Yup. I totally de-legumified falafel and replaced the chickpeas with meat. Sue me. It was sort of on the fly and I didn’t have any, so I did what I often do and replaced the missing ingredient with meat. Meatza, anyone?
Thanks to the plethora of farmers’ markets and, well, local farms in general, cheap yet local and sustainable foodstuffs–like the aforementioned meat–have been refreshingly easy to come by around here, so my freezer is stocked to the brim with assorted animal parts. We’re on a tight budget, what with my husband in B-school and all, so stocking up on the essentials ahead of time has been a godsend. I’m pretty keen on feeding both of us on $100 a week, and I’d like to get it down to $86 (which is what the USDA says we ought to be able to do on the Super Thrifty…aka What You’d Get on Food Stamps…plan). It’s amazing how much you can drop in one trip to Whole Foods on, like, 3 things. Which isn’t news to anyone, I know, but it was shamefully easy to get complacent when both of us were working and living in a lower cost area.
The real challenge has been deciding what our true priorities were, and I’m still working out the kinks (which I’d like to share in a future post). For example, I’m fine with buying a lot of produce that’s conventionally grown, and the latest GMO study has me sleeping a little better at night over some things. BUT I’m still buying organic eggs and dairy products because, well, there’s some really shady practices in conventional poultry and dairy farming that pose a risk I’m not willing to take. AND I haven’t figured out where to draw the line on meat. On the one hand, yes, grass fed and pastured is better, but it’s also thrice the price a lot of times. Also a heck of a lot easier to find (affordable) grass fed and/or pastured chicken and beef than it is, say pork. Farmers’ Markets help with this but not a ton, especially since a lot of them shut down in the Fall. PS Quick cash-saving tip…I withdraw $100 in cash before my weekly grocery run…it’s the single best way I know of to keep me honest
OK so falafel. Ah-mazing with hummus, paleo or otherwise…I happened to have some parsnip hummus on hand (recipe coming soon…here’s a sweet potato hummus recipe I love to tide you over!) and did up a little plate with the falafels, hummus, and some roast veggies. I did find this recipe for a GF pita that I really want to try next time, too. There’s a lot of ways to fix up the real deal, so be creative with these! Next time I’m going to try rolling the balls in sesame seeds before frying to try for that lovely crunch.
When my husband came home with this cooking on the counter, the scent of sage and rosemary wafting through the house, he was convinced I was making Thanksgiving dinner.
Admittedly it’s super hard to make a picture of this delicious mess look as amazing as it is, so I reallyreally need you to trust me here. It’s approximately 2 minutes of actual work (and by work I mean dumping stuff into a slow cooker) for a meal that will either feed 6-8 people comfortable or feed 2 people for DAYS. And feeding us for days on some very affordable ingredients is a very, very good thing…especially if it manages to hit the level of rich, warm, comfort that makes a food coma positively inevitable.
This will most definitely be happening again…next time I’m thinking it’ll be time to bust out the fall veggies and go all out with some sausage, cranberries, winter squash…maybe even some apples if I’m feeling crazy
Yeah, I know. I’m going crazzzzy with all this chia pudding.
But seriously, what was wrong with me? This is the perfect breakfast. Just mix it all up, toss in the fridge. Boom. Nice cool breakfast option for hella hot days all nice and ready after I stumble out of bed.
So this recipe also has sort of a secret ingredient. I use it in pretty much everything. Probably the greatest grocery discovery I ever made.
Apple pie spice is sorta like pumpkin pie spice but much, much lighter. Maybe because apple pie is a much more summery dessert? I’m freaking out over Fresh Market’s blend, though…it’s got a few extra ingredients that others generally don’t, like lemon peel and fenugreek. Baller.
Seriously, y’all. It’s like I put a cheeseburger in a blender. I had this fantastic concoction cooking all day yesterday as we were moving in and our tiny kitchen was thick with the smell of backyard barbecue.
This was our second meal actually prepared in the new house. If you recall, half our house was without power and the AC was out for the whole weekend because things like that just…seem…to happen to me all of the time. I think we’re finally in the clear, but just know for the rest of the year I’ll be afraid to turn on the dryer…20A to start when the whole house is only 60A is terrifying. My only good ideas are to either a) just do laundry out, or b) to designate a laundry day and make sure *everything* is shut off before even thinking about washing clothes. At least our water bill might be lower?
Anyway, this chili. I went ahead and roasted half a butternut squash in foil and just scooped out the inside and dumped it into the crock pot, but in the future I’ll probably just used the canned stuff since a) it takes way less time, and b) I won’t have to turn the oven on. I’m making a lot of lists today. If I’d have been thinking ahead, I’d have thought to get some ketchup and mustard to dump over my bowl and make this even more like a cheeseburger smoothie. Trust me on this one.
