Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas Dinner

Ok, I think I know what I'm making for Christmas dinner. Of course, knowing me I'll be changing my mind right up to setting the table. But for now:

Au Gratin Herb Scalloped Potatoes from Vcon (I should have opened the book to find out what they were actually called first). I made these before when I had some friends from high school stay with us a few days. I was the only vegetarian out of the four of us, and everybody loved these, so I think they're family safe.

My Spinach-Artichoke Dip. Not for dinner exactly, but for snacks before dinner, or at the very least for New Years.

Turkey Roast. Just saw this on EverydayDish and thought it looked really good. I might go with something else though....

Mushroom gravy. Because it isn't a holiday meal without buckets of yummy gravy.

And of course there should be plenty of stuffing and vegetables and rolls and possibly sweet potatoes floating around the dinner table, but Grandpa is in charge of all that, because he makes the best stuffing and sweet potatoes ever. Not the sweet potatoes with the pineapple in it though (or is that the one my dad makes...), the kind with all the yummy pecans on top. Mmmm. Hopefully he can use some EarthBalance and Veggie broth and my sister and I can enjoy all of it too.

And just for kicks, I found this in my picture file the other night and thought it was great. My mom would kill me if she knew this picture was on here, so everybody pipe down. This was taken a couple of years ago before her work's themed Christmas party. Nevermind my dad's shoes and the cat beds.

My mom is a hottie.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Mmmm...Spinach-Artichoke Dip

I am a huge fan of dips. HUGE. I have been known on many occasions to make dip and eat it for lunch with crackers. New Years and Superbowl Sunday are my favorite days of the year because they are "snack-um" days, where my family and I eat nothing but appetizers and finger foods all day. So, when I say this is in the top 5 best dips ever, you need to take my word for it. And if that isn't enough, this dip was devoured by my ocean club, most of whom refuse to believe that vegan food can be any good at all. So I waited until they had all eaten half the bowl and then spilled the beans :-)

This recipe is a combination of this one, and one given to my family by some friends.

Spinach-Artichoke Dip

2 cans artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 small package frozen spinach, thawed and excess water squeezed out
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz. vegan cream cheese
8 oz. vegan sour cream
3/4 cup soy parmesan cheese (or ground almonds)
1 small can mild diced chiles
oregano and paprika to taste.

Mix everything together and bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes, until bubbly. Or dump everything in a small crockpot and warm on low heat.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Weekly Meal Wrap-up

This week was finals week, so I didn't really make a menu at all. But it's all over with now and I'm free from classes until January 20th. Like everyone else, we're also a little short on cash (nothing major, just not a lot left over for extra things), so I've decided to try to use up my massive stock-pile of food in the pantry and only buy fresh fruit and veggies from the store. So far, so good. This week we ate:

Navy Bean Soup. It never got made last week, so I made it this week. I added some liquid smoke to the recipe, and ended up adding a lot of extra salt, but it was great!

Homemade Bread. This loaf didn't raise very well, but I think my yeast may be dead. We ate it with the navy bean soup.

Vegan egg-salad sandwiches. I need to experiment a little more, but it was pretty good between slices of homemade bread.

Sausage, potato, and cabbage soup. I had some leftover homemade vegan sausages, half a head of cabbage, and some potatoes left over from the last farmers' market. Not the best soup ever, but it was warm and filling and a great way to use up some odds and ends.

Eggplant Parmesan. This would have been absolutely wonderful, except for one thing. I forgot that I'm not a fan of eggplant. For some weird reason I was craving eggplant though, and since it was on sale at the co-op, I figured it was perfect to use up some odds and ends. I'll probably try the recipe again as lasagna or with zucchini and summer squash.

Tonight and tomorrow David is at work, so I'll probably just be using up more leftovers and cleaning out the fridge. We're traveling to our respective parents' houses on Monday or Tuesday to spend Christmas with our families. I haven't decided what I'm making for Christmas dinner, but for sure there will be at least a couple of cookies and spinach-artichoke dip.

Now that I've realized that Christmas is less than a week away, I need to go finish preparing gifts and pick up a couple of gifts still.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Looking Back

Before I started writing here exclusively, I kept a blog on livejournal. Last year, I wrote this post that I pretty much forgot about until yesterday:

Just like everyone else this time of year, I've started to reflect on how far I've come this year and where I want to go next year. I never really make resolutions, because it seems like they never really last past Jan. 15th anyway. But I got an interesting e-mail the other day from one of my vegan newsletters, and it's stuck with me. Basically the jist of it is this:

If you had to pick just one word to focus your life for an entire year, what word would you choose?

One word to summarize and reflect on for a whole year. There's thousands of words in the English language, and many of them are good ones to focus on. But eventually I narrowed it down from the e-mail's list of 65 words to three related words to focus my life on for an entire year:




Health is not just losing all this extra weight, but focus even more on healthy eating. Pay attention to serving sizes, make a real effort to eat a vegan diet for the majority of the time, exercise so I don't feel my heart pounding after climbing stairs or so I can lift equipment, drink at least 2 liters of water a day, use lotion on my hands, feet, and face, make a bigger effort to stop using chemicals on my body and in my house. These aren't all resolutions, but just things that I want to give a bigger focus on in my life and even if by next year I'm just a little bit healthier, it's better than nothing.

