Monday, June 27, 2011

A weekend in June

A Friday off


Tubing down a river with friends


Polo at a local vineyard


A fun summer weekend!

I'm going to be sad to see the end of June — work has been slow, the weather has been ideal and there's been plenty of fun things going on. But I guess we'll see what July holds!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Saying yes

So it's been almost a month since my schedule at work changed, but with travel and the transition I haven't really gotten to enjoy having my evenings back until last week and this week. But now that I've settled into it, I've found myself saying yes to more things, and I like that. A few things I've gotten to say yes to recently:

The gym — If I follow through today, I will have made it to the gym three times this week. That hasn't happened in a very long time. I even got to go with a friend on Monday.

Books — I don't ever stop reading even if I'm busy, but I don't always find time to sit and finish a really good book in the middle of the week. But I did that on Tuesday and finished The Postmistress, if you need a good book, pick this one up. I really enjoyed it.

Ice cream (and friends) — In the past week, I've gone for ice cream (actually gelato and frozen yogurt) three times, and I had to turn down a fourth invite that came 20 minutes after I had gotten home from frozen yogurt. I have a rule that I can only go to the serve yourself frozen yogurt place that is four blocks away if I am going with someone else. The frozen yogurt is good, but it's even better to sit and chat with friends.

I'm looking forward to saying yes to more things this summer!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Some recipes

This year my co-op is including directions for how to store the produce in its weekly emails, and I've been following their instructions, which means I've been using the drawer in my refrigerator. If you count that drawer, I have two drawer in my kitchen, the other is below my oven. But the drawer in the refrigerator is at the bottom and is not see-through. This means I have on occasion forgotten what was in it.

This happened two weeks ago with my swiss chard. A friend posted a picture of rainbow swiss chard on Facebook, and I suddenly realized I had some that I forgot about completely. I hadn't touched it, so I needed to make something with it pretty quickly. I haven't been too excited about sauteed greens this year, and I was hoping for something different. I did some searching and came up with a recipe for Savory Swiss Chard and Cheese Biscuits. I took them to a dinner on Saturday, and they seemed to be well-liked. Here's the recipe:

Savory Swiss Chard and Cheese Biscuits

  • 3 cups Swiss Chard Green Leafs, Thinly Sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 teaspoon Salt (I forgot, but based on the reviews and my experience, I would halve this.)
  • ½ teaspoons Curry Powder
  • 1 cup Sour Cream (heaping Cup)
  • 3 whole Large Eggs
  • 1 cup Grated Cheddar Cheese (heaping)
  • ½ cups Bread Crumbs
  • ½ teaspoons Baking Powder
In a glass bowl (or any other microwave safe dish), combine Swiss chard, olive oil, salt and curry. Microwave for 2 minutes, until the greens wilt a bit and smell nice. Drain excess liquid.
In a different bowl, combine sour cream, eggs, cheese, bread crumbs and baking powder. Mix well and add the cooked greens. Mix well.
Divide mixture between 9 (preferably silicone) muffin pan cups or individual baking cups (oil well or line with paper cups if you are not using silicone) and bake in a 350F for 35 minutes.
Serve at room temperature or cold from the fridge. These should come out moist and juicy, so don’t overcook them. 

My other experimenting came in the form of chocolate beet cupcakes. I am hesitant to share the recipe I used because I made a lot of substitutions and also cut it to two-thirds when I realized I didn't have enough beets. So I wasn't too happy with the result, and I'm not sure if it's because I changed it or if the beet consistency is still evident when the recipe is followed. But here's the link and now I wish I had tried this one instead.

I also made some old favorites over the weekend. I substituted yellow squash for zucchini in zucchini pie, and then used zucchini to make zucchini bread.

Friday, June 17, 2011

It's different

You may have noticed that I haven't been posting a lot about the co-op since the season started. This time last year almost all of my posts were about my pick-ups and all the cooking I was doing. But this year is different.

Part of it is the newness has worn off, and I feel like I don't have time to cook or blog. But it's also that my shares have also been different this year, and it caught me off guard. I've still enjoyed my shares, but I was expecting a repeat of last year and that's not really what I've been getting.

But I got my box on Wednesday, and I remembered the excitement I had last year. I remembered that summer is when it gets really good. I'm enjoying the best cherries I've ever had, I made stuffed squash for dinner Thursday night, and I've got a pound of fresh green beans sitting in my refrigerator. I haven't gotten to the peaches yet, but they look perfect. I even tried something new when I put kohlrabi on my salad.

There have been weeks when I wished we were getting as much asparagus as last year and that it was always Bibb lettuce, not romaine or field lettuce, in my share. But the surprise element is part of the challenge, and it means I'm trying new things. I ate mushrooms and even liked roasted beets, though my beets ended up in chocolate cupcakes. I'm finding new recipes and also savoring things cooked simply.

I thought since I made all these changes with my eating habits last year, I would get to stay in my comfort zone this time. Not the case, and even though I don't like change, it's good for me to get out of my comfort zone sometimes.

Recipes to come...

