Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Meal Prep Sunday: Root Veggie Soup, Baked Fish and Pulled Beef Roast

A fairly simple prep this week. I spend about two hours in the kitchen, including clean up and making baby food (which most of you probably don't have to do).

Here's the Master Grocery List:

3lb chuck roast
4 white fish filets
1 cup plain yogurt
1 cup milk
1 acorn squash
1 celeriac
2 russet potatoes
2lb carrots
1lb parsnips
1 bundle leeks
1 banana
2-3 pears
1 cup white rice
1 cup grain mix (rice, barley, lentils, etc)
2 cups rolled oats
cooking oil
maple syrup
2 tbsp butter
balsamic vinegar
Worchestershire sauce
salt and pepper
2 bay leaves

Equipment Needed: Slow Cooker (2) or Dutch Oven, Rice Cooker (or another Medium Saucepan), Saute Pan, Medium Saucepan, Blender, Immersion Blender or Potato Masher

Equipment Substitutions:: If you aren't blessed with two slow cookers, you can either prep one of the dishes to cook overnight, or you can easily finish the soup on the stove. If you go that route, then just saute the leeks in a big (very big!) soup pot to start, and add the rest of the veggies after. The soup is done when the veggies and the grains are soft, probably an hour or so? Maybe more, maybe less; check every 15 minutes after 45. If you don't have an immersion blender, wait until your liquids are cooled off a little, and blend in a regular blender. For the soup, once the veggies are soft enough, you can just use a potato masher to thicken it up a little. If you don't have a rice cooker (you poor bastards), throw one cup of rice into a medium saucepan. Cover with 1 1/2 cups water and stir. Bring to boil over high heat. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook for 45 minutes. Then remove from heat BUT KEEP COVERED and let it rest for 10 minutes. Works every single time.

As always, starting with a tidy kitchen helps. Do all the dishes the night before, get the coffee maker ready, etc.

To start, preheat oven to 400 and set the rack in the middle. Get a sink ready so you can do dishes as you go.

Cut the acorn squash in half and scoop out seeds. Pour a little bit of maple syrup into each center and brush it over the top. Put on a baking tray (covered in foil or parchment paper, if desired) and bake for 45 minutes.

Get the rice started in the rice cooker. Get the eggs started on the stovetop: put six eggs in the saucepan and cover with about an inch of water. Cover and turn the burner to high until it boils. Remove cover and let it boil for a few minutes; then cover, remove from heat, and let sit for fifteen minutes or so. After that, you can pour off the water and pour cold water over the eggs until they are cool. Then right into the fridge they go!

Chop the leeks, put in a large bowl, and cover with water. Let them sit for a few minutes.

Heat the saute pan over medium heat. Throw some oil in it. When ready, sear the roast until brown on at least two sides.

Cut the onion into slices and cover the bottom of the slow cooker. When the roast is brown, lay it over the onion slices. Sprinkle with balsamic vinegar and Worchestershire sauce, cover, and cook on low for 8 hours. Once it's done, remove meat from slow cooker and shred. Use an immersion blender to puree what's left in the pot and add as much of the sauce as desired to meat. When I did this, I had to pour all the liquid and onions into a bowl to make the mixture deep enough to puree with my immersion blender.

Saute the leeks in the saute pan (you don't have to clean it - the beef bits are only going to make the soup better.

While they are sauteing, chop the veggies. I started with the carrots, chopping a few into sticks, a few into very small chunks (for baby food), and the rest into 1-inch pieces.

I chopped the parsnips, celeriac and potatoes into similar sizes. Throw these all into the second slow cooker.

Throw a cup of some grain into the pot (I used a barley/lentil/brown rice mix) and, once the leeks are done, throw those into the pot. Add 2 tsp of salt and cover the veggies with at least an inch of water. Cook on low for 8 hours. Once finished, use the immersion blender to puree some of it, if desired (I like a really thick soup).

Once the acorn squash is done, set aside to cool.

Lay the fish out on the same baking sheet. Melt the butter. Brush it on the fish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Bake for 15 minutes, or until fish is opaque and flaky.

Once the acorn squash is cool enough to handle, scoop the flesh into the blender. Add one ripe banana, about 2/3 cup of plain yogurt and milk, some cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. Blend. Put 1/2 cup of rolled oats into each glass container. Pour smoothie over, leaving an inch or so of space between the top of the jar. Stir and refrigerate.

Here's the final spread: carrot sticks, hard-boiled eggs, white rice, baked fish, overnight oatmeal, pulled beef, and root veggie grain soup.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Daily Sketchbook Challenge: Day 3 and 4

More of the cats (surprise surprise):

Connor got his new exersaucer today, so I tried some gestures while he was busy trying to shove everything in his mouth:

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Snowy Owl WIP and Finished Piece

After attempting to lift some of the lights, it quickly became clear that the process wasn't going to work the way I wanted. So I scrubbed the entire wing out. While I waited for it to dry, I negatively painted some more grass in.

Then I used dark mixes of paint to block in the dark patterns on the wings.

Blocking in the markings was the hardest part. After that, all I had to do was add some shadows on some of the feathers, darken some of the patterns that were in shadow, and add some details to the face. The horizontal bands of color were added on a lark, but I think I like them.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Daily Sketchbook Challenge: Day Two

Day two, featuring a more cooperative Stinkster and Bali (she's a giant ham):

missy acker sketchbook

Daily Sketchbook Challenge: Day One

What do you do when none of the five animals in the house are cooperating? Still lifes, of course. Moved the light source around for each of these sketches.

missy acker sketchbook still-life

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Snowy Owl Watercolor WIP: Part One

A quick project that suddenly came up. Trying to do a simple watercolor; it's more of an experiment than anything.

First step is blocking in the paper in the two theme colors:

snowy owl painting wip missy acker

Next I blocked in a few details and added a few new colors:

snowy owl painting wip missy acker

Here I did more of the same, plus did some negative painting in the background:

snowy owl wip painting missy acker

At the moment, I don't like how dirty the wing in the foreground looks, but I purposely used paints that lift easily, so I plan to scrub out the lights. We'll see what it looks like after that.