Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Fast, Fresh, & Flexible: Freestyle Meal Planning System

New Year, New Food Plan 

Let's face it, the new year always brings the urge to retool your eating plan, and most likely drop a few pounds.  All those fresh fruits and vegetables that seemed to be absent during the holiday season turn into the things you crave the most.

I'll admit I didn't start right at the beginning of the year, because I was fortunate enough to score tickets (yes, you buy a ticket and pre-pay, like a sporting event or theater show) to the hottest restaurant in the country, Grant Achatz's Next Restaurant in Chicago.  The menu changes completely several times a year, and this iteration was called "Childhood".  It was hands down the most inventive, playful, and delicious meal I've ever enjoyed.

The course pictured below, served in a hollowed out log filled with juniper branches and hot rocks which released the juniper's fragrance, was intended to evoke a feeling of walking through the woods. And it did!

Walk in the Woods course from Next Restaurant
After a great weekend of eating my way through Chicago, I knew it was time to get back on track.  I stocked up on fresh fruit and vegetables, and pulled some chicken and pork tenderloin from the freezer.  I've switched over all of my containers to clear glass.  And despite my enormous cookbook collection, I started cooking pretty much on the fly, after a little prep after shopping.

I always have something ready to turn into a meal quickly, and unlike the marathon freezer meal sessions, I'm not stuck eating the same thing over and over. It's reduced waste (I can clearly see what needs to be used first), it's increased my vegetable intake, and it saves me time.

I'm calling it - Fast, Fresh, & Flexible: Freestyle Meal Planning System, and I'm doing seminars to teach you how to set up the system for yourself.  The Basic class will cover how to set up your pantry and fridge, along with basic knife skills, and some basic formulas for recipe free cooking.  Future sessions will focus more on techniques like steaming, sautéing, roasting and braising, and advanced sessions will cover equipment like pressure cookers and vacuum sealing, that complement the system, but aren't necessary to make it work.

First session will be held Saturday, February 11th at my kitchen from 1-3 pm. Cost is $55.  Email me at dineindiva(at)yahoo(dot)com to reserve your space (subbing @ and . of course).