Grocery Delivery

I’m all about convenience but when it’s entwined with saving money AND time… well… you know I’m all for that!  One of the things that ends up saving us a great deal regarding groceries is having them delivered.  I know what you’re thinking, that you can’t afford delivery but the average grocery store charges $5 to $15 for delivery.  That’s it!  Unless you spend less than 3 gallons of gas going to and from the grocery store, the gas you save alone is worth it.  Let’s not even go into the whole packing up the kids and such.

Save Time

Then we add the whole convenience of taking all the time in the world to go shopping without leaving your home.  You can add items to your cart without purchasing them at that moment and it will save the information for whenever you’re ready.  You can pick the delivery date and time to fit around YOUR schedule.  You don’t have to go to the store, just sit at your computer, add things to your cart and select a delivery time.  You pay via credit/debit card (some stores allow for bank transfers) and poof.  Off to do something better with your time than stand in line and schlepping things through a parking lot.

Oh!  And for a real time saver… most stores allow you to shop via order history.  You can repeat an entire order with a click of a button, add things to a previous order or pick and choose items you ordered before!  Can’t remember the name of the bread you tried last order?  It’s right there!  Need to restock your pantry?  Everything you ordered is right there on a list.  Just tick off what you want and how many!

Save Money

You know what I love?  Being able to purchase things when they are on sale without having to search in the store or through a flyer to find it.  Most stores have their specials listed on their site for easy shopping.  With the store membership, you never have to worry about forgetting your card, it’s remembered so you get all those lovely instant savings.  I love shopping the buy one get one free offers and find the specials all listed in one place.

Not to mention, a lot of stores offer free delivery with purchasing a certain amount or as a weekly promotion.  So then I’m really saving the money!

Save your sanity

No long lines.  No crowds.  No screaming children.  No bumped carts.  No trying to find a parking spot.  No cart with squeaky wheels that fights you when pushing it.

Accept no substitutes… or do… or equivalents. 

With home delivery you can choose to accept “no substitute” for an item they no longer have in stock, or accept a different size from the same brand or different brand but the same size.  Nice right?

So there you go.  That’s why I have my groceries delivered.  That and it’s just so much easier when your life is as hectic as things tend to get with us in the Madame.


Time for a new look!

Greetings fellow foodies!  As you can see, assuming you’re not reading this via a reader, the blog has got a new look and I’ve done some minor tweaking here and there.  The categories are now located at the bottom of every page in a dropdown menu to make it that much easier (and cleaner looking).  I’ve updated the “about the cook & the book” page and even include a picture of me.  Yeah, I know but it’s the only one I have involving food that isn’t me being a total goof (an instantaneous reaction whenever a camera is facing me, I heard Lucille Ball and Carol Burnett had the same affliction).  I’ve updated and added some links to my artwork and profiles.

Does this mean I’ll be updating more often?  Er… umm… well… yeah… about that…

Okay, as much as I’d like to say that I’ll be here with any regularity, it’s me… and there’s nothing regular or consistent with me other than I’m either cooking, gaming, creating or goofing off.  That’s the whole kit and caboodle.  So I’m leaving it with… I hope to offer more entries but I make no promises.

And on that note… I’ve got some potatoes in the slow cooker that need my attention before I get back to pinning interesting recipes on Pinterest.

Hopefully, I’ll write at you soon!

What’s happening in our kitchen?

I’m sorry!  Okay!  I said it!  I’m sorry I dropped this blog like a hot potato but there is so much going on in our lives that honestly, there are days we barely had time to eat much less me attempting new science experiments.  I am hoping that’s changing.  Because I really, REALLY miss cooking.  And blogging about it.  I really wanted to create more posts on our delicious Winter Solstice meal but it simply never happened.  We’re still enjoying some amazing minced meat pies (because the filling freezes so wonderfully) and even our amazing ham was just… well… amazing!  I made it in a slow cooker and it was just perfect.

