Sunday, April 29, 2007


I tried out a new recipe tonight . . . and suffice to say, it's a total flop. I made "Toasted Millet with Parmesan" from the May 2007 issue of Cooking Light magazine. Now, I did make a couple of changes -- not having a lemon on hand for lemon juice, I used white wine vinegar, and not having fresh thyme on hand, I substituted dried fines herbes during a different stage of the recipe. The recipe description likened it to grits or polenta, both of which I love, so I thought, "yum! I have a bunch of millet to use up anyhow!" Picture:


The finished millet itself didn't taste like much of anything, and has a texture similar to mashed potatoes. Very strange indeed, covered in pasta sauce (my favorite way to eat polenta.) I guess I could try it again another time, as an alternative to mashed potatoes . . . but until then, I have a bunch of it leftover that I will have to figure out how to use somehow. Ugh. Wish me luck with that one.

In other news, I was very excited by everyone's comments on my last post regarding their Earth Day resolutions, and I'll post on them soon! The 2007 Living Green Expo is next weekend, (I'm planning on going,) and will include info from the fair as well as a collective Earth Day resolutions post next week.

That's all, folks. Off to pack up some pasty millet for lunch tomorrow . . . eck.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Happy (Belated) Earth Day!

To begin, a quote from Helen Keller:

"I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. I will not refuse to do the something I can do."

Last Earth Day, I made three resolutions involving making my life a little more green; I thought I'd update you as to how I was doing on last year's resolutions, and make three more for this year!

Last year, I resolved to . . .

~ air-dry, as opposed to machine-dry, most of my laundry. I was not terribly successful at this resolution, as I have a very teensie apartment and grew tired of dodging partially dry laundry all of the time. So, this is a resolution for another year -- a year when I have more outdoor space available to me. For now, I will continue to machine dry most of the time, and air-dry occasionally. Alas.

~ sign up for WindSource, a program offered by my energy company that allows participants to pay a little extra each month towards research and development of clean, wind-based energy. I did this right away, and still continue to contribute each month -- it's only increased my power bill by about a dollar a month!

~ think more about and research possibly selling/getting rid of my car and being carless for a while. This has, in my opinion, been my area of hugest success -- although I hung onto my ancient, fuel inefficient, Chevy Blazer until the early fall, when it finally died, I donated it, and haven't looked back. I now walk and take the bus/light rail most of the time, (I occasionally carpool with friends,) and have not once missed having a car. I've saved a huge amount of money, and prevented a huge amount of pollution this past year!

So, all in all, last year's Earth Day resolutions felt successful, for me. When I thought about what little changes I could make this year, I came up with the following:

1. REDUCE PAPER/JUNK MAIL: Research and sign up for online bill-pay. About half of my monthly bills are paid electronically, but I still receive a few paper bills each month, and then have to turn around and write out a few checks each month (more paper! And more gas for the post office, delivering those bills and payments.) I only have three more to switch over, so that should be a piece of cake. :) I also plan on contacting several companies who religiously mail me catalogs that I do not look at and asking them to remove me from their mailing lists.

2. SAVE ELECTRICITY: Buy and install compact fluorescent bulbs in every light fixture in my home. I have them in a few . . . but those bulbs are so darn expensive, I've been dragging my feet on replacing all of them. Slowly, over the course of the year, I hope to replace them all! I also need to purchase an air conditioner again this spring, (I got rid of my old, inefficient air conditioner last spring, and suffered greatly last summer,) and hope to buy a small, efficient, EnergyStar appliance. Anyone have window units that they really like/recommend?

3. GREEN TRANSPORT: Since I no longer have a car and walk or bus almost everywhere, I transport myself in a pretty green manner already, but I'd like to pull my bike back out, tune it up, and hop on this summer -- it can't hurt to have a third green transport option!

Let me know (leave me a comment or shoot me an email,) if you decide to make one, or several, Earth Day Resolutions this year, and I'll make a post linking all of our blogs, so people can check out what we are all doing to be a little bit greener!

