Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Food, Friends, and Fun

Friday afternoon we hung out at "our park" with Loretta and her cuties. It was so nice to take a break from the obsessive compulsive search for that which was never found (more about that in another post, but suffice it to say that I need serious help). I asked Loretta to come back that evening for dinner since we were having our new neighbors, Seth and Gita (and their adorable twin girls) over. As of two hours prior to everyone arriving, I still had zero idea of what I was going to make. On top of this, I am trying to only shop for food once a week (Saturdays) so by Friday I am down to very few ingredients. It was kind of a funny dinner, but everyone was sweet about it. I made Golden Potato and Tempeh Casserole from FatFree Vegan again. This time I actually used tempeh (instead of tofu) and I added the broccoli to the casserole (will definitely do this again). Parker is the one who asked for the casserole, but he was a little disappointed I didn't use tofu instead of tempeh. The next time I make it, I'm sure he'll be fine...he doesn't deal with disappointment well sometimes. Last time Rob said he didn't think he'd like it with tempeh, but he did. I topped with chopped pumpkin seeds (no garlic bread topping since we two people coming with sensitivity/allergy to walnuts). It was firmer this time, probably because I let it sit in the warm oven for a while as the kids played at the park. I also made Quinoa Puttanesca which I feel awful about since Loretta can't eat tomatoes right now, but I had to make something quick which I had ingredients for so this one out. We had just soaked and cooked some chickpeas so I made Tamari Roasted Chickpeas from Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan. I used maple syrup instead of agave nectar because it was right in front of me and I also sprinkled some nutritional yeast on them because that is what I do. I put out some Veggie Booty in case the kids wanted to snack. Gita made a vegan pie which was the real treat. I am pie-aphobic so I'm always amazed with pies. I know they are supposed to be easy (right? easy as pie?), but just thinking of making one gives me hives. It was very good and my boys ate most of it.
It was so nice to get to know Gita and Seth better and it is always fun to see Loretta and her family. We don't have a TV so I felt bad for David since he didn't get a chance to watch the debate. Rob tried to get the laptop set up for watching, but with all the kids and chaos (and since I wouldn't let the guys sit in my messy kitchen and watch) it didn't work out. Loretta and David need to come over and help us drink the rest of the beer.

Saturday Rob took the boys to the Market at the Square while I played with Josie in the park. Our neighbor, Greg, asked to go with the guys so they biked together. Greg tried ou the Xtracycle with the boys on the back on the way there. They spent less than $100 at the Market, Common Ground, and Strawberry Fields. We are trying to stick to the list and make less impulse buys. We ended up going to Strawberry Fields again on Monday because I forgot to add brown rice to the list, I dropped my nutritional yeast container (only had a cup left, but still) on the floor while I was cleaning the kitchen, and we needed raisins for some cookies I promised the kids we'd made later on this week.

Saturday evening we made a big bowl of hummus (Rob made it and I added the olive oil, kalamata olives, and paprika topping) and walked to Cynthia and Ernie's house for their anniversary party. Parker asked all day if he could go help them get ready, but I kept him home. I know he was so eager to help clean or whatever they needed, but letting him go would have meant Dema tagging along and that is not what anyone needs when they are prepping for a party. The weather was beautiful. The party was lovely! We so enjoyed listening to the live band, especially Josie. Dema fell asleep in my lap soon after the music started and we eventually put him upstairs in Cynthia and Ernie's bedroom (we figured the guests' jackets were there so a four year old wouldn't get in the way). Josie stayed up until after the break and then fell asleep nursing. Before that she was super happy to be jamming to the band. She was in heaven. It was so nice to share in the celebration and feel all the love for a great couple. I am definitely a Kane Welch Kaplin fan now.
Sunday Rob got up and decided he wanted to make Pot Stickers from Vegan Yum Yum again. Last time he made them into spring rolls because we didn't have the right wrappers. He made the seitan Saturday afternoon, but we didn't have any mushrooms so he subbed kale and they were even better. I highly suggest the kale (maybe with the mushrooms too, but I didn't miss the mushrooms) so you can feel a little less guilty about eating them. I made In a Hurry Thai Red Curry again and this time Parker loved it so much he asked for me save some for lunch the next day. I used rice milk instead of almond milk (I liked the almond better) and leftover seitan from the pot stickers instead of tofu...either one works fine. We ate red pears with the red curry which was a great combo.
I also made Terry's Favorite Almond Cookies from Veganomicon. These cookies are in the "make them right now even if it is midnight while you are reading this" category. They are not too sweet and just the right amount of almond. A couple of the neighbor kids (and adults) helped us eat them. I made them smaller since I think small cookies go better with kids than large cookies. With the first batch, I completely forgot to put the almonds on the dough. Doh! Then I mixed the almonds in the dough until I read that I was supposed to just roll the dough ball in the almonds. They all tasted good, but the ones with actual almonds tasted the best. The first batch tasted like my grandma's sugar cookies with a hint of almond...not bad at all if you are out of almonds. I also ran out of unbleached all-purpose flour so I used a cut of whole wheat or whole wheat pastry flour (I'm having an issue with not labeling my flour lately). Anyway, it all worked out and I will make a double batch next time.

