Monday, June 18, 2012

I'm Cookin'!

Another ubiquitous dish, but bear with me . . . at least I've got my appetite back and am creating in the kitchen again!

On Fathers' Day, The kids were fast asleep until noon (teenagers) so I made Andres three nice eggs over medium with some whole grain toast. I offered to make french toast (his fave) but he's been more health conscious lately, so I'm feeding that trend. Besides that nice breakfast, I did nothing at all, and in fact remained in my pajamas all day long. Andres was sort of lying around too, so I didn't feel bad about indulging in sloth. The first Fathers' Day request was that we all go out to lunch together, but since we were so pajamafied and the kids were similarly sluggish, we opted for our weekly Chinese takeout, but we had it for lunch instead of dinner.

Normally I have no qualms about ordering whatever I want from our awesome Chinese restaurant, since I'm the only one who wastes nothing. Ever. It may take me three days to eat two gigantic entrees plus a large brown rice, but I waste nothing. But on Sunday I decided, since I had half a block of tofu left over from my fab tofu feta creation, not to order the Chinese tofu. This time I ordered only my beloved Garlic Baby Bok Choy (will never pass that up) plus the large brown rice, of course. The others ordered their usual, and will waste it or not, yada yada yada.

From my remaining half-block, I created this delicious tofu curry -- no recipe (sorry, I made it on the fly) but here's what's in it: tofu, half a tomato, diced, a couple stalks of celery with leaves, diced, a ginormous organic carrot, diced, a couple of scallions, thinly sliced, and curry powder, turmeric and salt to taste. I threw the carrots and celery in first on a pretty high heat with olive oil. I think I put the curry and turmeric in next, just so I could sort of cook it a little to round out the flavor. then came the tofu and the tomatoes. I only added the onion as I was taking it off the burner. I wanted the greens to still be fresh and bright. This was fabulous and healing (turmeric is anti-inflammatory and my middle-aged back is riddled with arthritis), and went very well with my Chinese takeout standbys.

This morning, after my fabulous Fathers' Day of sloth, I felt like a rock star!

Today's Jeanine story:
My mom was a "waste not, want not" kind of girl, so she saved everything, and carried a very large bag almost everywhere she went, so she could always be counted upon to have what anyone might need. Once, when my family of origin was at Epcot Center, one of us got a cut (I think it was my brother).

My mom said, "Ooooh, I think I have a tissue or a napkin,"

For what seemed like several minutes (I'm sure it was really only a few moments) she dug around in her giant, decorative bag. Finally, success! She held up a large paper towel with grease stains. Upon closer examination, my mom's triumphant expression changed as she was momentarily perplexed. Then she began giggling as she proceeded to dig deeper into the abyss that was her handbag.

"I think that used to hold some fried chicken!" she announced, as tickled with herself as we were. Who knows how long that fried chicken had been in there!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

I Finally Made Something!

I know, it's only a salad -- how boring, but I found myself uncharacteristically inspired to work with flavors recently. As regular readers know, lately my appetite has been AWOL, so I've been without inspiration to create culinarily. But I came home from work the other day craving a Greek salad, so I made this. For the "feta" I marinated blocks of tofu in fresh lemon juice, garlic powder and salt. I didn't measure, I just kept changing the proportions until I liked the flavor. It actually did taste like a very mild feta cheese, if I am remembering correctly. Besides the tofu feta, I only added a drizzle of olive oil to the ingredients and stirred it up.

In 1985 I spent a couple of months in Greece with my parents and brother. We spent some time in the homes of Greek friends, and found that there was a Greek salad served every day, sometimes twice a day (lunch and dinner) in addition to the other fresh offerings. Sometimes the salad would vary slightly with the inclusion of bell peppers or black olives, but the core ingredients: tomatoes, cucumbers, feta cheese and olive oil were standard. The above salad did blast me back to the past a bit.

During this time of working to find balance and peace, the little bit I've learned about macrobiotic principles has come in handy. I tend to spend most of my time in the upper chakras (flighty, escapist, ungrounded) so when I'm feeling especially disconnected and unfocused, root veggies are an amazing way to tap into those elusive lower chakras and become grounded again.

Parsnips to the rescue! Have you tried them? they are a wonderful, sweet and mild root, looking a bit like off-white carrots. This is a photo of this morning's juice veggies -- parsnips, romaine, kale, cucumber, apple, ginger and lemon. This combination was delicious and pretty sweet despite the fact that the apple was about the size of a golf ball. Here's the finished product:

Lovely, and just what I needed to wash down my daily prescribed dose of goodies:

The injection is the only actual pharmaceutical, but the supplements are all prescribed by the trusted doctor who has kept me well and my MS quiet for oh, about 7 or 8 years now (now my boss). In addition to this, I also give myself a B12 shot once a week. We do what we need to do to have optimum health, and I am so grateful to have cracked the code for what works for me.

