Farm Share: Late July in New England

Late July

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!

Stearns Farm July Share

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)
Saturday: out?
Sunday: shakshuka

The Weekly Meal Plan, Walden Local Meat and CSA Haul

Walden Local Meat CSA June Share

Summer is here, and we are feasting! Each summer, I get a good percentage of my food from my two CSA’s – our summertime farm share, and our meat share. The rest I supplement from local farmers markets, Trader Joes, and Whole Foods.

Our meat and eggs are from Walden Local Meat Co.if you are interested in trying out a meat share, you can get a $20 referral discount to Walden this month (and through August 30th) by leaving my name – Sam Tackeff or thesecondlunch – as your referral! They do home and office deliveries in the greater Boston area, and the small packages start at just under $50 a month.

Life is just better when farm season has started. We had the first farm pickup of the season last week, and I headed out on Friday afternoon to get my bounty. It’s actually quite a schlep from home – over an hour – to get to the farm, but I’ve been a sharer at Stearns Farm CSA since I went to college at Wellesley, and it’s definitely one of my happy places! We get an alternate share, so I only go once every two weeks.

:: June 17th produce at Stearns Farm CSA ::

To pick: 1 quart strawberries, and I snuck a small handful of mint and thyme.
Pre-picked: a large head of escarole, three heads of lettuce, lots of bok choy, a pound of spinach, a bunch of radishes, and garlic scapes.

If you are overwhelmed with your own share, or curious how I organize: here’s a post I wrote for tips for organizing my CSA share. I have a great system down!

:: The Weekly Meal Plan: Week of June 20th, 2016 ::

This week’s prep: hard boil eggs and pre-peel some of them, defrost and cook another piece of meat from my meat CSA (chicken thighs, chicken sausage, pork chops), Cook down bok choy with cubed pancetta and sherry.

Sunday: beef arepas with pickled onion, avocado, and radishes. This was a Blue Apron meal that I ended up modifying for our taste – didn’t make the arepas, but added green beans to the beef, cut the onions, and pickled the radishes instead.

Monday: roast chicken and potatoes with green beans. This ended up being a bit of a dud, because somehow I managed to overcook the potatoes and the green beans because I wasn’t paying attention to them. Whomp!

Tuesday: chicken Italian sausage from Walden and a green salad with a green herb tahini green goddess dressing. I started getting some great chicken Italian sausages in my meat share, and requesting them every month. I chopped up them up and tossed them in some sauce. The salad had fresh lettuce from the farm!

Wednesday: Turkish stuffed peppers with rice and currants – my mom actually made these, but when I make them myself, I usually use a riff on this recipe. Yes, that’s a bit of a blast from the past. I was trying!

Thursday: wild cod and potatoes with fresh herb aioli over salad – keeping dinner light, but I’ve been loving some fresh herb sauces with a little bit of home made mayo or even just an olive oil slurry. Simple and summery!

Friday: out. Alternately, I have some defrosted pork chops that need eating! We’ll either do takeout from one of our favorite places or I’ll finally get some propane for the grill!

Saturday: Ottolenghi’s chicken and cardamom rice. I’ve been craving this one for weeks!

Sunday: shakshuka (eggs in tomato sauce) – it’s been far too long since we’ve had eggs braised in tomato sauce, and I have some extra sauce left in the kitchen from this week’s sausages. I also have a surplus of eggs that need cooking – I get three dozen a month from Walden as an add on to my share.

What’s cooking on your table this week? 

The Weekly Meal Plan

Stearns Farm CSA Summer Share

Happy Monday! In good news, I re-signed up for my farm share this summer, so we’ll be eating well all summer long. The photo is a sample from last summer’s haul.

We had an unexpected vet visit this weekend, because the pup was having tummy troubles. He ended up getting fluids, some anti-nausea meds, and plenty of rest, which gave me a good excuse to curl up with him on the couch and work on my weekly meal plan. By the end of the afternoon he was still feeling under the weather, so he got a fancy overnight stay, and we’re hoping that he can come home today. Having a sick fur baby is terrible.

It’s been a while since I’ve formally written out a meal plan – lately it’s been a combo of meal kit boxes, and last minute trips to the store for simple dinners. With my latest training cycle coming to an end, I need to just eat mindfully before my next big race, so I’m planning things out again!

I’m also testing out a blender (from an un-named company), so there will be a few sauces and green smoothies this week in my rotation for side salads and lunches. I’m thinking a spring pesto and maybe a ketchup.