But since December, we’ve been a bit busy and life is, as always, taking on new direction.  Our busy schedules leave us with very little time to cook properly and that got me to thinking, I need to spend more time with my crockpot/slow cooker.  So I’m working on a few recipes that I’m interested in trying out and will post them here as I create them.

I still haven’t given up my pursuit of creating yogurt with almond/coconut milk but am convinced I might try regular milk first.  Mostly because our detox is coming up shortly and we consume a lot of yogurt during that time, but also because I think that if I can master it with regular milk, it will provide me with help with using almond milk.

I haven’t been making bread lately but that will change again too.  After detox we need to make sure we keep eating healthy because I’m on a new diet… er… eating regiment (I hate the word “diet”).  I’ve recently purchased a bicycle and we have it on a trainer (so I can stay in one spot and peddle) as a no-impact form of exercise for me.  You’d think we would have thought of this ages ago being Bre is a professional cyclist but we didn’t.  She fitted me to the bike and so far, it’s been a lot less painful than I’ve previously experienced.  It’s amazing how much of a difference a proper bike fit can make in riding.

To give you an idea of why this is so important to me, I have a spinal injury in my tailbone that has prohibited me from enjoying much in the way of physical activity for nearly ten years.  There have been days when I cannot even walk and the pain was unbearable.  So when we realized soy was causing the inflammation, I had a flicker of hope that I might close the chapter of pain in my life.  But… despite removing the soy, the inflammation going down, the pain easing, etc.  I could not seem to lose any weight (nor gain any for that matter).  Because my injuries make it so I cannot be left unattended during walks, even that has been nearly impossible to squeeze into Bre’s schedule (as she’s the one working the most hours while I’m trying to breath life into Rue Apothecary).  But the other day we realized a solution would be purchasing a bicycle and making it stationary (eventually we plan on taking it off the trainer) and did so.

Now here’s the kicker… this whole time I’ve been waiting for my metabolism to accept the soy is gone and do SOMETHING!  ANYTHING!  Even if my weight went UP would be an improvement because at least if it can go up it can go down (as a child, teen and even young adult, I had a very hard time gaining weight).  So we got the bike thinking its what we needed.  I stepped on the scale so I could monitor any change in weight.  I nearly  fell over with the number I saw!  I had somehow gained well over ten pounds without even so much as noticing!  Although normally one might be upset over the gain, I was ecstatic (because of the point I just made, what goes up must come down!).  So we’re excited to know there is more than just a “chance” of things changing and thus my renewed interest in this blog.

So that all said, our first line up of entries will be about cooking in crockpots/slow cookers and for those who don’t have the time to cook!  Stay tuned!

Getting my kicks!

With the fuss over our ceremony finally ebbing, I’m faced with some new issues, new directions and a new enthusiasm for cooking!  Nothing says, “I need to lose weight” like seeing your ceremony pictures… especially when your partner is this thin, sleek, sexy athlete.  Okay, okay… so I’m not HUGE but at times, I feel like it.  Especially when I eat as healthy as I do and yet here I am, quite overweight.  And as much as I know I need to exercise more, that doesn’t happen when you’re winded so quickly or when it hurts so much.  I need to lose weight to exercise more and need to exercise more to lose weight.  Vicious cycle.

As someone who studies nutrition and the body, I realize what I really need here is something to kick start the whole process.  Eliminating soy from my diet removed several issues that were preventing me from losing the weight but it wasn’t the magical wand waved to make me suddenly thin.  It was merely the thing that prevented me from being able to go any further.  Shackles removed but standing in the prison cell does nothing for one’s freedom.  So I need to find my kick.  My “push” to get the ball rolling.  Everything I’ve tried has thus far failed (obviously).  From dropping carbs to calories, it’s not happening.  Or it’s not healthy.  I consume less than 1200 calories per day.  That means that I shouldn’t need much in way of exercise to at least maintain my weight.  It also means that I can’t eat less than I am and remain in good health.

