Khao Tom – Thai Rice Porridge

Khao Tom or Thai Rice Porridge made by Sumalee

Jars of Khao Tom or Thai Rice Porridge made by Sumalee

Ah, soup. Every family’s got one, and every gal has a favorite. While I have a long, sweet relationship with Tom Kha, the well known Thai coconut based soup, it’s Khao Tom, its less glamorous Thai rice porridge cousin, that springs to my mind when I think of homemade soup. My dad used to make buckets of this stuff when I was a kid, mixing together starchy boiled rice with ground pork and ginger, and then topping it with whatever was around– scallions, cilantro, peanuts, and my perennial fave, crispy fried garlic.

When I visited Thailand, we ate this in every town and village for breakfast, piled high with fixins. It satisfies the craving for something simultaneously brothy, spicy, salty, savory, tangy, and sweet, which is something I love about Thai food. This version can be thrown together in a big batch, kept in jars in the fridge, and then warmed as needed throughout the week for pretty much any time you need a little comfort food!

Here is the recipe that works for me, including the crispy fried garlic, or Garlic Crunchies, as my dad calls them (patent pending).

Note: I’ve used ground pork in this recipe because that’s how my family makes it, but the whole concept here is to use whatever you have around to make the soup, so adjust away! I think this would be delicious with tempeh, seafood, leftover rotisserie chicken, etc. I’m going to try sweet potato next time!

What is your favorite comfort food soup? Can anything beat this khao tom?

honest-millennial-signature Sumalee Eaton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A bowl of Khao Tom or Thai Rice Porridge made by Sumalee, with a cilantro and scallion garnish

Print Recipe
Khao Tom - Thai Rice Porridge
A traditional rice soup, eaten widely in Thailand as a breakfast dish, but perfect for any time of day! Make for a crowd or portion out as needed throughout the week.
A bowl of Khao Tom or Thai Rice Porridge made by Sumalee, with a cilantro and scallion garnish
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Thai
Servings
hearty bowls
Ingredients
Boiled Rice
  • 1 cup rice jasmine is good, but you can experiment
Meat and Soup Broth
Fried Garlic (Garlic Crunchies)
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Thai
Servings
hearty bowls
Ingredients
Boiled Rice
  • 1 cup rice jasmine is good, but you can experiment
Meat and Soup Broth
Fried Garlic (Garlic Crunchies)
A bowl of Khao Tom or Thai Rice Porridge made by Sumalee, with a cilantro and scallion garnish
Instructions
Boiled Rice
  1. Add 1 cup of rice and two cups of water to a medium pot, and bring to a boil, then turn down and simmer for 5 minutes. Please, for the love of god, salt your water.
  2. Add 4 cups of water or so to the pot, bring back to a boil, then let simmer for 12-15 minutes while you prepare the rest of the soup. The idea is to have soft, over boiled rice, and you can remove it from heat when you feel it gets to this point.*
Meat and Soup Broth
  1. Over medium high heat, saute the onion in oil until fragrant, then add the lemongrass and ginger and saute until fragrant. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Add the ground pork and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Break up the pork into small pieces, cooking until all pink is gone. Add in the fish sauce and soy sauce, incorporate well.
  3. Pour the stock over the pork mixture, bring to a brief boil, and then simmer for about 5 minutes. You can eyeball the amount of stock based on the broth-meat ratio you desire.
  4. If eating immediately (and why not?), portion some boiled rice in a serving bowl, then pour the soup mixture over it to taste. Garnish to your heart's content and enjoy! If you are saving for later, allow everything to cool, and then store rice and soup in a single container. When you're ready to eat, warm a portion and garnish.
Fried Garlic
  1. Heat the olive oil in a small skillet or saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic, and gently stir. Babysit until garlic has some nice color and appears sufficiently crispy. Remove from heat to avoid burning. You can easily do this while the pork is cooking and it will still be hot when it's time to serve!
Recipe Notes

On boiled rice: If you plan to save the soup to eat over a course of time, you should be careful not to overcook the rice too much. It's still boiled rice, but if it is super mushy and then you add it to the soup broth to store in the fridge, it will be super mushy. Matter of preference,  but I like my rice to still be defined in this soup.

You can also use leftover rice, just boil it with the broth when it's ready.

Garnishes: This dish is made to be garnished to death! My favorite toppings are fried minced garlic, fresh ginger (as if there isn't enough already), cilantro, scallions, and a squiggle of sriracha, but any condiments you desire are also appropriate. Sweet chili sauce, lime, nuts/seeds, avocado, bean sprouts, alfalfa sprouts, Thai basil, etc would all be delicious!

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Off to Camp Merrie-Woode

Mountain climbing at Camp Merrie-Woode

Last summer, like Scarlett O’Hara, I raised my fist to the heavens and shouted, “I’ll never spend a summer in Florida again!” Most people love the Florida heat, but I can’t stand it, and last year, I promised myself I would find a way out of this inferno from May to August. Through a cool clash of opportunities, my dreams are coming true, and I will be heading to the mountains North Carolina as a staff member at Camp Merrie-Woode!

campers at Camp Merrie-Woode
Does it get cuter than this?

For those who haven’t heard of this amazing place, Camp Merrie-Woode is girl’s summer camp, founded in 1919 in Sapphire, North Carolina. According to everyone I know who has attended camp there, Merrie-Woode is a lovely, nurturing community set against a backdrop of undisturbed nature. What a perfect place for me to spend my non-Florida summer! Not only will I escape the heat, I’ll also have the opportunity to spend the time with bright young ladies with a myriad of interests and passions in a very beautiful setting. (All images here are directly from the camp’s website and are authentic.)

(Also, the narrative of the camp is based on Arthurian legend– am I dreaming here, or what?!)

My role at Camp Merrie-Woode

Campers practicing archery at Camp Merrie-Woode, vintage photo, vintage campers, girls at summer camp
A vintage photo of Camp Merrie-Woode campers practicing archery.

In addition to all of the traditional outdoor camp activities, such as canoeing, climbing, and swimming, Merrie-Woode also puts on multiple theatrical productions over the summer. How cool is that?

Campers perform Little shop of Horrors at Camp Merrie Woode in 2014
Merrie-Woode campers in a 2014 production of Little Shop of Horrors

I’ve been chosen as the camp’s lead costumer, which means I will be responsible for outfitting the cast of each show and delegating appropriate costume tasks to campers in my costume class. I’ve really enjoyed working with students in the past few productions for which I’ve built costumes, and it’s pretty much a dream come true to be teaching a class devoted to costuming! I have a ton of ideas and concepts I wish someone had passed on to me when I was younger and still competing in costume construction, and now I can do that for other girls.

Our first session show will be Androcles and the Lion, a classic commedia dell’arte piece, and our main session show will be Peter and the Star Catcher, a prequel to Peter Pan.

I’ll also be teaching sewing classes, unrelated to the plays, which will also be fun! I’ve learned a lot about teaching since I first began designing and holding my own sewing workshops at work, and I’m excited to implement some my improved techniques with my campers.

Campers holding baby chicks at Camp Merrie-Woode
Campers holding baby chicks at Camp Merrie-Woode

I’m a little nervous, because I’ve never been to any sort of summer camp before, but I have a feeling based on the experiences of other that this will be an extremely memorable and cherished trip out of Sanford.

