Plated week 8

Moo Shu Chicken with Pancakes
So, this dish had a lot of mushrooms, and I don’t like mushrooms, but expanding borders etcetera. For me it was OK. It wasn’t the worse mushroom dish I’d ever had, and as far as they go it was pretty darn good, but man, SO. MANY. MUSHROOMS. Shmoo liked it though. Thought it was really tasty.

Szechuan Lamb Noodles with Bok Choy
Delicious! I don’t think we’d change a thing. We definitely want to try to make this one on our own. If we can’t find ground lamb, we’ll probably try bison, but the lamb-ground beef mix was really perfect for this. The lamb added so much flavor but the ground beef kept it from being over-powering. This was tasty, and relatively quick and easy. I don’t think we’ve liked an entire dish this much since the first one we tried (vegetarian buritos back in plated week 1).

Mammogrammatical Error

So, about a month ago, I had a breast reduction. There will be a post about it in the future, much like my “I am a grown ass woman and I got my tonsil out” post, but this, this is not that post.

This post is about the Mammograms I had to have done before hand.

The Events!
So around 40, a woman is supposed to and get her baseline Mammogram done. It’s the one they will compare all other mammograms to for future changes and signs of abnormality(cancer).
I am 42. I had not yet had my baseline done. Mostly because I just didn’t want to be bothered. So even while I knew it was important and it was time, I hadn’t yet gone. Approval for my breast reduction took forever. (4 months, with no reason given for why it had to be submitted 3 times, nor why there was a delay in verdict, thanks Carefirst BCBS, you’re a champ, like always!) So once that approval came through, it became imperative that I get off my ass and get my baseline done. Luckily, I already had the script, and I knew where I was going, so it was just a matter of calling, scheduling, and arranging it with work.

My first mammogram showed some abnormalities, likly cysts. The radiologist said it was likely fine but I should get another mammogram and an ultrasound in about 6 months. When I said “I’m getting a breast reduction in 4 weeks” he said “well, you’d better get it done before then, but give the results a week to get to your doctor” (the gyno the order had to come from not the plastic surgeon who just needed the results). So I waited a week (it was Christmas after all) and then called the gyno’s office and left a message. They called me back, and while they hadn’t gotten the results yet, they understood my urgency and faxed the new script over to the diagnostic place for me, and I immediately called them and made a new appointment for that week.

The second mammogram and ultrasound was not conclusive. While they determined that the right side was almost definately cysts (less than 2% chance otherwise) there was some asymetry in the tissue on the left side, and I’d need further mammogramming in 6 months. I reminded them, that nope, I would not, because my boobs wouldn’t be there the same way, and was told that the surgeon would have to make the call if I needed to go further along the investigative path or not.

So about a week later I see the surgeon for pre-op two weeks prior to the scheduled reduction, and while he thinks a lot of the radiologist I went to see, he said “if you were my wife, I’d want you to go see a surgeon and have them make a call on it” and gave me some names of docs he worked with previously and offered to let my chosen doc come in during the reduction, if I got the green light to proceed with the reduction, for a biopsy if it was desired. So I called that day and scheduled an appointment for two days later which was also pre-op day with my PCP. I also called to schedule a pick up of my films and ultrasound results because it turns out, NONE of my doctors had been sent them yet, not even from the first mammogram. So irritating.

PCP pre-op went fine, going to blood tests went fine, then the trek to get my films sucked, because despite calling days ahead and asking if they could have them ready Wednesday morning, they weren’t. I had to wait for them to print them all.

Then was the visit to the specialist to find out if I needed a biopsy on my left boob before all the tissue was removed or moved around in such a drastic fashion that the baseline mammogram wouldn’t really map very well to the new structure. Shmoo went with me for this one, and it was a bit of a surreal visit. There were things about this office visit that I don’t think I can blog about without sounding crazypants, so I’m going to skip them, but know that it was an adventure, and yet another man, and his two medical students got to see me half naked and poke at my boobs. Yay. Really. So thrilled at this…

But! What I was actually thrilled about was the verdict that no, it was fine, he didn’t see a need to biopsy. He agreed with the radiologist that yes there was some asymtetry and it was odd, but there was a minimal chance it was bad, and it was just oddly shaped tissue, so, carry on with the reduction.

