Things I’ve learned lately: FOOD

Welcome to my table, I’ve saved you a seat. Throughout the many years of this space I keep on the internet, I have chronicled my love for cooking and feeding people with a reverence saved for church. It’s kneading the yeasted dough, the soft velvet belly of the Easter Challah that brings me to the cross every year. It’s watching my son’s soccer team devour the brown butter rice kripsie treats that knocks me over with joy. It’s being in the kitchen with my Grandma cooking for Sunday lunch that transports me back to safety, every single time. And it’s the conversations, fingers dipped in sauces, elbows out, glasses clinking that keeps me wanting more.

If I’m a writer, then food and the table are my ink. This is the one story I hope I never stop telling.

Over the years I’ve written many posts on menu planning and grocery shopping (there’s even a video, that I refuse to rewatch, but go for it if you dare) so I’ll leave the link to those posts here for you, if interested.

I’ll break down this post for easy reading like this: Cookbooks, Go-To Savory, Go-To Sweet, Drinks, Hostess Gifts.

Cookbooks

From left to right: Grow Cook Eat, The Oh She Glows Cookbook, Salt Fat Acid Heat, Carla Hall’s Soul Food, Primal Gourmet, Weekday Vegetarians, Binder of recipes I’ve collected, Cookbook of favorites my mom gifted me before I was married, Lark Parties, Lark Cocktails, More with Less, Bread and Wine, Dinner: A Love Story, The Home Cook, Half Baked Harvest Cookbook, Half Baked Harvest Super Simple.

A few words on a couple of these: the most used cookbooks are Half Baked Harvest, the cookbook of favorites my mom gifted me, Mad Hungry (not pictured) and Dinner: A Love Story. And the trusty, but never rusty: Pinterest.

I’m a huge fan of Smitten Kitchen, also, but I don’t own her books. I am a regular visitor to her website, though. And I love her newsletters. She’s one of my favorite food writers. As is Shauna Neiquist (and Bread & Wine is the reason my friend started a cooking club that I got invited to and have been doing for 6? 7? years now) and Jenny Rosenstratch (Author of Dinner: A Love Story and Weekday Vegetarians). I read their cookbooks cover to cover.

Go-To Savory

Tacos (duh) – and we have no recipe. We make our meat and then assemble all our fixings onto a platter or small bowls and everyone builds their own. We fry corn tortilla’s sometimes (they’re not hard, just softer and warm) and it is so good. Always, always finish with the squeeze of a lime.

Taco salad, from my childhood favorites book. Chicken Tinga Tacos, from Half Baked Harvest.

Chicken and Rice Soup is in heavy rotation.

Galette’s are a busy evening go-to.

Chrissy Teigen’s chicken lettuce wraps.

Lark Parties: Jerusalem chicken.

I try most of the recipes I pin on Pinterest, and don’t keep the ones we don’t like. We’ve not been disappointed with either of the Half Baked Harvest cookbooks and make a lot of her recipes again and again and again.

And sauces and salads (dressings). I almost always have something to schmeer on a plate of eggs and have a herby, creamy dressing for salads. Like this, and this or this.

Go-To Sweet

Make this exact recipe for Brown Butter Rice Krispie Treats, the only thing we do different is add sprinkles. You’re welcome. I have memorized this and it takes me less than 5 minutes from start to finish. They are a crowd pleaser and I want you to have this in your back pocket.

Also this recipe for Pumpkin Bars, which is in weekly rotation mid-September through early November.

Drinks

Lark Cocktails is a FUN book to make drinks out of. We love the French Pear. We try to have one or two cocktails that we enjoy and know how to make that we keep the ingredients for on hand. Aaron is a stout lover and I enjoy wine (Malbec (red) or Sauv Blanc (white)).

Adult only staples: gin + tonic with lime, some kind of whiskey, dark rum for moscow mules or dark and stormy’s.

