Monday, March 24, 2014

Secondhand Buddha

It's a Buddha Bowl, actually -- a collection of different foods in one bowl, usually containing a pile of raw shredded kale and a special sauce of some sort. The other ingredients vary in a Buddha Bowl, but are always jam-packed with veggie goodness. I call this bowl "Secondhand Buddha" because I like that moniker better than "a bowlful of leftovers" I am a waste-not-want-notter, so I never throw anything away. Nothing hangs around for long so it works out. You can see the kale and the beans and rice, and the rest is a saute of cabbage, chick peas and hearts of palm with lots of lemon. Since these stars of my Secondhand Buddha Bowl are already well-flavored and a little saucy, I didn't add any other sauce. Everything's better with capers, though, so I let them join the party. Loved this bowl! 

Saturday, March 22, 2014


This is not vegan food. Wynne and I love to hang out together and experiment in the kitchen. She eats and enjoys lots of my food, but I feel it is important to let my wise 16 year old make her own choices about food. She invented this grilled mac and cheese herself. She did not use a mix, but she did use bakery sourdough bread. I decided to invent my own organic vegan version. Here it is:

I lazily used an organic mac n chreese mix and eziekiel bread. I'm not going to be eating this way that much, so I didn't want to put too much effort into it. It was pretty good though. I'm planning on phasing out much of the gluten I've been eating. The more I learn, it seems a logical next step in my unending quest for health.

Friday, March 21, 2014


I'm a little late getting my Irish on the screen, but here it is. We did get into the spirit of St. Patrick's Day. For a jaunt to a local Irish pub with friends, I enlisted the styling services of my teenage daughter since I was at a loss for something festive to go with my surgical boot. She suggested I wear her black watch plaid jumper with a pair of leggings. It did the trick. Incidentally, the plaid was pretty close to the McKenzie plaid of my mother's people, so I felt I was honoring her as well.

The delicious plateful above was created later and was actually an accidental colcannon -- it was just a couple of side dishes I'd made to go with my husband's grilled beast of the day, but once I got them on my plate I realized how Irish the combo was. Actually, that kale may either be a little Italian or Mexican too -- I don't remember if that's an olive or a bean down there under those greens. While the kale prep has slipped my mind, I remember the potatoes. Simply prepared, I boiled large chunks of new potatoes for about 15 minutes, then drained and slightly mashed them with earth balance, a little veganaise and a tablespoon of Dijon mustard. They were amazing and got compliments from the carnivore too.

Missing the accidental colcannon as soon as the leftovers had run out, I endeavored to create a more purposeful one. I prepared the potatoes the same way, but then incorporated them into a panful of shredded cabbage I had sauteed in olive oil with large chunks of baby Vidalia onions with the greens still attached. Mmmmm.

Erin go bragh!

Sunday, March 16, 2014


Mom's been gone two years now. It feels like she was just right here -- such a bright beautiful star -- the kindest soul. I love this photo of my Mom and Dad. I love you Mama, and remember you every day.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


I'm two weeks out from foot surgery today, and improving exponentially by the hour, but I still cannot drive for another week. The weather's lovely, so I'm getting a little Spring fever. Since I need to avoid overdoing, I've chosen a quickie craft this morning, for which I had already bought supplies, pre-surgery. It's not necessary to use a hermit crab mister (a story for another day). It's just a spray bottle I  utilized it for the alcohol and water solution suggested in one of the tutorials I found.

I love mercury glass. At a white-elephant style Christmas party, I admired a lovely mercury glass ornament that was entwined with ribbon on the outside of the gift my friend, Sherri, had chosen. That sweet girl took it off her present and gave it right to me! Now I'm seeing mercury glass everywhere, and have noticed a few tutorials online for "homemade" mercury glass, so I thought I'd try it on the cheap. Being my mother's daughter, my cupboards are full of things I'm not using, but were "too good to throw away". As a teacher and an artist, my mom's hoarding of almost everything made sense to a degree, as she seldom wanted for raw materials. For me, I should probably rein in my "waste not want not" proclivity just a tad. That said, I happily have gobs of "free" glassware which had arrived with bouquets over the years, and which would be perfect for mercury glass creation.

From the info online about this type of project, two spray paints seem to be highly recommended -- Krylon's "Looking Glass" and another called "Chrome" -- though I don't recall the manufacturer. I figured my memory would be jogged if I saw it. I checked Lowe's which had a paltry selection of metallics. I asked a sales associate, who directed me to "Depot". I remembered I had a bag in my car containing a light switch we never used when finishing our basement 10 years ago. Amazingly, I was able to return it for store credit. I bought Rustoleum "Metallic" which was the closest thing to "Looking Glass" or "Chrome" I could find. With my store credit, it was "free"!

Variations in technique abound. Basically, you very lightly spray the inside of the glassware, then immediately lightly mist it with a water and vinegar or a water and rubbing alcohol solution, and quickly wipe it with a paper towel. I'm thinking plain water would have worked better, since the alcohol solution instantly liquefied the interior of the vase contents and I was left with a drippy mess. Most of the paint wound up on my hands:

Now isn't that pretty? I feel like Effie Trinket would be impressed. Previously, I was actually unaware of the pores on that part of my hand. I should have worn gloves, obviously. I thought about it, but don't have any and I'm not driving. My creativity will not be deterred. Much of it came off with dishwasher detergent. Now it just looks like an interesting bruising pattern.

