May 2021, Yard Work, Kitchen Organizing and Vegan Dinners!

May 30 2021
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May 2021 we had such an odd year this year when it came to the weather. We broke record highs in January and March and then saw a chilly rainy April and a cold early start to May. For us Minnesotans an actual “spring” is kind of a weird thing. Usually it seems like we go from 20 to 90 every year in about a week. But I’d certainly still take a couple months of cold and rainy over what we would have normally had which could be very cold and snowy. It did feel like we were endlessly going back for “just” five more bags of pellets for the stove though and I know I wasn’t the only one getting beyond restless for nice weather.

Every year I’ve had a garden I’ve never been able to stop myself from buying herb seeds. Thyme, sage, oregano, basil and rosemary are just such a joy to cook with all summer long.

This year I decided to do something different with them though.

Instead of planting them in the garden (where all our veggie plants tended to grow all over them) I’m planting them in our deck planters instead! And with them just steps away from our kitchen I’ll definitely use them even more.

I’ve been quite perturbed with our climbers in our vegetable garden ever since I put the hog fencing up around it on the outside. They had trouble getting big enough to reach the fence so I was having to train them (rather unsuccessfully) as they grew every year.

May 2021 I worked on my garden quite a bit this month in preparation for planting. We had such an odd year this year with the weather...

May 2021 I worked on my garden quite a bit this month in preparation for planting. We had such an odd year this year with the weather...

May 2021 I worked on my garden quite a bit this month in preparation for planting. We had such an odd year this year with the weather...

May 2021 I worked on my garden quite a bit this month in preparation for planting. We had such an odd year this year with the weather...

May 2021 I worked on my garden quite a bit this month in preparation for planting. We had such an odd year this year with the weather...

May 2021 I worked on my garden quite a bit this month in preparation for planting. We had such an odd year this year with the weather...

May 2021 I worked on my garden quite a bit this month in preparation for planting. We had such an odd year this year with the weather...

So, we moved the fence to the inside before we added new dirt and fertilizer and planted this year which we were able to do nearly two weeks earlier than usual!

It may have been a chilly spring but by mid May summer was on!

Another change we made this May 2021 was deciding to plant LESS climbers. We honestly got sick of picking (and eating) peas, green beans and cucumbers last year lol. So, as with any year, its always a learning curve. We only have two quarts left of pickles from 2019 though so I’m excited to make some more!

(In May 2021 Lodi and I got our first vaccine for Covid on a Friday just in case we had a serious reaction. Our arms were both sore where they injected us and we were both really tired the next day but otherwise we were good to go. Our last vaccine is in early June so I’ll let you guys know our experience then too.)

We TACKLED our yard including sprucing up our “wood shed” by stripping it down and cleaning it out. Countless hours were spent cleaning up branches around the entire place besides.

Our time line begins on the garage addition the first weekend in June so, in my mind, I was tackling absolutely everything we possibly could get done before then so we could focus on our biggest project of the summer!

We didn’t just work though, we rearranged our deck and now have a cozy place to take advantage of our little chimney fire pit which we do often after work now.

This spring I definitely got the “spring cleaning” fever but with me its not really cleaning as more of an “organizing” fever.

I tackled several things in our kitchen that have been driving me crazy.

Why (on earth!) were our mixing bowls and tupperware in the highest, hard to get to cabinet, when the big lower cabinet by our stove was filled with (mostly) crap we (almost) never used?!

I was literally giving our easiest to access cabinet practically over to long term storage…

So out went the appliances we never use: the rice cooker, deep fryer, magic bullet and sandwich press to be given away to friends or donated.

We have two crock pots and I only use one of them MAYBE once a month. Those two went up into the hard to access and reach cabinet and down came all of our mixing bowls and tupperware into the lower cabinet by the stove in easy reach! YAY!

(Isn’t it crazy what we put up with until we finally do something about it?)

May 2021, I’m so excited about all the organizers I purchased for the kitchen besides I had enough content to write a whole blog post about it! (That’s coming up here eventually on the blog.)

Lodi is probably the least picky and most open minded person I know which, of course, I absolutely adore about him. Initially in our relationship I let myself fall out of my own diet habits to make more common meals that I knew he would love.

(When I cook for someone of course I try to cook things that they’ll like – who can blame me?)

Of course that meant it was a lot more fattening and leaving me, often times, with a very unhappy tummy. (To be fair though, my homemade butter shrimp cream alfredo over angel hair pasta is “almost” worth any amount of time spent in the bathroom…)

Lodi getting on board with me returning to a nearly gluten and dairy free household has been awesome!

Right off the bat we both lost a couple of pounds and, of course, we both felt a heck of a lot better.

We’re also skipping one dinner a week and having at least one vegetarian (or vegan) dinner a week as well.

And every meal I make now is at least half plant based. We’ve also cut beef almost entirely out of our diet and we’ve cut way back on pork as well. (Turkey and chicken sausage has come a very long way since I last tried it.) The majority of our meals now are either fish, seafood or poultry.

With the rising costs of meat besides we’re also saving quite a bit of money!

I used to love ramen noodles and, though I’ll certainly survive if I have gluten once in a while, I generally just skip it – but I still missed noodles from time to time.

