Have I told you that? It’s true. Here. See for yourself.
Well, here we are in Iowa. It’s a month today since we arrived, and this weekend I’ve managed to finally start to feel like I’m getting back to my normal life. The house we’re in needs a lot of fixing up, so we’re holding off on completely unpacking and organizing until we know what we want to do when. But we’ve got a basic living room and bedroom set up and I’ve just about unpacked and organized all the kitchen stuff.
We’ve made a lot of it feel familiar, but one thing that will be very different is just how far we are from stuff. There are a couple grocery stores I drive by regularly but they’re a little pricey. It’s a good 45-minute drive to a town with the big box-pet-grocery store combo we typically need. It feels strange after living in a tiny apartment for so long, but we actually have a lot of space in this kitchen. So, I’m trying to get into a once-a-month shopping routine.
I think only doing 1 big shopping trip a month will be pretty easy, but making sure I get the right amounts of the right things will be trickier. Meal planning doesn’t really work for me, but we do tend to like to have a lot of the same things around regularly. For this first month, I just went around the grocery store (2, actually! Aldi & Trader Joe’s) and grabbed everything I know we like and/or looked good.
This picture is a little misleading, since I had to stock up on some kitchen and household basics like you usually do once you’re in a new place. We won’t need a new toaster oven every month, for example. But, then, it also doesn’t show the bulk stuff I’ve ordered from Amazon and King Arthur Flour.
This one gives you a little better idea of how the food and household stuff breaks down once it’s out of those bags:
So, some of these items I definitely bought more than a month’s worth (we’re not going to make it through 6 liters of liquor in a month, for sure!), some I know I bought exactly a month’s worth (31 cans of cat food), some I didn’t try to get a month’s worth (not that much trouble to grab a gallon of milk every week), and some are things I’m going to need to track to see how how long they last. I figured I’d put this all up here and use this as sort of a master tracking post that I can come back and edit (add a date & strike through) as I use things up and then have a reference to generate my shopping list next month.
(Also, if you just come here for the yarn, there’s totally a pair of socks at the end of this, so go on and scroll ahead if you’d like.)
Leaving out all the household stuff and including all the stuff I bought from Amazon and King Arthur Flour, this is pretty much what we’re dealing with:
roast beef 4/30
1 wedge parmesan 5/3
- 1 log goat cheese
- 1 block cheddar
1 bag shredded mozzarella 5/7
2 pizza crusts 4/26
- 2 whole chickens — 1 frozen whole, 1 broken down & frozen in pieces
- 1 red onion
- vegetable gyozas
- boisenberry jam
- crushed tomatoes
- kalamata olives
- store brand knockoff Cheerios
- peanut butter
- grainy mustard
- baking powder
- hot sauce
- 2 bottles of olive oil
- 5 lbs of jasmine rice
- 3 kinds of juice
- 2 bags tortilla chips
- store brand knockoff Fig Newtons
peanut butter cup cookies gummy candy
- Little Debbie Fudge Brownies
- black beans
- navy beans
- pinto beans
potato chips 5/2
- 2 loaves of bread —
1 kept out, 1 frozen
- Fudge Stripes
another kind of peanut butter cup cookie 4/26
- 4 bags pasta
- 2 cans diced tomatoes
- 2 tubes tomato paste
- 28 oz. whole bean coffee
- brown sugar
- almond milk
- salsa verde
- powdered sugar
- green olives
- 2 dozen eggs
- pie crust —
1 for the fridge 5/7, 1 for the freezer
- 3 yellow onions
spanakopita 5/3 1 eggplant 5/2
- fresh ginger
- 2 lbs butter — 1 for the fridge, 1 for the freezer
- 1 wedge gorgonzola
- mango chutney
- dried apricots
- red bell peppers
- whipping cream
1 bag shredded “taco blend” cheese 5/7
- orange juice
hazelnut creamer 5/1
- frozen broccoli
- frozen peas
- maple syrup
- red grapes
- green beans
- orange juice
- brussels sprouts
- MAVEA Elemaris pitcher & 6 replacement filters (should last a year)
- 4 bottles of Torani hazelnut syrup
- 6 pounds of Bob’s Red Mill cornmeal
- 7.25 pounds of Bob’s Red Mill groats
- 3 pounds organic sugar
- 10 lbs Country Save laundry soap
- 10 lbs King Arthur all-purpose flour
- 5 lbs KA whole wheat flour
- 6 lbs KA semolina
- 1 lb KA yeast
Um…yeah, I think that’s it! Not including, of course, the food we already had. We haven’t gone the whole last month with a completely bare kitchen, it’s just that we haven’t really been able to stock up until this past week. So this is what it looks like when I stock up. A lot of this was planned excess; you can see a lot has already gone in the freezer. But I’m sure we’ll run out of a lot more than I expect a lot sooner than I expect, too. I’m curious to see how it all goes.
