Monday, October 29, 2012

What about those goals you mentioned?

I talked yesterday about menu planning which was part of a series of goals focused on "planning ahead" for this fall. Menu planning has been very successful, but there were five other goals I set for myself this fall. How am I doing on those? Well, let's recap, my goals were:
  • Sign up for a winter CSA
  • Purchase staple items in bulk
  • Can tomatoes
  • Make meal plans at the beginning of each week
  • Give up the clothes dryer
  • Ask farmers market growers about their practice
I have to admit that I have not been perfect on these. I did sign up for a winter CSA that actually starts next week. I am super excited about it. I live in Minnesota and last year found it very difficult to find local food during the winter. For some reason this resulted in my purchasing less organic food, and more processed foods. Hopefully the CSA will help keep me on track. The CSA is through Featherstone Farms.

My tiny kitchen
I have started purchasing more items in bulk. I have purchased bulk items for a long time. I love buying in bulk. For some reason it feels more natural, plus things are often a lot less expensive. In the past this has resulted in having many small bags of 1/4 cup of millet, or maybe quinoa? This fall we purchased several plastic containers, the kind usually used for shoes for about $1 each from Target. We have been purchasing" garbanzo beans, black beans, soy beans, wheat berries, barley, oats and sugar in bulk.

It has been really nice to pretty much always have these things on hand. It has also made it easier to make a big pot of beans a couple of times a week in the pressure cooker and then have them prepared different ways for the next couple of days. It is very convenient to have cooked beans on hand to throw into things. It's not the best picture, but you can see some of the bulk containers on the shelves in this picture. You can also tell how tiny my kitchen is and see the cool pot rack Shaun and I made.

I did not can tomatoes.  I did freeze about 15 tomatoes. What, freeze tomatoes? Yes! You can wash tomatoes and then freeze them in a plastic bag. You don't have to freeze them on a cookie tray first or anything. Later you can just pull out a frozen tomato and through it into soup or something. The resulting texture is pretty similar to canned stewed tomatoes. But it does take up a lot of room in the freezer, and we have already used most of the tomatoes we freeze. I have also not developed a list of questions to ask farmers at the farmers market. Part of me doesn't want to know how they can sell such a giant bushel of tomatoes for $10. Also, I have not had time to do any research on what types of growing practices I particularly want to support. If anyone has a good set of questions I would love to hear it. Though the farmers markets are all pretty much closed for the season at this point, and like I mentioned, my CSA is starting next week!

I will have to talk about line drying in a future post. I need to take some pictures. The drying racks set up in the office are kind of funny.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Halloween Menu Plan

One of my goals for this fall was to create weekly menu plans. I haven't written about it recently (technically I haven't written about anything recently), but this is a goal that I have had a lot of success with. I started trying to develop menu plans last year and found it really helpful. My partner and I ate healthier. We also saved money because less food was going to waste and we plan meals so that we have something for lunch the next day, thus saving the expense of going out to lunch. For some reason my menu planning tapered off last winter/spring and had to be re-invigorated this fall.

Minneapolis in the fall - photo by Shaun Daniel
I usually make a menu plan on Saturday morning and then got to the Farmers Market either Saturday or Sunday. This week we went to the farmers market today (Sunday) so that's when the menu plan starts. I thought my efforts at menu planning might be helpful for others. We are predominantly vegan and you may notice that a lot of the recipes come from the Post Punk Kitchen (one of my favorite sites) or Veganomicon, which I recently checked out from the library and will likely have to purchase since I have been using it so much.

  • Tofu Enchiladas - don't have a specific recipe, but I was planning on mashing up silken tofu with some sauteed onions, garlic, cumin and oregano - wrapping this mixture in tortillas - pouring some type of tomato based sauce (I usually add Mexican spices to store bought tomato sauce and call it enchilada sauce) over it and baking it at 350 degrees for 30 minutes
  • Salad 
  • Mexican Millet - recipe from Veganomicon
  • Butternut squash soup
  • Biscuits (probably half whole wheat flour, half all purpose)
  • Sunflower "cheese" sauce - the recipe for cheese sauce is also from the Post Punk Kitchen, I really like it because it is tasty, easy, fast, and does not use cashews which are expensive
  • Beet burgers - also from PPK - this is a new recipe, but the picture looks quite "meaty" which is intriguing
  • Sweet potato fries 
Wednesday (Halloween)
  • Pumpkin Saag - from Veganomicon - I am particularly excited about trying this recipe as saag is one of my favorite Indian dishes.
  • Barley (rice would also be good)
  • Pasta e fagioli - Veganomicon - but I know their is also a good recipe in the Vegetarian Epicure 
  • Salad
  • leftovers! 
I'll let you know how some of the recipes turn out.