Monday we ate leftovers for lunch and Parker was bummed that I sent some of the curry to work with Rob. Dinner was black bean burritos with brown rice, but no pictures. Today we met up with a friend from our past at the Red Herring. ( The kids and I waited for half an hour for the bus, but it never came so we begrudgingly took the car just to end up behind the bus. Grrr, for small town mass transit. Rob met us there to on his bike.) Sherie used to work with us years ago and we haven't seen her since I moved to Maryland. I introduced her and her now husband Richard. I remember the moment like it was yesterday. I guess there must of have been some fate or destiny in the air. Now they have an adorable little boy which I had the pleasure to meet. Sherie and Richard flew out to Maryland with me to see Rob for Thanksgiving before I moved. They were so sweet about the vegan thing and now they are vegan themselves. It was very memorable for me because Rob and I were cooking together in his little condo kitchen and he dropped a knife on my toe! It bled quite a bit since is cut through my toe nail and I had a low threshold for blood (I am a bit better these days). I think Richard and Sherie walked in the door as I was yelping, screaming some choice words, or trying not to faint...probably all at the same time. The next morning Sherie sliced her hand cutting a bagel and she almost didn't say anything because she was worried about me. Sweet, dear people, Sherie and Richard. After lunch we checked out the Children Just Like Me exhibit at Spurlock Museum. Unfortunately, the kids were going at their own pace so it was hard to catch up and chat, but we did enjoy the exhibit. Locals should check it out while it is here. We pretty much had the museum to ourselves and the kids and I stayed for over an hour. I walked around campus with the kids for a while enjoying the beautiful day and avoiding my mess of a house and picking up a soy latte at another local coffee house. This evening I made Lachesis's Alfredo Sauce over whole wheat linguine and steamed broccoli. I added minced garlic instead of garlic powder, less (half) Earth Balance, and about a half a cup of almonds. I added some Tamari Roasted Chickpeas like the ones I made Friday night, but I used blackstrap molasses instead of agave nectar (I swear, I love agave nectar, but tonight I thought..hmm...how about a dash of iron). We topped the pasta with garlic bread topping, but I didn't add it before the picture. The drink is a Pina Colada Smoothie. Rob came home from work late so I already put some leftovers in the To-Go Ware for his lunch tomorrow, but Parker asked before he went to bed if I could save some for his lunch. Dema also liked it, but Josie just wanted the smoothie and threw everything else on the floor. Then she proceeded to eat the pasta off the floor when she got out of her highchair...some kids.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

In a Hurry Thai Red Curry

Today we had a lovely, but busy morning with customers and friends. We played at the park and talked with friends until after 1pm so by the time we came in for lunch the kids were hungry. Sorry to everyone that I was on my toes enough to offer lunch or at least nectarines to everyone. I thought about ordering pizza or going out to eat, but decided against it. I gave the kids nectarines to eat while I threw together a red curry. I didn't notice how long it took, but it was cooked, eaten, Josie was cleaned up, and the kids were upstairs playing while I was cleaning the kitchen an hour and half later. I'm guessing it was at least as quick as going out or ordering pizza. I didn't, however, pay attention to the amounts, but this is an attempt at a recipe, but I will probably remember something I missed after I post since I was pretty much just throwing it together.In a Hurry Thai Red Curry

1 can coconut milk
1/2 cup to 1 cup almond milk
1/4 - 1/2 cup vegetable broth
1/4 - 1/2 cup tamari
1 - 2 teaspoons red curry paste (I used one teaspoon for the kids and then added another after I served them)
1 - 2 tablespoons raw granulated sugar
1/2 large package Wildwood extra firm tofu (cubed)
1 head broccoli florets (steamed)
5 carrots sliced (steamed)
1/2 small onion (diced, I sauteed them a bit to make them better for the kids, but if it was just for us, I would have just thrown them in)
4 small potatoes diced (I used red potatoes because that is what I had....boiled until soft)
a sprinkle of nutritional yeast (maybe a small handful) (optional)
1 or 2 tablespoons lime juice
cooked brown rice (serve of rice or quinoa would be good too, but I had leftover rice from making chana masala this weekend)
**I didn't have fresh basil, but I'm sure it would have been nice.**
**This is in no way authentic, not even in the slightest.**

I steamed the carrots and put the broccoli in after the carrots were almost soft. At the same time I boiled the potatoes and started the curry. Put the coconut milk, almond milk, vegetable broth, tamari, sugar, curry paste in a pot on medium heat. Make sure the curry paste gets mixed in well as it heats. Add the tofu. Saute the onions if you feel like and add them to the curry with the lime juice and nutritional yeast (if using). As the vegetables are done steaming/boiling, add them to the curry and simmer until all the ingredients are mixed in well. Sever over rice or quinoa.
The younger ones loved it (especially Josie, she was smacking her lips and sucking her fingers). Parker seemed to like it, but I just asked him and he said it was too sweet so next time I'll serve him after I put the second teaspoon of curry paste in. I put some in the To-Go Ware for Rob's lunch tomorrow so we'll see what he thinks. I haven't made red curry in a very long time and need to use up the paste so I'll be playing with this "recipe".

