To Thai or Not to Thai

We may have food in our new apartment’s fridge (which has an ice-maker… holy upgrade, Batman!) but we still have yet to do our usual BIG grocery-shopping trip. I’ve been food-shopping twice to get things my CSA didn’t bring me (onions, eggs, milk, avocado, meat, etc.), as I’ve already mentioned, but we haven’t done a trip to “stock up”. Back in Cincinnati, we would only do one real grocery-shopping trip per month, no more than $115 worth of stuff. It usually was composed of meat, dairy, frozen stuff (Eggo’s for the boy, veggies for me!), chips, pasta, pasta sauce, loads of fruit, canned stuff… and being a savvy coupon-cutter, I could usually knock the total price down 15% or so.

I have two problems at the new place: First, things are so expensive in the northeast! I’ve always known this, from relocating from 22 years of living in the northeast to the amazingly affordable Ohio River Valley… but still! We did just an “essentials” shopping trip when we were in our temporary apartment, getting just some meat, dairy, bread, butter… and spent over $100!

I miss my coupons.

Secondly, we’re so freaking busy with everything from insurance to furniture to job-hunting (for the boy) that going grocery shopping during the week is out of question, and on the weekends we just want to go into the city and relax away from it all.

One day last week, I had nothing to bring to work for lunch. Usually my lunches are leftovers from the previous night’s dinner, or just some random assortment of stuff. (For example, one day I had a can of sardines, a hard boiled egg, and about half a bag of baby carrots… don’t you dare judge me!) But, this time I had nothing.

I stumbled upon a website many friends seem to love: Grub Hub. There were two options: Thai or Indian. Honestly, I went for Indian first because I absolutely adore Indian food. After living in CA, Indian cuisine beat out the former champion, Japanese, to reign supreme in my palate. It didn’t come to fruition because the restaurant didn’t tell Grub Hub that they were closed for the holiday week, so my order was cancelled and I was refunded… and given a $10 credit on my account! Yay!

So, Thai it was.

The only thing I know about Thai is pad thai, but trying this paleo thing means no noodles. Luckily the Grub Hub menus are really intuitive and have a great user interface, so I could read thorough descriptions of each dish. I chose Kaeng Koong (or Gaeng Goong) and Chicken Coconut Soup. The former, as I learned, is a spicy curry dish with veggies, bamboo shoots, and prawns. This is the best article/recipe I could find that would explain exactly what was in this awesome dish. Mine looked different… a bit more oily and redder… maybe they used red or yellow curry…?

The coconut soup was nothing short of orgasmic. It’s apparently more awesome than Kaeng Koong, as it has its own Wikipedia article! It wasn’t spicy (nor did it have mushrooms like the photo on the Wikipedia page) but it was so, so, so good. It tasted like coconut milk, but savory, with chunks of chicken and decorated with plenty of herbs. It was absolutely delectable and next time I think I’ll just order that soup. Paleo-friendly and delicious. Win all around.

Speaking of paleo, I may not be able to follow it very strictly as I’d planned for the whole month. I finished out a week, but to spare you the details, I’m having all sorts of tummy issues since starting this paleo trial. I do enjoy not getting over-filled with breads and starches, but I’d like to feel better from the navel down! 😉 So, from now on, I’m not going to be as strict and start consuming things with more magnesium like beans (not paleo), yoghurt (not paleo), and almonds.

Not a failure – just a reassessment of what I need to function better!

The Little Things

Pardon the mess, but I am happy to announce our arrival to our new duplex!

It was trash day the day the photo was taken, hence the garbage out front; regardless, we’re really happy with our choice to live here! Of course, we’ll be living out of our suitcases until our PODS unit arrives next week, but I’ve already gotten my first CSA box of produce (including a garlic chive plant!), unpacked the few kitchen things we do have with us, and have already measured our living room and bedroom so that we can plan the furniture layouts before our furniture finally gets here.

Upon wandering through the new abode, we made note of some of the awesome things and one thing in particular that resulted in the all-to-familiar thought of, “Why didn’t we notice that earlier??” When I moved into our old apartment in Cincinnati, we had a moment like that when we realized that our bathroom had no power outlets. Oh, the joys of turn-of-the-century homes! This time, we realized yesterday that despite how open and wonderful our kitchen is, there is only one drawer, and it is less than a foot wide. This means we can’t fit our silverware in it. Whoops!

Those annoying little things…

In other news, my Paleo adventures, although just a couple of days old, have been full of creativity and, unfortunately, disappointment. My first day, I ordered chili at a restaurant for dinner because it listed the ingredients in the description as having beef, peppers, onions, and spices. It arrived with those things… as well as beans (not paleo) and topped with cheese (not paleo) and sour cream (not paleo). I ate some of it, but my disappointment overwhelmed me so the boyfriend finished it for me. I started anew with my entree – a chicken avocado cobb salad… which was served with ranch dressing on the side. Luckily the bacon was super flavorful and the avocado added creaminess that made every bite feel like it had dressing on it anyway.

Just another annoying little thing…

Luckily my composure was regained and my first paleo day at work went well: eggs and canadian bacon for breakfast (with coffee) and a salad from the salad bar at Fresh Market for lunch (mixed greens, pumpkin seeds, hard boiled egg, bacon, carrots, cucumber, topped with olive oil and balsamic vinegar) with a bottle of seltzer. I stopped at the market to get non-CSA essentials like avocado, chicken, beef, sausages, canned coconut milk, uncured bacon, almond milk, and some non-paleo stuff for the boy. (I forgot a few things, including eggs, because I’m an idiot!) Dinner was sauteed kale (from the CSA!) and garlic topped with a pan-seared chicken breast and a home-made garlic dill cream sauce (the solid part of coconut milk!) using the tons of dill I got from the CSA.

