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We’re already a week into Lent, but I can’t get paczki out of my head. Where I grew up, paczki are king. EVERYONE eats them. But when I moved to DC, I was shocked to find out that paczki aren’t “a thing,” and that many of my friends had never heard of these delicious treats. Maybe you’re one of those people. Let me explain.

Y’all know about Fat Tuesday, right? The day before Lent begins, it’s full of delicious food and debauchery, a kind of last hurrah before 40 days of fasting. Paczki are like super-heavy donuts filled with delicious jelly. Traditionally they’re made with lard, and one paczek (that’s the singular) sits in your tummy like a lead weight of regret… and yet, you want more.

I am so lucky to have beautiful, talented, hilarious friends who also love to cook and eat amazing food. My dear friend Ania is Polish, and also misses the “real paczki” you can get from a Polish bakery (as opposed to the imposters you can find grocery stores across the country). So this year, she proposed we make out own.

We spent an afternoon together whipping these bad boys up with our adorable friend Meghan. Ania’s puppy, Buster, served as sous-chef.

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Here‘s the recipe we used. I will walk you through the steps.

You’ll need:

1 1/2 C warm milk

2 packages active dry yeast

1/2 C sugar

1 stick room-temperature butter

1 large room-temperature egg

3 large room-temperature egg yolks

1 TBSP brandy or rum (we used brandy)

1 tsp salt

4 1/2 to 5 C all-purpose flour

1 gallon oil for deep frying

Powdered sugar (optional)

Jam for filling (the recipe says optional but it is lying. Traditional filling is prune but you can use any good jam. We used strawberry and raspberry preserves from Bolton Orchards, near Ania’s parents’ house)

Optional needs: mimosas for enjoying while cooking. Meghan demonstrates:

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Here’s what you do:

Add your yeast to the warm milk, stir to dissolve and set aside. Using either a stand mixer or your hand mixer, cream the sugar and butter together until fluffy. Beat in eggs, brandy and salt until it’s all mixed together.

Do that thing where you alternate dry-wet-dry-wet-dry with the flour and the milk-yeast mixture. Beat it all together until it’s super-smooth. The recipe said five minutes, but I say when the dough starts to climb your mixer, that’s a sure sign. Grandma Woho didn’t teach me bread for nothin’. 

Put the dough in a greased bowl. Cover it and let it rise until it’s doubled in size, then punch it down to rise again. Note: The recipe says you can try to cut the rise time down by nuking everything in the microwave. Maybe don’t do that, because when we did, I think we lost some of the air out of the dough.

Ania demonstrates more patience than I have:

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When your dough has risen twice (that’s what she said), roll it out or pat it down to about 1/2 inch thick. Cut little rounds with a biscuit cutter, or, like grandmas do, a drinking glass. Let them rise for about half an hour. Ania’s gran covers hers with a towel, so that’s what we did. While that’s happening, pour your oil into a deep pan and heat it to 350 degrees. When it’s time! Your oil is the right temperature, and your paczki have plumped up a bit, slide them into the oil. Flip them so you can see they’re uniformly browned, then pluck them out and let them drip-dry on paper towel.

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When they’re cool enough to handle, poke some holes into the sides of your paczki so you can pipe in the filling. We didn’t have pastry bags, so we used the very unscientific method of poking holes with a meat thermometer, then spooning in the filling. We dusted the whole thing with powdered sugar to make it delicious and cover any imperfections.

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So next year’s Paczki Day seems far off, but if you’re craving sweets, these little buggers are worth it. And if you can cook with your friends? So much the better.

-Lindsey

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Hello, friends!

I just chanced upon this article today, “Confessions of a Former Big Food Executive,” and I was reminded, yet again, of how and why I’ve rebuilt my food philosophies over the past few years. Bruce Bradley, a former executive of marketing for Big Food companies like General Mills and Nabisco, establishes these as the “bottom line” for food consumers (aka, food eaters… aka everybodyontheplanet)

  • Big Food is profit-driven. Don’t be fooled into thinking a brand or the food company that owns it cares about you or your health.
  • Think critically. Most claims and advertising by Big Food companies are meant to manipulate you, not educate you. Read your labels and do your research.
  • There is no free lunch. Over the long-term, you always get what you pay for. Cheap food is very expensive once you add up the true costs — like the taxes you pay to subsidize Big Food companies, health consequences like obesity or diabetes, the devastating harm to our environment, and the inhumane treatment of animals raised within the industrialized food system.

