Tag Archives: local and fresh

On the Menu: August 26-Sept 1

This is the vegetarian/piscean two weeks again, meaning no meat other than fish, and no dairy. This is also the week that Thadd went back to school, and I started some certification training on top of my other stuff; so, we knew we needed meals that would be reasonably quick, too.

In addition to all that, Thadd’s been having problems maintaining his weight with the two weeks of vegetarian foods (especially since we eat little in the way of simple carbs), and is pretty continually hungry.  The reality has been similar for me, and I’m not looking to lose weight. We don’t eat processed foods, we have to be careful on the soy because it interferes with my adrenal medications, and it kills me to not eat cheese. On the other hand, my abs look awesome; but, I have to be very careful to not to lose much weight (about 3% of my body weight) or it messes with my medication dosages.

I’ll be honest, this new diet two weeks a month is difficult, especially on limited time. We’re not sure how it’s going to go,  but, this is our stab at it for the first week of back-to-school and new work stuff. Wish us luck!


Sunday: Potato & Cauliflower Burritos, with sausage for Thadd. These have more carbs than I usually like, but it’s what we have time for tonight. And, they’re really yummy.

Monday: Slow cooker Thai Tempeh Coconut Curry.  Tempeh needs wet cooking, in my opinion, to be good. Dry tempeh is…well, dry. I have to be really, really careful about soy; but, I can treat myself once in a great while, and this is that treat.

Tuesday: Ban Mi Sandwiches.  Another tofu dish, but this one is okay. Non-GMO tofu locally processed at low temps by hand, which helps limit some of the things that interfere with the absorption of my medications.  This is a vegetarian take on a Vietnamese street food that I’ve been wanting to try forever.

Wednesday: Slow Cooker Lentil & Kale Stew, with Bratwurst for Thadd. This is a Cook’s Illustrated recipe, which bodes well. Again, a new one for us. While we eat a lot of meatless meals, we don’t tend to do a lot of meat-and-dairy-free meals, so I’ve been digging through recipes for the last few months.

Thursday: Slow Cooker Chickpea Curry. Indian is always one the top of my list of vegetarian foods to love!

Friday: Leftovers.

Saturday: Lentil Sloppy Joes with Slow Cooked Baked Beans and Veggies. A vegan (yes, vegan) take on sloppy joes.  I’ll see what I get for fresh veggies from the market, and I’ll make my own bakes beans in the slow cooker.


LUNCHES:  leftovers. Vegetarian salads with chickpeas for protein.  Tuna and egg salad.

BREAKFASTS:  eggs, egg and veggie breakfast burritos, steel cut oats, fruit.

SNACKS: hardboiled eggs, roasted chickpeas, nuts, raw vegetables, fruit, olives, almond butter.


LUNCHES:  Leftovers. Meat, tuna, and egg salad wraps.  Frozen meals (we freeze lunch portions of leftovers, so we have some already in the freezer).

BREAKFAST:  Breakfast casserole, sausage breakfast burritos, steel cut oats, yogurt, fruit.

SNACKS: Smoothies, nuts, milk, yogurt, fruit, olives, peanut butter, cheese.


Gardening! It’s the Thought That Counts.

We are very lucky to have awesome landlords who let us till up (actually, helped us till up) about a third of our backyard for a garden. It happened late last year because they hadn’t realized we wanted a garden, and we hadn’t realized they’d be okay with us doing something so dramatic. This meant we didn’t have time to do our own starters, or even plan much, though it all turned out well in the end. Who can argue with fresh heirloom tomatoes right out of the backyard, right?

This year, we obviously know it’s coming and can be a bit more ambitious. This weekend, we put together our seed order from seedsavers.org, and I’ve started figuring out how much we can reasonably grow and put by. Our garden space isn’t big enough to feed us entirely, but it can go a long way towards supplementing our food budget and our health. This year, we also have access to a greenhouse with warming mats to start our seedlings! And, speaking of seedlings, it’s just about time to get some of them started. By the time our seeds arrive, it’ll be perfect.

