June 30, 2006

Fruit Salad + Pesto Potatoes

I'm in total fruit-loving mode right now. I'm pretty much always in fruit-loving mode, actually, but I have an enormous amount of fruit in my fridge right now that's kicking me into overdrive. This has been my lunch for the last week, pretty much. Big bowls of fruit - in this case watermelon, cantaloupe, fresh pineapple, a nectarine, and of course cherries. Yum. Again, not something that really requires a picture, but fruit is just so pretty that I couldn't resist.

I've been craving pesto lately, so while thinking about what to make for dinner tonight I put that craving together with the little potatoes I bought a few days ago and came up with this: un-dried tomato pesto on steamed new potatoes. It's really good. Especially considering that I just made it up as I went along. Luckily the farmer's market was open today, so I was able to walk down and get basil this morning. The rest of the meal was sauteed tempeh and corn on the cob.

Today's dinner picture came out a lot better than yesterday's cobbler, except for that giant blown highlight in the background. Taking food photos in front of a window, while infinitely better than the yellow indoor lighting I usually use, has disadvantages all its own. Alas.

Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto

1/4 c sun-dried tomatoes (mine are NOT oil-packed)
1/4 c packed fresh basil
2 Tbsp pine nuts, toasted
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp olive oil
2 Tbsp water
1/4 tsp salt
pepper to taste

Dump all of the ingredients into a food processor (or blender, I suppose) and whizz until it's thick and pasty. If you want to use it as a pasta sauce, thin it out with some more water. Or oil, if you want to be all all crazy like that.

This makes about 6 Tbsp of pesto, which was plenty for 2 servings of potatoes. It would probably be enough for 2 servings of pasta as well, once you thin it out. I'll put that to the test sometime soon and report back.

A Lazy Dinner + Cherry Cobbler

A spicy "chicken" Boca patty on top of whole wheat linguine with pasta sauce from a jar. My favorite is Bertoli Marinara with Burgundy Wine. This is obviously no great culinary masterpiece, but I wanted to post it anyway because the reality is that sometimes I'm very lazy. Also, the lighting in this picture is horrendous. I need to start cooking more thing during the day so I can take advantage of the sunlight. Maybe I should make lunch my largest meal. My eating schedule is so whacked that it would probably be more akin to most people's dinner time anyway.

The first of many cherry creations. I used the Peach Cobbler recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance, but tweaked the hell out of it to accommodate the change in fruit and to make it lower in fat and calories. I also halved the recipe, and then split it even further by baking it in two smaller dishes. So I ended up with 4 servings, with each dish containing enough cobbler for The Boy and I together. The leftovers got covered and put in the fridge for future consumption. And by "future" I mean "tomorrow." Possibly for "breakfast."

The cobbler in an unfortunately-colored bowl. It's made even worse by the reappearance of The Yellow Light of Doom. Anyway. I've never made the Peach Cobbler straight up from the recipe, so I don't know how my modified version compared, but it was pretty damn tasty in any case. And not too bad for you, either: less than 200 calories and 3 grams of fat per serving, plus 4 grams of fiber. The topping was perhaps a bit less crisp than I'd like, but not enough that I'd feel compelled to go the full-fat route. Besides, this way I'd feel less guilty plopping some vanilla Tofutti on top.

June 28, 2006


This morning, after the rain finally stopped and it was confirmed that we didn't need to start gathering two of every animal, The Boy and I went cherry picking. There's an amazing orchard 10 minutes from our apartment that has the best prices I've ever seen - today the sweet cherries were $1.00 per pound. One dollar. They're like $6.99 at the grocery store, and $3.50 at the farmer's market. Of course they're more if you buy them already picked, but damn son. So we spent an hour among the trees, searching out the ones that hadn't been split or knocked off by two days of torrential rain. They warned us going in that they might be a little sparse, but actually it was no trouble at all, especially if you kept to the inner branches.

We left with 12 pounds of cherries. Grand total: $12.00. I can't get over that. In addition to eating them plain and making cherry cobbler or crisp, I think I might make cherry preserves and maybe try to dry some for use in future baking endeavors. And then I'll freeze whatever's left. We're going to go back another time or two before cherry season is over, because it was a lot of fun and I do love me some cherries.