Self-Love is a big one that I need to focus on. I'm sure most of you know, I don't have a very good self image. Although part of me tells me that how I feel isn't true, a large part of me assures me that I am fat, ugly, stupid, lazy, worthless, selfish. And for as long as I can remember, I've always felt this way about myself. I want to focus on loving myself the way I am now, with the extra weight, hang nails, zits, dry skin, not working a "real" job, putting my schooling as a priority over supporting myself and I want to focus on and find more self-love as I lose weight and become healthier. Stop letting my baggage get in the way of what I want to do; surf, kayak, hike, swim in a bathing suit, mountain bike, rock climb because I'm too fat or not in shape enough to do these things.

Release closely follows Self-Love. I want to focus on releasing all the baggage that I've been carrying around for years, all the stuff that's made me resent people, allowed little things to hurt me because they just pile on top of other little things, made me sabotage relationships and friendships and opportunities because they can't really be what they seem to be. I also want to focus on releasing all the habits and emotional baggage that has contributed to my health being the way it is. And release all this weight :)

So I cheated a little by picking more than one word (although the e-mail said that it was OK to pick up to three if you just really couldn't narrow it down), but I think that they're all closely related and feed back into one another. By working on one, I should begin to work on the others, etc. And it's better than a resolution since I'm not setting myself up for failure by saying I have to lose X amount of weight, or work out so many times a week or whatever.

Looking back at that post, I can help but be a little awed that the focus words I chose truly were the main themes of my year. I was preliminarily diagnosed with metabolic syndrome (pre-diabetes), which set me on a course to figure out if I actually have it or not (it's still up in the air), become fully vegan, and I ended up losing about 25 pounds so far this year (mostly during my Alaska road trip, in which our stove broke and we were forced to live off trail mix, rice cakes, and peanut butter for several days until we could get it fixed). I can't say when it happened exactly, but I have found a great deal of peace with myself over this year. I still have my bad days when I beat myself up about things that aren't true or possible (trying to be superwoman/perfect), but overall I have become very happy with myself and my decisions that I've made in my life. I've also found that things don't bother me as much anymore. I can let things go more easily, and while things that are said may still hurt, and I might still be upset by them, I get over them faster and easier.

It's amazing how at peace I feel. Sure, I get incredibly stressed out by classes, midterms, projects, and now finals, but I've been getting better and better at accepting the stress (maybe crying for while), and then moving on and using that energy and stress to get things done. I've learned to accept that everything happens for a reason, and to release my desire to control everything in my life.

I will be doing this again for the new year. I haven't decided what my new word(s) will be; I will get done with finals and then spend time meditating on this to figure out where I need the most work, or to find a word that feels right at this time. I think this is much better than a new years resolution, and maybe I will get one of Beautythatmoves' mantra quilts to display my word over the year. I can't remember (or find) the e-mail where this idea came from, but if anyone does, please let me know and I will link to the original authors. If you would like to participate, here is the list of words to get you started:


































































Sunday, December 7, 2008

Menu Plan Monday (well, Sunday really)

This next week is a little less stressful than last week, but it's the week before finals, so it's not entirely stress free. There's a lot of crock pot meals this week, and lots of yummy comfort food. Be sure to check out Menu Plan Mondays and Veg*n Menu Plan Mondays for more ideas!

Sunday: A big pot of Apple Cinnamon Amaranth Grits for breakfast/brunch and Cheesy Bean and "Cheese" enchiladas and Spanish rice for dinner. Making snickerdoodle cookie dough, freezing some and baking some for Wednesday. Also baking Hannah's garlic bread for tomorrow night.

Monday: Leftover Amaranth grits for breakfast, leftover enchiladas and rice for lunch. A slight variation on my usual baked penne, salad and garlic bread for dinner. Putting 5 Grain Cereal into the crockpot for breakfast tomorrow.

Tuesday: 5 Grain Cereal for breakfast, leftovers for lunch. Making Almond Tofu for dinner again (I can't get enough!!!)

Wednesday: Leftover 5 Grain Cereal for breakfast, leftovers for lunch (I may actually take 2 small "lunches" since I'm at school from 8am-8pm). Taking snickerdoodles and maybe popcorn to Oceanography club after class. If David and I are hungry when we get home, we'll have nachos.

Thursday: Leftover 5 Grain Cereal for breakfast, leftovers for lunch. Bringing snickerdoodles or some other snack to share to class. White Bean Soup in the crockpot with leftover garlic bread. I used to love my grandpa's white/navy bean soup in my pre-vegetarian ham eating days, so hopefully this will taste just as good. I may add a little liquid smoke to the soup.

Friday: Early morning class today, so probably nothing or just a granola bar for breakfast, same old leftovers for lunch. If we don't have mass amounts of leftovers still in the fridge, I'll make myself some rice salad (cutting that recipe at least in half) and baked tofu for dinner.

Saturday: Lots of chemistry studying happening today, so just leftovers for breakfast and lunch. Mashed potatoes, squash, and Smothered Tofu Steak and Onions for dinner.

Because I'm a stressed out college student going into finals, I don't have a lot of time to do a bunch of baking for Christmas parties and gifts, so I'm planning on making up a batch or two of cookie dough on the weekends and freezing them to bake up real quick throughout the week.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Back soon

Wow, it's been almost a whole month! School has gotten the best of me and unless I get a few short minutes this weekend to write (not looking good), I will probably be hidden away in my textbook hidey-hole preparing for two presentations next week and finals after that. I'd write more tonight, but I just finished a 15 page scientific research paper that I am using for both a class project and my senior thesis proposal, so my little fingers are bushed.

