purpleshoes0's Profile

Display Name: purpleshoes0
Member Since: 9/24/13

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Agreed. I think it's a good idea to have reasonable expectations for farmer's market prices, and those prices are (in my area) about $1-3 more per item than any non-Whole Foods grocery store. It adds up fast, and none of the farmers are willing to undercut any of the others, so $5-6 for a pint of blueberries is just how it is. This is a solid article on why: http://www.wbez.org/sections/food/should-you-pay-10-pint-blueberries-maybe-108512

At least in my area (a good-sized college town in the Southeast) it's not reasonable to expect all of your produce to come from the farmer's market unless you've got at least $50/person/week to spend on it, more if you really like fruit. If you don't have access to local food through a more reasonable route - a farm stand, or a grocery store that documents their sourcing - it might be fun to stop by every so often for things that are often substandard at grocery stores, like really ripe peaches or hard-to-ship fruits like North American persimmons. But it's good to go in understanding that it's a heavily gentrified activity and deals will be slim.

A Field Guide to the Farmers Market
7/29/14 11:16 AM

When a trend is very new, only people with money to burn and either good taste or hired taste implement it. We see every new fit of jeans only on people who also spend money on personal trainers and hairstylists; we see kitchen colors only in the houses of people who have excellent spaces with good natural light and an eye for editing. Then those trends filter down to the rest of us, with our indifferently-lit, cluttered apartments and too-busy-for-hair-product lifestyles, and we slowly realize that white subway tile is not going to turn our houses into Downton Abbey and no boyfriend jeans will make me Tilda Swinton. It's really the unconscious aspiration that keeps us going, I think. That said: I'm very excited to see what happens after subway tiles.

How Do You Know a Trend is Officially \"Over?\"
7/24/14 04:30 PM

I've definitely hung kitchen rails and curtain rods without asking, and now I'm nervous. (My lease specifies that hanging shelves is fine as long as they're installed appropriately and stay after you move, but they never talk about rails!)

My parents have, in cooperation with their landlord, ripped out and installed new counters, built a pantry with floor-to-ceiling cabinets that they found on Craigslist, hung all new light fixtures, installed a murphy bed for guests, finished cement block walls with drywall and plaster, repainted, installed carpentry room dividers, built on a porch, terraced and built rock walls, put in a garden, and done extensive landscaping. They're about to negotiate the purchase and installation of a half-sized dishwasher. I don't know how they do it. I think they must be wizards. I keep trying to convince them to submit before-and-afters to Apartment Therapy - they're recession refugees who had to downsize to a tiny mother-in-law apartment under their landlord's house, so it's particularly inspiring to me - but they aren't cooperating so far. So much can be done, with the right landlord, and the landlord's taken the cost of a lot of the improvements off of their rent.

Radical Renters: When Renters Make Big Changes
7/22/14 11:49 AM

I admit to sneakily trying to throw out every plastic potato masher I've ever shared a kitchen with - they seem to exist solely to stick in drawers, and I've never seen one of the cheap plastic ones sold in kitchen starter sets hold up to the actual job of mashing potatoes. I would seriously recommend a fork first, or an old-fashioned wooden mallet-style masher.

Ditto to most of those plastic soup spoons and spatulas - no one needs non-heatproof kitchenware that either breaks or melts, but every kitchen containing a former college student is full of the stuff.

But I have a potato ricer that takes up even more space that I will defend to the death, because of the off chance that once or twice a year I'll want it for either potato-ricing or spaetzle. It's funny the things you decide you can't live without.

Don't Fall for It: 5 Things You Really DON'T Need At Home
7/14/14 04:31 PM

If you're allergic to dust mites (which I am, woe) the recommendation is once a week, but I think for most people twice a month is enough. As someone who lives with a tiny little apartment washer/dryer that has a major case of the vapors over something as bulky as a queen-sized sheet, though, I wouldn't wish the hike to the laundromat on anyone else. Honestly, I'm this close to buying a Cocoon travel sheet that can be wadded up and washed in a kitchen sink to get around this problem.

