Jun 28, 2011

What's Cookin?

Deep dish pizza with last year's CSA oven-dried tomatoes, and CSA spinach baked right into the crust:


Sauteed swiss chard with cous cous on the side:


Mussels are local, wild, and ridiculously cheap to buy in Maine. See?

And they're really, really good cooked with pasta and onions and kale:

My parents hate all food that comes from the ocean. They'll probably disown me when they see these pictures:

I found the recipe for mussels & kale here.

Today at work I ate this for lunch:

CSA spinach, CSA lettuce, CSA carrots, and a CSA golden beet. I like to round out my CSA lunches with a large, local milkshake.

Jun 16, 2011

Pioneer Woman Envy

Do you read Pioneer Woman Cooks? Because if you don't, you should. She's funny, and fantastic, and uses butter and cream in everything. I want to be The Pioneer Woman, but sigh, here I sit, just another day as regular old Amy Lawson.

I tried to make some pioneer woman bread. And well, I'm still not her. Mine's not ugly, but it's not breathtakingly beautiful like Ree's either:

How'd she make her bread bloom like that? I WANT MY BREAD TO BLOOM, DAMN IT!

But either way, it was really good. It had to be, there was an entire stick of butter in that loaf. Oh, and in case you're wondering, I used her recipe, but added half a bag of wilted spinach (wrung out and chopped finely), and a small handful of cheddar cheese.

And this. Isn't this the ugliest picture I've ever posted on this site?

Sauteed beet greens with sesame seeds and cashews. Tasted better than it looks. Honestly.

Jun 15, 2011

Teacher, we appreciate you! So here's your...uh...spinach.

No seriously, I gave James's kindergarten teacher (who happens to be the most amazing kindergarten teacher on the planet) a bag and a half of spinach as an end-of-the-year thank you gift.

But this isn't the teacher gift. This is pork chops, potato salad, and wilted spinach with carmelized onions and sesame seeds:

This isn't the teacher gift either. This is a regular old taco, with half a bag of spinach mixed in with the meat. I swear to you up and down, if you chop it up small, it pretty much disappears:

Now this, THIS, is the teacher gift:

A spinach stromboli with whole wheat crust, and a bag of CSA salad:

My mom was a kindergarten teacher for 20+ years, and I still remember the year someone made her dinner as a last-day-of-school gift. She was way happy. I wanted to make James's teacher way happy...and use up my spinach, so voila!

Next year? Hot dogs.

Jun 13, 2011

Where the Spinach Flows like Water

Potato salad, CSA salad (except for the cucumbers, those come from a factory farm somewhere in space), and a turkey burger with onions, cheddar cheese, and spinach mixed in with the meat. I didn't have my  burger on bread, because I always need to be ready for an unexpected magazine shoot:

Green smoothie made from OJ, a frozen banana, CSA spinach, and chia seeds. Watch me save the world after drinking this sucker:

Well I done do reckon this is my Southern friend Misty randomly delivering a cake to my door. Her potluck was cancelled and someone had to eat it. No spinach involved:

If you're local, and you ever need a cake, hit this girl up. Her cake company, Capital Cakes, is on facebook.

And finally, a quesadilla with steamed spinach (this alone used up half of a bag...yay!), bleu cheese and buffalo sauce:

Prepare to be amazed by my next post, wherein I use CSA spinach for an end-of-the-year teacher gift. Seriously.

Jun 10, 2011

Week 1: Holy Stinkin' Spinach!

Check it out. The first week's haul:

We've got carrots, beets, radishes, two bags of salad greens, and six, that's right, SIX bags of spinach. Just call me figgin' Popeye. The great thing about spinach is that it blanches into nothing (like a pillowcase sized bag will fit in a little ziplock) and freezes for up to a year. Really awesome for using in sauce, or lasagna, or quiche in the middle of the winter.

Don't worry, it's okay if you find yourself saying, "What in the crap is blanching?" Just click here for a step by step tutorial.

When I got home from the CSA pick-up, around three o'clock, I was hungry. Instead of my usual afternoon pudding cup, I had this:

And this:

The top one is clearly a salad with CSA spinach, CSA carrots, cashews, and bleu cheese. The second one is homemade bread with herbs and last year's CSA garlic. I have two more bulbs left.

And this is a spinach omelet for breakfast.

One handful of spinach gone, fifty-million handfuls to go. I'm open to suggestions.....

