Sunday, January 31, 2010

miso dressed up

I tried really hard not to do something goofy with the title, but my father's nature won out over my desire not to be so cheesy - oh dear, "be so" rhymes with "miso." I'm done for.

Anyway, tonight I made Pan-Crisped Tofu with Greens and Peanut Dressing. To say it was a different kind of dinner would be an understatement. It was good, don't get me wrong, but I think it would be better suited as a creative first course for a dinner party. The tofu was a little tough to fork-knife your way through, but the presentation probably would not be as dramatic if I had cubed it first. It probably also would not have been as easy to cook and flip if I had to turn over dozens of little squares, rather than 8 rectangles.
Very attractive plating, don't you think? I'm inclined to think mine is actually more enticing than the recipe picture. I used a serious mix of lettuces - I can't even remember everything, but there are beet greens and mustard greens, arugula, baby spinach, radicchio, frisee, red and green romaine, mizuna and a few other things.

The dressing was fascinating to say the least, and the kind of thing where your tastebuds need to do a double-take. It definitely took a few bites to get used to the intensity of the flavors and I'm pretty sure it wasn 't supposed to be quite like that. The dressing was made up of equal parts of mirin, rice vinegar, and white miso, as well as some minced ginger (thanks again, WF, for that handy little jar) and chopped peanuts. As you can probably tell from the picture, though, I didn't bother diversifying my miso collection and just used my terrifying brown miso. I think it would have made a substantial difference in the dressing's flavor as well as its intensity if I had used the correct miso, so next time, I'll make that investment.

Considering "dinner" was just raw mixed greens, tofu, and some funky dressing, I felt like we needed a starch of some kind. Maybe I'm Donna Reed in disguise (a very, very good one), but I felt like we needed that to balance out the meal. I decided that roasted potatoes would fit the bill, but I thought it kind of broke with the fun Asian theme, so I "spiced" things up a bit by tossing the potatoes with about a teaspoon of Five Spice Powder and a generous sprinkling of sea salt. I think it really added something, particularly an amazing scent (now that I'm starting to get at least half of my smellbuds back). Also, the sweet blandness of the squishy centers was a good complement to the dressing, of which I sopped up the last traces with the potatoes.
Mister loves roasted potatoes.
The whole package!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

get down with the sickness

Two good things came out of my Sickness Spree last week. Since I got to recycle the large part of my menu, I only had to add two meals and buy only two meals worth of groceries. Continuing with the happy thrifty vibe, I got to creatively use the last bit of rice left over from when we got Chinese food on Sunday to make last night's dinner much more quickly (and conveniently).

Last night, I made one of the "bonus" dinners added to the menu on Thursday: Vegetable and Sausage Skillet. I know I have made this before, but I can't remember if I had anything to say about it or anywhere to say it at that time.
I substituted Tofurky Kielbasa for the sausage called for in the recipe and left out the jalapeno peppers altogether. I think tonight may be the night for the Traumatic Jalapeno Tale, since neither of my dinner stories are that interesting. Before I do that, though, let me also say that instead of testing my rice-cooking abilities again, I just dumped what remained of the carton of rice in our fridge into the skillet and added about 1/4 cup more water than the recipe suggests. It's a good easy meal and it's tasty, though Mister and I both felt the need to add just a little salt at the table - I think that could be eliminated by adding broth or stock instead of water. It is substantial enough to satisfy without accompaniment, which was a good Friday night dinner, since I didn't feel like doing anything extra after looking for parking for 30 minutes. My next home will have a garage.

So then, let's put on our Flashback Hats and travel back in time to my friend's kitchen, circa 1994ish (give or take a year). She and I were total Spanish geeks - we had taken several years of Spanish, to the point of being in a completely Spanish-language class. By this point, we had more or less mastered the finer points of grammar and sentence structure, so the teacher of our small class was focusing on arts and culture - we watched movies in Spanish, read books in Spanish, listened to music in Spanish - you get the idea. We were preparing for a party in class and my friend and I were making some kind of authentic Mexican dish with the help of her older brother who had just returned from spending two years in the mission field with the Mexicans who taught him this recipe. We assembled everything under his watchful eye, then baked it, and once it was out of the oven, we wanted to taste it before presenting it to our class. With a sparkle in his eyes and a surprise in his loosely closed hand, he said we needed to be initiated first.

He opened his hand to reveal two relatively small slices of jalapeno and indicated that we had to eat them. We each selected one, shrugged at each other, mindless of his mischievous smile, and popped them in our mouths, chewed, and swallowed.

Then, our mouths simultaneously caught fire and we struggled against one another to get water from the sink. Recovering from his laughter in time to prevent us from making it worse, her brother explained that water would spread the heat around our mouths and make it worse. He told us to stick out our tongues, upon which he sprinkled salt before stuffing a wedge of tomato into each of our mouths. That eased the flaming pain for about 5 seconds before our eyes were watering and we were spitting out the tomatoes, shaking our heads. At this point, I think her brother was starting to panic a little, too, and he quickly poured us each a glass of milk. As long as we were sipping on the milk, we were okay, but the minute we finished the milk, our mouths caught fire all over again - it was truly amazing. We ended up splitting what was left (quite a bit, actually) of a half gallon of French Vanilla ice cream. That quelled it to a slight discomfort, but I tell you truly - three hours after I swallowed that little bitty slice of evil, my mouth was still burning.

So, now you know what I have against jalapenos.

Tonight, I was happily plotting our spring mini-vacation to Arizona when Mister turned from his computer and asked me if I was hungry. I feel like I'm always hungry, so that was a funny moment. I asked him if he wanted me to make dinner (probably about two hours 'early') and he said yes. I was pleased beyond words with this interaction: although I was actually doing something and had to interrupt it to start dinner early, the evidence of a lesson learned was infinitely more satisfying than planning a trip three months away. Normally, when Mister realizes he is hungry, he doesn't bother looking at the time to gauge how soon dinner might happen - he just goes to the fridge and makes himself a sandwich (if I'm lucky) or munches on some junkfood (Doritos, potato chips) that magically appears from some black hole near his computer. This drives me insane because most of the time, I was about a minute away from starting dinner. Regardless of whether he spoils his appetite, it just gets on my nerves. So I was very happy to interrupt my attempts to get the best possible prices on airfare and hotels to make dinner early.
I've made the Garlicky Spaghetti with Beans and Greens before, but I don't know if I bothered with/remembered the squeeze of lemon juice - it was very pronounced tonight. Not in a face-puckering, lemony kind of way, but rather in a complementing-all-the-other-tastes kind of way that really accentuated the tomatoes and garlic, as well as adding just a little more bite to the it needs any help. Mister was pleased with this offering and was too busy wolfing it down to speak for the first, well, the first bowl.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

I like my coffee like I like my attitude...bold and dark

I'm still trying to get used to this "new" schedule I'm working...Thursday is such a strange day to be off from work and it's the only day that I am 100% work-free. I am off from my pay-the-bills job on Saturday as well (which makes going in on Friday seem ten times more pointless), but I teach for a few hours, so it's still at least half a work day.

