Imperfect Produce

Do you live in California? Do you live in the Bay Area?  Do you eat produce?  Awesome, keep reading.  BUT, even if you don’t live on those areas you should still keep reading to see if there is something similar in your area.  If you don’t eat produce, well, you can probably stop reading.

So what IS Imperfect Produce? Basically, they take produce that is not “pretty” enough for the grocery store and sell it to you!  The best part? They deliver.

Tons of produce is rejected from grocery stores just because it doesn’t look nice.  Perhaps the potatoes are a weird shape, there’s a scar on the zucchini, or the onion is too small.  These are all reasons perfectly good food will be rejected by the grocery store and then ultimately discarded!

With Imperfect, you can choose what size box you want as well as the contents of your box.  You can choose a mixed box, just fruit, or just veggies.  Each week you customize your box by choosing the type and quantity of produce you’d like to receive.  Then, you pay on the amount and type of produce you choose, plus a small shipping fee. In San Francisco, it’s $5 and they ship to you every Tuesday evening, so when you wake up Wednesday morning, you have produce!  It’s been a pretty great service so far.  The produce is great quality and the delivery is very reliable.  There is no monthly fee, and if you go away you can choose to skip a week or two.

We’ve been able to try out some new recipes that I normally wouldn’t have tried out because I wasn’t familiar with a recipe for the vegetable.  This has forced me to go out of my comfort zone and try some new things.  Fennel is now a favorite of mine!  Two recipes I was able to try out were this cabbage recipe and this cauliflower recipe.  The cabbage and cauliflower came from our Imperfect box.  So if you’re in the Bay Area, I’d definitely recommend Imperfect, and if you live outside of the Bay Area, I’d recommend searching for something similar near you.

IMG_2867

Our produce box! Each week it comes with some info about why the produce is ugly, the company, and a featured recipe.

IMG_2871

Fennel, Mushrooms, Broccoli, Lemons, Peaches, Nectarines, Zucchini, Lettuce, and Cantaloupe!

 

 

Class Pass is Awesome!

Ok, so I’m sure many people are familiar with Class Pass by now if you live in a big city.  Even though you might be familiar, I wanted to share my story because I love Class Pass!  First a quick “what is class pass”.  With Class Pass you pay a monthly subscription and you can take workout classes in your area for a flat fee.  I signed up for Class Pass in December of last year because I was dissatisfied with my workout regime.  I used to be a big, big runner until shortly after moving to San Francisco.  I was having knee issues and could no longer run without my knee having a painful collapsing feeling.  So I tried a whole bunch of things, ultimately deciding on surgery.  Obviously that put me out of commission even longer and I was hoping it would fix the problem.  It did, but only for a few weeks when I tried to get back into running.  My knee still felt weak and it is very hard to find flat places to run in San Francisco.  I was not allowed to run on anything hilly, so I was confined to the treadmill.

Anyway, once I decided I could not continue running because it was clearly no longer working for me anymore, I found myself confined to the bike and elliptical.  Cardio is extremely important to me and I was sad to find myself not being able to motivate myself enough on those machines to get the workout I needed.  I used running as a stress reliever, time to listen to some great music, get outside, and be healthy.  I was doing none of that.  That’s when a Soul Cycle opened up an easy bus ride away from me.  (Wait – I thought this was about class pass? Yes, I’ll get to that!)  If you’re not familiar, SoulCycle is indoor cycling, but it basically is like you are in a nightclub.  It’s dark, there are some candles, a disco ball (!), fun lights, and lots of high intensity hip hop and house remixes of popular songs.  I tried it out because I wanted to see if cycling would be easier on my knees than running.  And, hey!, it was!  Plus I loved the high intensity cardio workout and fun music.  I bought a 10 class package, but it was really expensive. Depending on your market, SoulCycle is probably about $30 a class.  Plus you have to rent shoes for $3 if you don’t own.

I didn’t feel this was sustainable since ideally I’d like to attend two or so classes a week, plus I’d need a place to do strength exercises.  That’s when I turned to Class Pass.  For $119 (in San Francisco), you get unlimited classes on a million studios (exaggeration, but you get the point).  Only caveat is you can only go to one studio 3x in a billing cycle.  However, I haven’t found this to be an issue since there are a bunch of studios to choose from.  There are SO many options.  I’ve been able continue cycling and it has been so great for my body and mind (and knees!).  Plus, I’ve also gotten into yoga, pilates, and TRX for strength training.  It is definitely worth it.  I’ve read that they recently upped prices in NYC, so I am hoping they don’t do the same in SF.

