Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Asian Pockets

Sometimes the best meals are the ones made up off the top of your head, if you ask me.  The little-of-this, little-of-that type meals.   The who-needs-a-recipe type meals.  Sometimes they turn out so good you wish you had followed a recipe so the sensation could be recreated.  These Asian Pockets (I think they may be spring rolls, but since I've never eaten a spring roll I hesitate to label them as such.) are certainly one such meal.  We picked up a package of soy wrappers at the discount grocer because they were practically giving them away and we were intrigued by them.  The pack contained several different flavors of wrapper such as teriyaki, sesame, and turmeric.  But, not really knowing what to do with them they ended up sitting in the cupboard for many, many months. 

But then one night last week, after working the late shift at the library, I came home to find these little Asian-themed pockets on my table.  They were so tasty.    Yummy goodness in a flaky, crisp package.

Here is the gist of a recipe:
Matt stir-fried a bunch of veg including carrots, onions, celery, greens, and peppers as well as some cubed tofu.  He also cooked up a batch of udon noodles and a little sauce of tamari, ginger, miso, and oil.  Each soy wrapper was then filled with this combination of noodles, veg, tofu, and sauce and wrapped up into an adorable little pocket.  The pockets were then baked for 10-15 minutes until the wrapper started to crisp and brown. 

Superb!  They would also a very easy-to-eat-on-the-go food which could certainly com in handy for lunches and road trips.  I kind of wish we'd bought more wrappers while the getting was good at the discount grocer. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

This Keurig Makes Me Sad

The student body allocated funds to put a Keurig machine in the library for the students to use free of charge.  Its been wildly successful with our students.  The supply cannot be kept stocked with enough coffee and tea for them actually.  So, they love it...and I hate to be a kill-joy...but, I will admit I find it distressing.  Not stay-up-thinking-about-it-at-night distressing or anything.  Just shake-your-head-at-it-as-you-pass-by kind of distressing.  There is so much waste involved in making what can be a simple cuppa that sometimes it almost pains me--primarily because it is really just needless waste.
Boxes and boxes of little plastic cups....
Just in case you're not familiar:  the Keurig works by inserting a tiny plastic cup (called a k-cup), which is preloaded with coffee or tea, into the machine and pressing a button.  This causes the plastic cup to be punctured on both top and bottom and hot water passes through it making one single cup of coffee.  The plastic k-cup is then trash.

Or I suppose one could rip it all the way open, empty out the tea/grounds, compost them, and rinse out and recycle the plastic cup.  But, I've yet to see a Keurig user do any such thing.

In a home use situation as least the k-cup is the only trash, but in the library is also means disposable cups and lids and packets of sweetener.  The trash can is always full of k-cups and coffee cups, often with the coffee only half drunk.
It is such a waste.  I hate to see it every day.  Coffee and tea are among the most widely drunk beverages in the world.  Imagine if everyone drank their daily cup in this wasteful fashion.  I find it most regrettable.    Loose tea is preferred over bagged teas as far as waste goes, but they both beat this disposable plastic business.  (Oh, I will mention that there are some teas in pyramid shaped tea bags that are in fact made of plastic as well, just you know, as a related note since I am already on a gripe about this.) 
And the k-cups are so expensive that I am shocked!  I don't know how they are at all economical let alone ecologically sustainable!

 
I will add that I have now met one person who owns a Keurig, but uses a refillable k-cup instead of the disposable plastic ones (because they were way to expensive for her).  The refillable one can be filled with regular coffee for those who still like to make just one cup at a time.  But, I've met lots of Keurig users and only one of them had this more eco-friendly option.  I am glad to know there is such an option though.
So, that is it I suppose.  This Keurig at the library makes me sad.  I wish it didn't make so many other people happy or I could just suggest we get rid of the darn thing....see...I am a killjoy.  But, for me the bottom line is that as an avid tea drinker I just cannot for the life of me imagine such a disposable approach to getting my daily cup(s).  It would pain me each time I tossed a cup in the trash.  But, that's just me.

