Revisiting the Kitchen

>> Friday, August 31, 2012


So, I got so distracted last night, for like three hours. And -- truth -- it kept me from posting. I'm completely obsessed with finally accomplishing our large goal of a kitchen remodel. If you haven't followed us for a long time, this news is fresh to you.

If you have endured posts about our Tiny, Carpeted Kitchen and our plans on how we'd Learn To Love It Again, you're probably thinking we'll never get to it. And I hope you're wrong.

Here's what we started with:

kitchen

Our kitchen was featured on The Kitchn way back in the day. In a way, the title of "Efficient Kitchen" is correct. On a good day. But as some readers pointed our, we have our major challenges.

Like blocked access to lower cabinets to make room for more counter space and appliances.

kitchen tour

A major lack of storage. This is the only good spot. The rest is scattered.



Like in this narrow, dark hallway. We use what is supposed to be a coat closet as our "pantry" area.


We've done the best with what we have. But after finding out we need to purchase a new furnace, we've been faced with if we're going to LOVE or LIST this home. The kitchen is the room we hate the most. If we changed it? I think we'd be much happier and I'd stop browsing listings during most of my free time.

But, really. I'm a food blogger. I spend 90% of my free time in this room. I'd like to stop kneading pizza dough while kneeling on the floor. (No. Really. This happens. To give Stephen space to prep the pizza sauce. It's ridiculous!)


We're playing with the idea of converting our dining-now-family room into the kitchen. Turning the current kitchen into the family room. I need to do some measuring, but my initial estimates look good.

Here are some of the looks I'm loving. You'll notice some common themes: Exposed shelves/dishes/bulk foods, freestanding pieces, whites, pops of color, and utilizing height for storage.



There's many, MANY more -- including the sources of these images for more gawking -- on our Pinterest Kitchen Ideas board. As I've mentioned in the past, our budget is like under $5,000 for this project. So, I'm not sure what we can do.

Off to more dreaming and calculating . . .

Pssst: Tomorrow is our fifth wedding anniversary. We wrote a bit about it today on Writing Chapter Three.

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Spiced Applesauce Biscuits

>> Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Generally speaking, most items stored in a deep freezer stay fresh for about 12 months. (New to freezing? Here's how to do it.) When I found this guy -- a batch of 15-minute Applesauce -- hanging out behind some chili I made last October, I remembered it was nearing it's 1-year birthday.

What to do?


I love applesauce, but my favorite texture is smooth. This jar was extra chunky, likely made for Stephen. Not that I couldn't deal. However, we also had a guy over doing some routine maintenance on our furnace. When he told us we'd need to buy a new one before the chilly temps set in, I needed a distraction.

So, I mixed together these delicious biscuits. The house smelled "like breakfast" (words of the heating/cooling tech, not mine) in no time at all.


SPICED APPLESAUCE BISCUITS

What you'll need . . .

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour 
  • 1 cup bread flour 
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup 
  • 1 heaping tablespoon baking powder 
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon 
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves 
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg 
  • Pinch tsp salt 
  • 3/4 cup chunky applesauce 
  • 1/2 cup olive oil 
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup almond milk or water


Method . . .

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Spritz olive oil onto a baking sheet and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. 
  3. Add all the wet ingredients into that bowl, then mix with a spoon or spatula until just combined.
  4. Scoop onto baking sheet in heaping 1/4-cup-fuls. 
  5. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes. Inhale the spices as they fill your kitchen. Biscuits done when they're lightly browned. 
  6. Let cool before serving with Earth Balance or extra applesauce . . . or just on their own.

Yeah. Baking is my coping mechanism. This batch did the trick. (Though, I think Stephen ate most of them already.) And on the bright side, a new furnace means a toasty winter. Right?

Check out today's post on Writing Chapter Three. Some tips on saving where we can on baby (toddler?!) clothes.

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Reasons to Stop Running

>> Tuesday, August 28, 2012


From the title, you might think this post is going to highlight warnings signs of injury. When to take it easy or lay off completely if you feel an ache or pain while running. Actually, it's about something else entirely.

Sort of.


