A meal planning service that suits me, finally!

I have more than once admitted that menus are my addiction. They are probably what attracted me to retro cookbooks -- I see more meal plans in them, many of which are far far more interesting than tacos and pizza and similar overdones-by-Americans every week.

So once in a while I look again if there's a current service that will regale me with fun inbox stuff. Yesterday I discovered it! Thanks to www.thekitchn.com/two-of-our-favorite-food-bloggers-just-started-a-meal-planning-service-247965 -- I totally agree with them "Sweet Pea Meals is the meal planning service you want." The reasons I agree -- many of which were not apparent until I joined:
1. It looks great! So many even expensive services seem to be "designed" by the totally colorblind and otherwise aesthetically challenged.
2. At the same time, they give members a great printer-friendly version as well so you're not wasting ink.
3. It has great variety. Yes, you'll see tacos and pizza occasionally, but there's far more.
4. It gives lots of options every single week -- 6 dinners, plus lots of delicious-sounding ideas for breakfasts, lunches, often a cocktail and other beverages, and snacks. PLUS every season you get additional recipes for super-seasonal foods, plus another doc of recipes and ideas for celebrating during that season.
5. It's written very clearly and organized very rationally (including grocery and pantry ideas they send you immediately after joining). These clearly are professionals.
6. They prefer fresh herbs! Finally! And in more than teensy quantities -- these are people who really know how to cook, not who are just playing in their spice and dessicated herb sandbox.
7. They offer a private Facebook group, if anyone is interested.
8. They give a grocery list every week with space to add more if you'd like, and which is clearly labeled so you can easily omit any recipes you've decided you're not using.
9. VERY attractive to me, they give ideas for a very doable hour-long prep session to make the week ahead easier. These, like everything else I've seen, are intelligent -- they don't have you pre-slice the cucumbers for a certain salad, say, which will just become all awful, but they do suggest pre-cutting the carrots for another day.
10. They eat like I do  -- lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and nuts, sometimes vegetarian, true healthy where food "groups" are not weirdly omitted for the average human.
11. This sounds like a lot, but the recipes are not difficult nor crazy-time-consuming. The authors are young women with busy lives.
12. I am impressed that they have over-delivered -- that they give their members even more than promised. I was very badly burned by another service that gave overly complicated bland meals and dropped the breakfasts, cocktails, and party plans they had promised, so this is very important to me.
13. They make it easy to cancel if it doesn't suit you, so it won't autorenew when they clearly say it will. Again, unlike another service I tried.
14. They pay attention to food holidays!!!! That's really fun for me.

They offer a free 3-day plan! at their site, https://www.sweetpeasmeals.com/ -- though, as I said, it doesn't show completely how very wonderful this service is -- though it shows a lot and what I saw is what sold me on this service!
Someone is offering a generous discount code that worked for me yesterday: https://everyday-reading.com/meal-planning/ -- thank you!!


A fabulous source of templates for your menus!

and other wonderful planning fun! I learned about it through the extremely generous www.printablesandinspirations.com -- she also pointed me to thehungryjpeg.com for fun art, though I have not tried it yet.

The source of templates is www.canva.com/templates -- you can sign up for free, though there is a premium service available as well.

Mulberry and Almond Muesli

Toast in a big skillet until starting to get golden (along with any below seeds or nuts that haven't already been toasted):
   1-1/2 cups barley flakes (I like these, which I found at www.vitacost.com/shiloh-farms-organic-barley-flakes :)

   1/2 cup quinoa flakes

Add when completely cool:
   1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted, preferably sprouted
   heaping tablespoon sucanat or brown sugar
   1/2 cup dried mulberries (I like these, also found at www.vitacost.com/sunfood-raw-organic-white-mulberries :)
   1/4 cup almonds, toasted, left whole
   heaping tablespoon powdered milk
   plus a little salt if your almonds and/or seeds were not salted already


Very adapted from Gluten-Free Muesli in Rachel Khoo's great Muesli & Granola book


Trader Joe Eggs!

Trader Joe Eggs!

Can easily be doubled etc.

Scramble in olive oil mixture of
2 eggs
splash milk
up to 1 oz Trader Joe's Unexpected Cheddar
handful arugula, cut up (Trader Joe's is the freshest)
(note no salt nor pepper)

Top with
    Trader Joe's dukkah


Changed a lot from the March 2018 delicious. magazine's recipe for Watercress Eggs

Candies of the month!

seen on Pinterest, unfortunately no source nor date given...I'm guessing 1950s....