But enough about the vegetables. Let us get to the yarn.
The drive out took 3 days. Knowing that we’d be driving separate (driving a 16-foot truck and towing a Rav 4 felt like too much, especially since the tow hitch rental would have been more than the gas for the Rav 4), I did not expect a lot of knitting time on the trip. I decided to pick up a second sock as my travel knitting.
When last we saw these socks, I had finished 1 and was hoping I’d remember what mods I’d made to the pattern so I could knit a second one. By the time I picked the yarn back up last month I had given up on the idea of duplicating my changes. I decided to just knit a plain sock and then unravel the existing one and knit a match.
But moving has a strange effect on me, you guys. I start out less than pleased about the whole thing but believing that if I just keep at it, then this time it will go beautifully. Then I get rid of my absolute last fuck somewhere around the T-2.5 weeks mark and it’s all downhill from there.
My point being that I started this plain sock the week before the move, deep in the belly of the “no fucks left” period, and once I finished it I realized that as long as the patterned sock didn’t actually feel different on my foot, then they were enough of a pair for me.
These are the same yarn knit with same size needles and worn on the same size feet, and that’s enough matching for me. I love them to pieces and they kept me warm as I travelled halfway across the country, and so they have earned their status as A Good Pair Of Socks.
Pattern: Java for 1, just a standard 64-stitch top-down heelflap sock for the other
Yarn: Molly’s Toes in Kasey’s Color
Needles: 2mm Karbonz DPN’s
Started: 9/12/14 on a plane to San Francisco
Finished: Some time before 3/24/15 but not too much before but who even knows because no one was paying attention at that point.
I am just a huge fan of how much stuff I can acquire without having to get off the couch, and often without having to pay real dollars for it. Seriously, the internet has done so much for my yarn stock. In the last few weeks I’ve gotten a few little packages that are increasing the sock:other yarn ratio quite nicely.
There you have some Patons Kroy I got in a Ravelry trade. The bad light in this apartment does not do justice to how neon that yellow is, but some of the entries in the Ravelry projects gallery give you a better idea. This is a yellow, yellow yarn, and I don’t have anything like it, and I cannot wait to introduce it to Cookie A. There’s only 1 of the stripey Kroy because I kind of couldn’t resist and I already knit a sock out of the other skein. One of those things that just happens before you even realize it sometimes, you know? And all those tiny balls are fuel for the Life-Long Blanket. Stephanie over at woolythyme was working on a sock blankie recently and offered to share her minis with her readers, and there is no way I can resist an offer like that.
Common Ground is coming along nicely, after a few false starts wherein my ability to count and follow simple directions sort of took a vacation. I’m past the lace on the body and just a few rows away from the bottom ribbing. Really this would take about 3 good, solid evenings’ worth of knitting to finish, but with my school/work schedule, it will probably be another week. But it will happen, and it will be beautiful!
In life news, school’s OK, work’s OK, my little business venture is more than OK, and over at the other blog I’m getting very close to the end of Alias season 1 and starting to feel almost OK about the whole series. But the real big life news, the most exciting life news, is this:
We got a really big tax return, so I got a really big treat. I love him and I use him almost every day even if I’m just making scrambled eggs for 2, and he’s basically the greatest thing. And he’s sooooo purple!
