This weekend, we drove into Boston to take Bertram to the French Bulldog Meetup at Peter’s Park, and hang with my friend Melissa and her pup Bentley. If you haven’t seen dozens of French Bulldogs having a total snort fest; well… it’s an experience! What I lack in extroverted-ness, this little dude makes up for as quite the social butterfly. He makes human and canine friends pretty much every where he goes.
Aside from my role as Bertram’s human, life these past few months has been overwhelmed by business ownership work-mode, a big family loss (my grandmother passed away), and the general craziness of spring time. It’s been hard to sit down to make time for reading, but in a re-commitment to self-care, I made a concerted effort to do so. Here’s a snapshot of my weekend reading.
My friend Traca turned me on to the author Dorie Clark, and I’ve been diving into her writing on marketing, branding, and thought leadership. She’s highly prolific on the internet, but I’m a fan of hardcover, so I picked up her 2015 best seller – Stand Out: How to Find Your Breakthrough Idea and Build a Following Around It. I have a bit of an elevator pitch problem as a Jill of All Trades, and have been trying to improve my own messaging around what I do and who I can help – lots of nuggets of wisdom in this one to set me further down the right path.
Truthfully it has been more than a few months since being able to really curl up and dive into a new cookbook, but I’ve been lucky to read my way through two incredible ones over the past few weeks that I can’t not mention here. Both fall into the long-anticipated cookbook category, and neither have disappointed.
The first – Unforgettable: The Bold Flavors of Paula Wolfert’s Renegade Life – is an incredible team effort by Emily Thelin, featuring Paula‘s incredible life story and recipes, compiled by Toni Tajima, edited by Andrea Nguyen, and shot by Eric Wolfinger. Over a year ago I backed the project on Kickstarter, and had been waiting patiently for it to arrive. (In the mean time, in anticipation, I managed to score a dozen or more Turkish cookbooks from Paula’s own collection which she’s been paring down on eBay…)
Part biography – part recipe book greatest hits; Unforgettable is my favorite type of cookbook – one that I can sit down and read like a novel, featuring tried and true dish inspiration that connects deeply with time and place. The biography gripping – as a pioneer of middle eastern and mediterranean cookbooks, Paula has long been one of my heroes. Her cookbooks are almost all on my shelves, and yet in each page of Unforgettable I learned so much more – from her persistent reinvention, to her struggles with early onset Alzheimer’s. Truly thankful to Emily and team – this book is a gem. (As is Paula – if you aren’t following her on Twitter, you should be!)
The second – is Samin Nosrat’s Salt Fat Acid Heat: Mastering The Elements of Good Cooking, which I’ve been waiting patiently for since she’d come bounding into Omnivore around seven years ago telling me all about how she was going to write this cookbook, scheming, and dreaming.
Now, I’m actually fairly certain we had one such conversation in November of 2010, right around the time that I was working with my friend Karen on her cookbook Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It because in that conversation I was so amazed by her energy and enthusiasm that I distinctly remember going home feeling empowered and writing the ENTIRE outline, syllabus, and recipe index for my Turkish cookbook. Which.. of course is sitting in my Google Docs.. and hasn’t been written yet. Alas, c’est la vie!
But I mention this not to feel sorry for myself, but because seven years is quite a long time to wait for a cookbook, but this book does in fact, live up to the wait.
Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat is part textbook (in the best way possible), part master recipe guideline and inspiration. And filled with Wendy MacNaughton’s cheeky hand drawn illustrations. The entire first half of the book is Samin being Samin – an incredible teacher and guide, with infectious enthusiasm for food, good cooking, and good eating. While I consider myself an adept cook, each section was filled with new easy ways to think about cooking – written in a manner that would teach and inspire novice and expert alike. How she *actually* manages to pull this off, I have no idea – this is so hard to do and it’s brilliant. (You’ll likely want to grab a copy, and go ahead and buy a second one to give to someone as a gift.)
And most importantly for me it provided a wealth of inspiration for this week’s meal plan! The best reminders from the book this week – the power of salt – and how important it is to salt your food early. In two weeks, it’s changed my habits completely – and the food all tastes more delicious.
:: The Weekly Meal Plan : Week of May 21st, 2017 ::
This week’s prep: hard boiling eggs for snacks. I bought myself a new gadget – despite committing to avoiding the purchase of uni-tasking – a bright turquoise Dash Go Egg Cooker. Cute, no?
Fitness and nutrition: I’m heading into week 4 of my online fitness bootcamp; going strong! We follow a carb cycling plan, which focuses on timing meals to match our training days to ensure we are eating enough to support our fitness levels to allow for both fat loss and muscle gain. It’s a more mindful way of eating to support athleticism.