Mustard Sauce

No photo to accompany this little recipe, but it sure helped make for a very tasty dish.  We tossed ours with rice, peas, corn, peppers, onion, garlic, carrots, and beans.  I thought it was made absolutely perfect with a splash of my spicy and sweet hot sauce, but then again, I think that makes just about everything perfect.   Thus, my eating it on everything these days.  I did manage to restrain myself from putting it on my pizza though!  But, the thought did occur to me!    Matt thought it was mustardy-good all by itself.

Mustard Sauce

2 T Brown Mustard (or Djon)
2 T tamari (or soy sauce)
1 1/2 T water
1 T toasted sesame oil
1 T honey (or maple syrup)

Combine well.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Uncle Darrell's Lentils

My mom gave me a small bag of lentils that my uncle grew on his farm on the high-line of Montana.  It makes me quite happy to eat them knowing where they came from and who grew them.  I've been on their farm.  I've seen their crops in the field.  Its neat to me to have that knowledge about who and where on this great big earth my food came from.  In addition to neat familial ties, they taste great, too.  I would be remiss not to add that.  Lentils are so versatile, nourishing, and quick-cooking.   I just think they're just the bee's knees of legumes.

From 60 to Snowing in a Day's Time

It was sunny and glorious on Saturday.  So glorious Matt and I knew we had to get out there and enjoy the sunny world.  After tossing around several options we headed out to Phipps Park and played a round of folf.  Folfing at Phipps is also quite the hike as the folf course goes up and down the rim rock hillsides, requiring the players to use footholds here and there to reach the next tee box.    The birds were singing.  The sky was blue.  Though we only saw one other group of people the parking lot was packed with others out enjoying the day.   The trails were a bit muddy at points on account of the last remnants of snow melting away under the sun in the, but with quick, carefully placed steps it was not too bad and certainly a small price to pay to climb, run, skip, and throw discs all day in such a warm, pleasing, spring-like atmosphere.  It was so downright balmy that we ended up in just our t-shirts--no coats required...in January!  This is cause for celebration. 
It wasn't long before the coats came off!
 
 
 
This is Hole 18 and you essentially throw off of a cliff.  The basket is way, way, way below you.  It is such a surreal folf course.  But always fun and always a challenge.
I woke on Sunday thinking maybe we'd go play another round at Phipps as we'd both enjoyed it so much.  But, when I looked out the window much to my surprise I saw a light dusting of snow covering the bare limbs of the aspen trees, and the solidly grey-white sky.  It snowed, ever so lightly, all day on Sunday.  The spring day was a false alarm.  It wasn't particularly cold, but it was certainly a strong contrast to the 60 degrees and sun of the day before.  So we mostly stayed inside--visited Matt's parents, made vegetable stock, played a few games, and then Matt built a fire which I sat by and knitted until I had to go to work. 
 
The view out the back window.
Ah, blessed Montana....land of extremes.  Beautiful, captivating extremes.  I feel so blessed to live in such a place as this.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Three Zucchini Breads

During the Christmas season I had the chance to munch on two different and very tasty loaves of zucchini bread.  Matt's brother Ryan made one for Christmas brunch from a humungous zucchini that he had somehow managed to keep fresh until Christmas day.  My boss, Bobbi, also made us a loaf with homegrown zucchini which had been frozen until now.  So now I have three different recipes for zucchini bread to share with you.  They're all similar, but with slight variations--for when you want a loaf that is a little sweeter, or with more spice, or more moist, or lower in fat, or with nuts, and so on.  They are all very, very good.  I really like the addition of walnuts in Bobbi's loaf which sort of surprised me.  

And I can't believe you can keep a zuchini unfrozen for that long!  Who knew?!


Ryan's Zucchini Bread
2 C sugar
1C oil
1 T vanilla
2 C grated, peeled zucchini
3 C flour
1 t salt
1 t baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
1 t cinnamon
1 t ginger
1 t cloves

Beat eggs, sugar and oil together.
Add vanilla and zucchini and mix lightly, but well.
Add to wet batter and mix well.
Grease two loaf tins and pour in batter.
Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees F.



