Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Vegan Happiness

I have never been good at social situations. I am much like my mother, in that once I am home from work and school, I don't want to deal with anyone besides my family. I don't want people to come over, I don't want to go places. Tuesday I forced myself out of the house, and I'm so glad I did.

I'm not sure if I've mentioned CCAT (Campus Center for Appropriate Technology) before here, but it is a wonderful group on campus that deals with alternative technologies and sustainability. Tonight they hosted a vegan cooking class with AWARE (Always Working for Animal-Rights & Equality); another club on campus. I was a little surprised at how many people showed up (about 12-13?), considering a lot of the fliers had been torn down around campus. The food was excellent, and the atmosphere was great. All of us hung out in the kitchen (luckily a very spacious one!) and talked, helped out, and ate. CCAT is a really special place, and I wish every one had a place like this in their lives and communities. It really lends itself to making everyone feel at home and accepted. Drop in and sit down to read a book from their library, take a few minutes to weed the garden, sign up for a class and learn about herbalism, lost arts of living, organic gardening, thermal curtains, and a myriad of other skills and topics.

And did I mention the food? Because all of it was wonderful. Well, except for the mashed cauliflower with capers. I tried to be impartial to the capers, really I did, but it wasn't happening. The menu consisted of cheap vegan comfort foods (we are po' college students after all) including raspberry cole slaw, 50 cent tomato soup, mashed cauliflower, garlic and rosemary potatoes, mac and cheese, baked tofu, and thai peanut sauce. The big winners were definitely the mac and cheese, baked tofu, and the potatoes. I made the mac and cheese last night for dinner, and even David ate it and said it was good (but that it didn't taste like cheese).

My organic gardening class (put on by CCAT) is having a local and organic potluck on Monday. I've been thinking about doing a local food month (or just in general), but I'm not sure it's possible. While Humboldt is a great area for omnivores to eat local, there are almost no vegan protein sources and very few grains. For the potluck I think I'm going to make a potato salad with oregano, lemon thyme, rosemary, and (cheating-not local, but organic) garlic and olive oil. For my local food diet, I made a modified 100 mile radius that I'm going to try to work in. I had to modify a little because half of my area would be at sea, so now I'm working in an area roughly south of Brookings and Ashland, north of Willits and Willows, and west of Susanville. I think that gives me enough options, but with more research I may need to change it a little more. As things around the house get used up, I'll slowly start replacing stuff with things grown and (possibly or) made in my little area. I can't wait until the farmer's markets start carrying things besides lettuce and starts.

Only one more week of classes!
Picture from Arcata Community.org

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Another week, another menu

It's the plan anyway. Life seems to have other ideas most weeks. Head over to I'm an Organizing Junkie for more menu ideas.

Monday: Vegan Dad's sausage and pasta. We will also make a couple of quiches for David and I to grab for a quick breakfast during the week. I'm planning on using this recipe from the Fat Free Vegan for myself, David's will be a traditional quiche with broccoli.
Tuesday: Mushroom Risotto, asparagus or spinach, salad (David's not home until 10)
Wednesday: South Western Spaghetti, salad (I'm making a separate dish with soy crumbles for myself)
Thursday: Mexican Taco Casserole, Spanish rice, steamed kale or spinach for me.
Friday: Left overs. Possibly baking bread and/or cookies. (David gone until 10:30)
Saturday: Left overs or refrigerator casserole (dump odds and ends in a pan and see what happens). (David gone until 10:30)

Last week was a jumble of leftovers and quick meals like nachos (chips, refried beans, avocado, tomato, olives, sour cream), Connie's Barf Chicken (see last post), baked penne with zucchini, and caramelized onions and tofu with apricot teriyaki sauce over sushi rice, with a couple of veggie egg rolls on the side. Between David's and my end of semester crunch and catching a cold, neither of us really felt like cooking anything complicated.

There's good news though; I seem to be mostly over my cold and avoided having it settle in my lungs and developing pneumonia like I always do (knock on wood), and there's only two more weeks until finals. After that I will be preparing things for my summer road trip, and getting the house ready for David to live without me for a month or so (the horror!). There is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Has it really been three weeks since my last post? Well, time flies when you're having fun. Or having midterms, term papers, presentations, paperwork for work due at the same times, plus looking into buying a house, a couple of concerts, and your and your boyfriend's doctors appointments. And you can probably guess which category I fall under. :) The joys of being a working college student.

