Thursday, January 31, 2008

Apple Crisp and Pasta Puttanesca with Garlic Bread Topping

Rob was in balmy California all week so I made a lot of easy things and didn't take pictures, but here is the Apple Crisp (based on the recipe in Healthy Eating for Life for Children) we made twice this week (Rob bought a bunch of apples before he left and we ate them au naturale which is our preferred way to eat them, but with the snow and cold I couldn't help but bake them as well). Parker and Dema made the first one by themselves with me just reading the recipe for them. Parker decided to add vanilla soy yogurt and frozen raspberries on top. All apple crisp should be served with raspberries. Yum!

Apple Crisp (apples, lemon juice, date sugar, cinnamon, rolled oats, walnuts, maple syrup, vanilla, and salt)

I made our usual Pasta Puttanesca (tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, kalamata olives, capers, miso) which I often top with pumpkin seeds, nutritional yeast, and or walnuts, but inspired by my friend Jenny and something she made for her family this week, I added all of these things with bread crumbs. I had some bread crumbs left over (I have used more bread crumbs in my cooking in the last three months than I have my entire life) so I put some olive oil in a pan, added the bread crumbs, chopped walnuts and pumpkin seeds, nutritional yeast, minced garlic, and red pepper flakes. The kids said it was like eating garlic bread crumbed on top of the pasta. It was a hit.

Garlic Bread Topping:
1 tablespoon olive oil (you may want more)
2 cloves minced garlic
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup chopped pumpkin seeds
red pepper flakes to taste

Heat olive oil in skillet on low/medium low heat, add the garlic and saute for couple minutes then add the remaining ingredients and mix together and serve over pasta (or if you are like Rob just eat it with left over sauce and don't wait for any pasta).

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Home School Lunch

One of the things I love about home schooling is sitting down with my kids to eat lunch. I know this probably sounds silly, but it is one of my favorite times of the day. I especially like it when I can use leftovers so it doesn't take a lot of prep time, but tastes great. The other day Parker sat down to eat and said, "I love home school lunch!"

I've been trying to be better about using everything. When Dema has a snack of steamed broccoli and only eats the florets, I take the stalks and make it into broccoli soup. When we have little brown rice left, but not enough for a meal, I put in into a stew instead of the compost bucket. Some stale whole wheat bread? Process it in the food processor and put it in a baggy in the freezer for bread crumbs. I know this is a no brainer, but in the past I feel like we've composted more than we should and it is fun to try to find ways to use everything. We are also trying to grocery shop once a week (we do buy more fresh organic produce mid-week, but that is usually it). That way, things get used up instead of sitting in the cupboard forever. Rob is the one doing the grocery shopping lately which is really great and he only buys what is on a list so less impulse buying. This also frees my time to do more meal planning and I enjoy cooking more when I don't also have to do the shopping with all three kids.

Broccoli Potato Soup (loosely based on the one in Healthy Eating for Life for Children, except with less non-dairy milk), Black Bean and Orange Hummus (based on the recipe in Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan), black bean surprise (I had to use up black beans and found a bag of frozen peppers which I added, with leftover brown rice, tomatoes, onions, garlic, chili powder, and cumin), carrots sticks, cashews and raisins
I have some friends who are wheat-free and although wheat doesn't bother us, I did think about the fact that I do eat some wheat every day. Then I went through this entire day and wheat. It wasn't on purpose, but I thought it was interesting. We don't actually eat as much wheat as I thought, but we still could branch out to other grains more often. Over the last couple months of blogging, I've noticed we eat a lot of tomatoes or more to the point, I blog about a lot of foods with tomatoes in them. Not an issue, just thought I should grow more tomatoes this year or buy stock in organic tomatoes. So without further ado...something else with tomatoes.

Chickpea Mash Stew from The Everyday Vegan by Dreena Burton (we have another cookbook by the same name by another author so I need to be specific). I didn't didn't have zucchini and I added more chickpeas after I immersion blended it. Then because Dema will eat soup with a spoon more (instead of just dipping bread in it) when it has pasta, I added whole wheat Chiocciole. It was really good and I'll happily make it again.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Junk Food Vegans

On a vegetarian email list I belong to, but rarely read*, there was a discussion recently about vegetarians who eat "junk" food and how they give all veg*ns a bad name and how we are all role models for veg*nism and should be held to a higher standard....yadda, yadda, yadda. Now I won't get into what I think about being a role model (I am no Charles Barkley folks) or if I think we (veg*ns) should hold ourselves to some food standard above and beyond being veg*n.

I will just show some of the junk food my family has been eating lately. Now some may not see it as junk food and some may. You be the judge. I am in a stage right now (I'm sure it will pass quickly) where I'm trying not to judge...actually, I'm working on Rob not judging because it is oh so much more fun to work on his issues than my own. Anyhoo, it is sooo much more fun to go through life seeing the good in all beings. Sure, I miss the sarcasm and feeling better than everyone around me, but that is sooo fleeting because inevitably there is someone better than me at whatever it is right around the corner (damn them...I mean bless their hearts).

Where was I, ah yes, food...

Black bean burrito with brown rice, avocado on a whole wheat tortilla, with Tufutti non-hydrogenated sour cream, salsa on the side and mashed potatoes (organic potatoes, white pepper, salt, liquid from boiling the potatoes, and Earth Balance):This weekend, I needed to use up the last of the black beans we soaked/cooked and some potatoes so I promised the kids black bean burgers and baked fries, but I had Rob make the burritos and I made mashed potatoes (not what we usually have with burritos, but it worked). Parker had three burritos (sans vegan sour cream since the boys have no taste for things like that...oh how I wish I had been raised vegan). They are just as quick as going out for a burrito and oh so much better.

