I haven’t written up an FAQ for Savour Fare, but if I did, it might consist of only one question: “How do you find the time to do it all?” I have a full time job outside the home, a charming but demanding toddler, a somewhat less demanding husband, and a blog. What I don’t have is a full night’s sleep, a regular workout schedule or time to myself. All of which I would like to have more of. So when I find ways to streamline my routine — to eke out an extra few minutes to sleep, to take a walk or just to stare off into space — I seize them eagerly. And because I know many of you are in the same boat, with lives that are overflowing with things both wonderful and mundane — I come and share them with you.
One of these things is the shopping. I shop once a week. Sometimes, depending on my time, my needs and my budget, I will do this weekly shopping at multiple stores and the farmer’s market. Other times, I can confine it to one store. But I keep it to once a week. This means I have to sit down, usually on Friday night or Saturday morning, and come up with a meal plan for the week, which takes some time, but this also means I don’t spend precious hours on a weeknight or my nonexistent lunch hour stopping by the store to just pick a few things up for dinner that night.
When I plan meals, I usually sit down with a stack of cookbooks and blogs (a virtual stack in that case), looking for inspiration, and I jot down an informal meal plan for dinners, using my inspiration and a menta list of weeknight standards. Then I factor in which ones make leftovers that are good for lunches. Then I start in on the list, trying to remember all the ingredients which make up all of the meals, the breakfasts, lunches and dinners.
This process can be a bit laborious, which is why I was very happy to discover Ziplist.com. In the interests of full disclosure, I only discovered Ziplist because they were sponsoring a blogger to go to Camp Blogaway. However, I quickly realized that this was a service I found valuable that my readers might find valuable as well, so I applied for the sponsorship and was chosen. Ziplist sponsored my weekend at Camp, and in connection with that, this is a sponsored post. However, I only accept sponsorship from, and write reviews of, products that I think are useful and relevant, and Ziplist is both.
Ziplist is an online utility (they also have an iphone app, but I am, sadly, as yet uniphoneless) that allows you to create an online grocery list and to share it. Having my grocery list available all the time means that I add things whenever I think of them (like when I sign up at the Nuni’s preschool to bring dried fruit for their cooking project the following week) instead of waiting until Friday night or Saturday morning (and inevitably forgetting things in the process). I can save my list from the previous week and start to recognize things that are staples on my regular list (bananas, coffee, milk, whole wheat bread, eggs, butter). And if I do forget something, I can send it to my husband and say “Can you pick up a few things on your way home from work?”
Ziplist also has a very neat feature where it has partnered with several recipe sites that automatically allow you to add the ingredients from a recipe into your grocery list. If I find a recipe that inspires me or I get an idea for dinner early in the week, I can just populate my grocery list with the ingredients right away, and I won’t miss anything. Savour Fare has recently become a Ziplist partner (you may have noticed the “Add to Ziplist” button in my post on the Grits and Greens Casserole) and I hope to add more recipes into their database soon. In the meantime, if you want to add any of my recipes (or recipes from other websites, though I really have no IDEA WHY you would even try anything else!) they have a “recipe” clipper feature that allows you to cut and paste directly into your grocery list.
Ziplist has allowed me to streamline my meal planning and grocery shopping process, which leaves me more time for all sorts of very important things — more cooking, more blogging, more work and even someday, more sleep (a girl can dream, can’t she?)
I’ve never been tempted to be a vegetarian. I never went through that adolescent phase where I got squeamish about meat. I don’t find chickens or cows particularly cute; I will cheerfully handle raw meat; and I cook live crustaceans (I figure if I’m going to eat them, I need to be OK with cooking them). I’ve never given up red meat, or eschewed pork products, or cut down on fish. I’m an omnivore, and pretty happy with that state of affairs.
But the world has changed, or maybe my knowledge of it has, and I’m no longer happy with the meat and potatoes diet that I grew up with. The environmental consequences are too great; the agricultural practices too troubling, the implications too grave. It no longer makes sense to eat the traditional American diet — a hunk of meat and two sides. But I’m not willing to become a vegetarian. For one, I’m philosophically opposed to extremes, and I think cutting out an entire category of the human diet is a pretty extreme one. For another, I happen to like meat. Nothing says “summer” quite like a hamburger. Roast chicken is a delight of human existence. And bacon is something to live for.
But what can change, and what has changed, is our approach to eating meat. We’ll still have a meat focused dinner once or twice a week (that roast chicken makes frequent appearances), but we’ll eat other meals that are either entirely vegetarian, or use meat as an accessory, rather than the main event. I call this style of cooking the “meat as condiment” approach. It’s a way to incorporate more vegetables into our diets without feeling like we’re making extra work in our busy lives. As a result, I feel like our diet and our meals are more in balance.
