Saturday, June 27, 2009

Sun Tea and Sexist Shoes

This picture is from April when I made our first sun tea of the season. Our preferred drink around here is water, but it is nice to have cold herbal tea on the really hot days. I'm also trying to work through our stash of organic herbal teas so I can order some tea from an old high school friend who just opened her own business, but it is somewhat slow going. We have a lot of tea and I'm very sensitive to caffeine. Even decaffeinated tea effects me so I have to drink it moderation. I've also read that tea can block the absorption of some nutrients, specifically iron, so I try to only drink tea between meals. It is a nice once in a while treat though. Thanks to Jen for the great gallon glass container which is perfect for making tea. I fell in love with these containers and now store some of my bulk foods in them (thanks to Thomasanna for picking up a case on one of her many trips to Amish country). Usually, we store our bulk nuts in recycled glass containers of all sizes (tahini, jelly, nut butter, etc. containers we've used and then cleaned out), but it is nice to have some gallon containers for things like rice and whole wheat pasta. I put 20 pounds of brown rice in four of the gallon jars.

When Rob and I first started dating, I was in my early twenties and he was in his early thirties. I knew pretty early on in our relationship that Rob was the "the one". After more engagements than I want to admit, I was really sure this guy was a soul mate and different from the others. But, he wore these ridiculously ugly shoes. I loved clothes and shoes back then and in my early twenties naivety I was sure I could convince my new beau to give up his Birkenstock clogs. I mean really. Instead a year later, maybe less, I was sporting my own Birk sandals. I fell in love with non-leather vegan Birks and wore them for years. Then I got pregnant, had a baby and started babywearing (carrying extra weight). I don't know if the pregnancy has something to do with it, but my feet changed and I started having heal spurs. I tried some exercises and did some reading and decided it was time for different shoes. I bought non-leather Keens and I was in love. No more heal spurs and my feet had never been happier. I even wore them in the winter so it was no surprise to me when a couple weeks ago my original Keen shoes were on their last legs. I stopped into Heal to Toe (a local shoe store where I've bought shoes for years) while I was out grocery shopping with the kids the other day. I went in looking specifically for a pair of Keens and immediately I saw a pair ready for clipless pedals for cycling. I was sold! Or so I thought. I talked to the sales clerk and asked if they had the shoe in women's sizes. She checked in the back, she checked in the catalog. No, they only sell the commuter shoe in men's sizes. What????!!! Seriously? They don't expect women to be on their bikes? Grrrr. I was willing to give them another chance and asked if they have a men's size small enough to fit my women's size seven feet. No dice.
I was about to walk away sad and shoeless, then I glanced over to the Earth Shoes. I've always wanted to try out Earth shoes, but at the point when I was experiencing the heel spurs, I was told that Earth shoes would not help. I like the fact that they label their vegan shoes as "vegan" and the foot bed has always seemed interesting to me. So, I tried some on and that was it. I was in love. They felt perfect for my feet and I knew I would happily walk many miles for several years in these shoes. They are not cheap, but I walk a lot and after many pre-Rob years of being a slave to fashion and wearing heals to work and going for the cute shoes and comfort be damned, I am a big advocate of being kind to one's feet. So far, I am an Earth convert, but I would still love to see Keen get with the program and offer cycling commuter shoes for women. I did find this review of the Keen SPD Commuter Sandal so maybe they don't have all the kinks worked out yet.I was never a foot model for obvious reasons, but it is tough to take a good picture of one's own feet. I pretty much gave up nail polish (I loved nail polish!) before Rob and I met when I found out how toxic it can be (as many cosmetics), but I bought some No Miss nail polish from our friends at Pangea when we lived in Maryland pre-kids. I just never find time to do my nails, but my new shoes gave me a good excuse. This color is Capitiva Coffee. Dema was very impressed with my toes, "Your feet are beautiful, mom! Can you color mine too?" so I might have to treat myself more often. Here's to healthy, comfortable, happy, and busy feet!

Did FB/Twitter Kill the Blog?