My Feels!
I’m not going to lie here. I felt super relieved. Despite the crazypants office visit, I came out of that office with the verdict I wanted. I wanted the all clear for the reduction and no need to do a biopsy and that’s exactly what I got. And that he didn’t think anything on my mammogram results was an issue also lifted the worry I didn’t even acknowledge I was carrying. From the moment you hear “irregularity” and “needs more tests” when you get a mammogram, there is the worry that it could be malignant. Even when you are reassured it’s probably not, and even when you know statistically it’s probably fine, and cysts are very common, especially in large breasts, and blah blah blah. I know shmoo was also relieved at this verdict as well. We didn’t really talk about it much, because I’m not much of a talker about the things that really concern me, but I know he worries about me and my health, and this cloud of doubt wasn’t a happy event for either of us.

The week that this all happened, I was a bit numb emotionally. I was trying to get my shit together and check off all the pre-op boxes, deal with this extra “oh your results aren’t good and it might affect your reduction” mammogram stuff, as well as get ready for shmoocon, and prep at work for being out for shmoocon, then coming back into the office for 4 days before going out again for two weeks for the surgery. I felt like I was juggling everything in my life that week, and it was stressful. By the time we got the verdict of no biopsy on Wednesday, I was pretty much at my stress limit, but walking out of that office, it was a burden lifted. It was the last thing I needed to deal with and put behind me for surgery prep and I was happy to have it done.

In all of this, I realized I was very lucky about my concerns (in addition to the results!). Even if they had wanted a biopsy, and the verdict was bad, and I was going to have to get a masectomy, the need for a masectomy was not a concern for me, like it can be for many women. I wanted less boobs, and if I was unlucky enough to need to have them completely removed because of cancer, I was just going to roll with that and move on, because either way I was going to end up with less boobs. I know other women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer to whom the masectomy was a BIG DEAL, but for me, it was just a question of if I needed to be on additional drugs after that, and how much it would change my life to treat the diagnosis.

So there you have it, the roller coaster that was my life from Christmas to the middle of January. Now go get your mammogram if you need one and have been putting it off. It’s important.

Plated Week 7

Week 7 was pretty good!

Steak Fajitas with Peppers, Onions, and Cholula Guacamole
We liked these. One of shmoo’s co-workers got the same thing this week, and said she didn’t like it as much as previous fajita meals because the marinade was done on the meat, onions and peppers all together and that kind off made it one note. We both agree with that. I think the peppers and onions cooked seperately having not been marinated would have been just as good if not better and added a bit more variety to the dish. The marinade was heavy on the lime juice, and it was my first time using one like that on steak. We really liked the result. Maybe all my steaks needs a citrus marinade going forward. The easy chunky guac was tasty as well. And since the title of this recipe specifically mentions the Cholula, I am going to specifically mention that we quite like Cholula so this was right up our alley. Would do/make/copy again.

Green Thai Curry with Eggplant, Brococoli, and Basil
We both loved this dish. Eggplant is not a favorite of either of us and it was tasty. I did find myself avoiding in the eggplant pieces towards the end of the meal thoough. But the dish was flavorful and super filling. There were a couple of hiccups, but we overcame. I got coconut milk everywhere when I went to dump it in the pot, so half of it was wasted, but luckily, I had a coconut milk in the cabinet so we used that and reduced the amount of water to make up for the extra difference. But, their coconut milk was “lite” and mine was just normal full fat. So I am betting it ended up a bit more flavorful than it would have been otherwise, but we did not mind. I’d love to do this again with a tiny bit of lemongrass or some lime/lemon juice since shmoo hates lemongrass, and use chicken instead of eggplant. Maybe add a little gochuchang or red pepper flake for a bit of heat. Another thing I liked about this dish was it taught me a quick basic way to do candied nuts. I am thinking of trying the same method on some walnuts with a bit of salt and cayenne.

Plated Weeks 5 & 6

(Edited to correct weeks because I dorked them!)

I had surgery (There will a post on this at some point later a few weeks from now, but not today!), and didn’t feel like sitting at the computer so, 2 weeks at one time again.

Week 5
Shmoo cooked the plated dishes for this week, with a little bit of input from me here and there in an advisory capacity.

