What’s Fun and What’s Not Fun

This weekend can pretty much be broken down into what was fun and what was not fun.  Luckily the fun stuff outweighed the not fun stuff and I enjoyed one of my very few free weekends this summer.

What was not fun:

  • Taking two cats on a 30-minute bus ride to the vet.  It was time for Olaf to get his one-year wellness check-up and update his vaccinations and since Dot hadn’t been to the vet since before we moved to Chicago we decided to take her too.  Bad choices all around.  Since we don’t have our car we had to ride the bus to the vet.  Neither cat was pleased with the loud bus and Olaf yowled as loud as possible for the first 15 or so minutes.  Cue me freaking out that we’re bothering all the passengers and would get thrown off the bus.  When we finally did get to the vet it was time for Dot to freak out.  She would not sit on the table, would NOT let the vet tech take her temperature, hid under the chair in the room, and growled/hissed/scratched at everyone that came near her.  The vet did manage to give her the vaccinations and Adam has a nice big scratch to prove show for it.  Olaf was just fine and barely even noticed that he was getting an exam.  As an extra special bonus, the bus ride back home was packed to the brim with Cubs fans because of course we chose a game day to go to the vet.  One bright spot of this whole ordeal was that the bus driver on the way back was super nice to us and made sure that our cats were comfortable and safe.  Overall, I never want to do that again and I’m pretty sure Dot is still angry at us for subjecting her to all of that.
Olaf Lovin'

Olaf has forgiven all and wants to be held. Now

Dot recovers

Poor girl is pooped from her trauma

  • Trying to get good food pictures with minimal space and light.  We have two windows in our apartment and because of the way our apartment is situated, we get very little natural light.  This makes taking pictures for my blog slightly difficult.  At first I thought it was impossible but I’ve gotten creative and learned how to make what I do have work for me.  It does lead to some interesting positions though.  Good thing I do yoga!

Food Photography

What was fun:

  • Going to the farmers market.  We finally got to go to our favorite farmers market.  Because we have been busy pretty much every weekend since the Green City Market opened up, we haven’t gotten a chance to go.  This weekend though we finally made it and it was of course awesome.  All the fresh fruit and vegetables make me happy and I could wander around the market all morning if I could.  Adam was happy to get his first Donut Vault donut of the season and even more excited that they had his favorite, lemon poppyseed.  It’s the only way I can get him to come with me!
Lemon Poppyseed Donut from Donut Vault

He’s trying not to stuff the whole thing in his mouth

  • Purple asparagus.  I’ve seen green asparagus and I’ve seen white asparagus, but I had never seen purple asparagus.  While we were at the market we saw these and of course I had to get them because they were purple.  Best. Decision. Ever.  They were so delicious and simple to prepare.  All I did was drizzle them with a little olive oil, sprinkle them with salt, pepper, and garlic powder, squeeze a little lemon juice over it all and roast at 400 for 15 minutes.  They were a little sweeter than green asparagus and I could have eaten like 5 more bunches.  Too bad I discovered them at the end of asapargus season.
Purple Asparagus

I’ll try any purple fruit/vegetable

  • Fruit crisp.  The farmers market pretty much just led to all sorts of good things this weekend.  This fruit crisp is proof that you should go to the market more often!  I made Adam a strawberry rhubarb crisp with fruit we got from the market.  He deemed it delicious and probably would have eaten the whole thing in one sitting.  Which is quite the compliment.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

Overall, it was a great weekend and I really loved having the free time to do some fun things and spend time with Adam.  Here’s to another great week!

What did you do this weekend?

Roasted Squash Seeds

I have another fall snack for you today, because fall food is awesome.  Last week at the farmer’s market, I got a kabocha squash to try for the first time.  The squash was delicious but the seeds were almost better. When I was little we would carve pumpkins and my mom would save the seeds to roast for snacks.  Roasted seeds are easy to make and are a healthy snack.  The kabocha squash seeds were a lot like pumpkin seeds so they roasted really well.  Use whatever squash seeds you have on hand and enjoy this easy snack food!

