I haven’t talked that much about food in this very self-indulgent, free-ranging column, and yet I think about it every day, and cook it, too. I usually plan my menus for the day, and past that, while I swim. I think over what’s in the fridge to be used up, what’s coming up during the week, and when I might have time to adjust or augment my plans. Case in point: I have leftover flank steak and mashed potatoes from our birthday dinner for my 70-year-old friend. He didn’t want to take anything home. So, of course, it will be shepherd’s pie but there’s no gravy I had to look in the supermarket and had to ask for directions for canned gravy - never buy it. So that’s coming. I also had salad to use up; added a ripe avocado and had it for lunch yesterday. You know already that I’m a leftover cook.
I haven’t mentioned my spiralizer, have I? I had read about them and when I visited my daughter in August, she owned one and demonstrated. I love it. I bought one and used it for the first time for a cook I admire very much and she already had one ( wouldn’t you know?) but said she enjoyed my spiralized zucchini with pesto sauce and big shrimp.( NUM.) For those of you who do not know, but you probably all do, it’s a tube with a serrated blade at each end inside, one for thicker slicing, one for thin. You push and twist a zucchini (for example) down the tube, past the blad e, and out comes long spaghetti-like strands. Pat it/them? dry with a paper towel, cook in salted boiling water for no more than 3 minutes and serve with a sauce of your choice. It’s like pasta, only far far fewer calories and good for you because it’s a vegetable.
About the same time, I finally yielded to cauliflower rice. It’s easy: you can use a knife to chop this vegetable into fine bits that look like rice, or you can run it through your food processor. You can make stir-fry rice or pretend it’s mashed potatoes. It has solved a long-time problem for me. In latter years - very latter - I had stopped buying cauliflower. Most cauliflowers are bigger than my head and they are a definition of eternity: a cauliflower and one person. After I’ve made mashed ”potatoes” and stir-fried “rice”, I can handle steamed cauliflower with cheese sauce.
Do you know that one of the hardest jobs in the world (well, you know, - hyperbole - it’s rather difficult ) is the creation of an edible recipe? The creation is not the problem; the execution is. I edited a cookbook only once, during one of my stints as a writer-in-library when wabes were in invited to submit manuscripts, from 30 to 60 pages, depending on the circulatlon of the library and the number of manuscripts submitted . That cookbook needed a lot of editing, that is, straight, old-fashioned cutting. You all know Strunk and White’s most often repeated advice in their book “Elements of Style”:
Omit needless words. Omit needless words. And go heavy on the repetition.
One of these days, I’ll go through a week of menus with recipes, that is, if anyone wants to see that. You can let me know?