Settle a bet for me.

If I make pumpkin pie, do I have to make dinner as well? I say no. Here’s my argument:

Pumpkin is a vegetable.
Sweetened condensed milk and eggs are protein.
Crust is a grain.

Ta-da! Complete meal! With whipped cream for dessert.

…Right?

Meal Planning

Last weekend, in a blind panic over finances and our grocery budget, I sat down and wrote out a list of meals that we enjoy, trying for variety and seasonal-appropriateness. Then I wrote a grocery list that included the ingredients for all those meals, as well as the things we need for breakfasts, snacks, and so forth.

Our family meal requirements are simultaneously simple and complicated:

  • I am a vegetarian; Will is not. He does eat vegetarian meals, however.
  • I am pregnant and so require protein at every meal.
  • Sam is three. He thinks a meal = sausage.
  • We have very little money, prefer to buy locally, and most produce must be organic.
  • Besides avoiding chemicals, we also like to eat foods that are good for our bodies.
  • But we are really into comfort food.
  • Will takes lunch to work every day, so leftovers are essential.

So I had to work with all of those things. Not too hard for me, since it’s what I am used to. This is the list of meals I came up with, followed by some commentary on meal planning.

MEAL #1 — roasted chicken, falafel, flat bread, tzatziki, tahini sauce

MEAL #2 — spaghetti/ravioli with red sauce, sausage, and homemade bread

MEAL #3 — anti-pasto

MEAL #4 — homemade pizza

MEAL #5 — grilled onions and peppers with sausage/tofu

MEAL #6 — brown rice, red beans, steamed kale + squash

MEAL #7 — sushi in a bowl: seasoned sticky rice, cucumber, carrot, tofu, toasted nori

MEAL #8 — jerk chicken/tofu with cornbread

MEAL #9 — awaze tibs (Ethiopian curry with beef/tofu/beans)

MEAL #10 — veggie burgers with homemade pickles

(Some of these are to include a vegetable or other side TBD.)

So far we’ve made about half of these, and every day Will has had leftovers of some variety or other to take to work. Every meal has been delicious, and while there has been prep involved it has been stress-free because I do not have to decide what to make beyond choosing something from the list. On days that we eat something Sam won’t touch (not many so far), I make him a piece of Italian sausage or pasta/rice and tofu.

I’m sure that this is all really obvious to many of you. I feel like it should have been to me. But I’ve always pictured meal planning as much more structured. You know, fish on Mondays (never have the fish on Monday), stir-fry on Tuesdays, et cetera. It never occurred to me that it could be done in a way that suited our lifestyle. Again with the “Duh.”

If any of you meal plan, I’d love to know how you do it. And if you’re curious about it, feel free to ask questions. I have been doing it for one whole week so I am totally an expert.

Things You Should Know

You can read the first chapter of DANI NOIR right now. And frankly, I can’t think of any reason that you would do anything else. I read an advance copy of the book and it is one of the best I have ever read. Bar none.

I just made these scones (I did the rolled version) and they are so incredible that I can hardly think straight. My only regret is not having any Devonshire cream to go on them.

I have a big old baby belly. It is not quite as cute as last time, because, well, frankly I am fatter and my skin is less taut. But oh well. Looky:

baby2week18

I definitely had more things to tell you but I am too full of scones for my brain to work.

World’s Best Salad

Seriously, guys, this is the best salad ever. Unless you are vegan, in which case it kind of sucks.

bestsaladever

You will need:

  • one peach
  • one green zebra tomato (two if they are small–I used one small green zebra and one small black zebra)
  • fresh mozzarella
  • handful basil leaves
  • sea salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • good olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar

Chop the peach, tomato, and cheese in to bite-sized chunks. (If you buy those miniature mozzarella balls, you won’t have to chop it.) Shred the basil (with your fingers or a knife) and sprinkle over. Liberally salt and pepper. Right before you eat, drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar (about a tablespoon of each, maybe a bit more).

This makes a really great summer meal all by itself, especially with a little pita or flatbread.

How to win followers and disgust people

Announce on Twitter that you’ve just cooked testicles.

Seriously, it works like a charm. I got five or six new followers inside of an hour, and only one of them was a spammer.

I also got some truly hilarious reactions from assorted friends, many of whom were horrified. Clarifying that the testicles formerly belonged to a bison didn’t really help, either.

Anyway, just an FYI.

Take that, Subway!

When I was pregnant with Sam I had a few food aversions, and several foods that I particularly liked, but the only thing I outright craved was fresh, steamed vegetables. Yes I know how weird that is.