Sunday: Braised beef, tiny baby potatoes, and sprouts. This meat and potatoes dinner is the ultimate comfort food. (Cheat sheet: buy the Braised Beef with Demi Glace from Trader Joe’s. It’s divine.)
Monday (low carb): Samin’s citrus salmon, avocado salad, and steamed broccoli. I get wild salmon, either frozen sockeye, or if the fresh catch looks good and is on sale, treat myself to King salmon.
Tuesday (low carb): Samin’s glazed five-spice chicken + bright Asian slaw. I’m always a sucker for five spice.
Wednesday: Turkish taskebab with tomato rice. This is a family favorite – a meaty tomato-ey braised stew.
Thursday: Jamie Oliver’s Aegean Kakavia. Fish stew from his travels cookbook. As we creep onto summer, I find myself consistently craving Mediterranean food.
Friday: I have a credit to Sweetgreen; I’m likely to pick up a salad; but honestly, I’m treating Friday like a free spot this week.
Saturday: out! We’ll be at a wedding. Bonus, they’ll have Middle Eastern catering, which is pretty much my jam.
We’ve launched ourselves well into spring here in New England. This winter was only moderately oppressive, but still, when the days become warmer, I always feel massive relief. I can breathe again. This weekend I went to my first Red Sox game of the season – a perfect 80 degree day with seats in the shade. The stadium was filled with what felt like the entire population of Chicago rooting for their Cubs. We sat in a sea of cheering Cubs fans, as our multiple run head start was wasted. They caught up and then hit after hit we fell behind, and ended up losing 7-4. I would have been sadder for the loss, but the game was good, both teams played with zest, the stadium was packed, and the air was warm with a breeze. A great day for baseball.
This coming week is a full one, and to get a head start, I’m sitting on a Sunday planning out my meals. In the spirit of springtime, I’ve made a short list of things I’d like to eat.
spring vegetables: asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, celery root, leeks, scallions, spinach herbs: tarragon, parsley, chives, dill
spring fruits: mango, passion fruit, strawberries
recipes of note: a second batch of Nom Nom Paleo’s matcha gummies, the stunning Gjelina strawberry rhubarb polenta crisp
:: The Weekly Meal Plan : Week of April 30th, 2017 ::
This week’s prep: hard boiling eggs for snacks. I have a tray of wilted fennel salad to incorporate for the first few days of the week, and green beans, and leftover beef tenderloin. I have some kabocha and cauliflower rice in the freezer that I’d like to use up.
Fitness and nutrition: For the next six weeks I’ve started a new training cycle opting for an online boot camp to keep my fitness level up until triathlon and racing season start. We follow a carb cycling plan, which focuses on timing meals to match our training days to ensure we are eating enough to support our fitness levels to allow for both fat loss and muscle gain. It’s a more mindful way of eating to support athleticism. While my normal meal planning balances macronutrients more generally, when I’m carb cycling, I’ll have lower carb days on more cardio focused fitness days, and higher carb days when doing heavier strength training, which I’ve noted below in my meals. (If you have questions about carb cycling, feel free to ask!)
Sunday: salmon, roasted potatoes, and green beans. Mostly leftovers, I’ve been picking up frozen wild salmon from Trader Joe’s to keep for days that I don’t have time to shop.
Monday (low carb): stir fried chicken thighs, with sliced leeks, mushroom, and asparagus. Getting several seasonal vegetables in at once.
Tuesday (low carb): cobb salad with avocado, chicken sausage, tomatoes, cucumbers, bacon, and lime vinaigrette. It has finally become warm enough for salad for dinner!
Wednesday: pork bolognese over spiraled carrots. Grabbed a batch of spiralized carrots from the Trader Joe’s freezer section to test out.
Thursday: ground beef and beans. Usually topped with an egg.
Friday: leek and cauliflower frittata.
Saturday: out! We’ll likely head up to Maine for some lobster for the Coloradan house guest to get her summer time fix.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
While 2016 will be marked in almost everyone’s books as a doozy of a year, I’m truly looking forward to what 2017 has to bring for me, my friends, my community, and the world. I’m riding a good amount of momentum for the new year – I spent the last few weeks setting concrete goals for my business and my life, and I did quite a bit of clean sweeping. It feels good to have the year off on a good foot.
I don’t typically make resolutions, but I use the season to double down on my goal setting and reinforcing good habits. I’ve been working my way through my own winter self-care bingo board, and got extra points for starting off the year with a 5k race this morning. I’m using it as a benchmark for some running goals this year: I’m hoping to run a 26 minute 5k (and not die in my A race triathlon – the Patriot half). This month I’ll be doing a mile a day running streak, and for strength work, I’ve signed up for a women’s lifting class that meets on Monday and Wednesday night each week.
