Have you ever been in a cooking rut where you cooked the same thing over and over?
Actually, it was more like centrifugal force than a rut.
Twice, it got so bad that even my kids complained.
Note: I realize that this entire post is indicative of First World Problems. Please don’t judge.
The first time was due to a seafood bonanza sale when I went into a frenzy over large scallops that were $6/lb. I bought 15 lbs, brought them home and vacuum packed them into 1 lb bags and froze them. While I thought it possible that the scallops would last a year in the freezer cutely secure in their vacuum package, the thought of having absolutely no room in the freezer for that long was sort of a motivator to eat them more quickly. Afterall, we had only a kitchen freezer.(Our life with 2 large basement freezers was still to be.) Space for ice cream, chicken broth and leftovers was now becoming scarce. So, once a week I made something with scallops: scallop mousse, scallop scampi, scallop kabobs, scallop chowder, scallop bruschetta, etc.
After the second month of scallops, Number 1 daughter inquired what was for dinner when she got home from school. Upon being informed we were having scallop lasagne, she exclaimed, “Scallops! Again!? Geez!” And she ambled off to finish her homework with a bag of Oreos and a glass of milk. “Hey, most kids don’t even get scallops once a year. Most kids don’t even know what they are! There are starving children in China who would love this! You should be grateful,” I could be heard calling down the hallway. This sort of reminded me of the venison lament at my household as a child. Scallops: the other venison.
The second time was actually worse, and it was inadvertent. Our whole family loves veal shanks. Our kids grew up sucking the marrow out the bones and dribbling osso bucco sauce down their chins. Mr. Artifacts’ mother introduced us to this, and we have been fans ever since.
I was hankering for some osso bucco, so I visited my favorite butcher Gino (at Antipasto’s in San Jose, CA) and inquired about the possibility of some veal shanks. There were none today, but he could get them by the end of the week. Great, I need four.
At the end of the week, I went by to retrieve my veal shanks. I piled the counter up with some sauces and pasta and wine that Gino had at the butcher store. Some friends came in and we chatted while Gino got my shanks. There was so much visiting and talking that I never even looked at the credit card receipt. Gino was putting the bags into my car. (Why were there so many bags?)
Then I was saying goodbyes to friends and waving across the hood of the Suburban (this was such a rush of adulation.. . .like a scene out of Hello Dolly!). Gino loaded my packages in the back, opened my car door and gave me kiss on the cheek (something new). He asked, “Dear, what are you going to do with all these veal shanks? Are you having a party?”
“No, no,” I replied. “We just love them, and we will probably have my mother-in-law over for dinner.”
When I got home, I realized that I had just bought four whole veal legs, all nicely cut into 2 inch chops. (Four! from an entire baby cow! Almost 30 individual veal shank chops.). No wonder there were so many bags (kiss explained also).
I gave my mother-in- law a some of these (shanks, not kisses). The rest went the way of the scallops: osso bucco, ragout, shanks and chard in cream sauce, with beans and tomatoes, chili veal shanks, shanks with peppers and paprika, etc.
Then came that fateful evening when the kids complained, “not veal shanks again!”
I think the last straw was when I tried to make BBQ grilled shanks. I did get a lot of really great veal stock out of this adventure, though.
For the record, Mr. Artifact never complained.
That said, he is getting tired of quiches. . .a story for another time.