As 2022 quickly closes, I wanted to squeeze one final blog post in! This one, in particular, because it is the last of four things I wanted to share with all my teacher friends from our 28-day journey through Europe in the fall of 2022.
If you’ve been around here for a while, you may already know that in recent years my husband and I built a new house, including moving my piano studio into the basement and out of commercial space.
My husband did a lot of the work while still working a 40-hour workweek, so the bulk of the build took around three years.
Since cooking is my other mojo, I’ve wanted to share photos of the kitchen and pantry for a good two years, but it kept getting put off.
After finally capturing some good photos for our cabinet builders to display, I had no more excuses. It’s finally time for a tour!
Sharing photos of the empty “before” construction space isn’t much fun considering it was new construction. What is interesting, though, is to see what we went through leading up to completion.
Since our deadline to move out of our rental house was six months before our kitchen cabinets were ready (or the upstairs being complete), we lived in an unfinished basement (my future studio space) with no carpet or kitchen.
This past week was the 2022 Music Teachers National Conference. Since it was virtual, a few teacher friends and I decided to come together so as to not miss out on one of the best aspects – spending time together. Plus, it’s easier to feel more enveloped in the virtual experience when you’re not alone and easily distracted by other life happenings.
As someone who loves to cook and host, I was quick to volunteer our home as the location. I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to come together with other teacher friends. It’s practically like a spa day as you walk away feeling rejuvenated, refreshed, and newly motivated!
Call me crazy, but since I usually cook for two, I considered cooking for five for multiple meals and days as a fun opportunity. Of course, my teacher friends were happy to oblige. 🙂 Meet my friends and guests:
If there’s one type of gift you will likely never see me give students, it’s a hand-made craft. Don’t get me wrong; there’s absolutely nothing wrong with those types of gifts – I think they’re fabulous. I am just a TERRIBLE crafter!
Consider recipes made with powdered milk, so students only have to add hot water. Along those same lines, I would advise you to not do the layered-type cocoa mix where you have to dump the whole container into a pot to mix.
What all these recipe mixes have in common:
Dry milk powder
Unsweetened cocoa powder
Confectioner’s sugar (dissolves better than white sugar)
(P.S. The only addition to this Cook’s Country is white chocolate chips and a bit of salt.)
Since the Cook’s Country recipe uses white chocolate chips, they have you mix the recipe in a food processor to get the chips into smaller pieces so they will dissolve better/quicker.
Unfortunately, this happens when you process dry powder stuff in a food processor. It’s a blustery mess! LOL
Are you a piano teacher (or independent music teacher of any instrument?)
Does the schedule of your occupation create obstacles in food planning/meals making you feel like you’re in a rut or frequently in “survival” mode?
Then, this post is for you!
Thanks to my good friend, Christina Whitlock, creator of the Beyond Measure Podcast, I’ve found a fun way to pull food fun into the mix a little more here!
Here’s a snippet into a text between the two of us several months ago (shared with permission 🙂 ).
Can you relate to her sentiments? 🙂
Thanks to her, I’m launching this new blog post series called “Music Teacher Eats: A Week of Easy, Healthy Meals”. You can look forward to a new edition of this series coming out at least once a season (fall, winter, spring, summer) and possibly even some holiday versions.
Before we continue, a few disclaimers:
First, I will do my best to meet Christina’s request of easy, healthy, and can be done in 30 minutes or less after teaching (assuming a little prep work has been done 🙂 – see the post: Food Prep and the Studio Schedulefor more on that!)
Second, as we all know, the words “easy” and “healthy” can mean completely different things to different people. I vow to do my best to take an overall general approach to both of these words and will also keep in mind that some of you (unlike me) may be serving families with kids.
Third, all of the recipes I suggest here are ones that I have tried and love. I may not be a recipe website, but I cook A LOT and am really picky about quality recipes. Rest easy that everything I share today is a recipe worth keeping.