Cheesy Beef Empanadas with Salsa Roja

So this was a mixed bag. The spinach salad, which we thought would be meh, was totally great. Super simple, but great. The Empanadas and Salsa Roja, not so much. Bland, but also Grease. Grease is the word, and we didn’t even have any Bee Gees in the house. The Salsa Roja itself, wasn’t a salsa, but it was red. The cheese and garlic in the empanadas, and the jalapenos in the salsa just didn’t come through in the end product. It was filling however, and it was good enough that we’ve already talked about how we’d retool this, and we intend to do so at a future point.
Changes we’d make:
-For the spinach salad, more black pepper, and maybe some thinly sliced red onion.
-For the empanadas, I want to use lime marinated skirt steak, and some cotija cheese, add some jalapeno, and maybe add some garlic powder instead of the crushed/diced garlic. The onion amount was sufficient.
-For the Salsa Roja, more tomatos or a can of diced tomatos, as there just wasn’t enough liquid at all. Double the amount of jalapeno, maybe up the onion and garlic a bit, or just use the garlic I am not using in the meat now for the salsa.
Seriously, that spinach salad…. YUM, and so unexpectedly good.

Cauliflower Bahn Mi Bowls with Srircha Mayo
We liked these too. Everything went well together and it was tasty. This was probably the best rice we’ve ever gotten from Plated. I could have done without the sweet potato in it and would have prefered chicken, but mostly we don’t have any problems with this dish at all.

Week 6
I cooked these!
https://www.plated.com/recipes/chicken-shawarma-with-tomato-cucumber-and-tahini
I liked this well enough, but shmoo didn’t really care for it. If I had put the plates together the way they are in the link above as opposed to the recipe card we were sent he probably would have liked it a lot better but as it was the pitas had too much stuff on them and it was too much tomato for him. Our dinner guest thought this was pretty good, and that the meat would be good that style in tacos. These weren’t bad, but they weren’t super great either, so I’d rank these somewhere in the middle of the pile we’ve tried so far. I could see using this method for a meat though to quick fake schwarma in the future.

Sesame Cauliflower Buns with Crispy Brussels Sprouts and Srircha Mayo
So… I’mma tell you out the gate, I fucked this one up. I put the bun filling sauce on the brussels sprouts by accident and after that, there was no going back. So we put both sauces in the pan, and did the sprouts and filling as big pile of stuffing. This means we lost the contrast and texture differences in the dish so it was relatively one note, but it was still a good dinner and while I wasn’t super happy with it because I messed it up, shmoo and our guest both thought it was pretty tasty and it was very filling as well. We’ll be on the look out for this one so we can order it again and make it correctly.

Plated Desserts 1

So, because we only get 2 meals for 2 people per week, we come in at 6 bucks under the free shipping minimum. To fix that, we took the advice of shmoo’s co-worker and get one 1 dessert a week, which is 8 bucks, so for 2 bucks more a week, you also get a dessert. We aren’t really dessert people however, so I am not making those in as timely a fashion as we do the dinners. (Looking at the app however, it appears because we are getting desert for 2 instead of one, it’s 12 bucks, not 8.) They offer 2 choices of dessert each week, and it appears the choices run for 2 weeks at a time. So I plan to post on the dessert recipes we try as well, but not as often. Dessert posts will only be once or twice a month instead of weekly, and likely run a little behind when we actually get the kits.

So far we have made Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies with Cranberries and No Churn Ice Cream with Chocolate Coconut Sauce.
We also have one Peanutbutter Marble Brownies kit in house already, but another is coming next week so I decided to wait and just make them both together.

The cookies were a bit meh. The texture was odd. They were OK, but I don’t think I would seek them out as something I was craving to eat. The dark chocolate, oats, and cranberries did all pair well together however, so maybe if the cookie consistancy were better we’d have liked them more.

The no-churn ice cream was a pain in the ass for me. Plated has you do things very manually, which I get, because who wants to require a mixer for a 2 person dessert or any pre-prepped meal you order? I would not get/make this again unless it were in a large enough quantity to use my stand mixer. Having to whisk the heavy cream until it was stiff peaked (very fast for 5 minutes or so) is really to much for my hands, wrist, elbows and arms. I’m in the middle of a tiny RA flare because I can’t take NSAIDs right now, and whipping the cream sucked. I called shmoo in about halfway through and had him finish up. I also didn’t like the little pop-tab on the condensed milk, as it made it take forever to get it out. I ended up using a can opener anyway at the end. I thought there was too much chocolate sauce and the toasted coconut would have been better put into the “ice-cream” to provide it more flavor than just sprinkled on top. It wasn’t bad, and I could see using the method again (with my stand mixer!!!) with some mixed berries or other fruit thrown in as a fruity not quite ice-cream treat and that would probably be quite delicious.