I DO however set some kitchen resolutions, and I’m diligently working on my updated list this week. It includes more cookbooks, more home cooking, and some food related adventure (100 new fruits and vegetables!) In years past I’ve done a January Whole 30 to reset, I’ve actually been really enjoying my home cooking the past few months, and am just looking to continue on with the good practice! (If you are doing a Whole 30 and want some tips and resources, I wrote a long post last year to help you out).
:: The Weekly Meal Plan: Week of January 1st, 2017 ::
This week’s prep: none! After a week of parties, I’m starting fresh by going shopping on Tuesday for the rest of the week’s meals. One notable change these past few months has been my refrigerator. After a lifetime of operating a refrigerator by stuffing it to the gills with options, I decided that I really wanted my fridge to look more like those sparkling clean specimens in those “fridge sneak peek” articles about famous people. Years old condiments were tossed (don’t worry, I still have full side door shelves), and I know keep food in there primarily for the week and no more than that. I can actually SEE what there is to eat, and it really helps to curb snacking.Sunday: skirt steak with latkes and kale salad. This is truly an amazing kale salad. The recipe is from Epicurious, and I’ve made it a handful of times at home now. We had it again this week at a party, and I remembered how much I love it and made it again.
Monday: seafood medley cioppino. I have a bag of mixed frozen seafood from Trader Joe’s which is going in a pot with a jar of Rao’s marinara and possibly a little bit of wine.
Tuesday: beef bottom roast in the InstantPot. I’m still looking for good recipe inspiration for this. It may end up being ropa vieja style, or possibly Irish beef stew.
Wednesday: roast chicken, potatoes, and a Hungry Root spiralized side – a few weeks ago I tried my first Hungry Root box – it’s spiralized veggies which come with sauces that you toss and cook. The price is insane ($9 at Whole Foods), but they are so good that I’ve been buying one a week and loving them.
Thursday: yellow lentil soup – I think I’m going to go with some South Asian flavors here, and make some Dal.
Friday: turkey, refried beans, and egg. I’ve been cooking this almost every Friday. It’s a 100% winner for the household, and always makes us happy.
What’s cooking on your table this week?
On a roll this week! Here’s what’s been shaking over here. It’s been busy! Last weekend I went to a work-life balance workshop we put on for Boston Business Women. I’m on the leadership team of BBW – and going to our own programming is one of the best parts of the running the organization!
Even though I work one on one with women on self care, work-life balance, lifestyle, and productivity, on a regular basis, I’m consistently seeking out opportunities to do find time to do this important work for myself. One of the principles that I teach (and try to follow through with myself) is making the time to do the work. Workshops are a great way to have dedicated thinking time in an otherwise busy schedule.
When I came home, I was so inspired that I went a little crazy with the cleaning and organizing.
Among my productivity boost I managed to do the following – working towards some long standing nagging tasks on my house and home list:
– acquired a new whiteboard for my fridge
– completely cleaned out my car and trunk
– finally took old clothes that I had already set aside months ago to Goodwill
– made huge strides in my “box room”
– completely cleared our coffee table (it was over run with books)
– organized my tupperware and container collection
– put up a new bookshelf in my office
– unpacked ten boxes and bags of books from our stairwell
– passed on two AC units and two fans to those who could use the cool air
– cleaned my kitchen and prepped for my farm share and meat share
– tossed a bunch of old condiments
– took several kitchen appliances out of boxes and gave them proper homes
One of my written goals and intentions for the second half of 2016 is to spend dedicated time making my home a true sanctuary. Just by writing out this goal, I jumpstarted some real action! Just looking at this list thrills and relieves me.
By the time I went to pick up my farm share on Tuesday, I was prepped and ready to fill my fridge with food. In our share this week (August 9th, 2016):
At the stand: 2 pounds of potatoes, one pound of carrots, one bunch of radishes, a pound of beans, 3 pounds of tomatoes, one pepper, a bunch of scallions, an eggplant, 1/3 pound of cherry tomatoes, a bunch of kale, collards, or chard (I went for kale), and 3/4 lb. salad greens.
Pick your own: 25 stems of flowers, and fresh herbs (I went for basil, parsley, and yerba buena).
This weekend my batch cooking was productive as well. I made:
– stuffed peppers and tomatoes with ground lamb and rice
– braised kale with bacon
– fennel salad with fresh herbs and fresh tomatoes
– mashed potatoes and cauliflower
– roasted a chicken from the meat share
– four salads with cucumbers, parsley and tomatoes for lunches
– boiled rice for multiple dinners
– pre-peeled hardboiled eggs
– tahini dressing (simply a few tablespoons of tahini, lemon juice, and water)
– mint yogurt dressing (which had to get tragically tossed because there was detergent in my blender bowl UGH.)
Just a few hours, and I got a full head start to good healthy food for a busy week.
