Thursday, May 23, 2013

The First Radish! + a Money Tree Update

As I was in the fresh air yesterday to get away from the paint fumes, I checked on my garden. The radishes have begun to look robust and voluptuous, positively pushing themselves out of the ground, so I harvested one of them, perhaps a bit early, since it was about the size of my thumb, but ripe enough to eat. I was tempted to down it right then and there, but I stopped myself because of the dirt. A quick rinse later, I ate the whole thing, stringy little roots to fresh, spiny leaves. It was superb. I'm not kidding -- anything homegrown is always surprisingly delicious.

Remember the dead money tree which stayed dead despite my counterintuitive decapitating of it? Well, guess what I got on my front porch today, all the way from China? (Not literally -- it was grown in Mississippi, but the order was from China!)

A new money tree from my brother, sister-in-law, nephew and niece! They do live in China. This was so thoughtful and kind of them, and provides evidence that they are tracking my blogposts! I love and miss you guys so much! Grateful!

What do you think of the new paint color I chose for the kitchen/sitting room? I was trying to be more modern, less radical. It's actually close to the old color, but lighter and more grey -- neutral. My daughter says it looks exactly the same as the old color. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Scattered Odds-n-Ends {Hoarder Edition}

I've been in a "shedding" season of late, which is odd for a "waste-not-want-not" kind of gal (hoarder). Yep, it seems I've inherited a tad of my sweet Mom's hoarding tendency. This likely sounds much worse than it is -- neither Mom and Dad's home nor mine looks anything like the homes on the TLC hoarding show, but recent life events have illustrated all too well that I'll need to make an effort to un-hoard.

What life events? Well there's the water damage for starters. One day I noticed drip marks on the wall of the sitting room off the kitchen, then after days and days of rain, I noticed a big wet spot on the ceiling and wall. This is covered by insurance after we pay a deductible, but it'll be more than just a small corner repair. The paint has to match what's there already, and it doesn't after 13 years, so I got to choose a new paint color (yay!) and the whole kitchen and sitting area will be painted. Where am I going with this? (can you tell shedding season leaves me scattered?) I had to move everything out of these two rooms. The items filled the guest room and the dining room! Yikes -- how and when did this happen? With 13 years in one place, the accumulation was so gradual, I didn't notice.

So I am shedding -- anything we don't need, anything I don't like, anything broken, duplicates. Sorting -- consignment, donation, trash -- it's very unsettling -- hence my "scattered" odds-n-ends today.

After moving the items out of the rooms and before the painters covered everything with plastic, I made  this for breakfast:

Avo-Toast from Kris Carr's Crazy Sexy Kitchen. It's one of those "why didn't I thinka' that?" recipes -- so simple. You can use any bread, I used Eziekiel. Kris has a video where she learns to squeeze a ripe avocado -- no cutting or peeling -- just slice it in half and squeeze the darn thing. Again, why didn't I thinka' that? It takes one second. You then squeeze half a lime over it and top with pepper. Kris' recipe calls for pepper flakes, but I am having a love affair with chipotle powder lately (smoky and deep!), so avo-toast became an apt vehicle for it. This was a lovely start to my home-improvement day. I highly recommend Kris' books.

In other news, I'm loving the micro-greens I'm growing in pots around my garden. They are so fresh, tender, delicious and ALIVE! So far the pots have daunted the marauding garden critters.

Following up on the "plant rehab" attempts from my earlier post, I've determined the bamboo "money tree" is truly dead as a doornail and since I don't need that kind of financial karma, it is now with the other detritus being shed. My exciting avocado tree experiment is over. I decided I wasn't quite sure which way was up (is that a root or a sprout?) After trying it both ways, the confused pit stopped doing anything. Who could blame it? So I'm hoping it grows happily in a landfill somewhere, far from me, its clueless tender.

Finally, I'll wrap up this edition of Odds-n-Ends with something unrelated to being vegan or any part of the life of this midlife vegan+.  This just gave me a fit of giggles, and I hope it does the same for you. Laughter is good for you.

Friday, May 17, 2013


If you haven't noticed, this is a variation on a theme here. Whenever I veer off track, I again achieve equilibrium and wholeness with this -- leafy greens and whole grains.

