We celebrated our anniversary this weekend with a stay at a four star hotel in downtown Denver. It is a very old building with excellent service and two four star restaurants and lush surroundings. We were standing in the foyer the other night looking at one of the menus. A gentleman sat to our right. He had passed us walking down the street earlier and now sat near us. Doug whispers (probably a bit too loud), “Don’t you think that guy looks like a mix of Clay Aiken and Martin Short?” He looked right at us. I said, “No…maybe a little like Martin Short.” Of course it turned out that it was Martin Short! The weekend was accentuated by fancy restaurants with dime sized danishes for seven dollars, two ravioli for fifteen (a steal, I am sure), and very loud traffic, screaming homeless people, giggling drunk girls, and ongoing construction through paper-thin windows. We did enjoy all the mouth-watering food, never having to open a door, delicious twelve foot windows to look out while sipping coffee and three days of doing nothing or whatever we pleased. A fabulous weekend all together. I type this in our beautiful hotel room as we prepare to go back to the country. Back to peace and quiet. I will have to start opening my own doors though once I get back. I could be waiting on the porch for a long time.
After weeks of celebrations and eating out and spending near fortunes (all worth it for fabulous food and company) it is time to get back to being a proper farmgirl. And proper farmgirls meal plan. Not meal plan like when I was first out on my own when it was imperative to do so because I was so broke. Monday- Mac and Cheese, Tuesday- Hamburger Helper, Wednesday- Ramen Noodles. Lord, how did we ever survive our twenties on meals like that?! Now we meal plan because of health, finances, and because we desire good food! No matter how good the food was at Cru or Kevin Taylor, it was probably genetically modified, not organic, and who knows where it came from. I like to know what I am putting on the table! Fresh, organic, grew it myself maybe (in the years to come, that will increase dramatically), homemade. I love to eat like I am in a four star restaurant and I think for a hundred and twenty dollars I could have put on a better feast! Infused oils, fine salts, fresh herbs, brightly colored produce, and homestyle cooking make life very nice indeed. Add to that a glass of great wine (for less than twenty-five dollars a glass) and you are in business!
However, after a long day of cleaning house, tending to business, taking care of animals, running errands, and a short attention span, if I don’t have a menu planned out, forget it…we’ll be eating Chinese food. And I don’t really like Chinese food. I would much rather have my own cooking, I just need a bit of preparation. I tried meal planning a week of meals in advance. Beautiful, but by day eight if we didn’t get to the store we were out to eat. I tried meal planning for three weeks. Lost interest after two weeks. So, two weeks of meals seems to be the magic number. I have to drive to town to the health food store to obtain ingredients so every two weeks works for me.
I have begun checking out two library cookbooks each week and making my meals from there. Mind you, I never follow recipes. I can’t. Too many variations and ways to make it better! But I get fabulous ideas and general guidelines and each week is a new theme or book. Cowboy cooking and slow cookers this week. One pot meals and fresh Tex-Mex next plus plenty of personal inspiration. Little House on the Prairie cookbook and Farmer’s Market Cooking the next. I am determined for the next several weeks (okay, except the night we go to Evergreen for Doug’s birthday with our dear friends, Monte and Erik, for a ‘could die of happiness, the food is so freakin’ good’ meal) to make and stick to meal plans, eating at home every single night of the week, plus lunches and breakfasts at the table as well! We will feel better, will not be overly full, will have lots of extra money to put into the homestead fund, dinner will always be available to children passing through or drop-in friends, and evenings at home are marvelous and fine.
Remember when you are meal planning to take some things into consideration: If you need to pack a lunch or dinner, make it picnic food. If you know you will have a terribly busy day, plan for the slow cooker. Have a nice mix of leisurely dinners like homemade pasta, and quick dinners like potato soup so that you are prepared. Have plenty of ideas and ingredients to make impromptu dinners if you couldn’t get to the store after two weeks. Eat plenty of colors even in the winter. Kale, cabbage, carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, salads, squash, beets…beans of all sorts and lots of garlic. Soup is fast and easy! Leftovers are your friends for lunches. Above all, enjoy the sensory and tactile experience of foods. Enjoy the process of making it, serving it, eating it whether with others or alone. Perfect the art of making sauce. Sauce makes everything special. Candlelight and good music a must!