Monday, June 30, 2008

Things to Do

My husband used to laugh at my for making so many "To Do" lists. He even got me a PDA so that I could waste less paper with lists. I love my PDA. I still make lots of paper lists....This one is from LindyLoo....

What are five things on your to-do list for today?

1) Write some thank yous
2) Read a good book....for work (ha, ha! - no, really)
3) Do the cat litter - yuck.
4) Look for a new front door - no accidents, just want a new one.
5) Get a fresh pineapple from BJ's - sorry, but this is one food I won't give up just be a locavore!

What are five snacks you enjoy?

1) A banana
2) Almond butter on a spoon
3) my homemade trail mix
4) A Cliff Bar (organic and vegan!)
5) A banana (I've been addicted since babyhood)

What are five things you would do if you were a billionaire?

1) Give lots of money to environmental lobbyists - why not beat the oil companies at their own game?
2) Pay off all my debt and my family's debts
3) Start my own farm sanctuary
4) Travel the world with my husband
5) Give money to start after-school clubs and libraries for kids and teens in urban areas

What are five of your bad habits?

1) Correcting people's grammar (actually, just my husband's- sorry!)
2) Breaking things (I rush too much!)
3) Hurting myself (see number 2) - I hit my head on a bathroom stall door, sliced open my hand with a serrated knife, and dropped a heavy chair on my foot all in one week.
4) Interrupting people with what I think they're going to say
5) Being too hard on myself for all these bad habits!

What are five places where you have lived?

1) Massachusetts
2) Tennessee
3) Virginia
4) New Jersey
5) Paris and London and Sydney (ok, it was only for vacations, but doesn't it sound good?)

What are five jobs you’ve had?

1) firefighters' retail store (I know more about fires than I ever thought possible!)
2) camp counselor (the best, most underpaid job ever!)
3) bookstore/convenient store (I sold mostly cigarettes and newspapers)
4) waitress/ hostess (I sucked)
5) teacher and librarian! - yay!

Tag! You're it if you ...

1) Got a tattoo because you really wanted one, not just because it's now cool
2) Really do love tofu
3) Believe that animals and the earth do not belong to us
4) Believe that global warming is real, and if not, believe that we should just stop polluting - geez!
5) Love Moby or Kaki King

Just copy this survey into your blog if you meet any of the above criteria, and don't forget to link back to mine. Oh, and read the previous post for my real food adventures this week!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Lots of photos!

This weekend, we were away for a friend's wedding, so these shots are actually from the week before. Looking at them still makes me hungry!

First up, this is the Sausage, Pepper, Broccoli and Zucchini Pizza from Nava Atlas's new book, "Vegan Express." I was appeasing my husband with the idea of pizza, plus cleaning out my freezer a little by using up the vegan Tofurky kielbasa that had been there for....oh, a little while. This recipe was quick as a wink. We just roasted the veggies in the oven, along with some sundried tomatoes and olive oil. The recipe called for vegan cheese, so I went with the Follow Your Heart Vegan Gourmet cheddar brand, which is halfway decent. The veggies go on top of the pizza AFTER the pizza is half cooked, which means the veggies don't get overdone, the crust is perfect, but also (unfortunately) the veggies really don't stay on the crust and go rolling off at every bite. Despite these technical difficulties, the flavor was AMAZING. We used Bertolli's organic tomato sauce with basil and it really made the pizza perfect (we usually use this spaghetti sauce for pizzas, as it's so flavorful, not too sweet, and no high-fructose corn syrup!). At any rate, it was a success overall, and a good starter recipe for this cookbook (my newest acquisition). Three and a half stars for flavor, two and a half for portability.

