Conquer the kitchen chaos: Feeding a family without losing your mind or wallet

August 5, 2020 at 12:36 am (Cooking tips, Menu planning)

Feeding a family is hard. It’s a challenge to figure out how to keep a family fed with nutritious, tasty meals without spending your entire life in the kitchen or spending a fortune. I also cannot meal prep to save my life! Alma (at now 5.5-years-old) still doesn’t like most “mixed” dishes or dishes with lots of flavor/spice, so making big one-pot stews or curries or soups or things doesn’t really work for us. And I’m a vegetarian but Derek and Alma are not. Feeding us all is hard! Over two years ago I wrote a time-saving kitchen tips post. This is really a sequel to that post, so let’s call it “time-saving kitchen tips part 2.”

I definitely don’t have everything figured out but below are some things that have been working well for us. Read the rest of this entry »

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Can’t find brown sugar in Germany? Make your own

April 29, 2020 at 10:31 pm (Cooking tips, Uncategorized)

We can’t find American-style brown sugar in Germany. You can get unrefined sugars, but not the white sugar + molasses style sugar we typically call “brown sugar” in America. So when we are following American recipes we usually make our own brown sugar substitute:

For light brown sugar pulse 1 cup of granulated sugar in the food processor with 1 tablespoon of molasses.

For dark brown sugar, use 2 tablespoons of molasses for the same 1 cup of granulated sugar.

If there are liquid ingredients in your recipe you can just add the molasses directly to the liquid ingredients and skip the pulsing step.

Sometimes we use date syrup instead of molasses. It doesn’t seem to make a big difference in terms of the flavor, and it’s easier to come by.

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How to make a stir fry

February 4, 2020 at 9:39 pm (B_(3 stars, like), Cooking tips, Derek's faves, East and SE Asia, Monthly menu plan: dinner, Other)

I’ve always been terrible at stir-frying. You can see many of my previous stir-fry posts for evidence. When I try to wing it, it just doesn’t taste right. And when I try to follow a recipe, most of the time the result is disastrous. I’ve tried many recipes for “stir-fry sauces” over the years and they are almost always terrible, or full of processed store-bought sauces with very strange unpronounceable ingredients. So when one of Derek’s students made us a pretty yummy stir-fry , I asked him to come over and show me how to make it. It was a while ago now, so I’ve probably forgotten part of what I learned, but I’m going to try to record my lessons here. Read the rest of this entry »

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The best pesto, and sore arms

June 17, 2018 at 9:13 pm (B plus (3.5 stars, like a lot), Cooking tips, Italian, Sauce/dressing, Summer recipes, Website / blog)

I got a ton of fresh basil from my CSA this week, so I decided to make pesto. I followed this “best pesto” recipe from Serious Eats. Wow was it hard work! I like that it gives the amount of basil leaves by weight, but the recipe did not prepare me for how much work it would be. It took a huge amount of effort to grind all those basil leaves down by hand. Maybe it was because I was using a big thai mortar and pestle instead of the little white (marble?) one they show in the video? By the end I could barely grip the mortar any more. And I never did get my basil leaves as fine as they show in their photos. The pesto did taste really good though (even though I didn’t have any Fiore Sardo, and used all parmesan, and left out the final 2 tablespoons of olive oil).

Alma tasted the pesto but wouldn’t eat it. I froze the bulk of it in two small glass jars.

I have more basil. I might try making the same recipe in the food processor, and see how different it tastes to me. Maybe I’ll even freeze my basil overnight first.

I’m out of pine nuts though. Maybe I’ll try making the next batch of pesto with sunflower seeds instead? Or maybe I’ll just freeze my basil (in oil?) and save it in the freezer for some other recipe.

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My time-saving kitchen tips

March 15, 2018 at 10:20 pm (Cooking tips, How to cook, Menu planning)

There is never enough time. I thought life was busy before, but now that I have a toddler I really need all the extra time I can get. I’ve been striving to optimize our cooking routines, so that we spend less time planning, shopping, cooking, and cleaning up. I’m still struggling, but here are a few strategies we’ve started using to save time in the kitchen. The vast majority of them involve the freezer, which is why we recently upgraded to a massive five-drawer freezer! Read the rest of this entry »

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How to improve your salads — add parsley

September 26, 2015 at 8:32 pm (Cooking tips, Fall recipes, Salads, Spring recipes, Winter recipes)

When my mom was here a few weeks ago she made an excellent parsley salad. It was made from parsley leaves (lots!), grated carrots, red onions, and a simple lemon dressing. Then she added roasted pepitas, which are optional. Delicious. I’ve never been a big fan of taboulleh, so I didn’t realize how tasty a simple parsley salad could be.

My mom had more parsley leftover after making two parsley salads, and so just threw it into a regular green salad. Sooo good. I really miss having a variety of green leafy vegetables available, and so adding parsley to salads is a great way to get more dark green vegetables into my diet. Plus it’s cheap and delicious. I highly recommend it.

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