:: The Weekly Meal Plan: Week of June 6th, 2016 ::

This week’s prep: cook chicken breasts and rice for pup’s bland get-better diet, grill chicken thighs and vegetables outside for week long lunches. It’s my start of grilling season, and I’m hoping to spend a lot more time cooking al fresco this summer now that I have access to a larger grill than my mini one.

Monday: chicken steamed buns over spiralized carrot and mint salad. This is one of our leftover meals from last week that I had stocked in my refrigerator. I’ve been having fun with my spiralizer lately – something about the season that makes me want to spiralize ALL THE THINGS!

Tuesday: salmon with creamy barley and zucchini salad. A Blue Apron meal that I think I’ll follow through with from their recipe rather than doctoring too much.

Wednesday: chicken picatta with fusilli pasta + garlic chives. We actually haven’t had pasta in a while. I may swap out my current favorite gluten free brown rice and quinoa pasta from Trader Joe’s for a little bit more protein.

Thursday: spiced lamb and beef tagine with lemon-garlic cauliflower couscous and labneh. This is a Blue Apron meal that I’m doctoring – swapping out cauliflower rice for the couscous.

Friday: out! or more likely takeout until it’s patio season and we can sit somewhere with the pup. Let’s face it, I may be in the mood for Chipotle.

Saturday: Thai marinated pork tenderloin with mango, cashews, and a mango-jicama slaw. A combination of a Cooksmarts meal (I subscribe to the meal planning service), and a salad that I like from Trader Joe’s.

Sunday: shrimp cobb salad with avocadoes, tomato, bacon, corn and eggs. Another Cooksmarts meal.

And now a question for you – what are some of the challenges you have around getting dinner on the table these days? I’m looking to build some new meal planning resources, and I’d love to hear more about what’s frustrating or challenging you. 

The Weekly Meal Plan

chicken thighs and broccoli slaw

I finished two books this weekend.

Saturday afternoon I finished a book I’ve been reading – Stephen Pressfield’s The War of Art. I’ve started (hesitantly) marking up my non-fiction personal development reads, and this one had so many notations. It’s going on my desk in my little self-help reminder zone, so I can pull it down and re-read sections when I’m feeling stuck.

Today, I finished Patti Smith’s M Train. It was exactly what I needed it to be. There’s a few pages in there about an adventure seeking the greatest coffee in the world, and they may have been the best few pages I’ve read in a long time.

After finishing the book, I took the pup on a long overdue walk. In my Secrets of Self Care course last week, we had a module on personal development – and someone mentioned their dog being a large part of their current personal development – which on reflection couldn’t have been more true for myself as well. I’ve learned so much about myself over the past few months of getting to know, love, and train my little puppy. One of my favorite parts of the week is training class – we are working through puppy kindergarten, and then I’d like to work with him on both agility and therapy dog training. It’s a great way to engage your dog, keep them thinking, and work on your own communication skills – you have to clearly communicate with an animal who can’t speak in your language, but when it works, it’s so satisfying!

I then progressed to planning out my weekend chores. The dishes needed a new system, and we need a new dishwasher, so I’ve been working on the backlog. We have yet again, an abundance of cardboard boxes that have piled up, and an IKEA bookshelf that needs to be assembled. (I actually enjoy assembling IKEA, but it’s not clear where this is going to go.) The fridge needed a purge and cleaning.

Then I sat down to meal plan. Here’s what was on my mind this week before heading to Trader Joe’s during the Superb Owl:

:: a breakfast plan for my weekly co-working date
:: a crunchy salad that can be assembled in the fridge and last for several days
:: a tray of roasted vegetables


:: The Weekly Meal Plan: Week of February 6th, 2016 ::

After I cleaned my fridge, and realized that I had absolutely nothing left in there to eat. When I got to the store, I ended up scrapping a few of my ideas in order to get in more vegetables. I took home a pile of greens, and will be eating them throughout the week on top of my planned meals.

Sunday: mandarin orange chicken thighs with broccoli slaw, and a slice of almond cake. Not quite wings and pizza, but delicious none the less. (See header picture.)

Monday: lamb chops and cruciferous salad with balsamic dressing and thyme honey – I need to remember to defrost some lamb from the freezer!

Tuesday: cheesy chicken with Brussels sprouts and dubliner usually I make this with Laughing Cow cheese, but I noticed that they make spreadable Dubliner flavored wedges, and thought I’d give them a go.

Wednesday: eggs for dinner. Same as last week. I’ll keep this one simple and make a regular scramble and a green salad.

Thursday: roasted sweet potatoes with beef and tahini sauce, and broccoli. Inspired by Jules Clancy’s recipe on Stone Soup.

