One of my favorite quotes is by J.R.R. Tolkien: "All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us." Here I'm giving glimpses of all I am deciding in the time that is given to me. Enjoy! All pictures and posts are mine, thank you! Please ask permission for photo use.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

crafty cards

My friend Madeleine introduced me to a super fun, super easy, and super addictive way of making homemade cards. It involves stamps, a glue "ink" pad, embossing powder, a craft heat gun, and any little extras like colored pens, glue pens, and glitter.

What's so neat is that the designs are really embossed--the heat from the heat gun sort of melts the embossing powder, giving it a smooth texture that is three-dimensional. I need more practice; sometimes I thought I brushed all of the extra powder off of the card when I really didn't, so some cards had small splotches on them (most noticeable on the black card with the white designs, below). These were such a blast to make (I felt like a kid doing crafts!), and I definitely am looking forward to the next time we get together to make more!










Tuesday, October 16, 2012

carrot buckwheat bread

Recently I was going through my refrigerator and my pantry, trying to use up some items, and somehow threw these ingredients together and baked them up into a yummy bread! I encourage creativity in the kitchen, so if you have different ideas for your own take on this recipe, and if you decide to get a little experimental in the kitchen, I'd love to hear how it goes!

  • 5 medium/large carrots, grated
  • 2 eggs (from happy, free-of-hormones-and-other-nasties, cage-free chickens, please!)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup organic canola oil
  • 1/4 cup hemp milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp stevia
  • 1 and 1/3 cup plus 2 tbsp buckwheat flour (that's how much was left in my bag!)
  • cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice to taste
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp soda
I basically mixed my wet ingredients with the sugar and stevia, then added in the dry stuff and mixed until combined. The buckwheat gives it a rich, dark color (and loads of fiber and protein!), and the carrots and applesauce lend a vitamin C boost. Pour your batter into a 2-quart square pan that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray or lightly greased. Bake at 350 for about 35-40 minutes. Enjoy!







Monday, October 15, 2012

acorn squash soup

I promise I'm not a sales rep for Vitamix. I just can't help but share the wondrous things I make with it! Compared to what I was using before, this thing is the Rolls Royce of blenders. Here's the recipe for acorn squash soup that the Vitamix book gives:


Instead of using chicken broth and evaporated milk, I use vegetable broth and hemp milk.


I also find that while Vitamix is trying to be really cool and let you get your soups hot from the blender, I don't like to blend mine for four or five minutes, simply because they get too foamy (I learned this when making the zucchini soup). I ask for my lattes with no foam, so no foam for my soups, too! I just blend until smooth, then heat the soup on the stove or in the microwave.

Now before you start asking, "Why do you have a whole acorn squash when the recipe calls for half of one?," I'll let you know that I doubled the recipe. Before you get started with the soup, slice your acorn squash in half, place face-down on aluminum foil on a cookie sheet, and bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes. That skin will peel right off once the squash has cooled (don't burn your fingers!). Also, don't forget to discard of the seeds and stringies on the inside--they're not meant for your soup!


(In my best Homer Simpson voice): mmmm, carmelized acorn squash, mmmmmmmm.....


Squash goes in the blender...


...then veggie broth and hemp milk...bombs away!...


...and add a generous pour of the love of my life maple syrup (no joke--mom and dad, stop reading this--I used to sneak multiple spoonfuls of maple syrup from the bottle when I was younger, and I'm afraid my adult self still isn't over the unique and perfect flavor that is maple; and it has to be the real deal, no fake crap in my kitchen!). I actually didn't go overboard with the syrup; I probably only added a tablespoon, maybe one and a half.


Top off with a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice and blend away!


The result? A beautiful, light, caramel-colored soup that tastes great and is healthy. Notice I added NO salt and the veggie broth I used was low sodium. I find that the complex flavors of the squash, maple, veggie broth, and dash of pumpkin pie spice (notice I changed the way I spiced the soup) are interesting enough and satisfying to the point where I don't need salt. Others may disagree and want to add salt to their soup, and I say go for it! Just don't use a heavy hand, and your heart will thank you.

This soup goes very well with my carrot buckwheat bread, a culinary creation I invented trying to use up some ingredients lying around the house! Stay tuned for that recipe soon!


Sunday, October 14, 2012

blueberry orange bread

Another Vitamix creation! The recipe is actually a Vitamix recipe:

  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp Earth Balance
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg or egg substitute (Please use local, vegetarian-fed, antibiotic-free, hormone-free, cage-free eggs if you can! To my vegan friends: I often will substitute 1 tbsp cornstarch for 1 egg in baking recipes--and you may need to add more liquid; I didn't do that here because I had eggs from a local farmer's market, but I've done it before and the breads turn out beautifully! If you try it and it works with this recipe, let me know! Also, I've heard of substituting bananas for eggs in recipes--it probably wouldn't be a bad addition to this already fruit-filled bread!)
  • 1 organic orange, peeled, halved
  • 1/4-inch strip orange peel
  • 1 cup frozen organic blueberries
Combine first five ingredients in a large mixing bowl and set aside. Place remaining ingredients except blueberries in the Vitamix (or your blender if it's a good one!) in the order listed and secure lid. Blend on high for about 30 seconds, then pour liquid mixture into dry and gently mix to combine. Fold in blueberries. Pour batter into a loaf pan that's been sprayed with non-stick spray or greased. Bake at 325 for 60-70 minutes.

