Anyway, I was never one for classes, but I have been able to find plenty that appeal to me and fit my needs.  Plus, I have been able to get my cardio and strength exercises completed in fun atmospheres.  If you haven’t tried Class Pass yet, I’d definitely recommend it!  Further, if you have knee issues like me and still want to get high intensity cardio in, I’d definitely recommend trying out a cycling class near you.

 

Lunch Option: Vegan Cabbage Curry

More vegan stuff!  So the reason for all the vegan recipes?  Well, a few months ago I decided to go full vegetarian (I will make exceptions on rare occasions, but for the most part I don’t eat meat anymore), and I also found out after I made that decision that I have high cholesterol!  Woo! Not enough that I need medication, but enough that some dietary changes were suggested.  I am not super strict about it since I already eat fairly healthy, but I cut out my morning yogurt and replaced it with oatmeal or a granola bar, and I try to cut out other items like dairy when I am cooking at home.  That way, I don’t have to be outrageously picky when I go out to eat.  Given the changes I’ve made, I think it will make a dent in the numbers.

I cooked this recipe for dinner one night and decided that it was better as a lunch meal.  It’s flavorful, but not enough that it left me satisfied me for dinner.  However, for lunch it is perfect because I’m not a big fan of heavy lunches.  It’s light enough to bring as a lunch and leaves me full, but not feeling sluggish.

I originally found this recipe on Healthier Steps, but modified it and added a few ingredients.  You should have about 4 days worth of lunches when you make this batch!

IMG_2323

Ingredients:

Jasmine rice – 4 servings

1/2 of a large cabbage, cut into strips

2 tbsp coconut oil

1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp ground thyme or 2 fresh sprigs

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1 carrot, chopped

1 can of chick peas

1 cup of potatoes or sweet potatoes, chopped into small chunks

1-14oz can of light coconut milk

1/2 tsp sea salt or to taste

 

Instructions:

  1. Prep and cook rice.  You can have the rice cooking while you make the curry.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet. Add onion and garlic and cook until onion is soft – about 5 minutes.
  3. Add coriander, turmeric, thyme, cumin, carrot, chick peas, potatoes, and cabbage and stir.
  4. Add coconut milk and bring to a boil.
  5. Cover saucepan and reduce to a simmer.  Cook for about 20 minutes.  Add some cornstarch if the sauce is not thick enough.

IMG_2324

 

Vegan Orange “Chicken” (Cauliflower)…or not vegan if you want!

Recently I’ve been trying to eat less meat, eggs, and dairy.  It’s very hard to completely cut out eggs and dairy (shoutout to the vegans out there), but the cutting out meat has been pretty easy, especially since I’ve been a vegetarian before.  My boyfriend isn’t a vegetarian, but I find it pretty easy to make us both the same dinner and just sub out my portion of meat for tofu or veggies.  I’m not picky about using the same pan or having them touch, so that makes things a lot easier.  Anyway, I came across this recipe and was very excited to make it.  By no means is it healthy, but I guess it’s slightly healthier than if you used chicken.  No matter how you slice it, you’re still deep frying something.

HOWEVER, the great part about this recipe is that if you don’t fry the cauliflower, the orange sauce is actually pretty healthy.  So, if you’re in the mood for something Chinese food-esque, I’d recommend frying the cauliflower.  If you’re looking for a quick vegan stir fry, just cook up some tofu (1/2 package) and add some frozen broccoli (170 oz for one).  If you want some legit orange chicken, just cook up some chicken (6 oz) and add some broccoli. Don’t use any cauliflower or batter. It’s that simple!

I found this recipe on Yummily Yours.  I adapted it slightly.

IMG_2322

 

Ingredients (serves one):

One serving of rice

6-8 florets of cauliflower

1/2 cup sliced into strips bell peppers of various colors

1/3 cup & 2 tbsp cornstarch

1/2 cup all purpose flower

1/4-1/2 cup water (to make batter)

Oil for frying

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon minced ginger

1 tablespoon orange zest

3/4 cup vegetable broth

1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

2 tsp soy sauce

2 tbsp sugar

1 tsp Sriracha

Sprinkle of sesame seeds

Sprinkle of green onions

 

Instructions:

