That Harvest Bag Life

I’ve mentioned here in the blog about my delivery of vegetables and fruits that I receive weekly from a local farm and how much I’ve enjoyed my bounty which I have dubbed The Harvest Bag (that’s not actually what the farm place calls them, but it sounds like it should be called that, right?)

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But I have learned something…there is something a bit dark that you’re not told when you order your first delivery…and it’s this: The Harvest Bag is a commitment. The Harvest Bag is a LIFESTYLE. The Harvest Bag requires attention, otherwise its contents will wither and die, not unlike those tiny digital animal keychains from the 90s (Tamagotchi, anyone?). I hate to admit that some of the produce from my first 2 bags ended up in the trash because I just didn’t understand that I needed to take care of things right away (or at least within the first couple of  days). What can I say? I was unschooled in the ways of vegetation and did not know what I did not know.

BUT when I got my bag last Friday, I was prepared with a plan. After work that evening, almost as soon as I walked in the door, I started taking care of business. I washed, I salad-spun, I chopped, I diced, I roasted, I steamed…I did everything humanly possible that I could to ensure that my produce would not go unused this week, and that it would not suffer the same fate as its Sister Bags had in the weeks before. All told, I spent about 3 hours of my Friday night tending to my little Tamagotchi vegetables. Such triumph! Such a dopamine rush! This morning I thanked my Friday Night Self for taking the time to prepare it all  – making my lunch salad was a breeze because the ingredients were already prepped and chopped and ready to go. It also makes throwing a balanced dinner together a snap.

And now that I know what I need to do, I’m confident that it won’t take me as long to prep the next bag’s contents on Friday night. Although it might help if I were to buy a bigger salad spinner.

 

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Friday Free-for-all: LocalFarmOK

Earlier in the week I mentioned that I finally have access to a local farm harvest delivery service (localfarmok.com) – I received my first delivery last Friday and I am in love.

 

Here’s what I got for $26:

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Celery, lettuce, broccoli, portobello mushrooms, potatoes, blueberries, pears, mandarin oranges, and also not shown are 3 cucumbers that I gave to my boss because cucumbers are the devil’s vegetable. I felt like that was quite a bit of produce for the money and can I just say that the taste of this produce…THE TASTE…I swoon over how good it all tasted. It was all so delicious.

How I felt all week:

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And this is a sample of what I made with all my delicious farm fresh goodies:

The first one is an egg scramble with peppers and onions with a sprinkle of cheese topped with avocado on top of a portobello mushroom. The second is a sheet pan dinner with turkey smoked sausage, broccoli, onions, and red & baby potatoes. I’ve also been eating salads all week with the lettuce. I think I’ve used up everything except the celery, which I keep forgetting to wash and chop. Maybe I’ll do that tonight.

I signed up for every other week delivery, but I’m thinking I might go ahead and sign up for the weekly delivery because I used up everything quicker than I thought I would. When you’re as health conscious as I am, you need to have a steady flow of produce coming your way. There can never be too much kale.

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I don’t think he believes me. 

 

 

 

 

I’m rouxined

I used to hate cooking. It was ONE MORE THING on my to-do list of a lot of other mom-things. It was just not an enjoyable task, wich is surprising, given how much I love to eat. And when I was trying to diet cooking was even worse because then I had to cook TWO dinners: one disappointing meal for myself and a tasty one for my family.

But then when I finally decided that I would liberate myself from the diet du jour, guess what?! I actually started to enjoy cooking. When I could cook whatever sounded good to me, that’s when cooking became fun.

What I love about cooking is learning how to make things from scratch that I would normally buy in a can. I’ve learned that the basis for a lot of these is starting with a roux.

If you don’t know, a roux is just oil or butter mixed with flour. From there you add your liquid of choice and voila – you have a delicous sauce and just saved yourself a chunk of change.

For example, not long ago I was making a casserole and needed a can of cream of chicken soup but I didn’t have one in my pantry. I Googled “diy cream of chicken soup” and found a recipe. Some butter and flour cooked until bubbly then I added some chicken broth and stirred until thick. Ta Da! Cream of chicken soup that was delicious and free of unpronounceable ingredients. And so quick and easy – I couldn’t believe how simple it was and it didn’t take much time at all – a few minutes at most.

I also found a dangerous homemade nacho cheese sauce recipe that starts with a roux. I say dangerous because this stuff is so easy and delicious…it might become a problem if I let it. A cup of milk is added to the roux then a couple of handfuls of grated cheddar cheese is melted into the mix. Add a pinch of salt and chili powder…BOOM. Nacho cheese to fulfill all of your cheese dip dreams. So easy & delicious! And again, free of unrecognizable ingredients. I’ll be more than happy to never buy Velveeta again in my life.

As someone who has lived off of processed/convenience foods her whole life (Why so chubby Jill? It’s a mystery!) cooking from scratch is a novelty. I can’t believe I have relied on canned soups and sauces for so long when it’s almost just as easy to whip them up from ingredients in my own kitchen. I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks! 🙂

 

 

 

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I’m a Pothead now!!

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No, not this kind of pot head!!

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THIS kind of pot head!!

I bought myself an early birthday present last weekend and I’ve been having fun playing with it. I’ve had my eye on an Instant Pot for awhile now what with all the raving I’ve been hearing about it. Cooking a whole chicken in less than an hour? Throwing frozen chicken breasts in and STILL having them ready by dinnertime?? SIGN ME UP.

As the poster child for Staring Into the Fridge and Wondering What to Fix for Dinner, this thing appeals to me on a deep and personal level. It’s like the Powers That Be said, “Oh for Pete’s Sake, will someone invent something for Jill that will cook food really fast so she’ll stop sending anxious vibes into the world every day at 5:00pm?????” Cooking Dinner Anxiety, I haz it.

I got my Instant Pot for $79 at The WalMarts, but realized too late that it didn’t have the yogurt function on it. Oh well, I’ll continue to let Fage make my yogurt for me – they’ll probably do a better job than I will anyway.

The first thing I cooked in it was 6 eggs. There’s a little trivet thing that comes with it and it perfectly holds 6 eggs, so they can be steamed into hard boiled eggs. Steam-boiled eggs. Steamed eggs? Anyway, the came out of the pot cooked to perfection, but also made my kitchen smell like sweaty feet and farts. My kids were thrilled. They gagged and hacked and pretend-vomited for ten minutes after I pulled the lid off (dramatic, much?). But I didn’t care, I had EGGS.

Then my daughter wanted Lil Smokies, so I threw some of them in the IP, but honestly I could have done them in a regular pot on the stove as quick as the IP cooked them. So that was kind of a bust.

Next up was a dozen chicken legs I had bought on sale the week before. I put them (yes, all of them) in the pot and pushed the “meat” setting. I don’t remember exactly how long it was, but they were not done. And then I remembered that I failed to add any liquid before I put in the legs. DUH! Kinda hard for a steamer to work if it can’t make steam. So I added a cup of water and then 40ish minutes later – VOILA! Fall-off-the-bone tender legs. They were so tender that I ended up just shredding the meat into a bowl and making sandwiches with it.

Next up, I plan on steaming a head of cauliflower, cooking some brown rice, then some lentils just to see how they all turn out.

Oh, and I’ve also heard you can make a really good tortilla soup with the Instant Pot too. Probably will do that this weekend.

I really, really like this thing and I’m sure once I figure out the learning curve on it I’ll be using it quite often.

Any other Potheads out there? Care to share any good pressure cooker recipes with me?