Dinner Rut

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A frequent visitor to my dinner table: pork tenderloin, rice and beans

There is a stack of cooking magazines in my kitchen. My phone and computer are loaded with recipe bookmarks. I love to read about food, especially researching the food I am eating at that moment. If I am eating beans, I want to learn more about beans and see if anyone has crafted a novel, fresh recipe featuring that ingredient. As I eat a food, I also like to get reacquainted with data on that item’s vitamins, minerals, etc. This tandem reading and eating (a habit I can’t fully indulge unless I am eating by myself, lest I appear rude to my dining companions) enhances both the intellectual and sensory experience of eating.

Why is it that I have no shortage of inspiration available to me, yet I keep making many of the same dinners time and again? I know that I would be better off in trying new techniques, different ingredients, etc. A broad palate is a wise strategy for health as well. In eating a wide variety of foods (especially produce), there is a greater opportunity for getting all the nutrients one needs.

Still I fall into a dinner rut. Periodically, I’ll venture into something different that becomes part of my regular playlist. A couple years ago, I bought a pork tenderloin on a whim, and I’ve been roasting one a month (or more) ever since. They are tender, low in fat and hard to mess up. There’s plenty of pre-marinated ones in the grocery store and even more recipes online for marinade if one prefers the DIY approach.

As side dishes, I’ll choose a rice dish and some beans. This evening I paired the tenderloin with rice pilaf and lima beans. I think that toasting the rice and orzo to a golden brown really deepens the richness of a pilaf. I’ve also found that simmering lima beans in low sodium broth brightens their flavor and cuts away their bitterness.

This is an easy dinner I can multitask with chores like laundry. By the time I had the dishes finished at 6:15, my evening was wide open. There was nothing left I absolutely had to get done before bedtime.

That’s what I want from a new dinner recipe worth repeating: ease, great taste, nutrition . . . . and an evening full only of the things I really want to do, by myself or with my family.

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