UPDATE: You’ll never believe this, but the theme for one of our orientation dinners is “Throwdown for Your Hometown”, so I’m being asked to represent Sanford in a very literal way (instead of just doing it of my own accord!). I can’t wait to deck myself in Sanford goodies!

I will be gone from May 24th to August 11th, but my secretary (aka my mom) will be watching over the blog, so don’t hesitate to contact us with costume questions. Wish me luck!

honest-millennial-signature Sumalee Eaton

What is your favorite memory of summer camp? Do you have any advice for me?

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How to Dress Vintage for a Photoshoot

a big group of birthday guests show How to Dress Vintage

So you’ve been asked to participate in a photoshoot with a vintage theme…excellent! Getting dressed up for photos is a ton of fun, and being a huge fan of all things retro and vintage myself, I know how satisfying it can be to put together an outfit inspired by a past era to embody a certain look or idea. But, depending on your experience with sourcing vintage-look clothes or costumes, you might need a little help on how to dress vintage for your special event.

Not to worry, here are a few of my favorite tips for finding that perfect old-school outfit!

Determine what era you’re going for and do a little research

Fashions change at the drop of a hat, and the styles changed a lot during the 20th century! If your photographer or event organizer has a specific theme in mind, such as “Great Gatsby” (1920s) or “Mad Men” (1960s), then you can pinpoint the key silhouettes and styles in those decades, using vintage photos, magazine images, and films as a starting point for inspiration. If the period is more general, then start with a little Pinterest research on the date range, and see what sticks out to you. Picking a favorite movie from the era is a great way to jumpstart your research!

Consult your organizer or art director a little about the “genre” of clothing you should be looking for as well. Class/social status, location, age group, time of year and other factors have major implications on what people wear, and these factors were much more stratified in earlier parts of the 20th century when it came to clothing.

For instance, “Downton Abbey ” might be your theme but are you a ladies maid or a countess? Are we watching a game of cricket, going to a country dance, or attending a dinner upstairs with a foreign dignitary? Is it the London Season, Christmas eve, or wartime? These elements are important, because if the answer is “You’re a ladies maid in a London tavern on your half day off”, you don’t want to show up dripping in jewels, with opera length gloves!

Image may contain: 4 people, people sitting

Don’t get too hung up on accuracy if you don’t have to

For most situations, it’s unnecessary to be a slave to a particular year, but nailing exactly what the clothing concept is will really help you find what you need! The photo above is of me dressed as some sort of bootlegger-Bonnie and Clyde hybrid for my hometown’s annual sofa race…not perfect, but it was a 20 minute shopping trip at Goodwill and I had something “vintage looking”. A little 20s, a little 40s, a little 60s, but pretty cute, and no stress!

Get a good idea of silhouette

Silhouette is probably the most important part of looking truly vintage. If you’re not familiar with silhouette as it applies to fashion, it’s shorthand for the general shape and fit of a garment or ensemble.

So when you’re studying your reference photos, here are some good questions to ask:

What type of garment is this and what are its parts/elements? Is it a single piece dress? Is it a three piece suit? 

Where is the emphasis on the garment? A voluminous skirt? Broad shoulders? 

How fitted is the garment? Does it skim the body, or is there a defined bust, waist, and hips?

Is the fit achieved with special undergarments? Could I wear my modern undergarments to achieve a similar look?

Where is the waist seam located? At the natural waist? Above or below?

Where does the hemline hit? Should my pants touch the top of my shoes? Should my skirt be shorter than my ankle?

This is not a test! These are just good questions and observations to make so that when you are shopping, your silhouette radar will be extra sharp, and you’ll naturally be drawn to the garment shapes that will give you the right vintage look.

Just for giggles, let’s compare the silhouettes of these two dresses, which are both pretty good examples of the typical silhouette of their eras.

1920's Chanel, Yola Letellier - Grand Prix de Longchamp - Photo by the Seeberger Brothers: Givenchy worn by Suzy Parker - Orlon 1954 Vogue - 1950s Fashion Vintage Knitting by Columbia Vogue - 1955  1951 -...:

On the left, we have a day dress from the 1920s.

  • Separates. Working women following WWI got a real taste for mixing and matching, because it gave them more choices for the office (just like today). Here, our gal is wearing a light jacket over her dress, which could possibly even be two pieces as well.
  • Long, slim, and svelte. This “boyish” shape was popular throughout the 20s. You can see there’s very little volume or emphasis in any part of the ensemble, and her outfit is essentially a column shape.
  • The hemline is below the knees. Contrary to popular belief, skirts didn’t get really short in the 20s, but they were quite short relative to skirt lengths prior to this decade. However, by our standards, this is pretty conservative.
  • Loose fit. This dress is probably worn with a slip, and possibly a underwire-less bra and girdle, but shapewear is minimal here because the fit of the garment is quite loose and skims over the shape fo the body.
  • Dropped waistline. This is a key, key, key (!) feature of the 20s look. Women in the 20s were uncorseted and active, and the entire silhouette represented this social shift, but one of the most noticeable features of any 20s fashion is the dropped waist, which sat right about the hips, rather than on the natural waist.
  • Accessories. The low, Louis style heel and round cloche hat really make this look. Her jewelry is classic and understated, though the flower on her jacket is fun.

On the right, we have a day dress from the 1950s.

  • One piece shirtwaist dress. This is the classic 50s housewife silhouette. This lady doesn’t need separates!
  • Hourglass shape. Where is the emphasis? On the waist, bust, and hips! The shape of the dress emphasizes the wearer’s curves, from the collar and sleeves adding shape to the shoulders, to the tiny belted waist, to the big bell skirt.
  • Knee-length hemline. Again, we see a relatively modest skirt length, but the shape is completely different from our last example.
  • Fitted bodice. Though her skirt is giant, the bodice is quite fitted to the body. This look is usually achieved with quite a few pieces of shapewear. Elastic became very popular in undergarments in the 20s, and continued to reach new heights in the 50s. You can’t really see it here, but the bust shape was also quite conical for a time.
  • Natural waistline. Her belt sits right on the smallest part of her torso.
  • Accessories. We have some very, very matchy-matchy accessories, including a red belt, bangle, and polka dot shoes. Damn!

So what do we learn here? There are HUGE differences between these two silhouettes, despite the fact that they contain similar elements, such as belts, heels, and knee length skirts.

These ideas are also applicable to men’s clothing as well. For instance:

Image result for zoot suitGoogle Image Result for http://images4.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20120313053450/madmen/images/1/15/361448.jpeg:

Like, do I even need to point out the differences here??

Another good thing to remember: women DID wear pants in a lot of situations, especially post-war. Marlene Dietrich:

Pick period-appropriate materials and prints

Like art, home decor, and architecture, textiles changed a lot in the 20th century, from fibers to weaves, to prints. It can be tough to find perfectly period-correct fabrics but choosing color schemes, textures, and prints that complement your era will really make your get-up convincing.

Here’s a little general advice:

  • Natural fibers are your friend. Look for cotton, wool, and silk.
  • Avoid overly synthetic, or shiny looking fabrics. Rayon was a popular synthetic that looks like silk for many eras.
  • Look for simple, classic prints and patterns, such as plaid, polka dots, pinstripes, and houndstooth.
  • Textured fabrics are fun too! Tweeds, self-stripes, and faux fur can add panache and depth.
  • Keep your color palette controlled. Remember that dye technology has changed a lot over the last 200 years and while bright colors were super popular and indicative of some eras, you can’t go wrong with beige, blush pink, navy, greys, and even black.