Rob sweetly made the black bean burgers I had promised the kids the next night. They are from Veganomicon. I have really liked a lot of the recipes from Veganomicon, but now we've made the Chickpea Cutlets, Beanballs, and Black Bean burgers and they all have been fine, but not great and a little stringy. I just think vital wheat gluten is great for seitan, but I'm not a big fan of it in the other recipes. Maybe I'm missing something. Rob thought it may have been a bread crumb issue since I am not the best bread crumb maker, but he did the black bean burgers and while they held together better than my other tries with the cutlets and the beanballs, they still weren't quite right. Also, I would not omit the optional ingredient of the cilantro because without it, the black bean burgers would be pretty bland.

Veganomicon Black Bean Burgers on a whole wheat bun with Vegenaise, unsweetened ketchup, with avocado and salsa on the side, steamed kale with garlic, and baked fries:

This is dedicated to an old (much older than me, but really we've just known each other for a long time and that is what I meant...really and truly) friend of mine who complained awhile ago that (read this next part in a whiny guy voice) none of the food I blogged about looked good. He wasn't complaining about my obviously awful photos (you try to take a picture of food while you are nursing a four month old in one arm, a three year old is trying to tackle you, a seven year old begs to take his own picture which will turn out better than yours, and your husband rolls his eyes while wolfing down his food), but his misconception that vegan food is not tasty...I dare you to come over for dinner some night, B (you know who you are). I happen to know he likes comfort (junk) food so maybe this post might win over his artery clogged heart which is kept beating by statin drugs (truth hurts, hon)...yes, I just lost another reader (B, it is just a joke! Lighten up!).

*Email lists are the reason I haven't taken over the world ( pre-kids...Pinky and the Brain fan). Now blogs are added to the growing number of reasons for which you all are not under my spell. Muahahaha!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

My Inconvenient Truth

I have to tell you a secret. I finally watched An Inconvenient Truth. Yes, I realize I'm probably the last person on Earth to see it. I put it off for so many being I am already extremely worried about the environment and I'd read a lot about what Gore suggests we do about it on a personal level and we pretty much do everything suggested already. I didn't need to be more worried and down about the state of the Earth if it wasn't going to give me any new information on what to do about it. We watched it several times (as watching any movie like this with the kids involves a lot of starting and stopping) and it inspired a lot of questions. I was a little worried about Parker watching it because he is deeply concerned about the environment, but he took it well and was interested without being scared. Now when he turns out the lights he doesn't just think about saving energy, but things about it as saving Antarctica. I'm not judging if this is better or worse.

I like to feel like something can be done and you probably do as well so here are a couple links for ya...

Check out E Magazine's article on How to Recycle Practically Anything.

Now that everyone (even my father-in-law) is using CFLs, here is a way to recycle them if you don't have a local recycling program.

Oh and because this is a vegan blog, I'm not going to let you go without mentioning this article also from E Magazine on how diet can help the environment. I have this t-shirt I bought many years ago (back in the day when I thought a slogan on an organic cotton shirt would change people...not that I don't still wear shirts with this type of message...I just don't expect to win anyone over with it) which says "Real Environmentalist Don't Eat Meat", ironically it is worn out now and I use it as a rag.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Friday Book Review - Birth Books and Farewell Dennis

While birthing is on my mind, I thought I'd share some of my favorites books on this wonderful topic.

Children's Books:

Runa's Birth
Hands down this is one of our favorite birth books. It has great illustrations and shows home birth from the older siblings point of view. Parker loved for me to read this book when preparing for Dema's birth and they both enjoy it still. Unfortunately, the English version is no longer in print. I did have some in stock, but they went quickly once word got out about the printing. We are working with our supplier to hopefully get a small English print run, but we'll see. If you can find this for sale or at your local library and you enjoy birth books, pick it up!

Welcome with Love
Our second favorite birth book. Another wonderful book about homebirth from a siblings point of view. I really like this book, with one exception...I don't like the text about the laboring mother screaming. I tend to labor very quietly and although I'm happy for women to labor any way they feel works for them, I guess I've seen too many TV shows with the woman screaming at her husband and begging for drugs. This isn't that type of scene at all, but I sort of cringe a tiny bit at that part in the book. Overall, a lovely story!

The Baby on the Way
I'm hormonal so many things make me tear up these days, but I always get misty eyed at the end of this one. A grandson asks his grandmother if she was ever a baby and she shares her birth story (delivered by a midwife...the last in a long line of children) and how they celebrated her birth. There aren't enough birth books out there with African American characters so this is a great find from that aspect as well. At the end the little boy wonders if he will some day be asked if he was a baby and the grandmother offers to tell him the story of his birth.

Baby on the Way
Of course, I'm a Dr. Sears/Sears fan and have several of their books on pregnancy, birthing, parenting. I really like this children's book. The kids love it too. I like how the book leaves the options open for different birthing possibilities. It is also gives siblings ideas on what to do during the pregnancy to help mom out/prepare for the baby, during the birth, and after.

If You Were Born a Kitten
I love giving this book as a baby present. It is such a sweet little story with different baby animals. A mother is saying how things would be different if her little baby was born a kitten and many other animals which is educational and cute at the same time. It inspire the boys to learn more about how babies of different species are born. Even though we have this in board book form, the boys still love to read it.

Welcoming Babies
I could read this book over and over...wait, I have. I don't mind though because it is so much fun to read the different ways different families celebrate the birth of their children. The kids love to hear about the different cultural or religious traditions for people all over the world. This book makes them want to read more. The pictures are well done and this is another favorite to give to new parents.

Welcome to the World
We had this book on our coffee table for years. You just want to flip through it again and again for the pictures. It is so beautiful and touching. The diversity is wonderful. A great collection.

Older Children/Adult Books:

The Midwife's Apprentice
I enjoyed this book, but the original midwife in the story is not the type of midwife I think of...although probably more accurate for the middle ages than my image. It is a coming of age story for a little girl and I can look past the fact that the midwife is not some sweet touchy feely person. This is on my list of books to read with the kids.

Spiritual Midwifery
A classic! A great book for anyone interested in birth, but a must read for anyone thinking about a home birth. Great information from the Farm Midwives and birth stories. Make sure to look for the latest version of this great book.

