Thursday, August 18, 2022

Tired of preparing meals? Let a newsletter decide for you

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A die the best benefits of being a member of the Seattle Public Library is a service called Your next 5 books. Fill out a form, describe some favorite books and authors and what you’re in the mood for, and you get an answer – with not only five suggestions, but also the reasons why the library recommendations team thinks you them. will appreciate. It alleviates the cognitive load of choosing what to read and you end up with works that you would never have found on your own. It’s kind of like an incredibly well-read friend handing you a few books and saying: Here you will like it.

Wouldn’t it be great if there was something like this to help you decide what to eat? I mean, sweet Jesus, apart from a few take-out breaks, a lot of us cook 365 dinners in a row. Even me, the guy who thinks about kitchen equipment and tries out recipes all day, then goes to bed with a cookbook for soothing pre-nap read – I’m tired of cooking. Specifically, I am tired of knowing what to eat.

This cognitive load of what to cook is real. It’s a lot of work when you do it week after week. Also, in this age of trying to minimize our grocery shopping, you need to get multiple meals worth food at every store. It means something simple, but intimidating: you need a meal plan. To do this, you can get more screen time and browse online for recipes. You can pull a few favorite cookbooks from your shelves or head to the grocery store and see which frozen foods are named after you.

By chance I found relief in an unlikely place a few months ago Ends + rods, an online subscription service dedicated to creating meal plans that reduce food waste. Somewhere around this time, thanks to a cheddar scallion dip recipe from Melissa Clark, I also discovered the Five courses during the week newsletter The New York Times. It offers a mix of dinners for each week and can also be found on a full page of physical paper, tucked away in the At Home section, where it’s titled “Five Dishes to Cook This Week.”

My wife Elisabeth and I had went up to see his mom in Vancouver for several weeks in October, and on the kitchen table was a stack of “Five Dishes” pages cut from the paper, waiting to be baked. We tried a bit with them while we were up there, but back home in Seattle the practicality of it really started; the days were short, the country was in turmoil and my attention span was… was I saying something?

I started in earnest with the December 20 issue, with a working week of both familiar and comforting dishes, foods like grilled salmon with herbs and chicken with green olives, and ideas that gave me the opportunity to learn some new tricks. , starting with Andrea Nguyen umami garlic noodles with mustard leaves. I never cook with mustard greens, and here they are, folded into Japanese ramen with an intriguing sauce made from cornstarch, MSG, sugar, oyster sauce, and a little noodle cooking water. The dish had a pleasantly high pleasure / effort ratio. The next night we chopped a kabocha squash into bite-sized pieces, sautéed it, then braised in half a cup of broth. (Side note: Did you know that kabocha squash skin is edible? I didn’t! Total time saver.) The recipe, from Cynthia Chen McTernan, ends with the broth softening the sharp corners of the squash and cooking until a sort of sauce. Sprinkle chopped green onions on top and you’re done. I ended up eating it once or twice as a cold midnight snack, topping it with a squirt of gochujang, an accidental and sublime pairing.

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Five Weeknight Dishes began in late 2018 as a newsletter run by Emily weinstein, Associate Editor The New York Times and editor of NOW Cooking. Between the end of 2019 and the end of 2020, commonly known in my house as the Early Covid Era, the newsletter saw a 300% increase in subscribers.


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