Tuesday, January 31, 2006

fancy trick

Well, calling this a "fancy trick" is pushing it really. There's nothing fancy or tricky about my new lunch packing in an instant method, but I still think it's pretty cool.

When I get home from work, I always hit the kitchen right away, because I'm usually crabby-starving. So lately, instead of immediately starting dinner, I have been taking 5 minutes to thoroughly wash and dry my lunchbox. Then, as I'm dishing up whatever I'm going to eat for dinner, I dish up my lunch for the next day, too. Snap the lid closed, and ta-da! My lunch is packed. And I don't make a ton of extra dishes/spoons/whatever by waiting to pack my lunch later and having to scoop everything out of containers again.

See? I think it's a fancy trick.

Other things I love about my lunchbox? It's smaller than my old one but fits more food, because it maximizes space, and because I have to wash the containers every day if I want to use it every day, it has cut down SIGNIFICANTLY on my dishes. No more mountains of tupperware to wash on the weekends. (I can't even begin to tell you how much I HATE washing tupperware.)

In unrelated news, The Current's latest "policy and a pint" is about the book Strapped. It sounds interesting. It has received mixed reviews on Amazon, but I still really want to read it. I will have to search for it at the library, as soon as I'm done with Lamb. I'll let you know how it is!

Monday, January 30, 2006

I've died and gone to latke heaven.

I made two-potato latkes with garlic chive soy sour cream, an apple and red onion slaw, steamed broccoli, and a cranberry and brown and wild rice pilaf for dinner last night.

I have truly died and gone to latke heaven. Mmm. (I had leftovers for dinner tonight, and packed more in my fabulous new lunchbox for tomorrow. Wee!) I also made strawberry shortcakes tonight, but since I used frozen strawberries, it was subpar at best. Boo.

I'm thinking about adding a section to my cookbook called "fancy food" -- big, splashy meals for when you want something special and/or when you need to feed a crowd. So far, I have at least three complete menus that could work in that section. (The above latke menu plus some fabulous chocolate cake, a soft taco party menu, and buttloads of Greek appetizers.) What do you think?

BTW, I had leftover tofu scramble, pancakes, and grapes for lunch today. I can't begin to tell you how much I love my new lunchbox. I haven't even been tempted to use a ziploc bag once, since purchasing this awesome bento box. And several of my coworkers are jealous. :)

And, as an update, my missing red sock resurfaced. Hallelujah!

Sunday, January 29, 2006

don't you just hate it when . . .

. . . the dryer eats ONE of your $20-a-pair wool socks?

Well, at least now I have a "Dan pair" -- I combined the leftover red sock with the leftover blue sock. (One of the blue socks is strangely threadbare in one spot.) Fashionista.

I actually put up a note in the laundry room, 'cause I REALLY want my sock back! Boo-hoo!

tofu scramble

I made a tofu scramble and pancakes for brunch when I got home from church today, and I have to say, scrambled tofu tastes like what I've always wished scrambled eggs tasted like. Yum. Thank you, Post Punk Kitchen! Since I didn't precicely follow their recipe, and halved the recipe, I'll fill you in as to what I did:

First, make the spice blend. Combine:
4 teaspoons of cumin,
2 teaspoons of dried thyme,
2 teaspoons of paprika,
1 teaspoon of tumeric, and
2 teaspoons of salt
in a small container or spice jar. Shake or stir well to combine, and reserve it for many batches of tofu scramble. (You should get about 8 servings from this mix. Measure once, eat many times, is my philosophy!)

To make two approximately 1-cup servings of scramble, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add about a half-tablespoon of light cooking oil. Cook:
1/2 cup chopped onion,
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper, and
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
for about 5 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft. Add:
1 clove of garlic, minced,
and cook for about a minute, or until the garlic is soft. Add:
2 1/2 teaspoons of spice blend,
and cook for about 30 seconds, or until the spices are fragarant. Deglaze the pan with:
about 2 tablespoons of water. Add:
half a package of firm tofu, pressed dry and crumbled slightly.
Cook the tofu, stirring occasionally and breaking up any huge chunks, until it begins to brown. Stir in:
2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast powder,
juice of half a small lime, and
half a cup of grated carrot.

(Now, you can use any vegetables you have on hand instead of the peppers. I just really like peppers. Experiment away!)