A Child is Born
I love this book for the pictures. It is so worth the money without reading the text. It was great for both boys when I was pregnant. They were always asking to see the pictures and how big the baby was at that point in my pregnancy. Parker loved the book when he was four and waiting for me to have Dema. It was nice preparation for him for what the birth might look like. The picture of the placenta bothered him at first, but when Dema's birth day came, he was a trooper and cut the cord with no worries.

Baby Catcher
I read this book cover to cover in a few days while I was pregnant with Dema. I went back to my favorite stories as inspiration. If you like to read birth stories (from the midwifes perspective), this is a book for you.

Giving Birth
I read this book at the same time as Baby Catcher and loved them both. This book covers the spectrum of birthing from the author's point of view as a pregnant woman through her own birth experience.

Also check out The Birth Book Blog if you still haven't had enough on birthing.

I just want to say a farewell to Dennis Kucinich. I totally understand why he dropped out of the race, but I shed a tear along with so many environmental activists. Imagine a USA where a person like Kucinich or anyone who really wants change has a chance at the presidency. We all were told when we were kids that any of us could grow up to be president. Well folks, it just ain't so. I know we have a woman and/or a person of color who might actually make it to the white house and doesn't that make the left feel good and I'm happy those two candidates are taken seriously for possibly the first time in US history? In reality it will be the same old same old politics whoever wins and we are running out of time people. We can't afford to elect the same anymore.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Big Push by Josie

In honor of The Big Push Day (which my mom would looovvvee to be at in Chicago, but she sent her babywearing coat along with a friend who was going so it is like she is there in spirit), I (Josie) am guest blogging since I was born at home and mom (Linda) wasn't.

If you, like mom, didn't make it to Chicago, check out The Business of Being Born DVD.

I just want you all to know how super wonderful it was to be born at home and how it made my "birth" day even more special. Both sets of my grandparents were born at home and one of my older brothers. I am very supportive of choice. I would like all women to be able to birth in the space they feel most comfortable and safe. I believe supporting legislation in Illinois to make sure there are trained, knowledgeable, available homebirth midwives is a step in the right direction. I am happy that we may soon see more birthing centers in Illinois and I'm glad the hospitals in my area have certified nurse midwives, birthing pools, etc. The more options the better! I was born in the water and it was a wonderful peaceful entry to a world surrounded by people who love me and whom I love. After much consideration and research, my mom chose not to have a midwife present at my birth, but she is lucky enough to know about the midwifery care available in this area. I'm not saying all babies should be born at home, but I would like to have the option to birth my future children where I/and my caregivers decide is best. Please let me have access to legal, regulated, home midwifery care no matter what state I live in.

Okay, I will step down from my soapbox now since it is not a safe place for me to be...I can't even sit unassisted yet for goodness sakes! While I have the keyboard though, I thought I'd share some other thoughts with you.First, who came up with "tummy time"? First they say I should always sleep on my back, I get used to this position and then they say I need "tummy time" and mess me all up. I'm only four months old, but I can see this inconsistency and I don't like it. I don't feel safe on my tummy. I want to view the world from my back and you'd think they would get the hint by now since I roll over to my back any chance I get.

Second, how did this family get by without me? My dad needs me to help solve interesting puzzles and my mom needs me to entertain my brothers. They are so lucky I came along! I just wish my dad would warm up his hands a little bit after biking home from work in sub-zero weather...brrrr!

Third, is there anything better than snuggling with siblings? It is so worth coming out of the womb for time chatting with Parker and getting kisses from Dema. Kisses are my second favorite thing next to snuggling.

And last, whomever invented toes is so cool in my book. I love playing mom's vegan version of "This Little Piggy". You know;
This little piggy went to the animal sanctuary.
This little piggy stayed home.
This little piggy ate organic produce.
This little piggy had none (fast day).
and This little piggy went "go vegan, go vegan, go vegan!" all the way home.

Who needs a bunch of lead laden toys made with child labor when we have toes very conveniently attached to our bodies? Genius! Life just doesn't get any better than this!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Changing the World One PB&J at a Time

Sorry for everyone allergic to peanut can sub your favorite alternative nut/seed/legume butter then check out the PB&J Campaign. Dema and Parker's favorite is organic almond butter or sunbutter on flax nut whole wheat bread with organic pomegranate jelly.

There is also some interesting info at Eating Green.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Monday Movie Review

Monday Movie Review

Rob and I actually went out on a date the other night. Thanks to my sister, Karen, who watched the boys. We walked downtown (with Josie in the mei tai, of course) to the local theater for the late movie. I thought Josie might fall asleep on the walk, as she usually does, but no such luck so Rob kept stressing that we were walking a mile in the cold at 10pm to a movie we wouldn't actually be able to see, but she was I knew she would be. She was awake for a little while, then nursed, looked at the screen, nursed, looked at the screen, (rinse and repeat several times) until she nodded of. It seemed to me like a very appropriate movie to be nursing your baby during.

Our friend Carl told us to see this movie. He has a relative which is involved with the movie so he went out to Cali for the premiere and walked on the red carpet and everything. He gave the movie two thumbs way up and told me I had to see it. So we did. Next time he tells me to see a movie, I might ask him to babysit for us.

Rob and I both enjoyed the movie very much and I could see it again. The acting was great and the story was so sweet in a modern sort of way. It really was great, but it made me feel so incredibly old. I actually asked Rob on the walk home if "kids really talk like that these days". When did I turn into someone so out of touch? I spend time with kids all the time, granted they are mostly under the teen years, but still. I'm a "hip/cool/whatever the word should be these days" mom, but oh so amazingly old for my years. This used to be a good thing, but around your mid-30's being "old for your age" starts to look less appealing.

We really liked Juno's parents in the movie (dad and step-mom). Rob especially liked the dad. Rob has been exhibiting this amazing new side of his personality I like to call "father of young girl child". When we hear about something happening to a girl or some guy not treating a girl right or to the awful extreme of some woman being physically harmed, Rob has this tiger or maybe polar bear side to him which is frightening and sweet at the same time. That kind of, "I pity the man who doesn't treat my baby girl right" thing. Who knew my pacifist had it in him?