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and are enjoying the beginning of the holiday season!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Getting Down to Business

The last couple of weeks I haven't made a menu or done any real grocery shopping. Which meant that we were running to the store nearly every night, and not eating very well. There were many nights of take out, pizza, chips and dip, or a scrounged up meal.

Last week was a "Hell Week" (sorry Grammy, but it really was!) for me, with several exams, quizzes, and presentations due. And a trip out in Humboldt Bay on the pontoon boat (which means getting very wet, since you're on a flat piece of metal on two pontoon floats with a motor! Rain gear and muckboots are a must!). The highlight of the week was a class on making vegan doughnuts. David came with me and even he said they were yummy. I'll post more on it later.

But this week should be better, and I have Tuesday off (yay!!), so I'm planning on making some real meals again and preparing for the next round of tests.

Sunday: David's having a poker night again with friends, so we're having snack foods for dinner
Monday: "Chicken" Parmesan made with breaded tofu
Tuesday: Leftover baked tofu with roasted veggies
Wednesday: Soba noodles with sesame sauce
Thursday: Almond Tofu
Friday: Lemon Dijon Tofu and Potatoes
Saturday: Any leftovers that weren't eaten for lunch during the week.

For lunches I'll take leftovers and harvest salad. I'm thinking about adding some roasted beets to the salad as well, or I may use them all in the roasted veggies on Tuesday night. I've also really been craving spinach dip, so I'll make up a batch and eat it as a snack with crackers throughout the week.

I'm off now to clean off and paint a couple of boards I picked up at the recycling center to make shelves with. My shot glass collection is feeling very sad all packed up with no place to be displayed. Be sure to check out Organizing Junkie for more Menu Plan Mondays and Geek, Poet, Housewife Wannabe for all veggie menu plans!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Happy World Vegan Day

As soon as I finished typing the title, I glanced out my kitchen window and spotted a huge, perfect, vibrant, arching rainbow reaching across the sky. I tried taking some pictures but my camera decided to be difficult and not actually capture the beautiful colors on the dark grey backdrop. Then, as I watched, a second perfect, whole rainbow appeared around the first. They stood there for a few minutes like giant concentric half-rings, and then slowly faded away. I'm taking it as a sign that World Vegan Day is approved by nature and that everyone should celebrate by eating vegan for today (or tomorrow, or a randomly picked day of your choosing, y'know, whatever).

It also reminded me that I'm happy to be alive, and healthy, and able to experience such beauty like the rainbows and other little moments throughout every day. Sometimes when I begin to feel crushed under the midterms, term papers, presentations, thesis's, politics, collapsing economy, and the massive amount of housework that has built up while I am busy putting it off to take care of other things, it's hard for me to be grateful for what I have and just live in the moment. But usually right when I need it most, nature tosses a little bit of beauty my way and reminds me that life isn't always this stressful.

Now that I've been completely sidetracked from what I was originally going to post about, but have been rejuvenated, I'm going to make myself some dinner, study some physics, then come back and try again. I hope everyone got to experience a little moment of beauty today!

Friday, October 31, 2008

I need a new major

I spent four hours today hunched over a microscope searching for diatoms and dinoflagellates. My eyes are tired, my back and neck hurts. I have a presentation on Monday, a physics test on Tuesday, a bio ocean cruise later on Tuesday (and VOTING, everyone should be VOTING on Tuesday!!!!), a chemistry quiz and qualitative analysis of an unknown sample due on Wednesday, a bio ocean exam on Thursday, and then finally, on Friday I get to put together kabobs for the Oceanography Society's table at the football game on Saturday. Whew. Oh yeah, and another presentation the following Wednesday.

I'm still alive, and I promise a real update is coming soon, but for now, I'm going to rest. Happy Halloween everyone!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Away at Sea

It's been a long weekend, and overall, not a great one. So, instead of blogging, I'll leave you with this. We had a friend visit us while we were out on the R/V Coral Sea yesterday. Oh, a do me a favor and watch this on mute, since there's just a lot of boat sounds and us sounding like idiots (a group of us were "chumming" when this guy appeared, so we weren't exactly at our best).

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Stockpiling for the winter

This year, for whatever reason, I've felt the urge to store the harvest. Pack it away for the winter months when food isn't as abundant as it is in the summer. Which is a little odd, since I've always been able to get summer produce in winter by going to the store. But not this year. Whether from my efforts to eat more local food, wanting to prepare for the lean times that look to be ahead of us, or from wanting to be a homemaker in some small way, I've spent the last several months buying extra produce from the farmer's markets and storing it for later.

