Thursday, January 21, 2010

Comfort in the everyday

So it's been a bad news week.  I realize many people, including some whose opinions I respect, are delighted with the results of our little election on Tuesday.  I'm not among them.  I'm disappointed in the outcome, disappointed in a mediocre campaign by a lackluster candidate, disappointed that it appears Massachusetts has largely decided that obstructionism is the best idea we've got to offer.

On the other hand, I've already got health insurance, so screw you, nation.  Scott Brown "believes in a culture of family, patriotism and freedom." What could go wrong?

And Haiti -- oh, Haiti.  I sent money -- please, you send money too.  Choose a good avenue and send what you're able to send.  But I can't, I just can't, watch the CNN coverage of people having limbs amputated with only ibuprofen for their pain.

Instead, during this morning's news browsing, I watched the CNN "coverage" of a woman who has planned her family's dinners a year in advance.  (Where does CNN find these people?  Why does CNN find these people?)  Yes indeed, she's planned what she'll make for dinner for the next 365 days.  It doesn't appear she sat up drinking on New Year's Eve to get it all done for 2010, either.  (Imagine January and February replete with well-balanced menus and weekend time blocked out for making home-baked treats, March and April with briefer notations and some ditto marks, and May - December with "BOURBON" and "LEFTOVERS" scrawled across them.)  No indeed.  CNN showed her cleanly printed calendar for the year, with the name of an entree in a nice font on the square for each day. 

A year!  People give me a hard time for planning four or five days ahead.  This woman's got color-coded lists cross-referenced to her calendar, the whole nine yards.  I kind of admire it.  I have some pretty involved lists of my own -- for example, there is Recipes To Try, color coded by primary ingredient.  My cookbooks are big three-ring binders, one for meat-based dishes, one for fish and meatless dishes, one for recipes I haven't tried yet.  Each is divided further - chicken, pork, beef, fish, pasta, soups, etc., and alphabetized within sections (natch). I have another binder for baking, subdivided into sections of alphabetized recipes for cakes, cookies, pies, bars, breads... yeah, baby.  I plan meals by going through the sections sequentially, flagging the next recipe in order after I've made the current one, alternating meat and meatless dishes and adjusting the sequence so as not to have too much soup in a row, or something.  Coming up:  pasta with spinach, tomatoes, and gorgonzola sauce; herbed chicken and dumplings; fish stew; cashew sweet & sour pork.

What?  You're giving me that look, I can tell.  Take my word for it, this is a lovely, joyous process for a cook of my personality type.  But laying it all out a year in advance?  Dude, that's sick.  But only because it would deprive me of revisiting my lists every few days, and the lists, they love to be visited.  Especially in upsetting times.


  1. Seriously? She's planned out e-v-e-r-y single dinner? Wow. So much for spontaneity. So, I gotta know - did she have any entries that said "eat out?" What about for when she (or her family) gets sick? Certainly a bout of the stomach flu would derail things, no? Did you get the sense that she's done this before? Did she stick to her plan?

  2. I too sent some money for Haiti, and I jumped my kids who complained that they were sick of the Haiti coverage. How dare they comment like that when people are suffering. I was annoyed with France over their shot at American aid, was it not the French who left behind the mess that became modern Haiti. What would they say if we stood down on the next disaster. I shared the other anoymous comments re the ocd menu planner--Oh no not lasagna again we had that 4 cycles ago. But the news was not all bad, Scott Brown is not a bad thing, it is part of the ebb and flow and shows parties to not take the will of the people for granted. And that is a good thing. Relax spring is coming, right behind Feb and Mar. Anon NJ

  3. yeah, it was a weird and rough week. as for the lady planning her meals, was she looking for press for it? Is that what it was about? I plan every week before I go to the market, mainly just to try new recipes and stop getting so boring with the same old. Sometimes I cant even get past two days of planning before saying to myself "Oh we'll just order a pizza".

  4. I can't imagine having the kind of time on my hands that it would take to cross reference and plan a years worth of meals.

    Bing and I shop weekly. We usually buy the manager specials and work around them. Four of our meals are always vegan, so that part is easy. I just let her do it. The others? Totally dependent on what is on sale.

  5. Pretty depressing alright. I think I'll stick to my other (nature) blog