Food in Bowls and Jars

The wheel of the year turned another notch today. Summer Solstice, the longest day, arrived. I watered the plants. Radishes should be ready by the end of the week. Carrots poke small fern-like leaves through the top of the soil. We have four bean plants getting ready to rock and roll. And many other green leafy things have popped up. I don’t remember what I planted where, but we have an abundant crop of something or things on the way.

After giving the plants a drink, I had a rather hip and trendy breakfast of overnight oats. You haven’t tried them? You can’t connect to any relatively healthy eating site these days without thumbnails for recipes greeting you. I used a 16-ounce very well washed salsa jar for mine. All you have to do is put oats and some sort of milk or yogurt in a jar in a two-to-one ratio (I use 1/3 cup oats to 2/3 cup yogurt or soy  almond milk), a sweetener (stevia in my case), mix, and let sit overnight. The longer the resting period, the creamier the oats the next morning. You can throw in cocoa powder, nut butter, nuts, chia seeds, flax, whatever is healthy and world for you. Just don’t forget the sweetener; otherwise the flavor will remind you of library paste. And don’t forget some berries or banana in the morning when breakfast time arrives.

I put pumpkin in with mine, and pie spices. A bit unconventional for the first of summer, but it was quite good. Cool, creamy, dessert-like. Pumpkin pie is one of my favorite desserts; this echoed it pleasantly.

Another ubiquitous jar presentation: salads. These get shown in quart Mason jars. I see no reason why any other quart jar wouldn’t work. The basic recipe starts with dressing on the bottom, tomatoes, cucumbers, protein to act as a moisture barrier, then lettuce on top. At lunch or dinner time, give the jar a good shake and there you have your lunch or dinner. You can eat it as is or you can pour it out onto a plate.

If you don’t want to eat your meal on a plate, you can always put it into a bowl. Bowls garner a lot of press these days as well. The formula involves a layer of grains, some veggies, a protein, and salsa or some kind of sauce on top. If I can’t get to Chipotle for one of their bowls, I can make a fairly reasonable copy at home. Not quite the same, but pretty close.

While nothing can replace sitting down and enjoying the casual elegance of a sit-down homemade dinner, jar and bowl foods provide an option for tasty meals on the go. Two sites I like for ideas are Mind over Munch and The Domestic Geek.

Even with the hipness and trendiness, bowl and jar meals introduce some practicality. You can make meals for a few days in advance. You can practice better portion control (says the writer who picks at leftovers). You can reuse and up-cycle glass jars and plastic containers from past take out meals.

And  you can be sure that curbing plastic consumption and saving money will never go out of style.

 

The Summer of Our Discontent

1shakespeare002-277x320.jpg

image courtesy The Graphics Fairy

Yes, I know that the quote from “Richard III” is “winter” and not “summer.” However, the hellish humidity combined with a heat index of something like 103 is not making me happy. Throw in an air action alert, and we are neither amused or comfortable. It’s making us all downright crabby, in fact. Short, clear sentences with no room for misunderstanding are the order of the day.

Oakley and I slapped together a 30-minute walk. Emphasis on “slap” due to the mosquitos that plagued me. He tended to his social networking and business while I frantically waved and swatted. The good parts of the walk were its speed and efficiency and not whacking myself in the face with the cleanup bag. I am truly grateful for that.

When we finished, I dropped Oakley off at home, then ran to Walgreen’s to get antacid tablets for him and ice for me so I can indulge myself with a homemade iced coffee later this afternoon. I look forward to that. Not the same as from my favorite drive thru window, but worth it in the long run between calorie sparing (I use stevia here at home and can throw in a splash of vanilla extract to liven things up) and not contributing to the flow of plastic, even that which is destined to be recycled.

Later on we might make a run to one of the farm stores. This one allows dogs, and we will both benefit from a couple of laps around the store. For some reason, Oakley is infatuated with the automotive department. The scents of rubber and metal must have some kind of exotic appeal, the way that humans search out food not of their own ethnic background.

I’m doing my best to avoid news on TV. Part of me wants to monitor the weather, but the desire to avoid the deepening insanity surrounding the elections competes with it. I know that I can go on line, but the visuals and the walkthroughs by the weather people makes it more real, somehow.

Reading is always an option. I’m still working on Seafaring Women purchased during the opening Ren Faire weekend. I’m bouncing back and forth between that and Lake Woebegon Days. 

Oakley has toys to quietly maul. I’ll freeze some pumpkin in a Kong for a special treat–the last time he had the soy-based ice cream for dogs it didn’t sit well with him. He doesn’t mind pumpkin at all, especially with a squirt of spray cheese thrown in just because.

Tonight will bring storms and some respite. If not, a Thai curry is in order and we’ll pretend we’re in Bangkok. We’ll live, but the quality of doing so must be maintained.

I’m Too Lazy to Find My Copy of “The Great Gatsby” So Bear With Me

There’s a scene toward the end of The Great Gatsby where I believe Jordan comments that life begins again when everything gets crisp in the fall.

I’m not trying to wish time away, believe me, but when I walk outside and feel as if I’ve been hit in the face with a hot wet beach towel, I have moments of doing so. The half-hour morning walk with Oakley left me limp from the humidity. I’ll have to settle for the next best thing in the egg department: the hens at the farm where I usually buy mine have wilted in the coolest spots in their enclosure with spread wings, and are too hot to lay eggs.

Storms are en route, though. Some are saying this afternoon, a real possibility when the heat indices hover around 100 and the humidity is ridiculous. Others say tomorrow. I look forward to them, welcome them.

It’s a stay in the moment type of week. We have the last day care day at the place where Oakley’s been going the better part of his life before it goes out of business this weekend. A party’s been planned for staff, owners, and dogs the Sunday after Labor Day. Hopefully it will bring closure as we all make this transition. We all know that change is the constant in life, but did it have to be due to one person’s massive selfishness and greed?

Oakley will be four on Saturday. We just did an early birthday treat run to his favorite store, the mom (no pop) one that’s a little drive. He gets adored by the staff, greets the store cat whether or not he wants to be greeted, and charms other shoppers. And we get to support the shop owner and a small local biscuit bakery. It’s all good.

And when the weather breaks, it will be even better.

 

Dreaming in Green

I checked the long-term weather forecast that comes courtesy of the app on my new cell phone this morning. Today is supposed to be the last day of getting dope-slapped by the polar vortex. The warmup starts tomorrow, and inch by inch, we claw and crawl towards spring. 

Saturday is Imbolc to Earth Religion followers and St. Bridget’s Day to others. The days finally grow longer. We’re still at risk for storms, but those few moments of light carved out at each end of the day certainly boost the old morale. 

This year, I intend to try raised bed gardening. The soil has so much residue from its farming career that I don’t feel safe messing with it any more.  Usual suspects: tomatoes, green beans, radishes, lettuce, spinach. Maybe get a little crazy and try herbs, too. 

The enforced coziness is making me, Hubby, and Oakley a little nuts. Dreaming of this summer’s garden will help in the quest for sanity. 

 

A Farmers’ Market Birthday

Today is Hubby’s birthday. We’ll be going out to lunch tomorrow, though, since the restaurant that he wants to go to is closed on Monday.

However, on observation of the day, we will be celebrating with pasta and seafood here at home this evening. Accompaniments will include organic bread crafted from antique wheat, salad with field greens, and cheesecake in a jar. White chocolate-raspberry cheesecake, to be precise. 

I also scored some olives, scarlet runner and green beans, and a loaf of walnut-raisin bread from the same baker. Oh, and a couple of biskies for Oakley. 

Not too many more left, so grab it while we can.