Starchy Goodness

This week I started making foods that don’t freeze well, but do keep well in refrigeration. Thankfully, it all went swimmingly.

First came the hush puppies:

Hush Puppies

I also had a little puff pastry left over (I had to cut the sheets down to the right size for the hot dogs), and some mashed potatoes, so I made a few potato puffs for our resident vegetarian:

Potato Puffs

Then the noodle kugel:

Noodle Kugel

Then the Yerushalmi kugel (and for once the sugar caramelized and mixed in with the noodles without giant lumps):

Yerushalmi Kugel

After that were the roasted red potatoes:

Roasted Red Potatoes

Barley noodles (yes, these were supposed to have mushrooms in them, but I forgot to get them, and since not everyone likes mushrooms I was willing to leave them out):

Barley Noodles

Rice with caramelized onions and cumin (my mother’s recipe):

Onion Rice

Rice with raisins, almonds, curry powder, and other spices (my own recipe, which I think I’ve improved on this year… but we’ll see what the reaction is):

Curried Rice with Raisins and Almonds

And a couple of salad dressings. One for the avocado/orange/pomegranate salad:

Orange Dressing

And one for the Terra Chip salad:

Terra Chip Dressing

On Sunday the big push begins, and I will have four days to finish making almost everything.  Here’s the schedule so far:

Sunday: Chicken, dressing, and vegetable prep for chicken salad; zucchini in tomato sauce; Moroccan carrot salad; potato kugels; acorn squash and cranberries; asparagus; spaghetti (although the meat sauce is already done); sauce for salmon cakes; dressing for Caesar salad.

Monday: Strawberry-watermelon gazpacho;  steak, vegetables, and dressing for Asian steak salad; salmon cakes; cauliflower; dressing for deli salad and strawberry/spinach salad; prepare fruits & vegetables for strawberry/spinach salad; clean and debug greens for Asian steak salad, strawberry/spinach salad, and deli salad.

Tuesday: Apple-cranberry crisp; green beans and mushrooms; pasta with sundried tomatoes; tuna-potato scallop; broccoli with shallots and walnuts; cook rice, chicken, and meat for and assemble sushi rolls; clean and debug greens for Terra chip salad and avocado/orange/pomegranate salad.

Wednesday: Make three kinds of stuffing for the turducken (potato-, bread-, and oatmeal-based); assemble turducken; hearts of palm salad and dressing; baked sweet potatoes; Grandma’s lukshen kugel; prepare ingredients for deli salad; Israeli salad.

While I may not update this blog on a daily basis over the next week, I hope to still post some kind of progress update; and I will certainly post pictures afterwards!

Wish me luck!

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Week #1: Cooking Plan

Well, I’m halfway into week 1 of cooking and have gotten… one thing done. But my excuse is that one of my kids didn’t start his first full day of school until today… and it’s much easier to get things done when I only have one child running around to tend to, who still naps.

But it occurred to me I haven’t actually posted yet about what it is that I’ll be making this week, so here goes:

  • Kishka-stuffed chicken
  • Cherry chicken puffs
  • Sauce for the cherry chicken puffs
  • Meat sauce for the spaghetti
  • Pot roast
  • Sweet & sour chicken
  • Squash kugel
  • Sweet potato pies
  • Sweet potato soup

I should probably explain a bit about my cooking plan methodology here (doesn’t that sound so academic?).  When cooking on a scale like this, efficiency is key — so I make all the food that uses chicken cutlets in the same week, for instance, over one or two days, so I can get everything at once (it’s cheaper that way, too). Or all the food that’s going to be frozen that uses soymilk, so I can use up most (or hopefully all) of the half-gallon soymilk container I purchased. (I know, I could drink it, but I’d much rather drink actual cow’s milk.) Or all the sweet potato recipes.  It’s a lot easier to prepare the food that way, too — I just keep peeling sweet potatoes until I’m done and then do what I like with them. Also, I generally look for recipes that look impressive but take no more than a half-hour to prepare when cooking on a normal scale (say, 4-8 people). My ideal preparation time is 15 minutes. Obviously, that time will increase when cooking for 20 people, but that’s precisely the point. I do have a few dishes that take significantly longer to make — the stuffed cabbage is one; the turducken will certainly be another — and I’d rather save my time to make those.  I don’t care how long a dish takes to cook — it could be in the oven for half a day and that’s fine; it’s the preparation time that really makes a difference this far in advance.

I also should probably note, since I’ll be posting some before-and-after pictures of various dishes, that I’m cooking for family, not foodies. I know the two are not necessarily mutually exclusive, but again — on this scale, efficiency is key. This especially makes a difference when selecting produce among foods that are more infested with bugs versus those that are not, or are easy to clean. Bug checking takes time, and until I have an arsenal of servants (or teenagers) to do it all for me, I’m going to go with the easy way out (and use the “wrong” kind of mushrooms, for instance), even if it means my food won’t quite make it into five-star cuisine territory.  I’m also not going to be concerned if not all portions of what I make are the same size, since I’m cooking for adults and children with very different appetites.

Anyway, expect a flurry of posts over the next three weeks as I get all the food that’s to be frozen done and stashed away. Are you getting hungry yet? 🙂