jenett: Big and Little Dipper constellations on a blue watercolor background (Default)
[personal profile] jenett posting in [community profile] group_paganism
Realised this might be a good topic here... I'm continuing to look for suggestions for a particular set of circumstances. (And as you'll see below, have some limits.)

Me: HPS of a (very small) coven: currently me and one prospective student, with the option of adding one more student sometime in the coming year.

Also a moderate simple cook: I do bake my own bread, make a variety of soups from scratch, etc. but my time/energy for extensive cooking is pretty limited right now.

The problem: Feeding people for discussion evenings (after work, when people want dinner) or after rituals with a minimum of fuss, time needed in last minute preparation, and moderate cost.



Events: Mostly in my (rented) home, which is small (400 square feet) - think studio apartment, except that it's a separate building.

Supplies:
- Gas stove and oven
- Fridge (but somewhat smaller than normal house size: not lots of extra storage beyond my ordinary groceries)
- No microwave
- Also no slow-cooker, but I'm seriously considering acquiring one. (So if you've got specific recommendations, please feel free.)

Also very limited counter space: 2' by 1', right next to the stove (which is why no microwave: the previous tenant had his microwave on top of the fridge, and I do not trust myself to climb off a step stool holding hot food.)

Timing:
- For discussion nights, I generally would be home an hour (maybe 2, depending on the day) before my student showed up. (Student is usually coming directly from work, and has limited chance to pick something up on the way. She's currently bringing small things that require limited storage - good cheese, cookies, etc. that can easily be carried.)

- For rituals, I prefer not to leave stuff cooking during ritual (though a crock-pot, when I get one, would be fine.) just in case we run long/get distracted, etc. Heating up my oven takes 15 minutes or so, and that's longer than I'd like before we get to the food stage after ritual.

My dream foods would:
- Have minimal last minute preparation (10 minutes or so at most)
- Not be heavily protein centered (i.e. "Take half a dozen chicken breasts and..." is not what I'm looking for.)
- Not require highly processed foods - there is a place for canned cream of whatever soup, and processed cheese, but that place is not in a post-class or post-ritual environment for me.

Stuff that's worked so far:
- Soup, good bread, good cheese
- Plate of summer foods (hummus, baba ganoush, etc.) with pita bread
- Pasta salads
- Sandwiches
- Chicken wild-rice stew
- Couscous with chicken, dried cranberries, and almonds. (Pre-cooked chicken, reheated in the broth for the couscous)
- Homemade pizza (ready to go in the oven when student shows up.)

However, I'd really like more cold-weather ideas. Recipes, in particular, of things that reheat well, hold well, or are flexible about timing. (Hot pasta is a favorite of mine when I'm on my own, but takes a bit longer than I'd ideally like for this purpose, since it's about 20 minutes between starting the water to boil and actually eating at best.)

Other limits:
- I'm also working full time (and then some): I usually need a break for a while when I get home. I'm up to about 10-15 minutes of food prep, but also need to do last-minute cleaning, and also sit down for an hour or so before being ready to teach/lead ritual.

- I do not want to break my budget (hence, part of why we're not going heavy on the protein-laden foods all the time.) My dream meal would come in under $6 for two people, or else produce plenty of leftovers I can eat later in the week. (but that will freeze well, so I don't have to eat the same thing every day for the rest of the week either.)

Date: 2009-11-29 10:49 pm (UTC)
tigira: (Default)
From: [personal profile] tigira
I'll sometimes make a whole roasted chicken - if we go a bit long and it gets a little overdone, it's not a terribly bad thing (except for one person who is not in my coven, so that's not an issue we need to deal with).

Other than that, I cannot stress enough how useful a crock pot can be, here. Really. Roasts, soups, chicken, rice, barley, beans - it can cover an awful lot of a meal for little effort and not a lot of cost. Pot roasting meats are usually the cheaper cuts, anyway, so it's also more affordable.

Date: 2009-11-30 03:01 am (UTC)
brock_tn: (Default)
From: [personal profile] brock_tn
I also would think crock-pot: stuff can be put in pot in the morning before work, and is ready to eat 6-8-10 hours later. Great for stews and similar things. Look for one with a modern sophisticated controller that automatically shifts to a "warm" setting when the programmed cooking time has completed. Also, you want one where the ceramic insert is removable for cleaning. The largish one I have is suitable for cooking chili for 8-10. You might want something smaller.

Warm stew and good bread, (even if the bread is not hot out of the oven,) can't be beaten for a winter supper.

Nearly infinite recipes for crockpot stuff online. Also, slow cooking at relatively low temps renders normally tough cuts of meat (which are relatively inexpensive,) tender and toothsome, as the connective tissues convert to gelatin. Which may stretch your budget some.

Date: 2009-11-30 04:23 am (UTC)
pj: (Default)
From: [personal profile] pj
If you go the crock pot route: recipes here: http://www.gather.com/viewArticle.action?articleId=281474977647546

Date: 2009-11-30 05:10 am (UTC)
lassarina: I'm not coming out until the stupid people have gone away.  ....I can wait all day. (Default)
From: [personal profile] lassarina
I am adding to the chorus of "crock pot is your friend."

I have a great potato soup that I make in the crock pot, recipe here. Chili, beef stews, etc. are also great choices and I can throw you some recipes for those--not only do you prep the night before and come home to a hot dinner in the crock pot, but they will EASILY feed a single person for a week even after feeding a small crowd (I feed 3 hungry college boys and still have a week's worth of dinner left over for me), and can be frozen in individual portions for convenient meals later.

Share and share alike

Date: 2010-01-15 05:40 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] witchywitchy
I get people to bring a little of what they like to our rituals. That way no one person has to do all the work. Also we've got vegetarians and meat-eaters, so if they bring their own with enough to share it all works out just fine.

Hope that helps.

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