It’s challenging enough in normal times to get dinner on the table on a busy weekday. Toss in a pandemic? I’m lost. At this point, I barely know what day it is, except for the display on my smart phone screen. Before COVID, managing the “life” part of the work-life balance felt easier because I ran my errands more frequently and rarely had trouble finding what I wanted. My three-stop errand run yesterday proved once again all that has changed.
Food shopping today is like being trapped in a real-life version of “Guy’s Grocery Games” on Food Network, where contestants have 20 minutes to put together a specific kind of meal, but they are blocked from using key ingredients, forced to use something that doesn’t belong, or prohibited from using a shopping cart. It’s exactly how I feel when I show up to shop, fully armed with a list and a plan, only to discover that half my items are unavailable. And just for the heck of it, let’s throw in social distancing efforts, with “one way” arrows on the floor in each aisle. I commend my favorite markets for their commitment to safety. I’m the one with adjustment disorder. My hat is off to anyone who does what I do plus handling the needs of a family with children or elderly parents. I can’t imagine.
By the time I finished yesterday’s scavenger hunt, my glasses were fogged up (again) and I was out of energy, out of ideas and out of time to pull together anything resembling a nutritious meal for my husband and myself. Take-out salads from a reliable restaurant on the route home saved my sanity and satisfied our dinnertime hunger.
When the weekend finally arrives and I have more time and motivation to make something really special—that’s what I love, and in turn, my love becomes a central element in those dishes. I like to think of them as “Sunday Suppers,” not because they are unsuitable for weeknights, but because they provide a reset for the upcoming busy week.
The all-day stews, hearty soups, casseroles and roasts—these “Sunday Supper” kind of recipes—are my favorite foods to make. They aren’t necessarily fancy, but they require more time, a few extra ingredients and a bit more patience. They are, as Etta James sang, an edible example of “Sunday kind of love.” The whole house will be filled with aromas as the meal develops and, if you’re lucky, you’ll have leftovers to enjoy later in the week when life is running at its usual hectic pace.
Remember the lentil moussaka recipe I shared a few months ago? I would place it firmly in the category of “Sunday Supper,” given the number of ingredients and steps involved in making it. Notice that I didn’t say the recipe is complicated, because it isn’t. Or maybe pork chops and applesauce is more in your wheelhouse, with handy shortcuts offered by a slow cooker and quick brine. I’ll have plenty more menus to offer, so if you have free time on the weekend and enjoy trying new things in the kitchen, watch your inbox for more of my own favorites in a new series called Sunday Supper.
To get things going, I offer lemon mushroom chicken, an old standby that we were happy to welcome back into rotation recently. The ingredients are easy to find and if you can slice mushrooms, squeeze a lemon and turn on your stove—well, you’ve got this. The magic happens in just one skillet, your kitchen will smell amazing, and I promise you’ll taste the love.
And because I believe Sunday Supper should end on a sweet note, I’m also giving you this cherry-amaretto upside-down skillet cake. It’s one of the ways I found to enjoy this year’s beautiful bounty of sweet summer cherries. Enjoy!