recent cooking- when winter acts like winter

We had a North Carolina “blizzard” in January. The weather blokes forecasted all kinds of gloom and doom and 9-12 inches of snow and of course this is what we ended up with.

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Which was fine with me. It was pretty. And we didn’t lose power. I actually came to some pretty powerful self-realizations about my need for control because I get SO ANXIOUS about power outages! Like, what is the worst thing that will happen? You feel cold and have to throw food away. It’s hardly the end of the world. Yet it triggers powerful, even physical, anxiety symptoms. Something for me to think on further!

But power stayed. And we spent cozy days mostly in the house, staying warm.

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Plus occasional outings on foot so as to prevent cabin fever.

I admired the many species of nightly visitors to my front yard.

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This is as good a time as many to mention that my roommate received one of the funniest holiday cards I have ever beheld.

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As for the food- as promised, I have been doing more cooking at home and it’s been very good for me. It’s amazing how quick that mental reset happens if you just dedicate a few days to committed home cooking- your brain goes from “Where am I going to buy dinner?” to “What will I make for dinner?”

Which is a relief. Behavior change seems daunting as one contemplates it, but then doable once it’s begun.

Breakfasts:

Nothin’ wrong with oatmeal! This one with apples, almond milk, and pepitas on top.

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This one with banana, milk, and PB2 mixed in (I don’t think I’ll buy PB2 again. Not as fun as I thought it’d be)

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Truthfully I am not always the most reliable about breakfast. One day I went out and ran errands (actually maybe this was a babysitting day too? My post-graduation schedule has been so odd) and then I wanted to stop at the library because it was geographically convenient but I hadn’t eaten or had caffeine so I was a little woozy.

AND THEN THERE WAS A POP-UP COFFEE STAND AT THE LIBRARY.

Coffee. Plus free book rentals. The mother ship calling me home.

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Some typical lunches and dinners:

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English muffin with 1/2 an avocado mashed on top and (new favorite) Trader Joe’s all purpose seasoning. Plus a bowl of carrot/cashew/chickpea soup.

These way-too-expensive but way-too-good chips rounded out the meal.

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This meal was also Trader Joes’ fault.

I thought to myself, “It’s Thursday and the storm isn’t supposed to start til Friday night! I’ll go to Trader Joe’s after the dinner time rush and stock up! How crazy could it be!”

Well, I guess the teeming hordes had already passed through but the shelves had a rather Soviet Russia look to them. Everyone had already frantically gathered the ingredients for their all-important milk sandwiches.

HOWEVER. They still had samples. Samples of macaroni and cheese and hot dogs aaaagh!

Then I made my own and I added kale. So it was nutritious right. Right? Right. *wince* *salivate too though*

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This was not a combination I regularly received as a child but dang it made me feel safe and comforted nonetheless.

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Kiwi afterwords.

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Let’s be real, in the winter we want hot carbs. That is just life.

This night I had the oven on so I went all-out.

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Oven fries with olive oil and more TJ’s all purpose seasoning aaaand… cornbread in a cast iron pan ❤ I used this Cooking Light recipe and, per the advice of recipe commenters, added a few tablespoons of maple syrup to the mix to add a bit more moisture and sweetness.

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Grilled cheese and tomato soup for another meal. Classic for a reason!

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Have we gathered yet that this is a real carb parade?

Another day I legit ate stuffing for dinner. I semi-recreated a recipe I’d made for Thanksgiving that included roasted artichokes and parmesan. Added some extra veggies (lots of mushrooms, and carrots). Still pretty carb-y!

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This one below is definitely not the most appetizing looking thing I’ve ever made but it was pretty good:

  • First I made sauteed brussels sprouts (used frozen). But they were kind of mushy and I wasn’t wild about the seasoning mix I’d used.
  • Then I thought ooh! I’ll make brussels sprout tots! So I whirred them up with some potato/garlic/seasoning/kind of forget what else. But it still wasn’t so good.
  • So then I thought ooh! I’ll make tater tot nachos! So I topped the tots with Trader Joe’s veggie chili, sauteed mushrooms, reduced-fat shredded cheese, hot sauce, and plain greek yogurt. At that point it was pretty tasty. But that’s basically cause the original taste of the brussels sprouts was lost, hahaha.

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I’m a big fan of the TJ’s veggie chili.

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The day I made the recipe with avocado it was even better. Obviously.

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As for the treat department:

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Camille brought some of these yuuuummy ciders from her hometown when she was staying with me over graduation weekend. This one is made to be champagne-y (no idea how that works in the brewing process?) and is delicious.

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Claire brought me this cardamom chocolate bar from India.

Description on the back of it is freaking PRICELESS.

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Evening snack: I’ve been hanging out a lot with The Boys (Colton and Pranish). They give me a lot of sh** because, like so many men before them, they find me hysterically funny when I’m annoyed/offended. But occasionally they take their antics a bit far and I get genuinely mad at them. And then, like so many boys before them, one of them will go “Oh God, I’m sorry, can I cook you something?” Thus these scrambled eggs and this comically huge piece of buttered bread, made by Pranish. A tasty evening snack mid-Star Wars movie (Colton and I have watched the whole Original Trilogy plus The Force Awakens). I ate all the eggs but admitted defeat about a third of the way into the bread, and fed the rest of it to Colton.

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When I was home for the march, I ate lots of yummy meals and, as usual, regressed in many ways.

Here is some mashed squash to which I added (again!) Trader Joe’s all purpose seasoning, plus some cheddar. And for protein, Trader Joe’s frozen chicken-less nuggets, with honey mustard for dipping.

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This was a small meal, and my mom’s house always has tasty treats, so rest assured that I then got my snack on.

Granola bars bought in bulk from Costco.

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Choco caramel biscuits
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Etc.

On Inauguration Day I knew I wanted to spend time with good people and wholeheartedly avoid the TV.

Meanwhile, my friends were converging on DC. Claire and I were up for the march, Nate is living there and interning for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (yay Nate!), and Colton rode up with me to see his bae, James.

So, I said, “Let’s all get Korean bbq in my wonderful hometown!”

So we did, at Il Mee, where the carnivores can get all the bulgogi their heart desires:

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And those of us with a more pescetarian bent can get all the sushi our heart desires.

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The crew:

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So those are some recent eats for cold and gloomy days. But North Carolina gave us about two days of real winter and now it’s in the 60s-70s. So more to come about eating inspiration for when the weather is warm (with the EPA on the chopping block and more climate change to come, probably more relevant! 😁)

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