Monday, March 18, 2013

Ooh La La

When I feel like being fancy, I usually turn to French Cooking. Julia Child once said "In France, cooking is a serious art form and a national sport." I couldn't agree more. It's why I read so much about how they feed their children. It's their insistence on the freshest ingredients available that always produces delicious food that is at the same time simple. 

I was trying to figure out what to do for dinner tonight and when I was checking my email, I got an email from my husband about a dish for the brussels sprouts we got from Hollygrove. It's almost time to pick up our next box, so I need to finish what we have in the current box. This recipe looked super yummy and when I clicked the above link that said "Prepare a Simple French Farm Dinner", I knew I was in for a treat. 

I clicked the link and realized that I had about every ingredient - with some variations. The great thing about cooking versus baking is you can experiment with the ingredients and the measurements and still come out with a delightful dish. Try to substitute baking powder for baking soda!!

With a few adjustments and a quick trip to Whole Foods, I had everything I needed for a perfect French dinner. 

Adapted from

Radish and Orange Salad in Balsamic

1/3 cup mayonnaise - pantry
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar - pantry
1 tablespoon milk - pantry
1 tablespoon chopped capers - didn't use - don't like capers
4 cups trimmed watercress - used regular salad mix - it's cheaper! $1.00
3 large sliced oranges -  50 cents
1 1/2 cups sliced radishes - CSA
1/4 cup sliced green onions (scallions) - CSA
In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, balsamic vinegar, milk and capers; set aside (can be made up to 4 days ahead and stored covered, in refrigerator). On serving plates, arrange watercress sprigs; top with orange slices. Scatter radish and green onion slices over oranges, dividing evenly. Just before serving, drizzle with reserved dressing. Garnish with a radish rose, if desired.

Sautéed Brussels Sprouts With Apples 

1 pound fresh Brussels sprouts - CSA
2 cups chopped onion - didn't use this much - about 1/2 cup .50
1 tablespoon butter - pantry
1 pound sweet red apples, cored and sliced - only used one apple - .50
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves - used herbs de provence
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Steam Brussels sprouts until fork tender but not soft, about 5 to 8 minutes; drain well. Meanwhile, cook onion in a skillet with butter, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Add apples and stir gently to combine. Stir in Brussels sprouts, thyme leaves, salt and pepper. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Toss gently to blend thoroughly before serving. 

Pheasant Baked With Cream Recipe

1/2 cup all-purpose flour - pantry
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 whole pheasant, dressed (about 3  lbs) - not even! I used 4 chicken thighs - $3.50
1/4 cup olive oil - pantry
1 cup heavy cream - $1.50
1 large yellow onion, quartered - used other half of onion from sprouts
4 cloves garlic - pantry 25 cents
1 teaspoon dried thyme - used herbs de provence
In large paper bag, shake together flour, salt and white pepper. Place pheasant chicken in bag and shake well to coat.
In large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add pheasant chicken and brown on all sides.
Add onion, garlic and herbs and saute until onions start to become clear and get browned on edges. Drain grease. Add cream. Saute about 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked.

I changed how I made this part of the meal the most. You can read about it here.

We really loved this meal!! It was so simple and full of flavor and a lot less than dining out in a fancy French Restaurant. Including the pantry items, I don't think I spent more than $12.00 on this by using the CSA foods. 
Fresh, Local, Organic

Bon Appetit!

It's All Green to Me!

Since this past weekend was St. Patrick's Day, I took some time with my family and friends and didn't get to update our meals. Here's a little bit of what's been going on. 


We were so tired on Friday night, so I just took the easy way out and asked my husband for help. He made pork chops in the pressure cooker with a gravy from the drippings and sauteed some of the turnips with butter. 

no hormone pork chops - $7.50 for two large ones
turnips sauteed in butter - CSA

On Saturday, we had our annual party for the Irish Channel St. Patrick's Day parade that rolls right past the store. It's a fun time with friends, good food, and parade fun! It's always a great time and gets more and more fun each year. We didn't get home until almost 7PM that night, so we put the baby to bed and ate leftover spaghetti from the freezer. I'm so happy we freeze meals for times just like this. Total cost: Nothing!

