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I have been unusually sedentary this summer (because of the heat, and sitting around the house unemployed), and I am about to turn 40, and I have begun to live out my genetic destiny and develop my mother's little belly. (I must state for the record that I have very little to complain about in re: genetic destiny.) So I was trying to eat more vegetables and not eat just because I'm bored, which is about as close as I have ever been to dieting. mr. flea has a little more weight he'd like to lose, and is at the point of wanting to do something about it. I suggested he should keep a record of what he eats, as a first step to seeing what might be ripe for change. So we downloaded food tracker - slash - calorie counter apps (he on his iPhone, me on the communal iPod touch). Today was my first day.

The first thing I notice is how hard it is to enter things when a lot of your food is made from scratch. I guesstimated on the pizza, for example - I picked a lowish calorie commercial frozen pizza, because we make our own and are sparing with the cheese. I built my own salad and salad dressing in the calorie counter, which is sort of tedious (2 cups of lettuce, 10 cherry tomatoes, 2 tsp olive oil, 1 tsp balsamic vinegar, blah blah). I was thinking about baking tomorrow morning, but estimating the calories will be such a pain! Like, if there are 6 T of butter in 12 scones, then each scone has 1/2 T...

Overall, though, I guess I am not very surprised about what I'm learning, such as how many calories certain foods have, and such. I know how to eat well, is what the machine is telling me. Which is nice. I just need to do a little less of it, now that I am middle aged.

mr. flea immediately developed what I consider a potentially bad habit, of looking at his calorie count after dinner and saying, "ooh, I have 300 calories left, what can I eat?" While this could help limit his evening snacking (he seems to be good at following rules so far), what about those times when he doesn't actually WANT a snack, but feels like he needs to use up those calories? That seems kind of an unhealthy way to look at it.
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Always:
Frozen smoothie fruit
Frozen blueberries
Frozen tater tots
Grapes
Watermelon
Cherries
Chocolate anything
Ice cream
Marshmallows
Steamed broccoli
Plain cooked noodles

Sometimes:
Hard boiled egg (whites only)
Sweet Italian sausages
Cooked plain chicken (must not be on the bone; must not have any spices, even pepper, added)
Hummus
Vanilla yogurt, yogurt tubes
Grilled American cheese sandwiches
Baguettes, ciabatta bread, white pita bread, plain flour tortillas, stoned wheat thin crackers
Boursin cheese, American cheese
Apples, bananas, corn on the cob, carrot sticks
Frozen peas, frozen corn
Noodles with parmesan cheese
Plain white basmati rice

Pretty Much Never:
Everything else

I am getting very tired of trying to keep this skinny kid alive and growing with these options; when does the picky phase end? It's harder in summer, because at least in winter he'll eat the pasta or rice or whatever we have with soups or stews.
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Our neighbor suggested we join her CSA, which has a convenient drop-off point at her house (across the street). It's $550 for a half-share, which I think is plenty for us, and we get delivery from Mid-May through October. So, probably 20 weeks, that comes to $27.50 a week. We certainly don't spend that much on produce now, although perhaps we should. Fortunately, the deadline is Tuesday, so I don't have long to agonize over the decision.

In related math news, the kids were driven by Phineas and Ferb ("there's 104 days of summer vacation...") to calculate their summer vacation. Sadly, it comes to far fewer than 104 days; they get out May 30, and go back August 15. Seventy-seven. I made Dillo promise he would not take a rocket ship full of cows to the moon while under my care.
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Tonight I'm making lasagna. I make a damn fine lasagna, if I say so myself.

Christmas we're going to do a turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, since we didn't have Thanksgiving at home.  Need to discuss a dessert, but I think apple pie.  Breakfast will be Trader Joe's chocolate croissants and bacon, and clementines and pomegranates from the stockings.

It's Christmas Eve we haven't decided on.  Traditionally, I gather, one has fish, but we live inland and my kids are not big fish eaters.  I have a mess of kale, but pasta with white beans and kale is not really unusual enough for Christmas Eve (it's one of our staple dinners.)  Maybe I'll make kale chips from the kale and we can have an "appetizer dinner" - we have crackers and boursin cheese and some pate, and I can get Michael to pick up some hummus and maybe some other yummy appetizers if he goes to Trader Joe's tomorrow. (I am working tomorrow, and while we are in theory let go at 1pm or so, I don't like to count on such things.)

Other ideas? We did scallops and rice pilaf the last time we cooked on Christmas Eve, which was nice although the kids did not eat the scallops of course.
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Dillo is currently obsessed with chicken. We traditionally eat mostly vegetarian, with maybe ground beef or bacon or sausage once a week, and on rare occasions a pork roast or steaks or something. I almost never buy chicken in the grocery store because of the factory farming, and good free-range chicken isn't available through our local food supplier very often (and when it is it's ridiculously expensive, more expensive than beef.)

I think it started at school, where they serve chicken drumsticks for lunch once or twice a month. Dillo saw these, and asked for them, so I let him buy lunch on "chicken day" a couple of times. The other week I thought it would be nice to do drumsticks at home, so we got some and I roasted them on Wednesday (the day I work late). The kids devoured them. So I got a (kosher but not free-range) whole chicken at Trader Joe's (WE HAVE TRADER JOE'S) this past weekend and we roasted it for Sunday dinner. The kids want chicken all the time now. The only problem is, I don;t really want to eat chicken, myself, and I don't want to feed factory-farmed chicken to my kids all the time, either. But I knew Dillo had gone 'round the bend when we were at the Learning Explosion at school last night and our job was to look at a picture and describe what our five senses would perceive if we were in the picture and the picture was Tar Beach (http://www.google.com/images?q=tar+beach&biw=986&bih=805)and Dillo said if he was in the picture he would smell chicken. And taste chicken. There is no chicken in the picture.

ION, Casper and her fiance Thomas have begun exchanging letters in the mail. It is adorable. (Except for Casper's terrible penmanship and spelling.) Thomas called tonight to try to arrange a play date. The kids are mostly so sweet at this age. I hate that at some point it will be all middle school jockeying for status.
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We are now 4 for 4 on nights in a row Dillo has peed in his bed. This is not a record I really wanted to break, you know?

In good news, I just had the marvelous idea to have grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner tonight.

Also, in I am such a geek news, I am totally excited about the research consultation about sophrosyne and temperentia and John Chrysostom I am having with a grad student at 9am today.
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Last night our nearest neighbors came over for dinner - the father was at work late, so it was two women and 4 kids, ages 6-18 months. Went fine, if a bit chaotic, but what else is new, and it was nice to have the company. I had easy-most-from-cans chili and egg noodles, and she brought au gratin potatoes, cheesy bread, and apple slices. All of which were good, but none of which were things I would ever cook for my family. And then I was heating up some leftovers at work just now (yes, I had first lunch at 10am - I'm on the desk 11-1 today, so it makes sense), and several of the housekeeping staff were having lunch. S. was opening two cans of those little Viennese franks, and another woman was heating up what I guess were frozen chicken patties to eat between slices of white bread. I remember having those little franks as a tiny kid - I guess they were easy meat for toddlers? Although I ate a lot of odd things as a kid, thanks to my grandmother - liverwurst, and tomato aspic.

I just find it fascinating what people choose to eat, and how thoroughly dictated it is by family, and culture, and the whole concept of comfort food, food that we like as much for the fact that we've always eaten it this way as for how it tastes. My "comfort food" dishes from childhood - now very rarely made - are tuna noodle casserole with cream of mushroom soup, egg noodles, peas, and NOT crunchy things on top, and macaroni and cheese with elbow macaroni, sliced white American cheese, and cream of mushroom soup. (My maternal grandmother was firmly in the "I hate to cook so I'll do it with canned soup" camp of the 1950s.) What are your family comfort foods?