Don’t forget to accessorize

People wore A LOT of accessories every day prior to the 1960s, and adding these details to your ensemble is fun and key. Most men and women would not have left the house without a hat, and in many cases, a coat. Things changed from era to era (I feel like I’ve said that a lot….), but you can get away with a pretty basic outfit if you pick great accessories. The good news is that accessories are often easier to find than dresses or suits, and often in better condition!

Hats

A great hat can make almost any outfit instantly vintage looking.
For the gents, try a fedora for a gangster or Manhattan businessman look, a boater for an early 20th century tourist, or a bowler for a royal off to the races.
For the ladies, always frame the face and cover the forehead for a flapper look, try a pillbox for a Jackie-O ensemble, and remember the bigger the better when you dress as an Edwardian beauty. Ladies can also play with snoods, scarves, and flowers.

Outerwear
Extant vintage coats and jackets can be pieces of art all on their own! If your setting is outdoors, you might be able to cover up with a really fabulous coat and your work is done. Cuff and collar details are a good find, and of course, a decent fit is mandatory.

Legwear
Stockings are a great detail! For ultimate accuracy, go for a seamed stocking and remember that pantyhose did not exist until the 1960s! For a cool detail, draw on/powder on your stockings if you’re going for a WWII look. Women didn’t want to leave the house with “bare” legs, but nylons were unavailable due to rationing. You might need a friend’s help!

Shoes
Leather look is a good choice, but pay special attention to the shape of the shoe. Louis heels are de rigeur for a 20s lady, and a good pair of mary janes or oxfords can take you to almost any era.

Gloves
Covering your hands can really push you into the next league. Short white cotton gloves are good for most eras for ladies, though gentlemen were known to wear smart leather gloves as well.

Jewelry
Costume jewelry existed in every era, and you can find a lot of fun pieces at Goodwill and other thrift shops. Pins and brooches give a very specific vintage flair. Cufflinks are a good find for guys.

Scarves and Ties
Large Editorial ImageGuys should pay attention to tie widths, as a wide one tends to say “shady nightclub owner” and a skinny one says “brown-noser junior exec”, and there’s a lot in between. Patterns are best kept understated, see section on materials. Try a pocket square, too!
Silk scarves are never a bad idea! Tie it around your neck for a continental style, tie it in your hair, or put it on your bag. Scarves are so versatile and easy to find that they can really save an outfit!

 

Facial Hair
Not quite an accessory, but a good detail to think of! It might be fun to shave or try mustache wax for a day.

How to Dress Vintage for a Photoshoot

People dressed vintage for a birthday party, Sumalee Eaton is in red flapper dress
Photo by Benevolence Photo
Photo by Nikki Namdar

I hope you have fun searching for the perfect pieces! My favorite source is Goodwill, but the truth is that your outfit could be lurking around any corner, and you’ll be able to sniff it out much easier now that you know what shapes, materials, and accessories to look for. Even if you end up with a mix of eras, getting pieces with the right feel will make you look great!

I’m always here if you need help, so leave a comment or send me an email if you need advice!

honest-millennial-signature Sumalee Eaton

What era will YOU be emulating? What is the most challenging part of finding your vintage outfit?

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February Goal Encouragement!

Flying into February on my bike!
Goal Encouragement for the month of February
Add “dressing in more matching clothing” to the list!

How are we feeling about those 2017 resolutions, y’all? Not going to lie, I have definitely not achieved the greatness I was hoping for, but I feel satisfied with my progress! I think it’s important to remember that most people have completely given up on their resolutions by February, so we can’t be too hard on ourselves. However, I’m sure we could all do with a little goal encouragement!

When I first announced my New Years goals, I talked about the power of accountability and building habits. I loved hearing on social media that people thought I chose very appropriate resolutions for getting my life together at age 24. Seriously, validation rocks!

So as we journey into this month, I’m declaring a theme of encouragement, whatever that means to you. I know a lot of people in my life who could use the lift, and I’m sure we all do. And don’t forget about yourself…if you need encouragement, give yourself some!

Here is my list of goals, with a little check-in on each.

Yoga for 15 minutes a day

Yoga with Adriene and Goal Encouragement

Yoga with Adriene and Goal Encouragement

Success? 
Yes! I’ve been hitting the mat at least once a day, minus some days when I gave myself permission not to. Sometimes I just don’t plan ahead quite right, and miss the opportunity. But! My body feels great, and who wouldn’t want to hang out with Adriene every day??*

Things I’m Learning
Doing yoga in the morning makes me feel awesome, definitely going to step that up. I’ve also gotten to the point now where I can lead myself instead of using a video, and that feels pretty empowering. I feel stronger already (the first few days were a doozy), and I think I’d like to focus on back strength and hip flexibility.

Need to improve…
I’m satisfied with my frequency, but I would like to make this a truly daily routine. Maybe I’ll eventually even do morning and evening practice! (Whoa, there, partner.)

*Please note, these are photos of Adriene of Yoga with Adriene, not me!

Meditate for 5 minutes or more

Screenshot of Insight Meditation App 2 consecutive daysSuccess? 
Meh. I’ve been meditating for 7 minutes about twice a week on my own, and for 20 minutes at our weekly meditation meetup.

Things I’m Learning
Same as yoga–mornings are better! I’ve noticed that I really won’t typically go through with it if there are people coming and going in the house during the afternoon/evening, so seems like I need to rethink my strategy a little. It’s true that people meditate in prison, but it really is easier to remove yourself from the distractions if you can, or else you have a million noticings per minute!

Need to improve…
Gotta get on the stick as far as frequency goes, but any meditation is better than no meditation, if ya feel me.

Become a better cook

Sumalee holding a loaf of homemade bread like a baby, goal encouragement!Success? 
I think so!

Things I’m Learning
I did some new things this month, including creating my own recipes with the intent to document them and transmit them for others! One was my Spicy Crab Quiche and the other was a Valentine’s date recipe I will share soon. Knowing that I was going to format the recipe from the start really helped me become more conscious about what I was doing, from ingredient choice to measurements.

Need to improve…
While I did construct two weeks of beautiful meal plans and stuck to them, these last two weeks have been a total mess because our fridge has been on the fritz and we’ve been improvising a lot, eating things that have defrosted after being out of the freezer. But not to worry, I will start anew this month! I would like to branch out into more baking, I think, but that’s another discussion for another time.

Improve photography

DSC_0259JPG
Roasted pork loin I made for a work blog post, which I photographed on my lawn!

Success? 
More or less. I took most of the photos in this post, so that counts!

Things I’m Learning
I’ve done a few photo projects over the past few days, but virtually none before that. Remembering to charge the camera battery is key! Fortunately, I’ve pretty much mastered wrangling the settings on my Nikon-on-loan to take a decent photo in natural light, but I still have a lot of things to learn to really manipulate the light source the way I’d like to.

Need to improve…
I really need to just get the camera out more often! I’d like to also learn some better photo editing techniques.

Learn French

Goal Encouragement: Learning French, photo of a cat cafe in France
Blurry picture from our trip to France last summer.