A little tip, courtesy of The Boy's mom: in lieu of a cherry pitter, use a bobby pin to remove the pits. It works really well, and everyone's got a bobby pin on hand. Those little babies are so handy. Picking locks, pitting cherries, holding back stray bits of hair. Amazing.

June 26, 2006


I have a lot of cookbooks. Occasionally I forget about some entirely, and finding them is like getting a new cookbook all over again. It's fun, in an early onset memory loss kind of way. Such was the case with a book called Heaven's Banquet by Miriam Kasin Hospodar. I picked it up at a bargain bookstore many, many moons ago, and haven't made anything from it since. I pulled it out last night for some bedtime reading (yes, I am a freak) and wondered what took me so long. I marked off a few to try right away.

This was the first - Bocoles, or Fresh Corn Pancakes. Super simple, but I'm a sucker for anything corn-related. The ingredients are very minimal: corn kernels, cornmeal, chickpea flour, margarine/oil, and salt. The liquid is just water, and I pan-friend them in a bit of Earth Balance because pretty much anything jumps a few notches on the scale of One to Awesome with the addition of a delicious Earth Balancey crust. I liked them a lot, especially eaten in the same bite as the carmelized tomatoes from the green beans. I think they'd be really good with a black bean and mango salsa as well. It's on my list of things to try soon.

Bocoles (Fresh Corn Pancakes
from Heaven's Banquet by Miriam Kasin Hospodar

3 c corn kernels (I used a mix of fresh and frozen)
1/2 c cornmeal
2 Tbsp chickpea flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp to 2 Tbsp melted margarine or oil (optional)

2 tsp to 2 Tbsp margarine or oil for frying (optional)

Blend corn, cornmeal, chickpea flour, salt, and optional margarine/oil in a food processor, adding just enough water to make a thick batter.

Heat margarine or oil, if using, in a skillet over medium heat. Spoon the batter into the pan, spreading it out a bit. Let the bottom cook until it's golden brown and firm before flipping, otherwise they'll fall apart. Cook until browned on the other side and then eat as soon as possible.

As far as size and servings go, the book says to make 2'' pancakes. I obviously made mine bigger, probably 4-5''. I halved the recipe and got 3 pancakes of this size. That served me well for lunch, but maybe I'm just a glutton and other people would only eat one. In any case, I'm saying that the recipe serves 2-4 depending on the size of the pancakes and the size of your appetite. Also, I left the margarine/oil out of the batter, and just used 1 tsp of Earth Balance to fry half the batch. I didn't find them lacking in any way, so I probably won't add include it in the future either.

I didn't actually work out the nutritional info for these, because I just enter the ingredients separately (based on what portion of the recipe I eat) since there's so few of them.

June 25, 2006

Chickpea Pancakes and Tempeh Gravy Redux

Gussied up chickpea pancake. I just used the basic recipe from World Vegetarian and added chopped broccoli and grated carrots. I halved the recipe and it made 4 pancakes, but I was so full after two that I stuck the others in the fridge. The next morning I tried to re-heat them... yeah, that's not such a good idea. When the recipe states that these are best eaten straight from the pan, it's not lying.

Consistency-wise these were very strange. Kind of eggy, even omelet-esque. I've never been fond of eggs anyway, so I wasn't terribly impressed by these. I don't think I'll make them again.

Last night's dinner - White Bean and Tempeh Sausage Gravy (again from VwaV), smashed potatoes, and broccoli. Nothing fancy, but damn is that gravy good. The broccoli saves this meal from overwhelming beigeness. This isn't the best picture ever, but I took it in really weird lighting and none of the others could be salvaged. I really need to get some decent lights and set up a little food porn studio.

June 22, 2006

Playing Catch-Up

First things first: I've been totally remiss in my posting lately, I know. Things have gotten in the way. Work. Apathy. Heat. But mostly work. Tuesday was the first day I've had off in a week, and I closed most of the days I worked - which means no dinner, and nothing to post about. I really hate that. They make me close all the goddamn time, which fucks up my day like you would not believe. I love how I've worked there for over a year and I'm still at the bottom of the totem pole. They really need to hire someone else so I can stop getting stuck with the shifts no one else wants.

