Archive for Food

Sporadic

Life doesn’t even seem to slow down and the weather can’t make up its mind- warm, cold, wet, dry, windy, humid.  Lots of new and exciting things are coming up for me, so here’s a quick look ahead:

*We have planned our garden and have some really solid landscaping ideas to make our house a little more interesting

* I’ll be working at the Austin SXSW musical extravaganza and I should be finding out any day now what shows I’ll be working at. I have a training this week!

*I’m taking a sewing class next weekend- watch out fabric stores!

*Three weeks until spring break!

So now to rewind. I haven’t updated in a few weeks, so I’m behind in telling you about my new recipe per week project.  Last week is was polenta with mushroom gravy. This week it was pita with goat cheese and roasted asparagus. Since the weather got nicer, I was feeling perky enough to try two new meals this week, so I also made tomato and spinach soup with gnocchi.

Crafting hasn’t really happened, unless you count planning the garden and landscaping, which I do, because it’s hands-on and creative.

I finished The Awakening but totally forgot about the book club.  I’m about a quarter of the way through Finn. I plan to finish most of it tomorrow (making that two books in two weeks, so I’m exceeding my resolution). I might tackle Lonesome Dove next. It’s long, but since I did two this week, I might be able to extend my expectations to 3 or 4 weeks, especially with vacation coming up.

I tried three new workouts this week- 2 new yoga classes and then I did a mix of stairclimber and elliptical this week. I’ve also been trying out new weight equipment at the gym. I joined the Self Challenge again this year, hoping to reinvigorate my interest in working out and eating right.  So far it’s working like a charm. Whenever I keep a food log I always reach for fruit, rather than candy, so I don’t have to write down 17 snickers minis in a public forum.

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Last year for the superbowl the guy and I ate foods you can dip. This year he works so I’m headed to see friends and eat tacos- yum.

This week for my new recipe of the week I made Veggie Chicken Pot Pie. It was carrots, broccoli, green beans, onions, celery, mushrooms, and fake chicken strips, sauteed all together. Then I lightly coated the veggies in flour and added warm soy milk until it thickened. I seasoned and topped with biscuits and cooked for about 25 minutes.

It was super yummy, lasted quite a few meals and reheated well.

I never made it to the knitting group last weekend- the couch was just too comfy. But I did get to work on the baby blanket I’ve been needing to make. The pattern is Beth’s Little Star Afghan.  They’re having a boy and their furniture is chocolate brown and blue. The bedding is rock’n’roll themed, so I thought the star would be an easy fit. It’s about half done. I have 9 more rows of solid blue and two rows of gray as a border.

I finished “The Likeness” midweek and started “Finn” by John Clinch for my book club.  It’s a pretty dark portrayal of Huck Finn’s father. I’m not too far in, but it’s intriguing.  I’m also supposed to read “The Awakening” for another book club, but I can’t find it in our boxes and I haven’t checked it out from the library yet.  I read it and loved it in high school, so I’m hoping it will come back to me quickly.

Still no further work on the house, though the list gets longer everyday.

Another new year’s choice was to try two new workouts a week to keep myself motivated.  This has been an easy one with the new gym membership.  Saturday I did yoga, Monday I did shadow boxing, Tuesday I took hiphop class, Wednesday I started week 1 of C25K, Friday I did a hill workout and yesterday I took the puppy on a *long* walk.  This week started with a new yoga workout. Yay for me, especially in this season of girl scout cookies.

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Rolling

Many things got accomplished this past week, though none of the to-dos from last week. Instead of starting Finn, I’ve been reading The Likeness, by Tanya French. It’s the sequel (sorta) of In The Woods, which I read this summer. A woman who stole the identity of a former undercover agent (when she was undercover) turns up dead. So the former agent goes back undercover pretending to be somebody she used to pretend to be. It’s less complicated than I’m making it sound. I’m about half done, so I should make my book every two weeks deadline.

I also didn’t make anything with lentils- but I did cook two new meals. One was a veggie ham, cheese, and mustard roll up in crescent rolls, served with sauteed spinach. The other was portabella eggs benedict- a grilled mushroom cap covered in scrambled eggs and veggie ham. Both were pretty tasty.

