love in this moment

I’ve done something cuh-razy, and done away with Weekend Wrap-Ups. Kind of. Really, I just decided I’d rather call them something else. I thought “loving lately” sounded really catchy and witty, until I googled it and promptly realized that about a half bajillion other bloggers also thought it sounded really catchy and witty. So this week, I bring you the first edition of “love, in this moment.” Maybe next week it’ll be called something else. Maybe one day I’ll actually settle on one idea and not flit around like a wanderlust butterfly. Maybe. But until then, these are the blog-o-sphere links that I’m loving (lately), in this moment, now. Or something.

pinterest love.
Reason #I-lost-count why I really have no excuse not to work on my food photography asap.
I now want to add savory spices to otherwise sweet foods.
The solution to my I-can’t-food-prep-a-week-of-lunches-without-them-going-bad-before-I-eat-them problem.

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I cannot tell a lie: I ate three of these bread bowls in three days.

Antipasto Bread Bowl via @Floptimism

Can someone please at least give me brownie points for spacing them out as much as one day apart? And maybe an extra-extra point for graciously allowing L to have the fourth one (because apparently boys need to eat dinner, too, or something)?

Antipasto Bread Bowl via @Floptimism

Hearty, half-wheat bread bowls. Homemade giardiniera. Homemade vegan pesto. Artichoke hearts. Sundried tomatoes. More vegetables than will fit in said half-wheat bread bowls. This is what dreams are made of. Secret Tip: they are so much better if you let them sit for a long long time after assembling. Translation: all of it can be done ahead of time.

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Sunday Food Prep

I told you last week that I wanted to do something different for my next few food preps. Instead of just showing you the end result, I want to walk you backwards through how I make it happen; that way, anyone who is new to this concept (habit? activity? eh) can see it from a logistical standpoint. I say this, of course, as though I am the expert on food prep days. Lest you think that is at all accurate, let me say this: it’s not. Not not not. I’m learning, too, but as I continue to try new and different approaches, I’m finding what works and what doesn’t. And all I can ever do is share my own journey in the hopes that you will learn from my mistakes and not have to go through the muddy mess of figuring it out the hard way. If there’s anything at all I am a downright pro at, it’s doing things the hard way. It’s practically a hobby of mine.

Veggie Wontons via @Floptimism

There is a reason I want to move backwards. In the past four food prep posts, I have shown you tables spread with prepped food in order to inspire/motivate/encourage/etc. you to get in there and try it yourself. I truly do believe this is the first step — just get in there and do it. I don’t care if all you do is chop up some carrots and put them in baggies for grab-and-go snacks for the week. That’s something, and as I say to my clients all the time, every single extra step you take — no matter how big or small — is one more than you took yesterday. It’s so easy over-complicate just about everything in life (of which I am also a pro — see paragraph above about making all things difficult for myself), but when we strip everything down, what truly matters is usually very simple. In this case, it’s the actual act of prepping food that matters. Maybe you don’t do it efficiently. Maybe you don’t plan it much. Maybe you just say, hey, I’m bored and have half an hour, let me see what I can do to get ahead for the week. That’s awesome. Worry about the technique later. Re –> dive in head first, and work backwards.

First step — get in the kitchen and try something. Check? Good. Moving on.

Second step — choose one day that you’re going to tackle all of this prep, commit to it, and the day before, spend some time figuring out your plan of attack.

I guess that’s actually more like steps two through four, but to semantics, I say a big, fat meh.

Ok, so, second step — figuring out your plan of attack. Here’s how I do it:

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Sunday Food Prep

Sometimes, often, I pretend to find my weekend shifts at work bothersome. I grumble the night before as I collect my outfit and makeup and lay them out in the bathroom so that I can get ready in the morning without waking L. I give my breakfast and lunch tupperware dirty looks as I slide them onto the top shelf of the refrigerator. When my alarm jars me from my sleep at 10 of 7 I wake with a jolt, momentarily confused as to why L is still asleep beside me — doesn’t he need to shower? He’s going to be late! And then reality sets in, I orient myself, and 20 minutes later I’m out the door and on my way.

I play the part of a disgruntled weekend worker well, but beneath this guise lies the truth: I love it. A weekend day at work means a work day spent at home. I’m granted a Friday or a Monday for every Saturday or Sunday I spend at the store, and there is something so peaceful, so wonderful, about being home in the middle of the day, in an empty apartment, surrounded by empty neighboring apartments and a virtually empty parking lot. It’s quiet. I can hear myself think. I can talk to myself and L doesn’t give me a weird look. I love, love, love my weekends spent with him, especially after long weeks of working so far apart, but having that one day every few weeks that is all mine, it’s kind of nice.