ANYWAY. I suck, Michael's sucks, summer sucks. But I have actual content this time to make up for it! Behold:

Raspberry Chocolate Chip Blondies from VwaV. These things are so ridiculously good. It's unreal. People who normally won't touch my desserts dive right in and eat these with wild abandon. 100% picky omnivore-approved.

The perspective here makes this look like the largest pan of blondies ever made. I'm okay with that. I wish it really were, because then I'd still have some to eat. Also, you know how you can see part of my kitchen in the background there? Yeah, well that's actually my whole kitchen.

Tuesday night I was feeling lazy, and we had leftover veggie burgers from a barbecue The Boy's dad had for Father's Day. So there you have it: an Amy's All American burger covered in BBQ sauce, corn on the cob, and roasted sweet potatoes. The burger was okay. I'm not really a fan of veggie burgers most of the time - the texture is weird. These were above average, but I wouldn't buy them myself.

Last night was a VwaV breakfast for dinner extravaganza! Baking Powder Biscuits (made with whole wheat pastry flour), Tempeh and White Bean Sausage Gravy (oooooh god this stuff was amazing), and roasted potatoes. I left a few things out of the gravy - fennel seed, because I'm not fond of the flavor, oregano because I don't have anyright now (I threw in some thyme instead), and I didn't have any fresh sage so that got left out. It was SO good, though. Like I'm going to make it again and eat it straight from a bowl or as a sandwich spread. Mmm.

The only thing about this meal I didn't like was the fact that it was entirely beige. I feel like there was some nutrition lacking in that way. But it's okay. Sometimes you need a big, heavy plate of protein and carbs.

June 13, 2006

Magic iTunes 8-Ball Meme

Stolen from Shananigans, because I haven't updated in like a week and don't feel like uploading the one picture I have to share just yet. Plus, music memes are just fun. It was an iPod meme, but eh, same thing really.

The way it works:
1. Put your iPod on shuffle.
2. Press forward for each question.
3. Use the song title as the answer to the question.

How am I feeling today?
Too Bad About Your Girl by The Donnas (Yeah, that was a shame...)

Will I get far in life?
Sophomore Slump of Comeback of the Year by Fall Out Boy (Here's hoping for the latter.)

How do my friends see me?
Destination Anywhere by Sugarcult

When will I get married?
Rock Paper Scissors by Ani Difranco (So I guess the question really is will I get married at all?)

What is my best friend's theme song?
Take A Walk by Spoon

What is the story of my life?
The Rain (Where Do I Begin) by Si Se (Awesome, my life is about betrayal. And rain. Well at least I like rain.)

What was high school like?
Wisemen by James Blunt

How am I going to get ahead in life?
Drinking In The Afternoon by The New Amsterdams (HAHAHAHA. This was totally worth the whole meme.)

What is the best thing about me?
Le Moulin by Yann Tiersen (The best thing about me is the mill. Thanks for being so direct, iTunes.)

How is today going to be?
Tiny Little Fractures by Snow Patrol

What is in store for this weekend?
Into The Airwaves by Jack's Mannequin (This song reminds me of driving, which I will indeed be doing this weekend.)

What song describes my parents?
16 Military Wives by The Decemberists (Yeah, so my parents are polygamist army folk. Or not.)

What song describes your grandparents?
Strange Little Girl by Tori Amos (My grandma was a strange little girl, for certain.)

How is my life going?
Magenta by Hooverphonic (Again with the eerily specific insights!)

What song will they play at my funeral?
Warning by Green Day (My life: the cautionary tale.)

How does the world see me?
Revealing Too Much by The Honorary Title (Huh. I think pretty much the opposite is true.)

Will I have a happy life?
Worksong by Speechwriters LLC (Well at least I'll have a job.)

What do my friends really think of me?
Repetition by Hail Social (Awesome!)

Do people secretly lust after me?
Omaha by The Counting Crows (Apparently I need to move to Omaha.)

How can I make myself happy?
Faded Dress by Kay Hanley

What should I do with my life?
Humpty Dumpty by Tori Amos (I should toss a giant anthropomorphic egg off a wall. Oh, those wacky vegan activists!)