A much easier morning with Dillo today, although I was up with him at 4 and never really got back to sleep.
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I recently fell in love with some boots. Because I am the sort of person who always falls for the $$$ version of anything (seriously, when I was 13 my mother got me post-it notes that read "I have the simplest of tastes. I only want the best."), the boots I fell in love with are $332 Frye boots. These, to be specific. http://www.zappos.com/frye-veronica-slouch-cranberry?zlfid=111 Perhaps in saddle. (Side note: the people posting reviews mentioning that they've just bought their THIRD PAIR of $300 boots - I own a house and you don't, nyah nyah!)

On Sunday I had the bright idea that if I put $5 in an envelope every week, saved by the dint of not buying any vending machine candy or Jittery Joe's treats at work, I could buy myself the boots for Christmas 2010!

On Monday, I bought a $1 Three Musketeers. Just now I bought a $2.50 chocolate chip muffin. Sigh.

(ION, this week is TOO COMPLICATED. I want to call it off and come back next week.)
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mr. flea, with false cheer: Well, this is an interesting new dish! Let's try it and see if we like it!
Casper, sardonically: Weird. Let's not try it and go get something else.

mr. flea actually liked it. Casper did not, and since Dillo had fallen asleep on the couch, then fallen on the floor, and was in a terrible mood, he did not even try it.
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Because we were out of town until 7pm yesterday, I am doing the weekend meal planning today instead of Sunday morning. mr. flea will probably do a grocery run after dinner but before bedtime, maybe with one of the kids. We're trying to enforce "whoever cooks doesn't clean" and alternate cooking.

Monday:
pasta (already cooked in fridge) with pesto (have basil on the plant that needs to be harvested)
beets (from Locally grown last week)
cantaloupe (half left over in fridge)

Tuesday:
kale soup - recipe googled from internet - got kale at Locally grown, will probably put in beet greens too, kids probably will pick out beans and potatoes)

Wednesday:
Hamburgers - cook out? I will be home from about 3pm on so can start early. Got hamburger from Locally grown last week.
salad (maybe harvest first homegrown greens)

Thursday:
Indian ground Turkey (includes peas, over rice)

Friday:
pizza night (boboli shell with canned black olives)
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Pork chops patted with bread crumbs and baked
Baby german gold potatoes with herbes de provence and olive oil, roasted
And, um, green beans from France, via Trader Joe's.

We now have 20+ pounds of pork in the freezer from the free-range pig we picked up today. We got half a pig and split it four ways with coworkers and neighbors, and then a couple of the splits split it again. We ended up with 3 packs of pork chops (3-4 chops each), 5 pounds of sausage (hot and mild), two packs of sliced ham, a ham roast, two packs of shoulder steaks, and a pack of uncured bacon. We pted to let others take ribs and neck bones and the liver. Since we eat meat maybe once a week, this will keep us a long while.

The farmer is a professor of veterinary medicine at UGA, and has a small hobby farm on the side. She has beeves in the fall... (half a cow is 210 pounds of meat! This pig dressed out at 260, and we got 107 pounds as our half.)
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12/23
quesadillas (what? I worked today; they are quick and easy)
make dough for gingerbread house (note to self: call mr. flea and ask him to get 2 sticks of butter out of the freezer)
finish baking ginger snaps (estimate 4-6 dozen left)
finish frosting speculaas

12/24
make gingerbread house (3 steps: cutting and baking of pieces, assembly with melted sugar, decoration)
prep boeuf Bourguignon (lardons, brown meat, bouquet garni, wine) (note: procure celery)
dinner: salad, rice pilaf, scallops? (note: procure scallops, procure a pomegranate for the salad and delectation of the children)

12/25
breakfast: poppin' fresh dough cinnamon rolls, bacon, mimosas (note: procure champagne, preferably those tiny bottles that come in 3-packs).
finish cooking boeuf bourguignon (pearl onions, mushrooms)
feast: boeuf bourguignon, salad, egg noddles, ?apple pie with whipped cream and/or vanilla ice cream, ?chocolate cake, gingerbread house (note: procure apples for pie, make pie crust, procure chocolate cake, depending on choice)

12/26
make spitzbuben
latke feast (plain and sweet potato)

Things needed:
champagne
celery
scallops or other suitable replacement
pomegranate
apples for pie?
chocolate cake? (Big City Bread)
bread (if at Big City anyway)
kahlua or Baileys or somesuch (if hitting package store)

Non-food items that should be procured before Xmas:
stocking stuffers for me, Dillo, 1 thing for mr. flea (maybe cut out of work early today and hit downtown?)

