Friday, January 30, 2015
Do you ever think about the grocery stores you shop at and what they say about you? I wonder if you, like me, have multiple stores that you frequent at different times throughout the month. Or maybe you're a loyal customer to just one store. Let me tell you, I go to four stores throughout the month, and two stores about every other month. And each store has its own personality.
Once a week, I do have loyalties to the Mill Valley General Store. It's minutes away, and it carries local eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt, vegetables, fruit, fair trade bananas, and has a fantastic bulk section. But I'll be honest, some items are pricey. The store is small with two employees who have watched Evelyn grow up, but I can't get everything there. They are my place for milk and yogurt and various other items, depending on my mood. When I go there, I feel like the do-gooder, the hippie, the granola girl who loves to support local businesses. I also feel like they know me, and they know other customers who I know. We chit chat about other moms and their kids who are friends with Evelyn. That kind of place.
In the beginning of the month, I hit up Trader Joe's. They have the best prices on dried fruit, nuts, and cheese. When I shop here, I feel like I'm posing for a suburbanite (since it's in the suburbs). I get the little cup of coffee and try the free sample. Evelyn pushes around a little shopping cart. We stock up on the things that are good prices, mostly resist the other things that we don't need, and spend a chunk of money. I always feel like I'm set when I come home and put the groceries away from TJ's. So many staples to last us the month.
Whole Foods used to happen more frequently until I got wise about our food budget. Whole Foods has supplements, fair trade flowers (and many other fair trade items), and a few brands of things that I prefer but can't get elsewhere. Shopping here elevates me. I have status. I am an urban mom who started doing yoga and makes her own broth, and let me show you how much I care about the food I put into my family's mouths. Whole Foods really has that vibe going on, and I soak it in. Then I get to the check out, see my total bill, and remember why I only come here once a month.
Lastly is the humble Giant. This is the Mid-Atlantic version of Market Basket (which I grew up with in Massachusetts). It's your general grocery store where you can get a huge variety, but I have to read all the labels to rule out ingredients that I'd rather not have. I tend to go here near the end of the month when my food budget is almost maxed out. The workers are nice, the store has started carrying a surprising amount of organic items, and they do have the best price on organic brown rice that I've found anywhere. When I go here, I love paying the bill. The discount card works its magic, and I really feel like I get a lot for what I spend. Just last weekend I received a $5 off coupon when I spend $40 or more, and it was perfect timing. I went the following morning and feel like I got free cheddar out of the deal when I used my coupon. I feel very responsible when I shop at Giant.
I go to two other stores sparingly. The first is Wegman's, where I buy a huge block of Cabot sharp cheddar. That's it! It's an amazing price. (And then I go to the children's consignment shop down the street.)
The second store is Trinacria. Ah, Trinacria. Would that each of you had your own version of Trinacria. It is a downtown Italian deli and market that has been in existence since 1908. From the outside, it looks like nothing. You wonder if it's still even in business. On the inside, the deep and narrow store is filled to the brim with imported pastas, condiments, sweets, house made tomato sauce, freezers of house made lasagnas and raviolis, Italian meats, olives, cheese, and, my main reason for going, $4 bottles of wine. Seriously. When I go here, I feel like a kid in a candy shop. I also feel like a city girl, which I love. As if Baltimore is my city, and I know the food secrets.
Those are my six stores. What about you? How many do you have? And which moods and personalities come out when you shop there?
I've been enjoying these recipes lately:
- Autumn Zuppa di Faglioli
- Sweet Potato Burgers
- Homemade Burger Buns
- Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup
- Crockpot Vegetable Tofu Curry
Have a great weekend, everyone!
Saturday, November 1, 2014
Evelyn turned two on October 20th. It's hard to believe she used to be a tiny, helpless baby when now she runs, jumps, speaks in sentences, and has a true personality. For her birthday party, I decided to go with the toddler trifecta: bubbles, balloons, and birthday cake. You really can't go wrong with that.
Except instead of a traditional birthday cake, I wanted to make something that everyone would want to eat. So I decided on pumpkin cheesecake (recipe below). I knew one would not be enough, so I planned to make two. Then I wondered, maybe I need more? I decided ahead of time to pull the double chocolate cookies I had made previously out of the freezer to serve with the cheesecake. Then the night before, I thought we might need more dessert. I whipped up some chocolate lavender cupcakes. Needless to say, I was maybe looking for excuses to bake new things I hadn't tried before.
