Egg Bites

I have to write this, because I’m now making egg bites in the Instant Pot for the third or fourth time, and each time, I scour a variety of recipes online and never find just one to follow. Several call for cottage cheese or other ingredients that I never have on hand, and just frankly aren’t what sounds good. So I make it up each time, and each time I wonder what I did the previous time. Fixing that now.

These days (now that I’m back at work), I make a big batch at a time to store in the freezer. That way, I can grab a couple for an easy breakfast for Gabriel and me before we head out the door to daycare. It took me a while to figure out the best reheating method, and I’m still not sure I’ve perfected it (so send me all your tips!). My current method is to put a cloth napkin (or paper towel) in a bowl, add the frozen egg bites (I usually do three at a time, two for me and one for Gabriel), and cover them with the cloth. Then I microwave for 1:45 (okay, 1:44 because I’m lazy). The cloth absorbs the liquid that would otherwise collect at the bottom of the plate/bowl, but the egg bites aren’t too dry.

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I have two silicone trays, each with 7 molds, and my goal is to make two sets. Most recipes I see online are for one tray/7 molds, so essentially, I’m making a quadruple recipe. However, both times I’ve done that, it’s actually produced five trays (or 35 individual egg bites).

It contains:

  • 20 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup shredded cheese
  • 1 cup vegetable (today I used shredded Brussels sprouts, but I’ve used spinach and red pepper in the past)
  • Spice (I think paprika would be good, but we have rosemary today that needs to be used, so I cut up maybe… 1-2 tablespoons… and added that)
  • 1 lb sausage, cooked

Steps:

  1. Cool sausage on stovetop, crumbling as you go.
  2. Mix all the other ingredients in a bowl. Whisk to scramble eggs.
  3. Use a 1/4 cup measuring cup (or your tool of choice) to scoop the mixture and pour it into the molds. Fill each mold about 2/3 high, maybe a little less.
  4. Add a spoonful (like, a regular eating spoon, roughly teaspoon sized but, you know, bigger, especially for those you like me who have silverware from Pottery Barn) of sausage crumbles.
  5. Pour 1 cup water into Instant Pot. Add trivet to hold silicone tray off the bottom, and put first tray on trivet with its top slightly askew. Add the second silicone tray directly on top of the top of the first one, also with its top slightly askew.
  6. Close the lid. Pressure cook on high for 8 minutes and either release the steam after five minutes of natural release, or just let it totally release naturally.
  7. Remove trays, turn molds upside down on top of a cooling rack. (I put a sheet pan underneath to catch any drips). Let cool for at least 5 minutes.
  8. Wrap each egg bit in some parchment paper and throw into a gallon-sized ziplock bag. The parchment doesn’t stay around it perfectly, but whatever, it mostly keeps the egg bites separate from each other.
  9. Repeat with the rest of the mixture as many times as it takes to finish it.

Now a note on trays. I bought this Instant Pot set, and I separately bought these silicone trays. The silicone tray that came in the set is far superior to the trays in the second order. I don’t use any non-stick stuff, but the egg bites fall easily out of that tray. Also, it is slightly firmer and just generally seems to have more structural integrity. I tried to look into whether that tray can be bought alone, because I’d like another like it and to get rid of my other ones. Egg gets caught in them and I end up with 80% of an egg bit instead of a whole one. But no luck. Sigh.

 

Paleo Quiche

I’m kind of sort of back in the groove of weekly meal planning and prepping. I really lost it during my first trimester, and it just wasn’t happening with holidays, travel, etc. I’ve been mostly feeling a lot better since entering the second trimester, although I have felt a little more tired these past few weeks. And I’ve had a head cold for a WEEK at this point. I’ve never had a cold this long. I’m starting to feel like I’m never going to get better.

Anyway, I saw this recipe for paleo quiche¬†from Paleo Running Momma recently, and I was excited to have every single ingredient on hand except for the breakfast sausage. So I bought some the next time I went to the store, as well as an extra butternut squash just so I’d still have one on hand. Which was a good call because it turned out that the one I already had had gone bad and squishy :-(. I hate wasting food.

I wouldn’t say this was a quick dish to throw together, but it wasn’t terrible. Like any real food meal, it had a fair amount of chopping and steps. But the end result is super tasty, and the butternut squash crust seemed to work out pretty well.

