Thanks to NPR, my blog name has been validated! To start your Friday off right, read about the eradication of “green shouldered” tomatoes (who knew tomatoes had shoulders?) in the food industry, and the sad effects on flavor (spoiler: there is none).
Friends, I fell off the wagon. I was doing so well, and then somehow I found myself half-assing my trips to the grocery store and instead popping in nightly at the gas station down the street to buy candy (my kryptonite, my Achilles heel…). Bad food + too much money = time to re-evalute.
Why wasn’t I making trips to the grocery store, trips that would supply me with enough food for the week and make these gas station visit unnecessary? I didn’t have a good answer, so I decided to start there.
If you recall, I developed a grocery list when I started the blog, one that I thought would help me remember healthy foods that I like to eat and streamline my grocery store visits. It was a good list, but after a month or so, I found it to be too cluttered and a little confusing when actually shopping. Time for a revamp!
I kept the basic tenants of the original template, but with some tweaks (versions 1.0 and 2.0 below):
- List of what to shop for by category. Instead of listing all foods and then circling the ones that apply – I just made a table with the same 8 categories, and fill in what applies for that particular week. By now, I have a good mental list of the healthy foods I like, and I don’t need to waste space duplicating that entire list again on paper. I do this step last, but it lives at the top because that makes for quicker shopping.
- List of what recipes I plan to make that week (with a list of all their ingredients). There was just a blank space for this before for me to handwrite my recipes in, and it wasn’t big enough. So I created a table for all the recipes – in addition to being easier to read, it helps me see if there are any common ingredients across my recipes and plan accordingly. I do this step first.
- A weekly schedule to help make sure I am not making too much/too little. This is basically the same as before – it feels silly, but it helps me see that if I make 2 recipes that each serve 6, I need 10-12 open spots on this table to eat all those leftovers before they go bad. Or if I only get 6 total servings from both my recipes, I might need to fill in with sandwiches or salads for a day or two. I do this step second.
My plan was to buy all the items in the top table on my list (above, right)…and NOTHING ELSE. No gas station candy treats (hence 2 boxes of popsicles, cherries, and grapes). No buying lunch at work. No random dinners out fueled by laziness and an unstocked cupboard. Read the rest of this entry »
I want to talk about seasonal eating – just like everyone else. The way I see it, there are 2 camps (yea and nay, respectively). And I think each of these camps deserves an anthem (just humor me here, it’s Friday).
To everything – turn, turn, turn
There is a season – turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven
A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep
Eating seasonally is great! It can be cheaper, and you can get the most flavor possible out of a dish when your ingredients are ripe as can be.
No, you can’t always get what you want
No, you can’t always get what you want
No, you can’t always get what you want
And if you try sometime, you just might find
You get what you need
We all have our favorite dishes and cravings, and if what you want is tasty asparagus in November – well, good luck.
Seasonal eating used to just be called…eating. Many people grew and harvested their own food, and they didn’t mind eating carrots all winter and corn all summer. But the world industrialized and globalized, and food did, too – and now the world is our oyster (FYI – oyster season officially starts in September, but apparently they are best when eaten in any month with an ‘r’ in its name – basically just not summer) when it comes to eating what we want when we want it. But do we really want to eat food that’s not at its peak?
If I am making risotto in April, it’s good to know what’s in season, so I can add asparagus and mushroom now and save my squash risotto for September. Knowledge is power – and when I’m looking for dish ideas from now on, I’ll be consulting these handy produce calendars to help make the most of what I am cooking.
(But I am also a lady who likes to be in control, and if you tell me I shouldn’t eat corn in the winter, I might slap you. Thank goodness, developments in flash freezing allow foods to be frozen at their seasonal peak, and then enjoyed much later. Thank ye, thank ye, all hail Clarence Birdseye.)
This article from Slate has me giggling every time I read/reread it. Here’s a taste:
Kale has something for everybody. The elderly eat kale to prevent age-related macular degeneration, and because the guy stocking it in the produce department seemed like a very nice young man. Health conscious parents empty out their kids’ Cheetos bags and fill them with sea-salt-dusted kale chips, then tell their kids the old kind of Cheetos were just a dream. Elite athletes like Alex Rodriguez and Troy Polamalu incorporate nutrition-rich kale into their training diets, and Jose Canseco allegedly puts kale directly into his ass after working out.
I’ve eaten kale exactly one time in my life, as part of a delicious sausage and potato soup, but I didn’t know what it was until it was over – so this “never have I ever” is only a half-truth.
I am a self-proclaimed lover of greens, yet I am still wary of it – probably due to its omnipresence, which the article so wonderfully skewers. Kale chips seem to be the gateway drug – are they REALLY that delicious? I feel like I could swap it in for dishes where I normally would use spinach, as long as it gets cooked…right? Is it good raw?
I will eat kale soon, and I shall blog about it. I will even make someone photo-document the faces I make while eating it, since I make good faces.
Also coming up: trying out this baby tonight, and soon I will photograph and post my favorite summer recipe of ALL TIME. Until then, it’s a secret.
I used to tell my friend Anna that when it came to books and movies, I could spend without thinking, because those were the most important things to me.
Well, I’ve stopped buying 3 books per paycheck because I have nice friends who loan me good books (or I stopped reading entirely…thanks, On Demand). And I stopped spending so much at the movies because of heists (aka sneaky double, triple, or quadruple features for the price of one)…and because of On Demand and Netflix. My other vice was clothes, and I’ve cut down considerably (thanks to Marshalls and clothing swaps).