And I’m not even avoiding it with knitting most of the time.
So, we all know homework is bullshit, right? I mean, I get that teachers don’t seem to know this, but the rest of us do, don’t we? This is my first school experience in 15 years and so much of it is the same as it was back then that I’m a little disgusted with the world for not having fixed this stuff by now. 15 years ago, teachers would pull me in for a conference near the end of the semester and show me some fancy math they did that proved I would be getting an A if only I had passed in all my homework, even if I hadn’t gotten anything on it right, and they would wonder why I didn’t seem chastened, why I didn’t apologize and say I would do better. I would point out that I thought the point of homework was to help you develop an understanding of the material or practice and improve in your trouble spots and if I felt I understood the material and didn’t have any trouble spots, well, then, I didn’t do the homework. I would further point out that I had gotten 100% (plus extra credit when it was offered) on every test and quiz (except when we read Dickens, ’cause fuck Dickens, seriously) so clearly I did understand the material, so wasn’t my point kind of valid? I would finish with something along the lines of, “And, I mean, I’m finishing this class with a C. C’s passing. Why would I care that I’m not getting an A as long as I’ve shown I understand the material and I don’t have to repeat this class?” I’m sure you can imagine how well that went over.
Anyway, cut to 15 years later and here I am in community college wanting to have the same damn arguments over again. Except I’m doing as many courses as possible on-line, so (1) there’s really no fighting with the teacher unless you want to spend your days sending nasty e-mails and (2) it sort of makes sense to me to do the homework in an on-line class because I don’t see how else the teacher is supposed to know whether I’m even attending the class, so to speak.
This doesn’t mean I suddenly think homework is awesome, though. I still leave it to the absolute last minute. I still complain every second of the way over how pointless it all is. And I still do everything in my power to distract myself from getting it done. (Basically, the only difference between then and now is that now I can drink while doing all these things if I need to take the edge off. And, I’m telling you, it helps.)
I have so many homework-avoidance techniques, you guys. For serious.
I’ve been avoiding homework by reading this Narnia deconstruction series by the amazing Ana Mardoll. I was huge into the Narnia books when I was a kid and there’s still a part of me that’s huge into them now. But I’m also a big fan of breaking down all the ways in which the entertainment we love is also problematic while still acknowledging that we can love it. And if you want to talk problematic, it doesn’t even matter what your brand of problematic is — sexist, conservative, judgementally religious, othering & bigoted, or just plain clueless — let’s talk Narnia. Not that I wouldn’t rather have entertainment options which were not problematic, but considering the world we live in, I’ll take some awareness of this stuff as an acceptable alternative.
I’ve been continuing the unpack-and-organize-athon. I’ve just about got the bedroom closet set up in a way that we can deal with.
I’m not sure how this closet thing’s gonna turn out, to be honest. We’ve gotten very used to having all our clothes hanging but that’s just not an option here considering everything else we need that closet to store. But anyway. Back to homework avoidance!
I’ve been hanging out at the community garden.
I’ve been practicing my Italian on Duolingo. I’m really liking the way this is set up and feel like I’m learning the language better than I have with most of the other methods I’ve tried.
But, hey, here’s the good news: I only have until this Friday to avoid homework and then the semester is over and it won’t be there for me to avoid anymore. Of course, in a few more weeks the next semester will start and I’ll have a whole new set of homework to deal with, but that’s so far in the future I can’t even. Plus which, when we finally get around to it, I’ll have new things to focus on to avoid that homework. Like how goddamn huge my (XS!) school uniform is and who ever thought that black-and-white houndstooth pants were a good idea to sell to a migraine sufferer.
Or, wait, no. Strike that. Reverse it. I give you my last 3-ish weeks in bullet points. Because moving is fucking exhausting, you guys, and I can’t handle a narrative right now. For serious.
