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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Mediterranean Barley with Tofu, Olives, Sun-dried Tomatoes and Capers

Mediterranean Barley with Tofu, Olives, Sun-dried Tomatoes and Capers
Vegan; 30 minutes (the longest was waiting for the barley to cook)

Using the ingredient list as a stepping off point you can add or subtract to it as you like, and it doesn't get any easier. You can make as little or as much as you like... Below are the measurements I used....

barley, cooked (I cooked 1 cup of pearled barley with 2 cups of vegetable broth)
tofu, diced
small black olives
sun-dried tomatoes, soaked and finely chopped (1/2 of a jar)
capers in salt, soaked and drained of their excess salt (1/3 of a jar)
chili pepper, ground or in flakes (3 Thai dried peppers, crushed)
lemon juice (2 Tbs.)
salt (I didn't add)
extra-virgin olive oil (enough to coat the pan)

1. Fry the tofu slowly in olive oil with chili pepper and lemon juice until crispy.
2. Mix olives, capers and tomatoes with the barley and stir.
3. Add tofu, mix and serve. From the website Lucullian Delights.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Quiona Mixed Veggie Salad

Quinoa Mixed Veggie Salad
Vegan; 30 minutes or fewer

I'm an advocate for using what you have on hand when it comes to cooking, especially when you're at a loss for ideas regarding a fabulous (simple) dinner.... So, when Bruce let's in that he wants something light, it at least steers me in the right direction.
1 cup quinoa
6 spears of asparagus cut, about 1 inch pieces
3 sweet red and yellow peppers, cut and seeded (I cut them in half moon)
2 baby portabella mushrooms, sliced
2 Tbs. onion, chopped finely
1 tsp. garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups of vegetable broth
1/2 cup carrot juice
thyme, to taste
roasted bell pepper and garlic spice, to taste
crushed red pepper, to taste

1. In pot add the quiona with 1 cup vegetable broth and 1/2 cup carrot juice. (Living in Colorado, I've noticed that I've had to add extra liquid to everything, so this is a good measurement for a lower altitude.) Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer till liquid is absorbed.
2. In a pan, over medium heat, add 1/2 cup vegetable broth, garlic and onion. Sauté till onion is translucent, about 2 minutes, add mushrooms, and sauté for about 3-4 minutes. Add asparagus, peppers, thyme, garlic spice and crushed red pepper, cooking for about 2-3 minutes more, or until tender.
3. Mix quiona with vegetable mixture and save warm with some crusty bread. (I served it with rosemary sourdough with earth balance and garlic powder toasted.)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

My Nose is Too Big....

Well, something I've been thinking about... When I was younger, at about the age of 13, I was sent to live with my dad (Kevin-everyone who knows me well, knows that I call him by his name.) Anyways, there was this one day (and not at band camp-;) that I was reading a magazine article. The person who had written it had titled that article "My nose is too big". (The article was about being comfortable in your own skin, which I was at the time and am today.) Kevin asked me if I thought I had a big nose, and of course (like every snarky teenager-with a roll of my eyes) I answered "no". Then he proceeded to ask me if I knew what anorexia was, and with the same response I said "yes-it's where you starve yourself." Kevin asked me if I was, well at this time I wasn't and I hadn't even thought of it. What was going on? I was living off of cereal (for eight weeks to be exact-this is why I to this day will not eat cereal). See, I hadn't discovered my love of cooking or even been taken over by the control I felt that I needed in life/food. I was 13, and sent to live with a parent who still wanted me to be 3. My step-mom wasn't always responsive when I asked for food to be put off to the side before the spam (I won't even call it meat) was added to the noodle dish, in fact she would tell me "oh, I forgot" and then giggle. See, by the time I turned 13, I had already been a vegetarian for a little less then a year. (I did a project on vegetarianism when I was 12 and it was pretty easy making the switch.) Kevin being the meat eater that he is, didn't approve of this (or in my mind I felt this way). If I wanted something, food, water, clothes-I had to pay for it myself. So being 13, I would have the usual babysitting job and my mom would send me money-not knowing the full extent of the situation. This would make one hurt, however, I turned it around (years later, of course). I've always looked at Kevin and my mom being people first before they are parents, this is healthy for any relationship one will have.

