Kitchen Year: Dinner Traditions

Tonight, I was making a batch of pfeffernuesse after putting in a few hours of schoolwork, which has come so very slowly these past few weeks, but that’s an entirely different story. While baking, I remembered that I also had some of Mollie’s double chocolate mint cookie dough in the freezer to take to my family’s holiday celebration this weekend.  I’ve made those mint cookies for the holidays ever since the cookbook featuring them came out in 2009.  I love the texture of the dough, and the generous spoonfuls of peppermint extract and the equally generous handfuls of chocolate chips.

My mind began to rabbit hole, as it often does when I’m thinking and cooking or baking, and I started to think about traditions. I’ve felt, as I’ve crossed the threshold solidly into my 30’s, that there is generally a lot of societal pressure to have traditions.  Most notably, traditions surrounding family, raising kids, attending the same events year after year, (usually with said kids, if you please),  patronizing the same businesses your grandparents did, etc etc.  While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with traditions, and they can be lovely in their own right, they feel abstract to me, as a person who hasn’t sought or cultivated typical ones.

Even with food, I tend to cook more experimentally rather than remaking what I’ve made before. This is typically because my cookbook fiendishness means I’m always wanting to try new recipes and techniques.

I thought for my first kitchen year post, I’d make a list of things that seem to be in my lunch and dinner rotation, traditionally, year after year; and, I invite you to share your rotating lunch-dinner traditions in the comments. Who knows, maybe we’ll be inspired to create new traditions for ourselves and those we cook for.

My Yearly Dinner Traditions

Crustless Quiche: usually with potatoes or zucchini, greens, herbs, and cheese; sometimes with raisins and nuts, surprising but good

Scrambled Tofu: usually with mushrooms, kale, spices like cumin, a squeeze of lemon, and a sprinkle of nutritional yeast for that final hippie essence

Potato and Chickpea Curry: with chutney, over rice

Red Lentil Soup

Pasta with No-Cook Sauce: usually I make this in the summer with ripe and tiny cherry tomatoes, touches of basil and garlic, and a splash of olive oil

Roasted Vegetables, Moroccan-Style: with harissa, preserved lemon, and pumpkin seeds

Tabbouleh: also usually in the summer, with cucumbers and feta

These tofu, asparagus, and mushroom noodles, especially when I see the first asparagus in early spring

Risotto, with peas and mint in early summer, squash and kale in the fall, mushrooms anytime

Kasha Varnishkes: the melty, chewy, buttery wild card, so deeply comforting. I usually have it with sauteed mushrooms and homemade cranberry sauce on the side.

What do you love to cook over and over? What sustains you and your people year after year?

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