So what are we growing, and why? I’m not going to go into the planting schedule yet, as I’m still working on the rotation schedules so we can garden in all seasons; but, here’s what we plan on harvesting in what season (obviously, some of these will start in one season and carry through to another, weather depending):

Spring: Greens (spinach, various lettuces), peas. With luck, blueberries from my potted plants!

Summer: tomatoes (several varieties), beets (these will be interval planted for continuous harvest), carrots, some greens (shade planting), leeks (late), radishes.

Fall: Beets, leeks, turnips, radishes, carrots, sunchokes, Australian Butter and Thelma Saunders squashes, kale, second planting of peas, fall crop of lettuces, tomatoes.

Overwinter in the ground or harvest late/cold storage: leeks, kale, carrots, spinach, squash, beets, turnips, green tomatoes, winter radishes, and sunchokes.

We’re doing all heirlooms, and as much organic as we can get our grubby little hands on. This is a far more ambitious undertaking than last year, but I think the payoff will be worth it. We elected to do high-yield varieties of squash and peas, and the sunchokes are also high-yield as a general rule. Our goal was to do a lot of fresh diversity in small quantities we can eat at harvest, and larger quantities of limited “staples” so we have enough to actually be usable for a good part of the winter. Some things, like squash, only get better with storage (to a point, obviously), and so we are really looking forward to these. Some things, like sunchokes, store just fine in the ground (and, in fact, are made better by freezing); so, we can have the produce without taking up all of our rather limited cold storage.

We’re also going to move some of our “cold storage” around next year. Squash prefer slightly warmer, drier temperatures than, say apples; so, we’re going to store them in another area. Our once concern is that our cold storage won’t be cold enough, which has actually been a problem this year. While I appreciate the warmer winter both from a personal stand point (I don’t like the cold much, hence I moved south) and a financial angle (our heating bills have been about half what they were the last few years), it is taking a toll on the apples. We’re going to have to sauce them out soon.

I spent a lot of this weekend going over two of my favorite books: Root Cellaring: Natural Cold Storage of Fruits and Vegetables, and Independence Days: A Guide to Sustainable Food Storage and Preservation. There is a bit of modification that goes on for us, since both books (especially the latter book) is written with the general assumption of a colder climate than Virginia generally has. The hardest part of cellaring here isn’t, as in the north, the worry of freezing–it’s the worry of spoilage due to warmth.  But, both books are very useful for anyone who is interested in putting up food. The Root Cellaring book in particular is a great resource for cold storage methods (did you know hard squashes need to be cured before they get put into cold storage?), duration food can be expected to last, what you should and should not store together and why, and all kinds of other neat stuff.

I’ll be doing a layout and schedule soon, and I’ll post them here. I’d love to see your gardens, your planning methods, and your storage hopes and dreams, too!

On the Menu: Jan 7-13th

The cookies, cakes, pies, and whatever else made it’s way onto my plate this past holiday season is all gone now. If you’ve been reading me for more than a little while, you’ve probably read a mention or two of how easily it is for me to become sugar addicted. It doesn’t take me long to break it anymore (typically about 3-4 days), and once I do I go totally off any interest in sugar for quite a while (which is good). So, you won’t see much in the way of sweets here (not, I suppose, that you ever really do except during holidays).

I’m also kicking my training up a notch, so you’ll see a bit more protein here than you sometimes do. My body isn’t a high-protein machine for whatever reason. In the past, its tended to make me feel pretty icky to up my protein intake as much as is recommended, no matter what form the protein took. I’m going to try some new things this time, to see if I can work in more protein and good fats, and less grains. I’ll still be eating my veggies, but I’m going to try to really ratchet down the grains (yes, even whole grains), and try to rely on mostly veggies for my carbohydrates. I’m not going paleo–Thadd bakes for a living, if nothing else–but, I think it’s worth a shot again. This time, I’m going to try more bio-available protein like egg whites, instead of increasing my dairy. Hopefully that, in conjunction with lots of vegetable fiber, will help my body process better.

