The Great Meal Planning Experiment


Image courtesy The Graphics Fairy

The good news is that our errand routes take us past a good, inexpensive ($5 and change) Chinese takeout place as well as several Subways (the only fast food I like).

The bad news is that we started relying on them a little too much. In addition to a lot of leftovers going to waste (boo), I started feeling bloated from the sodium and Mystery know what else. Not good. Hubby’s blood pressure started creeping up the dial. Even worse, considering that his mom had chronic headaches and kidney problems from hers.

On top of that, the takeout containers and sauce packets collecting in the fridge doors were getting out of hand.

We talked it over and decided that advance prep and planning would be a good thing.  I don’t think it will be that difficult to plan out what we’re going to eat this week. Saturday I made a Crock-Pot full of chicken caccitore (ok, you caught me–a couple pounds of thighs, drumsticks, and wings braised in a high quality jarred pasta sauce. Sunday I tried a new-to-us recipe involving tofu whipped into a creamy sauce, pasta, and veggies. The author called it a “quiche.” I called it a “casserole.” If one were to make the sauce, change up the seasonings and veggies, and pour it into a pie crust, you would have a respectable vegan quiche. I’ll try that next time.  I’ll invest some time today in prepping hummus and a bowl of fruit salad to go with what I made.

With those two meals, we have plenty to get us through at lunch and dinner until I run errands further east later this week. Before I go, we’ll look at recipes and plan things from there.

Breakfast is not included. We get up at different times because, well, we do. Hubby needs to be out of the house by 6:15 on school days or face a 45 minute commute more than doubling. He sleeps in until the call of nature rouses him on other days. Except for eggs, hummus, and the occasional batch of muffins, we both have our individual preferences in the morning. He likes his plain bagels. I like oatmeal or yogurt.

So we begin. Say tuned for updates.



The Therapeutic Value of Cooking

I’ve been cooking more than usual this week. Mercury is still in retro; the heavy snow from Monday’s storm followed by yesterday’s rain and wind-driven melting challenged one of the sump pumps to the breaking point; my mainstay paid writing job has been put on hold indefinitely; and of course, Oakley ate a few too many biskies, leading to 2 AM runs in the yard.

So I’ve cooked. Turkey chili, a rotisserie chicken, a cake made with almond and coconut flours, socca with fresh cilantro to go with the chili. The cake was based on a very simple French recipe; the other dishes are regular batters in the culinary lineup. It’s kept me pleasantly busy during the interminable wait for the weather to level out. 

Signs that spring can’t be too far off are coming up here and there. Strawberries glisten like rubies at the store and early greens are coming in to play. Mercury will get its act together on the 28th and go forward. And we shall as well.

The Great Nut Butter Experiment: Something You May Try At Home

Ohh, myyyy…..just ate a spoonful of almond-pecan-walnut butter. Nirvana in a food processor. 

Today’s post comes courtesy of two inspirations: Vicki Linich, my voice teacher who is also a raw foods chef; and nearly popping an artery over the rising price of nut butters. details Vicki’s almond butter adventure. While you’re there, check out the meatball pate’ recipe–I haven’t tried it yet, but will.

Nut butters are not hard to make at all. It just requires patience and a sturdy food processor. First I put in about a half-cup of almonds and let them go until they were about halfway processed. Then the pecans–they are a lot softer than the almonds.  I’d say that I put in about a half-cup of those as well, and a quarter-cup of walnuts I had sitting in the freezer. 

Next, I turned on the food processor and let it do its stuff. In less than five minutes, I had nut butter that suspiciously resembled the contents of the jar that I’d bought at Trader Joe’s the other day. Even though I used roasted and salted nuts, it tasted a lot fresher than the jarred equivalent. If you used unsalted nuts, add a dash of sea salt if you want to after the nut butter reaches the desired consistancy.

If you’re making this with the intention to share with your four-legged companions, please don’t use walnuts or macadamias in the mix. Both are toxic to dogs.  Otherwise, improvise at will and enjoy.