Category Archives: food

 5 Reasons Your Family Should Plant a Vegetable Garden 

More and more people are getting back into growing at least some of their food – and for good reason! Here are a few reasons I think this bandwagon is one worth jumping on.

1. You’ll appreciate your food more. When you’ve planted, weeded, pruned, watered, and generally been a caretaker for your plants, you appreciate the fruits of your labor so much more. You might start understanding why produce can be expensive but is much better for you when you’ve taken a part in growing some.img_1558

2. It fosters responsibility. When a family has a garden, there’s a job for everyone. It’s good to teach kids to get their hands in the dirt, and take responsibility for the work it takes to make a garden grow. It’s also a chore to put on their chore chart, or keep them occupied for a few more minutes each day once school is out.img_8339

3. Learning about it is fun! Getting outside with your family is always a good thing! Even if your garden is in a few pots on the front porch, it’s fun to see how they grow each day, what color the flowers are, and how long it takes for each different plant to grow. My kids have enjoyed learning to identify the plants we’re growing by leaf shape, smell, and what they look like once they’re producing the veggies.img_1766

4. It’s not as hard as you think it is. Sure, if you have a hundred plants to take care of, it can seem quite daunting. But if you start small, it’s not too hard to keep a tomato plant or two and some rosemary alive. Even if you forget to water or don’t pull all the weeds, they’re likely to still be fine. Choose something easy to begin with, even if it means you won’t have much fruit the first time. Tomatoes and peppers are some of the easiest things to grow, and often bear the most fruit.IMG_1888

5. It’s nice to know what you’re eating. You know what went into the work, whether or not you used fertilizer or weed/pest killer. You know exactly what what did or didn’t touch the plant. It’s reassuring to know where it came from, how freshly it was picked, and how well it was tended.img_0898

There really aren’t down sides to having a garden. You’re going on vacation for a week? Just have someone come and water a couple of times while you’re gone. You don’t know anything about gardening? Just take the first step of buying seedlings instead of seeds; they’re more durable, and the hardest part is over. It’s already June and you think you’ve missed the window? The plants might not get as big, but I say it’s not too late to start! Try it out! What have you got to lose?

10 Reasons I Brunch

Brunch is super trendy right now. You probably see memes about it, pictures your friends post on your Instagram feed, and local restaurants promoting their brunch specials. Whichever day you brunch, it’s likely a lovely event with friends, yummy food, and a mimosa or two. Here are the reasons I personally love brunch.brunch.jpg

1. I love breakfast. I’ve written about this before, but it’ll never stop being true. Breakfast food is the best food. Any time of day.  So there.

2. Sunday is my busy day. It might be the most common brunch day anyway, but on Sunday, I’m often too tired by the time church is over to even consider what I’d like to do for lunch. This is where my hubby and besties come in, whisking me off to brunch.

3. The kids love it. What’s something easy your kids will actually eat at a restaurant? Brunch food. I feel like most kids love things like pancakes, waffles, French toast, and other brunchy things.

4. Mimosas. I don’t even have to explain why something bubbly and sweet is a perk, do I?

5. I love seeing my friends. What is brunch unless you’ve got all your people with you? My kids are the cutest, my hubby is the best, and our friends and their kids can complete a brunch date with their good company.

6. It’s springtime. The weather has been beautiful, the sun is gleaming but not blistering hot, and there’s usually a pleasant breeze around brunchtime. It’s the perfect excuse to eat bacon outdoors.

7. Eggs. Shall I elaborate on why eggs are the ideal food? Okay, you forced my hand. I hardly need to count the hundred ways that eggs could be prepared by even the most basic of chefs. I also don’t need to list reasons that eggs are very healthy and beneficial for your body. What I will say is this: have you ever had a perfectly fried egg?

8. I can sleep late and still not cook. Brunch on a Saturday means that I don’t have to worry about feeding the family anything right when we get up. We can snooze a little longer, and not have to rush to the kitchen to get breakfast in before we head out for the day. Brunch IS heading out for the day!

9. You can have the sweet and the savory. I’m always torn at brunch places on whether to get something sweet or something savory. I love having a veggie omelette, for example. But I know when my kids chocolate chip pancakes arrive, I’m going to covet that dessert-like dish. But I think it’s acceptable (and there’s an option on most brunch menus!) to have a little bit of both. Best of both worlds, if you will. After all, it is breakfast and lunch.

10. It’s easier than going out to dinner. Taking our kids out to dinner sometimes means that they’re already tired, or too hungry, or that they just can’t sit still any more that day. But at brunchtime, they’re still fresh, and they’re more likely to behave (or at least stay in their chairs). We want our kids to know what it means to go to a restaurant, but brunch is a great time to practice restaurant etiquette.

Well, there you have it… ten reasons I think brunch is worth doing. You can find me brunching pretty much every weekend – join me!

How to Go Gluten Free (Without Hating It)

This post also appeared on the Grit and Grace Project. I’m a contributor there – go check it out!

