It’s time for round 2 of the “Pin-It Party” created by Lindsay from The Lean Green Bean.Yay! Here’s how it works, each blogger rounds up 5 of their favorite blog posts into one post. All those are linked to Lindsay’s blog so then you can visit each blog and pin your heart out! 🙂 In case you missed it, last time I posted links to 5 of my favorite recipes from my blog! This time around, I thought I would share a couple of my “tips” posts as well as a one more recipe. 🙂 Once you check out my posts, make sure to go to Lindsay’s blog and see all the other pin-worthy posts!
Now that the weather has been getting nicer, outdoor farmers’ markets are starting up again all over the place! I always look forward to biking to the market on the weekend, grabbing a coffee, and doing some of our grocery shopping. Today, I thought I would share some of the shopping strategies/tips we have come up with over the last couple of years to make the most of our weekly trips to the market.
- Not sure if there is a farmers’ market in your area? Check out this market locator.
- If you like to plan your meals ahead of time, make sure you take a look at what’s in season in your area. You don’t want to plan on using asparagus for your meals in August (if you live in the Northwest)! Check out this produce seasonality guide to see what you may find in the market this week.
- Pack some reusable shopping bags! Most vendors usually have bags, but you can fit so much more in one of these. Plus, it’s a great way to go green. 🙂
- Make a loop around the market to see what is available that day before you start buying. Dozens of times I have been a little over-eager and started buying at the first stand I came to before I took a moment to scope out what’s available this week. There might be a vendor elsewhere in the market with tastier looking (or cheaper) produce and you’ll be missing out!
- Don’t be afraid to ask the farmer/vendor if you don’t recognize a fruit or vegetable. They love talking about their food!
- Chat with meat, dairy, or prepared food vendors and see how they raise or prepare their products.
- If you are buying a new-to-you fruit or vegetable, try asking the farmer/vendor if they have any tips for preparing them. We have gotten some great advice in the past from farmers!
- Shop at the farmers’ market before you do your weekly grocery shopping at the store. Since it is hard to predict what will be at the market, shop there first and buy anything that wasn’t available at the grocery store.
- You know the saying, “the early bird gets the worm”? That definitely applies to the market! The best of the produce gets picked up first, so aim to get there early during market hours.
Here’s a look at what we bought at the market this week: black beans, beef, fish, spicy tofu, mushrooms, tomatoes, cheese, asparagus, green onions, lettuce, and spinach.
Do you like shopping at the farmers’ market? What are some of your handy tips for shopping the farmers’ market?
It’s been a chilly Memorial Day weekend here in Chicago! That hasn’t kept us indoors the entire weekend however. 🙂 Saturday, we did some biking and walking while clothes shopping along North Milwaukee. Will scored quite a few great finds! Yesterday, the sun decided to peek out from behind the clouds a bit as we biked to the Farmer’s Market. I am so happy the outdoor market has started up again for the season! Here’s a few pics from our weekend. Sushi and some mochi (ie. ice cream rolled in sticky rice paste/cake) at Nori!
Shopping at the Logan Square Farmer’s Market.Play time in the lot next to our apartment with Honey. 🙂
Yesterday, we had a chill evening catching up with the Bluths! We love that Arrested Development just released a new season. 🙂
Aside from the fun, let’s also remember the reason for Memorial Day. Remember the thousands of wonderful men and women who have served or given up their lives so that we can enjoy our families and barbeques. As an employee at a Veteran’s Hospital, I am daily reminded of their sacrifices. I can’t tell you how many times I have been impressed and inspired by their stories. Take a moment to check out this incredible story of an Iraq war Veteran who completed the blind rehab program at Hines.
After loading up two storage cubes and both of our cars, we made the journey north to start this new chapter of our lives in the windy city – Chicago! I was pretty nervous about seeing our apartment for the first time since we signed the lease without visiting first. Luckily, we picked a good one! After a long week of moving, I am so excited to finally be mostly settled in to our new little 2 bedroom in Logan Square. Now, it’s time to keep job hunting and get back to blogging!