Happy Belated Earth Day!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Greek-Style Antipasti Pasta Salad

I boiled 2 cups of whole-wheat spirals and tossed them with quartered artichoke hearts, kalamata olives, crumbled feta, sliced cucumber, sliced roasted red pepper, halved cherry tomatoes, and chickpeas. Dressed the whole thing with a simple vinaigrette of red wine vinegar (although lemon juice would have been better,) garlic, dried oregano, salt, pepper, and extra-virgin olive oil.

So happy.

Friday, April 20, 2007

a few food photos

Why are kiwi so darn cute?

Lasagna in progress. Since I usually show photos of completed cooking projects, I thought I'd mix-it-up a bit this time and show you some prep work. Noodles boiling on the left, two pans ready for layering on the bottom, cheese and a spinach-artichoke-ricotta filling up top, with (gasp!) jarred marinara on the side.

Can't. Get. Enough. Sushi.
(Sliced mango and boiled edamame on the side. Yummers.)

And thus, my weekend officially begins. Bring on two whole days of rest and relaxation!!! (And some "quality time" with the boyfriend!) Wahoo!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

no wonder!

So, I did some math today, and figured out why I'm feeling so darn frazzled. Since Sunday, I have already worked 50 hours this week . . . after working tomorrow and tomorrow night, that will top off my week at 62.5 hours for the week.

Next month, I'm cutting back, needless to say.

In unrelated news, I have mixed feelings about the Quorn. I guess some people have had allergic reactions to it, (read the comments on my last post if you are concerned,) and although it tasted very good, my tummy did not like it very much. Possibly too much fiber, possibly too much processing, who knows. (I do not have mold allergies.) I will try Boca crumbles if I make this faux-meat loaf again in the future! Right now, I'm kind of stuck with a lot of it . . . unless Dan really likes it, it may "hit the bin." Hopefully, I can pawn it off on someone!

Off to make sushi for dinner -- hooray for nights off! I'm looking forward to some sushi, some time reading my book, and a nice, long telephone chat with Dan the Man. (I'm also looking forward to having him back in town this weekend, albeit very briefly, before three and a half more weeks of him on the road.)

Happy Almost Weekend, everybody!

Saturday, April 14, 2007


Okay -- it's time to come clean, here. I am officially frazzled. Dan's been out of town (on tour with the band) for a week now, I haven't been sleeping well (for a variety of reasons,) and I've been working something like 60 hours a week. Good times. This week is proving to be even busier, and although I have next weekend completely off, the band will stop back in town for 24 hours (Sat-Sun), before leaving for three more weeks.

Needless to say, I had a HUGE to-do list for my one day off (today) this week. Thankfully, my friend Ann drove me around last night so I could get my errands done, and "hit the ground running," so to speak, this morning. Today, I managed to get some laundry done, but not all of the cooking projects that I wanted to accomplish. In times of greatest stress, I feel best when I'm prepared -- and a big part of that is a stock of nutritious leftovers on which I can nosh over the course of the week. Here's what I got to today:

Peanut-peanut-butter cookies. YUM YUM YUM. (Dessert makes me happy!)

I'm not a big fan of the "mock meats," nor of heavily processed foods in general, but the veggie meat loaf recipe I wanted to try called for frozen beef-type crumbles. So, I tried these -- WAY less sodium per serving than the Boca brand, which was how I made my decision between the two. Conveniently, they were the same price.

Comfort food: garlic-mashed parslied potatoes, half a baked sweet potato drizzled with maple syrup and sprinkled with salt, veggie meatloaf (very tasty -- a VT recipe from this month's issue,) and sauteed kale with garlic and S&P.

I saw these corn-pasta duckies at the store and HAD to try them in . . .

. . . Chickpea Noodle Soup! Although I didn't use chickpeas this time -- I used TVP instead. It's still just as yummy. And those pasta duckies make me smile every bite!

This is another new recipe, this time from Cooking Light -- Mexican Tomato-Bean Soup with Corn Dumplings. The only change I made from the original recipe was using fire-roasted tomatoes instead of regular ones, and this soup is EXCELLENT! The dumplings are a bit fussy to make, but cook quickly. On the side is a quesadilla made with blue corn tortillas, sauteed mushrooms and spinach, and queso fresco.

