Return to the Farmer’s Market

Hiya eaters!

I hope all of you have tomorrow off and are thoroughly enjoying your 3-day weekend.

I actually have tomorrow off and I always have Sundays off, which means that I have a real 2-day weekend. It’s amazing. Amazing in the way where I don’t even know what to do with myself.

I’ll probably end up cleaning tomorrow. Because I’m bored.

But let’s rewind a little to Saturday, which marked my return to the farmer’s market.

I’m lucky that there’s a farmer’s market about 15 minutes from my house that’s open year round. The pickings are pretty slim in the winter, though. And my work schedule isn’t always conducive to going on Saturday mornings. (And it’s nothing compared to my beloved Marylebone Market, which I miss so so dearly.)

So it’s been quite a while since I’ve gone to the market.

But this weekend worked out perfectly. And apparently, it worked out perfectly for everyone else in town, too, because I have never seen so much traffic.

We pushed on, though. And I was thrilled to see all the beautiful berries.farmers market1

And the cut flowers.

farmers market3

And the garden flowers.

farmers market4

And absolutely everything else.

So.Many.Berries.

So.Many.Berries.

We ended up with a massive haul and, while it wasn’t dirt cheap (like Marylebone was) nor was it all organic (like I buy from Whole Foods), I’m more than happy knowing that it was all local and all delicious.

Loot:farmers market5

Blueberries, strawberries, radishes, spring onions, corn, pork chops, hot Italian sausage, eggs, bell peppers, broccoli, and a cucumber.

We’ve got big plans for all this delicious food and, thanks to a trip to WF today to fill in some holes, we’ve got an especially delicious meal plan for the week. And because I know I can always use some more meal planning inspiration, here’s a rough look at ours for the week.

  • Sunday: grilled pork chops and grilled corn.
  • Monday: pizza on homemade whole wheat crust topped with vegetables and Italian sausage.
  • Tuesday: big salads with vegetables, bacon, chicken, and avocado.
  • Wednesday: spring onion, pea, and sausage pie inspired by this recipe.
  • Thursday: chicken and roasted vegetable pasta salad.
  • Friday: we leave for a long weekend in Georgia.

Alright, that’s all I’ve got for tonight. I’ve got to get my butt to bed so I can get up in the morning for Crossfit. I’m really worried we’re doing “Murph” tomorrow.

What about you, eaters:

Where do you buy your food?

What’s on your meal plan for the week?

Later eaters!

Excited for Summer Produce

G’day eaters!

How was Monday for you? It’s been raining on and off for what feels like weeks, and today was no different. We’ve also had road/sidewalk construction going on right outside our door for weeks, which means my driveway is blocked more often than not.

Both of those things make staying at home very appealing and today, save for a couple of errands, I did just that. It was enjoyable.

Other news from my neck of the woods: I am so flipping sick of root vegetables. And apples. And broccoli.

I’m pretty much sick of any and all winter produce and I might scream (or turn straight carnivore) if I have to eat anymore of it.

And luckily, very very soon I’ll be able to rid my home of every trace of winter and fill my crisper with nothing but the freshest, juiciest, spring-and-summer-est fruits and vegetables.

Some of the ones I am most excited about are…

summer produce1

Plums!

Somehow I only discovered the perfection that is a ripe, taunt plum last summer and I’ve been patiently biding my time until they’re in season again. And believe me, once they’re fully in season (and a little cheaper) they will replace my pre-Crossfit apple.

summer produce2

Strawberries!

Maybe this summer will finally be the one that I go berry picking so I can fill my fridge with strawberry and blueberry and blackberry pies and preserves and the freshest of the fresh Berry Vibrant Glazed cakes. Until then I’ll keep paying way too much for them at the grocery store.

summer produce8

Asparagus!

I think we’re quickly entering into prime asparagus season and I couldn’t be more thrilled. Grilled or steamed with butter or shaved in an omelets or any other way imaginable, this is one of my favorite vegetables. I don’t even care that it makes my pee smell weird.

summer produce3

Sorry for the obnoxiously overexposed photos. Can you tell I’m still in winter photo mode? That’ll change soon, too.

Those little numbs are going to be peppers eventually.

Those little numbs are going to be peppers eventually.

Jalapenos!

Leon and I planted a little container garden this summer and I’m so excited to eventually get to eat some of my homegrown vegetables.

summer produce6

Tomatoes!

