Updated 2011-10-16 17:14:26 ID=655:0

© 2011 The Romantic Table
©2008 The Romantic Table, Susan McGourty's Table Talk, a California Central Coast Lifestyle blog. 2011-06-09 16:33:16:80
©2008 The Romantic Table

Susan McGourty's Table Talk

Surviving Grape and Walnut Harvests and a Puppy Too!


Several weeks ago, my five year old German Shepherd died, which threw me into a tailspin, so what did I do? Found another puppy to love! But putting up with all the escapades of another young German Shepherd during the peak of Grape/Wine Harvest and Walnut Harvest is proving to test my mettle and cooking style.

"Woe is me!" I think to myself each morning when the alarm rings at predawn and hubby has to take off for the vineyard or walnut orchard to help harvest with the small-numbered crew. "Woe is me" when my puppy who knows that he gets fed soon after that alarm rings, wakes up and starts counting down the minutes until his first feeding by whining every couple minutes. Worried about BOTH males, I jump to task of making sure my husband eats his breakfast and doesn't leave without his packed lunch. I hurriedly get him off then turn my attentions to my four-legged male.

While I am rushing around the kitchen (where I "feed" my husband) and the Mudroom (where I feed my pup) I start thinking to myself that this wasn't such a "bright" idea timing-wise to take on the extra chores of "manning a new puppy 24/7" when I have so many other responsibilities this time of year!- BUT any later in the year would have collided with the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays --not a good time either, plus THIS puppy would've been "gone" by then! So what do I do and how do I cope?

First of all, if you haven't guessed yet, I don't get much uninterrupted sleep! - It's been many weeks since I was allowed "the luxury" of sleeping through the night! And since I'm not all that rested, my energy-level is getting pretty low now, so I'm more-or-less on "autopilot" cooking-wise.

Now DON'T get me wrong-I still LOVE to cook--and do so daily- but my "adventures in food" are a bit more restrained right now! I now think FIRST of "how many dishes it will make?" And WHAT I actually cook-up- if it's on a night when I can pace-myself more easily. (i.e. preparing most of the ingredients a little earlier in the late afternoon when I'm still relatively alert and less pressured. - After my pup has had his 2nd feeding and done his "major business" for the day and my hubby is on his way home!)

Honestly, if I didn't know HOW to pace myself, I'd probably be a "goner" right now - marriage and cooking-wise! If I couldn't pace myself, it would be too hard to entertain and cook for friends and family, clean my house, or run errands and be home on time!

Pacing yourself really has advantages! What really helps making "involved recipes" simple is to break the cooking into steps.
For instance, in our recipe for Eggplant Parmesan Romantic Table Style , I also use my recipe for Basic Marinara Sauce , which I make a day or two ahead of time. The day that I make the marinara, I serve it that evening with some ravioli or tortellini.(Cooking it ahead of time also improves the flavor of the marinara-allowing the flavors of the ingredients to meld!) Then the day that I want to serve the Eggplant Parmesan, I just have to prepare the eggplant and put the two recipes together to make another creation!

I LOVE to cook! But try to "cook-smart!" --That's usually the only way that I can easily "pull-it-off" in these hectic-scheduled times. If you can cook smart, it REALLY takes the pressure off and allows for some extra fun in the kitchen without turning it into a chore. Then if the food turns out well, you're likely to get some added "help" in the kitchen cleaning-up AFTER dinner!




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A tip from Sue!

An easier way to pound your meats and poultry

Been frustrated by plastic wrap that won't stay as you pound your meats? Save yourself some grief by using an extra plastic bag from your grocery store's meat or produce counter. Simply place the breast of meat inside flat between the top and bottom of the plastic bag, laying flat and pound away.