Plated Weeks 3 & 4

So…shmoocon means that things in our schedule got off-kilter and thus, you get 2 weeks combined this go round. There will also be a bonus plated dessert post after this one.

Week 3 dishes were Thai Beef Lettuce Wraps with Basil Rice, and Peanut Chicken Curry over sticky Rice.
Week 4 was Seared Steak with Swiss Chard and Crispy Pamesan Potatoes, and Bok Choy Fried Rice with Butternut Squash and Srircha.

So for week 3, both dishes were REALLY GOOD despite an issue or two, but if I were to make them again, I’d change a lot of things.

Thai Beef Lettuce Wraps
We both loved these, so very much. They were simple and fast and tasty! The only real issue with these is that the butter lettuce was gritty as hell even after a thorough cleaning and run through the salad spinner to dry off. So that sucked, but they did give you plenty of butter lettuce to use, and there was enough filling to use more than the 3 leaves each the recipe advised. The ground beef they sent was 80/20, but since we generally buy 92/8 I found it super greasy even after draining, but otherwise this was great.
I’d like to try making this on my own with the following changes:
-Skirt steak instead of ground beef or 92/8 ground beef, and if it’s the skirt steak, marinate it first in a teriyaki sauce or some Dale’s.
-Thai Basil instead of plain Basil, as I think that’s a better flavor for the dish, and I’d use more of it.
-I’d defintely add more hoisin and sriracha, but we like things pretty spicy. We are possibly of the camp that it’s not spicy enough until it hurts us.
-Add spring onions, and up the amount of cilantro a bit.

Peanut Chicken Curry over Sticky Rice
Again, we both loved this, and again we both agreed we’d change some things. I really don’t care for most of the types of rice Plated sends us. I am not a huge rice person, and generally the only rice I find acceptable is basmati, and it should be cooked with the Toast and Season method. (Rinsed well, cooked with a bit of oil/fat til it slightly changes color and smells nutty, then add the water and cook as normal, preferably with a chicken cube for some extra flavor. I don’t always do this I admit, sometimes we just use a rice cooker.) So I didn’t like the sticky rice. It was ok, but texture wise it was off for me, and I would have loved basmati in the dish so much more. And the instructions for cooking the chicken had you cooking it for 6 minuutes in a pan on it’s own, which did not make sense to me at all, because you were only cooking it through and not browning it. So I put it in the broth to cook instead, so that broth flavor would be in the chicken and chicken flavor would be in the broth. Also, 1 less pan. I thought the broth was a bit on the thin side, but shmoo was fine with it. It was a super tasty dish even with all my complaining.
I very much plan to make this on my own with the following changes:
-Use normal coconut milk instead of lite
-Use more red curry paste, more gochujang, more peanutbutter, and a smidge more ginger.
-Use Basmati instead of Sticky Rice

Week 4 was tasty as hell. Both dishes were good and I plan to do my own versions of both of them in the future.

Seared Steak with Swiss Chard and Crispy Parmesan Potatoes
Neither of us can remember having ever eaten Chard before, and the way the potatoes were done is totally happening in my house again, but this time just cooked on a Silpat instead of parchment, so they don’t stick.
Changes for when I make it:
-Instead of demi-glace in the sauce, I want to use Worchester sauce or maybe a little Dale’s, and up the wine content by about half of what was sent.
-No sugar in the Chard, it was a small amount but I just didn’t think it was needed at all
-More red pepper flake
These are pretty small changes over all, and we really enjoyed the the whole dish. Other than the very first recipe we did (cheesy black bean burritos) this is probably the 2nd on the list for really liking it as is without changing things.