Beth's Zucchini Bread
1 C sugar
1/2 C oil
1/3 C applesauce
1 T vanilla
2 C grated, peeled zucchini
3 C flour
1 t salt
1 t baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t ginger
1/2 t cloves

Beat sugar and oil together.
Add vanilla and zucchini and mix lightly, but well.
Add to wet batter and mix well.
Grease two loaf tins and pour in batter.
Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees F.



Bobbi's Zucchini Bread
3/4 C unsweetened applesauce
3/4 C oil
2 C sugar

2 t vanilla
2 C grated zucchini
3 C flour
1 T cinnamon
1 t baking soda
1 t salt
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 C walnuts

Mix applesauce, oil, vanilla, and sugar together.

Add in remaining ingredients and until well mixed.
Bake at 350 for 50-55 minutes.

We Can't Hide - Inspiration Thursday

The Grateful Dead, in my opinion, didn't really make many songs with obvious, in-you-face social or political messages and I actually quite like that.  They are more poetic,  universal, and transcendent than that usually.  But, there is one activist type song that I have always enjoyed.  I first noted it because I adore Brent Mydland's throaty, passionate voice (and handsome red beard). I suppose that Brent could be seen as a minor player in the bigger picture of Grateful Dead as he was with them just 11 years of their four decades of playing.  But, I don't see him that way.  His time with the band was cut short--as was his life--by troubles he handled with substance abuse, a fact which hurts my heart to think of.  But, in that 11 years he played some epic, soaring keyboard solos that showed no hint of any inner troubles and he wrote some lovely songs, including the Grateful Dead's environmentalist ballad We Can Run But We Can't Hide.  He would have turned 60 last October, but at least his beautiful voice and so many other gifts have been left behind for us to cherish long after his passing.


"We Can Run But We Can't Hide"
Words by John Perry Barlow; music by Brent Mydland

We don't own this place, though we act as if we did,
It's a loan from the children of our children's kids.
The actual owners haven't even been born yet.

But we never tend the garden and rarely we pay the rent,
Some of it is broken and the rest of it is bent
Put it all on plastic and I wonder where we'll be when the bills hit.

We can run,
But we can't hide from it.
Of all possible worlds,
We only got one:
We gotta to ride on it.
Whatever we've done,
We'll never get far from what we leave behind,
Baby, we can run, run, run, but we can't hide.
Oh no, we can't hide.

I'm dumpin' my trash in your back yard
Makin' certain you don't notice really isn't so hard
You're so busy with your guns and all of your excuses to use them.

Well, it's oil for the rich and babies for the poor,
We got everyone believin' that more is more,
If a reckoning comes, maybe we will know what to do then.

We can run,
But we can't hide from it.
Of all possible worlds,
We only got one:
We gotta to ride on it.
Whatever we've done,
We'll never get far from what we leave behind,
Baby, we can run, run, run, but we can't hide.
Oh no, we can't hide.

All these complications seem to leave no choice,
I heard the tongues of billions speak with just one voice,
Saying, "Just leave all the rest to me,
I need it worse than you, you see."
And then I heard...
The sound of one child crying.

Today I went walking in the amber wind,
There's a hole in the sky where the light pours in
I remembered the days when I wasn't afraid of the sunshine.
But now it beats down on the asphalt land
Like a hammering blow from God's left hand
What little still grows cringes in the shade like a bad vine.
We can run,
But we can't hide from it.
Of all possible worlds,
We only got one:
We gotta to ride on it.
Whatever we've done,
We'll never get far from what we leave behind,
Baby, we can run, run, run, but we can't hide.
Oh no, we can't hide.