Today is my Mom's and Dad's 50th wedding anniversary. She's been gone three months now. I spoke with Dad this morning. He's a real trooper, and while he has his moments, is doing what he needs to do to stay healthy and balanced and seems to be handling his grief surprisingly well.

Today's Jeanine story:  When mom and dad were dating, one night he brought her to his parents house, the beloved "Homehearth" featured in "My Vegan Story" here on this blog. My grandmother, Eula, offered my mom some of her homemade wine. My mom hesitated. She had never before tried alcohol, but she didn't want to be rude, and it was very important to her to impress her potential in-laws.

"Harold," Grandmommy said to Grandaddy, "this girl has never tried wine before --  get her some from the good batch!"

Grandaddy put down the large glass jug he was holding and went searching in the cupboard. He soon returned with another large glass jug. He ceremoniously poured my young mom a glass of the good stuff. My mom took her first sip and had to work to suppress a grimace.

"Is this what I've been missing?" she thought to herself. It tasted awful.

She forced herself to choke down most of it over the course of her otherwise lovely meal, and Grandmommy must have noticed the look on my mom's face at some point because she got up and picked up mom's glass, smelled it, then tasted the contents.

"Harold!" Grandmommy exclaimed, "You've poured the girl a glass of vinegar!" (my grandparents also made their own vinegar).

My mom used to love to tell this story, over and over again, as she did with many other stories. She was such a lovely story teller, I never tired of the retelling.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Go Georgia Bulldogs!

My photographic offerings for this post are woefully inadequate, and here is why:  Since I got my smart phone, I've caught a lot of flack from those near and dear to me because I do not fully utilize its capabilities. In other words, I use my ipod for an ipod, my camera for a camera and my phone for a phone, instead of using my phone for all three. So, determined to be a modern woman, when I accompanied my son to Athens, GA for his two-day orientation, I only brought my phone. As a result, I came home with a couple of lame, short videos. I thought I was taking photos. I'll figure it out, but I haven't yet.

The good news -- my son did graduate, with honors, no less, and is now a Georgia Bulldog! I'd never before gone to UGA since my husband had taken Hans on his tour after he got accepted, so I decided to go along for the ride this time. It's a good thing I did. The whole orientation process was so well planned, with separate programs for students and parents, with some parts overlapping. The kids stayed in a dorm, and we parents had the option to stay in the dorm as well, for a small fee, but it was recommended we leave the kids on their own instead. So I got a hotel room.

Our 48 hours in Athens were amazing. I was impressed with the facilities, the organization, the food, the town, the people -- Hans and I agreed that the whole time we were there, neither of us had encountered anyone less than happy. The food service for UGA has won awards for the best university food in the country, and I could see why. The variety of available options was staggering, and all were fresh and expertly prepared. This vegan came away from the bountiful salad bar and brown rice, beans and vegetables fully satisfied. I have a short video of one of my lunches from when I thought I was taking a photo, but it's better left to your imagination. The dinner the first night was a special feast for just the kids, so we parents were encouraged to explore Athens on our own. I made use of my GPS (yeah, I've learned how to use that at least!) and plugged in a restaurant that was recommended by a girl at work -- The Grit.

Yep, this is all I've got to illustrate this part of the adventure, which is such a pity. I thought I was taking amazing photos of the most decadent fresh Indian food I've ever eaten, but it turns out I wasn't. But I'll tell you about it. Picture me, 46-year-old full-time-mom of 18 years, in a strange town, walking into this hip vegetarian eatery in an old, historic building on Prince Street all by myself and sidling up to the counter. I must have looked out of place. Most patrons were a couple of decades behind me. They were an eclectic bunch, a young family, a few co-eds, but were mostly paired off or in groups. The few who were solo bore tats or dreds which automatically gave them an air of confidence and self-assuredness. The server asked if I had an order to go.