The two projects I didn't get to were sushi, which I will probably make for supper on Wednesday night before I head to church choir rehearsal, and a pan of lasagna, which I wanted to prep and park in the freezer for dinner Saturday. (I figured since Dan's only going to be in town for 24 hours, I didn't want to spend a bunch of time cooking -- I wanted a quick, pop-in-the-oven-add-salad meal.) I think I'll make the lasagna Thursday night, (my one night off this week,) since I already picked up all of the ingredients.

I hope you all found some time to relax this weekend -- off to wash some dishes before I finally have my chance to relax a little bit!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

miracle dinner

I started a new temp job today . . . I am a glorified envelope-stuffer. It's boring and repetitive, but pays much better than working in the store, which I will continue to do, and, bizarrely, this company I work for has cable TV in the breakroom. Since I get two 15 minute paid breaks and one half-hour lunch per day, those little Food Network hits might be just enough to keep me going through my day! This afternoon, I watched Giada make a "pizza rustica," but I didn't get to see it come out of the oven. Fifteen minutes is only so long.

Anyhow, enough complaining.

Ravenously hungry when I arrived home this evening . . . wanted something quick for dinner . . . eggs sounded good, but poached eggs and toast just wasn't going to fit the bill tonight! I had some red bell pepper that needed to be used up, and I went searching for a can of artichokes . . . no luck. Then, I went searching for frozen broccoli . . . no luck . . . but I found frozen peas! I concocted an onion, red pepper, and pea frittata, topped with freshly grated parmesan cheese, and served it alongside a slice of no-knead bread, toasted, with Earth Balance and a local, raw honey. (Even though it's snowing today, allergy season is right around the corner, I swear!) Sometimes, I impress even myself:


Mountain of dishes (from the past week or so,) awaiting me in the kitchen . . . calling my name . . . must go!

Monday, April 09, 2007

step-by-step sushi!

I meant to post my step-by-step guide to making sushi over the weekend, but I got a little bit busy . . . working . . . dinner with friends . . . lots of singing at church (it was Easter, after all!) . . . going to see The Namesake (which was FANTASTIC, by the way,) and spending a LONG time on the phone with several people kind of ate up all my time. Sorry for the delay!

Anyhow, on to sushi!

1. Plunk 1 cup of sushi rice (short-grain glutinous white rice) in a colander and rinse under cold, running water for a couple of minutes, or until the water runs clear. (Another way to tell if your rice is well-rinsed is to set the colander of rice in a bowl of cold water and allow the rice to soak for a minute – if the soaking water is cloudy, you need to rinse more, but if it’s clear, you are ready to move on!)

2. Combine the well-rinsed rice with 1 1/4 cups cold water in a saucepan. Bring the whole thing to a boil, then lower the heat, cover the rice, and allow it to simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the rice from the heat, leave it covered, and allow it to sit for 10 minutes.

3. Cool and season the rice by sprinkling sushi vinegar (rice vinegar with sugar and salt in it,) over the rice and gently folding, while someone else fans the rice with a magazine or other helpful fanning tool. (If you do not have a fanning assistant, you can take breaks from folding to fan the rice.)
(As an aside, Dan was NOT convinced that he was helping by fanning the rice . . . but he did it anyway. You can see fanning action in the top half of this photo.)

4. Place one sheet of toasted nori, shiny side down, on a bamboo rolling mat. Spread a thin layer of rice over 2/3 to 3/4 of the nori, (I like to use a silicone spatula for spreading the rice, since the rice won’t stick to the spat!), and then spread or line up your toppings. (I was trying for a spiral avocado roll here, which didn’t really look very nice in the end, although it tasted quite delicious.)

5. Use the rolling mat to help you roll up your sushi. Dampen the edge of the nori that doesn’t have the rice on it, and press gently to seal the roll.

6. Slice the roll, dipping your knife in a glass of water before each cut, and serve. (I’ve also had some success wrapping non-sliced veggie rolls tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerating for 24 hours before serving. But sushi is best served fresh.) Enjoy with prepared wasabi, soy sauce or tamari, and pickled ginger. A side of steamed edamame is always nice, too!

This is the only type I've made and technique I've used to date, and it seems to work well for me. What have your sushi making experiences been like?