We also made the last of the three wraps featured in the Candle Cafe Cookbook. This was the Mexican wrap (showed unrolled here), which featured a citrus-marinade for the tofu, quinoa, black beans, and an incredibly refreshing salad consisting of avocado, radish, tomato, cilantro, jalapeno and the rest of the marinade. Overall, I really liked this wrap. Not as greasy as the Middle Eastern Wraps from last time, but still not spicy enough for me. I would give this three stars, though, it was still really good!
Then, it was on to the, "You Got Peanut Butter in My Chocolate" Cookies, from Eat, Drink and Be Vegan. I made these for the co-workers at my new job at the library! That, by the way, is going AWESOME. I hate to ruin a good thing by jinxing myself (I've already knocked on wood), but I feel so, so very happy there. I leave work everyday smiling, have an hour lunch break during which I can GO ANYWHERE I WANT, and I get to READ at night for homework! I can already feel my incredibly low blood pressure drop even further. Also, as some of you remember my dizziness saga (not vertigo), well, can you believe it's gone??? I think it was probably the medicine, but honestly, I also believe that the minute I left the school for the last time and began my new job, a great weight lifted off my shoulders, and the pure joy I felt at my new beginning helped disperse the bad karma that was hanging around. Really amazing and really strange...Well, at any rate, the cookies were a HUGE hit - "You would never know they were vegan!" was the funniest compliment, but the best one was the fact that my husband ate almost an entire batch (I doubled it) by himself and went back for seconds right after his first! They were chewy, moist, and perfectly delectable! Good thing I made two batches :) Three and a half stars (only because I'm not a big chocolate cookie fan!).
To escape the temptations of cookies, I made a huge salad that night, with leftover quinoa and black beans. The dressing was ED&BV's Creamy Basil Dressing. It was incredible! So flavorful and definitely creamy. The cashews added yet more protein to an already protein-bursting meal (quinoa is a high-protein grain, don't forget). As most foods contain trace amounts of protein, this goes to show you CAN eat "rabbit food" and be strong and very full! Three stars for the dressing.

My friends like to tease me that I eat wheat grass (haven't tried that yet) but I really do love healthy foods. This is one of the best banana breads I have made in a long time, simply because it's not loaded with sugar like most quick breads of this kind! It also comes from Nava Atlas's Vegan Express. It was quick, easy and rose to a great height (some vegan quick breads can be quite flat!). But the taste? Moist, fruity, and not too sweet! The dark quality comes from the cocoa powder (no butterfat here!), and it made me feel like I was eating Boston Brown Bread! Yum. The whole wheat pastry flour, walnuts, and unsulfered apricots (so much better than the regular sulfur-orange kind!) made it even more healthy. Three and a half stars for this baby.
As I was away this weekend, noshing on wedding food (which wasn't too bad) and pina coladas (which were awesome!!), here are some photos for the week:

One flower that is blooming out of a row of bulbs. Not sure what it is, although I'm sure someone out there in blog-land could tell me....

Plus, the beans in my vegetable garden! They are bush beans, and I just recently staked them, because they apparently grow better beans when air can circulate. I saw a bee pollinating their flowers this afternoon - yay!

And here are my zucchini plants, yet to flower, alongside my arugula plants, just recently sprouting from seeds.

And last but not least, my crappy deck filled with lovely pots of various herbs, plants (including spinach in the long pot!), flowers, and veggies (also not yet producing). Can't wait for the meals yet to come from here!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Bring back the grill!

With my husband back in town, it was back to the grill for us. I made the Middle Eastern Wraps from the Candle Cafe Cookbook, to follow the Indian Wraps from last week. (Yes, I did the grilling, but he turned it on - I'm too afraid!) Here it is, ready to roll up and nosh....

Inside were these marinated, grilled tofu slices and sliced and grilled eggplant. I thought the marinade was a little too oily, so I left out some oil. I'm getting braver in the kitchen every day!...

The great thing about vegan grilling (or cooking, baking) is that there is little worry about contamination! The recipe called for putting a nice chickpea, cucumber, olive, onion and parsley mixture into the remaining marinade from the tofu. It was still a little too oily, but very refreshing!

