Today we are planning to be out in the afternoon, so I suggested that our household staffer Mr. Crockpot attend to dinner.
Recently I bought a slow cooker book...the second such book I've bought new in two years, I'm not sure what's come over me. Well, I did have a gift card. I actually did feel a little strange about that because I had first bought a different, more "intellectual" book with the card and then taken it back to the store (something I hardly ever do), and while I was there, the author of the slow cooker book was in the store doing a demonstration and selling copies of her newest book ...so basically I traded "look-I'm-stretching-my-brain" for "look-what's-for-supper." One of those never-ending mommy-blogger tensions, right?
I like the new book, although it doesn't lend itself especially well to experimentation...I think that's the difference between cookbooks written by professional home economists (like this one) and those whose recipes aren't "developed" so much as just "made up." For the same reason, the ingredient lists tend to be fairly long and there aren't a lot of substitutes suggested. These are mostly...not all, just mostly...what I think of as company recipes. (That's not to say that they're unrealistic--the author also has a family and often inserts comments about her kids' reactions to certain dishes. Just that I don't always have everything called for, and it's not always clear where you can adapt and where you shouldn't.)
I've been trying to collect up the ingredients for Butter Chicken for several weeks now, and finally I have the evaporated milk, the jar of tikka paste, even some lime juice...but I don't have the boneless chicken thighs called for. I do have some bone-in thighs in the freezer, and some boneless chicken breasts...so do I want to try it out with some other part of the bird, or should I wait until we find a sale on boneless thighs? I know they'd go well with the curry sauce, and I hate to waste all those ingredients on something that could have been better if I'd just been patient. Especially when I'm not going to be home to keep an eye on it.
Or I could just throw some of the breasts in with one of our standbys, like sauerkraut.
Okay. What's really on hand today? Vegetables have all been expensive the last few weeks. I did get two tubs of sliced mushrooms on sale, and they really need to be used up. There's also a red pepper--those weren't too outrageous (green peppers were more). And we have canned tomatoes and tomato paste. There we go--Chicken Cacciatore, made without anybody's recipe. Eight partly-thawed chicken breast halves, 1 can tomato paste, 1 lb. sliced mushrooms, 1 cut-up red pepper, a bit of salt and pepper, a bit of garlic powder, and a spoonful of dried marjoram. Pasta to be cooked when we get home.
I'll get around to the Butter Chicken, and probably some of the other new recipes...like the Butter Chicken, what I usually do if I'm hoping to make something new is write a few of the needed things (the ones I might not normally buy) into each week's grocery list, and see if they're within the budget...when they're all or mostly there, we make the dish.
In the meantime, I'm looking forward to chicken, mushrooms, and pasta--glad that I didn't have to throw out the mushrooms--and thankful that we have hot water and electricity and a freezer and a Crockpot, and leftover soup from yesterday, and end-of-winter roads that just have a few potholes in them, and a roof that has somehow stayed leak-free over the winter, and Internet that works, and books on the shelf, and spring coming. And thankful for many other things.
In a world that seems to be very shaken, we are incredibly fortunate.