Posts Tagged: food

Lady Tip: Join a CSA

paiges produce

This week, Alicia at Jaybird wrote a post all about the joys of learning where your food comes from. It reminded me that I’ve never mentioned that H. and I joined a CSA this year…and it is awesome.

I’ve wanted to be a part of one for basically forever, but when I lived by myself it wasn’t super practical. This year we decided to split a share with one of H’s coworkers, and now we get a bag full of surprise vegetables every week. Pickup day is seriously the highlight of my week. So far we’ve had tons of peas and lettuce, radishes, cucumbers, some herbs, zucchini, peppers, and green onions. We even had one of these dudes, which I had to do some research to identify:

It was kohlrabi.

It was kohlrabi.

The best part of joining a CSA? Now I’m motivated to try out new vegetables I’ve never cooked before. I even got to make fried green tomatoes for the first time (because, like, what else am I going to do with green tomatoes?)! I’m not an adventurous person in any other arena, but when it comes to food, I’ll try pretty much anything. This CSA has been tons of fun because it’s pushed me to get out of my food ruts and encouraged me to try some new things. It also guarantees that I’ll eat way more vegetables.

It’s a low stress, relatively low cost way to get tons of vegetables (no grocery trips!) and I sort of like that it eliminates a lot of decision making. I know that on Wednesday night I’ll be eating whatever vegetables get delivered that day.

If you don’t have your own garden, you should definitely think about joining a CSA next year. Ours is called Paige’s Produce and I’d definitely recommend it! But if you’re not in the Columbus area, you can look up CSAs near you with this handy website.

What about you guys? Are you part of a CSA? What sorts of crazy fruits and veggies have you received this year?

Cover image via Paige’s Produce; kohlrabi image via Food Politic

Wednesday Link (Dinner) Party

pork-ragu
Sorry the blog’s been a bit sparse lately. I really do like to update four days a week, but life’s been busy. H. and I re-started our home-buying process, and while I like to be all “the journey is the destination” and all that hippie bs, the truth is that this journey is hella annoying, frustrating, and stressful. So if I’m not updating WLTV on my regular schedule, just assume I’m standing in an empty living room somewhere trying to figure out where my furniture would go.

So I’ve been busy, but I haven’t been too busy to have a small dinner party. Having people over for dinner is so much more attractive to me than having a party, because eating and having long conversations are two of my favorite things. Last Friday, I invited my BFF Cat and her husband over to eat dinner with us. Cat is the absolute perfect guest–she always shows up early (but not too early), she always brings something, and she always helps in a very unobtrusive way (usually just by keeping me company while I finish things). I’m sorry if she’s not your friend and she can’t be your dinner guest. It’s seriously your loss.

Want to know what I served? Here you go!

For the main course, I made this braised pork ragu that I’ve been dying to try for months. I do not like to make fussy or show off-y things ever, but especially not when I’m having people over. It just stresses me out too much. The pork ragu was the perfect low-stress meal. I prepared it ahead of time and just heated it up when they were on their way over. Bonus: it takes a cup of wine, which means you’ll have some wine leftover to drink.

I stuck with my go-to basic green salad. If you candy the walnuts and mix up the dressing ahead of time, it’s no work at all to throw together. The walnuts make it seem a little more interesting.

I also made garlic bread sort of like this. But you probably already know how to make garlic bread.

Most importantly, I made Joy the Baker’s Man Bait Apple Crisp for dessert. It’s the best, and super easy.

Related to dinner party links: 5 Ways to Deal With Dinner Party Guests Who Won’t Put Down Their Phones. I’ll admit that I’m old and crochety and I find it unspeakably rude when someone texts through their entire hangout with you, barely making eye contact. That being said, if someone ever told me to put my phone in some weird phone basket, I would be like, “Um….no? Are you trying to steal my phone?” By the way, this isn’t a statement on Cat, who is a perfect guest and only brings out her phone for emergencies or to show me emails I sent her in 2004 when I was a stupid baby. But I think we all know people like this, right?

And that article from The Kitchn led me to my new favorite advice column, Ask a (Sensible) Midwesterner. As a sensible Midwesterner myself, I agree with all of her advice.

Image from Dinner: A Love Story

Recipes for People Who Are Tired & Grumpy: White Bean Soup

I like to cook. Really. And, as I’ve mentioned before, I like to meal plan. But don’t get the wrong idea…I don’t step into the kitchen every night with a spring in my step, just happy to be making a meal. I would say about half the time I actually enjoy making something. But the other half? Well, I like to eat, and cooking is just a means to an end. As I’ve mentioned before, that guy I live with doesn’t care at all about the quality of the food he eats (seriously, the other morning for breakfast he was eating pieces of bread with nothing on them…I AM NOT KIDDING), so I do the cooking. And honestly, sometimes I do not want to. Sometimes I’m just pouring things into a pot thinking, “WHEN WILL THIS BE READY I AM SO HUNGRY GOOD LORD,” and I don’t cheer up until I’m watching the X-Files and I’ve already eaten half my dinner.