A lot of my favorite bloggers are taking a "break" or blogging less these days. I blame Facebook and Twitter. I know I spend more time on Facebook than I should. It is slightly addictive being able to do my status and keep in touch with people or plan get togethers or share a laugh. It all takes just a few minutes, theoretically, and then I'm off to the pool or the park with the kids. I don't need to sit down and think through a (hopefully) coherent entire post. Is this a good thing? It is what it is.

Speaking of isn't dead! I have a disc of my first veg*n radio show with Meat-free Mike in my hot little hands. Listen this Monday from 6 - 7 pm Central time to WEFT (90.1 FM for locals and you can listen online as well). Basically, we chat about plant-based diets. It is a good intro and we'll have more shows for you next month and hopefully beyond.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Summer Randomness

Josie lounging on the porch, trying not to fall asleep. Don't we look busy? Yes and no. We've been having fun doing our summer thang and that means spending a lot of our time outside which means less computer time (yay!), but I've started a blog post here and there, but never finished them. I decided summer blogging is more about pictures and less words, but you know how I is hard for me not to go on and on.
Pancakes with fresh local strawberries. We had a strawberry patch at our old house, but haven't put one in our current garden yet. I miss it, but this is the first year we've really put any effort into our garden since I wanted to make sure the soil was okay (we live in a 100 year old house so I wanted to make sure there wasn't a lead issue). Two weeks straight we bought a gallon of strawberries at the Market at the Square. I thought I could make something with them or freeze them, but they were eaten au naturale within 24 hours (48 the second week) by the kids. I don't know what I was thinking. Here are some perfectly sweet strawberries on top of pancakes. No need for our wonderful Wisconsin maple syrup (thank you, Jennifer!!!) this time.
Here is Parker in front of Common Ground Co-op painting a thank you note to the farmers. What a great idea! I love the synergy between our local co-op and the farmer's market this year.
Typical summer lunch. Fresh berries (strawberries and blackberries this day), Chickpea Noodle Soup from Veganomicon (this soup is still a favorite even with the warmer weather), and Raw Red Pepper Aioli from Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan (topped here with avocado for Parker and served with carrots, lots of carrots...I doubled the aioli recipe and the kids ate over 3 pounds of carrots with the dip that day...super duper yum!).Dema (and part of Parker) daydreaming of Lego at the neighborhood "Lego Club Meeting"
Pasta Puttanesca over whole wheat pasta. I double the sauce and don't really follow a recipe, but you can check this one out which is roughly what I do. I serve it over pasta one day and then quinoa the next. We've cut back on the Kalamata olives we buy due to cost so this is a treat these days. I can barely keep capers in the house because Josie finds them and will eat them out of the jar (she does this with olives too).Parker on top of the swing set in our park. He is usually up in a tree or here. One of our neighbor's calls him "Parker bird". Now all the little kids want to climb like Parker. He's not usually the "bad influence".Entirely Original Curried Pumpkin Hummus from Diet, Dessert and Dogs with carrots and apples makes a wonderful snack for the kids when they come inside for a break. I added some kale because I add kale to everything. I drizzled olive oil on top, but it doesn't need it and I would add more curry powder (I use hot). I also think it is a little sweet for carrot sticks, but would be perfect for collard wraps as DDD used it on her blog.
Here is a picture of the family patiently waiting for me outside Common Ground Co-op. I just was filled with such complete and utter love, happiness, and gratefulness as I saw them there, I couldn't help but get my iPhone out and take a picture. Josie and Dema are on the Xtracycle with the groceries, Parker rode his own bike, and Rob has the Chariot trailer attached to his for our Market at the Square produce.
Another quick summer lunch. I had the filling leftover from Quick Pinto-Potato Empanadas (a tester recipe for one of Robin Robertson's new cookbooks coming out) and some leftover Vegan YumYum's Super Quick Tomato Basil Cream Pasta Sauce so I stuffed the filling into large pasta shells (I don't buy them often because I can't find them in whole wheat, but they are nice once in a while) and covered it with the sauce and baked it. Served with baked tofu (since I had the oven on, it made sense to bake tofu at the same time) and apples...voila, lunch.
Josie working up an appetite at the park. She reminds me of my mother here. My mom used to stick her tongue out like this when she was concentrating on something. How I miss mom, but I love seeing her show up in my kids.
A few weeks ago kale was on sale at Common Ground Co-op (buy one bunch, get one free...heaven!) and I forgot to tell Rob not to buy kale at the Market at the Square so we arrived home with six bunches of kale and two bunches of collards. Six bunches of kale is not unheard of in a week, but we don't usually buy it all on the same day. It was great, we had green smoothies, green hummus, kale puffs, well you get the idea. I pretty much put kale in everything I could and we went through it in a flash. We are splitting a CSA share with our friends Kit and Emily so we received more greens mid-week. Then we received more greens from neighbors and I knew it was time to get out the big pots and make Susan's (FatFree Vegan) Green on Green Soup. I made a double batch (that means 4 pounds of greens, my friends) and I am so glad I did. I didn't have sweet potatoes so I used potatoes I had on hand and omitted the mushrooms (I forgot to soak the dried ones and didn't have fresh). I added a ton more nutritional yeast because I buy the stuff by the 6 lb. container and use it in everything. I love this soup (the entire family does), but I don't think to make it in the summer. No more. The picture is from a winter blog post (I didn't take a picture this time because the kids kept eating the soup before I could get a shot) and in the winter I like to add soy yogurt and za'artar, but for summer I like to go lighter and just add a few drops of hot sauce. I started eating this for breakfast (leftovers are often breakfast around here) and the kids would not keep their paws off it. Even Dema who would probably request pancakes every day went to requesting Green on Green Soup instead.Josie shares her brother Parker's love of climbing and her brother Dema's "no fear!" attitude. It is hard to get pictures of her because most of the time she is running. She keeps our family on track. She is the finder of any lost things, the comforter and protector of her family and friends, lover of animals, babies, music (especially anything with a good beat that she can dance to) and clothes, and her brothers' number one fan. Well, that sort of catches you up. I'm sure there will be more randomness in the hot humid days to come. I hope you are staying cool, enjoying life, and eating well!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Gettin' Zyggyz With It