This weekend, we took a couple of breaks from unpacking to have some fun in town. On Saturday morning, we went to a free vegan Italian cooking demo at Native Foods (love that place!). The chef doing the demo was very high-energy and made watching the demo a lot of fun! Of course, we also got to try samples of all the dishes, which included marinated olives, asparagus risotto, pasta puttanesca, and tiramisu! Since they gave us all that recipes, I am looking forward to recreating them all again from home!
|Marinated olives and caper berries|
|Super excited to try this vegan tiramisu!|
Saturday evening, we headed out to refuel after tackling the mountain of boxes in our living room. Being new to town, we had to try a Chicago classic – deep dish pizza! I tried it when we came to visit in October and have been craving it ever since! If you’ve never had Chicago deep dish pizza before, think of it like “hand-held lasagna” (per Will’s description!). You’ve got two crusts, a big layer of cheese and spinach, and a spread of tomato sauce on top of it all. Yum!
We checked out the indoor Logan Square Farmer’s Market and did some shopping on Sunday to round out the weekend. Apparently a small company called Phoenix, makes their own tofu from local, non-GMO raised soy and sells it at the market, who knew?! We bought a pound of their spicy tofu which I am so excited to try! I’m beginning to think I am really going to love Chicago!
In need of some Christmas gift inspiration, I browsed a few blogs for lists of “what to buy your guy”. Will is a foodie, so when I came across this DIY cheese kit, I thought it would be perfect! The kit I bought came from Urban Cheesecraft and we were really impressed with how easy it was to make. 🙂 It took us less than hour and we had a pound of super-delicious mozzarella. Who knew?!
All you need is the cheese kit and a gallon of milk. We used a gallon or raw milk from Will’s usual market CSA since it’s important that the milk is not ultra-pasteurized for it to work. The kit contains rennet, citric acid, cheese salt, cheese cloth, and a thermometer.
The rennet and citric acid are both dissolved individually in 1 cup of water each. To begin, you heat the milk and citric acid on the stove top. Once it reaches a certain temperature, you add the rennet and continue to heat. The milk will start to coagulate like this…
Once the curd has formed, you cover the pan and let it sit for 5 minutes. Next, you separate the curd from the whey by pouring the contents of the pan through a strainer. Press some of the excess watery whey from the curd.
Now that you have the curd separated, you heat it in the microwave for a minute and then do another round of pressing. You really want to get rid of that whey!
After you’ve heated the curd and pressed the whey out a couple of times, you will then knead the curds.
We watched a couple of YouTube videos to learn some good technique for kneading the cheese! In the process of kneading, you also add the cheese salt to taste.
Our friends, Josh and Amanda invited us over for dinner that night and we served our fresh mozzarella in a caprese salad. Yum!! It will be fun to experiment with more cheese in the future by adding different herbs and flavors. 🙂
Goodness! It’s been a busy start to December, so I am feeling so behind on blogging! Oi. For a quick recap, I thought I would share 10 things with you today.
1. I had a major brownie failure on Monday! We had a little potluck at work to celebrate a few office birthdays so I made these espresso iced chocolate brownies. Since I needed to take them to work in the pan I didn’t cut them or try one beforehand. Now I wish I had! For some reason, they were crunchy and too hard to get out of the pan. I must have omitted an ingredient or else the recipe was off. I was so embarrassed! Our new interns probably think I’m a terrible baker. Lol. I’ll have to make up for it at the cookie exchange next week – no pressure!
2. I’m excited to start PT this week for whatever is going on with my knee after seeing the doc. Hopefully, I’ll be running again around New Years! (Fingers crossed).
