winter meals + reading

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I engaged in a little spontaneous five-o’clock social hour at the co-op last Friday and realized I may never get over my fear of people judging what’s in my grocery cart. And what I mean to say is I’ve long had people comment (probably admirably so) how healthy I eat. Those comments might seem harmless but are not helpful. Regardless, it was a truly pointless fear at the co-op because when you’re chatting about getting garden produce on school lunch trays in the bulk bins, or the difference between natural food stores between C and E, there is no one around judging the contents of my cart. What’s more, it’s likely no one else at any other grocery store really cares all that much either. This was a lesson in Not That Big Of Deal Lady, and Needless Fears 101.

 

Second, I’m taking an introductory cooking lab for school right now. It covers the basics of cooking with whole foods and I wasn’t expecting to learn much. We started with knife skills last week and prepared the simplest side of caramelized onions with matchstick carrots and sauteed greens. There were no additional spices beyond a little salt and pepper, and I had to resist fancying it up. The results were truly fabulous as the flavor of the fresh vegetables showed through and I was reminded of the experiences that led me to eating seasonal produce and whole foods, the simplicity of those meals that called to me, and how I continually desire to go “back to basics” with food and life, and invite in more minimalism.

 

And then we had dinner last night at some slighty-new-to-me friends who served a truly exceptional fancy-restaurant quality meal. I already knew what to expect as one of them is William’s coworker and he stayed at their house and was treated to those meals weekly last year. The meal was the exact opposite of what I described above and as I sipped the winter squash soup, I thought to myself, I’ve got to get on board with fancier cooking. This is way more delicous that any soup I’ve made. It was super fun to chat with friends who are into good food. It was also different, because though I consider myself quite adventurous, I was the less adventurous one at the table last night. I don’t go out of my way to try new things I view as not that necessary, overly processed, or too-exotic (i.e. vegan cheese, most dairy alternatives, specialty spices, most vegetables that are not in season locally). Some of this is because I lean towards minimalism in meals, a lot of it is because I avoid foods that were produced in factories or in far away places where I imagine soil degradation and inhumane working practices (yes, my mind goes there), and some of it is because I harbor a little bit of shame about fancier cooking. Frugality was an essential component to meals growing up. I feel a little elitist sometimes in prioritizing local and organic ingredients and getting too fancy with additions most people haven’t heard about or tried before.  I’m still trying to find balance. And maybe I’ve found balance but when I start to overthink it, I get out of balance?

With that, I’ve read and enjoyed many good articles and meals since we moved, and a few of my favorites are below:

 

Reading:

I went to high school with Tommy. He was a little older and we didn’t really know each other, but even then I remember him as the goofy runner dude in my speech class. His share about his win at the Rock n Roll Arizona Marathon is super inspiring.

Gena Hamshaw’s 5 Tips for Balanced Eating. Gena continues to inspire me and I resonate much with what she shares.

No diet, no detox: how to relearn the art of eating. I’ve been reading a fair bit about food relationships lately. This article was a good one.

Nourishing Wisdom. This book is super great! I’m still making my way through.

My biggest vegan challenge was one I didn’t expect. This article about the challenges and disconnect of navigating meals with family and friends when following a specialized diet is a discussion worth highlighting. I still haven’t truly figured out what works for me with my own family and friends and I’ve been eating very differently than most of them for a number of years.

You already have everything you need.

Zen Habits-Let Everything Breathe

 

 

Eating:

Meal planning and prep has gotten super streamlined these last few weeks and it has revolutionized late evenings after a long day. There have been so many good meals and most of them are either old or new favorites. I keep a laundry list of meals I want to eat on my computer and many of these have been made and then go right back onto the list. William also initiated one night a week as his night to decide, plan, prep, and cook. It’s kinda sweet, but mostly he’s not so into winter squash and would like to limit how many meals I work it into. :)

Moroccan Wild Rice with Butternut Squash + Garbanzos

Garden Keepers’ Pie

Sprouted Mung Bean Salad inspired by Heidi

Millet Polenta + BBQ Lentils

Butternut Mac + Cheese, Food52Vegan

Creamy Pasta with Leeks + Broccoli, Food52 Vegan

Cumin-Lime, Quinoa + Black Bean Bowls

Shaved + Curried Cauliflower Salad

Smoked Paprika Vegetable Chowder + Orange Zest

These Black Beans. I’ve mentioned them a zillion times. They make all meals delicious.

Root Veg + Garbanzo Pot Pie, Food52 Vegan

Broccoli, Collards + Kalamata Salad 

This weekend, we’re enjoying cookies. I’ve somehow managed to avoid every sort of mainstream store in the past few weeks, so have missed all the marketing of chocolate, hearts, and balloons. I feel not one inch of regret. We first made these Jam + Sunflower Thimbles for Christmas and they’re worthy of a special occasion/sharing with friends.

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