So I’ve decided to rearrange my eating patterns.  When I get up in the mornings, I grab an orange, slice of homemade bread (plain), small bowl of cereal, yogurt, whatever.  A few hours later, it’s another similar snack food.  A few hours later, lunch which pretty much sounds like the same list for breakfast.  A few hours later… yup, more health snack food.  So on and so forth.  This eating every few hours is extremely healthy and encourages a higher metabolism and (usually) a health weight.  But then we get to our evening meal which I keep at around 500 calories, the bulk of my daily intake.  After that, we might snack a bit but not much.  Try as one does, let’s face it, dinner is the biggest meal we have and to boot, we sit on our asses watching TV afterwards!  Then go to sleep!  Where do those fats and calories go?  In my case, directly to the body part I was sitting on that whole time.

That is going to change like yesterday.  Oh wait!  We did start changing that since yesterday!  Both my partner and I agreed that we hate how heavy our evening meals can be and decided we’re changing our biggest meal to lunch.  So my mornings will be filled with prepping the largest meal (or doing so the night before) and my evenings will be nice, light, on the go type foods that allow us to remain active well after the dining hour.

I’m hoping that will be the kick in the … diet I need.  I’ll keep you posted!


Kitchen Experiments (aka The Elusive Coconut Yogurt)

I have no problem sharing my accomplishments with you and thus I feel I should share my failures as well.  Though honestly, I haven’t chalked this one up to a failure just yet.  I’m obsessed with being able to make yogurt.  Why?  Because yogurt is a great source of healthy bacteria.  But it’s nut just any yogurt I’m trying to make, it’s non-dairy, non-soy yogurt.  Well… to be even more specific, it’s coconut yogurt I want!  Coconut yogurt is the perfect “brain food” and being a nerd… this is just the most appealing concept.  Not to mention that it has “good fats” and I don’t have many sources for that.  If you don’t know what “good fats” are or what they do, they are the types of fats that your body needs and processes quicker.  They also help your body shed the stored “bad” fat and can help with weight loss.  My diet has very little fat in it and even less “good fats” so I need something to balance that portion of my diet.

So far… the results haven’t been too promising.  BUT it is a great way to explain kitchen experimentation and how to work your own recipes until you find the right formula.  I start off with a recipe that’s closest to what I want to do.  Bonzai Aphrodite (one of my FAVORITE blogs to read) has a great recipe and instruction for making alt-milk yogurt.

To start off with, the tapioca starch is impossible to find around here (tiny town Santa Paula) and pulverizing the pearls in the food processor was taking ages.  A quick look-up on my favorite website Cook’s Thesaurus showed I could use my favorite arrowroot as a substitute.  Also, as many of you know, I don’t use any sugars other than raw honey, so that was another key factor changed. Lastly, the starter.  See, I’m trying to make a yogurt that I cannot find in the stores.  I can’t use anything with soy and even Trader Joe’s doesn’t carry coconut yogurt (though they have coconut flavored yogurt, it’s obviously not the same).  So I thought I would try the recipe and see if regular yogurt, or something similar, could be used as a starter.

To conduct any experiment, it’s important to first break the recipe down to it’s absolute minimum.  This helps cut down on waste but also allows you the most room for changes and understanding the results.  So to breakdown Bonzai Aphrodite‘s recipe, everything would have to be cut into a fourth (as she uses four cups of milk and a single cup is a good size to work with).  If you aren’t good with converting tablespoons into teaspoons and the like, a quick search on Google for a measurements converter will give you more than enough sites to choose from to help.

