I’m about to morph back into a zombie drug dealer. Summer vacation’s over, and it’s time to rejoin my work husband in the bowels of the hospital. Ain’t no rest for the wicked, and money don’t grow on trees. I got bills to pay, I got mouths to feed.

Speaking of which, my last day of vacation began like any other morning: Packing school lunches for the kids. Unfortunately (for me), my children don’t share the same palate. Like my dad – who never tired of munching on a ham sandwich and chugging apple juice every single day for over 20 years – Lil-O is a creature of consistency. His lunch menu never varies: Cold scrambled eggs, baby carrots, and fruit.

Big-O’s more like me, and craves variety. For his lunch today, we decided on mini steak and mushroom “sandwiches,” cobbled together from leftovers.

I ate a few meaty ‘shroom sandwiches myself before heading to the women’s class at CrossFit Palo Alto. After practicing Zercher squats and barreling through Diane, I zipped around town and checked off a bunch of errands.

Lunch consisted of repackaged leftovers and kitchen staples: A couple of Pure Wraps filled with leftover steak slices, sauerkraut, tomatoes, and guacamole.

Before taking a short snooze in the late afternoon, I got a head start on dinner, pulsing a head of caulifllower into teeny bits of “rice.”

A two-hour nap later, I dragged my groggy self to the kitchen. I reheated the beef shank and tomato stew I pressure cooked the night before

…and I pulled my “rice” out of the fridge.

While the stew bubbled away on the stove, I sliced up mushrooms and onions to flavor the rice.

After just a few minutes of stir-frying in a cast iron skillet, the “rice” was ready for a garnish of fresh herbs and egg omelet ribbons.

I tasted the shanks for seasoning and brought the pot to the dining room table.

I considered plating the stew in a nice bowl before photographing it, but hunger took priority, so you’re stuck with this:

Here’s my dinner plate:

It was a hearty dinner for a chilly, overcast day here in the Bay Area. I know an Indian summer’s hiding just around the corner, but until further notice, I’m gonna cook like today’s gray skies are here to stay.

About Michelle Tam

Hello! My name is Michelle Tam, and I love to eat. I think about food all the time. It borders on obsession. I’ve always loved the sights and smells of the kitchen. My mother was (and is) an excellent cook, and as a kid, I was her little shadow as she prepared supper each night. From her, I gained a deep, abiding love for magically transforming pantry items into mouth-watering family meals.

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