I am fond of making it up as I go along. Normally, I feel that this is a superb way to live my life, and I wouldn’t change it if you paid me to. Lately though, I’ve been having to live a little less spontaneously. I guess this is what you get when you are hauling an 8 month old around with you everywhere you go.
I miss it a bit–the spontaneity. In addition to that, I’ve been in a rut in the kitchen. I hate being in a rut when it comes to cooking and eating. Sometimes I find a new recipe or ingredient that I get a crush on for a minute or two and I eat it a lot, but then I move on or change it up. My husband and step-sons could probably eat the same 7-10 meals for the rest of their natural lives and be totally thrilled about it. I am not like that at all. To help with all of this, recently I’ve done two things: One, I joined a cookbook club and two, I started actually using all of the cookbooks I already owned. Even when I don’t actually make a recipe from a new cookbook, just looking through them on a more regular basis inspires me to try new things.
So, I compromise with myself. I plan a menu once a week because it makes my life so much easier to shop only once or maybe twice a week. I use as many new recipes as I figure I’ll have time for. I usually have at least one or two old favorites. This keeps me from feeling stagnant, and while it isn’t exactly spontaneous, it’s not totally same-old-same-old either.
Last week I made quesadillas with black beans and avocado–pretty simple. What really made dinner special though was the salad that I made to go with it. I got some really good looking cilantro and a gorgeous red cabbage. And a mango. I sliced up the cabbage very thin on the mandolin, and I slivered the mango and added it and a big handful of roughly chopped cilantro to the bowl. Then, I squeezed a lemon over the whole thing and added just a sprinkle of salt. You could just as easily use a lime, if that’s what you have on hand. I tossed it up and put it in the fridge for a couple of hours, until dinner ( I often prep things for dinner while Lilli, my 8 month old daughter, takes her afternoon nap). It was fantastic. Crisp and refreshing and sweet and tangy all at once, the perfect counterpoint to the hot sauce I drenched the quesadillas in. Add a tequila and tonic and you are all set…
Mango Red Cabbage Slaw
serves 2-3 as a side
- 1/4 small to medium red cabbage, sliced very thin
- 1 just ripe mango, peeled and sliced into thin wedges lengthwise
- juice of 1 lemon (roll it on the counter first to get as much juice as possible)
- chopped cilantro–as little or as much as you like.
- pinch sea salt, to taste
Combine everything in a bowl and let marinate in the fridge for an hour or so. Keeps well for a day.