What’s Cooking: Meal Plan for the Week of January 22

I’m totally on a Martha kick, which is funny since I don’t always love her recipes.  But the Everyday Food recipes are working out pretty good.  I just signed up for the magazine again.

Friday: Mustard-glazed cod / vegetable saute

Saturday: Filet (from Trader Joe’s — it’s frozen) / steamed spinach / red bliss potatoes (probably roasted)

Sunday: Ginger chicken with peaches and onions / rice / broccoli

Monday: Curried Rice with Shrimp with steamed green beans

Tuesday: Lentil soup

Wednesday: Potluck night (meaning leftovers from earlier in the week or something out of the freezer)

Thursday: Tomato and olive penne

Here’s the round up of last week’s plan …

Friday: Mustard-glazed flounder, sauteed arugula, steamed cauliflower. (This was awesome.  So good I’m making it again this week.)

Saturday: Pasta with meat sauce (frozen), salad and bread.

Sunday: Roast chicken, potatoes, green beans

Monday: Broccoli with tortellini (This one is a reliable standby.  I could make it with my eyes closed and it’s always delicious.)

I flipped Tuesday and Wednesday around, but made both dishes …

Tuesday: Moroccan chicken stew with couscous (Yum, yum, yum.  And beyond easy.  This definitely goes into the regular rotation. I will tweak it a bit — a little less onion and less stock to make it less soupy.)

Wednesday: Ginger chicken soup with vegetables (Very good.  I’d make it again, but it is a bit of work — mostly chopping.  I would also do slightly less ginger.)

Thursday: Leftovers or something from the freezer

What’s Cooking: The Plan for Week of January 15

Feel free to cook along at home …

Friday: Mustard-glazed flounder, sauteed arugula, steamed cauliflower.

Saturday: Pasta with meat sauce (frozen), salad and bread.

Sunday: Roast chicken, potatoes, green beans

Monday: Broccoli with tortellini

Tuesday: Moroccan chicken stew with couscous

Wednesday: Ginger chicken soup with vegetables

Thursday: Leftovers or something from the freezer

Meanwhile, here’s a rundown of how last week’s plan panned out:

Friday: Black Bean Soup (I ended up doing a mash-up between this recipe and Joy.  It was okay.)

Saturday: Halibut with Lentils in Mustard Sauce (Very yummy.  A family fave.)

Sunday: Homemade chicken fingers and broccoli (and probably leftover lentils from Saturday) (I had to move this because I had to use the shrimp sooner than I anticipated.  I could have frozen it but that kind of defeats the point of paying extra for fresh.  Since Preston won’t eat curry — don’t ask — I had to go with this yummy recipe instead.  Big hit and it’s hysterical hearing Maddie ask for couscous.)

Monday: Curried Rice with Shrimp with steamed green beans (As mentioned, Preston won’t do curry, so I have to save this one for a night he’s not home.  So I moved up the black-eyed peas with spinach.)

Tuesday: Black-eyed peas with spinach over rice (From Moosewood Cooks at Home) (Moved to Monday, homemade chicken fingers went here instead.)

Then, basically these two flipped, with the lentils being the leftover for Wednesday:

Wednesday: Crabcakes (frozen from Trader Joe’s) with broccoli

Thursday: Leftovers or something from the freezer (currently have lots of pasta sauce, soups, etc.)

So here’s the brilliance of my plan: it is flexible enough to move around when needed.

Meanwhile, the “waste less food” mantra seems to be working.  It has just changed how I approach everything.  Today I made homemade chicken stock with some random frozen chicken parts — not enough to make a meal — and leftover celery to keep from having to throw it out.  Will be yummy to use on Wednesday night’s soup.

Jonathan Galassi on the Value of Publishing Houses

Last Sunday Jonathan Galassi, president of book publisher Farrah, Straus & Giroux, wrote an editorial for the New York Times about the value that book publishers provide. It’s predictably defensive about publisher’s right to profit from the work of writers and to retain new rights like those for e-books.  Mr. Galassi cites the expenses incurred in bringing a book to market: editing, design, marketing, publicity, sales and so forth.  And he takes it even a step further, writing:

A publisher — and I write as one — does far more than print and sell a book. It selects, nurtures, positions and promotes the writer’s work.

Putting aside for the moment that many writers do not feel very nurtured by the modern publishing industry, I think Mr. Galassi is really missing the point.  I’ve worked as an editor, a marketer and a publicist, so I totally agree with Mr. Galassi that such work has value.  But the days when publishers acted as the cultural gatekeepers is coming to an end and quickly.

As I wrote before, I think the future of publishing puts writer’s in the driver’s seat.  I think it will work a bit like the movie business.  The writer, probably working with and agent, will get financing for a project and will assemble a team of people to bring that book into the world.  Publishers might play a role in marketing and distribution — the way studios do for movies — but possibly not.  I think they will have to think much more radically about their role — and the way books are funded and who gets what piece of the profits — if they are going to survive.