I only needed about 1/2 to 2/3 of my butternut squash to make the crust, so I chopped up the rest into chunks and roasted it with some beets and leftover red onion I had lying around, so I have that in the fridge. Also, the recipe called for 3/4 lb. of sausage, but I used the whole 1 lb. package. I had about 1-2 cups more filling leftover than would fit in the dish, so I saved that and ate it separately the next day (yum!). Also, as you can see from the photo, I used frozen Trader Joe’s brussels sprouts instead of fresh. I first microwaved them for several minutes (5?), then cut them in half, then roasted them per the recipe. They were still a little soggier than fresh ones would have been after roasting, but in the end, I don’t think you can tell the texture in the final dish.

I cut it into 6 slices instead of 8 (the recipe said it’s 8 servings), and I’ll eat this as a pre-made breakfast on days I don’t telework for the next couple weeks. (I didn’t go into work yesterday because GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN… so one more day of pre-made breakfast still in the freezer!)

For this week, I also have made (or planned to make):

  • Sizzing pork Greek salad from Melissa Hartwig’s new Fast and Easy Whole30 cookbook. I subbed ground beef instead of pork because I didn’t have any ground¬†pork, and I added artichokes and tomatoes. This made more meat than necessary, so I have that leftover in the fridge for this week.
  • Mustard- and almond-flour- glazed flounder (the recipe called for salmon, which I though I had frozen, but it turned out I only had two tiny flounder filets in the freezer instead) and roasted potatoes and broccoli. The fish and roasted potatoes recipes were from RealPlans (which I signed up for again for three months).
  • Spinach Artichoke Chicken Bake, also from RealPlans (plan to make Thursday)
  • Deviled eggs and breakfast sausage (plan to make Saturday)

I continued to work out last week despite being sick, but this really has just dragged on and gotten worse. I didn’t work out yesterday, and today I won’t go to CrossFit, though I will go to my super relaxing prenatal yoga class that I started a few weeks ago. Hopefully I can get back to it tomorrow. I’m not feeling any better today, but I’m feeling… different. Less constantly runny nose, more coughing and pressure in my head and ears. So maybe that means things are progressing? We’ll see how I feel in the morning! In the meantime, I’ll keep drinking lots of fluids (including orange juice mixed with seltzer that has been a new craving of mine that I’m indulging… a lot).

Baby Food

This is not what you might think, from the title.

First, let me just acknowledge and move on from the fact that I haven’t posted since August. Clearly, other things have been my priority. That’s okay.

Moving on. In October, a colleague of my husband’s and close friend gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. This friend and her husband also have a dog that we often temporarily adopt when they are out of town, and they do the same for us and our dog. Their dog, Stark, has made an appearance in at least one previous post.¬†I’ve never done this for friends before, but I decided to make several freezable meals for them so they would have easy food after the birth of their child. (So, not baby food – but food-for-parents-that-just-had-a-baby doesn’t roll off the tongue as well.)

I selected four recipes that I thought would freeze well and that would provide some variety. For them, I made four servings each, so 16 individually packaged meals in total. The recipes usually made more, so this was also my meal prep for the week! They were all recipes I’d made before, except one. I chose most from the Fed&Fit cookbook, because most of those package and freeze well, and I like them!

  • Lemony Kale and Sausage soup from Fed&Fit. I believe I added some potatoes and used both sausage and ground turkey (because I had it on hand).
  • Lagered Turkey Chili from Ali Larter’s Kitchen Revelry. I’d made this recently for myself (see photos below), and it was delicious.
  • BBQ Chicken Casserole from Fed&Fit. This was the one I’d never made before, but I thought it turned out great! Dan and I had 4 servings of our own from the recipe to enjoy, so it was great.
  • Tomato and Sausage Frittata from Fed&Fit. Easy and good. I made with chorizo.

Now, I don’t eat frequently with these friends. My husband spends more time with them (as I mentioned, the wife is a colleague of my husband’s). I’ve been to their house for a meal of grilled fish and another for a barbecue with hot dogs and hamburgers. I wasn’t aware of any major food preferences. However, after I was most of the way through making the meals, my husband informed me that he wasn’t “sure they ate much meat.” Hm. Well.

