New Year, New Me– we try to tell ourselves. That’s not really the case, but by god, we can try. I have often not managed to meet the goals I set for myself in these sorts of articles that have graced the pages of this website in the past. 2022 can be that year if I am gentle with myself. There are many possibilities on the horizon for me at Eating Normal, and I want to share them with you. These Resolutions will help us get there together.
1. Eat 75% local ingredients.
This is hard to do in the modern world, but it is perhaps the most achievable goal I have in Green Bay right now. We have several local producers still putting out winter veg and hydroponic vegetables for us. Eggs and meat are still coming out of our farms, and there are plenty of winter markets out there to shop for these things. There’s still things that a woman has to get at a regular grocery store, and I will bend where I have to with out of season ingredients and pantry items. It’ll be okay. Still, I am putting my money where my mouth is quite literally this year. If I’m cooking, you bet your ass it’s local.
This will of course be easier as the growing season comes around. Meat will be more expensive locally, but high quality veggies will be more plentiful. I intend to learn how to do some proper canning in order to preserve the flavors of Wisconsin in every way I can.
2. Improve my photography
This is a struggle for every amateur food blogger. We’re the stylist, the writer, the photographer, and the social media manager. Something's got to give, and for me, it’s often been my photography. I haven’t invested in equipment in years. I use my phone for everything, and I don’t even have a good size ring light for a proper recipe photoshoot USING said phone. That’s changing. While I’ll probably still use my phone, I don’t have to use the same plates on the same boring background with the same bad lighting forever. It’s time to change.
Over the next few weeks, you’ll see new angles, lighting, and maybe even some more tiktok videos here and there while I work on improving my technique. Thanks for hanging on for the ride while I’ve been lazy about how stuff looks.
3. Do All Twelve Cookbooks of the Month
I’ve been saying this every year for four years. We did really well at the end of 2021 by keeping up with every month but December, so let’s try again. There are so many cookbooks from 2021 that I never got to after their release and even more coming in the next few months. Do you have recommendations of classics or new books coming out that you’d like me to cover? Leave your suggestions.
4. Explore Wisconsin
I haven’t stepped foot much outside of the Green Bay area since moving here in late 2019. COVID and health issues have kept me close to home for far too long. There is a lot to eat, drink, and see in this state. I intend to start doing that in 2022 and sharing that experience with you here as well as at Nosh Wisconsin. As with cookbooks, I am open to recommendations of restaurants, breweries, and whatever else you think I might enjoy.
Thanksgiving is coming! Several places will be closed, and some of them are cooking up whatever you need to make your day special regardless of how you celebrate. Here are some of the highlights across Green Bay:
Plae Bistro - Thanksgiving Dinner, Order by Monday Nov 23rd
Plae Bistro will be hard at work next week whipping up side dishes for anyone who orders from their Thanksgiving menu prior to Monday, November 23rd. The offerings can be found on their facebook page, and I am personally considering just a giant fuckin plate of their house rolls. It says its serves 8, but in this house… it will serve 2.
Copper State Brewing Co. - Bottle Release
Copper State has released their Sugar Plum Elderberry Tart bottles starting today, which sound like they’d be a perfect match for the Thanksgiving table and the beer lover in your family. Will I pick one up while I’m scouring the town for Thanksgiving goodies? Probably.
Uncle Mike’s Bake Shoppe - Frozen Soup Sale, and Yummy Pie
Uncle Mike’s Bake Shoppe is selling their frozen soups as buy one get one free until further notice to keep you warm. While you’re there, consider getting a pie for the Thanksgiving table and supporting local bakers if you’re not in the biz of making the pie yourself.
Monzu Bakery and Custom Cakes - Virtual Holiday Market Appearance
Monzu will be making an appearance during the American Club’s virtual Holiday market starting today and running through Sunday. More than 70 local vendors will be represented. You can check out those 70 local vendors at this link.
The Original Austin’s Grocery Store - Open Thanksgiving Day
In the interest of supporting local, we’re highlighting the Thanksgiving hours of local market Austin’s from 8 am to 1 pm Thanksgiving Day. Their meat counter can’t be beat if you wake up Thanksgiving morning and want something other than turkey.
Voyageurs Sourdough - Holiday Menu is Live
Voyageurs has their holiday menu live for preorders on their website. A lot of goodies are sold out for pickup or delivery this wednesday, but you can still source some rolls for the table from a local favorite!
Heartland Pizza Co - Reopened
Heartland Pizza Co has reopened after their cautionary COVID-19 closure. The pizza and homemade ice cream must flow, and flow it does. They’re also doing homemade special ice creams for thanksgiving that need to be ordered TONIGHT if you want them at your table. Details on their facebook page.