Bok Choy Fried Rice with Butternut Squash and Sriracha
This was good and very filling. We both liked it, and while there were things we’d change, neither of us would be mad if someone made us eat it again as is. They sent basmati rice for this one, so I was a lot happier with life. I followed their instructions on the rice instead of doing it my way, but it was still the best rice we’ve had from Plated. The butternut squash came pre-cut sort of but you still had to cube it up, which was hard because the pieces sent to you were inconsistent. One large section of squash would have been better because then I could have cut it more uniformly. The carrot came shredded, so that was pretty handy. I don’t think I’ve ever cooked bok choy before, so that was both new and educational. I definately feel more confident about the idea of making fried rice on my own now. If you want a vegetarian fried rice dish, this is solid. Shmoo says he did not miss the meat, and he is generally the one who wants meat in all the foods, so that’s pretty high praise.
What I’d change:
-Add some meat. Diced chicken or pork, or shrimp perhaps. Barring that, I’d add some stock or meat flavor to the rice.
-Possibly remove the butternut squash. Don’t get me wrong, it was good, but it was a little sweet, and we both thought it was there to be the “meat” of the dish.
-More onion, garlic, soy, and Srircha. Maybe add a little hoisin, or some rice-wine pickled cucumber at the end for flavor/texture/temperature contrast. Possibly some mushrooms would be a good addition as well if you like that sort of thing.
-Maybe instead of the fried egg on top, scrambling it and frying it into the rice in the more traditional style.

So yeah, we really liked all 4 of these recipes quite a bit and we’d eat all of them again, even if it were as is. I do think the minor tweaks and changes would make them amazing dishes however, so I’ll be trying that out at some point in the future.

Plated Week 2

This week’s recipes were OK. There were parts of each dish that were hits and misses.

Roasted Shiitake Bibimap w/ Sweet Potato and Pickled Cucumbers
This was a big one, for me at least. I don’t like mushrooms. I never have. I am incredibly good at detecting mushrooms in food. I can tell if you used cream of mushroom soup in a recipe, with those tiny tiny tiny mushroom spec of yuck.
Choosing a dish that had mushrooms as a main ingredient was a BIG DEAL. I was prepared to eat them and even if I did not like them, because part of using trying plated is expanding our culinary borders, and while I am never going to try a fish dish from them, I figured I could give non-white-button-mushrooms a shot.
We liked the dish. The mushrooms and sweet potatoes in the hoisin-like sauce were pretty good, and the rice vinegar pickled cucumbers were great. My egg frying skills are decent as well so that was fine. The rice was a bit bland. And so very starchy. I had to rinse the rice after cooking as well due to the amount of starch gunking it up, which of course meant the beef boullion cube I put in the water with the rice was basically useless. I had some scallions on hand, so I diced those up and stuck them in some rice vinegar also and we put that in the rice to help it out. Everything but the spinach was pretty good. Shmoo found the spinach to be very blah, and I thought it was on the bland side and just ok, and I had added some sesame seeds to mine to help it out a bit. (There was more oil than I needed so I cooked it in Sesame oil provided as well instead of just olive oil so there wouuld be more flavor but it just wasn’t very flavorful. Bland bland bland.)

Steak au Poivre w/ Crispy Fingerling Potatoes
This was good. Sort of. Again, hits and misses. Shmoo really loved the way the potatos were done. I thought they were tasty as well, but my favorite was the sauce for the steak, even though the dijon mustard that was supposed to come with that recipe was missing. I just stuck some normal mustard in there and made do, but it did bring up an issue I’ll mention down below. The spinach was, again, super bland. I had hopes that it would be better and that maybe it was just what it was paired with on the first dish, but nope, it was still very meh.

So, the thing I have now experieced is an ingredient being left out. This can be problematic.

Even if you have the proper ingredients on hand (as I would have if they had left out a bibimbap ingredient) you don’t really know how much is the correct amount because the recipes don’t give you amounts. You have the ingredients from the dinner kit pre-measured, so if you are trying to replace one or duplicate a recipe, it’s basically your knowledge and guesstimate from when you did make it, or a random guess based on the instructions.

Additionally, you may not have the correct ingredient on hand. We did not have dijon mustard. We have spicy tabasco mustard, and I have mustard I can mix up with mustard powder. Neither of which are dijon. No, I cannot pardon you because I do not have any Gray Poupon, etc. That being said, we did just fine.

Sunday night’s dinner was taking the good parts of the plated dishes this week that we liked and doing them our own way. Or my own way since I am the cook! We did beef tips in a sauce that was a riff off of the poivre sauce, and I did some non-fingerling potatos with that same method. I also pickled some cucumber in rice vinegar for our salad. Overall, it was a great dinner, and I liked trying the different takes on food we’d normally cook.

