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The Weekly Meal Plan

September 13th, 2015 · Holidays, Meal Planning

Rosh Hashanah Dessert Table

Tonight is the eve of the Jewish holiday Rosh Hashanah, so I celebrated with friends and family, and partook in some of my favorite foods: Tsimmes, a dish of braised beef, carrots, and sweet potatoes, my grandmother’s potato kugel, blueberry cheese pie (what we call cheesecake), and my mom’s carrot cake!

My aunt pulled out all the tricks. She always has a great wine selection (and hard liquor – clutch for any family situation.) And the evening starts with a well curated cheese board, and chopped liver for us traditionalists. Cooper, the lab, was sniffing around for crumbs, but feeling under the weather, so alas, I couldn’t share with him any of my generous cracker schmears. Not that I’d ever do something like that.

We also had salmon, beef tenderloin, a deconstructed cabbage roll casserole, green beans, and vegetarian lasagna. And then dessert: the aforementioned cheese pie and carrot cake, a Venezuelan layered dessert called Marquesa, lemon meringue pie, apple crumble, and fruit.

So it’s possible that I won’t need to eat for a few days, but I’m still on the hook for a healthy meal Monday through Thursday this week. On Friday, I’m running Reach the Beach (a 200 mile relay through my home state of New Hampshire, so my meal will likely be some American Chop Suey served to me in an elementary school cafeteria around midnight!

Here’s what’s on the docket this week. The weekly cook-up, which, in addition to my dinners make up my breakfasts, lunches and snacks for the week:

– cook a large batch of greens
– hardboil eggs
– braise green beans with tomato
– make fennel salad (this holds!)
– chop peppers for snacks
– make pesto

Monday: grilled jerk chicken with fennel salad

Tuesday: pork tenderloin with pesto and zucchini noodles

Wednesday: roasted fish with sticky roasted tomatoes and garlic

Thursday: steak and potatoes with green beans.

A pot of mint tea

And here’s a closing note for you of my favorite evening ritual: a pot of herb tea. I’ve been alternating between fresh mint, and dried lemon verbena. I took a good portion of my mom’s plant, and have been supplementing my habit with the leaves from Stearns Farm.

What’s on your dinner table this week?

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Kitchen Diary + Gratitude Journal

September 12th, 2015 · Blogging, Wellness

August to August Calendar 2016

It seems that August got away from me. It was a whirlwind month, and now that we’re square in the last days of summer, I’m doing everything I can to savor the moments before winter is here in New England. (I kid… although… if we get snow next month, don’t say that I didn’t warn you.)

Last night, I did one of my favorite rituals: heading to the Wellesley Booksmith to pick up a new August to August day planner, which spans, as the title suggests, from August to August, following roughly the academic year, rather than the calendar year. No matter that it’s been close to a decade since I graduated college, the August to August is a favorite tradition, even though I’ve switched to digital for the actual planning and calendar. Instead, I use the notebook for two things – a one sentence kitchen diary, and a few bullets every night as my gratitude journal. It’s a nice way to reflect on the day and good things in my life.

Last night, I was thankful for:

  • some new book purchases (Brené Brown‘s Rising Strong, David Lagergrantz‘s Lisbeth Salander The Girl in the Spider’s Web – not sure if that counts as fan fic even though it’s technically authorized, and Laila Lalami‘s The Moor’s Account – I’m working through the Man Booker list again this year.)
  • time on the farm to pick my CSA share
  • our new apartment (for the options of a new dog, and my new kitchen, below)

Stearns Farm CSA Flowers in New Kitchen

Hope you are having a good weekend! What is new and good with you?

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Books, Lately

July 1st, 2015 · Books, Books in 2015

It’s a wet travel day on my way to Texas, and while I’ve finally arrived in the Lone Star State, unfortunately, I’ve arrived in the wrong city, and we’re currently sitting outside the gate waiting for a new pilot to get us from Austin to Houston. I spent a good long while chuckling as the gate manager has been ever so politely dealing with my fellow passengers, but there are oh so many times you can listen to someone say “I’m sorry ma’am, I really can’t control the weather,” and then continue to get berated by a irate traveler without starting to feel a little crazy yourself. So I thought this would be a good time to talk to you about some of the great books I’ve been reading lately!

Rain in Boston on Jet Blue

At the end of the month I finished an early galley copy of Jess Fechtor’s Stir,  and last night I had the pleasure of attending her spectacular author event at the Harvard Bookstore.