Success? 
Bien sûr! I’m currently on a 32 day streak and have really been enjoying my daily Duolingo practice.

Things I’m Learning
I’m really not as scared to speak French now when the opportunity comes up. However, I do think I could benefit from reviewing more “polite” phrases. I also need to start a serious search for a tutor now, and I might even have a friend who wants to join us!

Need to improve…
I noticed almost all of the books in our bedroom are French, so I’d like to set aside some time for French reading a few times a week.

Get up earlier

Stardust, our roommate's cat. Goal encouragement, not so much!
So much judgment.

Success? 
Not at all. This is by far my worst performance when it comes to resolutions. (Photo above of our roommate’s cat perfectly represents how much I’m judging myself about this.)

Things I’m Learning
I have a really weird, broken relationship with committing to waking up. I’ve tried going to bed as early as 10:30, having a really beautiful night’s sleep and then drifting in and out of sleep in the morning after my alarm goes off. It’s got to be in my head, because my body got plenty of rest! It’s wonderful that I am not required to be anywhere in the mornings, but I’m also worried that years of having such a schedule has led to me being completely terrible and lazy when it comes to waking up. I’m hoping that scheduling yoga and meditation for the morning will help with this in February.

Need to improve…
Um, I need to improve my propensity to get out of the bed? Does anyone have any tips or secrets for this? Asking for a friend.

Get ready to buy a house in 2018

Goal Encouragement: Our future house, soon to rehabbed by the Sanford Heritage Revolving Fund
Our future house, soon to rehabbed by the Sanford Heritage Revolving Fund.
Goal Encouragement: Our current little rental bungalow, which we love.
Our current little rental bungalow, which we love, in all of its salmon glory.

Success? 
Yes. I think. We just got back out pre-qualification, and it seems like we might just be able to purchase the house at the maximum asking price…pending renovation discussions!

Things I’m Learning
Sada and I have A LOT of tax and income documents, and it just never seems to end!

Need to improve…
In 2017, I will definitely be keeping closer track of all my paperwork, just in case it’s needed. Continually save, but that’s always, right?

Get ready to work from home in 2018

Success? 
Woo! There’s a lot going on right now, but I’m still feeling pretty optimistic about freelance work.

Things I’m Learning
Pricing custom work is hard. Figuring out taxes is hard. But, in the end, it will all be worth it. I have several logs in the fire at the moment, and hopefully I can tell you more very soon!

Need to improve…
Again, records and paperwork. I need to meet with an accountant soon to figure out my life!

Goal Encouragement

Flying into February on my bike!

Overall, on a personal score, January was great, and I’m still full of energy to keep these resolutions and continue improving my life through tiny habits each day. Watch out, February!

honest-millennial-signature Sumalee Eaton

How has your 2017 been? What encouragement do you need to kick some New Year’s resolution ass? 

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Spicy Crab Quiche

Crab Quiche by Sumalee Eaton

Crab Quiche Slice by Sumalee EatonIs there a more perfect brunch food than quiche? Don’t answer that– I know it’s quiche. These adorable egg-pies are so versatile and so tasty, as well as reasonably easy to prepare, so whenever I want a food that perfectly straddles the breakfast and lunch boundaries, I know what I’m making. Recently, it’s been all about Crab Quiche.

And could there possibly be a better way to elevate a humble quiche than to add crab to it? I got super lucky this winter when my mom brought me several 8oz tubs of picked lump crab meat from her trip to Maine, and I knew almost immediately that at least one of those tubs was destined for quiche greatness.

I went rogue and totally improvised this recipe, and like most quiches, you can play with the proportions to make it the way you like it. I was going for sort of a quiche-crab cake hybrid, opting for a higher proportion of crab meat to egg filling, but of course, you can do what you like! Essentially, we blind bake our crust, mix up some tasty crab and accoutrements, and then merely fill in the gaps with a lightly beaten mixture of eggs and milk. Season the way you like, top the whole thing with crushed Ritz and more cheese, and you are on your way to brunch.

I think this would be simply delicious with some dry white wine and a little fruit or salted tomato on the side, but that’s just my basic bitch talking. Do you!

Print Recipe
Spicy Crab Quiche
Everything in this delectable seafood quiche is negotiable, except for the crab! Using your pre-baked pie crust, you can vary the proportions of the filling considerably without ruining the final product, just be smart. The crust recipe makes two 9" crusts, so save crust #2 for a second quiche later in the week, or make a giant crab deep dish quiche.
Crab Quiche by Sumalee Eaton
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Breakfast, Brunch
Servings
small slices
Ingredients
Crust
Quiche Filling
Topping
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Breakfast, Brunch
Servings
small slices
Ingredients
Crust
Quiche Filling
Topping
Crab Quiche by Sumalee Eaton
Instructions
Crust
  1. Measure out 6 tbs of water into a ramekin or cup, and add a few ice cubes. Combine salt, sugar, and flour in a food processor (or be prepared to get creative with a blender).
  2. Add butter and lard and pulse to create a coarse meal texture.
  3. Drizzle in ice water, pulsing as you go. You want the dough to lightly hold together when pressed together.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, and knead gently, incorporating anything loose. Cut into two equal parts and form them into disks, then wrap them in parchment or put into airtight Pyrex. (You'll only be using one for this recipe, so keep the other one safe from drying out.) Chill for 30 minutes-an hour.
  5. Preheat the oven to 375. Unwrap one of your chilled disks, and roll it out on a lightly floured surface until it is just big enough to fill your pie plate with a bit or overhang. Use your rolling pin to swoop it up and place it over the pie plate, allowing it to "slump" down into it. Trim and crimp however you like.
  6. Prick the bottom of the crust with a fork all over, then bake until it achieves desired color. (I like it pretty toasty and golden.) Remove from oven and allow to cool before filling.
Filling
  1. Preheat oven to 325.
  2. Warm a few tablespoons of your favorite oil in a saucepan. Saute your diced onion until slightly fragrant. Add the jalapeno and cook until soft.
  3. In a bowl, add crab, cheese, cilantro, green onions, spices, salt and pepper. Add sauteed onion and jalapeno mixture on top, and lightly combine everything. Place this mixture in your baked pie shell.
  4. Lightly beat the eggs and milk together (using the same bowl if you want to save on washing up). Pour over quiche filling in crust, lightly shaking to even out.
  5. If desired, scatter small chunks of cream cheese throughout the quiche, burrowing slightly beneath egg mixture.
  6. Crush handfuls of Ritz crackers over top of quiche, then sprinkle with cheese. Quantity and consistency up to you, my friend.
  7. Bake in center of the oven, on a baking sheet if available, for about 25 minutes or until the topping is golden brown, and the center is set. Allow to cool before slicing for maximum ease.
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What’s your favorite brunch go-to? Is my quiche obsession healthy? Challenge me in the comments!

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My Key to Keeping New Years Resolutions 2017

My New Year's Resolution to buy a house: the front door of my possible future home!

Not going to lie, I was dead set on starting my New Years resolutions on the first of the year. In fact, I spent most of the second half of the 2016 making a million lists of goals I wanted to achieve in 2017, touching on everything from fitness to blogging to sewing. But New Years Day came, and I hadn’t begun instituting a SINGLE goal. It was almost like the year ended and started over before I was ready, which seems a bit silly, since I spent a lot of time and energy getting excited to get my life together on January 1st!

