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

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 🙂  

 

 

Getting the right kind of ‘stuff’

“Stuff” stresses me out.    I hate having a garage full of crap.  There are so many things we keep around for the very few occasions we need them.  Here’s a few annoying examples: 

  • A huge amount of real estate in our garage is taken up by christmas decorations.  We’re talking giant tree stand, ornaments, wrapping paper, lights.  And get this: this year we’re not even putting up a tree because it’s a hazard with Ginger being so small and likely mobile at that time.  But we have no organized place to stash this stuff… so it’s taking up space on the floor of our garage (which has never seen a car!).
  • I know for a fact that we hung on to a plastic Halloween pumpkin to collect candy from last year.  I seem to remember it being in the way after the holiday last year, so we tucked it away somewhere.  Guess what — can’t for the life of me find it!  Now, I absolutely refuse to get another one of these.  I don’t care how cheap they are.  I will always look at it and be pissed because it’s more ‘stuff’ that we don’t need that is cluttering up our lives.  Guess what Max, you’re going trick or treating with a whole foods bag and you’ll like it!

But you know, there’s another kind of ‘stuff’ that I love getting.  When friends, family and neighbors share the bounty from their gardens.   Some notable gifts this year:  lemons, grapefruit, apples, figs, cucumbers (before our truck-load got ripe), eggs(!), spice mixes, kale, beef jerky, make your own cookie kits!  Maybe it’s because these are all consumables which will go away and don’t represent a ‘permanent clutter.’  Maybe it’s because I know these things were picked or made with love.  But I’d love it if our extended family this year agreed to make this holiday season a ‘do-it-yourself consumables’ year.

What would you make as a gift?

Puff Piece

I’ve never cooked with Puff Pastry before.  I got inspired by this blog post at Eating From the Ground Up.  It seemed so simple that I sent J. out to buy a bunch of Puff Pastries to keep in the freezer for quick dinners and appetizers.

I made two tarts, one with our tomatoes, our chives and ricotta and one with my parents’ figs, our thyme, pancetta bits and goat cheese.  I consider it a qualified success.  The one snag: even though I greased the bottom of the cookie sheet, it still stuck to the bottom in a lot of parts.  So, not quite sure how to combat that issue.  Any ideas?

Just Keep Swimming

One of Max’s favorite movies (and mine, for that matter) is Finding Nemo.  Max will walk around singing “Just Keep Swimming” — and it’s beyond cute.  In fact, he asked to go to the “Macquarium” last weekend — which we happily obliged.

We’ve been waiting all summer for summer to arrive.  The heat has yet to make an appearance.  So, that means hanging out at the pool, eating popsicles, (not to mention bell peppers and other garden goodies) have been conspicuously missing from this summer.  Well, this past weekend it finally hit 85 degrees at my in-laws’ house so we hit the pool and we hit it hard.  This was Ginger’s first dip in a pool — and my first post-baby bathing suit.  Notice I’m bringing back the 1920s style full cover up bathing suit.  Ginger took to the pool like a fish to water.

Back to Nemo … Dori gives the advice that goes something like this: when things get rough and one feels overwhelmed, you just have to keep swimming and things will eventually get better.  I’m definitely feeling that advice.  I’m more and more exhausted.  Ginger’s daytime naps seem to be just long enough for me to make a sandwich.  I find myself sabotaging my diet at nearly every turn and the last thing I feel like doing is anything that resembles exercise. 

I looked at old pictures of my maternity leave with Max and saw pics of me in cargo pants that I bought back then because so few of my clothes fit me.  I NEED TO FIND THESE CARGO PANTS.  I think this will require me turning my dressers and closets upside down, but it will be worth it to have one more thing that fits me in the rotation.

Sigh.

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