Hello 2013, what ya got to say for yourself?

Well, here I am at the brink of 2013.  I gained 5 pounds over the Christmas Holiday after finally breaking through my personal goal of 199 lbs.  The reasons were the both the usual suspects (tasty food and beverages) but also a bit of a lung thing that kept my my running shoes still and no time clocked in the pool. Returned to working out yesterday and after 10 minutes on the elliptical on level 1 and 30 minutes of strength training got dizzy and nauseated so didn’t swim. Today was just patient care for exercise, tomorrow I will do a walk or swim and a wee bit more strength training. I got goals you see, big goals, at least for me. Here they are

Swim 52 kilometers (not at one time, for the year!)

Bike 104 miles (ditto)

Run 800 Kilometers (in 5k and maybe even 10k stretches)
and be able to pop out 50 pushups, 50 crunches and one real pull-up.

And yup, I will be running a couple races, doing one or more mini triaths and at least one maxi!

Now on to the more important stuff like what am I cooking,

Simple and Cheap with flavor that can’t be beat!

Black Eyed Peas, Vegan Style.

Sort, rinse and soak a pound of dried black eyed peas overnight, rinse again in the morning (this helps make them less “musical” if you catch my drift, LOL)

Poor the hydrated beans in your slow cooker and cover with water (about 4-6 cups), add a tsp of red salt (or kosher or sea), two small bay leaves, 2 tsp of dried oregano, and a 1/4 tsp ground pepper. Close the lid put it on low and get on with your day! In 4-6 hours serve up a delicious and nutritious bowl with cornbread, or for a special treat add collard greens or spinach the last half hour of cooking.

Its cheap and ooooh so good in the cooler months, and purported to bring good luck!

Eating some even as I write this.

Namaste friends

 

White flies (old post that I somehow sent to drafts…posting 12/5 written 11/21)

That is all I can say right now, “White Flies.” They have become the symbol for my November. If you don’t know what a whitefly is, this the the wiki brief  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whitefly.

They have devastated my garden. It is too late for lady bugs this year, so I lifted the leaves and really, really got in there with the soapy spray.  But it really is too late for this year, all I am doing is preventing an even fiercer battle next growing season.

Life has been that way as well. Everything looks great and green one day, and the next everything has changed and I feel as wilted as my zucchini plants.

But it is not how many time we fall down, or how many times we get a result we weren’t seeking, it’s how many times we try again.

I am buying marigolds and adding them into my half dozen that survived from seed.  Let’s see how this goes.

And on a better note, I met some other amazing nurses today at the hardware store who brightened my day, natures little lady bugs for the white flies attacking my soul.

 

L’ Shanah Tovah! L’shana tovah u’metukah! (and a vegan challah recipe included!)

Today is the beginning of the Hebrew holiday Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, a day of  judgement and forgiveness that leads up to Yom Kippur ten days later, the day of Atonement.

If you want to learn more about it, try this sight http://www.myjewishlearning.com/holidays/Jewish_Holidays/Rosh_Hashanah.shtml , if not then just accept the opinions I lay out here as fact and go from there, but ask yourself why not? If you did click the link, you really can just skip to the recipe because I will just be “preaching to the choir”, although if you are the type to click, you will probably read the rest anyway. LOL.

Why learn about other traditions?

At this critical crossroads of human history, I believe the key to change our world into a place with a viable future for humanity requires all of us to practice that kindergarten mantra: “Stop. Look, and listen.”

STOP. Pause for a few minutes a day in the all American pursuit of pleasure and mirrors of self. Halt all the clicking and tweeting and getting and consuming. Pause. Breathe long and slow. We are human “Be”ings not human “Do”ings.

