Yes please! home design

There's a wonderful home, still available as I write, that has "a separate kitchen wing with both a breakfast room and a snug"! as reported in, well, next month's The English Home US edition. You can see much more at its realtor's site: http://www.jackson-stops.co.uk/cgi-bin/properties/summary-details.pl?propID=81976 , which mentions more food glories: "Lying between the drawing room and study is an internal corridor with steps up to a cloakroom and apple store with original safe. The study has a cosy feel and has steps down to the wine cellar with brick divisions providing storage bins." And if you like me realized I never really knew what a snug was outside of a pub, here are ideas: https://www.houseandgarden.co.uk/gallery/stylish-snug-idea .


Homemade TV Dinners!

September 10 is National TV Dinner Day! Last year I sort-of missed it and really wanted to make my own this year! I ordered trays from https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B012BZDOHC/ that turned out to be perfect for this! Here's my first try:


It was really tasty!! But a bit too much food! I got the ideas from the 1972 edition of the Betty Crocker Do-Ahead Cookbook, pictured here with a Sweet Peas Meals! bit and a menu I made up for us for a little health concern:

BUT so far the only thing I've used from the book are the TV dinners ideas, which basically are to put these in a covered oven-safe divided dish:
MEAT: Always cooked. Either have a very tasty juicy meat (like the leftover sausage patties we had) or have one with a sauce.
VEGETABLES: Use frozen ones, put some butter on top. (We had carrots and green beans plus a marvelous potato latke -- a potato pancake with onion -- we find here sometimes.)
RICE: Use instant/Minute rice in the proportions of 3 tbl rice to 1/4 cup water plus some salt, pepper, and if you'd like a flavoring like a bit of curry powder. (We had instant brown which I hadn't actually frozen, but I think that was ideal because it takes longer to cook and this way it was perfect.)

To cook: 450 in a convection oven for about 25 minutes (in a normal oven same if you only have 1 tray, otherwise maybe 5 more minutes).

Of course my favorite part of TV dinners was always the desserts!! For any that need a crust to get crispy near the end, the tops of these pans would not work really because you'd need to uncover a bit, though I guess you could put the crusty food in a corner and turn the pan's lid to the side?

In this age of microwaves, though, I wondered, how in the world did my mom keep us kids from burning ourselves on the pans on the rare days she served TV dinners?! I've asked her...

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!!

Update after using them for weeks now: I love them even more! Many of their recipes have already become favorites! and all of them were really easy!


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!