Travel Prep and CSA Week Four.

This time tomorrow, I’ll be in Minneapolis. One of my best friends lives there with her awesome boyfriend, and I am staying with them for four days before continuing on to visit my father in Los Angeles. This trip was planned way in advance, and there was a lot of logistical work, but it’s really important to me that I get out to see my father. He had a pulmonary embolism last November, but I wasn’t able to get there to see him because of school. This summer seemed like the perfect time to take the trip, and it worked out that Britt was free this weekend, so I just tacked on a few extra days.

I am off the chain, excited to be taking my first trip alone since having Jack and Carolyn. Of course, I’m more nervous than anything, but I spent this last week preparing for my departure and absence, and I think I’ve covered everything. Luis’ only requirement was that he didn’t have to cook so much, and I was more than happy to oblige him, since it means the kids will continue to receive nourishing meals, even when I’m away! God bless the freezer.

I spent the last two days cooking, morning to evening, and now that I’m looking at everything, I think they should be alright for a week or so. I’ll walk you through:

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Beans, because BEANS! They’re so easy, and Carolyn especially loves to snack on them. The kids and I eat a lot of different kinds of beans, so this was a little vanilla for them. Chickpeas, great northern, and black beans.

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While I was at it, I pulled my veggie scraps bag from the back of the freezer and threw together a big pot of stock. I had been meaning to do it for a while, and this way if Luis wants to make soup or something, he doesn’t have to hunt down vegetable bouillon.

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Lentil soup, one of life’s greatest pleasures! I love this stuff. I add a tablespoon or two of balsamic vinegar to every batch, and it really elevates the flavor and gives it a wonderful depth. I froze it in double serving sizes so if he’s having a busy night or the kids are going wild, he has an easy option.

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Frozen rice! This isn’t all that special, we usually have a few bags of frozen rice on hand because it tends to work better in fried rice dishes, but it’s there for Luis if he needs it.

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Raspberry chia jam, to go along with the two jars of almond butter I bought. Good for both sandwiches and a topping for oatmeal.

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Speaking of oatmeal: banana cream pie vegan overnight oats! This is before they set overnight, so they look a little funky. This is enough to get them through five days worth of morning meals, and after that it’s on to Joe’s O’s.

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Finally, our favorite frozen peas. I bought a bag of pasta (which should last at LEAST three dinners), and encouraged Luis to dump a cup of these bad boys into the water with the pasta. They have the same cooking time, so you just dump them all out and let them drain, and then top with sauce! It’s a great way to get some extra veggies in without dirtying another pan or having to chop/steam/roast anything.

There was a LOT of food prep happening in the kitchen over the past few days. Luis’ diet is much different than mine and the kids’, and there were some concerns over what the kids would be eating without me being there to prepare their meals. Luis has a tendency to feed them cereal meal after meal, or rolled up steamed corn tortillas and beans- all of which is totally fine, but I didn’t want that to be the only things they ate. In short, I wanted them to eat the same variety of nutrient-dense foods that they usually do.

We also did CSA pickup, and I was thrilled that it was a bit lighter on the leafy greens. I love me some salad, but I was so afraid of it going to waste if no one ate it. A good portion of this week’s share was preservable, one way or the other.

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Left to right: collards, tatsoi, romaine, cilantro, stinging nettle, sage, chamomile, spring onions, strawberries, two heads of red lettuce, hakurei turnips, two different varieties of sugar peas, and a bunch of green kohlrabi. There was also a big bunch of garlic scapes, but I think Carolyn had run off with them at this point.

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The peas were all u-pick, which was lovely except for the fact that the fields were total swamps. I was prepared, in old shoes and rolled pants, but still- wet.

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All the rain did a number on the strawberry plants, so this week was strawberry overload as they tried to get as many of the berries out to the members before they went to waste. We got two quarts in the barn with regular pickup, and were allowed to pick an additional quart in the u-pick field. No one here is complaining.

I was able to pack away a lot of the share by either freezing it by itself or making a sauce and freezing that:

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The strawberries were frozen in halves for smoothies and ice cream.

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The spring onions were also chopped and frozen, and while I know they won’t ever regain the wonderful snap and crunch that I love, I think they’ll be good stirred into miso or lentil soup.

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I turned the scapes into more pesto, because it’s just about the most delicious thing I’ve ever tasted. Straight into the freezer.

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I used the cilantro to make a chimichurri sauce, which will probably end up poured over tempeh and brown rice. Also frozen.

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Finally, I chopped the sage and packed it into ice cube trays with olive oil. This is the best way, I’ve found, to preserve fresh herbs, but it only works for the sturdier ones like sage and rosemary. More delicate herbs like basil and mint are best used fresh.

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I also steeped the chamomile in hot water with some mint. It was delicious, but so, so strong. I always thought of chamomile as being a mild herb, but a little really does go far.

Honestly, all of this prep work is going to be a huge help to Luis, but the real star of the show has no culinary affiliations:

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This guy is going to be Luis’ best friend. Jack and Carolyn love the different apps and activities, and while usually we limit their screen time to an hour or two a day, while I’m away things are going to be much looser. Also, this enables Luis to Facetime me on my phone (and vice-versa), so the kids will be able to contact me whenever they want (and vice-versa!).

Carolyn doesn’t yet have the ability to understand time the way small children and adults do, but Jack is beginning to develop that understanding, often talking about yesterday and tomorrow. I’ve sat him down and talked to him about what’s going on, and every time he has nodded and told me about all the things he and Luis are going to do while I’m away. It’s definitely helping to put my mind at ease that he’s not getting upset or anxious, and just going with the flow.

We sat down to a big family dinner last night- frisee and butter lettuce salad topped with roasted turnips and vegan Caesar dressing:

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and a stir fry of collards, tatsoi, and nettle over eggs:

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I am obsessed with sauteed nettle right now. It’s so unique in flavor and texture, and even though it looks like a common weed, it tastes totally decadent and delicious.

The kids and I spent some extra time on our bedtime routine last night. We read about a dozen poems, and then I tucked them each in individually. It was really pleasant 🙂 Then it was time to finish the last few loads of laundry, dishes, and packing.

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I laid everything out o the dining room table so I could see exactly what I was bringing. I’m a little forgetful sometimes, and if I don’t lay it out like this I’d end up in Minneapolis with twelve shirts and no pants. Or I’d forget pajamas.

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I managed to fit all of this into my stag bag. I bought it at American Apparel years ago, and it’s never let me down. I’m carrying everything on ( I don’t check bags ever), so I’m also bringing my giant Lulu tote (Take Me With You, I think?) and stuffing a smaller cloth purse into one of the pockets. As of right now, I am totally packed (save for my computer and phone), and everything seems to be fitting nicely. I tried to pack as few items as possible, mostly basics so I could just mix and match throughout the trip, but somehow I still ended up bringing four pairs of black leggings. Hah!

It’s now Friday. My flight leaves in 6 1/2 hours, and Ashleigh will be here in three to take me to the airport. I’m having major separation anxiety already, and somehow I already miss the kids, but I am also looking forward to some time with Britt and my Dad (and myself). I love what I do, everything that I do, but it’s also a lot of (good) work. It’s going to be nice to get away for a little while and take a break from the constant flow of laundry, dishes, diapers, and errands.

So that’s that, and now I’m off for one last grocery run and a final load of laundry. I’ll check in throughout my trip- Britt and I are hitting up the Minneapolis Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning, so I’ll definitely report on that. It’s supposed to be wonderful- her boyfriend grew up going there on weekends, and she said they’re over there all the time. I’m looking forward to checking it out!

Here’s to a safe and exciting trip 🙂

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