Musings of a crunchy, domestic goddess

Just another mama musing about her kids, Attachment Parenting, activism, photography, and life in general

A perfect kind of day May 16, 2007

Filed under: Ava,Food,Julian,Mothering,My life,Recipes,Vegetarian — amygeekgrl @ 9:11 pm

Ever have a day where it seems everything is going your way? Where you are almost afraid to stop and take notice of what a great day it is for fear of jinxing yourself? Today was that kind of day for me.

It didn’t start off perfectly though. I woke up with the same migraine that I’d gone to bed with last night. But after drinking a cola drink (the caffeine helps), I started feeling better. From then on, it was an awesome day, complete with sunshine and temps in the 70s.

Ava watched a bit of TV (Sesame Street) in the morning while I got a little me/computer time in. Julian took a nice long nap which allowed me and Ava to read some books together, eat lunch and bake cookies. I also got a load of laundry done – even folded and put away (which is the hardest part for me).

This afternoon I took the kids to the library for a bit. They have a big puppet playhouse there that Ava loves, complete with tons of puppets. Today, however, she noticed that there were only a few puppets in there. She asked me where they all were and I suggested that maybe some of them had to be washed, but we could ask one of the women who worked in the library if she knew. So we went up to the desk together to ask and the woman told us Ava was the first child to ask about the puppets. Turns out they had to “retire” a bunch of the old ones, but had a whole bag of new ones to replace them – they just hadn’t put them out yet. But since Ava asked so nicely she brought out the new puppets and, Ava and a new friend she made today had a great time playing with them.

She and her new friend also “read” some books together. Ava “read”: “Bears All Around*” (the title she made up) “by Eric Carle” (it wasn’t really by Eric Carle, but I was enjoying her “reading” too much to point that out). Then she went through the book and “read” it to her friend, while they both giggled at just about everything that came out of Ava’s mouth. It was pretty darn sweet.

After the library, we stopped at Vitamin Cottage to pick up a few things we needed. Ava’s favorite VC employee Aruna was working and Ava greeted her with a big hug. The shopping trip went off without a hitch, I got to use my new cloth grocery bag (a freebie from Wild Oats) and we were soon back in the car driving home.

I read Ava one of her library books, then she went outside to play while I started on dinner with Julian in the Ergo. I decided to try a new recipe – Spring Pea Tarts – from this month’s “Vegetarian Times.” (What luck that it’s also the featured recipe of the week on their website, so I can share it without having to type it out myself!) I modified it a bit since I didn’t have a pastry puff, and used a spelt pie crust that I picked up at VC instead. And I didn’t have time to let it chill for 2 hours, but it was delicious anyway, and I’ll definitely make it again. 🙂

Jody got home in the middle of my dinner prep and took Julian off my hands. Then we had a couple contractors come by to give us more estimates on fixing our bathroom, since the guy we thought we were going to have do the repairs never returned emails or phone calls.

Ava was a joy to be around pretty much all day. Not that she’s normally a pain, but she is almost 3 and she does have a way of pushing my buttons from time to time. Not today. There was no whining, no discipline issues, no time outs (for Ava or mommy), nothing bad at all to speak of. And Julian was his usual happy-go-lucky self. It truly seems that everyone got their needs met today. Amazing.

The night has ended well. Both kids are sleeping. The crickets are chirping outside my open window. I’m taping LOST (my guilty pleasure) and Leno to watch them both later. I’m going to head downstairs now to enjoy one of those cookies we made and talk with Jody for a bit.

These kind of perfect kind of days don’t happen often so I’m basking in the glow of it right now. Life is good. 🙂

*The title she came up with (“Bears All Around”) cracked me up because she was recently looking at “The Baby Book” by Dr. Sears at our house and when I asked her what she was reading and she said “Babies All Around.” Apparently that’s a theme now.

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Go Green! – Earth Day 2007 April 21, 2007

Because living green is important to me and my family, I turned on Oprah’s Going Green 101: What Your Family Can Do Today! show on Friday to see if I could pick up some more tips. While we’re already doing several of the things they discussed on the show, I learned quite a bit more that we can start doing to help save our planet Earth.

I decided to make a list (in no particular order) of things YOU can do RIGHT NOW to help save the world. Many of the things are from Oprah’s show, while some are things I came up with myself or got elsewhere.