So where did I go wrong? Accountability. Experts say announcing your intentions to others is the key to keeping resolutions (like picking a gym mate or a diet partner), and that’s the one ingredient I left out of my make-2017-the-most-awesome-year-yet recipe. So, I’ve resolved to start “my new year” the second week of January, as well as to share some of my goals for this year!Keeping my New Years Resolutions

(I totally recommend this waiting-a-week strategy, because frankly it’s really unrealistic to become a fitness maven, do a detox, and live in the present moment like your life depends on it the moment the clock strikes 12, especially if you have already had a few cocktails and, like me, have to wait for your guy to close the bar.)

How I plan to keep my New Years Resolutions

Like most people, I am addicted to my little pet habits and routines, such as taking an Instagram picture of every home cooked meal and, as of last year, flossing every night before bed. (So adult!) I figured if I am going to create these habits and routines anyway, then I may as well create ones that propel me closer to my goals and resolutions.

In addition to sharing some of my goals for the new year, I’m also noting how I am breaking those goals down into chunks, and what new habits and routines I will establish to help me achieve all of these very responsible goals with ease!

Anyway, from small to big, here are some of my big goals for 2017 (though I have about a million more!):

Do 15 minutes or more of yoga everyday

Yoga as a New Year's Resolution:

Yoga has actually helped me untangle and reset a lot of mindless ideas and habits I had about fitness because of my dance background. I love how you can subtlety strengthen and tone basically all parts of your body with a calming, low impact practice, so instituting a daily practice is top of my list this year.

I did a pretty good job integrating yoga into my every day routine for about two months at the end of last summer. Here are some of the things I learned: 1) The best time of day for me is as soon as I get home from work, 2) if I “do less than 15 minutes”, then I usually don’t do anything at all, 3) I like doing it every day if every day is different.

The Plan: Jumpstart the year with 30 Days of Yoga with Adrienne (check, started Sunday!). On Mondays, make a weekly schedule of each day’s routine and stick to iiiiiiittt. Stage my yoga area for success with a mat, water, and a device to play the video (essential oil diffuser optional!).

If you’re thinking of joining me, I highly recommend Yoga with Adrienne for at-home yoga. She is simply a wonderful instructor and sweet soul, and her videos are well produced, and free of any pretentious bullshit. She does great videos for beginners, though if you are already into yoga, she has some pretty challenging practices in her line up!

Meditate every day for 5 minutes or more

Meditation as a New Year's Resolution: Delany's Mindfulness MeditationMindfulness meditation made a huge impact on my life in 2016, and I’m excited to continue cultivating kindness and compassion in my every day life…but I really gotta get on the stick with my daily meditation! Fortunately, I already know a few things that will help me be consistent: 1) I can’t meditate too late in the day or I will totally fall asleep, 2) I get a real kick out of seeing my session log on my Insight Timer app (highly recommend), and 3) I am statistically more likely to meditate right after yoga practice.

The Plan: Piggyback my meditation on my daily yoga habit!

If you’re thinking of joining me, awesome! I think mindful meditation is something every single person can benefit from. First, I recommend reading my Mindfulness Meditation Accompanied by Mad Men Gifs post in order to get acquainted. Then, download the Insight Timer app so you can track your sessions and also start and end each meditation with a pleasant, resounding bell, instead of a phone alarm. Word of warning: meditation is a word fraught with different meanings to different people, and while none of these definitions are harmful to practice, I believe the most beneficial and down-to-earth school of thought is vipassana or mindfulness based practice, and that is what I’m recommending.

Become a better cook

new years resolution to become a better cook: BA Basics Meal Plan fruit chutney in the pan, made to accompany the Pimento Grilled Cheese SandwichIt’s amazing how much confidence I’ve gained in the kitchen in the last year, feel like I’m on a roll! To keep this groove up, I know I need to reach out and try more recipes, so I’m going to start meal planning by recipe, rather than riffing on the same few staple recipes I always make. I feel that planning ahead and giving myself plenty of opportunities to cook each week will increase my proficiency, but also accomplish a few other goals, like wasting less food and eating out less (which we were REALLY bad about in December with all of our travel and irregular scheduling).

The Plan: Make a meal plan every Sunday, containing one recipe from a foodie blog and one recipe from a physical cookbook each week, because we have some amazing cookbooks just lying around. Check up on the day’s plan each morning to ensure familarity with the recipe and that all ingredients are procured in advance of cooking time.

^So far this goal is really panning out! I made a very delicious meal plan for the week, which I will be cooking myself. Sunday night, we had Baked Rigatoni, based on this awesome Bon Appetit recipe, and Monday, we had Braised Short Ribs and Grits, which were completely delightful. I’ve already packed the pasta bake into freezer portions and made just enough of the short ribs so that each of us had a perfect portion.

Improve my photography

Photography New Year's Resolution: Photos of Linda Hollerbach's Jewelry

I feel kind of douchey typing that goal, but the truth is that I really want to learn how to take better pictures! I take pictures of everything from the board of directors for non-profit groups, to Linda’s jewelry, to, of course, every meal I am about to consume. I’ve gotten to the point where shooting on auto is just plain dissatisfying, and after a short tutorial on shooting jewelry for work from my friend Jessica, and the loan of a Nikon from my friend Mike, I have all the tools I need to learn how to take better photos using natural light. (My blog photos will benefit immensely!)

The Plan: Spend a few minutes every Sunday taking a few photos in natural light. Set up a few key places in my house with the right lighting to take photos of things I always take photos of, such as our dinner and full length shots of costumes and sewing projects. Remember to bring the camera to daytime events!

Learn conversational French

Using Duolingo to help reachmy new years resolution of learning FrenchThis. Is. The. Year. I live with a native French speaker and took formal classes from middle school to college…it’s time to get my act together! I really think I’ve gotten over a huge hump as far as confidence goes, but I still need tons of help with tenses and learning new vocabulary. Fortunately I’ve already learned some things that work for me, such as writing/recording new phrases that I learn conversationally from Jeremy, and doing Duolingo once a day. The bad news is that I haven’t been able to find a formal course for my level in my area, so I think the answer might be to hire a tutor, someone who can both help me practice speaking (like Jeremy), but also explain to me grammar and assign homework so that I can form better sentences on my own.

It’s hard to quantify language fluency, but I think this is more of an emotional goal: feeling confident enough to speak French in French company without having to revert to English to be understood.

The Plan: Do 20 XP in Duolingo every day. Hire a tutor that can meet at least once a week by 3/1. Ease into speaking French at home, and record all new phrases after each significant conversation.

Get up earlier

New years resolutions: Get up earlierThis is honestly one of the major sore spots in my life and always has been. I am such a nightowl, and am plenty embarrassed to announce that I rarely get up more than 30 minutes before I have to be somewhere. However, no one can deny the benefit of adding a few more hours to the day, and I’m making this my priority in 2017. That means changing a whoooole bunch of habits, including getting to bed earlier, switching up my morning routine to something I look forward to, and perhaps even (gasp!) scheduling things earlier in the morning to ensure that I get out of bed to be somewhere. To help, I’ll be in bed by midnight (which is a habit I’m already in…except when Jeremy wants to lay on the couch and watch Netflix until 3am and I just can’t say no), I’ll go screen-free once I retire for the night, and I will start showering in the mornings. (Just to give you a little perspective on how hard this is for me: ever since I was a little girl, I always chose to take “full” showers at night so that my hair could dry while I was sleeping and I would never have to worry about rushing out the door with my hair still wet.  What did I tell you? Habits and routines are key!!)

