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Sunday, August 2, 2009

Bare cupboard syndrome

Tri-color pasta, two Clif Bars, Trader Joe's banana bread mix (to be made this week in my brand-new/recycled toaster oven!), green tea, mocha mix and an iron supplement.

I need to go grocery shopping.

Payday is Friday and my July budget was absolutely demolished by spending the beginning of the month in Australia, eating out a lot to both welcome friends back to Seoul and wish friends farewell, and just general splurging. Which is fine -- budgeting is all relative when you're an English teacher in Korea with a largely disposable income -- but with payday in sight, I'd like to stick to the little mental spreadsheet I set up each month.

Having no food in the cabinets today led to some rather creative food pairings and knowing that it might be random, I brought my camera along.

One of the biggest perks of this job is having breakfast provided daily. It might be monotonous -- toast, peanut butter and a banana, every single day for an entire year -- but it's what I look forward to in the morning. Usually the "extras" are things I can't or won't eat like sausage in a variety of colors, sugary cereals, gelatinous pastries or scrambled eggs (don't know what's in the mix or trust that they were made fresh that morning), but on lucky days we get fruit and I always grab a little extra for an afternoon snack.

Unfortunately today wasn't one of those days.

With breakfast taken care of -- people already comment on what I eat so I wasn't about to whip out the camera in the cafeteria -- lunch was shaping up to be a total hodge-podge.

The last of the leftover kidney beans mixed with an orange sweet pepper? Sure!

Thanks to my dad, I've been enjoying a jar of almond butter for the past month, rationing it out slowly so it lasts the rest of my time here. (Less than two months for those keeping track!)

Trader Joe's -- why are you so good to me?!

I was always a peanut butter fanatic but tastes change and while PB will always hold a special taste (typo but I'm keeping it) in my heart, it's AB all the way! You can't go wrong with ground-up almonds and nothin' extra added.

I'm curious now to try other nut spreads like SunButter (sunflower seeds), hazelnut butter and pumpkin seed butter.

Mixed together with a banana and some raisins, it may not look like much but was really yummy and filling. PB/AB and banana is one of my go-to high-energy snacks and the addition of raisins made it just that much better for lunch.

The 3:15 class break always means one thing: snack time!

Is there anything better than a Clif Bar? Okay, probably, but Clif Bars are pretty darn good. I've never tried a flavor I didn't like and in his TJ's care package, Dad enclosed a box of Chocolate Brownie Clif Bars.

This flavor is a little rich for my tastes but still as tasty as usual. Looking at the Clif Bar website, I just learned that:

A) Luna Bars, which I ate for breakfast every day in high school, are a Clif Bar product
B) There's a new (or at least, new to me) line of organic fruit-and-nut Clif Bars, Nectar.
C) I was going to say that peanut butter and jelly would be the perfect flavor for a Clif Bar but just found out that PB&J is one of the new Lara Bar flavors.

I need to get my hands on these, stat. October 1 -- airport to Lebanese Taverna to Trader Joe's, please!

This Nueva Cocina Black Bean Soup with Chipotle Chile has been sitting in my cupboard for a couple of months since my mom picked it up at Trader Joe's and sent it. Not sure why it took me so long to get around to making it but boy, am I glad I had it today!

The soup is all-natural, gluten-free, MSG-free, vegan, preservative-free -- not bad for something laying at the back of my cupboard!

The verdict? Absolutely delicious! I served it over some tri-color pasta to make dinner more filling and it was a great combination, one I'd definitely eat even with a fully-stocked kitchen. The soup was thick and had just the right amount of kick to it, without being too fiery. Definitely a company I'll try more products from and a soup I'll buy again.

And that was my day in food. Just hit up the market and picked up a ton of fresh veggies so at least the entire week won't be quite as random as today. But if nothing else, I've proven that I come from a tried and true TJ's family!

Happy 20th Birthday to my little sister, Kate!