Plated, & Plated Week 1

So, shmoo and I have started doing Plated as of last week. We are also in a group imessage chat that’s basically being treated like an IRC conversation amongst the group, and it’s been going on for about a year now.

When we mentioned doing Plated in that chat, there were a lot of questions there, and generally everyone that hears about it has questions and hey, so did we, so I decided it would be good blog post fodder since I’m not really a speedy knitter/spinner/crafter person as of late.

First, why we chose Plated over other services out there:

    1. We liked their plan options better. You can sub 2 to 5 meals a week. The other contender only had 3 as the lowest option. We are doing 2 (except for the first week, which was 3) meals a week. You can also pause your subscription with no penalties, which I don’t believe you can with some of the others. This is a great thing for when you are going out off town or whatever, or have holidays or people coming into town, etc.

    2. We knew someone using the service already who liked it. One of shmoo’s co-workers uses the service and has for a while. She gave us the starter coupon so we could try it at no cost.

    3. I have food allergies, and they (Plated, not my allergies) list each of the ingredients clearly for their meals, and the environments where the food is produced/gathered/packed?? so that if I have food concerns I can address them ahead of time or just choose something else.

    4. We liked their different recipe options the most out of the services we looked at.

Other things of note, but not necessarily factors on trying a dinner service, just things we’ve noted this first week:

    1. I already know how to cook. This is not a problem for our household. But I get tired of trying to think of new things and we like ethnic foods quite a bit.
    There’s something very pleasing about the idea getting to try a new recipe or technique I haven’t done before or cook something in a new way without having to research it and gather all the little bits and bobs together to make it and it keeps me from being bored or burnt out cooking dinner every night.

    2. Portion control. Part of the problem with cooking at home is portion sizes. I don’t weigh things when I cook, and I don’t want to. And generally I cook a large enough amount to last a night or two, and maybe some lunches. But that means we don’t always eat an appropriate amount. For me, this is a way to learn more appropriate portion sizes by working with them regulary and seeing the outcome of those smaller portions, i.e. we aren’t hungry, there aren’t tons of leftovers to deal with, we aren’t eating more than we should.

    3. The App is quite nice and possibly better than the website for choosing what you want for the week.

Now the part you’re probably more interested in. What we ate and what we thought about it.

Week 1 Recipes:

Cheesy Black Bean Burritos w/ Pico & Guac

Thoughts:
This was good, I would make it again with a few minor tweaks. We were suprised about how much we liked it, especially since it was meatless. While I don’t mind not having meat in a meal, shmoo totally does, but it wasn’t an issue for this one. I did have an issue with the instructions on the amount of diced red onion. It has you dice the onion and “divide” but doesn’t give you any guidance on how it should be divided. Halvsies? Quarters? Should there be some left over when it’s all over? What? It was’t like it was a huge onion or anything, and my dice wasn’t large, so a little confused about them then saying how many tablespoons to use of the divided onion in each side dish didn’t really address that I had divided the onion, nor use all the onion. I just threw it all in the dishes one way or another and ignored the tablespoon directions, and it was fine, but it irked me. We did throw a handful of corn chips each onto our plates to eat all the guac and pico that went with the burrito, because there was no way we were just going to eat that straight.

Seared Steak w/ Italian Street Corn & Basil Pistou

Thoughts:
This was good. I would make it again, likely with several tweaks. I thought the portions were going to be an issue, but they weren’t. I thought there wasn’t enough red wine vinegar for the Pistou, but there was. I thought the recipe used too much olive oil for no good reason. It had you cook the steaks, then remove them and wipe the pan. Why woud you wipe all the steak goodness from the pan? That’s just wrong. So I didn’t. But that meant I didn’t need as much olive oil as it called for to cook the corn either. And there was mayonaise for the street corn dish. And it was this fancy stuff. Ugh. No. It did not please me to use it, but I did. I think it would have been better using my standard plain-doesn’t-really-have-a-flavor mayonaise instead. To be fair, my family has used Duke’s mayonaise for 4 generations now, so it’s pretty ingrained, and over all al small thing.

Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Curry

Thoughts:
This was OK. This was the first dish we didn’t eat all of. I could see it being really good with a few minor changes however, and will likely try to make it again with those changes. I think adding some chicken, more peanutbutter for thicker sauce, subbing regular coconut milk for the lite stuff, and chicken stock for the veggie stock would be a big improvement. I’d like to see a little more heat spice-wise as well. I think adding in some lentils or chick peas would be nice, and I’d like to add some cumin (not ground) to the rice to go with that cilantro and give it a more peppery scent over all. It wasn’t a bad dish, and we liked the flavors in it, I just think it could come together and be an amazing yet pretty easy dish to create with these minor tweaks.

Overall thoughts on first week:
We liked it enough to keep doing it.
These dishes use more fresh herbs that I am used to and I think I like it.
The only ingredients needed/not provided so far have been salt, pepper, and olive oil. I approve of this, though I did put steak seasoning on the steak and things like that. I have a cabinet full of really nice seasonings and spices and I am going to use them when appropriate.

Next week:
Roasted Shiitake Bibimap w/ Sweet Potato and Pickled Cucumbers (we’ll need to supply 2 eggs for this one)
Steak au Poivre w/ Crispy Fingerling Potatoes

Fuzzy Lightning

Bolting is finished! It only took 18 months and 4 days to do it. That’s not to say I was knitting that whole time. I wasn’t. For instance, I started the cast off back in September, and was just under halfway through it, and it sat there for months because I hated that fuzzy shit I was using for the edging. Don’t get me wrong, I like how it looks, I just didn’t want to knit with it. At. All.

Most of the details on it can be found on Ravelry as usual. Specifically, here. And now I am onto other things. I’ve had a sock started in waiting I’ve got to work on, a mistake ribbed cowl cast on for simple mindless knitting, I want to cast on a double knit hat, and mug cozy. I’ll be impressed if I managed to get all 4 of these things done by this time next year, but we’ll see.

Happy Holidays and what have you!

Jeep Update, Summer 2016

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This year’s summer jeep update took a bit longer to get to than last year, for a number of reasons.

We went camping on Memorial Day weekend this year and the hard top stayed on for that. Then the leftovers from tropical storm Bonnie (that hit while we were camping in the Outer Banks) made it rain for another week and a half straight, so it was mid June before the hard top came off.

Then, there was some bimini top drama. I had ordered a new safari style bimini top for this year because I wanted more shade in the back of the jeep, and better protection from rain blowback because I always keep the windjammer at least halfway down. (For those who don’t know but want to, the bimini is the roof panel, made of cloth. It’s only the roof and nothing but the roof. The windjammer is the “rear window” like panel.)

I spent the extra money to get the nicer Besttop Bimini top, and then it was on backorder, and then it got here, but it didn’t fit the jeep quite right and I didn’t understand why. I had read up on the top, I know I got the right version, etc. etc. (Jeep Wranglers are like Lego for adults. Just as pricey, and certain sets don’t work with other sets.) It turns out, what they don’t tell you is that they designed this for soft-top users, and soft tops have a door surround. And this fancier top hooks into the door surround. You don’t have to have the door surround, but if you don’t, it allows all the water ever right into the jeep. So I went back to my old bimini top (that only covered the front seat) while we figured out what we wanted to do. I had to decide whether to sink more money into the surrounds and knobs for this top, or if I just wanted to send it back and get the cheaper Quadratop safari bimini that would be like my current 2 seater one, but longer.

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After some discussion, shmoo convinced me I wanted the door surrounds. He really liked the way the Besttop fit into the channels of the door surrounds and felt like that would be better water protection. It was a hard sell for him. I resisted for several weeks. I figure if you are going to take the top off, you’re going to have to deal with some water problems, that’s just part of owning a jeep and making choices like having no top. But I also like having a dry ass when I arrive at work, so he managed to talk me around.

While waiting on the surrounds to arrive, we also did some spot painting on the jeep’s rack where it had rusted. We scraped, rust-primed, and then painted the spots that needed it and finally, Finally, FINALLY took off that wooden valence. Upon removal, I promptly notified Bruce it had been removed. :)

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The jeep has also had some other work done on it since last summer as well. New bumpers with a wench. New wheels & tires. The old rusty rock rails removed and new side steps put on, and it’s been lifted, so it’s SUPER TALL now as well. I’ll be honest, I could do without the super-tallness, but it was required for the wheels I wanted, which remind me of daisies, but in a subtle way.

I’m very happy with it now (not that I was unhappy…). I still don’t have the spray on bedliner, but there’s always next year.