LOOK! Now look around you. Use the next five or ten minutes to actually look for those things that are unfamiliar and appraise the positive aspects. Whether you are you an atheist or fundamentalist or person with just a spiritual path; Republican or Democrat or Independent; literary intellectual or television aficianado or video game guru; there is someone out there you immediately judge and misunderstand. Because, if there isn’t, then not only are  you someone who probably clicked on that link, you are too self-aware to judge yourself prejudice free. ( Case in point, The Dalai Lama admits to struggling with preconceived ideas of others.) If however you can’t identify a culture or religion or point of view that elicits a knee jerk reaction, then just pick some culture or belief system with which you are unfamiliar.

LISTEN! !Once you have identified your “stuck points,” spend some time “listening”.  Dedicate at least one “sitcom” a day (twenty minutes more or less once you eradicate commercials) to familiarizing yourself with and acknowledging the good points of the foreign phenom selected. This can be done as simply as reading a book or Googling the topic on line; maybe try a culturally significant recipe or visit a community event sponsored by the group; borrow a cause friendly documentary  from the library. It doesn’t matter as much how you do it, as that you do it.

Finished with your first personal world peace assignment? Integrated some new ideas? Found some common ground after all?

Rosh Hashanah means “head of the year” and is the celebration of the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve, that time long before the descendants of Isaac and the descendants of Ishamel began their sibling rivalry in the middle east over who was actually chosen. The creation of Adam and Eve, though unique, are a common thread between all the followers of Abraham’s God – Christian, Hebrew, Islam and more. Like the head of a river may branch into many tributaries, the beliefs and practices of Rosh Hashanah are diverse, for example

Here is the Kabbalist’s take on the meaning of this important holiday .http://www.chabad.org/holidays/JewishNewYear/template_cdo/aid/3082/jewish/The-Waking-of-Creation.htm.  A take I can both respect and not fully embrace, after all I am not a Kabbalist.

However, a central tradition for all those celebrating this holiday is the dipping of apples in honey. This explanation of the “why” of this tradition, (the how is easy, slice fresh apples, dip in honey, eat) also from the Kabalist site, is my favorite on line, and perhaps a life perspective we can all endorse: http://www.chabad.org/holidays/JewishNewYear/template_cdo/aid/160979/jewish/Sweet-Stings.htm So dip some apples,  because that is what this holiday is really about finding the sweetness in life and savoring it while rising to its challenges.

 

Now finally here is my recipe for a vegan Challah, which just might be why you even opened this blog in the first place.

Whisk 1 1/2 tsp. Ener-G egg replacer into 2 T warm water. Let stand and texturize. (No egg replacer? Try Mixing 1 T ground flax with 3 T of warm water and let stand till thoroughly slimy)

Sprinkle 2 1/4 tsps yeast (this is one packet) over  1 cup warm (not hot) water mixed with 4 T of organic Real Maple syrup (grade A or B works, use agave if you don’t have real maple syrup, DO NOT SUBSTITUTE Honey or maple flavored syrup or bread will not work)  at bottom of Large mixing bowl. Stir lightly and let stand while collecting ingredients (about 5-10 minutes) to proof it.

Add 3 T of organic coconut oil at room temperature (liquid), may also substitute 3 T melted and cooled vegan stick butter; egg replacer; and 1 tsp salt. Whisk vigorously to mix.

Sift in 1 cup wheat flour and approx. 2 cups white flour stirring with wooden spoon until soft dough forms. Should form ball, Cover and let rest 15 minutes.

Lightly flour your kneading surface and place small ball with 1/2 cup white flour to side. Begin a good ten minutes of kneading the bread, slowly incorporating the last 1/2 cup of flour to keep hands from sticking.

Wash, dry and LIGHTLY oil the large mixing bowl (with coconut oil if used, canola oil if vegan margerine is used.) Plop in dough turn the dough ball completely around to coat all sides lightly with oil. Put in warm draft free place to completely rise (anywhere from 40 minutes to an hour depending on yeast and environment), push in your two fingers and if there is no bounce back, punch it down! Reform and repeat (make back into a ball and let second rise occur.)