Have you ever been out for a jog and --halfway through -- just not felt right? It happened to me today. I felt dizzy and dehydrated despite having guzzled water all day. I ended up walking a mile home. Weird.

Or maybe you've had pesky digestive issues fare up after a warmup mile? I've been there. Multiple times. That's dull knee pain suddenly turn sharp? Happened to me. Maybe you were far away from home and lightning starting to light up the sky. Yup. That too. And I'm terrified of lightning. Ever get lost? I did once when I squeezed in a 4-miler 6-miler during a business trip.

Or perhaps you, like me, have been followed for a mile or more by creepsters in a truck or on a bike. No, really. Both of those things have happened to me in the past couple years. And I'm sure it's happened to more of you than I'd like to think.

I could go on.


There are a number of reasons to stop running or to modify your original plan. It's a day-by-day, assess-by-the-moment sort of thing. Rarely -- OK -- never have I encountered a complete emergency, but I always thought it's good to be prepared and plan for if something does goes horribly wrong. (I'm a worst-case scenario planner, can you tell?)

I guess I started thinking more about this issue when I was pregnant. Especially when my belly got bigger and bigger. I became worried that I wouldn't feel well on a run and I'd be far from home. So, I started running a mile loop. And eventually I found a couple different routes where I was never far from home. I now use these same paths if I don't trust the weather report.

I don't have a list of tips for this post. It's more of a conversation. I am interested in what you do to stay safe. What plans you have if you need to stop or if something stops you.

Have you thought about it?


If not. Have you thought about it now?

I'm planning to do a follow-up with some tips. For example, carrying a cell phone is probably a good bet. But it's something I've never done. Something I have done: Identified different "safe" or "useful" places along my usual routes. Like Wegmans if I need to use the bathroom. Or a certain long-hours convenience store if for some reason someone follows me. I'll list more in part II.


Bonus: Later this week, we'll be reviewing ICEdot, which is an emergency identification and notification service via a lightweight, silicone bracelet. And we'll be hosting a giving away where one of you could win one for yourself!

Stay tuned . . .


And today on Writing Chapter Three, we have the third installment of the Baby Must-Haves series. This time, we're looking at 6 to 9 months.

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Chocolate Chip Macaroons

>> Monday, August 27, 2012


You know it: I make cookies all the time. Plus, I absolutely love shredded coconut. So, can you believe I've never made macaroons before?

I can't either.


I made these macaroons as a treat for Stephen after his 5K PR yesterday. I found this recipe hiding out in an old card stack from college. I think it belonged to one of my roommates. I lived in like 1,000 apartments, so I can't really figure out who wrote it up.

But thank you, whoever you are, roomie!

I took some liberties, most notably exchanging egg for flax meal. That's right. This recipe is gluten-free and vegan depending on what flour and chocolate chips you choose to us. (Though adding them at all is suggested, but entirely optional.)


What you'll need . . .

  • 1-1/2 cups shredded coconut (unsweetened) 
  • 1/4 cup oat flour (or whole wheat, etc.) 
  • Pinch salt 
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar 
  • 2 tablespoons flax meal
  • 1/4 cup almond milk (unsweetened) 
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Method . . .

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside. 
  2. In a large bowl, combine the brown sugar, flax meal, almond milk, maple syrup, and vanilla extract.
  3. Add the coconut and flour to this mixture. You may wish to add more flour depending on how wet the mixture is. 
  4. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  5. Then scoop out in heaping tablespoonfuls onto the parchment. You don't need to space them terribly far apart. 
  6. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until lightly toasted brown on edges. 
  7. Let cool before eating.

While I was taking these photos, Stephen challenged me to make the tallest stack of macaroons I could. I didn't get very high . . . and the minute they were up so I could take the photo, they fell down again.

Today on Writing Chapter Three, I've written about why my desired way of parenting is at odds with my personality. I also posted other stuff on that site, but haven't been keeping up with it on here, so be sure to read if you're interested.

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PRs and Dinosaur Kale Chips

>> Sunday, August 26, 2012


Stephen ran his long-anticipated 5K race this morning. The field was competitive. In fact, the top runners clocked in at under 14 minutes. Stephen had hoped to finish in just under 16 minutes.

