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Archive for the 'Food' Category

Cake

When all else fails, bake a cake.

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This is the King Arthur vanilla cake recipe. The cake is dense but delicious. Eleanor helped me with the butter cream icing by choosing our color. She loves to cook-ia whenever i am in the kitchen. We added a few sprigs of rosemary in bloom to the top.

Let’s eat cake!

Sneaky cake hands.

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Managing Food

Nathan and I joined weight watchers together.

I love weight watchers for its tools and simple approach to eating healthy. This will help me in a big way as a mama of two since I tend to stress eat. Both babies crying…have a fig newton… Spit up in my hair as dog knocks over Eleanor…have an extra serving of dinner. You get the picture. WW has helped me a lot over the last few years including losing 35 pounds and having a healthy first pregnancy with Eleanor. My goal is to get back to my pre-Eleanor weight of 156. I still had about 10 pounds to lose when I got pregnant with Molly, and have about that much to lose now. So I’m 20 away from my goal but mostly I want to remind myself about healthy choices.

I always loved cooking and food but the role of motherhood has definitely steered me from that. It’s mostly stressful to cook now. Just being on weight watchers the last few days I’ve really began to love it again. The recipes are easy, healthy, and take me out of my cooking comfort zone. So far I’ve made black bean and lentil chili, Greek burgers, red pepper and tomato soup, lots of California wraps and sandwiches. I’m excited for Nathan too. His weight is constantly on a yo-yo swing due to beer consumption. He can lose weight in a heart beat but he can also pack it on just as fast. This will hopefully teach him about balance, as well.

I’m actually excited about food again because it seems manageable with the tools I have. My big need will be exercise. We go on walks often but I need to sweat. I’m planning on working out a schedule with my mom or Nathan for making this possible without being away from the kiddos too much. It was a struggle with just Eleanor, since it wasn’t necessarily fair for me to leave to exercise once Nathan had been home with her all day. I ended up going at night after she’d gone to bed but the studio was a block away from my house in Chicago. And bike riding as a transportation means will be tricky since NC is mostly connected by interstates. One step at a time, right? When do you find time to exercise?

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Durham Farmer’s Market

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Made it! Eleanor I were caught in a torrential downpour on the way out which sort of made the whole outing even better. Most of the farms are within 30 miles of us, and prices are a little lower than Chicago’s market.

It’s been a nice Saturday so far. Made breakfast together with Nathan, had a nice cup of coffee, and picked up lots of goodies at the market.

Salad turnips, arugula, braisin mix (kale, chard, spinach), carrots, radishes, green onions, pea shoots, eggs, seeded sourdough bread, and canned chow chow for Nathan (that about made his week).

Sweet Treats

My week has been filled with work, boxes, delicious treats and lattes. Who can say no to a Magnolia cupcake for breakfast? Or how about a Glorious Morning muffin warm out of the oven from Filter? It’s true that the stress of moving does not bode well for my diet, but dammit I deserve something sweet. Sometimes even twice a week! Happy Friday!

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Meal planning, iPad and WW

Today I used my iPad while grocery shopping. As I was getting ready to leave the house I was feeling super apprehensive. I actually said, “I don’t want to look like a dimwit” I mean because basically who needs a computer to go grocery shopping? And how was I supposed to carry it around and fill my cart at the same time?

The truth is that it was actually pretty useful! And, as far as I could tell no one noticed that I was carrying it around. Or at least if they did they were calling me name on the inside.

Nathan set up a couple different aps to help us with meal planning – Pepper Plate, Epicurious, All Recipes, and Weight Watchers. Each week to two weeks we toss so much produce that I don’t end up using in time. We shop at a local produce shop that sells discounted ie. ripe produce from Whole Foods. It’s a steal but you have to have a plan if you buy two giant bags of red peppers because they were 49 cents each.

So far I have become most familiar with the Weight Watchers ap since I am starting up again to help lose the last 10 pounds of baby weight. It’s pretty simple to use, and it will add the ingredients I may need to purchase for an upcoming meal. Plus it connects to my WW tracker which is even better. Im stuck making a lot of the same recipes because it’s routine. Or a lot of nights lately I just don’t cook at all because I’m so tired and I don’t want to think about what to put together. Weekly meal planning should help me with that, and Nathan has said he will support it by planning with me and even cooking a meal or two. Tonight I made whole wheat bowties with wild mushrooms and spinach and mixed greens on the side. It didn’t take long and we all ate. Even Eleanor tried some bowties and mushrooms.

This is what we are having this week:

Monday – Italian vegetable soup
Tuesday – Sesame noodles with chicken
Wednesday – Garden salad and any left overs
Thursday – Spicy black bean soup
Friday – Vegan spinach lasagna and mixed greens
Saturday – Turkey chilli

I love soups during the winter and they are so easy to make. I’m sure I will be making lots of soups in the next coming months. Eleanor loves soup, too. I also plan to take a serving of whatever I made for dinner plus mixed greens for lunch each day. I usually always have a salad for lunch and after buying a giant bag of arugula for 2 bucks I am looking forward to my salads.

So even if I did feel a little apprehensive in the beginning shopping with a computer I think overall it’s leaving me more confident. And will definitely help on having to run out to the store to grab something last minute to make a meal.