I have been long averse to jumping on the chia pudding bandwagon. Maybe I had a bad experience? I feel like I probably did, since I couldn’t even hear the word “chia” without thinking of gritty, gelatinous goop.
Well, you guys, when you’re moving and your AC goes out (along with power in half the building) because the ampage in your new house simply cannot handle running the washer and dryer at the same time, you start looking for breakfast options that are, you know, cold. Never mind how the heck I ended up with a baggie of chia seeds in the fridge, but there they were, and gosh darn it if this mess didn’t come out spectacularly. I even ate it out of a little mason jar, since apparently that’s what cultured grown-ups do. Does it count if it was my complementary margarita glass from Joe’s Crab Shack?
Valentine’s Day, 2010. My husband (then-boyfriend) and I were attempting to not make a huge deal out of it. And by “not trying to make a huge deal out of it,” I mean that Ross made reservations for us at one of those places where you get a five star dinner while watching a show but didn’t realize until about an hour before we were supposed to leave that the place was in San Antonio (we were in Georgetown at the time). Oops. So we ran out to dinner to a place down the road and that was that.
And I got a “Santa Fe Salad.” Funny what you remember.
Anyway, I guess it was good since this salad a part of our dinner rotation ever since. I mean, the date was good, too. Obviously. During the hard-core Paleo years, we just nixed the cheese and corn and used sliced almonds instead of tortilla strips and it was still amazing. So this is totally kosher for clean eaters. Promise.
My favorite protein to use for this salad is grilled chicken, but salmon (or any other fish) is really great, too. When entertaining, I’ve even made a side salad version…just a tiny one without the protein. As for dressing, you can use anything you want–the original had what was basically a spicy ranch–but I loveLOVElove this avocado dressing with a little cayenne on top.
What with being unemployed and all and not exactly having a place to live until August 1, hubs and I are spending a few weeks with my parents. The older we all get, I’m starting to have more and more respect for how my folks have handled life after the last kid left home 8 years ago. Dad has been 100% retired for most of it and has steadily accumulated projects and community stuff to stay busy whenever he isn’t out on the motorcycle. Motorcycle rallies–the kind with checkpoints and landmarks to find within a 24-72 hour time limit over some region of the country–are pretty much his purpose in life. Mom still works as a nurse but has managed to keep the 3, 12-hour shifts a week for over a decade. I can only hope I’ll be so lucky. She’s been a gardener her whole life but when kids came along and life got busy we didn’t have much besides the flower beds and a few vegetable patches, but the garden beds have multiplied in the last few years to include everything from cucumbers and squashes, corn, beans, herbs, winter veggies, and, to my surprise when I came home last week, collards and kale (“everyone at work was talking about how much they love this stuff called ‘kale’ so I went and got a pack of seeds…). With my dad as a handy helper (he does the garden building and vegetable eating part) and a really commendable renewed devotion to personal health on their part, we can always count on fresh produce at home. So, obviously that brings me to today’s recipe. With the exception of the yogurt, everything here has been freshly grown and that’s pretty darn cool if you ask me.
Since summer is, you know, hot and all, I’ve been doing a *lot* of salads and cold veggies with dinner instead of the typical warm side dishes. Saves time, that’s for sure–one of my husband’s favorite things to toss on a plate next to the main event is a sliced heirloom tomato with salt and a drizzle of melted butter (speaking of which, grilled tomato and butter sandwiches are the bomb and I could probably eat them every day forever).
I got a little…fancy…with last night’s salad, as you can see. The dill was calling my name, I couldn’t resist. I’ve got fantasies of doing this again with some smoked salmon later this week. Please tell me I’m not the only one who’s dying just thinking about it….?
When you and your spouse are both funemployed at the same time you get to do some really awesome stuff together. Like wake up late and sip coffee out on the deck on a Thursday. Like make breakfast side by side without bitching at each other because one or the other is already running late. Like just decide on a whim to go take a bike ride along the C&O. Like head over to the butcher afterwards and freak out the whole place when you ask for a beef heart and the guy says he’ll go see what they’ve got in the back and promptly slams what is most certainly the heart of a wooley mammoth–not a cow–onto the counter. What can I say? We’ve got fertile land.
“What is THAT??” asks the lady behind me.
“A beef heart!” my husband cheerfully replies. “They’re amazing. And cheap. And are, like, the beefiest beef you’ve ever had!” What we left unsaid was that by eating the cow’s heart we’d gain all of its strength and power.
Usually the easiest thing to do with a heart is to toss it in the slow cooker—they’ve got enough fat on them that they stay really moist and will flavor whatever accessory vegetables you put in alongside it. A “fancier” way to use it is to cut it into strips or chunks and just do your thing like you would with any other cut of beef. Being a holiday weekend and all, I figured now was the time to take a stab at grilling the thing.