Sorry, I just couldn't resist with the title. The name of a newish restaurant in town is Zyggyz and every time I hear the name, I think of "Gettin' Jiggy with it". It is an inside joke between Rob and a dear veg*n friend, Sean, in Maryland who coincidentally gave me the name "Vegan Linda" years ago while we all worked at Nextel together. I can't help but smile and remember some good times, a great concert (not Will Smith!), and yummy scrummy eats at Food for Thought, Sunflower Cafe, and so many other great restaurants in the DC area. Sigh.

Back to current reality. We stopped by on the bike ride home to get a bite at Zyggyz Grill on campus the last two Saturdays after the Market at the Square. I noticed Zyggys a couple months ago, but didn't think about eating there until I read Champaign Taste's review. We finally checked it out and it is greasy Indian fusion fast food. Not health food, but fun, inexpensive, and yum. A nice treat once in a while. Rob, Parker, and I favor the Veggie Sloppy Joes. This dish reminds me of Channa Massala/Chole at another DC area restaurant we used to eat at with Sean, Amma's Vegetarian Kitchen in Vienna, VA. It takes me back. The Indian "burritos" are also good. We had a hummus plate and falafel sandwich (without the yogurt sauce) too which were good, but the Veggie Sloppy Joes is what makes me smile. They staff is very sweet and helpful with ingredients, but double check if you have allergies or are vegan because new restaurants tend to change thing up when they are getting into their groove. Saturday early afternoons in the summer (with most of the students gone) make it a great place for the family to relax, have a quick bite outside (the kids have room to run when they are done eating) on the way home from farmer's market. Go ahead, get Zyggyz with it!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Veg*n on the Airwaves

I'll be co-hosting two radio shows about plant-based diets soon with Meat-free Mike on our local community radio station, WEFT 90.1FM. They will air June 29th and July 27th from 6-7pm. You don't have to be local to listen in.

Have something you would like me to cover? Let me know. I'll try to fit it in. I'm open to any and all suggests from veg*n and omnis alike.