Sunday, August 23, 2009

One-Pot Wonder

My ideal family meal is one that includes all the food groups and fits in one pot. I am a fan of the casserole, the stew, the soup, the Crock Pot Creation. All my creative energy focuses on one dish; there's no need to compartmentalize; as far as setting the table goes, simple: it's either bowl-and-spoon or plate-and-fork. One-stop slop.

Last night's dinner fit the bill, and I write about it here not because it so much represents the best of the one-pot repertoire, but the among the most haphazard in terms of what I scavenged to throw in there.

We subscribe to an organic farm's biweekly veggie delivery. The original months-long subscription was a gift from my aunt after the birth of our first daughter--a thoughtful, rather cutting-edge meal/gift at the time. We let it run its course and lapse; we renewed it last year when the farm called with a rational plea: Help us survive in these tough economic times.

I've enjoyed the culinary challenge posed by the random assortment of food arriving every other Thursday. We never know what's going to be in our box. And sometimes, even after it arrives, we don't know what is in the box. I've learned to recognize swiss chard, bok choy, thyme, fennel, starfruit, kumquats, and purple green beans when they're bundled and unlabeled on our doorstep. Right now we've got a bag of tomatilloes whose fate I'm pondering. They narrowly survived last night's Amalgam Stew.

Most of my cooking begins with an anchor ingredient--the protagonist of the Dinner Drama. Last night it was a bag of green lentils. I sauteed an onion and garlic in some olive oil in the pot, and then foraged in the fridge for what else could boil up nicely with the lentils. I chopped up some nearly compostable carrots, beets who were waiting to be properly roasted, summer squash and kale. I poured in a big can of peeled chopped tomatoes, three cups of water, a tablespoon each of vegetable bouillon and curry powder, and simmered our summer stew.

Eldest daughter's sniffer sensed something on the stove, and she pulled up a chair to investigate.

"Where's the meat, Mom?" asked our little hard-core carnivore.

I satisfied her by adding some chicken-apple sausage.

We ate outside, in homemade ceramic bowls, with optional dollops of sour cream on top.

And dinner even earned that elusive seal of approval from our discerning daughters, with a request for more: "This time a super meaty scoop, please!"


me said...

I'm drooling, not sure if it's for the food or the reaction from your picky one. ;)

Jared and Kate said...

You are way better at kitchen "survivor" than I am. I have no creativity in the kitchen--if there isn't a recipe, I can't make it. :-) I need to come get lessons from you!

Betsy Noel said...

Hahaha, I love that little carnivore. I remember when she only ate meat and chocolate nilk.

Mama Deb said...

I love those (rare) moments of cooking magic! Sounds yummy!