I’ve moved

I’m trying my hand at blogging on Blogger.

Come on by at http://almostima.blogspot.com/ Image

The Luxury of Being Sick

I’m sick.  Again.  This seems like the norm when you live with a few lil’ germ factories.  J. is out for work tonight.  While I had the tentative plan to do the “no-fuss” pizza ordering, I called an audible and went another way.  Egg drop soup was calling my name.


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A few weeks back, I finally put into action a tip I had read about long ago but never implemented.  If you have extra herbs on hand, you can chop them up and then put 

them in an ice cube mold with water and freeze it.  Then you can pop a cube in to soups or sauces for some almost-fresh herb taste.    I pinched back a new basil plant but didn’t have an immediate use for the basil, so I froze it.  (the plant died shortly after, 

no clue why — basil routinely comes to me to die)

For Max’s dinner I had boiled him some shrimp, so I kept the shrimpy water, added 

homemade chicken stock, an ice cube of frozen basil, chopped chives from the planter, a little soy sauce and dropped an egg in.  I had also squirreled away a couple of shrimp and chopped them up and added to the soup.  

 

This was really delicious, and beautiful, too. 

Summer Garden Eating

The weather here today was in the 90s.  When it gets this hot, we try to avoid cooking in the kitchen and instead we go with our trusty grill.

Tonight’s meal featured a bunch of fun stuff from our garden.  Here’s the run down:

- our garlic, basil and oregano in the chimichurri sauce.  (Parsley is not quite mature yet for picking)

- our young wala wala onions, grilled up like spring onions

- our lettuce and our red torpedo onion, which we quickly pickled

- homemade dressing featuring the pickling liquid, farmer’s market honey, our green onion.  (notice how it’s served in a baby food jar with a baby food spoon — super classy)

- the lamb had a marinade of our rosemary, garlic, and my parents’ lemons.  We used the same marinade to dress the corn

Then a little game of catch.  Not bad for a hot spring day.

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Shh! We’re braising rabbit!

We were at our farmer’s market and looking to pick up a whole chicken for the week.  The vendor apologized that all of the chickens were pretty small this week.  As I looked through the cooler, I noticed that familiar shape.  “Is this rabbit?” I asked with excitement?  It most certainly was.

I could see pictures at the booth of the animals running through fields and cuddling up with people.  I imagine that some people may not like that visual of an animal they are about to eat, but I enjoy knowing that the animal likely had a good life.   I wanted to honor this ingredient with a great dish.

This dish would also be the inaugural use of our home-grown garlic.  I picked it about 2 weeks ago and it had been drying in the garage.  I added our own green onions, lemon thyme, regular thyme, cherry tomatoes from the freezer, and rosemary.  

Seared the rabbit in bacon fat.  Deglazed with dry white wine.  Added homemade chicken stock.  Salt/Pepper.  Let sit in crockpot for 6 hours on low heat and it was fall off the bone delicious.ImageImageImageImageImage

Working out the Kinks

Since a blog is often a source of accountability and working out some complicated emotions, what better place to work out, well, working out?

I’ve never really been a gym person.  I’m the master of excuses.  My work has a great gym — though not in my building.  You think this would mean that I have no more excuses, but you’d be wrong.   Even though my employer affords me the opportunity to go workout in the middle of the day when I don’t have to worry about child care… somehow there is always a meeting, always a call, always a wardrobe inadequacy, always something less than optimal about going.

But since February, I thought I turned a page.  I was on a business trip where I couldn’t sleep.  Well, when you are up all night on the other side of the world with nothing to watch on TV and no more work waiting for you in your inbox, working out sounds like a fun way to pass the time.  J. thoughtfully loaded up my iphone with music — which I hadn’t had before.  It was like magic — in a gym at 6 am by myself and it was fun but also an emotional breakthrough.   A counting crows song came on and even though I always liked it, I never paid attention to the lyrics.  I don’t know if it was the lack of sleep, or loopy jet lag but I got all weepy about how I don’t want to waste my life and how I need to “put myself back on the list” (Oprah style).