I took my time waking up and then a little more time to get out of bed, but eventually, my belly began protesting "seriously, woman? there is an emptiness that can only be filled with waffles and coffee." So, I dragged myself all five steps to the kitchen and methodically used as little energy as possible to pop two frozen waffles in the toaster oven while the coffee brewed. Hold that image in your head for a moment while I ramble about the quality of coffee and how you can taste the difference between good and bad coffee even when you can't taste anything else.

Last week, I found myself staring down a wall of organic coffee at Whole Foods, primarily because I didn't want to deal with the garbage at Superfresh anymore...I don't know when it happened, but my tastebuds seem to be constantly evolving. Once upon a time, I could not stand coffee and I could not understand how my friends could drink cup after cup of that sludge. Then, one day, as I watched a friend prepare her coffee, it looked enticing for no good reason. I asked if I could have a sip, and that was the day I suddenly liked coffee. Seriously - it was like a light switch. Same thing happened with ketchup, and I'm waiting on pickles and beer, but I'm not there yet. Anyway - back to coffee.

For years, I have been perfectly content to drink Maxwell House Colombian coffee, and occasionally splurge on Eight O'Clock Bean or Starbucks; Godiva or Gloria Jeans if we're feeling really saucy. Mister and I simultaneously discovered that we hate French Roast, so we try to stick with Colombian or Hazelnut (by the way, EOB has the best hazelnut out there, seriously). When I was at WF, I selected from this Wall of Coffee the relatively nondescriptly named Vail Blend. My favorite Starbucks coffee is Cafe Verona, because it is dark, intense, a little bitter, but tempered with a very subtle chocolatey taste. This little "sleeper" coffee could be its twin, so I was in love from the first brewing.

After we ran out, Mister replaced it with Maxwell House Master Blend. I don't know what that means, but I know I was about halfway to work when I took a sip from my travel mug and upon swallowing, grimaced and said out loud (to my purse?), "Wow, that is some awful coffee."

I needed to grab some things at WF today anyway, so you can imagine a new bag of bold bitterness found its way into my basket. The point is, the last pot-worth of the old bag was tucked away on the top shelf and this morning I drank coffee that didn't suck.

Tonight, I finally made the Aloo Chana Soup from The Garden of Vegan. It was even better than I thought it would be! When I was in the Really Weird Stuff aisle today, a convenient little gem was tucked between pickled sushi ginger and something that wasn't even in English - a jar of pre-minced ginger. I thought it might come in handy, and it did - tonight! One of the preserving agents was evaporated cane juice, though, so I think it added more sweetness to the tomatoes and therefore, the soup, than would have been present otherwise. After being sick for a week, though, there was no part of me patient enough to peel and finely mince fresh ginger, so it worked out just fine.

The primary reason I made the soup tonight, despite the fact that tomorrow's highest temperature isn't supposed to hit the freezing mark, was that I was making a side dish. Look how fancy I am. I was all about the convenience foods when I went shopping today - being sick makes me slightly less ambitious. I got some pre-cut cauliflower and knew I needed to use it immediately. Plus, I was super excited to make a "recipe" I found right after I got too sick to cook. I found it on one of the blogs you can link to on the right side of the page - Your Vegan Mom. It's a super simple way of roasting cauliflower and making it as incredibly addicting as she writes in her blog - check it out.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

the Fail is strong with this one

Now comes the self-berating, naughty-blogger, why-does-anyone-bother-reading-this-crap post. I feel like being sicker than I've been in over a year probably warrants a five-day absence from the blogosphere, but that doesn't mean I like it. My husband held a career for the first several years of our life together that required him to stay in front of people's eyes and minds - to be absent too long meant to risk being forgotten, which would result in failure. I'm no rockstar, but I know my own tendencies and when I notice a blogger start to post less and less and updates come less and less frequently, I am less interested in that blog than I once was. I don't want to lose the 6 people who do bother reading my mumbo-jumbo, so I'm just a little mad at myself for going so long without posting something.

Great - now that we've gotten that out of the way, I can move forward with the fun part of this post.

As I might have mentioned, I've been kind of sick. Nothing serious, just The Plague. People at work (aka, the Carriers of Disease) are absolutely boggled when they learn that I am not completely doped up with OTC drugs, cough suppressants, vitamins and other various supplements. Our culture has become so focused on quick fixes and distracting ourselves from reality that it doesn't seem to occur to anyone that it is actually possible to get all of the vitamins and nourishment your body needs to heal itself through our food. I realize you probably weren't expecting that, so I'll give you a moment to grab the dust pan and collect the tinier bits of bone and gray matter that may be littering the floor right now.

You all back together?

Good. Let's keep going before I lose my momentum.

So, when you live on a diet of Dunkin' Donuts for breakfast, something from the Cafe of Death or a vending machine for a snack before you run to Burger King or Wendy's for your lunch, and God only knows what happens after you get that soda and bag of Doritos from the vending machine before you leave for the night, I guess it could be hard to figure out how to help your body recover from a bout with germs. I guess that's why there is more hand sanitizer at my office than there is whiskey at an Irish pub. [Funny side note: two of my colleagues cannot be dissuaded from the opinion that the hand sanitizer we stock smells like margaritas. I couldn't disagree more, but I'm not a tequila-hound.]

After completely astonishing one of my team members today by explaining that I wasn't taking medicine, sucking on an endless supply of lozenges, drowning myself in vitamins, or any of the other things that she thought were normal and I found utterly repellent, we came to the "staring contest" part of the conversation. At this point I took it upon myself to explain that if you are vigilant about the things you use to fuel your body and actually make the effort to eat clean, less-processed, nutrient-rich food, you can actually take care of yourself and anything that ails you....naturally. She stared at me, presumably looking for the second head about to sprout from my neck, and I proceeded to explain to her that the only actions I was taking to banish The Plague related to eating foods that were even more nourishing and dense in the vitamins and other nutrients your body needs to rebuild itself at times like these. I thought if I said "dark, leafy greens," her head might explode, so I walked away.

