Sunday, February 27, 2011

What a Crock

Today was super exciting because I decided to use my crock. That's right, I got a crock for my birthday and decided to break it in today. What is a crock you ask? Well, you probably wouldn't know because you aren't a dork but let me tell you. A crock is a traditional piece of stoneware used to ferment vegetables. They are extra special (and expensive) because they are easy to use and have special powers to keep food fermenting without molding.

Since I decided to start my fermenting now, I wasn't able to use any of our own harvest but I did buy some organic carrots, red cabbage, and jalapenos to begin my first batch.

 Because I like vegetables, I decided to just go for it and put all my favorite vegetables in the crock and see what happens. Therefore, I don't want to put the recipe up yet in case it was a piece of crap. I am guessing that can't happen but they are fermented veggies. Still, I can't wait for my first batch!! Only 3 - 6 weeks away. Hah! Seriously, though.

The crock from the top. Those are two ceramic stones to hold everything down
Fermented vegetables are somewhat similar to pickled things but have a stronger taste and have live cultures that make your body sing with joy. Traditionally sauerkraut was fermented but the stuff you get in stores now is just pickled cabbage. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE pickles but I am looking forward to eating fermented veggies for their health benefits. It is somewhat an acquired taste but I eat some weird ish so I am not worried.

All the layers inside the crock

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Diet Update

As you should know and know and know, I did the elimination diet laid out in the Whole Food Nutrition book. Things went well. I was on it for over a month.

(side note: on my birthday, I saw one of the creators of the diet/book at the whole food cafe we went to for lunch. I didn't say anything to him but I thought it was pretty cool. He is a celebrity in my eyes. But then again, I don't have high standards.)

I thought it was potatoes that was making my stomach ill. I seem fine with them now.

Then, I thought it may be beans. But, I just polished off half a jar of basil dilly beans and my pooper seems a-okay.

However, the past two days, I have had some sort of stomach thing. Not painful but certainly there. I think it is just a case of starting to eat processed crap that are gluten and/or dairy based products.

I have to say, when I was mid-diet and not eating dairy or gluten or even corn really, I was on top of the world. I had never felt better. But, the chips and salsa were certainly calling my name! So corn was back in pretty quick. I still felt fine after corn but it does open a lot of doors into processed foods.

From the diet, I learned a couple things and I am very thankful that I did it. The diet reminded me that I can make good food everyday with veggies and whole foods and it will taste amazing. Because of this, I have decided to stay away from dairy and gluten (hard if you think about it) but when I want ice cream or pizza ain't nothing gonna stop me from stuffin' my face.

Oh yea, that was probably the other problem. I eat more than my stomach can handle about 92% of the time. When I was on my diet and digesting things at a fast pace, that wasn't such of a problem. Now, I need to eat only when I am hungry.

So, here's to bread and cheese, I won't be seeing you guys as much and I will miss our past relationship but I know I can be strong and move on (and I won't get the trots now so that is a plus).

Amazing book! And der, of course I got it from the library, I don't pay for shit.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sammy Boy

Now, I know I am a cat crazy momma. I love my babies maybe too much for just being pets but I don't have children yet so my animals take up a large percentage of my heart. And that is okay.

It just makes it much harder when they disappear and/or die.

A couple of years ago, Sammy went missing for two weeks. TWO WEEKS people. I went through the whole crying and grieving stage because my sister and husband both told me he probably wasn't coming back. I had made peace with that and then one Sunday I get a phone call from the pet finder place (to which Sam had a microchip) and Sam came back. Not the very next day...but 13 days later. Hallelujah, my family was back together and Stanley had his twin back.
 The emotions that went along with that ride were crazy. I went from being sad then beyond happy.

Sam always was an adventurous boy. He was the hunter, the explorer, and he generally did what he wanted but every few days he would need major attention from the time Tyler got out of bed to when we went to bed and he would scratch at the door wanting to sleep with us. Those time when he would lay stretch out on your lap or curl up under the covers because he liked to be warm, he was a precious baby. He loved his ma and pa and they loved him. He knew that.

On Saturday morning, Sam was laying with Buk in the kitchen fighting for the heater vent. They comprised and each got half. Sam was in a very happy mood, he got to "fight" with me in the morning as I rolled my shirt over my fist and rubbed his tummy, and he went outside and I even said out loud, "Sam and Stanley are having a good time outside in the sun." I also made a blog post title to add to later called "sweet twins" but that will now be left unfinished because that may just kill me.

Sammy in play "fight" mode
Later that morning Sam was crossing the street to his hunting grounds when he was hit by a car. Tyler found him (he had died soon after being hit, if not instantly) and put him in a box before he told me. (That was definitely the smart thing to do as I know I would not have handled that situation well.) We were both outside working and did not see nor hear Sammy get hit, which was probably a good thing. I had Tyler open the box so I could give Sam one last pet and smell and then we buried him in the field where he hunted shrews.

