Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happiness is....


And a friend to snuggle with!

Wishing you all the best this holiday season, from our home to yours!


Saturday, December 20, 2008

I Only THOUGHT It Was Cold Before...

Now it is 9 degrees outside and let me tell you, THAT is cold!! Luckily, I have all sorts of fabulous knitware to keep me warm. All that's missing is the perfect, well-fitting sweater :-) (I'll keep trying for that one!)

I made the "Raw Parmesan Cheese" from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Vegan Cooking by Beverly Lynn Bennett and Ray Sammartano. It is so delicious! Fair warning: it doesn't taste anything like parmesan cheese. (This is a good thing in my book!) It's just a yummy topping for Italian food or salad or soup or pizza or whatever. It tastes vaguely cheese-ish, due to the nutritional yeast, so you must like nutritional yeast if you make it. It's a sprinkle-on kind of topping, not something you melt. Okay, enough already! Here is the recipe; try it if you dare:

Raw Parmesan Cheese

3/4 C whole raw almonds
3 Tbs raw sesame seeds
3/4 C nutritional yeast flakes
pinch sea salt

Process almonds and sesame seeds in the food processor for 1-2 minutes, until finely ground.
Add nutritional yeast flakes and salt; process for 1 more minute.
(That's it.)
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.

I just read another book that I really enjoyed. It's called The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted by Elizabeth Berg. It's a collection of short stories, about women, and about things they do or revelations they have as they mature. The stories are really great, rather poignant, but not sad. Just... so true. It's a quick read; take a look.

Okay, I have 2 questions for you. First: what is your favorite vegetarian/vegan cookbook, and why? Second: what is your "go to" meal? What is that one thing you make to eat when you are really hungry but don't have anything prepared or planned or maybe not much food in the house? What do you fall back on eating in times of desperation? OR, what is that one meal you love so much that you secretly eat it all the time??

I'll tell you a few things I "go to" in my times of need. First, for general purposes, I almost always have some cooked grains in the fridge, usually brown rice, but sometimes white rice or rice leftover from Chinese take out. Sometimes it's quinoa. Or couscous. Then I steam or microwave some frozen vegetables (always have a huge bag of stir fry veggies from Costco in the freezer.) Veggies go on top of grains, then I might add some peanut sauce, some tahini dressing, or just tamari and gomasio. That's my main emergency meal. A close second, because I love it, is a can of Rotel tomatoes, a can of drained black beans, and a half of a cake of tofu, diced. Mix these 3 things, warm it up, serve it over grains or baked potatoes or even by itself. Excellent.

I am just jumping around here, aren't I? Knitting some fingerless mitts and finishing the socks (both holiday gifts). Enjoying staying warm by the fire. Hope you are all feeling warm and delicious, too.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Officially, it's still FALL!

Sure feels like winter to me! Yesterday, Mike and I went shopping and I couldn't believe how cold it was. To reward ourselves for finishing, we stopped in at a restaurant and had a snack. Mike was facing so he was looking out the window and he kept saying, "Look! Those people are running! I wonder what's going on?" We thought something horrible was happening. As time went on and we saw people running back and forth, we figured out that nothing horrible was happening. People were running because they were COLD!!

Okay, I'm a bit dumb. I was planning my bean ball experiments and, as I continued reading Veganomicon, I realized that there is a recipe for bean balls that uses seitan in the book! Duh! No need to reinvent the wheel. Still... their recipe uses kidney beans which just aren't my favorite, so I guess I will play with it a little bit. More soon...

Here is a salad I made this weekend that I really enjoyed. It was filling, yet not too heavy. I made it to go with our homemade pizzas and it all went, so I guess everyone liked it.

1-1/2 C frozen, shelled edamame, thawed
1-1/2 C frozen corn, thawed
1 C diced cucumber (I used one of those seedless hothouse cukes)
1/2 C chopped red onion or scallions
1-2 Tbs toasted sesame oil
3-4 Tbs rice vinegar
1/2 to 1 Tbs miso
black pepper, to taste
(salt, if you wish, depending on amount of miso used)

Put all the veggies in a bowl. Whisk together the sesame oil, vinegar and miso and pour it onto the veggies and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste.
I didn't really measure anything, but you can just adjust the dressing to your own taste.

I've been reading The Complete Idiot's Guide to Vegan Cooking over the weekend and I really like it. I made the "Spiced Pumpkin Pecan Loaf" (photo above) and it was so delicious! There are two things I am really interested in trying. One is called "Vegan Cheese Sauce Mix." You make up a dry mix which includes cashews, oats, sunflower seeds, nutritional yeast, arrowroot, and some other spices, which you grind up in the food processor. You store this mix in your fridge, and then, whenever you need a "cheeze" sauce, you whisk some mix with soy milk or water and warm it up on the stove. Brilliant. You can serve it over potatoes or pasta or vegetables or whatever.

Then there is the "Raw Parmesan Cheese." I don't really like parmesan cheese; the smell really puts me off. However, I do like some little something on top of my pasta or whatever. Usually, I used gomasio, which I love, but an alternative would be nice. This is a mixture of raw almonds, sesame seeds, nutritional yeast and a pinch of sea salt. Doesn't that sound good? I'll let you know what I think once I make it.

Anne asked what my favorite vegetarian cookbook is. Hmmm.... good question. I'm the first to admit that I'm rather fickle and my preferences change every day! I guess the thing that would make a cookbook a favorite would be that all the recipes I try are good. So, for today anyway, some of my favorites are:

The Joy of Vegan Baking by Colleen Patrick Goudreau; every recipe is a winner. The recipes are written so clearly and with such care, it's just a joy to read and cook with it.

Quick-Fix Vegetarian by Robin Robertson. Everything I've tried has been wonderful. Quick and easy recipes, easy to double, easy to find ingredients.

Great Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure by Lorna J. Sass. Pressure cooking bible!

The Vegetarian Family Cookbook by Nava Atlas. One of my kitchen fixtures.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Well, you all know that I am a vegetarian who loves to cook and experiment; I am into yoga; and I enjoy knitting. I thought that these three things would be descriptive enough and give me lots of blogging topics, but I neglected to mention the very heart of what I am: I am a reader! Yes, it's true, I always have my nose in a book. My house is loaded with overflowing book shelves. There are piles of books on my nightstand and on the floor next to my bed. I have a huge list of books on request from the library. My Amazon wish list is long and evolving and ever-changing. I read everything from cover to cover, including cookbooks and knitting books. Everything. VERY RARELY to I not finish a book, and it's a sad day when I give up on one. That's not to say that I don't have many books in my pile that I've been reading for years. Yes, YEARS! I just put a bookmark in them and pick them up when the urge strikes!