Neither Leon nor I like raw tomatoes, but we love tomato sauce and grilled tomatoes and especially salsa, which we’ll make with our jalapenos.

summer produce5

Herbs!

We planted basil, because it’s not summer without lots of fresh basil, and cilantro, to keep our salsa theme going. And I can’t tell you how nice it’s been to just step outside the door to grab fresh herbs for dinner.

As you can see, I’m beyond thrilled to dig in to all that summer has to offer. I’m also excited because this year I am determined(!) to do a little canning and preserving so we can have summer’s bounty all year (and hopefully I won’t die of boredom when it comes time to eat root vegetables again).

What do you think, eaters:

What are you excited to eat this summer?

Any foods you won’t touch raw? What about cooked?

Later eaters!

PS — Posting two nights in a row. I tell ya eaters, I’m back!

A Gloriously Lazy Weekend

Hiya eaters!

This weekend has been beyond ah-maze-ing!

Leon and I realized that we haven’t had a weekend where one or both of us wasn’t working or we didn’t have something to do since September! And it’s not that we don’t love being busy and having fun things to do on the weekends.

But this weekend we did ab-so-lute-ly nothing that we had to do and we didn’t have any semblance of a schedule and it was glorious.

I also didn’t stress about taking lots of pictures, so there are some holes.

Oh well, my pants have holes in them too, so obviously I don’t mind.

On Friday Leon and I got off work and immediately got in of bed. We didn’t leave bed except to eat and pee. It was pretty fabulous. And the venison steak Leon cooked for dinner wasn’t half bad either.

Saturday Leon and I had big plans to get our first Christmas tree!

This is not where we got our tree.

We picked up our Christmas tree from Leon’s work where they were selling trees as a fundraiser, which just happened to be close to the farmers market. So of course, we swung buy.

We picked up half a peck of apples (for a school project that I’ll definitely be sharing with you eaters), a dozen eggs (for only $3!), and a pound of chorizo sausage, among a few other things.

Obviously, this shopping trip made me very happy.

Once we were loaded up on food Leon and I walked over to the other side of the farmers market to eat at the Moose Café, a home style Southern lunch place.

How Southern are we talking?

Biscuits and apple butter Southern, of course.

And to keep the comfort food coming, I went with “Grandma’s Meatloaf” with a side of French cut green beans, roasted butternut squash, and cornbread.

The squash and cornbread weren’t too exciting, but that meatloaf was out of this world.

Is it wrong to love meatloaf? Too bad, because I do. I really really do.

After lunch and a trip to the dog park where Charlie played until he almost didn’t have the energy to walk back to the car, we came home, drank spiked cider, and decorated the tree.

An Instagrammed tree and cinnamon ornaments.

I didn’t get a picture of the tree because our lights were dead and I wanted to wait until it was all a-glow. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll get a pretty picture of the tree because, when I got home from a party later Saturday night, this is what I came home to.

This was roughly half of the ornaments that were on the tree at that point (we still have about a dozen glass ones that we luckily hadn’t put up yet). And unfortunately, I don’t think my attempt to embarrass him worked.

#DogShaming

Oh well, he’s still a puppy, right…?

At least he was extra cute and cuddly when Leon and I were being lazy bums this morning. So we rewarded his cuteness (which might be his only redeeming quality) with plenty of pizza crust from the pizza we picked up for lunch.

Finally around 2pm I got my big butt out of bed and headed downtown to do some Christmas shopping at the Holiday Hand to Hand Market.

The Hand to Hand Market is a craft fair that happens about twice a year in Greensboro. Today’s was the biggest one yet and there were a ton of great vendors.

My goal this year is to give mostly local/DIY Christmas gifts, so I was happy that I was able to pick up a few gifts.

I was also happy to get some ideas for craft projects that I can do myself.

Is it bad form to take pictures of crafts with the intention of making them later? Probably, but sometimes I’m just not willing to pay $18 for a wine bag (especially when I have a ton of craft store coupons).

With the help of a few tomatoes from the farmers market, Leon made a huge pot of salsa to get rid of the dozens of hot peppers we had leftover from our CSA. So we cooked up some of the chorizo, baked some corn tortillas into chips, and plopped it all atop big beds of CSA greens and called it dinner.

This spinach was so delicious.

This totally makes up for peppermint vodka, almond M&Ms, sour cream & onion chips, and being an extraordinarily lazy bum all weekend, right?

No? Well then I better go drink some water. Because if salad doesn’t erase bad habits, water sure does!

Your turn, eaters:

Your weekend — busy or lazy?

Do you have ANY advice at all about how to keep Charlie from chewing things when we’re not home?

G’night eaters!

Fire in The Triad, Battle Poulet Rouge

G’evening eaters!

I’ve got a pretty lengthy post for you tonight so I’m going to skip to chit chat. Believe me, you’re not missing anything.

So yesterday was Leon and my 3rd anniversary. We’ve never celebrated an anniversary before, so we wanted to do something special. Luckily, we found just the thing.

There’s currently an Iron Chef-type competition series going on in NC. I think it started off in the Wilmington area as an extension of the Got To Be NC campaign to promote locally produced goods and businesses. Well, it spread all throughout the state and last night we were lucky enough to snag two tickets to the last preliminary competition of Fire in the Triad.

The way the competition works is that each night two chefs from the area compete against each other. They find out the secret ingredient — which is a locally produced food — at noon and, together with the two sous chefs they each get to pick, they use whatever they find on a fridge/pantry truck to cook three courses each, highlighting the secret ingredient. Then everyone in attendance gets to blindly taste all 6 courses and vote.

Doesn’t that sound freaking awesome?

Oh it was!

Last night the two chefs competing where Chef Kristina Fuller from the Bistro at Addams Farm and Chef Chris Russell from B. Christopher’s. And the secret ingredient was Poulet Rouge, a heritage breed of chicken from Ashley Farms, the place where every restaurant in town gets its chicken.

(Oddly enough, Chef Kristina worked for Chef Chris when she was in high school and for years after.)

First course:

Sweet onion & crawfish cornbread crouton, poulet rouge confit, applewood smoked heirloom tomato chutney, sweet & spicy chipotle Dijon cream sauce.

I didn’t taste a hint of crawfish, but the sauce was delicious and the chicken was cooked well.

Second course:

Duck fat infused poulet rouge leg arancini di riso, dried fruit compote, roasted fig demi-glaze.

This left a lot to be desired. The arancini was fine, though a little bland and there wasn’t much chicken. But the compote and demi-glaze were such a bad pairing. Both of them tasted like something that should have been served on ice cream, not something savory and fried.

Third course:

Fried poulet rouge, brown sugar sweet potato soufflé, savory collard greens, fig & currant barbecue sauce.

I loved this! The breading on the chicken was ah-maze-ing, as was the sauce. I actually ate the collards, which is saving something. My only qualm was how heavy and almost flavorless the sweet potatoes were. They damped the other flavors and really coated your mouth a bit too much.

Fourth course:

Slow smoked poulet rouge wellington, andouille mushroom duxelle, goat cheese mashed potatoes, lobster chow chow.

This was everyone’s favorite dish of the night. The goat cheese really made the mashed potatoes and added a much needed dimension of flavor. The wellington was done wonderfully. I would have taken the lobster out of the chow chow. The chow chow was good, but the lobster didn’t fit. Also, what was supposed to be a chicken gravy turned out to be just reduced chicken broth.

Fifth course:

Apple basil ice cream, spiced candied pinenutes, five spiced poulet rouge chicharrons with basil ginger sauce.

I was not expecting dessert. Even more so, I was not expecting to love dessert with chicken. The ice cream was wonderful. The basil sauce really kicked it up a notch. And the chicken chicharrons — fried chicken skin — was subtle, but definitely added something.

Sixth course:

Sweet jalapeno cornbread muffin, honey maple pulled poulet rouge confit, meyer lemon mousse, and sweet guava browned butter sauce.

The only thing that worked on this was the sauce and the mousse.

After we were done stuffing our faces and casting our ballots, each chef came out for a brief chat. We also found out who made which course.

Chef Kristina made courses 1, 3, and 5. Chef Chris made courses 2, 4, and 6.

After finding that out I knew exactly whom I wanted to win. And luckily, after only another minute or two of suspense we found out that….

Chef Kristina won!

I was so thrilled for her. Not only was her food phenomenal, but she was the first female chef to win in the Piedmont Triad tournament. (Whoop whoop, lady power!)

Yup, it was a really great night. Great food. Great conversation with the other people at our table. A great value ($49/person for 6 courses!). And a beyond great anniversary.

What do you think, eaters:

Would you ever go to an Iron Chef-type competition?

What’s a secret ingredient you would hope for? And what would you hope wouldn’t get chosen?

G’night eaters!

#SurviveOn35, Or Close To It

Hi eaters!

Long time no see, right?

(Or maybe that should read, “Long time no write?” Ahhh, homonyms!)

Anyway, a lot of things conspired on Thursday that made going out to eat with friends and then putting on a pretty dress and drinking beer in several locations a lot more appealing than blogging.

I would apologize, but I’m sure you skip out on reading here in order to go out and live it up every now and then, so I’m going to call it even.

Anywhoo, today being Sunday meant that both Leon and I were off from work and refused to do anything that we didn’t want to do. But since I’m a little weird, I went grocery shopping because the grocery store is my happy place.

Oh who am I kidding?! If you’re here than chances are the grocery store is your happy place, too.

I’m so glad you understand me.

Anywhoo once again, today while grocery shopping I got to thinking about my budget. I haven’t talked about grocery shopping or budgeting for food in a hot minute, so I figured it was high time to talk about it.

Another thing that prompted me to get talking about budgeting is this whole #SurviveOn35 thing you’ve probably seen around Twitterland.

If you’re in the dark about this, it’s a challenge thrown out by Anytime Fitness to some Fitfluential ambassadors for them to survive on just $35/week for food. (Specifically, $35/week for every adult and $20/week for every child in the household.)

$35 is the amount that people on government food stamps get each week and Anytime Fitness and Fitfluential want to show that it’s not only possible for an adult to eat 21 meals a week on $35, but that they can do it healthily.

I think that’s awesome. And the main reason that I think it’s awesome is because I used to #SurviveOn35 every single week.

That was my weekly food budget when I was a sophomore cooking in an electric wok and a microwave in my tiny dorm.

(Side note — I need to bring “offing bitches” back into my vocabulary. Click the link above and you’ll understand.)

Things have changed since then. I now have a real kitchen and live with a real boyfriend who likes to eat meat.

My grocery budget may not be as trim as it was back then, but I am happy to say that it’s not too bloated either.

For a week of food for two people, we spend roughly $80.

That’s not too far off from the government’s $70 and considering how chock full o’organics, meat, and Whole Foods our kitchen is, I don’t think it’s half bad.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a tried and true way to widdle your grocery budget, nor do I have a pattern that I follow when I’m making my shopping list. But I do have some tips, so here goes:

Only plan dinners. You can generally get away with only really planning dinners. You know what you like to eat for breakfast and lunch, so make those ingredients your staples and stock up whenever they’re on sale.

Make a quarter of your meals meatless. For every four dinners I plan at least one is meatless. A block of tofu is ~$3.50 (tempeh is slightly less) and it can feed 2-3 people.

Buy whole chickens! Leon and I buy a whole chicken and then butcher it. From a chicken we get 2 breasts, 2 legs, 2 thighs, 2 wings, 2 tenders, and a big carcass. Depending on the size of the chicken we often split a breast or thigh, so a single chicken can yield us up to 6 meals, plus whatever we make out of the carcass.

Plan a garbage meal. Rather than waste the bits and scraps hanging around at the end of the week, we always plan the last meal of the week as a garbage meal. That can mean throwing it all on a pizza, in a stirfry or a salad. Whatever it is, it should require AT MOST 3 specific ingredients.

Limit yourself to 2 specialty items a week. A specialty item is anything that you only need a little bit of for a recipe, namely a condiment, seasoning, or fresh herb. Everything else you buy should be things that you will use all of (or most of) in that week. And if it’s a perishable item, like fresh herbs, at least two meals should include it.

A current shopping trip.

And that’s all I’ve got for you. Besides that, my tricks include making a meal plan, not buying things off my list (unless they’re on sale shelf stable items I regularly use), and not planning on having grass-fed steak every week.

Yup, it’s all pretty basic. I wish it was more of a rocket science so it could be taught and mastered, but it’s more…instinct I guess you could call it.

Your turn, eaters:

Give me your best budgeting — for groceries and otherwise — tip.

Are any of my tips bad? If so, please correct me.

G’night eaters!

Disclaimer — I wasn’t one of the bloggers chosen by Anytime Fitness to #SurviveOn35 and blog about it. This is just my 2 cents.

Magic Radishes

G’day eaters!

I know I should probably talk about my birthday, but it’s barely 8:30am as I’m writing this, so not much has happened yet. I’ll save the birthday post for Sunday.

Instead, today I want to talk about magic. More specifically, magic in the kitchen.

That feeling of magic when cooking, that slight bit of a sixth sense that tells you what ingredient to add when, that feeling of effortless, bubbly, uncontainable joy that comes from somehow doing everything right despite not really knowing what you’re doing, that slight touch of mania is what I strive for every time I belly up to the stove.

Unfortunately, that magic is growing fewer and further between.

Somewhere in the daily grind of cooking dinner and slightly repetitive scrambled eggs and hand washing dishes and rushed lunches, that magic has dwindled.

I almost feel like, with every day of responsibilities and “adulthood,” I’m leaving Neverland and the ability to just believe my food into existence.

I still enjoy cooking, but now I enjoy it in a way that you enjoy something you’re good at.

That’s not enough for me anymore. And it took a trip to the farmers market last weekend to wake me up and make me realize just how far from the magic I’d gotten.

While there I picked up a couple bunches of radishes with the intention of making roasted radishes a la Running to The Kitchen. When I got my bounty home I did a little Googling to see if and how I could use the radish greens.

Through that mostly aimless internet stumbling I came across recipes for more than just the greens. I can across mountains of recipes for cooked radishes.

Odd looking little gems, aren't they?

Now, obviously I knew that you could cook radishes. I was planning on it. But yet until I saw these recipes I still had my mother’s voice in my head, from two summers ago after I got home from Paris, where Stepmother and Papa ate endless raw radish and butter sandwiches, saying that cooked radishes would be bad; that you couldn’t cook radishes.

Once I saw these recipes — recipes for things called “ruby radishes” and “sweet radish stir fry” — it was like the floodgates opened. The dampening weight of my mother’s “no” and the strain of daily nourishment was lifted and I could feel the magic rising.

It was riding that amazing way of pure, uninhibited magic that lead me to mix butter and vinegar and honey; that lead me to open the jar of capers that’s followed me from home to dorm to apartment to dorm to home; that lead me to drizzle olive oil on slices of fresh baguette with a wild abandon that made it seem like I knew what I was doing. It was that magical feeling that made my knife fly and my mind clear.

And in the heavy-breathing, tingling afterglow of that magic we ate.

Braised Radish Crostinis

4 whole radishes

2 T butter

1 T apple cider vinegar

1 ½ t honey

1 T capers with liquid

8-10 slices baguette

~1/4 c goat cheese

salt and pepper, to taste

olive oil

Chop the greens from the radishes and set aside. After removing the top and tail from each radish, thinly slice it. Then give the greens a rough chop.

In a pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Once the butter is melted add the vinegar and honey. Add the radishes and toss to coat. Continue tossing every minute or so until the radishes are just barely tender and the liquid is pink. Add the capers and their liquid.

Sprinkle the greens evenly over the top of the radishes and cover the pan and let it cook for about 10 minutes, until the greens are steamed and a bright green color.

Turn on your oven’s broiled. Drizzle each slice of baguette with a little oil and a bit of salt and pepper. Put the bread on a pan and put it under the broiled for about 3 minutes, until one side of golden brown. Flip and cook until the other side of golden.

Spread a bit of goat cheese on each slice of toasted bread.

When the radishes are done spoon them and any remaining liquid onto each crostini and serve.

Please admire our dining room. And our new, matching plates,which were a gift (via a very nice gift card) from Leon's parents.

We ate these along side a green salad and some quick pickled cucumbers and radishes.

And every single bite was perfect.

I could try to explain the flavors to you. Or how the warm radishes mixed with the crunchy bread and creamy goat cheese.

I could use a lot of words and try to paint a picture on your tongue.

But none of that would suffice. Just know, it was pure magic.

Later eaters!

Locawhore

G’day eaters!

I’m wrapping up a wonderful, relaxing weekend and I hope you are, too. Or a not relaxing weekend, if that’s what you prefer. I don’t know your life so I can’t assume anything.

Anyway, let’s go ahead and talk about the title of this post before you go ahead and start thinking that I’m a whore. Or that you’re a whore (again, I don’t know your life).

No, Locawhore is my own little version of a Locavore.

Generally speaking, a “locavore” is someone who buys exclusively or mostly locally produced products, from food to furniture to clothes and everything in between. They support local, small businesses and usually wouldn’t be caught dead in a Walmart.

So what exactly is a locawhore, you ask?

It’s someone who buys locally when it’s fun or convenient, when it’s just as easy to buy locally as to buy conventionally.

Yup, that’s me through and through. And this weekend my locawhore side really came shining through.

Locawhore event #1:

On Saturday I went downtown with my friend Janet to check out the Mosaic Ethnic Festival.

Apparently this ethnic music and food festival has been happening every year for a while now. So apparently, I’ve been living under a rock since I got to Greensboro.

But now I know and am so glad that I went. Janet and I each bought 10 tickets (each ticket was a dollar) for food and then proceeded to stuff ourselves silly.

Some of the oh so delicious madness included:

A trip to Jamaica for a beef patty.

A trip to Vietnam for sweet rice and chicken.

Janet wants you to admire her nail polish and the bit of a tattoo noticable on her finger.

A trip to Burmah for donuts (which tasted like doughy versions of those cinnamon twists you get from Taco Bell).

A trip to Korea for some seriously ah-maze-ing dumplings and some (slightly too fatty) BBQ.

Please ignore the fact that this picture was taken on a recycling bin.

And then we finished up in the Congo for beignets and then a generic cart for some Italian ice.

Then we sat down and attempted to digest to the sound of African drumming.

Locawhore event #2:

I love vintage, but too much of it is either way over the top (sequins and shoulder pads the size of my head) or just bleh (homemade prairie dresses and calf-length skirts). But I was hopeful when I saw a new vintage store downtown — Wild and Crazy Vintage.

Believe me, eaters, it lived up to its name.

I walked away with two dresses, which I’ll show you once I alter them a wee bit. But for a sneak peak, follow me on instagram. I’m Kara_Hadley.

Locawhore event #3:

Since I’ve been back in the ‘Boro I’ve been hearing about this downtown market every Sunday. Always a sucker for oogling crafts and downtown things, I decided to grab my friend Maddie and check it out today.

It’s not a huge market, but it was lovely nonetheless.

And it had a pretty great variety.

I bought a basket of these peaches.

There was metal sculptures, meat, eggs, plants, vegetables, Thai food, and a booth selling dog treats made by this charitable organization, Arc, which helps people with intellectual and developmental disorders learn job skills.

Of course, being a sucker for anything to spoil CharlieBaby (and wanting to support charity, of course), I bought a bag of treats for $5 and fed Charlie three as soon as I got home.

Leon said he didn’t do anything to warrant a treat. I said being a cute puppy always warrants treats.

So in the end, I spent $55 for three chances to be a locawhore. But it was TOTALLY worth it knowing that that money will be felt a lot more in the hands of local businesses than it would at Target.

Ya dig?

What do you think, eaters:

Are you a locavore, locawhore, or neither?

What country’s cuisine do you really want to try?

Later eaters!

PS — The South Elm Urban Market is every Sunday from 12-5pm in the parking lot on S Elm St, right across from Natty Greene’s and the Green Bean coffee shop.

PPS — Arc Bark, the dog treat bakery, is on Spring Garden in the same shopping center as Recycles. They haven’t gotten a sign yet, but they’re in the store that was once a GF bakery.

G’Bye London

*This post was written Sunday, but my electrical adapters weren’t working, so my computer died before I could post it.*

Bonjour eaters!

Can you tell from my greeting that I’m not in London anymore?

I try to be transparent like that.

But yes, as I’m writing this I’m on a train speeding away from my ah-maze-ing London life and towards a week of springtime in Paris.

I certainly have mixed emotions about my UK departure. On the one hand, I absolutely loved London and British people and all their culture. On the other hand, it never felt like it was really real life, like I had another life somewhere that was just paused.

But whether in the years to come I refer to this time as “the time I lived in London” or the longest vacation ever, one thing I can’t deny — I’ve grown up a lot.

On the first day, after a 7-hour plane ride, an hour spent waiting for friends in the airport, and an hour taxi ride, I made it up six stories to my flat with my combined 70-something pounds of luggage. I was dazed and disoriented, but the one thing I knew was that I needed food.

Rather than diving head first into London life and finding a pub or going for a curry, I did what I always did — bought a frozen pizza and ate it on the couch in front of the TV.

Goat cheese and roasted vegetables.

And all at once, with the first bite of this pizza, I knew I wasn’t in Kansas America anymore. The pizza was shit (pronounced “sh-eye-t”) and my culture shock had begun.

Fast-forward almost 4 months to my last full day in London.

It was threatening to rain at any moment, but not even that could deter Mother and I from going about our business. We took the Tube (without talking, like a local) to Tower Hill. We gawked at the Tower of London and crossed the Tower Bridge. We walked along the Thames for a bit before deciding to venture away from the water in search of refreshment.

Not 5 minutes later we were knee deep in Borough Market (because I always stumble upon it, but I almost never find it when I’m looking for it)*.

Assorted of flavoured marshmallows. These were nothing like Jet Puffs.

Knowing that this would be my last chance, Mother and I dove in head first with the intention of eating the whole market.

We sampled marshmallows and pates and chocolates before finding a pie shop.

I love pork.

I was feeling this little mister, which was full of all the lovely British foods that I will miss dearly, but Mother’s not a fan of pork (the horror!), so we compromised and went with a British classic.

We ate this leaning against a column as trains rumbled by on the bridge overhead and people pushed around us.

Isn't that adorable?!

It was glorious and now Mother wants a freezer full of little pies.

After the pie, I had just one thing on my mind — fish and chips.

My entire time in England I hadn’t had quality fish and chips, so when I saw that the line at Fish!, which is heralded as one of the best chippys in London, I jumped at the chance. In no time flat an order of haddock and chips with salt and light vinegar was warming my hands.

We found a perch out in the sunshine of the Southwark Cathedral courtyard and dug in.

So crispy. So lovely.

The chips were thick and soft in the middle, as a proper chip should be. And the haddock was fried to a crispy perfection and surprisingly flavorful for a dish that usually gets all of its flavour from vinegar and grease.

To round out our midday feast, we went to a Middle Eastern stall. We bypassed the dried fruit and nuts and chocolate covered things and went straight for the pastries.

We took home a bag of assorted baklava-style sweets, all sticky with honey and dates and the oil from nuts.

And now, as I sit here on the train, listening to the train manager make announcements in French, I’m fully satisfied, both from my last meal in London and my life in London.

I lived on the 6th floor of number 13.

And I’m fully excited knowing that I’m one step closer to getting back to my life in the ‘Boro.

Yeah, my life is pretty grand.

Your turn, eaters:

What’s the best last meal you’ve ever had?

What would be your last meal if you could choose?

Later eaters!

*If you’re ever looking for Borough Market, the best way to find it is to go to Southwark Cathedral. It’s right behind it. And it’s pronounced “Suth-ark” with very little emphasis on the “r.”

Routine Deviations

G’day eaters!

Let’s jump right into it and get down to real talk.

Real talk topic: routines.

For good or for bad, I’m a routine person. I like to have a general plan for what I’m going to do depending on the day of the week. Having that routines takes a lot of the guess work and indecisiveness out of my life.

When all else fails, defer to the routine.

So it’s a bit of a miracle that I resisted most of my urges to routine while here in London. Generally, every day has been different and I’ve loved it.

But since I can’t change my routine-y nature, I’ve let Sunday be routine-tastic. I bask in my routine and rarely answer the phone in avoidance of any and all routine-breakers.

Yup, it’s intense.

But considering this is my LAST WEEK in London, as a show of just how much I’ve grown over these past 14 weeks, I even deviated a bit from my favorite routine-filled day.

I’m going all out here, eaters.

I went out on Saturday night, rather than staying in (to avoid the chance of a hangover) like I usually do.

I sipped guzzled cheap mojitos with an old camp friend and his friends (who knew the barman, hence the cheap drinks).  It was a proper good time and I really need to learn to keep in touch with people better so I can have more nights like that.

Sunday I woke up and leisurely ate breakfast while I made my grocery list. Then I dawned my Toms and hit the city.

Toms and farmers markets are such a perfect pair.

And just like every Sunday for quite a while, I got off at the Baker Street Tube stop, which is like a shrine to Sherlock Holmes.

And just like every Sunday, I dodged tourists taking pictures with this statue.

People do know that Sherlock Holmes was fictional, right?

I walked down the street, trying not to trip on the uneven tiles, and eventually ended up at the land car park of plenty.

Chegworth apples and pears are so lovely.

I took my time. I savored all the gorgeous food. I realized that I may never be back at this market. Realizing that you’re doing something for the last time makes the experience entirely new.

I was a little extra chatty with the vendors that have been growing my food for months. All of them are so wonderful.

I bought food that I didn’t need just because it was pretty. I’m really committed to having a rainbow on my plate.

Loot:

The eggs were a very worthwhile splurge.

Organic rainbow chard, organic apples, organic sprouting broccoli, organic leeks, organic carrots, organic free range eggs.

Then, like every other Sunday, I made the Tube ride back, clutching my precious bag of food and trying to keep it from touching anything or anyone. I look like a loon, but I’m okay with that.

After some unintentional couch time, I went to the gym. I did a fun tricep and ab pyramid workout. And, per usual, the muscle men looked at me a little crazy while I was knocking out burpees.

This sign makes it seem like a dance club, right?

Once I finished working my way up the pyramid, I headed down the street to Whole Foods in all my sweaty glory.

This probably won’t be the last time I’m at this Whole Foods (I may take mother there for Thirsty Thursday), but I still took my time. I slowly browsed the aisles, oogling the fun foodie things I never tried.

Seeing all those fun things I never ate, and all the things I ate and loved, inspired me.

So in addition to my usual groceries…

Loot:

Organic spinach, organic bean sprouts, smoked tofu, soymilk, bananas, rooibos tea, green bell pepper, clementines, goat gouda, multigrain bread.

I indulged and picked up some little gifts (that are probably for myself).

Gifts:

I'm a sucker for a canvas tote.

Pudding chocolate bars, Bean & Seed Cornish sea salt dark chocolate, Suffolk mustard, Cool Chilli Co chipotle ketchup, HP brown sauce, and a diamond jubilee tote bag.

Once my fridge was thoroughly stocked (really, how am I going to eat all this?!), I did the unthinkable.

I completely deviated from my routine.

I didn’t chop vegetables for salads, like I normally do. I didn’t blog, like I always do. I didn’t do laundry, like I wanted to.

Instead, I went over to hang out with my friend Polly in the posh hotel she’s staying in while her mother is visiting.

We drank tea and ate little cakes. We ordered room service (roasted quail with leeks and curried lentils) and drank wine. We watching movies — The Full Monty, for school, and Dirty Dancing, because it’s awesome.

I got home at midnight and immediately went to bed.

It was the most glorious deviation.

Your turn, eaters:

Are you a routine person?

Do you bring back foodie gifts from a vacation?

Bonus  — Does anyone have any clue why there was no kale to be found in London yesterday?

Later eaters!

Easter Means…

Happy Easter, eaters!

Or, Happy Seder, eaters!

Or, Happy Sunday, eaters!

Did I cover all the bases? I think so, but let me know if I left anyone out.

Anyway, I hope your day has been lovely, whether it’s been candy-filled, grain-free, or just relaxing.

Obviously, I’m away from home this year. And frankly, being away from my family isn’t that big of a deal because since my school doesn’t get any time off for Easter (ya know…Quakers) I haven’t spent Easter at home since before college.

But it is a bit weird to not be with Leon’s* family. I realized the other day that I’ve spent the last two Easters with his family, playing lawn games and eating ham.

And while I was a little tempted to uphold traditional Easter traditions, I decided to embrace London in all its glory.

That meant no ham. No Starburst jelly beans. No ladder ball.

It meant Cadbury and farmers’ market tulips.

With a view of London.

It meant going to a high formal, Latin Catholic mass with London socialites who I’ve seen on reality TV (and listening to the priest’s sermon about how Christians in America are being persecuted because the government is trying to make Christian businesses provide insurance coverage for contraceptives).

Carrots, purple potatoes, and fingerling potatoes.

It meant walking around the corner to the little Saturday farmers’ market to pick up some really dirty carrots and potatoes, and then roasting them up.

It meant roasting up an organic, free range, high welfare chicken with loads of wild garlic, lemon and butter.

It meant steamed a bushel of purple sprouting broccoli.

It meant eating all of this with my friends, while we discussed the merits of the TV show “90210,” whether or not we were homesick, and how “purple is really healthy.”

It meant taking having to wash our dinner forks so we could eat dessert.

It meant eating meringues, partially because everyone they’re everywhere here and partially because I wanted to stay with the whole grain-free thing because one of my friends is Jewish.

It meant eating an entire tea loaf, because we’re in England and everything having to do with tea is encouraged.

It meant letting my friend do the dishes so I could drink wine.

And right now, as we speak, it means using the leftover chicken carcass to make homemade chicken broth (with tons of chicken bits because I’m really crummy at craving and cleaning a chicken).

So while this Easter meant being away from everything that I’m used to, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t pretty great.

What about you, eaters:

Do you have any Easter/Passover traditions?

What does being away from home on a holiday mean to you?

What should I do with all this chicken broth, keeping in mind that I leave in two weeks?

G’night eaters!

*Have you noticed that I stopped calling him “manly friend”? Yeah, I came up with that nickname when he was more than just a friend, but we weren’t official. Now that we’re moving in together, though, I think I can just call him Leon.