Coffee

coffee in my cup

For years we received the “mark out” pound of coffee a week from Starbucks. Nathan worked there for a while both part-time and as a store manager. So when he officially quit to take care of Eleanor, I begged him to get as many pounds of coffee as he could so we would have a stock pile! I think we ended up with about 12! Well we ran out a few weeks ago, and I’ve been struggling ever since. It’s not so much that I loved Starbucks coffee as it is that it was 1) free and 2) the only coffee I have drank plenty of.

In the meantime we have tried Trader Joe’s beans, Whole Food’s beans, Maxwell House and Folgers. I can say without a doubt that I just can’t get behind the MH or Folgers. We have a percolator so part of my love for coffee is grinding my beans and filling my percolator up on the weekends. I love the sound it makes. I love that I just know how much to grind and fill without a measuring spoon. I can’t tell you how many pots of weak coffee I have made in the past month trying to get the water to ratio right with Maxwell House or Folgers, even Trader Joe’s beans!

I’m about to throw the towel in and start dishing out the dollars for Starbucks. But first I’m going to try a few local beans. I know the one is out there! I just know it.

My Little Curry Lover

It’s funny how much Eleanor loves food with flavor! She likes anything with a little spice whether it be cinnamon or masala. A few weeks back I made a lentil soup that was to die for! I’ve never really branched out in to Indian or Mediterranean foods before and this was my first lentil soup. Abigail had given me a lot of flavor masala from her trip to India, and it was the perfect time to use up a bit! I made the lentil soup forgetting to set some aside for Eleanor with less spice. By the end I figured she should at least taste it. It wouldn’t kill her. She loved it! She ate lentil soup left overs with me for three days!

Tonight I made a quick meal for her with the same spices. I chopped up a bit of onion (purple because I had that on hand), one garlic clove, a yellow pepper and sauteed that in a teaspoon of olive oil. Then I added a can of chickpeas, green peas (I thought she should have another vegetable in there), and half a can of vegetable broth, curry powder, flavor masala, and black pepper to taste. After that simmered down a bit I blended it so that it still had texture for her to use all of those teeth on (She’s up to 5 now!). Eleanor loved it again.

My little curry lover.

Last night she had some whole wheat pasta with tomato sauce, too. I’m really loving that she can eat almost everything we have for dinner these days.

Chilly Sunday

This morning Eleanor and I were in the mood for some fresh, crisp air. The sky was grey and the wind was howling, but we wrapped ourselves up and went for a walk. Muffins and coffee were on the agenda. I got blueberry, and picked up an apple muffin for Nathan (who waited back home a bit under the weather).


Off to get coffee on a chilly Sunday morning

BAKE

Home sweet home

As we were about to board the plane from New Hampshire to Chicago a month ago we got a phone call from our property manager. Our neighbors who we have had issues with (or rather they have had issues since they moved in) are apparently suing the landlord for something or other. The landlord is completely fed up, and wants to sell the place. He offered it to us first. Honestly if it had been 6 months ago or a year ago we might have jumped at the offer but timing is everything. We had just gone from a two person income to a one person income, and are in the middle of making major life decisions regarding where we want to “settle.”

So that leaves us with the very high possibility of having to move if the place sells. Most likely it would be knocked down for some new development as Humboldt Park is fast becoming gentrified. The truth is we have outgrown this place. There are three of us now, well five if you count the dog and the cat (which I do). We have the possibility of starting a family business with It’s a Lamp. And, Nathan desperately needs a work space. Eleanor needs her own room. I need tidiness. We still love it though. We have things that most couples who live in the city don’t. We own all of our appliances, we have 2 kayaks, a lawnmower and all of that needs storage space.

We looked at a 3 bedroom in west Logan Square. 1300 square feet (our current place is about 800) with a garage included and lots of closet room. The only thing is it’s far away. It’s still in the city, but not really near anything and at least 5 years west of any up and coming gentrification. And, the thought of moving just makes my stomach turn.

I feel like in a weird way we are in a convenient relationship with this house. It’s like that boyfriend or girlfriend you had a few years ago who didn’t really do anything for you but it was comfortable. And, the thought of breaking up with them would just take too much energy and hurt too many people so you just keep putting it off. It’s not necessarily healthy but it’s also not killing anyone.

So we are staying here for the time being. We are going to invest that time and money that would go in to moving in to things that will make this house better. Purge (it’s time to do this again – we did a lot of it before Eleanor arrived and it made me feel so good), have a yard sale, set up the 2nd bedroom as an organized and clean office/workspace for Nathan, and Eleanor will just stay in our room for the time being.

Another reason we are staying is because well, we love our neighborhood. There is still the possibility that this place might sell (but I doubt it will go fast in the current real estate climate), but maybe that’s when we make our decision. I love our neighbors, their kids, the dead tree across the way, and the plethora of community gardens within walking distance. I love our yard, the garden, people asking when the Scarecrow will make his appearance next. I love that we can walk to our favorite coffee shop and cafe on a Saturday morning and enjoy brunch. I love that I can bike to work (when I have the energy) and it takes less than a half hour.

I guess the good outweighs all the other things. And, I’m perfectly fine with that.
To celebrate we enjoyed breakfast at Birchwood Cafe. It was extra delicious from the coffee to the ham and fig sandwich to the potatoes and the little lady sitting all on her own in a chair.

Birchwood Brunch

Birchwood Brunch

Birchwood Brunch

Birchwood Brunch

Birchwood Brunch