So, I wrote a note that I sent along with the meals when I gave them to them explaining what the meals were and that I mostly eat paleo-ish (lots of vegetables and meat) so that’s the way I cook, and that all of the meat was as high quality as we’re able to get. They did indeed eat them, but the wife told me later that she’d become vegetarian several months before. I’m not sure if she ate any or just let her husband, even though I think he’s eating mostly vegetarian also. Alas. I respect their decisions but also don’t feel bad about providing them super nutrient-dense meals (made more-so by the presence of high quality animal products). Lesson learned for next time though.

I didn’t take photos while cooking, but have some images of other times I’ve made a few of these meals.

Lagered Turkey Chili

 

Tomato & Sausage Frittata

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How I (Loosely) Meal Plan

Sometimes I meal plan, sometimes I don’t. When I have free weekend mornings (which are important for my mental health, so I try to have them as much as possible), I like to sit down with my calendar, think about what’s in my fridge, make a food plan for the week, then go grocery shopping.

My schedule shapes my plan, of course. I have a general meal plan template for the week based on my typical schedule. For example, when I can, I like to make something with lots of leftover on Sundays (whether it’s crockpot shredded meat that I can then add to recipes throughout the week, some sort of casserole, meatballs, or soup that freezes well). I currently telework Tuesdays and Thursdays, which allows me to stay up later on Mondays and Wednesdays, so I’ll often plan to make meals those nights, unless I have other plans. (I actually often have plans on Wednesday evenings, so can’t always cook those nights. I meet up with my best friend for coffee in DC after work every other Wednesday so get home later, and about once a month or so I have book club on a not-coffee Wednesday.) I also have time Tuesday and Thursday mornings to make breakfast rather than needing one ready. I recently decided that I would like to incorporate more fish into my diet, so I aim for one of those weeknight meals to include fish.

My default when I don’t meal plan is to make sure I have staples in the house:

  • vegetables to roast (broccoli, asparagus, root vegetables, brussels sprouts)
  • leafy green like spinach, sometimes kale
  • easy protein (chicken sausages, leftover frozen shredded meat, boneless/skinless chicken thighs or breasts that I can bake in a pinch, frozen salmon fillets). I almost always have frozen chicken thighs and breasts and ground beef in the freezer because¬†Dan gets it for me at CostCo every time he goes.
  • starchy vegetable, usually potatoes (sweet or not)
  • eggs
  • peppers and onions
  • fresh fruit and smoothie staples (frozen fruit, bananas, coconut milk or yogurt, etc.)

With these, I can make a breakfast scramble of eggs, spinach, onions, and peppers, which is my go-to breakfast most telework days and weekends. Depending on my activity level, I’ll often try to add a starchy vegetable. Occasionally when I’m feeling decadent, I’ll add a meat (sausage, bacon) and/or avocado. This morning (a weekend), I had leftover roasted butternut squash on the side of three fried eggs cooked over saut√©ed spinach. On non-telework days, for breakfast, I typically heat up a chicken sausage or eat pre-made hard boiled eggs, and combine it with something else – lately, pre-made smoothies that I take out of the freezer the night before. I can also make lunches of a salad of leafy greens topped with various things like peppers, roasted vegetables and/or starchy vegetable, and easy protein (which, if you’ve seen my recent Instagram posts, I do regularly). And I can make dinners of an easy protein (baked chicken, broiled salmon, chicken sausage) with a side of roasted vegetables and/or starchy vegetable. I also usually have frozen leftovers from previous weeks that I can rely on if I don’t want to or have time to cook.

That all works when I don’t have time or motivation to plan, but it can get a little repetitive, and I like to cook and try new recipes. So when I do sit down to plan, I’ll often deliberately include the meals described above into my plan, usually with specifics noted (Monday: salmon, Tuesday: chicken) and make sure that I get those items at the grocery store if I don’t have them already. Sometimes the specifics I choose are based on what I have left over from the previous week, especially produce, or what I’ve received in my Hungry Harvest box on Saturday morning. That’s also a starting place for recipes I choose. For example, I bought mint last week. Why? Stupid really – I had been looking for it a few weeks ago and couldn’t find any (see post on Basil Vinaigrette), so when I DID see it, I bought it. But I didn’t have a plan for using it, and now it’s in my fridge, going bad. Need to use it. Also, I got an eggplant in my box this morning. I wouldn’t typically seek out an eggplant, but since I have it, I’ll want to use it. So I’ll look for recipes to use those two things.

