I go to the farmers’ market armed with a single bag theory thinking I will surely be limited to a reasonable number of purchases, yet fail every time. I’ve become pretty good at packing that bag which seems manageable while I’m filling it. A few bundles of greens can’t take up all that much space, right?
But then the rainbow carrots look so good, and I can’t pass up a gorgeous head of romanesco cauliflower. Or is it broccoli? A mixture of sprouts, some chard, and baby beets end up in the bag before I’m done and once home I wonder where to begin. There certainly isn’t enough room in my fridge for it all.
The carrots and beets will be fine for a while, and the sprouts will go easily into so many things: my smoothies, salad, omelets, an open-faced egg salad sandwich.
But the kale. Oh, the kale. I couldn’t resist buying three different kinds.
But there’s a method to my madness with kale. It’s easy to think “salad” first, because the kale is fresh. But did you know you can freeze kale? And guess what? It’s not soggy, soft, or looking like something that was lost in the nether regions of my veggie bin when it’s thawed and ready for use, either. In fact, you can use it frozen. More about that later.
Let’s talk salad for now.
It’s official. My husband and I are two months into our decision to change the way we eat and guess what? It works! Works, as in, we feel pretty darn good and have lost weight. His loss of 18 lbs. has been steady and sure with minor plateaus here and there, and true to my personality, my loss has been a series of ups and downs — most recently dipping to 14.5 lbs. then back up to my goal of 12 lbs. total for the two months. Six pounds a month. That’s all I need. Only six. I can do that for the next six months, right?
When I catch myself analyzing it all too much, he patiently reminds me we said we weren’t going to turn any of this into a crazy hair-splitting quest to starve ourselves to thinness in as little time as possible, or to beat ourselves up over numbers on a scale. And no, we weren’t going to count every single calorie we ingest. Instead, it is more to consider that we do have to exercise more consistently and appropriately, and also monitor the types and quantities of food we eat throughout each day to balance everything out. I guess I just need to do all of that while waving my arms about in the air. But, we can already see changes in one another, and that’s fun. Did I say fun? All right, then. Motivating.
I like bananas when they’ve just yellow but tinged with the faintest color of green on the ridges that run their length. No spots, firm, and crisp sounding when I pop the top and pull that first piece of peeling away from the fruit. If bananas could stay like this for days, I’d enjoy one every day all by itself.
But they don’t.
I don’t like the cloying sweetness that begins to take over once the ripening process gets going, and the softer texture leaves much to be desired. I wish I was better at pulling out the blender because I wouldn’t have trouble making a smoothie and putting a too ripe banana out of its misery with some yogurt and orange juice, but I’m not.
Recently, we’ve had quite the ripe banana back up so I spent more time than I normally would looking for something different to make with them — something other than banana bread or muffins. I love frozen bananas dipped in chocolate and nuts, but they’re not something to be made with brown bananas. Pastry Chef Sherry Yard has some delicious ideas involving frying and dipping, so that’s on my list, but I wasn’t in the mood to get too involved.
If not frozen banana pops, then why not banana ice cream — or frozen yogurt since I had Greek yogurt and kefir cheese in the fridge. Then I could make banana frozen yogurt pops.
When you live in San Diego near the coast, it’s easy to have a hankering for a visit to a small, old-fashioned town at this time of year — one you might find on a drive through the mountains and tucked up against the peaks amongst a few pine trees. In an hour’s time, it’s quite possible to fulfill that desire with a trip to Julian to shop for antiques, enjoy a hearty country meal, and take home a Julian Apple Pie. Situated just outside the Cleveland National Forest at an elevation of nearly 5,ooo feet, it does snow there from time to time, so if you’re lucky and have chains for your tires, you can check a snow day off your list as well — or better yet — get snowed in so you can stay at one of the cozy B&Bs there.
On the way to Julian, if you blink, you’ll miss the tiny town of Santa Ysabel, but rarely does anyone miss Dudley’s Bakery which has been an institution there for nearly 50 years. At one point in time, the only way anyone could enjoy their amazing selection of bread was to wait in a line on the weekend with all of the other city dwellers out on a weekend drive. Now, their bread is available in a wide variety of locations across Southern California. Lucky for me, our local Henry’s market sells it, and once in a blue moon, I’ll see my favorite Julian Apple Nut bread — a slightly sweet, rich brown boule of bread I love to toast and butter for breakfast.
With that in mind, I decided to make some apple nut bread and was surprised to find that unless I wanted a non-yeasted batter bread, it might not be all that easy. I wanted chunks of apple, the nice crunch of nuts, and cinnamon, of course. Something not all that different than a loaded cinnamon roll or even raisin bread would be perfect — no glaze.
p.s. I’m supposed to be posting Christmas cookies, but am left posting things I baked before my knee surgery. With good luck, I’ll be in the kitchen soon, or coerce my husband to do it. We’ll see!
While many others in the Northern Hemisphere are enjoying the first snow of the season, I’m admiring from afar, surprised by our own low temperatures which have hovered near 40 on a few nights. It’s been enough to coerce me to turn on the heater and take the chill off the house, but not more than that, because it’s nice to have some sense of a change of seasons.
Our family has never decorated our home for Christmas until a week or so before the holiday, so the days immediately following Thanksgiving have always presented a time to consider the simplicity of the season. We won’t venture down to our favorite tree lot until a week or so before Christmas, and decorations will remain in their boxes until then. I’ve wondered whether to wait even longer this year since our youngest isn’t expected home for the semester break until the 19th.
In the meantime, I’m happy to have been invited again to participate in a holiday cookie fest of with a group of the loveliest people. Two years ago, we took on Gourmet and Christmas cookies from 40 years of publication. Last year, it was Bon Appetit, and 12 cookie recipes in 12 days. This year, we’re choosing from Saveur’s collection of Christmas Cookies, and presenting one a week.
Each year, I’ve had some excuse for my lack of follow through on the task, whether it was an overwhelming home remodel, an adjustment to working life after three years of retirement, or in the case of this year, knee surgery with lots of physical therapy to follow. We’ll see how it goes.
This year, our group is comprised of Courtney of Coco Cooks, Andrea of Andrea’s Recipes, Claire of The Barefoot Kitchen, Di of Di’s Kitchen Notebook, Judy of No Fear Entertaining, Michelle of Big Black Dogs, RJ of Flamingo Musings, Sandy of At the Baker’s Bench, and Tiffany of The Nesting Project.