Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Washington Green Grocer

Living in DC gives me access to a number of places to shop. I forget how spoiled I am until I talk to a relative or a friend who doesn't live in a big city and hear about how they are making a special trip to the "city" to buy something they really wanted.

The problem with having access to so many shops is that I can spend a full day running from shop to shop looking at new items and figuring out what is a better deal. By the end of that day, I'm too tired to do any real cooking ( or real exercising).  It occurred to me that it is such a waste for me to spend time shopping and the come home too exhausted to cook the things I spent so much time shopping for.

So, since Marshall and I got some big health news, I really started to analyze my life and have been trying to strategize to make cooking at home and exercise a priority. In order to avoid highly processed foods, we are going to spend more of our time cooking at home. That also means a lot more time cleaning (praise The Lord for the invention of dishwashers.) 

And here is when the magic fairies from Washington Green Grocer comes in. This business model is amazing. They have a great website where you can place your order online and they deliver groceries to your door. They make eating healthy so easy.  Since I am pretty thrifty, I spent some time comparing their produce prices to local grocery store prices and found that they are more than reasonable when you factor in the cost of gas and time spent shopping.

Here are five reasons why I love Washington Green Grocers:

1) You can order a box whenever you want to. There is no obligation to "subscribe." This is pretty rare for produce delivery services.

2) They know "hip food" - Washington Green Grocers always seems to know about good food in DC. They carry Border Springs Farm lamb which is used by some of the best restaurants in DC and  is some of the best lamb I have ever eaten.  They also carry Trickling Springs dairy, which is dairy from nearby Pennsylvania. (If you ever get a chance to buy ice cream from Trickling Springs, do yourself a favor and buy as much as you can. They make the most amazing ice cream.) You can even order Kombucha through them!

3) You can choose from a variety of boxes including a "Local Only" one - Since Marshall and I are watching our sugar intake, we are limited to specific kinds of fruits we can eat. So we subscribe to a weekly "all vegetable" box.  We have some friends who feel strongly about eating local produce so they can choose the "local only" box that only included produced that is sourced locally. There are ten different boxes you can choose from.

4) "Always" and "Never items" - You can choose fruits and vegetables that will "always" be included in your box (like cauliflower because we cook with it all of the time) or vegetables and fruits that are "never" included in your box (like cucumbers for me since I am allergic).

5) Recipe Kits - Talk about making life simple! Green Grocers also sells these Recipe Kits which include everything you need to make a dish.  For instance, Mexican Shredded Beef Tacos, or Carrot Ginger Salad, and even juice kits so that you can have everything you need to make a healthy drink.

Washington Green Grocer is just a great service and I feel lucky to have them.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Souper Party

A lot has happened since my last post. Marshall and I got married, we had an amazing and fun wedding, we went on a mini-moon, we survived the holidays, and life just kept presenting us one surprise after another. (Don't get too excited, I'm not preggers and don't plan to be for a little while longer.) (That note was for you, Dad. Mr. Iamtooexcitedtobeagrandpaagain)

For awhile, I was considering changing my blog to another name. I even started a new Blogger account and started working on the new layout. Then it came time to change my Twitter handle and I couldn't do it. It didn't feel right. For the last few years, I've become attached to Thrifty DC Cook and I've met people who refer to me by that name and not my real name.

So, I've decided to stick with Thrifty DC Cook and keep posting my food adventures here but will also include other things that may not be food related that are equally as interesting.

Yesterday, my friend Joy threw our third annual soup party. Every year for the last few years, one of our friends would host a soup party where each guest would bring a pot (or crockpot) of soup. It is the perfect party for cold days. We had vegetarian chili, beer and cheddar soup, chicken tortilla soup, lasagna soup, lentil soups, and so much more. The best part is, Joy ordered to-go containers so that all of us took home a variety of soups for lunches next week.

This year, she also included a cookie exchange. I've been trying to be good about my sugar intake so I only sampled one cookie. It was a Sage cookie by my friend Brian and it was fantastic.

My contribution was a Roasted Butternut Squash and Peanut Butter Soup with Sunflower Seeds. The peanut butter might sound strange but it gives the soup a depth of flavor but doesn't overpower the butternut squash. Here is the recipe:

For the soup
2 tablespoons of canola oil
2 pounds butternut squash, peeled and diced into 1 inch chuncks
3 bulbs of shallots with skin taken off
4 cups chicken stock
1 ¼ cup of half'n'half
1 tablespoon of creamy peanut butter
Salt and pepper

Garnish with sunflower seeds.

Preheat ovento 375F

Place butternut squash and shallots on a baking sheet and drizzle the canola oil on the squash and run your hands through it to be sure that the canola oil is evenly distributed. Roast for 45 minutes. Take out of the oven and allow to cool.

Place two cups of the roasted sqaush,  the three bulbs of roasted shallots, and two cups chicken broth into a blender and blend until smooth.  Then place in large pot and place the rest of the squash and broth into the pot and use an immersion blender to blend until smooth. (It may seem like a waste of time to blend in two steps but I really wanted a smooth-textured soup and was not sure if the shallots would be thoroughly blended by the immersion blender. So I did it in two steps just to be sure.)

Bring the pot to a slow simmer and simmer for 20 minutes.  Then swirl in a tablespoon of peanut butter. Add the half 'n' half.  Salt and Pepper to taste. If you like a spicy kick, add a bit of ground cayanne pepper.

Ladle into a bowl and top with roasted sunflower seeds.  Enjoy.

I followed this Jean Georges recipe but roasted the butternut squash before I cooked it in the chicken broth. Next time, I think I might fry up some sage leaves to add as a garnish.