Category Archives: Vegan

Bean and Chunky Potato Soup with Kale

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It is time for me to prep for school tomorrow, but I am touching base here first and sharing a recipe for a soup that I made for dinner that turned out quite well:

1 onion-chopped
6 cloves garlic-diced
2 cups of kale-chopped
2 cups of leftover baked potato strips (that’s what we had at home, but you could easily just add chopped potatoes and sautee them with the onion before adding the broth)
2 cups of cannellini beans
1 cube vegetable bouillon
4 cups water
Salt & pepper to taste

Method:

Sautee onions for about 10 minutes, adding water, as needed to deglaze the pan.  Add garlic and sautee for a couple of minutes.  Add the remaining ingredients and cook for 20-25 minutes.  Serve warm and enjoy!

If you are in a place where it’s cold, this soup should do the trick to warm you right up.

Have a good night!

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Cold Day, Lentil Stew, Elsie and Mairi

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It was my first ever Cold Day.  This occurs when school is canceled because the weather is too cold outside.  This morning’s temperature was -2 degrees Fahrenheit (felt like -26, so weather.com told me).  I didn’t think it would happen.  But, it did.  After a quick trip to the curb to drop off recyclables, I was more than happy to stay inside for most of the rest of the day.

The horse seems to be doing well.  She is eating and is in good spirits.  Around 2:00, she was down in the valley grazing.  That is one tough mare.  The dog and I, meanwhile, are comparative wimps.  He had on his winter blanket, a fleece scarf and his snow boots.  I wore my barn coat, two scarves (one inside the coat, one outside), a hat beneath a hood, my fleece-lined boots and my tough gloves (that are falling apart at some of the seams, that I have tried to repair, that I have discovered I need a thicker/stronger needle in order to fix).  This morning, the cold was intense.  The wind was biting.  This afternoon, at least, there was sun.  All of the trips have been short and the house, struggling to stay above 60 degrees, feels like a sauna when you first come in.

I made lentil stew for lunch and some cornbread.  Here’s the recipe for the (one-pot) lentil stew:

1/2 onion chopped
4 cloves garlic minced
2 medium carrots chopped
2 cups cauliflower florets
2 cups chopped green beans
1 cube vegetable bouillon
1 cup red lentils
4 cups water
1 bay leaf
salt & pepper to taste

As for the cornbread, I experimented a bit and it fell a little flatter than usual, so I am not going to share that recipe.  I will spare you the disappointment.

This afternoon, the boys went to nap while I nearly finished a library book I have been reading, Elsie and Mairi Got to War: Two Extraordinary Women on the Western Front, by Diane Atkinson.  I picked this book up last Thursday while Philip was in his reading session with Ms. Jo.  I wandered the book stacks looking for something, but I didn’t know what.  All I knew is that I wanted something different.  I found this in the history aisle and I am glad I did.  The book chronicles the lives of two women, Elsie and Mairi during World War I.  The two women met because they were both motorcycle enthusiasts and attracted the attention of a man named Dr. Munro.  He was was recruiting for a ambulatory service in Belgium for soldiers in the trenches and thought they had the “pluck” needed to do the job.  As I read the tales of their exploits (driving down muddy roads with injured soldiers, warming men up with hot cocoa, trying to create hope in the face of fear), I was reminded of another book I had read recently: Hope in Hell by Dan Bortolotti.  In both cases, some days would be calm.  Other days would be tragic.  Every day was uncertain.  Sometimes, bureaucracy, interpersonal dynamics and resources helped make things bearable.  Other times, they would be a source of strife.  In Hope in Hell, there is an extensive discussion about the “showmanship” of some of the founders, how often they used publicity to raise funds and awareness.  This World War I organization was not much different.  Elsie and Mairi, celebrities in their day, frequently found themselves in the position of petitioning for funds to help sustain their operations.  Letters sent to friends in England were subsequently published in local papers with pleas for aid from the editor.  When supplies ran low, Elsie and Mairi would go on speaking tours, tell their stories and solicit funds.  These women were serving in a war and had to actively raise the money to support their efforts.  Sometimes, it is easy to forget that marketing across multiple channels and networking are not new phenomena.  In fact, Elsie Knocker seemed to use every opportunity to raise funds for their cause.  She was so committed to her work.

