Wednesday, February 28, 2007

'No Knead Bread 'recipe by Jim Lahey in the NY Times - apparantly it's all the rage, and it's just reaching me now.

I'll leave a 'bread crumb trail' for how I came about finding the 'No Knead Bread' recipe that apparantly has caught fire and is making the rounds. I'm either oblivious, or it is still new enough that it hasn't reached my attention. But it has my attention now!

Beginning with my bloglines morning reads, from not martha today is a list of fun recipes (I already added the kettle corn and sweet potato fries). I followed the no knead bread recipe to splatgirl creates and it was an interesting read but didn't include the recipe. The link was to the New York Times registration or sign in page. I didn't feel like signing in, so I googled and came up with The Wednesday Chef which does have the now becoming famous Jim Lahey recipe.

Apparantly the secret is one of those known to the older civilizations - use of baking stone. For modern day cooks, with modern day stoves, the baking oven is a different concept. This recipe calls for use of a cast-iron pot with a lid.
Woo Hoo - a reason to go thrift store shopping - actually in this case, I can probably find a good enough price on a new cast iron pot with lid at our one and only department store - The Dennis Company.

The other secret to this recipe is that after you mix it and the mixing takes only a few minutes, it's left to rise for 18 hours, then baked in the 'almost like a cooking stone' concept of cast iron pot with lid.

Something for me to try and surprise my husband, who is the bread maker in our home and is not shy about kneading bread. Oh, and we do have the bread making machine, which I probably ought to make more use of using.
We'll blog about our variation of success in using this recipe.

No-Knead Bread
Yields one 1 1/2 pound loaf

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

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Roasted Sweet Potato Sticks with Rosemary - another 'snack' food - healthy sorta

I haven't fixed this 'snack' yet, but I feel pretty confident having made roasted, seasoned potatos, and recently having made Eggplant Chips. So, putting the recipe here for reference and when I get more sweet potatoes, I'll be sure to make this one. I bought sweet potatoes at our last grocery outing, but they were intended for the Thai and vegetarian recipes I collected. I can recommend the sweet potato Thai recipe, not the vegetarian sweet potato - lentil recipe. But, even so, I'm spoiled in wanting my sweet potatoes to taste like the recipe I use at Thanksgiving.

Found the recipe this morning at Apartment Therapy (interesting blog by the way).

Roasted Sweet Potato Sticks with Rosemary

1 pound sweet potatoes, washed
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped fine
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Heat oven to 425ºF. Cut the sweet potatoes into thick sticks. Toss with the rosemary, oil, salt and pepper and spread in one layer on a large baking sheet. Roast for about 15 minutes, shaking the pan and stirring occasionally.

They don't get crispy, like fried fries, but instead they're tender in the middle with some crunchy edges. Rosemary is just one seasoning idea - try tossing them with thyme, chili powder, or paprika.

Other suggestions from the comments;

Try split batches - half savoury; with chili pepper and cumin, and half sweet; with cinnamon and nutmeg and served with maple syrup.

Try using butternut squash instead of sweet potatoes.

(If you have a variation on the recipe, please post it in comments. I was wondering if you could make these 'fries' using pumpkin, squashes, yams?)




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Kettle Corn recipe - for those cravings when I cave in....

Just a little not so healthy Kettle Corn recipe I came across today at Seattlest. Yes, from time to time, I give into my craving for kettle corn. I first tasted it when we lived in Mount Vernon, in Skagit County, Washington. I really liked the 'quaint' downtown and the annual street fair which included many vendors who brought along homecrafts. While I like where we live, I often find myself wishing we had made our permanent settling down in Skagit. The Daffodils and Tulip Festival, the easy driving, the scenery, farming still is farming. We have some sweet memories of our short few years living in Skagit. 1995 - 1997.

Kettle Corn
As the name suggests, kettle corn must be made in something approximating a kettle (we used a 4-quart saucepan with a lid); an air popper (which for conventional popcorn is great) simply won’t do. This makes a largish portion for one, but feel free to double it.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 cup popcorn kernels
2 tablespoons white sugar
kosher salt to taste
melted butter (optional)

In your saucepan, heat the oil and popcorn kernels over medium-high heat, shaking the pan to keep the kernels from burning. When the kernels are about to start popping, they will become slightly lighter in color, and most importantly, they will start to smell like popcorn. At this point, sprinkle the sugar over the kernels and cover. With the lid on, continue to cook the popcorn by gently shaking the pan over the heat. When the popping has slowed (don’t keep cooking until the very last kernel has popped, you will end up burning the sugar), remove the pan from heat and empty the popcorn into a large bowl. Toss with salt immediately (when the sugar on the popcorn is still hot and sticky, the salt will adhere to the kernels better) and sprinkle with melted butter if you like. Enjoy while still warm.

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Monday, February 26, 2007

Project; little girl circle skirt and top - refashioned from bed sheet and Auntie's capris

Now this woman is 'repurposing' purposely. See her blog, Consumption Rebellion, for outline of how she re-used materials that went into making this outfit for her little girl.



excerpt from her blog - how to:

The skirt was constructed as follows:

- waistband - cut from my Great Aunt's pair of denim capris.
- circle skirt (and its really a circle this time!) - from fabric offcut at an op shop - cost $1
- lining - made from an old bedsheet found at an op shop - cost 50c.

- Top - cut from the leg of my Great Aunt's capris and turned upside down so the tapered end went towards the neck and the wider end towards the waist.
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Sunday, February 25, 2007

Calling our Monkey Puzzle Tree a Dinosauer? - Well, I guess it is, sorta

Oh, this woman doesn't like the infamous Monkey Puzzle Tree. I followed her comment from one blog to her own blog and she has a post about what another writer calls the Dinosauer Tree.

Well, we have one, over 92 yrs old now and I can tell you that the writer was spot on in calling it a Dinosauer Tree. It is left over from that era it seems to me, since it is not exactly a friendly sort of tree. I've read the writer's assessment before somewhere, and was amused then, but I see it is a copyright, so I won't reprint it here. Leave it to the woman who blogged it at her blog to deal with copyright issue.

excerpt:
Ever wondered why even the most die-hard of all treehuggers won't touch this tree, not even with a barge pole? Because it's bloody lethal, that's why! Look at those sharp and stiff leaves. They last for 10 to 15 years, the little blighters. That tells you something about how tough they are. Not forgetting those cones the female trees produce, which are 6 to 12 inches long and look a bit like coconuts. It's really not wise to stand beneath a female tree when she's shedding her cones!




For reference though, here is a photo of our aged monkey puzzle tree - named such as what monkey could ever figure out how to navigate a monkey puzzle tree without serious damage to the monkey! The leaves (if you can call them that) are indeed needle sharp and will stab you when you try to pick them up. I know because I learned not to handle them when they fall off our tree - I use a rake.



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The Dancer Tree. Only one like it anywhere!

Oh, a have to photo to share. This beautiful tree formation is a graceful dancer in arabesque. Who had the imagination and know how to shape a tree into this formation? It's breathtaking. Wouldn't that be something to see each day in my own yard. Of course, I'm going to be taken with images of ballerinas. And the amazing thing about this tree shaped into the image of a dancer is that the person got the shape and image correct! I can't tell you how many images I've come across that do not correctly capture the nuance of the dancer in motion. A foot at the wrong bend, a knee at an incorrect angle - and to a trained eye it stands out as flawed.



found at The Whispering Crane Institute blog.
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A new Friend - International at that...

Look, I found a new friend! Smila. She left a comment here at my blog and I followed the link to find her blog = Smila's World. Oh, she has some fabulous ideas with photos she has posted at her blog. She looks like an accomplished seamstress with a creative flair. Her blog is in German, and I can't read it, but the photos tell a lot even without being able to read the words. Perhaps she will have picture type tutorials that anyone can follow without having to read in one language or another.

I will add the link to her blog here in my links as one of my new found friends . Give her blog a visit to see some rich and colorful ideas for what she has accomplished using fabric. It looks like some are refashions or remakes. You be the judge.



and

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Project; Painting or transforming Laminate (Formica) Countertops

Well, now this, I don't know about, and I'm not even sure I would be wanting to take on this project, but it seems all the fashion these days to have granite-looking or marble-looking countertops in the kitchen and bathroom. I'm not too unhappy with our formica or laminate countertops, but I suppose if we wanted to get fancy or look like we are upgrading, this is a project we could take on. Well not until we get those stairs finished. I think I better post this one to our houseblogs, too. I first posted it to my blog Everything old is new again..

Suggestions for transforming old formica countertops - from Thrifty Fun.

(My disclaimer - these are other people's ideas, suggestions and projects. I have no experience whatsoever with doing anything to alter the appearance of formica countertops.)



and close up

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Projects: Three projects: Skirt redesign; Postcard Wallart; Skirt conversts to Halter



how to




See this and more at Creative Kismet. She posted this refashion to Wardrobe Refashion but she has her own blog, with photos and how to's and she shares some of her creative ideas.

Like this one.



quick tutorial




Her blog has neatly arranged categories, and from her recycled craft category, below is one nifty idea she created, inspired by something she saw on HGTV in the show Design Remix.
Instead of using matchbook covers as they did on the show, she used old postcards she had and I like the effect. Plus I like old postcards and see them often at thrift stores, and tell myself not to buy because what would I do with them. Well here is what I could do with them.

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Bottled Water likened to Driving a Hummer - think about it.

Found this morning at Path to Freedom Journal and I just have to share this here....I so agree, I so agree.