I haven’t crafted yet- oops! But I’m going to a stitch’n’bitch tomorrow- so there’s hope!

I joined the gym today. I wasn’t going to now that I live in a place where you can safely run and walk outdoors. I was going to do my weight and strength and yoga at home and run and walk with the dog. When we first moved I did a really good job of keeping up with my workouts, but after we bought the house, the holidays happened, school got crazy, and I just forgot about myself. So I joined the gym with a friend and went to a yoga class today. And tonight I’m going to watch Roller Derby. So being social and keeping up with my hobbies will hopefully make work and life just that much easier.

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Slowly

This summer I ended school on June 19th, packed up my apartment, and was on the road moving halfway across the country on June 22.  We arrived in our new city on June 25th. On June 27th I took the teaching certification test. I took the next week off and celebrated my 3rd wedding anniversary. Then began teacher inservice at my new school the following week. I usually spend my 8-10 week summer vacation cooking, crafting, and reading.  Instead, I had only one week off and that was spend unloading the moving truck and relaxing in front of cable TV.

We’re subletting an apartment as we search for a place of our own. It’s strange being in a kitchen that isn’t yours and has very few pieces of equipment that are yours or that you want to use. So the summer has progressed without much kitchen interest on my part.  But today- labor day- I made a black bean salad for lunch with friends.

blackbeansaladIt smells so yummy. I think it will taste great on some lettuce with some tortilla chips. It’s red, green and yellow peppers and onions in large pieces- mixed with olive oil, canned corn, and red wine vinegar- black beans rinsed and drained. Salted and peppered to taste. So not exactly kitchen cooking, but definitely kitchen prep work.

I haven’t crafted anything, though with football season starting next weekend, I think I’ll send my husband to the storage unit to dig out my yarn and needles. I want to get working on my gray shawl.  I did bring my mom’s blanket that I haven’t touched in a while.  I’ve also got a matching hat for the baby blanket that I need to finish.

For my next book club meeting I’m reading American Wife, by Curtis Sittenfield.  It’s the fictionalized account of former first lady Laura Bush’s life. I’m about half way through and loving the book.  It’s fascinating how a smart, multi-faceted, liberal woman can put aside personal beliefs and dogma and wind up with a man like the former president.

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Super

I’ve been losing track of time easily these days.  I’m not sure what I’ve been doing, exactly, between now and my last post on New Years Day. I started back to school, we inaugurated a new president, the Steelers won the Superbowl (boo), I’ve had parent conferences, and written 20 7-page report cards and and additional 40 math-specific pages for students not in my homeroom. I’ve done almost no cooking-from scratch, and have been singing the praises of frozen vegetarian meet items, frozen steamed vegetables, and starchy sides.  I did make beef stew, though.  I’m not sure I’ve ever had real beef stew. I don’t remember my mom making it, but maybe.  Anyway, as I said in my last post the roots and tubers of winter have been filling me up and inspiring me to make comfort foods.  I found a veggie beef stew recipe in the Cooking with PETA cookbook. It was SO tasty and lasted us many days, including lunches!

beefstewFor SuperBowl Sunday stayed in. I assumed we’d make a pizza and drink beer, but the husband had different plans.  He wanted to do a theme-dinner- anything that can be dipped.  So we cut up veggies- carrots, turnips, celery, had chips, cheese, cheezits, pretzels, olives, mini pickles, pita bread.  I made two dips- guacamole and salsa ranch dip, and we bought some olive hummus.  It was quite a spread.  I was eating raw veggies and dip almost all week for lunch.

superbowlAt school we watched the Inauguration with the kids.  It was an amazing experience to share with them.  They couldn’t quite grasp how historical an event they were watching, they were excited and attentive regardless.  A parent brought in Obama cookies.  I think they’re crazy- the image is laser-printed onto the frosting.  That can’t be good for you!

obamaI’m nearly finished with my first time-intensive cross-stitch project.  I’m finishing up the shadows and then I need to outline everything.  It’s looking really nice, despite the many, many errors I made in counting.

xstitchirisI’m still working on the sci-fi books, but I did manage to finish three other books.  