- We moved. No, let me be a little clearer, because I don’t think “we moved” really covers it. We moved from a 2-bedroom with an eat-in kitchen and a full basement and washer/dryer hookups and a dishwasher and a garbage disposal, we moved from an apartment we’d lived in for 7 years and I mean wall-to-wall floor-to-ceiling lived in, we took an entire week to move and still didn’t quite get it right, into a rather small 1-bedroom with a kitchen in which it is not possible to open both the refrigerator and the oven at the same time, into an apartment so small that checking on dinner sets off the fire alarm in the bedroom, into an apartment so small I think it’s going to impact my yoga practice because I’m not sure I can roll my mat out anywhere that will allow me an arm span (I’m 5’1″), into an apartment without the glorious conveniences of a washer, dryer, dishwasher and garbage disposal, but with the definite advantage of saving us at least $200/month. Which is really what it’s all about right now. And we’re lucky to have it. And we were oh so very lucky to have the last place. So, you know, there are worse problems than ours right now. But I’ve had a very no-fun last few weeks so I’m still working out all the whining, so I ask you to bear with for a bit.
- I’m documenting the unpacking and organizing to help myself see some progress because I feel like all I do right now is unpack and it doesn’t get any better. The progress pics are helping me realize that we’re getting a lot done, it’s just going to be tricky and take a while to get all our stuff neatly tucked away in the new place. Would you like to see? This is what we’ve got so far:
- School is going well but I swear I want to find everyone who’s ever told me since I was 18 and have had to justify to the world why I never went to college that “it’s different” or “you’d love it, it’s nothing like high school” and slap them a little. Because aside from there being no awkward social nonsense it’s exactly like high school — poorly edited textbooks, teachers that don’t give clear instructions and then mark you off for not following the instructions they didn’t give, unhelpful office staff, etc., etc. But I made it through 10 years of this foolishness before and at least now I can drink, so I guess I’ll make it through this as well.
- I knit a sock to get me through moving week. I think I’ll knit another one next.
- CSA season is moving out of all-greens-all-the-time and we’ve started getting zucchini, cucumbers, potatoes, and scallions. This means Smitten Kitchen zucchini fritters are happening all the time and it is such a wonderful time to be alive because Smitten Kitchen zucchini fritters are absolutely in the top 10 greatest things the world has to offer. I’m really not feeling the salads this year, though, and the cucumbers have started backing up on me, so tonight I made pickles.
- I’ll spare you my whining about how small the stovetop is, but I will just say that it took 3 of my 4 burners to keep the canning pot boiling. I think I may need to read up on small-batch canning.
Good lord, this season’s going quickly. Let’s get up to speed on the CSA, shall we?
This was week 3:
- collard greens
And for week 4 we have:
- more beets, kale, collard greens, and spigariello
- GARLIC SCAPES!!!!!
- snow peas
The morning of the week 3 pickup I realized there were still lots and lots of greens in the fridge, so I took an hour and washed, chopped, blanched and froze everything I had left from week 2. I ended up with a bag of kale stems, a bag of kohlrabi stems, and 3 bags of mixed greens frozen for sometime later in the summer when I’ve had a chance to miss leafy greens. Today I may end up doing the same with the week 3 leftovers.
I made a big salad last night to take care of the rest of the lettuce. I think I’ll serve that up for lunch today too. Last night’s dinner also took care of the chard from week 3. But there’s still enough left from last week that I just put yesterday’s overflowing bag o’ stuff straight into the fridge when I got home because I couldn’t squeeze anything else into the drawers.
There are worse problems to have than too much delicious food.
I think today I will make a kohlrabi gratin. I have some lamb sausage thawing out and if that’s done by this evening I’ll make a sausage-kale soup tonight. I’ve really been wanting to try this recipe from Food In Jars for cheddar-and-leafy-green biscuits that should freeze well, so I might try to squeeze that in today as well.