We spent the afternoon at another park about a block away. Taking advantage of this unseasonably warm weather. Which is where I took the pictures of the kids with my iPhone. Why is my phone giving me better pictures than my expensive, complicated camera?? I promised Dema we would go out for dinner at Flat Top Grill. We ended up getting black bean burritos instead since Rob wasn't really hungry. It wasn't worth it. We should have just made burritos at home or stayed for dinner at our neighbor's house when they offered. At least two out of the three kids were asleep when we arrived home.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Monday Movie Review

I made a family favorite tonight in the few minutes where Rob and overlapped today (he came home literally minutes before I had to walk out the door for a WEFT board meeting). Whole wheat pasta with Esme sauce and garlic bread topping, peas and carrots, baked tofu (baked in Esme sauce), mangoes, and a very green smoothie. I wish I had time to take a picture because the smoothie was such a glorious green color, but alas you will just have to imagine. I was throwing in ingredients with help from the boys so it was a blur, but I think it was chard, almond milk, walnuts, soy yogurt, frozen mangoes, and orange mango carrot juice.

Over the last several weeks/months, we have seen our share of Nazi/WWII movies. I don't know why. I didn't pick them out, but here I am reviewing them. All three are based on true events, if somewhat loosely, and/or real people. I thought all three were well-done and acted. I'm not a big war movie fan, but I recommend all three. I would think they would all be somewhat okay for older children. They are not overly intense or gory, but more thoughtful and tragic with a touch of hope.

The Pianist
A Polish pianist who finds himself in war torn Poland in the middle of the Warsaw Ghetto. This was probably the hardest of the three for me to watch. The pianist tries to stay human and alive while all around him is inhumanity and death. He endures so much and survives. He is betrayed by those who are supposed to help him and helped by one is who supposed to destroy him. He loses everything, but maintains that in himself which no one can take away. I personally haven't spent a lot of time learning about the Warsaw Ghetto and this movie made me want to read more.

The Counterfeiters
A complex cast of characters in a concentration camp who are tasked by the Nazis to counterfeit the British and American currency. They have it easier in the camp than the others which makes for guilt and a feeling that they have some power to possibly keep the Nazis from continuing their reign of terror. The main character, the amazing artist who eventually is able to replicate the dollar, is a survivalist and looks out for himself, but he finds himself becoming loyal to his fellow prisoners which could lead to his own execution.

Saints and Soldiers
A few soldiers who survive the Malmedy massacre find themselves having to work together to stay alive and try to make their way 20 miles back to the Allied forces. Things get even more complicated when they find a British soldier with important information. Just staying alive turns into getting this information to the Allied forces in time. Again, there is a subtext of compassion to the enemy and humanity in the face of war.

One thing related to food (since this is a vegan blog after all), which also is related to these movies because in all three there were issues with lack of food and in one, very near starvation, is the amount of food we as Americans have access to on a daily basis. It is amazing and I can't help but think that this is a unique time we are living in right now where the amount and variety of relatively cheap food (even as food prices have risen...we as Americans still spend a smaller percentage of our income on food than most of the people in the world) is like no other time and place in history. We as a family are trying to be more grateful, thankful, and thoughtful about the food we consume. I see this trend expanding as more and more people are growing their own food, buying food from local sources, and just thinking more about their food choices. It makes me slightly optimistic about our future on this small little planet. It also helps that even mainstream news is finally catching on that going veg is one of the biggest ways a person can help the environment.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Out on a Limb

We had so many things we were supposed to do Saturday, but instead Rob spent most of the day playing around with power tools. He helped Cynthia and Ernie take down the limbs from their tree and had a great time hanging out on branches and using our neighbor, Greg's chainsaw. I stayed home and worked on some things at the house with Josie. I knew I had made the right decision when Rob came home and started rummaging through the basement muttering "Where is my climbing harness." and then finally, "This will work." as he grabbed some climbing rope and some gear. I really didn't need to watch my husband hanging high in a tree with something that could easily cut through an appendage. Cynthia took pictures which makes me even happier that I was not on the scene for most of the destruction. It was definitely a group effort working on the tree and makes me appreciate our neighborhood even more.