I’ve gone gluten free for several periods of time in the past few years, and even now, I’m a little gluten-less-than-usual. And guess what?! It’s not as hard – or as miserable – as you might think. Yes, you make concessions. Yes, there are foods that you will probably miss. But depending on the reason you’re going gluten free (allergens, weight loss, or to support a family member who has to make that choice), you might be surprised at how successful and even happy you can be while you’re off gluten. Here are a few suggestions to help you along in the process.

  1. Don’t feel like you can’t eat bread. Or pasta. Or whatever your glutenous pleasure is. There are plenty of gluten free breads, pastas, and even beers out there. Of course they don’t taste the same as your favorite sourdough, but they can be great substitutes.
  2. Make the effort to search for gluten-free recipes. The main reason I suggest this is because it’s much more successful than trying to leave out or substitute the gluten in your normal recipes. There are many substitutes; for instance, flour can be substituted by brown rice flour, coconut flour, almond flour, and others. But those don’t always measure cup for cup, and they don’t always substitute well, especially when you’re baking. There are many recipe bloggers that have already figured out the best substitutions, so why not just use their methods? Don’t reinvent the wheel.
  3. Stick it out. If it’s not an absolute requirement to go gluten free (ie: allergy-related) and it’s just an experiment, then it’s tempting to add gluten back in sooner, rather than later. But my advice? Stick it out for a couple of months (yes, whole months!) before you start adding it back in. Whatever your desired results are, it might take a couple of months to start seeing them.
  4. Be creative with how you eat your vegetables. Lots of types of food (Asian food, for instance) don’t have much gluten in them in most cases. Gluten free doesn’t mean salads only, or that you can’t be full after your meal. But it might mean you’ve got to be a little more creative with what your meals look like. If you usually eat a pasta of some sort with your vegetables, try eating rice instead. If you typically eat a bagel or toast for breakfast, try oatmeal. There are other grains that are just as filling as wheat.

It’s possible to go gluten-free and love it! Here are three blogs that I like to check out for delicious meals, practical ideas, and even baked goods!

Against All Grain – Danielle isn’t just gluten free, but all of her recipes are! She also has a cookbook, if you’d like it on paper.

Elana’s Pantry – Elana has some great recipes I use often (specifically for sweets/baked goods).

Delightfully Gluten Free – Cassandra is helpful with knowing what products to buy to help out your kitchen’s ingredient stock.

*Also helpful for gluten-free eating are blogs that focus on recipes for those with celiac disease.

Don’t believe all the bad things you’ve heard about going gluten-free. It’s possible to go gluten-free and love it! You’ll never know until you give it a shot, though. What do you have to lose?

Currently

It’s time for another little update of what’s been going on in my life! There is mostly holiday shenanigans to report, but since it’s the first Currently of the month, I’m linking up with Anne in Residence and her guest host, Kellie from the B Hive. So, here’s what I am currently…

Doing || a lot of scheduling. December is busy for everyone, but often for musicians especially. Hubby has extra gigs, I have extra rehearsals and services, and those are in addition to parties, shopping, visiting, and actually trying to stay rested, we are doing quite a lot. We’re also hopping away to NYC next week for two days of a getaway for some fancy food, a concert, and a show! We’ve never been at Christmastime so we’re excited to see a holiday-decorated NYC.

Enjoying || the weather! I love right when the weather gets cold… it’s not freezing yet, but it’s cold enough to layer up, don my boots, and add a colorful scarf. Fall truly is my favorite season.

Cooking || a little of this and that. I’m still on soups (yeah, French Onion!) but Hubby has been hitting up some major Asian flair recently (in his genes, apparently) and he’s amazing at it. Here’s a snippet of the okonomiyaki he made for lunch today.

Wrapping || lots of presents, of course! My mom was here the past couple of days, so she helped me wrap, and I helped her wrap. My shopping and wrapping is almost complete. There are only one or two things left on my list, and I have finished J’s birthday stuff, as well! (His birthday is December 28th.) I’ve had a few wrapping papers that I haven’t opened up the last couple of Christmases simply because I hate having too many rolls to try to keep together. But I finished two this year, so I opened up two more! It’s funny how new, fun wrapping paper can add some excitement to the wrapping process for me.

Playing || with Magformers with the kiddos. They’ve always loved them, but I’m so glad they are back in a phase of playing with them all the time. They’re colorful, easy to manipulate, and great for all three of the kids’ current ages. We literally sat in the hallway outside their rooms last night and played with them for almost an hour. The only problem is that since there are typically three kids playing with them at the same time, we don’t have quite enough for them all to feel like they can make a structure as big as they want to. So I got them an expansion pack “from Santa”. Typically Santa’s gifts are for all three of them, so that his gifts aren’t as cool as Mom and Dad’s!

So there you have it! What are you currently up to?

Currently: The Thanksgiving Edition

Happy Monday! Are you all feeling as fat and happy as I am? I dressed in my workout attire all day today, thinking I was going to squeeze in a run or something, and nope. Still doughy from the week of indulgence. I’ll get back on the (exercise) horse tomorrow.