Punch down again and let rest 15 minutes. To form I recommend this video. http://youtu.be/u7D8PSBsy1M

Cover and let rise 25 to 35 minutes (double in size). Then bake at 375 degree oven for 25 minutes.  Cool and enjoy.

I complete this blog with a rough translation of my initial greeting, in the words of one of my favorite symbols of integration,

“Live Long, and Prosper!”

Read, listen, enjoy, and ya know, talk back!

Here is the promised blog, appearing on the actual day I promised it and not only offering a tasty selection of fashion, travel and writing blogs I peruse and recommend, but also a wonderful, and equally tasty (as those who celebrated Amie’s birthday already know) and extremely versatile vegan crock  pot concoction.

May I also recommend listening to this award show while reading todays blog, or making the chili, or just just sitting smiling and alternately reminiscing of filkers, and authors known and salivating over all the new stuff out there yet to be discovered, http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/25307882, I admit to more of the first, I am after all, mature (code for getting old.)

No geek ever looked so good as one taking fashion advice from the beautiful blonde who pens this blog http://2morrowsdress.com/, and her advice stands strong for those who walk in the normal ways of the world as well. This blog has all kinds of useful advice about choosing, caring for and ways to wear the one thing we all have in common, clothing! From her “little white dress” to her white shirt dilemna I (the fashion challenged costume maker) have enjoyed and employed Jen’s advice. Look for the same brevity and classy taste in her entertainment blog http://jentheredonethat.com/ .

For writer’s or readers of fantasy or of  life fiction check out the blog by novelist Ann Videan  http://anvidean.com. Music is a recurrent theme in her writing, both blogs and novels. Her blog is also a great place to pick up a few marketing tips for those trying to court fame and fortune as a professional pen wielder. On the same wavelength, but perhaps better known among fantasy fans is one of my other favorite author’s blog http://windling.typepad.com/blog/. (I know, if you took my advice you are listening to *gasp* science fiction awards while reading about fantasy blogs, I am sorry if this is jarring, but I am totally a “soup” person. If you don’t know what tha means, feel free to ask, and I will happily explain.)

Totally unrelated blogs but incredibly fascinating (to me at least) http://www.dailycoyote.net/  and http://honeyrockdawn.com/ both from the same lady who is living one of my dreams (but we only have one life so I happily live the one I am in and find blogs that allow me to vicariously live the other dreams). Of course there are always two of my  favorite go to sites: http://whatever.scalzi.com/ , http://wilwheaton.typepad.com/  , reflecting another life I chose not to lead.

Now if you are still with me and haven’t clicked off and become lost in one of these amazing blogs, here is my newest vegan creation, I call it “2 hours till dinner and still lots to do”

Plug in your crock pot or slow cooker, low heat.

Chop a small onion and one or two green peppers into small (1cm or less) pieces. Put two-three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a cast iron skillet (enough to lightly cover the bottom) and as it gets warm toss in the onions first and stir with a wooden spoon. When the onions become translucent add the peppers (and 1 cup mushrooms if you have them and you know your intended audience likes them) and cook another minute or two, turn off the skillet heat if on an electric stove, to very low flame if gas, and press in one clove of garlic, stir and let them all sit together as you stir together 4 cups hot water, a small can of organic tomato paste, two cubes of vegan bullion, and 1 tsp fresh chili powder in the warm crock pot. Add 1 can organic black beans rinsed and drained, or 2 cups of home cooked black beans. Dump in the lovely mixture of onions and peppers, stir again. Add 1 1/2 cups of Trader Joe’s organic red quinoa, OR add 1/2 cup organic red quinoa and 1 cup Trader Joe’s harvest Grains Blend, OR add 1/2 cup organic red quinoa, 1/2 cup couscous, and 1/2 cup yellow lentils. Close the lid and cook for 1.5 to 2 hours (quinoa unfurled and beans soft). Serve with warm crusty bread, or corn chips and enjoy!

finally, where I got my chile powder recipe, or buy a fresh one if not so motivated http://video.about.com/americanfood/How-to-Make-Chili-Powder.htm

 

 

A work in process, wheat and corn free vegan coffee cake, and two places everyone should shop at least once!

