Monday, April 18, 2011

Busy, busy, busy -- must get back to a menu plan, week of 2011-04-18 plus Paneer Manchurian

Okay, so we're on this season's third (or is it the fourth?) complete new set of seedling flats under the lights. Lettuces, cabbages, broccoli, kale, spinach, lots of onions, some potatoes, horseradish, sugar snap peas, and some other cool weather veggies (daikon radishes? bok choy?) that I can't recall right now (nor ask DH because he's at work...) are growing out in the garden. The latest batch of seedlings, which DH spent part of the past weekend potting up in newspaper pots, is mainly tomatoes and peppers. We're getting ready for warm weather and the last average frost date for our area which is around May 15.

DS and I try to spend a couple hours every day weeding, trimming back herbs and mowing. Just yesterday I found, under the leaf mulch, two rhubarb starts that were planted late last year and I thought were lost to the fall's dry weather -- Cherry, I think, and Canada Red. Or maybe they're both Canada Red. I definitely need to keep better gardening notes...

And thinking of garden journaling, I should note that DH set out another grape vine last week, a seedless red called Reliance, plus, in an area of the backyard where plants often fail to thrive or even die because of the many black walnut trees, he put a couple of currant bushes. Currants, along with raspberries, are included on many plant lists suggested for tolerance to juglone. I'm determined to find productive plants that can co-exist, even thrive, with the black walnuts.

So whenever time is short (and, really, when isn't it?) I know I need to plan a menu in order to make the best use of available foods, leftovers, and prep time. Otherwise we end up stopping for a sub sandwich or chinese takeout when we'd be better off budgetwise and foodwise to eat at home or take a packed lunch with us. Not to mention it seems silly to spend so much time growing our own food only to declare we don't have time to prepare and eat it! So back to menu planning for me.

Monday, April 18
Potato soup with ham bits and fresh chives

Tuesday, April 19
Spaghetti with meat sauce
Carrots and celery sticks with ranch dressing as a dip

Wednesday, April 20
Egg salad or homemade pimiento cheese sandwiches
Harvey House slaw
Peach crisp

Thursday, April 21
Paneer Manchurian (recipe follows) over brown rice or noodles
Stir-fried vegetables (whatever's in the crisper or ready in the garden)
Stewed rhubarb

Friday, April 22
Scrambled eggs and/or sausage patties
Homemade biscuits and apple butter

Saturday, April 23
Country-style steak with gravy
Mashed potatoes
Green beans
Pickled beets

Sunday, April 24
Potato salad
Cold ham
Yeast rolls
Fruit salad
Oatmeal cookies or gingersnaps

Paneer Manchurian

This is adapted from a recipe I found at The sauce is wonderful with the paneer but equally good on cubed and sauteed chicken or tofu, too.

12 to 16 ounces paneer, cubed
2 tablespoons grated ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 poblano pepper, diced or other fresh pepper of your choice
1 cup chopped onion
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon sriracha sauce
up to 1/4 cup vegetable oil, divided

In a medium saucepan, heat a tablespoon of oil and add ginger, garlic, pepper and onion to saute. Stir in the soy sauce, ketchup and hot sauce after the onions have started to turn translucent and cook for a couple of minutes to blend flavors.

Meanwhile, heat a wok or iron skillet over high heat and add 2 tablespoons oil. Toss in half of the paneer and lightly brown on all sides, stirring or tossing as for stir-frying. Remove the toasted paneer to a holding dish or, if the sauce is finished, add to saucepan and toss lightly to coat. Add remaining 1 tablespoon of oil, if necessary, and repeat with the rest of the paneer. Serve with rice or noodles, if desired.

Notes: I use my home-canned Western Gourmet Ketchup but regular ketchup or even a thick tomato sauce (spicy or plain) would work, too.
I use a poblano pepper and opt for a hot sriracha sauce however it could be switched around a bit by choosing a hotter pepper but a milder sweet chile-garlic sauce instead of sriracha.