Anyway, go see Juno!

Billy Budd
Rob picked this one on Netflix and I was like, booorrringg when it started. Why do I want to sit around our tiny portable DVD player (remember we have no TV) watching this old movie about sailors. Must be a Navy thing for Rob (yes he was in the Navy).

Well, I am the first to admit (most of the time) when I am wrong and I was oh so wrong! Rent this movie, watch it several times, and then read the novella or whatever you have to do, but don't let this story go unexperienced. I am not usually a "good" vs. "evil" lover, but I'll make an exception on this one.

I have to say, I am probably one of the few people out there who had never heard of Billy Budd before. I was telling my sister's boyfriend about it and he said, "the opera"? Yes, I am completely uncultured.

Last, but not least, I will include a movie in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day...

I like musicals, I won't be ashamed of this. (I also fancy opera...still didn't know about Billy Budd though so I don't get out to the opera as much as I'd like.) The kids like them too...notice I haven't mentioned Rob...let's just say he puts up with them and maybe some of the musicals grow on him. Anyway, Hairspray has a great cast and is a funny movie, but also a commentary on desegregation. Also, after living in Maryland, I have to applaud some of the Baltimore accents. Well worth the time.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Food, Glorious Food

We are on an Oliver kick here lately. Parker likes to go around singing the songs from Oliver! and we've also seen Oliver Twist and we are working on reading the book. Oliver comes up almost every meal these days. It really has hit an empathy cord with Parker and he seems to have a new appreciation of the abundance of food we have available to us.

I haven't blogged about food for a while so I'll catch up now on some of what we've actually documented. Although I don't know it was all "glorious", it was all yummy!

Last weekend we had a gaggle of neighborhood kids in an out of the house all day. I was cooking for Pasta E Fagioli from Veganomicon (I used whole wheat shells and canned butter beans I had on hand) for my kids as a snack and Parker invited them all to eat. The kids who tried it (one said he didn't like anything "vegan" so he just ate an orange, which of course is vegan, but I didn't point that out), loved it and had seconds. I also had baked tofu on the table for when my kids were dashing around they might grab some. This was a hit with the neighbor kids as well. I wish I had a picture of them all eating it up, but this is just a picture I took of Parker's plate with some flax oil drizzled and nutritional yeast sprinkled on top and baked tofu on the side. Later in the day, a couple more neighbor kids were added to the mix and I decided to make some hot chocolate from scratch to warm them up. I was inspired by some blogs I'd read and the recipe in The Joy of Vegan Baking. Rob watched me poor an entire back of vegan chocolate chips, about 4 cups of soy milk, 2 teaspoons of vanilla, and 2 tablespoons of sugar in a saucepan and stir until it came out as the most decadent hot cocoa I've ever tasted. It was actually a little too rich for some of them to finish it (Parker and the oldest girl had no problems). I didn't have any vegan marshmallows so I put out a bunch of bananas and sliced apples and the kids dipped them in the cocoa (Dema also dipped some orange slices and plain tofu in his, but he is like that). All the bananas and apples were gone and the kids were pretty happy. I hope they weren't too hopped up on caffeine and sugar when they went home. I've decided this hot chocolate is for adults unless I cut it more with soy milk for the kids. When it cooled it was almost like a pudding. The kids thanked me at the end of the day for all they yummy eats.

Here is a random breakfast picture with pancakes (which I've gone from making once a year to making at least once a week) from The Joy of Vegan Baking and vegetable tempeh pan fried in Bragg's Liquid Aminos. I prefer the plain tempeh, but this was good and we ate what was left over as sandwiches for lunch (this is only half of the pancakes because the boys had already eaten the rest and none of them were left over). Speaking of pancakes, I made FatFree Vegan's Golden Spice Pancakes for dessert the other night. The kids really liked them, but I don't have pictures. The batter was very dry so I added 1/2 cup more orange juice and I didn't have any oranges so I used orange extract instead of orange zest.

Josie doesn't want to be left out of all the fun and has started to bring whatever we have in our hand to her mouth. Here Rob is sharing his apple with her. She's been teething (I can feel two pointy teeth on the bottom, but don't see them yet) so this is probably just to make her gums feel good, but she loves to suck and teeth on apples. I hope to delay solids, but she may take after Dema and start feeding herself before she has teeth. She gets very vocal when you take her apple away. She likes to suck on carrots as well, but I will limit it to these two foods for a while. We don't have any allergies, but I have a lot of friends who do and I'd like to be careful.

I was inspired by Lindy Loo's post to make Quinoa Puttanesca the other day. I'm linking to the Post Punk Kitchen recipe since Lindy's post on it was a little, well...this is a family blog after all, but we enjoy her blog and if you aren't faint of heart check it out. If you would rather your recipes be G-rated then go to the link above. I just thought I should give credit where credit is due since I don't have time to hang out at the Post Punk Kitchen, I rely on other vegan bloggers to sift through all the recipes for me. Back to the Puttanesca, well a combo of Puttanesca and Arrabiata from Nona's Italian Kitchen is my "go to" pasta sauce. Everyone enjoys it and I can whip it up in a few minutes. I never thought of serving it over quinoa before, just whole wheat pasta or gnocchi. I made the sauce in the recipe instead of my own, but I didn't have a 1/2 cup of capers! so I just used what was left in my jar. The recipe called for 1/4 cup white whine and I am embarrassed to admit I had to call Rob to figure out how to open the bottle of wine. I haven't opened a bottle myself for a long time, but I finally got it. We will definitely have this again and I suggest mixing the quinoa into the sauce instead of just pouring the sauce over the quinoa. Quick, easy, and everyone liked it. Here is Dema enjoying a lunch of Quinoa Puttanesca, carrots w/peanut butter, and an apple.