So, I thought I'd share a few of my current reads with you, in no particular order:

1. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Vegan Cooking by Beverly Lynn Bennett and Ray Sammartano
This book is great! Lots of basics and mostly recipes. My favorite features are the "extras," which are little tips, explanations, definitions, and pitfall alerts. I always learn something new! There are some soups I must try.

2. Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., MD
I love science and I love learning more about how the human body works. The first half of the book explains heart disease in great detail. Dr. Esselstyn has done a study on reversing it using diet and nutrition. The diet is VERY strict, vegan with absolutely no added fat and no high fat foods, but it sure beats open heart surgery. The second half of the book is recipes.

3. Knitting Nature by Norah Gaughan
Sort of combines knitting and science! (and/or math... but don't let that scare you away!! Norah does the math for you!) Norah has a biology degree AND an art degree and she combines the two in her knitting in amazing ways. In this book, all of her patterns are inspired by nature and I am just fascinated by reading about the creative and innovative ways she uses different stitches to make unusual shapes. Beautiful!

4. Custom Knits by Wendy Bernard
I mentioned this one before; still working on it. Wendy has designed a bunch of sweaters, nearly all worked in the round, top down, no seams! She has a ton of advice about how to achieve the perfect fit, which I hope will be helpful! I'm trying to choose the sweater I will knit after I finish my Christmas knitting...

5. The Yin Yoga Kit: The Practice of Quiet Power by Biff Mithoefer
Trying to expand my yoga repertoire! I took a yin yoga class with Sarah Powers and it was truly life-changing for me. In yin yoga, you practice poses which specifically address the bones and connective tissues of the body, mainly between the navel and the knees. (as opposed to "regular" or yang yoga, which focuses more on the muscles.) This book and kit comes with practice cards, which allows me to choose one of two yin poses to add to my practice. This is such an over-simplified explanation; ask me if you want to know more!

6. Indigo Dying by Susan Wittig Albert
(heavy sigh.) Oh, I just love these books!! Yes, I always have some cookbooks in the pile, and knitting, and yoga, but the true loves of my books are the mysteries! Oh, I dabble in historical fiction and popular non-fiction, but give me a good mystery and a cup of tea and I'm all set. Indigo Dying is the 11th book in the China Bayles mystery series. Yes, I am a bit late to the China Bayles tea party, but Susan is still writing the series and I am delighted. China Bayles was a high-powered Houston lawyer, but she woke up one morning and quit her job and bought an herb shop in a small Texas town. Somehow, there is always a mystery for China to solve, often with the help of her best friend, new age fanatic Ruby, and/or her partner, ex-cop Mike McQuaid. I don't want to give too much away!

When I read fiction, especially mysteries, I want something that is smart, well-written, thoughtful. I like character development, especially throughout a series. I like real-life situations, suitable to the time period of the novel. I really dislike series where the plot and theme are the same within every book. The China Bayles series is just about perfect! You get characters you really care about; fun and interesting plots and mysteries; all around good reads! You don't HAVE to read them in order, but you should.

To add even more to the books, Susan loads them with lore and facts about herbs. She has all sorts of folk-loric medicines and even recipes! If you are an herb lover, you must read these books! Once you get addicted, you can visit Susan's websites and blogs and sign up for her newsletters, which are well-written and full of fun facts about writing, about all of Susan's books, about Susan's life (which, ahem, includes knitting:-) and more about herbs.

No, I'm not affiliated in any way; I just really enjoy reading this series. I bet you will too!!

Back to Christmas shopping....

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A Warm Neck is a Happy Neck

Yes, I do realize that I've been neglecting my knitting posts! Don't worry, though; I haven't been neglecting my knitting :-) I'm just busily working on my holiday projects, and I don't want to give anything away. I will share my latest finished object with you now, simply because it is so beautiful and delicious. (modesty aside...)

It started with the Noro scarf that everyone who is anyone is knitting right now. (just in case you aren't anyone, you can look at the scarf and the pattern here: )

Yes, it is beautiful. Beautiful!! The Noro colors are truly unrivaled and simply breathtaking. However, like many people, I have some Noro issues. Two are minor, but one is so major it's almost a deal-breaker. First off, there are always bits of grass and leaves and twigs in the yarn. I know it's minor and easy to pick out, but why? Why can't they clean the vegetable matter out of their yarn?

Second, why is the yarn so scratchy? I don't mean itchy like your normal wool, I mean sharp and scratchy. I have heard that the Silk Garden is much softer after it's washed, but I have never tried Silk Garden, because of issue number three, which is the biggie:

KNOTS. (that's plural). Every skein of Noro Kureyon I have used has had knots in it. The worst part is, wherever the knots occur, the yarn colors are joined randomly. So... you are knitting along, enjoying the surprise of the gradual, beautiful color changes, eagerly awaiting the next change, when you come to a knot. The gradual color change turns into an abrupt and seemingly random color change which can pretty much ruin the beauty of the thing you are knitting. If you have knit with this yarn, you know what I'm talking about. I have tried piecing together skeins to keep the colors going, which is a huge pain in the neck. Plus, I ended up buying way more yarn than I needed and I couldn't help but wonder: WHY??? Let's just add that the price of the yarn is not cheap.

Noro felts like a dream and adds a dash of beauty to any felted knitting, but I'm not really interested in dealing the with knots right now. So, I won't be knitting the Noro scarf... at least not immediately. (I never say never. I reserve the right to change my mind completely.) I really don't have time to deal with it while trying to complete my holiday knitting.

However... I do love the scarf. I love the way the 1x1 ribbing looks, the way the scarf lies flat, the neat edges. I'm not a huge fan of knitting miles and miles of ribbing, though. Could I make it through an entire scarf? Absolutely! Not only did I make it, the knitting went quickly and easily and I enjoyed it and might make another one!

Here are some pictures of my scarf. I used Patons SWS (Soy Wool Stripes). I chose this yarn because I still longed for the gradual color changes of Noro. These colors aren't nearly as beautiful or brilliant as Noro, but it's still pretty in a very subtle way. I didn't alternate two different colors; I just knit it up. It's soft, no veggies, and not one single knot in all three skeins! If you are interested, I used size 8 needles, cast on 29 stitches, and slipped the first and last stitch of every other row, the row that begins with a purl stitch, slipping purlwise with yarn in front. It made a neat and pretty edge.

Yes, it is a Christmas gift... but for whom??