Saturday, January 28, 2006

soup's on!

I made 2 kinds of soup today, with good results:

French Lentil Soup with Tarragon and Thyme: This is just absolutely excellent. I made the following adjustments: I used a can of no salt added diced tomatoes instead of the chopped plum tomatoes, I used three times the fresh herbs instead of the amount of dried herbs called for (and stirred them in at the end, to preserve their flavors,) and I did not add the bouillon or salt until the very end, because you're not supposed to salt legumes until they are fully cooked. (Salt toughens their skins and makes them harder to cook.) My only complaint about this soup is that it is a little salty. I'd taste it after you add the bouillon, before adding any additional salt. Overall, this recipe is going to be a mega-keeper for me! I love the Post Punk Kitchen.

I also made Miso Soup. I can't for the life of me remember where I got the recipe from, but it's from somewhere on the great, wide internet. I didn't follow the directions exactly, and I added some ingredients. Here's what I did, for four servings:

1. Saute 1 small onion, diced, 1/3 cup grated carrot, and 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion in 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil until soft.
2. Add 4 cups of vegetable broth, 2 tablespoons of shelled edamame, 2 teaspoons of white miso (soybean paste,) and 2 teaspoons of tahini. Bring everything to a boil.
3. Stir in 1/4 a package (about 1 serving) of soba noodles, broken into 1-inch pieces, and half a package of firm tofu, pressed and diced small. Reduce the heat and simmer the soup, covered, until the noodles are done. Taste and add salt if needed.

Now, I have to say, I wasn't terribly excited about the Miso Soup when I first tasted it. It tasted kind of . . . blah. But the more I eat it, the more I am enjoying it. I would now refer to it as "subtle." Like all soups, it must get better with age.

I'm just so stinking glad I made the decision to explore vegetarian cooking, and then quit eating meat all together. I probably never would have tried to make either of the above recipes before I broadened my horizons!

happy, happy, happy . . .

I'm going grocery shopping today. Yes, I'm freakishly strange like that -- I get really excited about going grocery shopping. Why, you ask? Well, after all of my research last weekend, I'm going to cook like a maniac the next couple of weeks. And I need raw materials. :) Here's what's on schedule:

Potato Latkes (from Veg Coooking) (actually, I'm going to attempt to recreate an entire meal I had at Cafe Brenda a few weeks ago -- latkes were a major part of that meal)
Miso Soup (from . . . somewhere . . . I didn't write it down! oops.)
Ginger Peanut Soba Noodles (from PPK)
French Lentil Soup (from PPK)
Macaroni Hates Cheese (from PPK)
Scrambled Tofu (from PPK) and pancakes (from my own resources)

I'll post recipes with editorials as I complete them, as they are all from other sources and therefore cannot go in the cookbook.

Monday, January 23, 2006

butter bomb

So, I came home from work tonight and thought, "wouldn't it be nice to have fettuccine alfredo for dinner?" So, I whipped out Joy of Cooking . . .

It told me to use:
1 stick of butter
1 cup of heavy cream
1 cup of grated fresh parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

Simple enough . . . but I'm not really prepared to have a heart attack tonight, so I edited it a bit. Not only did I significantly reduce the amount of butter (well, Earth Balance,) I used soy milk instead of the cream, added some onions and garlic at the beginning, and a huge handfull of fresh spinach and a small handfull of grape tomatoes at the end, as well as a few leftover strips of roasted red pepper.

I love one-bowl suppers. And I love them even better when they are pasta covered in a somewhat healthy, creamy sauce.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

tax return!

Just thought I'd announce I'm getting a halfway decent tax return. Between state and federal, I'm getting about $130 back! Wahoo!

And, special thanks to Ann, income tax and e-file helper extraordinaire.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

lazy Saturday

I just spent the last two hours printing off recipes from two really great food websites:

The Post Punk Kitchen: super-hilarious website with tons of really great looking recipes. Their tag is "Vegetarian cooking & vegan baking with no attitude." I beg to differ; they have plenty of attitude, it's just the good kind. :)

Cooking Light: One of my favorite food mags of all time. Unfortunately, you can't access the website unless you are a subscriber, or purchase a copy of the mag off a newsstand (there's a "secret code" that gives you access to the website each month.) It's worth checking out, though, because there are hundreds of really great recipes there.

