Little Kitchen

comments: 77





































Well, I persist. I cleaned out the kitchen cabinet and added forty recipes to my Paprika app and I've been shopping and cooking almost every day. Since my original freak out, we've only eaten out once as a family (when Andy's work picnic got rained out on Saturday and moved to the brewpub) and I had lunch by myself out yesterday. All of this still feels very, very good and is making me happy. It was truly shocking how much money was being spent on eating out or ordering in. I still am astonished at how much groceries cost (like, 'cause then you have to cook them, etc.). It will be interesting to really run the numbers at the end of this month and see how much was spent on groceries and how much on eating out.

At night I'm going back through my whole entire blog and adding all of my recipes — well, my recipes and things I've linked to that I've liked — to my Paprika app. My sister told me about this thing over a year ago but I never really got into it before. It's basically like a recipe box for your online recipes. You add recipes and photos to the box from anywhere on the internet: There is a list of compatible foodie web sites where you can download (from inside the Paprika app) any recipe very easily; if you're on another web site, and the recipe's format is not easily readable by the app (like the recipes in my blog aren't), then it's pretty easy to use the cut/paste function and get it formatted properly and into the recipe box. What's also cool is the scaling function (you can cut the recipe down to a sixth, or multiply it several times over) and the grocery-shopping function (you tap the recipe and it adds the ingredients to the shopping list for you). Oh, and the meal planner calendar. And the app syncs with my iPad and my iPhone as well as Andy's phone (though you have to buy the apps all separately, I think?), so we don't have to tell each other what to get, etc. I'll just say, "Can you pick up the stuff for fish tacos?" And he just goes into his app (synced with mine) and it's all right there, shopping cart full.

I'm sure everyone knows all of this already and is using all manner of apps like this. I have no affiliation with Paprika, I just think it's very cool; if you know about stuff like this and know of something better, please let me know, though I might be already too-invested in this one — it does take some time to get all of your recipes in there, one by one, and I've spent a few hours on it now. I wasn't using any recipe software at all, so I'm thoroughly goggle-eyed excited by this. My Paprika recipe box doesn't contain anything that I haven't actually made yet. My plan is to get all of my tried-and-true things in there first (and honestly, there are more than I thought, which is good). I've only gotten through about two years of my blog posts that contain recipes (forty) so far, so I have a ways to go. But I feel happy and inspired, and I'm pretty energized. It's a start. When I'm done I'll probably go through my cookbooks to see if any of those recipes that I like are online already. And then, if I'm not totally fried, I'll look at my actual handwritten recipe cards and see if it's worth at least putting a reference to each recipe (and a photo) into Paprika so that I can find add them to the meal planner calendar and find them in my own kitchen, etc. This all brings me no end of satisfaction. I have honestly been trying to get myself organized like this for years, probably for as long as I've been cooking.

Last week I made roasted tequila-lime shrimp and put the shrimp in this excellent quinoa salad by one of my dearest friends Sarah Kline, who is an incredible cook and an inspiration to me in every way. The whole thing was awesome. Then I made more of the blackened fish tacos again but this time I baked the fish in the oven in parchment-paper pouches and I MUCH preferred that, even to grilling. I also added my dad's coleslaw (which is very sweet, and which I really love with spicy stuff) and an easy sauce with a bit of sour cream, a bit of mayo, and some chipotle sauce. Then one morning I woke up and just wanted waffles. This required going out to the garage and finding the waffle maker, which had fallen off of its shelf (we keep some of our extra kitchen appliances in the garage because our kitchen is so small) and I had to haul it up by its tail and thread it back through a giant baker's rack, with the garage door falling on me, etc., etc., to get it out. Got it out and had to clean it within an inch of its life because it hadn't been used in I don't even know how long. Cleaned it (got tennis elbow here), made the waffle batter, then destroyed the first batch of waffles (which required cleaning the waffle maker again, swearing, foot stomping, general despair) as well as the second batch of waffles (which got scorched when, while banging the waffle maker over the sink to "clean" it, I accidentally turned up the darkness setting to Burnt). Luckily I had made so much batter (I'd doubled it, because I intended to be very clever and freeze some of them) that I had enough for one more batch, which came out very nice (though floppy) indeed. And lastly (you're bored now), I made spaghetti and sausage with peas (I added the peas) from the Barilla web site, which I think is very good in general and I have gotten a lot of nice recipes from there over the years. 

DAMN. It was a good week. But I am rusty nails. Out of practice. And kinda tired. That was a lot of cooking. And a LOT of cleaning. But I am determined to improve. Thank you to everyone who left helpful comments about the whole cooking thing on my first post about this a few weeks ago. I do plan to go through those suggestions to see if I find other things that are going to help with this, because it seems that I am not the only one who finds it all very challenging.

