Monday, May 12, 2008

A Sign From Above

As a teacher (and as any working person), sometimes you just need a day off. I woke up this morning in a horrible mood: my hairdresser botched my haircut on Saturday, I sliced my finger through the nail while cutting an onion on Sunday (yes, the knife was dull! That's when most accidents happen), my unexplained dizziness has been at an all-time high, and my eighty-something grandmother just came down with shingles. Not to mention that it has been raining hard and nasty out for several days and I'm supposed to get a new student this week (which is a problem only because there's only a month left in school and our class has really settled into routine, and we just received a new student last week while losing another - it's a swingin' door around here!).

So, waking up this morning to miserable weather and all the other things crappy, I was in the worst mood ever. That quickly changed when I got a phone call from another early-school-bird (we get there early -unpaid! - just to keep up with the work) to say that school was canceled today, due to wind, rain and flooding! WOOHOO! I guess county officials weren't taking any chances today.
After the tornado came through town last week, we still had school that day, despite homes being ripped apart and major flooding. Some of my students and co-workers spent the night in their basements.
So, that seems to be a sign from above (pun intended) that I need to catch up on my blogging and all those other little things that I have intended on doing (not cleaning or cooking!). Actually, I spent about five hours in the kitchen yesterday. Here's what I whipped up. The top photo in this post is actually from last week. It's the Roasted Cauliflower with Olives from the latest Vegetarian Times. Let me tell you - if you don't like cauliflower, you MUST try this! It came out sweet from the roasting and savory and salty from the olives. I loved, loved this! ****Four stars. We also made the American BBQ Tacos (my husband's choice - next time we're making one of the other taco recipes that sounded a little more fun!), but we ate them all up too quickly for a photo! They were good but didn't make a ton. Three ***stars.

I was getting a little tired of muffins from the freezer, so I whipped up a batch of Crunchy Cereal Bars from the recent VegNews issue. I used Kamut Puffs, from Arrowhead Mills, instead of Rice Krispies, not just because they were a healthier grain, but because there were NO OTHER INGREDIENTS (and they were cheaper, I think). Can you believe it? Rice Krispies contain high fructose corn syrup, salt, and numerous other nasties. These cereal bars were overflowing with dried fruit, nuts and seeds, held together with almond butter and brown rice syrup. A nice afternoon snack before I hit the gym. This first picture is neat, because instead of cutting them in the pan (and scratching the pan) as called for, I just sprayed the pan with Pam and then when the bars were chilled, I inverted them onto the cutting board. Perfect!
Here, they are each wrapped in a small piece of parchment paper, ready for the week of lunches (not today - woohoo again!).

Oh, I forgot to mention - another yucky - my friend's husband passed away unexpectedly last week (bone cancer) and we just went to the funeral of another colleague of mine last weekend (leukemia). Needless to say, it's been a very emotionally draining spring! However, I have been able to share my concern and love with good vegan treats. Here are the Raspberry Chocolate Blondies from Vegan with a Vengeance, that I've made many times before. I'm glad I have to give these away, because they are soooo good! Note to self - let them cool entirely in the pan before cutting! This way, they are completely cooked - just like brownies. This is always a four ****star recipe.
Next weekend should be looking up, as it is my graduation! Technically, I already have my degree hanging on the wall (Masters in Library Science) and a job - Oh yeah! I don't think I've blogged about that yet! I will be working at the public library right down the street from my house after school gets out this June! I'll be a Youth Services Librarian. Working with young adults (aka, teens). My dream job since childhood, I taught for nine years before I recalled that I always wanted to, "be a librarian!" Now, I'll be even poorer, but much, much happier. And honestly, why spend your days here on earth (and most of each day is spent at work) at a job that is less than satisfying? And, with what we teachers get paid and the hours that we work.....Well, I won't go there right now! So, the Vegan Librarian is born :)

And, my graduation party....yes, back to that. I have family and friends coming to visit the day after, so I whipped up some seitan yesterday to make the following treat: Seitan Skewers with Chimchurri Sauce from Candle Cafe Cookbook. These are the closest thing I've made that look and taste like meat. The charred grilling flavor, and juicy marinade are almost too much for me! I hate meat-analogs, but this is still a delicious meal for omnis and veggies alike. I'll also be making a plethora of side dishes and last week's BBQ Seitan (we're not calling them ribs, remember?) as well.

Here's the shot from last summer, with some yummy grilled vegetables. But don't stop now! Keep scrolling - there's more!

After the cereal bars, seitan, and blondies, it was on to lunch for the week: Carrot Butter from Candle Cafe Cookbook. No recipe could be easier (except that I cut my finger halfway through, remember!). Just chop and cook the carrots and onions (with a few spices) until tender, then blend! I'm eating this all week on lavash bread with salad greens. Of course, I'll be eating it at home today!!! We made Green Tofu Curry (or something like that) from Vegan with a Vengeance last night as well, but I was too tired from cooking to take a photo! It was good - but I didn't make my own curry paste, so I had to estimate the quantity from a jar, and it was a leeetle too much ;) The heat was a packin', but it was still edible. Two and a half ** stars over rice cooker-quinoa and burned asparagus (argh! That sucked, too. I forgot about my organic asparagus in the oven last night ). See you probably sometime next week, after I've had a chance to take some party photos!


VeggieGirl said...

Yikes, yikes, yikes!! I can't express enough how sorry I am about everything that's been going on - eek!! Please remain strong, and hang in there!!

In the meantime, I'm glad to see that you've been able to bake and cook such delectable eats - I'm particularly smitten with those Raspberry Chocolate Blondies - yum!

Courtney said...

Congrats on the new job and graduation! What exciting news!

I am sorry to hear about all of the other sad news you have been dealing with, though...I hope that your day off today gave you a much needed break and some rest to regroup and relax a bit.


bazu said...

I'm sorry for your friend and colleague. I agree that it's been a tough winter, though hopefully we are all emerging from the bad times! Your food looks wonderful.

DJ said...

Thankyou for the link to the vegetarian times recipe. I love roast cauliflower and will definitely give this variation a try! And hopefully your summer will be better than your spring!

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J.J. said...

I am so sorry about your friends husband. It must really make you value what you've got. My thoughts are with her.

The blondies look AMAZING.

Vivacious Vegan said...

Hang in there! I hope things start looking up for you. I can't believe I haven't made those raspberry chocolate blondies yet. Your pic makes them look so delicious I really must give them a try now. Mmm, and that cauliflower. Oh my! Sounds wonderful.