 

Roasted Squash Seeds 

DSC_0191

 

  • Seeds from a squash (pumpkin, butternut, kabocha, or acorn are good)
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

1. Scoop all the seeds out of the squash and clean them off as best as possible.  You can rinse them off in a strainer to get the rest of the squash pulp off.  Lay the seeds out on a towel in a single layer and let them dry completely.

2. Preheat the oven to 375.  Place your seeds in a bowl and pour a little olive oil over them and toss to coat.  Spread the seeds out on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a Silpat.  Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.

3. Roast the seeds for about 10 minutes or until you hear the seeds popping.  Remove from the oven and let the seeds cool before you start eating them.

That’s it!  You can play with the seasonings and try different flavors like garlic and italian seasonings or even go sweet and try cinnamon and nutmeg.  Either way, start getting all the squash you can so you can enjoy this tasty snack!

Things I’m Enjoying

I thought that I would once again share a few things that I am really enjoying at the moment.  I like to see what other bloggers are doing and enjoying with their daily lives, so if you’re like me enjoy this post!

 

Hazelnuts

filberts-roasted-unsalted

To be more specific, roasted hazelnuts.  I know that this isn’t anything revolutionary or groundbreaking, I mean just look at the hullabaloo around Nutella.  But I have really been liking the taste of dry roasted hazelnuts lately.  I buy them raw in bulk at Whole Foods and then roast them when I get home.  It’s really simple too.  Just set your oven to 400, then line a baking sheet with either parchment paper or a silpat.  Place the hazelnuts on the baking sheet in a single layer and put in the oven for about 10 minutes, watching to make sure they don’t burn.  Then remove from the oven and let cool, once they are cool place them in a dish towel and rub to remove the skins.  Store the nuts in an airtight container in the fridge so they don’t turn rancid.  I’ve been putting them on my breakfast bowls, salads, and just eating a few as a snack.  Not only are they tasty, they are loaded with good for you vitamins and minerals like magnesium and vitamin E.  Eat up!

 

Coconut Milk and Coffee

coco bath items

This is amazing!  I had a little bit of coconut milk leftover from dinner the night before and so I decided to add it to my coffee the next morning.  Holy creamy goodness Batman!  I usually only drink coffee on the weekends and I drink it black.  The coconut milk just added a nice rich flavor to my coffee and I will definitely be doing it again!  I use full fat coconut milk because you don’t need to fear fat!  Plus the light coconut milk is just glorified water anyway.  So if you want to treat yourself to a delicious, creamy, and healthy drink, try adding a little coconut milk to your coffee!

 

Walks Along the Lake

photo 1 (6)

I am super lucky to be able to live so close to the lake.  As my sister pointed out this weekend, it’s pretty much my backyard.  I have been running along Lake Shore Drive each morning and end my run right on the lake.  I also have been walking around my neighborhood everyday and some of my favorite walks are those that go right along the lakefront.  It’s just so beautiful and peaceful along the water and it makes me happy.  Plus how can you beat views like this?

 

Farmer’s Markets

GreenCityMarket

This has been the summer of farmer’s markets for me.  Chicago has a ton of markets all over the place and I have been thoroughly enjoying visiting as many of them as possible.  I have to say though that my favorite market so far is the Green City Market.  It is right across from the Lincoln Park Zoo and it is always big and full of people and delicious things.  Not only does it have the normal fruits and vegetables but you can also find tamales, crepes, cheese, homemade pickles and jams, smoothies, pizza, paninis, and so much more.  There is live music and a doughnut van.  Kids running around with their dogs, and a balloon guy making balloons for anyone and everyone.  The other neat thing that this market does is on each stand they tell you how many miles each vendor traveled to come to the market.  This way you can choose where you would like to buy your products, whether you prefer more local or don’t mind those who come from afar.  This market has great vendors, great crowds and it is a great time!  Go explore your own city’s markets and see what they have to offer.