So, here it is! The first On the Menu of 2012!


Sunday: Chicken Makhani, with spinach and brown rice. I’ll be eating very little of the rice, which is fine, since I love the chicken!

Monday: Catfish with cauliflower augratin.

Tuesday: Salisbury Steak, with whipped potatoes and broccoli. Lots of mushrooms make this one of my favorites dishes.

Wednesday: Tuscan white bean soup with kale. A great crockpot meal that also happens to be some of the best soup I’ve ever made. It’s hearty, healthy, and can be vegetarian or vegan.

Thursday: Ethiopian. Yep, this will have the concession of bread. We don’t do Ethiopian often. It’s time-consuming. But, it’s completely worth it. We’ll be having Doro Wat for sure, one of the lentil dishes, a potato dish, and a greens dish. And, of course, the yummy flatbread, injera.

Friday. Balsamic roasted chicken, with apple-and-onion hash and a vegetable.

LUNCHES: Egg and almond milk shakes for after workouts, leftovers.

BREAKFASTS: Scrambled eggs & egg cups, omelets, yogurt w/fruit and local honey.

SNACKS: fruit, cheese, cottage cheese, carrots & homemade dip,

Eating Well, Sourcing Foods, and What Can We Do?

Thadd and I had The Talk again. We have versions of this talk quite often, really: What can we do to eat and live a more healthful life?

It’s not as easy to answer as it sounds. Some days–most days, in fact–it feels like we here in the US have very limited control over many of the things that impact our health.  From the water we drink, to the food we eat, to the air we breathe. Every day in my research for clients, I find more things that pose serious health risks to myself and those I love, and often those things are very, very difficult to get away from: the pipes that are used to bring water into our home, for example.

Everyone has their limitations. We rent, and will have to do so for the forseeable future due to the need to move for Thadd’s schooling. We live, therefore, on a budget that also must support his school. We live in an area that isn’t terribly progressive; and, while there is abundant farmland, the products of it are often difficult to acquire or limited in scope. Most farmers here do not plant year-round, even though the climate is suitable, and we have only a small space for our own garden.

There are other challenges, but we do our best to work around or mitigate them. We do have a small garden (which I desperately need to get out and harvest again–our beets are getting overgrown), we order our meat in bulk, we preserve as much food as we can reasonably store. We continue to look for ways to do more.

On the up side, we have some advantages: space for food storage and a deep freezer, a small backyard and awesome landlords that let us have a garden, a rural community that does grow at least some of it’s own food, local farmers who take pride in what they do, a growing community awareness of local food, and a significant other that is also passionate about local and healthy foods.

I would love to hear the challenges and advantages others have, whether they’re personal, geographical, financial, or another -al I haven’t thought of here.

On The Menu, Oct 23-30th

You know the drill, so let’s jump right in!




With the cold, we tend to eat more hot breakfasts. Lots of eggs and crock-potted grains. Right now, I’m really into amaranth. Mixed with steel cut oats and slow cooked with raisins, it’s just fabulous.


Sunday: Chicken noodle soup.  This was made with organic chicken, and turkey stock from our pastured bird (we had a lot of stock from that bird!).  And, of course, lots of onions, garlic, celery, and carrots. I made a large pot of this, as some of it was intended for clients, and it was fantastic.

Monday:  Hoisin Tofu and Noodles. I did homemade hoisin sauce, and the only way to do it is a huge batch. So, I did Hoisin for all my clients this week. Twin oaks tofu, with sesame seeds, roasted in the oven for 30 minutes or so.  We had it with peanut rice noodles and spinach.

Tuesday: Saag. Thadd’s night to cook!  We love Indian food, and it works well in the crock pot!

Wednesday: Baked stuffed noodles with roasted cranberry sauce and garlic bread.

This is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: a carb-fest. Given what my teaching schedule is like on Wednesdays, I need to do some carbo-loading, and, hey, who doesn’t like cheesy noodles?