Stillmank Beer Company - Wassail Holiday Cider is BACK
Stillmank’s Wassail Holiday Cider is back on the menu at their brewery. They have more releases coming for Black Friday next week. We’ll keep you up to date, as their one of our favorites in town.
Article Originally Posted on March 26,2020 in the Archive
This was prepared before the COVID-19 Pandemic became an emergency in the United States. This post is about our rating system going forward as we continue to review cookbooks and support cookbook writers during a difficult time.
2020 is a new year, and while it’s been three months since the new year began, there is obviously still time for change. I want to make a change here at Eating Normal, and I want your opinion. I want to start rating our monthly cookbooks. A few weeks ago, I asked you what you wanted to be considered when I started rating our cookbooks. A few of you responded on facebook, and you’ve been heard. Here are our categories:
When we talk about accessibility in terms of a cookbook, we’re talking about what it takes to make the things inside. Do you need a lot of special equipment? Can you get the ingredients without a two hour research period at your computer? Eating Normal is for home cooks, and I want you to know if these books have a place in your home. This is the most easily identified rating that will help my readers.
Are there techniques in the cookbook that an average cook might struggle with, or do I just need to know how to boil water? Does the writer explain those hard things, or do they expect you to know it? We all need a challenge once and awhile in the kitchen. We also need someone to teach us how to overcome those challenges. Eating Normal will assess the general difficulty of the recipes in each cookbook and how well the writer helps guide you to rate the difficulty of the book.
No one needs seven different versions of relatively the same recipe piling up in their cookbook repertoire, except for me. My job is to help make sure you aren’t buying the same cookbook with a different chef’s name on it. Creative, interesting recipes will give points in originality to each cookbook. Almost every cookbook will have some kind of chicken recipe, etc, but we want different flavors and combinations.
By their powers combined, we have created the first iteration of our Eating Normal rating scale. This is open to adjustment over the coming months as we actually try to rate cookbooks against these scales. They may not work for every cookbook, and there may be areas that I want to address that these three do not adequately address. For now, it’ll have to do.
This rating scale will make its first appearance during our final review of Japanese Home Cooking by Sonoko Sakai, coming out in a few days. We already have a few articles out about our experience with the book, and there are still more to come.. Take a look around! We’ve hit a huge burst of posts toward the end of March now that my initial panic has passed and I can make myself do things.
Originally Posted May 18, 2020 in the Archive
We’ve reached a period in this pandemic where the belt has tightened here at the Eating Normal kitchen. I did not qualify for state unemployment, and now I must wait an extra thirty days for additional pandemic unemployment relief. It’s game over for bigger grocery orders. There’s no stocking up anymore. It’s time to learn how to use coupons and cook with what can be bought cheaply.
And I know I’m reaching this point later than a lot of people in the United States. I’ve been lucky to mostly enjoy the first month of my furlough, but that’s over. The struggle bus has come to town. We won’t even be doing a new cookbook next month. We’ll be engaging in a redemption tour of previous cookbooks to reduce the amount I’m spending on this hobby. That will continue until I start working at my furloughed job, or find a new job. Whatever has to come first.
It’s just my husband and I, so in some ways we are still fortunate to not have dependents counting on us for everything in their lives. Whatever I spend money on for groceries is for two people only, and in that way, spending 100 bucks a week on groceries can sound a bit extravagant still. That’s being generous. My aim is to spend LESS, but the max I am setting for myself is 100 a week.
How am I, a bougie foodie who usually spends upwards of 150 a week to get fancy shit for my meals going to manage that? Coupons, baby. Coupons.
The grocery store closest to us has online ordering where the specials of the week are available for viewing and use, so this makes it a lot easier for me to achieve. I spent literally thirty minutes today min-maxing my grocery order based upon what meats, dairies, and frozen items were on sale. I got myself down to under 90.
Whats on the list? Two packages of chicken thighs on sale for 1.49 a pound, 2 packages of Italian sausage, a 10 pound bag of flour… You know, the important things. What I’m not buying is a BUNCH of anything at one given time. I’m avoiding the brands I normally gravitate toward in order to capitalize on a sale instead. Some of it is painful since I got used to that good brand name life, but my poor person instincts kicked in pretty hard this week. I almost bought off brand soda.
I don’t think my husband would forgive me for it.
So, what this means for Eating Normal is the following:
We’ll get through this together, and hopefully the pivot I have to make in regards to this project will be useful for a wider audience. Thanks for sticking with me. Let’s get to cooking.
An idea born in Normal, Illinois, Eating Normal hopes to chronicle the eating Experiences of a Red bird. Pledge monthly to our patreon!