When I do plan, I’d say I only plan one to two recipes a week and rely on my defaults or leftovers the rest of the week. One of those recipes is often made on Sundays with leftovers for the week. That might provide¬†dinner on Sunday, or the sole purpose may be to eat through the week. If it’s the latter, I might also make a recipe that’s just for Sunday dinner, often one that doesn’t lend itself to leftovers as well (either because it’s best fresh – generous salads – or just doesn’t make a lot of leftovers). And I might make a recipe one other night of the week. So I guess that’s up to three recipes a week, but usually life gets in the way, and I don’t actually do that many.

So then it’s a matter of determining which recipes I want to make. As I mentioned, sometimes that’s driven by ingredients I have on hand, so I’ll just google recipes with those ingredients. (A Google search of ‘mint eggplant recipe’ just brought up tons of roasted/grilled eggplant with mint recipes. That’s the sort of thing that probably wouldn’t be as good as leftovers.) I also follow several bloggers and podcasters, mostly paleo ones that I’ve mentioned before like Paleomg, Fed&Fit, BalancedBites, Lexi’s Clean Kitchen, and I might hear about one of their recipes that I’d like to make. This week, I came across a recipe for Moroccan Turkey Meatballs on goop and recipes¬†20 Spring Salads on The Everygirl, several of which I saved to make. The meatballs would be a good recipe to have some¬†leftovers. Meatballs usually freeze well. The salads are advertised for being meal-prep-friendly, so I might consider making them in salad jars for lunch for the week.

So this is how my week looked before meal planning:

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I love this Ink+Volt planner, but I wish it started the week on Sunday, because that’s usually how I think about my week: Sundays are prep for the rest of the week. Most of my planning is actually for Sunday, so not pictured below. Tomorrow, I am running a trail half marathon (hence not being sure if I’ll go to CrossFit on Monday morning), but I expect to be home by early afternoon, which still gives me time to make food. I have plans Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday nights, so don’t need to think about those nights (on Wednesday, I’ll likely get food – Chop’t? – at Union Station before heading home on the train). Next Sunday I’ll be totally free, but I don’t usually plan this far ahead for next Sunday. I’ll think about that next Sunday :-). Sometimes I take Dan into account, usually I don’t. It’s hard to keep track of whether we’ll both be home in an evening, and generally anything I make can feed two people, so it’s fine either way.

Below is the result of my meal planning. Not every¬†meal¬†is filled in. I’ll just use my defaults there. Not pictured: Sunday (tomorrow), I’ll make gp’s meatballs and roasted eggplant and mint for dinner. (I wouldn’t normally white things out – I’d just cross them out if I changed my mind – but I used white out for your benefit :-)).

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These are the recipes I’m planning to use:

One last piece of my meal prep process: I use Evernote to collect, tag, and make notes on recipes. I clip webpages of recipes, tag them with things like ‘want to make’ plus other relevant tags, and then rely on that rather than the website when I’m making them. After making, I also take notes on the substitutions I made, how it turned out, whether I liked it, and the nutrition info if I try to calculate it.

So that’s it!

Lately – February 2017

Lately:

Things I’ve been reading:

  • The Bone People. About three people – a man, a woman, and a child – all damaged. Set in New Zealand. Really beautiful, really hard to read at points, and really wonderful.
  • Big Little Lies. I read this on a short vacation in Park City last weekend. I was in the middle of reading Underground Railroad, but switched to this so that I could start watching the HBO series. I thought I had read it already, but I hadn’t. (Instead, I’d read The Husband’s Secret by the same author.) Anyway, a quick, fun, suspenseful read!
  • The Underground Railroad. Currently reading. Isn’t everyone? I’m going to a book club for this book on Wednesday (in three days!) and I’m only 30% into it. I should not have deviated last weekend to read Big Little Lies. Sigh. Anyway, I’m into it, it’s not that I’m not into it. I was just feeling a little beaten up after The Sympathizer and The Bone People and not wanting to read something with torture and abuse. Hence the deviation. But I’m back at it, and maybe I’ll be able to read enough by ¬†Wednesday.