BOTTLED WATER IS LIKE DRIVING A HUMMER
Be Part of the Solution

ENDING BOTTLED WATER ADDICTION WILL SAVE MONEY & ENVIRONMENT
{from Organic Consumer Association}

BOTTLED WATER ISN'T NECESSARILY CLEANER:
According to the San Francisco Chronicle and lawsuits from the Environmental Law Foundation, 40% of bottled water is really just repackaged tap water. Maybe that's a good thing, considering federal standards for tap water are actually higher than those for bottled water.

BOTTLED WATER AND OIL:
Supplying Americans with plastic water bottles for one year consumes more than 47 million gallons of oil, according to the Container Recycling Institute. That's enough to take 100,000 cars off the road and 1 billion pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. Add in the additional amount of oil it takes to ship the bottles thousands of miles from extraction source to recipient, and your drink of H2O could be categorized with the "Hummers" of the world.

BOTTLED WATER AND BIODEGRADABILITY:
Buddha's bones turned to dust a long time ago. But if he had been a bottled water drinker, that plastic would still be laying around. It takes two minutes to drink a bottle of water, but it takes thousands of years for that piece of plastic garbage to go away.

SOLUTION:
Buy a water filter and a non-plastic water container of your preferred size. Fill it up in the morning before you go to work or school. Do a quick online search, and you can also find affordable portable water filters for when you are traveling. You'll save yourself and the environment a lot of expense.



And, I would add, that there are instances where the convenience of bottled water is helpful, ie, disaster - Hurricane Katrina-, flood, outages, storms, emergencies. On the other hand, in a documentary I saw that was rather chilling - 'The Corporation' - there well may be something to the underlying premise that conditioning populations to 'pay for drinking water' is just that - conditioning. We've been well conditioned to become avid 'consumers' and buying products is equated to our supposed well being but is it really?



Follow the money and you will come to learn that Big Corporations didn't get that way without some clever, smart 'marketing' over the decades. Even back to the 1940s or earlier corporations were envisioning this kind of future where they owned everything we would need to live - food, shelter, water, clothing, medicine etc. I could go on and on, but I won't. I have to say though that the idea of 'paying for bottled water' is a new concept as only a few years back who would have even thought to pay for drinking water? It was hyped as more pure, cleaner and had a bit of a social elevation twinge to it - a kind of labeling that said I'm too good to drink just any water, I have this bottle of (fill in the name label)....



First it was actual glass bottles, then plastic bottles, then the image became one of the 'active person' into exercise, sports, health, good parent concerned about children and family, well being sort of imaging. First it was some few companies manufacturing bottled water, now how many companies make bottled water available as a 'for sale product'? In one of the South America countries, and I forget which one, perhaps Brazil, there was effort by the money makers to charge the people for 'rain water'. That's right - rain, falling out of the sky, captured in barrels and containers for use as family drinking and cooking water - and being charged for doing so ---- think about it. Rain - free resource - who can own the rain? A long time ago, the Native Americans found it an equally perculiar concept that the Europeans coming to America believed they could own the land.

What kind of carbon imprint are you (we) leaving? Whatever your consumption and the carbon imprint it leaves is the inheritance of your children and their children. I rather like the idea of giving some thought to personal responsibility and our own carbon imprint. There isn't a lot we can do about Big Corporation and launching any kind of campaign to get them to change their behavior or take responsibility takes enormous energy and resources. However, if each of us becomes different kind of consumer and more interested in our own carbon imprint, corporations will by their very nature be forced to alter their behavior.

Another blog entry and I'll write about Montsano - the Big Corporation who has already done what none others have done - taken out patents on seeds (food) - as if a living thing can be patented. That's not all - but more on that another time.


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Oh, this woman doesn't like the infamous Monkey Puzzle Tree. I followed her comment from one blog to her own blog and she has a post about what another writer calls the Dinosauer Tree.

Well, we have one, over 92 yrs old now and I can tell you that the writer was spot on in calling it a Dinosauer Tree. It is left over from that era it seems to me, since it is not exactly a friendly sort of tree. I've read the writer's assessment before somewhere, and was amused then, but I see it is a copyright, so I won't reprint it here. Leave it to the woman who blogged it at her blog to deal with copyright issue.

excerpt:
Ever wondered why even the most die-hard of all treehuggers won't touch this tree, not even with a barge pole? Because it's bloody lethal, that's why! Look at those sharp and stiff leaves. They last for 10 to 15 years, the little blighters. That tells you something about how tough they are. Not forgetting those cones the female trees produce, which are 6 to 12 inches long and look a bit like coconuts. It's really not wise to stand beneath a female tree when she's shedding her cones!




For reference though, here is a photo of our aged monkey puzzle tree - named such as what monkey could ever figure out how to navigate a monkey puzzle tree without serious damage to the monkey! The leaves (if you can call them that) are indeed needle sharp and will stab you when you try to pick them up. I know because I learned not to handle them when they fall off our tree - I use a rake.


posted entry by Lietta Ruger

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Saturday, February 24, 2007

Three Soups, A big batch of Granola, and Eggplant Chips. What a day in the kitchen!

Three Soups Tonight!

New batch of Granola.

Eggplant Chips.



I got busy and made three different soups tonight to go with the big batch of rice I made yesterday. I also wanted to be sure that Sweetie would have 'leftovers' for the rest of the weekend and to take to work on Monday.

If we had a bigger refridgerator, I'd do the weekend making up meals ahead, but there is no way with the two of us we could get it all eaten. And I'm not real sure it's a good idea to be freezing the Thai food. While I'm sure it is entirely freezable, we are enjoying the taste of it cooked fresh with fresh ingredients. How does tofu freeze up after it's been cooked anyway? I suppose it does, but I'm not ready to find out yet.


And that is not all I made tonight. I made up another big batch of granola - the 5 cups of rolled oats recipe so we have our granola now for another week. For the granola, I combine two recipes, mixing and matching the ingredients as the mood strikes me and based on the ingredients we have on hand. Right now, we have a lot of ingredients for granola, so we are getting the 'deluxe' model.

Oh, remember the story of the Eggplant? Well, Sweetie can't say anything to me about another eggplant going to waste cause I cooked it up tonight - using a recipe called Eggplant Chips. They were quite tasty, not really chips, too soft but very tasty.

I talked to both my daughters this weekend. Daughter 1 - the Vegan Daughter has been doing some creative work with her blog, Veganville, and figured out how to have a 3 column blog, using Blogger. I want one too. She gave me the link for the tutorial and I made an 'experimental' blog to play around with and sure enough got it into 3 columns.

Daughter 2 - and she told me she has weekly cooking classes with some other women who are teaching each other how to cook 'ethnic' cuisines. Daughter 2 is learning how to cook Japanese and Phillipine foods. I was excited to learn that and asked her if she would blog her newly learned recipes. She said she would, so I am looking forward to seeing what she does with her newly learned skills. I figure with both daughters trying new foods and recipes and giving them ratings, then I can just borrow from their experience. And when they want to borrow from my experience, well, they can find recipes at this blog. Why do I keep saying that this is not a recipe/cooking blog when so far that is the majority of what I have put on this blog? Well, because right now I'm in the fever pitch of our project of converting to vegetarian, so that is where a lot of my attention is going right now.

Last night I made Suki Yaki (Japanese). I really enjoy suki yaki - it's one of my favorite Japanese meals. The recipe I used last night though left something to be desired. Either it was me, the chef, or the recipe, but that was not one of the better suki yaki meals I've had, either that I've prepared or on those rare occasions when we eat out. I'm not going to include the recipe here as I won't likely use it again. Maybe there wasn't enough sake in the liquid mixture - maybe too much daikon radish. I know I like to add extra ingredients like bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, mushrooms, bean sprouts, even if the recipe doesn't call for them.

Okay, so Sweetie tried all three soups tonight. How clever he is and you can see that in the photo. He found one of our old compartmentalized lunch containers, and it worked so handily for him to try one of each of the three soups. It looked so pretty, I made him wait while I took a photo. I sampled each of the soups and rather knew what I thought, so it was interesting to hear his ratings of the three soups.

Tofu/Pineapple Soup

2-1/4 cups soup base (1395 mg sodium)
1/2 cup (125 g) canned crushe'd pineapple, unsweetened
7/8 cups (212 g) canned diced tomatoes (385 mg sodium)
1 lb (454 g) tofu, bite sized pieces fried
1-1/8 cups (267 g) water
1-3/4 cups (210 g) diced Vietnamese celery (regular celery also works)
1-1/2 tablespoon (24 g) soy sauce (1140 mg sodium)

Directions:

1. Fry the tofu.
2. Place the: soup base, pineapple, tomatoes, tofu and water in a pot. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.
3. Add the celery and soy sauce. Bring to a simmer. Turn off burner.
We usually eat this soup with rice. Serves: 6 Preparation time: 45 minutes


(We both really like this soup. It has a sweet but tangy taste to it. These are not ingredients I would have likely thought to mix. But now that I think of it, tomatoes and pineapple do go on pizza, so maybe they are compatible. I used a vegetable broth soup base. A thank you shout out to Kyo for providing the recipe at VegWeb.com)



Sweet Potato Curry with Sticky Rice

1 can coconut milk
1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste
2 small or 1 big sweet potato cubed
1 chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, chopped
any other root vegetables, chopped
soy or vegan fish sauce (to taste)
cooking oil
2 cups uncooked sticky rice (also called sweet or glutinous rice)

Directions:

This is a super easy and super yummy recipe.

Curry:
Warm up some cooking oil in a pot, cook onion until softened. Add garlic and curry and stir for 2 minutes. Throw in the rest of the vegetables and stir until coated. Add the coconut milk and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the vegetables are cooked to your liking. I like my vegetables really soft so I cook them for a long time. Season with soy/vegan fish sauce.

Serve with rice.

