Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Spring Forward

I'm from Saskatchewan.
Daylight Savings Time has never made a lot of sense to me. Even trying to make sense of which way I am going to set my clock when the time comes hasn't made a ton of sense. Until now.

I missed the end of Daylight Savings my first winter here.

(end? start? does anyone know? I am only going on the belief that now that we are basically making the daylight last longer it must be starting now? right?)

I had gone back to Saskatchewan to work on a show at Persephone Theatre and would not have even considered it being a problem except for two things. In Rob and I's relationship, whenever we lived apart, being two time zones away rather than one was awful. Two hours should not be that much more of a big deal over one. Should not be. But it is. For example, when it is six pm in Saskatchewan, it is eight pm here in the winter.  Six pm is dinner time. Eight pm is unwind time. The two hours between them feel like an eternity when you are apart. Trust me.

The other problem, I had never encountered before; most of my cast was from out of province. Most of my cast was not only prepared to set their clocks back, they did not realize that Saskatchewan didn't. This resulted in a near disastrous tech day when Marcel luckily responded to the next days schedule email the night before  with a quick little reminder to everyone to set their clocks back and get an extra hour of sleep. If he had not done that, the majority of the cast would have done just that, resulting in a disastrous first morning of tech rehearsals, the one week in theatre where everything absolutely has to run on time! Thank God for Marcel. I emailed everyone back quickly and reminded them Saskatchewan does not observe Daylight Savings time, and it resulted in a hilarious conversation about how horrible we are for depriving people an extra hour of sleep, especially in -30 weather and the crises was diverted. Whew.

So this winter was the first time I gained an hour and realized how sad I was to lose the sunlight. It was also the first time I really had to wrap my head around how startling it was to lose an hour of daylight in one day's time. Suddenly I wanted to pack up the office at three pm because it was very dark in there and yesterday at this time it had been four pm. See? Figure that out.

But this past weekend I finally got it. Yes, on Sunday we lost an hour, but really, where did I have to be anyway that I lost an hour to? I had a few moments of trying to wrap my head around getting up late and realizing it was ok, because yesterday it had been earlier. But then, it was six pm, and it was light outside. Just like that. And I decided Daylight Savings Time, you are ok with me, because even though I lost an hour, that extra hour of sunshine on the end of my day was worth its weight in gold.

And that, is something that will also take getting used to, dark and stormy winters. While I may not freeze to death from windchill, its hard to warm up from the damp without seeing the sun for several days in a row.

I'm very excited to "Spring Forward", and the blue skies seem to be co operating with me. As well as the cherry blossoms, and crocuses and daffodils. Spring here really looks like the spring in storybooks. The Vancouver Island chapter of my Instagram filled up with blossoms of every colour this weekend and now I am craving summer and a chance to go dig around in the (very very very soggy still) dirt!

And now that I am only "an hour away" from Saskatchewan again, let the evening Skype calls abound!

Monday, March 10, 2014

A Way Way Delayed Meal Plan

Hi guys. Remember me?

It has been months again since I posted anything and I feel so bad about it every time I think to do it. The truth is, despite all of my best intentions, life is still, pretty unmanageable... so unmanageable that there are some changes coming to get me my life back.

One of which will be a commitment to this blog. I mean it guys. An actual scheduled commitment for me and this keyboard in my calendar.

There will be much more on all of this later. For now, the one thing we have made a permanent spot for in our unmanageable lives is our weekly meal plan. It took some time, but now sitting down on Saturday and Sunday afternoon to etch out our week has become so ingrained in us that even on our recent trip to Hawaii trying to wing it drove me a teeny bit batty and we ended up with way too much leftover food.

I have had a few friends who read this blog ask me what we put in these meal plans with the hopes that I will pass on the recipes, and I promised once I would update weekly here.

So. This is where I hope to start my commitment. A commitment to our week in meals, and as the time I etch out gets more ingrained and firm, hopefully I will find a little bit more time each week to write about other things too.

A few of the things we do to make meal planning easier on us:

First off, my best friend Amber bought us one of these meal planner pads from Indigo for our fridge. Seems sort of silly right? A wonderful thing about best friends is, they know your need for crazy things like lists and goes out to get you really nice pre made ones, with a magnet attached for easy fridge access.
Seriously.  Our meal planning begins and ends with this pad of paper.

Every weekend, usually Sunday (we will aim to be better at doing this on a Saturday, or even a Friday night, once all of the farmer's markets start up again. Especially the Moss Street Market, which I'm sure I mentioned in a previous post), we sit down with the pad in front of us and talk about our week. Before we even think about what we are making, we figure out where we will be that week. Rob goes to Vancouver a lot midweek for a night or two, and I have evening commitments like Yoga, sometimes work, theatre community events and the odd night out with my book club ladies. Then we decide if I am cooking for one, if Rob is cooking, if we need a quick meal and as we go along what nights to slot in leftovers.

This process has become such a part of our week, that this week we ran out of leftovers by Sunday and our grocery bills per week are coming in under $100 (Under $100! for two people? That seems like a lot I know, but we like food, we like experimenting with food and we like good quality products as local as we can in our food, so with no kids at home, under $100 is a great place for us.)

Then I usually work from a list of things I want to try to incorporate into our eating habits.

I like the idea of having extra freezer meals in our freezer for busy times, but don't want to exist on freezer meals alone, so I have been browsing the mini meals at Once A Month Meals for ideas of a big cooking job I could do every few weeks to keep our freezer full of convenient food (that I have made myself and I know what is in it, with a large intolerance to dairy and beef this has become increasingly important to me). Because I have never tried any of the recipes on this site I am reluctant to make a whole batch of them for the freezer to discover we both don't like them that much. So I have been incorporating one new one a week into our meal plan to give some a test drive, and some time when life slows down a little I will pick a day to make the ones that we loved all at once and put them in our freezer to prepare for the next busy time.

A few other things I try to include are, one meal cooked in the slow cooker, one totally in season meal (this will feel increasingly important in the summer and the plan will likely include a lot more seasonal meals a week), one meal from the millions of cookbooks I have and rarely find the time to browse through, and one type of bread in the bread maker we have "fostered" from our friends Loukia and Roy. Making bread is really exciting to me right now, so I am trying to make time for one loaf of bread a week.

With that in mind, here is this week's plan. I will do my best to link up to recipes or include some of our own in case you want to try any yourself.


Sunday - Better Than The Freezer Aisle: Copycat Tyson Anytizers Honey BBQ Buffalo Wings - We made these yesterday and they turned out so good! We bought a combination of winglets and drumettes and used Bulls Eye Guinness Barbecue Sauce instead of the honey barbecue suggested in the recipe, because I am not a huge fan of honey barbecue, or anything sweet and savoury at the same time really... except for kettle corn, and salted caramel, and salt in chocolate... ok, its fine in a dessert, but not in my supper. Just like pineapples on my pizza. Pineapple on its own? Fine. Next to my ham and (fake) cheese, no thank you. We wanted any easy Sunday meal, so we cheated and bought a bag of pre cut dipping veggies and added some celery. I've been studying my ass off lately (I'll get to that another time, I promise), so Rob humoured me and made the cashew sour cream and cashew cream I've been meaning to try (the cashews have been soaked in water for weeks!) and added some pre packaged dip spices to eat for the veggies. We haven't figured out the cashew thing yet, but its the best alternative to no dairy yet, and the dip was really good, just not the right consistency. If you have any tips please let me know! We will be using the cashew cream later this week, so I'll let you know how it goes.
Cashew Sour Cream
The wings were excellent. Rob even thought they were better than any of the wings at his old Saskatchewan wing haunts. This one is definitely going on our freezer list.
* Courtesy of Once A Month Meals

Monday - Leftover wings, Baked Potatoes with Faux Sour Cream and a Side of Corn - Rob cooks on Monday nights and I go to yoga with Loukia. It usually means I snack first and we eat late. This is probably a bit too heavy for a late night dinner, but it is an easy way to eat when I get home.

Tuesday - Pork Chops with Mushroom Miso Sauce - This is a seasonal pick. Even though we can barbecue year round here, its nice to celebrate spring by planning a night to barbecue, and the shiitake mushrooms at the grocery store look amazing. We still have some pork chops left from our summer meat subscription and I will make a side of broccoli stir fried in garlic and earth balance (vegan butter). Technically we should have still had broccoli in season in our garden, but the abnormal dips below freezing here this winter took their toll on my poor winter broccoli. We had to buy bunches from the store. This is what the cashew cream will be used for.

Wednesday - Chicken Agrodolce - Rob picked this from our fanciest slow cooker book. Whenever I leave Rob to pick the recipe he always picks the fanciest and then is the first t grip about the grocery bill ;) ... But I love that he keeps us on our toes in the kitchen.

Thursday - Leftover Night - By Thursday we should have accumulated enough leftovers that we can take it easy in the kitchen.

Friday - Pizza! - Rob's pick again, he had it written before I could even suggest anything else. We will try out pizza dough in the bread maker for the first time, and bought a mix of italian meats. We have discovered a pizza with enough flavour in the sauce and meat doesn't even need the cheese. But I guess the italians knew this all along.

Saturday - Anything Goes! - We like to leave at least one day up to chance and are finding Saturday is good for this. We don't always know what our weekend looks like and this gives us a chance to use up whatever food that has accumulated during the week.

I realize I haven't left you any recipes, but I will try to get better at expanding on that in the future. If there are any here from this week you would like to see right away, let me know in the comments section and I will make sure to post the recipe and the finished results!

Phew, maybe I will have more time to add recipes if I don't have to recap months of my life everytime I show up ;)

So stay tuned for next week's Meal Plan. And who knows, maybe even more than that.