Sundays are my day off, and we headed out of town for the day. When we got home, it was almost time for dinner. Our friends came over and brought a traditional Irish Dinner for us to enjoy. We picked up a loaf of Irish Soda Bread from Whole Foods to go with the meal. Total cost: $3.50

Tonight's meal is still a mystery to me, but I have to decide soon! It's sure to include more of the CSA box items. We do eat some of the items for breakfast and lunch, so we don't waste anything.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Living the life

Life in New Orleans has its ups and downs. As I have mentioned in the past, it is a great place and a crappy place. We have learned to just let it be our home and accept the things we like, while ignoring those things that annoy us. 

One of the things we absolutely love is the availability of fresh, local, organic foods. There are a lot of options including farmer's markets, Co-Ops, and CSA's. When we moved last month, we ended up being less than a mile from the best CSA, Hollygrove Market & Farm. It is a fantastic CSA in that you don't have to join in order to get their weekly box and the food is so fresh and seasonal. You can also purchase local meats, eggs, and dairy. We love them :)

I know that not everyone has this kind of access. In a city like New Orleans, I am still amazed that all this is available. We are in the South, where healthy living and eating isn't prized. Somehow, people in New Orleans have forgotten that and are making a growing grassroots effort to bring fresh fruits and veggies to everyone. You can drive through almost any neighborhood and see people growing small plots of crops in their yards and raising chickens. In fact, in our old neighborhood and our new one, we have neighbors that had free roaming chickens! There are also people creating gardens in empty lots. I love this and hope it spreads to every single abandoned lot in the whole city - imagine that!! 

There are those that think organic/local foods are so expensive and hard to live off. For the next few weeks, I will be posting what we get in our CSA food box and what we make for dinner each night. We have a budget, too! We aren't rich and we both work, so there is a lot of nights where it would be easier to give in the towel, pick up some takeout, and eat garbage. I don't want our daughter to grow up like that. 

So, here's the picture of what we got this week from Hollygrove.

With each dinner, I will post the recipe and what it costs to make it. In places where we already had the item in our pantry, I will still do my best to list the price that I paid for it.

Tonight, we made a yummy soup that I would recommend to anyone! Hubby loved it and is eating the rest for lunch tomorrow. It makes four servings, but could easily be doubled. I didn't add any grain source, but it would be awesome with quinoa, rice, pasta, or just some bread on the side.

Berman Soup

2 links of deer sausage - free from a friend
2 small sweet potatoes, unpeeled and cubed - CSA
1 small organic onion - about 50 cents
small amount of coconut oil
bunch of mustard greens, roughly chopped into large pieces - CSA
1 can organic garbanzo beans - pantry, but they cost about $1.39
1 quart chicken stock - pantry, but it cost $1.99

Saute deer sausage in stock pot. Add in coconut oil, sweet potatoes and onion and saute until soft. Add greens and broth. Saute about 20 minutes or until all flavors mix well together. Season with sea salt and pepper. We used the pressure cooker, so it was done even sooner.

Any of these items could be replaced with whatever you have on hand. We would have saved money if we had used dry beans that we soaked, but we didn't have the time and already had the beans. We would also have saved money if we had homemade stock on hand, but we have used all of ours. Someday, we will have a larger freezer and will have more room to store these sort of things. 

This would also make a yummy vegetarian meal with veggie stock and no meat. 

Total cost not including the CSA: $4.89 


So little time

Why does it always seem like there is so little time in my day? Between work, home, and my daughter (Yeah! She's here!!), I barely have time to chat with my husband, eat dinner, and fall into bed. (after a few episodes of "Fraiser" that is!) 

So, that said, my daughter is here - her name is India Jaymes. She was born early. Everything went the wrong way. I was seriously depressed about that for quite some time. And then, one day, it was all OK. I wasn't so hurt about everything. I mean, she is about the cutest thing EVER, and so who can be mad about that sweet face making an early appearance :) 

So, somehow, life is back to normal. Our new normal. Our new normal with India. Life will never be the same and I am thrilled about that!


Friday, September 14, 2012

All that really matters...