(I can't imagine washing a duvet weekly, which is what I would need to do - I've slept under multiple top sheets before to avoid the hassle of washing/drying heavy blankets!)

As far as things I can do without, I'm a big fan of the one-bowl-and-mug-per-resident model - but it requires buy-in from all residents, or one person will wind up leaving them all some mysterious Somewhere in the house and no one else will have mugs. And for some reason, I can handwash the same coffee mug and oatmeal bowl every time I need it, but no matter what I try I go through five water glasses in a day.

Don't Fall for It: 5 Things You Really DON'T Need At Home
7/14/14 04:21 PM

I don't see food packaging going away entirely unless some kind of food delivery service (like old-fashioned milk trucks) becomes the norm - especially if more and more people live in walkable or bikeable areas or take public transit for most of their errands. Carrying bulky cartons and jars around with you is only really possible if you shop with a car, or, I guess, with a granny cart or bike panniers - but then you can't pick things up on the way home from work without hauling those around all day beforehand. Cardboard boxes are already recycleable (and often recycled), as are glass jars and metal cans, as well as the dreaded (lightweight, won't-smash-in-your-backpack) plastic bottles. My co-op uses compostable cornstarch bags for bulk goods, compostable deli containers for prepared foods, and returnable glass bottles for milk. These are cute projects, and interesting, but of course they're not reasonable replacements for current packaging.

Also, no one wants an edible outer wrapper for something that comes from a grocery store. Dust is the least of the things that gather on containers on grocery store shelves.

Is This the Future of Food Packaging? Food News
6/30/14 05:10 PM

I used to have a kitchen that was literally that Ikea unit in the first picture with an induction burner on it, an Expedit shelf for supplies, and a toaster. I became a big fan of Things on Bread, especially pestos (like arugula or kale pestos) with a fried egg. I found handling meat to be kind of a lot for a small kitchen with a lot of weird-to-clean surfaces, though.

As the pesto thing might indicate, I was actually a bigger fan of cooking with a food processor (mine was inherited from an ex, and then, when he wanted it back, replaced with a thrift shop find) in a small kitchen than I am in my current reasonably-sized one. I tend to waste a lot more dishes doing chopping and prep than I do actually cooking, so thinking in terms of "I can only prepare things that fit in the food processor, and nothing else" helped me keep it in check. And veggie burgers are another good "things on bread" dish.

5 Meals You Can Cook in a Small Kitchen Without Too Much Gear Tips from The Kitchn
6/24/14 11:56 AM

My advice is the same as everyone else's: clean the brick, see what's under the carpet, and don't live with paneling you don't like the look of just because it's good quality. But my first piece of advice is that unless there's a major security concern with having no curtains, just take down those curtains. Throw them away or donate them. For real. Nothing unsticks a room from 1970s tv-cave mode like throwing out the thick beige curtains. Once you've got unencumbered daylight in there, everything will look different.

Can This \"Man Cave\" Become Cottage Chic? Good Questions
6/23/14 03:17 PM

Yeah, this is a flashback back to pre-Pinterest days, when you could have a normal-looking apartment that was quirky and cool without everything being an expensive expanse of white subway tile. I miss those days, honestly - I love AT, but it's definitely way more aspirational and polished and much less interesting to the milk-crate-dresser set than it used to be!

Oldies But Goodies: Early Apartment Therapy House Tours, 2005 Edition
5/28/14 04:22 PM

This is cool! Though it should be noted that in general whitewashing/painting really helps with chinche/vinchuca infestations - they live in the cracks between adobe bricks, so finishing the walls gives the bugs fewer places to hide - and makes them more visible and easy to hit with a shoe! Never underestimate shoe-based interventions :D

Habitat for Humanity International has done some major work with upgrading roofing materials, too - unfortunately, chagas has been the death of thatched roofs in many parts of Central America.