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Bean Balls!

Oh, I know. It's the time of year when I should be thinking about tofurky, and sweet potatoes, and stuffing, and... pie, I guess. But, all I can think about is creating the perfect bean balls!

Okay, everyone loves spaghetti and meatballs, right? Great, filling, easy meal. Of course, if you don't eat meat, you go with meatless meatballs. There are some great ones out there! Nate's Meatless Meatballs are our favorites. However, they aren't exactly cheap, and when you are feeding a family of 5, including 2 teens and 1 pre-teen, you definitely need more than one bag for a hearty, filling meal. I just knew this was something I could make at home. They would be fresher, tastier, healthier and cheaper!

My first attempts involved using veggie ground round, a vegetarian ground beef substitute. Honestly, they weren't that good. And, the veggie ground round cost almost as much as the meatballs. Plus, they were sort of a pain in the neck to make.

Next, I tried tofu balls. I really liked them, but Mike did not. He thinks he doesn't like tofu. In reality, he only doesn't like tofu that he can see or taste. Or, if he knows it's in there. I have to be sneaky about tofu use:-)

My latest spark of genius was to try bean balls! I was completely inspired by a recipe I found in "How to Cook Everything Vegetarian" by Mark Bittman. Have you seen this book? Nearly 1000 pages of, literally, how to cook everything. How to peel it, how to cut it, how to cook it in many different ways, how to change it, how to serve it. I borrowed it from the library and I don't want to give it back. It definitely requires a renewal or two, just to get through it all.

So... I took the recipe for "The Simplest Bean Burgers." I changed it a little bit, to make it more compatible with Italian marinara sauce; shaped it into little balls, and baked them up. They were very, very good!! Here's the adapted recipe:

2 C cooked chickpeas, or 1 can, rinsed and drained (if they are homemade, reserve a bit of the bean-cooking liquid)
1 medium onion, quartered
1/2 C rolled oats (not instant)
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp garlic powder, or granulated garlic, or 1-2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
1 egg (I did use a real egg)
bean-cooking liquid or stock, if necessary

Combine everything in the food processor and pulse until chunky (not pureed). Add a little bit of liquid, if necessary, to make a nice moist mixture that holds together well. (I think I added too much liquid, so be judicious.)
Let mixture rest a few minutes. In the fridge if possible. Even better, if you have time, make the mixture well ahead of time and let it chill in the fridge for a while. I did this and it makes the mixture much easier to handle.
Next, make the balls. I used a small cookie scoop, about 1 Tbs size. Smaller is better. (!)
Place the bean balls on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 425 for about 15-20 minutes, until lightly browned.

The bean balls were very tasty; everyone loved them. They seemed a little bit fragile, so I just piled them onto plates and then ladled sauce on top, instead of actually cooking them in the sauce. Very good!

However.... not perfect. Yet. Next, I was reading some recipes in "Veganomicon" by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero... have you checked out this cookbook? Oh, my. You really, really should. But, let's stick to bean balls, for now. They have a recipe for chickpea cutlets, which I simply had to try. They are sort of similar to the bean balls with one major exception: they use vital wheat gluten, which gives them a very firm texture, like seitan. They were delicious, though I might have made mine a bit too thin, so they were perhaps a bit too firm. Easily remedied with lots of gravy:-)

So... my next experiment will be to try to merge the two recipes into the absolutely most perfect bean balls!! I'll keep you posted. In the meantime, do try the bean balls! They are delicious and you won't be disappointed.

Oh~ have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
With many thanks~

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Yoga DVD is HERE!

That was quick! The yoga DVD arrived yesterday, so I thought I'd explore it a little bit with you. It's called "OM Yoga & Meditation Workshop." The presenters are Cyndi Lee and David Nichtern. Cyndi is a well-known yoga instructor and owner of the OM Yoga Studios in NYC. David is a meditation teacher, and also a musician.

When you open it up, there is a little booklet that explains the program along with some FAQs; there is a music CD; and then there is the workshop DVD.

The booklet explains the background, what's on the DVD, how to prepare for yoga and meditation practice, and what the benefits of each practice are. There are also details about the music CD and additional products/websites for you to use to continue your practice.

The music CD is really good. As expected, it's 10 tracks of relaxing, east-to-listen to music, suitable for practicing yoga to or just listening to. The thing that I really like about it is that it's not the slow, ethereal, new age-y music that I usually practice yoga to. While the "typical" music is very relaxing and soothing, it can also get boring, and I'm ready for a bit of a change. The tracks are mostly instrumental; only 2 or 3 tracks have words. The music is a bit more jazz-y than you might expect, yet still relaxing and perfect for yoga practice.

The workshop DVD has 4 yoga and 5 meditation sessions, each about 15 minutes in length. I think this is my favorite part! I often put off my yoga practice (or meditation) because I don't have much time, but I can always find 15 minutes. It's divided into 4 sections, with each section having a meditation practice and then a yoga sequence. Of course, you can mix it up a little bit, or do only one part or another.

The first part is called "Making Friends with Yourself." The meditation portion is very introductory and thorough. David tells you how to seat yourself comfortably, where to put your hands, how to hold your eyes. (slightly open!) He then leads you through a very simple meditation, focusing on your breath. I enjoyed it, and it is perfectly suitable for someone who has never meditated before.

Then, Cyndi leads a yoga sequence. She says the yoga on this DVD is suitable for beginner or intermediate students, and I agree, providing the beginner student has had some prior yoga instruction. This is not an instructional DVD, it's a yoga practice. I wouldn't recommend this DVD as your very first yoga class, but it's great if you've taken a few classes or done some instructional DVDs and are ready for more. Cyndi starts with some seated stretches, then downward dog, then several sun salutations in a row. They aren't too vigorous, but they will get your heart pumping. The first couple of sun salutations use the "knees-chest-chin" version of chaturanga dandasana (yoga push-up); then she moves into a full chaturanga dandasana. Of course, you are free to modify any/all of the poses, provided you know how to modify. After some gentle spinal twists, Cyndi moves you into halasana (plow pose) and then shoulderstand. Again, not difficult poses if you've had some instruction.

So far, the DVD is a lot of fun! I will share more information about the rest of the tracks later. Until then.... happy yoga!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I Don't Like Pie!

There. I've said it, loud and clear, for all the world to hear. I sincerely do not like pie.

That's not to say that I've never eaten pie, or that I won't ever eat pie again. There is one part of the pie that's quite good: the inside. The outside is yukky. That's correct: I don't like crust. I don't like it thick, or thin; flaky or doughy; homemade or frozen. I don't like it with butter, or oil, or shortening. I just don't like it.