The past week has been so intense. My doctor's appointment didn't go the way I planned - when I went in, my doctor said my blood pressure was quite high and I would need to start my Non-Stress-Tests immediately. I left his office and went to pre-natal testing. I kept a calm head (I mean, is getting stressed really a good idea at this point?!) and the test went fine. I'll have to have these tests twice a week until Baby Girl arrives. 

The thing that was so hard was that my doctor told me that for the health of Baby Girl and myself, I'll have to be induced two weeks early (maybe sooner)! This whole scenario goes against my birth plan, but I decided right then and there it was OK, because I had to put my plans aside for anything that ensured her safe delivery. 

It was while I was driving in my car from the hospital that a thought occurred to me. I was making my first real parental decision. A non-selfish, "anything to protect my child" decision. I was so sad that I couldn't get what I wanted, sure, but that paled in comparison to doing what I knew would be ultimately best for my daughter. I also know firsthand that this instinct is not something that every parent has. 

Don't get me wrong. I think pretty much every parent LOVES their child, but not every parent would sacrifice their own plans for their child. I didn't realize that such a deep level of love could exist for a child I hadn't even met yet. I can only imagine what is going to happen when she is here... :) I love this little girl so much it makes me cry when I think about her. I am so excited to meet her - even if it means my birth plan doesn't go my way. In the end, God is in charge of it all. He controls all the methods of delivery known to man. He has every power and right to use whatever method necessary to bring her into this world. It isn't about me. I am really just a vessel. She's coming in a little over five and I couldn't be more excited! That's all that really matters...

Image Via Pintrest

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Hurricane Pizza

It took me a little over a week to write a post about living through Hurricane Isaac. I wanted to be sure that I had a proper perspective, because we have friends that lost everything and there is no way I ever want to compare what I went through to what they are still going through. My experience comes from the perspective of a woman almost 8 months pregnant. I decided not to post any pictures of the storm or it's aftermath. There have been enough of those posted online to get an idea of how that week was for those of us living in southern Louisiana. My thought was to post what we did to make the most of a long and tiring situation... here goes :)

I woke up Sunday morning to see that the path of Isaac changed from hitting the Mobile area to coming straight for us here in NOLA. I haven't been in the direct path of a hurricane - ever. I lived through one on Martha's Vineyard, but that swept past us in one day and only hit us indirectly. When my husband mentioned evacuating, I though that was silly. I have a business to run and besides, I didn't want to travel in slow moving traffic to Houston just to come back a day later. I declined. Mistake #1...

Monday was pretty uneventful. We got the store ready for the storm and bought supplies to last us if/when the power went out. We never planned for it to be out for DAYS and never bought a generator or battery powered fans. Mistake #2...

Tuesday the storm hit slowly. It rained a bit and the wind kicked up. Most stores were closed and of course this was about the time that I decided to have a serious craving for pizza. We didn't have pizza. And even if we did, the carbs alone would ruin this diabetic mama's BS so I had to get creative. I took some flatbread, an open can of spaghetti sauce, some string cheese and leftover chicken and bacon and made some pizzas for Jim and me. I have to say, they were quite delicious!! And best part was they were low carb :) 

We woke up Wednesday morning and thought the storm had passed. We had power, but no internet, cable, or phone service, so we were unsure of what was happening. Jim got a hand crank radio/flashlight from work a few years ago so we powered it up and tuned in to find out what was going on outside. As it turned out, the storm was moving at a snail pace of 6MPH and wasn't even over us yet!! We hung out at the house and had friends over to play cards and pass the time. About an hour after they arrived, our power went out. I noticed it was starting to get warmer within hours of the setting sun. That night it was really hard to sleep. It was too hot to sleep and far too quiet. We should have had some pregnancy back-up plan. Mistake #3...

Jim's hand in UNO. My friend's hand in the lower corner shows just how many cards you SHOULD have versus how many he got stuck with :)

Thursday was just terrible. It was so hot, the storm was passing, and I was miserable. We left NOLA in search of food and cool air, as a friend told Jim they had both in Baton Rouge. We spent most of the day trying to get there, but getting turned back by the National Guard or State Police because every road leading to BR was washed away, including the I-10, which we later found out hasn't happened in over 30 years, not even during Hurricane Katrina. 