This House Paint Kills Bugs That Spread Disease Design News
5/22/14 11:26 AM

Well, no, McDonalds has a different marketing and development strategy than most grocery chains. They've deliberately placed themselves accessibly, because the overhead for running a single McDonalds is much lower than the overhead for even a midsized grocery store - and unless you're lucky with your tiendas/bodegas, there aren't small grocery stores in a lot of the country. (Seriously, thank god for tiendas - in my part of the US they're the only place on bus lines / in walking distance where you can buy some tomatoes and an onion, etc.)

Getting produce into more corner markets and small rural groceries is a big project - there are, for instance, grant programs right now in several cities around getting corner bodegas coolers so that they can keep . WIC has done a lot on this front, honestly, because if a store accepts WIC they have to have a minimum inventory of certain foods - in my state it's eggs, milk, beans, brown rice or whole wheat bread, and canned fruits and vegetables. This is a huge policy issue that people devote their careers to, so I'd be pretty surprised if the solution was just that poor people weren't making the effort to walk an extra half-block.

How To Eat Well When You're Low on Cash Budget Living
5/7/14 11:10 AM

I got so frustrated with budget cooking advice the last time I had a big crunch because I was living in a scuzzy rental with a freezer that didn't seal right and anything I put in there was freezerburned in four days. I was also living with a toaster oven/hotplate combo, not because there wasn't a stove, but because the stove I had was actively unsafe and the landlord wouldn't fix it. And this was with an entry level white collar job - I had major medical expenses and live in an area with obscenely high rent.

There were things I could do (for instance, I found some smallish cast-iron pans in the thrift shop and used them to add thermal mass to my toaster oven so that I could bake a boule of tepid-fridge-risen bread every morning for breakfast and lunch - this would be a ridiculous thing for me to do now, but then it worked for me). But there were also things I could absolutely not do, like cook big meals ahead of time and trust them not to spoil. On the one hand, lots of people don't have meal planning and cooking skills for straightforward never-learned reasons, and budget cooking tips/tricks/guides can really be helpful. On the other hand, it's so so important to be realistic about your situation so that you don't set yourself up for failure, and every situation is so, so different.

How To Eat Well When You're Low on Cash Budget Living
5/7/14 10:59 AM

German Girl, different plant varieties, different fertilizer regimes, different growing conditions can all affect the nutrient density of the resulting vegetables. The big metastudy that found that there's not a big difference between organic and conventional produce also found that organic produce was, in general, riper - and my finding is that grocery stores that carry a lot of organic produce tend to be more thoughtful in their selection, quality-wise, and often take care that food is fresher (which results in a lot of waste from wilty-but-good-enough veggies getting thrown in the dumpster). However, the dietary difference between "organic carrot" and "conventional carrot" is vanishingly small, either way, next to the dietary difference between "can't afford carrots" and "eats carrots".

How To Eat Well When You're Low on Cash Budget Living
5/6/14 03:11 PM

Erzilie, I would, in fact, subscribe to your newsletter. Also, I was FLIPPING SHOCKED at how much of a difference white versus whole wheat pasta can make to the budget when you're down at food stamp budget levels. It can really be the difference between "can you afford to eat an egg and a carrot too" and "nope".

How To Eat Well When You're Low on Cash Budget Living
5/6/14 02:20 PM

My advice? Be realistic. If you're working a job where you're on your feet and everything hurts when you come home, don't commit to recipes that will have you standing over the stove for long periods of time. If you're usually either buying meals out for lunch or hitting the vending machine, don't try to make lunch a diet meal - pack enough to eat. In fact, in general, don't try to diet when money is tight and you're stressed - focus on planning regular meals that incorporate all the food groups. Improve nutrition by slipping extra good stuff into meals you already like - for instance, more beans and sauteed veggies in burritos or quesadillas, which are an end-of-paycheck staple in my house. Be realistic about how many dirty dishes you can handle!

