Planning Ahead

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I like new beginnings.  They offer opportunities to make changes that normal routine makes difficult.  I also find that these days, after months of change and upheaval I am finally settling down and creating new routines of my own.  I'm getting my groove back- a new groove, but mine none the less.  

When it comes to my diet I'm trying to be more mindful of what I'm eating.  I recently had some tests done to see what foods are causing me to have upset stomachs and a number of other unpleasant issues.  I'm looking forward to learning what I'm sensitive to and then learning to live without those things.  I don't mind making changes as long as I have the knowledge to know what changes need to be made.

One thing I'm not great at is eating well when I'm home alone.  Did you know popcorn is a completely suitable meal when there is no one else to cook for?  Okay- maybe it isn't, which is why I am attempting to plan ahead and have foods that I really enjoy ready when I am completely lacking inspiration in the kitchen.  It's easier with winter on its way as I find cooking in the summer falls by the wayside when the weather is beautiful and it is difficult to drag myself indoors before sunset.  Autumn is the time of year when I turn inwards, not only with regards to preparing my home for the coming months indoors but also the way I cook.  Stews and soups and hearty warm meals are some of my favorite things to prepare in the kitchen.  Slow cooking at this time of year is the norm rather than the exception.  Shopping for root vegetables and stocking up on homemade broth in the freezer.  Buying whole chickens to use in endless ways (if you haven't read An Everlasting Meal I highly recommend it- more on this amazing book soon!).  And afternoons spent in the kitchen with the biggest Dutch oven or stock pot I can find, simmering meats and accompanying vegetables along with rice or pasta or beans.  And music- always music.

When it comes to cooking I always make enough for a meal, some leftovers, and then a few servings for the freezer.  They are so easy to pull out in the morning to defrost in the sink for the evening meal.  Most things I freeze go well with some hearty bread which I buy that day.  I try to keep salted butter on hand because sometimes it's the little things and salted butter always reminds me of my time in France with my dear friends Cat and Alain and the entire package of French salted butter and endless baguettes I eat while I'm with them.  

Yesterday I made a large batch of chicken and rice soup to freeze.  It's definitely a comfort food and for me, the key ingredient is the broth.  I like a rich flavorful broth which I make myself. 

 

Basic Chicken Broth

Broth is something I always have in the freezer.  Most often it's chicken broth although I also keep beef broth for things like boeuf bourguignon or other beef stews.  I will use the remains from a roast chicken and add carrots, onions, celery, and any other vegetable cuttings I have in the fridge like fennel, leeks, root vegetables, or anything that isn't bitter.  I tend to collect the ends and the parts that I cut off from other meals to make broth- as to not waste when possible.  I keep a container in the refrigerator to collect them and usually make broth once a week in the winter.  It's useful for not only soups and stews but for cooking pasta, making risottos and rice dishes.  I always salt my broth to taste when cooking it and add peppercorns and a tablespoon of fennel seeds.  

Also...

Corn on the cob - buy as much as you can, boil them for 3-4 minutes in salted water, cut the cooked corn off the cob and freeze it in single meal servings.  Canned and store-frozen corn DOES NOT COMPARE.

Herbs - cut, dry, and store as many herbs as you can.  Hang them upside down and store them in jars as soon as they are completely dry.  They are great come winter and make great hostess gifts.

Candles- make them. You can never have too many candles.  My favorite tutorial is here.  I use DoTerra oils and my favorite scents this time of year are Onguard, Rosemary, Breathe, and Balance.  If you need to order oils- I'm your girl!  Message me- kimtaylorsimplestyle@gmail.com  

 

Kim Taylor