Here's how the mercury glass looked after the first coat:

You want a semi-translucent effect, so the light of a candle could make it's way through the metallic finish, but my wiping patterns and the drip marks of the too-liquidy paint and alcohol water solution weren't to my liking. Instead, I resolved to paint the whole interior to an almost-opaque extent, then I will later try distressing the dried finish by rubbing or sanding, not with alcohol, and maybe using an umber glaze to counter the plastic-metallic happy meal toy look of the paint on its own:

See what I mean? Look at the drip marks. The ginger jar shape makes it almost impossible to avoid visible drips, even with a very light coat. I'm pretty sure I can improve on this after it has dried a while. I learned a bit about antique and other faux finishes about 8 years ago when I refinished my kitchen cabinets myself. They are really white melamine -- particleboard with a white plasticine coating. It's amazing what paint can do:

The "dark wood" island is also white melamine. I'm especially proud of the "corner joints" on these cabinet doors. It's all paint on molded plastic -- there are really no joints at all.

After I finish the mercury glass, I'll share the result.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Convalescence + Photographic Odds-n-Ends

As in any chapter in life, these weeks of convalescence have afforded a different perspective from that of life lived at full-speed. The surgery was a piece of cake, the recovery has only briefly been rough, the healing is going well, but there is no rushing this. Energy has been diverted to the business of healing, so it makes sense to just rest, to wait. I go downstairs a couple times a day, and the weather was nice enough yesterday to get a bit of fresh air. I have watched lots of bad movies and a couple of good ones. I have read a lot. I have written a lot. I have crocheted and created, researched and planned more projects for the future. I can cook a very little bit before the gravity takes its toll and I need to, once again, assume this prone posture. Obviously, my food offerings for the blog are paltry and unimaginative, but here you go:

I made a second batch of kale bisque, this time in stages because of the above mentioned gravity issue. Because I had turned off the heat for a while, the soup was only luke-warm when I returned to the business of blending it, so I was undeterred by my phobia of being scalded. This is what the bisque looks like when it's blended in a Vitamix -- much less chunky, more homogeneous. Personally, I like it either way. It's a great soup -- it tastes like health, only more decadent.

Last night was steak night, so my husband prepared a tofurky sausage for me and a baked potato. I prepared the greens: quickly sauteed onions, garlic, kale and Chinese cabbage with olive oil, earth balance and lots of fresh lemon once it was off the heat. The greens were so simple and good. I liked the tofurky with a shmear of Dijon mustard, and baked potatoes are always fab. Truthfully, by the time I sat down for dinner, I was ready for another gravity-undo, so I rushed through eating all of it.

Since there is not much fresh incoming photography during this season-o-convalescence, I decided to take another look at some of the photos I'd previously skipped over because I had plenty to choose from  in weeks prior. Some of these will remind you of others I've posted, but I had a little fun cropping and reinventing these in a more interpretive spirit.

Here's a pointy little elf hat I crocheted for my daughter a few weeks ago. I started with a pattern, but went off on a tangent as soon as I got tired of following it. I love how it turned out. I do this with recipes too, in case you hadn't noticed. I haven't much patience with reining in my creativity. I have mixed results, but it's more fun that way.

Ellie's tasting the snow here. We don't see too much of the stuff, so it was pretty special for her. Finally, here are the rest of my snowy art shots:

This last photo is of one of many historic buildings here in Alpharetta. It's obviously a ruin. I believe it was part of an old farm. It was preserved as an upscale neighborhood was built on the land around it. I like how the water droplets impart an ephemeral, dream-like quality.

Now back to healing . . .

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

One Week Out

I'm currently one week out from major foot surgery which has been needed for most of my adult life, but the timing was my choice. Without getting too graphic, it involved the breaking and repositioning of bones and the permanent inclusion of a titanium screw. All things considered, the process has been easier than expected, and I'm feeling pretty well now, though it'll be a couple more weeks before I can drive, and a couple more months before the recovery is complete.

Logistically, the convalescence presented challenges. I've been vegan+ for over 4 years now, and I've only "planned" by the seat of my pants -- buying whatever looks freshest and building menus around that. My husband is a wonderful caretaker, and a terrific grill chef, and I knew he would be great at whatever I teach him, but I NEED dark leafy greens every day, and I was worried about how that was going to happen.

Prior to the surgery, This is how I set things up. That's two bunches of kale, washed and shredded, and I also washed another bunch and bagged it with a couple of paper towels so it could remain fresh and be shredded later, when needed. Whatever soup or pasta was prepared for me, I requested a big handful of fresh kale to be stirred in. So far so good. Eziekiel bread sandwiches and baked potatoes, both with more kale,  rounded out any gaps in my menu.

It's so easy to be vegan when perusing produce and specialty shops in person -- inspiration abounds. It's amazing how much we take for granted. Planning from my cushy bed is an exercise in thinking differently, akin to camping, in a way, albeit cushier.

The tulip is one of many sent to me by my Dad. I'd have shown you the whole bouquet, but I've got my whole pharmacy up here on my dresser, complete with syringes and sharps containers, pills for pain, swelling and sleep, as well as homeopathic remedies. It's quite a clutter. The tulips brighten the whole mess for me, but you don't need to see all that!