Well, a kitchen really. Hilarity (and eventually dinner) ensues.
As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, the hus-b and I are in the midst of a temporary relo to my parents’ home while we remodel our place in San Francisco. Room and board at Casa Parentals are free, but my mother has asked that we help out by cooking dinner for the family. Though she is a baking ninja who can execute any cookie recipe with scientific precision that would impress NASA, my mother loathes meal planning. Chalk it up to the self-imposed, Type A pressure of wanting to nail a menu just so and feeling less sure-footed while cooking (way too ad lib for her style) than when a KitchenAid Mixer and several pounds of sugar are involved. The hus-b and I, on he other hand, love dorking out together in the kitchen. He has killer knife skills and follows instructions well (thus making him a brilliant sous chef and husband), and I am comfortable enough in the kitchen to cook loosely within the confines of recipes (and aspire to one day cook without them entirely) and menu plan without having an anxiety attack.
What we are less adept at is healthy or, better put, low calorie meal planning. This is not to say that we eat crap — we strive to buy local and organic, use whole ingredients and eschew processed foods — but extra virgin olive oil, quality cheeses and Plugra butter are admittedly part of our regular repertoire. We also eat pretty much everything, which makes deciding what’s for dinner a simple matter of that day’s crazy pregnant lady whim and whatever is looking great at the market.
Not so with my family: my father, while loosely described as an omnivore, is somewhat of a picky eater who turns his nose up at lemons, “green stuff”, seafood and (mystifyingly) polenta. My mother is insanely virtuous, not having eaten an egg yolk in several decades and maintaining a diet that makes Dr. Oz seem like a fat ass. And then there’s my sister, who is a vegetarian by day and a vegan by night (trainer’s orders), and doesn’t care for beans and tofu. All of a sudden family meal planning is looking a whole lot less awesome.
Enter one of the hus-b’s and my weekly staples: Greek Salad Bar Night, comprised of an ever-changing combination of grilled vegetables and chicken, some sort of Mediterranean-inspired chopped salad, and loads of homemade cucumber tzatziki and warm pita bread. It’s delicious, healthy, gorgeous on the plate and brilliant for cleaning out the veggie drawer (just about everyone has a red onion, some grill-friendly veggies and leftover fresh herbs languishing in their fridge). P&V usually plays it fast and loose with the marinade (lemon, garlic, olive oil and whatever fresh herbs we have on hand), but we successfully road tested this Greek Chicken Marinade last night, even passing muster on my sister’s grilled portabello mushroom. Accompanied by a platter of grilled vegetable skewers and this surprisingly tasty Tomato, Mint and Red Onion Salad, and topped with tzatziki (hus-b and I favor this classic recipe, but my sister prefers the grated cucumber in this one), my family happily devoured this meal with bountiful compliments and zero drama. Success, or at least for one night anyway…