I remember a long time ago my favorite teacher (the elegant and inimitable Mr. Don Rehkopf from Oak Park-River Forest High School) told us that he'd had terrible, illegible handwriting as a student. But one day he had a teacher who had beautiful handwriting, and he was so inspired he decided to change his own. And so he diligently adopted a whole new model for his handwriting, and, as a result he had the most unique and gorgeous handwriting I'd ever seen, before or since. I've never forgotten the story, and I can picture his lovely handwriting as I write this. A metaphor. I always think of that lovely, kind gentleman when I'm trying to do something new.

In other unrelated food news, our pretty apples are doing amazingly well! I counted them this morning. There are twenty on our tree, and they are just starting to turn the most gorgeous shade of blush red. How do we know when to pick them? Will they fall off or something when they're ready? I can't believe how happy this tree makes me.

Also, IT RAINED. POURED. Oh my stars it was the best fifteen minutes in the world.

I'm making myself a new macrame necklace. The one in the picture is too short (ran out of cord) so I had to start over. Details to come.

And how do you like my pretty party hats?


For your party-planning pleasure! We're making kits (and a pattern)! They should be done by maybe next week? Stay tuned! I will discuss!


You are the bees knees and this post made my day! :). Yes, to what Caitlin said above about using leftovers to make another meal--one of my favorite tricks! Check out Jessica Fisher @ good cheap eats--she has some great cookbooks, meal plans, etc. I'm sold on Paprika--going to try the free trial soon!

So, do we need to start talking about planning for leftovers? Like make a roast one night, sandwiches with the cold cuts, then shepherd's pie with the minced-up pieces, and finally making soup stock with the bones and bits?

I didn't read through all of the comments here, but I wanted to add my two cents about the cost of eating out vs eating in.

When you first start cooking all the time you spend a lot more money on staples that you never needed before. Things that will work in recipes for a long time and you won't run out of and have to buy again for a while. The first few months may be a bit more expensive, but once you get your pantry stocked with all of the staples you use regularly, it'll go down a lot! Stick with it and look at the numbers over a few months.

Side note: I so love your hats and sampler!!! I remember seeing once that you sell your sampler kits and I really want one. Going to ask the hubby for it for my birthday next month!

Mary Beth says: July 28, 2015 at 05:17 PM

Oh my darlin. You are my Mr. Reykhopf. (sp?) Such a love you are.

Angela from Australia says: July 28, 2015 at 05:19 PM

Thank you so much Alicia. I think your party hat pattern will be ready in time for my daughter's 1st birthday. I love them!

My dad always makes the waffles in our family---waffles & bacon is our go-to comfort food. I grew up eating them, but I never realized the weight they carry. His mother died in 1939, when he was eight years old, and he learned to make them from her. On nice Sundays, they would go to the park and she would make them on a griddle over an open fire on these big brick barbeque grills they used to have while he would make all of his aunts push him on the swings. He also talks about card parties she would have where she served big batches of waffles. I think it was a pretty cheap way to feed a bunch of people during the Depression. So, to make a short story really long, as my mother would say, waffles are a form of love in my family.

I'm single, and I spend WAY too much on eating out every month. Plus I tend to eat stuff that isn't very good for me.

(Love that girl's 'do)

Do you know what I have just realised? Your blog reminded me so much of a Sarah Addison Allen novel. It's wonderful! If you've never read her books I think you'd enjoy them very much. 'The Sugar Queen' and 'Garden Spells' tie as being one of my favourite books of all time. 'Lost Lake' was a good second favourite. Wonderful for re-reads too!

It sounds like your having such a wonderful time with cooking, even if you're a bit out of sorts being so busy. I hope it rains a bit more and cools you all off! :)

Lynn Marie says: July 28, 2015 at 06:43 PM

Loved the waffle story! :-) Good grief, I can see that whole scenario happening to me. Thanks for all the info on the Paprika app. Even though you thought you were rambling on about it, it was new to me and am looking into it. Your pictures are beautiful as always.

Love the party hats!

I just love the photos in this post, each and every one!
Cooking from scratch can be exhausting, but so rewarding :)

you will know when the apples are ready when you barely touch them and they fall off in your hand. What kind of apples are they? We have a secret orchard nearby with all kinds of apple trees, someone really took care of it lovingly but now its an abandon hidden treasure which we have to bring clippers to cut thru all the blackberry bushes but totally worth the scratches - its a magic orchard.

sue collins says: July 28, 2015 at 11:02 PM

Just wanted to single out the photo above of your beautiful daughter..the one where she is looking side on toward the camera. It's fabulous :)

Gorgeous gorgeous pictures. Love Liberty fabric and the wonderful plait-as-crown Olde Europe (I guess there's a real name for this) hairstyle. i am keen to try the spaghetti and sausage recipe right now! Thank you Alicia for the lightness and brightness you bring. xx

As the daughter of an orchardist, my advice is don't wait for your apples to fall to the ground as they will be over ripe by then and bruised! Pick one and taste it. If it's good, they're ripe. You can also tell by the size and the colour, although that's harder if they are not red, red apples.

