Meal Plan; 16-20 January – From Japan to Cuba

Finally. Our family has fully recovered from COVID, and the kids are back in school. The first two weeks of 2023 were somewhat challenging for several reasons.

  1. Our oldest daughter traveled back to Florida. We miss her dearly but are happy that she has met many great friends and is thriving. And she has a boyfriend, which means she is loving life and is not as attached to her parents any longer. We are now nagging her when we ask for updates or remind her about different things.
  2. Our son, who is non-verbal and with Down Syndrome, was stuck at home due to COVID. Being away from school can cause him to digress, although we try to train with him daily. That said, he LOVES watching movies and getting food served, so I’m sure he had a blast.
  3. My wonderful wife was made redundant before Christmas. It is not easy to accept being let go for no apparent reason, but she is fighting hard to get a new job. She is very talented and will find something soon, but it is a blow to her ego, and she was not expecting to look for a new job already.
  4. Our youngest daughter caught COVID but had no symptoms whatsoever. We only found out because she suddenly decided to get tested. Not because she felt terrible but because everybody else got tested at home, so she did not want to feel left out.

Thankfully I could spend time working from home and was a caretaker for most of the family while still working full-time. I’m not complaining, and thankfully, it is the beginning of the year, so the first week was somewhat calm.

Martin Luther King Jr Day

We celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. on the 16th of January. It is a federal holiday in the United States, and it’s observed on the third Monday of January each year. Mr. King’s actual birthday is January 15, 1929.

Martin Luther King Jr. is a key figure and spokesperson for nonviolent activism in the Civil Rights Movement during the 1950s and 1960s. He is most well-known for his campaigns to end racial segregation on public transport and for racial equality in the United States in federal and state laws.

MLK was a fantastic preacher and public speaker, sending strong messages of unity, fighting against racism, and demanding equal rights. Some progress has been made, but still a long way to go.

In 1963 he spoke at the Jobs & Freedom event in Washington DC, where he gave his famous “I have a dream” speech, which lasted 17 minutes. More than 250,000 people attended this march.

He won the peace Nobel prize in 1964 and was unfortunately assassinated under suspicious circumstances in 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee. A significant loss to humanity and the fight against racism and equality.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.… We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” 

Martin Luther King Jr

Disney on Ice (DoI)

I rarely win anything, so it was a huge surprise when I won tickets in an office raffle. Not just any tickets, but tickets to see Disney on Ice from a corporate box. No better way to enjoy a concert or other event than from the comfort of a private lounge with drinks, food, and snack.

Ok, I admit it. I would rather see some kick-ass rock concert, ice hockey, or basketball game, but DoI was a pretty sweet experience too. Not every day, you get to see highly talented ice skaters perform in various Disney outfits – I was especially impressed with the two people dressed as a horse and still skating across the arena.

I’ve been to several events in the past where I was invited to a corporate box. But, I was not sure what catering (food and beverages) would be available at this particular event.

To play it safe, and because the event started at 7 pm, we decided to get some shitty fried food at the food court at the venue before heading up to the lounge. Nothing fancy or exotic. Just a couple of burgers with fries and some chicken tenders with fries.

Much to our delight, there was plenty of food in the corporate box, although it consisted of more burgers, hot dogs, tenders, and other unhealthy options. So, we ate and drank a bit more while entertained by Disney ice skating and singing. The kids had soft-serve ice cream before we left.

All-in-all, it was a great family event. The kids enjoyed it, and my wife was letting out small screams and yelps as the ice skaters were swinging on a trapeze made of fabric across the ice; while belting out, “I am Moana!”

Ramen, Pork, and some Chicken

This week we start in the far East with a dinner invented by the old Shogun masters on the foot of Mount Fujiyama as they prepared for battle with Mulan leading the dragon squad. That is a lie, but it sounds good, right?

It couldn’t be further from the truth, as legend says the dish was “invented” in 1953 in snowy Sapporo, Hokkaido. A drunk customer wanted to add noodles to the traditional Miso soup. The restaurant is Aji no Sanpei – a place I want to visit when we visit Japan.

I admit that making Spicy Ramen Miso soup is a lot simpler than I had expected. 25 minutes from start to finish.

We then jump in the cultural cuisine airplane and fly off to Cuba, where a bunch of guys was slow-cooking pork steaks alongside caramelized onion rings. I pimped up the dish with some delicious thyme and a can of ROTEL diced tomatoes. I baked it for almost two hours at 300F until the meat is ridiculously tender.

I also made chicken – again. We always eat chicken at least once a week. It is delicious and easy meat to prepare, and you can pair it with almost anything and cook it in 300 (or more) different ways.

Our youngest daughter asked if she could add some options to the meal plan. I was delighted and naively agreed, only to realize that she wanted Kraft Mac n Cheese and American breakfast for dinner. I guess that’s what happens when you let your 12-year-old daughter decide on dinner.

But, to select meals, she has to help. That’s the rule and the deal.

And, I do not accept box mac n cheese in my kitchen unless it is an end-of-the-world emergency. We keep a few boxes in the basement for a rainy day, and it hasn’t been raining hard enough to break off the atomic supply. So, I told her we are cooking mac n cheese from scratch and then smoking it on the Traeger.

Lastly, I whipped up a couple of simple school lunches using canned crescent and pizza dough. It goes against my baking religion, but sometimes we must sacrifice some quality to create a few easy lunches. And they love these creations. Some welcome, muffuletta, and braided Philly cheesesteak.

I almost forgot to mention my favorite sandwich, Banh Mi. It is hands down the best lunch option around, especially if you make it with a marinaded pork loin and some homemade red cabbage slaw. Any person will love these sandwiches.

MondayMartin Luther King Jr. Day
– no school
Spicy Miso Ramen
TuesdayBanh Mi with marinated pork and red cabbage slawChicken & potato with creamy Dijon sauce
WednesdayBraided Philly cheesesteakCuban Mojo pork with quinoa
ThursdayMuffuletta pizza rollsReal Mac n Cheese … not the shit from Kraft!
FridayCiabatta with mozzareall and pestoBreakfast, but for dinner – pancakes, waffles, eggs, orange juice, etc.

One day, I might get so organized that I will link the meals below to my recipes. We can only live in hope!

Have a fantastic week, my friends. I hope you enjoy these meal plans. It is much easier to make food in advance, although you must invest several hours preparing meals during the weekend.

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