Sticky Rice:
The rice should be rinsed and soaked for at least an hour before cooking. Boil a pot/wok with some water, just enough that it won't touch the bamboo steamer. Place the rice in a cheesecloth, or on top of some lettuce leaves so they don't fall through the steamer. Place the steamer in the wok/on the pot and steam for about 10 minutes. If you don't own a bamboo steamer, get one. Just for the rice, it's worth it!

Serves: 4 Preparation time: 30 minutes


(We gave this one a thumbs up. It's got that very Thai taste to it with using the red curry paste. Using the curry paste together with the sweet taste of the coconut milk was something new for us. And using in combination with sweet potato. I would make this recipe again. Although, I really prefer the taste of sweet potatoes cooked in more Western style, so while I would make this recipe again, I would more likely make another of the Thai with noodles recipes before I would this one. Only because I would use sweet potatoes in a different way. Sweetie liked the soup - gave it a thumbs up )



Curried Red Lentil Soup with Sweet Potatoes and Greens

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped red onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups water
1 1/2 cups dried red lentils, rinsed and sorted
2 large or 3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons good-quality curry powder, more or less to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
6 to 8 ounces Swiss chard or spinach
juice of 1 lemon or lime
salt to taste

Directions:

Both nourishing and sublimely satisfying, this thick soup incorporates fall's first sweet potatoes with seasonal greens. Red lentils, which cook to a warm golden color, are available in natural food stores and ethnic groceries. Serve with Chapatis or a store-bought flatbread.

Heat the oil in a soup pot. Add the onion and garlic and saute over medium heat until golden, about 10 minutes. Add the water, followed by the lentils, sweet potatoes, and seasonings. Bring to a rapid simmer, then lower the heat. Cover and simmer gently until the lentils are mushy and the potatoes are done, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, wash the greens, remove stems and midribs, then slice into narrow shreds. Stir into the soup along with the lemon juice. If the soup is too thick, adjust the consistency with a small amount of water.

Continue to simmer gently until the greens are just done, about 5 minutes for spinach and 10 to 15 minutes for chard. Season with salt. Serve at once, or if time allows, let the soup stand off the heat for an hour or two. Heat through before serving.

(We didn't care much for this one. It was not a Thai recipe. It was from a vegetarian recipe and while it was hardy enough, flavorful enough, it has the 'vegetarian' food quality to it. I'm just not ready to adjust my palette yet to what I consider to be somewhat bland tasting vegetarian recipes. It was a nice touch using sweet potato, and the lemon spiced up the flavor, but I'm not that fond of lentils, so it's hard to get around the fact that the soup has the taste of lentils. I would not likely use the recipe again, but I might in those early winter months. Sweetie didn't care much for the taste either).



Very Easy and Addictive Eggplant "Chips"


1 good eggplant, preferably organic
1-2 tablespoons olive oil (**less works fine too)
tamari to taste (about 1-2 tablespoons)
granulated garlic, to taste (about 1/2 teaspoon)

Directions:

This recipe is ridiculously easy, but I practically make a meal out of it every week. Everyone else seems to love it, too.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Pour the olive oil on the cookie sheet, along with the tamari and garlic. Swoosh the cookie sheet around to mix.
Slice eggplant into about 1/4" thick rounds. Place eggplant slices on cookie sheet. Turn each slice over to coat both sides. Bake for about 10 minutes on each side. (Turn over when browned on the bottom). They are done when they look caramelized on each side.

I pretty much eat this all to myself, along with a salad and maybe some bread or something. I am not sure why I love them so much, but I hope you will too!!

**For a lower fat version, you can just use a teaspoon or so of oil, and make up the rest of the liquid with a veggie broth. This works fine too. OR, you can use an oil spray and coat each side that way. (I have a reusable Misto sprayer that I refill with olive oil). Serves: 1 (if you are me) Preparation time: 5 minutes, plus bake time

( Have to give a thanks shout out to quintess for sharing this recipe. It wa good, very tasty and I will gladly make it again. Nifty use for eggplant and it baked up quickly. I don't know if I followed the recipe correctly in baking it, because what I got was not crunchy chips, but they were cooked and tasty. So woo hoo for this recipe, great snack and one I can eat all by myself whenever I want. Since I just love the shape and color of eggplant, I can pick one up at the grocery store any time now and know exactly what I want to do with it!)
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Friday, February 23, 2007

Bonus Army and Ghosts of Abu Ghraib on tv last night

I watched Bonus Army on PBS, and then Ghosts of Abu Ghraib on HBO. It remains on my mind today, and I will likely blog on it at my Dying to Preserve the Lies blog and at Washblog.
I mention it at this blog, because it is named Bundelz, an effort to have one place that is not a compartment of the many aspects of being me.

Sweetie came home from work yesterday raving about the granola. It's time for me to make some more and by now I've pretty much got the formula down and mix and match ingredients of my own choosing. I'm so pleased with our small lifestyle adjustments so far. Sweetie continues to do daily 2-3 power walks for 10 minutes each as part of his workday routine. He's feeling more energetic, I can tell, because he gets a kick out of doing a few dance steps for me to make me laugh. Oh, it's not rude, believe me - you'd have to see his idea of dance steps, and you'd laugh too.

Weather is confused here, between serious hail, sun breaks, rain, and some winds, it's that time of year again - at least for the weather around here. Tulips, daffodils, croascia peeking up in the yard - a reminder to me that spring is around the corner and I will be back in my yard and garden again soon. My plans this year include creating a red lava rock pathway in the frontyard leading up to front door. My problem is that the best of the best of the best 'edger' Sweetie bought me a few years ago broke last year. We searched in vain everywhere last season for a replacement - Nada. It's a very specific edger, with a moon shaped cutting edge that is sharp and easily breaks up the ground. It is about hip heighth for me, and has hand holder on each side of the shaft. It is like it was made for me, and works so well for me.

Sweetie, not appreciating the absolute uniqueness of this implement has tried to purchase two other edgers for me - and neither measures up. I made a declaration last season that only the broken edger is what I want and we must find someone to repair it. Sweetie thought he might be able to repair it, so he hasn't searched too hard for anyone else who could repair it. Spring coming up and I need that edger, so project ahead is to resolve the issue of the edger. Yes, a shovel does work, but does not create the straight, clean line that this particular edger creates.

posted by Lietta Ruger
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Only one edger will do - and I only want the one that broke

Weather is confused here, between serious hail, sun breaks, rain, and some winds, it's that time of year again - at least for the weather around here. Tulips, daffodils, croascia peeking up in the yard - a reminder to me that spring is around the corner and I will be back in my yard and garden again soon. My plans this year include creating a red lava rock pathway in the frontyard leading up to front door. My problem is that the best of the best of the best 'edger' Sweetie bought me a few years ago broke last year. We searched in vain everywhere last season for a replacement - Nada. It's a very specific edger, with a moon shaped cutting edge that is sharp and easily breaks up the ground. It is about hip heighth for me, and has hand holder on each side of the shaft. It is like it was made for me, and works so well for me.

Sweetie, not appreciating the absolute uniqueness of this implement has tried to purchase two other edgers for me - and neither measures up. I made a declaration last season that only the broken edger is what I want and we must find someone to repair it. Sweetie thought he might be able to repair it, so he hasn't searched too hard for anyone else who could repair it. Spring coming up and I need that edger, so project ahead is to resolve the issue of the edger. Yes, a shovel does work, but does not create the straight, clean line that this particular edger creates.
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Flexible Thai Soup and it is 'flexible' !

Last night it was Flexible Thai Soup. I am not sure how it is named 'flexible', likely because there is flexibility of vegetables used in the soup. We liked it, flavorful, great zing, good taste and I would make frequently. I didn't make the rice to go with the soup, so by itself, while filling, it was not a meal to hold us through the evening as we found ourselves in search of something to snack on late in the evening, even though I had added extra vegetables to the soup.

Today when I went to my recipe box at VegWeb to give a review to the recipe, I found many people already had given it a good review and added suggestions. I don't think I need to add another 'me too' review. One of the reviews points out that the list of ingredients are not 'hard to find' and yet the taste of the soup is authentic enough to be Thai. Hmm, yep, it was quite good.


Flexible Thai Soup



1 shallot, chopped
2 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
1 can vegetable broth
1 can coconut milk
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
juice of 1 lemon
a few drops of chili sauce to taste
2 tablespoon soy sauce (the original called for Thai fish sauce)
flexible part - 1 cup fresh spinach leaves, or 1 cup sugar snap or snow peas, or 1 cup water chestnuts, or 1 cup black mushroom

Directions:

Serves 2 to 4.

Saute shallot, garlic and ginger in a small amount of vegetable oil. Add coconut milk and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, Turn down to simmer. Add cilantro, lemon juice, chili sauce, fish sauce (or alternative ) and vegetables. Simmer until spinach is wilted and veggies are tender but not limp, approximately 5 minutes. Serve with rice.


Listing suggestions for additions/alternatives;

- alternative to using coconut milk = rice milk, low-fat milk, light coconut milk, coconut water, coconut powder, diluted coconut milk, one of the reviews explains how to make coconut milk using unsweetened coconut flakes. (I think I will consider cost comparison between using coconut flakes and the canned Thai coconut milk product)

- additional add ins = (I added green onions, bean sprouts, and water chestnuts), carrots, snap peas, tofu squares, asparagus, green beans, peanut butter, curry paste, lemongrass,basil, bamboo shoots.

- don't like too much lemon, use less in the recipe. Try using lime was another suggestion.

(Well, I guess that is why it is called 'flexible' Thai soup - grin)
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Only one edger will do - and I only want the one that broke.

