Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

Decorating for new year

As we see the tail of tiger retreating and the twitching nose of the rabbit waiting in the wings we know that 2011 is upon us. We're preparing food to take to a New Year's eve party but a year ago I was in Hawaii with my family preparing our traditional New Year foods: soba, ozoni, pig's feet soup, konbu maki, nishime, yokan (homemade this year), namasu and sekihan. Alas, I'm on the east coast and the nearest shinto shrine is over 200 miles away. So I participate in my new traditions: spending time with my friends, black eyed peas and Scotch whiskey (not necessarily a New Year's thing but it seems to happen when we get together). I hope that you and yours have a safe and happy New Year. Proceed with diplomacy. Be calm and gentle, but persistent.

Warm Wishes,

Photo by Otodana "Decorating for new year."

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

As if My Innards Are Fighting a War With My Food

Life at Blackbird Tavern has been interesting, to say the least. DBF is on his second round of cough syrup with codeine...and I'm in denial that I'm sick beyond the help of OTC medication. Last week was a wash, I actually took a sick day for the first time in over a year, so we ate a lot of take out. It's difficult to write about cooking or finance or environmentalism when you're not practicing any of the above. Eating out means that I'm not cooking, I'm blowing the food budget and there's take out containers full of food that is probably bad for me.

What happens when you're sick? Do you have a pantry set up that allows you and your family to continue having a normal life when you can't cook? Do you go for the easy solution or do you stick to your diet plan? What's your favorite thing to eat when you're sick?

I'm going to have some hot tea and toast...hopefully I won't spend the next half hour laying on the couch thinking that I'm about to recreate a scene from Alien.

Warm Wishes,

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas from Blackbird Tavern

Merry Christmas from DBF and Kitchen Penguin! We hope you have a safe and happy weekend.

Friday, December 10, 2010

KP's Completely Arbitrary but Possibly Life Changing Project

We are 22 days into the month of December and I am 22 days into my project. What's the project? I don't have a catchy name so we'll call it "KP's Completely Arbitrary Project." (Can you think of a better name? Leave a comment.) It's a little bit like Sharon Astyk's Anyway Project and a little bit like Andrew Wilder's October: Unprocessed. Basically, I'm fixing DBF's and my health by changing how and what we eat. My kitchen is where I find my center in, what I perceive to be, the chaos of my life. Change happens slowly for me; I am like the river slowly eroding the rock...and meandering. I have no illusions of completely changing DBF's eating habits, he won't suddenly start liking salads, but I intend to improve upon the quality of the food that he consumes.

Twitter followers will notice that I've been doing a lot of baking this month. Well, it's December and I need to make gifts. I'm also trying to use up all my mixes because that's phase one of the project, "use up the prepared/pre-packaged foods." Thus far, I have used all the cake mixes and I'm down to my last packs of brownies and muffins. The challenge is using the big box of pancake mix that I bought right before Thanksgiving; in hindsight, I should have purchased a box from a store other than Costco. We also have a good collection of canned soup but I can always take those to the food bank. Cleaning out the freezer will be difficult because we're down to the store bought frozen entrees that I don't like, ie. orange chicken with too much peel. I don't want to throw out food and I can't donate frozen meals so these items might end up in other people's freezers.

Some Guidelines
  1. Eating out should be avoided. That being said, I will not turn down a free meal but all unplanned free meals must have a planned meal as a back-up (ie. I cannot go to work without a packed lunch because they're having training in my office and I might be able to snag something). In an effort to be sociable, I can have one planned meal out once a week. Starbucks can happen two times a month.
  2. Every effort should be made to make meals from scratch. I will eventually find something that I can't make myself or the equipment/materials to make the ingredient is cost prohibitive on a home scale. Balsamic vinegar comes to mind.
  3. Comparisons of commercially produced products to the homemade equivalent will be documented. I really enjoyed doing the pumpkin pie test.
  4. Food must be prepared for travel lasting less than two days. This is actually an extension of guideline #1 but I log a good number of frequent flier miles and I don't like ending lists on #4.
  5. DBF is exempt from guideline #1 if he's spending his own money but I will offer to pack him breakfast and lunch Monday to Friday.
Phase 1 (Using Up the Open Mixes) will extend through the end of January since I keep finding more processed food as I clean the pantry.

Phase 2 will involve baking, lots of baking. I make an OK white bread and quick breads but I need to work on replacing the hamburger and hot dog rolls that I purchase from the store.

Phase 3 is getting into serious canning. I'll be making sauerkraut between Christmas and New Years but the major canning goals for 2011 are: apple sauce, tomato sauce, strawberry preserves, bread and butter pickles, corn (creamed and regular), and green beans. This will replace the majority of the canned goods that I purchase.

I'm still trying to figure this out so things will change. What are your food plans?

Warm Wishes!