Before I allowed myself to wallow completely in my germs and misery, I made one of my dinners - what I considered to be the "most healthful" of the menu, not to mention the most comforting. I started the week (Thursday) by making the Tofurky and Kale Minestra.
If that doesn't scream healthy, I don't know what would.

I served it up with a big bowl of fruit salad (admittedly from the precut bowls at Superfresh - sue me, I was already feeling like crud). I can't think of a way to pack more things my body needs into one meal: we had kale, a hearty bit of protein from the Tofurky slices, honeydew, cantelope, strawberries, and blueberries, just to name the power players! The fruit was perfectly ripe and sweet and I had been craving the melon, which is slightly unusual - I'm not normally a melon gal, but recently I have been. Maybe it's especially good this season?

The soup actually lasted me about three days, since we each only had one (big) bowl on Thursday. When I say me, I assume Mister didn't have more because he either wanted me to have it all or because he thought I had contaminated it with my germs (probably), but I'm glad I had it all. It was just like chicken noodle soup, except without the chicken or the noodles. Seriously, though, if there was a perfectly vegan alternative to chicken noodle soup, this is it - the Tofurky ended up with the right taste and texture and there was something noodle-y in the slurpiness of the kale ribbons. I am in love with this soup.

Also, I am in love with the sensory effects of hot, savory soup with cold, sweet fruit. Absolutely perfect combination.

I was out of work Thursday though Sunday and finally forced myself back on Monday for no other reason than that it was Monday and I felt obligated to be there. I felt like death, but I made it through the day to everyone's surprise. I had intended to make dinner when I got home, but Mister thought I should sleep, so I did that instead - I was exhausted! So, another reason for my recent silence is that I didn't have any fun food stories (and didn't spend a lot of time upright). I finally got to make dinner again on Tuesday night, so I made Braised Broccoli Rabe with Orecchiette.
Actually, that's Rotini. The strangest thing about the recipe was that despite the title, it did not call for orecchiette pasta, not even shells! So, I figured rotini was more fun than penne, and there you have it.

Cooking the pasta in broth didn't actually do a whole lot for its flavor, but braising the broccoli rabe with the pasta in the broth did amazing things to reduce the acute bitterness associated with this nourishing green. A review of the recipe that I read commented that there was too much broth, and I thought 5 cups sounded a bit much, so I kept it to an even quart. I think it worked out just right, though the pasta was definitely swimming in a pretty little puddle of it.

Tonight was No-Cook Wednesday, so I had a kimchee-like cabbage salad and a piece of peanut butter toast. Unexciting and not the most nourishing thing I've had all week, but it beats McDonald's.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Attack of the Killer Salads

Funny story: remember my last post, where I raved about the "killer" salad I got from the salad bar at work? Turns out I was actually telling a piece of the future. Obviously, it didn't really kill me, since I'm posting this, but it sure is trying.

A little back-story: I have long had a hateful relationship with the food service at work. That's a horrible thing to say, since I am fortunate to have a cafeteria in my workplace. At the risk of sounding ungrateful, though, this place is the reason cafeteria stories exist. In the time we have been in the building (about two and a half years), we have gone through two food service companies in this cafeteria. They shall remain nameless not to protect them, but rather to prevent the unintentional loss of my employment by someone coming upon my blog and finding my comments termination-worthy. I will say, however, that our present providers, though the "value brand" of the two, are actually much better than the "name brand" guys we had at first.

The food isn't great, but it's not bad, either - what little of it I've eaten. I generally avoid eating the food they prepare because I have witnessed what I perceive to be less than sanitary behavior. Little things, like taking money with your food prep gloves still on your hands or wearing your apron to the bathroom, but they don't give me a lot of confidence about the behind-the-scenes situation. However, they were behind the preparation of the food that management delivered to us daily for three weeks, and I didn't suffer any ill effects, so I became bold when I found the Salad Bar That Didn't Suck in the earlier part of this week.

What follows can only be described as a Complete Lack of Common Sense. Having become convinced that the less-than-sanitary practices of the kitchen staff were not going to kill me, I forgot about the purest nature of a salad bar. It's like a buffet - the only contact the staff has with it is refilling empty containers. Most of the human contamination comes from my colleagues - all of whom seem to have contracted some kind of deadly illness over the first month of winter. So, now I'm all snuffly and achy. No more killer salads for me - that was so stupid.

While growing progressively more sniffly and starting to admit that I might actually be sick (the last time I was sick was 14 months ago), and in between sips of Yellowtail Shiraz-Grenache (which has a gorgeous color, by the way, and probably tastes really good, but I was already starting to lose my tastebuds' acuity), I was able to construct the new menu. I have a folder full of recipes I clipped from a building collection of cooking magazines and when I do things like that, I have a tendency to forget them...kind of like I did when the magazines I had saved for the recipes were sitting in a neglected pile in the bedroom. So, this week's menu is constructed from those recipes - I'll do my best to trace the source.

1. Tofurky and Kale Minestra - actually, the recipe is for Bacon and Kale Minestra, but I was approaching the magazines with a creative mind and when I saw how delicious the picture of this soup looked, I thought that I had to find a way to make it work. I decided to substitute Hickory Smoked Tofurky because I knew better than to try tempeh bacon.

2. Braised Broccoli Rabe with Orecchiette - the cooking instructions intrigued me - aside from orzo, I've never cooked pasta in broth before, so I think this is going to be fascinating.

3. Seitan and Cabbage Stirfry with Peanut Sauce - I have made this before and I was absolutely thrilled with how it came out. The original recipe calls for beef, but I am going to use seitan. Unfortunately, I could not find the right cabbage at Whole Foods or Superfresh, so this probably won't happen until later in the week, when I'm feeling well enough to try again.

4. Pan-Crisped Tofu with Greens and Peanut Dressing - I don't know how this is going to work out, which is kind of why I chose it...I might have been feeling woozy from the combination of getting sick and drinking wine, but I was feeling adventurous.

5. Garlicky Spaghetti with Beans and Greens - I have made this before as well, but it just looks so irresistibly good in the picture. Also, I'm on a greens kick. Did you notice?