Choose one or two to get started, or do them all! Every little bit helps. 🙂

Help save the world by…

— Change the light bulbs in your house to energy-efficient Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL) – CFL’s are four times more efficient and last up to 10 times longer than incandescents. They cost more upfront, but will save you money on your electricity bill almost immediately and they last from 8 to 10 years!

— Buy natural cleaning products like Shaklee, Seventh Generation and Mrs. Meyer’s. Or, make your own cleaning products – Homemade Cleaners!

— Buy organic foods whenever possible.

— Unplug your appliances when you aren’t using them. Even if items are in the off position, they are still using energy. Or buy Smart Power Strips to conserve energy and cash.

— Use cloth napkins.

— Use cloth diapers or if you must use disposables, consider buying gDiapers (which are flushable!) or Seventh Generation diapers.

— Use a reusable menstruation product like The Diva Cup or The Moon Cup or use cloth pads like Glad Rags.

— Take public transportation, carpool, bike or walk.

— Reuse one bottle for your water instead of buying bottled water.

— Bring your own coffee cup/mug/thermos when you go to Starbucks, etc. for your coffee. Starbucks even offers a discount when you bring in your own cup.

— Use cloth grocery bags.

— Breastfeed.

— RECYCLE your plastic, glass, aluminum and paper! Go to Earth911 and enter your zip code to find out what is recyclable in your area.

— Shop at second hand stores for clothing, etc., and donate, give or sell your old clothes, shoes, etc. to others.

— Keep stuff out of the landfills by Freecycling items you no longer need. One person’s trash is another’s treasure!

— Take shorter showers.

— Turn off the water when brushing your teeth or shaving.

— Reduce your meat consumption, better yet – eat vegetarian, or even better still – go vegan. “Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances of survival of life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.” – Albert Einstein

More Earth-friendly tips, contributed by Leigh:

— Purchase wooden toys, or at least used toys.

— Practice sustainable, green building practices for new homes or remodels (low VOC paint, renewable floors like bamboo, solar/passive solar, native planting, sustainable materials, low-water usage appliances, and so much more).

— If you can, convert your car to a bio-diesel or SVO powered vehicle.

— Compost and use in your garden

— Support businesses who invest in sustainable, earth-friendly practices

— Buy fair-trade (while it’s not directly linked to the earth per se, I believe that peace and fair living practices = respect for the Earth).

— Thank the earth daily.

Some more tips, contributed by Bazu:

— Use cold water when doing laundry. I was a little hesitant at first, but I haven’t noticed any difference in the level of cleanliness in the clothes, and it saves a good amount of energy.

— Keep your freezer full, it cools more efficiently. If you don’t have a lot of food, even ice packs or bags of ice will do.

— Convert your yard/lawn to natural native plants instead of non-local plants or grass. Lawn maintenance is a huge energy sucker.

Caroline suggests:
— Use biodegradable dog poop bags

And Erica recommends:
— Even better than vegan – eat RAW! No energy used to cook the food, and your body will thank you.

Check out these related links:

GreenDimes – Reduce your junk mail by 75-90% and have a tree planted for you each month – all for a dime/day

The Green Book – Full of hundreds of simple environmental solutions that can make a big difference in the world

Breastfeeding and the Environment – Breastmilk is a valuable renewable natural resource that is the most ecologically sound food source available. It is produced and delivered to the consumer without using other resources, and it creates no pollution. In contrast, artificial baby milk production pollutes our land, air, and water and uses up natural resources.

An Inconvenient Truth – Al Gore’s movie about global warming

Ten Tips for Earth Day: Preserving Biodiversity

The History of Earth Day

Top 10 Earth Day Tips from National Geographic’s The Green Guide

Logical Environmental Reasoning for a Vegetarian Lifestyle

Climate Teacher – Focused on helping people understand, communicate, and take action on climate change.

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Do you have more tips or sites to share about going green or Earth Day? Please share them with me and I’ll add them to the list.

Mother Earth thanks you.
Happy Earth Day! 🙂

 

Healthy fast food? February 25, 2007

Filed under: Crunchiness,Food,Health,Vegetarian — amygeekgrl @ 10:02 am

I recently came across this Rocky Mountain News article about a restaurant called “V.G. Burgers” on Kleo’s blog and I said, “Hey! We just ate there on Friday!”