Destined for Destiny is a autobiographical spoof of George Bush by some of the editors of The Onion.  It was pretty funny. It’s been sitting on my book shelf for 3 years and I figured I should get through it soon. The jokes and stabs at the former president’s awful speech and grammar are funny the first time, but get old as they’re repeated.  

destined_for_destinyI also read Light on Snow by Anita Shreve.  I’ve never read anything by her, but this book was on mega-discount a while ago, so I picked it up.  It was totally contrived and mostly uninteresting.  It’s the story of a twelve year old who moves from New York to rural New Hampshire after the death of her mother and baby sister. The father becomes a recluse. One day they find an abandoned infant in the woods and then meet the mother and blah blah.

lightThis morning, I started and then finished Brief Intervals of Horrible Sanity by Elizabeth Gold.  She’s a published writer who took a job at a “progressive” high school in Queens in 2000. She went in in February after 3 other English teachers quit. Her story is interesting and, at times, hysterical. I laughed out loud at this part:

She’s describing this kid, who is a good kids, but does no work. He’s obviously really intelligent, and doesn’t start any of the trouble in class, but clearly relishes the mischief going on around him.  

“I have my eye on Stephen Thomas. This morning he is actually doing what he’s supposed to do. He is sitting quietly reading a book provided by the Parent Committee. One eyebrow is raised, as if he is about to utter some cutting witticism at a cocktail party, something that will be quoted, among his acquaintances, for years.

Stephen is reading The Bobbsey Twins.”

Ha! That still makes me crack up.

briefThis weekend we’re headed out of town. Yay!

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Re

Happy New Year!

Sorry it’s taken me almost a month to update.  I spent the remainder of my vacation both getting ready to return to school, and doing nothing but reading and watching movies.  It was so relaxing.

I’ve been decidedly un-crafty since my last post.  I did manage to knit a scarf while watching the Cowboys get creamed by the Eagles. It’s my New Years scarf.  It’s a beautiful white and silver yarn by Lily Chin, done on big needles.

newyearscarf1jpgnewyearscarfcloseI worked a little on my mom’s afghan.  I added a golden yellow color, because I realized two skeins in that I didn’t have enough green.  I haven’t picked it up since I’ve been back to school; with conferences, mid-year assessments, and report cards coming up I’ve been stay at school late.

Yesterday I did get motivated to put together a card for Maggie’s birthday.  For X-Mas my mom sent me the much wished for Doodlecharms and Indie Art Cricut cartridges. I used the cupcake border to make Maggie’s card:

magsbdayI have been all about food, though.  Food is one area where I don’t slack!  A few weeks ago I made cabbage rolls, inspired by Kiki’s post.  My mom used to put cabbage rolls in the slow cooker and we’d come home from school to the best smelling house.  Chris has never had them, so I undertook the intensive preparation for him. I’ll let you get the recipe from Kiki, I pretty much followed that, except I used veggie beef.

cabbagerollsI also reintroduced myself to the Sunday Farmer’s Market. I LOVE citrus and ’tis the season, right?  I could wax poetic about Cara Cara oranges, Oro Blanco grapefruits, Satsuma mandarins, Meyer lemons.  Here’s my fruit basket from on excursion:

fruitbasketKalrabi, Cara Caras, Pink Lady apples, persimmons, bananas, avocados, oh yum!

All the yummy root veggies in season has made eating healthy at lunch really easy!  Just chop and dip in hummus!

bento6It’s carrots, cukes, and sliced turnip, with kalamata olive hummus, wheat pita, hard boiled egg, and left over lentils.  I’m attempting a “beefless stew” from The Cooking With PETA Cookbook tonight. I’ve never made stew, but anything that holds all my favorite roots and tubers is worth the work!

I finished the Lionel Shriver book I was reading.  Post-Birthday World was pretty entertaining, though mildly depressing and predictable. I did like the dichotomy of chapters where one was the cheating world and one was the faithful world and the writing was good.  

After that I read Truman Capote’s Breakfast At Tiffany’s which wasn’t what I expected.  Maybe as a child of the 80s, I’m jaded, and this book was shocking for its time, but I found Holly pretty annoying and the book was again, predictable.  The short stories at the end of this version of the story were far better than the classic itself!