"No," I said, "I think I'll stay a while," and ordered a beer. Then I asked the server what he would recommend for a vegan. He suggested I try the special -- an Indian feast, but without the yogurt raita. So I did. There was a delicate coconut tofu curry -- not too sweet -- with jasmine rice. There was a lovely piece of naan, thick and filling with chunks of yukon gold potatoes within, and a tangy tomato chutney on the side. This was all delicious, but my very favorite part of the meal surprised me. It was a shredded carrot slaw, with raisins and lemon. Carrot slaws are ubiquitous, and thus on the boring side, but not this one. There were little caraway seeds, and the fresh lemon and raisins made the flavor very bright and different. I was sorry to get to the bottom of the bowl. This meal was so wonderful that I ate past the point of comfort. By the time I was considering packing up a portion of it, there wasn't enough of it left to justify packing, so I just kept eating and eating until it was all gone. This part of my journey took me way out of my comfort zone. I was very proud of myself for branching out.

In contrast to my own technology illiteracy, witness my daughter's creativity with her friends -- I think there's an app which enables one to make pictures of initials like this from photos of body parts. This was accompanied by a text which read "C is for Cheryl"

I'm so proud of my kids!  I want to be like Wynne when I grow up. At a young age she has learned perspective and balance. She's just amazing. Hans has overcome so much with his health issues and has a bright future. I really enjoyed my time at the University of Georgia and I think it'll be a great place for him. I'm glad to be part of the Georgia Bulldog family!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Lazy Food Season + An Island Mystery

During this strange time of life I will continue to bore those of you who are tuning in to see fabulous vegan creations.

Mourning is odd, and I gather that it can vary widely from person to person. For me, being very busy and productive is a balm, probably because I am avoiding tending to it, which feels like what I need for a while, until a cushion of time has passed. In the midst of my busy life, there's not much appetite, so I am really just eating for fuel. Dark leafies are key, and I'm not skimping on the healthy fats. Fresh green juice in the morning is about all I can manage before lunchtime. Here are a couple more lazy, fatty foods which give me the energy I need:

I went through this jar in about two weeks -- on a loaf of Eziekiel bread.

Have you tried this? It's yummy, but really too sweet. It's easy to put in a thermos and take to work, though, and gives me the calories I need. I know I should tend to my diet more lovingly soon, but not until I get an appetite. It doesn't seem worth the effort yet.

Now for my "island mystery" -- A couple of weeks ago I was carrying several bottles of wine into the kitchen from the garage, and as I went to place them on the kitchen island, a bottle of chardonnay slipped from my fingers and fell about four inches, crashing onto the granite. Here's the result:

It's a terrible photo, but hopefully you can see that the glass bottle, totally unscathed and without a scratch, took a chunk out of the solid rock. The chunk was actually completely pulverized into dust, and the chardonnay was no worse from the encounter.

Fast forward a week -- as I was emptying the dishwasher, the basin of my coveted Breville juicer also slipped from my fingers and landed on the granite. Here's the result of that mishap:

I was pretty bummed until I realized I should be counting my blessings for even having a Breville juicer, and also because it was the top of the spout which broke off and not the bottom, so the juicing is only slightly more messy.

So, the mystery I'm puzzling is why is solid granite weaker than glass but stronger than plastic? Also, why do I keep dropping things? {shrug}

Changing gears, here's a miracle in my own backyard (that's how I like to think of beautiful things now, anyway):

A sunny deluge -- isn't it pretty?

Today's Jeanine story:

When our firstborn was little, we travelled from Detroit to Alexandria, VA, to visit my parents. After settling in for an hour or so, we decided to go to the nearby mall to pick up a few things while Mom and Dad got started on dinner. Halfway there, we realized we had left the stroller at their house, so we turned around to get it. As we got closer to their house, we noticed a woman in full sprint on the sidewalk coming toward us. Something seemed wrong -- the woman was not dressed for a workout, so it appeared there might be an emergency of some kind.

"What's wrong with that woman?" my husband asked, alarmed, as we got closer.

Suddenly I realized who it was, "It's my Mom!" I said, in a panic.

We pulled up to her and stopped, and she ceased her forward momentum as well.

"Mom! What's wrong?" I stammered.

My mom smiled her pretty smile and said, "You forgot the stroller, didn't you?"

"But why are you running down the road?" I asked, still worried and confused.

"I just wanted to squeeze in a little workout!" she answered, matter-of-factly.

That was Mom -- fashionable bob haircut, red lipstick, cardigan sweater, slacks, leather flats, 18" strand of pearls (real) in full swing from side to side as she allowed her long, lean legs to extend fully in an olympian stride. She'd never let something as simple as a lack of time keep her from a good workout! She was practical to the extreme and never worried people would judge her for something as silly as her chosen workout wardrobe. And you know what? She was so cool, I actually don't think anyone who knew her did judge her -- but she did make us smile!