V.G. Burgers is a new fast food restaurant in Boulder, CO, with an entirely vegetarian and almost entirely organic menu. In fact, 90% or more of the food is vegan.

I have a few friends (both vegan and not) who’ve eaten there lately and liked it, so when we found ourselves in Boulder Friday night, I said we should give it a try. Ava got the classic burger, Jody got the sunflower burger and I tried the falafel/hummus burger, all with (baked) fries. The food was good, though I wish we would’ve added something like guac or salsa to our burgers, because they were a bit on the dry side. The shakes, however, were delicious. We tried three different varieties – soymilk vanilla, hemp chocolate and chocolate peanut butter – and shared them between the three of us. The chocolate peanut butter was our favorite. 🙂

It was nice to find a fast food place with healthy (and vegetarian) food. Oh, and most, if not all, of their utensils, cups, plates, etc. are biodegradable (made from potato!). I hope the idea catches on elsewhere.

 

Six (New To Me) Vegetarian Recipes January 28, 2007

Filed under: Books,Food,Health,Natural living,Pictures,Recipes,Vegetarian — amygeekgrl @ 11:23 am

After recently putting out a plea to my readers asking for vegetarian recipes, I’ve been inspired to try some new things and am happy to share them here. 🙂 (Thank you to those of you who sent me recipes. I now have a stack that I am going to try over the next few weeks!)

The first recipe for Vegetarian Minestrone Soup, I got out of the “Fix-it and Forget-it Cookbook” that my mother-in-law gave to me a few years ago when we first got our crockpot. I did all of the veggie chopping the night before, then Ava helped me put everything into the crockpot the next day. It was really tasty.

Vegetarian Minestrone Soup
Makes 6 servings
6 cups vegetable broth
2 carrots, chopped
2 large onions, chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small zucchini, cubed
1 handful fresh kale, chopped
1/2 cup dry barley
2 cans chickpeas or white kidney beans, drained
1 Tbsp parsley
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
28-oz. can crushed Italian tomatoes
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
grated cheese

1. Combine all ingredients except cheese in slow cooker.
2. Cover. Cook on Low 6-8 hours, or until vegetables are tender.
3. Sprinkle individual servings with grated cheese.

Minestrone Soup

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The second recipe for Pumpkin and Black Bean Soup came from my friend Nicole. It’s tasty and quick and easy to prepare.

Pumpkin and Black Bean Soup
4-6 servings
Cook 20 min 5 min prep
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cups canned vegetable stock
1 (14 1/2 ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 (15 ounce) cans pumpkin puree
1 cup corn, frozen or canned (drain and rinse if canned)
1 cup heavy cream or milk
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (eyeball it in the palm of your hand)
coarse salt
20 sprigs fresh chives, chopped or snipped, for garnish

1. Heat a soup pot over medium heat.
2. Add oil.
3. When oil is hot, add onion.
4. Saute onions 5 minutes.
5. Add broth, tomatoes or tomato sauce, black beans, pumpkin puree and corn.
6. Stir to combine ingredients and bring soup to a boil.
7. Reduce heat to medium low and stir in cream, curry, cumin, cayenne and salt, to taste.
8. Simmer 5 minutes, adjust seasonings and serve garnished with chopped chives.
9. For Vegan option use Soy Cream.

Pumpkin Black Bean Soup

 

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This third recipe for Spinach and Sun-dried Tomato Pasta came from AllRecipes.com. It was good warm as well as cold as leftovers the next day.
Spinach and Sun-dried Tomato Pasta
4 servings
Prep Time: 15 Minutes; Cook Time: 25 Minutes
INGREDIENTS:
1 cup vegetable broth
12 dehydrated sun-dried
tomatoes
1 (8 ounce) package uncooked
penne pasta
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1 tablespoon olive oil 1/4 teaspoon crushed red
pepper flakes
1 clove garlic, minced
1 bunch fresh spinach, rinsed
and torn into bite-size pieces (I used frozen chopped spinach)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan or Feta cheese
DIRECTIONS:
1. In a small saucepan, bring the broth to a boil. Remove from heat. Place the sun-dried tomatoes in the broth 15 minutes, or until softened. Drain, reserving broth, and coarsely chop.
2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Place penne pasta in the pot, cook 9 to 12 minutes, until al dente, and drain.
3. Place the pine nuts in a skillet over medium heat. Cook and stir until lightly toasted.
4. Heat the olive oil and red pepper flakes in a skillet over medium heat, and saute the garlic 1 minute, until tender. Mix in the spinach, and cook until almost wilted. Pour in the reserved broth, and stir in the chopped sun-dried tomatoes. Continue cooking 2 minutes, or until heated through.
5. In a large bowl, toss the cooked pasta with the spinach and tomato mixture and pine nuts. Serve with Parmesan cheese or Feta.

