Hungry Planet: Washington, USA

We really enjoyed the books “Hungry Planet” and “Material World,” by Peter Menzel, and decided that while doing our own version of Material World – putting all our stuff out in our yard – was too much, we could do our own Hungry Planet! So for kicks, here’s what we ate in a week and some stats. We hope to do this every few years to see how our food habits and family change.
As a side note, we highly recommend both books as a great way to learn about the world and other cultures, and it really makes you realize how much we have as Americans and how little we have to complain about – I felt really guilty complaining about our 950 square feet in Japan feeling small when you read of families of 10 living in 200!

April 2017, Washington State.
2 adults, 1 2.5-year old, 6 month old baby (eats only a bite or two of food a day, but ups my appetite!)

Eggs & Dairy: $14.49
2 dozen eggs 8, purchased from local farm
1.5 gallons milk, 1 quart+ used for yogurt
1 lb monterey jack cheese 5.49

Meat: $22.09 (est. yearly consumption per adult: 130)
1 lb grassfed beef 7.50
15 oz can wild caught salmon 4.59
4 lb organic chicken $10

Produce: $43.51
4 lbs oranges 2.36
2 eggplant 3.36
daikon radish 1.5 lbs, 1.76
8 cucumbers 3
2 lbs frozen green beans $2
1 lb frozen corn 1
.5 lb bok choy .74
spinach bunch 1.48
green onions .38
serrano chili .04
2 lb mexican squash 2.50
10 lbs squash 7.80
2 lbs carrots $1
4.5 lb roma tomato 3.57
cantaloupe 2.48
3.5 lb yellow onion 1.51
2 heads garlic .80
2 lemons 1.32
1.2 lb satsuma 1.83
4.2 lb bananas 2.38
2 lb green cabbage 1.10
3 limes .39
2 avocados 1.36
plantain .71
*5 lbs potatoes
usually – less side veggies (ie, mexican squash, squash – and instead 3 heads of lettuce)

Condiments, Snacks, Drinks: $23.11

applesauce 3.58
ketchup 3.29
worchestershire sauce 3
seaweed 2.39
.6 lb walnuts 3.86
1 lb tahini 6.99
*homemade kombucha
*natural peanut butter
(Won’t use all the tahini, applesauce, ketchup, worchestershire sauce in a week, but there are always weekly purchases to restock pantry items so I included it anyway!)

Grains & Legumes: $5.88
1 lb dry chickpeas 1.49
15 oz can refried beans 1.39
2.5 lbs organic oats $3
*5 lbs organic whole wheat bread flour, for making bread & pizza dough
*.5 lb quinoa
*2 c cornmeal
*1 c green lentils

*not included in price/bought previously or in bulk
Not pictured: olive oil, coconut oil, honey, also all purchased in bulk.

Rough total: $113.08
(I was actually really surprised by this as normally it’s more and I didn’t feel like I skimped on anything that week)

We generally make one grocery trip every week, and every four weeks pick up our co-op delivery. Every few weeks I make a second grocery store run to stock up on meat at a store that is more expensive but has better options for meat.

What we ate
This is something I wish they’d had in the book so am including it for us.
Ezra: overnight oats x2, banana x2
S & I: yogurt and granola x1, oats x1, overnight oats x1, eggs x2
All: veggie frittata, breakfast star/bread

leftovers most of the time, on days we didn’t have enough leftovers, we supplemented with sandwiches with homemade bread, veggies and hummus, and -almost-7-layer dip.

Salmon chowder with green beans
Okonomiyaki, miso soup, daikon and bok choy
Tamale pie, squash
Lentil chickpea salad with tomato and cucumber side salad
Curry and yogurt chicken, quinoa, green beans
stuffed squash and cantaloupe
Pizza, roast potatoes, any leftover fruit and veggies
Saturday night church potluck – brought roasted zucchini and eggplant

Hummus & veggies
breakfast cookies
Kombucha jello
frozen peas

Food in Japan, 5

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Making the octopus crackers
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In line for them!