Hostess Gifts

I think homemade kitchen items are a lovely hostess staple. Canned veggies from your garden or cut flowers from your yard. You can distill homemade vanilla with only 2 ingredients, and it’s a lovely Christmas or Hostess gift. But here are a couple of the things I like to buy locally:

Fustini’s 12 Year Balsamic Vinegar: yummy on everything. Berries! Salads! Tomatoes! Eggs! It stands alone and is a great partner. You can’t go wrong here.

Michigan candle from The Blackbird. It’s the most amazing candle for a cozy Fall season. I buy one every year and burn it all.

Flaky Sea Salt. Not all salt is created equal. This (and vanilla bean paste) are some of my absolute favorite kitchen items to have on hand. They are so small, you need so little of them – and they make all the difference.

Cotton dish towels, I love this because I can buy a multi-pack and then use one to wrap a freshly baked bread or bottle of wine.

Wine to give: you can stick with something from your region, or a good red blend, which is a nice table wine or great for cooking. Aldi has a good selection of wines that don’t break the bank.

Books for hosting to give or keep: Savor, Wild At Home, Poetry of Place, Paradise Found and the Lark books.

I know this only scratches the surface for me, I had a hard time keeping this succinct. I get in a rut, just like you, with cooking all the time. Watching cooking shows is always a motivator for me. Or planning something to host, like a Fish Boil. I can wrap my head around the daily monotony of cooking if I also have something to look forward to. We used the hell out of our grill this summer, so I was big into marinating meats. And it’s true that if you’re really starved for ideas … just start with an onion. It’ll come together from there.

Cooking doesn’t have to be hard, often the best things we eat are the most simple. Invest in your staples and a good knife. You’ll want a heavy pot and pan. If you’re going to bake more than cook, get yourself the mixer of your dreams. If you’re going to cook constantly, buy the Staub pan and Japanese knives. You can buy one at a time for 10 years and build your kitchen little by little. It’s all an investment … but, listen. This investment; is in you. Your home, your community. It’s a hobby, a way of life and a literal necessity. You’re allowed to enjoy the chore of living well.

As always, sound off in the comments with more ideas or questions. See you back here later this week for more of what I’ve learned … this time about Self.

xoxo

Jodi

Things I’ve learned lately: HOME

There are so many things I love about the feeling of Home. I am very introverted and love, love, love to be home. It’s the softest place I land, the space that holds me in, lets me go, and serves as my favorite dance floor.

So, home is really important to me. It serves as all of the above, but it (hopefully) also welcomes anyone who enters it with the same kind of love and attention. We’ll cover this more in the Hosting section but even though I’m extremely introverted, it’s also very important to our family to be the open house. To let others in, to share what we have, to feed the masses and to be social without actually having to enter the world.

Let’s get to it, then.

BOOKS

Beautifully Organized, Wild At Home, Cozy White Cottage, Made For Living, Poetry Of Place, Half Baked Harvest Cookbook, Half Baked Harvest Super Simple, Kitchen Sconce (Khaki).

These are not affiliate links (I’m like 80% sure they’re not and if they are it is by wild accident because I have no idea what I’m doing anymore.)

These books, however, do know what they’re doing. They serve as amazing inspiration and beautiful coffee table books to have out for anyone to browse. Our kitchen is forever in favorable rotation with Half Baked Harvest, and the lights were something we added when we reimagined the space … which leads me to:

REIMAGINING SPACES

As I confess in the About me section of this site, my superpower is being able to see through walls. To envision spaces and flow. We gutted our previous home and it was so much fun, but a lot of work. When we were looking for another house, I was adamant that I didn’t want to do major renovations again. Updating, sure. But knocking walls down? Nopethanks.

Essentially all a room actually needs is structure. Walls, wiring, fixtures. Are those things available? If not – start there. We lived here for a few months and then hired an electrician to please come in and add, subtract or change the electrical. How do you want to live in the space?

That’s it. That’s all you need to ask yourself to reimagine a space. What’s missing, and what do I want out of this?