6. Aloo Channa Soup from The Garden of Vegan. I never ended up making this from last week's menu.

I need a nap. More later.

Monday, January 18, 2010

because I said so

I don't think my mother ever tried that line on me, which is surprising, because I'm pretty sure I always wanted to know WHY I wasn't supposed to do something or was supposed to do something. Granted, I think she tried really hard to explain it to me because somewhere along the long line of my adolescence, we both realized that I would respect her and her rules more if I understood why she felt the need to repress me at every turn.

Why can't I go to a dance club?
Because 14 year olds have no place at a dance club.
But it's meant for teenagers - it's all-ages.
That means there will be people there who are older than you.

Fast forward 5 short years to when I was 19 and there wasn't a darn thing she could do to prevent me from going dancing with my friend. I remember seeing some 14 year old girls at this all-ages club and thinking to myself "Oh my gosh, they have no place here! My mother was right!" Talk about a stunning discovery.

There were a lot of similar discoveries. Enough of them that my sister told me once that telling me about her misadventures was only a step away from telling our mom because I reacted the same way she would. That led to a completely useless attempt to explain to her that it was only because Mom was actually right about it. I'm not entirely sure she ever believed me...not that she pretended to.

So speed through a decade or more and we get to today's events at work, which led to my reminiscent ponderings. I am at least somewhat convinced that the reason I haven't been fired yet, and have actually been promoted a few times, is because when someone in a position of authority over me says "do this," or "don't do that," I obey. Why? Because someone with the power to tell me what to do told me what to do and I figure (silly me) that they have that power for a reason. Apparently, I'm not of the same mind as at least one of my team members.

I say to him "don't do this." He says "Why not?" I explain it to him - multiple times with different wording each time, hoping to penetrate his rock-hard skull, but no dice. I say, "Regardless of this entire conversation, do not do that again. It will get you fired." In my mind, if I were him, that would end the conversation. Nope, not with him. It's exhausting - no wonder I don't have children! Whatever - here's your shovel, holler when you hit the bottom.

Speaking of shovels, yesterday was an icky cold and rainy day, which made it the perfect night to have one of my two soup dinners. I made the Tortilla Chip Soup, but I set a bowl full of tortilla chips in the middle of the table for dipping and scooping, rather than following the recipe instructions. Well, perhaps I'm arguing with my own point, but I know my Mister and if I put a few tortilla chips in a bowl and then covered those chips with soup, resulting in soggy tortilla chips, it would be a sad dinner indeed. So this isn't about insubordination, it's more an effort to adapt the Why.

Why are there tortilla chips at the bottom of the bowl? Probably because the name of the soup is Tortilla Chip Soup and the chips are playing the part of the "crouton" in French Onion Soup. Point taken, but that doesn't change how much Mister would hate to find several soggy sad tortilla chips at the bottom of his soup bowl.
It was really a lot better than I thought it would be, and I was pretty sure it would be great. Halfway through simmering time, I tasted the broth and determined it needed just a little more something. That something (I guessed correctly) was a splash of white wine vinegar. It enhanced the kosher salt I had sprinkled in earlier while embracing the acidity of the tomatoes. It was delicious without the tortilla chips, but I've really grown to love scooping up my dinner with a nice salty [multi-grain] tortilla chip.

Tonight, we had Punjabi Peppers and Tofu. To my great delight, the hearty sprinkling of cumin and accidental dumping of (probably a teaspoon of) coriander balanced out the cardamom so prevalent in my Whole Pantry Garam Masala. I tried really hard to replace it with the McCormick Gourmet Garam Masala but I couldn't find it anywhere. When I do, I'm buying all of them.
Also, I needed three peppers when I headed to Whole Foods last week - one orange, one red, and one green. However, peppers are not exactly in season and I couldn't tolerate the knowledge that if I actually hand-picked those three peppers, I would probably end up paying a little more than $2 apiece for them, so I grabbed one of those tricolored pepper bags where they just give you three peppers. So, the point of this ridiculous story is that if you look at my previous post on this dinner, you'll see red and green peppers, but tonight I made it with a yellow pepper in place of the green. I'm sure that revelation just rocked your world.

In other news, to my great surprise, I had a killer salad from the salad bar at work today. Normally, it's just some sorry looking lettuce (iceberg, of course - nothing but the best), cucumbers if you're lucky, and some indistinguishable mush that's probably supposed to be either tuna or chicken salad, as well as some drying out shredded cheese. Mmmm....heaven in an aluminum buffet. Today, though, I made a happy little plate with mixed greens, baby spinach, broccoli florets, chopped black olives, mandarin oranges, and sunflower seeds. For me, the mark of a good (well-constructed) salad is that it doesn't require dressing. That is why I am completely in love with Wawa's new Build-a-Salad option (thanks for the gift cards, Dad!) and I am pleased as punch to tell you that my pre-lunch salad did not require dressing. Which is good, because I fear those big carafes of goo.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Livin' La Dolce Vegan

Let me tell you a story - the story of how it all vegan. A long time ago, in the Garden of Vegan, a young woman named Sarah became well acquainted with fruits and vegetables, as well as fuzzy little companions (and tattoos - lots of tattoos). She evaluated her relationship with food and decided to live la dolce vegan, and fortunately for you and me, she decided to share some of her favorite recipes from the journey.

The thing I love about Sarah Kramer (and BFF Tanya Barnard) is that each book in their cookbook trilogy tells the tale of a different part of her journey. In HIAV, she is learning who she is as a vegan and how to live in a world that isn't always friendly to such peculiar dietary choices. In addition to some great soup recipes and completely bizarre entrees, primarily borrowed from others who are aiding her in the transition, there is a section on vegan DIY and do's and don'ts. There's even a glossary! In The Garden of Vegan, she and Tanya get a little more adventurous, including entertainment ideas and hygiene tips. Sarah authored La Dolce Vegan all by herself, and she focuses a lot on meals that are appropriately portioned for herself and her husband to share, as well as more comfort food and fast-n-easy recipes. Because of that, La Dolce Vegan is definitely my favorite of the three.

Last night's dinner was Peanut Butter Pasta from The Garden of Vegan. It came together extremely quickly - I would say no more than 15 minutes once the pasta water boils. The sauce was outstanding. I chose this recipe specifically because she mentions in the introduction how revolting she thought it would be and how pleasantly surprised she was to find it [more than] edible. I figured it would fill my "weird" quota and help me use up some of the vegan worcestershire sauce I bought last week for some other recipe.
It didn't take very good pictures - this was the best one and it sucks, but trust me - it tasted great!

