This is a picture of George on the day he arrived at our apartment. Hello, George!
This is a picture of George on the day he arrived at our apartment. Hello, George!
These past few weeks have felt a bit like when I began canning. That is, I can’t imagine why I never did this before. Putting seeds into soil, watching them push their way through, watering, waiting, observing, delighting—it all seems so natural. And easy. Don’t get me wrong, I am well aware that I’m only a couple weeks into this whole thing and I still have a lot ahead of me in the way of challenges and learning and potentially even failure, but choosing to do it has been easy.
Why make the choice to grow your own food? Why not? I can’t think of one instance where creating something myself, doing something with my own hands, hasn’t been more satisfying than taking the “convenient” route. So far, I only have a windowsill full of seedlings and I already feel astonishingly invested in them.
It’s going to be an exciting summer, watching them grow and eventually bear fruit. I keep having daydreams about stepping outside and tearing off a few leaves of kale, plucking a couple tomatoes, and pulling up a radish to make my lunch. Even something as simple as an herb box means that you don’t need to rely on the supermarket's selection or experience the disappointment when that two-dollar bunch of thyme in your refrigerator goes brown after only a couple sprigs’ use. Of course, my greatest hope is that it all goes so well that I have no choice but to put some of it up at the end of the season. A girl can dream.
So what exactly am I doing? Well, for starters, here’s the list of what I’ll be growing:
Where is your food coming from this year? The supermarket? The greenmarket? In the past, this is where most of the food that Chris and I eat has come from. This year, however, we’re going to be exploring some new options.
First of all, we’ve decided to join our local CSA. In case you’re unfamiliar with the concept, CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Participants pay a set amount of money for a “share” at the beginning of the growing season. This money helps farmers cover their costs during this more financially straining time of the year when their resources are being put toward seed/growing and little to no income is yet being generated. The participants then receive a portion of the crop as it ripens and becomes available. Usually on a weekly basis, shareholders will collect a sort of grab bag of produce. You get a share of whatever is at its peak at that very moment.
It is a bit of a gamble, though. If the weather decides not to cooperate and a crop fails, participants will share in that failure. On the other hand, they also reap the successes. And aside from the fresh produce, it’s a great way to directly support local farmers. You get involved with their business in a more intimate way than when you go to the market (our CSA even requires that you put in a certain number of volunteer hours). You have a real interest in how the crops perform and you get to see "snapshots" of their progress in real time.
As excited as I am about that part of it, I’m also excited to receive produce that I may not normally purchase on my own. An assortment of veggies will be thrust at me once a week and I’m looking forward to finding creative ways to use up our lot. Maybe we’ll even get to taste a few things for the very first time. We know very generally what we should expect, but it will still be a surprise each week. I think it’s going to be fun.
I've mentioned on this site, more times than I'm sure was necessary, that I have issues with censorship. Namely me censoring me. I think this is something that many bloggers struggle with at some point. How much is appropriate to share? While there are things in my life that are very clearly off limits, there are many others that I feel an urge to tap out here in this space. This isn't strictly a "personal" blog, though. Many of you that read this site are not stopping by to see how the wedding planning is coming along, what my latest hobby is, or what Nilla is up to.
Though you probably should be, see cutest face in the entire world below. She loves you too.
I'm willing to bet that many of you are simply looking for recipes and kitchen tips, restaurant reviews, or the latest decent-tasting g-free goodie that I keep on hand to occasionally make my life a little easier. And that's great. Perfect really. That's exactly what I intended this space to be.
I feel like I have to expand beyond my initial intentions with this site. At the end of the day, this is my space and while I want all of you to feel warm and cozy here, I need to feel that too. Instead, I've been feeling constrained and that's completely and totally my fault. Though I realize it's an option, I don't really want to start a whole second blog so that I can put down my personal tidbits. It would almost be more difficult to try to extract them from this space as they have a tendency to overlap with my "intended" content. For example, a post about a vacation that Chris and I took could very well also contain a restaurant review and maybe even a recipe on top of all that.
So how to make sense of it all?
Since I recently posted the instructions for cooking with dried beans, I suppose I should probably follow up sooner rather than later with a recipe to get you started. This one is super simple—the beans only require soaking—and is a definite keeper. Some small part of me wishes I could take credit for it, but the bigger part of me is just glad that I found it. The recipe is for vegetarian baked beans, and it comes from Joel over at Well Preserved.