Matt's Homemade Tortilla Recipe

We had burritos last night.  Pepper, onion, and corn from the garden and seasoned beans and rice wrapped up in a warm homemade flour tortilla--smothered in homemade hot sauce.  It was absolutely, positively superb.  Yuuuuuuuuuuumy!  And I was able to get Matt to write down a recipe for the tortillas, you know, instead of just making it up on the fly like he tends to do.  As promised I've typed it up to share with you all. 
Matt's Tortillas

2 C white flour

1/2 t salt
1 t baking powder
1/4 C shortening
1/2 C warm water (maybe another 1 T if needed)

Combine flour, salt, and baking powder.  
Cut in shortening with a fork
Add milk and mix together.  It will look like there is no way it is all going to come together and form a nice ball, but it will.  If needed you can add an extra tablespoon of water, but don't overdo it or they'll be too sticky and you won't be able to roll them out properly.  You'll need to use your hands to bring all the flour and milk together into a ball.
Cut the dough ball into thirds and then each third in half so that you have 6 little blobs of dough.
Roll them out very thin.
Cook them on a heated, dry skillet.  On a pre-heated cast iron pan it takes only 15-30 seconds on each side, but the first couple may take longer if that pan isn't quite heated up.
Place between layers of warm, slightly damp towels to keep them soft and pliable on the dinner table (unless you've actually got one of those tortilla warmer baskets).
Matt was so funny at dinner last night.  He says, "I know this sounds dumb, but they look just like tortillas!"  Obvious statement or not, I can totally appreciate what he is saying.  When you discover how easy it is to make things at home that are exactly like what you've been buying all along it is sort of shocking.  Who knew it was this easy?!  He then went on to say that the local tortillas we'd been buying cost about $3 per pack.  We'd never buy bread for $3 per loaf because we make it ourselves and understand the real cost, but we've been so willing to do it for tortillas because it never occurred to us that we could have it any other way.  Little did we know!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A Simple Woman's Day Book for January 23, 2013


 A Simple Woman's Day Book for January 23, 2013

Outside my window... the bird feeders are empty.  I need to get to it or else my feathered friends will head somewhere else and I won't have their antics to watch as I wash up the dishes.

I am thinking.... I should have worn a long-sleeved shirt today.

I am thankful for... my aunt going just slightly out of her way to pick me up so that I could attend the big family birthday party last weekend.

From the kitchen... there is a bottle of spicy and sweet hot sauce that I just cannot get enough of.

I am wearing...  a patchwork skirt with a black polo shirt.

I am creating... a concert poster to barter with at an upcoming set of concerts.  Trading is awesome.  But, the poster needs work.  It still needs....something.

I am going... to play more folf in 2013.  We did a pitiful amount of folfing in 2012.

I am reading... three books currently.  Prayers at Mealtime, A Sand County Almanac, and Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy.

On my mind... is garden planning.  Premature though it may be.
Around the house... things are ship-shape which makes me happy.  Laundry and dishes done.  Carpets vacuumed.  Books put away.  I feel calmer and better able to seize the day when everything is neat and tidy.

One of my favorite things... going to concerts with Matt and Adam.  Those brothers know how to get down.  I haven't gotten to get down with the both of them since the summer of 2011.  Long overdue!

A few plans for the rest of the week...call some friends that I've been meaning to catch up with, mail some letters, complete the white cowl I am making for Chelsey, finish filing the tie-dye paperwork from last year, and listen to some bluegrass this weekend at the brewery
A small window into my life...

Hot cocoa just off the stove in vintage cups my mother gave Matt for his birthday last year after a nice long stroll around the neighborhood.
 This format come from the Simple Woman blog.

Spicy & Sweet Hot Sauce


I tweaked my cayenne pepper hot sauce.  By adding some brown sugar it makes the sauce both spicy and sweet in a way that makes my taste buds absolutely dance.   I just made another batch of it over the weekend and now I Just want to eat it on everything.  For lunch I ate spaghetti with chunky vegetable marinara...and hot sauce.  When Matt asked what I wanted for dinner last night I said "Anything I can have hot sauce on."  THAT is how good I think this hot sauce is.

Beth's Spicy & Sweet Hot Sauce

10 dried red cayenne peppers
1 C white vinegar
3 cloves garlic (I used my friend Derek's homegrown garlic which he kindly gifted us some of.)
1 T brown sugar
1/2 t sea salt

Heat water to a boil
Pour over peppers in a small bowl until the peppers are just covered.
Weight the peppers down with a canning jar or spoons so they remain submerged.
Allow to sit for about 30 minutes or so until they are rehydrated.
Drain.
Place all ingredients into the blender and blend very well, being very careful not to breathe anywhere near the open blender. 
Bottle and refrigerate. 