Spinach and Sun-dried Tomato Pasta

 

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The next three recipes all came from the February 2007 issue of “Vegetarian Times.” Thank you to Nicole for letting me have her copy. There are still a handful of other recipes I found in there that I want to try sometime soon.

The Tortilla Lasagna was a nice variation of the original.

Tortilla Lasagna with Swiss Chard

Serves 6
2 tsp olive oil
1 lb. Swiss Chard, stems and leaves separated and chopped
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 1/2 cups tomato sauce, divided
1 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves (I used dried and reduced the amount)
9 6-inch corn tortillas, divided
2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
3 oz. part-skim mozzarella cheese, grated
3 Tbsp Romano cheese (I used Parmesan)

1. Preheat oven to 375F. Heat oil in large pot over high heat. Add chard stems and onion, and cook 8 minutes, or until soft, stirring often. Add chard leaves and garlic. Cover, and cook over medium-low heat 5 minutes, or until chard leaves are tender. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Combine 2 1/2 cups tomato sauce and basil. Spread 1/2 cup tomato-basil sauce over bottom of a 10-inch springform pan (I just used a glass baking dish). Arrange 3 tortillas in single layer (overlapping slightly) over sauce.

3. Season ricotta with salt and pepper. Spread 1 cup ricotta over tortillas in pan. Top with 1/2 cup tomato-basil sauce, 1/2 chard mixture, 1/3 cup mozzarella and 1 Tbsp Romano cheese. Repeat layering with 3 more tortillas, 1 cup ricotta, 1/2 cup tomato-basil sauce, remaining chard mixture, 1/3 cup mozzarella and 1 Tbsp Romano cheese; place remaining tortillas on top. Spread remaining 1 cup tomato-basil sauce over tortillas; cover with foil, and bake 45 minutes. Remove foil, sprinkle with remaining 1/3 cup mozzarella and 1 Tbsp Romano cheese, and bake, uncovered, 10 minutes more. Let stand 5 minutes, then unmold, and cut into wedges. Serve with warmed remaining tomato sauce on the side.

 

Tortilla Lasagna with Swiss Chard

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The Banana-Cornmeal Pancakes were awesome. I doubled the recipe so I’d have leftover pancakes to freeze, and boy, did I ever! I ended up with 35 pancakes total! I think their estimation of getting 12 pancakes out of the recipe is a little off, but I’m not complaining since they are so yummy.

Banana-Cornmeal Pancakes

Makes 12 pancakes
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour (I used regular whole-wheat flour)
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 Tbsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
2 medium bananas
1 1/2 cups low-fat vanilla yogurt
1 large egg
2 Tbsp brown rice syrup
1 1/2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup raisins (I omitted them)
1/4 cup chopped pecans or almonds, optional (I used almonds)
1. Whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder and baking soda in mixing bowl. Puree bananas, yogurt, egg, brown rice syrup and oil in blender until smooth. Fold wet ingredients into flour mixture, and stir until smooth. Stir in raisins and nuts. Let batter rest 10 minutes. Add a little water if too thick.
2. Heat nonstick griddle over medium-low heat until drop of water sizzles on surface. Coat with cooking spray.
3. Pour scant 1/4 cup batter onto griddle for each pancake. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, or until bubbles appear near edges of pancakes. Flip, and cook 1 to 2 minutes more, or until golden. Serve with syrup and fresh fruit, if desired.

Banana-Cornmeal Pancakes

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Lastly, there is the recipe for Rotelle Primavera, which I made for dinner Saturday night. It’s a quick and easy meal, and takes 30 minutes or less to prepare. And it was good.