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The best okonomiyaki – we went out of the train station while transferring to the subway in Tokyo and walked down the street looking for a place and found this one.

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Finally found more kitkat flavors than just green tea. I wouldn’t have known it was sake if it wasn’t for the label. It tasted fruity like sake, but not alcoholic.

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MosBurger, Japan’s fast food chain like McDonalds. Better quality for sure.

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Yakitori stand

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bean paste filled pancake-type stuff.

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Convenience store breakfast

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trying natto again, with leeks, since that’s how my Japanese friends said they like it. Still not a fan.

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one last time at our favorite sushi place

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food from the playgroup Christmas party. I feel bad for Ezra that he never really got to experience what I got through playgroup and English Class – homemade Japanese food!

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had to stop at the bakery again… we were hoping for curry bread but there was none. And then on our walk home we got some dried persimmons that were SO tasty.

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pastries at last English Class – two days before we moved and probably the saddest part of leaving.

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we brought back a box of goodies for both sides of the family, and these are just some.

Settling in & Butternut Apple Soup

I did not intend to take a blogging break at all, especially not such a long one! But although we found a house quickly, they couldn’t set up internet for over a week, and then the modem stopped working an hour after installation and then we were told we had to wait for them to mail a new one but they kept cancelling the order, and then it finally came, but it still didn’t work, so we had to wait for another tech to come out. But, we’re all connected now, and the time without internet helped us not be torn a thousand different ways while we were trying to get everything unpacked and on the walls (which is now done, excepting a few frames we need to purchase, and reorganizing the girls’ clothes storage). We have quite a backlog to get through but I do hope to prioritize blogging once a week until we’re caught up and then maybe more.

I have a few other posts in process, but they still need some more work, so here’s a recipe of Ezra’s that I have meant to post for a long time. It tastes like pumpkin pie! We like to serve it with biscuits (decor by S) and cheese slices or leftover meat for protein.
1 butternut squash, roasted and peeled (~2-3#)
3 apples, roasted and cored
1 large onion
½ c cream*
2-3 c milk*
3 stock cubes*
dash cayenne
dashes paprika
1.5 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp sage
¼ tsp cloves
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper

Saute the onion
Add apples and squash, cook for 5 minutes.
Add the rest of the ingredients, bring to a boil, simmer for 10 minutes, puree.**

*we have also done more cream and then used chicken stock instead depending on what we have on hand
**if you have a BlendTec or Vitamix you could probably just throw it all in there and blend till hot.

Postpartum Freezer Meals

This list is mostly for our records so that I know next time what I did this time, but this is what I stocked our freezer with preparing for baby #2! I wanted to make sure we had a good mix of breakfast and snack stuff and meals, as well as some frozen veggies to use as sides and grated cheese to make other meals easier. And I wanted it all to be fairly healthy and some of it paleo or at least gluten and dairy free in case this baby has food issues like S did!
We also had some canned beans, salmon, and corn, and some dry goods like oatmeal, buckwheat, etc. on hand.
I prefer to do freezer meals by doubling a recipe/week for the last few months of pregnancy instead of doing a bunch all at once. We eat half the recipe and freeze the other half.

Slowcooker sausage spinach tomato soup (minus the pasta. Gluten and dairy free)
harvest spiced chicken stew (paleo)
Beef enchiladas (Ezra’s family’s recipe)
Japanese curry (minus potatoes)
lamb stew with dried plums (paleo)
2 9×13 egg bakes
2 recipes of soaked baked oatmeal (used steel cut oats)
Hawaiian Chicken (paleo)
Maple Dijon Chicken (paleo)
BBQ Chicken (paleo)
Ginger peach chicken (used honey and coconut aminos, so paleo)
chicken wild rice stew
spicy tuna cakes (doubled, paleo)
spinach & leek soup (paleo)
pumpkin poblano chili (one recipe with 1/2 amount meat + kidney beans, another as written. Just used chili powder though)

paleo muffins (double batch, paleo)
spinach quinoa muffins (double batch, without sweetener)
chocolate muffins (double batch. I don’t like these very much, though!)
pumpkin peanut butter bars (as balls, double batch)
groaning cake (1.5 batches)
coconut bars (paleo, double batch)
Red raspberry leaf tea concentrate ice cubes
Coconut oil chocolate

The hardest part was not eating it all before the baby was born!

