Food plan for May

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Since May is just around the corner I decided to get to work putting together a food plan for the coming month. My aim is to eat healthier food by cooking from scratch as much as I can and focusing on eating more fruit and veggies. I also think it’ll help me save money, since I’ll only buy what I plan on eating and hopefully that means less food will end up in the rubbish bin.

I’m a bit obsessive when it comes to organising things, which sometimes results in a brilliant plan, but not a lot of action. I am determined to follow through this time, and I will write about it here regularly.

I’m quite looking forward to May. I’m starting a new job, which will keep me busy until the end of July (at least). It’s the full time 9-5 kind of employment, which means a healthy schedule, early mornings, and a perfect opportunity to eat well.

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One day…

I’ve spent most of my life being a student. A broke student. Even though I know I’m supposed to live for today and focus on the now, I still have a long list of things I will do or experience one day. When it comes to food the “one day…” sentences seem to be endless.

Some of the recipes I intent to try “one day” are recipes that require specific appliances and tools that I simply don’t have. Slow cookers seem to be very popular right now and I keep running into slow cooker recipes that I’m dying to try. But, alas, I don’t have a slow cooker and as far as I can tell they are expensive here in Iceland (like everything), so these recipes have been relegated to the “one day” list.

Others are so long and full of expensive ingredients that I simply cannot justify even thinking about trying them. Every time I go to grocery shopping I have to make sure I buy (mostly) things that I can use often or to make large batches I can freeze. Very specific ingredients I’m likely to use only a few times a year (if that) just don’t make the list. And in some instances the recipes include things I do not have access to.

I generally only ever cook for one, and most of the time I can’t be bothered to spend ages in the kitchen making something complicated/costly if the only person who is likely to eat it is me. That makes what I eat sometimes a little less exciting than I’d like for it to be, but one day maybe I’ll have a family and/or enough space to invite people over, and enough money to buy what I need for fancy dinner parties. One day!

And then there are the recipes I save because they look interesting, and then I just never get to it. I can’t even explain those.

And finally, some ingredients I’m afraid of. Almost anything with meat that isn’t just chicken or minced beef is almost terrifying. Artichokes. I really want to try them, but I’m afraid I’ll hate them (which is silly because I’ll generally eat almost anything).

Examples:

Roasted Brussel Sprouts and Cranberries with Barley – I don’t think I’ve ever seen fresh brussel sprouts in Iceland, and as much as I’d love to try this I’d much rather do it when I have access to all the ingredients, enough money to not feel like I’m wasting it, and someone else around to eat it with.

Mango Citrus Cooler – I don’t have a blender!! *sad face* Also, what on earth is “Crystal Light lemonade mix”?! I hate recipes with ingredients that are specific to certain countries, but that’s a separate issue altogether.

Banoffee Pie – Banoffee pie is my favourite desert EVER! Seriously. I saw a frozen one in an Iceland supermarket recently, but I’d love to make my own. But where on earth do I get condensed milk around here?! *despair* I’ll figure it out…one day!

Fresh pasta. – I’d love to try making my own pasta, but I’d like to do it with good ingredients (not just regular flour), and I know I don’t really need a pasta machine, but it would be so much fun that way. 😛

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Food is complicated

Why is eating so complicated? It’s supposed to be satisfying and enjoyable, and while it usually is just that, it also has a tendency to come with guilt and shame and even a little bit of fear.

Just now I finished eating a meal, which admittedly wasn’t the most balanced meal in existence. For lunch today I cut half a bacon sausage/loaf thing into small cubes, which I then fried before adding a tin of tomatoes and some spices. With it I had pasta and cheese on top. Salty, processed and fat. Very smart. 😛 I had some leftovers of the bacon sausage sauce thing and I ate it just now with mashed cauliflower (with too much butter).

See, here’s the thing. I am full. But just a few minutes after I finished eating I started craving more…something sweet this time. This always happens, I eat something, and then I start craving sweets. I don’t nearly always indulge, usually because I don’t have any candy lying around (I avoid buying it most of the time), but the craving is terribly frustrating.

