What's Cooking

menu planning, week of May 24th

These last few weeks of school have felt more more challenging than the entire year we spent in hybrid mode, and just getting through the last few weeks of the school year will require digging deep if retaining my sanity is at all a priority. Back to school full-time also meant back to driving the kids to the school which turns my work day upside down, leaving me catching up well past 8:00pm most nights. We also have some intense family issues going on. I don’t want to get into it all right now but suffice to say it’s adding pressure on an already weak dam.

I’m either tired, cranky or feeling overwhelmed, or a combination of all three, most days. I’m not sure who deserves an award—me for getting through each day or my kids for living through it with me each day. Maybe we all deserve one?

This all adds another layer for me to consider as I plan out meals for the week. I feel good about having gotten better control of our meals. The first few months of the pandemic was all about home cooking, then came the fatigue of cooking every meal which lead to a lot, I mean a lot, of convenience foods. A healthy balance is important, so I’ve no real issue with a few easy to heat things in the freezer but we leaned hard into anything that didn’t require real cooking, and ultimately none of our bodies enjoyed it.

That’s where meal planning came into play. In the past I’d always looked at it as just another chore. Using meal planning as a way to explore my collection of cookbooks and try new dishes was the key to it being something I actually love doing now. Even after a Sunday morning of cleaning, and a stack of freelance work waiting for me, I found myself eager to sit down and take control of the cooking week ahead.

Before I get into this week’s menu, I wanted to mention how much I loved the crispy tofu & cilantro balls, pictured above, from To Asia, With Love (TAWL). They were on our menu the week of May 3rd, before I started keeping a record of my weekly menus here (you can find older ones in my Instagram highlights). I made some changes to Hetty McKinnon’s recipe, one major tweak being no cilantro. I’d forgotten to buy it at the grocery store, and subbed in parsley—still amazing. I’m really loving Hetty’s book, so it’s no surprise another recipe from TAWL is featured on our menu this week.

Tuesday is pretty much meetings from noon until 5pm so I needed something with little prep or that could be prepped ahead. Falafel fit the bill perfectly. My plan is to start the prep today by putting up a pot of chickpeas for hummus Tuesday and Friday’s soup, and also soak a bowl of chickpeas overnight so I can prep the falafel tomorrow after work, and then just fry them up on Tuesday evening.

I think for the most part, the kids will enjoy this week’s meals. The only outlier is Friday night for Shabbat. Neither of the kids are soup fans, so in a way it makes sense to serve it on Shabbat, often the only night we sit down at the table lately. There’s more of a chance they’ll at least taste the soup, and maybe even find out they like it.

Planning this week reminded me how much I miss cooking for Mikey. He was a pure joy to cook for, and while he had his favorites as we all do, he ate anything, or was at least willing to try everything at least once. I don’t think there was a food group off limits to him. I wish he could see how I’ve grown as a cook these last almost 10 years since he’s been gone.

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Menu, week of May 24th

Monday - Tofu & veggie fried rice (using this base recipe & adding some of tofu using this recipe) ***Prep falafel & make hummus.

Tuesday - Falafel, hummus & salad (recipes here and here)

Wednesday - Sesame rice noodles with everything oil & charred broccoli (TAWL p. 87)

Thursday - Janna sleepover with kids, takeout or leave pizza ingredients

Friday - Shabbat, challah with pasta & chickpea summer soup (Domenica Marchetti’s The Glorious Pasta of Italy p. 86)Essentials: buckwheat banana bread (recipe is here). 

Essentials & Just for Fun: 

  • Edna Lewis’ White Pound Cake (made a scaled down version recently and loved it)

  • Pot of chickpeas

  • Hetty’s everything oil (TAWL p. 25)

  • Vegetable Broth for Friday’s soup (you could use this chicken broth instead or make this homemade vegetable broth)