Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The 99%

Whatever your feelings are regarding the Occupy Wall Street movement, you should check out the site We Are the 99%. Moving stories and images like the one below.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Oatmeal Revelation - Part II

A while ago I posted about my realization that you can make oatmeal over night by just soaking the oats. Duh!

In my new (mostly) vegan diet, I have been eating lots of oatmeal in the morning. It's warm, nutritious, filling and endlessly adaptable. Nonetheless, I love getting new ideas for ways to jazz up this very traditional breakfast. Here are a couple:

-Add a bit of another grain to the oatmeal mix. On Sunday I made oatmeal on the stove and added, because I am wacky like that, a 1/4 cup of barley. Delicious. Dave noted that it gave the cereal a little more of a nutty flavor. Millet would work. So would brown rice or bulgar (cooked first). I suppose you could use quinoa, but I fear that would taste a little too nutty for me.

-Add a fruit butter. This is a derivation of a suggestion by Marissa on her wonderful blog Food in Jars. She tried adding applesauce to her oats and loved it. I took it one step further and added apple butter. Since I had just made apple butter, this was easy inspiration. Wow. It tasted so good. My kids liked it, too. If you like the store bought "apple and cinnamon" flavored oatmeal, give this a try. This morning I added pumpkin butter. Yum. Just yum.

Monday, October 17, 2011


You can tell it's finally fall when there is a big pile of leaves in your yard.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Game Day Pretzels

Even though...

...the Phillies lost all of their mojo and then lost in a pathetic fashion on Friday would appear that the Eagles have gone from "struggling" to "sucking"

...this was a really bad weekend to be a Philadelphia sports fan

Even though it all seemed to go bad in the Philly sports world, there's always the next game, the next week, or next year.

In that spirit, here is a super easy snack to bring to a tailgate or just in to your living room to watch the game. I can't remember where I got this recipe many moons ago. Someone brought a batch to the beach, and we gobbled them up like a swarm of locusts. After that summer, these were my go-to snack to bring to a party or when we were visiting friends. I sort of forgot about them, but then this August I brought some to Ellie's on the Cape, and I can say without reservation that they go quite nicely with a beer or a dark and stormy. When Ellie emailed last week for the "secret" formula so that she could make some for a football game, I remembered that I had been meaning to post about these delicious pretzels.

Here's what you do:
-Purchase a bag of hard sourdough pretzels - any brand will do. Drop the bag on the floor a few times to break them up into smallish pieces.
-In a large bowl combine 1 packet of dry ranch dressing mix and 1/3 to 1/2 cup oil. Dump in the pretzels and stir to coat.
-Spread in a layer on a baking sheet and brown in a 350 oven for 7-10 minutes. You want to dry up the oil and dressing coating.
-When they come out of the oven, sprinkle with dry dill.
-Present at next game day occasion and hope that your team doesn't gag it up the way my teams did this weekend.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

New and Noteworthy Veggie Burger

Our vegan adventure has led me to several products that I otherwise would have missed in my grocery store trips. One of the best discoveries has been the Trader Joe's Vegetable Masala Burger.

These little gems are made of potatoes, carrots, beans, bell pepper and spices. That's an ingredients list I can get behind. It only takes a few minutes to cook one up on the stove and they are especially good on a slice of multigrain bread with a .

Even Dave, who has spent more than a few minutes of his life making fun of his sister for eating veggie burgers, admitted that these were pretty tasty.

These are definitely worth a shot, whether or not you are vegan. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Vegan Challenge

Confession time: For the last three weeks Dave and I have been...vegan. Not just vegan, but no-booze vegan. No booze, no meat, no dairy for three weeks. I am prepared to say that the no meat and dairy has been easier than the no drinking. Turns out I really like that 5 PM glass of wine while cooking dinner. Dave was not especially surprised that giving up beer was harder than giving up animal products in our food.

Why did we do this? Well, I had been feeling just gross at the end of the summer. Bloated, tired, grumpy, with a side dish of frequent migraines and indigestion. So I wanted to do a kind of "cleanse" but not the kind that involved drinking only lemonade and cayenne pepper like Beyonce. Veganism seemed like a good, and not completely unreasonable, choice. When I broached the subject with Dave and said I was "thinking about trying it," he responded, with less snark than I probably deserved, "Whenever you say you are 'thinking about' something like this, we are totally doing it."

So we jumped in. I invested in quite a few vegan-friendly products. The beans, greens and tofu have been great. And I love the coconut milk hazelnut coffee creamer I found at Whole Foods. The vegan "cheese" was a little scary, however. Which leads me to a couple of realizations I have had over the past three weeks:

-Being a rookie vegan has been a challenge. Not so much because I felt deprived of previously beloved foods, but because I have had to cook in a totally different way. When a bean product becomes your protein source, you have to really mix it up or you will go crazy. And since I am incapable of cooking less than 8 servings of beans at a time, apparently, I have had a lot of leftovers in my fridge.

-If you are going to go vegan, you gotta go all in and you can't rely on vegan alternatives of animal based foods. Vegan meatballs are pretty good. Veganaise is fine on a sandwich. And I could learn to like non-dairy milks. (Again that hazelnut creamer rocks.) But vegan cheese, sour cream, cream cheese...icky gross.

-Being vegan, and dry, has actually made me feel "cleansed" in many ways. I certainly feel less bloated. I did lose a few pounds. And for the first time in years, I have had none of my typical indigestion issues,.

So what now? We are breaking our vegan/booze fast on Saturday when we celebrate Josh's birthday at one of our favorite spots, Earth Bread & Brewery. Phenomenal beer and pizza - if you in the Philly area, check it out. After than, I will remain booze free during the week. But it is playoff baseball, so I think it is legit to have a beer on the weekend while watching the game. Also, Dave and Josh brewed amazing pumpkin beer which I am dying to have on a cool fall night. I will maintain many of the vegan ways we established these past three weeks, as well. I have learned to really like lentils and come up with more than a few ways to serve tofu. If nothing else this cleanse has re-affirmed my commitment to only eat humanely raised meat and dairy. I had sort of gotten away from this vow in the interest of time, money and convenience, but I am back on track. Now I know that if I can't get chicken or eggs or cheese from a sustainable source, I have lots of vegan recipes up my sleeve.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Phillies Family

Before Dave, I was not really into baseball. I loved other professional sports, but baseball didn't really do it for me. Dave, on the other hand, has spent his whole life rooting for the Phils. I can say that my relatively recent love for the Phillies is entirely Dave's doing. (It doesn't hurt that they have been amazingly good over the past five years.)

So now we are a Phillies-loving family.  Kara asks every morning if the Phils won last night. Jamie often asks to wear his Phillies t-shirt like daddy does. And even though it is outrageously expensive, we have managed to go to at least one game every year.

This year Dave and I took Kara to a night game. As it turns out, we were at the game when the Phils clinched the NL East division championship for the 5th year in a row. It may sound cliche, but the stadium was electric that night. Not only did the Phillies win, but Kara got to see Raul Ibanez hit a grand slam. I fear that future Phillies outings wont live up to this one.

It was an amazing night. Baseball aside, it was wonderful to have some time with just our girl. She has been so accepting of her little brother, but I know how much she loves to have time without the little menace. We were so happy that we could give her this special night.