Here is the final product, all rolled up with some millet (it called for couscous, but I was opting for a healthier, protein-powered grain). Very oily but still good! Could have been much spicier. I didn't like it as much as the Indian Wraps from last week. However, we're on to try the last of the wrap trio, with Mexican Wraps tomorrow night! Keep scrolling to see what I made for dessert....

OK, I never make dessert for myself and rarely for my husband, but it was my friend's birthday so I had a real excuse to bake this week. I've been dying to try the Fudgy Wudgy Blueberry Brownies from Veganimocon for a while. I had read some blah reviews, but I went for it anyway. Despite a typo (there was applesauce in the directions, but not in the ingredient list, so I left it out), they turned out... amazing! VERY fudgy and probably the best brownies I've ever made! The only unfortunate part? You could hardly tell they had a jar of blueberry preserves and a cup of (frozen) blueberries in them. Still, thy were damned good....
Here is a closeup to make you drool...

And here is a totally non-food related shot of nine years of crap... Nine years of books, posters, and other teacher materials.... now cluttering my garage....

and part of another room (the stool is my husband's - he's a high school teacher). I moved everything out over the course of a week, and yesterday was my last day as an employed teacher. What a strange feeling. Strange, but awesome, because when I go to work at the library (I'm already there part-time. I start full time on Monday), I am so incredibly happy. I want to hug the bookshelves (I kid you not) and I can't stop smiling as I drive home, even after a late night. It's where I was meant to be! And, as an added incentive, I have more people to share my veganism with (and to teach how to recycle!).

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

While the Cat is Away

...the mice play! My husband took a nine day hiatus to Colorado to grade AP essays (paid, thankfully), which left me with free range in the kitchen this past week! I made several things that don't get a photo, mostly because they were re-dos, but here are some of the new things I tried!

First up, this delectable Ginger-Macadamia-Coconut-Carrot Cake, with coconut frosting, from Vegan with a Vengeance. I made this for my last Veg Group meeting of the year (until the fall, that is). I wasn't happy with the frosting (way too runny) but the cake? Well, here's a comment from someone: "This is one of the best carrot cakes I have ever tasted." And then, "You'd never know it was vegan!" Ha, ha, ha....At any rate, Isa never lets me down with her baked goods (well, rarely), and I was completely pleased with this extremely moist, flavorful cake. Carrot cake and coconut are two things that I just adore, thus why I chose to make it "while the cat was away!" Four stars.

For lunch that week, I ate leftover Thai Chik-Un Pizza (another combo my hubby wouldn't have cared for, because he hates cooked fruit!). Dinner was the following multi-step but fairly easy meal: Indian Wraps from the Candle Cafe Cookbook. I'd been wanting to make this for a while, but since it called for coconut milk (which hubby hates), I hadn't made it yet.

First step, saute four different colored peppers. As usual, they called for more oil than I like, so this part was a little too greasy for me, but still good.
Next, grill or bake (I baked) some extra firm tofu, which was first marinated in a spicy dressing. Pretty good! Actually, not as spicy as I had hoped, considering how spicy good Indian food is.

Meanwhile, add the leftover marinade to a can of black beans with some green onions. Good! (Can't do that with a meat marinade, now can you?)

Then, saute some kale in lemon juice and garlic (yum!!) and cook some basmati rice in your easy-smeesy rice cooker (oh, so heavenly it smelled!). Wrap it all up and enjoy! I used an enormous whole wheat pita bread, which kind of sucked for this kind of a dish, as it was all crumbly. I ended up ripping up the bread and scooping up the filling ingredients, much like you would at a restaurant anyway, except usually with naan or roti. Good stuff! I think maybe even hubby would have approved. Oh well - his loss! Four stars for this one. Loved, the different flavors melding into one awesome mouthful after another.
Here's a closeup of one of those mouthfuls....

The only catch to having an empty house?....No one to help with all those dishes....:P