Weather is confused here, between serious hail, sun breaks, rain, and some winds, it's that time of year again - at least for the weather around here. Tulips, daffodils, croascia peeking up in the yard - a reminder to me that spring is around the corner and I will be back in my yard and garden again soon. My plans this year include creating a red lava rock pathway in the frontyard leading up to front door. My problem is that the best of the best of the best 'edger' Sweetie bought me a few years ago broke last year. We searched in vain everywhere last season for a replacement - Nada. It's a very specific edger, with a moon shaped cutting edge that is sharp and easily breaks up the ground. It is about hip heighth for me, and has hand holder on each side of the shaft. It is like it was made for me, and works so well for me.

Sweetie, not appreciating the absolute uniqueness of this implement has tried to purchase two other edgers for me - and neither measures up. I made a declaration last season that only the broken edger is what I want and we must find someone to repair it. Sweetie thought he might be able to repair it, so he hasn't searched too hard for anyone else who could repair it. Spring coming up and I need that edger, so project ahead is to resolve the issue of the edger. Yes, a shovel does work, but does not create the straight, clean line that this particular edger creates.

posted entry by Lietta Ruger
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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Gnomes or Dwarfs?



Oh, I couldn't resist, saw the photo at As the Garden Grows blog and love it, love it.

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it's off to work we go...is it the dwarfs or gnomes in the photo?
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Grow an Orchard in Container Pots


Orchard

Grow an Orchard in Container Pots? Fruit trees in container pots? According to an article by Ellen Brown at Thrifty Fun, it can be done.

She writes:
there aren't any "wrong" types of fruit to grow in pots. Apples, pears, plums and cherries,also tender fruits like apricots, citrus, nectarines and peaches. Figs can also be grown in pots providing their roots are kept in check. And most soft fruits like strawberries, blueberries, gooseberries, currants and grapes work well, too. In most cases dwarf rootstock or compact varieties are available, but they are not necessary. Usually the restrictive nature of the pot will suffice in limiting the size of growth.



The best containers for growing fruit are those only slightly larger (2-3 inches) than the existing rootball. A good size for most fruits is 18 inches in diameter and at least 16-18 inches deep.

She writes about the care, indicates that the trees have to be repotted up one size about every two years. And that the trees have to be brought inside to keep warm in the winter.

Bringing potted trees inside for the winter will not work for my house, so if the trees can't make it outside through the winter, and we have mild winters here, then the tree isn't going to be a good match for our lifestyle.

Read more 'how to' here.


Apricot Tree

I learned last season that our Pacific maritime culture which is actually a zone 5, can grow apricot and peach trees. Well, soon as I learned that, I wanted one of each. I don't really have room in the yeard to support two more trees, so the dwarf variety, growing in containers and creating a container orchard, might be a fun way to go.
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Project; Another Wall Art framed collection - crocheted doilies

More at Decor 8 this morning. What a keen way to personalize your creative space. I like these 'floating' shelves which seem to be so popular right now. They aren't solid enough to hold anything too heavy, but keeping it light and simple is a clean way for this clutter bug to go.



I am liking how she frames and shows off the crocheted doilies. Not sure if they are works she has done or found, but I love to grab a well made crocheted doily on my thrift store excursions. Interesting idea to frame them in a collection as another work of 'wall art'.
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Project; More Wall Art using Photos

More at Decor 8 - kind of an interesting idea for a kitchen or other room wall. Depends on the decor though, style, and I'm not likely to do this one.



Polaroid photos arranged on wall using appropriate acid-free double stick tape. The photos are arranged behind a plexiglass sheet attached to the wall.
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Project; Wall Art Framed using Job Jackets

Found this image at Decor8 of what looks like a fun project to use magazine, poster, art, child's art, awards, whatever else comes to mind to create an 'art wall' setting. The project uses what are called job jackets.
Can't you see some interesting ideas developing for use in your home - teen's room, bathroom, reading room, kitchen! Think of textures, designs you can coordinate, mix and match and make your own wall art statement.

Kitchen; photos of food, thin cookbooks,seed packages,calendar pages.

Childs room; child's art, nursery story photos, childrens books

Teen's room; oh the teens - record album covers, posters cut to size, magazine photos, cd covers, favorite visual teen things.

Bathroom; nautical magazines, seashore - seaside - seashell photos or use the real things, geometric designs in colors if that matches your bathroom theme, greeting cards.

I can think of several things I might do with the transparent film covers I already have for use in binders. And next time I'm in the city where those kind of stores reside, I'll look around for 'job jackets'.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Oh - oops - Galangal is not ginger


Lesser Galangal (Alpinia officinarum)

Wikipedia says otherwise and describes it this way;
However, it tastes little like ginger; in its raw form, it has a soapy, earthy aroma and a pine-like flavor with a faint hint of citrus.

.......

A mixture of galangal and lime juice is used as a tonic in parts of Southeast Asia. Medicinally, it has the effect of an aphodisiac, and acts as a stimulant.


More at Wikipedia, and I can see that I will want to get this galangal for use in my Thai cooking project. I want to try to be close to the real thing, and not the hybrided Western versions of the recipes. So galangal it is then. I wonder if I can grow it in my herb garden? From the picture below it looks kinda pretty -- Hmmm.


Kaempferia galanga









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Womens' Club; Me and Jake; An Abandoned Lake Cott

by Lietta

Made the Tomato Zucchini Frittada last night. Okay, so-so, not exciting and not quite boring. Primary ingredients are tofu for bulk, zucchini for crust. I could tell while I was making it that it was not going to have any flavor snap, so I did add mozzerella cheese on top which is not in the recipe. I liken the taste to those Bisquick Impossible Pie dinner recipes.
Kind of a disappointment after making the zesty, spicy Thai peanut noodles the night before.


Yesterday was the BC Women's Club Meeting. I really cannot believe I even go to these, and I don't go regularly. It still puts me in mind of women in their full skirted 1950s dresses, white gloves, handbag and hat. But it's not that at all...just my imagination at work. The women are mostly elderly and dress comfortably and warm for the winter weather. It's entirely a social club and just not my thing at all, but it does help me to be a bit connected to the people in my little village town. They meet once a month, and there is this little decorated gift basket full of small, inexpensive gift items that is given out at the end of the meeting. Name drawn from a hat kind of thing. When you 'win' it, you are responsible to fill it with new items and return it for the next meeting.

I won it back in November, and was to return it filled with new items for December meeting. I missed December meeting so added a couple more items to it for January meeting. I missed January meeting, and maybe the women are getting annoyed, because in the minutes is a sentence about how I missed the meeting, so no basket to give out. Well I was at February meeting, basket returned chock full of gifty items and this month basket winner was most pleased with the goodies. After all, I had two months worth of goodies to stuff into the basket, having missed two meetings and all.

Jake (my dog = Australian Shepherd) and I went for a walk to the park afterwards. I dug up some spring bluebells from an abandoned old house and will plant them in my yard. I didn't take much, just a few tufts, and it didn't hurt the abandoned house landscaping, let me assure you. I hope they will take in my yard and naturalize. I don't mind where they take hold, I rather like them untrained and popping up where they will.

On our walk, I went down the dead end road that I usually avoid. There are 2 old houses on the bank with spectacular view of the bay. Neither house is much to speak of, but the views they command are what developers would pay top dollar to get their hands on to develop. A former dwelling that has fallen in on itself is along the dead end driveway. The driveway isn't really, more a primitive sort of drive that cars have driven forming the shape of a dirt road. At the end of what is the road, sits an abandoned lake cottage. Hmmm, I didn't know that was there, and wonder who owns the property. It is obvious that once some family did come out here to enjoy some summer time at their cottage on the bay, but it looks like the weather and rain has had some years to get to it and it definitely looks abandoned.
It would make such a GREAT painting studio.

I yearn for my painting studio to be located where I can look directly at the bay but I'm not complaining much as I have peek a book views now and enough space to have a painting studio in the house we are buying. Speaking of which - it's been a long while since I painted, and I need to visit my studio and get those juices going again.
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Womens' Club; Me and Jake; An Abandoned Lake Cott

Made the Tomato Zucchini Frittada last night. Okay, so-so, not exciting and not quite boring. Primary ingredients are tofu for bulk, zucchini for crust. I could tell while I was making it that it was not going to have any flavor snap, so I did add mozzerella cheese on top which is not in the recipe. I liken the taste to those Bisquick Impossible Pie dinner recipes.
Kind of a disappointment after making the zesty, spicy Thai peanut noodles the night before.


Yesterday was the BC Women's Club Meeting. I really cannot believe I even go to these, and I don't go regularly. It still puts me in mind of women in their full skirted 1950s dresses, white gloves, handbag and hat. But it's not that at all...just my imagination at work. The women are mostly elderly and dress comfortably and warm for the winter weather. It's entirely a social club and just not my thing at all, but it does help me to be a bit connected to the people in my little village town. They meet once a month, and there is this little decorated gift basket full of small, inexpensive gift items that is given out at the end of the meeting. Name drawn from a hat kind of thing. When you 'win' it, you are responsible to fill it with new items and return it for the next meeting.

I won it back in November, and was to return it filled with new items for December meeting. I missed December meeting so added a couple more items to it for January meeting. I missed January meeting, and maybe the women are getting annoyed, because in the minutes is a sentence about how I missed the meeting, so no basket to give out. Well I was at February meeting, basket returned chock full of gifty items and this month basket winner was most pleased with the goodies. After all, I had two months worth of goodies to stuff into the basket, having missed two meetings and all.

Jake (my dog = Australian Shepherd) and I went for a walk to the park afterwards. I dug up some spring bluebells from an abandoned old house and will plant them in my yard. I didn't take much, just a few tufts, and it didn't hurt the abandoned house landscaping, let me assure you. I hope they will take in my yard and naturalize. I don't mind where they take hold, I rather like them untrained and popping up where they will.