Saturday, October 13, 2012

hope

Daniel Quinn gives us hope in Ishmael:

"Just think. In a billion years, whatever is around then. whoever is around then, says, 'Man? Oh yes, man! What a wonderful creature he was! It was within his grasp to destroy the entire world and to trample all our futures into dust--but he saw the light before it was too late and pulled back. He pulled back and gave the rest of us our chance. He showed us all how it had to be done if the world was to go on being a garden forever. Man was the role model for us all!'

'Not a shabby destiny.'

'Not a shabby destiny by any means. And it occurs to me that this . . .'

'Yes?'

'This gives a little shape to the story. The world is a very, very fine place. It wasn't a mess. It didn't need to be conquered and ruled by man.'"


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

du jour - 9 Oct 2012

eating

  • homemade, vegan zucchini soup (Made with...you guessed it...the Vitamix! It has vegetable broth, hemp milk, zucchini, carrot, potato, salt, triple blend flakes, and nutritional yeast.)
  • pain au chocolat

reading


Monday, October 8, 2012

du jour - 8 Oct 2012

Tonight's Vitamix creation: simple, vegan, healthy banana pancakes! I modified a recipe from Fitness magazine, cutting it in half but still keeping the same number of bananas for that extra vitamin C, potassium, and fiber boost (as you can see, they came out just fine!). Blend 3/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk, 1/2 cup rolled oats, two bananas (break them up with your fingers), 1/4 cup whole wheat flour, 1/2 tablespoon baking powder, and 1 tablespoon cinnamon (I'm a cinnamon fiend and fanatic--cut as needed if you're not as obsessed with it as I am). Cook and top with maple syrup (or your sweetener of choice, although the pancakes are sweet already from the bananas--I also happen to be insanely fond of maple syrup)! Perfect for a chilly autumn night like tonight, or when you're having a banana pancake kind of day.


Today for lunch I tried a new chia fettuccine I found at Whole Foods during my hectic morning there yesterday. It's vegan, full of protein and fiber, cooks quickly, and is delish with spicy marinara sauce!


Sunday, October 7, 2012

kombucha goodness

I love kombucha, and have loved it for years and years. Every time I drink some, I get happy.

After grocery shopping in a very hectic and crowded Whole Foods this morning, getting jostled in the hustle and bustle and enduring move-it-along looks from other shoppers, I made a U-turn from heading toward the checkout and instead went toward the refrigerated beverages section. It's been a long week--working overtime at my day job and fulfilling/juggling commitments outside of work, trying to find time to clean the condo and keep up with other chores, and somehow managing minimal exercise in between so my muscles don't think they are taking a permanent vacation. This weekend, I'm trying to regain some of my vim and vigor. Yesterday, I went to the farmer's market (always a joy) in the morning, basking in the warm sunshine, and later enjoyed the company of family. Today, it's cold and rainy, and the crowds of Whole Foods seemed to drain me of my energy. As I pushed my cart firmly and intentionally toward the refrigerated beverages section of Whole Foods (out of my way, screaming children and impatient shoppers!), I had one thing on my mind: kombucha!

I came home, unpacked my groceries, and did some light cleaning. In an oval ramekin, I put down a layer of cooked, organic spaghetti squash with spicy marinara, dusted it generously with organic chipotle powder (my sinuses: all clear!), and topped it with just a bit of organic, local, raw cheddar cheese (I try not to eat dairy as much I can help it, but today was just a day when I craved some cheese). I popped it in the oven (300 degrees) for about 15 minutes, and after it was done baking, I curled up on the couch, snuggled up in a blanket, ate my little spaghetti squash melt, and then sipped on my kombucha while enjoying the next episode of Downton Abbey on my Netflix disc (I'm hooked on this show!). Now, I'm about to some peaceful and relaxing yoga. Although I still have a meeting to attend later this evening, this moment of respite, this treat to myself and a break from the helter skelter, was just what I needed.

Never tried kombucha before? Give it a whirl! It has a very unique flavor, so prepare yourself for a slightly fermented taste. It's fizzy like soda pop, but it's infinitely better for your body than soda. Even just looking at the bottle makes me happy!




Above: see the goodness floating at the bottom of the bottle? While I drink kombucha, I'll occasionally recap the bottle and turn it upside down and right side up repeatedly (not shaking it, just turning it) so that all of the goodness gets redistributed.