This pregnancy has been NON-STOP CRAVINGS. It is out of control. I am going nuts, and of course we can’t afford most of the foods I want. (On Thursday I spent some of my reserve money, which is supposed to go toward getting me a new pair of glasses finally, an entire year after my old ones broke, and bought Greek food with it. I’d been craving it for two days and I snapped.) One of the most persistent cravings has been for Subway sandwiches. Now, this is not the most expensive craving ever–a footlong veggie sub is $5–but it’s just not feasible for me to have someone else make me a sandwich every day. So today we spent an extra $20 or so on groceries to get the necessities, and we came home and made this:

subwayknockoff

Will’s sandwich is pictured, as mine was eaten within 2.5 seconds. The only real difference is the meat (mine didn’t have any) and the pickles (mine had black olives instead).

It was BETTER than Subway. AND the bread is cut correctly.

Cream of Asparagus

Thank you for all the nice comments about our news! (See previous post.)

The other day Amanda posted on Twitter that she was making asparagus soup. I was intrigued and decided to make some myself. I made some last night, sans recipe, and Will said it was as good as clam chowder (high praise indeed). This is how I did it.

1 smallish white onion, diced
½ stick butter
½ teaspoon sea salt

Cook over low-medium low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened. Do not allow them to brown.

3 bunches asparagus, chopped into ½-1 inch pieces
4 cups water + 1 cube bullion (or 4 cups broth)

Add and cook for about 20 minutes until the asparagus is tender. (OK, let’s be honest: mushy.)

Blend soup in batches, carefully because OMG hot liquids in the blender, and return to the pan. (If you have an immersion blender, obviously you can blend the soup right in the pan. You lucky duck.)

1 cup heavy cream

Stir in cream and cook over low flame for just 1-2 minutes.

Serve hot, with a little cracked black pepper if, unlike me, you have not suddenly run out. (I also saw a recipe online that suggested adding a squeeze of fresh lemon juice for serving. While I found it unnecessary, it might be nice.)

Kindly pretend that I have included a sumptuous photograph of the shimmery pale green soup in one of my lovely white soup bowls.

Pie Friday!

I’m unprepared for Vintage Photo Friday again, but I have a nice substitute for you: I am going to tell you how to make perfect pie crust.

perfectcrust

First, gather your ingredients:

  • All-purpose flour
  • salt (preferably sea salt)
  • sugar (granulated, powdered, whatever–you only need a tiny bit)
  • unsalted butter
  • water

Continue reading

This level of productivity cannot be sustained.

On Friday, Sam and I cleaned the living room fairly thoroughly and washed a load of diapers (the first all week, and a small one — someone has decided to potty train himself).

Friday night, Will and I had our silly little date.

Yesterday the boys went out for three and a half hours and I organized most of my craft supplies. Now instead of having three large boxes in the bedroom of fabric and half-finished projects and supplies and yarn all mixed up, and a pile of fabric under the stairs, and more fabric on a shelf upstairs, and yarn and projects scattered all over the living room and taking over my desk, and the top of my yarn dresser stacked with a little bit of this and a few of those and a bunch of other crap, and never knowing where anything was — now I have one box of diaper fabric, one box of other fabric, a bin of things like elastic and jump rings and ribbon, tins full of buttons and patches, and a box full of UFOs that I will be working my way through. I have just one bin remaining to go through, which as far as I know just contains some more abandoned knitting.

Yesterday afternoon I went out and had drinks with the Metblogs folks. Well, a drink. And it almost killed me. Four kinds of rum and at least as many kinds of fruit juice. It was like lethal candy. I don’t think I got drunk (definitely tipsy but it passed quickly), but the sugar headache lasted ALL NIGHT.

Last night Will and I watched a western for 200 Westerns, and talked about some features we want to do on the site. It was pretty great to get back into the westerns after illness and assorted bad moods derailed us a bit.

Today we left the house before 8:00 and went to the farmer’s market and Trader Joe’s, where we did our grocery shopping for the week. We came home and I made two kinds of slaw, a pasta salad, croutons from some stale baguette, corn muffins, and (in collaboration with Will) a pot of chili. We also decided what to plant this year (chilies, herbs, more chilies) (can the plural of chili really have an e in it?), played with Sam, and I attempted to take a nap (Fables and a sore shoulder prevented me from falling asleep).

GOOD GRIEF, I need to slow down. Giving up coffee has apparently given me superpowers.

Today’s Menu

Appetizer:
Baguette with dark chocolate, coarse sea salt, and extra virgin olive oil, oven toasted

Main:
Black bean soup, rice, crispy fried pork, garlic bread, pickled onions, fried bananas

Dessert:
Sweet potato pudding

Beverages:
Dark & Stormy (dark rum, ginger beer, lime juice), wine, beer

Happy Birthday to Briana, Will, Shelby, and Chris!