Tonight, I made Veggie Goulash from La Dolce Vegan. Every time I make this, I say "I forgot how good this is!" I swear - the name makes it sound less appealing than it is, despite the very humorous introduction, remarking on fun synonyms for goulash (hodge-podge) and how they make Sarah laugh. Anyway, this one took much better pictures and made me use up all of my Hungarian paprika, so it looks like I'll have to make a trip to the Spice Corner again. I know, they'll have to drag me by my hair, kicking and screaming all the way.
I was struck by the pretty still-life I accidentally created on my cutting board while assembling the vegetables to be scrubbed, so I wanted to share. By the way, regardless of how ripe that tomato looks, I'm going back to my mantra of "no fresh tomatoes in winter."
Also, I have gotten spoiled by the delightful scents of Basmati and Jasmine rice. Brown rice smells just awful, doesn't it?

Update on Mister's piggy, if anyone is interested: it doesn't seem to be broken after all, but he can't stand on it and Angst might lose one of his lives if he gets too close to kissing it. Mister will be home from work for a few days, so hopefully the swelling will go down and the bruise will stop being so painful for him - love, prayers, and general good thoughts are always welcome.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

bringing gratitude back

It occurred to me at some point today that if I didn't start finding the day's blessings, I would let this be a complete Birthday Fail. I could go into a diatribe about all the things about today that sucked, but I think I'll be in a better humor about how everything came out if I start with a list of things for which I'm thankful:

I'm grateful that I opened my eyes on another birthday. No, I won't tell you which one - a lady never reveals her age, and I am old enough to say that.

I'm grateful for the many messages of love, well wishing, and kindness that I received from people I'm fortunate to have in my life.

I'm grateful that I don't have a physical birthday gift because my husband has something so specific in mind that he can apparently (by his own admission) only find it in cyberspace.

I'm grateful I didn't have to work on my birthday for the first time since I started working for a weight loss company - January is kind of an important month, in case I haven't let on.

I'm grateful that the woman who sold me my Beaujolais this evening asked to see my ID. She also wished me a happy birthday and many more.

I'm grateful that my day was more or less redeemed by a husband who loves me enough to limp two and a half blocks to my favorite restaurant and then hobble home after a delightful five-course tasting menu...on what is probably a newly broken foot.

Along those lines, I'm also grateful that my husband is stubborn enough about injuries that he didn't want to spend my birthday in the hospital...although it didn't become evident that his toe is probably broken until after dinner anyway.

I am grateful that being off today gave me the opportunity to sleep in for the first time in a month.

So, despite the fact that I kind of hate grocery shopping and I can think of at least a dozen better ways to spend my day off and my birthday, it feels good to have that out of the way and know that the ingredients for the coming "week" of dinners are all collected in the cupboard, fridge, and freezer. This week's menu is completely inspired by the woman who taught me my first lessons in vegan cooking: Sarah Kramer.

1. Tortilla Chip Soup from La Dolce Vegan. I've mentioned before that this is absolutely my favorite book out of the three she's written. The portions are perfect for our little family of two humans and a curious cat and most of the ingredients are "normal." That's kind of a rude way to say it, but she's Canadian and they have all kinds of wacky condiments up there, apparently. Anyway, this looked like a fun way to use up the leftover tortilla chips.

2. Veggie Goulash also from La Dolce Vegan. This is an easy and fun recipe - the combination of flavors and textures is bizarre enough to be interesting but safe enough to be edible.

3. Punjabi Peppers and Tofu also from La Dolce Vegan. I don't think I have ever done a series of recipes from this book that did not include this one. It's easy, it's fast (important in January), there are never leftovers, and it's just so darn good!

4. Aloo Chana Soup from The Garden of Vegan. I tried really hard not to have more than one soup on the menu, but this just looked like too much fun to pass up. I'm trying to figure out how I have passed it by before! Aloo = potatoes and Chana = chickpeas and the tastes I can imagine from this Indian-inspired soup are just lovely.

5. Peanut Butter Pasta also from The Garden of Vegan. I was going back and forth between this and another pasta recipe involving spinach and miso...I'm still thinking I may have to include that one in the next "week's" menu, but I didn't feel like dealing with the heat of raw garlic when I was making my menu, so it fell into second place.

For anyone in the Philadelphia area, let me really plug for Horizons. If you've never eaten here, now is the time - the five-course early winter tasting menu is amazing. Here is a brief, and hopefully tempting, review:

We started with Salt Roasted Golden Beets with fresh avocados topped with micro-greens and a ball of smoked eggplant topped with seaweed caviar. The eggplant was amazing - perfectly smoky. The second course was a Cauliflower Soup, with a crispy seared cauliflower lying on a bed of pureed cauliflower, surrounded by a consomme. The presentation at this place is also just to die for, as though the food being awe-inspiring isn't enough. Our third plate was Pan Seared Peppercorn Tofu, which Mister and I have both wanted to try for a while and kept going back and forth on it. Mister compared the tofu to a very tender tuna steak and I found the chunks of coarse salt mixed with the pepper to be absolutely charming. On top of the tofu was a crepe filled with mushrooms, which resulted in some less than dignified faces made by the Mister. After he finished sputtering and grimacing, he expressed his disbelief that anyone would eat fungus on purpose and removed the offending crepe from his tofu. Fortunately, the tofu was resting on a bed of perfectly sauteed spinach and smothered in a tasty sauce (actually, it was delicately drizzled). I tried a bite of my crepe, just to see what Mister was fussing about and it wasn't great but it wasn't nearly as revolting as my husband made it seem. Fourth course included our well-loved Grilled Seitan on Yukon Mash with some kind of mustard-based sauce. Finally, they brought out a three-dessert sampler plate...I love dessert, so this was the best possible way to end my birthday meal. Mister disagreed because he felt there should be candles involved and the waitress agreed with him, so she presented me with the tealight illuminating our little table-for-two and wished me a happy birthday no fewer than three times.

So, having counted my blessing and recounted my dinner, I'm off to count sheep. I'll bet I get all the way to....zzzz.....

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I put the D in Delirious

Before I begin, let me make one thing perfectly clear: If you are expecting this post to be coherent, you are being completely unrealistic.

