Tuesday I had one of those days where I feel like I’m living someone else’s life. I spent all day doing things that my schedule doesn’t usually consist of — things like going to yoga, and meeting with an SEO consultant, and then driving to Beaverton to meet my real estate agent for the first time(!).
All these things have been creeping into my life slowly, like a few weeks ago when my friend Erika texted me out of the blue and asked if I wanted to join her at this yoga class she goes to every week at the gym we share, but never cross paths at. It was my first time ever doing yoga (am I the last person on the planet? Or at least in Portland?), and admittedly, it does feel pretty zen. I don’t think it’s zen in the way that yoga is supposed to make you feel zen though, because I’d much rather bask in the 1,000 things zooming through my mind than clear it, and I’m pretty bad at remembering to breathe in my daily life as it is, so it’s not the meditative aspect of it that appeals to me. Honestly, I just really love being sore the next day, which I have been all three weeks that I’ve gone. No, the zen I get from it is the weird kick in the pants of, for the rest of the day, thinking, I am one of those people who goes to yoga at 10:15 on Tuesday mornings. I ordered my own mat yesterday on Amazon, NBD.
And the SEO thing, that’s been in the works for awhile. It’s one of the perks (or in my opinion, most awesomely exciting aspect) of this 8-month business class series that I landed a scholarship for through the SBDC, which essentially grants me free access to all of these rad consultants through the organization, everything from accountants to inventory management specialists to all sorts of other helpful one-on-one consulting for my business. But still, it feels really exciting to have a totally free hour-long meeting right in the middle of my Tuesday afternoon to breeze in and work on some exciting projects we have in the works for the online shop and migrating the Yarnia blog over to CustomYarn.com.
And then — a real estate agent! Because I’m buying a house! This was the cherry on top that really made me have to stop and be like…WTF, who am I? How did I end up in this person’s sunny, 70-degree Tuesday? We talked about what I’m looking for in a dream house, all the factors that need to be there from the get-go, and what can be amended after the fact, and then I drove back to Portland in horrible Tuesday afternoon traffic (is this what everyone’s been talking about?) while I finished my iced Americano and listened to hard rock really loud.
And in between all that, I found the perfect little window to swing by New Seasons and pick up groceries for the week. I had these shrimp tacos on the brain — an easy, leftover-friendly dinner that I could whip up for me and Jesse without much effort, since my “day off” of appointments and errands left me working on that day’s transcription until almost 7:00 p.m. once I got home.
I didn’t actually go for the shrimp — they had some at New Seasons, but I also had a few portions worth of roasted shredded chicken in the freezer, and I’m in super-frugal mode these days, saving up for a down payment, and the shrimp seemed like an unnecessary luxury this week.
I threw these into the skillet and defosted them on medium-high heat with about a cup of homemade chicken stock. Once the stock had melted and the chicken had started to break apart, I added some cayenne pepper, salt, cumin seeds, and about a cup of V8 to the mix, and let it all simmer for about 45 minutes, adding more V8 as the stock cooked down and absorbed.
I wanted to bulk up the protein part of this meal so I’d have a couple days of lunches left over, so I also made some of my favorite black beans; I’d started a cup of these soaking earlier that morning.
These get fresh water, and boil on medium-high heat for a good hour, along with a big dried ancho chile, cumin seeds, salt, nutritional yeast, and a bit of brown sugar.
Once the beans are soft enough to eat, I start thickening the broth with some corn starch. Here’s what I do to avoid the gross clumps that form when you just sprinkle corn starch or flour in: take a little cupful of the broth, and mix a spoonful of corn starch into just that small amount, using a fork against the sides to work out any of the clumps that may form.
This will make a pretty thick, creamed-up-coffee-colored concoction. Then pour that back into the pot, give it a stir, and it will work its thickening magic evenly and without clumps!
I like doing this way more than straining the beans, because as the sauce continues to reduce and thicken, you’ll be left with a delicious, flavorful, syrupy pot of black beans with the consistency of Boston baked beans, but waaaaay healthier! These are so yummy I could eat them just by themselves with some brown rice and pico de gallo and be perfectly content.
But, I also like to outdo myself.
So in addition to this, I whipped up a delicious multicolored buttermilk slaw to accompany the tacos with a fresh, spicy crunch.
I bought not one but two heads of cabbage for the occasion (and hey, cabbage is cheap and lasts forever in the fridge), and chopped up enough to fill the bowl.
I shook up a little buttermilk dressing in a jar, consisting of mayo, buttermilk, cayenne pepper, white vinegar, a little white sugar, and salt, and tossed it all together.
Then I added half a chopped jalapeno, and about half a bunch of chopped cilantro, and stuck it back in the fridge to mingle for a bit until dinner was ready — this also included warmed corn tortillas, some red-and-brown rice, sliced avocado with lime, and fresh pico de gallo.
Dinner was so delicious, in fact, that I completely spaced on taking pictures, but here’s the lunch I’ve been enjoying these past few sunny days at work as leftovers — heated up in my makeshift double-boiler, and wrapped up in warm corn tortillas. Delish.
This Week’s Groceries
New Seasons 5/8
- Corn tortillas: $1.49
- Cayenne pepper: $0.90
- Buttermilk: $1.79
- Dozen eggs: $2.89
- Pico de gallo: $2.99
- Spinach: $3.50
- Green cabbage: $2.07
- Red cabbage: $3.74
- Cauliflower: $4.67 — for cauliflower leek soup later this week!
- Limes: $0.38
- Avocado: $1.50
- Bunch cilantro: $1.49
- Leeks: $3.23
- Jalapeno: $0.35
REMAINING FOR THE MONTH: $59.26