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Sunday, September 27, 2015

Raw Ravioli

Raw Ravioli
Makes 4 servings

Living in San Antonio Texas, we had a mild summer this year. It would really reach up to 109F degrees in cars and the heat index of 103F degrees in the shade. Even with it being more mild, I still wasn't a fan of using the stove or the oven. I'm sure no one can blame me for that :)
Anywho, here is a lovely simple raw meal that will impress anyone!

Start with Macadamia Ricotta

1 cup of Macadamia Ricotta
1 medium zucchini
Smoked black peppercorn, cracked
Organic Olive Oil
Champagne Vinegar
Fresh Basil, chopped (about 1 Tablespoon)

1. Using a food processor is the easiest and fastest way to to slice your zucchini. I used the slice blade adjusted to 1.5 thinness.

2. In a small bowl, mix the Ricotta, fresh basil and grind pepper to taste.

3. Build your ravioli, take a slice of zucchini and fill 1/2 with a spoonful of ricotta and fold over the other side of zucchini (like an envelope). Repeat process till you run out of ricotta or zucchini. Place in a glass casserole dish or on serving plate. Drizzle with olive oil and champagne vinegar and top cracked smoked black pepper. Garnish with fresh basil and enjoy!

Raspberry Limeade Cupcakes

Raspberry Limeade Cupcakes~
Yield: 2 dozen

I made these for a girls night, and they were a hit :) These little gems, scream summer! If you like food coloring, than add a few drops of green to the cupcake batter. I'm not a fan of the artificial coloring, since I had read somewhere that the food dye is tested on animals.

Cupcake Batter
1 1/2 cups plain unsweetened hemp milk (really any non-dairy milk will work)
1/2 cup lime juice
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cups melted coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons lime zest chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Combine non-dairy milk and lime juice in a medium bowl. Allow to sit for 10 minutes to thicken. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. Add coconut oil, vanilla extract, and lime zest to the lime juice non-dairy milk mixture, whisking to combine.

3. Add wet ingredients to the flour mixture, stirring gently till no longer lumpy and the batter is smooth. Divide batter evenly into lined cupcake pan.

4. Bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Repeat the process till all of the batter is gone.

5. Allow the cupcakes to cool before frosting.

Raspberry Frosting
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup raspberries, pureed
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
2 Tablespoons vegan margarine
hemp milk to thin

1. Add pureed raspberries, vegetable shortening, vegan margarine and powdered sugar in a bowl. Blend until smooth, adding non-dairy milk to desired consistency.

2. Frost cupcakes and enjoy!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

How to 5S Your Kitchen

“Sort” “Straighten” “Shine” “Standardize” “Sustain”

In my quest to become zero waste, I started out on this task of organizing my kitchen. Before I knew about Lean and 5S, I was living the life of “Clean”, “Neat” and “Tidy”…. So the transition to a 5S kitchen was pretty natural. There are quite a few reasons that I believe this method of kitchen organization is important:

1. It enables me to buy food in bulk, which saves money
2. Buying in bulk also reduces the amount of packaging waste I produce
3. I spend less time shopping
4. It’s easy to keep track of what needs to be restocked, so I always have the ingredients I need on hand
5. I eat healthier, because I make everything myself

When I moved back to San Antonio from Colorado Springs, my kitchen evolved and no longer fit in the little pantry that came with the kitchen. Everything was crowded into the small shelving unit, and it was hard to keep track of what ingredients I had and what I needed.

This little pantry seemed to be more suitable for my small appliances. As for food storage, I decided to invest in a white baker’s rack, the the beginning of my 5S kitchen.

I pulled everything out of the pantry and put it instead on the baker’s rack; to help with straighten and sorting it’s best to have a clean shiny slate.

Since I do quite a bit of baking, I had several jars that all look the same. These are good to have around, because I purchase my kitchen staples from the bulk section in the grocery store. I organize the bulk flours, dried beans, dried fruit, etc. into these jars, and label them clearly with my black marker, making sure there is no confusion.

I love glass jars for the fact that you can run them through the dishwasher, and a simple black Sharpie marker will stay pretty nicely when you label the jars. You want to make sure that your food staples are clearly labeled; tapioca flour looks a lot like pastry flour.

If any of my jars are full, and I still have some of my pantry staple left over, I put the “back stock” into large containers to hold the extra until needed. Once my back stock is gone, I add those items to my grocery list.

To make it easier for me to find all of my ingredients, I put all of the “like” jars together and in alphabetical order, keeping it standardized. This is the easiest way for me to find everything quickly.

To make it even easier, the spot is left for the jar that is being used and I simply return it when I’m done measuring out what I need. White is the standardized color for my new pantry, which also makes it easier for me to find everything.

In these ways, my pantry system is sustainable.

There are so many things you can do to have a Lean kitchen, and pantry organization is just the beginning. What have you done to 5S your own kitchen?

Friday, July 3, 2015

Finally Finding My Own- Sorry It's SO long!

Finally Finding My Own

I have to start out with sharing some history with you.
Last year, 2014, was a little on the challenging side. When I moved back to San Antonio from Colorado Springs in 2013, I left the life that I had created. I left the friends that I had made and was missing them. I co-founded a meetup group and was beginning to find my footing. Things were looking up (even with the sort-of-crap job) and feeling very strapped. I had an apartment (that I was sharing with my mom-awesome) and my car was paid off and I was (and continue to) make great friends through meetup.

Well, this apartment ended up not to be great. (All I’m wanting is the stability of not having to move, and that ended up not happening.) I had 2 small fires in the apartment. Orange flames shooting out of an electric socket in the restroom and everything would go black. I would have lived with that, I would have just been satisfied and settled with that as a quirk of the apartment. However, the charm (said with sarcasm) continued; with a full on bedbug infestation.