Ada and I went to cheer him on. (I was going to run, but it didn't work out childcare-wise. Next time.)


When we saw him approach the finish line, we knew he'd be close to his goal. He ended up finishing in 16:07 -- not too shabby at all. His PR previously was 16:22, so he shaved off a good amount.

Congrats, Stephen!


We're laying low now. Stephen's top priority is eating. A lot. So, I made some amazing kale chips to snack on. The key to making kale chips better than ever? Use DINOSAUR kale. (We get ours from our CSA share, but I bet you can find it at most farmers markets.) It's a heartier variety that makes for thicker, less crumbly chips.

See?


The other key to making them great is seasonings. We've done it all. From soy sauce to nutritional yeast to curry and beyond. Today we tried some Old Bay.


To make these chips, preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Then simply chop up enough dinosaur (or regular) kale to fill a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and dump on a tablespoon (or more) of Old Bay seasoning. Mix with hands to coat evenly.

Bake for 5 minutes. Then stir and bake for 5 minutes more. Chips are done when they are crisp, but not charred.

Like this . . .


Hope you're enjoying a nice, lazy Sunday afternoon.

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Food for Runners: C-U-C-U-M-B-E-R-S

>> Thursday, August 23, 2012


Today we're focusing on the health benefits of a food I don't particularly enjoy: Cucumbers. Stephen loves them, though, so this post goes out to him. Well, and it was inspired by him because . . .

. . . he made pickles! (Using the method in Put 'Em Up!)


Anyway, health benefits of cucumbers for runners:

"Cucumbers are an excellent source of fiber . . . what makes cucumbers a good choice for fiber is that they have the naturally occurring water that should accompany fiber intake . . . When you eat cucumbers, you increase your fiber and your water intake at the same time." (Source)

We runners love antioxidants: "Cucumbers are a valuable source of conventional antioxidant nutrients including vitamin C, beta-carotene, and manganese. Fresh extracts from cucumber have been shown to provide specific antioxidant benefits, including increased scavenging of free radicals and increased overall antioxidant capacity." (Source)

"Cucumbers can best be stored sealed in shrink foil. Sealing a cucumber increases its shelf life considerably." (Source)



But there are many more things to do with cucumbers besides pickling. Here are some of our favorite recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner:

David, Luise, and Elsa's Very Green Juice (Cucumbers, kiwi, apple, mint, ginger)
Dawn's Thai Breakfast Sandwich w/ cucumber
Lauren's Cucumber-Basil Spritzers
Monika's Chilled Cucumber-Yogurt Soup
Yum Sugar's Asian Tomato-Cucumber Salad
The Kitchn's Spicy Korean Cucumber Salad
Aimee's Cucumber-Basil Bites
Kristy's Carrot Cashew Pâté Cucumber Canapé
Our try at Tassajara Pungent Cucumbers
Deborah's Chilled Cucumber-Mango Soup with Mint
Ashley's Raw Veggie Collard Wrap w/ cucumber
Jasmine's Stuffed Cucumber Kimchi (omit fish sauce)
Stephanie's Cucumber-Chili Mexican Popsicles


Though I don't love cucumbers myself, I do have a favorite way to consume them. Cucumber water! When we got married, we took a mini-honeymoon to the Mirbeau Inn & Spa in Skaneateles, NY. They have cucumber water everywhere, and I love it. So much.

Here's instructions on how to make it via Huffington Post.

Don't forget to read up on these other healthy ingredients:

Food for Runners: B-A-N-A-N-A-S
Food for Runners: G-A-R-L-I-C
Food for Runners: Q-U-I-N-O-A
Food for Runners: K-A-L-E
Food for Runners: B-E-R-R-I-E-S
Food for Runners: E-G-G-S

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Tomato-Basil Marmalade

>> Wednesday, August 22, 2012


We picked up literally two baskets full of tomatoes at the farmers market this past weekend. With one, I made another batch of Slow-Roasted Tomatoes. With the other, I wanted to do something different.

So, I did.