Fame fades with time, though, unless vigilantly managed.  Both Elsie and Mairi moved on to different careers after the war ended.  I found myself appreciating their struggle for a post-war identity.  Despite their notoriety and many awards for bravery and service,  doors were not opened to them.  While they had a brief stint with the Women’s Royal Air Force, that group disbanded a year after they were recruited.  It must have been hard for them both, who probably defined themselves so strongly with their acts of service, to find their skills no longer in demand.  We often speak of these occurrences in the face of layoffs and collapsed companies.  Employees are forced to reinvent themselves or perish in the marketplace.  We grudgingly accept it as a fact of modern life.  Yet, these women, who led unconventional lives for a time, experienced this a century ago.  Was it more or less difficult for them then?  I suspect it was a greater challenge.  So many more stigmas and limitations.

I laughed to Bruce that it seemed to me that many people are very loyal to products and brands, but they are not necessarily as loyal to other people.  All the photographers that took photos, the journalists who wrote stories, the leaders of different aid societies who solicited funds probably continued to take pictures, write stories, and raise money for a cause.  They just moved on to different causes and different phenoms.  All in a day’s work.

It’s a reminder.  So many of our personal challenges have been faced by someone else before, in a different time, a different place.  Our challenges should not be measured relative to theirs as better or worse.  Just human.  And, as such, we should all remember that, like Elsie and Mairi, when you face obstacles, you keep trudging through because you believe in an idea and the best you can do is try.

Celebrating food, books and family time

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OK, so I am a bit excited right now.  Yesterday, I made a delicious tomato beet soup, courtesy of Allyson Kramer’s book Great Gluten Free Vegan Eats From Around the World.  It’s a new book in our house (I bought it for Bruce for his birthday) and we are just starting to test out the recipes.  Every time I try a new cookbook, there’s a bit of uncertainty.  I never know if I can trust the chef.  For example, while I love Del Sroufe’s Forks Over Knives cookbook for its extensive use of quinoa and millet, I have found that most of the recipes benefit from the liberal addition of spices.  I expect this now and know how to proceed through a recipe.  Since yesterday, I have tried 2 of Kramer’s recipes and both were a success.  I feel I can trust Allyson Kramer’s taste buds and recipes.  It is refreshing to shake up the palate–especially in the midst of winter.

Tonight, we had salad night.  I love salad night for many reasons.  The prep work is minimal.  The food is wholesome.  Each diner can pick favorite toppings and everyone walks away with a happy tummy.  Here are the toppings we enjoyed this evening with our kale and romaine lettuce:

– Broccoli
– Celery
– Cucumber
– Baked tofu
– Cranberries
– Carrots
– Dry roasted sunflower seeds (unsalted)
– Dry roasted pumpkin seeds (unsalted)

Bruce made a balsamic vinaigrette (yum!) and I made some of Philip’s favorite cashew dip (1 cup cashews, juice of 1/2 lemon, tamari, 1/2 red pepper all blended until smooth).  Philip and I made a tasty, fresh-squeezed juice (2 oranges, 1 beet, 2 pears, 2 apples, 1 carrot) courtesy of our awesome Green Star juicer.  That was all great, but there was one thing, on top of all of this, that amplified the celebratory feeling I was experiencing while eating all this good food: the Russian Black Bread from Jennifer Katzinger’s Gluten-Free and Vegan Bread cookbook.  It was not just that the recipe was full of unique ingredients–cocoa, coffee grounds, caraway seeds, etc.– and that I was in the mood for something different.  It was that I feared I had ruined it when I pulled it from the oven.  The recipe says to bake it “until the exterior is firm to the touch,” but the bread seemed harder than firm.  When it had cooled enough, I had Bruce slice it.  What a joy it was to discover that the bread was wonderfully moist and chewy inside and downright delicious.  Such a relief!  It was a perfect accompaniment to salad night.

And salad night, I am glad to say, came at the close of a good day.  Philip’s morning activities at the rec center and the library went well.  We picked up books about robots, the solar system, folk stories, simple machines and Ms. Frizzle’s Adventures: Medieval Castles (an instant favorite).  Philip and I had book-and-a-snack time with Mal on the couch while we read about koalas, nautiluses and panthers in our new issue of Ranger Rick.  We played (abbreviated versions of) both Pictionary and Yahtzee before bedtime.

Not many people would be so thrilled about these seemingly paltry accomplishments, but maybe more people should.  Maybe dogs and children have a point.  When a loved one comes home, maybe we should all “wag our tails” more than we do.  Similarly, they should reach out to us like we have been away for days and days (instead of hours) and hold us tight.  

I heard today of a man in the area who was 43 years old and had just passed away.  Bruce and I are in that age range.  Life is no guarantee for any of us.  Here and now is what we have and it is what I am celebrating.  May you find reasons to celebrate, too.