It really is a special place. Last week, Greg came over with some tools and said, "Give me your car keys." and he fixed our car headlight which has been a problem for months, but neither Rob nor I felt it was a high priority. The light would have given us grief for months to come if we didn't have Greg. Our neighbor, Margie still has the boys doing work for her and she pays them in Legos. Parker put together his new Lego Rescue Helicopter and Life Raft in two hours by himself the other night. Vicky took Dema in on Saturday and he played Legos at her house for hours while she made dresses for her daughter's wedding, Rob used their chainsaw, Parker played with the neighborhood gang, and I worked on things I had put off for way too long. Sure I miss the ocean and the mountains, but I can go on vacation...community is something you just can't buy and is all too hard to find these days.We had Sunday brunch/lunch at our friends Catharine and Ricky's. I meant to make a coffee cake, but was lazy and made some maple roasted nuts instead. Ricky made pancakes, hashbrowns, grits, and fresh fruit. We had a wonderful time chatting about soccer, politics, movies, etc. while the kids played and Josie tried to destroy their phone (with all the toys around she is attracted to the real phone). Sunday night's dinner needed to be quick since Rob had a soccer game and then I headed out for some much needed adult time with my friend, Christie. So I made udon noodles, steamed carrots and broccoli with Peanut Passion Sauce from Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan. This peanut sauce just makes me think of apples so we had some on the side, but it would also make a good dipping sauce. I am grateful to finally have a working dishwasher again! We've been without a diswasher for over half a year and finally Rob got around to fixing it this weekend...with a few screws left over so I'm a little cautious. Thanks Rob, I love you! I'm sure they usually throw in extra screws just in case.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Golden Autumn Lunch

We are experiencing more of an Indian summer than my beloved cool, crisp autumn weather, but the calendar alone is pushing me to turn up the heat in the kitchen. I just have to start baking and cooking more, cool weather or no. I've been thinking about making the Golden Potato and Tempeh Casserole recipe from FatFree Vegan for a week or so now and finally decided today was the day. It calls for cooking the tempeh in a marinade using a microwave and that is why I've put it off. We don't own a microwave so I thought I would just slice up the tempeh and leave in the fridge overnight soaking in the marinade. I keep forgetting to do this step, but today I decided to go ahead and make it. I got out my tempeh and it looked strange. Now tempeh always looks strange...that is the nature of tempeh. I cook with tempeh all the time, but this tempeh looked a little off. I called Rob at work and asked his opinion. I'm sure he appreciates having to make a decision on a food being edible or causing food poisoning to his entire family, while he works, over the phone, but that is what I do...I call him, ask his opinion, then do what I would have done, possibly never even listening to his answer...in this case I threw the tempeh in the compost as I explained to him what it looked like...I guess I just didn't want to take the responsibility for wasting food alone. I decided to move on and use tofu. Why not? I just baked the tofu in the marinade while the oven heated up and while I prepared the rest of the casserole. Parker and Dema helped cut the potatoes and make the sauce. I used garlic bread topping because what dish can't be improved with walnuts and pumpkin seeds? I served it with steamed broccoli and Parker suggested I just put the broccoli in the casserole next time, but Dema preferred to eat his broccoli plain. I think I'll side with Parker on this one. It was super yummy the way it was, but even better with the broccoli mixed in. Mine didn't hold together as well as FatFree Vegan's, but it may have been the difference between tempeh and tofu or we may have been in too big of a hurry to eat lunch so it didn't cook long enough to get really solid. I didn't have fresh tarragon so I just used dried and that was fine. I had a couple bananas which were well past ripe so Parker made them into Bananas in Sweet Coconut Milk from The Joy of Vegan Baking. Parker, after gushing about the wonderful smell while making the dish, said it was "too sweet" (where did this kid come from????!!!) and just ate the bananas out of the dish while Dema and slurped ours down and Parker's (sans bananas) as well. The lunch was perfect comfort food and will become a fall/winter staple to be sure.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

If You Put Vegan Lipstick on a Pig...

