Resolutions (not too late)

I know it’s well after the first of the year, but it’s still a fine time to make a few resolutions. So here are mine – for the garden and kitchen.

I will not plant all of my tomato seedlings. I will pick the four best of each variety and discard or give away the rest so I don’t have five bushels to make into sauce during the heat of August. Besides, who eats that much spaghetti, anyway? (Okay, maybe I’ll put just a few plants in a quiet corner of the cold frame to see if they do better than the others or just in case we have a freak hail storm that kills all the ones I plant in the garden beds).

I will wear my garden hat. I have a great hat and fixed it up with a handy tie to hold it on my head last year. Too often, though, I just step into the garden to look around for a minute and end up with dirty hands and a sunburned nose. Besides, hats give a gardener character and I could always use a little more character.

I will check my slug traps every night. By July, when I’m sick of slimy fingers and it feels like I’m losing the battle, I will try to keep the attitude that they are personally insulting me by eating my hostas and lettuce. That way I’ll keep squashing until I get rid of every last one.

To reduce my use of plastic, I’m using glass jars for refrigerator storage of leftovers. And I take organic cotton bags in which to put my greens, cabbage, brussels sprouts, and other vegetables rather than using grocery plastic bags. Occasionally a check-out person looks at me a little doubtfully, but when I explain what they are and why I’m using them, I usually get a happy thumbs-up.

In my kitchen, I’m resolving to clean the kitchen every night before bed. A clean kitchen makes it enticing to cook. I just put myself in zen mode, run a sink full of soapy warm water and ease myself into bedtime with warm hands and a good feeling.

I’m simplifying my cooking by planning menus ahead of time instead of doing it while pushing a shopping cart. I buy less, and if I keep the meals as simple as possible, any of my family can fix the meal. I’m trying for dishes with five ingredients or less. I can then pull out the stops on weekends for recreational cooking.

I will cull my recipe clipping file. I have a pretty good stash, so many that it’s not really feasible to try them all. So, when it’s quiet in the evening, I’ll go through them and select a few to try, maybe one or two a week. The ones that are good, I’ll add to my cookbook immediately. The rest I’ll toss. I won’t keep up my grandmother’s tradition of noting “not good” on it and sticking it back in the file.

And finally, I’m going to try not cave in to buying new stuff for the kitchen. I absolutely love gadgets but enough is enough. Although I’m thinking that maybe I need one of the cool air fryers……

Perhaps most importantly, I resolve to get outside into the garden at least half an hour every day. Even if just for a walk-through. It’s a matter of changing my mindset to make the garden an integral part of my day instead of simply a peripheral thing full of chores that need doing.

Sheet Pan Dinner

Salmon and green beans

For a simple, delicious dinner for two, try this basic sheet pan dinner. One pan, easy clean-up and an endless choice of flavors:ssa

Choose a protein, two or three vegetables and herbs of your choice.

Proteins:

  • Any type of mild fish filet – tilapia, cod, sole, haddock
  • Chicken breast
  • Pork chops
  • Ham
  • Kielbasa
  • Hot or sweet italian sausage
  • Andouille sausage
  • Turkey breast or leg
  • Tofu (marinated will have the best flavor – marinate your own or purchase it marinated)
  • Seitan
  • Chickpeas

Vegetables:

  • Zucchini
  • Summer squash
  • Winter squash such as butternut or delicata
  • Pumpkin
  • Tomatoes
  • Eggplant
  • Peppers, sweet and chile
  • Root vegetables: carrots, potatoes, parsnip, turnip, rutabaga, beet
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Mushrooms of all kinds
  • Edamame

Sheet pan chicken thighs with vegetables

Preheat oven to 450°. Place vegetables in a roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil. Drizzle the protein with a little olive oil and then salt and pepper to taste. Nestle in with vegetables. Sprinkle chopped herbs on top and roast 35-40 minutes. If cooking meat, test with a thermometer for doneness.

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