by Caroline

It’s been a month since I posted the first in this series and everybody is still happily eating roasted cauliflower, so I’m emboldened to post again. This time it’s a meal that Tony, years ago (pre-kids, pre-marriage) dubbed Sweetie Pie Supper because it’s what I would make for myself when he was out; the kids heard him refer to the meal that way once and, well, the name has stuck. It takes more preparation than some dinners, but it’s mostly just chopping, and you can do a bit at a time, far in advance, because if some of the dishes are hot and some are lukewarm, it’s really okay. What I’m posting here is not remotely a recipe, just a list of dishes that work well together and everyone (currently) likes.

Sweetie Pie Supper

I’m not dictating amounts, here; just make as much as you think it’ll take to feed your family.

carrots

potatoes

spinach, chard or kale

sweet potatoes

lentils with carmelized onion and/or white beans with tomato sauce

you will also need olive oil, salt and pepper, garlic, lemon juice, milk, butter, and a spoonful of brown sugar

cranberry sauce and gravy are nice additions if you have them

For the carrots:
Traditionally, I roasted them, but lately Ben is in charge of carrots so we make the Carrot Pennies recipe from Mollie Katzen’s cookbook for kids, Pretend Soup. You slice the carrots into pennies and steam them until they’re almost tender. Then melt a tablespoon of butter in a frying pan over medium heat, add a little brown sugar and a healthy squeeze of lemon juice. Add the carrots and stir until they’re nicely coated. The recipe calls for a sprinkling of sesame seeds, but Ben typically omits those.

For the potatoes:

A dear friend, years ago, told me she’d had such a hard time making mashed potatoes for her husband —¬† it hadn’t occurred to her to cook the potatoes before mashing. So with her in mind, I offer the order of things: Scrub, chop, and bring the potatoes to a boil in a pot of water, cook until tender, drain and then mash with milk and butter, salt and pepper.

For the sweet potatoes:
Peel, slice, toss with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast at about 425, stirring a couple times, until tender and caramelized around the edges.

For the greens:

Rinse well, remove any tough stems, and steam until tender. Drain, and then really squeeze out any excess water. Now chop the greens and saute them for a minute with some garlic and olive oil; add a squeeze of lemon juice at the end. Sprinkle toasted pine nuts and raisins on top if you’re feeling fancy. Expect that one of your children will pick the nuts and raisins out to eat, while the other one will pick them off and leave them on the side of the plate.

For the lentils and onion:

Slice the onion and saute it in a bit of butter or olive oil over low heat, stirring occasionally, until brown and caramelized. Add cooked lentils and stir. (Lentils boil quickly and don’t require any presoaking; still, the precooked ones can be pretty handy in a pinch).

For the white beans and tomato sauce:

If you’ve thought to presoak and then cook your cannelini beans, you have more foresight than I. For this dish, canned beans are perfectly acceptable; so, really, is jarred tomato sauce: combine the two and warm them up. If you happen to have homemade sauce, so much the better. A bit of rosemary¬† is a nice addition.