it is much more humane than eating the poor, sentient, intelligent creature* so eat Field Roast Grain Meat instead. Meatfree Mike clued me into this new-to-me line of fake meats sold locally at Common Ground. I'm no fake meat connoisseur, but I can tell you this is not your ordinary soy protein isolate laden meat analog. We tried the Smoked Apple Sage flavor the other day sauteed with green peppers from the Market at the Square as a side dish with pasta and veggie tomato sauce. We were impressed. Not that it tasted so much like meat because frankly Rob and I haven't eaten meat is so many years I doubt we could remember what it tasted like and I personally believe most of what people like about meat is the seasoning anyway. The Field Roast Grain Meat Sausages were just tasty. They are also expensive so we won't be eating them often, but they are made with better ingredients than your average processed food. I think I'll play around with some of the homemade vegan sausage recipes out there soon and see if I can come close to recreating something like the Smoked Apple Sage at home, but we will definitely buy it again. You don't have to be veg to enjoy these!*Seriously, get to know a pig. They are amazing animals. At Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary back in Maryland, I named one of our rescued pigs, Parker (before I had a son to name). He has one blue eye and one brown and he is just a sweetheart. He was rescued from an truck which was left with a couple hundred pigs in downtown DC (the driver was off getting drunk or something) around the time Rob and I got married (many of our guests went to go help take care of the pigs after the reception). Some of the pigs had already died when the truck was found. The pigs were in awful shape; urine burns from being in their own excrement, broken legs, scratches and bites from being confined together in a tight space with no water or food, and they obviously had never walked on real grass before and they were terrified. I had never seen so many pigs in one place before and they were noisy and I wasn't sure what to think. I spent a lot of time with these pigs and got to know them. I watched them grow to be huge lovable creatures from the poor, scared, mistreated animals I had seen arrive at the sanctuary. I helped feed them and clean up their poop. I fed them produce donated from My Organic Market and saw how they came from being half-starved to being a little picky about what produce they would eat. I was vegan for years before these pigs came, but knowing them made eating pigs as difficult to see as eating a dog would be hard for many Americans to see. Pet a pig today!

For more stories about how some of the animals came to be at PSAS, please check out this site. I think many people would be surprised how "farm" animals are treated on small and big farms alike. If you are in the DC area, take a trip out to PSAS and or look for an animal sanctuary in your area. They are great places for kids and adults to learn more about the animals which many people call food.

Nooch, It's What's for Dinner or Nooch, It isn't Just for Vegans Anymore

For those of you who don't know about what has become known as "nooch" in the vegan blogging world, you are missing something. Nooch is shorthand for nutritional yeast. Nutritional yeast has been a vegan darling for decades. There are complete cookbooks dedicated to the stuff. The reasons vegans are crazy for nooch include the ample B-vitamins (even the allusive B12), high protein content, and the "cheesy/nutty" flavor. It is also very versatile stuff. For nutrition, you need to look for "Red Star Vegetarian Support Formula". What has amazed me over the past ten years is the number of omnis who have asked me about nooch and how to use it. Many people are sensitive or allergic to dairy so nooch is of interest to them so they can prepare "cheesy" dishes without the cow mammary secretions. Also, more and more people are becoming aware of the many reasons humans would not want to consume milk from a non-human animal, allergy or no allergy. But even if you eat dairy, nooch is a great food in its own right and you should give it a try.I was using some nooch the other day and thinking about how many things I use it for and what a wonderfully versatile food it really is. It is great for sauces, but also on popcorn, as a thickener in soups, sprinkled on pasta dishes as one would use Parmesan cheese, in the crust for calzones, on pizza, in grits, as an ingredient in crackers, and above in mashed potatoes and as a breading for fried tofu. We buy it by the 6 lb. container and it has a great shelf life, but we can go through the container in six to eight months. I recommend the flakes over the powder.

Someone (Rob) really needs to fix my poor camera! I mean the pictures have hit an all time low and they don't look this dark on the camera when I preview them...something is very, very strange. It probably has something to do with a 12 month old getting her hands on everything in the house. Last night I used the leftover Chickpea Gravy and made some mashed potatoes (with nutritional yeast), lightly fried some tofu, and sauteed the rest of our kale with garlic and olive oil. I also made a chocolate peanut butter smoothie with the rest of my Chocolate Nutriva Hemp Shake powder, leftover red grapes, leftover watermelon, chocolate rice milk, and crunchy natural peanut butter.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Tofu Saag and Aloo Tikki with Chickpea Gravy

When I saw the Easy Tofu Saag on Vegan Dad and the Aloo Tikki on Voracious Vegan, I knew what Sunday dinner was going to be. We love Indian food and I have several Indian cookbooks, but I'm happy to make someone's tried and true recipe which is already veganized. Josie was a tad fussy tonight due to teething so things didn't fall into place as I had hoped, but we all ate and it was a good starting off point. Vegan Dad's saag recipe calls for a "chunk of ginger" and I'm guessing my chunk was bigger than he intended. I love ginger, but it was too much for this dish. I also stared out with the 3/4 cup of water and it was already too liquidy at that point. Even in pregan (pre-vegan) days, I didn't eat paneer which is what the tofu seems to be replicating in this dish. I would probably change it to aloo (potatoes) next time I make it. I will play with it and see what I can come up with, but the recipe was a great place to start. The aloo tikki was great and the chickpea gravy was great, but next time I would probably serve the aloo tikki with a tamarind chutney and I'll use the chickpea gravy the next time I'm making mashed potatoes and/or friend tofu. My camera has curry phobia or something because this picture is hideous. Someone has been playing with my settings so I should pay more attention.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