I’ve been reading her blog Sweet Amandine for nearly as long as I’ve been writing at The Second Lunch. We started writing the same month in 2009, albeit for very different reasons. I was feeling very lonely in my new city, San Francisco, and she was finding something to do after a devastating brain aneurism left her very, very sick. Of course, I didn’t know that at the time that I started reading her blog, and it wouldn’t be until much later that she started sharing more with the world. (Incidentally, I started reading her new blog in 2009 because she was writing about food from Boston, and I missed New England. It’s been delightful seeing this book come into fruition!)

Jess Fechtor Stir the Book

Her book, which I worked through in one whirlwind sitting (I didn’t get up for five hours) is spectacular. Beautifully written, will make you cry, AND there are recipes! Go read it!

I’d also like to say that as a book lover, the amount of people who came to this event gave me ALL of the warm and fuzzies. But duly deserved, because Jess is just as lovely in real life as she is on the Internet.

West Coast friends! She’ll be speaking at Omnivore Books on July 16th! Go! 

Jess Fechtor Stir at Harvard Bookstore

In Fiction, I just recently finished The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, another book that I’d held off on for absolutely no reason other than I thought that the popular obsession couldn’t possibly be warranted. I was wrong. It’s a great book!

A few other titles on my bookshelf include Americanah, and Jonathan Galassi’s Muse.

And of course by the end of this travel debacle, I’ll likely have finished the ENTIRE 530 pages of All The Light We Cannot See. I’m on page 363, and I started this morning after take off, after picking it up on a whim for David Leite’s new book club. I had absolutely no idea what the book was about before starting, and it hooked me from the first 10 pages.

What are you reading?

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What’s in my farm share: June in New England

June 29th, 2015 · Farm, Farmers Market, Gardening

Stearns Farm CSA Fruit and Veg on Table

This summer I’ll be heading west to the farm every other week as part of a CSA (community supported agriculture) program at Stearns Farm, in Framingham, MA. Unlike the CSA boxes that end up on your doorstep, Stearns is a bit more hands on, and requires both regular work hours, and picking a good portion of your produce each pickup. It’s a way for me to avoid the supermarkets, eat in season, and (selfishly) farm without the larger commitment.

:: Storing and prep ::

On CSA pickup day I try to clean my fridge and re-organize in advance so I’ll have space for my produce when I return.

When heading to the farm, I bring large cooler bags, and a few assorted sizes of Ziplocks. I also bring a pair of scissors to cut herbs and certain vegetal leaves. I bring a sharpie to label my produce with a name and date picked.

If produce can stay on the counters in a shady part of my kitchen, I’ll leave them out. If I have no space, I’ll freeze leafy vegetables like spinach and chard to put in smoothies.

Stearns Farm CSA June Haul

So, what’s on the table?

:: June 19th produce at Stearns Farm CSA ::

To pick: 1 quart snow peas, 1 quart snap peas, 10 stalks of swiss chard, 2 quarts of strawberries, and glean spinach which was going to seed. Herbs: sage, marjoram, garlic chives, and mint.

Pre-picked: 1 lb. zucchini, a large head of escarole (or a kohlrabi), a huge bok choy, mustard greens, scallions, and three heads of lettuce.

:: Quick Meal Possibilities ::

When dealing with my CSA vegetables, I like to have an arsenal of easy no-recipe meal ideas that use a lot of vegetables. Many of my go to meals are here. I also make a lot of stir fries, serve quick cooked vegetables with ground meat, mix vegetables with eggs, eat large salads, and break out my spiralizer to make vegetable noodles.

My cookbook collection certainly helps with ideas – I have a good selection of vegetable based cookbooks which are organized by vegetable type. I also make good use of my Eat Your Books subscription.

My Walden Meat share (pictured below) also helps me plan – I try to defrost a few meats in the fridge every week, and then build meals based on what I’ve pulled out to cook.

Walden Meat Share June Haul

Just a few of my meals this week – not all of these are exclusively with farm produce, but I prioritize what needs to be eaten quickly (lettuces), as well as any existing leftovers in the fridge.

  • fresh herb and scallion frittata
  • single serving strawberry crumbles
  • salad with Turkish köfte, peppers and avocado
  • peanut soba noodles with scallions, snap peas, and chicken
  • salad with snap peas and cabbage, and cumin spiced chopped beef
  • potato and cauliflower jalfrezi with hard boiled eggs
  • chicken tikka masala with garlic sautéed spinach
  • goulash with ground beef, red lentils, tomato, and cauliflower
  • farm lettuce salad with fennel, pepper, roasted broccoli, vadouvan sausage

I’ll try to drop in notes over the course of the season so you can see what I’ll be doing with my produce. In the meantime, I’ve been sharing most of my meals here on Instagram lately. Take a look!

