Substitutions

I love the taste of vanilla – especially when there’s tons of it, especially vanilla bean anything. Still! If you’re not fond of vanilla, don’t have some on hand, or just want to try something new, you can substitute most liqueurs for vanilla. Kahlua, creme de cacao, creme de menthe – Rumchata, too, if you’re feeling like an extra cinnamon kick.

I haven’t tried fruit liqueurs, and that’d probably depend on the recipe, but I think I might try raspberry liqueur in my dark chocolate fudge next time I make it.

Shopping

I had plans to get actual cooking done this weekend, since I’m done all my papers and have all my applications in, but that hasn’t happened. I have made progress on my knitting! And we had marinated chicken and instant mashed potatoes for dinner last night.

But we’re short on stuff – like, I have blocks of cream cheese and one egg, but nothing to make a cheesecake crust with, and I didn’t feel like making fudge today.

It’s hard to get out grocery shopping when I’m out from 7am-6pm Mon-Thurs and T works 6pm-6am Thurs-Sat. We barely see each other! It’s kind of annoying. But it’s also been why I’ve been exploring ordering groceries online – it seems kind of extravagant until I checked and one store that’s close by does free delivery of more than $100. I wouldn’t want to get, like, produce that way, or eggs, but we’re discussing how much the convenience of not having to navigate our ridiculous schedules is balanced by the things we tend to pick up that we haven’t thought of ahead of time and the whole bit where T might end up an agoraphobic hermit if not sometimes required to go out in public.

Batch Cooking Round 2

For the second round of batch cooking with E, we made a double batch of Chicken Tortilla Soup, pasta alla puttanesca – very similar to this only made in a real kitchen – and a lazy version of this slow cooker pear and sausage stuffing. I am still taking single-serve containers of the stuffing for lunches over a week later, and it’s so delicious I might just eat it forever.

I’d made the chicken for the soup the night before, because it does a lot better if it can soak in the seasoning and we had plans for the slow cooker, so that was easy to set up and dump all the other ingredients into. Then we started on the stuffing, because that needed four hours – and that meant I could use the pan from the sausage to make the puttanesca for us to have for lunch. Planning!

I think normally we’d want to just make stuff for the week so it feels like a longer-term investment of energy, but pasta doesn’t store that well and T hates most of what’s in puttanesca, so having someone else to feed made a good excuse to make it, and then we got to eat and chill on our computers while we waiting for the stuffing to be done.

Mixed Drinks – Raspberry Liqueur and Soda

My dad accidentally picked up the wrong kind of liqueur, and was kind enough to give it to me, so I ended up with some unexpected raspberry liqueur, which is delicious.

But when looking for something to just kind of sip as the evening goes on, mixed drinks tend to work better than just drinking something straight. I had the raspberry stuff with 7Up, because that’s what we had in the house. It ended up a little sweet, but deliciously fizzy.

If you like stuff that’s not quite as sweet, getting straight soda water will give you fizz and taste a little bitter for a nice offset.

Fresh Herbs

So I really love having fresh herbs for stuff. I don’t right now, because I’ve been buried under stuff – like, right now I should be either working on one of two papers or sleeping, but w/e I do what I want. I have the seeds, though! And dirt in a bag in the hall closet.

You might not think fresh herbs are a thing you can do, either because you murder plants (like us, seriously, our only living plant right now is this immortal succulent, we have killed so many) or you don’t have a lot of space or time or light, or you live in an apartment.

But you can! It’s totally a thing you can do. We had potted our own stuff in our last apartment – or, well, on the sidewalk out front. You want outdoor space to deal with all the stuff that’s gonna generate dirt. If you’re starting them early in the season, you can grow seedlings in the cups of an egg container. If you don’t have the spoons to be that on top of repotting, though, I don’t think it actually hurts anything if you just plant a few seeds in one bigger pot. You get more plants growing in one pot than is ideal, but oh, no, having to actually use the herbs you’re growing. Tragedy.

Ingredients:

  • container (ceramic or plastic pot, but I’ve seen people use old yoghurt containers)
  • dirt (potting mix from Target or your local gardening store should work really well)
  • seeds (if they’re sold in a local store, they can probably be made to work locally)

We grew basil and mint, because mint tea is amazing and I will use basil at every opportunity. I think we might try parsley this year, too? Growing bigger stuff like tomatoes or whatever works way better if you at least have a balcony, but smallish pots of herbs can live on whatever windowsills you have. Give ’em light and water and you can feel all fancy and gourmet or whatever even when you haven’t been to the grocery store in a month. Plus in theory your plants won’t up and die on you with startling regularity, so you have a never-ending supply of fresh herbs with minimal fuss.