Thursday, March 10, 2011

Cooking Day

     I'm cooking today.  Knowing our family and the amount of food that cycles through our kitchen, that may seem like a rhetorical statement. I have had the kids help in the kitchen since they were little because I know it's important for them to be able to navigate in the kitchen; to be equipped to prepare meals, bake and clean up. In January, at the kid's request, they began to take turns cooking our main meal, dinner, when we all sit down together.  The block letter changes each day to indicate who is cooking. Today it's my turn.

     In the past, we've done this occasionally, and now, since January, I have most afternoons to work at my desk writing and reading or studying. Other than consultation questions: "Where is...What is...How do I..?" I can stay at my desk until dinner is called. Wow! When I make up the weekly menu and the grocery list, I ask if there is a particular meal they want to fix.  Other than that, I plan out seven or eight dinners, buy the ingredients, and they pick which one they want to cook on their day. Yes, we have had some, let's say, interesting versions of a recipe. But nothing inedible. They have done a great job with the meals, and have learned valuable lessons along the way.
     Every sixth day, it's my turn to cook.  Well, on the fifth, too, when it's our youngest one's turn - he needs a good bit of help (he's 11). I usually pick a more complicated meal, one that involves lots of steps, saving the simpler meals for the kids.  My choice today required starting early.  Put a big pot of beans on to boil, then let them sit for an hour, drain and simmer another hour.  Made a big mess on the stovetop.

     Drain the beans, transfer some to the crock pot, and some to freezer bags for another time.  Clean the pot, put rice on to cook.  Mix the ingredients in the crock pot to make beans for burritos: tomatoes, tomato sauce, chopped green chiles, grated carrot, chili powder, cumin, red pepper flakes, onion and garlic.
     Now for the whole wheat rolls.  Mix the liquid ingredients into the mixer, add the flour, let it sponge, then knead in the rest of the flour (or I should say, let the machine knead it.)  Let it rise an hour, then shape the rolls.

      The cooked rice becomes Southwestern Rice Salad to go with the bean burritos.
2 cups cooked brown rice, 1 can (15oz) black beans, rinsed, 2 cups frozen corn, 1 red bell pepper chopped, 1 small onion chopped, 1/4 cup white wine vinegar, 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves (I didn't have these), 1 jalapeno chili chopped or red pepper flakes, 1 tsp chili powder.  Combine all ingredients, cover, refrigerate at least an hour to blend flavors. 6 - 8 servings, 162 calories for 1/2 cup (from
      I spent a lot of time in the kitchen today, but it was pleasant, especially in the afternoon when the sun came in through the curtains casting lacy shadows on to the sink, counters and cabinets.  The messes look much more dignified, redeemed by the lace impressions.

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