Thursday, July 15, 2010

My Beautiful Fruit Bowl

There is no talent in 'making' this dish, but it was too pretty to not photograph and it was too good to not share! I keep stressing the importance of eating fresh fruits and veggies and to completely fill yourself up on them, not leaving room for all the crap that is thrown our way all day, everyday!

I have in there really juicy cherries, tart blueberries and my cheat, prunes (dried plums). MMMMMMMMMmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Simple Lunch Salad

I love fresh veggies! I also love salad for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This I made for lunch today and it totally hit the spot. Now the trick is, I am the only vegan on the planet who doesn't like the taste of raw tomato... Weird, I know. I keep trying them and I keep not liking them, but I am assured I will get there some day. Putting that aside, I try to put tomato in whenever I can, in this case, fresh salsa! Yeah, I put salsa on my salad. Sure did.

You will need:

~Favorite onion
~Fresh Cilantro
~Favorite fresh salsa
~Lime juice
~Apple Cider Vinegar
~Olive oil

Cut all that stuff up and throw it in a bowl. Put the salsa then the cilantro and then the lime juice, vinegar and oil. A little pepper on top is delicious. I also like to have a really spicy salsa to put on top. It makes for a neat combination for the taste buds!

Today I topped it off with a nice bowl of fresh fruit! Cherries, blueberries and some dried plums! The plums have a little too much sugar for my liking, but I don't eat them very often so what the hay!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

A Welcome Bend in my Creek

~Through my love (*let's use the term 'love' so I don't have to admit it is a slightly scary obsession,) of food, cooking and learning about natural ways to care for myself and my loved ones, I have found a new passion. What is interesting is I have always loved the ideas I have recently given light to. I was always raised to believe in working for that which you have and leaving out as much unnecessary elements as possible. As a child I thought this was a good thing and loved watching my parents live this way and in turn my life was that way, but now that I am all grown up I realize there is SO much more than what I have been doing and I am going to change that. This blog is not only going to be about my weird food experiments and random philosophies, but a journey I am going on to hopefully reach a completely sustainable life. I want to bring as much of 'me' into this as possible so that the journey is not just the end product.
So, what is this journey about? After such a vague starting paragraph I will fill you in. I have always had a love for gardening. Starting as a child, my family planted a garden larger than my house every year and it grew slightly every year. We planted way too much of everything. Well sort of. We grew way more than we could eat so we could pass out a lot to friends and extended family and be selfish little 'veggies' and preserve the rest. We had wonderful, homegrown and organic foods to eat in the dead of winter and I think to this day I do not know the extent of my luck for that. But the last thing I want to do it get out of the habit so my kids (which I have none so far but when I do...,) can enjoy the same benefits!
To present my newly energized self I am starting a whole new system of life. I invite you! My wonderful mother has been an early childhood educator for all of her professional life and has recently come to a twist in her creek. Due to funding cuts in our great state she has not had the work she is used to. This was a huge point of stress for my whole family unit. My father is also a teacher and so as he likes to put it they are living in 'respectable poverty'. We use this term lightly to make fun of the system. They don't go hungry and have provided my two siblings and I with an amazing child/adulthood. BUT, there was never much wiggle room if you know what I mean. My mother, always thinking and calculating her next move, has brought up the idea of making her own soap, shampoo and conditioners. This is something my family as a whole has dreamed about for many years and I think my dad has actually done it before back in his hippie days. Well, when she told me that I couldn't believe my luck! She is in the position where she can dedicate herself to this project and wants it to make half a living! What luck! I have a business partner to enhance my increasing sustainability! AND IT IS MY MOM! How cool?
I have thrown in the idea of making toothpaste and a few other things. I have really focused on how food affects the body and where we should get what we need. In doing this I have realized that not everything we take into our bodies comes from our food. I have learned to taste artificial sweeteners and stay away from them, but I noticed I would get the same nasty flavor when I brushed my teeth... No. Please World, tell me they are not putting artificial sweetener in toothpaste! Well bully for me. Not only is it chalk full of sweeteners it also has all sorts of dyes and chemicals and other trashy elements. At that point I started checking everything. Mouth washes, floss, chap sticks, laundry detergents, cleaners, clothing dyes, everything. It was exhausting and disgusting. What can I do?
I found this wonderful product line called Tom's Naturals ( ). They get it. I am no longer putting trash in my mouth every time I brush but there are sill so many things we need to be careful of. It also made me realize how much we can make at home. This give several advantages; we know exactly what is going into our products, we learn more about what we use and are more conscious of our consumption and in many cases we can save money by making our own things from bulk supplies!
Basically, I am going to start including my experiences and experiments, good or bad, successful or unsuccessful, right here. I want to hear your opinions, critiques and reactions.~

My mom and I are researching business licenses and all that as well as coming up with soap ideas and names for our products. Wish us luck!

Peace and love!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Grilled Veggies

Everyone likes grilled veggies. They go so well with everything and you can use them in so many different ways. I like to use the left overs cold and on a sandwich with spinach, mustard and vegan mayo... That is another post. For now; the grilled veggies. This was a side I used for a hearty meal I made.