I took a short trip recently for a workshop with an underlying theme of wholeness, so the fare was predictably healthy, but the trail mix was my nemesis -- there were dried bananas, pineapple and dark chocolate chips (!) and it was a big giant bag and the chocolate tasted so good with coffee after lunch and, and . . . . .  'nuff said -- I was out of whack for a couple of days. Sugar is sugar, even if it's "healthy".

I am so grateful for my kale cravings! They kick in just when I need them. This time I fixed it with some sauteed onions and a little olive oil, with quinoa and black lentils on the side. Perfect! All better now.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Avocado Aioli For Cinco De Mayo

Alright, kids, here it is! It's so lazy and easy. You may want to double the recipe because this goes away very fast.

Avocado Aioli
1 ripe avocado
3 Tbsp. Veganaise
juice of 1/4 lime
3-4 shakes of Chipotle powder plus more on top to make it pretty

Just mash and stir it all together! 

You can play with the amount of the Chipotle powder, which is very different in flavor from Cayenne or other chili powders. Chipotle is smoky and rich, not hot and biting. Avocado aioli is a nice departure from the predictable guacamole, which I also love. These are healthy fats at their finest. Here's how we ate the aioli:

We had tacos the first night: black eyed peas, cabbage and cilantro with lime, tomatoes and salsa, and of course, the aioli. You can see I am generous with my healthy fats!

Then for lunch the next day I had a taco salad. Here, the vehicle for all that yum is a bowl of spinach instead of a tortilla. The chips are brown rice. Ole!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Wrinkly Tomatoes + Odds-n-Ends, Plant Rehab Edition

You've seen this before on AMLV+, I know. The reason I know is that, bar none, the #1 Google analytics search terminology for A Midlife Vegan+ is "wrinkled tomatoes" or "are wrinkly tomatoes safe to eat?" or something of that nature. Seriously, someone finds me that way almost every day, so it must be uppermost in the minds of the world. Either that or other bloggers aren't really dealing with the subject of puckered pomodoros.

Years ago, I did a post on the very subject -- basically from a waste-not-want-not perspective. My fabulous Mom, may she rest in peace, used to recycle, reinvent and resuscitate like a pro. We learned early on it was better to just not ask how old the food was since it tasted better if we didn't know. She was inventive and creative, and I've absorbed much of her wisdom by osmosis, I suppose, since my head is full of random tidbits of unknown origin.

Back to the tomatoes -- The earlier post  included a suggestion for turning tomatoes such as those above into a compote -- simply a quick saute with garlic and olive oil, then taken off the heat and topped with fresh Italian parsley. This is amazing on a baked potato or stirred into pasta or soup of almost any kind. I do stand by this compote suggestion, and the proportions don't matter. Each creation will be unique and delicious.

With all the search terms concerning "safety" I thought a followup with more specificity might be in order. While the tomatoes in the photo above would be perfect for a compote or tomato sauce, these would not:

Again, knowledge of dubious origin:  these tomatoes are sprouting -- making baby tomato plants. I don't think these would be "unsafe" to eat, but they don't really appeal, so instead of going into the saute pan, they were planted in the garden. It goes without saying that moldy or soggy produce should be avoided as well.

After finding a good use for these inedibles, I was inspired to continue in the "creativity with plants" bent as follows:

I made some fresh avocado aioli (stay tuned for the recipe) and remembered Mom's avocado plants. This is how she sprouted them. For the first time, I decided to try it myself. I wondered how Mom got the toothpicks into the pit, and was surprised at how easily they slid right in. I guess Mom was worried I'd hurt my toddler hands trying to poke a toothpick into a slippery pit. I'll keep you posted on the avocado's progress.

Next, I beheaded my bamboo. It had been dead as a doornail up above, so I am trying to give it a fresh chance here. It lived happily in a vase of water for years, and then pooped out. A refrigerator repairman once remarked,

"Oh, you have a very lonely money tree!"

So I guess I've been inadvertently hexing my financial house -- nice. Wonder what kind of karma I'm sowing by lopping the head off the money tree?  I'll keep you posted on that as well.

P.S. I noticed, upon re-reading this post, that it is rife with alliteration. Maybe some of these would be great names for a band. My daughter is forming another one in addition to one in which she's the vocalist and also an acoustic twosome where she sings and plays guitar. How about "Puckered Pomodoros"? "Beheaded Bamboo"? "Dead as a Doornail"? "Refrigerator Repairman?" Just kidding about those last two -- having fun after my second cup of coffee! Let me know what you think!