Why can’t I just eat until I’m full and then feel satisfied until I’m hungry again? Why must my brain play tricks on me?

So I googled the problem, and found this on livestrong.com.

So basically it’s something like this:

  • “Neurochemical changes” due to a diet full of sugar and fat. It creates a sort of habit where I don’t feel properly full until I’ve met the “need” I’ve developed for sugar and fat in my food.
  • Serotonin levels rise as I eat, but then fall quickly because my meal has too much of the simple stuff (read: sugar) that makes me happy quickly but doesn’t last. So I start craving more of it as soon as the “high” passes.

Well, that’s all well and good. So I should eat better food, and overcome my addiction to sugar. Because we all know by now that fat isn’t the problem, sugar is. The tricky part is the fact that there’s sugar in everything!

I bought that stupid bacon thingie because it’s cheap. My food budget is limited and the processed, sugary, fat food is by far the cheapest. Cooking it is also less work. It’s not really much of an excuse, I know, but we’re constantly told to eat better food while the efforts to make the “good food” more easily available are limited at best.

So that leads to stress because eating is so complicated and costly, guilt because I’m overweight and everyone tells me it’s all my fault, shame because I like food and as an overweight person I should just never eat…or something.

And a bit of fear that I’ll never feel comfortable, and that I’m going to die a slow painful death because I didn’t eat “right”.

I have a strong feeling that I’m not the only person who feels this way. I always mean to buy more vegetables and fruit and eat more wholegrain things and drink lots of water. But when I’m practically counting every króna I think twice before buying bread that’s healthier but twice as expensive, or loads of vegetables that I might end of throwing away because something came up and I ended up not being able to cook for two days and they started to rot. I’m only ever cooking for one, and that’s remarkably difficult sometimes.

And my Coke Light makes me happy dammit.

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I am the silliest person ever

So last night I created this blog. Awesome right? Very productive and inspired and cool.

Meanwhile the kitchen looks like this:

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So yes, I made a food blog…while procrastinating on cleaning the kitchen. You know, that room where most of the food blog related action is going to take place. *rolls eyes*

To be fair, I have a cold and I’ve spent the last few days on the couch feeling sorry for myself, and creating a blog is less hard, physical work than cleaning the kitchen. At this point I take one step in there and immediately want to flee. So all I’ve eaten for the last few days is pizza (the cheap frozen kind), leftovers from the freezer (I love having leftovers in the freezer), and just now some tuna salad (read: tuna and mayo, very exciting).

The point I’m trying to make here is that this was the worst time ever to start a food blog. This is why I am the silliest person ever.

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Recipes I’ve favourited on foodgawker lately

I spend quite a bit of time browsing various websites for recipes, some of my favourites are foodgawker, Pinterest, and – believe it or not – the ‘recipes’ and ‘food’ tags on Tumblr (and no, you’re not getting my Tumblr account name 😛 ).

Since my sister announced that I am officially on her food blog roll, I figured I might as well put together a bit of a list of interesting recipes I’ve found on foodgawker lately.

Basic meatloaf from The Meaning of Pie

I think I remember my mother making some kind of meatloaf when I was a kid. I considerably pickier about food back then and I hated it. For some reason I’ve had some kind of craving for it for a few months now and I’ve saved a few recipes from here and there. I just keep forgetting to actually try making it. This particular recipe seemed simple enough…except that I doubt I’d go with the three different types of meat. Maybe two?

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Bratwurst and bean skillet supper from Curry and Comfort

Back when I was living in England, my friend Adam once cooked dinner for me. He made some kind of sausage in onion gravy with mashed potatoes (bangers and mash, basically). It was delicious. I made something similar for myself at some point too. I’ve been meaning to figure out a way to do that here, since the sausages you can get in shops in Iceland are nothing like the English ones. However! We recently got a few Iceland supermarkets and one time I went there I saw a bag of frozen English sausages and I’ve been meaning to buy some.