Jun 2, 2011

The Season Opener

June 2, 2011

One week from today I'll have my first CSA pick-up day of the season! I swear I can almost feel the Bok Choy loving on my large intestine already!

In the mean time, I have some pictures from the season opener pot luck to share with you. Let me just start by saying that generally speaking, I abhor pot luck dinners. I mean seriously, how am I supposed to know if there's cat food in the lasagna? How do I know you didn't urinate in the frosting for that lemon cake over there?

Pot lucks usually make me tremble. But not the CSA pot lucks. Everyone seems so happy, and hippy, and loving, and not inclined to put little blobs of spittle in their chili.

I brought the stuff in the red bowl. It was whole grain pasta (because I was trying to fit in), with leftover CSA garlic scape pesto from last season (freezes well), and kielbasa (factory farmed....sorry CSA friends):

Here's another angle:

Here's Michele, the Long Meadow farmer extraordinaire, with Dr. Pigeon on the left. He's a local chiropractor, but not the local chiropractor I have intimate relations with. That this guy:

Here's a picture of the CSAers being all peaceful and lovely. Look at the cooler down there in the corner, isn't that so vintage-cute?

And here's James and Maggie in the inside green house, where they grow...errrr...I have no idea what they're growing. That's why I don't have a garden:

Maggie'll HATE the CSA this year. She completely despises anything that's of the earth.

One week and counting.....

Feb 17, 2011

Pancakes and Tofu

February 17, 2011

I'd like to start by saying that my husband was completely offended by that webcam picture I posted down there. I guess it wasn't very flattering?

I wonder what he'd think if he knew I was wearing my pajamas at work right now.

So, I'm on day....let's see....twelve (thirteen?) of my vegan escapade and so far, so good. I've discovered, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that cookies and candy are my kryptonite. I already knew this, but now I know it even more.

Aside from the cookies, I'm still surprised at how not hard this is turning out to be.

I made pasta with sauteed onions, mushrooms, and kale for lunch yesterday, and it was really good--there was nothing to miss. But I do have to admit that last night's dinner was a flaming flop. What was supposed to be roasted tofu with sweet potatoes and salad, turned into sweet potatoes.

I've yet to find a technique wherein tofu is made edible. I can't even begin to tell you much much I hate it. I can stomach it at a thai restaurant, but at home it gives me an instant barf reaction. I hate, hate, hate it, and I'm officially giving up. Screw you, tofu.

For those of you who might be looking, here's a really good and really easy pancake recipe. To make it truly vegan, you'd have to swap out the white sugar for something refined in a different way, but either way, they were good.

And the hemp protein...totally tastes like dirt. There's no masking it. But if you blend it up with chocolate soy milk and a banana, it tastes like chocolaty dirt...and I can handle that.

Feb 14, 2011

Social Situations

February 14, 2011

If I ever wake up and find that I've gained 800 pounds over night, I'll blame it entirely on these things:

And if you ever wake up and decide to quit the internet cold turkey, it will probably be due to the fact that I have a new laptop with a built-in webcam.

As if my camera photography wasn't crappy enough, right?

So I made it through the weekend, and I can promise you up and down that social situations are the hardest. I mean seriously, what's the answer when I get invited to a new super-Southern friend's house for dinner, and the menu is pulled-pork, baked beans with bacon, and hush-puppies?

The answer is that there is no good answer.

For me personally, my priority was on being a gracious guest, so I ate it. And it was good. But honestly, I don't crave or miss animal stuff at all. I can't even begin to tell you how surprised I am.

I ate at my in-laws' house on Sunday night, and the menu was pork roast, au gratin potatoes, and green beans. I didn't feel bad turning things down over there. They're known me for ten years, and I've given them at least 150,000 other reasons to not like me. But they do like me, and couldn't give a bear's behind about what I was putting on my plate.

I offered to make a salad to go with the meal. I ate that with a bunch of almonds on top, green beans with margarine, and applesauce. I love meat, and I love cheesy potatoes, so it wasn't easy to say no, but I did it.

If you're curious, the week is shaping up to look like this as far as dinners go:

Bean burritos w/ homemade salsa
Vegan pancakes or waffles
Indian food with cashews
Pasta w/ salad
Asian stir fry with tofu (this will be pushing it with Jared....)
Omlettes with sweet potato homefries (don't know what I'll do while they're eating the eggs...)

So there ya go. I'm here, I'm alive, and I think this would be pretty easy if social situations didn't exist.