The Plan: I’m not going to over do it on this one, and am setting a goal to rise at 8am every day, including weekends. (I know a lot of you early birds are probably laughing at me right now 🙂 ) I’m going to work up to this by getting up at 9am for the rest of the month, and will shoot for 8:30am on February 1st.New Years resolutions: Less netflix and chill, more getting up early!

…..halp.

And now for some super exciting, extra adult goals!

Be ready to buy a house in 2018

My New Year's Resolution to buy a house: the front door of my possible future home!

Whaaaa? That’s right, I have my sights set on home ownership next year. My brother and I have decided to go in on a house together, and we’re hoping it’s a specific historic one across the street from us. I’m not at liberty to say too much right now, but basically, we have an opportunity to buy a home originally built in the 1880s, which is being restored by a local non-profit to fit our budget and needs. Home prices in Sanford are rising (which is great for our town!), but Sada and I want to secure a “family home” before this neighborhood blows up. (Because while that would be great, it would blow if we were priced out of our own hometown after all of the hard work and heart we’ve put into it to make it popular, haha….but seriously.)

We are both first time homebuyers, and we would try to purchase the house for under $200k, so we need about $7000 for our down payment, plus closing and other expenses. We’ve got a good head start on that, so I’m setting a goal to have that in hand by the end of 2017, though we probably won’t buy until some time in the middle of 2018. More about our potential house as the details firm up!

The Plan: Put 20% of any income right into savings, and of course, constructing a proper budget and sticking to it throughout the year. I’m a little behind on the budget part of the goal, but I have done the ground work to put one together and have managed to spend very little money this year 😉 Anyone have any favorite budgeting tools they would recommend for a young couple?

And of course, I need to keep good track of all of my relevant employment and financial info throughout the year, which brings me to…

Be ready to work from home full time by 2018

Cinderella Transformation Dress by Sumalee Eaton

WHOA, it’s an adulting two-fer! I have always wanted to work from home, and after an incredible year of making freelance costumes for multiple clients, I’ve gained the confidence I need to make this happen. I have a few coals in the fire as far as costuming, and I am hoping to add in a few more freelance opportunities this year that can grow into full-time income next year. Ah!!

I’ve been telling people that when young adulthood puts you through the wringer between ages 18-25 (which is different for everyone), thinking about your “dream job” or “ideal work life” can seem like the most childish, unrealistic dream of all time. It certainly did for me, but 2016 really made a different in my mentality, and that’s key to making a real life change. I work for a wonderful company right now that is very supportive of my creative goals, and other than the fear of the leap, there’s really no reason that if I plan carefully and make wise choices that I shouldn’t be able to do this. More time at home = more time sewing, more time writing, and I really hope more time blogging!

The Plan: Keep saving and spending wisely. Exceed the expectations of current clients with carefully crafted quotes, quality work, and spotless timelines. Continue learning: spend time drawing and sketching every Tuesday night (when Jeremy is at the bar), take a Burda pattern drafting course by 3/1, and try out some projects with skills outside my wheelhouse. I also would like to get my studio set up for success, get cards made so that people can actually contact me for things, attend at least one convention this year (shooting for Megacon), and of course, form a cohesive business plan for the future.

WHEW. So that’s what I’ve got on my plate for 2017 (plus the aforementioned million other goals, from going up the stairs at least 5 times every work day, to using less water, to keeping my herbs alive this year…you get the picture: habits!). Really looking forward to the seeing the year develop, and I feel very confident about my goals so far.

honest-millennial-signature Sumalee Eaton

How about you kids? What are your 2017 New Years resolutions and what is your plan to keep them? Tell me all about your life in the comments!

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Sumalee and Cinderella in California!

Cinderella in California

Cinderella in CaliforniaAh! I returned from my whirlwind trip to see Cinderella in California last week, and I still can’t get over how amazing it was. I mean, honestly, I am not exaggerating when I say it was a life changing experience. Everyone I know has graciously been asking me how the trip went, so I thought I’d do a little summary!

If you would like to read about why I was going to California in the first place and see my transformation dress in action, read this first!

I had a couple of fears going to California:

1) My hosts are actually axe murderers/serial killers/sexual deviants plotting to lock me in a dungeon.
Even my mom said this seemed unlikely, but think about it…we never talked on the phone, all business was communicated via email, and the big tip off that these people could be crazy…I got zero pushback or questions about getting paid. What kind of weird was I about to walk into?

2) This show could actually be terrible…
But for real, we’ve all seen some high school productions that are just…really high school. Was I going to have to sit through 3 complete disasters of a show and come up with fake compliments all weekend? Shit.

3) My costumes would fail.
This was really my #1 fear, but lest anyone think my priorities are backwards, I’ll put this third. I was honestly terrified that my very presence would cause malfunctions and everyone would start to resent me and my poor quality work. I know, I know, I had video evidence that the costume works great, but it really only takes once…

So how did it turn out?

Cinderella in California

My fears were completely and utterly unfounded. Not only was there no cause to worry about a single one of them, but I could actually rejoice in the exact opposite of each coming true.

1) My hosts were awesome.
Cinderella in California

Cinderella in CaliforniaBut seriously? These people housed me in their fabulously theatrical home, fed me pizza and burritos, and refilled my wine constantly. FRIENDS FOR LIFE. On a serious note, David and Lisa were extremely generous and kind to me, almost like I was their long lost child. They instantly integrated me into their community, introducing me to everyone they knew and making sure I felt welcome and involved. Among the more unexpected and memorable moments: being asked to wear Cinderella’s gold dress and sit on the back of the carriage during the Christmas parade (all the little kids shouted, “Look, they brought Belle!”…….I’ll totally take it.), playing beer pong on the kitchen table after the last show, and being introduced before every show as a special guest.Cinderella in California Cinderella in California Cinderella in California Cinderella in California Cinderella in California, the Gardiner Springs Auditorium at Chaffery High

2) The show was awesome.
Cinderella in California, Sumalee at the box office  This was the most un-high school show I have ever seen. First, the facility is just fabulous, lending a wonderful gravity to production and the ability to do things that many schools can’t, such as flying the Fairy Godmother across the stage and seating over 1000 people per show (and that doesn’t include the balcony). And second, the kids were just amazing. It was absolutely worth every mile I had to travel to meet these sweet, humble kids, whose devotion to their program simply shines through their eyes. Dave’s dedication to his students was touching to witness over the four days I was there, and the resulting production was simply breathtaking, even after seeing the show three times in a row. The fact that both alumni and teachers ran rampant in the cast and crew basically tells you everything you need to know. Everyone really is family here.

Also, I just have to say, the other costumes were fabulous. Aaron Anderson, another teacher of drama, really has an eye for details and did a fantastic job of assembling just the right look for the show, including a transforming Godmother dress and 11 custom coats for the men’s ensemble (which MADE the ball scene, in my opinion). All of the production values were great, but as a costumer, I simply loved what he did with the costumes. He also choreographed the whole show, using many steps and formations from the original Broadway staging, which, if you’ve ever seen that dancing, is very impressive!Cinderella in Californiaimg_20161210_214848463.jpgCinderella in California  Cinderella in CaliforniaCinderella in California, Upland Christmas ParadeCinderella in CaliforniaCinderella in CaliforniaCinderella in CaliforniaCinderella in CaliforniaCinderella in CaliforniaCinderella in CaliforniaCinderella in California

3) My dress was (I’ll say it) awesome.