Speaking of quinoa, I made a dessert of quinoa, frozen bananas (the melted into the quinoa at it heated), cinnamon, vanilla, and dates the other night inspired by Qunioa Breakfast from the Vegan Family Favorites. I warmed up the leftovers for breakfast next morning with added rice milk. Sorry, no picture.

I finally made the Pumpkin Baked Ziti with Carmelized Onions and Sage Crumb Topping from Veganomicon Saturday which everyone in the vegan blogging world has been raving about. It was very good, but I would cut up the onions a bit more for my boys. My sister and her boyfriend came over for dinner and I have to confess this picture is after we all ate so the kale is the tiny bit which was left over so the plate looks a little sparse. Rob steamed the kale with garlic and as usual it was d-lish so it was almost gone when I got around to the picture. I made the Apple Pecan Coffee Cake from Vegan Family Favorites (actually, the boys made it and I helped out), but it took forever to get done so I took this picture with Dema almost attacking me to get to the coffee cake with Soy Delicious vanilla soy cream on top. The boys really just wanted to eat the apples out of the coffee cake so I should have just baked some apples. I used walnuts instead of pecans. When I make this again, I'll chop the apples smaller and add a lot more of them. I don't know why it took forever for it to finish cooking. Our oven temperature is not accurate, but I tried to compensate for this.

Rob soaked some chickpeas last night and I had some potatoes I needed to use up so I made Chana Saag Aloo from Vegan Mania (thanks Lisa for introducing me to this great site). I would add more potatoes and use kale instead of spinach next time. I also made Cauliflower Dal with Panch Phoran from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen since she so highly recommended it. Rob had to go buy the panch phoran and some fresh spinach so he picked up some whole wheat roti while he was out. I served the curries over brown basmati rice. Parker took this picture of his plate and he ate two more plates like this before the day was over. I have been craving Indian food so this hit the spot.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Friday Book Review

Friday Book Review

For some reason I feel like a Haitian theme today. I've been to Hispaniola (the island Haiti is on) to visit the Dominican Republic, but did not go to Haiti while I was there which I regret. I hope I get a chance to go to Haiti sometime in the future.

Children's Books:

Tap-Tap by Karen L. Williams, Illustrated by Catherine Stock
This is one of my kids' favorite books. About a young Haitian girl going with her mother to the market to sell their produce for the fist time. She is growing up, given more responsibility, and some money to spend anyway she chooses and she decided to treat her mother and herself to a ride home on the tap-tap. The boys love the story and the illustrations. *For vegan readers out there, the market also has live animals discussed. The people are selling animals and taking animals on the bus with them. There is no discussion of eating the animals, but Parker just pointed out today (after reading it for years) that there is one picture with a small image which looks like meat for sale.

Painted Dreams by Karen L. Williams, Illustrated by Catherine Stock
Another book Williams and Stock. We also have a couple of her other books based in Africa, but I will leave them for another day. Painted Dreams is special to Parker as he is very interested in art. The young Haitian girl in the book has to find makeshift brushes and paints from things she finds in the garbage and in nature to let all the pictures she has inside her out. Her mother doesn't think art is productive use of her time until it draws a crowd to their produce stall at the market. *For vegan readers, there is mention of fishing and a pig big enough to feed the town.

Older Children/Adult Books:

The Farming of Bones by Edwidge Danticat
Years ago, this book caught my interest since it was set in the Dominican Republic. I bought it, but it sat on the shelf for a while before I finally picked it up to read it. I was hooked on Danticat's writing immediately. The book is sad, as most of her books are and I will never be able to eat sugar again without thinking of the people involved. While I was in the DR, I saw my first sugar cane and tasted sugar right from the plant. My sister spent two years in the Peace Corps there and was my guide. It is a beautiful country with an interesting past. It was hard for me to read this book from the Haitian point of view, but it was so hard to put down as well. I highly recommend this book which has stayed with me even though it has been years since I read it.

I also recommend Danticat's other works which I've read; Krik? Krak!, Breath, Eyes, and Memory, The Dew Breaker, and

Brother, I'm Dying by Edwidge Danticat
This is the latest book by Danticat which I read on our Thanksgiving trip to North Carolina. Rob's brother and sister-in-law sweetly gave me a gift card to a bookstore we usually go to when we visit Charlotte. I couldn't find anything for the kids and was going to give the gift card to Rob to buy one of our favorite magazines which is a luxury to buy and read these days (Harper's), but then I noticed this book. I'd heard an NPR piece on Danticat's latest book and I knew I had to read it. Unlike her earlier works, this book is nonfiction and about her childhood and about her relationship with her father and her uncle (a second father in many ways). As well as their relationship with each other and unrest in Haiti and life in America. Again, it is a sad story, but with a hopeful ending looking toward the future. I couldn't put it down and finished it on the drive back to Illinois.

I have not shared any of Danticat's work with the children yet, but look forward to reading them together when they are older.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

My Girl

We were so busy enjoying the weather yesterday, I didn't have time to post about what Josie is up to these days. She can roll over from her back to stomach, but doesn't seem to care to though and spends a lot of her day watching her older brothers in love and awe. I am not one to dress myself and my kids alike (I'm lucky if we are all dressed and don't put much thought into clothes since becoming a mother) so I've been surprised many times to hear the comment that Josie and I are matching. It is not intentional and I find it silly and funny, but it does happen more than I'd like to admit. (This picture is from early a birthday party in early December and Josie and I are wearing matching yellow hoodies when I have maybe two yellow shirts in my entire wardrobe...what is up with that?)

I've been thinking so much about being the mother of a daughter for the last four months. I just never really thought I would have a daughter and to tell you the truth, I'm a little frightened by it. I adore having boys and it has always felt comfortable for me. Most of my friends as an adult have been guys until recently and I've always felt more comfortable with men. Now I find myself the mother of a female and as much as I'd like to think gender doesn't matter, it does.

