Today, Monday, September 26th (one day after my daughter’s ten month birthday!), is Meals and Market day! Meals and Market Monday! This is where I share a recipe with you (what my little family will be chomping down on this very day) and tell you a little bit about what I’ve purchased at the market and what we’ll be eating this week. Currently, so many people eat very poorly and later suffer from health problems related to their unbalanced diets (I’m talking about the “Western World” here, people, don’t take me wrong). I understand that its hard to find time to purchase and prepare healthy meals for our families (with their individual tastes and preferences), but I firmly believe that with one millionth part of the effort that we put into so many other less-important areas of our lives, we can take a few minutes to think about the fuel that we are putting into our bodies and just how serious the implications of the use of said fuel in our bodies can be. I think the key is a mixture of 3 things: 1) knowledge–knowing what to eat, how to prepare it, and where to purchase it is fundamental, 2) organization–we probably organize thousands of work tasks throughout our daily work lives, and organizing a meal plan around our daily agenda only takes a few minutes, and 3) a teensy bit of skill– cooking can be self-taught, many tasty foods don’t require much preparation (actually, the healthiest foods tend to require little to no preparation), and practice-makes-perfect. I think this is one of the great secrets of the 21st century, re-learning how to feed our organisms so that they can perform what we expect them to. It sounds pretty obvious, but with diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and obesity rates soaring, something isn’t working.
Many people have not been blessed (like I was, in this case, thanks Mom!) with learning about how to appreciate all different kinds of foods and what makes up a balanced diet from a young age. I am so thankful to my mother for showing me not only how to cook, but how to appreciate some PRETTY interesting foods (I never could get into the Lutefisk, but good try on her part, I have my limits). Thanks mom! I did, however, go through long periods when my diet was unbalanced once away from the reaches of mom’s warm, delicious-smelling kitchen, to say the least, in so many ways (too much, too little, no fat, no meat, no eggs, no dairy, junk, sweets, soy, only green, only white…). It wasn’t until I moved to Spain, at the age of 20, that I began to understand (above and beyond the wonderful foundation that my mother had given me, and that maybe I had either forgotten about or had somehow rejected as I grew up) some very basic principals of good eating, moderation, pleasure linked to taste buds and a full belly, olive oil on EVERYTHING, and eating enough of the right things at the right time. Now I take some SERIOUS pride in feeding my family so that they can enjoy it and reap the benefits of feeling good, from eating good things. Good. (I use too many parenthesis), and commas, bare with me, wait, bear with me, crap, those are all supposed to be periods, period. Good.
Market purchases: one whole red snapper, one whole hake (both with beady eyes, fins, fingers, and teeth), a bunch of little, whole blue fish, one farm chicken (no feathers, feet, eyeballs or innards), one handmade patatera chorizo from local livestock (soft, red, sausage with a spreadable texture for my lentil soup! Yum!), two big ladles of locally harvested verdial olives, half a dozen farm-fresh eggs, one good-sized triangle of manchego cheese, tomatoes, green peppers, onions, potatoes, carrots, celery, a head of garlic, a slice of a big pumpkin/squash, zucchini, eggplant, a head of cauliflower, some fresh spinach, a few
leaks leeks, a custard apple, oranges, little ercolina pears, peaches, and bananas (all of these are from local farms and are plucked from the stands by the vendor right into my big, cotton shopping bag–older women use these personal shopping-cart-ish devices that they fill to the brim and wheel home, I have yet to purchase one…I am 30 now, I guess it would be acceptable for me to do the same…until then, my biceps and other arm/shoulder muscles get a good workout as I lug my purchases around), some little pardina lentils, some white beans, long grain rice and some dried bay leaves and locally-made paprika (see the photo of the “spice man” from the previous post) and a typical bollo (a certain type of bread that dries out really well to be used in cold soup recipes) for my salmorejo. (Sorry for the excessive parenthesis!!! But I have to explain that salmorejo is gazpacho’s thicker, simpler cousin…gazpacho is a chilled tomato soup).
Meal plan for the week:
Monday: Oven-baked red snapper with squash/zucchini couscous (lunch), and for dinner, salmorejo with a spread of olives, cheese and some picos (picos are like little bread sticks used to push food around your plate, up onto your fork, crunched up into chilled or warm soups, and to accompany cheeses or cold cuts in one big, savory bite. They can be found at EVERY meal.)
Tuesday: Homemade lentil soup with fresh bread for sopping (lunch). Sopping? Absorbing. Bread for absorbing. For dinner, omelets with a simple spinach salad with a raspberry vinagrette (and olives, cheese and picos, of course).
Wednesday: Pasta with artichokes for lunch (a simple, but delicious recipe!). Little fried, whole blue fish for dinner with, yep, you guessed it, olives, cheese and picos (I’m realizing as I write this that our salt intake might be a little high).
Thursday: Hake in green sauce with fresh bread for savory-sauce-sopping/absorbing and peas (lunch). Thursday would probably be the perfect night for “Pizza and Beer” at one of our favorite little pizza dives (I’ll send a memo to el Doctor to see if he agrees).
Friday: White bean stew (vegetarian) with bread for….(lunch). Pumpkin soup with cheese, olives and picos for dinner.
Saturday: El Doctor’s famous Arroz con Pollo for lunch (Chicken and rice made in a paella kind of way). One word: Amazing. Another word: I don’t have to cook (that’s 5 words, sorry, and yet another pair of parenthesis. Leche!). Dinner will probably be tapas out with friends.
And that’s the week! I’ll hit the market next Saturday, as usual, and the fresh week will start with Sunday’s meal. I try to combine one vegetarian meal (meat/fish-free) with one non-vegetarian meal each day. Its all about getting tons of veggies, the right amount of the right proteins, and enough vitamins and good fat. Dessert, when at home, is always fruit or yogurt or both. Ice cream, cakes, pies and other similar sinful substances are saved for when we eat out. We also try to keep the house alcohol-free, (beer free, we do have red wine) and save our international beverage units (oh, how few they are) for outings. Keeping sweets and beer out of the pantry/fridge helps us to behave ourselves. If its there, we eat/drink it. We are humans. We are weak.
Now its time to start cooking! What are you eating today? How do you approach grocery shopping? Do you make meal plans beforehand? Do you feel good about what you eat both emotionally and physically? Do you just really not care about what you eat and feel really grossed out about all my fish pictures?