Things I’ve been watching:

  • Big Little Lies. I’ve watched the first two episodes. I think it’s good. It’s so hard to watch things based on books I’ve read. So far, it has only minor deviations from the book. I think it’s good. Certainly good enough to have on while I’m cooking dinner!
  • The Putin segment of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. I don’t actually usually watch these types of shows (I group this with The Daily Show, SNL, Colbert, etc.). But I always wish I watched them more, and on the particular evening I watched this, I really wanted some perspective and comic relief on the media.

Things I’ve been eating:

  • Many of the recipes from Cassy Joy Garcia’s Fed & Fit book, including:
    • Cold Cut Roll-ups
    • Basic Pork Tenderloin and Easy Parsnip Mash
    • Roasted Fruit Pops
    • Anti-inflammatory Smoothie (I added spinach.)fullsizeoutput_aa9a
    • Buffalo Ranch Bison Burgers and Braised Greens (Really enjoyed these, and have been eating the leftovers in a salad with roasted sweet potato chunks and leftover homemade paleo ranch dressing, also from the book.)fullsizeoutput_aa99
    • Plantain Protein Pancakes with Salted Raspberry Jam (Yum.)
    • Sausage & Cranberry Stuffed Acorn Squash with Rosemary Orange Cream Sauce (thought I would¬†love this, but I think I could have cooked my acorn longer, and citrus-y anything is really hit or miss for me. The orange cream sauce was a bit of a miss.) (Photo is from before I cooked it. You couldn’t see any red after I cooked it.)fullsizeoutput_aa98
    • Lemony Kale & Sausage Soup (wasn’t sure I would like this because, again, citrus. But turns out it was¬†delicious and the lemon wasn’t lemon-y tasting, just bright.)
    • Sweet Potato Breakfast Hash Casserole (quite a lot of prep but¬†pretty good).a2e19108-4b8a-401e-ba8e-3a1021aea263
    • Buffalo Chicken Casserole (made for the Super Bowl, and made with spaghetti squash instead of potatoes, which I didn’t have. Very good.)

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  • And… HelloFresh! Dan and I tried it out for two weeks. We meant to only do one week (we had an introductory offer), but I forgot to cancel it in time. I have to say, all the meals were really, really, really good. Easy to prepare, not too time consuming. I’ve always sort of pooh poohed these home delivery dinner things, since I have no trouble prioritizing grocery shopping and making dinner. But. It was convenient and delicious. And I was able to make them all paleo/Fed&Fit compliant. We’re trying Blue Apron with an introductory offer next week ūüôā (but those will be more difficult to make paleo/compliant). Some photos:

Races I’ve registered for:

Fitness I’ve been doing:

  • Still CrossFitting at CrossFit Federal Hill. 3x week, except the past two weeks. I developed some fairly intense low back pain throughout January, and it got so bad a few weeks ago that I totally put the halt on everything. Then I saw a PT and met with the gym owner and gained back some confidence to keep moving but taking it easy. So now I’m back at it, with lower weights.
  • Still running 2x week. Yesterday, I did a 6-mile trail run in Patapsco State Park. I combined the Soapstone Trail with the Grist Mill Trail and road, then the River Trail, and returned on the Grist Mill Trail from the swinging bridge. Clio had a blast (so did I). It was near 70 degrees! I’ll be doing more trail runs to get ready for the half marathon. Fun!
  • Easy C1 yoga at CorePowerYoga in Fed Hill and Canton. This has been amazing for my back. I hadn’t been in a while, but have been 3-4 times over the past two weeks.
  • Skiing at Snowbird and Deer Valley in Utah last weekend.

So that’s that! I’m going to do a cooking class tonight with Baltimore Delta Gamma alumnae at Pier Point Restaurant. Looking forward to it!