We will miss Samsonite so very much and soon (hopefully) I won't be so sad that he is gone. In the mean time, thinking about his sweet face and soft ears makes me sad he won't be on my lap later but at least Sam had a good life and was outside on a sunny day (something he always preferred).

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Vegan Tom Yum Soup

I have wanted to make Tom Yum (sweet and sour) Soup forever. It sounds like the perfect soup for a cold day and even if you have a cold. If you add more chilies, it will clear that head right up! Anywho, a lot of recipes I have seen call for Tom Yum paste. Let me tell you how hard it is to find Vegan Tom Yum paste without MSG.

Me, "It's flippin' hard!"

So anywho, I combined a couple recipes I found and made a vegan Tom Yum soup from scratch. The best way to make anything anyway.

Vegan Tom Yum
Makes 4+ servings

1 onion chopped
2 cloves garlic minced
2 Tbs ginger minced
About 10 shitake mushrooms sliced
1 stalk of celery sliced
1 carrot cubed
2 stalks lemongrass or zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 Thai (red) chili
3 limes juiced
lime zest
2-3 Tbs agave or 1-2 Tbs sugar
1 Tbs soy sauce
1 can coconut milk
28 oz water or broth
Small bunch (about inch diameter, you don't want much) rice noodles

1. Lightly salt bottom of large sauce pan and let heat for about one minute.
2. Add 2 Tbs olive oil.
3. Add onion, garlic, and ginger to pan and saute for 4 minutes.
4. Add mushrooms, celery, carrot to pan and saute another 4 minutes.
5. If using lemongrass, use the white part of the stalk. Crush it until it just splits with the side of knife or a mortar and pistil. This makes the juice come out a little.
6. Add the lemongrass, chili, lime juice, and lime zest. Saute for 4 minutes.
7. Add water or broth. Bring to a boil.
8. Cover pot and let simmer for 10 minutes.
9. Take out all lemongrass bits.
10. Add coconut milk and rice noodles (broken into thirds) and agave or sugar and soy sauce.
11. Cook for 15 more minutes.
12. Let cool (I told you to, if you burn your tongue don't come crying to me), try a taste test for seasoning. Adjust if you must and enjoy. Don't burn your tongue.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Big Chill?

Whew! I got a good share of winter these last couple of days. Me, I like winter. I like the cold weather and the time to sit inside and do inside work. We know that though.

Mr Pepperworth and I took a mini-vacation Valentine's weekend and had a great time. We left the responsible kids at home with a babysitter and took the irresponsible ones to the grandparents. We then drove into the cold and had some sun and snow and a pool heated like a hot tub. It was totally rad. Sitting in the "pool" with a drank and snow coming down is just as good as relaxing on a beach with a drank and playing paddleball. That means it is bliss.

We did some cross country skiing and snowshoeing. We burned calories but then we celebrated Valentine's Day (and our 6 month wedding anniversary) by eating half of a 6 inch gluten-free, vegan cake from the place that made our vegan wedding cake. It was totally delicious and the rest of the 3 inch diameter cake will be eaten in the next couple of days.

Got a little beat up in the car.
Other than skiing, pooling, and eating, we managed to fit in some cribbage and 80s movies. Apparently I forgot to remind Mr Pepperworth to bring a book (or at least that is what he said) so he had nothing to do but watch the downhill skiers crash and the VHS tapes of the condo owners. I had predicted there would be a Veggie Tales or something similar but no, we had some quality 80s movies and taped-from-tv soaps.

After watching The Siege (awful) and the last 40 minutes of Talk Radio (because he didn't rewind the tape), Mr Pepperworth finally gave up after 5 minutes of The Land Before Time VIII: The Big Chill. Seriously, did you know they made a Land Before Time III even? Christ, that is a lot of young dinosaurs dealing with human emotions and problems. I am sure the Big Chill didn't end well for those young dinos though and there hopefully probably wasn't a Land Before Time IX. Who knows though, maybe the Big Chill only killed the land dinos and IX is about the flying dinos finally getting killed off. Tragic, I know but seriously, kids need to learn the dinosaurs died at some point. (I wasn't a big Land Before Time kid, if you couldn't tell.)

I won, twice.
So, although the tv entertainment was not ideal, it added to the laughs and relaxation that vacation is supposed to bring. All in all, it was a perfect trip and a super great Valentine's Day with my sweet.

Doesn't look sweet, but hims is.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

My Poor Brain

I have a little brain problem. The fact that I wrote "brian" instead of "brain" twice would be an example of my problem. It isn't that I don't pay attention to what I am doing, it is that I have to think extra hard on certain words and numbers all.the.time.

Luckily, I have a mother who suffers from the same brain dysfunction so I grew up learning "tricks" to words. Like, every time I spell Michael, which happens to be my father's name, my brain process goes like this...."M-I-C-H-um, he doesn't like "emily" best so A-E (that would be me "e"mily)-L". No joke. And I know my father loves me bestest mostest of everyone but that is the trick I remember for my father's name.