And what do I do with my by-myself-days?

I watch old Lindsay Lohan movies on my laptop, simultaneously rolling my eyes and smiling to myself. I spend a solid 5+ hours in the kitchen, churning out all of this:

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Celery Bean Stew via @Floptimism

I’m staring at the working title of this post, Celery Bean Stew, and it seems so wrong. I added the descriptor “unforgettable” in front of it in a paltry attempt to jazz it up, yet it still is not enough. My brain is bursting with exclamation points and adjectives; I’m shouting my love for this stew from the rooftop of my pysche and every pore, every cell of my body is smiling, or would be if they had teeth and lips and cheeks of their own. I can hardly contain my enthusiasm for this piping hot bowl of perfection, and yet, its name is practically begging you to pass it by. I hope you won’t.

Homemade Celery Salt via @Floptimism

I was beyond skeptical of this stew. I made it because I had an alarming amount of celery in the refrigerator that I knew, underneath all of the foil I kept it wrapped in, was slowly turning, and if I wasn’t careful, soon I would unfold those metallic creases and come to find a putrid used-to-be-celery, aged beyond recognition. You see, I kind of, sort of, well actually…most definitely 100% do not like celery. If you chop it up, ok. If you douse it in peanut butter, and I mean seriously slather it on, maybe. Sometimes. More often than not, though, I get it close to my mouth, and I catch a whiff of that distinct celery scent, and I just can’t do it. So after buying a whole bunch of it to use 1 or 2 stalks in a recipe, and then promptly forgetting it even existed…well, it was either find a recipe that called for copious quantities of celery (that didn’t make me want to gag), or throw food away. And we all know how that goes over here in Floptimism land.

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Sunday Food Prep

I’ve never been one for semantics. I am, at times, imprecise with my language, and will absolutely glare at you if you call me out on it. (L knows this look quite well because he is all about semantics. By this, I mean he likes to employ appropriate vocabulary at appropriate times so that others understand what he’s trying to communicate, and therefore he does not like when I butcher the English language and assume that he’ll figure out what I’m blathering on about. Super lame.) Right now, as I sit here writing this “Sunday” Food Prep, all I can imagine is a doppelganger version of L perched on my shoulder, whispering in my ear that I really should call this Saturday Food Prep, or possibly Sunday* Food Prep with a little footnote at the bottom as a disclaimer. You see, I may be posting this on a Sunday (does that count? Let’s just say that counts!) but all of the prep actually occurred on a Saturday. And not just any Saturday, but a Saturday about a bajillion (ish) years ago. Oops.

This may happen from time to time, a.k.a. whenever I need to work on a Sunday. So to clear the air in advance, some of my Sunday Food Preps are maybe more accurately actually Saturday Food Preps. Consider yourself disclaimed.

That’s the beauty of Sunday Food Prep. It doesn’t really have to happen on a Sunday — it’s more about taking a day of the week when you have a bit of extra time (Sundays work for most people, hence the name), and getting a head start on your meals for the week. You can prep breakfast so you have it to grab on your way out the door, lunches so you aren’t tempted to order take-out throughout the week, and dinner so that when you come trudging through the door at 6pm and are so starving you want to eat STAT, you can have a well-thought-out meal on the table in sometimes as little as 10 minutes.

Here is what my most recent Sunday(*) Food Prep consisted of:

Sunday Food Prep 2.22.14

  • Spinach-Ricotta Gnocchi, chilled in the freezer for dinner the next night
  • Carrots & Mushrooms, prepped and ready to be roasted for dinner the next night.
  • Garlic Arrabiata Sauce for Chicken & Spinach Lasagna for dinner later in the week (& on the blog soon!!)
  • Chopped up some fresh cilantro to freeze before it got too sad and droopy
  • Made breadcrumbs out of whole grain bread that kinda fell apart in the freezer when L tried to separate the loaf.
  • breakfast and lunch for work the next day.

I’m still keeping my food prep a bit on the smaller side. We have a lot of food in the apartment right now, so I don’t find that I need to be making things like snack foods and desserts, which cuts down on some of the prep I could potentially be doing (and will likely do in the future). And I’m still trying to figure out how to prep my breakfasts and lunches for the week and keep them fresh, so maybe in future prep days I’ll have some tips on that.

Do you do big food prep days? What do you find helpful?

Looking for more Sunday Food Prep inspiration?
Sunday Food Prep #1
Sunday Food Prep #2

There are people in this world whose laughter coaxes the sun up at dawn each morning, whose passion propels the Earth along its steady rotation. They are the people whose smiles spread to those around them; they reach out and touch the darkest corners in a room, the darkest corners in another human being. They are the ones who inspire you to be better, greater, bigger than the person you were 10 minutes before meeting them, because they are better, greater, bigger than anyone else you know. There are people in this world who find happiness as natural as breathing, who cannot help but let their own joy spill out over the brim of their existence in all of their pursuits.