Since December 26th, I have clocked 131 hours at work. In case you weren't counting, it has been only two and a half weeks since that date. My brain hurts, my shoulders grow new knots the minute immediately after Mister stops kneading them, and my left eye has been twitching at random points throughout the day. To say I'm stressed out and running on adrenaline might begin to cover it, but we've been through this before.

The point is, I'm exhausted and I don't expect to make much sense, but I really want to share about dinner tonight. I think I would like to share about last night's dinner, too, but I can't remember what it was.

Tonight I made Chili sin Carne al Mole from VwaV. I am very proud of myself for remembering to get tortilla chips on my way home so I wasn't halfway through the simmering process before Mister had a mild heart attack and explained to me for the umpteenth time the crucial role these chips play in chili consumption before bundling up and running through the Philly cold snap to get said chips. Didn't happen - I got them first.
There were several things of note about this chili:

1. Whole Foods did not have my now-beloved Ray's Seitan, so I got Michael's Savory Seitan instead. Once again, locally produced and terrifying looking in its little tub. Remembering how well Ray's worked out, though, I ignored how gross it looked. It was okay, but not as flavorful as Ray's or White Wave.

2. Cocoa powder does not dissolve completely, leaving a slightly gritty texture to the mole sauce. That was actually profoundly disappointing, because I had imagined it melding with the other ingredients to create a luscious, thick, velvety sauce that just hinted at a chocolate flavor. That is not what happened. It was thick and had notes of cocoa and cinnamon, but it was definitely a little chalky.

3. Chili is a slow-cooked meal for a reason. Don't taste the mole sauce until it's had at least 15 minutes of quality simmering time. So gross. I seriously didn't know if I was going to be able to eat dinner. It definitely improved over the next 25ish minutes, but I would not have been able to eat it without the aid of those helpful little multi-grain Tostitos.

Speaking of which, how devious is it that Tostitos is really trying to convince people that tortilla chips can be healthy? Popcorn is also a whole grain, but that doesn't matter when you slather it with carcinogenic "butter flavor" made of God only knows what. So, somehow I think the excessive amount of salt and what is probably an inevitable frying process probably strip these multi-grain tortilla chips of any nutritional value. It did make me feel better about buying them, though...I'm such a sucker.

And that leads to another tangent (did you read the title and disclaimer??): once again, I fell prey to the strategically placed items at the checkout of Whole Foods and added a travel size hand lotion to my purchases the other day.

I haven't used it yet, but I got to thinking the other day about whether or not vegan hand lotion existed and if it was any good. This is vegan as far as I can tell, so the next part is to use it and let you know how that works out - I have some seriously dry hands and work in a seriously dry office.

I think I'm going to call it a night. My eyes are starting to cross.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

work makes my brain hurt

Eventually, I'll settle in. Sure, once I settle in and get used to how everything is, everything will change, but let's ignore that inevitability for now. It amazes me how some [granted, significant] changes at work can effect the rest of my life so completely and turn my world topsy-turvy. There were those two crazy weeks where I was working the second shift again, depriving me of the opportunity to unwind by making dinner and then spending time with my husband while eating it. Once I knew I would be back to "normal" I got all kinds of adventurous with my menu and had some thrilling stories to tell.

These past two days have not fit that pattern. I'm making myself post tonight just so I stay in the habit, but it's going to be a struggle finding something interesting to say about dinner. I don't even have pictures!

Last night we had Seitan Chow Fun and I must say, it did come out really well. I didn't remember the sauce being that flavorful, but it still wasn't quite note-worthy (which may be why I didn't remember it from last time). Tonight I made BBQ Pomegranate Tofu with Coconut Rice which is always a winner...unless the rice sucks. I don't know what went wrong. Sometimes, I really think Someone Upstairs is trying to tell me I shouldn't make rice, because of all the things to be bad at, I don't know how I mess up something this simple so frequently. I would like to blame tonight's rice debacle on two things that I can label as Not My Fault.

1. My delightful new Calphalon Contemporary 2.5 qt saucepan. I love it, but I'm not used to it yet, so I haven't figured out how to keep the flame under it for optimal rice-heating.

2. I used a different Jasmine rice tonight. Usually, I either use the WF store brand or Lundberg Farms Jasmine, but neither were available, so my choices were Basmati or a different brand of Jasmine. It had a cool-looking bag, so I thought it would do, but when I opened the bag, there was an obvious difference between this rice and the grains I usually cook.

So, there you go - not my fault.

In other news, I got to use my new zester to add little shavings of lime zest to the rice and that was fun. As always, I have exactly enough sauce and rice left for the other meal later this week.

Well, three weeks of 6-day work-weeks have taken their toll on my creativity - I've hit a wall. I can't have an entire post without pictures, though, so check out me exploring my affinity for vegetables way back in the day...
Mister and I agree that I have this toddler-Liv-Tyler thing going on here.
It's the eyes.
cucumbers are always exciting

nom, nom, nom
Funny thing is, I don't actually like raw tomatoes.

Friday, January 8, 2010

sweet? hot? no, I'm not talking about me

Heeding the advice from the Mel-Gibson-looking WF employee, I traveled alllll the way to The Spice Corner in the Italian Market yesterday on my way back to Whole Foods. There, on the top shelf, almost out of view was the prize I sought. Not just one, but at least a half dozen boxes containing tubes of harissa sat there, neglected, unpurchased. I hopped up and snagged my long-searched-for treasure, picked up a bag of chili powder and headed for the register. The checkout girl was unimpressed when I excitedly told her that they are the only source in all of Philadelphia for this oddball condiment. Granted, I think that's because she didn't have the slightest clue what it was. Regardless, I got me some harissa.

Yesterday, Mister and I made a joint effort to consume as many of the leftovers as gastronomically possible since my generous workplace has been stuffing my face for the past week and a half. I have to suffer through one more day of the Vice President hand-delivering my special veggie lunch before I can return to the usual bliss of bringing my leftover dinner to eat cold or at room temperature because I hate microwaves. I think I can make's been an awful struggle though.

If you don't know I'm kidding, we need to have a conversation about my humor.

Anyway, tonight, we finally had Warm Chickpea Ragout with Chard, Chickpeas, and Harissa. I have to admit, I was feeling more than a little intrepid as I gently squeezed the harissa into the Tablespoon measure, and I will also admit, I was not exactly generous in my portion. Like I mentioned when I shared my menu, I never trust people who say "Oh, it's not that spicy, it's just kind of hot." I'm Irish. Black Pepper is spicy.

