A little while ago we asked "how do you make leftovers feel less leftover-y?" Offbeat Homie SmashedTogether gave such a brilliant answer, that we made it its own post!
Food prep tips from professional kitchens that you can try at home. Photo by Chef Amy Wolf.
In all honesty, there is no way to make four nights of chili seem like anything other than four nights of chili. I get the appeal in making a big batch of food and having it there for you for the rest of the week, but if you aren't consuming it, that's money down the drain. If you aren't enjoying it, then what's the point?
Food shouldn't just be fuel for your body; it's a sensory experience that is supposed to make you feel alive. And there's something about the same pre-cooked slurry four nights in a row that makes that harder.
Leftovers aren't for everyone, but you're on the right track with cooking at home. I think that most people these days have built up cooking a meal every night to being this huge ordeal that it really isn't. Homemade fridge/freezer meals are a great alternative to frozen pizza, don't get me wrong — but after years of working in restaurants, and watching empty plates turn into meals in 15 minutes or so, cooking a meal for yourself really doesn't seem so hard.
Think about eating in a mid-level family restaurant. Not the fine dining kind, and not the mostly-pancakes-and-bacon joints, but the places that turn out meals from more or less real ingredients in about 15 minutes, almost every time. Think about the systems they have in place to bring you a full meal only minutes after asking for it. The biggest reason isn't that food is cooked before it's ordered, but that the ingredients are prepped.
Prepping is the key to making meals that taste fresh but come out fast. It's not as hard as you think; all you need to do is take the time you have been spending making one big meal, and spend it being your own prep cook! Here's how…
Last week on the Offbeat Empire blog, Ariel wrote about our new ad platform over here. The tl;dr version is that the biggest difference you'll notice will be that in a few months, the sponsored posts will be about bigger companies. Don't worry, they'll only be companies we like, and still written in the voice of the Empire. Soon, when you see me gushing about IKEA (like we normally do anyway), the Empire will be compensated for the gushing.
Which means Offbeat Home & Life becomes profitable, which means less chance of Ariel threatening to kill the site like she killed Offbeat Families. Yay!
But I also wanted to talk about reader supporters and patrons here on Home…
Little known fact about me: I used to be a Francophile. So much so that my entire apartment in college was decorated, floor to ceiling, with all things French. French fabric, French art, even my food canisters were labeled with French words (much like that Vintage French Toleware Nesting Canister Set). You name it, I had the French version of it.
That's why I'm like "where was this special sale on all things French from Relique when I was in college!?"
Remember when we introduced you to our sponsor Relique — the online shop that offers one-of-a-kind vintage finds? I found so many awesome vintage and repurposed items that I wanted to share with you. This time let's talk about zee French collection discount from Relique, and peep a few of my favorite things…
Etsy seller CosmicLibrary says, "This unusual book has a wonderfully skewed view on love and matrimony – it was authored by a reverend well over 100 years ago."
Wedding porn is fun. I like it. But it's everywhere, and you know what I crave more of? Marriage advice. I want to read inspiring things about how to have a happy relationship.
Relationships are something I'm interested in, and I like to think about mine. And it makes me feel appreciative of my partner. But, come to find out, a lot of marriage and relationship advice is religious — which is one thing I am not.
Over on Offbeat Bride we're talking about boobs! I'm a 32DD, which means I am a petite chick with a mighty big rack, which means that bra shopping pretty much sucks. So I've learned a lot of tricks shopping for the rare and elusive "big rack, small back" support systems.
I am thoughtful, open-minded person who believes in the values of calm and stillness, who understands the neuroscientific studies on the way meditation massages our grey-matter, and who really wanted to be a Jedi when I grew up.
And I refuse to meditate.
The core of most meditation, part of its intrinsic value, is to calm the mind down and then step outside your emotions by fixating on your sensations. The quiet mind is free to simply experience existence without the running commentary of consciousness. (The "dish of mold" as described in I ♥ Huckabees.) There's easily dozens — if not hundreds — of techniques for reaching this state, all of which ask for patience as the practitioner learns how to operate their brain in a new way.
Much of meditation asks the practitioners to bear witness to their emotions as feelings manifest through their bodies. By understanding what anger, fear, sorrow, and joy feel like, and knowing where their edges are, the practitioner can gain a new level of emotional control. It's a way of training the self to understand that a fleeting state of grief is finite and will move on, that the hot pulse of anger is that pressure in your jaw — right there, no, up a little bit and back, there — but it's not the world-blurring threat it seems to be. These lessons are valuable and in some cases, life-altering.
All of meditation seeks to wipe out those chaotic little thoughts: I need to start a meal plan for next week. Maybe hummus. Oh wait, the kiddo won't eat that yet. When did I start eating hummus? Man, that kid in third grade was so weird. Did he always have ringworm? I think he did…
Meditation, like many things that resonate so beautifully with virtues Obi-Wan or Yoda would extol, can be a powerful tool. And it's a tool that does not belong in my hands.
I happened to check the time before I started making this Italian chicken slow cooker recipe and — starting with a clean kitchen all the way through putting the cutting board into the dishwasher and the slow cooker into the fridge for the night — it took me thirteen minutes to make this. If I skipped the onion chopping and rosemary I could probably get it under ten. Then just a few minutes the next day for the rolls and we had a delicious dinner.
Perfect for those days when you have too many things to do and not enough time — or for when you don't have time to waste in the kitchen because you need to catch up on Game of Thrones.