Will I ever have children?
I'm Ready, I Am by The Format (I'm ready to have myself surgically sterilized so that THIS NEVER HAPPENS.)

What is some good advice for me?
Extraordinary Machine by Fiona Apple

What is my signature dancing song?
Breakfast at Tiffany's by Deep Blue Something (Man I love this song. It's not so much with the dancing, though.)

What do I think my current theme song is?
Another Day In Paradise by Copeland

What does everyone else think my current theme song is?
How Am I Different By Aimee Mann

What type of men/women do you like?
Afterglow by Vanessa Carlton

What kind of kisser are you?
Dirty Little Secret by Sarah McLachlan (That's dirrty with two r's, thankyouverymuch.)

What's your style?
Last Call by Mae

What kind of lover are you?
Tie The Rope by The Format (Kinky!)

What would be playing on a first date?
Ribbons Undone by Tori Amos

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Freakshow by Ani Difranco (Gee, thanks.)

Wow, that was pretty much not flattering at all. The best thing about me is the mill. My friends think I'm repetitious. The only people who like me are in Nebraska. I'm going to be a carny in 10 years. The only way I can get ahead in life is to become an alcoholic.

Damn. Anyway, I'll be back tomorrow with Workout Wednesday and possibly actual food-related content.

June 07, 2006

Workout Wednesday 6/7

You know, it's funny. Ever since I began Operation: Hottie a few months ago, it's been the simplest things that have challenged me the most. The things I always wrote off as being too easy, too small, not intense enough, not big enough to make an impact. Strength training, for one. I always thought it would be a walk in the park - I mean, it's just lifting 5-pound dumbells a couple of times, right? And then I did it for the first time, almost died, was sore for days afterward, and had to downgrade to 3-pounders in order to get through the whole routine. I really ate my words on that one. It's gotten easier, of course. I'm using 5-pound weights now, and actually I think I might need some 8-pounders soon. I don't get super sore afterward anymore, either, unless it's the first day of a particularly killer new routine. And even then I kind of like it.

Lately my easy write-off of walking as a viable exercise has come back to bite me in the ass in a similar manner. I always thought that walking was way too low-intensity to be an effective calorie-burning workout. I've always viewed high-intensity, high-impact activities like running as the end all be all in interms of cardiovascular exercise. It's what I've always strived toward, and what I always end up dropping after a few weeks or months because I just don't find it that enjoyable, despite its many benefits. And then I'm pissed at myself, because if it's THE workout and I can't get into it then of course I must be a failure at this whole fitness thing. If only I had more willpower, more determination, more self-discipline... if only.

Truth is, I never even considered walking an option in terms of exercise. It brings to mind images of power walkers and mall walkers, clad in spandex and windbreakers and headbands, pumping their arms like crazy and looking for all the world like escapees from a home for the criminally cheerful. That's not me. I am many things, but cheerful and wearing of spandex are not among them. I hate exercising in public because I hate being stared at. I hate even being looked at. I don't want to be the center of attention. I just want to be left alone. And people can't help but stare at power walkers. It just can't be done.

But lately I've been walking. Not power walking, of course. No swinging arms, no silly headbands. Just walking around the city like a normal person. I haven't even been trying to go faster than normal. I just strap on my iPod and wander around. It's amazing how many neat things I've seen around here that I just never noticed before. It's nice. It's "me time," alone time, which is something I need a lot of. Plus I don't come back sweating and panting and needing a shower, no matter how long I'm out. This might change once the temperatures start rising again, but I try to go in the evenings anyway to avoid the worrst of the heat.

The best part, though, is that I do it every day. Not because I make myself, but because I genuinely want to. I look forward to it. And it's actually not too shabby in terms of calorie-burning, either, especially given how long I usually walk. I've been averaging anywhere between 45 and 80 minutes at a time, sometimes more than once a day. Yesterday I was out for over 2 hours over the course of 3 walks. I walked about 6.5 miles total, burning (according to Spark People) over 550 calories. And I liked it, which is really the most important thing. Finding an exercise you like, something you'll do consistently.

So yeah, walking has really exceeded my expectations in the best possible way.