Oh, and get this: I currently am receiving 1 present. Which I wrapped for myself last night (it is from my inlaws.) (A package that may come today presumably has a second). Neither my mother nor my husband has got me a Christmas present (yet).

Food meme

Oct. 22nd, 2008 03:47 pm
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via Jonquil

Read more )
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It just seems ... odd.

7am:
2 cups coffee w/ 2 t sugar each
1 vanilla Yobaby yogurt

10:30am:
tupperware of leftover "slumgullion," which is a mr. flea comfort food recipe involving ground beef, onion, green pepper, cabbage, canned tomatoes, and egg noodles.

(water, throughout)

1:30pm:
croissant with roast beef and pepper jack; 2 florets caulflower; handful green grapes; 4 ritz crackers and 2 cubes cheddar; 2 ho-hos; 1 sugar cookie shaped and frosted like a Bassett hound; 1 3 inch piece of grocery store sheet cake (that made me feel ill, but I ate it anyway). This was a going away party for a coworker; I didn't really pick this odd assortment out of the blue!

6:30pm:
2 bowls of slumgullion
2 glasses bubbly water with ice

Am now craving - something - not sure what. Not even sure if I want sweet or crunchy or what. Maybe frozen peas?

oy

May. 14th, 2008 09:24 am
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Mother is on a tear with the "helping us plan a trip to Athens" stuff, and is making it very complicated, and my brain is too full to really deal. Please God do not let her call me at work today.

Dinner at Four Square was FOINE. Romaine wedge with parmesan, prosciutto (looking like bacon to me), olives, nice dressing; beef tenderloin with creamy potatoes, whole baby patty-pan squash, zucchini, stewed tomato, and deep-fried eggplant slice; warm raspberry beignets with lemon curd and a tiny cup of something sort of chocolate and wonderful on the side. And a glass of pinot noir. The prices are shocking, though (for here); the beef was $32 and the wine was $10. Not sure it was worth it (though not on my nickel last night, natch.)

Starting the day with stress as a candidate here and literally 12 emails came in overnight, half of them about our link resolver being down (it is), and I just feel scrambled. And mr. flea called at the desk to say Mother was calling him all wacky and stressy and where was Casper's velour jumper as she was freaking out wanting it? (Answer: packed away with the winter clothes, since not only is it a winter garment, it is also too small, damn it.)

Still only Wednesday. mr. flea is totally not coping with dinner-and-bedtime with the kids by himself. I am sympathetic, but only so far, since I am also sort of "remember those freaking week-long work trips you have taken?"
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Dillo was up for the day at 5:10 this AM. Evil little rascal. I am so tired and it is only Tuesday.

We are planning a family (flea family plus Mother and her husband) visit to Athens for somewhere in the window of the 21st-26th. Wish us luck. There is a lot yet to be done.

Piedmont last night was a bit disappointing. We were seated upstairs, and it got very hot by the time we left, and my entree was kind of blah. I got the tagliatelle with shrimp and prosciutto in a tomato and white wine sauce, and the proscuitto made it very salty, and the tagliatelle were fresh and thin and floppy, whereas I like my pasta with a little more heft and bite. Ah well.

Tonight is Four Square. I've never been there. They have outdoor seating but I am not sure it's warm enough. Menu: http://www.foursquarerestaurant.com/menu.asp

I am thinking about the baby beet and wax bean salad, and the scallops, rice croquettes, or tenderloin for the entree. I realize, looking that the choices, that I actually like fairly plain food. These all seem sort of exhausting.