Such cute party need to do another book for sure.

You have got your cooking mojo back and some! Do you know what's best pleasing me in the food dept. right now? That my 21-year old son who is staying and working up in Oxford during his university holidays is enjoying real cooking and is sending me photos of all the delicious meals he and his girlfriend are making. We have quite a recipe swapping system going. I don't think many mums and dads today realise that by cooking proper meals they are passing on a real legacy to their children. Great stuff Alicia.

What a lovely cosy post. I love the light and the shade and reflections, the peeps of quilt and the lovely little Miss Amelia's gorgeous braided hair (babushka's too...I have a mini collection). It's good to hear that you have your cooking mojo back. It's hard cooking every single day, especially when you have a cute little two year old to spend time with and lots of creative projects on the go. I think summer time is harder than autumn/winter too. The cold and rain always draw me to the cosy kitchen.

It all looks delicious, especially the peas and spaghetti even though I'm a bit off peas at the moment, since last week when I was merrily dancing down the garden path to collect some from our little vegetable garden and tripped over the hose pipe, landed on my face and broke my front've tempted me back again to make this.

The little party hats are gorgeous, I'll keep them in mind but I've also spotted an alphabet sampler it would look so cute in our little spare room. I'm off to check the shop.

Hope you have some more cosy, rainy days.

The party hats are adorable. Your cooking sounds great and although I try to cook mostly from scratch I have never used a recipe app, I shall have to have a look at Paprika! Enjoy your dinner :-)

Catherine N. says: July 29, 2015 at 04:55 AM

I love your blog! (I think this is the first time I've posted). I have been doing a farmshare this year, and it makes a difference in terms of shopping, etc. I barely go to the grocery in the summer! Maybe that is something you can do next year? It is a fair amount of money up front, but saves in the long run.

If I'm totally honest, we are spending more on groceries than we used to but our eating out budget is now minimal (and we make sure we pick nicer places to out out when when we do, as treats!) and we are spending less on take outs... so all in all, it is about the same for us. But we know that what we eat is better for us (no processed food).

What is useful but requires planning - and I'm not fully there with this one yet - is to look for recipes that have the same ingredients or make sure that we use these up the following week, as quite often you buy one obscure ingredient for a recipe e.g. a bottle of mirin and you never use it again or you end up with half a cauliflower.

Keep it up Alicia!

Home cook meals eaten together as a family are priceless.

I admire your cooking enthusiasm! I used to cook when my chiddlers were young but now I prefer toast and a salad for dinner. My poor husband is a bit flummoxed by this turn of events. Your sweater is beautiful. You've picked up the stitches for the ribbing so perfectly. I really dislike picking up stitches so that's the first thing I noticed. The next sweater I make will have the ribbing incorporated into the general knitting of the sweater (if I can find a pattern that does that). I'm just in the middle of your cross-stitch sampler and loving every stitch, thank you! The hats, of course, couldn't be more wonderful!

I am trying the Paprika App month long free trial...thank you for your recommendation...I don't normally use apps, but this may be what I have been looking for in order to get my recipes in one place...and do some actual meal planning...

As always wishing you and yours the best...

I've decided you are the new tasha tudor. gorgeous.

Lovely photos. As always, I look forward to seeing your new posts.

Apples - in the Midwest the orchards offer apple picking beginning in August (Honey Crisp) and go through October (Granny Smith) with many varieties ripening through those weeks. Try checking local orchards for their Ripening Schedules. Or, you could just pull one and taste it. You'll know pretty quickly if it's not ready!

Grocery bill - Unless you have time to shop at several stores for best prices and coupons, it's daunting, especially when one insists on reasonable levels of quality for fresh fruits, veggies, and cuts of meat. Throw in the cost of buying as much organic as feasible. The bill has been steadily increasing without changing our habits.

Recipes - two of my family's particular favorites are from your blog. Mom's Beef Stroganoff with homemade dumplings - so amazing. And the fruit Gillette. Most of us do wind up in the "fixin' dinner" slump, but when you can come through with recipes like those, the slump won't last forever!

Briana Paternoster says: July 29, 2015 at 08:49 AM

You would really like the website,

Her recipes are amazing, simple, and delicious. And her photographs are wonderful. :D

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at