Meal Plan; 27-31 March – The Saw is Family, far east dinners, and Viking daughter’s birthday

Is it already Monday again? A new week has already started, but the weekend seemed so short. The old saying “time flies when you have fun” certainly has an element of truth. We need to explore a 4-day work week, but I’m afraid the weekend will still be too short.

Viking Daughter’s Day

You know you are getting older when your oldest “kid” has moved out to attend university, and the youngest is soon joining the teenager category. However, she thinks she’s already passed the teenage era.

Our beautiful Viking daughter turned a corner and moved into her final teenage year. So, unfortunately, she is far from home and will have to spend her birthday away from the family, surrounded by excellent friends she’s made in the past year.

We had serious doubts about her ability to provide for herself while living 3 hours by plane away from the family’s safety. Suddenly she has to wash and dry clothes, understand budgets, get food, and look after her medical visits.

Moving out can be a harsh smack of reality, but she has impressed us with how well she adapted to living alone and continues to show that she’s more than capable of being an adult. She even found a job to pay for her student loan and earn some spending money.

Anvil & Chainsaw

On a Sunday afternoon, there’s something titillating about chainsaws, anvils, firepits, beers, and old music. It brings me back to my Viking days and gets my masculinity burst with pride when I can do some outdoor or garage DIY shit.

Some months ago, I got my hands on a piece of railroad rail just because I could and asked a friend to help cut it. Cutting this in my garage would’ve been a decade-long effort. Instead, a friend of a friend had the proper tools and shaped this sucker in no time, and it only cost me two cigars.

Having an anvil is overkill for me. It is not like I’ll be doing much ironwork, but it looks damn cool in my garage. And I’m cutting a nice piece of oak log to mount it on. People who visit will be amazed that I have an anvil and might even think that I know what I’m doing.

The weather had improved significantly on Sunday afternoon, so I started my forest-clearing project. Before all you climate freaks and conservationists start screaming, it is proper forest management to prune trees. It also gives me a shitload of firewood for my firepit fetish.

From afar, and when I glance at the forest from the safety of my deck, clearing the fallen trees shouldn’t take more than an afternoon – or so I thought.

Little did I know that cutting through large oak logs would challenge most chainsaw chains, meaning I had to change the chains a few times to keep going. It is bloody hard for a man my age to attempt lumberjack chores, especially as I’m not trained or experienced in this field.

After two hours and two chains, I called it a day. I made good progress but a lot more to do.

The worst part of outdoor work was that I quickly discovered muscles I had not used or knew existed, and my body suddenly felt worn and in pain.

The best remedy is to sit by the fire pit while enjoying a cold beer and contemplating how to start the family Sunday dinner. I love cooking over a fire, and today I had paella on the menu.

Outdoor Paella

Sitting by the fire pit, feeling sorry for myself, I laid an evil plan for preparing today’s paella on my trusted Breeo firepit. Cooking over the fire is so much fun; you often enjoy an adult beverage while cooking.

I smoked several chicken drumsticks on the Traeger while I washed and prepared the squid and shrimp. Yes, I made seafood paella, a dish my wife loves.

The meat sizzled nicely on the large Lodge Cast Iron paella pan, and once the rice and liquids we added, I let it simmer for 30-40 minutes. Even if I was sitting outside with a beer and music, the aroma and sounds from the firepit made me hungry.

Cooking over the fire gives the meal an extra flavor. It is hard to describe, but there’s something magical and rudimental about preparing food over the fire. The ancestral and Viking genes start jumping inside, and a sudden pride rises when the meal is lifted off the fire and served.

The ‘uuhs’ and ‘aahs’ from the family and the sight of them digging into the meal you just prepared is phenomenal.

I apologize; I also had to make the famous shotgun shells you find on many social media platforms. All celebrity BBQ dudes present these mouthwatering wonders.

Man, I do not know why I waited this long to try these cardiac arrest-enticing creations. Each shotgun shell was hand-stuffed with Italian pork ground, creme cheese, grated cheese mixture, and the magic rub from my friends over at Meat Church – and then wrapped with a nice slice of bacon.

Once you have stuffed the oversized pasta shells and wrapped them with bacon, you must let them rest for at least four hours in the fridge. I let my shotgun shells rest overnight and then smoked them for an hour at 250F.

After one hour, I increased the temperature to 375F and brushed each shell with a hot n sweet BBQ sauce.

My cardiologist and family doctor will not be happy with me if they learn that I ate some of these delicious shogun shells. So perhaps I should bring a few to my next appointment so they can appreciate proper food.

Eastern and Indian Cooking

I have noticed that we have a lot of food leftover during a regular week. I usually cook four dinners weekly, and we have a mix of leftovers by Friday. So either we eat less, or I make too much food. Nevertheless, I’ve decided only to prepare three main courses from now on.

Preparing fewer meals opens the opportunity to explore more complex dishes and prepare nicer school lunches for the kids. It is a win-win.

Indian food is a family favorite, so I chose a nice creamy chicken Tikka Masala. I added more chicken pieces and tomato sauce, allowing us to enjoy the meal twice this week.

While exploring Indian cuisine, I got enticed to cook a Thai dish too, and picked a simple Thai shrimp soup. Damn easy and packed with flavors from exotic Southeast Asia. I would love to visit Thailand and Vietnam and sample all their excellent dishes.

I’m working from home one day this week. This an excellent chance to attempt another fast seafood dish; pan-fried cod with grape tomatoes, with a simple salad on the side.

For the kids, I baked some Texan-inspired kolaches that I tried when I visited Texas in November of 2022. These little sweet bread rolls are stuffed with sausages and cheese. I stuffed my version with chicken sausages and sliced chicken thighs.

In addition, I made a giant stromboli stuffed with sliced meats, spinach, and grated mozzarella, and sprinkled with parmesan and Italian herbs.

I baked two bread loaves in a Dutch Oven on the Traeger. Delicious and soft, and the best way to bake bread. One bread is stuffed with fresh jalapenos and grated mozzarella; the other is a simple load with everything topping. The latter will be used for the bacon, guacamole, and cheese melt.

Lunch & Dinner

MondayChopped mixed saladChicken Tikka Masala
TuesdayBacon guacamole melted cheeseChicken Tikka Masala
WednesdayTexas Czech sausage & cheese kolachesThai Shrimp Soup
ThursdayStromboli DeluxePan-fried fish with roasted potatoes
FridayStromboli DeluxeFamily Food Fun Time

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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