I think I am officially the last person to jump on the green smoothie bandwagon. I had such a hard time getting past the color for some reason…I suppose it doesn’t help that my friend calls it frog nog with her girls…it’s a clever sounding name, I’ll grant you, but it sure doesn’t sound appetizing to an adult.
But, I was desperate. After a week of birthday celebrations for Engineer, we just hadn’t eaten in enough to get through all the greens from our CSA. We still had a bagful of kale, and I needed to use it, pronto. I remembered seeing some green smoothie recipes in my Real Simple magazine from a few months back, and pulled it out. I made some minor adjustments based on what I had, and I threw caution to the wind. Or the blender, as it were.
When it had come together, I tasted it. I could taste the bitter kale, and worried that Sous Chef would turn her nose up at it even though it wasn’t very strong. I added a frozen banana to try to mask the flavor. I’m not a big banana fan, so that was a real gamble for me. I poured myself and Sous Chef a glass, and she devoured it.
Absolutely devoured it.
And then asked for more! She drank two (kid-sized) cups full of kale smoothie, and I knew we had found a winner. I used the rest of the kale in smoothies throughout the week until Sous Chef complained of a sore mouth (the main fruit was pineapple…) and I ran out of kale. She begged for more, so I tried a variation on a different smoothie recipe from the Real Simple magazine and found a real winner. The kale smoothie had been easy enough to get down, but this spinach smoothie…now it was a treat! Continue reading
Last year, Engineer and I decided we were ready to embrace CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture, in which you purchase a “share” and receive a weekly basket or box of produce for a set number of weeks) in an effort to eat more seasonally and locally. In our zeal, we ended up purchasing a share from two different CSAs (which is a long story). Our two CSAs only overlapped by about a month, and it actually worked out nicely. It was nice to have them at the same time to compare and see the differences between the two.
I have to admit, that first year of CSAs was an adventure. It was an adjustment to plan our meals around the produce we received in the boxes, but it was nice to have such fresh produce. It all tasted better than it does from the store, and I loved it. We have signed up for both again this year, and are already getting our lettuce-filled bags from La Nay Ferme. But. I’ve learned a lot about CSAs from my experiences last summer. CSAs are not for everyone, and there are a few things I don’t love about them. Continue reading
I collect cookbooks.
It’s one of my weaknesses, and the only thing that makes me feel even remotely better about my habit is that I know there are people out there with even larger collections than my own. For instance, I know for a fact that I don’t have 101 cookbooks. Though, truthfully, I’d bet right now I have over 50. And, like any true cookbook collector, I have acquired more and discarded none. I’m becoming more discerning in which books I purchase; I have enough cookbooks that I don’t use and that have poor recipes in them that I’ve learned my lesson. I also avoid cookbooks that rely heavily on convenience foods. If a cookbook contains any recipes that use cake mix or cream of crap soup as an ingredient, I put it back immediately. A cookbook really has to stand out, and I have to accept the authority of the writer as a good cook before I’ll buy one. And yet, my collection still grows. At least the growing has slowed.
Most of what I purchase now is from America’s Test Kitchen and its various iterations. I buy the special publications they sell at Sam’s Club or Costco, and I also recently purchased their DIY cookbook. But the recent purchase I’m most excited about is a book by Ellie Krieger, called So Easy.
I try to incorporate at least two meatless meals into our menu each week. No, it’s not to be all cool and participate in “Meatless Monday,” it’s for budgetary and dietary reasons. I do realize that those are two of the main benefits touted my MMers, but I have been doing it long before I ever saw anything on a blog about MM. What’s interesting to me is that I often cook meatless meals unintentionally, but when it comes to planning for them, I often feel stifled, especially in the winter. So, I often scour through blogs, looking for new and exciting (but not too unusual) meatless recipes. Many, predictably, rely on quinoa or legumes. I make falafel regularly (though I don’t deep fry them) and I have a great recipe for Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos.
But, a lot use mushrooms as a meat replacement. I once tried a meatless fajita recipe that used portabella caps. I find that when I try to replace meat in dishes, I’m often dissatisfied. I think it’s partly because it just doesn’t taste as good without the meat (I’m definitely a carnivore at heart), but also because, and this is difficult for me to admit, I don’t particularly love mushrooms.
With earphones on, I methodically poured wheat onto a white dinner plate before lifting the plate and gently shaking it, looking for stray stones and sticks. Then, I poured it into the hopper of my humming wheat grinder. The first few platefuls were awkward, but I quickly found a rhythm. And then I found myself chuckling. I felt like a gold miner, panning for gold, the only difference was that I was panning through golden wheat, looking for rocks. Well, okay, there were lots of differences. And I wasn’t a miner. I was more surprised that the motion felt so natural, and was probably similar to that which miners used.
The truth was, I was less than pleased that the bucket of wheat I was currently grinding from was so unclean. In fact, I was downright annoyed. Still, considering the fact that I hadn’t had to pay for it was nice. I was nearing the end of my free wheat stock. My parents had stored buckets of wheat in the basement, in the event that there was a catastrophe. There are also buckets of dried beans and of rice. Several years after they purchased it, however, my mom was diagnosed with Celiac Disease, which meant that there was no way she would be using that wheat even if there was a great catastrophe. Still, it stayed in the basement for another five or six years before I bought a wheat grinder, anxious to try my hand at healthier baking. My mom eagerly offered her buckets of wheat and I gladly accepted it. This made the bread I made not only much healthier, but also incredibly cheap. For the price of the milk, butter, yeast and sugar, (under a dollar in total, I’m sure), I could make four loaves of bread. This brought me endless joy. As I made more and more bread, I got better at it and enjoyed it more and more. I began preferring my hearty whole wheat bread and started adding my freshly ground wheat flour to recipes that called for all-purpose. With few exceptions, it worked extremely well. In fact, I enjoyed the nuttier flavor it lended. Continue reading