Sunday, March 7, 2010

Grocery Day Dilemma

Grocery Day has always been my most difficult of days to decide what to make for dinner. I'm not referring to the obvious pre-shop annoyance of "there's nothing to eat" while sneering at bare cupboards and an empty refrigerator; I'm referring to the just-unpacked-enough-food-to-feed-a-small-army shopping extravaganza.

Having just endured my most hated task of unpacking the bags, I seem to become overwhelmed by the abundance of it all. I stare at the selection of meat on the counter, trying to decide which will end up on my plate so I can get the rest in to the freezer. I run through an imaginary taste test of every fresh vegetable I've placed in the crisper or pantry, thinking to myself "mmmmm mashed yams" or "ooooh steamed broccoli". I gaze lovingly at the new assortment of cheeses. I walk from cupboard to fridge and back again (quite a few times) and stare blankly at the glistening sealed containers and bold coloured boxes, their labels forming twinkly eyed smiling faces which call out "pick me!" Too many choices; I want it all. My brain suffers inspiration overload (I notice I've inadvertently forgotten to pick up laundry detergent) and I decide it's too late to start cooking. I order pizza.

Here on my Island, ordering pizza isn't an option so my Grocery Day dilemma now has a new ending.

Tuna Melts

grocery day dilemma

For my tuna melts, you'll need 2 hard boiled eggs. Start them as soon as you finish dragging the grocery bags in to the kitchen; by the time you've put everything away they'll be finished boiling. Run them under cold water to let them cool. Since you're already boiling 2 eggs you should probably just make 4. It's always nice to have a couple extras in the fridge.

Drain a can of tuna; dump it in a bowl with some diced dill pickle (I use a large one) and the eggs (chopped). Divide a lemon and squeeze the juice of one half over the bowl. Add some of the water from the pickle jar (maybe a Tbsp-ish?) Season with a bit of salt, a lot of fresh ground pepper and some paprika.

salt, pepper, paprika and lemon

Next add a couple glops (yes, glops - I'm sure you know what I mean) of mayonnaise. You 'could' use miracle whip or some other salad dressing - in my opinion its not a substitute and they wouldn't taste the same. Sometimes instead of all mayo, I half/half it with soft cream cheese. Really it's up to you.

Next cut 6 thick slices from the fresh loaf of french bread. "What french bread" you ask? The french bread you picked up at the store bakery specifically for making tuna melts. It is, after all, Grocery Day. Lightly spread each with butter or margarine (I said lightly) and snuggle them, butter sides down, in to a high-edged baking pan. The butter and high edges will keep the bread from drying out when you "melt" them.

Divide the tuna mixture evenly among the slices of bread. I stress evenly because you may be tempted to add less tuna to the smaller pieces of bread. This sucks for the people who get served the small pieces and end up getting shorted on both bread AND tuna. Place a thin blanket of cheese over each. We usually get our cheese sliced from the deli which works perfectly. Try to not use a sharp cheese which will overpower the rest of the ingredients and remember that you are making tuna melts, not cheese toast; a little goes a long way. I like to add some colour by sprinkling the tops with a touch of paprika. French bread, tuna, mayo and Gouda cheese, while incredibly tasty, tends to look rather bland.

oven ready

Now pop them into your oven and let them become melts. I can't advise on temperature or length of time since my oven doesn't really work properly. I use high heat and take them out when the cheese is melted and starts to bubble, but before they burn; enough time to rinse the cutting board, bowl, knife and spoon I used for preparation and to put some plates on the table. Basically, if you aren't eating within 30 minutes of putting your groceries away, you got distracted.

toasty tuna melts

So this is my no-fail solution to the Grocery Day dilemma. I can confidently arrive home from the store without dread or panic and can ignore my taunting pantry until tomorrow. And then it's a whole new story.

Did you try these tuna melts? Do you have your own solution to the Grocery Day dilemma? I'd love to hear about it...


Unknown said...

Very nice. I do pretty much the same thing but substitute the pickles and eggs with onion and apple (I know it sounds weird, but it's delicious) :D

pollysplayground said...

Weird AND delicious. I'm going to try... Thanks Andrew!

Rebecca said...

We are so much alike ... I always want to avoid cooking on grocery day, too! Although, you & I do so for completely opposite reasons. You have so many ideas of all the things you want to make and can't choose. I, on the other hand, love to see my fridge, freezer, and cupboards stocked full and neatly arranged and hate to remove anything and mess with it the first day!!

pollysplayground said...

RnR these would be your perfect solution too... sneak a pickle out of the jar and a couple of eggs from the carton - pretend the bread didn't exist in the first place... you won't notice anything missing and everything can stay neat and tidy for your viewing pleasure!

Alan said...

Your mom sent me the link to your blog. It's great! This story reminded me of a time that I took a class on preparing meals for a month at a time. After spending a good part of one day buying a ton of ingredients, and then a full day preparing 15 different recipes, I was too tired to fix anything for dinner and we ordered pizza! Love, Aunt Susan

pollysplayground said...

lol! 15 different recipes in one day though?... in that case you definitely deserved the pizza ;)

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