Food in Japan, 4

{we ordered food from a machine, got a ticket, and then took the ticket inside to get our food! I documented the whole process but not sure if it has the name/place on it so left that out}

curry ice cream

melon ice cream on cornflakes.

learning to cook Japanese food at home with cookbooks from Ezra. Fresh cucumbers from a Japanese friend’s garden also help! 🙂

Caprese sushi… basil sauce and mozzarella on salmon.

My favorites… eel and grilled salmon with basil sauce (also good with mayonnaise and spices)

peaches from the grocery store.It’s nice to know exactly how much you’re purchasing but the amount of packaging here drives me crazy.

You can get volcano curry on Mt Fuji.

The peaches were ok, but these nectarines were amazing!

Ekiben (special bento for Shinkansen)

These were amazing.

We popped into the Dominique Ansel bakery in Tokyo and were not disappointed!

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Out to eat when my dad was visiting. Delicious vegetable tempura, eel tempura, soba, and udon curry.

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Lotus root chips. So yummy!

Japan: Tokyo #3

We heard about a Studio Ghibli Expo going on in the summer in Tokyo and went to check it out with some friends, as likely our last Tokyo trip, at least before the baby is born. We hope to go to the Studio Ghibli Museum before we leave, but that’s not downtown Tokyo.

Riding the train into Tokyo (that’s sweat from being in the carrier, not a diaper leak!)

The exhibit was enjoyable, but there wasn’t a lot in English. It was mostly posters and various other memorabilia, but Miyazaki’s desk was there, and the Cat Bus, and air ship from Castle in the Sky.

And it had a great view of Tokyo from Roppongi Hills.

They had a themed cafe, but it was expensive and didn’t have much to choose from, and we had walked past a doner kabob place, so that’s where we got lunch.

And then to somewhere between Harajuku and Shibuya for Dominique Ansel treats, with a stop at a thrift store to get Yukata on the way.

We skipped the corn…

And they were out of Cronuts…

But they were NOT Japanese-sized portions…

(their only-in-Japan pastries)

It wasn’t really hard to decide, though… the frozen s’more was an obvious choice.

Especially after they scorch it.

Ezra’s ice cream

Cookie shots

Ottolenghi: Jerusalem

My brother-in-law gave my sister Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem cookbook, and my parents saw it while visiting them. Then Ezra and I visted them and loved looking at the recipes – and then my parents gave it to me for my birthday. We decided pretty quickly that we didn’t just want to try some of the recipes, but we wanted to cook through the entire cookbook. So in August 2014 we started cooking through it, taking a break for a bit after S was born and when we first got to Japan. We finished in May 2016 (but if we’re honest there is one pickle recipe in the back we haven’t made because I can’t find turnips out of season).

(date and almond spinach salad)

A large number of the recipes are spectacularly delicious. Quite a few are also rather labor intensive and very few are quick, weeknight meals. Some call for odd ingredients that we had to substitute or order online (especially when we moved to Japan and lost our International Market!). The International Market was a huge help in finding some of the odder ingredients or finding higher quality tahini than the American grocery stores carry and getting a better deal on spices and fresh herbs. But even with the market it wasn’t the most budget-friendly book to cook through, although it made having meatless nights easier because his vegetable, grain, and side recipes are so delicious you can use them as a main and don’t even miss the meat.


There were only one or two recipes did we not like (and those were ones we had expected to not like). Some weren’t spectacular but were delicious for what they were – like wilted chard. Our most common substitutions were using honey instead of sugar and using ground spices instead of whole ones. We couldn’t find quince so used pears, and iinstead of Jerusalem artichokes – which I have never seen – we used water chestnuts. A budget-minded substitution was using canned artichoke hearts instead of 12 artichoke bottoms.

