Recently, at work, my friends and I were discussing whether we would elect to have a personal chef, if it meant that they made all decisions about your food for you. The group was divided; some people thought they would be relieved to be rid of the burden of cooking and didn't mind the thought of surrendering their freedom, as long as the chef made food that adhered to their general tastes and food preferences. The other half of the group was horrified by the thought of losing their autonomy over meal selection. They wanted to be able to run out and buy the ingredients to make whatever dish would satiate the craving they were having in that specific moment.
I can't say I really fell into either camp; I like cooking for myself, even if it does represent a huge investment of my time, but I couldn't relate to the idea of cooking on a whim, and responding to cravings. My meal choices are almost always predetermined. I sit down once a week with the sale circular for my local grocery store and my Pinterest inspiration board and try to pick out whatever recipes look good at the time, and feature ingredients that I can get on sale. After I run to the store, we have those meals in the order of whatever ingredients I think will go bad first.
Though I try to honor his requests, Justin's situation is even worse. He is subjected to whatever I've picked out for the week, and generally doesn't get very much choice about whether to eat it. Thankfully, he seems to like my cooking.
Tonight, the complex calculus of selecting recipes based on bargains led us to eating spinach and feta stuffed chicken breasts -- there was a great sale on spinach, and chicken was reasonably priced as well. I still had to shell out for some rather pricey feta, but we had all the other ingredients on hand, so it seemed worth a try, especially since both Justin and I are fans of Greek food, and spanakopita in particular. The filling reminded me a great deal of my beloved spanakopita recipe, so I had been longingly eying the recipe for a while.
Sadly, what works so well when surrounded by crisp, buttery phyllo dough did not translate well into a stuffing for chicken. Though the filling featured lemon and a healthy dose of salt, both flavor enhancers, the dish was inexplicably bland. Also, the chicken took forever to cook with so much filling, and it was so tough and stringy that it was rather unpleasant to eat.
Clearly, the next time I'm craving Greek flavors, I should reach in my freezer and defrost some homemade spanakopita. I'll just have to be sure to factor it into my planning for the week...