I like the insides, usually. I love baked apples and cherries. And blueberries! I love the inside of pecan pie, even though I'm not sure exactly what the gooey stuff is. Key lime pie isn't bad. Overall, I'll pass on coconut cream, or any of the pudding fillings. And, I'm sorry to to say, that does include pumpkin.

I'll give you that there's nothing like the smell of pumpkin pie and spices wafting out of the oven. Makes my mouth water just thinking about it! But then, I take a bite, and it's all pudding-y and crusty and it's just not my thing. Pumpkin bread: yes! Pumpkin cookies: absolutely! Pumpkin pie: I'll pass.

I realize that I am an anomaly, both in my family and probably, in my country. So, concessions must be made. I will share with you two ways I wriggle around the pie requirements.

First off is the Impossible Pumpkin Pie. (Thanks for the link, Karen!!) This comes to you courtesy of Susan Voisin of the Fatfree Vegan Blog, at Okay, remember those "impossible pies" from the Bisquick mix boxes? Like, "impossible cheeseburger pie"? Where you mix up a bunch of stuff, pour it into a pan, and it automatically makes its own crust? Yes, it's like that, and it's really that easy. You just put some stuff into a blender, blend it, pour it into the pie plate and bake it. There are no weird ingredients or anything. Does it taste good? I don't know. Have you forgotten already? I don't like pie! Here's the one I made yesterday, and today, it's gone, so I guess the four pie-eaters in the house think it tastes pretty good!

If you want to try it yourself, here is the link to the recipes and some lovely pictures on Susan's blog: You should really spend some time browsing around there, for delicious recipes and beautiful photographs.

The big question is always: What about Thanksgiving? It's almost illegal NOT to have some kind of pie on Thanksgiving, right? I solve this problem by making Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie. First of all, it has a graham cracker crust. I don't love it, but it's not bad. You can make your own or buy one pre-made; makes no difference to me. The filling is just pumpkin, any kind of vanilla ice cream (made with rice milk, or soy milk, or cow's milk), brown sugar and spices. Incredibly easy, perfect to make ahead of time, and even I will eat it! Here's the recipe, if you want to give it a try:

Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie

  • 1 C canned pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 quart vanilla ice cream
  • 1 9" graham cracker pie crust

Combine first 4 ingredients. Mix until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the slightly softened ice cream. Pour into pie crust. Freeze 4-6 hours or until firm. Garnish with chopped pecans and whipped cream.

One final note: The rest of my family likes it topped with whipped cream, but not me. You see, I don't like whipped cream! But, that's a topic for another time:-)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A Prize, A Recipe, A Secret

First of all, I won something!! I was checking my email the other day, and one had a subject line that said: "WINNER YBBM OM yoga DVD." At first, I thought perhaps I had won the British lottery AGAIN. My finger hovered over the delete key, but I thought, "Wait a minute...." I suddenly remembered that I had entered a contest! The contest was sponsored by the OM Yoga Studios in New York City, and the grand prize was a trip to Kripalu to attend a weekend workshop called "Yoga Body, Buddha Mind." All I had to do was tell them why I love OM yoga, in 200 words or so.

The fact is, I DO love OM yoga. I've never been to their studios, but I took a workshop with Cyndi Lee (studio owner) a couple of years ago at the Yoga Journal Conference in San Francisco. She is an amazing teacher and really helped me to connect-the-dots with some of my physical issues with yoga as well as my spiritual practice. So, I wrote a few paragraphs and sent it in. And, I actually won something!! No, I didn't win the trip to Kripalu, but I'm not sitting around feeling sorry for myself. I won an OM yoga DVD and I'm simply thrilled! Thinking positively, I will be able to watch the DVD over and over again and study it and really learn. I will be sure to post a review as soon as I receive it. Meanwhile, many thanks to Cyndi and everyone at OM.

Now, for a quick recipe. Did you ever just get a craving for something, and then eat it and eat it and eat it some more, and love every single bite? That's where I'm at right now. I made this white bean spread and I love it to pieces. The very best way to eat it is thickly spread on a piece of toast, or, even better, a whole grain bagel. My mouth is watering. The beans make it almost buttery, and the pine nuts give it a little bit of richness. If you feel the craving coming on, give it a try:

White Bean Spread

2 Tbs pine nuts
1 clove garlic
1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained (reserve juice if organic)
1 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs lemon juice
optional: chopped fresh parsley or other fresh herb, to taste
Salt (1 tsp, +/-)
pepper to taste
optional: dash of Tabasco sauce

Pulse the garlic and pine nuts in the food processor until nuts are chopped finely.
Add the cannellini beans, olive oil, and a couple of Tbs of the reserved bean juice (or warm water or broth) and process well, until smooth. Add the lemon juice, optional parsley and salt and pepper, and pulse to combine.
That's basically it. It tastes better if you can let it set a bit before digging in. I sometimes add the Tabasco if I'm using it as a dip. So good.

Finally, I'm going to share one of my secrets. It's a knitting secret. It's a knitting project that I started a long time ago and never finished. I have no idea why! I love the yarn, love the project, hope to finish it eventually. I just don't feel like it! How's that for an excuse? I'm hoping that by digging it out, taking a picture, and sharing it with my hundreds of readers (that was a joke!) I will get inspired to work on it again.

Without further ado, here is my scribble shawl/scarf: (see, I'm not even sure what it is!)

If you are not familiar with scribble scarves, it's a scarf knit with a laceweight/very thin yarn, and also with a very, very thick yarn, using big needles. It's sort of airy and open, but has an interesting texture with the thicker yarn. I'm using Rowan Kidsilk Haze and Colinette Giotto, a ribbon yarn. The effect is sort of... artsy.

Comments are welcome. "Rip it out!" "Finish it, for goodness sake!" "What is it?" These are all great comments. I'm just hoping for a little bit of inspiration!

(Did you notice that I was able to combine veggies, yoga and knitting in ONE post?? Don't expect to see that again:-)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Loaf of Bread....

Call me crazy; I can take it. I just can't take any more high fructose corn syrup or partially hydrogenated oils. I don't want them in my food or in my house or in my body. They are not welcome here! I'm not going to go into a lot of explanations here, but rest assured that high fructose corn syrup is a cheap sugar substitute that the body doesn't even recognize as a food, and that partially hydrogenated oils are the worst kinds of fat you can ingest. Nuff said.