I adore baked beans. As a kid, I used to crack open cans of a certain well-known brand and eat them by the bowlful. I’m not saying they were "all that" (90s flashback), but they created a general preset in my mind for what baked beans should taste like. We all know how that happens—like how some people love that powdery Parmesan cheese in the green can or how New Yorkers have their assertions about what real pizza is. I’m sorry, but this one really gets me. I love New York and this city is my home—I’ve even adopted the phrase “waiting on line”—but I’m still of the opinion that pizza is valid and delicious in all its forms. Thick crust, thin crust, deep dish, brick oven, coal oven, whatever. Of course I now have an obvious personal bias toward the GF varieties…but that’s not my point. What were we talking about again?
Chris and I will be getting married eight months from today.
It’s funny to think about that number. On one hand, it seems like a ton of time. In excited, impassioned moments, it feels as though the date is entirely too far away. What can I say? I love this man, and I can’t wait to be his wife. On the other hand, I know it’s going to be here before I realize it, and I haven’t found my dress or picked out the flowers or decided on the music.
But we still have eight months. I’m trying my hardest to take them as they come.
Chris and I had our first date on the 13th of November a little over three years ago, and have decided to get married on that exact date this year, on our fourth anniversary of dating. For the first three years of our relationship, the thirteenth of every month was about accumulation for me. I counted and collected those months, marveled at how quickly they’d passed but how, at the same time and even more overwhelmingly, it seemed as though we’d always been together. How could it have only been three, four, five months? I watched them add up and I saw them turn into years.
Now it’s different. Today, as I took note of the date on the calendar, I didn’t count back. Off the top of my head this very second, I couldn’t tell you how many months it’s been since we started dating. Instead, I counted forward. Forward to our wedding date. And I had the realization that, during this very unique time in our life, I’ll no longer be watching the months add up. I’ll be watching as they count down to the end of one part of our life together and the beginning of the rest.
It’s a powerful feeling.
Eight months from today, nearly to the minute, I will be exchanging vows with the man that I knew from day one would be my husband. My name will change and my place in this world will forever be altered. Only eight more months. Still eight more months. So much life ahead.
We all know the rhymes. We all know the reputation. What most of us don’t often think about is how healthful beans are and how much flavor and variety they can add to a person’s diet. And, really, if they’re prepared properly and eaten regularly, beans don’t have to be a...um...“musical fruit.”
Legumes of all sorts, from black beans to chickpeas to lentils, are packed with nutrients. They’re an excellent plant-based source of protein, which is great for vegetarians and a good substitute/supplement to the diet of meat-eaters. Beans are hearty, rich in iron, low in fat and full of fiber. They come in dozens of interesting shapes, sizes, textures, and flavors (if you haven't already, check out Rancho Gordo to get an idea). They’re one of the most versatile foods you can find and, yes, they’re gluten-free.
You know what else they are? They’re cheap. For those people out there who say they can’t eat good, whole foods because of cost issues, beans blow that argument right out of the water. They’re already cost-effective in the form with which most consumers are familiar (canned), but if you buy them dried it’s almost ridiculous how little you’ll end up paying for such a nutritionally dense food. At my market, a pound of dried beans costs only slightly more than a single can of beans, and I’ve found that that pound will yield about 4 cans worth of cooked beans. Pretty good, right?
I know that some of you may see cooking up a batch of dried beans as more effort than it is worth, though, and I’m here to hopefully persuade you otherwise. Not only is it not labor intensive, but beans cooked at home have a far better texture than those from a can. Also, as with so many other things, when you cook them at home you can control other important elements, like salt. Just think about it for a second, what doesn’t taste better when it's homemade?
There is something I’ve been wanting to talk about for a while here, but haven’t. It isn’t about being gluten-free and it has nothing to do with food. I’m still figuring this whole thing out and learning when to censor myself, which I’m certain I still do far too often. I don’t know if my writing about these things here will help anyone or change anything, but I know that I feel a need to share these thoughts. So I’m not going to second guess myself right now. Please be advised that the subject matter I’m going to be speaking about is sensitive and may be difficult for some people to read.
I'm very excited to announce that I have a new and completely delicious recipe for you today. I'm even more excited that I'll be sharing it with you over at Simply...Gluten-Free, home to the lovely Carol Kicinski. Carol currently has some exciting things in the works and I feel very honored that she's letting me fill some space while she's hard at work. If you're not already familiar with her blog, I'd highly recommend that you check it out. She is a joy to follow--from her witty posts documenting her quest for the perfect (or at the very least, tolerable) exercise regime to her enticing GF treats.