Sep 142014

The first couple weeks of the school year are always somewhat chaotic, and this year is no exception.  I’m struggling to adjust to my new (but also old) routine and the lack of flexible time in my day.  I really do enjoy the structure, but the shift is whiplash-inducing.  This year, seemingly more than others prior, I’m having a hard time getting on top of what I’m doing at work and as a result, my outside of school time feels equally stressful and confusing.  Case in point:  I just spent some time working on my Highlights post for tonight…but it’s an off week for Highlights. 

At any rate, I maintain the theory that menu planning will keep me sane.  There’s a lot going on in the evenings this week (including the return of grad school) and I’m glad I have a plan so at least we’ll get to eat.  If someone else wants to come over and clean the house, that’d be awesome.  Though I tried to leave myself a day of rest, this past weekend ended up being really busy too, due to circumstances beyond my control.  But it wasn’t all work.  I made it to a really great preserve swap in Pittsfield that I’m looking forward to telling you about on Tuesday.


I didn’t take a picture of this week’s CSA pick up, but it consisted of lettuce, tomatoes, beets, delicata squash, onions, carrots, bell peppers and radishes.  I also picked up apples and cider at the farmer’s market.  I’m so into apples right now; pumpkin on the order hand I could just as soon ignore.

And this, friends, is what a menu plan looks like when I don’t have a lot of time to think about it and know I won’t have a lot of time to cook:

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Cajun seasoned salmon with roasted summer squash and couscous

omelets + delicata squash

Margherita + salad
30 Minute Black Bean Soup Vegetable stir fry with rice noodles. Dinner Out
Sep 112014

This post has been a long time coming.

Last Christmas, Brian’s brother and sister-in-law bought me a gift certificate to The Spice House.  It was a great gift, but I am not good at making decisions.  So many things to choose from!  I knew I wanted to get items that weren’t readily available at my grocery store at the co-op in Williamstown, but what? Coupled with the million other things I’m supposed to be doing on any given day, I kept putting off placing an order.

When we were together with the rest of the family in Jersey City at the end of June, Brian’s brother asked me if I’d used my gift certificate yet.  I had to confess that no, I hadn’t.  I actually had a shopping cart with several items in it, but my indecision was keeping me from pulling the trigger.  I felt pretty guilty for not redeemed their lovely gift however, so I placed my order not long after we arrived home.

spice house order

My first order from The Spice House included Madagascar Vanilla Beans,  Grains of Paradise. Za’atar, Sweet Yellow Curry Powder, Mexican Oregano and Hot Yellow Curry Powder.  I was really happy with how quickly the order arrived.  Although the price for shipping seemed a bit high (this order was $11.11), the spices were packaged beautifully and arrived in perfect condition.

As you can see, I  bought some of the products in glass bottles and others as “refills”.  It was significantly less expensive to buy products without the containers and the plastic bags are resealable.  Also, I have enough random containers that I could use if I felt so inclined.  It’s nice that The Spice House has both size and packaging options on most products.

spice house shipping

One of the reasons I waited so long to write this post was because I wanted to be able to write an informed review of all the items I bought.  Unfortunately, I still have some testing to go.  I bought the vanilla beans with ice cream in mind, but I haven’t used them yet.  Clearly, I need more ice cream in my life.  Similarly, the Grains of Paradise haven’t been touched.  (Writing this post is really making me feel like a slacker).  In the good news department, the hot curry is great.  I used it in the Curried Vegetable and Chickpea Stew earlier this week and it added just the right amount of heat; definitely more than the generic curry I last purchased.   I’ve used the sweet curry in a few dishes as well and it’s equally satisfying.  I also made flatbread and sprinkled them with the Za’atar, which was pretty awesome.  Exploring more Za’atar uses is definitely on my to do list.  I’ve added the Mexican oregano to the past couple month’s tacos, quesadillas and burritos. The flavor is a bit stronger and different than the oregano I’ve bought before and makes me feel like I’ve upped my Mexican food game.

I was really pleased with everything involving my first Spice Order (except the part where it took me 6 months to actually place it).  The speed, packaging and flavor are all excellent and the pricing seems to be reasonable;  it’s exciting to have a source for hard to find products like Grains of Paradise.  I’m looking forward to placing another order in the future.

This is NOT a sponsored post.  I have no affiliation with The Spice House.

Twosday XVII: September Edition

 Posted by at 7:48 pm
Sep 092014
Twosday XVII: September Edition

Birthday month surprises I’m really enjoying (I turn 30 this month and Brian is giving me a present daily)1.  The book and lovely note (and list of historical events) from the teacher who mentored me in high school.2.  The announcement balloon (“It’s A Girl!”) from my birth, which my parents have apparently been holding on [...]

Highlights: Back to School 2014

 Posted by at 7:54 pm
Sep 072014
Highlights: Back to School 2014

I can’t believe I’m writing this post again.  I had a really good summer, but it’s still hard to believe that I’m back teaching again.  Where did the time go?  (The fact that it was almost July when we got out of school probably didn’t help). It’s no secret that I bring my lunch to [...]

Sep 062014
Success + Déjà vu (CSA Menu Plan #10)

Before we talk about this week, we need to talk about last week.  Last week’s menu plan happened to include two dishes I’d never made before and both of which were awesome.  If every week of menus I made was that successful, I’d be a happy woman.  Not that I’m unhappy…I guess I’d be happier.  [...]

Sep 042014
Whole Wheat Food Processor Pizza Dough (in a hurry!)

I’ve been in the blogging game for a long time.  And I’ve learned a lot since the winter of 2008…about writing, recipes and photography (never mind about marriage, teaching, home ownership and money management).  When I created my recipe index this summer, one thing was glaring obvious:  the photo for the post “(Almost) No Waiting Pizza” [...]

The Pantry Project

 Posted by at 9:08 pm
Sep 022014
The Pantry Project

On 5/2/13, as part of a list of the 5 things I liked best about the kitchen in our new house, I wrote: The pantry! – This space is still very much a work in progress, but I love it already.  Eventually I’d like to get nice looking floor to ceiling shelves, but for now [...]

Aug 312014
The End of Summer (CSA Menu Plan#9)

I go back to work this week.  Which is to say, I go back to working at school 5 days a week, as opposed to the other work I’ve been doing since the end of June.  It’ll be an interesting year;  there are lots of changes on the docket.  I’m looking forward to getting back [...]