Yesterday, I stopped by gigantic store-which-shall-remain-nameless in search of some hot dog buns for some Tofurky sausage "hoagies" for dinner last night. I was SO MAD that I could not find any hot dog buns without the offending ingredients! Hamburger buns, yes; hot dog buns, no. Why? As I read the ingredients on the hamburger buns, I was sort of stunned by the long list. I decided that I really didn't want any of that stuff in my home, so I decided to roll my own:-) (Sorry; that just worked so well there, don't you think?)

Now, time was not exactly at a premium, having wasted the entire morning reading labels at gigantic store, among other things. So, I needed something quick. As I pulled into the garage, my headlights illuminated: THE BREAD MACHINE. I got the bread machine as a wedding gift, oh those 17+ years ago, and I used to love it. Somewhere along the way, our love affair staled... maybe when the Kitchen Aid mixer moved in. Then, I became all about shapes and crusts and textures, and the bread machine moved to the garage. But yesterday, I remembered the "Dough" cycle. You know, where the machine mixes and rises for you, then you can pull the dough out and shape it and bake it however you wish!

I found an old recipe that can be used for rolls, changed it, and let 'er rip. The dough was a bit sticky, but I rolled out some little logs, let them rise again, and popped them into the oven. The results were... delicious! They were sturdy little rolls that tasted simple and lovely.

Today, Tuesday, is my crazy-busy day. I planned on a pot of soup for dinner and thought I'd pick up some bread at the store, but the bread machine was still sitting on the counter, so I thought: why not? Juggled a little bit, guessed on the baking time and the bread is ready and waiting for dinner! Here is a picture of today's loaf, and one leftover roll from yesterday:

Here is the recipe, if you still have your bread machine sitting around:

Easy Bread or Rolls

(NOTE: on the first day I used a real egg; on the second day I used Ener-G egg replacer. They both worked fine. I used olive oil, but you could use canola oil or even melted butter/spread. I used soy milk, but I'm sure it would work fine with rice milk or dairy milk.)

1/2 C soy milk
1/2 C water
equivalent of 1 large egg
1 Tbs olive oil
1-1/2 C all purpose flour
1-1/2 C whole wheat flour
1 Tbs. vital wheat gluten
1 tsp salt
1 scant Tbs yeast

Place ingredients into your bread machine and set for the dough cycle.
When it beeps, turn out your dough onto a lightly floured surface.
Form into a large "log" for a large loaf of bread, or, divide into about 8 equal pieces. Roll out into mini logs for hot dog buns, or mini rounds for hamburger buns.
Place shaped loaves onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet, which has been lightly sprinkled with cornmeal. Cover lightly with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let rise again for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375.
Place the baking sheet in the center rack and bake until lightly browned. It will take 15-20 minutes or so for the rolls, depending on size, and about 30 minutes for the large loaf.

That's it for today; tvp recipes coming soon, I promise!!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Mad About Tweed!

First, the sweater. Yes, I did finish it! I washed it and carefully blocked it and let it dry, and then I tried it on. The verdict: well, I don't love it. I want to love it, I really, really do!! But, I don't. Even though I swatched, and washed the swatch, and carefully measured, and tried on, it's just not quite what I had hoped for. Now that I look at it, I wonder if I made the smartest choice of patterns? Do I really need a sweater that HUGS my tummy? It feels a little snug. And the sleeves are snug. I'm not really sure. I'm going to let it chill out in my closet for a while and then try it on again, with different things under it, and hope I'll change my mind.

However, I am NOT daunted!! Not in the least!! I love knitting top down sweaters right now and I'm going to give it another whirl. I'm even willing to try "bottom up" sweaters, if they are knit in the round. Different pattern, different gauge, different yarn, namely: TWEED. I don't know why, but I'm suddenly, inexplicably smitten with tweed! I found some beautiful tweed on sale at, and WEBS has some Cascade tweed on sale. So, now I am in search of the perfect sweater pattern, one that will be suitable in tweed.

Here's how my search is going: I started with this book, appropriately titled "Tweed" by Nancy J. Thomas. There are some seriously beautiful sweaters here, especially the Carrick Pullover, a tweedy, ribbed turtleneck. However, all of these patterns are knit in pieces and then seamed together. I don't feel like doing that right now, for whatever reason. And I'm certainly not ready to do a major pattern conversion yet. So, my search continues...

I love Wendy Bernard's blog and patterns (, and I heard that her new book, "Custom Knits," is all about top-down sweaters, so I decided to check it out. This could be "IT"!! Beautiful patterns, truly, with detailed directions (which I need) and customization options! I haven't read the whole thing yet, but I am anxious to get started. I love many of the patterns and I hope I can figure them out. And, find one that will be perfect in tweed!! Maybe this one?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Ahimsa, and More About Food :-)

I don't intend on writing a novel about yogic philosophy; others are much better at that than I am. All I am really planning on doing today is explaining a tiny bit about yoga and how it relates to the food I eat. Or don't eat.

In this country, we tend to think of yoga as a strictly physical practice. Stretching, posing, balancing and twisting come to mind. In its origins, yoga is much more than a physical practice. In fact, the physical postures (asana) are a very small part of what yoga is all about.

The first person to actually write down details about yoga was a man named Patanjali, sometime between 500 and 200 BC. His writings are known as "The Eight-Limb Path of Yoga", also called "The Eight-Fold Path." They describe eight different parts (or limbs), which are further broken down into 196 succinct lessons on the nature of the human condition, human potential, and how the potential can be realized. The asana (postures) are only one of the eight limbs.

Two of the limbs are the yamas and the niyamas, which are the five moral restraints and five observances, respectively. Narrowing our focus to the yamas, we look at the very first yama, which is ahimsa. Ahimsa roughly translates to mean "non-violence." When I first thought about non-violence, I thought about physical violence, and I was almost dismissive, thinking this couldn't possibly apply to me! I am not a physically violent person! However, as is often the case, non-violence goes much deeper than the physical level.

Ahimsa pertains to non-violence to self and to others, in thoughts, words and deeds. Oh. I get it. The very first thing I thought was: Oh, I am so stupid! The second thing was: Oh, wait a minute. Was that thought violent towards myself? And the simple answer: Yes. Listen to the chatter in your head. How often do you think bad thoughts about yourself? If you are like me, it's a scary realization how often I put myself down in my head. What about thinking bad thoughts about others? Gossip? Just being mean? These are all the things I work on, constantly.