Friday, June 10, 2011

Return to the Midwest

Every trip includes some adventures, and getting to return to my old stomping ground reminded me of some things I've missed. Here's some random observations/thoughts from my trip:

After a plane stops in the middle of take-off, it's a little nerve-racking to get back on it. And I was reminded that my greatest frustration with flying is losing all control.

I rented a car for the time I was in town and relied on my GPS to get around St. Louis. I realized that updating my two-year-old GPS would have been smart and might have saved me some of the "recalculating" and ending up in a completely different place than I intended. I also appreciate that my current town has just one interstate. I seemed to take at least two different interstates to get anywhere.

As I was driving around, I started to think that St. Louis country radio stations were getting more new music than the stations I listen to at home. But then I realized I never spend that much time in the car when I'm at home, so I probably just miss the newer music. I decided I haven't missed much by not hearing Taylor Swift's "Mean."

I still love my car. My fear when I drive a rental car is that I will want to buy a newer car, but the whole time I was driving a Chevy Malibu, I actually missed my Honda CR-V. Also, these new cars are really fancy. It took turning the car on and off multiple times to realize the radio doesn't turn off until I open the door.

There are certain foods that I always associate with Missouri and my time in college. The first -- crab rangoon. I don't usually eat Chinese food, but they served these in the sorority house, and I loved them. I've had them other places since leaving college, but they weren't nearly as good as the ones I ate on Saturday night in St. Louis. The second -- frozen custard. It still wins as my favorite ice cream treat. But I was sad to learn the place I always went to in college has closed.

I experienced two new things while in St. Louis -- cicadas and an earthquake. I'm not sure how Virginia has escaped the cicadas invasion, but I am really glad. Those things are deafening and huge! And then there was the earthquake. I woke up a little after 3 a.m. Tuesday morning to my bed shaking. I thought I was imagining it or that someone was opening the garage door. But when I got up Tuesday morning, I learned that there was really a small earthquake about 40 miles outside the city at that time. I was a little relieved to know I wasn't imagining things at 3 a.m.

Nothing like a vacation to give me something to blog about. A couple of friends also confirmed they read this, so I'm a bit more motivated to blog more regularly.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

St. Louis trip

For several months, I have been wanting to visit Missouri and see college friends and some Georgia friends who have relocated. The last time I saw a lot of these people was five or six years ago, and I felt like it was time I make the trip out. I debated when to go, thinking I should go for a big event, but I ultimately landed on this past weekend for a number of reasons but mostly because there would be several people in town. And I got to do this trip on my terms.

The introvert that I am, I'd much rather get one-on-one time with several people than go to a big event or party and be overwhelmed with all the people. So that's exactly what I did. I was in town for about three days total and had every meal booked, as well as some plans in between meals. It was so good to reconnect with people I haven't seen in a very long time and fall back into the comfortable friendship we had years ago.

I was amused at the fact that everyone I saw in St. Louis, I had known when we lived somewhere else. I saw friends I studied with in London, roommates from the sorority house, other college friends and two families from my church in Georgia.

I tried to get photos with everyone I got to see, but missed getting a photo with my friend Sarah. Since my trip was wrapped up entirely with seeing friends, these are about the only photos I have (all from my iPhone):

Lunch with Carrie who studied in London with me.

Coralie and Jawan, Georgia friends. (I had to laugh when I called and they said to meet them at Cabella's, which is a hunting/fishing/outdoor store. I found it appropriate I was meeting my Southern friends at such a place in the Midwest.)

Dinner with Becky, one of my roommates in college. I also got to crash at her house for the weekend.

Lunch with Ryan, a friend from college.


Dinner with Ashley, another roommate from college. We lived together for a semester in a single room with a total of 5 girls. It was one of the best semesters in college for me.

No photo but breakfast Sarah, who was also in London with me.

Dinner and drinks with Chip, who lived in my dorm freshman year.

And finally bagels with my Georgia friends in seminary in St. Louis with their kids (they belong to Coralie in the picture above). The last time I saw these two, they were a few weeks old and not yet 2, now they are almost 2 and 4. Not pictured is their 6-week-old sister.

And that pretty much sums up my trip. It was a blast, and I realized I need to find a way to see all these people more.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Finally, a post

I know it has been a while since I've posted. There's been some life stuff going that I can't write about, and it's consuming my thoughts, so I've struggled to blog about anything else. But I'll try to catch you up on some other things.

It's summer. The students are gone, and I've pulled out my skirts and dresses. It also means flip flop season. Basically you'll see me in one of three pairs this summer:

I spent Memorial Day weekend in Tennessee. I spent a lot of quality time with this baby girl, wearing a dress from her aunt:

She is quite a fish in the pool and also looks very cute in her swimsuit.

I also got to show off my hometown to two of my friends from Virginia. Of course, I hardly took any pictures, but here's one of us checking out the view at the hang gliding launch, no we did not hang glide.

I've managed to stack three short work weeks together, four days last week, three days this week and next week. But I'm reminded that the last day before vacation and the first day back are pretty rough.

In co-op news, I just got beets. Last year, I decided I didn't like them, but I'm still looking for another way to eat them. Suggestions? I am going to try the leaves this time. I also got tomatoes and zucchini this time, and I am excited about that.