TBR List Declutter, Issue 35


We’ve been living in temporary housing for nearly eight weeks, courtesy of my spouse’s relocation package. When we moved to Massachusetts in 2011, that meant living in an extended-stay hotel for two months. Here it’s a little nicer. We’ve got digs—a furnished two-bedroom apartment—in a luxury apartment complex in a neighborhood in which we wouldn’t be able to afford to live if we had to pay the rent ourselves.

The kitchen is stocked with the basics: dishes, utensils, skillet, a couple of pans, coffee maker, toaster, a set of dull knives. It’s enough to get by, but not enough to do any involved cooking, so we’ve been eating the same five meals since we moved in:

  • Turkey burgers with sautéed green beans
  • Roast chicken drumsticks with roast potato slices, baked sweet potatoes, and steamed broccoli
  • Tostadas, which are actually burritos because for some unknown reason the corn tortillas I get here fry up into tooth-breaking disks rather than light, crispy tostada shells, so we wrap the filling in flour tortillas instead. But we still call them tostadas.
  • Breakfast for dinner (pancakes from a mix for the children, steel cut oatmeal with thawed frozen berries for me, sandwiches and leftover pancakes for my spouse)
  • “Chicken casserole” and sautéed shaved Brussels sprouts

Then we start all over again.

We supplement these with lots of fresh bell peppers, cucumbers, romaine lettuce, and ice cream, all of which my children will eat by the heaping bowlful, thank goodness (at least for the veggies), because after eating sautéed shaved Brussels sprouts every week for more than seven weeks, only my spouse can stomach them.

To stock items for this limited menu, we only shop at Trader Joe’s because they have so many ready-prepped options. “Chicken casserole” is one meal that is made entirely with TJ’s-specific ingredients, and I’ll probably tell you about that one in a later post, but for this tangent, I want to tell you about a Daily Special success story: Veggie Rice Salad.

For those poor souls unfamiliar with Trader Joe’s, the stores all have samples available that they call the Daily Special. My children love the Daily Special. Sometimes it’s a hit, and sometimes it’s a miss, but, like playing the slots, it’s the possibility of winning that keeps my children coming back. I never have the Daily Special. I just let the person serving know that my children have carte blanche to eat whatever is on offer while I browse the bagged greens and scrutinize the citrus fruits. So a couple of weeks ago when my children came to me raving about the Daily Special, I was surprised to learn that it was essentially a raw broccoli and cauliflower salad. They had the recipe on little pieces of paper, so I took one and we’ve been making it ever since.

Here are the ingredients:

  • 1 bag Trader Joe’s cauliflower rice
  • 1 bag Trader Joe’s broccoli rice
  • 1 jar Trader Joe’s roasted red and yellow peppers, drained and chopped
  • 1 bunch cilantro, washed and chopped (we’re starting to leave this out because it’s a pain to prep and because I read an article that said recent samples of fresh herbs have been shown to contain Listeria monocytogenes, E. coli, and/or Salmonella. It’s just a small percentage so the chance of illness is very, very low unless you get one of the bad bunches, and I’m not a gambler)
  • Trader Joe’s Green Goddess dressing (the one from the produce cooler), to taste (the original recipe says to use Trader Joe’s Cilantro Salad Dressing, but that has dairy in it, and my kids like the Green Goddess just as well)

Just toss everything together in a big salad bowl, if you have one, or if, like us, you don’t have a big salad bowl, just put it in whatever container you can find that’s approximately the size of a big salad bowl. We use the largest cooking pot we have (but don’t cook the salad). Then make it every week until you are completely tired of it and move on to some other vegetable dish.

Visual Interest:

IMG_20171126_135637 (1)
El Parque Nacional de Picos de Europa, Spain

Wondering what this is all about? Check out the introductory post.


Titles 411-430:

Title: The Novel Cure: From Abandonment to Zestlessness: 751 Books to Cure What Ails You
Author: Berthoud, Ella
Date Added: 12/12/2013

Verdict: Go. Cute idea, but I seriously (seriously) don’t need anything that will tempt me to add more books to my TBR.

Project List: n/a

Title: Writing on the Wall: Social Media – The First 2,000 Years
Author: Standage, Tom*
Date Added: 12/12/2013

Verdict: Keep. This one might be even more interesting to me than Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows, on which I passed judgment in Issue 34. I’ll give them both 50 pages and declare a winner.

Project List: Literary Death Match.

Title: The Many Rides Of Paul Revere
Author: Giblin, James Cross
Date Added: 12/16/2013

Verdict: Keep. I added this one to read aloud to my history-loving son, and I’ll keep it for the same reason. Hopefully I will remember it when we learn about the American Revolution in a few weeks.

Project List: Kids Read-Aloud.