On our walk, I went down the dead end road that I usually avoid. There are 2 old houses on the bank with spectacular view of the bay. Neither house is much to speak of, but the views they command are what developers would pay top dollar to get their hands on to develop. A former dwelling that has fallen in on itself is along the dead end driveway. The driveway isn't really, more a primitive sort of drive that cars have driven forming the shape of a dirt road. At the end of what is the road, sits an abandoned lake cottage. Hmmm, I didn't know that was there, and wonder who owns the property. It is obvious that once some family did come out here to enjoy some summer time at their cottage on the bay, but it looks like the weather and rain has had some years to get to it and it definitely looks abandoned.
It would make such a GREAT painting studio.

I yearn for my painting studio to be located where I can look directly at the bay but I'm not complaining much as I have peek a book views now and enough space to have a painting studio in the house we are buying. Speaking of which - it's been a long while since I painted, and I need to visit my studio and get those juices going again.

posted by Lietta Ruger
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Thai Peanut Linguine - Lemongrass, Galangal, Kafir Lime - what does it all mean?

Tonight it was Thai Peanut Linguine and I wasn't disappointed. I was eager to try one of the recipes using Thai Coconut Milk. However, it was too soon after the Vegan Spicy Thai Peanut Noodles that I made earlier this week. Now we have peanut noodle leftovers to last out the rest of the week. Good in as much as Sweetie has guaranteed lunches but more noodles than we are used to having in a weeks time. It's like having a spaghetti type meal twice a week (the flavor is nothing like spaghetti, I just used that for frame of reference), so a bit much then, with the noodles this week.


Oh, and the can of Thai coconut milk indicates 'over 200 recipes online at www.ATasteofThai.com. So I will be checking that site out. If I want to open pdf files (and I don't), this site has some categorized cookbook recipes you can download in pdf format. I'll just stick with the categorized recipes they offer.


The Thai Peanut Linguine recipe called for coconut milk, green curry sauce, peanut butter, tofu, vegetables and linguine, whereas the Vegan Spicy Thai Peanut Noodles recipe called for peanut sauce, vegetables, tofu and rice noodles. Different ingredients, but similar in taste. The linguine was not as spicy, and the coconut milk seems to have a slightly sweet flavor that smoothes out the spices. I didn't have 'rice flour' to coat the tofu, but had some 'soy flour' and used that - and I don't think there was probably a great deal of difference. But I added rice flour to my grocery list for future shopping.


Tofu, becoming a staple at our house. It becomes an acquired taste.

What I learned though, about green curry sauce, will help me quite a bit with the rest of the Thai recipes. Some of the recipes I plan to use call for ingredients I didn't find and don't yet have, so I was rather wondering how I was going to complete the set of recipes over the next two weeks.

Ingredients in Thai green curry sauce;

- green chili
-garlic
-lemongrass
-galangal = Thai ginger
-salt
-pepper
-coriander
-cumin
-kafir lime


Oh, what a nice surprise since many of the Thai recipes call for an assortment of these ingredients. I wonder then, if I can 'substitute' a bit of Thai green curry sauce in those recipes where I don't have lemongrass, galangal, kafir lime, green chili. I don't yet know what 'kafir lime' is and how it is different than regular lime (which is what I bought - regular limes). I had no idea what galangal is until I read the ingredients on the Thai green curry sauce bottle. So I'm guessing that galangal = Thai ginger since that is what it says on the bottle. I thought it was going to be some exotic grass ingredient that I wouldn't likely readily find. I have ginger - fresh ginger - and bought plenty of it. So I wonder how Thai ginger is different than ginger?

I found this place,Thai Table.com that lists Thai ingredients and the Thai pronounciation, but I'm not sure that will help me much.

I can quickly see that substitutions for some of the Asian noodles can be met by noodles more familiar to me, ie, angel hair pasta, linguine, thin spaghetti. I think I prefer the rice-noodles and now that I am starting to get a sense of how these Thai recipes translate to more familiar to us Westerner ingredients, I will be able to adapt the recipes when I cannot find the Thai specific ingredients.

If I want to open pdf files (and I don't), here are some pdf recipes.

Recipe below and a thank you shout out to EAM

Thai Peanut Linguine

1 brick extra firm tofu
1/2 pound frozen vegetables (peas, mushrooms, corn, etc)
2 carrots
1/2 bulb garlic (5-6 cloves)
1 bunch scallions
1-2 inch fresh ginger
green curry paste
2 to 4 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
1 14.5 ounce coconut milk
1 pound linguine
sesame oil
rice flour

Directions:

For tofu: cube and coat with rice flour. Deep fry until outside is crispy.

For sauce: chop scallions, garlic and grate ginger. Fry in 2 tablespoons or so of sesame oil until cooked. Add in the coconut milk, then some curry paste. Add peanut butter and curry paste until it tastes good.

Shred the carrots, then add them and the frozen vegetables. Cook until the vegetables are done.

Toss the pasta with some sesame oil, then add the sauce and mix up.

(my note; the recipe doesn't say what to do with the tofu after you fried it, so I just mixed it in with the sauce and mixed the sauce into the noodles)
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My turn to write in our journal

I'm glad Arthur started this blog journal. The idea was to capture a few thoughts at the end of the day to indicate what we did that day. Not because it is exceedingly interesting, or even interesting at all, but for us, as a couple, it is interesting - to us. Arthur has kept just such a hand-written journal in his historical past and I have encountered it and found it a fascinating endeavor - disciplined. Something I'm not when it comes to writing, correspondence, journaling.

I have journaled extensively before, but I have never developed the discipline to write daily in a journal or diary. Or even weekly in a journal. So Arthur started this blog for us and I do hope to enter some thoughts from time to time to reflect our lives together.

Right now we are transitioning to vegetarian lifestyle in our food. For a much long account of our first outing and how I carefully researched and arrived at how we would kick off this re-introduction to vegetarian, visit my blog entry
at my blog, 'Bundelz - Putting it all together'. Last weekend, this was our one and only trip out of the house, to purchase the pantry items I would need to convert us to vegetarian. Short of it is that I am introducing primarily Thai recipes for the spicy, flavorfulness rather than going with traditional flavorless vegetarian recipes.

Arthur is full board at work to make our online activities generate some income.

I'm not yet there, where he is, but have approached it several times, mentioned to him and if he waits till I get around to it, we'll be at same place next year. I think he realizes that and he has focused his energies on making us a livlihood online. I'm curious, interested and far from detached. Somehow, I think, what I am doing (online that is) feeds into what he is generating, but I'm not yet sure how it ties together.

I have been eager to reach a target date I set for myself to 'conclude' my activism work and turn my attention in other directions. That target date has been reached and while it is not the conclusion of our activism work, it is the conclusion of my full-time 24/7 committment to the activism to bring an end to Iraq occupation and get our troops home. Four years I've been doing this and I've rather exhausted myself. How can I tell? Because I find myself quick to anger, resentful and feeling mean-spirited about the whole peace/activism movement. It's time for me to get some balance back into my personal life. Turning attention to creative things, new challenges, ie, self-teaching myself to cook Thai, Mediterranean, Indian cuisines; returning to my oil painting - getting to the place of a painting a day; blogging on refashioning and repurposing used items - a way to recycle without being so serious; yard and vegetable garden; house projects, etc. I'm feeling the energy again and know it is right and good.

So, dear Arthur, I do hope you will return to our Day's End Journal from time to time and keep our journal updated. So will I, even if it's just a line or two about day's events.
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Adding 'balance' to our lifestyle - after four years of activism on Iraq occupation

I've been wanting to get back to this blog to figure out how I want to use it. Originally, I had thought I would use it to reflect my thoughts on my 'serious side', but I've been 'serious' now for so many years in the intense level of activism I have put into trying to end Iraq occupation, get our troops out of there. I am imposing upon myself some time out and away from activism and with that in mind have been playing around with my more creative and fun side. I've been working on couple other blogs - Everything Old is New Again and Bundelz.

We are tackling some lifestyle changes for ourselves and I tend to want to 'research' a thing before I actually start 'doing' a thing. We both have quit smoking - he after 13 years, me after (I'm embarrassed to say) 40 years. Okay that is done. I'm giving attention to our food lifestyle, and shifting it to vegetarian. That is not new for me and I'm using the Bundelz blog to give that area of our life attention. We are both giving attention to some 'exercise' so to speak, just gentle stuff, nothing too heavy duty, so walking, gardening, that sort of thing.

For me, I find it's true that what I've lost in breathing capacity from smoking all these years has done harm. I don't have the capacity for much enthusiastic movement and need to build up what I do have via re-introduction to exercise regimen. It' hard to believe I used to teach aerobics and was a trained dancer. If I were to gauge my capacity to dance, move, do aerobic exercises now....well, let's just say smoking has taken it's toll over the years. And it is far more noticeable to me now post menopause than it was during and before. Something about post-menopause has really thrown me out of whack. I should write to that someday.

Now that sustainable living is gaining popularity, I'm feeling enthusiasm about returning to the idea of 'frugal', 'meaningful living', 'off the grid', self-sustaining kind of homesteading type lifestyle. Oh, no, we aren't anywhere close to self sustaining, homesteading or otherwise, but I am fascinated with thinking we can head in that direction and have made many lifestyle changes since I began that project for us back in 2003. My attention and activism to the military invasion and occupation of Iraq has consumed huge quantities of my time over the past 4 years. I am so disappointed that four years later we are still in Iraq - that is not something I anticipated and was most willing to give everything those first three years to do what I could to help bring it to a quick end. But four years later, and I recognize I will have to give balance to my life to sustain over the long haul as it seems our military will be in Iraq for years, if not decades to come -- according to the very words of this President and Commander-in-Chief.