My favorite aprons by far!

...are all from the Vermont Apron Company. I completely need an apron that doesn't pull on my neck (so whose "supports" are against my back rather than neck), doesn't look silly since I wear it for hours most days (so isn't in unattractive colors), actually protects my clothes (so isn't tissue-thin), and doesn't require contortion to put on or take off (so has big-enough openings for my big head). I've been looking for ages for such a well-designed apron, and that is also well-made with well-finished seams, in material that doesn't fade nor wrinkle more than is just natural, and I found more than one at their site, https://www.vermontapron.com/ . Not every single one would work for me, but I'm unique, and I am so very happy with this company! My current favorites -- the rose one is incredibly pretty in person, because the colors are even nicer than in the picture:


I love that you can get them in various lengths. I like a few aprons in shorter lengths for summer weather, and ones like the rose one are so darling short, but otherwise I prefer longer to protect my clothes since I'm so messy!

Delicious savory eggs

These were amazing, though I didn't take a fabulous photo...


delicious savory eggs

Fry in olive oil on one side then turn over:
            egg(s)
            some salt

Top with in this order and cover with lid:
            arugula
            blue cheese
            mustard

When cooked, top with:
            black pepper





New big storage ideas for a retro kitchen

I learned a lot the past month or so about kitchen storage, and we've ended up with a much more useful and fun kitchen as a result!

First I learned Don't Overload Your Wall Cabinets. I was unknowingly asking it to hold 2.5x more than is the standard (15 pounds per square foot) of the official Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers' Association, due to tall stacks of plates that weighed over 2 pounds each! As a result one cabinet started leaning out from the wall! It's fixed now, but those plates and similar weighty items could not go up there any more.

We already didn't have as much kitchen storage in this house as we had ever since we got married zillions of years ago, but to remodel the kitchen would have cost the earth and it would not have been to the taste of those who will inherit this house. So we started looking for additional standalone storage.

I wanted all hardwood, but those who made it for our area were getting awful reviews and charging ever so much, so we compromised for these colorful ones which are almost all real wood and are so cute, actually from Target! We got 2 islands and 1 "jelly cabinet" (the last one, sorry, but it sounds like they're getting more; they're in the Windham line by Threshold). They blend more than I expected, though I believe would look better with knobs that match the permanent cabinetry better. Also, these at least when I looked came in different colors.

I also learned that if an item goes on sale at Target not long after you buy it, you can get a refund! Thank you so much, Target! I appreciated that so much that when my coffee grinder (sourced years ago from someone else) stopped working a day later I immediately ordered a replacement from Target, which gets things to me quickly and at a fabulous price -- and not used!, which has been a problem with a certain unnamed giant online retailer and with a certain unnamed luxury kitchen retailer!

We actually have more storage than we need now, partly because we cut down when we got this smaller kitchen! I learned the great pleasure and usefulness of the wide drawers on those islands (they look like 2 drawers but are 1 each island) -- now I can actually put in 1 stack each the papers I use to organize grocery shopping, food storage, and meal planning.

Luscious Mushroom Green Bean Vegetarian Main

very adapted from one of my favorite retro cookbook sources...which I admire for including some vegetarian mains when that wasn't very common, and without fanfare.


Luscious Mushroom Green Bean Vegetarian Main

Do to taste and per # of people.

Saute in olive oil & butter:
         onion chopped
         mushrooms sliced (Portobello is very tasty)
Meanwhile cook
         green beans (in mw or steamer)
Combine the above then add to make a bit of a sauce (not too much liquid though)
         a bit of seasoned salt if required
         black pepper
         bit of flour (for thickening)
         half and half (milk will not be as luscious but should work too) (don't use a huge amount)
Simmer gently just until flour is cooked, a couple minutes maybe. Don't let it boil a lot and therefore curdle.
Serve over
         a grain (for a fancy meal do baked puff pastry!)
Top with
         roasted salted cashews
         grated Parmesan

Very adapted from Green Bean, Cashew, and Mushroom Casserole in the Volume 8 of Woman's Day Encyclopedia of Cookery, 1966



A Tasty Walnut Shake


Just blend…
    3 tbl toasted walnuts
    2 dates torn up
    ½ frozen banana
    2 tbl coconut
    7/8 cup milk


Some people like this with cinnamon and honey too, but this is very tasty to me…