Sunday, January 26, 2020

Run-away Zombie Shoe

Google tells me that this is an "Iron Fist Zombie Stomper".  Good to know.

I spotted this shoe by the side a busy road yesterday. I wonder what its story is. How did it got there? Why was there only one? Who would wear such shoes? Where would you wear them?  

I left the shoe where I found it so others can ponder its existence.  Besides, I didn't want to touch it.  It looks like it might bite!


Saturday, January 25, 2020

Harrumph!

Meal planning did not go smoothly this week either, but I know what the problem was this time.  Me.

Once again our usual grocery store's flyer did not arrive in our paper, so I headed to their online flyer and fell down the rabbit hole.  First, I discovered that you can search the sale items by category.  Cool!  I searched produce sales and bulk sales, then I discovered that you can search the flyer by meal idea.  They only offered one meal idea based on sale items.  Harrumph.  No wonder I wasn't particularly inspired by the week's specials.  The people putting the flyer together weren't either!

So, next I headed over to the competitor's website.  I don't generally shop there, but I was hoping their flyer would be more inspiring.  That led to my second discovery.  I can comparison shop all items, not just sale items, by using online shopping features.  I jumped back and forth between websites to scope out the best deals.  By the time I was done, I had a huge list that included items from both stores, but I still didn't know what we were going to eat in the upcoming week.

I took my list, made another coffee and sat down with my cookbooks.  So many possibilities, yet I struggled to bring it all together.  I had a half-plan and an alternate half-plan jotted on my dry-erase board when I took my empty coffee cup to the kitchen.  On my way, I glanced at the calendar, and realized that we don't need to cook on Saturday.  Both plans relied on leftovers from Saturday.  Harrumph again.

So, I cleared the board and started over.  I took a closer look at what was in the house, and came up with a new plan that concentrates on what we have instead of what's on sale.  My new list is a fraction of the size of my original list, and, even though my first list was built on sale items,  I'm sure my grocery bill be much smaller too.

Dry-erase board is looking a little shabby.  Need to remedy that.

Basic meal planning people.  Check what's in the house.  Check your schedule.  Then start planning.  

Still, it wasn't a wasted morning.  I'm glad I discovered that I have the ability to comparison shop at my fingertips. 

Friday, January 24, 2020

Weekend Work Worked!

Well, the power stayed on, and all last week's meals went as planned.  Even the weekend Instant Pot marathon was managed.  I did have to start Friday night though.  I cooked the beets for Saturday's salad while we ate Chinese take-out and watched back-to-back episodes of "Lost in Space".  Date night for geeks.  🥰

On Saturday the yogurt was out of the Instant Pot by 4pm and the chowder was in by 5pm.  I was feeling pretty good about my organization skills, so I was tempted to try slow-cooking the lentil Sloppy Joes in the Instant Pot on Sunday before starting the chili.  I resisted temptation.  I haven't used the slow cooker function on the Instant Pot yet, and, as I've found the recipe a bit tricky in my traditional slow cooker, I decided to stick with the plan and use the stove top.  

As I expected, it meant that we spent a lot of time in the kitchen last weekend, but it really paid off during the week.  There were a couple of days when I could hear the drive-thru calling me on the way home from work.  The only thing that kept me from loading up on burgers and fries was the knowledge that dinner was waiting at home.

(Not that I'm against burgers and fries, but if I'm going to take that route, there are better options than drive-thru fare.)

(*Note:  I don't get anything for the links above.  They're there for your information.  Hope you find them useful.)

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Magic


Last week we had an abundance of snow.  This week we have an abundance of rain. Other than to and from the car,  I did not venture outside yesterday.  There were not a lot of opportunities for photos as a result, so I'm treating you to another Throwback Thursday.  

Hard to believe that exactly one year ago it was sunny.  The wildflowers were poking up from the earth, and the wildlife was poking around for food.  It was like a freaking Disney movie. A good reminder to get out and enjoy the magic when I can.  





Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Melt


Last week blizzard.  This week rain.  Ok, maybe it wasn't really a blizzard, but it was a lot of snow by west-coast standards.  

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

White

Last week's snow is mostly gone, though there are still drifts of white in places.  Some of it is even snow!


Monday, January 20, 2020

Something About Marvin



Marvin likes to watch animals on television, though he does find it confusing.  He often hops up on the TV stand to peer behind the television.  It's as though he wonders where the animals have gone when they disappear from the screen.

