I am not very good at blogging. I mean, I’m fine when I actually do it, but I’m not very good at coming here and getting it done. That being said, I want to give a bit of an update on life.
Things are, just as always, busy and exciting. The SweetSpot has grown again and now has a second location on the other side of town (which is a funny statement in a town as small as this one). The new location, The SweetSpot Bakehouse, is a bakery/coffee shop and has a drive-thru. It’s closer to campus and is located on a busy street. We are expecting a busy 2014!
Life at home is great: Althea is 4, the hubs is beginning a new adventure in consulting/analytics, and we are still enjoying our bigger place — though we do have a downsize in mind. We are planning a spring move to lessen our footprint and our financial obligations. Responsibility and all that jazz.
So there’s the 2014 update. Back to updating webpages, menus, and schedules… sweet!
How about another week-in-review? This past week has been a blur so I may have some difficulty remembering back but here we go…
Wednesday – We went to SummerFest to see The Avett Brothers. We had some fantastic fire grilled chicken and ribs. And some not so fantastic Chinese food. Bad choices were made after consuming too much beer… such is life.
Thursday – Not. A. Clue.
Friday – Fish Fry! I had the most amazing seared scallops and a nice summer salad courtesy of our talented Chef, Darren.
Saturday & Sunday – Spent the weekend in the Wisconsin Dells eating crappy food. The respite from the crappy food was found on Sunday night when we stopped at Chipotle for dinner. Mmm… barbacoa.
And that brings us to last night… Monday.
We had some frozen, organic chicken breasts hidden in the back of the freezer that I took out when we got home Sunday night. I figured if I thawed $8.00 worth of organic chicken breasts, I’d find a way to use them.
I also noticed a large stock-pile of Jasmine Rice in the pantry which we inherited from our friends when they moved across the country…
So I decided it was time to use them up and I Googled “how to cook rice in the crock-pot” since I had never tied it before. First step… put rice in the crock-pot.
Step two… add chicken stock (3 cups for my 1 1/2 cups of rice). Well, I did not have any chicken stock and I cannot buy any so I looked for alternatives. Turns out I had beef stock base in the fridge from Penzey’s (my favorite spice store in the world). I also found seafood stock base but decided that beef might be better… So I added that, 3 cups of water, some tumeric (because I like yellow rice), and a healthy dose of cracked black pepper.
Next, I added the chicken which I had been marinating in some lemon juice, olive oil, California Pepper Blend (also from Penzey’s), garlic scapes (leftover from the CSA that delivers to The SweetSpot), and rosemary (from our garden).
I cooked all this on HIGH for 1 hour (as per the instructions I found on Google) and intended to turn it down to WARM for the next 4 hours. However, after the 1 hour on HIGH everything was done! I must have a very efficient crock-pot.
I put the crock in the fridge until later. Then, about an hour before it was time to eat, I quickly sauteed some squash (from the CSA) with some garlic scapes and green onion (also CSA) in some ghee. I poured the just-al dente squash on top of the other goodies and returned them to the crock-pot on LOW for the last hour.
Have you tried the pantry challenge yet? If so, let me know how it went!
Well, today marks one week since we embarked on this adventure and it has not been smooth sailing. But not for lack of trying.
Here’s what the last 6 days looked like:
Thursday – Employee Meeting / Cookout
Friday – Fish Fry at The Country Club (every Friday)
Saturday – No dinner so we ate popcorn at the movies for dinner (btw, Monsters University is awesome!)
Sunday – Ate dinner at my parents’ house
Monday – Worked late and ate at The SweetSpot
So tonight I was determined to (1.) eat at home and (2.) buy nothing. And it was a success! Here’s what we started with…
Leftovers from The Country Club kitchen: 3 portobello caps and some expired gluten free pasta (mmm… expired pasta)
Leftover from a catering order at the cafe: grape tomatoes
From our garden: fresh basil
From the fridge and pantry (not pictured): ghee, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper
Mix it all together and what do you get?
A delicious pasta dish that even the kiddo enjoyed.
As we were leaving dance class tonight I felt a twinge of jealousy toward the families walking over to the local pizza place for dinner. But then I remembered I had all of these fresh (and not so fresh) ingredients at home and became determined to make it work. And it did! And it was yummy!