The next day I went back to the gym.  And the day after that.  I hadn’t been to the gym 3 times in a row in probably 10 years.  If I’m really being honest, I may have been to the gym 3 times the whole year prior.  And probably not at all for 3 years before that.  I vowed to keep up this momentum and make a go of real exercise 3 times a week.  Preference is for gym, but Yoga will do when I just can’t get out of the house.  I was doing pretty well with it all.  While the wait wasn’t coming off, I could tell that I was at least carrying it differently.   I would go on weekend mornings while J. would watch the kids, or after the kids went to sleep at night, and then I went to a  yoga class during the work day.

But I’m sitting here a little freaked out because I haven’t been to the gym in a week.   J. was gone for a week on business, but now he’s back.  I did a half-assed yoga after having slept on my neck all wrong — still a little sore from that issue.  (See, excuses?)  The worst is when I actually get into workout clothes and still don’t make it into the gym.  Which was today.

And I think I’m partly kicking myself because I know that you can’t out-train a bad diet.  But it’s like I can either make the commitment to crazy unsustainable food fads (atkins anyone?) or more diligent exercise, but I can’t seem to do both.  In the years that I did diets, I always kind of figured that once I actually get my ass in gear and make it to the gym, the weight will just melt off.  Well, it hasn’t and I’m feeling frustrated.

Hope tomorrow will be better.  Adding new tagging category: work-out.

 

 

 

Garden Helpers

This week I made up a game called “Lumberjack.”  Max and I pretended we were lumberjacks heading outside to cut down a big tree — a broccoli tree!  He humored me and played along and even ate some of the “tree.”  The game’s effectiveness was weaker than anticipated since Max had no idea what a lumberjack was.  Ginger was unmoved by the whole thing.  She seems to take joy in not eating what I grow.  Really, she barely eats anything.  Pretty frustrating.   She spit out one of our very few strawberries.  Sacrilege.

We had a yummy treat tonight.  Had friends over whom we haven’t spent time with in too long.  Those events always get me motivated to put a little more effort.  For appetizer, I put out our own snap peas and I made green goddess dressing to go with it.  I’ve never made it before but it turned out nicely.  Here’s the recipe:

3/4 cup mayo

3/4 sour cream

handful of parsley

the leaves of a few springs of lemon thyme

1/2 cup of scallions

2 tablespoon of lemon juice

salt & pepper to taste

Combine in the food processor till it looks light green in color.  Serve.

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Semi-homemade Pizza

Tonight’s dinner was supposed to be a simple dinner — but even those dinners that take roughly 30 minutes of in-kitchen cooking can be hard to swing.  When Ginger gets home she instantly demands to drink milk — which they don’t give her at school.  More often than not, she fills up on the drink we give her and then doesn’t really want to have dinner.  We tried sneaking in some sort of fruit or veggie during this time period when she’s theoretically starving, but she usually doesn’t fall for that unless it’s a banana — which she needs to limit consumption of.

Anyhoo.  The plan was semi-homemade pizza.  I love trader joe’s whole wheat pizza dough.  (Well, let’s face it, I love the white bread version, but the whole wheat is totally not offensive).  I make the tomato sauce by sautéing onions, toss in our oregano, and our green onion, and a can of tomato sauce.  After I cracked it I remembered that we have some old grape tomatoes in the fridge that I should have used, but oh well — they are too far back in the fridge and will not be rescued tonight.   

While the dough is cooking, and the sauce is simmering, I fried up a couple of crumpled breakfast sausages to add as toppings to the pizza.  Then I chopped up a yellow bell pepper and ran outside for a handful of parsley.  

I buy smoked mozzarella, also at Trader Joe’s.  I buy it as a block — maybe 8 oz?  I toss it in the food processor to shred it.  When the dough is semi baked, I layer on the sauce, the cheese, and the toppings and bake till it looks edible.  Then I sprinkle on the parsley for a nice pop of color.  

While the pizza is going, I fry up the rest of the sausages as links for the kids to take to school as lunches.  I also throw on a chicken carcass for stock and toss in the remnant veggie items from the pizza making — parsley ends, onion bits and ends, even some of the tomato sauce.  Stock goes on to cook for about 3 hrs while the rest of the night goes on. Stock will be used for soups or rice.  Gave one jug to mother in law who helped hold down the fort while J. is out on a trip.

This takes about 30 solid minutes of work and dirties up what seems like every dish we own.