Many people believe that ahimsa is the cornerstone of yoga, perhaps even the most important aspect. I have heard of ahimsa being described as "the opposite of love." When I was in my yoga teacher training program, my teacher just assumed we were all vegetarians. I admitted I was not and didn't understand what eating meat had to do with yoga. I came to understand that non-violence to others doesn't just refer to other humans. My teacher asked that I stopped eating meat for at least one month and studied ahimsa, and how it pertains to animals. That was the beginning of my vegetarian journey.

I stopped eating meat and I felt so much better, and happier, and... lighter, maybe. And I studied and learned and deepened my understanding of ahimsa, how it relates to me personally, and how it relates to our world. I don't expect everyone to agree with or understand my decision. I try not to be judgemental of what anyone chooses to eat. I understand that our society defines food as "meat and potatoes," and I don't forget that, for most of my life, so did I. This month, I celebrate my 10th year of being vegetarian. I am not, nor have I ever been perfect! To me, it's more about being aware and making conscious, informed choices, about the food I eat, and about the way I live my life.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Come and Bake With Me!!

Am I the only one who likes "falling back"? I love waking up feeling well-rested and refreshed and realizing it's only 7:00am! I love it when the days get shorter, and it gets dark earlier, and I can snuggle up inside with a fire in the fireplace and cookies, cobbler or pie in the oven. Yes, that's what I said: Cookies and cobblers and pies, OH MY!
Yes, I am very health and nutrition conscious. I watch and worry about everything my family eats. I am into healthy eating; I'm NOT into deprivation! Besides, I know the kids are going to eat baked goods anyway. I'd much rather have them eat something I bake at home than anything store-bought. I know I'm not alone here!

So this year, as the darkness creeps in earlier and the holidays approach and the urge to bake strikes, I am more prepared than ever. I am not going to dig out the index cards, the newspaper and magazine clippings, or the post-it note recipes. I have everything I need in one place: "The Joy of Vegan Baking" by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau!

WAIT!!! Don't close the blog window just because you saw the word "vegan"!! I promise you, these are recipes that everyone will love. No weird, hard to find ingredients; just pure delicious! I have made an embarrassing number of these recipes and I assure you, not one crumb has been left by any vegetarian, vegan or omnivore who cared to indulge!

This is a big, beautiful book filled with color photos. Colleen gives clear explanations about all of her substitutions, including what to use for eggs and butter. There are tips throughout the book for making the preparations even easier, not that any of them are difficult. There is also a lot of fun "food lore," with which you can dazzle your friends with your brilliance, or pick up a few extra points while playing "Jeopardy."

And the recipes. Oh, the recipes. Let's be clear: these are not health food recipes. They are REAL baked goods, with sugar and spice and everything nice; just no animal products or by-products. The chapters include muffins and biscuits, quick breads, cakes, pies, cookies, pastries, yeast breads, puddings, candies, smoothies, beverages, toppings, and so much more. No one is recommending that you indulge in these foods every day; but when you do indulge, these recipes are the ones you should make. (Although, I could easily make a case for eating the Waffles II every single day! The recipe is oil-free and you just whip up the waffle batter in your blender!) But, I digress.

I have to say a few words about Colleen, who I have never met, yet I feel like I know her from her blog and podcasts. She is a fantastic cook who is passionate about sharing her compassion for animals. Please, check out what she has to say at: I guarantee that you will be both educated and moved by her words.

Colleen gave me permission to share one of her recipes with you. It was a difficult choice, because honestly, every single thing I've made from her cookbook has been wonderful. In the end, I decided to share her recipe for chocolate brownies. This is a recipe I've made several times and we all love it. These are thick, moist, chewy brownies, sure to please. I feel really good about these brownies because, while there is fat from the chocolate chips and nuts (ooh, ooh, nuts have GOOD fats:-), there is no added oil or fat. Here is my latest batch, fresh out of the oven: (sorry I didn't clean up the baking dish a bit, but notice it's my Le Creuset dish:-)

Chocolate Brownies

1-1/2 C granulated sugar
3/4 C unsweetened applesauce
2 Tbs water
2 tsp ground flaxseeds
1/2 C water
2 tsp vanilla extract
1-1/3 C unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 C unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 C nondairy semisweet chocolate chips
1 C coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. With canola oil, grease an 8x8 inch baking pan.
In a medium bowl, stir together sugar, applesauce and 2 Tbs water.
In a small bowl or food processor, combine ground flaxseed with 1/2 C water. Add this to the applesauce mixture, along with vanilla and stir to combine.
In a separate small bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt, chocolate chips and nuts. Add to the applesauce mixture and stir just to combine.
Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes, or longer if you like a cakier result.
Let cool before cutting. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days (AS IF!!) or in the freezer up to 3 months.

You will love these, and all the recipes in this book. No, it's not "healthy" food, but it's a much better option. Better for your body, better for the animals, better for the planet.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Knitterly Ramblings...

So, it's Friday, it's Halloween, and it's time to talk about knitting! Let's get something out of the way: I am not a really good knitter. I don't design anything. I don't spin or dye yarn. For a long time, I felt badly about this. If this is my craft, well, I should do it all!! As time passed, it became clear that what I really enjoy doing is just knitting. Give me a pattern that someone else has already worked the bugs out of. Give me some awesome, well-spun, beautifully dyed yarn that someone has created. Give me some needles, and let me KNIT!
I am so happy for and proud of the people who spin and dye and design! Truly, their work is artistic and beautiful. I'm just not one of them. I am really, really busy and I have lots of hobbies and 3 kids and I'd prefer to just spend my extra time knitting, plain and simple. I've let go of the guilt and the need to do it all!
I'm a pretty good knitter, but not great. I don't understand all the intricacies, but I can figure most stuff out. I should probably practice my color work, and I've ripped out more lace than I've ever finished, but what I do knit, I enjoy. And that's the point, right?
So, here's what I'm working on right now:

It's a footie sock... maybe an anklet? The yarn is Sockotta, and I know a lot of you don't care for that yarn, but it's a cotton/wool blend and it seems like the perfect yarn for a pair of socks for "someone" who lives in a very warm climate. Ahem. Yes, Christmas knitting. Not to diminish the yarn, but I bought it at a yarn swap for $1. Don't you love a bargain? Yes, that is sock #2 on the needles, that I just started. I know, I know, I wasn't supposed to start it until I finish this:

It's the Cozy V-Neck sweater from "Fitted Knits" by Stephanie Japel. Yes, I did start it last spring and just tore through the first 80% of the sweater. Then, it got hot and I lost interest and it went into "the bag" for the summer. Then, it got cool and I started on the sleeve! Then, it got warm again. Oh, I will finish it, maybe this weekend. Only about 4 inches to go on the sleeve, and then the ribbing around the v-neck. I know I can do it!!