Monday, October 20, 2014
I recently had the delightful opportunity to cook a four course dinner for my friends and neighbors. Last year at the Whitelock Community Farm Annual FUNdraiser (which you can attend this year, coming up on November 8th!), they bid on and won a dinner for two at the farm.
I enjoyed planning the menu around produce available from the farm as well as making it fall inspired. And since I know Courtney and Jonathan, I knew which ingredients to avoid and which to embrace, for example, nuts are out, and cardamom is a sure thing.
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Summer is winding down. I'm about to pull up the remaining tomato plants, pickle the green ones, and plant some cool weather kale and radishes. The nights are cool and the days are warm and breezy. I always say that my favorite season is when they change. I love the excitement of cooler temperatures and turning leaves. When fall gives way to winter, I love the smell of snow and pulling out warm scarves and boots. Spring brings life and joy, and summer means swimming. At the start of fall, I will savor warm comfort food, go apple picking (and making apple butter), and eat out on the picnic table for as long as we can stand it. And host fire pit parties.
I owe you a second short list. I posted the previous one here, one that highlighted brunch and dessert. This list is all about lunch and dinner. The idea behind it is highlighting my go to recipes if I don't want to do much thinking or if unexpected guests are coming. These are all recipes that I do well, and it surprised me to look over them and see that most of them are soups or stews. Add some homemade bread or rolls, and you're all set. Here is the list.
Thursday, August 7, 2014
What do these three things have in common? They usually end up as food waste. Me, being the thrifty gal I am, I like to try and use everything. Even fennel fronds
I used to pour off my bacon fat and discard it. Then the low-fat craze ended (for most) and I realized that I cook with olive oil. And butter. They are fat. Bacon fat is fat. Why am I throwing it away? Silly me. Save it in a jar in the fridge. I use it to fry eggs, saute veggies, and grease the pan for cornbread. I save my olive oil for salad dressing and my butter for baking.
But wait, you say. Even with fats being allowed in a normal diet, isn't bacon fat too high in saturated fat? I recently read an interesting article about our body's very real need for saturated fats. The link between heart disease and saturated fats has been debunked. The real killer is refined carbohydrates (sugar, white flour) and unhealthy oils, such as canola oil and and soy oil. I'm not sure how well I do avoiding sugar, but...
Monday, July 21, 2014
About two years and four months ago, I sat on a slightly reclined bed while an ultra sound tech put jelly on my belly, slid a wand over it, and looked at the screen. "I think I had a miscarriage," I said, "But I still have pregnancy symptoms." Pause. "You're still pregnant," she said. "Listen, you can hear the heartbeat." Wop-wop-wop-wop. On the screen was a little wriggly mass.
How could this be? A week and a half earlier, I had a miscarriage. I knew it. All sorts of emotions of sadness, failure, yearning, and weirdness swirled around in my head. But there was nothing to be done. I started drinking wine and coffee again. I went to NYC with Justin to visit my brother. On the way there, I barfed. I felt gross, exhausted, and everything I had been feeling while pregnant. What was going on? (Come to find out later, I probably miscarried a twin. But I'll never know for sure.)
I could not believe I was still pregnant. It was an unseasonably warm day in March. I biked over to Milk and Honey Market, feeling free as a bird, and sat outside with an iced mocha. I called Justin. Called my mom. Called my sister. Texted the two friends I had already told. That feeling of sitting outside with my iced mocha and sharing the good news (again) with family and friends will never leave me. It's one of those memories that is burned in my mind.
Monday, July 14, 2014
We camped for a night last week at Greenbrier State Park in western Maryland, close to Virginia and West Virginia. Justin very much wanted to camp just the three of us this summer. We are going later with my family, but that may involve many things to do and a little bit of chaos, in spite of the fun times that are sure to be had. So I cooked and packed, and Justin packed and loaded, and Evelyn flitted around and made messes. We arrived at 10:30 am on Thursday, stayed through the following afternoon, and then visited Harper's Ferry in West Virginia before heading home on Friday evening. It was a quick trip, but so worth the effort. We relaxed, we swam, we hiked, we ran, we built a fire, made s'mores, watched fireflies, and loved every minute of being outside.
A major perk of Greenbrier State Park, and this whole area of Maryland, really, is that in July, there are wild raspberries. Everywhere. I was ecstatic. They were along the pathways, in the woods, at the side of the road. I made it my mission to pick every ripe berry I could find. When I closed my eyes I saw raspberries. I became a little obsessed.