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Vision in the Kitchen

Posted Sep 17 2010 12:00am

“If I could save time in a bottle,
The first thing that I’d like to do
Is to save every day ‘til eternity
passes away, just to spend them with you.”

~ Jim Croce, American songwriter and folk singer (1943-1963)

Earlier this week I spent some time on the campus of Wayne State University in Detroit. A young, single mom told me that she tried to avoid bringing processed foods into her home, but often those were all she could afford. Access to really fresh foods in the city is limited, and often much more expensive than in the suburbs. So, her question to me was, “How can I generate variety, and therefore interest, using the same old foods day after day?”

Great question and, fortunately, there are some easy options for you, Katrina, and other readers who are cash and time strapped.

First impressions aren’t limited to the people we meet. Our appetites can be stimulated or destroyed by what we see on the plate in front of us, so it is important to make the presentation interesting.

When planning a meal, give some thought to colors and textures. A bowl of squash soup is pretty, but can be boring on its own; but serve it with the Phyllo Flutes from Wednesday’s post – with no more effort than making a sandwich, and far less expensive – and it becomes gourmet.

When limited by ingredients, also think in terms of new and unexpected combinations. We get tired of sandwiches and we get bored with salads, but picture a salad served in a bread bowl. Same ingredients, same amount of time!

Simple sauces and dressings are also helpful in ramping up the interest, and are usually less expensive when homemade. Try this beautiful Sweet Raspberry Dressing that is faster to make than it would take to read the label on the store bought variety.

Whole wheat bread bowl with salad

Sweet Raspberry Dressing

¼ cup raspberry jam
¼ cup cider vinegar
½ cup canola oil

Measure ingredients into a blender container, cover securely, and process on the highest speed for 30 seconds. You’re done! Refrigerate leftovers.

Now that the sun is setting so much earlier, our time outdoors in the evening is becoming limited. We’ll be taking advantage of this weekend by doing as much cycling as possible. Finding a small farmer’s market tucked away in a park or alley will help us define dinner. Where will you get your inspiration?

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