Without furniture, dinner looked something like this…

I still have so much of my CSA box to eat, so tonight I think I will try something shockingly new: beets. I found out how to cook beets online and will give that a try. Plan: roast beets in foil with olive oil, garlic, and some of those garlic chives I got from the CSA. Peel, cut into strips, and sautee with more olive oil and garlic. Spoon the mixture inside some blanched kale leaves and serve with some of the sausage I bought yesterday. Here’s to hoping this isn’t a complete failure!

If it isn’t good, beets will be one of those little things I have to work on!

Re-Moving

Moving from [smelly] temporary housing to our new apartment isn’t the “re-moving” I’m talking about: I’m back in action on my original (uh, sort of…) big blog: [blank] this!

One thing that will be interesting is that now that I’ve ditched the idea of being mostly-vegan (thank you, Wheat Belly Blog… and, don’t hate me, vegans!) I’ve added a new category: eat this PALEO.

I’m not 100% paleo (yet), but I’m definitely close to it. The hardest things for me to limit and eventually give up at this point are:

  • Cheese
  • Ice cream
  • Abundant fruit
  • Corn chips
  • Beans

I was pretty proud of myself yesterday, eating 100% paleo during the work day, but once we went to a Mexican restaurant for dinner, I started nomming down on some corn chips. I was so hungry, I couldn’t resist. When my grilled pork arrived, it was mostly fat and the little meat I got didn’t fill me. I wasn’t going to eat the rice or beans, but I was still so starving I ended up eating the whole cup of rice and splatter of refried beans that accompanied my meat.

But, I was still hungry!

That meant one thing: ice cream.

I don’t consider the day ruined; I’m still learning. Tonight I’ll opt to cook myself dinner instead of eating out again! Hah!

Four-Ingredient Egg-less Chocolate Ice Cream

Sometimes when the proverbial shit hits the fan, you need to take a step back and find something good to focus on. This recipe is just that.

When my boyfriend bought me an ice cream maker attachment for my Kitchen Aid mixer, I was absolutely ecstatic in anticipation of making ice cream all the time… until I realized most recipes take a good amount of work as much as a day before you actually want to churn your ice cream (not to mention the couple of hours you have to wait for it to harden to a scoop-able consistency)!

When I want ice cream, I want it to enter my mouth as fast as possible.

I guarantee that this ice cream will be the creamiest, yummiest, not-too-sweetiest of its kind. Oh, I forgot to mention how freaking simple it is to make! Literally four simple ingredients… it can’t get much better than that!

Four-Ingredient Egg-less Chocolate Ice Cream
From here, and many other places on the web.
Makes about a quart.

  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk (do not use fat-free or low-fat unless you want icey ice cream)
  • 2 cups cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (pure is best!)
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder

Make sure your ice cream maker bowl is thoroughly frozen. (I keep mine in the freezer at all times!)

In a medium bowl, whisk together all ingredients. Follow directions on your ice cream maker. After about 20 minutes of churning, put in a freezer-safe bowl, cover, and let freeze for at least 2 hours if you want to scoop it.

Devour.

The best thing about this base is that it’s just so darn… basic! Omit the cocoa powder and you will have vanilla ice cream. About 15 minutes into the churning, add whatever mix-ins you want. (We chose those new super-mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.) You can really do whatever you want with this recipe to come up with your own unique flavor.

In fact, I’ll share another great, easy recipe with you soon. Whoever you are.

Ice cream will make even the worst days, weeks, or months just a little bit better.

Eating Out of a Mini-Fridge for 10 Days

Pretty much the entire month of March has been full of business travel. Indiana and Michigan happened last week. Texas this week and next. Tennessee the week after that. Luckily I have three things on my side:

  • I love to travel, and do so frequently enough that I have some kind of “status” on airlines and hotel chains. Usually things go swimmingly in that sense.
  • I’m a master packer. My mother taught me how to pack well and how to never need to check a bag (except for certain circumstances like bringing lots of gifts for the holidays, needing to pack some kind of liquid that can’t fit in a ziplok bag, etc.). Case and point: I’m going to be in TX for a week and a half and have only one bag that has clothes, toiletries, etc. (along with a second bag that has my work things, including my laptop, notebooks, and steel-toed shoes). Be impressed. 😉
  • I have a mini-fridge and know how to stock it so I don’t spend tons of money on lunches and breakfasts during the work day.

Behold…

Cost: ~$50
Store: Central Market
Purchases: almond milk, small cartons of orange juice, spinach, mustard, sliced cheese, mini-loaf of sliced whole wheat bread, almond butter, freshly made spring rolls, mashed sweet potatoes, cheap zip-top bags ($1 for 150!!), cheap storage containers ($1 for two!!), cheap plastic utensils ($1 for a mix of 24 forks, knives, and spoons!!), three bakery-fresh cookies, and a bottle of Riesling.

I also brought some stuff from home for snacks, including: home-made energy bars, vitamins, trail mix, dried fruit, almonds, and a ton of tea bags.

What I’d normally spend in the office cafeteria here in Texas is probably around $8. Breakfast, around $5. Snacks, at least $3 per day. After 7 work days, I’d get a LOT more than $50 in per diem and meals. It’s all about saving money, and I definitely do that!

It’s really not that hard to plan meals ahead of time when traveling. What is hard is figuring out what to do during the times you want to stray from the plan. For instance, right now I know I’m going to eat some leftover tacos and some of the mashed sweet potatoes for dinner… but I want to go for a walk and get ice cream even though I have cookies and almond milk for dessert! Argh! I may be weak tonight… but that’s okay. I can splurge… we all can!

Right?

. . .

Don’t judge me.

I just love ice cream.

A lot.