I’ve been sort of losing track of the week and not getting as much from the share cooked up each night as I would like because we’re awfully distracted by moving prep right now. We were planning to move in August but July ended up being the more doable date, so basically we’ve ended up with 3 weeks to purge and pack a 2-bedroom apartment (with full basement) where we’ve lived for 7 years in such a way that we can comfortably fit into a 1-bedroom (with a storage closet). It’s tricky, but we’re managing. We’re getting stuff out of the house every day, whether to the trash/recycling, Goodwill, or to a new forever home with friends. I’m exploring the outer thresholds of my tolerance for working in the basement before my fear of spiders starts interfering with my ability to live a normal, healthy life, which ultimately has to be good for me in some way. Builds character, or something? And we’re going to have a full week with access to both apartments, so we can take the time to be organized about how we move. I fully expect there to be a day at the end where we’re scrambling and confused and don’t know where any of our pants are, but for right now I’m feeling OK about the whole thing.
Also, don’t forget to check out the What’s in the Box? link party over at In Her Chucks for ALL THE THOUGHTS on how to cook up your CSA haul. I try to link up and check out the other links every week and I always find great ideas. Plus I could look at pictures of vegetables almost as much as I can look at pictures of yarn.
Oops. Actually, double-oops. Not only am I a little late with this week’s CSA update but I didn’t even get a picture of what we got this time. I can tell you what we got, though:
- swiss chard
- tat soi
- bok choy
- escarole, which I skipped because we still haven’t finished last week’s
I left a lot of the cooking a little late last week, so there’s been a lot of meals with combined stuff from both weeks. I’ve got 2 heads of bok choy pickling in the fridge and 2 bunches of kale washed have been washed and oven-dried and set aside for some sort of take on this. Some of the other greens have been sautéed for side-dishes here and there. Most of the chard has been turned into pesto. The kohlrabi, including greens, made a lovely curry the other night. We gave lamb burgers a shot and, aside from the fact that they really were begging for a slice of red onion and a slab of melty feta, they were pretty amazing. Half the turnips have been sliced and roasted with a little smoked paprika and topped with cheese. The lettuce and escarole have become salads but that’s really the least exciting part of the whole endeavor.
I think the most exciting new thing I’ve tried so far is grilled bok choy. The farm sent out a recipe last week. We don’t have a grill but the grill pan on the stove top did just fine. The stocks just softened a little and the leaves got a bit brown and crispy. I brushed it with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. It was delicious. I don’t know what makes the difference, but cooking it this way really mellowed out that leafy green bite. Definitely trying this one again.
Still plenty of greens to get through though. I think it’s time to start blanching and freezing!
So, no pictures of the CSA but I have captured a little bit of this year’s gardening experiments. I was encouraged enough by how I didn’t totally kill everything I tried to grow on my porch last year to sign up for a spot at the community garden this year. I’ve got some tomatoes, celery, peppers and lavender going over there.
On opening day at the garden a lot of folks were digging up last year’s leftover plants and offering them up to whoever wanted them. I brought home some mint, or at least I assumed the person who said it was mint was correct. It was basically a ball of roots about 8 or 9 inches wide with some sticks and the tiniest little leaves coming out. I took it home and stuck it in a planter and 2 weeks later it looked like this:
Today, about a month later, it looks like this:
I also got some massive chives that were starting to blossom. I’ve got those blossoms steeping in some vinegar and a few big handfuls of the mint steeping in some rum. I think infusion is becoming one of my favorite techniques for dealing with food excess.
I don’t know what I’ll use the vinegar for. I’ve got a bag of limes just begging to be turned into syrup, though, and those should pair up nicely with the rum, don’t you think?
It’s here! It’s here!
Holy shit what am I going to do with all these greens Summer CSA season is here!
The egg share was offered again this year. Rather than the occasional meat offering, this year we could choose a meat add-on for the entire season! The options were pork, chicken or lamb. We get tons of pork and whole chickens in our winter meat share so I thought I’d give the lamb a go. I’ve only eaten it a few times and never cooked with it, so it will be a summer of experimenting, meat-wise. First up: lamb burgers.