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A few good cookbooks

May 18th, 2015 · Books

Steeped Cookbook by Annelies Zijderveld

Hello! We are in full springtime mode here in New England. Things are starting to feel right again. I’ve been walking everywhere as much as possible, riding around the city with Hubway (Boston’s bike share program), wandering, and exploring. My weekends have been consumed mostly with cooking, reading books, and triathlon training, which is pretty much exactly how I want a weekend to be spent.

This week, instead of dreary lunch hours, I ate out with co-workers – a lobster roll eaten on the greenway! – grabbed a green juice with lemon at The Juicery, went for several brisk walks, listened to podcasts, met a friend for a Pimento cheese at the Clover truck, and picked up a new library book (Amarcord, by Marcella Hazan). It just feels so good to be able to be outside and doing things again.

Now, cookbooks. Where shall we start? First, I must mention that I won a contest that has left me rich in tea, teapots, and olive oil, rice, and generally speaking a number of California goodies. After pre-ordering my friend Annelies’ new cookbook Steeped, all about cooking with tea, I entered a raffle with the publisher, Andrews McMeel, and won! The cookbook is really just as lovely as I expected it to be. Shiny and pretty on the outside (it would make a great gift), it’s full of unexpected tea related recipes – including many dishes that I’ve book marked to try: Earl Grey Yogurt Parfaits, Chamomile Corn Chowder, Forbidden Chai Horchata, Cauliflower steaks with tea umami sauce, and California tea leaf salad to name a few.

Fortified with my new tea stash, and after several triathlon classes (a duathlon last weekend, and a sprint tri this weekend) as one does?!, I spent the rest of my past few weekends reading through several of my new acquisitions.

Global Meatballs

The top of the stack there is my friend Adeline’s new cookbook: Global Meatballs. We met in San Francisco, just around the time that she started working for Tartine bakery. Which, on that note, did you see the news a few weeks ago about the Tartine and Blue Bottle deal? I must admit that I was gobsmacked.  Adeline’s blog, Kitchen Roots, highlights her vegetable forward cooking style, and is a total pleasure to read. She has a lot of paleo and generally dairy-free recipes, but the focus is on vegetables! Which, of course, go particularly well with the dinner-time favorite: meatballs! Some of the recipes I put in my notes to try include the lamb meatballs with baked yogurt sauce, pistachio lamb meatballs with sweet and sour pomegranate glaze (I really love lamb!), and Scandinavian fiskeboller. There are actually a large selection of vegetarian balls in here as well. Good stuff!

Below Global Meatballs, we have James Ramsden’s Love Your Lunchbox, lunch, of course, being my favorite meal, and a few forays into modern cuisine and culinary theory with Cook It Raw, a retrospective book of the annual avant-garde chef gathering, and Christian Puglisi’s Relae: A Book of Ideas (so much in here!)

A Modern Way to Eat Cookbook by Anna Jones

Vegetables really have been at the top of mind, because I took the plunge and re-signed up for my favorite work-share farm CSA again this year. Unlike the urban CSAs where a sanitized box is dropped off at your house, this farm requires that you actually come *pick* about half of your weekly (or bi-weekly share). While I don’t really have the time or resources to garden on a regular basis, I’ve been yearning for time spent in the dirt. I’ve already started stocking up on Ziplocks, pyrex, old yogurt containers, and plastic bags to deal with my forthcoming haul. In anticipation of a glut of vegetables, I read through Sarah Britton’s My New Roots, and have been thrilled with the truly phenomenal a modern way to eat by Jamie Oliver protegé Anna Jones. It’s currently making the rounds on the food blogs, and for good reason. I can’t tell you how much I enjoy this cookbook.

And finally, one last book to note: the brand new Yogurt Culture by Cheryl Sternman Rule. Cheryl is an internet friend who I was longing to meet in real life – and finally had the pleasure to last week on her book tour! This was another first for me – I finally made my way in to Boston’s very own cookbook shop – Farm & Fable. (Long story short, before working in startups in Boston, my dream had been to open my own cookbook store – when Farm & Fable managed to beat me to it. I had spent a year fretting about going in, thinking that I might have a meltdown, but not only was it lovely, but now I can’t even be grumpy anymore, because Abby Ruettgers, the owner, is pretty much the best.) If you like yogurt, you must buy this book.

Yogurt Culture by Cheryl Sternman Rule

Happy week! What have you been cooking?

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