When my parenting journey began almost eight years ago, I was determined to bring my children up to be gender neutral. My boys loved pink and I shopped for clothes in both the boys and girls sections of the used clothing store. Parker was a natural at being "gender neutral" and he defied what everyone said about boys being "different" and making things into guns even in a gun-free environment and other "boy behavior" I was warned about. Then four years after I was sure I had the parenting thing all figured out, I had Dema. Again, all was well until he was 2 1/2 and then I saw what people had said would happen with boys. Now, I have no idea if this is just because he is a second born and feels the need to hang with the bigger boys (Parker isn't one to cave to peer pressure and feels pretty confident being himself and not going along with the crowd, he'll say certain things scare him and not feel uncomfortable about it, he will ride his pink bike and his green one without batting an eye). Maybe we did something different with Dema or maybe he was just born with more "testosterone". Who knows. Now my views are more about celebrating the differences between the sexes as well as those things which are just human.

Now, I have a little girl. She is only four months old, but some personality traits come across as soon as babies are born (sometimes before). I'm trying not to pigeon-hole any of my kids. I don't want to peg one as the "smart" one or the "tough" one, etc. It is hard some days, but I really think it is best to avoid this. Sure, we all have our own strengths, but kids also have a way of living up to our expectations and I want to give them room to change and grow and reinvent themselves if they want to. But, it is hard not to feel a female bond with Josie which is different (not better or worse, just different) than what I feel with the boys.

It is very odd because I never would have predicted this, but I have this nagging primal feeling that I can die in peace now because I've replicated myself. I know, this sounds funny, but it is true. I'm not going anywhere soon, hopefully, but I have a different feeling about Josie and the fact that she is here. I'm at peace and terrified at the same time. I worry about her in a different way than I worry about the boys. I know how tough some things are for females in our society and in the world. The things women get to do that men can't and what we have to put up with that men don't have to. I know what it is like to give someone life and hope she experiences this amazing feeling someday (and that I may be honored enough to witness it). I know what it is like to be mistreated at the hand of a male and to not be strong enough. I know what it is like to feel strength that is part of being a woman and feeling the connection to all the women who have come before me.

Being female is complex, hard, beautiful, exciting, scary, natural, primal, and so many other is life. I see all of this in my little baby daughter and I can't help but cry for her. Cry tears of joy and tears of fear. It is and will be a wonderful ride and I am so lucky to have these three perfect amazing beings in my life. I have learned so much from all three of them and I look forward to us learning from each other for many more years. I can tell already that Josie will help me figure out how to be the mother of a daughter. She is patient and strong and sure, things I am still learning to be. She is observant and chatty. She is easy going, but tough to impress. She is all girl. Together we'll discover exactly what that means.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Four Months Old and Monday Movie Review

Josie is 4 months old today! This picture was taken by Parker for a friend who wanted to see a facing shot of Josie in the Mei Tai Baby, but she looked so big, I thought I'd share it here. Yes, we still have our Christmas tree up and note the spit up stains on my shirt. Such is life with a four month old.

Monday Movie Review

3:10 To Yuma

I am not a Western gal. I don't really like Western music, I am not big on Western movies, but once in a while a song or a movie surprises me. This old version (the one with Glen Ford) of 3:10 to Yuma surprised me. Rob tells me there is a remake out, but I doubt I'd like it as well. I wasn't super happy to watch it, but at the end, I thought wow, that was good. I like the black and white and the fact that the shooting (three or four people get shot, I believe which is low for most movies these days) was not graphic. Call me old fashioned, but I really like movies where things are left to the imagination. The love scenes are about the eyes meeting, the looks, the touch, the dialog, and not the "action". The "bad guy" was somewhat likeable and the "good guy" was conflicted. I've said this many times before, but I like movies where things are not cut and dried and this movie isn't.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Twelfth Day of Christmas

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me...
Twelve new attic windows (we installed insulation when we first moved in, but I'm guessing we're still loosing a lot of energy through the attic windows)
Eleven bees a-buzzing (check out the Vanishing of the Bees)
Ten organic non-GMO seeds (we have to get back to gardening this year)
Nine vegan converts (or just nine people who eat lower on the food chain)
Eight Kucinich years (as president, why stop at one term)
Seven soups a-warming (living in a 100 year old house means many winters of hot soup)
Six geese a-laying ("adopted" at the animal sanctuary, of course)
Five containers of organic orange juice
Four Kucinich years (as president)
Three alternative heating options (multi-fuel stove, pellet insert, solar)
Two cast iron pans (one a skillet, one a muffin pan) and
A Bakfiet to easily carry Parker, Dema, and Josie

Everyone do a happy dance, this is the last Christmas related post from me until this coming December.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Eleventh Day of Christmas

On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me...
Eleven bees a-buzzing (check out the Vanishing of the Bees)
Ten organic non-GMO seeds (we have to get back to gardening this year)
Nine vegan converts (or just nine people who eat lower on the food chain)
Eight Kucinich years (as president, why stop at one term)
Seven soups a-warming (living in a 100 year old house means many winters of hot soup)
Six geese a-laying ("adopted" at the animal sanctuary, of course)
Five containers of organic orange juice
Four Kucinich years (as president)
Three alternative heating options (multi-fuel stove, pellet insert, solar)
Two cast iron pans (one a skillet, one a muffin pan) and
A Bakfiet to easily carry Parker, Dema, and Josie

Our friend Todd (many of you of heard of him and that is always his name "our friend Todd") and Jamie (also a friend) came down from Chicago for a quick visit today. I made Black Beans in Chipotle Adobo Sauce and Chickpea Cutlets from Veganomicon. We still had some chipotles in adobo sauce left over from the risotto the other day and this was a good way to use it up. I thought the beans turned out well, although they would be very bland without the chipotle topping. I was a little disappointed by the cutlets, but I will try them again. It was my first time making them and I'm not great at frying (that is more Rob's thing). My turned out a little stringy...anyone have this happen to them? I also served them with sandwich fixings and I think they would be better with gravy and potatoes. We also had Parker's Favorite Turnip and Kale Soup.