Continue reading Grits and Greens Casserole – Almost Meatless Monday
So this weekend I went to camp. Those of you who know me will be unsurprised to find that camping and I don’t exactly mix well. I’m not as bad as my father, who defines “camping” as a suite at the Ahwahnee, but the history speaks for itself. Age 9: Girl Scout Camp for the weekend — got a 103 degree fever, couldn’t take part in any activities. Age 11: School Camping Trip, Catalina Island — strep throat. Age 13: School Camping Trip, Zion National Park — badly sprained ankle (I STILL have problems with that ankle). Age 16: School Camping Trip, Snake River, Utah — Broken Heart (fortunately, I’m over that one). I somehow conveniently forgot this fact when I was planning for a weekend in the mountains at Camp Blogaway. I was counting on a relaxing weekend in the mountains with a lot of quiet, a lot of birdsong, and some time for reflection.
Instead, I woke up Saturday morning with headache, nausea and sleeplessness (classic symptoms of altitude sickness). I probably shouldn’t have been surprised. Clearly, even if I’m theoretically behind the idea of camping (and this was camping lite — electricity, hot showers, and bunk beds in heated cabins), my body rebels. And the mountains were quiet, and the birds were singing, but that was difficult to hear beyond the chatter of many, many food bloggers. And the weekend was jampacked with activities and friends, instead of quiet reflection. But like me and camping, I shouldn’t have been surprised — I’ve come to realize that blogging isn’t a solo occupation.
Thankfully, with the help of a lot of water and a lot of advil, I was still able to participate in the weekend’s activities and spend time with the group. We heard a host of great speakers, and I got to meet a host of terrific fellow food bloggers. When I started this blog, I didn’t know what I was in for. I wanted to share my recipes, inspire people to cook, maybe garner a little fame and a (very) little fortune along the way. But what I didn’t expect was the level of community I’d discover. And this weekend just reinforced that. Not only did I get to have great conversations with people who are starting to feel like old friends (including camp organizer Patti Londre of Worth the Whisk and my bunkmates Rachael of La Fuji Mama and Marla of Family Fresh Cooking), I got to meet people I’ve only known via the internet (the lovely Casey of Tastestopping and Vanessa of Chef Druck) and discover some new blogs and the bloggers behind them.
What I learned at Camp Blogaway, amidst the cake decorations and the camp food and the photography seminars and the s’mores, was that food, and food blogging as an extension, is a communal experience. We’re not alone in the kitchens, or sitting here behind a computer screen. We’re part of a larger group, sharing our experiences, and our recipes and our collective wisdom, and a lot of laughter.
It almost makes the camping worth while.
A special thanks to my sponsor, Ziplist.com for allowing me to attend Camp Blogaway!
We are in full on girly mode in the Savour Fare household. The Nuni is two and a half years old, and is seriously interested in the following (in no particular order): twirly dresses, crowns, glass slippers, toenail polish, my makeup, shiny shoes, and anything with sparkles. I would freak out in a feminist quandary, except I have a fuzzy memory of being VERY into princesses and makeup when I was quite young myself, and I am a perfectly acceptable adult with a career and a family and a tendency to wear Old Navy tee shirts to work.
In the Nuni’s world, her current favorite book is one called “Fancy Nancy”, about a hapless girl who LOVES being fancy — she likes to write her name with a plume (which is a fancy word for feather), her favorite color is fuchsia (which is a fancy word for purple), and she can’t WAIT to learn French, because EVERYTHING sounds fancy in French. Poor Fancy Nancy is beset by a thoroughly plain family, who thrills her one night by dressing up in accessories, going to a restaurant and ordering parfaits, which are “French for ice cream sundaes”.
Now, accuracy aside, parfaits are a very fancy dessert, and as the parent of a wee one who loves all things fancy, I thought I would accommodate her wishes and make them. As she also loves all things pink (as she regularly tells me, “Pink is my favrit color, mamma.”) I thought I would turn to the pinkest of all pink things — rhubarb. Sure, it doesn’t sport the aggressive magenta of anything made with beets, but for rosy, fancy, girly pinkness, rhubarb is your ingredient of choice.
Continue reading Fancy Rhubarb Parfaits
I don’t really understand the marketing of Mother’s Day. I see all these floral pastel cards and delicate lacy handkerchiefs and early morning breakfast in bed and advertisements for “brunch” and “afternoon tea” with fussy hats implied. Let me set the record straight. I am a mom, and I know a lot of moms. An informal survey of what our ideal Mother’s Day would look like involves 1) sleeping in; 2) a pedicure with some celebrity gossip magazines; 3) sushi; 4) chocolate and 5) lots of wine. Maybe this holiday doesn’t sell so well on a greeting card, but it sounds pretty awesome to me. Too awesome to be an also-ran Mother’s Day. Maybe I will name it something else, like “Saturday”. And it will fall once a week.
If your Mother’s Day veers towards the more traditional, or you’re trying to fill the time between pedicures, sushi and wine, try cooking brunch at home, and avoid the overpriced and overcrowded restaurant brunch options. (For more on this, see Brooke of FoodWoolf’s insider’s take on the restaurant Mother’s Day brunch. If you’re not feeling confident in your hollandaise sauce, or you’re a late sleeper yourself and don’t want a giant fuss in the morning, this is the brunch dish for you.
Continue reading Savory Baked French Toast Croque Monsieur (with Ham and Cheese)