I feel like there's a lot of (self-imposed) pressure to constantly create new recipes. Reality is, nothing exists in a vacuum. I continually seek out other blogger, chef, family member, etc. eats. It's how I learn about new methods. It's how I learn about new foods, flavor combinations, and on and on.

And cooking all our CSA produce is certainly a workout.
I can use all the help and inspiration I can get!

This recipe, which I found on Serious Eats, is quite simple. Interestingly enough, it was posted exactly two years ago today! (For those of you curious about how marmalade differs from jam/jelly, check out this post.)


How we made it ours:

  • omitted the fennel 
  • omitted the leek, put more onion in its place 
  • used olive oil versus canola oil 
  • used white vinegar versus red wine vinegar
Oh, yeah. I got a little desperate to bounce some light for these photos. Out of paper-towels (so I couldn't do this photography trick) I used Ada's tambourine.


What else do you see?


They're bits of squash from a gigantic roast. I told Stephen it wasn't absolutely necessary to skin them first. But he did anyway.

Anyway, this marmalade is delicious. Sweet. Tangy. Savory. And it lasts for up to one month once refrigerated (the recipe author notes that you should discard the basil leaves before consuming -- they get funky).


I'll announce the winner of the mothering Mother bags tomorrow. Today on Writing Chapter Three, we're sharing our favorite baby & toddler fashion trends . . . and how to get the look on the cheap.

Like what you just read? You can subscribe to the feed of these posts or follow us on Twitter or Facebook to be the first to know what the (never home)makers are up to. And we’ll love you forever!

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Apple Cider Dunkers

>> Monday, August 20, 2012


It's fall. Well, almost. But it FEELS like it. Sign? Our favorite local cider mill opened last week. They have everything from mums to cider, of course, to cheddar cheese to doughnuts. I cannot get enough.

Behold! The cider doughnut in all its glory.


Thing is, it's not reasonable for me to eat three doughnuts a day (yeah -- that happened), every day. Not for the wallet. Not for the waistline. So, I spend some time looking through my various muffin/cake recipes, attempting to craft a similar, but baked-versus-fried treat.

And then the Cider Dunker was born.



As you'll see, the ingredients -- including sparkling water again! -- in this little guy are hardly sinful. In fact, I made them for breakfast (sans the sugar-topping, which I'll get to in a minute), and can't wait to have more tomorrow morning.

But enough about me. Let's get to it.


What you'll need . . .

  • 3 tablespoons Earth Balance 
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil 
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar 
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider 
  • 1 tablespoon flax meal + 2 tablespoons almond milk 
  • 1/2 cup sparkling water 
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour 
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder 
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon 
  • pinch salt

Method . . .

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spritz a mini muffin pan and set aside. 
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (I got this awesome one that scrapes the bowl as it mixes for X-mas!), beat together the Earth Balance, olive oil, sugar, apple cider, flax meal + almond milk, and sparkling water. 
  3. In another bowl, whisk together the rest of the ingredients and then add them into the wet. Mix until just combined. 
  4. Scoop heaping tablespoonfuls of the batter into the mini muffin pan. (This recipe yields approx. 16 dunkers, so you won't use the entire pan.) 
  5. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  6. Let rest in pan for 5 minutes or so before removing.

This next part is entirely optional, but highly recommended. Well, and it's where the "dunker" part comes from. If you dip the top of the dunker into a bit of cider and roll it into some cinnamon/sugar mixture, it's divine.

Too bad we ate them all already.


And SPEAKING of eating lots of stuff, we have literally tons of squash to use up from our CSA share this week. Can't wait to share some fun recipes with you!

By the way, have you ever heard of ground cherries?


We hadn't, but they're very interesting. Sort of like cherries. Sort of like tomatoes. We didn't get enough to make much of anything, so we just ate them raw. But I'd love to make something more elaborate in the future. Suggestions?


Today on Writing Chapter Three, we posted some photos from our new evening routine. It rained too much today, so looking back at these photos is nice. I love the whole descent into fall!

Like what you just read? You can subscribe to the feed of these posts or follow us on Twitter or Facebook to be the first to know what the (never home)makers are up to. And we’ll love you forever!

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