I typically take a few hours every Sunday or Saturday to work through my fridge and pantry and get food prepped. I’m contemplating launching a small meal prepping e-course – is this something you might be interested in?
If you are, shoot me an email at sam at thesecondlunch.com or leave a comment on this post and I’ll keep you updated.
Puptron was trying to be patient, but he really prefers my attention be on him.
Just a quick note – I sent out my August newsletter today – I’ll be doing a few re-sends for new subscribers in the next couple of days. I cover all aspects of wellness: food, productivity, fitness, great reads, self-care, finance, and cultivating habits to live a thriving life.
Join me? http://eepurl.com/bzejLL
Picking up my farm share is hands down one of my favorite parts of my summer. I came back from a long weekend in Colorado mid week, and had moved my farm share pickup from Tuesday to Friday. I used to be a Friday sharer, and truthfully I think I miss it. I was super excited to get back to the farm this week.
The past few weeks I’ve been feeling extra organized, and it’s felt really great. Normally, coming back from a trip I can feel uninspired and unwilling to get back to real life, but my Coloradan host was just as much of an organizer as I am, and I felt particularly on top of getting back into my routine when I returned.
The rain broke in the late afternoon for a nice time in the fields on Friday. There was only a handful of pick your own this week, but I always enjoy hanging around the stand chatting with other sharers and the farm staff. Everyone was getting excited about spiralized vegetables and peanut sauce, fermentation, and travels to Colorado. If you don’t have a spiralizer yet, I recommend the Paderno or the Inspiralizer! Game changer!
On the Stand: potatoes (2 lbs.), cucumbers (5), summer squash and zucchini (1.5 lbs.), 3 pounds mix and match fennel, cabbage, and beets. I have a glut of beets so I took mostly fennel and a head of cabbage. 1 bunch carrots, 1 bunch scallions. 1 lb. tomatoes. 1 bunch choice of collards/kale/chard – went for the kale. 1/2 lb. beans. 2 heads of lettuce. 1 eggplant or pepper – went for the pepper. (Bonus: a half dozen eggs from one of the sharer’s chickens; and the full amount of garlic harvest – maybe 10 or 12 stalks).
PYO: blueberries (1 pint), flowers (25 blooms), herbs – I took an abundance of parsley, thai basil, and mint.
:: The Weekly Meal Plan: Week of August 1st, 2016 ::
This week’s prep: here’s what I’ll be making with my produce and some of the meat share. Most of the produce will be for my lunches. I still have a cucumber, the zucchini, cabbage, herbs, and beets from last share to use up. Oh and a few of the snap peas for snacks.
– hard boil eggs and pre-peel some of them
– a batch of Turkish zucchini with fresh tomatoes
– chop kale and lettuce for lunch salads
– prep snacks: sugar snaps, baba gannoush
– roasted chicken for lunches
As for our meals this week:
Monday: chicken italian sausage with potato and fennel salad
Tuesday: cod with rice and Turkish zucchini
Wednesday: Indian spiced lamb with coriander and cumin carrot and cucumbers
Thursday: miso salmon with rice, pickled cucumbers and carrots
Friday: kapuska (Turkish meat, cabbage, and rice)
Happy Week! I thought I’d catch up this afternoon with a quick “From the field update”. I’m heading back to the farm on Tuesday – and I haven’t eaten through enough of last week’s produce yet, so my meal planning this week is focused on eating through as much of this as I can! I also have a Walden delivery – coming on the 21st, so I have a good amount of eggs and meat to make my way through. (Don’t forget you can get $20 off a Walden share through August with my referral code thesecondlunch)
:: June 28th produce at Stearns Farm CSA ::
To pick: 2 quarts of sugar snaps, 1 quart of snow peas, and I grabbed some yerba buena (a type of mint) from the herb garden.
Pre-picked: 2 lbs. zucchini, 2 large cucumbers, 1 head lettuce, collard greens (or kale!), 1 bunch scallions, 1 bunch salad turnips, 1 bunch kohlrabi, 1 bunch beets.
And here’s how I organize my CSA share.
This week’s prep: here’s what I’ll be making with my produce and some of the meat share. Most of the produce will be for my lunches.
- hard boil eggs and pre-peel some of them
- a batch of Turkish zucchini
- cook down collards
- pickle turnips
- spiralize kohlrabi for kohlrabi slaw
- sauté beet greens and kohlrabi greens with olive oil and garlic
- prep snacks: sugar snaps, baba gannoush, and green tahini
Here’s what I’m thinking for dinners this week:
Monday: pork chops and apple-kohlrabi slaw
Tuesday: crab, mango, and avocado salad
Wednesday: ground beef with salsa, cauliflower rice, and guacamole
Thursday: butter chicken with rice and salsa