Also, I'm not sure what happened, but I swear I bought the fire-roasted tomatoes this recipe uses, but I will be darned if I could find them tonight. I ended up stealing the whole [not fire-roasted] tomatoes intended for another supper, since I have to get Vegetable Broth anyway. Apparently, SuperFresh hates vegetable broth quarts because they are never in stock. Ever. So, when I find a quart of vegetable broth somewhere, I will also have to remember to pick up more whole tomatoes.

I know you're just reading this and are unaware that I just sat here staring at the screen for five minutes, but I feel the need to share that my momentary stupidity is the direct consequence of trying to figure out just exactly what is wrong with the elephants who live upstairs. Moving on...

I stirred, chopped, saute-ed, and simmered for probably a little less than a half an hour. It occurred to me towards the end of the cooking process that I should have prepared some kind of grain to lay this melange upon, but by then all I could think to make was couscous. Thematically, it definitely would have matched, but I just couldn't deal with it, so we ate our dinner carb-less.
That's very unlike us. I kept waiting for Mister to insist we needed bread and raid the fridge, but he didn't. Instead, he teased me about whether dinner was hot enough for me and made repeated comments about how much he liked it.
I liked it, too. To my incredible surprise and delight, the harissa really did add a "sweet heat" to the meal without making it overbearingly spicy. There were a few times towards the end when I found myself reaching for my water more frequently, but it was actually a thoroughly enjoyable meal. It was also one of the first times I have been able to recognize how the spiciness can bring out the other flavors in a dish. I will definitely make this again, which is fortunate, because that is one big-a$$ tube of harissa in my cupboard. (I didn't curse, Mom - those are dollar signs)

Oh! I also managed to convince Angst that the chard was spinach and he ate three pieces!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

welcome to MY weekend

It's one day long and that day is Wednesday. People with two weekend days off generally use one day to relax and the other to be productive, not necessarily in that order. Not me - I have to figure out how to relax and effectively use the daylight hours I'm not at work in the same day. On the agenda for tomorrow:

grocery shopping
renewing my drivers license
possible clothes shopping adventures, if there's time and I have the spirit (I loathe clothes shopping with the same intensity other women love it)

I would also like to play my piano, read some of the magazines that piled up over the past few months, and play on to keep my eyes on the prize.

Speaking of which - this has been a pretty good week so far. I'm gathering my team of sales reps and they seem to be responding well to me and my ridiculously optimistic cheerleading emails (on the hour, every hour). We doubled our performance metrics in two days and that makes me feel like I'm where I'm supposed to be, which is a happy feeling after all the time I spent second-guessing myself. I know this isn't going to be a rose-scented bubble bath, but things are shaping up and I feel like this is going to be a good thing. I'm also simply amazed to see how effective positive feedback and stupid motivational 3-sentence emails can be.

I tried to get harissa again on my way home from work and the closest I got was "Have you checked the Italian Market?" No. I will do that tomorrow, and hopefully, my lady at The Spice Corner will have this elusive North African condiment. So we had Garlic Tofu with Spinach over Pasta tonight. It was way better than I thought it would be, even with the store-brand marinara. It was kind of like vegan Spaghetti-n-Meatballs, but there was no mistaking those browned chunks as anything other than tofu. They tasted fine, but the texture left a little to be desired.
so does this picture, but it was the best one.

Anyway, I should probably share the menu before I start another glass of wine - I decided to start relaxing tonight so I could be more productive tomorrow. It works in my brain.

1. Chili sin Carne al Mole from Vegan with a Vengeance. Personally, I'm just impressed with myself for remembering that "sin" means "without" in Spanish. I am currently intrigued by Mole sauce chilis. The one I made this past week really did not have as pronounced a cocoa flavor as the recipe led me to believe, so I hope this one doesn't disappoint. Of course, it has about six times the amount of the other recipe, so I'm pretty sure I'll notice it this time.

2. BBQ Pomegranate Tofu with Coconut Rice also from VwaV. A serious hankering for this recipe was actually the impetus for starting my menu in VwaV.

3. Chickpea and Spinach Curry also from VwaV. I'll admit - this was actually more sheer laziness than an ardent desire to make this again. I had chosen my two cookbooks for this week and I was going to be goshdarned if I picked up a third. It is a very tasty recipe, though, and I get to squish whole tomatoes with my bare hands.

4. BBQ-Flavored White Beans with Sausage and Spinach
from Vegan Express. I think every menu I plan that contains #2 will also contain this recipe because it's a great way to use up the leftover sauce and rice. It's a really great way. Also, I mentioned previously, this is probably one of the fastest recipes I have and I'm counting on at least one day busy enough to need it.

5. Seitan Chow Fun also from Vegan Express and also due, more or less, to laziness. It's been a while since I've made this one, though, so it works out.

Cheers! (I'm practicing for an upcoming birthday...)

Monday, January 4, 2010

neither before nor after

On the ride home from work tonight, I spent some time thinking about which of the three dinners left on my menu I would make. I knew I really ought to make the Chickpea-Chard-Harissa dish since I don't know how much longer the chard will hang on, but unfortunately, none of the four stores I visited on my last day off had harissa in stock - in fact one of the smaller-but-fruitier stores didn't even know what I was talking about! I figure it's probably important to include that ingredient since it's part of the title, so I decided to refrain from making it until I can get my hands on some harissa.

I decided to make Potato and Cauliflower Curry (aka Aloo Gobi) because it's one of Mister's favorites and because I was just telling a new employee at work how I don't think I could live without curries. This was in the context of trying to prevent a new customer from getting lamb or curry spice in her order, since she was apparently severely allergic.

Anyway, I have never made this particular Aloo Gobi recipe because I think I might have at least half a dozen other recipes for it that work just fine. However, I was too lazy to cook from more than one book this week, so I decided to give this never-before-tried recipe a try. If I had read the recipe a little closer, I might have used my big, deep pot rather than overflowing my saute pan. By the way - I am definitely going to have to replace/augment the saute pan situation. Must have 5 quarts in a future life. It made a lot.