No Hurry Vegetable Curry

We had another afternoon of swimming at the Vicky's (she accidentally left the heater on in the pool all night so we couldn't waste the warm water, even while it was raining...the water temp was 86 degrees and it felt great!). I do think this was officially the last swim of the year though. Well, we had the No Hurry Vegetable Curry tonight which I intended for dinner last night. It just took two days to cook (now that is slow cooking) since I'm such a dope, but it was good and I would make it again. We didn't have any brown rice left so we cooked up some basmati and warmed up some pita bread we had in the freezer. Parker ate two large plates full. Sorry about the picture!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Beans and Rice with a Side of Crock Pot Hell

I am a crock pot snob. I know there are plenty of people who swear by the slow cooker, but it just doesn't feel like cooking to me. I guess it seems like cheating. Crock pots, for me, have always been something to keep food warm in during a party (which is why we have two of them), but not something to use to cook a meal. Well, I was looking through some recipes lately and thought I should give the crock pot a chance. I mean, it would be nice to be able to chop veggies up while Josie was taking a morning nap and have that magically turn into dinner by the time Rob came home. So, today I tried it and I felt so good about streamlining my day and all that. I went swimming with the kids at our neighbor's pool in the late afternoon and I knew a hot supper was waiting for us. This is the life. Or so I thought...

Rob came over to join us for the swim after work, but he offered to go put some brown rice on to go with the curry which was cooking. I would bring the kids home in about 20 minutes and it would be timed perfectly. Well, when I walked in the door, I could tell something was wrong. Rob informed me that the curry was not even close to done. It was supposed to cook for 6-8 hours on low, but it had been sitting on "keep warm" for who knows how long and it was definitely not done. Now I don't know if I made this mistake or if one of the kids messed with the setting, but either way we were all hungry and what I had planned for dinner wasn't going to be ready until midnight. Rob was already making some quick rice and beans so all was saved.Pinto beans, kidney beans, kale, onions, over brown rice with nectarines on the side. The kids, especially Parker, went on about the how good the kale was and it was yet another reminder about the simple dishes being the best and renewed my dislike for crock pots, but obviously it isn't the slow cooker's fault. We'll see how the crock pot dish ends up for dinner tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Blog Awards

Flannel Hippos and 4 is Crazy! have sweetly given me the I Love You This Much blog award. I love them too, but it wouldn't be a proper blog award to keep giving it back to those who gave it to you so I will pass it along.

The participation rules are simple:

1. If you get tagged (and want to play along), write a post with links to blogs that you love,
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme.

I pass this award on to the following (in no particular order and I could pass it along to soooo many more, but I had to control myself):

Half Pint Pixie (Vegan, attachment parenting, cool Irish blogger...check her out!)
Vivacious Vegan (I can't really explain why, but her blog just exudes sincerity and sweetness to me. If her blog was a pumpkin patch The Great Pumpkin would surely come rising out of it.)
The Sandwich Life (Not only is she interesting and honest read, but fun to chat with over a a glass of wine. I'm lucky enough to be her neighbor and I can't think of anyone more deserving of a big cyber hug.)
Free Drinks (I am so glad she bought things from my store so we could meet and became friends and I love her so 'nuff said.)
Circadian Cerebrations (She is a free-thinker, feminist, agnostic, academic, mother, partner, and my friend.)
4 is Crazy! also gave me the Arte y Pico Award. How nice is she, I ask you?!?

Each award has to have the name of the author and also a link to his or her blog to be visited by everyone.

Each award winner has to show the award and put the name and link to the blog that has given
her or him the award itself.

The award-winner and the one who has given the prize must show the link of the “Arte y Pico” blog, so everyone will know the origin of this award. http://arteypico.blogspot.com/

I pass it along to (again in no particular order):

Vegan Dad (His pictures and descriptions about the daily meals he makes his three children inspire me to get into the kitchen.)
Vegan Yum Yum (Go to her blog and within seconds you will see why she deserves this award.)
Yeah,That Vegan Shit (I've read that this award means "Wow!" and "Over the Top". Well, when I think of "over the top", I think of Lindy Loo's blog. She keeps me laughing and makes me want to eat at the same time - which now that I think of it might be a deadly combo.)
Coming Home (Peter is one of the most amazing people I have ever met and he makes me think long and hard about all sorts of things.)
FatFree Vegan Kitchen (Her blog is like one-stop shopping for all things healthy and yummy. She has great pictures, updates often, wonderful recipes, and a site which is easy to navigate.)

Thanks for the awards, ladies! I am touched.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

One Year Old!

