Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Small Changes

If you're reading the on the main site then you might have noticed the new widget on the right side of the screen "What's Cooking?" I've started putting my menu planning on the kitchenpenguin Google calendar so you can see what's coming up. Yes, my breakfast is very boring: oatmeal (1/2 cup rolled oats, 1 T ground flax seed, 1 t brown sugar) and the occasional fruit. Also, my lunch is usually a repeat of the previous night's dinner. I put my lunches in nice bento boxes but the food isn't artfully arranged; this is why I rarely talk about the first two meals of the day.

The calendar widget is also a real time window into the scheduling part of my brain. The lentil soup moved a day back and the lunches shifted around to accommodate the glut of leftovers. I'll eventually expand the calendar entries to include ingredient lists as well.

Small post for today, I'm working on something longer for Friday. In the immortal words of Bill S. Preston, esq "Be excellent to each other."

Happy Cooking!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Wegmans Woodmore (aka, How KP spent her Sunday)

Firstly, I do not work for Wegmans...or in the food industry in general. However, I am now considering applying to work part time at the future Crofton, MD location; I have seen the sign for the future site and I am excited. I have shopped at five Wegman's locations, 3 in VA and 2 in MD, so I have a baseline for my Wegmans experience. The new store in Woodmore, MD felt like it was the biggest one that I have been in.

It was a mad house in the store at 9 AM. Thankfully, my shopping companion and I already had our cards so we didn't have to stand in the 20+ people deep lines at all the entrances. The main entrance, as with every Wegmans that I've ever been to, funneled the crowd into the vegetable section and that was a huge bottle neck. However, I must commend Wegmans on signage, traffic control, and having an employee in every aisle.

Bigger than a bread box differences:
  • There is a sit down restaurant. I had the mahi mahi sandwich and my companion had the crab cake sandwich, both very tasty meal options. We would have stayed for dessert but the band was starting their set and it was VERY loud in the Market Cafe. I understand that the restaurant is where they hold the cooking classes.
  • The store layout is flipped. The bakery, meat and prepared meals are to the left of the entrance; these things are to the right in the Hunt Valley and Potomac locations. Yes, there are other locations with these things on the left of the entrance but I usually shop at Hunt Valley so it was initially confusing for me.
  • Where are the penguins and cow? The model train was there but no penguins and cow.
Other things I noticed:
  • Still too far north for Cheerwine. Also, they don't have Diet Canada Dry Ginger Ale in anything smaller than a 2 liter bottle (important to my shopping companion).
  • Fabulous cheese department. OK, I admit to being biased because I have a friend that works in this department.
  • The only non-"baby" carrots in bags were Organic. While I do tend to prefer to purchase organic vegetables, I found the lack of options interesting.
  • Maybe I don't pay enough attention in the fruit section of the Hunt Valley Wegmans...they have passion fruit in Woodmore.
  • I really need to take a walk down the aisles in Hunt Valley because I didn't know that Wegmans includes the UK in their international foods section. They have McVitie's Penguins! Also, Jamaican guava jelly (a possible alternative when I run out of my supply from Hawaii).
So what did you buy?
  • "Baby" carrots (on the short list of vegetables that DBF eats)
  • Red seedless grapes
  • Bananas
  • Mushrooms
  • Pacific Vegetable Stock
  • Pacific Low Sodium Chicken Stock
  • Pretzel rolls
  • Bagels (plain, egg, blueberry, raisin & marco polo)
  • Gluten free pretzels (for a picnic next week)
  • Cream cheese
  • Eggs
  • Milk brie (should have used the $1 off coupon in the magazine but didn't see it until we got home) (for a picnic next week)
  • Port Salut (for a picnic next week)
  • Prosciutto (for a picnic next week)
  • Sirloin steak ($1 off coupon)
  • Butter (Free with $10 purchase)
  • Bread (Free with $10 purchase)
How was your weekend?

Happy Cooking!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Planning Ahead

I've been thinking about what I need to do in the next month and it isn't prudent to start a challenge right now. I need to clean the house, re-organize the kitchen (should have taken before photos), set up the new pantry space, plan the menu for Thanksgiving and get started on brewing Christmas gifts. Real life friends, I am NOT making any promises of brewed beverages for Christmas because I have never been able to pull this off...but I'm going to try one more time.