Unlike other organ meats there really isn’t the need to disguise the flavor at all—the heart is a muscle, and tastes like any other muscle meat. If there’s anything distinctive it’s the almost “beefier” taste, if that makes any sense. I’m pretty confident that as long as you cut it right you could serve it to a crowd without anyone being the wiser. This is good because I’m not a huge fan of drowning something in sauce or marinade if I don’t have to…especially not when we’re lucky enough to have our herds raised on sweet, sweet valley grass.
We finally got all our stuff out of the Baltimore house yesterday—one thing I realized I miss from the Army was the fact that whenever you had to move, some moving company would just magically show up and four hours later, all your stuff was gone. Whether it would make it to where you needed to go was another story but considering we aren’t even taking possession of the new place for a month, I’m not thinking that far ahead. Either way. Moving yourself is awful. Righteously awful.
Fun fact…there is a Law of the Unviverse that states that no matter how hard you try, you will never—NEVER—fit all of your household goods inside your POD, despite more trips to Goodwill than I care to count and a pile of trash bags in the back alley I’m pretty sure could shield the place from a nuclear war. So, that was my weekend.
I know baking is probably the last thing anyone wants to do in the middle of the summer, except it’s the first thing I want to do every second of every day of the year so I’m posting this anyway. Y’all know I’ve been on my Vegan kick lately and I recently extended said Vegan kick into the realm of baked goods. I did try to make a Paleo/Vegan bread a while back (I’m still racking my brain for a way to make that happen) but for now I’m settling for this lovely creation.
It’s seriously delicious, not to mention versatile. Dudes, I made French Toast and sandwiches and toast with butter and jam and PBJ andandand they all held up. The pain with GF baked goods of any kind is that they can really be dry and crumbly, and doubly so when you have to eliminate eggs and dairy from the mix. I don’t know what it is about this specific combo of ingredients but it works beautifully. I had to experiment a little—it took me one miserable failure and two not-so-miserable-but-still-imperfect attempts to figure out the magic behind it and here is what I found/the ONE change I made…
When she says mix the ingredients until “just combined,” seriously, yo…do NOT overmix. Mix up all your dry ingredients REALLY well before you add the wet stud and mix by hand slowly and carefully until it comes together. Overmixing will produce a nasty sinkhole.
Only let it rise 30 minutes. I know it says 30-45 but too long and a) it might overflow and/or b) it’ll sink whilst baking.
I added a tablespoon of psyllium husk powder. I swear by this stuff.
Does not freeze well. I unthawed a loaf I had frozen fresh and it turned to sand.
Let the loaf cool either upside down or on its side. I know some folks think this is an Old Wive’s Tale, but it makes me feel better. So there.
This is the first time ever that my husband and I have been (f)unemployed at the same time. I give major bonus points, too, since it’s over the summer and we’ve got a pretty sweet vacation schedule lined up. Seriously, not having a job and not having to worry about money doesn’t really happen. Ever. Except it’s happening right now. These are the moments where, you know, being smart and saving cash for the past decade helps you out. And when the GI Bill is as awesome as ever. Five deployments between the two of us almost seems not as craptastic as before. Almost.
What I like about having a year off from school, too, is that I can let the brain fog lift a little and catch up on normal people stuff. Less zig-zaggy chemical figures and renal fluid balance diagrams, more reading books in the sunshine. Books that make me laugh instead of cry. Books I can discuss with my husband over coffee. And by discuss I mean bitch about how pissed I get every time Judd suppresses his feelings while my own husband makes agreeable noises whilst reading the news or intermittently wondering aloud whether it would be better to upgrade some software on some device I totally don’t care about. If you missed the reference, I’m reading This is Where I Leave You—as soon as I saw that the movie was coming out and that Jane Fonda (love her) and the guys whose name I don’t know but who plays Adam on Girls (LOVE him) were in it I hadhadHAD to read the book. If nothing else, I love watching a movie based on a book and having read said book so I can complain about all the inconsistencies. Yes, I’m actually 80 years old.
Ya, so pork belly. Delicious, obviously. And since I have tome on my hands to do things like read a real book I have time to make pork belly in any way other than in a slow cooker. While it required my attention for longer than did the slow cooker method, I actually found this way to be easier. I hope that makes sense…if nothing else this is a great way to prep a slab for cooking later.
Basically, you braise the thing for a few hours, let it cool in the fridge for a while, cut it up into chunks (or probably even leave it whole) and pan sear it. Boom.
This is going to be a thing. I did see a thing on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives the other day about pork belly on a stick. That’s going to need to happen soon, like, real soon.