Beer Battered Tofu & Veggies with Sweet Chili Sauce

Beer Battered Tofu & Veggies with Sweet Chili Sauce

For those who know me well, you know I'm not one to crave deep fried foods. Nor, am I one to use a lot of oil in my cooking, however I've been craving a deeply encrusted tofu dish. Bruce loved all of it, always one to be up for a gourmet meal. This dish stands alone perfectly with the chili sauce.
While I was prepping the chili sauce, I had the tofu between two plates with a can or jar of whatever you have that is 8 oz. or heavier. This squeezes/presses out the extra liquid from the tofu, without a lot of hands on. (It took about 30 minutes to prep and cook the entire meal.)

Sweet Chili Sauce
Vegan; Serves 4

(Before I started cleaning the veggies, I prepped the sauce. I put all of the ingredients {except the liquids} in a bowl and set aside until I put the tofu and veggies in the pan. I wanted the sauce and the tofu to be done at about the same time.)

3 Tbs red curry paste (hot ground-I went with a red curry paste, since the chili paste had shrimp.)
2 tsps minced garlic
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
2/3 cup water
1/3 cup sugar (I used a little over 1/3 cup, and could have cut it to the 1/3 cup)
1 tsp salt
4 tsps cornstarch
4 tbsps chopped cilantro

1. Combine everything, except cilantro, in a small sauce pan and mix.
2. Once blended, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer about 5 minutes.
3. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro.

Beer Battered Tofu & Veggies
Vegan; Serves 4
1 (14 oz) package of drained extra firm tofu
1 (12 oz) can cheap beer (I used a blond lager)
1 1/2 cups flour (I used 1 cup of whole wheat, and 1/2 cup of all purpose)
1 1/2 cups cornmeal
1 Tbs garlic pepper seasoning (I used a roasted red bell pepper with garlic)
1/2 Tbs oregano and 1/2 Tbs of thyme (I put both in 1 Tbs. measuring spoon)
1/4 teaspoon salt (I used a little less)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 cup canola oil
Use veggies you have on hand, I used asparagus and baby portobello mushrooms. Sweet potato and zucchini would be great, too.....

1. Mix beer and flour in a bowl until you have a thin batter. Sometimes this uses more or less flour. Just adjust until it looks like a thin pancake batter.
2. On a large plate, mix remaining 6 ingredients.
3. Cut tofu into 1/4 inch thick slices. Clean/cut veggies (I left the mushrooms whole and cut the asparagus "butt" ends off.)
4. Heat oil in heavy skillet or cast iron pan. Carefully dip slices of tofu in beer batter shaking off the excess. Place in cornmeal mixture and tap each side to get coating to stick.
5. Place in hot oil and fry until golden about 3 minutes each side. Remove from pan and place on paper towels to drain.
6. Serve with sweet chili sauce, and enjoy!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Let Go.....

After moving here, and having the universe pull the rug out from under my feet, and I landed on my hip... (The day before Christmas, I slipped on a patch of ice and ended up with a hip contusion. At least I was still working at the time, and had health insurance to cover the cost-the yin and yang of the situation.)

So to have an income, because the job that I had told me that I would be lose my job if my boyfriend left me. (Yes, I was actually told this!) I've been temping with different agencies as I try to find my way. Well, an assignment just ended yesterday-not the best way either. I was working for a man that is SO socially awkward, that the only way he communicates with you is via e-mail. He doesn't answer your questions, and doesn't even want to talk to his clients, and when he does he's absolutely fake with them. I felt like it was an episode of The Twilight Zone. Hopefully you all have the picture, you enter the work and stare at a computer screen, with little to no organic contact.

So, getting back to yesterday. He told me that I could stay till the end of business and that would be my last day. It's the best notice he could give me. (Mind you, I drove in to be at work by 8 am and it's now 8:45 am.) He proceeded to tell me that I wasn't worth 2% of his time to train and that I wasn't worth paying the finders fee, but I could stay. Well, after that, I could only say (without breaking down in tears) I'll just go ahead and leave.

