Thursday, June 30, 2011

Confession Time: Healthy Foods

First things first. When I went to check the mail this afternoon, I saw a package sticking out of the mailbox. My first thought was, “Oh no! They delivered this to the wrong person!” Because my last name is not Cookie. I wish it was.


This is a much unexpected shipment from The Shenandoah Vegan, which was a reward for correctly identify some orange flowers. What’s inside? I’ll show you when I use it. Thanks, Shen!

I had originally planned a post about one-dish meals and healthy food. I quickly tire of both. One of my goals recently has been to cook quicker, cheaper meals. You may think I’m rich, the way I post about traveling, but I’m not. It’s time to buckle down, especially with more airfare already purchased. I also want to get dinners together more quickly, so I have time for other things, and reduce the temptation to just grab take-out.


This meal was quick and easy.

This meal was healthy.

I think it would make a tasty side dish for something a little more salty, and a little more filling. I get bored eating a big old helping of one thing. This is the Sweet & Sour Lentils recipe from the Moosewood Restaurant cookbook.

The lentils are cooked in apple juice and ginger, and then combined with onion, garlic, zucchini, red bell pepper, carrot, tomato, and rice vinegar and soy sauce. The serving suggestion mentioned brown rice and scallions, and I followed that direction. Between the apple juice and vinegar, the sweet & sour flavor was perfect, and the veggie/lentil/rice combination was really enjoyable. I’d make this again, but as a side dish.

What are your favorite quick and easy meals? I need suggestions.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Things in the Backyard

On a whim, I bought some leeks because I heard they were good on the grill. Actually, the tagline might have been “great on the grill!!!!” I didn’t look into how to cook them, and they weren’t good. These guys were tough and stringy. My post-grill research indicates that there are a lot of steps to grilling leeks and making them edible. I think I’ll stick to pureeing them in soups from now on. 


Everything else grills up beautifully: portabella strips, red bell peppers, corn, and – grilled separately, and first – my favorite: asparagus. I feel like someone on a cooking show trying not to make eating the delicious food look ridiculous.*


Besides grilling up the veggies, I decided to break out something I’ve had for years and never actually used. It’s a rainbow cat harness and leash. Our three cats are all indoor-only, but we treated the bravest two of them to a walk around the backyard over the weekend. Athena went first, and she overcame the indignity of wearing the harness as soon as she realized she was outside.

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Twinkie was distressed that we didn’t take him out. He was less accepting of the harness, but once we got it on him, he was more eager to explore. Poor cat hadn’t been outside since he was four months old. I took this photo through the glass door while he whined.


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I’m sure this is something we’ll be doing a lot more of. Yes, grilling, and taking the felines out.

*I know it doesn’t help that I’m wearing a gross t-shirt with the neck cut out. I don’t like things around my neck. This is yet another work gift, and I blurred out my company’s logo, leaving a blotch that looks like a grease stain.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Fun stuff

I guess I should be glad it’s already Tuesday. Every single day has been flying by lately – between being busy with work and trying to have some fun, I find myself almost halfway through another week. I like rounding in the most favorable way to me.

Saturday, I made a dreaded but infrequent trip to the mall for new clothes. Thankfully, my job also rewards me in Macy’s gift certificates as well as logoed items. So I spent them. Afterward, Alex and I went to our local Loving Hut for lunch.

I ordered their special “Golden Wrap,” which was Gardein tenders with lettuce, tomato, and avocado, along with the nacho-style golden sauce. This was super tasty. I also got a side of cauliflower soup.


Alex selected a burger which was also topped with a generous portion of the Golden Sauce. This sauce was better on the chips than on the patty; I agreed with him that the burger would be better with ketchup and pickles. (That’s not typically my style, but this beef-less burger was screaming for ordinary condiments.)


After we stuffed ourselves at Loving Hut, Alex offered to accompany me the library to hear Charlaine Harris talk. I’ve been reading her books and listening to them on recordings I can download through the library, and we’ve been watching True Blood together. Of course, Alex is interested in the nudity as much as the storyline, but I think he’s a super sweetheart for tagging along with my interests. Anyway, we drove downtown, parked right in front of the library, heard the author speak and answer some questions – she really impressed me and made Alex laugh – and headed on home. Things like how easy that is make it difficult to decide to leave Cincinnati. Right now, moving plans are on hold. Indefinitely.

I rewarded Alex with the Magical Coconut Cookie Bars. After seeing these about a dozen times over at The Shenandoah Vegan, I finally decided to make them. That was a great decision. So go, make them. You can thank me later.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Wow, where did summer go? I wore long sleeves all day today and was chilly. I talked to my mom – she says it’s cooler in her area, too, because it’s not 90. Oh.

I went back and forth on trying this new recipe. Turns out, I picked a perfect day for it. This recipe caught my eye in the Moosewood Restaurant cookbook I picked up at a used bookstore recently. It’s called callaloo, which apparently is both a green and a dish.


Unable to find callaloo (possibly because I only went to my mainstream grocer), I used red kale. This dish is most like a soup, but it’s made with lime juice that brings a summery flavor to it. This soup is made with onions, garlic, ginger, spices (turmeric, coriander, thyme, allspice), sweet potatoes, kale, okra, and tomato. All that simmers in broth, then it’s finished with coconut milk and lime juice.

Yep, the okra and sweet potato combo both intrigued and disgusted me. In the end, though, this was a tasty soup. I thought it needed some heat, though, and I wish I’d cut my grape tomatoes (like the recipe suggested).

Since that soup is not too pretty, I thought I’d leave you with a cute photo. Now that winter is over, the cats are out of their cat beds and taking over a chair. I’m glad they’re sticking to one – I don’t like to sit in fur. Anyway, sometimes they take turns, but often, in this cooler weather, they pile on top of each other.


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Summer Tofu Salad

Hi friends. Have you been enjoying summertime?  I really have been; I finally went to a Reds game, we celebrated our second anniversary (not on the actual day). Most days, after work, I sit out on the back deck and read a book. I get a special pleasure out of pouring a beer into a logo travel coffee mug I won at work for exceptional performance and taking that out with me.

(No, I don’t use the lid. Since it’s an insulated travel mug, it doesn’t sweat in the heat. Also, it has my company’s logo on it.) Does anyone watch How I Met Your Mother? There’s a reference, somewhere, to getting bonuses in gift cards. I get t-shirts, mugs, a water bottle, a shopping bag, pens, etc. with my company’s logo on it. Instead of a raise. So.


I’m back on track, though, and I went to two grocery stores and a farmers’ market this weekend—with a list—to get stocked for a few meals. (I also realized that through my local library, I can download books through NetLibrary and so I plan to listen while I cook).

I am trying to cook on the cheap, after so much traveling, and recently made this meal from things in my freezer and cabinet, plus half a leftover napa cabbage. This is the Peanutty Udon Noodle and Tofu Salad from the Whole Foods App.

Since I looked at the recipe on my phone and only saw the photo of the dish in a half-inch square, it’s funny to look at it on my computer and see so many other colors. I omitted the radishes and carrots because I didn’t have any. In fact, I found this recipe by searching for how to use up the last of a napa cabbage I had leftover from making some soup. Genius!

I ate this salad at room temperature. The udon and tofu were hot, but the cabbage and sauce were cooled. This salad is dressed with soy sauce, brown rice syrup, rice vinegar, chili paste, peanut butter, and garlic. This was really good.

How about you, are you cooking more or less this summer? Or, have you disappeared like I have?