Question: if you had to choose between a banker mortgage where you liked the person and the fact that there's an actual bank involved, but the rate was higher, or a broker mortgage, where the guy was kind of annoying but the rate was better, which would you choose? I mean, you kind of have to choose the best rate, right? Since it's like, one zillion dollars in interest over the course of the loan, and even a variation of .02% is lots of money. Sigh. I really like the banker woman and I want to tell mortgage guy to eat me.
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Smoked polish (pork) sausage - Fickle Creek Farm (excellent!)
Mashed potatoes (Kroger) and turnips (SEEDS)
Butter Lettuce (Maple Creek Farm) with dressing (Paul Newman)
Bread (Whole foods) and butter (Kroger)

I could have bought potatoes at the Farmer's Market, but we already had some that needed to be used.

Also bought: early strawberries (surely greenhouse, right?), spinach, white sweet potato (only one, it is immense), kale seedlings, pork chops.

We should do a locavore dinner every weekend; aside from vegetables and berries in season (alas no tree fruits), there are pork, chickens, eggs, goat, cheese, and beef available. Interestingly, not milk or butter.
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me: Was there a reason you didn't eat your lunch today?
Casper: I didn't like what you packed for me.
me: If you could pick the most wonderful thing in the world for me to pack for your lunch, what would you pick?
Casper: Ice cream!!
me: explains about the impracticality of the melting
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Last night was Bad Mommy night; tonight will be Bad Book Club Member night. (And boy, Bad Book Blub is sure a funny combination of words.)

I am about to go to the Perk to purchase some baklava to take to book club. It's a "no book this month" month (we only read every other month), but at our annual recap and plan ahead meeting in October someone suggested we make the non-book months have food themes. This month is Middle Eastern, with a specific No Hummus rule instated after 3 different people brought hummus to the October meeting. (Coming up is Thai; WTF am I supposed to do then?)

Most of the women in my book club make something; several are excellent cooks, and those that aren't seem to wield a Whole Foods or Costco card well and are rocking the fancy cheese and champagne grapes or something like that.

I have a Bad Attitude about the competitive foodiness vibe, which is silly, because I like food! Only I always forget, and also, we always have WAY too much food, because everyone brings something. Things I have brought include: bottle of cheap wine; open box of crackers and cut into cheese that I happened to have in my house; box of Thin Mints; bowl of pistachios and bowl of figs; tub of Fage Total yogurt I happened to have in my house. Other people BAKE, yo, with heirloom tomatoes and free-rage eggs and shit.

I need to resign myself to the fact that what *I* bring to book club is 1) actually having read the book and having something to say about it and 2) links to local blogs and Youtube and things These Kids Today are into. Martha Stewart, I do not bring.

ION, I received two surprise presents today, and to the one of you who reads here - you shouldn't have! But thank you! (I found it on my porch this morning; I wonder if the delivery person was too appalled by the screaming in the house last night to ring the doorbell.)
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I generally have the following in my cabinets/fridge/freezer at all times:

black beans (canned)
cannellini beans (canned)
chili beans (Bush's medium hot are our favorites)
chick peas (canned)
red lentils
green (French) lentils
brown lentils
split peas
quick-cook barley
cous cous
basmati rice (mr. flea will not eat brown rice)
arborio (risotto) rice
variety of dried pastas (we like Barilla for the balance of taste and budget), both long & skinny and short & chunky; also, tortellini

canned olives (for the children)
canned tomatoes (small cans of diced, large cans of whole peeled)
frozen peas
frozen corn
frozen spinach
yellow onions
potatoes (usually at least two of the following: red, yellow, baking, and sweet)
carrots

cheddar cheese
feta cheese
parmesan cheese (okay, we buy the cheap stuff in the can)
eggs

Most of these keep for at least as long as it takes us to use them. With the purchase of fresh vegetables and occasionally meat (we don't eat much meat at home, maybe 2-3 times a week), we can cook nearly everything in our repertoire.

What are your staples?

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