So far I have (all local):
* 2 quarts + 3 pints tomato sauce (sadly already all used up :( )
* 6 pints applesauce (3 cinnamon, 3 plain)
* 11 half-pints blueberry syrup
* 5 cups blueberries in the freezer.
* 10 lbs. potatoes of various varieties
* 4 lbs. dried bean mix
* 3 quarts + 3 pints bread and butter pickles
* 7 long lasting squashes
* lots of garlic
* 15 oz. + 1.5 lbs. pumpkin puree

I've also done some baking for the freezer, but have had to back off since there's no more room in my tiny freezer! I have:
* whole wheat bread
* 2 loaves pineapple zucchini bread
* 1 dozen peanut butter oatmeal cookies

Overall, definitely not enough to truly make it through the winter if I was only relying on my stockpiling abilities, but I feel like we could survive pretty well over the next several months on my preserved food as well as the non-local staples such as rice and flour I always keep on hand if something happened to keep us from being able to buy food easily. It seems a little silly, but it's made me feel more independent of rising food prices and like I am providing for my little family.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Lucky to Study

Although this week was less stressful than last week with all it's tests, we got our tests results back this week, which added some stress. I didn't do as well as I wanted to, but I consistently did much better than average, which is good when the grades are curved at the end of the semester. Overall, I'm happy.

In the next week or so I'll start taking plankton samples from the Trinidad Pier to analyze for community structure and to monitor for harmful algae blooms (HAB). This project will be my bio ocean final project, my senior thesis project (comparing community structure between Humboldt Bay, Trinidad Head, and Big Lagoon), and a part of a state wide program monitoring HABs. Yay for multitasking! As of right now I'll only be sampling once a week (Tuesdays) and analyzing on Thursdays. I may start sampling on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but I need to see how much of a time commitment this is going to be. But the good news is, I love looking at all the little critters under the microscope! So hopefully the hours of peering through the eyepiece and getting headaches will be worth it.

A perfect sampling day.

Speaking of headaches, I've had a massive one all day today that started last night. Aspirin has been keeping the headache to a dull squeeze instead of ice picks drilling through my skull, but it's still been pretty painful and annoying. The weather has been changing the last couple of days, which usually seems to trigger my headaches. Hopefully it will be gone tomorrow.

In the mean time, I'll leave you with some pictures from Trinidad Marine Lab, where I'm lucky enough to study oceanography twice a week.

A Jr. Gull on Trinidad Pier.

I get to grab a quick snack of native blackberries on the walk back to class from the pier.

Looking north from the cliffs across the street from the marine lab.

Before lecture starts, a classmate catches some waves.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

Fall is by far my favorite time of the year and now that the first round of midterms are over, I can focus on cooking yummy fall foods. Almost everything this week will be local from the farmers market or homemade.

Sunday: David requested chili dogs. I'll be using veggie dogs and some leftover frozen chili from Vegan Lunch Box.
Monday: Lasagna rolls. They were so good David wanted them again right away.
Tuesday: Stuffed acorn squash, sliced vegan sausages with a quick tomato sauce
Wednesday: Something quick like pasta and sauce or leftovers
Thursday: Soba noodles with roasted broccoli and either a peanut sauce or a soy sauce based sauce. (idea from Vegetarian Times)
Friday: Seitan porkchops with apples and ginger, roasted beet salad, butternut squash

Head over to Organizing Junkie for more menu plan mondays. Remember, this month is Vegetarian Awareness Month, so add a couple of extra veggie meals to your plans!

Fall is in the Air

I love fall. There is no better season than fall. Crisp days, orange leaves, apples, squash, beans, hot apple cider, geese, storms, Halloween, the big Thanksgiving dinner with the family. Yep, fall is definitely my favorite time of year.

The last two weeks have been test after test after lab report after speech after test. I don't generally like waiting until the night before a big assignment/test to start preparing, but this time I was continuously staying up after midnight starting to study for a test the next morning. But the good news is, I think I did fairly well on everything. I already received my grade on the Chem II exam; 70/100. The average was a 56 and he said if he were to curve each test, a 56 would be a C-, so it's like getting a B. Not too shabby considering I haven't been successful in chemistry since high school (Mr. Null just explained everything so it made sense!). Talking to classmates it seems like I did about the same as everyone else on my physics midterm; I think I pretty much aced bio ocean, and my speech...well, I didn't black out this time, but I wish I had. It wasn't pretty. I'm not sure why I'm having so much trouble in this class, I did fine in Speech, but for some reason I get out of control nervous whenever I'm giving a speech in this class and everything goes right out the window. Oh well....

Tuesday before class I hiked out to the cliffs across from the marine lab and sat in the sun and worked on homework. The ocean was perfectly flat and there were barely any clouds out. Thursday, after the Bio Ocean exam, I had some extra time so I went for a hike up Trinidad Head. We had a storm moving in, so the waves were fairly big and beautiful. I planned on heading back out there yesterday when the waves were supposed to reach 17 foot swells, but the storm didn't move in as planned and the waves weren't nearly as high as predicted, so I decided to wait.

The storm not coming in though meant yesterday morning was a beautiful day for Pastels on the Plaza and the farmers market. Since it's fall, and fall is my favorite season, we bought five squashes (3 pumpkins, an acorn, and a butternut), lots of honeycrisp apples, some broccoli, local dried beans, local mushrooms, and beets. Afterwards we went to the Big Blue Cafe on the plaza and got pancakes.

This morning I baked the pumpkins, then froze the puree (about 1 1/2 pounds) to use later and roasted the seeds. I'll probably get a couple more pumpkins next week and do the same thing. I might also try to cube some squash for freezing, but the ones I bought this week are already spoken for.

I love fall....

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

The ribs and bubble and squeak recipes from last week were amazing. The ribs tasted a little funny, but I think that's due to the BBQ sauce I was using and will definitely be making them again after I make up a big batch of my homemade BBQ sauce. This week the meals will be quick, easy, and mostly comfort food since I have a Chemistry II exam on Friday that I am completely not ready for.

Breakfasts this week: will be oatmeal with apples and walnuts (a favorite), blueberry muffins from the freezer, smoothies, or soy yogurt with berries and nuts (I've also tried the company's coconut milk yogurt, which is very good, but just doesn't have the protein that soy yogurt does).

Lunches: No-tuna melt (another favorite)/salad or dinner leftovers

Monday: Taco Casserole (a new recipe but a dish that we both like), spanish rice and salad
Tuesday:Vegan Mac n cheese - study food (not sure if I'll use my quick and easy recipe or try a new one)
Wednesday: Leftovers or something simple, I won't be home until 7:30
Thursday: Cuban Style Black beans and Papas Chorreadas (potatoes with tomato-cheese sauce)-- crock pot recipes
Friday: Lasagna Rolls, bread, and salad
Saturday: Curry with tofu, cauliflower and random veggie scraps over rice

Weekend Days

Yesterday was spent down at the beach with the Oceanography Society picking up trash for International Coastal Clean-up Day. We first stopped at a beach that already had five crews working on it, so we cleaned up in the dunes for a little bit (lots of bits of rope tangled in the grasses), then headed to a popular bonfire/party beach and spent two hours digging nails and broken glass out of old fire pits. We also found a large iron pipe of some sort and a wheel.

After I got back, David and I headed down to the North Country Fair on the Arcata Plaza, a two day festival started in 1973 to celebrate the diversity in our area and the beginning of fall. There are tons of art/craft, food, and information booths, and there's always live music playing somewhere in the plaza. We're planning on heading back down there today to maybe pick up a couple of things we saw yesterday for Christmas gifts and to enjoy some more music.

But since yesterday was spent away from the house, there's also the weekly cleaning, homework, laundry, menu planning, grocery shopping, and making pickles to take care of. I like trying to get most of the chores and homework done on Saturday so Sunday is left free to do cooking, canning, knitting, reading-for-fun (there's other books besides textbooks?), and spending the one day a week together that David and I both have off.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

Most of the meals this week are quick and easy ones that David and I both enjoy. Be sure to head back over to Menu Plan Monday to see what everyone else is cooking up.

Monday: Pasta and Spicy Sausage, salad, whole wheat bread.
Tuesday: Ribs with bubble and squeak
Wednesday: Spaghetti and meatballs
Thursday: Baked tofu and left over bubble and squeak
Friday: Leftover veggie/tofu/whatever stir fry
Saturday: Leftovers/take out/whatever didn't get made during the week

After watching Fast Food Nation, David's given up red meat (I'm hoping he'll give meat up all together, but I'm just going to wait and see what happens), and is more open to vegetarian dishes, so meal planning has become easier. That and he works four nights a week, so I can save meals he won't like for those nights.

Busy and Relaxing Day

Last night I went to bed around 10, and didn't wake up this morning until 9. I was hoping to be up earlier, but I figure my body must have needed the sleep, and I didn't have any pressing plans for today, so it really didn't matter.

I got up and got dressed, and spent an hour knitting (well, most of it was spent taking out a couple of rows so that I could do them over again correctly) while reading blogs. Then I emptied the dish washer, ate leftover almond tofu for breakfast, loaded up the dishes that didn't get done last night, and ran the dishwasher.

After I got the kitchen all cleaned up, I dumped everything needed for a loaf of whole wheat bread in the bread machine and got that started, cut up and salted cucumbers and onions to make bread and butter pickles, and made a batch of watermelon raspberry lemonade to freeze for later. David and I sat down and made a grocery list, then he left for the store, and I've just now finished up the pickles and am waiting for them to finish processing in the water bath. I made three pints and a quart out of about 10 or 11 medium cucumbers. They taste so yummy though, so I might need to pick up more cucumbers next week at the farmer's market and make another batch.

Once David gets home, I'll start making pineapple zucchini bread and blueberry muffins. We're having pancakes and eggs (tofu scramble for me) for dinner tonight, so I plan on making up a bunch of extra pancakes and freezing them for quick breakfasts later this semester. My poor little freezer is packed to the rim, so after getting all the bread, muffins, lemonade, and pancakes in there I'll probably be done squirreling away food until we use some stuff up.

I have to admit, it's a little weird now opening my cupboards up and seeing things I've made myself and ingredients to make things, but nothing to eat right now (except fruit). I'll need to remedy that soon, and at least stock up on a few things that I can make a quick lunch or snack out of when I'm busy with school, but I like knowing that most of what I'm eating now is homemade and/or local.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Trying New Food

Since going vegan I've ended up trying lots of new food that I never thought I would, like tofu, seitan, tempeh, soymilk, and nutritional yeast. All of which I've come to love now. I've also tried many new fruits and veggies like leeks, parsnips, and kombucha squash. Some highlights were:

Cherimoya. A white fleshed fruit from South America, it tasted something like strawberry-banana yogurt with an almost pudding like texture. Not bad, although the big seeds were a pain to constantly spit out (maybe I was eating it wrong?). It's also called a custard apple.

Picture from Cook's Thesaurus

Kiwano Melon
. The inside was bright green and was similar to jello. Tasted like a mix of lime, kiwi, and cucumbers. I won't be having this again, although Sarah loved it and just about ate the whole thing in one sitting.

Dragon Fruit. Very pretty fruit from South America (this particular kind with the purple flesh is from Costa Rica). It tasted like peppery kiwi, and all the little black seeds made it feel like kiwi as well.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

With last week being so stress filled, and this one not looking much better, I went with mostly comfort food this week.

Monday: Baked penne with zucchini, mushrooms, and olives with some Teese vegan cheese on top.
Tuesday: Orange Tofu, brown rice (making extra to freeze and use as quiche crust next week), steamed veggies.
Wednesday: Late school night, so probably leftovers or something quick and easy like spaghetti
Thursday: Seitan Stroganoff over brown rice
Friday: Almond Tofu (yes, two Asian tofu dishes in one week, but what can I say, it really is my comfort food!)
Saturday: Leftovers
Sunday: Leftovers or simple throw-together dinner. Baking muffins and making one or two quiches for breakfasts over the week.

Head over to Menu Plan Monday and see what other people are making this week. There's so many tasty looking ideas out there, I'm bummed that there aren't more days in the week (weekend days of course, so I wouldn't have more school....)

Sunday, September 7, 2008

School Life

Last week was a stress filled and busy one, and while I'm hoping that the semester gets better from here, I'm having my doubts. What's worse is that Monday was labor day, so my week wasn't even as long as it could have been.

The week started out OK on Tuesday, with Physics and Biological Oceanography (bio ocean) and bio ocean lab. Nothing too bad here, just three hours at a microscope cataloging and drawing different diatom and dinoflagellate species (such as these guys; aren't they cute?).

Both of these pictures belong to the Center for Integrated Marine Technologies since I didn't get any good pictures through my microscope.

Wednesday, however, found me a basket case as I went through work and chemistry lecture a nervous wreck due to a chemistry quiz and oceanography speech on the plastic in the North Pacific Gyre. I won't know how I did on the quiz until tomorrow, but I don't have high hopes. And I'd love to say that I needlessly worried about the speech and pulled it off wonderfully, but I really can't say that since I BLACKED OUT and have no recollection of the speech at all. I remember the guy going before me sit down, and the guy going after me standing at the front of the room starting his speech, but between that is just a vague memory of staring at my cue cards wondering what the heck language they were written in. Talking with a classmate later, I seemed to have done OK, since he said my speech was the most coherent and informative of all the other speeches. I'll take his word for it, at least until I go over the speech with my professor (and chair of the department and former boss) and get my grade sometime this coming week. David was fantastic and just held me while I cried and slowly calmed down after getting home.

Thursday was a little better, with mostly a repeat of Tuesday. My bio ocean professor (and faculty advisor) has offered me a job monitoring harmful algae blooms off our coasts as part of a statewide study. I would love to take it, but am going to wait until I know a little more about what the job requires. She is also going to help me turn the job into my senior research project that I must complete before I graduate, so that's a big bonus. And it's much closer to my field of interest than the PG&E sampling is, so unless the hours are crazy I'll probably end up taking the job. After class I headed over to the Oceanography department mixer, which was fun, but I don't do too well with lots of people. I'm glad I went though, since I'm now signed up with the Oceanography club and talked to many people about the PG&E marine sampling project and hopefully some of them will apply.

Friday I muddled through physics lab and a chemistry lecture and headed home. I don't think I've ever been more glad for a weekend. I didn't get much of anything done (like housework or canning pickles), but I've spent a lot of time relaxing and detoxing from my week, and I have my homework done, a weekly menu planned for next week, I started knitting a washcloth (and have restarted it 4 times already), and have started reading Diet for a New America, which is turning out to be very good in a kind of depressing way....

I'm off now to do some more knitting and am hoping next week will be better.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Ups and Downs

The stress from school and work is already getting to me. I woke up this morning feeling cranky and just generally depressed. Poor David was tip-toeing around all morning before he went to work trying not to set me off. Hopefully this is just a short term thing, and in a day or two I'll be back to normal.

We went to the farmers market today and picked up lots of goodies. Flowers, cantaloupe, blackberries, raspberries, apples, peaches, cucumbers (for pickling), grapes, plums, and asian pears followed us home today. I'm going to make some bread and butter pickles and possibly try to make some apple-plum butter, and once the peaches ripen completely I'll peel them and freeze them for smoothies or pie.

Now that I have my computer back, I can also show you some pictures of what's been going on over here:

Freshly canned tomato sauce.

Picking blueberries at the local pick-your-own

Getting roses from David

Monday, September 1, 2008

Much Needed Rest

I'm so thankful today in Labor day and I don't have classes or work. Saturday and yesterday were spent climbing over rocks and getting drenched by incoming waves, and crawling through stinky Humboldt Bay mud. But everything is taken care of now (except some paperwork, which shouldn't take too long and I'll probably do tonight), so with the exception of two lab write-ups (mostly finished) and physics homework, I have the day to take care of housework and to just relax and possibly start some knitting.

Menu for this week:
Today: Make chili con "carne" (from Vegan Lunch Box) in crock pot, make a loaf of bread, and bake potatoes for tomorrow. I'll be freezing most of the chili and using some for dinner tonight and lunches throughout the week.
Tuesday: Baked Potato Soup (from Veganomicon) with homemade bread
Wednesday: Leftovers since I won't be home until almost 7pm
Thursday: The Oceanography Mixer is tonight so I'll be eating there or eating leftovers when I get home.
Friday: Pasta Primavera with Miso Dressing
Saturday: South of the Border Couscous salad
Sunday: Homemade pizza/calzones

Lunches (and snacks) from last week:
Monday: 4 "ham" roll-ups (veggie ham spread with vegan cream cheese and rolled), 1 plout, 1/2 nectarine, sweet potato fries, peanut butter oatmeal cookie, and one rice cake with peanut butter.
Tuesday: Slice of veggie meatloaf, colcannon (kale and mashed potatoes), mushroom gravy, granola bar, 1 lemon drop, an apple, and some carrots.
Wednesday: 7 pieces veggie sushi, 1 cup edamame in shell, soy sauce, apple, carrots with peanut butter, 1 lemon drop
Thursday: Slice of veggie meatloaf, colcannon (kale and mashed potatoes), mushroom gravy, 1 C blueberries (picked locally), granola bar
Friday: Didn't eat lunch (bad!), had a granola bar and an apple.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Student Life

Yep, I know I must be back to school now. It's 11:30 pm, and I have to get up tomorrow at 4 am to go out sampling marine algae. I'm still up because I have a bio oceanography, physics, and chemistry lab that I need to do write-ups for, a speech to prepare, 6 chapters to read, tons of homework problems to do, and sampling equipment and paperwork to gather up and prepare. And it's only the first week.

Oh boy.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Preserving Summer

Some how this summer I got bit by the canning bug. With school starting tomorrow, I doubt there will be much time for me to continue, but I don't feel too bad about what I got done:

  • 2 quarts + 3 pints tomato sauce
  • 6 pints applesauce (3 cinnamon, 3 plain)
  • 11 half-pints blueberry syrup (much more than the recipe said I'd get!)
  • 5 cups blueberries in the freezer.

I have some cucumbers from the farmer's market that need to be used up, so I may try a can or two of pickles some night after classes or after I collect samples next weekend. Or I may put away the stockpot for now and focus on learning to knit in my free time (yeah right, what's that?).

Blueberry Syrup (from Ball's Preserving Website):
8 cups blueberries , crushed (about 3-1/2 lb)
6 cups water
1 Tbsp lemon zest
3 cups granulated sugar
2 Tbsp lemon juice
3 (16 oz) pint glass preserving jars with lids and bands (I used half pint jars)

Combine blueberries, 2 cups of the water and lemon zest in a large stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat and boil gently for 5 minutes. Transfer to a dampened jelly bag or a strainer lined with several layers of cheesecloth set over a deep bowl and let drain for at least 2 hours.

Prepare your boiling water canner. Heat jars and lids in simmering water until ready for use.

Combine sugar and 4 cups water in a clean large stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar, and cook until temperature reaches 230°F (my thermometer only went to 220, so I just guessed...). Add blueberry juice and bring back to a boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice.

Pour hot syrup into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch head space. Process the jars in the canner for 10 minutes. Remove onto a clean towel for at least 24 hours before checking the seal.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Last Week of Freedom

Only two more days and then my days of freedom are over. It's so sad! And I still have so much to do! Things kept coming up, so I never ended up picking blueberries, but if the weather is decent tomorrow I'll go out and see what I can get. I'll also need to pick up some more canning jars, since I'm almost out of the pints and the quarts won't fit in the pot I'm using for a canner. Never to fear though, some of the quarts will be used to make jack-o-lanterns in October and others will probably be used for soup/cookie/brownie mixes.

Monday and Tuesday I spent several hours meeting with my faculty adviser for the PG&E project, and have gotten all the paperwork caught up for that. I wish the Feds would figure out how to make a decent spreadsheet, explain what exactly they want, and eliminate at least half of the paperwork! I guess it gives me experience in filling all these stupid forms out, and how to keep good scientific records and notes, but really, for what we're doing I shouldn't have to be keeping track of all this. If I would have known I'd be doing all this I don't think I would have taken this position, or at least I would have tried to get a better hourly wage. If I can get a group together, we'll go out next weekend at 6:00 AM to collect samples for the third quarter. Not what I want to do with my first weekend of the school year, I can tell you that.

I also got my hair cut on Monday. It was almost to my waist, and I wanted to keep growing it out, but it was really damaged, so I chopped it all off up to a few inches past my shoulders. I didn't like it at first, but my head is much lighter now, and I don't feel that I need to keep my hair pulled up all the time. With so many hours in labs, though, I'll probably have it up most of the time anyway.

Yesterday I was called out on a sea lion rescue (which is why the berries didn't get picked yesterday). We ended up not going out until 5:30 in the evening, and drove all around Big Lagoon looking for a place to get down the cliffs somewhere close to where the sea lion had been reported. Eventually we had to use a rope to climb down the cliff where it was about 10-12 feet tall and then walked along the beach for a good half mile at least. We never ended up finding the animal, and the tide had already come in and was starting to go back out, so whatever tracks that might have been left were gone. Hopefully the sea lion's out there somewhere swimming around happily, but realistically he's probably not. So back we trekked and used the rope to climb back up the cliff. I'm feeling a little sore today, but mostly it's from where I was carrying the heavy net on my shoulders.

Well, I'm off to bed. Tomorrow I want to pick up the house, pick berries, start the syrup cooking, and take care of a bunch of other little things so that David and I can enjoy our last free Sunday together before going back to the grind. I probably won't end up getting everything done, because I'm lazy like that, but even if I get most of it done I'll be happy.

P.S. Oh, I forgot to mention this before. Before leaving for the Alaska Adventure, I weighed at my parents house and was 243 lbs. When we got back I was 225 lbs., and now I'm hovering between 219 and 222 lbs. (I've been weighing every day, but have started only weighing once a week now). I guess only eating trail mix and hummus for two weeks was a good thing!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

My Vegan 100

Hannah posted this in response to the similar Omnivore's Hundred and I thought I'd go ahead and play along. Probably won't make it by the end of this year, but maybe I'll try to eat all of these before the end of next year. I haven't crossed anything out, because I'm willing to try anything, but I think there's a few things on here I'll probably end up passing on, or at least save until the very last day ;)

1) Copy this list into your own blog, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Post a comment here once you’ve finished and link your post back to this one.
5) Pass it on!

1. Natto
2. Green Smoothie
3. Tofu Scramble
4. Haggis
5. Mangosteen
6. Creme brulee
7. Fondue
8. Marmite/Vegemite
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Nachos
12. Authentic soba noodles
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Taco from a street cart
16. Boba Tea
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Gyoza
20. Vanilla ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Ceviche
24. Rice and beans
25. Knish
26. Raw scotch bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Caviar
29. Baklava
30. Pate
31. Wasabi peas
32. Chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Mango lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Mulled cider
37. Scones with buttery spread and jam
38. Vodka jelly
39. Gumbo
40. Fast food french fries
41. Raw Brownies
42. Fresh Garbanzo Beans
43. Dahl
44. Homemade Soymilk
45. Wine from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Stroopwafle
47. Samosas
48. Vegetable Sushi
49. Glazed doughnut
50. Seaweed
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Tofurkey
54. Sheese
55. Cotton candy
56. Gnocchi
57. PiƱa colada
58. Birch beer
59. Scrapple
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Soy curls
63. Chickpea cutlets
64. Curry
65. Durian
66. Homemade Sausages
67. Churros, elephant ears, or funnel cake
68. Smoked tofu
69. Fried plantain
70. Mochi
71. Gazpacho
72. Warm chocolate chip cookies
73. Absinthe
74. Corn on the cob
75. Whipped cream, straight from the can
76. Pomegranate
77. Fauxstess Cupcake
78. Mashed potatoes with gravy
79. Jerky
80. Croissants
81. French onion soup
82. Savory crepes
83. Tings
84. A meal at Candle 79
85. Moussaka
86. Sprouted grains or seeds
87. Macaroni and “cheese”
88. Flowers
89. Matzoh ball soup
90. White chocolate
91. Seitan
92. Kimchi
93. Butterscotch chips
94. Yellow watermelon
95. Chili with chocolate
96. Bagel and Tofutti
97. Potato milk
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Raw cookie dough

Monday, August 18, 2008

Back At Last

Sorry I've been gone for such a long time! I got back from Alaska July 19th or so, and then only had a couple of weeks to pack, clean, and move out of our old apartment and into our new one. Then we were unpacking, had company over twice, and have just generally been busy. I haven't been on the computer much the last month or so (I know, I'm shocked too). Also, my laptop has a virus, and hasn't been repaired yet, so getting on the computer has been a little trickier than normal.

But life has been very very good. I've spent the last two weekends canning 15lbs. of tomatoes and 10 lbs. of apples from the farmers markets, and tomorrow plan on picking fresh organic blueberries from a local farm and freezing some and making blueberry syrup with the rest to can. I wish I would have asked Cousin Diane a long time ago to teach me how to do all this canning. It's a lot of work, much more than I really thought it would be, but it's a lot of fun and makes me feel good knowing I'm doing something that hundreds of women have done before me and many others are doing the same thing this time of year. In the next few days I'm picking up some knitting needles and yarn from a fellow freecycler and will start teaching myself to knit.

With school starting on the 25th, I'm starting to feel a change in pace though. I won't have much time to do all the things my "domestic homemaker" self would like to (knit, canning, try making soap, baking bread), and am starting to gear up for the stressful, high-paced "student/working woman" self that is going to have to deal with my tough course load. I'll be taking physics, chemistry, biological oceanography, and oceanography seminar for a total of 15 units and about 20 hours of lab every week, not to mention day-long trips on the R/V Coral Sea every other weekend or so. Whew. I can feel my stress level rising just thinking about it! I'm also still the project director of the PG&E Marine Sampling program, and will have all that to deal with and take care of, plus my part time job at HSU School of Business. Most days I will leave the house at 7 am and not get back until 5:30-6:00 pm.

I sometimes feel bad about having to rely on my parents for financial support, but when I think about it, it really is like they're paying me to "work" at school. I'll spend about 35 hours a week between classes and homework (not counting weekend trips), and if I made $8.00/hour (less than what I'm making now at either job), it works out to over a thousand dollars a month that I'm not able to earn because I'm going to school. Looking at it that way, I feel a lot better about it, and it makes me want to do my absolute best, just like I do at a "real" job.

I'm off now to make a grocery list for tomorrow and to see what sort of school supplies I will need.