Refrigerator Diaries Day 1

After the farmer's market, a very full fridge

After the farmer's market, a very full fridge

We completely stuffed the refrigerator after our weekend morning grocery circuit–the farmer’s market and Trader Joe’s. It’s so full I wonder whether we will ever see the back of the fridge again.

Family meals can be an iffy proposition especially when you take your cues from the market with no thought to how the individual ingredients add up. And when your family, like most and this one included, moves in at least 4 directions at once. There are 4 of us when the boys, 18 and 14, are in residence. Now that I’ve added a twice-weekly evening class, we seem to be rarely together for meals. Often, it seems to me, that what dictates meal planning in this house is what needs to be used up.

But I am a stalwart (stubborn?) believer that if it is not in the refrigerator, you can’t cook it. And with help from the freezer and pantry, it is possible to turn out a variety of healthy meals pretty quickly. So let’s see what happens as the week goes by.

Meals for the day

Breakfast: rounds of cereal, toast and jam, and milk for the boys and toast with the remaining tofutti cream cheese and jam for me. Geff doesn’t usually eat in the morning, instead waiting to eat until he is fully awake.

A quick lunch--yam with yogurt and black bean hot sauce plus a little cilantro and sliced scallions

A quick lunch--yam with yogurt and black bean hot sauce plus a little cilantro and sliced scallions

For lunch, the 18-year-old and I had one of my favorite meals, potatoes with yogurt and black bean hot sauce. If you microwave the potatoes, it’s a very quick meal. It’s particularly good with garnet yams or sweet potatoes and I snagged the last of these while he had 2 red skinned potatoes.  His father would consider our meal weird and probably not eat it and certainly never think to make it. But he was out shoe shopping with the younger boy and so we were free to indulge our maybe off-the-beaten-path appetites and found our lunch to be colorful, flavorful, and satisfying.

I made fig bars in the afternoon with figs my friend Ann and I had foraged in Davis in the fall, cooked, and then frozen. And then baked a 100% whole wheat bread with cracked wheat. After which I decided I wanted to play with the porcini powder I’d bought at mushroom camp. That meant a batch of porcini fettucini nests porcini pasta. The dog, Kit, smelled the meaty aroma of the porcini and took root in the kitchen. At one point he took matters into his own–paws, I’d guess you’d say–and leapt up to snap at the end of the fettucini that I was dangling from my hand. I swear I was not teasing the dog!

For dinner we had a grilled bavette steak, the pasta with a sauce of sauteed green garlic and shiitake mushrooms we’d bought the week before. I forgot and had bought more so we had to use the old ones. A salad of assorted lettuces, watermelon radish, and thinly sliced spring torpedo onion followed, and then the fig bars with vanilla ice cream.

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I made the couscous salad for my family and they loved it! It was very gratifying for me. I realize one of the reasons I like that recipe is that it’s basic with room to adapt, ie use other vegetables, etc. So I get to be creative.

-Suzanne Harris

About Penni

Over 30 years as a food and wine professional, writer, and editor.

Cookbook author including:
'The Tra Vigne Cookbook' for Michael Chiarello,
'The Basque Kitchen' for Gerald Hirigoyen
and 'BurgerBar' for Hubert Keller.

Contact Penni Wisner