Sep 25 2009

What’s for Dinner

This week our veggie box held: beets, chard, two bunches of lettuce (one romaine and one red leaf), a bag of arugula, a bunch of cilantro, a big bag stuffed with baby bok choy, a pint of cherry tomatoes, six medium red tomatoes, four gypsy peppers, and four Gala apples. We ate the beets first, in a salad, and then last night we had steaks and another salad (with avocado-buttermilk-cilantro dressing; a Cook’s Illustrated recipe and very good). Robin has already eaten all of the apples too!

Tonight we’re having chard quesadillas; the recipes in the box recommended it, and I think it sounds like a great idea. Tomorrow night we’ll have Indian-spiced okra, with the tomatoes, over brown rice. Sunday I’ll roast a chicken, and then Monday I’ll use the carcass to make broth for hot-and-sour soup with the bok choy. Tuesday night, leftovers.

I mentioned that I’ve been tracking my expenditures closely over the past week. We spent $245.54 on groceries last week: that includes lunch and dinner for all of us, cat food for Marlis, a couple bottles of wine, $31.50 for the weekly veggie box and $41.77 on Sunday brunch — but doesn’t include things like diapers and dishwashing detergent. That’s insanely high, right? It seems insanely high. I’d be really interested to know what other people budget for groceries, especially those living in the Bay Area.

One thing we could do to rein in our food costs would obviously be to switch from eating out once a week to once every other week. Another would be to stop shopping at Whole Foods, but since that’s actually a high point of my day, I’m pretty reluctant to give it up. A third thing would be to cut back on the most flagrantly self-indulgent foodie purchases, like, say, the rosemary pheasant paté that I bought at Whole Foods last week. (I was just so charmed by the idea of putting paté in Sam’s bento!) Thrift, it does not come naturally to me. I’ll see if I can do better this week.

Sep 17 2009

What’s for Dinner

In our veggie box this week we got a bunch of radishes, a bunch of chard, a pint of figs, four grapefruits, a bunch of beets, three eggplants, four sweet peppers, four yellow summer squash and three pattypans. Yesterday Robin and I had the squash for lunch, mixed in with some macaroni and cheese from a box, and for dinner we had sauerkraut soup: I love sauerkraut so I was intrigued by the recipe, but although it wasn’t bad I don’t think it’s good enough to make again.

Tonight we’re having baked potatoes with sauteed garlicky chard, and I mean to make this a habit, because I’ve realized that one way to cut down on our grocery costs is to have a baked-potato-and-vegetable night once a week. I spend a lot on groceries, as may be apparent: I like to cook with frou-frou ingredients like fancy cheeses, and I like to buy organic/humanely raised meat and produce, yadda yadda—basically I’m a Whole Foods drone. But also, I’m very aware of how lucky I am to live in a time and a place where so many different delicacies are readily available. The average American today can easily partake of a gourmand diet that surpasses what emperors commanded in past eras; I’m pretty sure Caligula would be jealous of our table. And I want to take full advantage of living in this window in time. If they put She Ate Well on my tombstone, I’d be pretty satisfied with myself. But I know it’s perfectly possible to eat well for much less than what I’m currently spending, so I’m making an effort to rein in our grocery costs.

Having scheduled such a thrifty meal for Friday night, I feel perfectly justified in planning fancy sandwiches for Saturday: I’ll roast the red peppers, grill the eggplant and pattypan squashes with some olive oil and thyme, and we’ll have them sandwiched on a slab of herb bread (I might make my own, or buy some from the bakery if I don’t have the time) spread with goat cheese and tapenade. Suck it, Caligula!

Sunday I’ll make split pea soup and a big salad with roasted beets, blue cheese, and candied walnuts in a balsamic vinaigrette (the recipe for this is in the Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market Cookbook, and it’s become my favorite way to have beets). I’ll add in the radishes too. Monday some sort of pasta, and Tuesday, leftovers.

As for the fruit, I’m going to make another tray of fresh fig bars because Robin really loves them, and I’ll eat the grapefruits for breakfast. Robin doesn’t like them; too bitter I guess.

I know it’s a personal question, but if anyone feels comfortable sharing how much of their budget goes each week to food, I’d be really interested in comparing. I’m going to track everything rigorously from tomorrow to next Friday, including restaurant meals and the odd jaunt down to the corner store, and I’ll post our own numbers then.