This recipe isn’t the same thing, but when I saw it I was intrigued because it reminded me of Adam’s bangers and mash and so I saved it. I can get bratwurst in regular supermarkets here and it has beans and it’s probably quite good with mashed potatoes. And somehow I’m sure it’ll make me miss England (and Adam) some more.

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Citrusy red lentil salad from Local Kitchen

I keep saving salad recipes, but I rarely look at them again. I keep feeling like fresh vegetables are too expensive, and fresh salads tend to not keep for long. I think I’m probably more likely to try out some interesting salads when cooking for more people, and not just myself. So one day maybe.

This one looked nice. I like salads to have something sweet in them, and something crunchy or chewy, like croutons or beans or pasta.

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Banana cake with caramel buttercream and dark chocolate ganache from Western Living

This just looks amazing. Banana and caramel and chocolate and guh!

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Kitchen appliances and tools I want and/or need

Late 2010 I moved to England. At the time I had no intention of returning (naive?) and I didn’t have a way to store most of my things. At that point I had quite a bit of kitchen tools and appliances, at least enough to be able to do most of what I wanted in the kitchen. Roughly a year later I was back in Iceland and I had next to nothing…of anything, really. Since then I’ve moved around and been mostly dependent on what tools the people I lived with had.

I’m somewhat settled in now, and I don’t foresee having to move any time soon. I’m also close to having a slightly more substantial income, with which I aim to rebuild my kitchen stash. So I’ve been thinking about what I need/want lately and here’s a short list.

  • Potato masher
    • I love mashed potatoes. I learned to make it well mashed, creamy and a bit sweet. The other day I made cottage pie and I had to mash my potatoes with a fork. Not only did I not manage to mash them very well, my arm was also sore pretty quickly.
  • Hand mixer
    • I need an electronic hand mixer. I like to bake and in the absence of a larger stand mixer, it makes it less time consuming and physically straining to mix butter and sugar until light and fluffy, or to whip egg whites until it forms stiff peaks (see, I have the lingo down!). A mixer is also necessary to reach my desired creamy texture when making mashed potatoes. Not to mention how it makes it easier to make dad’s wonderful bernaise (I’ll make a separate post about that sometime).
  • Proper knives
    • I don’t think I really need to get into how important good knives are. My dad has ceramic knives that are so sharp it’s actually slightly terrifying. I would love a set of those. Or just good steel knives…and the guts to really work the sharpening steel thing.
  • A good vegetable peeler
    • Carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, all kinds of root vegetables, ginger…you name it.
  • A food processor
    • I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cursed the fact that I don’t have a proper food processor.
  • A blender
    • Smoothies! Soups – I’m not a huge soup person, but I do like the ones where you boil stuff, such as parsnips, and then mix it until it’s all creamy and yummy. Mmmm.

This list isn’t very long because I am of the opinion that good cooking doesn’t require a giant kitchen with a million cupboards full of all kinds of specific tools. Unless something you do in the kitchen is a daily occurrence, you probably don’t need a specific tool for it. I’d rather have fewer, good quality tools and appliances that can be used to do a large number of things. Also, more stuff means more cleanup.

To be quite honest, I’m not entirely sensible in my list of things I waaaaaaant for my kitchen.

I’d just about kill for a KitchenAid stand mixer. It last for ages if well maintained, it’s incredibly good (I tried a KitchenAid blender once and it was amaaaaazing!), and it’s so pretty!! Look! I want the green apple one. Or the boysenberry…or possibly cinnamon. *swoon*

kitchenaid

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First post

I enjoy food. I enjoy eating it and I enjoy talking about it and I enjoy cooking/baking it. I decided that I wanted to make something more of my kitchen experiments, so here’s my food blog. I don’t expect much to come of it, in fact I’m sure only people who know me personally are likely to come anywhere near it…but that’s fine.

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