Take 1 cup brown rice farina or whole grain Teff and stir it into a mixture of  1 and 1/4 cups vanilla soy or rice milk, 1 tsp vanilla and

****     1/2 cup coconut oil (if you substitute vegan margerine sticks DO NOT add this or add here) ****

Combine thouroughly 1 and 1/4 cup White Rice flour, 1/2 cup Tapioca Flour, 1/4 cup potato starch, 1 cup organic granulated sugar, 1 TBSP Baking Powder, 2 tsp. Xnathum Gum. ( ****If using stick margerine instead of coconut oil here is where you cut the margarine into the flour mixture until it is in pea size pieces.****)  Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients and mix until just combined.

Grease a 8 or 9 inch square pan, and smooth half the batter in the pan,

Combine 1/2 cup organic brown sugar, 1/2 cup pecans, 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut and disperse evenly across the batter. Now  smooth the second half of the batter across the nut filling and bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes.

I am very happy with the flavor, but still working on the texture, Texture is the greatest challenge when working gluten free or when working vegan, but I am happy to say that science and the willingness to fail (and my roommate’s, my own and sometimes my dogs willingness to be guinea pigs during the process) means that success is always just one more bake away…..

This is an adaptation of a recipe I got off the back of a Bob’s Mill rice farina package a couple years ago that I made vegan. I love Bob’s Mill products because I can have my delicious comfort carbs and get my needed nutrition too by switching out  bleached white flour whit a plethora of naturally high protein, calcium rich grains (http://www.bobsredmill.com/flours-meals/) . I llike this company’s politics and policies, too. I am lucky enough to have a local farmer’s market that carries most of the flours I need regularly which means I get to support the local economy while eating better(http://www.powerroadfarmersmarket.com/).
 
If you don’t live in the East Valley of the Phoenix, AZ area you can order from them as well, plus there are awesome recipes. When I use a recipe verbatim I won’t post it here, but I do use their recipes faithfully and  I am always tweaking what I bake.  Another reason I love the Bob’s Mill site is sometimes I will have just so much of a particular flour left, and not the others I bought for a particular mix or recipe and wonder what I want to do with it, I can search their sight and find new recipes for that particular flour. It’s absolutely lovely! So those living in the furnace with me, wander on over to Power Road and pick up a package of some new untried flour as well as some fresh and tasty local produce and go home and start your own delicious experiments. My long distance readers can check out Bob’s Red Mill website and either try the store locator or have it shipped right to your door.
 
Iif you do I predict delicious healthier baked goods are in your future, soon!

 

Encounter at Far Point; Boldly going where no vegan has gone before….or why there is no new recipe

Ok, the Star Trek reference is mostly because my distraction reading right now is a rereading of  Wil Wheaton and my book club just finished Red Shirts and unfortunately the vegan recipe I was working n this week is apparently just here for me to emote over and not a major player and I would need Q to intervene to make either recipe work. That is why I chose my blog title,

The current goal is to create some edible vegan uses, actually going for delicious, recipes using my vegan whole grain sourdough starter. No new recipes today because both my crepe recipe and rye bread recipe are currently dead, immediately after beaming on to this planet. The crepe’s are tasty but totally wrong texture and next to impossible to flip. The bread smells like whisky. Soooooo, no new vegan recipes this week.

But the process will continue, I will keep trying. After all, the process and the journey is where the fun is in all things.

Thought for me (and you, if you want) to ponder: Is part of what makes so many people sad, mad and basically dissatisfied these days  the fact they have forgotten how to really work for something difficult? Are we really a lazy and immature culture whose needs are too easily met and so do not know the joy of “taking the trouble” to do something without a guaranteed outcome? How do I fit into that observation and what things have I let go that would serve the greater good because they took work?

Well, speaking of work, I have tons to do before I leave to be a nurse this afternoon so this is it for today.