Friday, April 06, 2007

I guess opposites do, indeed, attract.

I made poached eggs, hash browns, kale, and grapefruit for dinner tonight.

My plate:

Dan's plate:

In reality, these photos kind of sum up our personalities.

I hope you find this as hilarious as I did!

a very disjointed post:

I have been wanting to tell you all about my most recent addition to my kitchen arsenal, but I keep forgetting! So, here it is:
My grandma and grandpa sent me $10 in a letter not too long ago, and with my discount, I was able to buy a mortar and pestle for only a couple bucks out of my own pocket! I have been wanting one of these for ages -- handy for smashing up spices and ginger when making chai, pulverizing garlic cloves, and cracking cardamom pods when making Indian food. I've only used it once so far, but I can't tell you how much easier crushing spices was this time 'round! (I used to use my meat mallet to crush them on a cutting board . . . allspice bits flew everywhere!) Perhaps I can now finally give away my meat mallet -- I have found it handy for crushing garlic cloves, but not much else, since I quit eating meat a year and a half ago!


When Dan and I have sushi for dinner, there usually isn't much talking, because Dan likes to use so much wasabi in his soy sauce that it makes him cough and have watery eyes. (I enjoy a hefty but moderate amount of wasabi -- enough that I can feel it up in my nose, but not beyond that.) I just thought you'd like to see how much wasabi Dan enjoys with his sushi:
Super-Wasabi-Man decided that this wasn't quite enough for him after he mixed it in and took his first bite, so he actually added a bit more. (His soy sauce usually ends up a creamy brown color from so much wasabi!)


How's THAT for a vegan lunchbox!
Red pepper nori roll, edamame, and pickled ginger, with soy and wasabi for dipping.


I love polenta. SO much. My favorite method of polenta enjoyment is simple: a little pat of Earth Balance and a little drizzle of pure maple syrup.

That's all for today! I promise to post pictures of sushi making sometime this weekend.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

mmmm . . . FIBER!

Why is it that just about everything I make is fiber-loaded?

I suppose it's that whole commitment to whole grains, plant proteins, and lots of fruits and vegetables. Well.

Anyhow, on to the food!

Here is a very belated photo of the lentils and rice I made last week, with some frozen broccoli mixed in. This was surprisingly tasty and satisfying!

Last night, Dan and I completed our first joint cooking experience and made the vegetable curry that is in the May/June 2007 issue of Cook's Illustrated. I have mixed feelings in general about Cook's Illustrated, (mixed enough feelings to allow my subscription to lapse,) and have had mixed results with their recipes. This curry was a LOT of work, and yielded, in my opinion, mediocre results. I felt the finished product needed considerably more salt than the recipe called for, (but I did use unsalted diced tomatoes, which could have been the problem,) and in general, I thought the curry was "just okay." Curries, like soups, are always better the next day, though, so I'll update once one of us eats the leftovers. Anyhow, here's Cook's Illustrated's Vegetable Curry served with Onion Relish and a big dollop of whole milk yogurt:

I recently purchased a big bag of Bob's Red Mill White Whole Wheat Flour, and gave it a test-drive this week in some blueberry-lemon muffins. I am especially excited to try this flour in no-knead bread, (I'm thinking about making a loaf that is entirely white whole wheat flour, because of its higher protein content,) and was curious how a higher protein wholegrain flour would perform in baked goods. The blueberry muffins do have a somewhat more "bready" texture, as opposed to the typically cakelike texture of most muffins. However, I love them! My only complaint is that they aren't lemony enough -- I used the zest and juice of one lemon for 12 muffins, and I may need to use two lemons next time. :) These are quickly disappearing around here:

Last but not least, I made another batch of chai this morning. I have been experimenting with the amount of different types of spices and also the amount of sweetner in this recipe, and I think I may have gotten it "just right" this time . . . unfortunately, I didn't take notes, so I may not be able to replicate this! Alas. I'll just have to enjoy it now, and experiment again another time.

Back to working on the cookbook! (Editing has been going smoothly, and I have several more recipes to add, and many more recipes to test! I'll post when I'm ready for testing helpers!)