As you might recall, I’ve been trying my hand at a Paleo-ish diet. This transition has taken up most of my food-related-thought as of lately. As I read this article, I happened to be having a desperate snack at work – a bag of Pirate’s Booty and one of my favorite Kind bars. I had already abandoned my dietary morals to be intaking in such a sugar/carb-fest (I am having trouble with weekends, to be truthful, especially weekends when we have guests visiting), but I stopped mid-crunch to think about how, apparently, I’d also abandoned my anti-processed-foods morals as well.

With all my anti-carb focus, had I accidentally started to eat a lot of processed foods instead?

I got kind of anxious.

(In case you couldn’t tell, I’m something of an anxious food-consumer).

Lucky for me, I did half of my grocery shopping this morning and will do half after work… which means my grocery list is sitting in front of me. I thought I’d share with you, my dear readers, whether or not I have subconsciously began to eschew the processed junk, or if I’d slipped back into old, StandardAmericanDiet ways.

Unprocessed Foods/Processed in a Good Way Foods

These are foods that I know haven’t been processed… or the process was “turn milk into cheese,” a food-processing method I refuse to malign.

  • Frozen salmon
  • Goat cheese
  • Coffee
  • Bottom round roast
  • Chicken Thighs
  • Grass-fed Ground Beef
  • Seriously Sharp Cheddar
  • Eggs
  • Green Onion
  • Rice
  • Bacon
  • Salad mix
  • Garlic
  • Onions

Minimally Processed Foods

These are foods that have undergone some kind of “process,” but haven’t deviated much from where they began.

I feel okay with these foods, but they could be made at home or sourced locally/better, and I’m not currently bothering to do so.

  • White wine
  • Dark chocolate
  • Chili powder (??)
  • Salsa
  • Bread (for my boyfriend)
  • Lunchmeat – sliced Roast Beef

“Processed” / Packaged Foods

These foods have multiple ingredients, are formed from one kind of food to make another, have brand-names and wrappers, etc.

  • Box ‘o’  Trader Joe’s soup (for my boyfriend… but I’ve been known to eat some once in awhile
  • Larabars

Not too shabby? I think that if you are eschewing simple carbs, you are also, by default, eschewing 95% of packaged or processed foods. I hadn’t thought about this, but eliminating “processed foods” from your internal “food” list is probably one of the most healthful consequences of adopting this type of diet.

So here here to sinking money into terrible food practices, big business, and empty calories. Did I mention my carb-snack cost me over 4 dollars? Good gravy.

I hope everyone is having a lovely November and enjoying pumpkin flavored goodies. Remind me to tell you about how I can’t drink pumpkin spice lattes anymore! Great story…. (not really)

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Hey guys,

I ate a really good lunch today.

It was healthy, easy to make, portable, easy to re-heat, and exceedingly tasty.

But it isn’t fancy,

it doesn’t have much of a recipe,

no special ingredients or spices…

but who cares!

Eating well isn’t all about presentation, about spending a lot of time and effort on your meals, about trying a new recipe every night of the week. It’s about finding out what works for you – what motivates you to eat well, what foods have effects on your body and your well-being, what you like, what you hate, etc.

For me, learning to just eat whatever in my fridge/pantry instead of making a big production out of everything has been so helpful. If I don’t have “lunch foods,” or “dinner foods” I tend to get fussy and throw in the towel, and then I end up eating out… which always somehow involves a bag of chips and a large Diet Coke and sometimes a giant sandwich.

Stocking your pantries properly with simple, easy food and embracing it’s Food-i-ness instead of its Meal-i-ness? It’s a time saver, a money saver, and a health saver.

So here’s to you, old gross leftovers that probably taste fine!