I didn't take a picture of the food because, well, I just didn't. But, here is a picture (don't get mad at me, Todd) which illustrates why the kids like him so much. Back when Parker was four years old and Dema was a baby, Todd helped Rob and my sister take Parker to see Thomas the Tank Engine in person in northern Illinois. Todd is always happy to build some track with the kids and bike or play chess with Rob. Who could ask for more in a friend?

The kids go nuts for Todd and it was so nice to see him. We missed seeing his wife, Catherine, but she was busy with the store. Happy Birthday to both of you!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Tenth Day of Christmas and Friday Book Review

On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me...
Ten organic non-GMO seeds (we have to get back to gardening this year)
Nine vegan converts (or just nine people who eat lower on the food chain)
Eight Kucinich years (as president, why stop at one term)
Seven soups a-warming (living in a 100 year old house means many winters of hot soup)
Six geese a-laying ("adopted" at the animal sanctuary, of course)
Five containers of organic orange juice
Four Kucinich years (as president)
Three alternative heating options (multi-fuel stove, pellet insert, solar)
Two cast iron pans (one a skillet, one a muffin pan) and
A Bakfiet to easily carry Parker, Dema, and Josie

If you don't care or don't have a problem with me discussing the books we like to read, just skip to the "*". If you would like a detailed explanation then read on...

Since I've been living like a shut-in due to the cold and laziness the last couple days, we've been snuggling and reading books more than usual. People (okay veg*n parents) are always asking what books other people (veg*n parents) have for their kids. There are sooo many books out there which have what many people (veg*n parents) see as content they would like to avoid, at least at some ages or content they would like to seek out. It isn't like we expect all books to be free of such content or full of such content we just are happy to see a list of books which might possibly be appropriate for our kids as well. We are really no different from other parents. Some parents may avoid overly sexual or violent or whathaveyou content for certain ages (or all ages).

I personally don't like books for characters which are also TV cartoons (like Sponge Bob for example) or books which encourage the reader to buy more of this or that. Although, it is a case by case basis. I don't mind Blue's Clues as much as Sponge Bob. When the children don't read yet, I agree to read almost any book at the library, but will only buy books to have in our home which I like (we have hundreds of books so even though I'm sorta picky, we aren't wanting for books). Some books I didn't want to have for say my oldest when he was two, I find fine now that he is almost eight. It is what all parents do. Vegan parents aren't that different and just like other parents (even within a certain "grouping", say "attachment parents") not all of us will agree on books, but we tend to ask each other for lists as a place to start. Heck, even non-veg*n parents ask me what we own and read so I will stop over-explaining for the one snarky comment left on the blog the last time I discussed children's books.

*Whew! Glad the small print stuff is over. We have a series of books we've read since Parker was almost two years old so I'll highlight an author this Friday.

Children's Book Review:
Author: Cynthia Rylant
Illustrator: Arthur Howard

We love the Mr. Putter and Tabby books. Mr. Putter reminds me of my dad. My dad was often seen walking his cat (was my cat, but when I left home she stayed with my parents) around the neighborhood. I wish my dad had a Mrs. Teaberry living next door. The stories are adorable and interesting and the illustrations make the books.

Our favorites:

Mr. Putter and Tabby Pour the Tea
Tells the story of how Mr. Putter and Tabby's lives started together. Nice plug for getting animals from an animal shelter.

Mr. Putter and Tabby Fly the Plane
Mr. Putter finally gets the toy of his dreams, then shares it with all the neighbor kids. I like how different ages are together in this one and how sometimes it feels better giving things away than keeping them.

Mr. Pu
tter and Tabby Paint the Porch
Mr. Putter doesn't do anything without Tabby and Mrs. Teaberry always has her dog Zeke around, but when it comes to painting porches, sometimes it is best done without any animals.

Mr. Putter and Tabby Row the Boat
To beat the heat, the four friends go on a boat ride. They share stories and yummy food. Food is an element in almost all the stories. We've avoided the Mr. Putter books with meat. Some have cream for tea. I like children's books which have thinks like tomato sandwiches and kiwi salads like this one.

Mr. Putter and Tabby Pick the Pears
Mr. Putter has a hard time picking the pears from his tree so he tried to get them down with a slingshot and some apples. It doesn't work, but Mrs. Teaberry finds the apples in her yard and make apple treats for the them all to enjoy.

Mr. Putter and Tabby Take the Train
Mrs. Teaberry talks Mr. Putter into taking a train ride, which gets complicated when they try to take the animals with them. As usual, the everything works out and the two humans, one cat, and one dog have the best train ride of their lives.

Mr. Putter and Tabby Toot the Horn
Mrs. Teaberry decides she and Mr. Putter should learn how to place instruments. Learning all the time (look up John Holt) is a great theme for children's books, in my opinion, and even though Mr. Putter's horn ends up in his garden it all works out.

Mr. Putter and Tabby Spin the Yarn
Mr. Putter tries to help Mrs. Teaberry out with her knitting club, but causes quite the mess when Tabby gets into the act. In the end, all is well and Mr. Putter and Tabby charm the knitting club like they've charmed my children.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

The Heat is On

Want another resource to see where the US presidential candidates stand on environmental issues?

Check this out.

Ninth Day of Christmas and You Know Ya Need to Go to the Gym When

Sorry, I skipped the eighth day, I know you missed me. It gets harder as the number increases.

On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me...
Nine vegan converts (or just nine people who eat lower on the food chain)
Eight Kucinich years (as president, why stop at one term)
Seven soups A-warming (living in a 100 year old house means many winters of hot soup)
Six geese a-laying ("adopted" at the animal sanctuary, of course)
Five containers of organic orange juice
Four Kucinich years (as president)
Three alternative heating options (multi-fuel stove, pellet insert, solar)
Two cast iron pans (one a skillet, one a muffin pan) and
A Bakfiet to easily carry Parker, Dema, and Josie

You know ya need to get to the gym when you are snuggling with your hubby (who is always on about how great you look even when you are a mess) just to keep to warm in the godforesaken frozen wasteland some people call Illinois and instead of being happy you are adding extra warmth with your baby weight, he puts his hand around your waist (or at least as far as he can get it) and says (like it is no big thang and nothing to do with said hand on your stomach) "We should really go to the gym soon."...nice that he chose "we", but we all know what he meant, don't we?

