Monthly Archives: September 2010

Fall has finally arrived!

The temperature has finally dropped, I saw a bunch of leaves on the ground, and squash has invaded the grocery store. I believe fall has arrived.

Let me start out by saying I am not a pumpkin pie person. The texture is slimy and the pumpkin taste overwhelming. I will not even eat pumpkin pie to be polite, and that’s saying something.

I do, however, love pumpkin baked goods. Bread, cupcakes, muffins, cookies – all delicious when infused with pumpkin. I attempted to bake some pumpkin cookies earlier this week. They failed. (Remember how I said I’m not a baker?) I might try again tomorrow on my day off in the hopes of creating something amazing. It’s my goal to surprise myself one day and pull something out of the oven that is awesome and delicious.

(For the record, I make an awesome soda bread and a really delicious gluten free carrot cake. So far, nothing else has worked out. :D)

Anyway, back to pumpkin which is the original purpose of this post. When I saw pumpkin all over the blogs, I gave in and went and bought a can of pumpkin. After the cookie disaster, I had to use it. So I’ve been making pumpkin overnight oats and HOLY CRAP. I could eat these every day. Freaking delicious.

I dream of these oats. I’m out of pumpkin now so I’m going to have to wait until I’m back at the store this weekend to to pick up some more. And then I can have my dreamy breakfast all week next week.

Pumpkin Overnight Oats

  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin
  • 1/2 banana
  • 2 tbsp. chia seeds
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice or both!
  • Mix ins: drizzle of maple syrup, raisins, walnuts

Combine oats, banana, chia, almond milk, pumpkin and cinnamon in a bowl. Refrigerate overnight. Top with mixins of choice and devour.

For a girl who doesn’t like pumpkin pie because it’s slimy, I’m thrilled to say I love these oats. And overnight oats are kind of slimy themselves (don’t let that deter you, but it IS sort of an acquired taste).

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Slowing Down

It’s hot here in Northern California and my body just isn’t used to it. I’m sluggish, irritable, congested and longing for cooler times (like all of August when I complained that it was summer, and wasn’t it supposed to be warm?!)

I’m lucky in that I work close enough to home to walk home on my lunch break and relax with my cats. But today, I was so sluggish in the stuffiness of the heat that I couldn’t get much done. I couldn’t even nap successfully!

As I was just laying around, I realized that I’ve been feeling frantic lately – to get things done, spend time with folks, do yoga, run, eat right, read, write, work, oh and find my life’s purpose while I’m doing all of that.

I need to slow down. I want to appreciate my days; I want to spend more time with Alex and more time at home, cooking and trying out new recipes. I want to not feel rushed, but not feel lazy. I can’t remember the last time I spent the afternoon reading or working on a craft project. I want more of that in my life!

Part of the purpose of this blog is focusing on wholeness – balancing the busy-ness and the lazy-ness to create productivity that doesn’t feel frantic. Part of this means trusting that my friends will understand when I say no. Trusting that if I don’t do the dishes or the laundry or the dusting right away, the world will not fall apart.

I just read a book called What Happy Women Know and it talks a great deal about how women feel often that they are not enough and the different traps they fall into that make them unhappy. One of these traps is perfectionism – something I often struggle with. And I know that the people in my life will understand if things aren’t perfect – so why should have those expectations of myself?

My favorite part about it is that the author, Dr. Dan Baker, is focused on positive psychology. He says if you focus on talking about your problems all the time, you’ll never feel better (even if the intent is to figure them out).  He says to focus on the good things in your life or the small, beautiful things. The more you focus on them, even if it’s hard or irrelevant (for example, how beautiful a flower is even if your entire life is falling apart around you) that you can re-train your brain.

So I am going to start slowing down and appreciating and bringing some balance to my life! And hopefully this means more recipes and fun food stories here as well.

Until next time!

Kale, Peanuts and Pineapple – a winning combo!

Friday night, our friends Derek and Angie came over for dinner!

They recently moved over to the East Bay and it’s so fun having them closer! (They used to live in central California).

I decided to use them as guinea pigs for a recipe – African Pineapple and Peanut Stew.

Here’s what you need:

Ingredients:

  • 1 chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, mince or pressed
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 bunch kale and Swiss chard
  • 2 cups undrained canned crushed pineapple (20 oz can)
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • salt to taste
  • chopped scallions

Method:

Saute the onions and garlic in oil until lightly browned in a sauce pan. While the onions are cooking, wash the greens, remove and discard large stems and slice into 1 inch thick slices.

Add the pineapple and juice to the onions and simmer. Stir in the greens, stir and simmer until just tender – about 5 minutes. Mix in the peanut butter, hot sauce, and cilantro and simmer for 5 minutes. Salt to taste. Serve over a grain (we had it over millet).

Yum!

The finished product served over millet! With a glass of great red wine.

They liked it! (Despite being initially skeptical). The texture was perfect and the unusual combination of flavors ended up working out really well.

Always fun to try out new recipes on people and have them work out.

Today we were supposed to bike to Sausalito and enjoy the awesome weather we’re having, but we stayed out last night (and maybe had an extra cocktail or two) so we spent most of the day lounging around being lazy.

I did make chili without a recipe for the first time, so we’ll see how it is! I’m such a slave to recipes that I’m always nervous when I embark without one but chili seems to be a pretty straightforward meal so hopefully it’s edible!

Alex is making dinner tonight so I’m not sure what to do with myself! Perhaps hang around with this guy:

Lazy boy! And a little indecent if you ask me!

Swift!