Then, get to work on pinterest, in real life, in magazines and coffee shops. Hotels, friends homes, and places you love visiting. Pay attention. Take photos of spaces that make you feel comfortable. Notice how you feel walking into rooms, whats in them?

When I feel ready to make some changes I go back to the photos I’ve saved and look for repeats. I might see a pattern in the “feel” of a room, or the colors used. I might be really drawn to bold art or soft textures. Most of the time, I’m not looking at the structure of the spaces … but the feeling of what it might be like to be IN them. (And, other times I am ONLY looking at the structure. We’re currently remodeling our primary-suite bathroom and the structure of the space is the most important right now, so I’m only paying attention to walls and angles and layout and built-ins and walkways.)

The advice sticks, though, no matter what problem you might be trying to solve. What reflects you in a space? Below on the right (pictured) is our half bathroom when we bought our home and on the left (pictured) is still our half bathroom … now. Reimagined. We added wallpaper, found the new vanity on wayfair, and changed out the light fixture. The bathroom already had hardwood floors, a toilet, electrical and the plumbing was ready to go.

Wallpaper is great for small spaces and big impact. Play with it. If you hate it (and it’s ok if you do) it’s only wallpaper. You can take it down! Don’t marry all of your ideas. Stay flexible because you are going to hate some of it, or change your mind. Totally normal!

THINGS I LOVE

Who’s still with me? Mom?

We made it this far in this gigantic post today so I have some funsies for you in absolutely no particular order:

These pull-out cupboard shelves are, literally, the best purchase I’ve made this year. They’re spendy, I know. Shut it. I am in the kitchen for hours every single day. Every day! These make re-using our kitchen cabinets look like the best idea I’ve ever had. I bought 6 of them – 5 of them in our pantries and one in side cabinet that utilizes otherwise wasted space. I can’t get over how much I love these. They’re SHELVES. And I am undone about them.

This canvas-style bag for carrying logs. Handles. It has handles. We can take lotsssss of wood from our outdoor pile (which, elevation wise, is 2 stories below where we need to bring the firewood) to our hearth without swearing all of the swears we know out loud.

Sweet and Spicy Tea. I know you think drinking tea is like drinking hot water while someone whispers the herbs and flavors used from another room and I’m sorry you hate tea this much. But have you had this tea? You will like this one. It punches you right in the face.

These under-the-chair-things are like “money in the walls” but for your floors. You’re welcome. We refinished and added more wood flooring to our house, unlike our last one where we added plywood … I want these to look real for as long as possible. Because they are. They are real wood floors, take your shoes off.

These unfinished wooden handles are the sisters and brothers to many other unfinished wooden handles we’ve been using in all of our projects lately. We did buy new cabinets for the island in our kitchen (a painted cabinet to offset the oak) and the unfinished wood handles are like … cream for the eyes. That’s weird and I know it, but I stand by it. I love them. We also have unfinished wood handles/knobs (I know I’m saying unfinished wood a lot right now and I just need you to keep your eyes up here for a few more seconds) in our laundry room and the library. Everywhere, I tell you!

These sheets are a good idea. Sheets that I can’t touch before I buy them? I understand, it’s risky. But these are possibly the best sheets we’ve ever owned. And they’re not a million dollars.

Souper Cubes! I saw these on Shark Tank, like I see many things on Shark Tank, and this was the only item I’ve ever purchased before the pitch was over. Correction: this is the only item I’ve ever purchased that was featured on Shark Tank, ever. Revolutionary. These people are geniuses. Why didn’t I think of this?

Young House Love has probably influenced me more than any other blogger with influence. I almost always buy the things they suggest (when it fits my needs) because they are NEVER WRONG. So, yea. I’m a bird lady. I watch birds and I feed birds and I have (you guessed it) books on birds. And now, I can see birds right next to my chair. Because of this.