Any advice????

Feb 12, 2011

Vegan Experiement Day Seven: Dinner Dates

February 12, 2011

I'm on day seven and so far so good. I just ate a whole wheat bagel with peanut butter, banana, and chia seeds, and I swear I feel like I can fly around with the angels!

Okay, not really, but I do feel good.

I guess I should start out by saying telling admitting to you all that I had pizza last night. I'd been planning a pizza date with a woman from work for the past three weeks, and every time we talked between then and now, I made sure to tell her how very deeply I loved pizza.

Obviously, pizza isn't vegan, but I decided at the start of this challenge that I'd eat the pizza anyway. It was good, but I could have done just fine without it. And to balance it out, I ate a garden salad with vegan dressing, half the amount of slices I'd normally eat, and skipped dessert.

No guilt. No feelings of failure. Last week I drove through McDonald's (twice) after my long run. This is definitely progress.

Buuuuuuuuutttttt.........we're going to a friend's house for dinner tonight. She's super Southern and cooks like Paula Deen. I have no idea what's for dinner, and no idea how I'll handle it. We've only known this couple for a month or so, and I don't want to seem all picky and rude. I'll let you know how it goes.

She asked me to bring dessert. I decided to go with apple crisp. If you switch the butter for margarine (or a vegan 'buttery' spread), it's vegan and still normal food for normal people. I haven't picked a recipe yet, but once I do, I'll post it.

So far, I think social situations are the trickiest part of eating a vegan diet. For some reason, food and judgement kind of seem to go hand in hand (people judge, worry they're being judged, or a combination of both--this includes me).

Feb 9, 2011

Vegan Experiment Day Four: Why I'm Doing This

February 9, 2011

Wow, you guys are still out there! And I'm glad you're interested in my next twenty-six days. Today is day four, and I'm feeling like a super hero. Okay, not really, but I don't feel bad. I feel good. More energetic, full, and not so bloated like I usually am.

First off, I decided not to talk about this experiment on my other blog, so this can be like our own little secret clubhouse. Or our own VIP lounge. Either way, it's where the awesome kids hang out. Cool huh?

I'll also try my best to be more interactive in the comments, and answer questions and whatnot. I guess this is the place to really get to know me these days!

There are so many things I want to talk about here, mostly the why behind my thirty-day experiment, and my attitude toward the whole thing--like how intensely I'm approaching this. Also, I want to fill you in on some of the things I've been eating. Let's start there.

Today will probably look a lot like this:

B: WW bagel with  half of an avocado and Earth Balance (it's a buttery spread...don't you love how so many vegan food are labelled as 'buttery' or 'cheesy' or 'creamy'? Personally, I think all those descriptions are 'creepy', but you know, whatever...)

L: leftover pasta with CSA pesto and/or leftover orzo with mushrooms

D: leftover homemade minestrone soup

Snacks are things like: crackers with peanut butter, fruit, veggies, larabars, nuts, popcorn, smoothies, dark chocolate, granola, cereal with almond milk, blah, blah, blah.

Once it comes, I'm planning to eat a scoop or two of that hemp protein powder everyday, too. Especially after workouts. I'm aslo taking a multi-vitamin with iron, and B vitamins. I guess those are important if you're not eating animal stuff.


Why I'm Doing This

I've been intrigued with the concept of a vegan diet since my senior year in high school--so 1997/1998. My long time boyfriend had left for college and I started hanging out with a completely different group of kids, and none of them went to my school. With the exception of one girl, they were all prep school kids, and they were all vegan.

One of them, Leif (how appropriate, huh?), even had a huge tattoo that said VEGAN running down his calf. I still don't know what kind of kid gets ginormous tattoo in high school, but those are the kinds of reasons I was so captivated. Leif is a manager at Whole Foods these days--I love that.

This group approached veganism from the animal-welfare point of view. They went to PETA events, they threw stink bombs in the McDonald's bathrooms, the wore no leather, they set a bunch of beef cows free from a farm one night. Honestly, I wasn't into animal welfare enough to be present for any of those shenanigans. Those were the nights I was out eating burgers with my more normal friends.

My God Mother (my oldest cousin) is also a vegan. She's the kindest animal lover I've ever met, so obviously, she's coming at it from the animal welfare point of view, too.