I think, then, this blog will be sprinkled with thoughts from our every day life, sometimes serious, sometimes political, sometimes light, sometimes simple, sometimes just the thoughts of a silly old woman.
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Womens' Club; Me and Jake; An Abandoned Lake Cottage

Made the Tomato Zucchini Frittada last night. Okay, so-so, not exciting and not quite boring. Primary ingredients are tofu for bulk, zucchini for crust. I could tell while I was making it that it was not going to have any flavor snap, so I did add mozzerella cheese on top which is not in the recipe. I liken the taste to those Bisquick Impossible Pie dinner recipes.
Kind of a disappointment after making the zesty, spicy Thai peanut noodles the night before.


Yesterday was the BC Women's Club Meeting. I really cannot believe I even go to these, and I don't go regularly. It still puts me in mind of women in their full skirted 1950s dresses, white gloves, handbag and hat. But it's not that at all...just my imagination at work. The women are mostly elderly and dress comfortably and warm for the winter weather. It's entirely a social club and just not my thing at all, but it does help me to be a bit connected to the people in my little village town. They meet once a month, and there is this little decorated gift basket full of small, inexpensive gift items that is given out at the end of the meeting. Name drawn from a hat kind of thing. When you 'win' it, you are responsible to fill it with new items and return it for the next meeting.

I won it back in November, and was to return it filled with new items for December meeting. I missed December meeting so added a couple more items to it for January meeting. I missed January meeting, and maybe the women are getting annoyed, because in the minutes is a sentence about how I missed the meeting, so no basket to give out. Well I was at February meeting, basket returned chock full of gifty items and this month basket winner was most pleased with the goodies. After all, I had two months worth of goodies to stuff into the basket, having missed two meetings and all.

Jake (my dog = Australian Shepherd) and I went for a walk to the park afterwards. I dug up some spring bluebells from an abandoned old house and will plant them in my yard. I didn't take much, just a few tufts, and it didn't hurt the abandoned house landscaping, let me assure you. I hope they will take in my yard and naturalize. I don't mind where they take hold, I rather like them untrained and popping up where they will.

On our walk, I went down the dead end road that I usually avoid. There are 2 old houses on the bank with spectacular view of the bay. Neither house is much to speak of, but the views they command are what developers would pay top dollar to get their hands on to develop. A former dwelling that has fallen in on itself is along the dead end driveway. The driveway isn't really, more a primitive sort of drive that cars have driven forming the shape of a dirt road. At the end of what is the road, sits an abandoned lake cottage. Hmmm, I didn't know that was there, and wonder who owns the property. It is obvious that once some family did come out here to enjoy some summer time at their cottage on the bay, but it looks like the weather and rain has had some years to get to it and it definitely looks abandoned.
It would make such a GREAT painting studio.

I yearn for my painting studio to be located where I can look directly at the bay but I'm not complaining much as I have peek a book views now and enough space to have a painting studio in the house we are buying. Speaking of which - it's been a long while since I painted, and I need to visit my studio and get those juices going again.
Read more

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

I found a couple of sites today where it looks like people are taking consuming less, conserving more, being environmentally conscientious to the next levels - trying to find alternatives to being purchasing consumers.

I love it, because quietly that is what my husband and I have been doing for several years now, rather contrary to the mainstream of buy, buy, buy. Guess I've been a bit self conscious about it, but now that it is gaining popularity, looks like we're a bit ahead of the curve.

For us, the lifestyle change provided us with a challenge to buy less, conserve more, re-use and find creative ways to make a single income budget work for us. We were both in career employment, social work, and permanent employees of State of Washington. And the benefits include retirement, health insurance, paid vacation and sick days. That is almost becoming obsolete in these times, isn't it? So why would I leave such a job? Short story is that I broke my public service job before in leaving so I don't have retirement accumulation for consecutive unbroken service. I took out my retirement contributions so when I return to state service, my retirement begins all over again, as if I am a brand new, first time employee.

Already having that history behind me, I would have to work another 18 years to actually get retirement benefits and that has been an uncomfortable stretch for me to envision. When the U.S. military was ordered to invade Iraq in 2003, my daughter's husband was deployed, and she was left alone with their three children. A rule of employment with State service requires neutrality on discussion of politics in the workplace. I looked down that road and realized there was no way that I would or could retain neutrality on the politics of Iraq war. I believed my time would be better served trying to be 'there' for my daughter and grandchildren.

My husband and I discussed and agreed that my leaving would bring us up short on budgeting, but he is committed to my developing my artistic side (home, garden, oil painting, and such) and agreed politics of Iraq invasion or not, our coupleness was better served with me at home and him retaining the employment income. I left my employment August 2003. I do not regret doing it, and helping out where I could with my daughter and grandchildren while son-in-law was deployed to Iraq was immeasureable in terms of lost budget dollars for us. I actually became quite the military family speaking out activist against the Iraq war over the years since then, but that is a quite different blog.

We learned to give up purchasing 'things' we at first believed we couldn't afford. But over time that thinking changed to 'things' we didn't actually need but were more in the habit of buying and thinking we needed them. The challenge became trying to find ways to do more with less, live a quality lifestyle purchasing less - consuming less, live a meaningful lifestyle of choice. Now the trend is moving towards sustainable lifestyle, environmentally conscientious lifestyle, consuming less lifestyle.

Sometimes for some it is very intentional, sometimes for others it is the forced circumstances that cause lifestyle changes. However people arrive at trying to make more out of using, spending, consuming less, people arrive at various points on the continuum. I like the idea of sharing ideas, oldsters and youngsters, as my generation and the generation before me have much good 'old fashioned' learning to pass along. And the youngsters are very clever at making what is old seem very new, refreshing, charming, and they bring new information to cleanse away old information that has, in fact, become dated. They bring a 'makeover' quality with them as they embrace the consuming less, recycling, sustainable lifestyle. I find it energizing and exciting.

I think, for example, of my oldest daughter and her family, who through circumstances had a spiralling decline in income and literally have had to find their way back via the pulling up from the bootstraps method. Along that journey, though, I believe, they have found some meaningful changes in thinking that enriches their lives rather than takes away from their lives. Her experiences though, are not mine to tell, they are hers to tell in her own way, in her own time.

It would be a mistake to glorify reduced income, reduced circumstances when it can, in fact, interfere with a person or family's well being. It's not my intention to do that here, but the definitions for what is a person's or family's well being is subjective. Buying the latest gizmo is not buying happiness or reward - it is simply feeding the consumer machine and the consumer machine has had decades to develop marketing strategies designed to make consumers out of all of us from early childhood. Perhaps, along the way of this blog, I will get into more about that, but for now, it's not hard to find the information and begin learning just how much of an indoctrinated consumer we have all become.

So - with that I give you the blog I bumped into today - Compact - which has this intro
1) to go beyond recycling in trying to counteract the negative global environmental and socio-economic impacts of U.S. consumer culture, to resist global corporatism, and to support local businesses, farms, etc. -- a step, we hope, inherits the revolutionary impulse of the Mayflower Compact; 2) to reduce clutter and waste in our homes (as in trash Compact-er); 3) to simplify our lives (as in Calm-pact)


and a link there to Revernd Billy and the Church of Stop Shoppping.

I've given only a precursory glance over, but it does make me smile and capture my imagination, so I wanted to blog it here.

posted by Lietta Ruger
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Growing Sprouts in the Kitchen

This crosses over to 'gardening' somewhat, but it is more in the kitchen, so I'll put it on this blog. It will be time now to think vegetable garden, yard, gardening and time to make my garden blog, Wonderwander go to work. For now though, it seems to make sense to me to put Growing Sprouts on this blog. Now I need to do a tad bit more research for the how to steps and start growing sprouts in my kitchen.

From a poster at a listserv I'm subscribed to - thanks shout out to Maven:

Sprouts anyone?

Alfalfa (not the best choice, but the best known), broccoli, mung bean, cabbage, radish, wheat, sunflower, and the ever-popular chai are all great as sprouts and very, very healthy. All you need is a mason jar, rubber band, seeds, coffee filter, and a sink. You get a crop every 3 or 4 days. In fact, they are considered enzyme and nutrient dense super-foods.
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Growing Sweet Potatoes - underneath those vines, there really are sweet potatoes

I have a sweet potato vine growing in a container in my kitchen window, and I keep wondering if it would actually grown a sweet potato underneath the soil. Perhaps so. From a poster at one of the listservs I am subscribed to, she cites her experience with sweet potatoe vines...and it sounds like it was an unexpected surprise to her to find actual sweet potatoes growing.

I am put off a bit by learning the sweet potato is a cousin to the morning glory vines, and yes, the leaves of the vine do look much like the morning glory vines in my yard. Since I already 'fight' with the spreading morning glory vines that never really are eradicated, but I try to keep them from overtaking our intentional plantings, I'm not sure I would want to generate another aggressive vine spreader with sweet potatoes. So, I will think some about this, how I can grow and keep contained, because I do want sweet potatoes - Yes!

Thanks shout out to Brenda:


I just took pieces that were sprouting & put them against a chain link fence. The vines grew all over the fencing. Then they branched out all over my garden.. like weeds. When the leaves started to die a little, you could see the potatoes peeking up from the mound at the base of the plant. As I started pulling up the runners, I kept finding more.