Thursday: Yam & black bean burritos. Cinnomon & cumin spiced yams, with homemade re-fried beans, topped with salsa (last tomatoes from the garden!). Vegetarian does not have to mean salad!

Friday: Leftovers. Our schedules just don’t usually match up on Fridays, so we tend to eat on the fly. Usually, we need to clean out the refrigerator, so this works out well.

Saturday: Thai food. It’s our anniversary, so we’re going to order from Thai Siam to celebrate!

Sunday: Beef Stew. We have some grass-fed beef in the freezer we need to use up before we put in our next order, and since it’s supposed to be cold and crappy, this seems like the perfect time to do that!

What are you eating this week?

On the Menu: A Seasonal Busy

Does life ever get less busy? No, not really. The type of busy just changes. This past week, we got the summer garden all cleaned up, this weekend we got the early and mid-season tomatoes pulled out, and this coming week I’ll be planting some more seeds for greens. There’ll be a garden update post soon, including a new garden critter. In theory, there’ll be pictures, but in reality that’s going to depend on if I can find my camera cable (yes, I lost it again. No, I have no idea how I keep doing this).

Charlotte has, seemingly, moved on. She took her web down and moved out the night after we pulled the tomatoes up, and I suspect there just wasn’t enough cover for her. This makes me sad, but I am hoping she’ll return next year to take up guarding my tomatoes from aphids and grasshoppers.

Between all this outside prep, my cat having major surgery which went less-than-ideally, and all of life’s other nuttiness, life’s stayed busy. I realize this is what life is like for us almost always, it’s just a different season and so we’re busy with different things. And, as our business changes with the season, so does our menu. You’ll see more baked foods, more winter root vegetables, and lots of soups. In a few weeks, kale, beets, turnips, and other winter fare will make it’s way into the rotation as the winter garden comes ready.


Sunday: Cannelini au Gratin, with Roasted Olive and Grapes. This got pushed off from Saturday (we made homemade pizza and watched Star Trek: TNG instead. Hey, we’ll do whatever we want with our weekly date nights, even if it is completely dorky!).  The grapes and olives are roasted with fresh rosemary from the garden and balsamic vinegar, and pair beautifully with the main course.

Monday: Vegetarian Lasagna. To save on energy and time, this was baked along with Sunday’s dinner. This is my special recipe, and the veggies this time will include spinach, red onions, and peppers.

Tuesday: Split pea and Ham soup. Thadd forgot to make this last week, so it’s getting made this week.

Weds: Tofu Stirfry. Twin Oaks tofu with eggplant, mushrooms, peppers, and green beans over brown basmati rice.

Thursday: Tacos. I’m not sure why, we just really wanted these this week. We’ll mix our grass-fed beef with black beans to stretch it, and use our fresh salsa from the last of the tomatoes and hot peppers from the garden.

Friday: Leftovers. We’ll need to clean out the refrigerator!

Saturday: Rustic cabbage soup and homemade bread. This version of cabbage soup has white beans, potatoes, and lots of cabbage in homemade stock. We’ll be using up the turkey stock on this. We love this soup, it’s incredibly warming and hardy.

Putting By. Or: Let the Canning Begin!

We’re coming into peak harvest here, and it’s time to get all the wonderful overabundance into stores for the coming seasons. In other words, we’re canning.  Above is our own creation, of sorts. We had all these little tomatoes that needed to be preserved, and a bunch of other little veggies, too. So, we brined the daylights out of them and created these sweet-and-spicy snack mix pickles. They are so very, very good (we kept a small jar in the refrigerator, uncanned, so we could check how the flavors proceeded..yum! doesn’t quite cover it). We’re definitely doing more of these. We kept the pH nice an high with lots of vinegar and some sugar, using a brink intended for carrots to make sure we didn’t under-do it and risk botulism (never fun).

Also, of course, we’re doing the obligatory regular pickles (of which I did not get a picture), some jams, and tomatoes:

What are you canning?