One thing I'm not very good at is choosing colors. In fact, I'd say I'm pretty hopeless. Now, this is one thing I DO want to improve on. I'm reading a book called "Kristen Knits" by Kristen Nicholas and it's all about color. Kristen knits in big, bold, beautiful colors and I'm hoping for some inspiration and perhaps, a few pointers. Oh, and I'm browsing a few sock books, too, just in case...

One more thing. Lest you think I have incredible self-control, feel comforted in knowing that those aren't the ONLY projects I have on my knitting needles right now! They are just the only ones I am willing to share with you:-)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

It's Only Stretching, Right?

I can't tell you how many times people say this to me about yoga. They can't figure out why on earth anyone would want to practice yoga... it's just stretching, right?

Well... wrong. Very wrong. But... what if they were right? What if yoga WAS "only" stretching? Would that be a totally bad thing? Would that be unvaluable?

I don't think so. Our bodies are made up of approximately 600 skeletal muscles. Muscle tissue easily stretches, and it can be safely stretched up to 50% of its resting length! Stretching these muscles helps to maintain the health of our joints, muscles and connective tissue. It also helps to maintain the resilience of muscles, which allows pain-free movement.

Underuse of muscle tissue causes atrophy and weakness. Overuse causes strains and tears. Gentle stretching keeps the muscles in an optimal state. Excessive tension in muscles causes tight spots and chronic aches and pains; stretching can ease this tension. Aging in the body can cause a loss of range of motion; stretching can help to prevent some of this loss. If you're a "weekend warrior" and did a little too much gardening last weekend, stretching can help to relieve muscle soreness.

Stretching helps to preserve and maintain the joints of the body by bathing them in synovial fluid, which is a lot like "oiling" stiff joints. Stretching before a more vigorous activity can help prevent injuries; stretching afterwards can help to realign muscle tissues and prevent soreness. Why wouldn't you want to stretch?

Of course, yoga is so much more. Physically, yoga increases flexibility and also increases strength. Connecting your yoga practice with your breath increases lung capacity and is beneficial to your entire respiratory system, heart and circulatory system. Yoga helps to increase your energy, stamina and endurance. It improves your balance. It improves your overall quality of life.

Call it stretching if it makes you happy; I'll keep calling it yoga because I know it is so much more than simple stretching. Whatever you decide to call it, don't underestimate the power of a good yoga class!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Le Creuset, How Do I Love Thee?

Let me count the ways.

Okay, this post isn't necessarily about veggies, but more about what to cook veggies IN. And I have the answer for you in two words: Le Creuset.

When my friend Shannon mentioned this cookware to me, I thought two things: one, that's waaaay to expensive for my budget; and two, cast iron, heavy, hard-to-clean. Let me address your concerns and assure you that you, too, will fall in love with Le Creuset cookware.

Money first. Yes, the cookware is on the high end of the scale, but it's not out of reach. There is a Le Creuset outlet at the Legends Mall in Kansas City, KS. In the outlet, they have a huge selection of "seconds." The flaws in the seconds are very, very minor, for the most part, and the store employees are more than happy to help you examine the pieces and choose what is right for you. I can't even find the flaws on my seconds! Best of all, the seconds cost considerably less than the first quality items. Add to that: coupons. If you go to the Legends website, you can print out a monthly coupon which has discounts for many of the stores at the mall, including Le Creuset. Print it out for an additional 20% any item! Better yet, join the "preferred customer" mailing list (it's free!), and you will receive coupons in the mail, up to 35% off. I've been buying one piece at a time, which is the way to go for me.

So, if you're like me, you are reading a lot about plastics and all the problems they are causing in the environment and in our bodies. I am trying to use the healthiest cookware, serving ware, and storage ware that I can find. Most of my cookware has a non-stick coating. I honestly feel it is relatively safe, but still, I worry. Everything I've read says that cast iron, coated or not, is the healthiest choice. Le Creuset is heavy, but it heats and cooks perfectly evenly. You never have to cook over high heat; once the pot or pan is heated up, it stays hot on very low heat. You can cook on the stovetop and then put the pot straight into the oven. Best of all, the cookware has a lifetime guarantee. Guaranteed, no matter what. Seriously. Does it get any better than that?

Clean-up is a breeze. Anything that is crusty or baked on or cheesy or seems impossible really isn't. We just soak the pots in hot water for about 10 minutes and everything comes right off. Do I sound like an advertisement? For the record, I have no affiliation with the company whatsoever. I just like it!

Let's get to the veggie part. This deep frying pan is my favorite piece, for right now anyway. You'll notice that the inside is black, instead of the usual off-white color. Why? For BROWNING foods!! That is so exciting to me! I love veggie sausages, especially the Tofurky brand Italian sausages and kielbasa. One of the main downfalls is that they don't really brown very well, unless you saute them in a bunch of oil. And, if you overcook them, they actually get softer instead of firmer. This is no longer a problem! The Le Creuset pan browns the sausages easily without all the added fat.

So here is an easy recipe, using Italian sausages, vegetarian or not, Le Creuset or none:

First, brown your veggie sausages, then remove them from the pan. Next, heat a little bit of oil in the pan and saute sliced onions and garlic. Add some sliced bell peppers. When the vegetables are soft, add a can of diced tomatoes, a can of plain tomato sauce, basil and oregano to taste. When it's all hot and bubbly, dump the sausage back in and warm it all up and serve it on top of the pasta of your choice. Good on anything; especially good on ravioli!!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Socks and Me

Handknit socks, how do I love thee? Why do I love thee? It's crazy, I know. I can go to any number of stores and pick up a lovely pair of socks for a couple of dollars and wear them for years. I can throw them in the washer and dryer, run around outside in them, let the dogs play with them. They always fit me perfectly. If I lose one... oh, well. It's a no-brainer, right?

Why, then, do I choose to handknit socks? Why do I spend $10 to $20 on yarn for one pair of socks, and then spend hours and hours knitting them? Why do I coddle the finished socks: hand or machine wash in a lingerie bag, but always hang to dry, never wear outside. Even inside I frequently wear another pair of socks OVER them! The dogs and cats don't come near them. Losing one is like losing a family member. And do they fit? Well, sometimes...