Unbrie Cheese

A friend gave us a random issue of VegNews magazine recently with a really intriguing cover.  It was all about artisan vegan cheeses to make at home.  However, when Matt flipped to the pages indicated on the table of contents the entire article was ripped out.  Apparently we were not the only ones who thought it looked like an intriguing  article.   So I got a copy of the article through interlibrary loan.  Oh my, am I glad I did.  We can make vegan brie now!  Vegan brie tasty enough that Matt's very much omnivorous brother, Ryan, said it tasted "pretty much the same as what mom made,"...and he isn't one to just say things like that to be polite.   (I haven't eaten traditional cheese in so long now that I take Ryan's word on its similarity more than my own, in fact.)

But, I don't want to call is vegan brie.  I think that Unbrie cheese has a nice sound to it.  Don't say it like Un-Brie.  Say it like one word, maybe a French word--Unbrie. Unbrie cheese.  I think its better.

Matt's mother tends to serve oven warmed brie at Christmas and so this year Matt decided he would, too.  Baked until it was warm and gooey and served with crackers was just overwhelming to me in how awesome it was.  Warm, salty, gooey, melty, tangy goodness--on a cracker to boot!  I seriously don't think I can describe my pleasure adequately.  It was so rich and wonderful. 

I am very impressed with this cheese making.  It is so interesting to try the cheese as it works its magic sitting on the counter.  The flavor noticeably changes and improves.  We've tried three of the recipes in the article, but so far this one is the winner for me.  It makes me want to eat it every day.  But, I'm not.

Unbrie  (1 six inch round)

1 C raw cashews
1 C water
1/2 C plain, unsweetened non-dairy yogurt
1/2 C refined coconut oil
1 t nutritional yeast (aka nooch)
1 1/4 t salt (divided)
2 T tapioca flour
1 t agar agar

Soak cashews for 24 hours and drain.  Combine in a blender with water, yogurt, oil, nooch, and 1 t salt.  Process until smooth.  Transfer to a large bowl.  Cover with a towel.  Let sit at room temperature for 24-48 hours, tasting occasionally for desired flavor.  Pour into medium saucepan.  Whisk in flour and agar.  Heat over medium.  Stir frequently.  Cook until its thick and starts to pull away from the side of the pan.  It should be about five minutes.  Line a 6 inch pan with cheesecloth.  Pour in hot cheese.  Let cool in fridge for four hours, until firm on the outside.  The inside will still be softer.  Remove cheesecloth.  Wet hands and sprinkle with the remaining salt.  Rub over cheese.  Place on wire rack and let rest 24 hours.  Flip cheese over and let rest 12 hours until it appears dry.  Store in fridge up to two weeks or longer if frozen.

It is important to get refined coconut oil or else the cheese has a slight coconut flavor.  This we discovered first hand.  It was still good...but definitely weirder...like cheese with a mild coconut flavor.    Matt couldn't remember which the recipe called for when he went to the store and went under the assumption that we are a sort of "unrefined" food type people.  So that was what he bought.  We subsequently learned that refined equals doesn't taste like coconut anymore. 

I am shocked to find I don't have any photos of any our wheels of unbrie.  We made a half dozen of them after all!  At least I took some of the cashew cream cheese.

Cashew Cream Cheese

Cashew cream cheese is readily becoming a staple at our house.  It is a snap to prepare and tastes so rich and creamy.   I have to say that I've never really been a huge fan of cream cheese outside of a cheesecake, but Matt is.  I don't think this recipe would 'fool' anyone into thinking it was true, dairy cream cheese, but is sure tastes like a luxurious spread to me--I mean we're talking ground up cashews here, after all.  We've been having it with breakfast on toast or bagels.  At Christmastime I also ate quite a bit of it with Becky's hot pepper jelly on crackers.  The cool, smooth, tanginess of the cheese really compliments the hot and spicy sweetness of the jellies. 
Cashew Cream Cheese

2 C raw cashews, soaked 24 hours and drained
1/2 C plain, unsweetened non-dairy yogurt (a regular, individual sized yogurt cup)
1/4 t salt

In a food processor combine all and process until very smooth.  Transfer to a large bowl, cover with a towel, and let sit at room temperature for 24-72 hours until the cheese is very thick and has developed the desired level of sharpness.  Store in fridge for up to four weeks.
This is another of the recipes we got from that intriguing VegNews article.  I don't think it tastes as decadently good as unbrie cheese, but it is simpler to make and requires none of the more unusual ingredients such as agar agar. 

Walking

Matt and I both enjoy walking.  We take many strolls around our neighborhood.  We take hikes in the sandstone bluffs and hills in our valley and in the mountains further west.  We follow the trails at Riverfront and Two Moon parks watching for birds.  We walk when we run errands if we can, such as to the hardware store and bank down the street.  I also walk home from work during the wintery months when I don't care to ride bicycle.  We walk in every season and there are always things to marvel at--the herd of neighborhood deer leaping backyard fences, the sun setting and melting the sky into shades of pink, purple, and orange, a hawk whirling by in pursuit of a sparrow dinner.  We greet neighbors working out in their yards and I gleefully pet any cat who will allow it.  It is a very enjoyable (and free) activity that is different on each occasion.  We always come home feeling clear, refreshed, and invigorated.  Walking improves my mood which improves my day.  

In fact, I've grown to see walking as one of the healthiest things I can do for myself.  My mood is better.  My arthritis is better.  I sleep better.  I burn calories.  I burn stress.  I have fun. 

My grandpa (on my mother's side) has also spoken to me--rather passionately--that walking is a sort of medicine.  He tells me that the people he knows who are his age (he'll be 80 this year) are always complaining about not feeling good and being tired, but that he thinks they just need to get off their butts and move and they'd feel improvement in their quality of life.  In fact, this is a common enough sentiment from my grandpa (who I might add travels the world on walking tours ever year--Australia last year--and who climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in his 60's--or was it 70's?...) that my family had t-shirts made.  They say "In the famous words of Lyle:  GOYDA (Get Off Your Dead Ass) and Move. " The family plans to wear them at the Governor's Cup run in Helena this year.  I don't think I will be able to join them, but I got myself a shirt none the less.  I wore it while doing my yoga this morning.  My sister Lisa has also seconded this notion of healing walking who regularly walks as a way to minimize arthritis pain in her feet. 

Maybe walking doesn't have a healing, transformative effect on everyone, but it sure is a cheap way to feel better for me--body and mind.
 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Poem For My Mom on Her Birthday

A Poem For My Mom on Her Birthday
Today is your birthday, my dearest Mom,
And so I am drafting a short, little poem.
See, you've always been so very good to me,
And as a youth I figured that's just how a mother should be.
Now I know that in this world that's not always the case,
How lucky am I to have been born in this place!
To have you as my mother, so generous and kind,
So gracious and loving and of open-mind,
To provide me a happy home to spend my childhood days,
Always waving from the stands at my concerts, recitals, and plays.
You taught me to love games, family, music, and trees,
And I cannot imagine myself without all of these.
You taught me to drive stick with hardly any tears,
And when wakened from nightmares calmed all my fears.
Throughout my days you've always been there for me,
Even when I was not acting at all sensibly.
I knew I could always depend on you,
That through thick and thin you'd see me through.
You gave me guidance when I was small.
And you still do today whenever I call,
Asking "what does seam allowance mean?"
Oh, why didn't I let you teach me to sew as a teen!?
But the lessons learned from you then, as well as today,
Will stick in my heart and never go away.
You are the greatest mother I could have asked for,
Love to you on your birthday and here is to many, many more.
Forgive my terrible--or as I am calling it--artistic photo, here.  It is the four birthday girls blowing out the candles on the cakes.
 
 
 
 
 
All the photos are from a big family birthday party over the weekend--we have a lot of January birthdays--at my aunt and uncle's house.  Cake, food, games, family, friends...what a grand way to celebrate. 