Twelve months ago today, I gave birth to Josie in our bedroom. I really can not believe it has been a year since that wonderful event. It goes by way too fast and it has been such a joy getting to know her. She loves music, playing with her brothers, babies (real and dolls), balls, food, water (baths and pools, she tolerates showers), playing at the park (swinging and slides), riding on our bikes (still abhors the car), doing anything outside (long walks, digging in dirt, etc.), climbing all the furniture (we had an awful scare a couple weeks ago and are so happy to have an ER doctor as a neighbor), brushing her four teeth, books, walking, communicating, and of course, nursing.
We had a small low-key family party (plus my dad and sister) for her today with some of her favorite finger foods for lunch. We had fried okra, fresh blueberries, corn grits with nutritional yeast, cantaloupe, dried berries, Veggie Booty, and I made Dreena's Mac-Oh Geez (page down in the link a bit for the recipe). I pretty much followed the recipe, except I added fresh broccoli (just mixed it in before baking) and I made Garlic Bread Topping instead of just the bread crumbs. So the end result had almond milk, cashews, Brazil nuts, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds, but no soy (a lot of vegan "cheese" sauces have some soy which we obviously eat, but it is nice to use nuts instead). This was by far Rob's favorite mac and cheese type dish. Josie is not a big cake or muffin fan so we had a tea candle to blow out and vanilla coconut milk ice cream (first time trying this and it is delish!!).After lunch we played outside with the new balls Aunt Karen gave to Josie and the boys. When Josie got tired she did one of her favorite things and nursed to sleep at the park. She sleep so much better outside. Later in the day we went to Rob's soccer game and she loved clapping and calling out "Rob!" before nursing and taking another nap while Rob played. Dinner at the new Bombay Indian Grill with her little friend Teagan was a perfect end to her first birthday.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Indian and Okra

Friday evening I had every intention of cooking, but I ended up being at our neighbor's house when Rob arrived home. He let us know the owner of Bombay Indian Grill called him to let him know their First St. location was open. (It is possible that Rob frequents BIG a little too often for lunch.) Thus, we ended up all going (four adults and five kids) on our bikes out to eat again. They understandably were a little slow with the service and a little fumbling about seating us all, but it was worth it. It was the best Indian food I've eaten in a restaurant in C-U. It was much better than their Green St. location food (the menu is somewhat different). We especially enjoyed the Bhindi. Josie loved the fennel seeds as we left. She is crazy for them. It was a lovely evening.Today we biked to the Market at the Square and talked to two other Xtracycle owners (one we know and one is new to the area). I was engaged for a while to a guy who drove a Corvette. There was a special sort of comraderie for Corvette owners. They would do this little wave or nod when they drove past each other. Well, owning an Xtracycle is a little like this, but oh so much greener. Anyway, we did our market shopping which included a huge watermelon (I think it weighs more than Dema), a ton of okra, kale, mixed salad greens, and tomatoes. Next we went to Common Ground and I'm hoping we can get by all week with this shopping. We'll see. I wasn't super organized so we may need to make a run mid-week. For lunch, I made (for probably the last time this season since it tastes best with fresh tomatoes) Super Quick Tomato Basil Cream Pasta and Rob fried up some okra (olive oil, nutritional yeast, flour, and a little salt). Parker and Josie can't get enough of Rob's okra lately.

After lunch I went for a bike ride with our neighbor, Deborah. Folks, I am out of shape with a capital "O". We did about 22 miles and Deborah was so sweet to not complain about my slow pace. I have't been riding for more than getting around town since we moved in to this house almost 2 years ago so I guess I should give myself a break. It was so nice to be riding my road bike. I love my Xtracycle, but I feel so light and free on my Lemond. This ride did convince me finally to look into clipless pedals. I hope we can make these rides somewhat regular now that Josie is almost 1!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Soggy Soccer Night Supper

Rob played soccer tonight after work and then went out to see a friend do comedy at a downtown bar. It is still hot and humid in the house even with the rain this evening and the cool down outside...it takes my old house a day or two to get used to any new temps. Anyway, I thought about ordering pizza, but that is expensive and disappointing so I made pizza which took less time and was possibly slightly more nutritious (at least all the ingredients on the kids' pizza was organic). Here you have Vicolo cornmeal crust with leftover Muir Glen Garden Vegetable Pasta Sauce, organic kalamata olives, organic avocado, and organic carrots. The other is basically a vegan "white pizza" with the same crust with Follow Your Heart Mozzarella and Italian seasoning. This is the first time I've had such luck with the vegan cheese melting. I think the key is not to shred it, but slicing it willy-nilly. The kids aren't fans of vegan processed cheese (they are fine with creamy homemade sauces, but pass on the store bought stuff...smart kids) so I drown my sorrows and bitterness of not having a husband tonight in hot processed melty goodness (it was pretty yummy, I have to say). I also made another Cherry Chocolate Nut Green Smoothie (since I've made it a couple times now it deserved a name). I swear to those of you out there who are still not sold on green smoothies that this is a smoothie that can win people over.
Cherry Chocolate Nut Green Smoothie (measurements are very approximate)
1 cup? Silk Chocolate Soymilk (you can use your fave chocolate non-dairy milk...hemp or almond would be nice)
A LOT of raw kale (I usually put enough to fill my blender to the top without packing it in because it gets pushed down by the rest of the ingredients and really reduces once it is blended)
2 Tablespoons Silk Vanilla soy yogurt (optional)
1 bag Woodstock Farms Organic Dark Sweet Cherries (any frozen or fresh sweet cherries would do)
1 cup or more walnuts (last time I used organic natural peanut butter, but this time I felt like some omega 3's)
1 cup of ice to make it nice and cold