Rotelle Primavera
Serves 4
12 oz. whole-wheat rotelle pasta (I only had penne pasta on hand)
1 lb. asparagus spears, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp pesto
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 15.5-oz. can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 13.75-oz. can water-packed artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella
3 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, bring second pot of water to a boil. Fill large bowl with cold water, and set aside. Blanch asparagus in boiling water 3 minutes. Remove, and dunk in bowl to stop cooking process.
3. Heat olive oil and pesto in large skillet over medium heat; add garlic. Saute 30 seconds, or until golden. Add beans, and cook 5 minutes more. Squeeze excess liquid from artichoke hearts, and add to skillet along with asparagus. Cook 3 to 4 minutes, or until heated through.
4. Toss together pasta, vegetable sauce and cheeses in serving bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

Rotelle Primavera

Hope you’ve enjoyed the recipes and pics. Please let me know if you try any and how you like them. Happy eating. 🙂

 

Vegetarian recipes? January 15, 2007

Filed under: Food,Natural living,Recipes,Vegetarian — amygeekgrl @ 11:57 am

I’m looking for relatively quick and easy to make vegetarian recipes. Anyone have any links or recipes to share? If you’d rather not leave a comment, you can always email them to me too at amygeekgrl@gmail.com. Thanks! 🙂

 

Yummy appetizers January 2, 2007

Filed under: Food,Pictures,Recipes,Vegetarian — amygeekgrl @ 10:18 pm

I made a couple of appetizers – broccoli tarts and artichoke spinach dip – to go along with the California Pizza Kitchen pizza and mini veggie eggrolls (both of the frozen variety) we had for New Year’s Eve. Since it’s been a long time since I shared any recipes and/or food pics, here ya go. 🙂 Both things were delicious and I’d certainly make them again.


Broccoli Tarts
1 C. cooked broccoli
1/4 lb. Swiss cheese, shredded
3 green onions, minced
1 C. light cream
3 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. salt
1 stick soft butter
3 oz. soft cream cheese
1 C. flour

Chop broccoli. Mix the next 5 ingredients, then add broccoli.
Blend together the butter and cream cheese. Add flour and mix well.
Roll into balls the size of walnuts. Press into very lightly greased mini muffin tins to form shells. (I used regular sized muffin tins.) Fill shells to the top with broccoli mixture.
Bake at 400 degrees about 20 minutes until golden. Cool about 10 minutes, then turn out.
Serve hot.
Makes 2 1/2 dozen mini muffins or 1 dozen regular sized muffins.

Artichoke Spinach Dip
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, partially thawed
1/2 (14 ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (16 ounce) container sour cream
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
1 can water chestnuts (optional – I added them to the recipe because I wanted something crunchy in the dip)
garlic salt/powder to taste

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the spinach and artichoke hearts. Cook until tender, about 5 minutes.
Mix cream cheese and sour cream into the spinach mixture. Stir in Parmesan cheese and garlic salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 10 to 15 minutes. Serve warm.
We had ours with cucumbers, baby carrots and Triscuits.

And, just for kicks, I thought I’d also share a pic of our backyard after we got those additional 5 or so inches of snow on 12/28. The trees were beautiful with all of that snow on them. Now that it’s melted a bit on the trees and is only snowy in patches, it looks like they are growing cotton.

 

Groovy Granola Bars!! (recipe) September 4, 2006

Filed under: Food,Pictures,Recipes,Vegetarian — amygeekgrl @ 3:00 pm

A friend gave me this recipe that she found on the ‘net for granola bars. I made them today and they are awesome! Ava likes them, I like them, Jody likes them. 🙂 They are delicious! I have a feeling I’ll be making them often (especially now that I have a bunch of buckwheat and rice flour in my fridge.) 😉

Granola Bars sans Allergies

*Egg Substitute:

1 Rounded Tbsp of Flax Seed Meal (or grind flax seeds in food proc.)

scant 1/3 c Boiling Water

Dry Ingredients:

2 ½ C. Rolled Oats

¼ C. Flax Seeds

¼ C. Buckwheat Flour

¼ C. Rice Flour (white or brown)

½ C. Oat Flour (can grind rolled oats in food processor if you can not find in stores)

2 T. