Tag Archives: resolutions

happy new year!

1 Jan

Happy New Year!

Did you celebrate the New Year in any special way? Dinner, family, friends? Jim and I were feeling a little under the weather (sadly a New Year’s tradition with one of us, usually) so we laid low and watch reruns of Seinfeld on my laptop. So exciting. 🙂

As cliched as it is, it’s resolution time. Even when you aren’t into resolutions it’s hard not to feel inclined towards the idea of a fresh start. We all have things we’d like to try/do/improve upon and the beginning of a new year (and decade!) seems like a perfect time to reassess and take stock. So here goes:

Beautiful tattoo work by Ximena Quiroz of Skeleton Key Tattoo in Portland

1. 2010 will be the year I truly dedicate to my yoga practice. Some of you may know that I have been a serious budding yogi for some years now, but developing a true home practice and branching into the study of yoga history and theory has been lopsided at best. It has come in fits and spurts and always ends up falling back into asana sandwiched in between the other random things I let get in the way. This year I’m committing to a true, robust practice, integrating yoga into my daily life.

2. Potty-mouth begone!
It may come as a surprise, but I am the owner of a serious potty-mouth. I can even make Jim shake his head and he works at a car dealership. My goal is to tone down the cussin’ to well-placed expletives that accentuate what I’m saying rather than make me look like I have a limited capacity to express myself.

3. I’m going to start working on another cookbook. A full-on, real meals and the whole she-bang cookbook, not just desserts. I do have a focus, but I’d rather not say anything right now. Things are still in the early stages and with this, yoga and my day job, I’m going to be busy and probably very absent from the blog-o-sphere. I will probably turn into one of those twice-a-month bloggers for some time. But I will definitely keep you guys up on the progress, as well as put a shout-out when I’m looking for some testing assistance.

And now, for some food. When I was a kid, I ate a lot of Jell-o products. While it grosses me out to think of eating it now, I have very fond memories. My grandfather would make cherry Jell-o with cans of fruit cocktail suspended in them and boxes of Jell-o pudding and my great-grandma was the queen of fancy multi-layered Jell-o molds.

Recently I was overtaken by a craving for pistachio pudding. I’ve recently become a pistachio eating fool, but this memory of eating a creamy, pistachio flavored food seemed confusing to me. Did my grandpa make pistachio pudding? Does pistachio pudding even exist? It sounded weird. Sure enough, a cruise down the pudding aisle revealed the pistachio pudding does exist and the quest for a homemade version began.

A quick survey of the internet showed that not many folks have bothered to make such a thing at home. Most recipes were cringe-inducing dishes involving packages of pistachio pudding and buckets of Cool-Whip. Blorch. I was on my own.

I almost cried when I tasted it, so creamy and delicious, it was like being punched in the face by nostalgia, but even better than I remembered.

Pistachio Pudding

1/2 cup shelled pistachios, finely ground (I used a coffee grinder that we use exclusively for nuts and seeds and it worked great)
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp. corn starch
2 cups milk of choice (I used soy for the fat content)
1/4 teas. vanilla

Grind up pistachios and best as possible. You could also try a blender, but I did mine in batches in a coffee grinder. In a saucepan, whisk together the sugar and cornstarch until well blended. Add the ground pistachios and mix. Slowly whisk in milk. Cook pudding on medium/high heat, whisking often, until it comes to a light bowl. Whisking constantly, let lightly boil for about 2 minutes. Lower heat and continue to whisk constantly for 5-8 more minutes, until mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. If you’re having problems with the pistachios clumping up a bit, you can always blend a little with a handmixer. Remove from heat and add vanilla, mixing well. Transfer to heat resistant bowls. Let cool completely before eating.

Makes four 1/2 cup servings.

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chocolate fail

3 Apr

So… of all of the New Year’s resolutions that I made, which one am I failing at? Believe it or not, it’s the chocolate one! I can’t believe it, who would have thought that I would fail at that? It’s chocolate!

It’s probably to my advantage that Jim and I maintaining a pretty good diet and trying to maintain our exercise routine. Inspired by one of our favorite restaurants, Proper Eats, we have renewed our passion for whole foods cooking.

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Quinoa and lentil pilaf with garlic vegetables. We were going for health and simplicity here and the quinoa and lentils were fine, but a little bland. I didn’t really plan ahead much in terms of making it interesting. Thankfully, the fresh and garlicky veggies swooped in to save us from a taste bud coma.

Drawing directly from Proper Eats menu, Jim decided that he was going to make dinner. Bestill my heart, I said Jim making dinner. As in real, honest-to-goodness food, not cereal. And he did a wonderful job, if I do say so myself.

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Noodles slathered in a lightly spicy peanut sauce and some lime ginger tofu, with broccoli. Jim took the task of tofu marination very seriously, pressing it for over an hour the night before (not unattended, but actively pressing it) and then whipping together a marinade consisting of lime juice, fresh grated ginger, a splash of toasted sesame oil, and soy sauce and marinading it overnight. It was delicious fuel after our workout.

Linus, however, was not impressed.

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Look at the disgust on that cat’s face! I swear, he is the most judgmental cat I’ve ever known. Thankfully, he’s a cuddle bug, so it all evens out.

why doesn’t healthy taste quite as good sweet and carby?

5 Mar

Mmmm… breakfast. Have I mentioned how much I love breakfast yet? 😉

Thanks to the waffle cart in North Portland, Flavour Spot, I fell in love with maple butter and veggie sausage waffle sandwiches a few years ago. But I’m too lazy to make waffles, so we sling pancakes on the griddle and call it good.

Behold the pancake sammich:

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The basic pancake recipe from VWAV with a healthy smear of maple butter and some Yves sausages stuffed in the middle. The back pancake is topped with more of the Mangolicious fruit from Trader Joe’s (I love this stuff!), as I don’t like maple syrup on my pancakes. Nomnomnom…

Last Sunday was the last hurrah for ridiculously good Carby Carbersons, as we are full on our lowish carb (meaning only whole grains and small amounts of fruit) diet now. I made a huge batch of food for lunches for the week Sunday night:

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Millet sauteed with some mixed veggie bruschetta from Trader Joe’s, sauteed zucchini and snow peas and some Morningstar chik’n strips. Man, those things are SO fake, but SO delicious. Last week I made some quinoa and didn’t rise it well enough and couldn’t bring myself to make quinoa again, so millet it was! This is only the second time I’ve made millet and I opted to use our rice cooker. It turned out great. P.S. don’t tell people at your work that you are eating millet unless you want to endure lots of jokes involving bird seed.

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A post-workout meal. Lettuce unwraps with more Morningstar strips (what can I say, they were on sale), drizzled with fig vinegar with sauteed zucchini and some sliced beets. Light but satisfying with a giant glass of water after having Jillian Michaels beat us to a pulp.

The Saturday before the workout started we went to birthday party for a friend of mine and I made two pies. One was the Peanut Butter Silk Pie (see the recipes section on this site) and the other a new adaptation of that same recipe: Grasshopper Cream. It turned out wonderfully, creamy with a perfect balance of chocolate and peppermint. If you like chocolate and peppermint, you will love this pie, I promise.

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1 chocolate cookie pie crust (most prepared ones are vegan)

1 cup chocolate chips
1 & 1/2 boxes extra firm silken tofu (one aseptic, vacuum-sealed box)
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 tbsp corn starch
1/4 cup vegan milk
1/2 teas. peppermint extract + 1 teeny splash
green food coloring (optional)

Over a double boiler melt chocolate until smooth and creamy, whisking until smooth. Pour approximately 1/4 cup of chocolate into the bottom of the pie crust and let set in fridge until chocolate has hardened. Let rest of chocolate mixture cool to room temperature.

In a food processor combine all other ingredients, starting with the tofu, except for the additional splash of peppermint and the food coloring. Blend for about 2 minutes or until smooth. Pour out about 1/4 cup of the mixture into a bowl. Add cooled, melted chocolate to the mixture and blend again until well mixed, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. This would be the time to taste test to see if you want it more pepperminty.

Add the additional splash of peppermint to the reserved 1/4 cup of filling along with the green food coloring if using. Remove pie crust from fridge and pour chocolate filling mixture into the crust. Spoon the reserved green filling on top, pouring it as stripes, and draw a knife though the stripes to make pretty, swirling patterns.

Set in fridge for at least 4 hours before serving. Pie will have a thick and creamy, pudding-like filling but should hold up well and make stable pieces.

P.S. No one will ever know it’s tofu, I promise. 🙂

something’s gone ari-se

10 Feb

Whew! Taking a breath now. Midterms are over. I have 4 weeks until finals (I hate quarters, I’m a semester kind of gal). Ah, that’s better.

Two of the button packages were sent back to me because they were “too thick” and required more postage, so I will be resending those tomorrow. I can’t imagine that the time it took to label it, the cost of the label itself and the work to get it back to me was less expensive than the .20 they are asking, but whatever. Who knows with the post office.

Last week I stopped at Whole Foods and decided that I needed some chocolate. It’s February and I’m at least sticking to one resolution! 😉 I noticed these Whole Foods Dark Chocolate bars, one with mint and the other with coconut, and knew they would soon be consumed.

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Organic, responsibly harvested and delicious- just the way I like it. The mint one has little bits of crunchy mint candy in it and the coconut one had thin, shredded coconut in it. The texture of the coconut bar reminded me of a childhood favorite called Mallo Cups, minus the liquid marshmallow filling. They have this chocolate cup that has a similar coconuty texture.

Both of these bars were delicious and had a different level of eatability than the other artisan chocolates we’ve been eating. Those are delcious, of course, but are to be eaten in smaller pieces and savored. These bars are high quality chocolate, but they are in the 54% range for cacao, so they are a little sweeter and more candy bar-like when you just want to nosh on some chocolate. I highly suggest them, both because they are delicious and a very good bargain for organic chocolate bars of this size.

I will admit that there are some things I can be snobby about and chocolate is quickly rising to the top of that list. Jim is a big lover of coffee. Straight up, black coffee. His perspective is that if you have to put stuff in it, such as sugar or creamer, you don’t really like coffee. He’s a purist in that way. I used to think he was a little over the top about it, but then today a co-worker mentioned that she loves Hershey’s Kisses, I couldn’t help but think that anyone who enjoys something like that and considers it chocolate can’t possibly like actual chocolate. I mean, it’s waxy chocolate full of sugar and milk, there’s barely any actual chocolate in there! This, my friends, is chocolate:

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So, what happens when you forget you have bread on its second rise in the kitchen? Monster bread. And I thought it was big while I was rising- look at this thing after baking!

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Yeah, it was a tall loaf. Jim kept calling it “double-decker” bread. Thankfully, rising too long doesn’t affect the taste. This is “Goin’ Up North” bread, my homage to Minnesota loaf. Spotted with fragrant, chewy grains of wild rice, this bread was perfect with some Earth Balance and soup.

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The only downside to double-decker bread is that the air pockets get bigger, so by the time we got to the middle of the loaf some of the pieces weren’t holding together as well, but it was still worth chowing down!

2009!

2 Jan

Happy New Year!

When I was growing up I couldn’t stand being a kid and I spent most of my adolescence wishing it away. I could not wait to grow up, because then life would really start. Time moved forward at a crawl’s pace. I remember actually getting bored with summer vacation and looking forward to school so that I had something to do. Now a long weekend flies by faster than a single work day and my pen can’t keep up with the year. If you could see how many checks I’ve written that I had to void and rewrite in the last year, you’d shake your head.

Did you remember to eat your black-eyed peas on January 1st? Eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s is a southern tradition stemming from the late 1800s. During the Civil War northern troops would raid fields of food in the south, but overlooked black-eyed peas, thinking that they were cattle feed and not suitable for eating. Those hardy beans were a staple for survival in the war-ravaged south. They symbolize good luck and wealth in the new year and are traditionally eaten with ham and greens.

2009 looks to be a rough year with the economy and all, so I figured a little luck wouldn’t hurt. Besides, I love black-eyed peas because they are neutral enough to go in virtually any recipe, require no pre-soak and are just plain delicious! I made up some black-eyed pea and quinoa cakes that I lightly fried and served with a creamy roasted garlic sauce and carmelized onions. I simply cooked up some black-eyed peas, quinoa and some minced onion, mashed the peas, mixed them together with some dried basil and salt, formed them into patties and lightly pan fried them. For our greens, we bypassed the collards and went with some garlic roasted brussel sprouts.

Black-eyed Pea and Quinoa Cakes with Roasted Garlic Sauce and Carmelized Onions

Black-eyed Pea and Quinoa Cakes with Roasted Garlic Sauce and Carmelized Onions

P.S. If you have a rice cooker and have not yet made quinoa in it, you must! It is fluffy and absolutely perfect! Instead of the regular 1 part quinoa to 2 parts water ratio I use 1 cup quinoa to 1 2/3 cups water and it comes out perfect everytime! Always remember to rinse off your quinoa first.

I am not one much for convention or following tradition, but there’s a certain appeal to setting New Year’s Resolutions. Have I ever actually kept one? Well, maybe, but I usually forget what they were come March. 🙂 This year, however, I’m feeling determined, so here goes.

1.) Purge. I’m getting rid of my stuff. It’s incredible as you go from occupying a room to an apartment to a house that you can find so many things to fill your space with! I’m paring down to only the things I really need and keeping sentimental mushiness to a minimum. So far I have 2 garbage bags full of clothes and 2 large rubbermaid totes full of stuff, and that’s only from sorting through my dressers, my side of the closet and our Christmas decorations. Goodwill will know us well this year.

2.) Stop using the word “like”. Yes, I am one of them. One of those people who says “And then I was like blah blah blah and then he was like blah blah blah”. I also use it as a filler word when I am grapling for my next though. Any ideas on how to stop it? So far I’ve thought of wearing a rubber band on my wrist and snapping it whenever I say it, like when a smoker is trying to quit or putting X-amount of pennies in one pocket and everytime I say it, I put one penny into the other pocket to make myself aware. Any thoughts?

3.) Exercise. C’mon now, stop laughing. I know we all say it, but I’m serious here. My pants are getting tight from working on the cookbook and my metabolism is starting to slow down. I have four new workout DVDs coming from Amazon to mix it up.

4.) Become a chocolate connoisseur. That was actually one of my goals from last year, but this year I’m taking it quite seriously. I know, chocolate connoiseur may not make sense after exercise, but really good dark chocolate only requires a small square to satisfy a sweet tooth, so no guilt here. And yes, I know that eating chocolate isn’t exactly something most people have to work towards, but I want to really know it. The process, the differences, the blends of beans. Semisweet, bittersweet, dark, I want to understand it beyond “This tastes good”.

I’m starting off with this wonderful Dark Chocolate Palette from Trader Joe’s that Jim bought me for Christmas. It has 8 squares of dark chocolate of differing cocoa amounts from unique origins.

Chocolate Palette

So far we have sampled the first 5, with Peru and Tanzania being our top picks. Did you know that cacao trees can only grow within 20 degrees from the equator? The closer to the equator, the harder the cocoa butter and therefore the harder the chocolate.

Palette Square Open

I am learning a lot about chocolate right now due to some new books I received this holiday as well. Once the manuscript is off to the publisher this spring I plan on personally trying my hand at creating some confections, which I will document, of course.

Does anyone have any New Year’s Resolutions they are also feeling passionate about?