**Monday’s menu: Pasta. Red sauce. Broiled shrimp. Chard stir-fried with onions, peppers, and carrots.
**Original plan: Pasta.
**In the kitchen: Cooked as soon as the kids got home from school. Two of the kids I was feeding were leaving for theatre rehearsal just after 5, and needed to eat early. The red sauce was just waiting in the freezer to be used. I jazzed it up with lemon juice and thyme. The veggies turned out well: sauteed in butter, not over-cooked, and I seasoned simply with salt and the juice of a lemon (we have a lot of citrus in the fruit bowl right now.) Totally over-estimated how many noodles we’d need to feed eight people (two friends stayed for supper.)
**At the table: Eaten in shifts at the island in the kitchen due to major construction going on that required the dining-room table to be moved up against the breakfast bar.
**The verdict: The kids ignored the chard. You may be noticing that I’m not one to force food on a child. They ate a ton of pumpkin bread with peanut butter for dessert, so maybe that counts?
**Tuesday’s menu: Peanut noodles with fried tofu and raw veggies (pictured above.)
**Original plan: Beans and rice. But we had all these leftover noodles.
**In the kitchen: Whipped up peanut dressing on Monday night, post-dance-class/run combo, while putting supper away and doing the dishes. Used recipe on my blog, piped in via my phone. Kev, some while into the process: “Oh, that’s why you keep checking your phone.” Me: “Did you think I was becoming obsessed?” Marinated noodles in dressing overnight. Fried tofu and added veggies the next day, before swim lessons.
**At the table: Initially refused by several children, eventually eaten by all. It’s not like there were options.
**The reviews: All good! Thank heavens. I almost made something extra to go along with it, and Kevin suggested I should keep it simple.
**The verdict: Great use of leftover noodles, but, “Remember not to put that in my lunch for school tomorrow.” (Peanuts)
**Wednesday’s menu: Beans and rice. Green beans.
**Original plan: Borscht. But beans and rice was easier.
**In the kitchen: Soaked and cooked beans in the morning. Baked rice before leaving to pick up the girls for piano lessons. Chopped tomatoes and steamed beans upon arrival home.
**At the table: Everyone was very hungry and appreciative. But we have no table to sit around, at present, so the meal felt haphazard. The kids sat at the counter and I filled their plates at the stove and served them. Kevin and I sat side by side at the part of the dining-room table that is accessible.
**The verdict: I miss gathering around the table. But this is temporary.
**Thursday’s menu: Squash with orzo. Broccoli with cheese sauce.
**Original plan: Tofu and veggie stir-fry. But I wanted to try this Squash Orzo recipe that was supposed to be an easier version of risotto, and which I knew everyone would hate. Don’t ask why.
**In the kitchen: This is not an easier version of risotto. It took just as much standing around and stirring. Plus peeling and chopping a squash is hard work. Is there an easier way? But it smelled delicious: cubes of squash cooking with onions and garlic and white wine. Finished by stirring cooked orzo into the squash mixture and adding a pile of parmesan.
**At the table: As predicted, no child would touch the squash with orzo. But I made a ton of orzo, and did not mix it all with the squash, so they could have it with cheese sauce and broccoli instead. Some refused even the cheese sauce. I am getting worried about their veggie and protein intake.
**The reviews: “But you know I hate squash, Mommy!”
**The verdict: Even I didn’t love this meal. Kevin thought it was delicious, but I’m not sure it’s worth the work.
**Friday’s supper: Leftovers, plus dessert.
**Original plan: Yup.
**In the kitchen: Steamed a pot of rice to go with the leftover beans. While Kev took the kids skating, I rented carshare car for an hour and headed out to Herrles, which closes for the season on Monday, to buy veggies and pumpkins. Plus dessert. No Bailey’s pickup, so Herrles stood in for Bailey’s.
**At the table: AppleApple and I ate hastily, then dashed off to soccer (I went for a run.)
**The reviews: Everyone loved the pumpkin pie. But now that Herrles will be closed, along with Bailey’s, I’m at a loss of how to replace my super-easy Friday suppers.
**The verdict: It’s a changing season. Get ready for snow. A very old woman in front of me at the Herrles checkout turned and said, “It’s sad, isn’t it,” and I knew just what she meant.
**Weekend kitchen accomplishments: Lentil soup simmering on the stove less than hour after returning home late Sunday afternoon from a cross-border trip to Ohio, where we spent time with family and said goodbye to my grandpa. This feels like a genuine accomplishment. I’m also working on turning over-ripe pears and bruised apples into sauce. Smells pretty good in here, even if the house is basically a total disaster. (If you drop in for a visit, don’t look down. Or around. Think construction materials on dining-room floor, plus drywall dust, plus bags of travel laundry, plus piles of school work, plus games and toys, plus yet-to-be-carved pumpkins, plus dishes abandoned on Saturday morning, plus this list could go on and on and on ….)