Later today I'm off to Alisa's to see her new house! After, Ann's helping me with my taxes -- cross your fingers for me for a gigundo refund!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Me = Moron

So, here's a long, drawn-out, funny (I think) story:

I have one of those seven-day pill boxes, because I just cannot remember to take my vitamins. I have very little routine, and have trouble remembering to take them at the same time, so if I at least make sure I take them sometime during the day, I figure I'm set.

I go to take my vitamins tonight, and open the "W" spot. I panicked. I thought today was Tuesday. (It is, after all, my second work day this week.) I had to think really hard about my day -- yes indeed, we did have the MWF group in this afternoon.

Thank god I only put in one load of laundry when I got home, because otherwise it wouldn't have been done before I had to leave for CHOIR REHEARSAL.

If I hadn't remembered my vitamins, I probably would have forgotten to go to choir. Sheesh.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

it's a miracle!

I like tofu!

Well, I should qualify. I like "firm," water-packed tofu. I really really really don't like extra-firm tofu. It's far too chewy.

I made a lemon rosemary marinaded, pan-fried 'fu this evening, and gobbled it down. Yum. Some brown Basmati rice and asparagus as sides.

And I took copius notes, so this one's going in the cookbook!

Monday, January 16, 2006

ramblin' cath

Well, I've had a busy week. Thought I'd update you.

Monday and Tuesday were normal days, but since I had stuff to do in the evenings, (i.e., dishes, laundry, writing a letter of recommendation for one of my former teaching assistants,) I was running about the apartment like a crazy person.

Wednesday night I had choir rehearsal. Everyone raved about my "new hair." It doesn't feel very new to me any more, but whatever. (I have had more compliments on this haircut! Sheesh.)

Thursday night we had a "big" staff meeting, which lasted until about 7:00. By the time I got home, made a couple of phone calls, and got ready for work the next day, it was time for bed.

Friday, I didn't get out of work on time, so I then had to rush home during rush-hour traffic, (a near impossibility,) to turn around and head off to babysit in Saint Louis Park by 6:00. The evening was . . . interesting, and not very good. But I made fifty bucks, so I'm not complaining.

Saturday, my coworker Kara picked me up at 7:30 a.m. and we drove with her friend Amanda to the Middle of Nowhere, Minnesota for an early childhood environmental education conference, which lasted all day. The conference was terrible. They showed us how to make bird feeders with pinecones, peanut butter, and birdseed. Sheesh. (I didn't have the heart to mention that I work at a peanut-free school.) When I returned from the conference, I quickly showered and got ready to go out. Ann, Christine, and I had dinner at Brit's. Yum. They just have the best fries EVER. And they make a mean grilled cheese sandwich, which they serve with a cup of cream of tomato soup. (Our plan was actually to go to Salsa a la Salsa, but alas, there was an hour wait for a table. We were hungry and abandoned ship for Brit's.) Then we came back to my place, met up with Michelle, and watched "Supersize Me." Wow. I don't think I'll ever be able to eat fast food again, after watching that movie. Then we went to the Fineline to see a couple of bands play, including Epic Hero. Um, that was interesting. The crowd was a bit strange for the Fineline, and I think I'm getting burned out on Epic Hero lately. We did have free cover coupons, however, which was nice. (Oh, we walked to the Fineline, by the way.) On the way home we came up with an alternate name for First Ave. -- "Puke Pl." Boy, being out around bar close downtown is sure entertaining! We headed over a few blocks to Nicollet Mall, which was very nearly puke free, and much less crowded.

Yesterday, I went to church, then met up with Christine. We went Target-ing, (I bought a new coffee maker -- wahoo!) and then stopped at Wilde Roast Cafe in Northeast. I had a fantastic roasted red pepper and artichoke fritatta, and really good organic, fair-trade coffee. Oh, and they serve their toast with a little tub of homemade strawberry jam. Double-yum. Then we went to Whole Foods. I got a bunch of produce -- yay! However, either I got a crummy piece, or I just don't care for it, because frankly, fresh papaya is kind of icky in my book. Will have to stick with the dried version, which I could eat a bagfull at a time. I also watched "Gosford Park" last night. I remember being really confused the first time I watched that movie, and not enjoying it much. This time, I was about ten minutes into it and felt similarly. So I turned on the closed captioning. MUCH better. The movie moved so quickly and everyone's accents were so different, I had a hard time following the dialogue. I enjoyed it more the second time around.