Enter into my life “shirataki noodles” a plant based, keto, vegan, gluten-free, low carb, paleo, soy free and 0 calorie replacement for folks looking for some options.

Its pretty interesting stuff actually made out of the flour of a root vegetable. It has a lot more texture than typical rice or pasta and a bit of a bouncy “bite” to it.

Could you mistake it for typical noodles or rice?

No.

But its pretty close!

May 2021 I worked on my garden quite a bit this month in preparation for planting. We had such an odd year this year with the weather...

May 2021 I worked on my garden quite a bit this month in preparation for planting. We had such an odd year this year with the weather...

May 2021 I worked on my garden quite a bit this month in preparation for planting. We had such an odd year this year with the weather...

May 2021 I worked on my garden quite a bit this month in preparation for planting. We had such an odd year this year with the weather...

May 2021 I worked on my garden quite a bit this month in preparation for planting. We had such an odd year this year with the weather...

May 2021 I worked on my garden quite a bit this month in preparation for planting. We had such an odd year this year with the weather...

One thing I really like about it is it doesn’t get mushy like typical rice or pasta. I think my favorite is the angel hair as it most closely resembles ramen.

If you try it (and I can’t stress this enough) you must follow the package directions – it has to be rinsed under cold water for at least a minute or two and then I let it sit out and dry it with paper towels for a good hour before cooking it into the dish.

It really has little to no flavor and beautifully absorbs the flavor of whatever sauce you cook it in.

If you go check it out and read the reviews you’re going to see its not for everyone lol.

I think its the difference between people like me (who gave up gluten due to health issues) and people who just decided to try Keto out for a couple of months and are desperately looking for a replacement of their old favorite thing.

A lot of times in this journey I’ve found that trying to create healthier versions of the meals we already love can be a terribly disappointing fool’s mission.

I see this more as an adventure of getting to try lots of new things and recipes and finding new favorite meals that are better for us.

(I guess my point is: I’m not going to spend four hours attempting to create healthy vegan mac and cheese with thirty two ingredients when what we want is mac and cheese. No, I’m just going to go buy macaroni and Velveeta and make us mac and cheese once in awhile lol!)

May 2021

Eating better and feeling better!

One of my favorite plant based alternatives is the brand I found on Amazon called “Beef Not!” which so closely resembles ground beef in sauces, tacos, chili etc. that we can’t tell the difference.

I’M NOT KIDDING.

WE.

SERIOUSLY.

CAN’T.

TELL.

THE DIFFERENCE.

The first time I used it I made vegan spaghetti with my homemade red sauce and shirataki noodles and we absolutely pigged out. OMG it was SO good. We legitimately could not tell that it wasn’t actual ground meat.

And a serving of that spaghetti came in under 100 calories!

(A one pound bag of it translates to at least 8 dinners for us so the cost of less than $20 a bag is a steal compared to buying ground beef so, again, we’re also saving money – yay. I don’t like that its soy based but we only have it for dinner a couple times a month so I feel ok about it.)

The directions say to “rehydrate” it by soaking it for ten minutes before using it but I just put it in saucy meals and let it absorb all the goodness. One thing I do add is a splash of Worcestershire to give it more of a “meat” taste but otherwise I cook with it just like any ground meat.

The only dairy we keep around is cheese for Lodi’s lunches and snacking but I’ve found nutritional yeast to be a very tasty replacement for when I want to cook with parmesan.

I’m totally over butter so, besides organic sesame oil I also cook with a little bit of straight up bacon grease.

YUP!

We still have bacon a couple of times a month and I found this lovely little “grease saver” that strains and keeps it. A little bacon grease goes a long way and adds a ton of flavor.

I’ve found that its rarely a burden to replace the majority of the foods in our diets with better-for-us alternatives. (Often its as simple as choosing sliced chicken instead of salami.)

In fact, if done right, we’re not left wanting at all.

We’ve lost weight, feel physically a whole lot better and we’ve definitely noticed a difference in the money we’re saving too!

I’m just totally thrilled to have someone on board with me!

May 2021 I worked on my garden quite a bit this month in preparation for planting. We had such an odd year this year with the weather...

Comments

  1. D Gehman
    May 30, 2021 at 11:52 am

    Hey Tarah – you can stretch your ground “meat” with finely chopped mushrooms also. I’ve been faking out my family for a couple years with that little trick and none of them are any the wiser. Adds a bit more veg to meals and a quarter pound of meat with up to a HALF POUND of finely chopped mushrooms feeds 2 large men, my daughter and I enough spaghetti w/ sauce or meatloaf or lasagna for seconds all around. I also use lentil/chickpea/hearts of palm pasta as an alternative to wheat/tapioca/potato/rice flour pastas.

    • June 1, 2021 at 9:40 am

      Great tips thank you! I’m glad I’m not the only one whose been trying this, thank you for coming by!

  2. hortencia valentin
    June 2, 2021 at 8:47 am

    Tarah,
    check out the link below my niece and her husband (Derrick Morgan retired pro football play for the Tennessee Titans) are living the plant based diet no meat whatsoever she’s a professional chef and is soon coming out with her cookbook. Check out the link below she has great recipes and ideas on transitioning
    Tence

    https://www.chefcharitymorgan.com/

    • June 2, 2021 at 9:38 am

      Thank for sharing that Hortencia!! Happy June!

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