Title: The Lemonade Trick
Author: Corbett, Scott
Date Added: 12/16/2013

Verdict: Keep. I just read The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with my son. This seems like a natural follow-up.

Project List: Kids Read-Aloud.

Title: Paul Bunyan Swings His Axe
Author: McCormick, Dell J.
Date Added: 12/16/2013

Verdict: Keep. Apparently one reviewer’s eight-year-old LOLed. Let’s see if it has the same effect on my eight-year-old.

Project List: Kids Read-Aloud.

Title: Story of Canada
Author: Lunn, Janet
Date Added: 12/16/2013

Verdict: Keep. At the risk of sabotaging my “titles removed” total for this issue, I’m holding this one for a read-aloud as well.

Project List: Kids Read-Aloud.

Title: The Story of the Declaration of Independence
Author: Richards, Norman
Date Added: 12/16/2013

Verdict: Go. I’d prefer something that deals more specifically with the writing of the Declaration. We’ve got the general history covered.

Project List: n/a

Title: The Young Oxford History Of Britain & Ireland
Author: Corbishley, Mike
Date Added: 12/16/2013

Verdict: Go. I can see myself picking this one up for my son, but I’m not sure it belongs on my personal TBR.

Project List: n/a

Title: The Furious Flycycle
Author: Wahl, Jan
Date Added: 12/16/2013

Verdict: Keep. Another that looks like it will be fun to read aloud with my son before he gets past the age when he wants me to read to him.

Project List: Kids Read-Aloud.

Title: Money, Money, Money: Where It Comes From, How to Save It, Spend It, and Make It
Author: Drobot, Eve
Date Added: 12/16/2013

Verdict: Go. My daughter read this one and liked it, so I’ll probably get it for my son (from the library), too, but I don’t think it will be a read-aloud and I doubt I will read it on my own.

Project List: n/a

Title: It’s a Dog’s World: True Stories of Travel with Man’s Best Friend
Author: Hunsicker, Christine
Date Added: 12/16/2013

Verdict: Go. My son doesn’t have any particular affinity for dogs, and I would rather stick with classic dog stories anyway.

Project List: n/a

Title: Pioneers in Canada (Illustrated Edition)
Author: Johnston, Harry Hamilton
Date Added: 12/16/2013

Verdict: Go. I think I added this as another read-aloud, but I think it would be more Canada than we’d need, especially with the Canada book that I kept on the list above.

Project List: n/a

Title: King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table
Author: Green, Roger Lancelyn
Date Added: 12/16/2013

Verdict: Go. My kids didn’t get into this one a few years ago. I might pick up the audiobook for them to try, but I think we might hold out for Mallory’s Le Morte d’Arthur and/or White’s The Once and Future King.

Project List: n/a

Title: Rabbit Hill
Author: Lawson, Robert
Date Added: 12/16/2013

Verdict: Go. I think my children are at more of a Watership Down age, and I know I am.

Project List: n/a

Title: Young Folks’ History of England
Author: Yonge, Charlotte Mary
Date Added: 12/16/2013

Verdict: Keep. We own this one, and I still plan to read it, either with my son or on my own.

Project List: Kids Read-Aloud

Title: Good Prose: The Art of Nonfiction
Author: Kidder, Tracy
Date Added: 12/17/2013

Verdict: Keep. I continue to struggle with plot in my fiction writing, so I might as well try to improve my nonfiction writing.

Project List: none.

Title: Gorky Park (Arkady Renko, #1)
Author: Smith, Martin Cruz
Date Added: 12/26/2013

Verdict: Keep. When I was a kid, the title of this book was hilarious to me. Come to find out, it’s considered very good crime fiction.

Project List: none.

Title: A Fine Balance
Author: Mistry, Rohinton
Date Added: 1/1/2014

Verdict: Keep. People love it, and I want to read more fiction about India.

Project List: none.

Title: Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People
Author: Banaji, Mahzarin R.
Date Added: 1/7/2014

Verdict: Go. I’ve done several Implicit Association Tests and had many conversations about the results. I’m not sure this book will add to the experience.

Project List: n/a

Title: The Day the Universe Changed: How Galileo’s Telescope Changed the Truth
Author: Burke, James
Date Added: 1/12/2014

Verdict: Go. I’m always interested in times in history when paradigms shift, but I already have a book I plan to read for this purpose (The Story of Western Science by Susan Wise Bauer).

Project List: n/a


Ten more titles off the list for a total of 155 of 430 (20.7% of the original 750).

Any thoughts about which I kept and which I tossed?

One Reply to “TBR List Declutter, Issue 35”

  1. I really like the idea of that salad. Never bought the riced veggies from the grocery store before, so this is a good way to try them. I just wonder how many broccoli stems are in that broccoli rice. I kind of hate the stems, although I might hate them.for because of texture than taste, so the riced version might eliminate that problem. I’lll tell you when I try it!


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