 

These are the things that have been holding my attention for the past few weeks.  This summer has been one of discovery and learning.  Living in a new city and seeing everything that it has to offer has been really fun.  I am loving my neighborhood more and more and I can’t wait to see what else it has in store for us!  I hope you have a great Wednesday and I’ll see you on Friday!

 

 

How To Shop A Farmer’s Market

 

DSC_0100

Summer time normally brings with it not just warm weather and trips to the beach, but the opening of the farmer’s market.  Farmer’s markets are great ways to buy fresh produce, support your local farms, and find some delicious new foods to try!  In this post, I thought that I would share a few tips on how to get the most out of your farmer’s market.  I’ve been to a few of the many markets open here in Chicago and even talked to a few of the farmers to find out how to make the most of your trip.

 

Walk the market.  Before you even buy anything, walk the whole market.  Many stands will sell the same fruits and vegetables but they might have different prices.  You don’t want to buy a pint of strawberries for $6 and then walk to the next stall and see they were only $4 there.  Also take your first walk through to inspect the quality of the produce.  Make sure that the produce being sold doesn’t look old, withered, or too beat up.  A little dirt is fine (these things grow in the ground after all!) but you don’t want it to look like it has been run over by a truck.  So make note of the stands selling good produce at good prices and make note of them.  Then come back after your walk through.

Ask questions.  The people running these stands have a wealth of knowledge of the products they are selling.  A lot of them have planted, watered, weeded, and harvested these fruits and vegetables themselves and know pretty much everything there is to know about them.  Don’t be afraid to ask how to prepare a certain vegetable or how to best store their fruit.  The farmers that I talked to were very excited and passionate about their foods and love to share their knowledge with the people buying their goods.  It’s nice to know exactly where your food comes from and exactly who is taking care of your food.  On the flip side, if the people at the stand know little to nothing about the things they are selling, maybe get your food at the next stand.  Also, if it is super busy at the stand that might not be the best time to ask for the history of radishes.  They are trying to sell their products and if they have to spend 30 minutes with each customer that won’t happen.

DSC_0104

Try to use cash.  I know that barely anyone carries cash with them on a regular basis, me included.  Most stands will accept debit/credit cards, but the process goes a lot quicker if you can pay in cash.  This is also a great way to budget yourself at the market.  If you set a limit of $20 and only bring that much with you, then you won’t over spend.  Again, if you forget to bring cash with you it’s not a huge deal.  Most places will gladly accept your debit/credit card.

Be creative.  Farmer’s markets are great in the way that they will usually sell fruits and vegetables that you might not find at your grocery store.  Try something new!  Ever heard of kohlrabi, daikon, or patty pan squash?  The market is a great place to find one new to you produce item and learn how to prepare it.  Soon you will be an aficionado at unique produce and have a lot of tasty go to recipes in your arsenal.  And remember, if you aren’t quite sure how to prepare a certain food, the farmer is a great resource.

DSC_0107

Still read the labels.  Most markets sell more than just fruit and vegetables.  There are bakery stands, jam stands, honey stands, butcher stands, and I’ve even seen a tamale stand.  Just because something is sold at a farmer’s market doesn’t automatically mean it’s organic or good for you.  Some stands sell products that have just as many chemicals and preservatives as the store bought kind.  Read your labels and ask if there is an ingredient you don’t know.  That being said, a lot of the stuff sold at the market are a much better choice than their grocery store counterpart.  Remember though, a cookie is still a cookie whether it’s organic and sold at the farmer’s market or not.

These are just a few tips to make your next trip to the farmer’s market a successful one.  I love being able to actually talk to the people who grow my food as well as learn from them.  Most of the time their passion for good food is contagious and I can’t wait to get home and make something with my purchases.  Find out where there is a market closest to you and check out all of the delicious and healthy food they have to offer!