Here’s this week’s take:
- swiss chard
- dandelion greens
- bok choy
- turnips (with greens, of course)
- 1 dozen eggs
- lamb chops
- lamb sausage
- ground lamb
- lamb stew
As soon as we got home with this I started in chopping, washing, and bagging up all the greens. It’s a noble goal I have every year to try to wash and prep everything early in the week so I can just grab ’em and go the rest of the week. I got through about half the stuff on Tuesday before I gave up from the hunger and had to clear the counters for dinner. Can’t exactly make and serve dinner when this is happening all over the kitchen:
I’ma try to get through washing the rest tomorrow. And I’ll be back next week with my what-I-cooked-with-it-all wrap-up, which should go something like, “I had eggs–with greens! And lamb–with greens! And then pasta–with greens!” But I promise I’ll try to make it more interesting than that if I can.
Last week was a total holy shit week. 1 box of large tomatoes, 1 box of cherry tomatoes, 1 box of potatoes, 4 squash, 2 cucumbers, 6-ish tomatillos, 4 hot peppers, 4 sweet peppers, 4 onions, 1 watermelon, 2 eggplant, 1 dozen eggs.
This week was pretty decent as well. 4 onions, 1 box of potatoes, 1 box of cherry tomatoes, 2 bell peppers, 1 head of garlic, 1 bunch of scallions, 4 squash, 3 cucumbers, 1 dozen eggs, 1 goddamn bush of edamame which will go to a friend to save me from soy-induced migraines.
The last few weeks have been much the same eating-wise. Lots of pizza. Zucchini fritters and breakfast for dinner at every opportunity. The last of the cucumbers and cantaloupe that were still hanging out last week became some awfully delicious infused vodkas. I’m tempted to do the same with the remainder of last week’s watermelon. Half the tomatillos and hot peppers went into curry and the other half into chilli.
It might be because we’ve been at this for so long now (we’re more than two-thirds of the way through the season) or it might be because we’ve settled into lots of the sort of stuff I gravitate towards when I’m choosing my own produce, but lately I’m doing less coming up with fun new stuff to eat and more of making my stand-bys. We’re getting less stuff that has to be refrigerated, too, so it’s been easy to skip the photo step since I don’t need to sort everything out on the counter first. But I’m still in love with all my wonderful food and still think Thursday is the most exciting day of the week.
You guys. YOU GUYS SERIOUSLY. I don’t even know what I’ve been doing since my last CSA update. I’ve taken pictures but they’re still in my phone and my phone is in another state right now. I’ve kept a bit of a list of what I’ve been making. I’ve made pasta with what I’m calling “salsa cruda” but is really just raw chopped tomatoes with salt, pepper, and olive oil poured over two nights in a row now and I am not always feeling terribly inspired in the food department though I am still terrifically well fed.
I have also injured my left thumb, had a two-day migraine, and rediscovered my love for Ali MacGraw’s yoga video. But none of that has anything to do with food stuffs.
What I Did With the Last Few Weeks
I’ve found there’s almost nothing that comes in a summer share that isn’t awesome on a pizza. There is pizza at least once a week right now. Zucchini fritters are happening about once a week as well. There’s been ratatouille of sorts (too lazy to find a recipe, I chopped up some eggplant, zucchini and peppers, threw in some cherry tomatoes, tossed the whole thing with a ton of thyme, then roasted until I swear the eggplant was made of velvet dipped in butteritwaslikewow). Also, when in doubt: polenta with a fried egg on top.
What I Got the Last Few Weeks
Things have been pretty much the same lately. About a dozen small potatoes, 4-6 onions, garlic, 3-ish peppers, 1 large eggplant, a few zucchini, a dozen eggs, so. many. tomatoes (but still never enough for me), and basil.
Ohmygod, the basil. Herbs from this farm don’t come in a bunch so much as in a plant. With roots and mud involved. Two feet tall. Like a bush. And this week we got 3 of them. It was “pesto week” and therefore ALL THE BASIL EVER happened. This is not a complaint. You should see the basil on my counter. It is beautiful. It’s just that last week’s basil is still growing in a glass on my other counter. But it’s OK. I have a pound of walnuts and a quart of olive oil. I’ll survive.
Oh! But this week? This week we got cantaloupe, so this is the week you can give me all the bad news you have and I could even injure my other thumb and the air conditioner could stop working, because now that I have cantaloupe nothing else matters.