Speaking of Spark People, I've been using it for about a week now to track my food and exercise. I've committed myself to do 3 30-minute cardio workouts per week and 3 30-minute strength training sessions as well. So 90 minutes of cardio, burning 650 calories total. The cardio is being taken care of (mostly) by walking, of course - and thus far this week I've logged 284 minutes of cardio and a total calorie burn of 1,236. I'm thinking about changing my cardio schedule to 5 days a week - does anyone know if that changes your daily calorie allowance? I'm doing fine with that I've got, but what with exceeding the calorie burn like that I'm wondering if a bit of extra food wouldn't be in order.

In terms of Operation: Hottie's progress, I can now officially say that there's something to report! I finally lost a pound, and I took my measurements the other day and discovered that I've lost 2'' from my waist and 1'' each from my chest and hips. Not bad, not bad. I'm glad for fat coming off anywhere, of course, but I'm especially pleased by the larger loss being from my waist. As much as I complain about my chest size, the place I want/need to lose the most from is my stomach. So that was nice to see.

And now, a few links.

Spark People - I love this place. Definitely check it out. I like it a lot more than other, similar services I've tried, and best of all it's free. Awesome.

Google Maps Pedometer - You can use this to see how long your walking/running/biking/whatever route is. You can get the distances in either miles or kilometers. It's a really handy little tool.

The Eowyn Challenge - Okay, call me a huge nerd, but this is so cool. So cool! Basically it challenges people to re-create the Fellowship's journey via their own distance-focused exercise. I've decided to start at the beginning (of LotR, at least), following Frodo and Company's trek from Bag End to Rivendell. I started tracking officially on Monday, and so far I've gone just over 13 miles - so I haven't quite reached Stock Road yet. Again, this may just be the nerd in me talking, but... so cool!

Oh! I almost forgot. While walking, I listen to podcasts to keep me entertained. Here are a few, in case you're interested.

Buffycast - Just what it sounds like. A Buffy podcast.
Firefly Talk - And again, self explanatory.
The Signal - Another Firefly podcast.
Neptune Pirate Radio - Veronica Mars! I heart you so.

In case you couldn't tell, I'm just a little bit obsessed with TV. Just certain TV, though. Someone needs to make a good Angel podcast and then my life will be complete.

Chipotle Black Bean and Veggie Burritos

This is a recipe I just kind of threw together as I went along. The Boy and I used to make these kick ass black bean burritos back in my lacto-ovo days, heavily spiced with cumin and smothered in cheddar cheese. The recipe was loosely based on one from an issue of Southern Living magazine that his mom had lying around. To this day I still have no idea why a completely non-southern woman living in Central Pennsylvania would get Southern Living magazine, but the recipe was a good one. I was thinking of those burritos when I made these, but aside from the black beans and cumin they have very little in common. It turned out really well, and was quick to make - an all-around success. I wish I'd made more, actually.

Chipotle Black Bean and Veggie Burritos

1/2 tsp oil (I used corn)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
1 small carrot, diced
1 small bell pepper, any color, diced
1/2 small zucchini, diced
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
1 chipotle pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 cup corn
1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp chile powder
1/2 tsp salt
a few splashes of chipotle hot sauce
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

4 tortillas

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When it's hot, throw in the cumin seeds and let them fry for about 10 seconds. Add the onion, carrot, and bell pepper and saute until the onion begins to brown. Add the zucchini, tomatoes, chipotle, and corn and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or so.

Put in the black beans and spices, including the cilantro and hot sauce, and cook, stirring, for a few minutes - until the beans are heated through, basically. You can mash it up a bit along the way if you like, or leave the beans whole.

Spoon the mixture into the tortillas and wrap 'em up. Place seam-side down on a baking sheet and bake for 10-20 minutes, depending how crispy you want them. Top with whatever and eat.

Makes 4 regular-sized burritos. Larger or smaller tortillas will obviously make less or more, respectively.

Nutritional Information (filling only): 145.5 calories, 5 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 652 mg sodium, 26 g carbs, 8.5 g fiber, 3.5 g sugars, 7.25 g protein, 40% vitamin A, 50.75% vitamin C, 5.5% calcium, 12% iron @ 4 servings.

(I calculated it as just the filling so that I can count it by itself and then add it whatever tortilla I use separately. It just makes things easier and more accurate, I think.)