I am not one of those people.

My personal gravity draws me not toward joy, but toward achievement. I am a cog in a machine, a competent and driven individual whose character has long been defined by an unshakeable work ethic. I feel myself, at all times, pulled into a vortex of shoulds and ought tos, responsibilities and chores on a never-ending to-do list. There is an unmistakable satisfaction that comes with the pressed line I etch across a task upon completion, a check mark as thin as the line my lips form in concentration as I work, and work, and work. I have the uncanny talent of magically transforming all that I love into a task — in life, there are goals, and strategies to reach them, and when I’m particularly non-vigilant, little else.

I lose myself in my work, and by that, I mean a quite literal meaning of the word lost, in which the moment I surface I am gasping for air and disoriented, wondering where I am and how I got there to begin with. When I eventually find myself, I am not where I set out traveling or intended to be. I am often turned around and much closer to the very thing I was trying to move away from, than I am to the place I had every aspiration of reaching.

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Weekend Wrap-Up via @Floptimism

I can’t tell which I’m more excited for: the Oscars, aka a chance to ogle pretty/sometimes questionable gowns and applaud movies I have not yet seen but probably may possibly get around to watching… eventually… OR the hundredth snowpacalypse of the year. Oh no, wait, I know exactly which of those 2 things I am more excited for (hint: it does not involve mittens, salt-stained boots, or my Elmer Fudd hat). no matter, there are lots of other things I am also excited for – namely, the many wonderful links that I’m sharing today!

This Week on Floptimism:

Strawberry Ice Creignets via @Floptimism

Sunday, February 23rd: Sunday Food Prep #2
Tuesday, February 25th: The Real Milky Bun: Strawberry Ice Creignets
Thursday, February 27th: Thirty Minute Thursday: Rio Grande Spice Rub Fillets

Chicken Cacciatore Ravioli Stew via @Floptimism

Most Popular Post: Thirty Minute Thursday: Peppered Parmesan Popcorn
Most Tweeted Post: Thirty Minute Thursday: Chicken Cacciatore Ravioli Stew
Most Popular Post on Facebook: you have the power.

What I’ve Pinned This Week:
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Rio Grande Spice Steak via @Floptimism

With the exception of my foray into desserts on Tuesday, things around here have been a little…meaty. This is particularly the case with my Thirty Minute Thursdays, as I’ve found that the majority of Rachael Ray’s recipes do involve meat, and the various fruit and vegetable sides and desserts are all more suited to the produce available in Summer. I’ll bend and buy a bell pepper in February, but I put my foot down with ingredients like fresh tomatoes and peaches. After all, I want my food to taste good. We will all have to wait patiently for those, and while we’re waiting, it appears as though I have…more meat.

Rio Grande Spice Steak via @Floptimism

Red meat, as you can probably tell from the Floptimism archives, is a rare treat for us. I made the choice to eat exclusively 100% grass-fed beef a while back. The goal is to eventually make this transition with all animal proteins (well, pasture-raised, at least), including dairy, but it’s been difficult enough finding a good place to get high quality produce since moving to New York, much less pastured ground turkey and cheese from grass-fed cows. So for right now, the beef is the only thing I’m truly stubborn about, and honestly, it keeps our red meat consumption in check. And so I decided, after several months of branching out on our own, I would treat L to a nice steak dinner.

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Dreamy, fresh-churned strawberry ice cream fills the nooks and crannies of a fluffy, yeast-raised doughnut, and a layer of classic powdered sugar blankets it all.

Strawberry Ice Creignets via @Floptimism

Last week, I stood proudly on a soapbox made of determined goals to embrace the present, to root myself firmly in the reality of a winter that has not yet run its course. My shoulder turned, cold, on the many recipes whose under-, over-, and everything-tones screamed of warmer weather that will surely settle in, eventually, but not just yet. Not even a three day stretch of sunny reprieve could fool me; and it’s true, the temperature has dropped back down to the mid-20 range that guarantees my nose will turn to Rudolph’s in the time it takes for me to walk from my heated car to my insulated office. I swore to you there would be no strawberries.

Strawberry Ice Creignets 4 via @Floptimism

That was before a California donut shop stole my idea and infected the internet with its food porn photographs of what it calls Milky Buns and I call utter dejection. My opportunity to be a world-famous propagator of gluttony and capitalize on an over-the-top food craze has been shattered, denied, and I am left in the dust of the cyber buzz, clutching a picture of my own stuffed doughnuts and whispering, but I made it first.

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