0679745653Then I read Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs, which I thoroughly enjoyed.  I wouldn’t say it’s high on literary value, but the story is endearing and interesting and I like the juxtaposition of the various situations the characters are in.  I also liked that the couple who had a mixed race daughter talked openly about their family’s prejudices. I was left bawling at the end.

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Now I’m reading Killing Time by Caleb Carr.  I read both the Alienist and Angel Of Darkness in high school and college and like what Carr did with stories from the past.  This one is set in 2023 with a criminologist/historian trying to solve a friend’s murder and being taken in by the group that murdered him. It’s not something I’d usually read, but I thought if I liked what he did with he past, I’ll probably like what he does with the future.  It took me a few chapters to acclimate myself, but I’m enjoying it now despite it’s poor reviews on Amazon.

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Next time: Stew? Cross-Stitching? A new knitting project?

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Domestic Bliss

I just polished off the most delicious sandwich (leftover tofurkey with Wisconsin Colby cheese and pickles) after returning home from possible the worst driving day of the year. I went out on “Black Friday” and the traffic was nothing compared to the loonies on the road today.  After fighting to stay alive and out of a car accident, I thought I’d come home, shut myself in for the day, blog, crochet and watch movies.

Tuesday was a domestically productive day.  I simultaneously listened to christmas carols, baked kiss cookies, and made a huge lasagna for freezing. Christmas carols are new for me this year, I’m starting to be okay with some of them.  Amazon helped me along with their free holiday downloads. It was like an advent calendar that I didn’t get tempted to eat. The kiss cookies are a holiday tradition I started a few years ago. I make them for Chris and the people at his store on Christmas eve.

kisscookiesSomeday I’ll own cooling racks (and have enough counter space for them). Between batches of cookies going in and plopping kisses on the peanut butter yumminess, I made a super meaty, super cheesy lasagna for dinner and then to freeze.  It was two  layers of veggie beef scramble mixed with veggie sausage and mixed with a mushroom sauce and two layers of ricotta and mozzarella, mushrooms, and green peppers mixed with an olive sauce.  We had it with a huge salad and have plenty of leftovers!

lasagneWhen all of that kitchen work came to an end, I worked on my current cross-stitch project.  Here’s how it’s looking.

xstitch3On christmas eve, my husband and I started a new family tradition: Port Party!  We opened a delicious bottle of Daniel Gehrs Fireside Port that I got two years ago in Los Olivos. The Daniel Gehrs winery is my favorite.  I also drop a fortune when I go there. This summer my mom bought us their Tawny Port.  We’re planning on saving that to celebrate with when we buy a house.  For our Port Party we had a plate of sweets (ferrero roche truffles, chocolates, candied walnuts, and hazelnut cremes) and a plate of savory (crackers, brie spread, pepper jack cheese, and olives). It was delicious.  I dare say this is a tradition that will stick.

portpartyEarlier that day I attempted to make an apple crumble pie using this amazingly easy recipe. I got a little cocky in the kitchen, though, and decided I could eyeball the measurements. The pie turned out “a little powdery” in the words of my husband.  It was actually not bad, considering what it could have been. I just over did the flour and under did the sugar.  I highly recommend following the recipe, because even with my blunders that pie was good, so imagine how yummy the real recipe is! I added some of grandma’s candied walnuts to the crumble topping.

applecrumblepieI worked like a little crochet worker bee on my mom’s present, which isn’t finished yet.  It’s  my biggest project to date and I’m about a quarter done with it.  Here’s a photo of the blanket I’m crocheting for her.

momafghanAnd here’s my sister’s yoga bag.  She got it a few days ago, so I can show the whole thing now. I used the same pattern from Joyful Abode that I used to make mine.

bethanyyogaI finished Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix the same day I last blogged.  We watched the movie on Christmas. I was totally unimpressed with the movie. i LOVED that book.  Chris dragged out the Half Blood Prince for me, but I had already started The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver.  She wrote We Need to Talk About Kevin, a book which still haunts me to this day. The Post-Birthday World is about a woman, Irina, an American expat living in London with her longtime partner Lawrence.  On the birthday of a friend she considers what life would be like if she kissed that friend.  The book is billed as a story about the choices we made and their good and bad repercussions.  I’m only 50 pages in, so we’ll see how it goes.  I like her writing style and I was engaged for the short time I spent reading it.

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