Swift is what I hope to be in my vibrams eventually. I haven’t started running in them yet; I am going to wait until after the 12k in two weeks to do that. But I have been walking in them for a few days and I love them!

Last night I made gingered greens and tempeh with brown rice.

It ended up sitting on the stove for a while because we had visitors for longer than we thought so it ended up a little brown (and probably completely devoid of nutrition – but still delicious):

It was gingery and delicious, but not perfect. I am going to hold off on posting the recipe until I make it again and perfect it.

Hippo, as usual, joined us:

Runty needs to come out more so I can take more pictures of her!

Tonight we are going to friends for dinner, so I’m excited to have a surprise meal!

Until next time….

Sustainable Sweets

For dessert the other night we had my favorite chocolate in the whole world:

Theo is a chocolate producer based in Seattle, WA. I found out about them when I visited my friend Ashley there in January:

Ashley loves food as much as I do. She took us to many culinary hot spots when we were in Seattle and I was so happy. I took a lot of pictures of food!

But by far my favorite and the one I talked about the most was Theo.

I LOVE chocolate. Love. Almost as much as I love Alex and the cats and my family and my friends. I eat it when I’m happy and when I’m sad. I eat it in all forms. Then I discovered Theo, a company that completely aligns with my values. If you are ever in Seattle and have the chance to visit their factory, I highly recommend it.

A bit about Theo:

  • Produces organic and fair trade specialty chocolates (the only fair trade and organic producer in the country – the rest are in Europe).
  • Ingredients are grown sustainably and sourced locally whenever possible.They buy beans directly from farmers and grower cooperatives.
  • They partner with their growers to ensure a living wage and education for their families.
  • They use sustainable packaging and printing practices.

As they take you through the tour, they tell you about every step of the process. All of their chocolate comes out of this one little factory and they ship nationwide!

Most importantly, their chocolate tastes good. It’s the best chocolate I’ve ever had, hands down.

Go, tour, eat!

This is the best part about the store attached to the factory:

Piles of samples of all their flavors!

Yum!

My Sweet Sweet Love

I wanted something quick and tasty for dinner last night. I left Alex in charge of prep while I was on a run with my good friend Chelsea, and I came home to this:

Apparently grating sweet potatoes is not the easiest thing. But we managed to get through it. 🙂

I love me some sweet potatoes. I could eat them with every dinner, I think, given the opportunity. Baked, roasted, boiled, mashed, grated, sauteed…they never get old.

Last night we had  them in quesedilla form. Several people have recommended sweet potato enchiladas to me, and I think this was probably similar. As this was DELICIOUS, I will delve in enchiladas next!

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbl oil
  • 4 cups grated sweet potatoes
  • 1.5 cups diced onions
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar
  • Whole wheat tortillas
  • Toppings of choice: salsa, sour cream, avocado, etc.

Method:

Sautee onions and garlic in oil until translucent on medium-high heat.

Add sweet potato, cumin, oregano, cayenne, cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring often. When sweet potatoes are tender and a bit brown, remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of cheese on half  of a tortilla, top with 1/4 sweet potato mixture, close and cook on skillet over high heat for 3-4 minutes per side. If you cover the pan in a thin layer of oil, it will make the tortilla crispy.

Top with salsa, extra cheese, sour cream, avocado, etc. Whatever floats your boat!
Today I used the leftovers to make one for lunch and there were a couple of things, some of which should have been obvious. Make sure to warm leftover mixture before adding to the tortilla. The tortilla can’t take the heat necessary to heat the mixture through. I used a cast iron grill pan at lunch and I liked the charred grill marks that it left!

Yes that’s some lactaid. Cheese is my friend only when I take these little tabs along with it! A recent, and sad, development.

Also there was a surprise in the mail today!

Vibrams! I am going to start walking to work in them and eventually build up to running in them if I can! I am so excited!!

Mediterranean Lentil Salad

Last night I made the Mediterranean Lentil Salad from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home.

It was light yet filling, and the leftovers were great in a tortilla with hummus today.

Ingredients:


  • 1 cup brown or green lentils
  • 4 cups water
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes not packed in oil
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1 red or yellow bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup minced red onion
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon ground fennel (I didn’t have any of this)
  • 1 rounded teaspoon dijon mustard
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste

Method:

Bring lentils to a boil with 4 cups of water, bay leaves, garlic and thyme. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes until tender.

While lentils simmer, cover sundried tomatoes in boiling water until softened. Combine diced celery, bell pepper, onion and sundried tomatoes in a bowl. Whisk together olive oil, red wine vinegar, fennel, and Dijon and set aside.

When lentils are done, drain and remove bay leaves. Mash garlic cloves and return to lentils and stir. Combine with vegetables, and toss with dressing. Serve a bed of greens with sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, and top with feta and/or olives.

I only topped mine with feta and only had a beautiful heirloom tomato so that’s what I served it with. In order to make it vegan, olives would be a nice salty addition. I can imagine that hummus and pita would be a good accompaniment to this salad as well. We ate it warm last night, but today it was delicious cold in a tortilla with some hummus. I think I actually liked it better cold!

We also enjoyed a glass of wine. I bought this $8 bottle because the sign said I’d be surprised about how good it tasted and they were right! It was delicious.

Good?

Yup!

The cats tried to get in on the delicious dinner as well:

They love to sleep on the table! For the most part, they are pretty good about staying down when we are eating, but we are having to train them a bit more!

Another fun meal coming tonight and a post about my favorite chocolate maker in the whole world coming soon!