We’ve been married over 18 years, my husband and I, and in all of those years he has had the same alarm clock from his middle-school ages so I found him this one, instead. It’s from this century but it looks similar enough to his oldie and AND! I don’t hate it. Did I mention you can turn its lights off? All the way? And the volume isn’t 100 devils crying a beepbeepbeep in bright red in your ears every morning?

Lastly, I give you our espresso maker. When the quarantine started and everything shut down, we had to re-engineer our morning habits. So we ordered this espresso maker and never looked back. It’s so fun, looks great, is so easy and we love this little guy. He’s the real MVP of our house.

That’s it. I have a lot to say sometimes. Thanks for checking in. And please, please … add your must haves, house hacks, ideas and questions to the comments. I really love having the conversation with you.

xoxo

Jodi

Things I’ve learned lately

It’s almost the end of the year and I’ve been loving the recent round-ups I’ve seen on social media with 5-star books, podcast episodes that were dynamic and worthy and content that made an impact so I’m sharing the things I’ve held dear this year and what I’ve learned along the way.

We’re going to tackle a few spaces and I’m going to give you the outline first, so you know what to expect or where to jump for the content that might make the most sense for you, right now. I’m so glad you’re here. Take this as an invitation to share your stuff in the comments.

Home:

I’ll leave the bits and pieces here that inspire me. Books that I love having available on design, that I turn to again and again for comfort, inspiration and ideas. I’ll break down my own process for what I do when I’m working on a space and how I execute it. And I’ll round up the best purchases I’ve made this year for our home.

Food:

Mmmm, you guys. I’ll give you the recipes we can’t stop making. The lucky ones I’ve printed and spilled on that have wear marks from happy fingers. More books, because, and this should be a theme for you, I love cookbooks. And I’ll round up the best hostess gifts I’ve given and gotten, to make your Holiday giving (perhaps) just a little easier.

Self:

Oh hey. Hi. It’s me. I am an enneagram 5 and I love to learn. I didn’t know that was special until I dove in and realized not everyone wants more information, all the time. About everything. I know things, so you don’t have to. (hashtag) I’ll round up the books I can’t wait to read (duh), the podcasts I can’t stop thinking about and recommending to friends, and the poetry and places that have gotten me through this last year.

Money:

Weird, right? NOPE. I am very good at budgeting and saving. We’ve been through the Dave Ramsey courses, are debt free, have sold businesses and are very well versed in real estate investing. I have things to tell you. Buckle in. I’ll share some resources with you, some tough love (because “get rich quick” and “too good to be true” are actually correct barometers to avoid for being healthy and wise with money) and I’ll share with you what I’m up to lately.

Sorry, just jumping back in to add this: I don’t want to be an asshole here. You don’t need tough love and I don’t really care if you’re part of a pyramid scheme or think bitcoin is what we should be paying attention to. Doesn’t matter to me, won’t move my needle. I do love talking about these things because, again, I love to learn. I’m curious and love to figure stuff out. That’s where I’ll be sharing from. Not my lady-parts high-horse. You’re doing amazing.

Hosting:

As a family, we have a set of values. Schaap’s do hard things. Resourcefulness over resources. Being creators, not consumers. And, among others, we host. Our house is an open house, we say yes. We do the damn thing. I’ve learned a few helpful patterns for hosting and taken the guess work out of much of the anxiety. I’ve talked about hosting here before (here and here): but we moved homes since then and specifically bought a home that could host more. So I have some updates. Will share my go-to recipes, themes and give you the nitty gritty on how it happens.

Amazon:

What? I know. But hear me out. I mayyybe geek-out, on the regular, about the best buys on amazon. Life hacks, maybe? The things I didn’t know could solve the problem I couldn’t name? How to keep my cupboards from creeping open. What’s that smell and how to get rid of it? Is there a trash can for this very small space I have? Why can’t I reach anything in the back of my cupboards? Yea. It’s great. I’m here for you. And amazon delivers. (ba-da-bing!)