Unfortunately, Mr. Galassi seems to have supreme confidence that writers and consumers need publishers.  He ends his essay thusly:

Even if someday, God forbid, books are no longer printed, they will still need the thought and care and dedication that [Random House] put into producing William Styron’s work for nearly 60 years. Some things never change.

Jonathan Galassi is a smart guy and he’s been at the top of the publishing industry for a very long time.  But the changes that are coming to book publishing are much bigger than this essay suggests.  Publishers need to adapt or die.

What’s Cooking: This Week’s Plan

For the purposes of meal planning my week begins on Friday because that is when I have groceries delivered from FreshDirect.  Preston brings home his schedule on Thursday so I have a rough idea of when he’ll be home each night of the next week.  We also keep a running list of stuff we need on a Post-It pad stuck to the cabinet door.  I scan the fridge and freezer, grab Preston’s schedule, grab the list and grab my Circa notebook filled with my favorite recipes.  When I get to FreshDirect I start with their President’s Picks — what’s on sale this week.  Then I start building my plan.  (I also have a “weekly order” shopping list saved with stuff like milk, eggs, diapers and so on.  That saves me a lot of time.  I also love that FreshDirect save everything you’ve ever ordered.  I can search by date (“What was that yummy thing I got last week?” by department (“Which of these Pinots is the one we’ve ordered before?”).

So here’s my plan for this week:

Friday: Black Bean Soup (Haven’t tried this recipe before.  Will probably tweak it a bit.)

Saturday: Halibut with Lentils in Mustard Sauce (I’m subbing scrod for the halibut.)

Sunday: Homemade chicken fingers and broccoli (and probably leftover lentils from Saturday)

Monday: Curried Rice with Shrimp with steamed green beans

Tuesday: Black-eyed peas with spinach over rice (From Moosewood Cooks at Home)

Wednesday: Crabcakes (frozen from Trader Joe’s) with broccoli

Thursday: Leftovers or something from the freezer (currently have lots of pasta sauce, soups, etc.)

What’s cooking at your house?  Post your recipes/ideas in the comments.

My Goals for 2010

This year I want to …

1. Waste less food.  This one was inspired by a story I heard on NPR.  The industrialized countries waste enough food to feed the entire rest of the world.  The expert being interviewed said, “Food is precious.  Why would we ever throw it away?”  That really hit me.  He is so right.  This goal also feeds (unintentional pun) other goals I have.  I want to eat better.  By focusing on reducing waste I’ll buy less, be more mindful of what I buy and be better about planning meals.  I also want to be more organized.  Again, meal planning helps keep me organized and reduces stress while also helping me use food more efficiently.

2. Automate my life.  Like a lot of women I keep way too much stuff in my head.  I want that to stop.  I want to get all this minutiae out of my head an instead move it to: a piece of paper or a database of some kind.   This is going to happen mostly through lists.  Checklists, shopping lists, wish lists, to-do lists.  I might even have lists of my lists.  Lots of lists.  Less thinking, more listing.  That’s the idea.  I’ve downloaded an app called Intuition to my iPhone to get me started.  We’ll see how it works.

3. Make decisions faster.  I dither a lot.  Small things, big things, doesn’t matter.  And of course I know, intellectually, that in most cases it’s better to make a fast decision than to waste time trying to make the “right” decision.  But I still dither.  So this year I’m going to focus on being more decisive.

Why Traditional Media Will Die (And Maybe Should)

Through a link on Facebook I got introduced to career blog by Penelope Trunk. It’s quite brilliant and I quickly became obsessed. The writing is fresh and interesting. More importantly the advice is great. Penelope offers truly innovative ideas for managing your career and your life.

Now let’s contrast any random post on Trunk’s blog with this column from the Sunday New York Times. This piece is so insipid it actually makes me a bit angry. I can’t believe the Times wasted resources on it. First, the advice is so obvious that I have a hard time believing anyone who has been looking for a job would find any value here. Second, the advice also feels hopelessly out-of-date. Resumes? Cover letters? Sure, these are still tools that job hunters use — and making them as good as you can <i>is</i> important — but is this what people really need to be focused on to get a job in today’s economy? Finally, the advice is so superficial that it is nearly useless.

Take, for example, this gem:

Not very helpful, right? Contrast that to any one of these four blog posts by Penelope. Fresh, interesting, not-obvious and actually helpful.

Top dogs in old media companies love to downplay blogs and talk about the superior quality of their content. They bemoan the “unfairness” that they invest so much in their content and stupid consumers don’t appreciate the difference.

I think consumers DO appreciate the difference. And, at least as this column shows, new media mavens are winning because — not in spite of — the value difference.