Forget 6 p.m.
Dinnertime panic begins a couple of hours earlier for many people. I start to get it sitting at my desk at work.
What will I feed the wolverines tonight? Didn't we have chicken last night? Do I have enough time to make a meatloaf before they begin to gnaw their way through the fridge?
The questions become self-flagellating.
Why didn't I take something out of the freezer this morning? Why didn't I do smarter shopping over the weekend so that there would be something ready to pull together quickly?
Oh heck, let's just go out.
To help those of you like me, and to get myself organized, each weekday I'm sending out an e-mail that includes a dinner recipe and a daily cooking tip. Easy Meals from Janet's Kitchen includes many recipes I've cooked and some that sound good enough to try. I've culled them from magazines, cookbooks and the Internet so you don't have to.
You can sign up for the daily recipe e-mail at enews.tampa bay.com.
Did I mention it's free?
Some of the recipes that have already been sent out include Chicken Tacos, Smothered Pork Chops (see that recipe in the Stir Crazy column to the left this week), Bombay Chicken With Apples and Polenta Lasagna.
See what you're missing?
Sign up for Easy Meals from Janet's Kitchen and every weekday at 3:30 p.m. you'll hear from me. That will give you time to pop by the store for ingredients or maybe spark a plan for dinner on another night.
We're in this dinnertime quandary together. A few good ideas help us both.
Now that Halloween is a memory, we're staring down the year's biggest holidays. Most of them revolve around eating and foods that carry special memories.
I wanted to let you know what we've got coming your way in Taste to help you prepare memorable meals.
• Wishbone U.: Next Wednesday, Nov. 18, you'll read about the trials and triumphs of the Wishbone U. Class of 2009. The students gathered last month at Apron's Cooking School at a Publix in Tampa's Citrus Park area for a crash course on turkey day basics. Apron's chefs shared tips and recipes, and we'll pass them along to you. This year, we name the student most likely to succeed and the one most likely to call the Butterball hotline.
• Special Sunday Thanksgiving Taste: The all-turkey section on Nov. 22 will include a sunup to sundown guide to planning the feast. Look for side dish and dessert recipes plus wine suggestions to accompany dinner and for host gifts, plus ideas on what to serve before the big dinner. That's right, they have to eat breakfast. (Can't someone just take them to Cracker Barrel?) And if you've got your calendar out, there will be no Taste section on Nov. 25.
• Christmas cookies! The eighth annual Christmas cookie issue is Dec. 2. Just when we thought there wasn't a cookie we hadn't tried, in come recipes for Licorice Snaps and Mexican Hot Chocolate Balls. Both delicious. Look for another couple dozen great holiday cookies. Lots of tips, too, to help turn you into a master cookie baker.
There will be many other ideas in December for family gatherings, including a gift guide and suggestions on how to entertain on the cheap. We could all use that sort of guidance this year.
If you have a particular holiday cooking interest — short of my making dinner for you — please let me know. After nearly a decade of writing about food for the St. Petersburg Times, I'd love some new ideas.
Give me a call at (727) 893-8586 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll even open snail mail sent to St. Petersburg Times, Taste, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731.