I’ve got a nice update full of photos for ya! I hope you had a wonderful holiday whether it was relaxing at home, traveling to see family, or hosting a million people (what we did). Thanksgiving isn’t a huge holiday as far as big get-togethers or high-stress functions (in my family at least) but we still had a big group come up from Georgia and a few friends around – including a “Friendsgiving” last night! Anyway, here’s a little about what’s going on Currently.

Eating || all the leftovers. You can see the menu we had planned here, but then we ended up with desserts on desserts, and then having a get-together with our friends last night, including even more food than we had had on actual Thanksgiving Day. Now our fridge is full of one serving of this and two servings of that, and we’re ready to just clean it out and stuff it full of salad for a while. Yikes.DSC_0033.jpgDSC_0078.jpg

Enjoying || so much time with family and friends! My parents, aunt, uncle, cousin, and grandmother came up this past week, all staying for a few days to hang out with us, which was AWESOME. We also hosted some friends for Thanksgiving dinner with my family, and again Sunday night for Friendsgiving, and frankly, it’s been so nice. It was all pretty low-stress and enjoyable, for which I’m extra thankful.DSC_0053.jpg

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Loving || these placemats I bought at Bed Bath and Beyond just before Thanksgiving. I don’t use placemats all the time, but these were so lovely for a Thanksgiving spread!

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Decorating || for Christmas, of course! I haven’t gotten everything up yet (or even out of the attic) but it’s coming along. For the first time, we strung lights up on our front porch columns today, so I can’t wait for it to get dark and see our work light up! DSC_0325.jpg

Planning || Christmas music for the next few services. My women’s service is having their big Christmas feast and lessons and carols this Thursday, so I’m thinking through what music should be where, etc. And we’ve already begun Advent (I can’t believe it!) so the Sunday services have to include a fair amount of carols from now on, too. I LOVE IT!

Baking || our annual Christmas sugar cookies! We do them every year at least once during the Christmas season, and I’m hoping to get a second time in with some friends in a couple of weeks. I always love how they turn out!

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Well, those are the highlights from our busy week. Who else hosted their Thanksgiving? What’s your favorite Christmas decoration to put up?

Our Thanksgiving Meal

Tomorrow, I’m hosting my family for Thanksgiving. My mom and dad have been here all week, and Mom’s helping Hubby and me get things all ready. It is going to be a beautiful blend of traditional things in my family meeting the gourmet tendencies of Hubby’s family. It’s going to be some kid-friendly items, and some things that my kids likely won’t touch. I’m really  excited.

Here’s our list of things we either have/made already or are making tomorrow:

Prime Rib
Honeybaked Ham
Chicken and Dressing (For you northerners, that is not inside the chicken. The chicken is in the dressing.)
Green Bean Casserole
Potato Salad
Smashed Sweet Potatoes
Onion Pie
Cranberry Salad
Kale (prepared in the southern style of collard greens)

I know. No turkey. But don’t those other meats sound SO GOOD? And a little GBC can’t go wrong, especially coupled with potato salad, and cranberry salad. What’s a southern Thanksgiving without something called “salad” that doesn’t include lettuce?

My aunt is also bringing homemade rolls and various desserts… including her amazing rum cake (yum?!) and at least one meringue pie. FOR THE WIN.

What are your favorite Thanksgiving foods? Are you hosting or traveling? Either way, I hope you have some fun plans!

My Love Affair with Breakfast Food

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: breakfast is my favorite. 

I grew up in a household that made sure breakfast was important, healthy, and delicious. There was usually a carb involved, probably some eggs, maybe a cured meat or a sweet item. But there was always plenty of it, because my brother and I came hungry. 

You see, it was love at first sight with me and breakfast food. And it has been ever since. If I’m at lunch at a restaurant that also has a brunch menu, I don’t think twice about which menu to choose. If a restaurant serves breakfast all day, it’s a no-brainer. When I visited Texas and became aware of breakfast tacos, my life was changed forever. 
In related news, brunch is pretty trendy nowadays. We’re all “Let’s get brunch!” and “Brunch is for lovers!” and “Mimosas!” I agree with those things. But do you know what you’re typically doing at brunch? Having breakfast later in the day. Breakfast is the heart of brunch. 
I’ve done my best to instill the love of all things breakfast into my children as well. They love bagels or biscuits. They love French toast. They love scrambled eggs and fruit. They REALLY love pancakes and waffles, especially when I flavor them with strawberries or pumpkin. They don’t even need the sweet things in their breakfast. They will, of course, gorge themselves on cinnamon rolls. They will also eat a mountain of grits. 
In short, breakfast is the king of meals. It doesn’t matter when you eat it, or what it looks like. All things breakfast are greater than all other things. Pair the breakfast item with coffee during the week, or a mimosa on Saturday, and you’ve got a perfect way to start your day. I’m pretty sure there’s even some science to back it up. 
Breakfast, I love you. 

This post is a part of my NaBloPoMo, where I publish a piece every day in November.