Sumalee's Cinderella Transformation dress backstage, Cinderella in CaliforniaPerfect? No, of course not. I will always find something to improve on this costume. But it functioned beautifully every show, and hearing the audience reaction while sitting in the audience almost brought me to tears every time.

I did actually get to sew a little bit while I was there, and actually completely changed out the original hoop from the gold gown to a new one from the costume room. That was the one time I did regret that I couldn’t be local for all of tech, because I wished I could have saved them the headache and changed that far sooner. Oh well, ya live and learn!

Sumalee Eaton backstage at Cinderella in California

I walked away from the trip feeling so refreshed and revived, and so much more confident in my abilities. I’m beyond excited to work with the Chaffey crew again on Beauty and the Beast this spring (because hell yes, I got invited back)! Aside from that, I don’t know precisely what the future holds as far as costuming goes, but I know that my California Cinderella family will always be a huge part of why I became ready to take a leap into the career I’ve always dreamed of.

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New Cinderella Transformation Dress Video

Cinderella Transformation Dress by Sumalee Eaton, Photo by Benevolence Photo

I’ve held off for a few months on announcing something very awesome, but now that it’s all come to pass I can speak up! You might remember that a few months ago I created a Cinderella Transformation Dress for Seminole High School, which is where I went to school. It was an awesome learning and emotional experience watching the reaction to this dress, and I have been reeling ever since, with an intense desire to make another transformation costume.

Well, now I have! Scroll for video if you are, like me, impatient 🙂

My Second Cinderella Transformation Dress

Cinderella Transformation Dress Pictures
My first costume, made for SHS.

I learned it’s really REALLY hard to spend a year researching a costume, spending hours watching stage footage in slow motion to learn what makes it tick, reverse engineering it to create your own version, and then move on to the next project. It was part pattern making (I drafted the entire peasant costume and ball bodice myself), part frankensteining existing costumes together, part hand wringing, and all mad scientist-worthy experimentation. I had a fever for this costume, and once the play was over, I was honestly so sad. I had so many more ideas for improvement…there were so many things I didn’t get the opportunity to try! Even two months later, I was still lying awake at least once a week, thinking about velcro and rip cords, replaying the ideal transformation over and over in my mind .

Well, in an almost “ask and you shall receive” moment, I got a two line email from a school in California that sent me bouncing off the walls.

“I’m sure you’ve been asked numerous times– Can I commission you to build a dress for our Cinderella?”

My reaction: 1) I DO NOT get asked that all the time, so thank you for asking! and 2) um, yes, building you a dress is basically all I want to do ever.

So, over the next three months, I did! It was an awesome opportunity to try out new solutions that had been swirling around in my brain and test some theories. And of course, discover new things I wanted to improve! (Although, in the interest of full disclosure, I do want to note that I did not design or construct the blue ballgown portion of this costume, as the client ordered two identical gowns so that one could be sacrificed to make the trick dress, and the other could be worn in the ball scene. I did, however, draft and construct the peasant ensemble, which is the key to the transformation, and the Act II transformation dress, so more info on that later!) All in all, it turned out great, and I’m very proud, BUT the coolest part came happened next!

Before I even sent the dress, I got another email from California.

“Hey question for you– we here are interested in seeing if you would like to fly here for our show(s)?”

What.

“Our cast is all about it and excited to meet the seamstress. You would see the weekend shows.”

uh….

“Have you been to Southern CA?”

NO, I’M JUST A HILLBILLY FROM FLORIDA AND I’M TRYING NOT TO FREAK OUT RIGHT NOW

“Interested? “

A trip to California to stay and hang out with locals and see the dress I built on stage for the first time? Yes! Yes! Yes, I’m interested!

So, my big news is that after spending over a year researching this Cinderella Transformation Dress, building it, being asked to build a second one and sending it off, that I will be flying out to California to see my creation in action!

 

Cinderella Transformation Dress by Sumalee Eaton, Photo by Benevolence PhotoThis is a BIG deal for me, confidence wise. I have wanted to make costumes for a living since I was a little girl, and each day of 2016 has brought me closer and closer to defining what that means in my adult life. I’ve learned an immeasurable amount about better sewing techniques, working with clients, setting budgets, taxes (heh), and marketing, and I’m so, so thankful to everyone who is helping me realize my dream.

(Special shout out to Tiffany Ortiz, who started me on this Cinderella journey. Thank you for your appreciation of my skills and for giving me the opportunity to use them after they were lying dormant for so long!)

Here is the new video of the latest dress, which is the one I will get to see in Cali. The wonderful Jessica of Benevolence Photo shot the video and the lovely pictures, and as always, she did a beautiful job.

I’ve watched it a million times now, and can only see things I want to tweak and improve, but it really makes my heart leap when I show it to someone new. Everyone I know has been so supportive in these ventures, and I appreciate you all!
Cinderella Transformation Dress by Sumalee Eaton The peasant skit of the Cinderella Transformation Dress by Sumalee Eaton Green Peasant Overskirt Cinderella Transformation Dress by Sumalee Eaton Cinderella Transformation Dress by Sumalee Eaton

My next steps will be to write some costume analysis for others who want to make transformation dresses, and of course, I can’t wait to share my photos from California! (Keep an eye on Instagram 😉 )honest-millennial-signature Sumalee Eaton
So, what do you think, y’all? I would love to read your comments, so if you’re thinking of one, you’d make my day if you really left it!

 

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Meal Plan Experiment Wrap Up and Review: The Nitty Gritty

BA Basics Meal Plan Pimento Cheese Shrimp and Grits

Welcome back to my Meal Plan Experiment, BA Basics by Bon Appetit magazine.

Time for the grand finale, a Friday night meal full of grease and goodness, Pimento Cheese Shrimp and Grits. Leading up to this moment, I’ve successfully cooked four meals on the meal plan, with the only tears arising from enthusiastic onion chopping (and there is A LOT of red onion in this meal plan). To see all of the meals in the Meal Plan Experiment, check out this post. Scroll down to see my review of the whole meal plan!

BA Basics Meal Plan Night #5: Pimento Cheese Shrimp and Grits

BA Basics Meal Plan Pimento Cheese Shrimp and Grits

Favorite Recipe Quote

They’ll keep cooking and become tender, creamy, delicious, the only way to tell is to taste. If they’re gritty, sandy, grainy in any way, then they’re not done yet. So yes, they’re called grits, but they shouldn’t taste…gritty.

Time to doctor up that shrimp. In a bowl, mix the shrimp with parsley, 2 tsp. lime juice, bacon, and remaining 2 tsp. sambal oelek—oh right, don’t forget salt + pepper. Almost there! Put grits into bowls. Put shrimp on grits. Put spoon into grits…and I think you can figure out the rest.