When we got back, Jim spent some time talking with our neighbors. I spent time working on a blanket for baby girl on our porch. I was so hot and tired and just a wee bit cranky - I had no interest in being chatty! The thing about New Orleans that people don't really get is that even though it is a city, we are really a small town. Everyone knows everyone and their business. People will stop in the middle of the street to honk their horn and wave at you. In one ten minute conversation, Jim found out that power never went out in the French Quarter and that most hotels were open and had... air conditioning!! We made a few calls and found a place to stay for the night. I was so excited I thought I might just go into labor. We packed and headed to our new temporary home. The hotel was lovely and chilly cold. We stayed there two nights and then we had to find another room because ours was booked for Saturday. We were nervous because it was a holiday weekend and most hotels were booked or very expensive. As always, God is SO faithful and we got a whole suite (!) in a little boutique hotel for only $20 more than we were paying at the prior hotel. It was clean and quaint and right next door to our favorite Italian restaurant. God is so good to this sinner...

Saturday after dinner, we went by the store to see if the power was back on yet, only to find it was still out.. but glory to glory, it was back on at our house!! We cleaned out the freezer and most of the fridge and turned the A/C on. By Sunday we knew the house would be cool enough to come back to and clean. We were thankful for one final night in a hotel. On our way to the hotel, I saw that some folks will get pretty creative when trying to stay cool. I wish we had thought of something similar :) 

On Sunday, I woke up early and drove by the store. I was in tears when I saw the faint glow of lights through the window. I walked into the cool air and instantly marveled at how frail we humans are. For all our claims to be so superior, we fall apart when our circumstances change. Well... I know I did! 

There were many times when I completely neglected to thank God for what we had - there were many times when I did thank Him, but I would like to be the kind of person that remembers to thank Him in EVERY situation!!

There were things I learned about myself during the week of the "hurricane that wouldn't leave New Orleans". I am so thankful to the Lord for his mercy. When He teaches a lesson, He can be kind if you are still enough to attend to His voice. I learned that sometimes God will remove all other distractions (TV, phone, internet, even a noisy fan!) in order to be heard. He has that right. I pray that I learned my lesson well and will not have to take that class again :)

It's been over a week and the city still has the battered scars of Isaac, but we are moving on. Next time, we'll evacuate even if it is only a small hurricane. But, I am so glad we experienced this. I'll get to tell our daughter about the first hurricane she was in, the one that by her being in my belly, helped me grow closer to God.


Sunday, July 1, 2012

A New Berman!

I have been walking around in a fog the past two weeks. I can't think about anything other than the moment our ultrasound tech circled three lines on the screen and typed... "it's a girl" 

My mind was still trying to process everything all at once when I heard my husband saying "Are you sure? Can you check again?" I think he was so convinced of his "agreement with God" that seriously this woman was wrong. 

All my thoughts were wrapped up in her life. In about 30 seconds, I thought about her entire life. Would she be a strong-willed woman like so many in my family (and my husband's, too!)? What would she look like? Would she want to live in NYC and be a photographer like I want her to be - I have already decided she is going to be a cool chick that takes amazing photos of newsworthy events! But most importantly, would she make a decision on her own to love God with her whole heart and live to make His name famous?? See, this is all I have prayed for regarding this child since we knew she was taking up residence in my body.

This is where I will continue to focus all my prayers for her now that I know so much more about her. We have a name that we still timidly call her, mostly because it's so new, but also because we aren't sharing her name with anyone until she makes her grand appearance. 

Right after I found out, I went and bought a few girl outfits... I'm a woman that loves to shop for a deal after all! Then, last weekend, in a moment of true humbling submission, I said not a word as my husband walked to the children's department and chose three outfits that he loved and wanted to see on his daughter. They were outfits I thought were cute, to be sure, but not that I would have chosen. I love that. I love that these were things Daddy chose. For his sweet baby girl. He's so excited now that he's having a girl. He watches every dad/daughter team when we are out. He studies them like a anthropologist with a native people. He wants to be the best Dad he can be and this makes me smile and brings a tear to my eye. 

I love my little family :)


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