  1. Prepare rice – this can cook while you are making everything else.
  2. Heat oil for frying
  3. In another small frying pan, saute peppers for about 2-3 minutes.  Don’t overcook.  Set aside when done.
  4. Mix the corn starch, flour, and water to make a thick batter.  It should be thick enough to coat each cauliflower floret evenly.
  5. Coat each floret in batter and dip into the oil.
  6. Once the batter is crisp, remove the florets from the oil and place them on a paper towel to absorb extra oil.  You want them to remain crisp, so while they are cooking, you’ll want to make the sauce.
  7. Heat up the minced ginger and garlic for about a minute.  You can do this in the same pan you cooked the peppers in.
  8. Add in the orange zest.  Cook for another 30-60 seconds.
  9. Add broth, orange juice, sriracha, soy sauce, sugar and stir together.
  10. While that is heating up, mix together the 2 tablespoons of cornstarch in some cold water.
  11. Once the broth/orange juice/soy sauce/etc mixture comes to a boil, lower heat.
  12. Add in the corn starch slowly to mixture while stirring constantly.  The mixture should be very thick.
  13. Once it is thick, add in the peppers and cauliflower (or chicken/tofu + broccoli if you’re not using cauliflower).
  14. Mix well and heat everything in the pan for about 2 minutes.
  15. Put rice on a plate, and put your orange cauliflower on top. Sprinkle some sesame seeds and green onions on top.

Dim Sum Steamer Round Shelf

As I’m sure many of you also do, I rent.  I also have a bunch of tchatskis/pictures/etc and not a lot of space, so I need to utilize some vertical space to display them.  I bought some shelves from Urban Outfitters that I thought were really cool, but would have required 4 screws each.  Eight holes in the wall is not really the best situation when you’re renting.  My boyfriend and I kept getting cold feet before putting them up, so I started exploring more options for shelving that required only one small hole.  (Ps – If you’re interested in two really cute shelves from Urban Outfitters and are not concerned about holes, hit me up.)  What initially came to mind was some type of shelf/shelves that hung with rope or string and therefore required only one or two holes each (thus creating little damage to the walls).  I found a round shelf I really liked on some site, but waited too long and it somehow totally disappeared.  I wasn’t able to find a similar style, which really surprised me.  Anyway, upon looking endlessly for DIY round shelves, I came across this post from A Pair and A Spare DIY and thought it was a really great idea!  I think she found her dim sum steamer just walking on the streets in Hong Kong, so I was initially a little skeptical of how I was going to replicate this.  However, my boyfriend mentioned that we could probably find one at a restaurant warehouse store.  HE WAS RIGHT!   A google search just happened to bring up Kamei Restaurant Supply in San Francisco, and it just happens to specialize in Asian restaurant supplies.  Jackpot!  Were able to find a fairly large one that would nicely match the size of our wall (and fit a bunch of stuff!).  Anyway, this is a great project for those of us who want something a little unique with little damage to the walls.  Now here’s what you’re really looking for…how to make it!

Dim Sum Steamer Shelf 1

You’ll need:

A Dim Sum Steamer of your size choice

Piece of plywood – got this from Home Depot

Rope – I used Wellington 28764 Manila Rope, 1/4″ X 50′ (you can find it on Amazon)

Wood Glue

Hacksaw

Wood file

Drill

Measuring tape

Hanging materials (Hercules hook, picture hook, nail, etc)

 

dim sum steamer shelf supplies

Directions:

1. Remove the criss cross backing of the dim sum steamer.  This was actually pretty easy and you just need to wiggle the pieces to get them to come out.

694

2. Cut the plywood down with the hacksaw so it is an appropriate size to fit approximately where you’d like the shelf to stand.  I put mine about 3/4 of the way down, but you can make it higher or lower as you please.

3. We cut wedges in the plywood so it sat comfortably and fit like a puzzle in the sides of the steamer.  This also required some use of the wood file to make it exact. (Thanks to my awesome boyfriend for helping me with this step!)

3.28.15 import 020 3.28.15 import 021

4. Use the wood glue to glue the shelf onto the sides of the dim sum steamer.  The shelf should fit snug and stay put naturally, but it was very hard to get it that way, and still wasn’t completely exact, so I’d recommend using some glue to ensure it stays.

3.28.15 import 028

5. Use the drill to drill two holes on both sides of the steamer.  Be sure to measure so that the holes are even!

3.28.15 import 027

6.  Thread the rope through the holes and tie.

3.28.15 import 060 3.28.15 import 061

7. Hang up on your wall using whatever hanging materials you deem necessary for the wall you are hanging it on.  We choose a picture hook.  Decorate however you please!

3.28.15 import 065

Cactus and Succulent Terrarium

Terrariums are super popular these days, so about a year ago I set out to create my own!  I ended up creating two; one is a closed terrarium and the other is an open terrarium.  Today I’m going to be showcasing the open terrarium because it’s very easy to recreate, and I have recently!  The images below are from my second iteration of the same terrarium.  The first one was doing so well that I had to remove one of the cacti because it was getting too big for the bowl!  And believe it or not, it’s not the “bunny ears” cacti that I replanted in this new one.