Friday: out! or as we do these days – takeout and an On Demand movie at home.

Morning Routines + The Weekly Meal Plan

Ottolenghi Chicken with Cardamom Rice

Happy Sunday everyone!

That gorgeous skillet is filled with chicken thighs with caramelized onions and cardamom rice from Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem – my favorite dinner last week. I highly recommend it!

Today I spent most of the day outside, taking advantage of this un-seasonalbly warm 52 degree New England weather. I come to you with two lists today – the first is the morning practice that I’m committing to for the month of February. And then capping it off with my weekly meal plan – because most of you are here for the food!

For the month of February, I’m teaming up with some of my favorite biz ladies to do Hal Elrod’s Miracle Morning. It focuses on making a habit of six activities – all of which I’ve done on a semi-regular basis in the past – but could use a little more incentive to get rolling on. The first step is waking and drinking a glass of water. This doesn’t count as one of the activities, but might be the most important! Here are the six:

Meditation – I’ve worked my way through the Headspace foundation pack, and am now working through the activity packs. I started with Depression (I have a lifelong history of SAD in the New England winters), moving on to Anxiety (might as well tackle the tough ones first!) and looking forward to starting on “Creativity”. I have a year long subscription and am committed to meditating every day.

Affirmations – this is an interesting one, because I’ve avoided these in the past. Why are affirmations important? Well, we chose the scripts that we play to ourselves in our head, and often they can be a repeat of negative and self deprecating thoughts. By thinking of the same negative thoughts over and over, we can make these thoughts a reality. The goal with affirmations is to re-write the script. I’ve written out a series of affirmations that go beyond the inspirational quotes, but hit on my WHYs, my passions, and my desires. Sometimes you have to give yourself a pep talk to get going! (This is actually a great strategy for racing as well.) As I read personal development books, Internet articles, fiction, or even just talk to people, I’ll be building on these affirmations. I’m looking forward to adding to them as I learn and grow.

Visualization – this goes beyond a vision board, but vision boards are a good start! Just by thinking about the life that we want to be living and what our ideal days and years and accomplishments look like, we are achieving the first critical step to making change happen for ourselves. Today I spent ten minutes thinking what my ideal day would look like this coming week. No dramatic stretches! Just reminding myself how I want to act and FEEL.

Exercise – after a quiet winter season, I’m working to bring back movement in a more dedicated way through race training. But the idea here isn’t my whole workout, but to just get my muscles moving and heart pumping. I’ll be starting with a light weight routine in my house. After far too long in the trunk of my car, I just recently brought my frozen kettlebell up the stairs to have on hand. I will also be planking, squatting, and stretching.

Reading – 10-15 minutes of personal development reading. I have a strong reading goal that I’ve written about this year – 100 books! – and I make time during the day for reading already, so this is just a bonus. For my morning practice, I’m going to keep it to non fiction personal development topics. Right now I’m reading Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art.

Journaling – this is something that I already try to build into my day, but could use the extra motivation. I’ll be doing my typical morning pages – 10-15 minutes of free writing with occasional structure – feelings, thoughts, gratitude lists, and the start of my daily to do list.

The most important part of this month is that I’ve found my accountability partners to ensure my success!

And! To make sure I feel rewarded for my habit building – I have a physical checklist that I’ll be using with little gold star stickers to cross off when I’ve accomplished my tasks. Chore charts don’t just work for kids!

Do you currently have a morning routine? 


:: The Weekly Meal Plan: Week of January 31st, 2016 ::

I’ve been trying to add in a new recipe from a cookbook each week. Last week was the gorgeous chicken with caramelized onions and cardamom from Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem. (See above!) – his recipes are always so delicious! Since cooking with Blue Apron, I’ve actually expanded my patience for cooking slightly longer week night meals, so I’m trying for some with a little oomph more often.

Sunday: green salad with smoked andouille chicken sausage and buttermilk biscuits

Monday: shrimp fried rice (Blue Apron) wild shrimp, with a little side of kimchi that my neighbor made and gave to us.

Tuesday: pork chops with brussels sprouts and pancetta, a super simple three ingredient dinner. Okay, plus spices. Maybe five ingredients.

Wednesday: eggs for dinner. I’ll keep this one simple and make a regular scramble and a green salad.

Thursday: the cookbook recipe that I haven’t decided on yet! I know, I know, I’m sorry to keep you hanging! If you have any suggestions for a great cookbook recipe, I’m all ears.

Friday:out! or as we do these days – takeout and an On Demand movie at home.