You guys, I had an epiphany this week. Most of my friends have heard me say that I have named my thirties my “decade of epiphanies”. So many things, big and small, are clicking for me in a way they never did before and I love it. I’m probably the last person on earth to know about this but in case I’m not, I have to share: Mason jar beans. Here’s the deal, I’ve been blogging for all of two weeks and I have learned so much already. This past week was the first time I ever legitimately attempted meal planning. Some of my favorite bloggers have raved about it and I really liked the idea of meal planning but it always seemed like such a hassle to me.
I think part of my “pre-healthy” eating thought process was echoing in my mind: that I didn’t know enough recipes to be able to plan a week’s worth of meals and that I needed more flexibility than a meal plan offered, I don’t live a regimented life and some days I just want an apple and a handful of almonds for dinner. But once I started this blog I realized that at least partial meal planning would be required.
Last weekend when I sat down to find some meals I wanted to make for the week, I wasn’t sure how to even start. The Cheshire cat popped into my head and I heard him advising Alice “if you don’t much care where you want to go, then it doesn’t matter which way you go.” So I decided I wanted to end up spending the least amount of money at the grocery store and using up the perishables in my fridge. I knew I had to use up the chicken so that was good for a couple of meals plus a few pieces chopped into a lunch salad through the week, and I always incorporate whichever veggies are on rotation in my CSA box so that was my starting point. I had a couple of limes and lemons which gave me the inspiration for the chili lime tacos which led to the idea of the Mexican rice side dish (using both the rice and tortillas I had in the pantry). The cucumber in the fridge led to the cucumber soup, the lemon led to the scrumptious cookies, and the peaches to the oatmeal (which let me finish off the last of the steel oats in the cupboard).
Not every meal was planned but I don’t have a regular schedule and I don’t always eat the same number of times per day. I did make sure I had at least one meal per day planned (dessert can count as a meal, right?) and I knew if the dishes were tasty enough I would be happy to have leftovers! I realized that meal planning doesn’t mean you have to plan 3 meals + 3 snacks per day, but having one meal planned per day is immensely helpful.
Ok, that whole long rant was to get to the epiphany about beans: so among my pantry items was also a bag of dried black beans. I knew I was going to make the zucchini, black bean, and chicken stir fry during the week so Monday morning I dumped the beans in a pot of cold water and let it sit for 24 hours on the back (unlit) burner of the stove. The first thing I did when I started cooking on Tuesday was to drain and rinse the soaked beans then cook them at a simmer with two cloves of garlic (peeled but not chopped) for about ninety minutes. Once they softened, I drained them in a colander and split them among two small 8oz mason jars and voilà I had the equivalent of canned beans ready to go whenever I decided to make the stir fry. This coupled with the awesomeness that is meal planning means be prepared for many more happy bean bites in the future!
Recipe I most wanted to try last week: Spaghetti Squash + Garlic + Parmesan at Salt Pepper Skillet.
Best dessert recipe I found last week: Banana Pudding Bites with Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt at Maebelles.
Best book I read last week: A Man Came Out of a Door in the Mountain by Adrianne Harun. Such a fantastically Gaiman-esque story with a shimmering layer of Stephen King influence. Filled with meandering sentences that build a mesmerizing world, Harun guides your senses so you can hear the crackle of the forest fires, taste the smoke on the back of your throat and feel the shiver from the devil’s cool, smooth hand on your shoulder. This isn’t a quick read but I found myself eagerly anticipating the end of each day so I could devour a few more chapters.
Best thing I saw on Netflix last week: Narco Cultura, a gorgeous but heartbreaking film looking at both the people fighting the drug war in Juarez and those who have embraced the music of the drug culture as the “new American dream”.
Album most repeated on ipod last week: My Head is an Animal by Of Monsters and Men
I can’t go back to yesterday because I was a different person then.
-Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland #1