“In the Kitchen” is a series celebrating the family table––the food we eat, the spaces we inhabit, and the people with whom we share it all. Each edition welcomes a new voice to this conversation on kitchen life and food, and today, I welcome Myndi DeVore, the creative soul behind Myndi D and Myndi D Food. She is the mother of two children in Chicago, Illinois, and has an eye for simple design and clean foods, both which are reflected in her ideas and meal plans below. Welcome, Myndi!
I grew up in a family that valued cooking at home. We rarely went out to eat, and I learned the importance of the kitchen at a young age. In high school I taught myself to cook a few dishes and would make dinner once a week. When my husband Charlie and I were first married I was inspired to expand my skills in the kitchen. I dove into cookbooks and we began hosting friends for dinners in our little apartment in the back half of a rambling Victorian house at the top of a hill. Our kitchen was scarcely large enough for two people to stand in, but it was ours and felt like a great luxury after living with roommates. We spent many nights washing dishes in the wee hours of the morning after bidding our friends farewell. As I gained confidence in the kitchen I moved away from processed ingredients and towards cooking from scratch.
Almost twelve years later I have continued building on those roots we put down in that cozy kitchen. I still focus on avoiding processed foods and feeding our family healthy, home cooked food. We eat everything but veer towards a plant-based vegetarian diet, eating meat once or twice a week. We try to limit eating out to once a week, so I spend a lot of time in the kitchen preparing meals for our family of four. As our family has expanded, I’ve come to rely on planning and prepping food ahead of time.
Typically, I sit down on Sunday and plan out our week. I warm up some morning coffee, sit down with my favorite cookbooks and make a list. Often I follow a basic template that shifts with the seasons. I find following a template, at least for this phase of our life with young kids, means I don’t feel overwhelmed with meal planning. Our weeks typically go something like this:
MONDAY | Something vegetarian or vegan. When in doubt a pan of roast vegetables with rice and avocado. When we’re in crisis mode? Pancakes or eggs.
TUESDAY | Something in the Mexican family. Think tacos, salads, build your own burrito bowls, enchiladas, migas, etc.
WEDNESDAY | Wednesdays are busy nights for us, so I’ve come to rely on the slow cooker. Typically I’ll do a curry, braise, or a soup. When I’m on my game I double the slow cooker recipe and put half of the prepared dish in the freezer. In the summer, this night gets replaced with grill night. I like to double up on what we grill too, making enough extra to cover our lunches and other meals.
THURSDAY | Leftovers! In a pinch, my go to is pan frying leftovers and putting an egg on top.
FRIDAY + SATURDAY | Weekends are flexible. Sometimes we eat leftovers. Sometimes we go out. Sometimes we make pizza. Sometimes we order takeout. Sometimes we put the kids to bed and make a cheese plate or a special date night dinner.
SUNDAY | Sundays are family days. It’s usually the night I cook something more time consuming or tackle a more challenging recipe. We usually do an earlier dinner around 5pm with time afterwards for playing games or watching a movie.
Our girls love to help in the kitchen. They wash lettuce, grate ginger, pluck herbs, peel and chop vegetables, and stir ingredients. I find involving them usually encourages them to try new things. When we grocery shop I ask them to pick some vegetables and fruit for snacking. If they pick it, they’re more likely to eat it (usually). When it comes to feeding kids, I’ve learned to never underestimate them and that persistence pays off. We’ve always prepared one meal for the family. They can choose not to finish it, but we always ask them (and encourage and cajole a little) to try a bit of each item on their plate.
Cooking meals day in and day out is work. Often it’s less inspired and more a chore to see to it that everyone gets fed. But I never regret taking the time to prepare a meal. Sitting at the table with my family restores my spirit no matter what we are eating.
+ Keep a tidy, uncluttered kitchen. Clean your fridge weekly and take note of your pantry items.
+ Set aside an hour each week to cook ahead and prep food for the week. Slice vegetables, make a vinaigrette, cook a protein, grain, and something for breakfast.
+ Check out cookbooks from the library to give them a test run before purchasing. Challenge yourself to cook and try new things.
+ Keep a list on the fridge or a notebook handy to write down recipes that work. Even though you think you’ll remember every brilliant meal, you won’t. You’ll have a list of easy, go-to recipes at the ready.
This was one of the first recipes I made when Charlie and I were married. It felt fancy enough for guests, but perfect enough for the two of us, giving us plenty of leftovers for the freezer. It has evolved since that first dinner party and is a perfect template to adjust to suit your family’s taste.
YELLOW CURRY + RICE
1 T. coconut oil
1/2 C. minced onion
4-5 garlic cloves, minced
4 tsp. minced ginger
2 C. chicken or vegetable stock
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. coriander
1 tsp. paprika
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
½ tsp. turmeric
2 cans coconut milk (don’t bother with light)
5 C. thinly sliced vegetables (We typically do zucchini, carrots, peppers, mushrooms, and peas)
1 tsp. coconut oil
½ C. peanut butter
(sub almond butter for allergies)
4 T. water
2 T. tamari
2 tsp. rice vinegar
2. tsp. lime juice
2-3 C. cooked chopped chicken, fish, or tofu (optional)
COOKED BROWN RICE or QUINOA, for serving
Garnish: toasted coconut, cilantro, green onions, hot sauce
- Begin by heating the coconut oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. When the oil is hot add the onion, garlic, and ginger. Sauté until softened, then add the spices. Cook for 30 seconds and add the stock. Simmer for 5 minutes then add the coconut milk. Bring mixture back up to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until sauce begins to thicken. Add the thinly sliced vegetables. Simmer mixture for 8-10 minutes or until the vegetables become tender. Add cooked protein if using. Stir well.
- Just before serving, mix up the peanut sauce by combining the peanut butter, water, tamari, rice vinegar, lime juice, and coconut oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Heat briefly until the mixture begins to bubble, 2-3 minutes. If it is too thick, add a splash of water. Taste and add more lime juice if it needs it.
- Spoon rice on to the plates and top with the curry and then a drizzle of the peanut sauce and garnishes on top.