Sunday, December 30, 2012

My Happy List

I recently joined a little book club where we read only food/nutrition and health-related books.  Even though this is the type of stuff I'm interested in, I often find that it closely resembles work.
As I read about healthful eating or sustainable agriculture, I can't help but think about how I'll use this in my job and then I start to wonder why I'm reading this in my spare time.  Then I put it down and pick up a mystery novel.  And a cup of tea.  And a cat.

But the truth is, I like reading these non-fiction books and I want to keep learning.  So instead of relying on my own motivation to pick up these books, I joined a this book club.

We started out with Your Body's Many Cries for Water, which made a rather in-your-face argument for chronic dehydration being the root cause of every major illness in modern society.  It felt a little like being recruited into a cult, but at least the cult only encourages drinking 8-10 cups of water a day.  Cheap, easy and definitely worth a try before heading over to the doctor.  Overall, though, the author came across as a wing-nut.  But I'm still drinking more water and feeling good.

This month's book is The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.  I had read this one before, but could probably read it a few dozen more times- or maybe just every December/January in preparation for new year's resolutions.  In the spirit of all things happy, here's my current list of things & activities that make me happy (by no means a complete list).

Jigsaw puzzles
Herbal hot tea (specifically, Lemon Ginger Yogi Tea with lots of lemon and local honey)
Wool socks
Flannel sheets
Pilot gel pens- bold
Watching the cats snuggle together
Gardens. Any kind.  Any where.
Fiesta ware
Organizing things!!!
Taking pictures of food
Having a clean house
Listening to music while driving
Jam with cheese and crackers
Pickled anything
Murder mysteries
Pure beeswax candles
Wednesday nights by myself when I watch New Girl
A new project or challenge
Canning jars of all shapes and sizes
Power walking and yoga, while listening to Young Jeezy, Kanye, T.I. and Lil Wayne
Slightly alcoholic mini-milkshakes
Getting things in the mail
Making lists & budgets
Crossing things off lists

Just like Julie Andrews says, sometime you just have to remember your favorite things and then you don't feel so bad.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Seitan Fail, Soup Win!

This year's Thanksgiving meal was fantastic (if I do say so myself).  But I wasn't 100% happy with my seitan turkey.  I tried a new recipe this year and despite being flavorful and impressive looking, it was rubbery.

I won't blame the recipe entirely, though.  I tried the "unturkey" recipe, which sounds amazing and has been my favorite commercially made faux turkey in the past.  I might have neglected to time it during the boiling process, though, so I'm trying to not give up hope on this recipe.   But I think next time I'll go back to using Bryanna Clark Grogan's recipe, which I can't find on her website anymore.

Anyhow, it was really easy, smelled amazing and I was able to stuff it like I imagine you'd stuff a real turkey. After slicing open a cavity, I stuffed it completely full of stuffing (see "before" photo on left).  It felt seriously gross sticking my hand up inside a seitan roast.  But, at least there weren't any giblets!

Here's the finished product.  It looks good, right?  Too bad the texture was off.  But the best part of this recipe wasn't really the "turkey".  It was the broth!  Since this recipe required boiling the seitan in a fantasmically flavored broth, I was left with 2 quarts of it after Thanksgiving.

So I stashed the broth away until I wasn't sick of Thanksgiving food...Today!

Instead of a seitan soup, I went with roasted carrots, celery, butterbeans and whole wheat pasta.  Since the broth was already steeped in seitan, I didn't need to worry about using gluten free pasta for Mike to enjoy this.  Sorry, honey, it's all mine!

Yum, yum, yum.  Butterbeans are the best.  I also added a hefty amount of grated ginger to the broth for a little kick.  This will definitely be making an appearance in my lunchbox all week.

PS- This Thanksgiving marked my 20th year as a vegetarian.  Feels good.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

What I'm harvesting now

There's not a lot left in the garden these days.  It's unseasonably warm this weekend  and I'm taking advantage of it by spending time harvesting the last of the veggies.  Or at least the last of the veggies that Hannah Dog hasn't stolen.

 Luckily the dog has't figured out how to steal carrots (yet).  Carrots have got to be the most fun vegetable to harvest.  I nearly waited too long to harvest them this year.  The ground was really cold and dry and I had a rough time digging these guys out- But it's so much fun to pull each carrot out!  I love that satisfying moment when the soil loses its hold and the carrot emerges...short, long, fat, skinny, tiny or huge.  I had quite the variety this year, probably because I refuse to thin my carrot plantings.  I just can't bear to pull the little ones.  

The award for biggest carrot of the year goes to this guy.  I'm hoping it's still tender and not fibrous, like overgrown root crops can sometimes be.  I think this one is destined to be roasted and then made into soup if I can stop myself from just eating the roasted carrots right off the pan.

I thought that my Brussels sprouts were a dud this year.  I planted them a little later than I should have and they just didn't seem to be forming sprouts- they were just big and leafy.  I was surprised today to find those big stalks covered in tiny Brussels sprouts!  They are very little, but there's enough of them to cook some and freeze some.  I just have to decide how to cook them up...roasted? sauteed? steamed?  Tough call.