Take time

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Today is Bruce’s birthday and it is nearly over.  Philip and I baked him a double-layer vanilla cake with a vanilla custard filling covered in chocolate frosting.  We had some shawarma  for dinner and it turned out really well.  We celebrated as a family last night and joined some friends for dinner tonight.  We talked about Downton Abbey, Sherlock and the upcoming The LEGO movie (which we will definitely be going to see).  There is a plaque in our kitchen that belonged to my maternal grandmother.  It says, “Sit long.  Talk much.”  We did that tonight and it was lovely.

Here’s my hope for you: set aside the busy for a while and take the time to be with the ones that matter to you, too.

I wish you all the best and I hope you have a good night.

Cold day, warm bread

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Well, it’s another freezing day here.  Technically, it is well below freezing.  A while ago the thermometer said -6 degrees Fahrenheit (feels like -23).  Lovely.  The pipes in the upstairs bathroom are frozen and, last night, the handle snapped off of our back door.  Thankfully, it is one of two doors in that frame and still shuts from the inside.  Unfortunately, poor Bruce was banging on the door for a couple of minutes while I sat on the couch, snuggled up with the dog in the kitchen, wondering what that banging was.  Oops.

My big accomplishment of the day…did I have one?  Not really, I suppose.  I baked a loaf of millet bread, recipe courtesy of Jennifer Katzinger’s Gluten-Free and Vegan Bread cookbook.  We finished The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon.  A good read.  As always, at the end of the books, I wanted more.  But, I think that’s true of most of the fans of the series.  May Alexander McCall Smith never die or train an understudy so that we can get our annual fix!  Philip practiced his reading (we love I’m a Frog and We’re In a Book! by Mo Willems) and math (counting by 5’s with LEGO “troops” rescuing “a very important guy” from a mountain cave).  

After extracting myself from warm flannel sheets this morning, I bundled myself up in many layers and took the recycling bins to the curb.  By the time I picked them up in the afternoon, one of them had split a side.  Even the plastic doesn’t want to be out in this!  The horse, meanwhile, is as spirited as ever.  She defies all harsh winds and brazenly faces them.  Thankfully, she is still drinking lots of water, eating plenty of hay and enjoying her twice diurnal servings of grain.  She is getting older and I am always relieved to hear her morning whinny after I shut the back door and walk out onto the porch.

The boys are both asleep and the dog is begging for dinner.  I need to look for jobs since I just found out that my dean was only able to secure 1 class for me this term.  Hardly enough to pay the bills.  At least I was able to find out (on my own) before the semester starts in 2 weeks!  An optimist would say that I am lucky.  Even though I don’t feel that way, I’ll try to view my situation from that perspective.

Here’s hoping you are well, whoever you are…even though I know I am the only one reading this.

 

Happy New Year!

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It is the start of the new year.  How have I helped to change the world today?

My son, Philip, and I spent the day together so that my husband, Bruce, could write.  He is working on a great book (Reasons for Hope) that we all will need to read.  The more time he gets to work, the more he gets to spread the word about our progress.  Philip and I played with LEGOs, played in the snow and watched snowflakes fall.  We shoveled walkways and listened to the hushed sound of tires on the street as cars drove by.  We read The Cloud Book by Tomie dePaola (one of our favorite authors) and ate leftovers for lunch.  Since it’s a holiday, we watched two Planet Earth episodes: “Ocean Deep” and “Seasonal Forests”.  Feel free to follow links about how spending time outdoors is good for kids and why reading is good for kids.  Extrapolate from there how Philip and I have just put some currency in the change-the-world-karma book.

Since we are a vegan household, we ate my vegetables and fruits and grains.  We had leftovers for lunch and made an amazingly tasty chickpea vegetable biryani dish to go with our dal and brown rice for dinner.  I started the dish and Bruce, who is the true chef in the house, finessed it.  On this snowy day, it was wonderful comfort.  In case you didn’t know, the more plant-based foods you eat, the more you a) reduce your carbon footprint, b) reduce your health care expenses, and c) increase the happiness of your compost pile.

Here is the chickpea vegetable biryani (our impromptu name for it) recipe in case you’re interested:

1/2 head cauliflower (florets)
1 head broccoli (florets)
1/2 onion (chopped)
1 1/2 fresh tomatoes (chopped)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
2 cups cooked chickpeas

How to prepare: sautee onion and garlic, using water if needed to deglaze, for 5 to 10 minutes, then add the rest of the ingredients.  Sprinkle the following additional spices into the mixture: coriander, turmeric, garam masala, paprika, ginger (all powdered, all about 1 teaspoon).  Steam the veggies, add salt to taste and serve with brown rice.

Now it is late.  Bruce and I will finish watching our New Year’s Eve movie, The World’s End, then it will be time for bed.