So far his favourite shows have been "Watership Down" and the Apple TV under-the-sea screen savers.  

If this isn't enough Marvin for you, you can follow him on Instagram.  He's @marvinmeowmeow.  

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Sunday Bonus Recipe: Krupnik Hot Toddy


It's cold.  It's windy.  It's rainy.  It's snowy.

It's winter on the West Coast.  Warmth and comfort are needed, so I scoured the internet for inspiration, combined several recipes, and made hot toddies.

Krupnik Hot Toddy

(Makes one serving)

2 oz hot water
1 oz Wayward Distillery Krupnik 
1/2 tsp honey
cinnamon stick
lemon slices
orange slices

Put everything in a mug and enjoy.

(*Note:  I don't get anything for the links above.  They're there for your information.  Hope you find them useful.)


Saturday, January 18, 2020

Argh!

Planning meals for the upcoming week was particularly frustrating.  I'm not sure why.  Maybe it's because our local paper neglected to include the grocery store flyer, so my coffee/flyer/cookbook routine was off. Maybe it's because, when I found the flyer online, nothing was particularly inspiring.  Maybe it's because the unusually large dump of snow has disrupted things so much that I'm off kilter.  Whatever the reason, I did not enjoy the process this week. 

On the other hand, it feels great now that it's done.


I've borrowed several cookbooks with Instant Pot recipes from our local library in the last year.  Daniel Shumski's "How to Instant Pot" followed me home so many times that I finally bought my own copy.  If I get the timing right, I'll be referring to it four times this weekend.  (beets, yogurt, potato/corn chowder and chili)  I may be aiming a bit high, but I can make everything but the yogurt on the stove-top should my plan go sideways.

Other than that I've tried to go for simple and comforting. We are supposed to get more snow, which always makes our one-car life a bit more complicated.  With that in mind, once we get through the weekend, all of our meals will be pre-made and/or will rely heavily on items in our freezer.  It will be a busy weekend in the kitchen, but it will pay off during the week.  

Now let's just hope that the power stays on.

As always, let me know if you have any questions.  I'd love to hear from you.

(*Note:  I don't get anything for the links above.  They're there for your information.  Hope you find them useful.)








Friday, January 17, 2020

Fish Switch

If you stopped by on Saturday, you saw that my meal plan for the week included Coconut Curry Cod from Stephanie Kay's "Red's 5-Ingredient Meals".   If you own that cookbook, you know that recipe doesn't exist.

What?

The recipe is actually Coconut Curry Salmon.  I had intended to use salmon, as it was on sale, but when I got to the store the salmon didn't look particularly appetizing.  So, after looking at other options that might work, I decided to go with cod fillets, mostly because I already had them in my freezer.  And that wasn't my only substitution. Broccolette was also on sale, so I decided to use it instead of the baby bok choy called for in the recipe.  Good thing I did.  I didn't see any bok choy when I was shopping.

How did I know the recipe would still work?  Mostly guess work.  I knew there were other recipes out there for coconut curry with cod, including this one from Meghan Telpner.  I haven't actually tried her recipe yet, but I figured if Meghan could put coconut milk and cod together, so could I.

And the broccolette?  That was guess work with a dash of intuition and lots of home-cooking experience.  It looks like it was a good guess. When I consulted the almighty Google, "long-stem broccoli" comes up as a suitable alternative for bok choy.  I'm pretty sure long-stem broccoli is another name for broccolette.

My point?  

Many recipes can be altered to suit your taste, to suit what's available, and to suit your budget.  I try to keep that in mind when I am planning my meals.  Most of the time it even works.

(Note:  The broccolette took longer to cook than I had anticipated, so I took the cod out of the sauce when it was finished and let the broccolette cook a bit longer. Sometimes winging-it with your ingredients means you have to improvise with your instructions too.)

(*Note:  I don't get anything for the links above.  They're there for your information.  Hope you find them useful.)





Thursday, January 16, 2020

Snow Day


Yesterday morning's light dusting of snow rapidly became a whole lot of snow.  No new pictures today.  I'm not going out there again if I don't have to.  Instead, here's a picture of Marvin taken one year ago today.

Is Throwback Thursday still a thing?

If this isn't enough Marvin for you, you can follow him on Instagram.  He's @marvinmeowmeow.  

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Selfie


I went out to put some salt down on the sidewalk, and realized that the conditions weren't as bad as I thought.  A short walk was had. 




Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Complicated



Someone recently pointed out that life is so complicated that it is possible to experience two completely opposite emotions about the same thing. 

For example, I hate food waste, but I loved making this gingerbread house.

Apparently, such conflicting emotions often lead to feelings of guilt. This is all normal. 

Wow.

This morning I am working to allow my joy of gingerbread creation to exist harmoniously with my aversion to food waste, as today the gingerbread house pictured above went into the trash.

The fact that I am feeling little guilt could be due to the fact that I made Hubby throw it out.







Monday, January 13, 2020

Adoptiversary



Until last year, Hubby and I enjoyed hosting selected feline friends in our home while their people were away.  Cleo was our first and most regular guest, but we also enjoyed visits from Felix and Ophelia.  We were happy being part-time cat-people.

Until last year.

Last year, after Cleo's visit, Hubby announced that he wanted a cat we could keep.

One year ago today, we found this guy.  Our days are now filled with snuggles and purrs, cat hair and 4am wake-up calls.  We truly lucked out when we found this little guy.

Happy Anniversary Marvin!

If this isn't enough Marvin for you, you can follow him on Instagram.  He's @marvinmeowmeow.  

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Sunday Bonus Recipe - Maple Cream-Cheese Dip

I shared this picture yesterday:



It's a list of the perishable items I had in the house when I sat down to make my meal plan.  At the time I realized that the beets, the ginger and the cream cheese needed to be used up in the near future.  The beets will be baked tonight and served with apple, leek and cheddar quiche.  The ginger was made into syrup to drink with soda water.  And, after consulting several recipes on the internet, I made that last bit of cream cheese into a dip to serve with apple slices.

The recipe below is a mash-up of several recipes I found on the interwebs.  If you are "repulsed" by yogurt, just leave it out.  The result will be more of a spread than a dip, but it's equally yummy.

Maple Cream-Cheese Dip for Fruit

3 ounces cream cheese (In this case, from a block leftover from the holidays)
1/8 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp maple syrup 
1 tbsp yogurt (Home made - though it doesn't have to be.  I'm just bragging because I made yogurt!)

Mash everything together and serve with apple slices.  Or whatever fruit that needs to be used up in your fridge.


Saturday, January 11, 2020

Say Freeze!

In spite of last week's meal-planning challenges, I'm right back at the drawing board, or rather the dry-erase board,  this week.  I collected my cookbooks, grabbed my grocery store's flyer, made myself a coffee and got started. 




No, that's not what I planned for meals on Saturday and Sunday.  This week I remembered to take stock of the perishables in my fridge.  Since my dry-erase board was handy, I listed items there.  The upcoming week looks like this:



Yup, that says thaw cheese.  Twice.  I know that freezing cheese is not the nicest way to treat one of my favourite foods.  I'm aware that it changes the quality of the cheese.  I still do it.  
  • It saves money.  I buy large blocks of cheese when they are on sale.  I haul out the food processor and Hubby shreds the cheese while I bag it in one-cup portions.
  • It saves time.  As long as I remember to thaw the cheese (hence the reminders on my meal-planning board), having pre-shredded cheese in the house goes a long way toward getting dinner on the table fast.
  • It helps to ensure we eat more home-cooked meals.  Quick meals = less processed, packaged, pre-made food.
I don't do this with fancy, expensive cheeses, but that's mostly because those cheeses aren't in the house long enough to make it to the freezer.  (Another reason for freezing block cheese.  If it wasn't out of sight in the freezer, it would be gone before I needed it for a meal.)

I do wish I had a better, economical option for packing the shredded cheese.  Right now I use off-brand, zip-top, single-use, snack-sized, plastic bags.  Truly not ideal in many ways, but they are cheap, they are the right size, and they fit nicely in the freezer.  If you have an method for freezing shredded cheese that works for you, please let me know.  And let me know if you have any questions.  I'd love to hear from you.


Friday, January 10, 2020

Falling from Pride

So, last week I decided to reactivate the blog and share my wonderful meal-planning knowledge with the universe.  Because I am the BEST at meal-planning. 

You're familiar with the term pride before a fall, right? 

I gapped out on one of the basic guidelines of meal-planning.   

CHECK WHAT'S IN THE HOUSE FIRST.

I was seduced by the promise of $2 bunches of broccoli when I didn't actually need broccoli.  All for the savings of $.99.   Not a big deal, but I hate food waste, so I made a quick change to Saturday's dinner to allow me to use up Brussels sprouts that were already in the house, and made a big batch of broccoli soup.  