I really can't tell how I feel about the combination of fresh ginger and a tomato sauce/broth. On the one hand, it had the most fascinating aroma, but on the other hand, the antiseptic qualities of ginger really brought out the acidity of the tomatoes and not in a good way. Since I was a child, my way to make things taste better has been to add salt, but I don't think that would have helped. It wasn't bad - don't get me wrong - but I don't think I will make this particular recipe again, when I have so many other recipes that I adore. It looked nice, though:
It is so cold in Philadelphia. I think soup is inevitable on next week's menu.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

garlic as a weapon = self-OFfense?

I stabbed myself with a clove of garlic tonight. I almost want to look that up on Google and see if anyone else has ever managed to do that. When I say "stabbed" I mean that the point/tip of the outer shell-type-thing actually pierced my skin and stuck out the other side. I keep running my finger over the hole it cut out of my thumb because I can't believe I actually tore off a decent chunk of my own flesh with a clove of garlic. I mean, really - who does that??

Injuries aside, dinner was excellent, if I say so myself. Tonight I made Chili & Polenta Casserole, effectively combining one of my favorite things with one of Mister's favorite things. Angst even thought he would like to have his own bowl and I can't blame him - the scent was umami heaven. Even better was that it only had to bake for about 15 minutes. Still better than that is how pleased I am with myself for thinking to use my cast iron skillet so I could skip the step (and consequent additional things to wash later) of transferring the chili to a casserole dish to bake it.
I was pretty happy with the few deviations I took from the printed recipe. It had occurred to me when I was preparing the 1/4 cup of diced red pepper for last night's dinner that the remaining 2/3 of the pepper would make a charming addition to the chili, in place of the jalapeno. I have issues with jalapenos - if you're lucky, I'll share that embarrassing story someday. I also bought a 28 oz can of fire-roasted tomatoes instead of a 15 oz can...because I just really wasn't paying attention when I put my list together. Honestly, though, the 15 oz can would have been too little - it turned out "just right" the way I made it. I also omitted the shredded cheese in favor of a generous sprinkling of sea salt.
I like how this one kind of looks like an alien.
No, I didn't do it on purpose.

One final, completely unrelated story: When we went out to dinner with my husband's parents for Christmas Eve, his dad told us the story of taking our nephews (and their parents) to cut down a Christmas tree. They had never done this before because their father is horribly allergic to trees, apparently. For the same reason, the tree they cut down went home with my parents-in-law. The boys' other grandmother knew they were going to a tree farm, so when they returned home and she came to visit them, she asked where their Christmas tree was. They told her, "It's at Pappou's house!"

Fast forward to our Christmas Eve dinner at Lacroix: when we had finished our wonderful dining experience (I can't even call it a meal), we returned to the valet to get the car. While we were waiting, I snapped a picture of the gorgeous tree in the lobby. At dinner, we had discussed how Mister and I utterly failed to have a Christmas tree this year, due to lack of room, outlets, and creativity. So, taking my mother-in-law's suggestion, I want to show you my Christmas tree:
It's at the RittenHouse [Hotel].

Saturday, January 2, 2010


Here it goes: The obligatory New Years blog.
Disclaimer: We are boring and moderately antisocial - don't expect much.

Now, that being said, we are becoming more and more creative each year with ways to ring in the new year without being too boring but also without playing in the pouring rain with the few people who weren't afraid of melting. They say you learn something new everyday, so here is what I learned on New Years:

1. Pasta with Broccoli and Creamy Tomato Sauce is a great, easy meal for a night that's too cold and miserable for something as tropical as Black Bottom Tofu with Coconut Cashew Rice and and you're too tired to put in the effort required to make a heartier meal.

2. Some people really are crazy enough to run around in a rainstorm in nice clothes and high heels. The women probably had immaculately styled hair, too...before the wind blew it around into a rat's nest.

3. Verdi Raspberry Sparkletini tastes a lot like raspberry seltzer I drank out of pony bottles as a child and is therefore a terrific Midnight toast.

4. In the absence of an ugly, illuminated, red Swarovski Crystal ball, dropping a 17 lb grey tabby is an acceptable substitute. It also results in a much more amusing climax - compare:

A huge, multi-ton ball, suspended by heavy-duty cables, is "dropped" in a careful and measured fashion while a ginormous TV in Times Square counts down the seconds until the beginning of a new year (and new decade, which I think is infinitely more interesting) in brilliant colors while all the happy, cold, and drunk people (wearing top hats to increase brand awareness for Nivea) shout numbers in reverse order. When the ball comes to rest - gently - on the platform, confetti explodes, people hoot, hollar, scream, and smooch, and Auld Lang Syne plays nostalgically in the background.


Two loonies in comfy, warm clothes (all black, so at least we were formal, right?) stream the nonsense in Times Square through one of the computers, and as the numbers get closer to 10, they close in on the hitherto unsuspecting cat. Mister picks him up and holds him over his head at 10 and brings him down about 10 inches with each number down - not gently, but rather swinging merrily from side to side. As the numbers approach zero, the tubby tabby swings nearer to the floor and at the glorious moment that all the crazy people in the computer scream in one chaotic yet unified voice "ONE!" the cat is dropped that last 10 inches to the floor. Simultaneous with his feet hitting the floor, the first building-shaking BLAM!!! of the fireworks on Penns Landing sounds. The cat, of course, is convinced this is not a coincidence and is thoroughly traumatized. Mister and I can't even kiss correctly because we're both laughing so hard we're snorting. The cat runs into the bathroom and hides while the rest of the thunderous fireworks launch only a few [apparently tiny] blocks from our home.

I cannot think of a better way to ring in the new year. I think this may be my favorite.

Today, we celebrated [my big fat] Greek Orthodox Christmas with my husband's family, and although we were missing a lot of people, it was lovely to see those who were there. We watched old reel-to-reel movies from my father-in-law's childhood/adolescence and remarked on the family resemblance present through the generations. I finally got to see images of my husband's revered Pappou, and had to agree with the rest of the family that his namesake, my brother-in-law, greatly resembles him both in appearance and mannerisms. I impressed the matriarch of the family, Yiayia, with my ability to correctly pronounce the Greek names of the delightful desserts she made. We said "good-bye" and wished our cousin well as she prepares to study in Japan this semester and discussed my sister's African heart with the Aunts. I ate my fill of Spanakopita and Kala'ifi, as well as some orzo and roasted vegetables.

It was warm and happy and a little crowded in Yiayia's tiny house.
It was so windy and cold outside that I couldn't even see the way back to my car.

So now we're home, the heat is pumping, and we are preparing for a long winter's least until I have to get up and go to work again in the morning. February, hurry up!