I like to cook. Sometimes my daughter likes to eat.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Back pocket dinners

Every parent needs a few back pocket dinners, something you always have in the pantry that comes together quickly that everyone will eat, for those nights when nothing goes to plan but yet the children must be fed. Restaurants often don't work on nights like these, because the parking and waiting variables can throw an off night into disaster territory. Some nights, I need to know dinner will be on the our table quickly and eaten, so I can get MZ up to bed without fear of throwing off tomorrow.

I keep a freezer full of frozen dumplings for nights like these, and as long as I don't serve them too often, I get the added bonus of being a complete hero for serving my family's favorite food. Boil some dumplings and some frozen edamame and dinner is on the table in 10 minutes. Little else is that quick, healthy and popular.

So when I read about Maya Kaimal's simmer sauces on DALS a few months ago, I made a note. I'm not usually a fan of jarred sauces, they're usually dull and viscous with way too much sodium and fat, not to mention the preservatives. These are refrigerated, so they actually have an expiration date, and the ingredients are pretty straightforward. And I trust DALS on the taste front, so on my shopping list they went.

I looked and looked for them. No luck at Whole Foods, Molly Stones, not even Rainbow Grocery. They stayed on my list, but I was losing hope. And then one day MZ and I found ourselves at the new Whole Foods - Haight and they were giving out samples of the Tikka Masala sauce with frozen peas, corn and carrots over basmati rice. And MZ LOVED it. She asked to go back for another sample. She asked me to buy all the ingredients and make it exactly the way they did. And R was on his way to China so I was all like, Yeah! Easy dinner, I'm in.

And DALS was right, dinner was on the table in 20 minutes with time to chat, wash hands, set the table. It was downright leisurely. I put on the rice, surreptitiously chopped and steamed some carrots because I had them, heated the sauce and then hung out with her until it was time to add the vegetables and serve. She scraped her plate clean and asked for more.

If I was really rushed, I'd use TJs frozen brown rice and all frozen vegetables and dinner would be ready in 10 minutes. But I'm already planning to try the coconut curry sauce for some frozen okra I have on hand from my gumbo foray, and that chicken and spinach with the tamarind sauce looks pretty good too. So grateful for another item to keep in my back pocket.

Labels: , ,