Here’s to you, salad made of weird random vegetables and last night’s chicken!

Here’s to you, week-old rice and beans and ground beef! You were a great lunch – even the history prof from across the hall said your smell made him hungry! – and I don’t mind that you were not the prettiest lunch on the block because you gave me fuel and tasted delicious!

Jessica’s Ugly Burrito Bowl Non-recipe

Rice

Cook up your rice! I make 2-3 cups of uncooked rice, which is enough for dinner for 2 and then leftovers all week.

Beans

I’ve made this recipe from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe a few times, but I usually buy dried beans from the bulk bins because they are cheaper. I cook them up and then sub them for the canned… but I usually make too many plain beans, and they sit in the fridge and look gross and boring… but GUESS WHAT! There’s enough going on with this lunch that using the plain, cooked beans is FINE. You just might want an extra sprinkle of salt!

Ground Beef

Brown up some ground beef. I do a pound of grass-fed, which yields 3-5 servings. Drain the beef a little if you want to, or don’t if you don’t. Add salt, pepper, chili powder, garlic powder, and cumin to taste. Some people might call this “Taco Seasoning Mix.”

Assemble:

Put rice, beans, and meat in a bowl. Shred cheese of choice on top. Add salsa & sour cream, and whatever other taco-y things you have laying around. Green onion? Avocado? Be creative!

I would say that rice, beans, cheese, and salsa are all mandatory, but meat, sour cream, and other extras are all optional. But this is your meal! Please, don’t take MY word for it! Put peanut butter on top for all I care.

I just want you to be happy and fed and not feeling stressed in the kitchen, friends.

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pecan pie conspiracy

Hi friends! Jessica here!

First off, everyone should make sure to read Lindsey’s post about her new healthy foodie goals.

I read it a few days ago and got kind of emotional.

I don’t know why… I mean, I have my suspicions (hormones, lack of proper carbohydrates), but I am just so impressed and awed when people are their authentic, awesome selves, flaws and all, but aren’t afraid to talk about their best intentions. And, as you might have gathered, I am all about uniting Great Health with Great Food. These things are NOT mutually exclusive, people! So, go, Lindsey, go! And congrats on your latest crust award!

I am having pie problems of my own.

Upon assuming this Crazy New Diet I’ve not only had to figure out how to cook meat, I’ve also had to assemble some new “go-to snacks.”

For reference, some previous go-to snacks of mine include:

  • Mass amounts of salty carbs dipped in hummus
  • Granola bars
  • Cheese and crackers
  • Toast with peanut butter + sweet things
  • Giant bowls of popcorn

I was in need a reliable, easy snack that provides some satiety in the late afternoon – when lunch happened a few eons ago and dinner is still 3 hours of class away.

Enter the Power Snack:

Slice o’ Lunchmeat

I buy Applegate Farms from Trader Joe’s because it is good quality meat, doesn’t have a ton of preservatives and other sugar-based ingredients, the company is fairly transparent about their farming conditions, and it is affordable.

Tiny Wheel o’ Cheese

I buy Babybel because when I was twelve, I took an all-day babysitting course with a friend and her mom packed us both lunches to take with us, and there was a Babybel cheese inside and I went “WOW! THIS IS THE MOST AMAZING/ADORABLE/FOREIGN OBJECT IN MY LUNCH BOX!” and I have been intermittently obsessed ever since.

Ahem.

And the final ingredient of this fine snack:

1/2 o’ Larabar

Larabars are delicious. They are made of dried dates, nuts, and random other actual foods that make them taste like whatever they are supposed to taste like.

They also contain no added sugar or other weirdness. Which makes them probably the only paleo-friendly bar on the market.

 They are kind of high in sugar (all the dates) and my body doesn’t like it when I eat too much food in bar-form, so I eat 1/2 with my snack and save the rest for the next day.

Flavors I like:

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

Carrot Cake

Peanut Butter and Jelly

Chocolate Chip Brownie

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip

Key Lime

Coconut Cream Pie

So every week, I grab 2 that sound delicious. In my Whole Foods, the boxes are stacked fairly high, and for some flavors, I have to reach up and around and grab blindly for the bar of my choosing.