In that spirit, here’s a recipe for you fellow tired and grumpy cooks. This one’s easy to make, relies on things you probably have in your kitchen, and really cannot be messed up.

WHITE BEAN SOUP FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE TIRED AND GRUMPY

1. Think long and hard about getting take out. Remember that you’re trying to save money on food and stick to your meal plan. Remind yourself that you purchased all the ingredients to make this and it won’t even take that long!
2. Rebel against yourself by sitting on the couch until you’re so hungry that you want to murder someone.
3. Stomp into the kitchen. Find your soup pot. Halfheartedly chop up half an onion and a few garlic cloves.
4. Heat up some oil in your soup pot, then dump the onions and garlic in. Stir them around a little until the onion is browned. Burn it a little bit and think to yourself, “That’s just caramelized. Don’t worry about it.”
5. Add in some spices. Which ones? It’s up to you! The world spice cabinet is your oyster! Thyme, sage, oregano, and rosemary are all good choices. Let the fragrant scent of the herbs carry you away to a place in which you’re already eating and in a much better mood.
6. Find some leftover, already chopped ham in your fridge. Dump that in the pot and let it get brown.
7. Pour in some water. Don’t bother finding a measuring cup. Ugh. Just use your drinking glass. You don’t even care! WHATEVER.
8. Add in 2-3 cans of white beans. Remember how much you inexplicably hate draining beans. Why do you hate this so much? It’s not even hard! Just dump in the first can without draining it, bean juice be damned!
9. Start to feel gross about that bean juice. Drain the other can.
10. Let soup simmer 20-30 minutes while you make Jiffy cornbread muffins because LIKE YOU ARE EVEN GOING TO BAKE SOMETHING FROM SCRATCH RIGHT NOW. There is just no way.
11. Mash up some of the beans a little with a potato masher.
12. Don’t salt the soup. Remember all that bean juice you dumped in there? Sodium city.
13. Eat. Apologize for all the things you said when you were hungry.
14. Definitely do not take a picture of anything because you don’t even want to deal with it right now.

I Threw a Galentine’s Day Party (and Ate a Ton of Food)

I forgot to take any pictures of my friends, but I DO have pictures of these flowers.

I forgot to take any pictures of my friends, but I DO have pictures of these flowers.

What’s Galentine’s Day? Oh, it’s only the best day of the year!

Okay, so if you’re thinking, “But wait, isn’t Galentine’s Day on Feburary 13th?” you are correct. But February 13th is a Thursday, and I can’t exactly skip work to eat brunch foods with my friends, so I threw a Galentine’s Day party on Sunday.

If you don’t know what Galentine’s Day is, clearly you’ve never watched Parks and Rec (or spent much time on the internet, I guess). Here’s Leslie Knope’s explanation:
Galentines-Day (1)

I invited all my best ladyfriends (one of them even came all the way from Indiana!), put up some poms and streamers left over from my wedding/bridal shower, and made H. leave (sorry, dude, it’s Galentine’s Day, not Guyentine’s Day).

Naturally, the most important thing about any Galentine’s Day is the food. Leslie Knope loves breakfast foods so much, and I wanted to honor that. We did not have waffles or a spray can of whipped cream, but we DID have:

-Blueberry-almond french toast casserole
-Fruit
-Sausage
-2 kinds of quiche
-Donuts!
-Mimosas!
-SO MUCH COFFEE

I also made giftbags that contained chocolate, those chalky candy hearts, and Lip Smackers…because who doesn’t want Lip Smackers?

I love hanging out with ladies, talking about lady stuff, and being surrounded by feminine energy, so it was basically the best day ever. It was just a super special time to hang out with so many of my favorite people. When the guys came home, we were talking about body image, and then they had to play video games in the living room until we were done. Sorry bros.

What about you guys? Are you doing anything special for Galentine’s Day? At the very least, you should take yourself out to a diner and eat some waffles while you think about strong female role models.

Leslie Knope image via Retreat by Random House

Lady Tip: Everybody Should Meal Plan

LADY TIPS
The alternate title for this post was “Meal Planning: It’s Not Just for Mormon Mommy Bloggers.” Nothing against Mormon mommy bloggers…clearly they know what they’re talking about when it comes to slow cooker recipes. But I feel like some people just think of meal planning as something you should do if you’re a harried mother of three. Well, I might not have children but sometimes I FEEL like a harried mother of three on the inside, you know?