So, while crying in my car, and making all the phone calls to (or e-mailing) my temp agencies I get that phone call (later in the afternoon) that helps me breathe a little better. There is an assignment and it starts tomorrow-truly temp, but a REALLY good company. Today was my first day, and they didn't even treat me like a temp. While I know that this isn't permanent, it's still income. And, to make myself feel even better. I bought a box of hair dye (yesterday)-yes, at the ripe age of 33 there is plenty of gray.

My box of Naturtint- Green Technologies is SO close to my natural hair color. I REALLY like this product. Not tested on animals (always a must for a product I use), no ammonia, no resorcinol and no parabens. Made with organic ingredients (again a must for me to use). While, yes, I know that this is vanity, still has chemicals and reads like a science experiment. This is still a better product then what you find on the shelves of salon suppliers and at salons themselves. What I love best is using used coffee grounds in my hair. It makes a mess in the shower and is best only for those with dark hair, since it will tint your roots. The down side is that used coffee grounds don't cover the gray. Someday I will be able to let go of the color routine, but for now-I let go of the negative energy of ugly people that only want to bring you down....

Monday, April 2, 2012

Peas, Carrots, and Tempeh with Miso-Almond Sauce

Peas, Carrots, and Tempeh with Miso-Almond Sauce
Vegan; 30 minutes; Serves 4

There are those who like to follow a recipe to the last minced piece of garlic and there are those who look at a recipe and see how it can be better. I never judge-I want everyone to see that they have a great chef inside that is waiting to zest the lime and ginger when the recipe calls for none or diced....

So, when I made this recipe, I used what I had on hand and didn't really follow the recipe. It still came out wonderful, I know this since there weren't any left overs the next day.

1 cup quinoa (I used bulgur wheat)
3 Tbs. almond butter
2 Tbs. lemon or lime juice (I used the lime-and zested the peel)
1 Tbs. yellow miso (I used soy sauce)
1 Tbs. grated fresh ginger (I zested mine, and used a tad bit more)
1 clove garlic, minced (1 tsp.)
1 Tbs. peanut or canola oil (I used canola-organic)
1 8 oz. pkg. plain tempeh, cubed (I used extra firm tofu)
4 carrots, halved and sliced into half-moons (1 3/4 cups) (I used red and orange sweet bell peppers-sliced the same way)
1 lb. sugar snap peas (2 1/2 cups) (I used frozen green beans-organic)

1. Bring 2 cups water to boil. Add quinoa, cover, and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer 20 minutes, or until all water is absorbed. Remove from heat, let stand 5 minutes.

2. Whisk together almond butter, lemon juice (lime juice and zest), miso, ginger, and garlic. Whisk in 1/3 cup water and set aside.

3. Heat wok (I used a regular skillet) over high heat, until water droplets evaporate within 1 second. Add oil and swirl to coat wok. Add tempeh, and stir-fry two minutes. (If using tofu, this step will take longer. I cooked it until it was golden and "firm".) Add carrots and stir-fry 2 minutes. Add sugar snap peas, and stir-fry 1 minute. Remove from heat.

4. Fluff quinoa with a fork, top with vegetables, and drizzle with miso-almond mixture.

Per 2 cup serving: 448 cal.; 24 g prot.; 17 g total fat (2 g sat fat); 0 mg chol.; 256 mg sod.; 13 g fiber; 9 g sugars

The First of Many....

So, here I go. My boyfriend said I needed to this. (I got to thinking about it. And, guess what, he may be right.) This blog will be about plant-based diets, veganism, vegetarianism, sustainability, compassion and more. My back story (just like everyone) is one where I shouldn't be as normal as I am. I had an eating disorder, like SO many other girls and boys, it started off with me trying to control the crumbling world around me. Then the disorder took control of me. I will not go into what I used to do-I'm not wanting to give anyone any ideas on how to continue or pursue this. I will talk about how I took back my control (yes, I'm still a control freak-it adds to my charm), and my relationship with food, mother nature, friends, family and loved ones.

I've been posting a Meatless Monday blog for the San Antonio Sustainable Living Group and The San Antonio Environmental MeetUp Group since 2009. I started dating someone new (since January-this year), after being dumped by the guy that I moved to Colorado Springs with.