Monday, July 10, 2006

how i cook

So here's what transpired Saturday night:

Steve: What should we do for dinner?

Me: We have some chicken we need to use up.

Steve: I can dice it up for you. Should we stir-fry it with some of those [frozen organic] vegetables?

Me: Sure. [Checks cupboard.] Shoot, I was in the mood to use coconut milk, but we're out. Hey, we do have this jar of Alfredo sauce. Could we do some sort of chicken Alfredo?

Steve: What about the vegetables?

Me: Well, maybe we could still sauté the veggies with the chicken and mix in the Alfredo sauce and have a really chunky sauce and have it with fettucini noodles. We still have half a box of those.

Steve: Uh ... OK.

[We start to work on it. Steve empties the jar of Alfredo sauce into the pan with the chicken and vegetables.]

Me: I don't think this is enough sauce. I wonder if we have any more. [Checks cupboard again.] Hey, check this out. It's a jar of sun-dried tomato pesto. It's been here for ages. I think it might have been a wedding shower gift?! Should I dump it in?

Steve: Uh ... I guess you could.

Me: [Sniffing] Do you think it's still good? It's probably three years old, at least.

Steve: [Sniffs] I don't smell anything wierd. It's probably OK.

[I dump in the jar, and Steve stirs it all in. The sauce is now a very light orange.]

Me: Maybe this could use some oregano. [Shakes some in] And here's a jar of Italian herbs ...

Steve: This smells pretty good!

[The noodles finish cooking, so we drain them, fill up our plates and sit down to eat.]

The verdict: Fantastico! We could not have come up with a better summer pasta dish (in my humble opinion!) if I'd scoured a dozen cookbooks.

More often than not, this is how meals often come together in our kitchen — especially on those days when I'm too tired to go shopping with a long, complicated grocery list. (I should mention that Steve, while perfectly willing to help out, is not a big cook.) Occasionally, I'll flip open my copy of How to Cook Everything to brush up on something basic, like the best way to sauté pork chops. Then I'll figure out what's in the cupboard, what's in the refrigerator, and what might go together decently. The results are hit or miss, but more often than not, they're pretty good. Sometimes surprisingly so! In those cases, I try to jot down what I did so I can duplicate it someday.

That's what I plan to do with this one. I just wonder if it has an actual name — if I could order it in a restaurant or something. And where does a person find a good jar of sun-dried tomato pesto? I suppose I could make it myself ... but knowing me, I'm a lot more likely to use it if I find it sitting unopened in the cupboard some lazy Saturday afternoon.


Cynthia said...

Oh, Emilie, I love this!!!!
There have been too many times when I'm hungry, but have no idea what I want to eat or cook and I end up dumping jars of stuff together.
Unlike you though, I've had a bunch and I do mean a bunch of misses. (just the thought of some of them is making me ill....)
Broccoli soup is good... Green bean soup is not. I won't begin to tell you what my version of cabbage soup tasted like. Though my smothered, fried cabbage was amazing very tasty. Who knew.
I also have used "substitute" items in some recipes and some of them have turned out great. By the time I've finished, it's not the same thing as the recipe at all, but darn tasty.
Emilie, I love that yours turned out great. A great cook and a great recipe always starts with... "I wonder...."

Laura said...

My tummy just grumbled reading your post. ;)

Ellen said...

Hey! Sue and I got that jar of sun-dried tomato pesto for your wedding shower!! At least I think it was your shower. Sue, do you remember?? Anyway, we got it with some crackers and a table setting for two at a little boutique in southeast Portland neighborhood (Sellwood). We had the idea that you and Steve would sit by a sunny window at your table decorated with our table setting, noshing on the crackers and pesto (which was meant to be a spead).
Well, I am glad you both finally used it and the result was good!

Emilie said...

Hmm ... smothered, fried cabbage actually sounds kind of good, Cynthia!

Sue and Ellen, yes, the pesto was a gift from you - I remember now! I have picked it up from time to time, thinking, what yummy meal could I make with this? I guess it was just time!

Susanne said...

Ellen, you have a great memory! Yes, I now remember getting those sundried tomatoes when we bought the placemats!

Em, I'm glad the meal was a success! Sounds like it more than satisfied your pregnant pallot (sp?).