I could drink a gallon of this stuff. Dema and Josie could not get enough and I should have taken a picture of their cute little mustaches. Parker is not a huge chocolate fan (meaning unlike his father and I, Parker can eat a little chocolate and know when to quit...we aren't sure he is really our son) so he will drink a glass, but prefers the greener fruitier smoothies...health nut. They all ate another bag of frozen cherries with their smoothies. I defy you to make this at home and not love it.
The reason I had the vegan cheese in the fridge is because of Common Ground moving locations. I went to shop on the last day CG was open at the old location and they were having a sale on all things perishable. I was silly and stocked up on from frozen and refrigerated convenience foods. Silly because we don't like to eat processed foods anyway so why buy them just because they are on sale and second because a couple things just went bad in fridge because we don't like to eat that stuff. Ah well. Live and learn. Here is a picture of some random lunch with coop sale foods. Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese, avocado, Tofurky Deli Slices on whole wheat tortilla and the ever popular Super Quick Tomato Basil Cream Pasta (garnished with fresh basil and a kalamata olive).

Monday, September 1, 2008

Long Weekend - Too Short!

We had a hot, fun long weekend (Labor Day here in the states), but it was still too short.


Friday night we biked to Thara Thai with our neighbors, Scott and Deborah. It was so nice to have this parade of bikes and to be able to chat on the way. We had four adults biking with five children in tow on Xtracycles, in bike trailers, on tag-alongs. We drew quite a few looks and some positive comments. Dinner was nice and the ride home was perfect with the cool night air.

Saturday morning was biking to the Market at the Square for produce and socializing. Then shopping at Common Ground and more socializing. We ran into my sister at the AWARE booth and she spent the morning with us before getting on her bike and we parted ways. On the way home from Urbana we passed our friend Leigh and Paul's house, but they were out on their porch so we stopped for a quick catch up on their lives, homeschooling talk, and dreaming about backyard pools. Saturday evening we enjoyed David's 30th birthday party. Rob had fun being on the winning football team and it was lovely having so much vegan food to eat (Loretta made the Prospect Park Potato Salad from Veganomicon which I will have to make sometime soon), plus a great vegan cake from the notorious Kris. I love that we have friends who are still turning 30! We stayed too late, ate too much, and can't wait to do it again.

Sunday morning we walked to downtown Champaign with the kids. We took our To-Go Ware with food for the children and went to Aroma for some coffee and fruit. We sat outside and enjoyed the morning. In the afternoon, I swam with the kids at our neighbor's pool while Rob played soccer. Parker's good friend from the neighborhood was over most of the day and so he asked if she wanted to sleep over. She got permission from her parents and we had our third sleep-over ever. We biked with all the kids to the Art Theater downtown to see Man on Wire. Dema and Josie fell asleep in the bike trailer on the way and the people at the theater were so sweet to let us just bring the wide Chariot inside next to us in the theater. They stayed asleep through the entire movie so the thoughtful person at the ticket desk offered my money back for one child as we were leaving...I love the Art Theater! With all the kids now awake, we walked down to hear the live music outside and get some diner food (veggie burger and fries with orange juice). Parker and his friend were asleep as soon as their heads hit their pillows.

Monday morning Rob make pancakes for all of us. I love having Parker's friend over because she eats everything and seems to like it. She even drank two green smoothies over the course of two days (a pina colada smoothie and a new one I tried with chocolate soymilk, frozen cherries, peanut butter, and kale...her favorite one). She is 12 or 13 and doesn't mind playing Legos or watching movies my kids like or drawing for hours. As we were getting done with our late breakfast, our friend David (another one who is going to a 40th class reunion soon so a tad past turning 30) came over to have Rob work on his bike. We caught up and Rob tuned up his bike. The kids ended up at our neighbor's Scott and Deborah's and when I went to pick them up, Scott fed me a little more breakfast or more like brunch at that hour and then invited us to Sholem Pool. We all biked to the pool for closing day. It was very crazy and crowded, but lots of fun. We got a little too much sun and we were ready to take it easy for the rest of the hot day.

Now I need another day to get to all the projects I thought we could work on over the long weekend. Don't even look at my trashed house, but I figure I can clean when it cools off later this week.