Second, you need to make notes on what you’re doing, the results and what you think went right/wrong.  For my first attempt, I jumped in and changed all the above mentioned factors.  When it failed the first time, I realized it was the tapioca.  I tried it a second time with the tapioca with the same results.  The third batch was with arrowroot as the starch and that worked much better but still was not the results I was looking for.  I couldn’t maintain the right temperature for the amount of time needed.  Some research, thinking and experimenting ended up with me using my crockpot with water and a temperature probe.  That works beautifully and allows me to completely control the temperature of my experiment for however long I wish.  The forth batch with the arrowroot and crockpot still didn’t work as well as I had hoped.  This entire time I had been using almond milk as I wanted to keep the experiment as close to the original recipe as I could.  But I was using store-bought milk that was sweetened and I thought perhaps that was the issue.  So I tried the fifth batch with unsweetened almond milk.  Still a no-go… or would that be no-gurt?  Sorry… chef humor.  Then I tried exchanging the honey for sugar in the sixth batch.  Nope.  Finally, yesterday I tried the seventh batch with unsweetened coconut milk (thinking perhaps it needed a bit more fat than the store-bought almond provided).  No.  I’ve resolved to the fact that without THE perfect starter, I cannot make yogurt.  But at least I know now that I can change quite a lot of the recipe and still have the same results.  I understand the key players of the experiment (milk, sugar and starter) and know that once I have the starter I need, it will work perfectly fine.

So all these experiments… used only seven cups of milk!  Not too bad, eh?

Introducing “The Pantry”!

Up at the top of the page you’ll see a new link for The Pantry!  That is where you’ll find a growing list of online coupon websites, information on how to get free samples of products you use, how your grocery receipt can help you find healthier/tastier alternatives, blog links and reviews, product reviews and much more!  Go, look and let me know if you have any suggestions!

More to come!

Veganism and the Madame Zen

Doesn’t that sound like an interesting book title?  LOL!  Sadly, I definitely have NOT written the book on veganism.  As a friend pointed out on HIPC’s Facebook page, “…beware militant vegans when including honey in a “vegan” recipe”.  I automatically add agave, stevia, etc as honey alternatives in my recipes though to be honest, I leave the measuring to those who use it.  For those of you who aren’t “militant vegans” and don’t know what the fuss is about, let me explain a bit.  See many vegans feel that being vegan goes way beyond just your diet and they do not wear, use or purchase anything made from, tested on, made by or derived from animals.  Honey is a substance made by an animal and therefore many vegans don’t use it.

I don’t claim to be vegan… technically, I don’t claim to be anything really other than a health conscious person.  Honey has a lot of health benefits and thus is my sweetener of choice.  Sugar, raw or otherwise, has nothing but empty calories so I don’t use it.  My choices in food are solely based on health benefits and personal tastes, nothing else.

That said…

I am a VERY environmentally conscious consumer and do not purchase products tested on animals, are considered harmful to the environment either as the product itself or the manner in which it’s made, aren’t biodegradable and/or contribute to the rapid decline of any species.  There are of course, exceptions to every rule.  Tires… kind of hard to drive a car without them despite what their production does to the environment.  I can, however, purchase tires from companies that offer recycling programs and “give back” programs that help offset their damages to the environment.  Also, by rapid decline of any species I mean I don’t purchase fish that is being over harvested, I don’t purchase products that are harvested by destroying a natural habitat, so on and so forth.  I believe that I make the biggest impact with my wallet when it comes to big business and how corporate America works.

I buy locally and in season.  I make as much of my own products/foods as I can in order to not only ensure what we’re eating or coming into contact but also to cut down on trash.  Having Multiple Chemical Sensitivity changes the way you look at the world and how you interact with it.  I find that most people are always looking for the fastest, quickest, easiest way to do something even though it honestly doesn’t take that much more of your time to do something.  Like bread making for example.  The recipe I’m currently working with literally takes ten minutes to mix and the rest is either waiting for it to rise, cool overnight or bake.  But people are intimidated by it or just don’t want to bother.  It’s such a shame because it really is so rewarding and takes so little effort.  You spend more time and going to the store and purchasing it than you do baking it.