Namaste.

Its not that easy eating green… or now I’m a vegan, what can I put on my salad?

I love salads, and I love raw vegetables. I can relish a bowl of mixed spring greens drizzled only in a bit of lemon juice, or add black beans and toss the whole thing with salsa and satisfy my tastes and my ethics.  Crudite and a small dish of sunflower seed butter is a fast tasty snack. So for months I only ate my salads and cut raw veggies with the obvious out of the jar dips and dressings like nut butters and citrus juices.

But one day, I went to Sweet Tomatoes with my son and DIL for dinner and drenched my vegetable goodness in real live dressing. My mouth stood up and did a dance, and although I still can eat all things green in a simple garment of lemon or thinned hummus, my quest had begun to re-introduce the excitement of  taste layered dips and complex creaminess into my vegan life.

I do love to cook, but I also have a busy modern life, so first I looked on store shelves. Reading ingredients lists on bottles quickly alerted me to the fact that as a vegan, I would either be making my own dips and dressings or finding a more lucrative career so I could afford the organic prepackaged offerings.  (It has always amazed and flumoxed me how leaving ingredients out of a product increases the price exponentially.)

What follows are my three favorite dressing that now replace Italian, Ranch, and Russian dressing in my food lexicon. I am still experimenting and trying recipes I find in vegan books. My favorite coleslaw for vegans is found in “Skinny Bitch in the Kitch” so no need to post it here, besides the fact it would be plagiarism, Freedman’s book is readily available at libraries and bookstores (like Changing Hands http://changinghands.com/)and chock full of other tasty vegan treats, so if you want good coleslaw, check her out, http://roryfreedman.com/. A qualifier here is that I am not bought into the whole skinnier is better or prettier paradigm,  but her vegan recipes have never failed to please even “meat”atarians.

So here are Sally’s favorite salad dressings, no coleslaw among them (see above) although I LoooovE coleslaw, with a reminder that the quality of ingredients used will determine the quality of the finished product.

Italian Dressing

1/2 cup Bragg’s organic Cider Vinegar

1/4 cup Organic Olive oil

1 T Bragg’s Amino Acids

1 small clove garlic, pressed

1 T Organic Italian seasoning (I mix my own, but it can easily be bought)

Place in glass bottle with lid and shake well, it is best mixed an hour or two before serving. I do store it in the fridge but take it out well before dinner as the oil will coagulate! To make it creamy Italian just place it all in the blender with 8 ozs of tofu, but then it must sit for 8 hours or the the tofu will take over the taste.

 

Creamy Vegan Ranch

1 3/4 cups cooked (one can) cooked, drained, and rinsed garbanzo beans

1 T tahini

2 tsp.  garlic balsamic vineger (the vinegar used makes a huge difference in this recipe, so experiment with flavors, but stick with Balsamic or high quality wine vinegar)

1 tsp Bragg’s Amino Acid (if soy sensitive, omit this. This is the only soy based ingredient, and it does change the flavor by omitting it but it is still good, just salt and pepper to taste)

1 tsp Bragg’s Organic Sprinkles or (what I do)use 1 T fresh parsley with 2 tsp chopped fresh chive and 1 tsp fresh chopped dill for a more “ranch” flavored dressing.

(optional ingredient to get that creamy taste and feel is adding 3 T vegan sour cream substitute).

 

Vegan Russian Dressing  (also an easy tasty sweet potato fry sauce!)

1 cup vegan mayonnaise

1/4 cup organic ketchup

1 T fresh lemon juice

1 tsp horseradish

1 tsp Brag’s amino acids

1 T finely chopped pickles.

Mix together in a jar and let the flavors blend for 2-3 hours then dip or dress!

 

So fellow vegans and/or foodies go forth and try these homemade condiments and tell me what you think , and maybe even share your own recipes.

Tomorrow some Homesteading updates and a bit about what I am listening to and watching (even if a lot of you may laugh!)