Dinner at 4pm

12 Mar

I miss writing and taking pictures but I have been in some sort of funk.  It seems to be pretty common this time of year.  Spring is just around the corner, hinting, flirting even but taking its sweet time to really stick around.  The last few weeks have been kind of gloomy, we have battled a sore throat, a fever, and a general case of the blahs.

But then this morning’s weather forecast calls for near 70º days all week. Daffodils are blooming at the park and trees that were stark and skeletal a few days ago are suddenly cloaked in tiny pink blossoms.  I put away our heavy coats and organized my dresses by color — bright, bright colors.  I have started craving brighter, lighter food and I want to write about it.

Martin is currently working nights, a schedule that he started last week and continues for a few more. This happens a couple of times a year.  He has to be at work by 6:00 pm, so we eat dinner around 4:00. The early bird special for a month!  Dinner at 4 pm means that we  can have dinner together as a family.  Dinner at 4 pm means that it is still light outside so I can take decent pictures of the meal.  Dinner at 4 pm means that I have a few hours at night to write.  Dinner at 4 pm has led me to take on a bit of a challenge.  If winter was the season of soup for lunch, March will be the month of dinner.

A few things about my approach to dinner.  I rarely follow a recipe.  I grocery shop once or twice a week and try to buy things in season.  I mix and match ingredients depending on how much time I have, what needs to be used up and what I am craving.  I rarely spend more than 30 minutes in the kitchen, some things cook for longer, but don’t need my attention.   I try to re-purpose leftovers and I hate throwing food away.  Isabella eats what we eat.  I rarely make meals specifically for her, but will cook with her in mind.  I use the same techniques over and over.  You get the idea.  So this is what we ate for dinner tonight.

Boiled Potatoes with Butter and Parsley 

Wash 3 medium potatoes – peel if you like –  but it is just one more step.  Place in a medium pot and fill with water.  Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.  Drain, return the potatoes to the pot and add 2 tablespoons of butter, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/4 cup chopped parsley and season well with salt and pepper.  Toss gently.

Sautéed Greens with Tomatoes and Bacon

Slice one piece of bacon into 1/2 inch pieces. Render the bacon over medium heat in a sauté pan.  Once browned and crispy remove from the pan and reserve.  Drain all but one tablespoon of the bacon fat.  Add one, finely minced garlic clove and a large handful of grape tomatoes sliced in half.  Season with salt and red pepper flakes.  Cook until the tomatoes are soft and beginning to brown. Take the pan off of the heat and toss in 4 cups of tender greens – I used a mixture of baby spinach, arugula and baby swiss chard.  Toss until the greens have wilted.  Sprinkle with reserved bacon.

Pan Seared Lamb with Mustard

I used lamb shoulder chops, an inexpensive, flavorful cut of meat.  Season the lamb with salt and pepper, rub each side with mustard – I used whole grain Dijon – and sprinkle with fresh thyme.  Put a little olive oil in a skillet.  Cook the lamb over high heat until golden brown – about 4 minutes per side.  Remove the lamb from the pan and cover with aluminum foil. Add 1/2 cup of low sodium chicken stock to the pan that the lamb was cooked in and bring to a boil, scrape all of the brown bits on the bottom of the pan.  Taste – season with salt and pepper as needed.  Add fresh thyme and some chopped parsley and 1 tablespoon of butter.  Whisk to combine and pour over the lamb and potatoes.



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