Meal planning is awesome no matter who you are. It’s not only a way to save a ton of money (you waste way less food and go to the grocery store way less often), but it also decreases my anxiety by a TON. Just knowing that I’ve already planned out my dinners for the week is, for some reason, a huge stress reliever. I mean, why do I stress out about what I’m going to have for dinner, anyway? Clearly I know I’ll be getting food SOMEHOW. But whatever. The point I’m trying to make is that meal planning is awesome and everyone should do it, whether you’re cooking for five people, two people, or just yourself.

I get that some people don’t eat sit-down, full “dinners” every night. I don’t think you have to. But I grew up in a house where we ate a very traditional, home-cooked protein-starch-vegetable dinner every night, so it’s what I’m used to and it’s how I like to live my life. I feel much more centered and healthy when I’m eating balanced, full meals. And I’m not suggesting that you have to eat at a table with proper china and silverware. H. and I usually eat in front of the X-Files or New Girl (classy!). But just the ritual of having a full meal to look forward to every night is really important to me.

I do about 98% of the cooking for me and H., and before you tell me that this is a sexist distribution of labor, let me tell you a few things:

1. If I left cooking up to H., we would have chicken nuggets for dinner every night. He does NOT care about the quality of food he puts into his body and he just eats processed carbs/proteins constantly if left to his own devices.
2. H. is not super comfortable in the kitchen, which is something I’m trying to work on slowly, but right now he definitely doesn’t have the confidence to go “off recipe.”
3. Most importantly, H. does the cleaning. Which is awesome, because I hate doing dishes more than just about any chore. I would rather cook than do dishes any day.

So meal planning is something that’s basically left up to me. Lately a couple of people have asked me how I meal plan, so I thought I’d share. It’s definitely not anything ground-breaking or exciting, but just like packing your lunch, it’s one of those things that I think everyone should do to make their lives WAY easier. Here are my tips for meal planning:

1. Be thinking about food…well, constantly.
There aren’t a lot of times I’d recommend you be more like me, but this is one of them. I’m thinking about food ALL THE TIME, so when it comes time to decide what dinners I want to eat all week, I generally have a few things in mind. I read a lot of food blogs and I love looking through cookbooks (right now I’m into Dinner: A Love Story), so I bookmark/pin/copy the recipes that look good.

2. Get a routine.
Every Sunday morning, I plan out what I want to make all week based on what recipes I bookmarked, what we have in our cupboards, and what I just feel like eating. I don’t like to buy more than one cut/package of meat per week, so generally I plan a couple of vegetarian dinners and a couple of recipes that make use of one roast or something. For example, I might make slow-cooked pork on Monday night, then use the leftover pork to make a soup or something on Tuesday night. Okay, so these tips are pretty basic, right? “Use leftovers!” Gee, thanks Kerry. But you’d be surprised how many people don’t do this! And if I’m making something sort of expensive (like anything that involves beef or necessitates buying a lot of new ingredients), I make sure my vegetarian meals are extra cheap. Soups are the best for this.

Anyway, after I make my list of everything I want to make, I make a list of all the ingredients I need to buy. I organize my shopping list by section, because otherwise I get really stressed out. And that leads into Sunday morning shopping. H. and I like to go when all the moral people are in church. Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should you go shopping on Sunday afternoon after all the moms get out of church. Those women are gonna clear out the produce section. You need to beat them to it.

3. Sunday prep.
I only do this when I’m being REALLY organized, but it helps SO MUCH if I can chop/pre-cook things on Sunday for the rest of the week. Again, duh. This is pretty obvious.

That’s pretty much the easiest, right? Here’s my meal plan from last week. I planned this out on Sunday and more or less stuck to it. I don’t use recipes all the time, but I tried a few new things last week so I linked to them.

Monday: Slow-cooked pork with balsamic glaze, crispy potatoes, broccoli slaw
Tuesday: Pork and sweet potato hash with avocado and fried eggs
Wednesday: Black bean and quinoa soup
Thursday: Chicken cutlets with roasted potatoes and brussels sprouts
Friday: Take-out. No cooking!

These dinners all gave me plenty of leftovers for the next day’s lunches, they used many of the same ingredients, and a lot of them used things I tend to have in my cupboard anyway (beans, quinoa, potatoes). We really don’t spend too much at the grocery store, which gives us a little more leeway when we want to go out, which is often. Nothing’s gonna get in the way of me and trying a new restaurant.

What about you guys? Do you meal plan? What’s your dinner strategy? Let me know!