Traveling teaches you a lot about yourself. And traveling with my family teaches you an extra amount about yourself because it requires an incredible amount of patience as misfortune after misfortune happens. And it’s not just on big trips either. Even on a weekend trip to Auburn, a trip we make multiple times every year, you have to have a lot of flexibility and more than a little patience as cars break down (which happened to us last month on our Auburn trip), restaurants tell you there is a 2.5 hour wait, and satellite dishes cease to work correctly and a mad dash is made to buy an antenna. Then we do things like forget to give keys back to the right person, or forget the tent canopy and have to turn back around in game day traffic. But in the end, as it always does, things work out, and great trips can happen. And if you are really really lucky, you get to scream at plays like this and go roll Toomer’s for it. (I can’t. stop. watching.) Read more »No Comments
A couple of days ago Gerrit and I had the opportunity to go see the documentary A Place at the Table at a local church and hear from some people who are fighting hunger in our local area. To be honest, part of me did not want to go at all. It was cold. To the bone cold. And I had spent the afternoon curled up in a blanket on the couch and had absolutely no desire to change clothes and go out into the cold again. But I did and I’m glad and everything about the evening was so interesting.
The movie is about hunger in America, and how pervasive of a problem it is and how food stamps aren’t enough and how poverty is linked to obesity and how generally the agribusinesses who grow the products that go in junk food get all the money (and subsidies) while the smaller farmers growing fruits and vegetables struggle. It’s all things I know and have heard, but the documentary tied it all together. And then we listened to people who run the food bank and community gardens and who glean fields, which pulled all together for me even more on the local level. And while the documentary and the people speaking talked so much about what can be done on a national level (as in, the legislation that needs to be supported), what it really made me think of are the things that can be done on an individual level, the things that I need to do more of.
1. Contributing more to local food pantries. Every month our church collects items to send to a church down the road that has a food pantry. And since I also work at my church, I also occasionally come into contact with people who show up looking for food, and we often direct them to that food pantry (along with a couple of others in the area). And yet over the past couple of weeks I’ve begun realizing how very little I do to support it. Every week when I go to the grocery store, I’ve started looking for a couple of items to buy to contribute–canned vegetables, peanut butter, pasta, toiletries. By the end of the month I have a whole bag to add to the collection basket. If everyone did that, it would add up. Fast.
2. Buy local produce. It’s such a trendy thing to go to the farmer’s market. And I know it helps small businesses/farms and I know it is often more healthy, but I understand in a new way why it is so important to buy from your local farmers. Small local farms aren’t getting the subsidies that the agribusinesses do. The food bank representative told us after the movie showing that they used to receive baskets and baskets of produce from local farmers, extra fruits and vegetables to be given out. But now so many of those local farmers have gone under, taking away that source the food bank once had for fresh produce. So while shopping at local farmer’s markets is healthy for both you and the local economy, it also is hopefully impacting the way a community can fight hunger.
What other steps do you think are important in combating hunger on an individual level? Also–UK friends (and other friends from around the world)–I’m interesting to know how similar or different the hunger situation is in your areas. What kinds of conversations do you hear?(4) Comments
My family loves personality tests. Actually, let me clarify that. My mother and I love personality tests, and we love making the rest of the family take them so that we can analyze how we all interact together. We’ve all taken the Myers-Briggs (I am an INFJ and Gerrit is an ENFJ which I find interesting) and read all about the results for each person in our family. And the latest one has been the Enneagram. I seem to get different results every time I take it, but I am a strong 4 (artist/romantic/individualist) with strong bits of 3 (motivator/achiever) and 5 (thinker/investigator) thrown in. Read more »(2) Comments
I am learning that you can never predict your moments–your moments of such beauty or fragility or joy that make you pause, sometimes with your jaw dropped open. You never know when sentiment is suddenly going to overtake you just because your brother is helping you make dinner or because the trees are so red they overwhelm you or because you realize just how much you love the people you are with. You never know when your prayers will be reduced to perhaps a single word of thanks because it is all you can manage in such sudden overwhelming and unexpected holiness. Read more »(5) Comments
A couple of months ago, I hit an absolute meal planning rut. With the hundreds of recipes I have bookmarked, I still couldn’t figure out what seemed like it would fit into a week. I felt like I kept turning to the same things and I knew that if I was having problems with this, other people definitely are.
So my mind went into list-making-problem-solving mode. This is my forte. Growing up I made lists and schedules out of everything I possibly could. Everything.
And so I thought, why not use that list and schedule making obsession for the good of everyone’s (including my own) dinners? I wanted to create a format that would be easy to follow, straightforward, and flexible to use. And so here we begin, with a week’s menu and recipes. (You can download them at the bottom of the post.)
A breakdown for you:
(1) Each meal plan with have seven days, with one of those days being a day to go out to eat (or eat with friends or family or have leftovers or order some pizza…whatever fits into your week best).
(2) Each day has a menu (some of my favorite recipes), prep notes (how to make things faster/easier), make-ahead notes (what you can do the night or morning before dinner) and an ingredient list (with both a list of things you’ll need to buy and things you might already have in your pantry).
(3) It’s all summarized at the beginning with a menu (explaining prep time and involvement) and a grocery list.
(4) In addition to the meal plan, you can also download a PDF of all the recipes for the week (minus things like rice and cous-cous, for which you can follow package directions).
(5) Because I generally feed two people, that’s how I’ve structured the meals. But they can be easily doubled (or more) for however many people you need to feed.
A couple of notes (aka–these meal plans are meant to be flexible):
(1) Some meals take time, some don’t. I’ve tried to balance the meals out with a variety of prep time and prep involvement. Some meals are quick and easy, some meals are easy but take a bit of hands-off time in the oven, some meals are take a bit more time and energy. Make it work for you: change the days up so that meals with longer prep time are for days when you have more time; if you don’t have time to bake chicken, buy a rotisserie chicken and make your sides, etc.
(2) I want these to work, and I’ve worked through them myself. Before I publish any meal plans in the future, I want you to know I’ve cooked through them all and made them work for me. Sometimes I have to rearrange the days when plans change, but I want you to know that I’ve made these work.
Now, on to our first meal plan:
Day One: Fish in Parchment Paper with Green Beans, Cous-cous
This is a fairly easy meal, although the parchment paper sometimes takes some finagling.
Day Two: Roasted Pork Loin with Apple Cider, Garlic Almond Green Beans, Parmesan Polenta
This is an ultimate fall meal, to me. It takes a bit of time, but most of the time you spend with the pork is waiting for it to roast in the oven.
Day Three: Baked Potatoes with (leftover) Roasted Pork Loin
This is perhaps your easiest meal of the week: put the potatoes in and wait for them to bake. If you don’t have time to bake them in the oven, I’m pretty sure there’s a way you can wrap potatoes in foil and cook them in a slow cooker.
Day Four: Molasses Glazed Chicken, Roasted Cauliflower, Rice
This is a comfort meal through and through to me. If you mix your marinade up the night before it is super simple too, although it does take a bit of time in the oven.
Day Five: Fried Rice
This is the quickest meal of the week. Just be sure to make extra rice the night before.
Day Six: Out to eat!
Day Seven: Baked Rigatoni with Tiny Meatballs, Salad
This is the most time consuming meal of the week, but to speed it up you can roast the meatballs in the oven instead of sauteing them.