(chocolate krantz cake)

Most of the time the recipes went off perfectly, but the one thing we always had trouble with was the dishes where rice is cooked in with other things. Our guess is that he had a gas stove, but we did have a gas stove for part of the time we had trouble with it. So I’m not entirely sure what was going on. But we usually ended up adding more water and extending the cooking time a bit. Otherwise we didn’t have any trouble with following the directions or recipes flopping. That said, they never looked quite as beautiful as the pictures, but were still usually safe to make for guests even if we hadn’t cooked them before, and it’s still our go-to for guests.

(ma’amul was the one more labor intensive recipe I gave up on and made into bars)

The cookbook itself is gorgeous, and one of my regrets is not having a cookbook stand that would cover it. We did write notes on all the recipes, but I also got a lot of splashes and grease marks on pages.

(the result of a confused cooking time)

It really grew my cooking, too. Using allspice as a savory spice was new to me but now something I love with ground beef. There were also a variety of new techniques (like confit) and skills I learned making things, especially working with phyllo dough. We were introduced to some new ingredients and vegetables (like kohlrabi, although I usually couldn’t find it and used jicama), and used cuts of meat we wouldn’t normally use (I never would have purchased lamb neck, nor guessed it would be so tasty!).

(hummus and tabouleh)

He was often very clear about weights and measurements even of produce, which was very helpful, especially as onions come in all sorts of sizes!

(fig compote)

For me, having grown up around a lot of these dishes, cooking through was very nostalgic, and there were times I didn’t recognize a recipe but as soon as I bit in memories came flooding back. Some things have a unique twist to them, but some, like his hummus, falafel, baba ghanoush, mejadara – are just like my childhood.

(ka’ach bilmalch)

Favorite recipes: (the asterisks are the “best of the best”)
*Roasted sweet potatoes and fresh figs (pg 26). Fresh figs are delicious but not necessary. Oddly enough, they were easier to find *in Japan than in Cali!
Baby spinach salad with dates and almonds (page 30).
Roasted butternut and red onion with tahini and za’atar (page 36) – one we’ve made about 3 times!
Lemony leek meatballs (page 44).
*Pureed beets with yogurt & za’atar (page 53).
Fried cauliflower with tahini (60).
*Roasted cauliflower and hazelnut salad (page 62)
*Butternut squash & tahini spread (page 69).
spicy beet, leek, and walnut salad (73).
roasted potatoes with caramel and prunes (page 86).
sabih (page 91) – but DON’T fry the eggplant! Eggplant just soaks up the oil and it’s gross. Much better grilled!
*balilah (page 102)
basmati and wild rice with chickpeas, currants, and herbs (106)
hummus with lamb neck (page 118)
*burnt eggplant and mograbieh soup (page 141)
spicy freekeh soup with meatballs (page 148)
*lamb stuffed quince with pomegranate (page 155)
*turnip and veal cake (page 156)
*stuffed onions (page 157)
kubbeh hamusta (page 162)
*stuffed eggplant with lamb and pine nuts (page 166)
*chicken with caramelized onion and cardamom rice (page 184). One of Ezra’s top recipes!
*chicken sofrito (page 190). I think our favorite! We have plans to combine this with the veal cake recipe, using the veal cake one but subbing chicken for veal and adding whole cloves of garlic.
*lamb meatballs with barberries, yogurt, and herbs (page 199)
*turkey and zucchini burgers (page 200) – quick for Ottolenghi!
*slow-cooked veal with prunes and leek (page 206) probably my favorite meat one aside from sofrito.
fricassee salad (page 227).
prawns, scallops, and clams with tomato and feta (page 233).
marinated sweet and sour fish (page 238). I didn’t love this, but Ezra did, mostly for how unique it is.
ka’ach bilmalch (page 248)
burekas (page 254)

And we’ll just say ALL of the desserts because I would be listing practically all of them.
We also did all the condiments, and our only issue there was that we’re not big fans of his pickles. The dukkah (page 300) is absolutely delicious and great on salad with dates.