Monday, June 11, 2012

Menu Planning for Single Ladies

another day, another instagrammed picture of food
In case this isn't abundantly clear, I pretty much live to make plans. I love goals, I love knowing what's ahead, I love thinking that if I have a plan I can control everything. So really I don't so much live to plan as I do live to learn that I cannot in fact control everything. However, this is not about my issues with trusting God... This is about menu planning for single ladies, a task that I feel worthy to undertake yet know I have failed to master.

First of all, I am in love with my new cookbook/memoir - Dinner a Love Story. In the very beginning she graciously shares that each recipe is meant to serve about four people because well that's how many she regularly feeds. Rosenstrach and her family tested all the recipes so you can take comfort, knowing real people (including two very real children) ate them and loved them... and you probably will too. With great excitement I finished reading through DALS this Friday and eagerly looked at my calendar to see how many recipes I could test out over the next two weeks. I figured I had seven days where I would be home to eat dinner and then found four recipes I wanted to try first. And then of course, I added four other meal ideas to those recipes.

Saturday was a perfect Grand Rapids day. I hit up the Fulton Street Farmer's Market and Meijer. People were kind and helpful. I bought local and organic when I could. And then I came home and made that delicious shrimp dish pictured above (served over white basmati rice). It was so good I ate way more than I should have. And yet, when I put it away, there was clearly enough left for two or three more servings.

And herein lies the single lady problem --> there is always way more food left than I originally planned on and this throws my "menu plan" out the window. If I can now seemingly eat shrimp for my next three meals this means I don't need lunch and dinner on Sunday or lunch on Monday... but I have ingredients for dinner on Sunday... now I need to rearrange things... use what needs to be used first so nothing spoils. But Sunday's dinner sounded so good and how many times in a row can I eat shrimp? Let's be real, all I actually want is a pizza. But that's not on the plan.

Side Note: If at any point someone invited me to eat a meal with them (and let's just hope it's pizza), I'd gladly join them. Can you imagine what that does to the "menu plan" and food budget?

What I need to come to terms with is that when that Friday Pay Day rolls around, it's best to pick like four meals I can make in the days ahead. See how far they stretch and reevaluate as needed. This house is never without it's staples... I'm never at risk of starving. So dear self, be patient. There's lots you want to buy, cook and taste, I know. But there is time, just wait and see.

Any tips for single ladies who love to cook but really only need to feed one person? I'm open to advice.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Weekend To Do List

Buttermilk Pancakes with Maple Bourbon Strawberries
- Laundry (and i even put it away)
- Find something to do with all that mint I've grown (see below)
- Pick an ice cream to try (thinking backyard mint to coordinate with #2)
- Tend to the garden (weed, cage the tomatoes, admit one plant may have died)
- Plant the shamrock I acquired on Monday
- Finish reading Dinner a Love Story and decide what recipe to make first (finished it friday and had greek-style shrimp with feta for dinner on saturday.)
- Mission Trip Meeting
- Make up a dream day itinerary
- Put away what needs putting away
- Return what needs returning (there was at least one hiccup but it was a wonderful little "local" moment, so we'll call it good)
- Write thank you notes (now let's see if i can get them in the mail)

You will not regret adding "Make buttermilk pancakes with maple bourbon strawberries" to your own weekend to-do list. Trust me.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

taking "them" a meal

so you were feeling kind and a bit adventurous and you signed up to take a meal to a friend/co-worker/total stranger. they are in need, you're feeling like you can help... but then you get that email reminding you that the far-off day has come. it's time to make that meal.

here's what i suggest: find your go-to meal. the never fails, always well-liked dinner that you can easily whip up and share with those who aren't in the meal making place right now. i've found mine. and because i'm a little bit selfish, i think you should probably find your own. but just in case this is a meal-making emergency i'll share a few more secrets.

chicken taquitos are delicious. you know what else is great? cilantro lime rice and bush's grillin' beans black beans fiesta (okay i don't actually know that for a fact, but they look good). the one thing missing from my go-to meal was a super easy, super delicious dessert. and by golly folks, i think i've found it. Smitten Kitchen does not disappoint, so I'm expecting great things from her everyday chocolate cake. It whipped up just as quickly as you'd expect a chocolate cake you could make every day would. And it sure tasted like chocolate cake batter should. I doubt I'll be hearing any complaints.

the next time you find yourself browsing the dates on, I hope you'll know just what to do. may your go-to recipes be accessible and fool-proof. bon appetit!

Monday, May 28, 2012

memorial day weekend.

for more pics from the weekend, check out my instagram feed.

the weekend that starts summer has almost come and gone. if this weekend is a preview for the rest of the season, i have very few complaints. here are some highlights.

what i watched: many episodes of sports night (this show pretty much gets better every time i rewatch it)
what i listened to: reasons why - the very best of nickel creek (i've been borrowing my roommate's car and this is my favorite of all the cds she had loaded up. it appears revisiting favorites is a theme this weekend.)
what i read: the great gatsby (i really enjoyed rereading this at 29, seeing what i highlighted at 15 and considering what i'd underline now. i would totally read this again next summer, it's just that good.)

though large portions of the past week have been spent alone, and i'm very ready to get out of my head, this weekend also included lots of fun with friends. saturday was sort of a last hurrah with a friend who is going to be away for the summer. we played tug of war (my arms are still quite sore) and whiffle ball,  rode scooters around the yard, ate grilled hot dogs and enjoyed s'mores around the campfire. there was also time in between to chat with a friend or two by the river, in the batting line, and in the car. it was sort of the perfect day for someone in the middle of that introvert/extrovert spectrum.

sunday was the day i decided to go with the flow (this is a bigger deal in my life than it should be), especially if it meant spending time with friends and not alone. so i tried parmesan garlic wings at buffalo wild wings; i snuggled in my new beach towel at reed's lake as the wind threatened to carry us away; i sipped iced tea at starbucks; i dipped my feet in a hot tub; i ate spaghetti and garlic bread at 10:30; and i watched hot rod for the first time. and as the day ebbed and flowed, i enjoyed the time with friends, feeling really thankful to be in this place with these people for this time.

and now it's monday, the extra day. i've slept in, i've been to the beach, i've picked up strawberries, and had a cold brew from my favorite beach town coffee shop. and i'm tired in that great way that comes from spending lots of time in the sun... but not too tired to make some shortcake to go with those strawberries. here's to summer!

writing this post has taken longer than i expected. i had only planned to recap the weekend in words + photos. assembling the perfect photo collage always takes longer than i think; but more than that, i'm finding that i tend to come at blogging either as an attempt to process the days or to make a note of them. when i attempt to do both in one post i find myself slogging through my thoughts, constantly rewriting to make sure i say what i mean to say. in the end, there seems to be so much more to write than i have time to commit to doing well. i think this is why i tend to drop blogging... why i tend to drop writing as a practice. to write well, to truly process life and suck the marrow out of each moment, is a task. a task that if taken too lightly lacks meaning. in the end, maybe it's not about learning how to wring the greater truth out of every day, but learning to hit enter and be happy with what lies on the page. there's always tomorrow, right?

Friday, May 25, 2012

a tip for your summer.

Did you know that you can combine flavors when you order a flurry? I'm not talking about twisting your soft-serve... I'm talking toppings! While standing in line at Blue Moon on Mother's Day, I said to my sister that I wish I could get reese's peanut butter cups and cookie dough. And she said I could! Apparently she goes halvsies on her toppings all the time. And so I did it... and then I did it again at a different ice cream place. And last night I tried it a third ice cream joint. Folks, this is a totally legit thing. You can have your cake and eat it too, you heard it here first.

Happy summer!