Would it have been easier to order a pizza?  Hell yeah — but would still have had to wait 30 minutes with the kids hungry.  Other short cuts to consider:  Buying pre-made tomato sauce.  The problem with that is that when it’s a store bought jug, I use a little of it for pizza and then before you know it, the container gets moldy and I have to toss it.  When I make my own, it’s front and center in the fridge and I’ll usually plan another meal in the week — like a slow cooker night — where I toss in the rest of the sauce that I made.  I don’t know why I have a mental block about doing the same with store bought sauce.

While Max loved the pizza and ate two slices, Ginger would have none of it.  I juiced a couple of oranges and some of the bell pepper and she drank that, so at least she’s getting some nutrients.  She also ate a couple of sausages.

This is a very economical meal.  The dough is $1.29.  I use a $1.50 of cheese.  The sauce is probably around a buck.  Then the toppings are usually whatever veggies or meats we have on hand and not that much of them.  Call it a generous $2.  So, all in all – $6 give or take.  Have you tried ordering a pizza lately?  With tip it’s around $30 where we live — because we don’t have our act together enough to have coupons on hand.Image (pic = rice made with stock — last week)

State of the Garden April 2013

Note that the pictures are taken at night — which is when I can get a few minutes of peace with the kids down.

Here is the list of what we’re growing right now: Chard, Lettuce, Peas, Garlic, Onions, Broccoli, Tomatoes, Strawberries, Blueberries, Zucchini, Beans, Herbs (thyme, sage, basil, lemon thyme, dill, parsley, oregano, rosemary), Purple bell pepper, Jalapenos.

Triumphant Return?

So… it’s been a while, but I can explain.

Most of the time I really enjoyed blogging. I was chronicling my fabulous cooking, my growing family, my passionate political ideals, my garden experiments, worms, and the like.

 

ImageBut then a few things happened.

I was working at a job that was sucking the life out of me.  Yes, big firm.  And that doom and misery that comes with a job like that makes it really hard to write anything but “I HATE THIS PLACE!”  Since that isn’t fun for anyone to read, and is a career limiting move, I held back from writing all together.

Then, I lucked out and fell into an amazing job in house at one of the most respected companies in the world.  Life was good!  Puppies and unicorns.  But the trick was, my role made me a little paranoid about privacy, particularly in being too public about family stuff.  About a year and a half in the job and I realize that the sky won’t fall if I post a couple of cute pics and a “you won’t believe what they said the other day.”  

Then there’s the minor shame in being a shadow of my former self.   You see, I very clearly remember my early blog posts tearing my hair out about how people shouldn’t use processed foods, and how easy it is to cook at home and plan all the meals and yada yada yada.  Right now, I’m in survival mode. Very picky eater kids + very tired parents = nuggets and mac & cheese.

The last factor was how freakin’ easy it is to just post stuff to facebook.  Take a crappypic with my phone, up it goes, a few likes = validation and we’re done.  But there’s no real thought behind the writing.  So, I got over myself and here I am!  I enjoyed writing complete thoughts.  I enjoyed the better quality pictures I took with a camera vs. a phone. I enjoyed catching up with the 3 people who read my blog :)  

 

 

State of the Garden

This is a low key growing season.  Even though we have more growing space this year, we have scaled back a little in our growing projects.  Part of it is being busy with two kids, part of it just the hussle and bussle of life.  We’ve reached the age (or time of year) where there’s a birthday party every weekend.  So, losing some growing opportunities.  But, I did manage to move my ass and get a few things in the ground.

We are growing snap peas!  Last year we had snow peas when I meant to get snap peas.  We also have several rows of peas.  My hope is that Ginger will be interested in peas by the time they are ripe.  Right now, she doesn’t seem that interested in solids.  Max harvested our first 4-5 snap peas and loved them.  I haven’t been able to get him to eat them before, so this is a big success already.

It’s also fun that we still have tomatoes on our volunteer plant.   I dare you to try to find lettuce and arugula amongst the weeds.

We have a little bit of chard — I was hoping that it would be a more substantive crop.  I feel like I could wipe it out with one meal. 

We have a freezer stocked full of meat, so if we could only get the yard produce to step up, we could simplify our grocery shopping needs.

Meanwhile, I have some serious baby weight to take off.  I’m dedicating myself to a workout plan.  Realistically, I think I need a structured diet plan, but I need to get through a few work hurdles first.

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