sautéed it with an onion for quite a while adding cider vinegar and some apple cider we had to keep it from drying out. I added some golden raisins at the end and it ended up being delicious.

Friday: Gnocchi with Pumpkin Cream Sauce and Green Salad with Beets & Pear

  • I LOVE pumpkin and will try to eat it as much as possible between now and Thanksgiving, so watch out.
  • Aside from leaving out the mushrooms and forgetting to put in the sage that I bought, I followed the recipe. So next week I will have to find a way to use up the sage instead.
  • Stella did her Italian heritage proud and ate the gnocchi too which was a pleasant surprise.

Bonus Weekend Recipe: Eggplant Involtini

This one doesn’t take too long but it may not quite be an easy weeknight meal. Nonetheless I love it and think it is delicious. Basically you roast the eggplant slices, stuff them with a cheese mixture, and finish them off in a tomato sauce. We served it on spaghetti.

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