And every week for the past THREE WEEKS, I’ve arrived home and started to unpack my groceries, only to find that instead of a Carrot Cake, a PB & J, a Key Lime, I have

a Pecan Pie

I have nothing against Pecan Pie.  Especially ACTUAL pecan pie with chocolate chips and bourbon and heavy syrup and asdwe2@#$asdf….

But, when you are asking for Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough flavored dates and you get PECAN.PIE.AGAIN…

Mo’ pie, mo’ problems, yo.

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When we last met, I was getting ready to completely overhaul my day-to-day eatings.

(A key for those of you new to this blog:

Lindsey = the normal ne

Me = the batty one)

So this inkling hit me sometime in mid-July, early August. Everything I was reading was making sense and a big part of me wanted to throw everything in my kitchen away and start over.

However, like all lives, mine had complications. I decided to go forth with my choice but gradually in, steps.

This is why I gravitated toward Dr. Kurt Harris’s version of paleo, what he calls The Archevore Diet. Harris structures this program with a list. The most important diet changes are at the top of the list, but the more you do, the healthier you will be.

So here is what I was facing this summer as I began my quest:

Complication #1: I was in the middle of summer class. I was on campus 8-10 hours every day and in need of regular feeding, but without the free time to dream up lots of on-the-go meals. Oh, and I was getting ready to go on a road trip vacation.

Solution #1: I focused on a few small changes that would prepare me for making larger changes later on. Specifically, I weaned myself from sugary coffee drinks, tried to eat larger meals with less frequency, and reintroduced meat to my vegetarian system (There were a lot of Tums involved in this process). When school ended and my vacation began, I stopped buying chips and things you dip chips in, cookies, and other carb-y things. But because I was doing things like staying at others’ homes and driving in a car all day, I didn’t set my expectations wildly high. This was going to be a process.

~

Complication #2: I am largely responsible for the food intake of another person.

Solution #2: I talked to That Other Person (read: my boyfriend) about this dietary change. He thought I was weird, but I thought so too. He was happy to eat meat again, but not in a “YOU’VE BEEN DEPRIVING ME FOR SO LONNNGGG” kind of way, which was nice. He tried to convince me that it would be okay to eat good, organic bread or tortilla chips, but I told him he was welcome to buy those things and I just wouldn’t eat any.

~

Complication #3: I am on a very tight grocery budget.

Solution #3: This is a ongoing struggle, but I’ve found the change hasn’t been too bad in the long run. If I have to guess, I would say I’ve added about 10-20 dollars a week to our grocery bill, which is reasonable. The lack of junk-food buying makes up some of the difference: I’ve found our cart is emptier when we get to check out, but during the week I still have enough food to meet my needs.

My plan of action every week is largely this:

Meal #1: Some kind of meat that is on sale at Whole Foods. Non-organic, usually. I buy 2 pounds and freeze the rest for next week.

Meal #2: Frozen wild-caught salmon at Trader Joe’s – 7.99/pound

Meal #3: Something with grass-fed ground beef from Whole Foods – 6.99/pound

Meal #4: Something bean, potato, or egg-based.

Meal #5: Something with last week’s leftover extra meat!

Meal #6: Organic, grass-fed cheap-cut steak from a local farm – 9.99/pound

Meal #7: Nothing. I work late so I eat weird random food and Lance goes to Taco Bell.

I’ve found this a good compromise for my budget. For dinner, I cook up a pound of meat in some permutation and serve up 1/4 lb servings. The leftovers are for lunch the next day, which I typically eat on top of a salad.

~

It’s been a few months now, and I can see how I have adapted to these changes. I don’t linger in the chips/crackers aisle in the store. I can usually find something that sounds delicious and fits my diet on a restaurant menu. I haven’t craved  random cakes, cookies, or other desserts at night time for awhile.