I went to the doctor today and she was confident that I don't have pre-diabetes. In fact, she said beside from my weight and my slightly high cholesterol and triglycerides I am in perfect health. Woot! She also said that I was doing great on my diet since I was far from anemic and didn't have any nutrient deficiency. I was a little worried when she was doing the hammer-on-the-knee thing to my right leg and my leg wasn't jumping at all, but then she moved to my left leg and I almost kicked her in the face. Apparently all is well there. Her only advice was to up the exercise more, which if my accidental 3 mile hike on Monday counts, I think I'm good for this week. I certainly wasn't a happy camper while I was hauling myself and my backpack up and down all the hills, but I was impressed when I mapped my route and discovered I'd walked that far in about an hour. Maybe I'll start taking shorter walks a couple times a week....

In a kind of ironic twist, David has been diagnosed with might-as-well-be diabetes. An A1C score of 7.0 is considered diabetic, and his score was a 6.9. He's been seeing a nutritionist, and she's recommended that he cut most carbs from his diet and eat more lean proteins like eggs and meats. She's also recommended that he stay away from most vegan protein sources because they are mostly classified as carbs. Which has made menu planning slightly trickier, but he's been good about learning to cook his own meat.

I haven't been keeping a list of what I've been eating lately, but some highlights include Vegan Dad's Pasta with Peppers and Spicy Sausage, which was excellent. Vegan Dad has now been redeemed. Even David told me to keep this recipe in the rotation. Also on the highlights list were Sour Cream Chicken* Enchiladas, which were very good, but on the second day were so spicy we couldn't eat the rest of them. Next time, less chipotle? Meatloaf and fried chicken also topped the list, but both were too salty for me. I have been using less and less salt, and have been trying to buy more low sodium items, so maybe it's just my taste buds? I've managed to catch a cold in the last few days, so last night I was happy to find vegan cream of mushroom soup and made made favorite comfort food; Connie's Barf Chicken. Not the most appetizing name, I know, but it has stuck since we first made it from Connie's recipe and my dad said it looked like someone barfed in the bowl. Pre-veg*n days, I made it with cream of mushroom soup, cream cheese/sour cream (whatever was on hand), chopped chicken breast, covered in buttered cracker crumbs and baked until everything was cooked and gooey. Last night I used Imagine brand mushroom soup, frozen chicken strips, broccoli, and some cream cheese and ate it over rice. Just what I needed. I also realized that what I liked so much about it was the cream of mushroom soup and cream cheese, so next time I might skip the chicken strips all together and just keep the broccoli instead.

Now I'm off to get yet another cup of tea and study for Friday's genetics exam. Only two weeks left of classes, a week of finals, and then I'm free for the summer and my long awaited road trip!

*You may have noticed that I'm not using Chik'n or qualifying my ingredients as vegan. I am eating almost entirely vegan except for pantry items that were bought before the switch, so just assume that when I say chicken, I mean some sort of vegan product that tastes/is meant to mimic chicken, etc.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Spring Cleaning

Buy Nothing Challenge - April 2008 Things have gotten better (and worse!) since my last post. David and I got in a large fight that left me sulking my entire three day weekend. I should have been cleaning house, and doing school work, and getting my garden started, but instead, all I felt like doing was moping around and eating massive amounts of carbs. Oops. But after a long talk, things are resolved and back to normal and I am looking forward to actually getting stuff done this coming weekend. I hope.

I've noticed no one ever seems to post about their meals that really aren't all that good. Maybe it's because they're trying to show how good vegan food is. Maybe they don't want to admit they made something that tasted that bad. I'll admit it. Dinner last night, while still edible, is not a repeatable recipe (without some serious modifications anyway). Ketchup and mustard seem to be making it a little better, but I'm not sure I'll be able to finish all the leftovers (and David's not touching the stuff with a 10 foot pole). I found the recipe for the Cheesy Creamy Casserole on Vegan Dad's blog, which usually is filled with yummy looking dinners. However, this one didn't turn out nearly as yummy as it originally sounded. Sorry Vegan Dad. I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that I'm still not quite used to the nutritional yeast taste, but the orange-y pink color and texture didn't help much either.

I have also accepted Crunchy Chicken's Buy Nothing Challenge for the month of April. No April Fool's joke here people. I don't think it should be too hard for me really, but I will need to purchase some wood and gardening supplies. I've been trying to find suitable wood at the recycling center and on freecycle, but so far I haven't had much luck. Maybe some readers of mine would also like to step up to the challenge? Wink wink.

Well, enough stalling for me. I should start on my school work and finish up baking cookies. But I'll mostly focus on baking the cookies, because who wants to do school work? I mean, really.