What's happening in the kitchen? We have acquired a side board that is now storing the service for 8 that DBF's mother gave us, my teapot & tea bowl collection, and eventually the crystal glasses (I'm making DBF help me move those from the cupboard). I'm getting rid of a small George Foreman grill (an item from my college days), Sunbeam Hotshot, and V slicer (it's a pain to clean so I don't use it). All this freed up enough cupboard space so that I could get the big Cuisinart and Kitchen Aid stand mixer off the counter. Small appliances still on the counter: toaster oven (needs to be replaced), electric kettle (used every morning), coffee grinder (also used every morning), and rice cooker. Once I get the crystal out of the cupboard next to the sink then I can move all the cups and mugs that don't live on the display/book shelves into the same cupboard. Why am I doing all this? After three years, I'm finally organizing the kitchen in the way that makes sense to opposed to how DBF set it up when he bought the house.

I have a very strong suspicion that I'll be receiving some small kitchen appliances for Christmas from DBF and his parents. His mother doesn't believe that I would actually want a waffle maker, stick blender, or blender...but I do...I REALLY do!

What about cooking? Oh yeah! There will be a pie comparison, homemade pumpkin puree vs canned. I need to test out side dishes. DBF is making lamb so I don't need to worry about cranberries this year. I was thinking about making a chorizo and mushroom strudel as a stuffing alternative for the turkey but I don't think chorizo and lamb go together very well. Or am I mistaken? Maybe some 3-Cheese Baked Cauliflower, this recipe looks promising and DBF just said that he might eat it. What do you like with your lamb?

Happy Cooking!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The 4 Fs and 1 E

As previously claimed, I have not abandoned the blogoshere and I do intend to make some changes here at KP HQ. The posting schedule will change from the original Monday to Friday to a Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule. This will help to stop the burn out that I would have by Thursday when writing posts was scraping the bottom of the mental barrel.

I had planned for this return post to be about a personal challenge that I want to undertake but that will have to wait until Friday so that I have a chance to run my idea past DBF first, he eats my food so I think it's only fair. Instead, I'm going to expound a bit upon the philosophy of this blog.

What is the point of this blogging experiment? Um...I'm not exactly sure yet; there is no mission statement for Kitchen Penguin. I was reading the article "There Is No Competition If You Build Something That Matters" and I'm going to start working on #1 Solve Your Own Problems. What are my problems? Caviar tastes on a canned tuna budget. I feel stagnated as a cook. Working 80+ hour weeks for the past five months means that we've been eating takeout at least twice a week and there has been little variety at the dinner table when I do cook. I worry about the environmental impact of the food that I'm buying; how does buying cheap, possibly pesticide laden, vegetables grown on the other side of the country balance out with saving other people's plastic bottles from the landfill?

Which brings us to the four Fs and 1 E of the KP philosophy. Family. Friends. Food. Fiscal responsibility. Environmental stewardship.

Family & Friends - I hope this doesn't need an explanation; these are the people that I care about most.

Food - This is a food blog. I like to eat. I like to cook. Once upon a time I fancied myself a journalist so I'm going to write about what I'm cooking and eating.

Fiscal Responsibility - Eating at gourmet restaurants and cooking with fancy ingredients using the best gear is fabulous...if it fits into your budget. Me? Not so much. I'd rather pay my credit cards in full at the end of the month and save for retirement. Debt makes me extremely stressed and I want to be semi-retired by 50 so I need to find balance in my food budget; not just good for the wallet but good for the waistline. I've learned that when I live large, I am large.

Environmental Stewardship - I recycle. Heck, I pick other people's bottles out of the trash can so that I can take them home for recycling and I collect my friend's Brita filters and take them to Whole Foods for recycling. I compost. I air dry my clothes. I try to support local and organic farmers. I am in the process of replacing my personal grooming products with more earth, and body, friendly alternatives. My friends say that I'm a little crunchy granola. I cried while watching No Impact Man because following his blog gave me hope during a rough patch in my life. Buy good quality food and eat less of it; Michael Pollan is right.

So there you have it, the 4 Fs and 1 E of Kitchen Penguin. It's a little late in the year to restart the garden but I can start planning for next year. Thanksgiving is coming up in 36 days; DBF is cooking lamb and I'm doing the side dishes. I am completely reorganizing the pantry and kitchen. There might be a personal challenge announced on Friday. Lots happening here at KP HQ, stay tuned for details.

Happy Cooking!