At first I tried to work with the apartment complex and they we’re wanting to blame me for the infestation. (For the record, I have to say, I didn’t bring bedbugs in my stuff to that apartment. I wouldn’t have been sleeping on the same mattress for 30 years.) That’s when I got on the internet and started to research bedbugs, getting the facts so I could make the arguments to the apartment manager and ask neighbors about what happened to the unit before I moved in.

It turns out that the people that lived in the unit had left everything behind. I was told by the apartment office that the unit was infested with roaches. (Now, there are unwelcomed pests that are more nuisance and gross, but are tolerable. Bedbugs are not one of those unwelcomed pests.) I maybe saw one or two roaches, and walking out on a horrible temp assignment, I was able to be home and clean every day. I’d steam clean the tile and baseboards, I’d use borax, baking soda and vinegar to clean countertops and carpets. All of that kept the infestation in check. (Since my mom, when we moved in had seen three of these bugs, that we didn’t know what they were.) That lasted a month, and then I started my sort-of-crap job, and couldn’t keep that level of OCD.

March is when my middle niece found the infestation in a box of her favorite stuffed animals. Going back to working with the apartment complex, I reported the problem and was told that I needed to pay them $300 to pay for a pest control treatment from a company that has a shoddy record at best. When this company couldn’t answer my questions about what treatment they would use in the apartment and around my dogs. So, I found a pest control company that would answer all of my questions and really work with me. Now, April has come and everything in the apartment begins to get bagged; in heavy black trash bags and tied in tight knots (to keep bedbugs out). I started to use my car as a decontamination unit and living out of it. I would keep my clean clothes in the car, going down to my car in the morning in my robe getting my outfit for the day out of the car.

This goes on into May; pest control coming out to the apartment, me feeling like I’m living out of my car and continuing to talk to my neighbors, doing research. My mom had a doctors appointment, gets a stress test done and they find that she needs to go in for heart surgery. With all of this chaos going on, I start dating someone. He tells me (after dating him for some time) that he has a place that I can stay with the dogs. Now, I’m staying in 3 different places (a car, an apartment with bedbugs and a house) since bedbugs have been pushing me out of my home. When they would bite Fortune, he would pull his hair/fur out. I’m a horrible person, since I couldn’t find a place for my mom and her cat to stay and not be in the apartment.

I’d go to the apartment and spray everything down with Shout Bedbug/Flea killer, my mom would vacuum, pest control would spray, and within a week and a half time frame my mattress had no activity to being fully infested. I had a meltdown; the stress was making me lose my mind. Friends through the meetup group were supporting me, helping me with apartment/dwelling laws. I was calling the health department, housing and every other department I could think of to get out of the lease. This person that I was dating went in for the seriousness. He helped me with a storage unit to start empting my apartment. Then he helps me move the items into the storage unit and I’m thinking I’m getting help and support that I need at the moment.

It was a quick romance and he asked me to marry him, I was thinking (off of the conversations that we had) that it would be in May 2015. How wrong I was, seeing now that he wanted to take advantage of the fact that I was so distracted with mom having heart surgery, bedbugs, running a meetup group and working 40hrs a week. And, in between all of that, moving everything I own into a storage unit (non-temperature control-anything over 120 degrees kills the little bastards and makes them go pop) and facing $10,000 in damages. If that wasn’t stress enough, I was contacted by the apartment office and was told if I continued to talk about how crappy and horrible of a job that they were doing “in support” (also dripping with sarcasm) I’d be slapped with a gag order and sued for slander. The way I look at it, it’s not and can’t be slander if you’re telling the truth. So, I told them that “as far as I was concerned, I was moving out because I was getting married”. Still being very distracted, but having real conversations with this person, he lied to me.
He was controlling and jealous of my dogs and friends. When I was finally getting a haircut, he pulled out a ruler telling me that he would measure how much I was getting “trimmed”. He planned everything, saying that since I’m the organizer of a meetup group and planned everything, he wanted to give me a break. At work, he would be jealous of co-workers and say that I didn’t need to talk to anyone except to my husband. (All of this came out after I married him.) I was married to this person for 87 days. 3 days after the wedding party, we filed for an annulment. I wasn’t going to be a submissive stepford wife; I never acted like that while we were dating and wasn’t going to be like that in marriage. He then told me that I could stay in the spare bedroom, but I would have to do the cooking, cleaning and grocery shopping by myself. He expected me to say yes to that arrangement, since money was tight. He threatened my dogs and me that night. I sent out the mass text message to my friends letting them know what happened.

I have great friends in my life. The next day, since I had to find a place to live and called into work, one of my great friends met me at the house where I thought I was going to live. I told her what was going on and what had led up to the previous night and she said “you’re packing a bag, taking the dogs and coming to stay with me”. “Does he honestly think you have no friends that will take you in?!” So, I went to stay with my friend and other friends helped me move my stuff (still going through decontamination mode) to her house; where I rented a room from her for me and my dogs. To this day I’m thankful to her for all that she was able to help me with, and I started dating someone who is a brilliant man. He is a real man, honest and trusting, not going to act like a 4 year old because he never matured. I’m still starting over, having to replace my large key pieces of furniture (sofa, bed, dining room table and chairs, etc.) and I still have the furniture that I was able to salvage in storage. (In November, it will be over a year and fingers crossed that there is no activity from bedbugs.) My clothes have to be dry cleaned before coming into the apartment and I just had to replace my janky car. I did get a new job that is helping me. No more sexual harassment, paying me a living wage and a supervisor that respects me.