Good thing I did, because by Friday night, as a result of some work-related chaos, things had gone sideways meal-wise, which leads to another meal-planning guideline:

LIFE IS UNPREDICTABLE.  SOMETIMES THE BEST PLAN IS TO FORGET THE PLAN.

I struggle with this one, mostly because of the previously mentioned aversion to food waste. 
This time, instead of completely abandoning the plan, I repeatedly adapted it throughout the week.  It went from this:



To this:





Instead of going out for dinner on Friday, we went out for lunch on Saturday and had broccoli soup both nights.  Sunday's salmon cakes, salad and beets were dropped (all the ingredients will keep), and Saturday's planned meal was subbed in.  And because Monday's Chinese greens made way more than anticipated, they made a reappearance on Thursday where they were refreshed with some peanut sauce and some stir-fried chicken breast.  (Again, everything from Thursday's planned meal could be easily postponed.  I just left the frozen items in the freezer.)

Because I had a plan to work with, we had home-cooked food every day.  No take-out.  No processed food.  No extra food expenses.  Overall, I'm pleased with how my almost-but-not-quite plan worked out. 





Thursday, January 9, 2020

Smile


A flower.  In Canada.  In January.  What's not to smile at?  They're predicting snow for tomorrow.  

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Gratitude



Spotted this at the foot of the centoaph while out walking on my lunch hour today.



Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Hope




This little leaf caught my eye while I was out walking.  The photo was an afterthought.  I had to talk myself into being the weirdo on the curb of a busy street, in the rain, taking pictures of a leaf.  

Monday, January 6, 2020

Meet Marvin

I understand that posts with animal pictures get more hits.  With that in mind, here's a gratuitous photo of our cat Marvin:




You're welcome!

If this isn't enough Marvin for you, you can follow him on Instagram.  He's @marvinmeowmeow.  

Saturday, January 4, 2020

What's for Dinner?

This is what my morning looked like.



Actually, my morning looks like that about once a week. I go through the grocery-store flyer, I make my grocery list, and I plan our meals for the week.  This has been going on for years.  

It's so much a part of my routine I'm surprised when I find that other people don't plan their meals.  How do they decide what to cook? What if they don't have the right ingredients?  Don't they waste a lot of food?  How do they manage on busy days?  Isn't it expensive?

When people find out I plan our meals they have just as many questions for me as I have for them.  

Maybe if I share my routine here, it will answer some questions.

Let's start with this week.




I realize that much of this will only make sense to Hubby and me. That's OK.  We can work with that.  Let's start with some basics.

First, you see that my week doesn't include Friday.  That's intentional.  We go out for dinner or get take-out on Friday.   (And that's not because it was easier to divide my dry-erase board into 6 sections instead of 7.) 


At the top of each day is the dinner plan.  I include where to find the recipe when there is one.  So, for example, on Sunday I'm making a double batch of Meghan Telpner's salmon cakes.  (The leftovers will be frozen for later meals.) The recipe is in a "black binder" full of recipes I've printed/copied over the years.  We're also having a salad from the cookbook "Recipes from the Root Cellar", aka "Root Cellar" by Andrea Chesman

Because there is limited space on the dry-erase board, I use short forms for the cookbooks we'll need.  This week I'll also use "Red's 5-Ingredient Meals",aka "Red's", by Stephanie Kay,  on Wednesday. 




Under the meals there are starred notes.  In most cases it's what I need to prep for the next day's meals.  On Sunday I'll cut up the cabbage for Monday's dinner and thaw home-made chicken soup for our lunches.  In other cases, it's a reminder to do other kitchen/prep tasks.  On Saturday, if all goes according to plan, I'll make yogurt in my Instant Pot in the morning, and I'll prep muesli while the oven is warm from our chicken dinner.  (I prefer to lightly toast the oats/nuts/seeds for my muesli.)

That should be enough to get us started.  Let me know if you have any questions.  I'll share more details about what goes into each plan over the coming weeks.

(*Note:  I don't get anything for the links above.  They're there for your information.  Hope you find them useful.)


Friday, January 3, 2020

I'm Back!

Ummm...

Hi?

Yup, it's been a while. 

How have you been?

Me?  Well, I've been thinking about writing.

And food.

A lot.  

So I've decided to try to put some of my thoughts into words.  We'll see how it goes.

Stay tuned!