Today, I have been working on little things here and there around the apartment. I'm having dinner later with Ann and Janelle at Cafe Brenda. I sure have been eating out a lot the past few days. Hmm . . . . !!

And an update on the cookbook -- work has continued, albeit more slowly than during Christmas break. I have been ruthlessly testing recipes, and have found many winners. I made an awesome soy-sesame-honey tofu stir fry for dinner last night. (I've discovered my issue with tofu -- I don't care for extra-firm tofu. It's too chewy. Firm tofu, on the other hand, is nice and soft and welcomes the flavors you marinade it in.) It was full of peppers, onions, and carrots, and I dumped it over some brown basmati rice. Mmmmm!

I'll close with a quote, since we're observing MLK Jr's birthday today:

"Many persons fear nothing more terribly than to take a position which stands out sharply and clearly from the prevailing opinion. The tendency of most is to adopt a view that is so ambiguous that is will include everything and so popular that it will include everybody." ~ Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

many informal reviews

Ann and I had lunch at the Holy Land Deli on Central Avenue in Northeast today. I hadn't been there in ages, and I had forgotton how fantastic it is. I had their spanakopita dinner, which is two huge pieces of spinach pie, with a side of yellow rice, a huge side salad covered in creamy cucumber dressing, pickled vegetables, and 2 huge pita. (Ann and I also split a piece of baklava for dessert.) Ann had the same thing, but swapping hummus for the yellow rice. Needless to say, I brought half the rice and half the spanakopita home, (and all of the pita bread,) which I will be enjoying for lunch tomorrow. :) All of our food was fantastic, and my whole order, which also included a soda, was just over ten bucks. Not bad, if you ask me!

I guess since I'm not posting recipes for a while, I'll try to post these informal restaurant reviews, as I try new places.

Oh, and Ann, Tony, Christine, and I went out to the Varsity on Friday night and saw both Epic Hero and White Light Riot. Both of those bands just plain rock. Go see them as soon as you can! (This World Fair was the headliner, but we left in the middle of their set because we got tired. This has now happened to me twice when trying to see This World Fair. They are great, but . . . Friday nights are tough times to stay out late.) The Varsity has just got to be one of my favorite places of all time. So neat.

ALSO, I rode the light rail for the first time this weekend, and saw "The Chronicles of Narnia." My review of the light rail is this: cheap, easy, efficient, clean. The movie was also fabulous!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

I have a title!

healthy food for single people.

(What do you think?)

And I'm ready for some help testing, if you're interested!

Monday, January 02, 2006


Why is the last day of vacation always a little bit poisoned? I actually had to go into work this morning for a couple of hours, (Sarah and I did a little rearranging and set up a grocery store dramatic play area,) and then I spent the afternoon with Christine, (which was a welcome distraction from the pending work day tomorrow, which I think we both were thankful for.)

However, this evening, I kept looking at the clock, thinking, "only a couple more hours of vacation before I have to think about work." Bah. I finally broke down and packed my lunch a few minutes ago, and am planning on getting ready for bed pretty soon. Double bah.

I love my job, don't get me wrong. I just love vacation, too!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Whaddya think?

New year, new look.

We likes?

The Hopefuls to the rescue!

So, Christine and I went out to the Cities 97 New Year's Eve thing at the Hyatt last night. Man, I was disappointed. If you like plain jane, vanilla, drunken frat-boy music, you would have had a good time. Blech!

That is . . . until The Hopefuls took the stage. Man, what a fun band. They had TWO drummers (playing simultaneously) and some random dude who was dancing and hanging from the rafters; Darren Jackson's hair just kept getting bigger and bigger over the course of the evening, and Erik Appelwick is just a little cutie. I've had "Motobike" stuck in my head ever since.

Thank you to The Hopefuls for rescuing what otherwise could have been a major New Year's Eve letdown!

How was your evening?

I'm going to have to make a point to go and see both Kid Dakota and Vicious Vicioius soon. I'm going to be spending a lot of time in clubs and bars this month! A great new-year's resolution, if you ask me.

Actually, my real resolution is to have a draft of my cookbook ready to start sending off to publishers by this time next year. Hold me to it!

What's your resolution?