Due to My Deviant Tendencies

First up, I used magical grits that Jeremy bought months ago that we keep in the freezer. But really, they’re Bradley’s Country Store Coarse Stone-Ground Grits, and instead of boiling for a few and chilling out, you let the liquid boil, stir in the grits, and then let it simmer for an hour. The result is delicious, but it does take a minute (and by a minute, I mean a literal hour).

I added cilantro again, because I figured it would complement the lime and sambal oelek mixed into the shrimp. I also deviated by using already cooked shrimp from Monday, which I peeled and reheated in the bacon grease. In hindsight, I really shouldn’t have put the two shrimp meals at each respective end of this week, should I?

I didn’t measure the pimento cheese at all, just dumped in the remainder, which turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Make it Again?

Yes, this was actually my favorite meal of the bunch. Shrimp and grits is always delicious, but adding that pimento cheese and sambal oelek turned the grits into a confection more like queso-grits, which was pretty awesome. The spicy Asian-influenced shrimp topping was just a bonus at that point, and the whole thing heats up again delightfully.

BA Basics Meal Plan Review

BA Basics Meal Plan fruit chutney in the pan, made to accompany the Pimento Grilled Cheese SandwichWhew– done! I didn’t think I would make it, but I’m really pleased I went outside my box and completed this meal plan top to bottom. Imma start with the caveats and follow up with the positives, because I like to end on a nice note!

Disclaimer: I absolutely did not follow this plan to the letter, though I did use all five of the recipes in one week. I have outlined my individual modifications to each recipe in each individual post. My opinion has no bearing on the quality of the meal plan, it’s just how I feel about my experience.

My not-so-favorite things about this meal plan

This meal plan has no illusions about what it is: basic. I gathered after the first few recipes that it was aimed at very young cooks who are learning to branch out into new skills and ingredients, and it is a wonderful meal plan if that’s who you are. These weren’t necessarily meals or ingredients I would normally use, such as pre-made pimento cheese, but it was fun to give them a whirl and I’m thankful for the opportunity as it’s given me ideas for future adaptations.

I was expecting something a little more classic Bon Appetit (rich, complicated, and delicious), but given that the goal of the meal plan was to provide five recipes using 15 ingredients, with each prep time clocking in under an hour, I would say this is a pretty tight framework. I made the pasta, soup, and sandwich all in a row (directly disobeying the meal plan’s orders), and I felt that they all had a veeeery similar taste profile, again, due to the repetition of ingredients in each recipe. However, since there were only 15 ingredients to work with, this is to be expected, and I ain’t mad at only having to shop for 15 ingredients.

Things I liked about this meal plan

Shrimp Pasta from the BA Basics Meal PlanThose things being said, I really, really enjoyed the shit out of this experience. I thought the recipes were pretty creative, a great example of “working with what you’ve got”. The recipes are actually all pretty tasty, and as I’ve noted before, I now know exactly how I would like to modify them in the future. Also, if I haven’t mentioned this before, the voice and humor of the recipes is right up my alley, and I had a lot of fun reading and watching all of the supporting material before cooking every night. Huge, huge plus, in my opinion!

The most enlightening part of the experience was not having to stop at the store a single time during the week, and having a plan for dinner every single night. This, I can definitely get on board with! I felt very organized and adult, which is always top priority. I really looked forward to making dinner every night and writing the blog post the next day.

To sum up, I’m grateful that I followed through with this meal plan, which is a high quality, well written plan that made me feel awesome about cooking dinner every night. In the future, I know to examine the whole plan from a big picture standpoint before buying ingredients, so that I make preparations to modify things. I recommend the plan wholeheartedly to anyone who wants to dip their toes in the shallow end of being a responsible adult.

Do you have a meal plan you swear by? Are you one of those super adults who can actually craft their own meal plan? BA Basics Meal Plan Pimento Cheese Shrimp and Grits

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Meal Plan Experiment Night #4: Thai One On

BA Basics Meal Plan Crispy Chicken Thai Salad

Welcome back to my Meal Plan Experiment, a highly scientific dive into the world of thoughtful, responsibly plotted meals. For my first foray into this very adult venture, I’m using a meal plan by one of my favorite sources for recipes and general food porn, BA Basics by Bon Appetit magazine.

We are in the home stretch now, having cooked four meals and (pretty much) stuck to the plan the whole time. Wednesday night, I made tasty little Pimento Cheese Sandwiches, and last night, a meal inspired by my family’s home country, Crispy Chicken Thai Salad.

BA Basics Meal Plan Night #4: Crispy Chicken Thai SaladBA Basics Meal Plan Crispy Chicken Thai Salad

Sumalee in Thailand drinking coconut juice
Me in Thailand at age 14…the juice was warm, that’s all I’ll say.

What can I say? I was pretty suspicious from the start. The word “Thai” is always a red flag to me, because I feel that it’s devolved into a cheap buzzword that people use interchangeably with “Asian”. I once saw a recipe in a magazine for “Thai Salmon and Corn Chowder”…heh?

The apples had me worried, the cherries I didn’t get at all, and the parsley really had me feeling like this was the last dish designed on the meal plan, created purely as a kitchen sink catch-all for the remainder of the ingredients that didn’t make it into the other meals. I just wasn’t sure this was going to come together.

I can say it: Wrong. Wrong, wrong. I was so wrong. The fish sauce-lime juice dressing 100% makes this recipe Thai-tasting, even if the ingredients are a little untraditional. The matchstick apples were delicious, providing the perfect touch of crisp and tart, and the cherries (while unfamiliar) were really fun. And the nicest thing is this, like all of the other meals, went together super quickly and easily. Props to Earlier This Week Sumalee, who prepped all the rotisserie chicken breast for this meal!

Favorite Recipe Quote

I put the plucked stuff into the plastic lid of the container it came in so that I didn’t have to wash more bowls later—is that what they call a pro tip? Let’s go with that.

Mix it all together and serve over rice. The oddball combination of the dried cherries with the Thai flavors will have you like, takeout who?

^truth.

BA Basics Meal Plan Crispy Chicken Thai SaladDue to My Deviant Tendencies

Disclaimer: I made this meal without reference because my phone was charging in the other room, so it was kind of like a memory test.

As a result, I left out the peanuts, which I kind of regret, because I think they probably would have grounded the meal a lot. I did not measure the fish sauce (totally living on the edge here), and in addition to the parsley, I added some cilantro leaves leftover from my roommate making guacamole (thanks, Kevin!), because if you have cilantro in the house and you’re making something that’s supposed to be Thai, there’s just really no excuse.

Also, didn’t have jasmine rice, so I used basmati, which I do not regret because it is delicious.

Make it Again?

Yes, definitely, or at least some variation. This is one of those meals that you can make for packed lunches or to bring to an outdoor potluck and have everyone compliment you on it the whole time. It reminded me a lot of Yum Nua, which my mom used to bring to functions all the time (even though she’s my white half). I don’t know if Jeremy has tried this yet because he was out with friends, and while this was delicious, it’s definitely not 1am-I’m-drunk-and-want-food food. I can see this working with all kinds of variations in the usual Thai yum tradition, but I was really glad to have my eyes opened to using the apple for a substantial vegetarian ingredient.

I see the light at the end of the tunnel! Only one meal to go before we determine if this Meal Plan Experiment was a success and whether I’ll go back to my irresponsible ways. Only time will tell.

Am I too touchy about the term “Thai”? What makes something “taste Thai” according to your taste buds?

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