They are a member of the morning glory family & the vines act like it... I had one potato that was the size of a coconut!! No special care. Didn't water them any more than the normal grey water from the laundry & whatever water God gave me. No pesticides. A little mulch from the horse stable but nothing special. I harvested more today. Very hardy. Willing to take over the world if you let it.
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Growing Potatoes in Garbage Can (or other similar container)

Okay, I wanted to try this last year, and so another growing season, and perhaps this year.
From a poster (thanks Bree) on one of my listservs - the simple explanation and then the detailed explanation with link to site.

We have been growing potatoes in containers for years and it is really easy. You need to put drainage holes in the bottom and broken clay pot pieces to help drain water off the roots to prevent root rot. Add some rich soil (we compost all left over veggies from the kitchen) then plant your potato eyes. As the vines grow cover them with more loose compost and they will keep growing. Web site that explains the process in more detail.



Link to detailed instructions;

How to Grow Potatoes in a Container (Ciscoe's Secrets)

Get a clean garbage can or similar container. Plastic works great because it won't rust out. Drainage is absolutely necessary. Drill several 1/2 inch holes in the bottom. It also helps to drill some holes in the side about half-inch up from the bottom of the container.

Fill the container with about 6 inches of good potting soil. Mix in about a handful of osmocote 14-14-14 fertilizer. Osmocote is a slow release fertilizer that will stay active for approximately 2 1/2 months. Organic fertilizers formulated for acid loving plants such as rhododendrons also works well. (Note: After 2 1/2 months with osmocote, or about 1 1/2 months with organic, fertilize with a good water soluble fertilizer such as Miracle Grow about every two weeks according to directions on the label). Place whole seed potatoes in the soil. There should be about 5 inches between potatoes. Cover with an additional inch or so of soil. All potatoes should be completely covered with soil. Water the spuds in.

The potatoes will begin to grow. When the vines reach 4 inches, cover all but 1 inch with compost or straw. I like to use compost, because it is easy to reach in to pick potatoes. Every time the vines grow another 4 inches, keep covering all but the top inch. Eventually, the vines will grow out of the top of the container. It is a good idea to stake up the vines so they don't fall over and brake. Place 4 bamboo or wood stakes (one in each corner) and tie the vines to the stakes with twine. By now the whole container will be filled with compost. Soon the vines will flower. Not long after that, the vines will begin to produce potatoes all along the vines that are covered with compost in the container. Once they have become big enough, you can reach in and pick a few for dinner any time you want. These spuds are called "new potatoes." They won't keep long in the fridge, so pick-em and eat em. After the vines die back at the end of summer, the potatoes remaining are storing potatoes. You can harvest and store them as you normally would. These will keep well as long as they are stored in a dark, cool, and relatively dry location.

One last note: take care to provide adequate water. You don't want to drown the plants but it's also important the soil at the bottom never dries out. In late summer spuds may need to be watered on a daily basis. Use a watering can to water to avoid wetting the foliage. I found that keeping the containers in an area with morning sun exposure prevents the soil from drying out too rapidly and still allows enough sun for a bumper crop.

This method of growing spuds is really fun. You get lots of them without using much space, and it amazes visitors to your yard. Last year I harvested 35 large Yukon Gold and 55 good sized Peruvian Blue potatoes. Great served with brussels sprouts!

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So we aren't the only ones wanting be less consumer or consumerless

I found a couple of sites today where it looks like people are taking consuming less, conserving more, being environmentally conscientious to the next levels - trying to find alternatives to being purchasing consumers.

I love it, because quietly that is what my husband and I have been doing for several years now, rather contrary to the mainstream of buy, buy, buy. Guess I've been a bit self conscious about it, but now that it is gaining popularity, looks like we're a bit ahead of the curve.

For us, the lifestyle change provided us with a challenge to buy less, conserve more, re-use and find creative ways to make a single income budget work for us. We were both in career employment, social work, and permanent employees of State of Washington. And the benefits include retirement, health insurance, paid vacation and sick days. That is almost becoming obsolete in these times, isn't it? So why would I leave such a job? Short story is that I broke my public service job before in leaving so I don't have retirement accumulation for consecutive unbroken service. I took out my retirement contributions so when I return to state service, my retirement begins all over again, as if I am a brand new, first time employee.

Already having that history behind me, I would have to work another 18 years to actually get retirement benefits and that has been an uncomfortable stretch for me to envision. When the U.S. military was ordered to invade Iraq in 2003, my daughter's husband was deployed, and she was left alone with their three children. A rule of employment with State service requires neutrality on discussion of politics in the workplace. I looked down that road and realized there was no way that I would or could retain neutrality on the politics of Iraq war. I believed my time would be better served trying to be 'there' for my daughter and grandchildren.

My husband and I discussed and agreed that my leaving would bring us up short on budgeting, but he is committed to my developing my artistic side (home, garden, oil painting, and such) and agreed politics of Iraq invasion or not, our coupleness was better served with me at home and him retaining the employment income. I left my employment August 2003. I do not regret doing it, and helping out where I could with my daughter and grandchildren while son-in-law was deployed to Iraq was immeasureable in terms of lost budget dollars for us. I actually became quite the military family speaking out activist against the Iraq war over the years since then, but that is a quite different blog.

We learned to give up purchasing 'things' we at first believed we couldn't afford. But over time that thinking changed to 'things' we didn't actually need but were more in the habit of buying and thinking we needed them. The challenge became trying to find ways to do more with less, live a quality lifestyle purchasing less - consuming less, live a meaningful lifestyle of choice. Now the trend is moving towards sustainable lifestyle, environmentally conscientious lifestyle, consuming less lifestyle.

Sometimes for some it is very intentional, sometimes for others it is the forced circumstances that cause lifestyle changes. However people arrive at trying to make more out of using, spending, consuming less, people arrive at various points on the continuum. I like the idea of sharing ideas, oldsters and youngsters, as my generation and the generation before me have much good 'old fashioned' learning to pass along. And the youngsters are very clever at making what is old seem very new, refreshing, charming, and they bring new information to cleanse away old information that has, in fact, become dated. They bring a 'makeover' quality with them as they embrace the consuming less, recycling, sustainable lifestyle. I find it energizing and exciting.

I think, for example, of my oldest daughter and her family, who through circumstances had a spiralling decline in income and literally have had to find their way back via the pulling up from the bootstraps method. Along that journey, though, I believe, they have found some meaningful changes in thinking that enriches their lives rather than takes away from their lives. Her experiences though, are not mine to tell, they are hers to tell in her own way, in her own time.

It would be a mistake to glorify reduced income, reduced circumstances when it can, in fact, interfere with a person or family's well being. It's not my intention to do that here, but the definitions for what is a person's or family's well being is subjective. Buying the latest gizmo is not buying happiness or reward - it is simply feeding the consumer machine and the consumer machine has had decades to develop marketing strategies designed to make consumers out of all of us from early childhood. Perhaps, along the way of this blog, I will get into more about that, but for now, it's not hard to find the information and begin learning just how much of an indoctrinated consumer we have all become.

So - with that I give you the blog I bumped into today - Compact - which has this intro
1) to go beyond recycling in trying to counteract the negative global environmental and socio-economic impacts of U.S. consumer culture, to resist global corporatism, and to support local businesses, farms, etc. -- a step, we hope, inherits the revolutionary impulse of the Mayflower Compact; 2) to reduce clutter and waste in our homes (as in trash Compact-er); 3) to simplify our lives (as in Calm-pact)


and a link there to Revernd Billy and the Church of Stop Shoppping.

I've given only a precursory glance over, but it does make me smile and capture my imagination, so I wanted to blog it here.
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Project; Coil or Rope Rug or flat wrap rag rugs

Try saying that fast three times: Flat Wrap Rag Rugs

I thought about making a coiled rag rug years ago, didn't get around to it, and still want to give it a try. When I ran across a post at one of my listservs with some helpful links and suggestions, I knew I had to get it posted to my blog so I could refer back to it. Sooner than Later, I hope.

From Sharon; I have made rag baskets with the coil wrap method - no glue, sewing, crocheting!

Same thing for a rug - it's just a FLAT basket!

You can buy cotton cord in the fabric shop. but any kind of rope or cord will work. Be creative - Use an old jump rope! You can Google up Coil wrap fabric to get several sites with the info.



Coil Wrap Technique


Best written instructions (she does not use the glue - the very first inch of the coil - use masking tape - after that you just continue to do the coiling - no glue at all.)




More with photo



More with photo



I like the idea of using old jumprope (thrift store finds?) and wrapping fabric around them to create a coil rug.
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Budding, new life and time to turn to my gardening again

February 2007; climate zone 5

List:

- Start Tomatoes and Peppers

- Start in doors in January Cabbage, Collards, Brussel Sprouts, Lettuce

It's time for me to start getting the seed starting paraphernalia ready for starting this coming season's plants. In my pacific maritime window zone 5 most of the plants like tomatoes an peppers need to be planted from seed in March so that after 8 to 10 weeks they can be set out in the garden around mid to late May.

But others, like leeks and onions, that require 100to 140 days to mature from seed can be started in January and set out in the garden before the last frost date. There are several other cool weather vegetable plants, such as cabbage, collards, brussel sprouts, lettuce, etc, that can also be set out before the last frost date if they are hardened off properly.


Seed starter soil combination - Peat Moss, Vermiculite, Perlite

"Garden soil is not a good choice, as it compacts too easily and can harbor organisms that cause diseases. A commercially prepared seed starting mix, usually a combination of peat moss, vermiculite and perlite, is recommended. Avoid mixes that have a high fertilizer content, as this causes more problems than good. Commonly used and recommended mixes are Jiffy Mix, ProMix, MetroMix and Fafard. Manyother brands, or even homemade mixes, can be used."

