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Priorities and Produce

4 Sep

As it turns out, moving from Minnesota to Oklahoma then back to Minnesota and finally to South Dakota is an all-consuming endeavor. Something was bound to fall by the wayside while I kept our lives in order so L could concentrate on training, and as it turns out, this blogging thing was pretty far down on my list of priorities.

We’re here now though, on the prairies of South Dakota and it feels great. Our new townhouse is pretty fantastic with a beautiful kitchen (photos to come, I am sure of it!) and plenty of space for three.

Did I say three?

No, I’m not pg– we just have a roommate for a month. He’s a coworker of L’s and a friend now too, and we’re putting him up while he finds a place to live so he can move his family westward, ho.

SoDak (or more specifically, Sioux Falls) is a pretty neato place to live and raise a fan-damily. The cost of living is reasonable and with no state income tax it’s a truly affordable place to set up camp. This week I have been out and about (make that: oot and aboot) and found two places to shop for food that are downright decent: Pomegranate Market  and HyVee. Pomegranate is exactly what you’d expect of a natural foods shop: great for picking up specialty items and organic produce that can’t be found in the bigger chain supermarkets but far too expensive for regular grocery trips. HyVee is new to me and is pretty much your run of the mill grocery store (think Safeway or a much cleaner, classier, friendlier Cub Foods) with a kick ass natural and organic food section. Their produce selection is very good which is a welcomed change for me after Oklahoma City where it is virtually impossible to obtain high quality fruits and veggies. (OKC, why is that???)

To celebrate that we have a true “home base” once again, L and I purchased an outdoor grill (our first!) and I’m crazy for it. Last week’s menu included

  • grilled chicken (veggie fed, organic, hormone freeeeeee & hopefully happy, marinated in olive oil + Penzeys BBQ seasoning) and lots of farmer’s market veggies (roasted red potatoes with onions and green peppers, sweet corn on the cob, and grilled zucchini)
  • grilled honey garlic porkchops (locally raised, fantastically delicious), mashed sweet potatoes, and steamed broccoli
  • egg bake with spinach, shallots, chicken-apple sausage & feta cheese.
I am so happy to have a home again, the opportunity to make healthy food, and quality cooking utensils of my very own to use. I’m also on the job hunt, looking for any job in either of the two hospitals that I can get. I have so many plans for how to spend the money I have yet to make.
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Hello and Three Recipes

3 Jan

Mini Bio: For the last year and a half I have been putting in time as a manager at a locally owned craft supply store. How I fell into this job is a story in itself. I certainly never planned on working in the crafting industry, but personal choices and circumstance dictated otherwise. I’ve been fortunate to have a set schedule (which is a gift in retail): I work Tuesdays through Saturdays and am off Sundays and Mondays. Sundays are my days with the husband (L) and Mondays have become my own day of week planning and cooking.

I call these my Mondays in the Kitchen.

After a holiday season full of gravitas and activities I am attempting to get back into some more constructive habits: Planning ahead, staying organized and learning how to cook for myself and my husband. I am moving on- from my pit-stop in retail management to a career in healthcare- and doing some time at the VoTech along the way. My last day at the store is Wednesday and I start school next week. The great life shift is upon me.

This isn’t a sob story, but it’s an important aside: L and I are experiencing infertility issues and I am trying to overcome PCOS. Health, infertility and allergies have been a catalyst for many recent lifestyle and career changes. I slip up though! My hope is that this blog will keep me honest and focused on my goals.

Confession: I’m a novice in the kitchen and have been intimidated by most domestic endeavors the majority of my adult life. Mondays in the kitchen I cook for the entire week. This helps me to avoid takeout and other unhealthy pitfalls (but I still make mistakes!). By the weekend L and I are tired of the food I made at the beginning of the week so I try to have a somewhat extensive recipe collection to rotate. I don’t eat beef or pork, so meals revolve around chicken, ground turkey, fish and vegetables.

Today I experienced two successes and one failure in the kitchen. All recipes are new to me.

Recipe 1: I love-love squash, but L has never been a fan. Since I’m the one in the kitchen I can usually cook up an item he deems suspicious and convince him to eat it for a meal or two. In an attempt to cut down on processed simple carbohydrates- and initially inspired by this blog post (or, mainly the photo), and this suggested recipe, I decided to roast my very first spaghetti squash.

After wrestling with the squash and my brand new knives I finally got it cut in half lengthwise. Those suckers are tough to split. I cleaned out the seeds (I must save the seeds to roast next time! Has anyone else tried this?), drizzled both halves with a tiny bit of olive oil, sprinkled some sea salt on them, and tossed them in a 400 degree oven for 40 minutes.

These are so easy. You guys, I even forgot about the squash for about 10 minutes after the timer went off on the oven and it was still great. The results? Delicious. Sweet, squashy, savory. Even L agreed. SUCCESS! I froze half the squash for next week. This week I will eat it plain and in place of pasta with spaghetti sauce.

Suki Pug

My sidekick waits patiently for a taste of squash.

Recipe 2: L and I are way into meatloaf because we crave something hearty during the frigid Minnesota winter months. I have been searching for the perfect recipe for months and stumbled upon this Turkey and Quinoa Meatloaf from allrecipes.com. I followed the recipe carefully, but skipped the tomato paste and hot sauce (out of laziness- we’re out and I didn’t feel like trekking to the store) and replaced it with ketchup and Famous Dave’s bbq sauce.

The results? This recipe is out of this world! This may be ridiculous, but I’ve never purchased or used Worcestershire sauce- and it is good. I can see myself dousing meat in it for months to come. Best turkey meatloaf I’ve ever made. Amazing.

Recipe 3: I really enjoy quinoa as a substitute for pasta and rice. It has an interesting texture and a decent amount of protein per serving. I had a few pieces of chicken in the freezer and a new box of quinoa, so I searched “quinoa + chicken” at allrecipes.com (I use this site quite a bit). I found this recipe for Chicken with Peas and Quinoa. Peas are one of my favorite veggies and the combination of ingredients sounded intriguing. I followed the recipe exactly.

The results? Puzzling. Maybe the problem is the paprika, or the peas, or the fact that I used red quinoa (the recipe does not specify whether to use red or white). Or maybe these ingredients just don’t work well together. In any case, I am not a fan and won’t make it again. Very very odd taste.

Two out of three… Not bad! Until next time.

Today’s kitchen soundtrack selections:

  • “A Punch Up at a Wedding” by Radiohead
  • “I Believe” by Sophie Ellis Bextor
  • “The Suburbs” by Arcade Fire