Now don't get me wrong, I hate the way the factory farmed animals are treated, but that's not my motivation for this experiment. My motivation comes from the fact that I'm looking for a diet overhaul. I'm young, I'm active (always training for a marathon), I'm at a healthy weight (5'8" 150 pounds), but I'm tired all the time. I feel sluggish and crappy most of the time. Lately I've been more prone to injury while running, and I feel foggy headed a lot.

If I'm being truly honest with myself, my diet sucks. Sure there are lots of fruits and vegetables, lots of whole grains, and lots of whole foods. But there are also loads of baked good, lots of trips through the drive-thru, tons of white bread, lots of fatty meat, lots of sweets at 8 o'clock in the morning. Lots and lots of crap.

I want a clean diet, but I don't want a crash diet. I'm not looking to 'detox' and I'm not looking to lose any weight. I just want to jump start some better eating habits, and I think, that for me, this is the way to do it. I want to feel better, and I'm also looking for better athletic performances.

Hopefully, thirty days of veganism will start me down that path. The fact that I'm sparing some animals in the process is a major bonus

Also, you might know that I'm Mormon. And you also might know that Mormons are advised not to smoke, drink alcohol, coffee, tea, or do drugs. Those admonitions are part of a health code that we call The Word of Wisdom--that's a link to the Wikipedia explaination, the actual text can be read here. If you're at all interested in world religions, it's an easy read.

The truth is, the Word of Wisdom doesn't just tell Mormons to stay away from drugs and booze, it also tells Mormons to stay away from meat, and to eat lots of fruits, vegetables, and grains. That second piece, all the dietary stuff, is pretty widely ignored among church members. And that's fine--it's only fair that people are more concerned about crack than Twinkies.

Luckily, I'm not tempted by crack, so I feel like I can really focus on the dietary part of it.

So I guess spirituality is part of my motivation, too. I'm still not exactly sure how spirituality and food fit together, but somehow, they must. Think of how many religions have dietary codes--Mormons, Jews, Muslims, Hindu, Buddhists...probably more. Lots of people tend to think that God cares what we put into our mouths.

I don't really know, but if I become a nun at the end of this experiment, I guess we'll say it was a raging success!

So just to sum it up, I'm motivated by 1) personal health, and 2) my religion.

In the next post I'll talk about how intensely I'm approaching this challenge. Thanks for reading!

Feb 8, 2011

Time to Sign Up!

February 8, 2011

It's quiet around here in the winter, huh? I guess you can't plant beets under all this snow. Or maybe you can. This is why I'm a member of a CSA--I have no clue how to grow anything that contains chlorophyll.

I thought I'd give you all a reminder that it's time to sign up for this summer's 2011 CSA at Long Meadow Farm. If you and your family are WIC or foodstamp recipients, you'll be pretty excited to know that the farm is participating in a grant program this year. Visit their page and the information is easy to find.

And if you're not local, now's the time to find a CSA in your area. Just google it!

Believe it or not, my basement freezer's still stocked will all kinds of CSA goodness. Just this week I made ziti with summer squash and chard/basil pesto (What the hell is this? August?), and minestrone soup with CSA green beans. We're still going strong with our blanched kale, and I just used up the last of the crushed tomatoes in some chili. And believe it or not, I'd say we still have seven or eight bulbs of garlic in the basket on our counter.

I wish I had the steam to take pictures of this stuff all year round, but hoo boy, I'm only one woman.

In other news, I recently took a Thirty Day Vegan pledge. I'm on day three, and so far so good. My colon loves me. I'm not sure what will happen beyond the thirty days, but right now, I'm just thinking as far as lunch.

If you guys are interested (I don't even know if anyone is out there anymore), I can post some of my recipes and meal idea on this site.  My orzo with mushrooms was way freaking good. Butter can kiss my ass, because I didn't miss it one bit! We'll see if I'm still laughing at butter in a month--I might be tearing off the wax paper and licking the stick on March 5th.

Also, I might post some reviews about new foods and products that I find. For example, I just ordered this from amazon.com:
Looks like sludge in a bag, doesn't it? It's actually hemp protein powder.

I'm not sure if I've mentioned it here, but I'm usually training for a marathon. After long runs, I used to chug down a glass of whey protein (blech, blech, wretch), but in the name of saving the baby animals, I'm switching to hemp. Apparently you can wipe your bum, with hemp, too.

Very mysterious.

So. If anyone's out there, and they're the teensiest bit interested in watching a girl who would sell her soul for a Dunkin' Donut take on a vegan diet for the next four weeks, let me know.