Monday, September 5, 2011

Thinking ahead saved the day

With the weather forecast for today being a high of sixty five degrees with winds 16-25 mph we thought twice about riding our bikes to downtown Chicago, sixty six miles round trip. But we already postponed the trip from Saturday because of the weather and last weekend we discovered the art of drafting, significantly increasing our mileage per hour and I could hardly wait to see how fast we could make it to downtown.  So we decided to brave the windy/chilly forecast. I wanted to leave at 7:30am in order to avoid traffic but Joe thought we should wait until 8ish so that it could warm up a little outside.  Glad he won because we left at 8:30 and it was only around fifty five degrees. Burr, I haven't felt that cold in a while. I kind of won too because there was minimal to no traffic the whole day. I guess everyone stayed inside this Labor Day or went somewhere else for the holiday.  Either way we enjoyed having the streets to ourselves most of the day.

On the way there the wind about knocked us over several times,  I definitely kept both hands on the handle bars at all times.  Despite the crazy wind we made record time 1 hour 42 minutes, 17.4 mph. Score!!! My goal was 1 hour 45 minutes. 

Normally we stop by Trader Joes for some snacks and then head to the Lake Shore for a little break but today we were feeling so cold that we decided to buy some protein bars and then rest while enjoying Chai Tea Lattes inside the warm Starbucks. Yeah, that was nice. Once we had warmed up and had our fill of people watching, we started our journey home. 

Joe reminded me that no matter where you are in Chicago the wind is always against you.  And indeed it pushed against us the whole way home, making our trip home a little longer but still we made decent time.  I must confess we did consider catching a train about ten miles into our trip home when we realized that we failed to eat enough food, but unfortunately the trains were running on holiday schedule leaving us the option of waiting an hour and a half or ride on. So for the next twenty miles we fought the wind with minds consumed by thoughts of food. Seriously I was planning out all sorts of courses I was going to consume upon entering my front door.  

This is what we looked like when we got home, yikes the wind did a number on us!

That is where thinking ahead saved the day.   Last night I decided to make garden fresh tomato soup knowing that we were going to have a cold long day of riding.  For some reason I  felt really tired yesterday and even had to take a nap which is so not something I like doing.  But, glad I napped because I probably would of decided against making the soup.  That would of been a sad story but instead I got home and made a bee line to the kitchen.  The soup just needed to be warmed up but I thought some cheesy flatbread would make the meal complete.  So while Joe showered I got the bread ready and popped it in the oven for 15 minutes, just enough time for me to shower.  

Once again, thinking ahead saved the day.  Don't we look so much happier?

Thinking ahead is actually something I've been trying to do more often.  I've started planning my menu for the week on Sundays and then do my grocery shopping after church.  It has saved me so much time to actually have a plan of what I'm going to cook.  I think it is saving money too, a huge plus. It also has helped me plan out when we can have people over for dinner.  The number one reason I don't have people over  is I don't know what to cook.  But we've had people over three weeks in a row since I've started this new method of thinking ahead.

What are some ways you think ahead? I'd love to hear and see how I can think ahead in other areas of my life.

I thought I'd also post the recipes I made today, both are gluten free...


Garden Fresh Tomato Soup

5 cups chopped fresh tomatoes(skins removed)
1 slice onion 
2 Tbs minced garlic
3/4 cup water
2 vegetable bouillons (I use Rapunzel vegan vegetable bouillon since they are gluten free)
2 tablespoons butter 
2 tablespoons gluten free flour  ( I use Bob's Red Mill All Purpose)
1 cup milk ( I used 2%) 
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
2 teaspoons brown sugar, or to taste
cracked black pepper to taste 


  1. I like to take the skins off the tomatoes for a smoother soup.  Fill a pot with water and bring to a boil, meanwhile make an x on one side of the tomato or cut of the top. Once water is boiling add tomatoes for 30 seconds to a minute. You will know they are ready to take out once the skins start pulling back.  You can then dump out hot water and cover tomatoes with cold water.  The skins should peel right off.
  2. In a stockpot, over medium heat, combine the tomatoes, onion, garlic and water. Once the mixture has come to a boil add the vegetable bouillons. Gently boil for about 20 minutes to blend all of the flavors. Remove from heat and run the mixture through a blender. Be careful and do this in a couple batches as the hot mixture can easily escape and leave you with a burn. I pour the mixture from the blender into a mixing bowl as you will need the stockpot to be empty for the next step.
  3. In the now empty stockpot, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the flour to make a roux, cooking until the roux is a medium brown. Gradually whisk in a bit of the tomato mixture, so that no lumps form, then stir in the rest. Add the milk and season with sugar,salt and pepper, adjust to taste. I'm never good about exact measurements and decide more by taste so just add a little of each of the above until you find the taste you like.

Gluten Free Flatbread Recipe 

found at

I added cheese to the top of this bread since nothing goes better with tomato soup then grilled cheese but with Joe being gluten intolerant I feel like this is easier and cheaper than using a whole loaf of gluten free bread.  Although I've recently started making gluten free bread so I will have to share that recipe soon.  It only cost me $1.75 a loaf verses $5.00 and Joe says it is the best gluten free bread he has had.  Super happy about this but back to the flatbread recipe.  As you can tell I love saving money.


1 c. brown rice flour
1/2 c. corn starch,potato starch or tapioca starch(I use potato starch)
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. xanthan gum
1/8 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

3/4 c. water
1 tsp cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. canola
2 eggs (or flax eggs)

shredded cheese


1. Mix all dry ingredients in medium size bowl.
2. Add wet ingredients and mix thoroughly.
3. Grease two 8 in. square baking pans (or one 11x17 pan) and dust with brown rice flour.
4. Spread half of batter evenly into each pan, or all in one if using larger pan. Use the back of a wet spoon if the dough is sticky.

5. Spread cheese over top
5. Bake at 350 degrees F for approximately 15 minutes, or until bread pulls away from the sides of the pans.

Don't forget to leave a comment about ways you think ahead!



  1. How exciting!!! You are blogging, and SHARING YOUR RECIPES!!!! I have been waiting to get my hands on some of your recipes - they are so tasty!

    To answer your question...since February, Brent and I have started financially planning ahead for "surprises" which really shouldn't be surprises. :) For example, each month we move $100 from our checking account into a separate holding account designated for future car troubles. SOOOO, when our car needs repairs we won't cringe and pray for money to fall out of the sky...the money will be ready to be used when needed.

    Looking forward to hearing more about the adventures of Jen & Joe! :) Miss and Love you!!!!

    - Cait

  2. You two are so dedicated! I love having a nice homecooked meal ready to pop in the microwave or heat on the stove when your stomach is growling or you are simply in no mood to cook! I wanted to make tomato soup this week with all of our fresh tomatos! Thanks for sharing your recipe Jen! Love you