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Meal planning, Winter Edition

   I confess to being a "foodie". I enjoy cooking and food shopping and restaurants. Most of all I enjoy eating great food no matter who prepares it. There are those who eat out most meals; others for which their meals are included in their living situations. But I suspect most of us eat the majority of our meals at home. This of course entails planning meals as well as shopping for ingredients. Limiting factors include time constraints, budget, allergies, choices such as vegetarianism or meat eating, proximity to appropriate stores and transportation.
   Using Google I found that there are 36,536 grocery stores in the U S. The same search brought up the unfortunate statistic that there are 51,438 gun retailers. I remember a story about Khrushchev when he made a visit to an American grocery store in 1959; I often think of it when shopping at our modest local store.

Nikita Khrushchev knew it was over when for just 10 minutes he visited the Quality Foods supermarket in San Francisco on Sept. 21, 1959.
At home the Soviet Premier and First Secretary of the Communist Party well knew Muscovites were doing what they always did, getting in long lines for what little was available.

Khrushchev’s Quality Foods visit is often remembered for “the bedlam” it created as the Russian leader saw the abundance of a typical American supermarket.  He lifted up a bag of apples and inquired about the price.  As he walked the aisles, he asked more questions and handled more products, expressing interest in butter, milk and other dairy items.

  He later reportedly claimed it was set up for his visit, a sort of Potemkin village, because there couldn't possibly be that much food available to the average housewife.

   With the availability of food choices including stores, farmer's markets, gardens, and even neighbor's gardens, how does one plan meals? Of course a frightening number of Americans have little or no choice but that issue is not the subject of this post and is discussed frequently on the front page and comments here.

   Our method is to follow the food ads in the local paper. These in turn follow (often) the seasonal availability of vegetables and the excess production of some meats and fish. We grow and preserve a lot of food so fresh is available in season and in the freezer during the off season. We also try to avoid foodstuffs that are shipped long distances. A few meals are routine, such as a Costco chicken every two weeks, which becomes sandwiches and soup in the following days, and a meatloaf at about the same frequency. I get ideas from the local paper and from Bon Appetit but all too often i don't have all the ingredients at hand so, well, maybe later.
   If one lives close to markets one can have the luxury (to me) of shopping for your needs every day; I have been surprised by the number of people I know who do just this. So if you think of a meal you'd like you can get it that very day.

   And if you run out of ideas and live closer to town than I do, there's always the option of ordering a pizza to be be delivered. I have always lived so far from any town that. believe it or not, I have never done this.

   So I'd be interested to hear how others plan their meals. I know several people, among them a relative, who have a weekly schedule of a different meal each day of the week, every week the same. Stability for sure; if it's Thursday it's hamburger and if it's hamburger it's Thursday.

   Speaking of Bon Appetit, I found an article there in which all the editors agreed, a simple method for cooking steak that's soooo good:

First, make clarified butter, which is really easy. Heat butter in a small pan till it starts to boil, lower heat and scrape off the white froth until it's clear yellow. Slice a couple of garlic cloves (not crushed) and drop them in the warm butter.

Meanwhile cook or BBQ flank or skirt steak, which you've rubbed with salt and pepper for about 3 minutes per side, internal temp 120. Important: let it rest for a few minutes. Slice cross grain as thin as possible. Serve after pouring the butter (sans garlic slices) over the steak.


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