Try using coir bricks for startind seeds. Many gardeners have had good success using coir for seed starting, which is the coconut fiber found between the husk and theouter shell of the coconut. While using peat pellets and seed starter mixes works just fine, nothing wrong with trying something new to see if it works better. A coir brick expands to several quarts of fiber and holds up to 9 times it's own weight in water.
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Monday, February 19, 2007

Our Beginning - Vegetarian Lifestyle - Recipe; Thai - Vegan Spicy Thai Peanut Noodles

We are converting to vegetarian lifestyle. And I've done this a couple of times before, so have a bit of an idea where we are headed. I am old enough to remember the health food of the Seventies and pleased to see that in 2000 there are more choices. I converted us strictly to Dr Ornish diet before, and that was great, and I will borrow again from those recipes. But to really kick us off I wanted to try some flavorful, spicy vegetarian recipes - Meditteranean, Indian, and Asian. I don't exactly know how to cook ethnically so I will need to follow recipes and instructions.

I went back to one of my bookmarked saved sites - VegWeb.com, got myself a membership and went off in search of Thai recipes. Pleasant and happy surprise, as there are many Thai recipes there, and I began saving several to my recipe box. Oh, and the site gives you the convenience of creating a grocery list for your recipes saved to your recipe box. And .... it lets you add the recipes to your weekly menu. I am pleased to have created a menu for two weeks, a comprehensive grocery list and you can print out the recipes there too. A nifty one stop shopping center online with others who are vegetarian, vegan sharing their tried and true recipes. What a great community!

After I compiled everything and knew where I wanted to get started, Sweetie and I went grocery shopping this weekend. Our choices require that we travel, an hour or more where-ever we decide to go - Washington or Oregon. I lined out choices for Natural and Organic Food Co-op in Astoria, Aberdeen or Olympia. Or Trader Joes in Vancouver or Tacoma. Or Fred Meyers for the bin foods and health food section. Fred Meyers in Astoria, Tacoma, Vancouver and I would imagine in Olympia. Not in Aberdeen. But Safeway too may have plentiful choices in health and natural food section - we haven't been to Safeway in a while, so not sure how much they've developed their health food section. Safeway in each of the cities that are within our range.

We discussed the advantages and disadvantages. I love Natural and Organic Food Co-op stores but find them a tad too spendy. I love Trader Joes but it carries more 'prepared' foods than pantry type items that I need for this first run. So it is good ol' Fred Meyers or Safeway. I know from experience that Fred Meyers offers a wide enough choice of what I need in produce, health food and bin food and I will have to check out Safeway sometime for comparison. I decided on Fred Meyer - Warrenton, Oregon (right across the bridge from Astoria, Oregon).

Sweetie was quite patient with the shopping and yes, I am surprised, since he is usually in a hurry to get in, get what we need and get out. But we don't know the layout or products I will be purchasing, so knew this shopping trip would take a lot longer than our 'usual'. He was patient right up until I put ten tofu packages in the shopping cart. He wasn't seeing how I could use that much tofu in two weeks time.

Well....I showed him my shopping list so he could see for himself, and he loaded the tofu without another word. We looked over the bin food and were pleased enough with the prices until we got to nuts and dried fruits (for the granola) -- uh, NOT - no way am I paying prices like that for dried fruit or nuts. Guess it's time to get out the dehydrator. Okay, so we have raisins, cranberries, bananas, blueberries and that will have to do for granola cause I'm just not paying those kinds of prices for dried fruit or nuts.

I see tons of prepared 'health foods' now, and I did a bit of cost comparison between pantry products needed to make and prepared, packaged health food products. I think, not unlike most grocery shopping I do whether healthy, vegetarian or otherwise, the same principle applies - less spendy to make your own than to buy prepared and packaged products. But I can see where it makes it easier for say single people, like my son, who is primarily vegetarian to have the prepared, packaged products which he can easily then cook up.



We got to the produce and I just love fresh produce....yes, it's more healthy at natural/organic food stores, I know, or better yet, farmers' market when in season ... but I still love the colors and sense of freshness, freshly preparing food for us to eat. It's good Sweetie was with me, cause I do tend to overdo the produce, and then we have to do a tetris game to fit it all into the refridgerator when we get home.

Sweetie is the refridgerator Testris guy - he fits it where it doesn't look like it could fit, so I'm glad for his spatial visual acuity in that regard. I have long said that I wish we could have a commercial size glass cooler instead of a refridgerator. Actually, we had to replace the refridgerator last year and I wanted an all refridgerator, no freezer. There was a model like that, but we quickly learned the measurements and dimensions were too large for the refridgerator space created among our cabinets. We aren't likely to be remodeling kitchen cabinets soon, so I have what I have. Option 2 is second refridgerator in the basement. But I digress.



Produce - and I love the color of Eggplant. I don't like the taste of Eggplant, but I like the color and think it's a great vegetable to look at even if it isn't tasty. I buy one from time to time, and they go bad quickly if not used promptly, I find, so I wind up tossing more often than using when I do buy Eggplant. Well, I knew that and didn't worry too much about it, since it costs 99 cents. It's rather like flowers to me - pretty to look out and won't last too long. I didn't know Sweetie was paying attention to my Eggplant quirk. He growled when I put one in the basket and didn't say much, but later he casually mentioned that I seem to throw out Eggplant when I purchase one, rather than cook and use.


He's right. On the ride home, though, since he brought it up, I wanted to revisit the Eggplant issue. Explaining to him all of the above - the color, the inexpensive cost, the visual, the boring taste and the privilege of a wife's little pleasure to enjoy - what the heck does it matter to him whether I cook it or keep it till it has to be tossed out and since when is he counting 99 cents as food waste? He saw where this was going and conceded quickly, but now between us we have a reference point - Eggplant - and we will joke about it into our future. In fact, I asked him to start buying me an Eggplant when he buys me flowers since I tend to see them in the same context.

Grocery shopping concluded, and I realized I hadn't made it clear to Sweetie that I was taking us vegetarian using mostly Thai recipes. What! He wasn't prepared for that and wasn't too keen on two-three weeks of Thai food. No, no, I said, not strictly Thai, but mostly Thai and here is why. It's spicy, flavorful, vegetarian, uses peanuts, peanut butter, chiles, cilandro, curry and seems like a good way for us to shift to vegetarian without going through the boing food recipes with seitan, tempeh, and Boca burgers - the usual range of vegatarian foods items trying to imitate something they are not. Besides, I'm just not ready to take myself there yet and learning to cook Thai is a challenge.

He still wasn't too happy with it and concerned that we had bought the pantry items, produce and that I wouldn't cook it. Well..... there isn't much other choice, now is there, cause that is what I bought and there is little to fall back on, so I rather have to teach myself to cook Thai. And I like a good challenge from time to time.

I was inspired to think Thai since we have in our little region some refugee families from Cambodia and Laos and there is a grocery store that stocks the kinds of ingredients that go into Thai and other Asian cooking. It advertised it had Thai food, and I was pleased that we had another restaraunt choice in the area, but as it turned out, when we went for a treat ourselves to Thai dinner for our anniversary, she said No Restaraunt - no Help - no cooked Thai food.
Oh, well there goes our anniversary dinner treat. (We still did go out to anniversary dinner - our favorite Mexican restaraunt in the area - not Thai, but still quite good and the owner gave us no-charge fried ice cream to celebrate our anniversary)

We looked around the store, and I was so impressed by the items, but knew little about what any of it was or how to combine or use. What's the difference between all these noodles, and the writing is not in English, so it's Japanese, or Chinese, or other Asianian languages and that isn't going to do me a lot of good. We talked to the shopkeeper, and told her I was impressed but didn't know how to cook Thai - did she have a cookbook for sale? No, she said, she didn't.

As we were leaving the store, though, she called us back over and told us she would order a Thai cookbook for us - from her country. Wait, I said, I need it to be in English. Yes, she said - English - will order it for you. We left her my husband's business card and she can phone him when (if) the how to cook Thai written in English from her native country comes in. He works in town, so can pick it after work and bring it home, save me a drive into town. As you can see, then, Thai cooking or learning to cook Thai has been on my mind. I'm anxious to return to her store armed with more practice and knowledge and be able to shop there knowing what I am looking for and how to use the ingredients.

I wrote all of this to get to this point and place. I cooked our first Thai meal tonight, using the recipe I found at VegWeb.com and it was Marvelous! I have to thank Leslie for posting the recipe there. You can try the recipe and I'll bet you thank her too! So I thought I would include in the blog those recipes that I am learning and trying over the next two weeks to rate them as good, and we will keep these to use again and again, or not so good and won't use again. The one below is an absolute keeper!


Vegan Spicy Thai Peanut Noodles

Ingredients (use vegan versions):

1 package of rice noodles
1 bottle of Trader Joes Thai sesame/peanut dipping sauce (it is vegan and has no preservatives) or you can use any vegan thai peanut sauce
1 package of baked tofu, Thai flavored by Nasoya
1 bag of frozen vegetables, I use broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots.
3 or 4 green onions sliced
2 tablespoons of peanut butter
1 tablespoon of sesame oil
soy sauce to taste
red pepper flakes to taste
fresh chopped cilantro to taste
chopped peanuts to garnish

Directions:

Boil your rice noodles till they are tender, drain and rinse with cold water, set aside. Steam or microwave the veggies, set aside. Combine sauce, pb, oil, soy sauce and pepper flakes in a small bowl, set aside. (The sauce is great by itself but I find it is not quite peanuty enough for me.) Cut the tofu into small cubes and set aside. Combine everything in a great big pot. stir well, heat through. Add cilantro at the last minute. serve with peanuts on top. eat with chopsticks... mmmmmmmm

p.s. This is a recipe that is even better the next day and is fabulous cold.

Serves: lots

Preparation time: 20 minutes
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