Fed & Fit Turmeric Latte

Things you should know. 1) I like food challenges. I don’t want to live my life in a constant food challenge, but I still like them. So… 2017 may be my year of challenges. I sort of did Emily Schromm’s Superhero Challenge in January, but that didn’t go so well, what with Canada vacation and all that. (I did the 7-day Reset after Thanksgiving that was great, though.) And¬†2) I started the 28-day Fed & Fit Project on¬†Monday, February 6. (To be clear, Cassy Joy doesn’t consider this a challenge but rather a project to figure out what works for you long-term). In any case, I’m looking forward to it, and I’ll probably post about it. Last Friday, I shopped for the first week of meals ¬†and did some meal prep, making¬†the tomato and sausage frittata that I’ve been eating for breakfast most days this week.

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But before all that, I saw a recipe on Cassy Joy’s Fed & Fit website for turmeric milk¬†(she calls it Golden Milk). I’ve been seeing a lot of turmeric milk/latte recipes these days (including one on goop, which is the only other one that really sticks in my mind, but I’m sure I’ve seen more). I’ve made the one from the Fed & Fit blog twice now. The first time, I made it with ground ginger. I am never great at measuring spices and maybe used too much. It tasted/felt a little powdery. The second time, I made it with fresh ginger. Too much again, I think. A little ginger-chunky. But, overall, very tasty, and a nice warm-beverage alternative treat to hot chocolate or a hot toddy.

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I’ll keep working on the proportions of ginger, because I’ll definitely keep making this! Assuming we have more cold weather. Yesterday and the day before, it was mid-60s and lovely. Last night it got cold and snowed this morning. It’ll be back in the 60s in two days. Whhhhaaaaat.

 

Oh hey there, 2017

It’s a new year! The kitchen looks pretty much the same. Here’s a little bit of what’s been going on:

I made posole on New Years Eve! I basically followed the recipe in my previous post¬†except… I bought a 3.7 lb Boston butt from the farmers market that morning that was frozen and on the bone. I was mostly able to thaw it before cooking, but not enough to cut it up into chunks, so I just threw the whole thing in there and started trying to shred after about two hours. I cooked it for 3-3.5 hours total. Dan and I both thought it was okay while eating it. Then we remembered to season it with salt and add some lime and cilantro. Then it was really good. I forgot to take a lot of pictures, so I’ll share a couple pictures from when I made it 5.5 years ago, and a couple from Saturday. Sorry, my photography was just as bad then as it is now.

June 2011:

Look how clean my Lodge Dutch oven was! I think it was newish then.

NYE 2016:

Yep, that’s all I got. The red sauce was definitely darker this time. I didn’t use Anaheim chiles. I used… I forget. I’m sorry! They were just some dried chiles that I found at Harris Teeter a couple weeks ago. And, I think in future, I would prefer the pork chunks I’ve used before over the shredded pork I used this time. It made the stew fattier and heavier this time.

A couple nights before NYE, I made Greek turkey burgers and an arugula salad with tahini sauce from RealPlans (the burgers actually called for ground chicken, not turkey, but turkey’s what I had).

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The night before the last night of Hanukkah, we made latkes. My first time ever! We paired them with roasted vegetables and some leftover chicken thighs in mole sauce that Dan had made before.

On NYE morning, I sorta made a Benedict out of leftover latkes. Except without hollandaise sauce. And a fried egg instead of poached. Is that still sort of a Benedict? Okay, it was just latke piled with smoked salmon, sautéed spinach, sliced tomato, fried egg, and yogurt. It was delicious.

Yesterday morning (post NYE celebrating), I made the NYTimes shakshuka¬†for breakfast for my friend who’d spent the night and me. No pictures. I had leftovers this morning (and a leftover latke – oof, a big full breakfast before CrossFit. Normally I don’t eat before my 5:30am class, but the gym only had a 9:30am class today due to the holiday, and I woke up starving, so had to eat).¬†Ohhhh, and last night, Dan and I finally ate the remaining bone marrow that I bought from The Pigheaded Butcher many months ago. I also bought a ton of bones for broth when I bought the pork shoulder at the farmer’s market on Saturday, so I started a batch of bone broth last night. It’s been making the house smell real good all night and morning. I’ll strain and jar it in a couple hours. Bone broth for the new year!

And that’s it!

I’m going to clean out the fridge today. That’ll feel good. While watching Gilmore Girls. I’m on season 6. I do this every fall/winter. This is the season where Rory and Lorelei are not talking for the first half season. Not my favorite, but I’m ¬†marching on :-).

And I’m going to have leftover posole for lunch. New Year’s off to a good start!