Oh, and in case you’ve been following along (and wondering)… we never did get around to eating those lentils.
So I planned ahead today. And a lot of good that did…
I put lentils in the crock pot (did I mention we have a lot of lentils?) around 2:00. I added water, salt, curry powder, garam masala, garlic, ginger, and mirepoix (carrots, celery, and onion) and I set it to low. Seemed like low would get the job done in 4 hours. Wrong!
So, low was my first mistake.
Then, I texted the hubs and asked him to make some rice to go with dinner. Mistake #2.
When I got home at 6:30 we had rice mush and undercooked lentils.
So, Plan B… My initial reaction was “let’s call Jimmy Johns” but then I thought better of the situation and decided to stick to the challenge. I dug out some vegetable medley that was left over from a catering event, some buckwheat soba noodles, peanut satay sauce, garlic, ginger, and sriracha…
This could also be called the “Empty Your Pantry Challenge”… First, a little background:
Have you ever looked at the food in your pantry and your fridge and thought to yourself “holy cats! This is a ton of food”? Or, have you ever looked at the three boxes of rice (or oatmeal, or pasta, or whatever) and wondered why you bought the 2nd and 3rd box without eating the first one? Or, how about, have you ever stood in front of your very full pantry and very full fridge, complained that you have nothing to eat, ordered take-out, and then later that week thrown out produce that you didn’t eat before it spoiled?
Well, these scenarios are common place in our house. So much so that the hubs and I were doing some reorganizing the other day and came up with some conclusions:
1.) We have enough lentils and rice to feed a small country for a week
2.) We go out to eat way too often for a family with so much food on the shelves
3.) We really ought to eat this food before we buy any new food
When I think about how much food we have access to while other people go hungry, I am flooded with a mixture of guilt and anger. Many people, near and far, would be overjoyed to own the contents of my pantry. Yet every night I complain that we have nothing to eat and I either run to the grocery store, order in, or head to a restaurant for dinner. This challenge will help overthrow that pattern.
In practical terms it will also (1) save us money, (2) help us eat healthier, and (3) encourage family-time as we work together to create meals.
The rules are simple:
Rule #1… Unless planned ahead, every evening meal must be consumed at home.
Rule #2… That meal must be made, 100%, of food we already have in the house. (Now, we have access to fresh produce (for free!) that many people do not have. So if you feel like following this challenge, I’d recommend buying fresh produce at the beginning of each week (and nothing else!) and then going forward with the challenge. Another unique thing about our family is that we are dairy-free, so you may need to adjust as needed.)
Rule #3… Have fun!
I will post a sampling of our meals here and a picture of every meal on my Tumblog: http://laceyeats.tumblr.com/
Follow along, participate, or jump in with ideas. This will be a challenge for sure, but a fun one!
Hi friends, let’s talk about coffee storage.
I have been thinking a lot lately about this myth– that storing your coffee in the freezer is the correct and proper way to keep it fresh– comes from. I think it’s just extrapolated, by well meaning people, from the fact that other items retain their freshness in the freezer: meats, bread (well wrapped), soups, etc.
But think about your local coffee shop, or even your grocery store—coffee is always stored at room temperature there, so why would it need to be frozen once it’s in your home? What is always especially surprising to me is how many coffee-loving folks still store their coffee this way, but go to great lengths to brew it just right. I hope to put an end to the freezer myth for you.
Why the freezer is bad for coffee:
So how should you store your coffee? Ideally, you should only buy enough to last you one to two weeks. Store it in an airtight, opaque container or bag in a cool place. Your kitchen counter (away from the stove and oven) should be fine. The best method is to buy whole beans and grind as you use it. Your beans should hold up well this way, but if you notice that the beans have lost their oily sheen, toss them. This is also a good method for buying beans; no oil usually indicates an old bean.
If your favorite beans are available at a good price and you feel the urge to stock up, some say you can divide them into smaller amounts and store them in a deep freezer (that doesn’t get opened often), in an airtight bag for up to a month. When you want to use the coffee, you should remove one portion (a week’s worth) of coffee from the freezer and store it as mentioned above.
Summer concert season is approaching and I am stoked. Summerfest. Sunshine. And the Avett Brothers.