Fourth, while I cook a LOT from the subscription sites America’s Test Kitchen and Milk Street, I avoided including recipes from them. (It was hard though because their recipes are soooo good!) All recipes included can be found for free online.
I hope you find something in this suggested weekly meal plan that’s new, exciting, and most importantly, useful in easing the burden of meal planning as a studio music teacher!
Are you wondering why in the world you’re seeing a food post on a piano teacher blog?
Well, first of all, if you don’t know me already, besides piano teaching, one of my life passions is cooking.
Second, we eat, right?
Third, as we can all attest, the schedule of the independent music teacher can make mealtime a struggle – especially if you have a family. After school and early evening is prime time for both music lessons AND asking the universal question “what’s for supper?” If you’re the person in your family who’s generally in charge of mealtime, this can make for a real struggle!
Today I want to share with you my three biggest food prep tips for keeping your meal-time work efficient and organized. Then, when you walk out the door of your studio late evening, you can breathe easy knowing dinner will be ready in a jiffy.
Also, stay tuned for a new post series coming up called Music Teacher Eats for meal plan ideas that are easy, healthy, and quick to prepare!
Recently, a friend posted on Facebook that she was going to Trader Joe’s for the first time in a long time, and did anyone have items they LOVED she should add to the list?
After commenting using a quick cut and paste of my Trader Joe’s shopping list I keep in Evernote, it hit me:
This may be a fun little post to share with my readers! I love food and cooking but don’t incorporate enough of it on this blog as I would like besides linking to recipes and products I love in the weekly Friday Finds.
So, here we are!
What’s So Special About Trader Joe’s?
This niche grocery store is especially known for its low prices on unique food items, quirky culture, cozy size, and special experience. There’s something about shopping there that just feels good.
For me, the unique food items are the biggest reason I shop there; that feature is best displayed in their freezer section. Never have I been one for buying pre-made meals of any kind in a regular grocery store because they’re never that good (or that healthy, for that matter).
Trader Joe’s does it differently, though.
When I go there, I take my time and slowly peruse the freezer section, taking in each item. Being that all of their product brandings is completely different than the mainstream brands you are used to seeing in a regular grocery, it can feel a little strange (and perhaps overwhelming) at first looking at a whole new line of products.
My Trader Joe’s Shopping List
The list I’m sharing with you today is items that I love. They may not make it into my cart every time I go, but I consider them winning products – many of which I like to keep in stock at home.
Besides my repeat list, I also try to buy half-a-dozen new items each time. “The Kitchn” website frequently posts fun articles on Trader Joe’s (I link to several of their articles at the end of the post). My shopping list is always inspired by what I read there, and information gleaned from the fun Trader Joe’s Podcast.
Keep in mind I’ve only been lucky to have a Trader Joe’s nearby (well, 35 minutes away) for the past year. Before that, I only got to go a couple of times a year when I was in Indianapolis (90 minutes away) – usually for a state MTA board meeting! Ha!
My list would likely be longer if I could be a more regular customer, but this is what I have thus far.
As teaching hours increase and stress levels spike due to the new online music lesson setting, you may be experiencing the inclination to either stress-eat or have the need for small bits of sustenance to see you through the day.
Here are a few of my favorite healthy snacks and recipes.
So far, my favorite dried fruit brands have either been Made in Natureor Trader Joe’s.
Unfortunately, both of these are often either not available on Amazon or not available for as good of a price as you may find in the store.
Generally, I reach for unsweetened, unsulfured, and organic dried fruit. Sweetened dried fruit is almost always way too sweet and sugary (in my humble opinion).
That being said, when it comes to dried apricots, they can be tricky. Half the time, the unsweetened, unsulfured ones can be really hard and dry. These ones from Amazon are pretty good.
For the slightly more child-like side of you (or just for a change of pace) try fruit leather (a.k.a. grown-up “fruit roll-ups”)!