I used to feel like you do. Why would anyone knit socks? After I'd been knitting for a while, I thought I'd try it for the challenge. Learn a new technique. Maybe knit one pair, just to say I did it. My first pair was pretty bad. Well, they did look like socks; socks that the jolly green giant could wear. Let's just say my gauge was a bit off. Oh, and they were so big that I ran out of yarn, so one foot was much shorter than the other one. I was rather devastated, but my wonderful Mike swore he loved them and he wore them faithfully a few times. Then they found a comfortable spot in his sock drawer and slept there for a couple of years.

So, I had knit a pair of socks, but surely, I could do better. Off to the yarn shop, another skein of sock yarn, a better gauge swatch, socks that actually fit! They were so warm. So beautiful. So... perfect. It might be nice to have two pairs, you know, just for back-up, for when it got really cold. And maybe a pair with cables? Lace? Pink? Blue? Socks for the kids! Socks for the relatives!! Socks for everyone!!!

An obsession was born. A perfect little knitting project. Fits in my purse, so I always have knitting at hand if I have to wait somewhere, anywhere. I discovered I wasn't alone! Books and books on sock knitting: toe up, cuff down, sideways, double pointed needles, circular needles, two at once. Yahoo groups. Other people obsessed with socks!

So, what am I saying here? Never say never. And learn to knit socks!

And, what about that very first pair? Well, I recently pulled them out of hibernation, ripped out the old toe, and re-knit the shorter foot to match the other foot, and then re-knit the toe in different, non-matching yarn. I'm happy to report that they are being worn again! Here's what they look like: (I've put a regular sized sock next to them, for your amusement :-)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Good doggy!!

People always say things to me like: If you could only do ONE yoga pose, what would it be?

Believe it or not, that's an easy one: Downward-facing dog! (Adho mukha svanasana)

If I only have 30 seconds to practice a yoga pose, this is the one I do. After a jog, before a party, when I wake up, before bed. Before tennis, after tennis. Tired, sad, mad, lonely. This is my "go to" pose.

Downward dog stretches out your shoulders and back, your hamstrings, calves, arches... the whole back of your body. It really strengthens your arms and legs. It is both energizing and calming at the same time. It can help digestion, insomnia, back pain, and fatigue. It's great for runners and walkers who need to lengthen and stretch hamstrings and calves.

When you first start practicing this pose, it might not feel wonderful. Women, especially, might not have a lot of upper body strength, so it might be difficult to hold the pose for longer than a few seconds... that's okay! You will get stronger very quickly by practicing this pose.

I'll give you some instructions here, if you want to give it a try. Don't try this if you're pregnant or if you have carpel tunnel. It's always best to learn from an experienced and/or certified yoga instructor, but I know some of you are do-it-yourself-ers :-) Maybe, if you like this pose, you will be inspired to learn more! The crazy thing about yoga is: the more you do it, the more you WANT to do it! (Oh, you might recognize your favorite puppy in this pose. Dogs (and cats) do this stretch almost every time they get up! We really can learn from our pets.)
Here goes:
1. Start out on your hands and knees, with your knees right underneath your hips and your hands a few inches forward of being under your shoulders. Spread your fingers wide, middle fingers pointing straight ahead.
2. Turn your toes under and lift your knees up off the mat. Keep your knees softly bent for now.
3. Straighten your elbows. Elongate your spine. Relax your neck, letting your head rest between your arms. Lift your sitting bones up towards the ceiling. Draw your shoulders down away from your ears and press the mat away from you with your hands.
4. Now straighten your knees. It's okay if your heels are up in the air! You might want to try "walking the dog," by first bending your right knee, and pressing your left heel down, then bend your left knee, and press your right heel down. Come to rest in a comfortable position. Hold for 1 to 3 minutes, then rest.
These are really pithy directions! There are lots of places on the web where you can see more pictures and get more complete directions. Here are a few:
And now, for the most important rule of yoga: HAVE FUN!!!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Granola Munchin'

It's a beautiful fall day in Kansas City! Rumor has it that cold air will be sweeping in later this week, so I plan to enjoy it while I can. I've gotten a little bit lazy about my running lately, but today is the day I get back on track. (By "running", I mean slowly jogging. By "back on track", I mean 3 to 4 miles. Don't get too excited :-)

Yesterday, Mike and I took the boys to a fencing tournament in Des Moines... our first visit to Iowa. The fall colors were beautiful! I watched all the farmland rolling by, trees and ponds, farmhouses with big porches, and a little part of me longed to live a simpler life. Oh, I know that farm life is a LOT of work, and I'm really not sure that I have it in me!! Maybe it's just living closer to the earth that is so appealing. (Those who know me can stop laughing now!)

At any rate, it's Monday, so it's veggie day. Since I was pretty much on-the-go all weekend, I didn't get much veggie inspiration. On Saturday afternoon, I started thinking about what I could prepare that would be a healthy snack for Connor to take to the fencing tournament. Something filling, yet healthy. Whole foods. Protein. Aha! Homemade granola!

For the record, we didn't end up taking this granola with us for a snack! This recipe doesn't have any added oil, and the granola isn't chunky at all, so not the best for snacking. However, it absolutely IS the best for eating in a big bowl with some form of milk poured on top and a big spoon in your hand. This recipe was inspired by the recipe for "Nutty Sunny Granola" in John Robbins' book "May All Be Fed: Diet for a New World." Wonderful book for learning about how your diet can impact the world, and also, for the delicious recipes!

(makes about 6 cups)

3 C old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 C wheat bran or oat bran
1/2 C wheat germ
1 C coarsely chopped almonds
1/2 C sunflower seeds
1 C raisins
1/2 C coarsely chopped pitted dates or other dried fruit
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 C pure maple syrup

Preheat oven to 275. In a large bowl, combine oats, bran, wheat germ, almonds and sunflower seeds; mix well. Spread mixture over a large baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Stir it up, spread it out, and bake for another 15 minutes.
Transfer to a large bowl. Add the raisins, dates and cinnamon and stir well. Drizzle in the maple syrup and stir to distribute evenly.
Cool completely and store in an airtight container.

(Don't plan on storing it for too long, because it definitely won't last!)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Making a Comeback!!

It's true. For those of you who care, I've decided to make a blog comeback! I've been hanging out for over a year now, trying to find some blogging mojo. Trying to conjure up creativity. Trying to thinking of something to write that someone will actually care about!

Here's what I've come up with:

On Mondays, I will blog about veggies. Recipes, gadgets, tools, books, foods, etc.

On Wednesdays, I will blog about yoga. Classes, poses, books, breathing, etc.

On Fridays (or thereabouts), I will blog about knitting. Patterns, yarns, projects, books, etc.

Genius, huh?

That's me. VeggieYogaKnitter.

Stay tuned!