A Random 10-Pack

I really liked this photo of the ring-billed gulls in flight.  They seem to be making a curve that follows the treeline in a way that quite strikes me.

Matty making hummus.


Since I was in my patchwork skirt, in my rocking chair, and knitting Matt decided to take a sepia tone photo of me since he though that was a suiting color choice--matching in apparent vintage.

Yummy tofu and pepper stir-fry.  We still have quite a good amount of peppers from the garden.  Oh, how I love peppers.  I was glad to see Matt has expanded the number of garden beds allotted to them in his plans for the 2013 growing season.

This bunny lives in our bushes and sits under this tree nearly every day.  I call him Buck. 

Playing a little Scrabble...

Quebec, eh?  (These were Matt's tiles at one point.)

A fabric covered postcard I made and sent to my mama.

The over-sized cowl that I made my sister whilst I was out in Washington in December.
They may looks like just wet foot prints, but they are actually frozen.  That's what happens when you take a soak in the hot tub and then quickly skip back inside when its below freezing--the foot prints you leave behind turn into ice.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

We Can Make This World A Better Place (Inspiration Thursday)

"Freedom and justice is the melody that let us shine on.  If you feel it through the music we can make this world a better place."

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

DIY Coloring Book (from photos!)

I like to draw and color.  I have white tablets for doodling and coloring books for adults with wild, challenging designs.  I was content with them until I saw an advertisement on a cereal box saying they had a website that could transform your photographs into coloring pages.  But, it cost me money.  This set me off on a quest.  See, I wasn't willing to pay anything or download any software off the internet in order to do this.  But, I thought it would be really, really fun to color my own pictures.  To make my own coloring book. (And I was right, too!)
Matt, Josh, and Jeramy playing slide whistles which the boys had bought on the occasion of Matt's birthday many years back now.
In the end I found a website called befunky.com which suited the bill.  For free they allow you to upload photographs from your computer or the web and alter them with a number of effects.  To create coloring pages I use the Sketcher option found under the Artsy tab on the left side of the screen.  There are options to tinker with the amount of detail in the sketch which I play with until the images comes out like I'd like.   I then save them to my computer and print.  And its all free and requires no registration or anything.  I like that.
Here is an uncolored one for you to see:  Matt and his onions.
In this way I've created a very special coloring book for myself with photos from road trips with Matt, family barbeques, birthday parties, mountain adventures, concerts, and so on.  They are really fun to color.  So much so that I hardly use my coloring books for adults any more.

If you like to color, or have kids that do, I highly recommend this DIY coloring book idea.  It fun to make and even more fun to color.

Oh, and I guess I could add that befunky has all sorts of other editing features like pointillism, fish eye, changing the colors,  red-eye removal, cropping, etc.  Oh, and making people look like cartoons.  

Monday, January 14, 2013

Cassoulet with Dumplings

I am told that a cassoulet is typically a thick, slow-cooked stew of meat, vegetables, and white beans from France.  This is an adaptation of that style of dish which Matt found in the cookbook Veganomicon.  It was quite hearty and satisfying.  
Cassoulet with Biscuits

For the stew:
5-6 C veggies (onion, carrots, celery, potatoes, squash, cauliflower, etc) chopped/sliced
3 T cornstarch

3 C vegetable broth
2 T olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
several pinches of black pepper
salt to taste
1 1/2 C navy beans, cooked

For the biscuits:
3/4 C soymilk
1 t vinegar
1 1/2 C flour

2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1/4 C shortening


Parboil any potatoes or squash for about 10 minutes, until you're able to pierce them with a fork.
Drain.
Mix cornstarch into stock until dissolved. 
In a cast-iron (or other oven safe pan) saute the other veg over medium until tender. 
Add cooked potatoes, garlic, salt, and pepper. 
Add stock and raise to a slight boil.  Then lower temperature to low simmer again.
Make up biscuit dough.
Roll into golf ball sized pieces, slightly flatten, and place on top of stew about one inch apart.
Bake at 425 degrees F for 15 minutes or until biscuits are slightly browned.