If you can pick up a slow cooker secondhand or on sale, it's a lifesaver - especially for cooking beans from dried. A slow cooker can also be put in the kitchen, on one side of a baby gate, while you and the baby are on the other side of the baby gate. Baking things instead of cooking them stovetop can serve a similar function, though it uses more electricity.

Cooking up a pot of beans every week and adding them into things is a great way to get some extra, filling protein and fiber - white beans are a great and nearly invisible way to add protein to pasta, for example. (That said, if you're one of the people who gets indigestion from beans - soaking them in several changes of hot water and then cooking them to death helps some people, but also be easy on yourself. Chicken is cheap and has the lowest carbon footprint of any meat. You have the right to be fed!)

Also, kudos to Andie Powers for recognizing what a lifesaver frozen vegetables can be! You can get far on a couple of freezer bags of broccoli and peas, a five-pound bag of carrots in the crisper drawer, and some onions. Canned evaporated/condensed milk, oats, and raisins are also a great thing to have on hand - if you're hungry after dinner, a bowl of oatmeal with raisins and brown sugar can be a great stick-to-your-ribs-all-night dessert.

Finally, be kind to yourself. You're doing the best you can. Find ways to make things a little nicer without beating yourself up for not being able to make everything from-scratch organic, Clean, or whatever dietary stick you're using to flog yourself. You're doing just fine.

How To Eat Well When You're Low on Cash Budget Living
5/6/14 02:02 PM

*pre-washed greens, not pre-washed grains, sorry.

Cure My Cooking Problem! Help Me Eat More Fruits & Vegetables with Breakfast The Cooking Cure Spring 2014
3/26/14 01:20 PM

My favorite breakfast for mornings when I have a little time is : frozen raspberries, warmed in the microwave, with slivered almonds (this would be a great add-on for a grain cereal), scrambled eggs with sauteed mushrooms and onions, and some arugula salad. For some reason the peppery taste of arugula works a lot better for me in the morning than other, crunchier/watery greens.

Seconding the suggestion to pre-chop omelette add-ins. I do just onions and mushrooms, and I find that they keep fine for a full business week if I store them raw - sauteeing them while I'm heating the pan for eggs anyway takes an extra two, three minutes at most.

Egg sandwiches with pre-washed grains are also a great portable breakfast.

If by any chance you've made a stir-fry in the last two days, stir-fried vegetables are great in morning eggs.

Though my personal favorite breakfast is a whole-grain pancake or waffle made into a sandwich with a good yogurt and a hefty portion of fresh or thawed-from-frozen berries in the middle. Wrap it in a napkin and you've got a take-along breakfast with three food groups in it!

Cure My Cooking Problem! Help Me Eat More Fruits & Vegetables with Breakfast The Cooking Cure Spring 2014
3/26/14 01:20 PM

I've always been baffled by the unhealthy-pancake thing, since pancakes are a great vehicle for whole grain flour and non-grain flours and meals you wouldn't use in fussier baked goods. My favorite pancake recipe goes as so (fourish servings)

- 1/2 cup flour (I've used buckwheat, millet, and whole wheat pastry flour with great success)
- 1/2 cup nut meal (sunflower, chestnut flour, and almond meal have all worked really well)
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup yogurt
- olive oil (I use 1/2 tbsp per serving - this does help the texture, but people who don't want to double up the fat with the nut meal shouldn't have a problem leaving it out)
- sweetener to taste (I use 1/2 tbsp per serving, since I don't put any syrup on the pancakes)
- 1 tbspish baking powder
- pinch salt

This week I've been eating millet and sunflower seed pancakes every day - delicately sweet, kind of tangy in a way that contrasts nicely with fresh fruit or a dab of jam.

Two Tips For Healthier Pancakes This Fall
9/24/13 03:41 PM