You will need:
~ several multi-colored peppers
~ 3 long carrots, washed but not peeled ( B12!!! explanation in soup recipe below )
~2 large white onions
~2 summer squash and/or zucchinis
~ olive oil, herbed if you wish
~ favorite vegetable seasoning*

Heat a griddle on the oven top or use your bar b que grill. Slice the peppers in large long slices about 1.5 inches wide, slice the onions in thick discs and leave intact, slice the squash and/or zucchinis in angled discs and slice the carrots down the middle, sometimes you can get three slices out of one (3/4 inch thick). The carrots you may want to steam just a bit, depending on how thick they are. Pour some oil in a shallow plate and dip the veggies in it on each side and place on the griddle or grill. Flip each once they have gotten the charred lines on each side and place on a plate in the low heating oven (150d). Once you have all the veggies done place on a decorative plate or bowl and generously sprinkle with your seasoning. In the photograph I used my made up chipotle seasoning, but I have also used a great table style Italian Seasoning. I have found that with some seasonings it is easier to add it to the oil before you dip them. Play around with your own. Adding some fresh herbs after grilling adds to the aesthetics and adds tremendous flavor! Find the herb that shows up most in your meal and use it... It will really marry the flavors of each dish.

Sweet Potato Vegetable Soup

It is very important to have a kitchen helper when available. So I went to my sister's house and got two! My sister Alleta and Beau, my very cute, special kitchen helper...

So this soup is great because everything came out of our garden! That is a very important thing for everyone. Vitamin B12 is not hard to get when you know where to look. In animal protein the B12 is already synthesized and is rendered almost useless to other animals. We need the un-synthesized B12 so our own body can work it. Only through that process do we benefit form it. Anyway, the B12 everyone needs comes from soil. (Cows eat grass/soil and get B12 hence the misconception we benefit from them with B12.)
Not only are the veggies blessed with delicious traces of dirt(!), they are really really pretty!

You will need:
~1 Large Sweet Potato~1 Large Red Onion~4 large stalks of celery with greens
~2cups uncooked quinoa
~Tomato base*
~2 Bay leaves
~s/p to taste
*My family, every year, grows an abundance of garden goods so can. We make a concoction my Gram dubbed 'goop-it' that consists of tomatoes and anything else we have left over. We blanch the tomatoes and peel them and then add the rest of the chopped veggies and herbs. We put them in Mason jars and pressure cook them until sealed. We use these jars of 'goop-it' throughout the year as soup bases. It comes out with the consistency of a soupy salsa. Alleta and I used one that was made with just tomato and basil leaves.
To start, if you have an iron skillet, USE it! Cooking in iron not only gives amazing flavor, even heat and flexibility to the dish, the mineral is actually leached into the food giving us 'veggies' much needed supplements! Start by cubing the potato and chopping the onion and celery into 'healthy' sized chunks. Use a hot skillet with a dash of olive oil and start sauteing the potato. Add a dash of water after the potatoes start to steam a little. This may initiate some splatter so watch out, but it is important to allow the potatoes to get soft. Add the onion as soon as the potato starts to brown.
In a sauce pan add 1 quart of your tomato base. If you don't have 'goop-it' ( yeah right ), you can sub a few seasoned cans of stewed/ herbed tomatoes. Put over low heat and add the bay leaves. Let that simmer and check the potatoes. If they are softer but still put up a little resistance to a knife, add the onions and saute them until soft. Add the celery and greens to the sauce pan. Stir it up. Once the potatoes and soft enough to have a knife go through it but not fall apart, add everything in the skillet into the sauce pan and simmer for a few minutes. Add the quinoa and let simmer for about ten more minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste and you are finished!

Chipotle Breakfast Scramble

TOFU! This stuff is wonderful! I love it because you can adapt any flavor to it. This is again a conglomeration of the stuff in my fridge. It was a really great late morning breakfast that stuck with me so well I forgot to eat lunch... I never forget lunch...

You will need:
~1 block of extra firm tofu
~1 cup'ish' random, delicious veggies
(I used onions and green peppers)
~2 cloves freshly chopped garlic
~Chipotle seasoning
~Turmeric, s/p
~Using it carefully I added a little tiny bit of Liquid Smoke as well

Finely cube the tofu as you are sauteing the veggies in a bit of olive oil. Then the veggies have been heated all the way through add the garlic and tofu. Add the seasonings to taste (again, be careful with the liquid smoke if you have it). Mix it all up and let sit for a minute or two, until the tofu is browned. Then mix again and wait again. Keep this up until the tofu has been browned on as many sides available. I served this dish with some spicy guacamole and some really cold orange juice. I love really spicy things so the cold juice added to the bite and made a partner for the heat!

It Has Been A While!

Sorry everyone for the long wait! I have had a crazy bit of life lately, but I am back at it and have a lot of 'backstock' of recipes to upload! Let me know what you think about them!

Much Love!

Fun Fact: Italian Marriage Soup has nothing to do with weddings. The name comes from the marriage of the flavors in the soup. That is actually where the term marriage of flavors comes from as well! Interesting no?