To start, you’ll need a terrarium bowl.  I was able to find the first and the second at local hardware stores here in San Francisco.  Both of these hardware stores sell some terrarium sized plants (and regular plants), so I would recommend checking out local hardware stores (like ACE Hardware branches) you know carry those supplies.  Plus, you’ll be able to grab a few terrarium plants while you’re there!  Second, you’ll need some pebbles for the very bottom of the terrarium.  You should also be able to find these at hardware stores.  Amazon.com is a great place to grab some as well.  Third, you’ll need some soil.  Fourth, some sand.  And lastly, the terrarium plants!  For open terrariums, I have found that small succulents and cacti work best because they prefer dryer soil and low humidity.  My closed terrarium has fern-like plants and I have not had to water in months!

3.28.15 import 077

The easiest way to put this together is rocks, some soil, the plants, more soil, and sand.  Once you water it for the first time, some of the soil will creep through the sand, so it will look kind of dirty. I usually combat this by adding some more sand after maybe the second watering.

For last touches, you can add some dinos or any other terrarium creatures you please! I found these at Urban Outfitters in a package with some others (horses, gnomes, dogs, etc).  Novelty stores and dollar stores (in the kid toy/party favor sections) are great places to find these as well.

3.28.15 import 085

3.28.15 import 083

3.28.15 import 082

3.28.15 import 086

3.28.15 import 081 3.28.15 import 080

 

 

Darby Smart Box Review

I was quite excited to have come across Darby Smart via Tried & Glue way, way back in early October.  I was so excited that I actually bought 3 of them in a matter of a few days.  Well, really excited and I somehow snagged two $10 off coupons, which brought two of the boxes down to $9 each, which is a pretty awesome price (plus there’s free shipping).  PS if you sign up via this link, you’ll get $10 off your first purchase, too.

If you’re not familiar with Darby Smart, here’s a quick rundown of one of the services they offer.  I think they’ve expanded to adding a seller platform as well, but back in early October their main squeeze were these DIY kits you could purchase one at a time (not a subscription).  Basically you pick a project you want to do, and they send you all the materials you need to make that project, which is really cool.  I was extremely excited to have basically everything I need to complete a craft sent to me in a box.  Another great part was that they sent you enough materials that you could potentially make another project by just replacing certain items that they sold individually on their site.  So for instance, one of the boxes I bought was printed kitchen towels.  They came with the two towels, ink, brushes, and stencils.  So if I wanted to make more than just the two towels that were initially sent, I had the materials to make more.  All I had to do was purchase the same towels (sold separately outside the box) on their site.  Perfect.  Further, they give you a link to instructions on how to do the craft if you need a little help.

Darby Smart Box

The stuff they offer is all really, really cute.  Overall, I had an OK experience with it and enjoyed doing the craft boxes I bought.  I was a little disappointed that my experience was only OK though, and I’ll go into specifically why with each craft box I bought.  I picked Stenciled Tea Towels, Pocket Terrarium Necklaces, and Agate Cuff bracelet.  Here’s my experiences with each of the boxes I received.

1. Kitchen Towels – $17 (1 star out of 5) – Unfortunately, these did not work out for me.  I’m pretty sure I followed all the directions properly and everything, but after I “set” the ink, it continued to smudge, even after I did it a second time where I set the ink for twice as long and let the towel sit for a few days.  I was quite disappointed with this one because the towels came out super cute, but were basically useless.  Unfortunately, I didn’t grab any pictures before I tossed the towels.

2. Terrarium Necklace – $19 (2.5 stars out of 5) – I thought this one was really really cool because we all know I love plants, and I do still think it’s cool.  However, I have a few problems with this one.  First, the gold necklace portion is super cheap looking.  I get this is only a $19 kit and I’m not expecting a 14 carrot gold chain, but I feel a different chain could be used that’s not so “cheap looking” (and I really hate saying that).  Second, when you wear this chain, the sand that’s in the little bottles inevitably gets knocked around.  When that happens, for some reason the sand residue sticks on the sides of the inside of the bottle and makes it look super cloudy. You can barely see the grass in mine these days.  I still wear this occasionally and it was fun to make, but the quality is lacking unfortunately.

necklace 1 necklace 2

3. Agate Cuff – $19 (5 stars out of 5) – This one I would definitely recommend.  What a cool bracelet!  Easy to make and is now one of my favorite jewelry pieces.  Like I mentioned before, with this one there is extra glue, extra gold wire, and they even gave me a second stone in a different color, so I actually just ordered another cuff and will make a second.  Only issue I had with this one is that it states the glue only needs to set for 10 minutes.  Try 10 hours.

Cuff bracelet

Overall, making the items was the most fun, but it would be really great if they were better quality and I could actually use them.  Overall, I’d definitely say Darby Smart is worth trying because I had a lot of fun creating the items, regardless if they ended up working out or not, and will probably purchase again.