But where is all my money going?! I spend less on rent than I used to, I am not a big time go-out-and-booze-er (happy hours don’t really count, since I can only drink 2 drinks anyway), and my one monthly indulgence is a $50 massage, which is needed at this point due to neck and back issues.
Is it food? Should I just swap out my salad greens, pour my dressing on a pile of cash, and cut out the middle man? Maybe. I guess I am going to find out – for the next month, I am going to track every little itty bit I spend, so I can start to get a handle on what the heck is going on. I’ve made “budgets” before, but they were always based on half truth and half guesses-that-worked-in-my-favor-to-keep-spending. So I made a fun calendar that I am keeping in my wallet, and I shall track every purchase like a Scrooge. Read the rest of this entry »
Apologies for my bloggy hiatus – I was camping, and then I was sick and eating nothing but crackers and tea. To get back to my routine, I improvised this baby out of thin air.
I wanted to combine my favorite tomato sauce with white beans and greens and serve over pasta, but I wanted to make sure it was chock full of flavor. So many times when I make something “healthy” it ends up bland, and I know it just takes dedicated thought about seasonings and flavor profiles to fix the issue…so no more being lazy!
To ensure yumminess, I:
- Used seasoned meat – I decided to bulk it up with some sausage, which has the benefit of usually coming pre-seasoned. I looked around at the Italian sausage options, but then decided to go non-traditional with andouille just because I like it.
- Chose canned tomatoes WITH basil – I modified the tomato sauce recipe already by using crushed instead of peeled…and so I picked the brand of crushed tomatoes that has basil already in it. I hate nothing more than buying a $4 pack of a fresh herb and seeing it rot in my fridge before I can use it, and my thumb is too black to grow them (for now). This way, I get the flavor and not the guilt.
- Bit the bullet, got the basics – Onion. Lemon. White wine. Garlic. Parmesan. You CAN cook without them…but it tastes so much better with. The produce is so cheap, and while the initial purchase price shock of the wine and parmesan can sting, they last forever and therefore make them worth the while. Read the rest of this entry »
The news so far today: food blogs are over, and all ‘B’ foods are now part of the metaphoric lexicon for the Supreme Court. Happy Thursday!
The author quotes a woman featured in NY Mag, who stated that “The food blogs are still big, but they really had their moment in the early aughts.” He details his thoughts on the future of food blogs, and the need for bold, fresh ideas to keep things interesting.
How does this make me feel as a new food blogger, minted a mere 3 weeks ago? I’ll let this excerpt from Almost Famous explain for me.
Lester Bangs: Well, your writing is damn good. It’s just a shame you missed out on rock and roll.
William: I did?
Bangs: Oh yeah. It’s over.
Bangs: Over. You got here just in time for the death rattles, the last gasp, the last grope.
William: At least I’m here for that.
Broccoli, Bread and Bologna – what do these foods have in common? Besides the letter ‘B’ (coincidence?), these foods have been tapped by our Justices to illustrate their arguments around the health care law. I especially love how they interviewed a broccoli grower about the phenomenon – he seemed a little green in the media spotlight. But he’s right, the ”can you make people buy broccoli” discussion is a sort of backhanded compliment to the cruciferous veggie – and if I were Vinson, I wouldn’t mind being called “the broccoli judge” one bit.
These are definitely at the top of the “stuff I need to learn to cook for myself” list, since they are my staple at any and every Mexican restaurant I visit. But like many things I get in restaurants, it’s never exaaaaactly perfect – except for the first time I ever tried one, in a little Mexican place in Portland, OR, which is why I got hooked. But that’s what I like about cooking at home – I can make my tweaks to ensure every dish I make is a dish that I will like.
If I made my own chiles rellenos, I would probably:
- Nix the batter – Sacrilege? Perhaps, but I always scrape it off! I could be convinced to keep it if I can find a batter that will cook up really light and crispy (like this), instead of thick and mushy. But there is something about a charred poblano oozing cheese in a light tomato sauce that sounds delectable, and I don’t think I’d miss the batter one bit.
- Grill it – That is, if I had a grill. I might still try it on a wee Weber or at someone else’s house.
- Add a little extra cheese – Duh. And it better be authentic Mexican like Chihuahua or Oaxaca. No string cheese. Or maybe just both.
- Tweak the tomato sauce – I would make this one and stick blender it within an inch of its life. I use that sauce for everything, including pizza (mmm) – but I always add a little chopped garlic into the mix. Speaking of pizza…
- Chiles rellenos pizza – Think about it.
- Serve a fried or poached egg on top of it – YUM. I would be serving the fried egg version, since I am still scared to try to poach an egg. I’ll tackle that someday, I promise!
- Dabble in different fillings – Add some beans. A grain. Chipotles in ancho sauce (I’d actually add this to the tomato sauce)…
- Serve it with roasted corn on the cob slathered in a honey-chipotle-lime mayo and sprinkled liberally with cotija cheese – My summer menu is officially complete.
Never had chiles rellenos? Here’s a good rundown of the basics:
I am obsessed with this idea, because I always end up with random veggie bits that don’t get used. I did the same sort of thing last month when the remainder of a veggie tray we had catered in for a work event was going to get tossed – my bosses and I split the leftovers, and I made a rockin’ stir fry from the carrots, peppers, broccoli, and sugar snap peas!