3. In the meantime, I have been enjoying this break from running by doing lots of yoga!! I had always been intrigued by this Bikram yoga studio out by Muddy’s cupcakes. They had a great deal for new students where you can get 1 month of unlimited classes for only $40, so I signed up! I’ve been to 3 classes so far and let me tell you, it is tough work! Bikram yoga is a series of 26 poses performed over the course of a 90 minute class in a room heated to around 100 degrees. That heat sure makes you sweat!
|Good pic of us with a tree out front!|
4. This weekend, Will and I went to the Christmas light display at the zoo. Although, the light show was a bit lame, we had fun seeing some of the nocturnal animals so active!
5. I can’t get enough of this apple, cinnamon, sunflower butter oatmeal combo!
7. Even though it is winter, I still like finding fun new things at the farmer’s market to try out. This week, I picked up these pretty carrots. I’ve never had purple ones before!
8. I’m loving our newest book club selection – The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker. It’s a fictional tale told through the eyes of a girl living through a strange worldwide phenomenon. In the book, without warning, the rotation of the earth suddenly begins to slow and the days grow longer every passing day – wrecking havoc on normal every day life. Such an interesting concept!
9. Christmas is only 14 days away! When did that happen?!?
10. I got this idea from Kath Eats where you add ingredients to a boxed soup to make it a little more interesting. A few day ago I picked up a roasted pepper and tomato soup from Whole Foods with this idea in mind. For this combo, I just sauteed a little kale and garlic and added it to the soup and heated it thoroughly. Topped with a little parmesan cheese, it was so delicious! I will totally keep doing this for a super quick and easy dinner!
Have you all been enjoying this glorious Fall weather as much as I have? I hope so! Do you know what else is glorious? Farmers market fresh kale and winter squash of course! I can’t even recall how many people I have seen blog about the versatility and wholesomeness of kale. No wonder, it is quite a nutrition powerhouse packed full of fiber and vitamins A, C, and K! I picked up a huge bunch of it at the market this past weekend and immediately made a “massaged kale salad” inspired by this “Go-To Kale Salad” by Oh She Glows. It turned out really well! I “massaged” about half of the bunch of kale I bought and kept it in the fridge in my salad spinner. Whenever I wanted another salad, I just added toppings to that kale base. Yum!
Massaged Kale Salad
– 1 Large bunch kale, rinsed and patted dry
– 2 tablespoons olive oil
– 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
– 1 apple, chopped
– 5-6 cherry tomatoes, halved
– 1/4 cucumber, chopped
– 1 oz. cheddar cheese, cubed
– 1/4 cup chopped pecans
– Pepper to taste
1. Chop the kale and toss with olive oil and vinegar in a large bowl. Rub the oil into the leaves a bit with your hands.
2. Take out a handful of the kale and toss with the other ingredients. Serve!
3. Store the rest of the massaged kale in the fridge; lasts about 2-3 days.
Sunday, I was in the mood to finally tackle the chopping and roasting of all of the winter squash I had. Again, I was inspired by the Oh She Glows blog to try out this squash called, delicata. Apparently you can eat the skin on these ones because it softens so much when you cook them. What?! I had to try them, so I was excited to see that they had them at the farmers market on Saturday. Yipee! I’m totally going back this week to buy at least 5 more. Haha.
|From front to back: Delicata squash, acorn squash, and butternut squash!|
|Roasted and ready to eat!!!|
These roasted squash were so simple and delicious! My will-power was sure tested as I tried not to eat the entire plate at one sitting! The butternut squash isn’t in this pile because I cubed it and roasted it separately to add to some lentils I made later. However, you could have used the same method to prep it as the others.
Roasted Winter Squash
-1 Delicata squash, seeds removed and sliced
-1 Acorn squash, seeds removed and sliced
-1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
-1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup
-Salt to season
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Toss squash, oil and syrup in large bowl. Once sqaush covered well in olive oil, spread in single layer on baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt.
3. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until squash is soft and starting to brown around the edges. Serve warm as is or chilled and tossed onto a salad.
I’ve begun to really enjoy baking and prepping lots of big dishes on Sunday afternoon so I have food to easily just heat and eat or pack in my lunch the rest of the week. Now, go out and get yourself some kale and winter squash!