On microhistory and meal planning

Way, waaaaay back when I was doing my undergrad degree, I took a course in microhistory. The focus was creating websites on the history of Victoria, and you can see the (fairly laughable) results of my final project here. The main idea of microhistory (as I remember it, and I’m definitely not an expert) is essentially to look at history through the lens of its impact on the small, the everyday, and the mundane. To zero in on specific events and people who wouldn’t typically appear in the history books you slogged through in high school, and find out what their lives were like. Does anyone even do microhistory anymore? If they do – or if it’s still around a hundred years from now – researchers will have no shortage of data to work with. Whereas we students had to sift carefully through our local archives to pick up the fine thread of a story, historians of the future will have entire lives at their fingertips, carefully curated and documented by the subjects themselves on Facebook and personal blogs. Want to know what Joe McGillicuddy was doing when Justin Trudeau won the 2015 federal election? Well, you’re in luck, because he posted a picture on Instagram.

So, I’m about to do these future microhistorians a huge favour (hey guys! How’s the future? Did we ever figure out hoverboards, or time travel, or how to keep purse straps from falling off our shoulders?). You see, I’m married to a butcher, and his busy season is quickly approaching. And this butcher, oh, how I love him, but he gets a wee bit cranky when (a) he’s hungry, and (b) I make him stop at the grocery store on his way home every single day because I just decided what to make for dinner and we don’t have any of the ingredients, especially when (c) he’s working ridiculously long hours with no days off for a month. And I love to cook, and I love to decide what we’re going to eat at the absolute last possible minute, but it’s just not working for us anymore. So, in what’s surely another step in my inexorable journey to grown-up-hood, I’ve started meal planning. Justin works Tuesday to Saturday, so every Sunday I sit down and map out what we’re going to eat during the week, and what ingredients we need. Then we all go out grocery shopping, which incidentally is one of my very favourite activities (and the only type of shopping I actually enjoy). Then Sunday and Monday we cook together (Sundays while watching The Walking Dead), and the rest of the week it’s pretty much all on me. So far I’m finding that this is a good opportunity to make use of all the beautiful cookbooks I’ve collected over the years and barely touched, as well as the hundreds of recipes I’ve filed away in my bookmarks because I don’t believe in Pinterest (because I’m a Luddite). I’m also trying to make things I can freeze half of so that when the insanity of turkey season begins at the butcher shop, we’ll have plenty of things we can reheat. At any rate, I thought posting about it might help keep me motivated, since although cooking is definitely one of my things, planning is not so much. So here’s what we’re having this week…

Sunday: Chicken fajitas (Justin’s mum’s recipe) – I use the term “fajitas” loosely, since this is a total mum recipe that is not only baked, but also involves a cheese sauce made using a Miracle Whip based roux. Also, this incredible pudding cake from Foodess (only with orange instead of lemon) for dessert. I may have also made it last night. It’s the weekend.

Monday: Prime rib – I suspect Justin’s going to do most of the cooking, because meat.

Tuesday: Turkey burgers with sour cream sumac sauce from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem

Wednesday: Creamy squash, spinach, and chicken polenta casserole from Food52

Thursday: Farinata and eggplant involtini from the Williams Sonoma Essentials of Italian book

Friday: Best of Bridge bean soup from this book

Saturday: Rachael Ray’s Penne with pancetta, peas and mascarpone

I’ll leave it to the microhistorians of the future to analyze what all this means.

This one's from last week. It was good too.
This one’s from last week. It was good too. (from Half Baked Harvest)

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