And I am enjoying positive physical benefits. I very rarely have that annoying stomach-y bloat-y business that used to be constant for me (and my pants). I have a lot more energy and stamina throughout the day. I can better regulate my blood sugar. When I get hungry, I don’t feel like I am going to die – I just feel hungry.

I have lost a little weight. Not much. I’d like to lose more, and I hope I will once I implement some more of these changes. But again, I am completely okay with this being a slow transformation.

And plus, I have lost that little weight without limiting my intake or exercising like a fiend, and while eating the following delicious things:

– Marinated pan-fried steaks and salmon

– Larabars

– LOTS of pastured butter

– My favorite extra-sharp cheddar cheese

– Salty nuts and almond butter

– My farmshare veggies

– Eggs, eggs, eggs, eggs!

– Dark chocolate

– Red wine

And I get to eat it all every. single. day.

So now that I’ve explained all THAT, I will get back to posting about what I DO end up eating.

And I’m going to need your help.

There’s only so many different kinds of marinade a girl can make. And I kind of think I’ve made them all already.

P.S. Watch me not post for another 6 months and come back with a diet in which I only eat bugs or something.

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Hello, friends, Jessica here.

You have been wondering where I have been.

Well, the short answer is – schoolworkschoolworkschoolworkwinewinewinesleepschoolwork

the longer answer is: I am hiding from this food blog because I have been eating like a weirdo, and I don’t want you (readers) to judge me.

Not that you are the judging type, friends, I am just treading in this territory where food, self-worth, lifestyle, diet, weight, health, science, and yes, cooking, are kind of colliding and I don’t know what end is what.

Color me food-confused.

But also, color me food-happy. In the past month or so, I have been eating a lot of tasty stuff, and I’ve been feeling really good – mentally and physically. I don’t feel like food and I are fighting. I don’t spend a lot of time stressing out over feeding myself. I have been well, no worries!

So a few months ago, I started reading up on what some call “The Paleo Diet.” You can Google that term all you want and find a million different justifications and explanations.

The basics are these:

+ Your body runs best on natural sources of protein and fat. Especially animal sources.

+ You body runs worst on grains and sugar. Especially processed grains and sugar.

This is a far cry from the kind of eating I’d been doing for the past 18 months, as a vegetarian, or for the rest of my life, as an American-eater who loves all things grain and all things sugar… and especially all the things that combinations of grain AND sugar.

But I decided to give it a try anyway.

Because I read some of this book. (Tim Ferriss comes off as quite consistently douchey throughout, but the diet theory is interesting)

Because while I was reading this book, some famous bloggers I think are smart ladies started talking about it and how much it improved their life.

Because what I was reading about Fats and Grains agreed with what other, non diet-espousing folks (read: Michael Pollan), say about Fats and Grains.

Because I was bored.

Because my body has been hanging onto 5-15 extra pounds that affect my pocketbook (I can’t afford a new wardrobe!) as well as my self-esteem.

Because I typically wake up every morning feeling exhausted, feel starving by 9:30 a.m., and want to crawl under my desk at around 3 p.m.

I just wanted to change something.

So I did.

And I will come back later this week to finish my thrilling tale.

But don’t expect it to be anything epic. I am only one silly person who has a silly diet and I’m just talking about the things that I eat, yo.

I’ve missed you!

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This is Jessica – ye of questionable blogging skillz – back at the helm. I have missed this little place, but with finals+holidays+myonlyvacationoftheyear+school+twojobs+puttingmycatonadiet+snowdays… well… I haven’t been blogging with regularity or cooking anything of any interest.

However, (assuming it stops snowing/sleeting intermittently and canceling school/work) the semester is starting which means a normal schedule (HALLELUJAH!) and I fully intend on returning to TheThingsWeEat and Lindsey-Love and the whole food writing nonsense.

Food things I have to tell you about:

– Kitchen Self-Esteem

– When do you become a “Good Cook?”

– My impending Vegetarianniversary…. and how I ate seven kind of meat last week

– Missing my Farmshare

– How my new lunchbox changed my life

– A cake, a pizza crust, and a soup.

– How Not To Be Fat (I need some pointers)

STAY TUNED!

I would tease you like that for nothing!

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