Introducing: Mr. U.

18 Oct

My husband gets big billing on Planned Overs.  He is always referred to as “Mr. U.” or “my husband”.  I do this because it’s not his blog, this is the internet, and I don’t want his identity made easily searchable on my blog, although it isn’t a big secret who we are.  We’ve been married over 20 years.

Some notes on Mr. U.:

  • He cooks.  Really well.  When I started dating him, I opened the door to his fridge expecting some sort of bachelor desertland of ketchup and beer.  Not so.  There was every bizarre condiment and ingredient known to man jammed in there, including Chinese bean paste.  I knew this could be the start of something beautiful.  His words on this are that if you like to eat, you need to learn to cook.  Amen.  Don’t let this fool you into thinking there wasn’t also beer in there, because there definitely was.
  • He eats.  Like me, he will eat just about anything.  He isn’t concerned with “What kind of meat’s in that?”  He’s not a meat and potatoes guy at all and in particular, he likes nothing better than a big bowl full of noodles from a Japanese, Vietnamese or Chinese restaurant.  In short, he isn’t picky.  He will eat whatever is planned for dinner without complaint, even on one famous occasion when we had literally no food and no money and I made lasagna out of canned pumpkin and some lasagna noodles.  When reminded of this event, he still claims that he liked that meal.
  • He appreciates the artistry of food.  I love that my husband understands that a great restaurant is theatre.  Sometimes you just have to splurge on some really great theatre tickets and enjoy the show.
  • He doesn’t like me to watch him cook.  He always thinks I think he’s doing it wrong.  It’s very hard for me not to offer advice when I see him doing something that could be done more efficiently.  Now I just say, “you want me to leave now, don’t you?”  He’s never turned that offer down that I can remember.
  • He mixes a great cocktail.  I’ll post a few of these as asides for your pleasure.
  • He works from home.  This means that we can have a roasted chicken on a weeknight if I truss it in the morning and leave it for him to put in the oven at 4 p.m.  It also means I can send him an email saying, “I forgot to defrost the ___!” and he will pull it out for me and save the day.
  • We share cooking and cleaning responsibilities.  I’m not saying this just for him to get some good press.  I write about planning meals and grocery shopping and so on because I’m better organized than he is.  More often than not, he is the one who actually does the shopping, or who finishes cooking the Frozen Overs.  In this case, I say, “Thank you for cooking dinner” and he says, “Thank you for cooking dinner.”

He’s also a talented artist and an avid reader of everything, including cereal boxes.  You can check out his literature and reading blog, Dispatches from Outer Libraria, on WordPress.


I’m here to talk to you about cheeses

31 May

While I’m not vegetarian, I do plan meatless meals, and these are some of our favorites. I caught this blog post by fellow blogger loveonice that mentions Parmesan cheese. I want to address this issue because it’s really important.

I have a number of vegetarians in my life, some by choice, some for religion, and their reasons don’t matter to me. What matters to me is that when they are in my home, they are comfortable and when I go to their home, I don’t take anything into their personal space that might be offensive to them. To me, their personal space includes their cubicle at work. I was shocked once to see a colleague munching down a beef burrito in the cubicle of my Hindu vegetarian colleague. Manners, people!

So here’s the deal. Some cheeses are made with rennet. Rennet is a product made from calf stomach that helps to curdle milk in cheese-making. Not every cheese is made this way. Parmigiano Reggiano is, and so are many others. What to do? Check the label if you’re making something for someone who is a vegetarian and don’t call anything you make vegetarian if you aren’t sure.

It should go without saying that you should never, ever use chicken or beef broth in a soup you are serving to a vegetarian. Here is a simple rule I use. If there is no meat going into the soup or sauce, then I use vegetable stock. It makes it very easy when I have a crowd over to say: if you can’t SEE meat in it, then there isn’t any. I will apply the same rule to recipes with cheese. If the dish is meatless, so will be the cheese I used.

Years ago, I caught an episode of the television series e.r. where one of the doctors had been sent for several weeks in the deep South of the US to work off some student loan debt or something like this. The man was a vegetarian and couldn’t find anything suitable to eat. Finally, his landlady made him a sweet potato pie. He had wolfed down about half of it when she said, “I didn’t know if you’d eat that or not because of the lard.”

I have added a “Cheese List for Vegetarians” link to the blog roll at the lower right hand side of the page. In the future, when meatless meals contain cheese, I will direct your attention to that list so you have the information available.


The Weekly Plan – 28 May 2012

27 May

This week, I have some old favorites on the menu.  There is the Smoky Almond Mole that I published earlier today, my husband’s favorite Eggplant Parmesan (destined for a future post), and an old stand-by Quickie meal, Bon Cha, which is a Vietnamese dish with noodles (another big favorite of my husband’s, and one he makes very well, so I may ask him to do it).

In addition, I am trying out some new recipes from bloggers Malou (“Going Dutch“) and priya20g (“quête saveur“), as well as a recipe I pulled from Cooking Light magazine over 10 years ago and still haven’t tried.  When you are making a lot of meals ahead, as I obviously do, the trap is that you can end up eating the same thing, over and over again and never expanding your horizons.  I try to plan at least one new thing a week, even if it’s just a thrown-together side dish that I invent on the fly.


Introducing: Auby, my temporary kitchen friend

26 May

Auby came to stay with us on Thursday, hidden in a case of eggplants from Daisy Mae’s Market.  The other eggplants lacked his charm and personality.  I know he can’t stay long, but I couldn’t resist taking this photo of him, sporting my husband’s glasses, since his vision is obviously quite poor.  My husband suggested that we give him a rhinoplasty of sorts, but that just seems cruel.  Plus, as my husband knows, I like a man with a big nose!

%d bloggers like this: