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Spice Drawer Organization

My schedule at work has changed, on Wednesdays I have to go in early, which means I get out at 3:00. This past Wednesday, I worked on a little project with my extra 2 and half hours of free afternoon. I reorganized my spice drawer.

I know, totally cool thing to do with your afternoon, but it looks awesome. We buy our spices in bulk at City Market Coop, which I love because I can buy as much or as little as I need. The one pitfall is that unless you bring your own containers, you have to use the little baggies provided. So needless to say, I had a whole draw full of unlabeled baggies of various spices… I often relied on the smell test to identify the difference between smoked paprika, cayenne and Cajun spice… all a crimson color. Not to mention it’s not good for the environment… all that plastic.

I bought a 12-pack of 4 oz mason jars and printed up some labels with a cute little font. With the labels placed on the lids, I can quickly pull open the drawer and identify my spice of choice. The sealed jars will also keep my spices fresher and more flavorful than the bags do. At some point in the future, I plan to purchase another set of jars to house my growing spice collection.

When a spice runs out, I can bring the jar to the coop, weigh it, record the tare weight (weight of the jar) and fill it up. At the register they can subtract the weight of the jar, so you’re just paying for the spice. Buying in bulk is so much cheaper than buying the pre-bottled stuff and there are more options available…

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Graduation and Green Tea

Once again, a lot has happened since I last blogged. I finished my last semester of college (with a 4.1 for the semester!), participated in senior week, graduated magna cum laude, moved out of my first apartment and spent some quality time back in Ct visiting a few of my favorite people. And now tomorrow, I’m going to look at new apartments in Burlington, Vt with Mark. I’ll admit, aside from making tacos last night, I haven’t cooked much.

Also, on Monday, Kiwi to my Heart turned 1! hard to believe I have been blogging for one crazy year!

In honor of KTMH’s birthday, I recreated a delicious tea I had yesterday with friends, the Lena’s. It’s got a base of green tea and is perfect for late spring.

Iced Green Tea

makes 4 glasses

1 liter of water

4 green tea bags, decafe or not

1/2 a lemon cut into wedges

8 mint leaves

1/2 cup of blueberries

ice

Boil the water, add in the tea bags and let steep for at least 5 minutes. Let it cool in the fridge for at least an hour. Add in the mint, lemon, blueberries and ice and let sit for another half an hour. Add more ice as needed and enjoy!

Look at the flowers and herbs Mrs. Lena picked me

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Healthy Eating for the New Year and NYC Recap

Happy 2012! Mark and I went to Barcelona’s in New Haven for dinner on NYE. Barcelona’s is an excellent tapas bar. It was too dim for pictures, but we got a whole slew of delicious little plates, and used up a gift card we got last Christmas. Mark and I rung in the new year with my cousins and some friends. On New Year’s Day, I dropped Mark off at the train station so he could spend some time with his brother in NYC. Yesterday, I took the train in to the city as well. Mark and I spent the day together while his brother was at work

We went to the Museum on Natural History… they have a whole room filled with minerals and gems, and a whole floor of dinosaur fossils! You know you’re a nerd when you have your face pressed to a display case, shouting “wow, look at that tourmaline!”

We walked around Central Park

Then we headed to midtown to see Matt’s work

And then we finished of the day with dinner at a trendy little Lebanese place in midtown, called Naya. I’m playing around with some ingredient combinations in my head trying to recreate Mark’s entree of lamb dumplings in a yogurt sauce. I’m thinking of doing spinach dumplings… more to come on that soon.

I tallied it up and we walked at a minimum 5 miles… they really add up in the city. Walking 5 miles is just as good as running 5, right?

I’ve made a few resolutions: to stretch more before and after running, to snack less and to not stress out as much.

For those of you who have vowed to start eating healthier, here are a few ideas:

1. Stock up on broccoli, kale, cauliflower, cabbage, watercress, and mustard greens, they support your immune system and they are great for detoxing your body. They’re also good natural anti-inflammatory, they regulate your hormones and are chocked full of antioxidants.

2. Load up on dark leafy greens… they pack iron, calcium and magnesium and are the most nutrient defense food per calorie. So load up on the salad

3. Nosh on fruits, they are high in fiber and vitamins. Citrus fruit, rich in vitamin C, help flush out toxins, they jump-start the digestive tract and they aid in the liver’s cleaning processes.

4. Switch in whole grains. Try quinoa, barley, faro or brown rice in place of white rice or pasta. They’re good for your heart and your cholesterol.

5. Spoon on the yogurt. Greek yogurt is high in protein and calcium and has good bacteria that aids in digestion and strengthens your immune system

Also drink plenty of water, the dry air really dehydrates you. And because it’s cold out you don’t feel as thirsty as you would on a hot summer day. 4 out of 5 times that you’re hungry, you’re actually just thirsty.

Looking for a healthy breakfast or lunch idea:

Make an omelet, toss out all of the yolks except one, or use egg substitute. Load on the veggies and a teaspoon of cheese.

This 3 egg omelet has peppers, onions, spinach, mushrooms and feta and still comes in at under 250 calories:

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Week in Burlington, VT

I have this week off from work, (with the exception of Memorial Day) this is the first time I’ve had time off since March… so I am savoring every minute of it. As you may have gathered, Mark has not moved into the apartment yet, he has an internship in Burlington. So, I’m up visiting him for the week.

Let me just be blunt… I love Burlington. Having never been here before, it has been a blast exploring the city while Mark has been at work. Downtown is super cute, everyone bikes everywhere… there is a whole bike path network that covers the city, and they have the biggest co-op I have ever been to, City Market. Did I mention the lake, I love lakes (hence my summer employment)… and Lake Champlain is one of the prettiest lakes I have ever seen, it’s surrounded by rolling hills and mountains that fade into the distance.

My first day here was Monday, (we spent the weekend in Deerfield at Mark’s parents, and double dated with Mark’s brother and his girlfriend. We went to see Midnight in Paris then went to Flat Street Brew Pub and Tap Room, Mark’s Dad’s restaurant venture in Brattleboro, VT. Go… its really good and right off the highway).

Anywho… Monday: I took it upon myself to figure out the city. So I set off on a walking tour from Mark’s apartment and 9 miles later, I had seen most of Downtown, the Co-op (where I met Mark for lunch), Church Street (a pedestrian only street), the lake front and UVM’s campus. I pretty much had Burlington figured out, and the sore feet to prove it. I wasn’t wearing sneakers because I never intended to walk that far, but I felt a need to take in the whole city. Then when Mark got home he took me to Shelburne Farms, a really pretty farm on the lake… we’re going back for breakfast on Saturday. We cooked in for dinner… veggie pita pizza. I didn’t take pictures, I know silly me. It’s a regular so fear not…

On Tuesday, I went for a bike ride, and then I met Mark at Red Rocks Park for lunch… I packed us pitas filled with greens, tomatoes, red peppers, cheese, (turkey for Mark) and honey mustard. I also packed 2 apples and some jalapeno chips.

When Mark got home we went for a 3 mile run along the bike path near his apartment. We had drinks and dinner at American Flatbread. They use local organic ingredients and they brew their own beer, called Zero Gravity… it was really good. I got an IPA (front) and Mark a Scotch Ale (back).

For dinner we got a brick oven pizza… you can watch them make it, so cool. Half had mushrooms, tomatoes and herb pesto. The other half had mushrooms and caramelized onions.

Then we went for a walk down by the lake and watched the sun set. We also got a Maple Creamee (soft serve maple ice cream… yum)

Wednesday, I had relaxing morning… I went to Oakledge Park, went for a short walk and finished In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. Mark met me for lunch; we had a repeat of Tuesday’s lunch. When he got home we did another 3 mile run and went to dinner at The Farm House Tap and Grill. They also use local, fresh ingredients. We got some local beers and a cheese board… a goat/sheep/cow mixture cheese and one similar to Gouda (the one on the left).

For entrées I got a corn griddle cake (picture a cornbread pancake) piled high with sautéed mushrooms and wilted kale. Mark got a burger made with local grass fed beef… he said it was the best burger he’s ever had… you could taste the difference. Then Mark talked me into rhubarb pie, it had a crumble topping and was delicious. The lights were too dim for pictures at this point… sorry

We’re actually cooking tonight… so, more to come on that later. On the docket: cous cous soup, local bread with local hummus and a blueberry peach pie… however the menu is subject to change. I picked up the ingredients after I met Mark for lunch at Stone Soup… a great vegetarian place recommended by Mark’s boss

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