Sep 14 2009

Mommy, Mommy

Robin has made the leap from babbling “mama” to saying “Mommy” quite clearly when he wants my attention. I was delighted by this for about half a day, until it became clear that he doesn’t just say Mommy. He also cries it, wails it, sobs it: Moooommmeeee, Moooommmeee, with a quaver in his voice and tears shining in his sweet face. It’s a devastating weapon he’s developed, the nuclear option of the toddler world, and he unleashes it at the very slightest provocation. Are the fig bars gone? Moooommmeee, Moooommmeee, as if his little heart were breaking. Have I refused to put in a movie for him? Moooommmeee, Moooommmeee. Is he getting sleepy? Does he want a bath? Will the kitty not let him pet her? Moooommmeee!

He’s a little bit sick—I am, too: it’s just a runny nose and a sore throat. I fear it’s making us both whiny.

Of course just as I decide I’m going to barricade myself in the bedroom he goes and does something weird and cute, like licking me, which is apparently the new game du jour. When I go “ewww!” he laughs like a fiend. And I’m willing to be licked for hours if it means I don’t have listen to the piteous wail of Moooommmeee.

Sep 10 2009

Robin Update

Nanita sent two pictures from her recent visit—the first one she calls “Train Guys” because it’s hilarious how Robin is standing around just like one of the men:

And the second is from inside the train:

Sam and I took Robin to the beach over the Labor Day weekend, and we got some pictures of him there:

It’s hard to notice changes in his development, as it’s happening so gradually now, but he’s definitely taller and his face is becoming less babyish. He plays with other children at the park for longer periods and in more complicated games (he likes to do something resembling tag, although he’ll change his mind abruptly about who is “It”). He bestows hugs and kisses freely on everyone who crosses his path. He tries to pull up his own pants, sometimes when he’s already wearing pants. He also likes to tromp around wearing Sam’s or my shoes.

He enjoys playing in the bath, but hates to get his hair wet, and was terrified of the surf when we brought him too far down the beach. He likes to be read storybooks every day: he’ll most often bring us Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are or Crazy Hair by Neil Gaiman, but he also likes That’s Not My Dragon, a Pat the Bunny type textured book. He sings and dances to recorded music, but he doesn’t like it when Sam or I sing; I find this highly weird and can’t wait until he can talk well enough to explain it to me.

His main focus in play still consists of taking things out of containers and putting them back into different containers. He also very much likes pouring liquids from one container to another. He’s also fascinated by electronics and loves to push buttons of any sort, especially elevator buttons. He loves escalators too and would ride them endlessly as far as I can tell. He still loves Sesame Street and his favorite movie is The Jungle Book. He’s getting pickier about food, preferring pasta and rice to vegetable dishes—some days he doesn’t eat much at all, and other days he finds something he likes and wolfs it down. He seems to get enough variety that I’m satisfied.

And I think that’s pretty much the State of the Robin!

Sep 10 2009

What’s for Dinner

vegetable torta

I found this picture on Sam’s camera: it’s a vegetable torta I made weeks ago. Wasn’t it pretty?

This week seems to be going better than the last one. My cellphone actually revived itself after a few days, and we got our vegetables yesterday. I have to admit I had a pang of sadness when I saw chard in the box. Is summer over already? Not that I don’t like chard&#8212I do—but I know from last year that it’s going to be chard and kale all through the winter.

There were still tomatoes, though, so that’s nice and summery. Our late summer vegetable box included, in full, a bag of grapes, a bundle of thyme, a bunch of chard, a pint of figs, a pint of cherry tomatoes, six heirloom tomatoes, a small eggplant, three zucchinis, four peaches, and five yellow sweet peppers.

Robin has already eaten all the grapes, and we had the cherry tomatoes for lunch yesterday, mixed into a box of macaroni and cheese. For dinner last night I made shrimp-and-sausage gumbo, using the big tomatoes and the sweet peppers (and okra, of course; I’m still craving okra and I guess I’d better start shoveling it in for as long as it’s available).

Pros: The gumbo was delicious. I think I’ll put up the recipe in another post, maybe after I get Sam to take a picture of it.
Cons: There is enough gumbo to last us the rest of the week, if we eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

I think we’ll have it again later this week and then I’ll freeze whatever’s left. Tonight we’re going to have baked potatoes and sauteed chard; I need something quick and easy since we’re going out to look at houses tonight (SIGH). I’ll make fig bars during the day today.

Tomorrow night, leftover gumbo; Saturday, glazed chicken breasts and rice; Sunday, baba ghanoush, pita bread, and dolmades; Monday, a big salad with roasted beets and ears of fresh corn; Tuesday, spaghetti bolognese.

Sep 3 2009

Bad Week

The house deal fell apart and our vegetable box was stolen. Robin poured a glass of water over my cellphone and now it’s a nice paperweight.

I’m reminding myself that at least we all have our health. Somebody at Sam’s work came down with swine flu, so “at least we don’t have swine flu” makes a pretty good refrain. For now.