I’ll see you back here soon with our first breakdown.

Make your own brewed iced coffee

We used to have a French Press (moment of silence) to make cold brew coffee with …

And I still love cold coffee in the summer time but am trying to curb the habit of the coffee shop every day.

So, I have another idea!

DIY brewed iced coffee

You’ll need:

Coffee filters
Coffee beans, ground
Small rubber bands
A jug with a lid
Water

DIY brewed iced coffee. Bomb it!

I make coffee bombs for cold brew, that’s my solution, for this I use the best coffee providers online to get my product, go here to find more about this. So in one filter I put 1/4 C ground coffee beans and then secure the top with a small rubber band like so:

DIY brewed iced coffee. Bomb it!

DIY brewed iced coffee. Bomb it!

DIY brewed iced coffee. Bomb it!

DIY brewed iced coffee. Bomb it!

DIY brewed iced coffee. Bomb it!

Add 3 coffee bombs to my jug and fill with water.

DIY brewed iced coffee. Bomb it!

DIY brewed iced coffee. Bomb it!

DIY brewed iced coffee. Bomb it!

Place the lid on and let it steep over night in the fridge – right after you fill it up it’ll start to “brew”.

DIY brewed iced coffee. Bomb it!

When you wake up in the morning and it’s already 95 degree’s outside you’ll kiss that little jug of black-gold with an open mouth. It’s ok, we won’t watch.

DIY brewed iced coffee. Bomb it!

Add a little creamer (or not!) and sip away.

DIY brewed iced coffee. Bomb it!

Enjoy! Please Pin away, share and like. This needs to be shouted from the mountaintops, obviously.

How are you surviving your summer heat? Any fun drinks or oldie’s you run to in this weather?

Owning a home

There’s something about owning a home that makes me think I know how to coupon. Amirite?

You might remember this list of things I don’t do includes COUPONING. But, I have zero defenses against this draw now that I have a house and a place to stock pile a few things. Maybe it’s something about not having to move again in less than a year? Our last rental was a dream – the homeowners were amazing, the house perfect. Just … I knew it wasn’t gonna last. It wasn’t ours. So many things yanked around in my head and heart because of this.

So I’ve asked my mom to start saving me the coupons out of the Sunday Paper again. I’m going to work on Walgreen’s deals first to get the hang of things. I’d like to be able to get our toiletries and paper products for close to free. That’s my couponing goal – aside from that (and shopping sales for groceries) I’m not gonna get Extreme Couponer’s on my family.

Shelves of canned goods and cereal in my bedroom? NoThankYou.

But also? Confession? I am beyond obsessed with Pinterest. We all are, really. But I’m obsessed with DOING things off of Pinterest.

For instance … I tried this tub cleaner and yes, it’s true. A little bit of magic. Heat the vinegar, I think that’s the trick.

After seeing this floor treatment I promptly tore a wall out of our basement by myself (with help from my brother’s via phone and text) and then bought some vinyl 12X12 stick down tiles and laid me a new floor.

BEFORE:

Untitled

Untitled

DURING:

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

AFTER:

Untitled

Remember the giant JENGA set we made? Me, too. It’s so fun. All because of Pinterest.

After seeing this pin for a face mask I gave it a whirl.

I don't know what to tell you. I can't be left alone? Nah, that's not it.

I used this pin’s information for a free RedBox rental. I’ll never pay for a movie rental again, happily!

Tried this out on my hair with little success. I have to figure out how to dirty up my hair to hold curl. Working on it.

After seeing this trash can turned bedside table I finally knew what to do with the black mesh trash can hanging out in the basement doing nothing. Voila!

Pinterest inspired bedside table. Trash can flipped over and painted. Take that, no one in particular.

And the list keeps growing. Like this pin on DIY curtain rods (or this one or this one) which turned into these:

One down, 7 to go.

Untitled

Untitled

I love having little projects going on and having access to all these ideas is priceless.

What are you guys up to lately?