Think I am dumb yet?

Well, wait for it.

Yes, just wait.

It gets better.

I really embarrass myself now.....

I always, ALWAYS refer to wind shield wipers as "front shield windwipers" and "back shield windwipers". Mr Pepperworth told me to buy front shield windwipers last week and I was all, "okay, what kind". He said, "Did you notice how I said that". I said, "Yeah, you asked me to buy front shield windwipers". He's all, "Get it? Get how you said that?" I'm all, "what? Oh *giggle* whoops. I totally knew what that meant." One minute goes by, "Wait, what are they really called." Thirty seconds go by, "No seriously, what are those really called?" Mr Pepperworth thinks "worthless."

Luckily I don't have to ask people about their windwipers very often.

So, although I have some faults, I find them charming sometimes. I bet Mr Pepperworth doesn't think it is so charming when I tell him to go left when I meant right but most of the day occasionally it really does take my brain some extra time to think things through. I learn fun songs for tricks though and I get to go through life singing about the days of the month, peoples' names, word tricks and phone numbers.

My hard working brain cells make for good times, like Aunt Judy is "Anut Judy" and every year on my work review, I always add a little extra on the "to improve" line. This year was to "learn the difference between it's and its". I could never keep it straight but luckily I have a trick to remember it now. Thanks to the Boss. Gold Star!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Warm Gluten Free-Corn Free-Vegan Breakfast

Doesn't that title just make you hungry? Totally, for sure. If not, it's because this recipe isn't for the average eater. So there. Are you average? Most people would just go to the cupboard and get from oats for oatmeal or even just go to the pantry and get that package of generic maple oatmeal (that has way too much sugar, by the way). This recipe is for the people who either a) can't eat those oats (this lady) or b) people who want to give their digestive system a little break or c) someone who just wants something a little different.

This recipe has brown rice, soy milk, maple syrup, and apples. It is the perfect cold morning breakfast. I was craving oatmeal but since I can't eat it, I made this. It definitely satisfied my craving. And it is super easy to make, just like oatmeal. Although, you do need a grinder, I use an old coffee grinder.

Warm Rice Cereal
serves 1
adapted from The Whole Nutrition Cookbook

1/4c sweet brown rice (or other brown rice) coarsely ground in grinder
3/4c vanilla soy milk (or regular milk)
1T maple syrup
1t cinnamon

1/2 apple cut in small pieces
1/4c water
1t cinnamon
1/2t nutmeg
1T maple syrup

*optional - blueberries

1. Put rice, milk, syrup, and cinnamon in a small saucepan and put on low heat.(if adding blueberries, also delicious, put in pan too and don't worry about steps 3 and 4.)
2. Stir constantly until paste forms. About 3 - 5 min. If too thick, add more milk or water.
3. Take rice off heat and let sit while making apples.
4. Put apples, water, cinnamon, nutmeg, and syrup in small sauce pan and stir occasionally until it makes a glaze-y sauce. About 5 min.
5. Put together in bowl, add more milk if wanted and maybe a little agave on top and enjoy.

Friday, February 4, 2011

FVW's Birfday

That's right. It's my birthday.

It started off slow. I went to work. I was somewhat disappointed because I didn't get the good breakfast with coffee (preferably in bed with a white vase and red rose) I was hoping for but that would be thanks to the Subaru that decided to overheat the night before. Good stuff.

So, my birthday wasn't living up to my high expectations. Which, if you know me, I have. I am not a birthday diva or anything but I like to be a little special. (Like, wearing a birthday crown with dangly earrings isn't unheard of.)

Anywho, the morning presents were great from my ma and pa but the plans for the rest of the day weren't panning out (as in social alcohol wasn't quite happening).

Then, Mr Pepperworth picked me up from work took me to lunch and he made me go in an antique store which I always have hated but...he knew I would like it and I did. Now that I have my own house, the antique things have more meaning. However, it turns out when you have your own house to put cool antiques in, you still don't get cool antiques because with the home mortgage you don't have $525 to spend on the awesome table thing.

After my tantrum at the antique store because I wasn't getting anything, Mr Pepperworth then suggested that instead of going to a happy hour we should have homemade margaritas and watch a movie or play games in the evening. (I think he was trying to distract me from my stomping in the store. It was starting to shake the 70's white and gold cups off the shelves.)

But, with my gluten-free, vegan cupcakes (recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World...amazing book!) and games waiting for me this evening and getting my sissy's sweet gift/card in the mail, how could my day not have gotten better?

Vanilla cupcakes with chocolate frosting. Nice.
Feb 4 2011 is turning out to be a great day. Whew! We coulda had a it's-my-party-and-I'll-cry-if-I-want-to-situation on our hands people.