Speaking of the cold, my hardman rode his bike to work this was just a few stinking degrees when he left. I would have taken a picture, but I am a bear and like to hibernate in this weather. You'd think I was the one from NC and he was from IL.

The Most Terrifying Video You'll Ever See?

In case you are living in a cave and haven't seen this yet...

Then watch the updated one here.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Seventh Day of Christmas and Welcome 2008

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me...
Seven soups A-warming (living in a 100 year old house means many winters of hot soup)
Six geese a-laying ("adopted" at the animal sanctuary, of course)
Five containers of organic orange juice
Four Kucinich years (as president)
Three alternative heating options (multi-fuel stove, pellet insert, solar)
Two cast iron pans (one a skillet, one a muffin pan) and
A Bakfiet to easily carry Parker, Dema, and Josie

This morning I woke up and decided to make Blueberry Coffee Cake from Vegan with a Vengeance. I hadn't made it in a while and I had about the right amount of vanilla soy yogurt left over from the large container the kids had consumed all week with frozen fruit. I've been thinking about making this for a while, but never seem to have the vanilla soy yogurt on hand. I forgot to put the blueberries in until I had already put the topping on (I was tired, okay, and Dema was giving me just a little too much help..."Mom, I want to do the dry ingredients, let me whisk!", etc, etc.). The recipe did say to wait until the last minute if using frozen blueberries. Anyway, I just put them on top and it all turned out well, in fact, for a stronger blueberry flavor I will sprinkle some on the top (as well as putting them in the mix) next time I make it. I had mine with tea (I don't do caffeine...just ask Rob), some Maple Roasted Nuts from Healthy Cooking for Kids (left over from the party...see below), and an orange my sister's boyfriend brought over last night.

At the last minute yesterday we decided to invite our neighbors and a couple friends from outside the neighborhood over for a little get together. Usually, we have a big New Year's Eve party (last year, over 100 people), but this year we weren't sure if we were up for anything. We love to have people over though so we couldn't resist and we decided not to worry about the messy house (Rob never worries about it) and throw some food together. Rob went around near noon inviting people over (yes, very last minute) and then did a food and drink run. It was great to have a few people over and I appreciate that the neighbors were open to a last minute thing. Our friends Ricky and Catharine are great to stay all the way to midnight even with their twin boys sleeping next to the radiators. It was so nice to have Alicia and Dave and their three youngest party animals there to toast the new year. Here is the post-party scene.

I love to make things I've never made before when we have people over so I couldn't resist cracking open the cookbooks for some new ideas. Black eyed peas are supposed to be good luck so I made the Black Eyed Pea Dip from Vegan Family Favorites. It was the first recipe from VFF which I really haven't liked. It was too "fresh" as they would say in the south. I tried to doctor it up a bit with hot sauce, but still it wasn't my favorite. It called for cilantro or parsley and thinking back that should have been my clue. Rob brought me parsley not knowing what I was using it for and cilantro may have made all the difference. In retrospect I should have just cooked up a "mess" of black eyed peas with a little Earth Balance and called it a day.

The other disappointment was my first go at something out of Veganomincon. I decided to make the hummus recipe (it was very basic, but I love Isa and thought why not go with her hummus). Well, it isn't Isa's fault, but I also went with Veganomincon's suggestion to use the blender instead of the food processor "for really smooth hummus". My lovely new blender's motor is dead now. I blame the blender because, for goodness sake it can handle ice, but not home cooked chickpeas which were super soft already?! Rob was not happy and had a few things to say about it...first he gets on me about not following recipes and then when I do, look what happens!...then he got over it. We'll be writing the blender company a note and if things don't get taken care will see a blog about this at a later date. t was good for party hummus which I always add olive oil, kalamata olives, and paprika to, but a little too bland without the garnish.

Everything else went smoothly. I made the Maple Roasted Nuts from Healthy Cooking for Kids. I used to make these every party and people would just go crazy for them which makes me laugh because they are so incredibly simple. I've made them a couple times lately and I didn't have mace and used nutmeg instead which just isn't the same, but no complaints. I also use date sugar instead of maple sugar. I'll talk about sweeteners sometime soon. I used cashews, hazelnuts, and sunflower seeds in the nut mixture for this picture. New Year's Eve I used my more "usual" walnut, cashew, almond mix. Always organic nuts, of course. Great for a snack anytime or topping for oatmeal, soy yogurt, or dessert.

I was looking for a new chili recipe and found Cashew Chili from The Best of Bloodroot Volume Two Vegan Recipes. I don't think I've mentioned Bloodroot before, but I want to take a little time here to stress how great this cookbook is. Our wonderful friend, Alison, introduced us to this cookbook and her beautiful picture is several place inside (she used to work there) which make it even more fun. I was a little intimidated to cook anything from Bloodroot because Alison has brought us food based on some of these recipes and I could never live up to her cooking skills. I like how the cookbook is laid out by season and how the ingredients are highlighted throughout the recipe instead of listed at the beginning. This is helpful for people like me who need the added push to read the recipe all the way through prior to starting it. The Cashew Chili did not disappoint and I had to question why I've never had cashews and raisins in chili before. I added a garnish of cashews and raisins to the leftovers which, as the recipe claimed, were even better than the original taste.

Rob made Parker's Favorite Turnip and Kale Soup and found out that Ricky (from Mississippi) grew up eating only the "tops" of turnips while Rob (from North Carolina) ate both the tops and bottoms. I love hearing stories from the South when they get together.

It was such a nice ending to 2007 (a year of change) and beginning to 2008.