Monday, July 12, 2010

Simplifying: Meals

Of all the bloggers whose ideas I shamelessly steal (there are a lot of them...I truly have never had an original thought), I steal the most from Mary Beth at Salt and Chocolate. Crafts, recipes, sewing projects, decorating, kid activities, she always has something wonderful going on there.
So it's no surprise that after I saw her recipe cards last week, I just had to copy them. I've been wanting to find a way to organize the dangerously high stack of recipes I've printed off the internet, and just generally make meal planning easier and less of an ordeal. But it had never even occurred to me to use recipe cards. I actually have a recipe box, crammed full of the little free recipes you used to get from the grocery store or inside tea boxes or magazines. It's too small for most of the cards I have stuffed in it and I almost never open it. But Mary Beth's large-format, multi-colored cards in an open box looked much more usable (and pretty!).

Though instead of ordering the beautiful (but pricey) cards and box set, I went to the nearby big box office supply store and bought a package of colored note cards and stuck them in the box from the St. Francis monks honey that C's aunt sends us every year in hopes of saving our heathen souls with plastic squeeze bottles of honey. It's not ideal in size or shape, but it works for now.
At first I thought of organizing the recipes by season—with a different color for each winter, spring, summer and fall--but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that spring food here in Maine is pretty much the same as winter food. So instead I organized them thus: yellow for “growing season” (June/July—herbs, greens, radishes, asparagus, strawberries); red for “harvest season” (late July, August, September—summer squash, tomatoes, eggplant, tomatillos, new potatoes, blueberries and blackberries etc.); blue for the rest of the year (winter squash, potatoes, onions, sweet potatoes, kale, apples); and the sort of greenish gold for anytime (baked goods, staples).

First I went through the pile of recipe printouts, keeping my eyes peeled for recipes that can be made from all fresh, local and in-season produce (with some dried goods, like rice, beans, quinoa, etc.). As I find and cook seasonally-appropriate recipes in my cookbooks, I'll transfer the recipe to a card. The goal is to have a repertoire of meals that utilize what's coming out of the garden or farmer's market at certain times of the year and are not overly-complicated or time-consuming.

How do you keep cooking and eating simple?

Read more about my Simplifying project and the first two posts—The Mudroom and Rhythm and Predictability. Chime in the comments with links to any posts about simplification in your life.


  1. By eating poorly, but that's not a good way.

  2. I ask my CSA farmer about how to prepare the foods we get from her - she is a wealth of info!


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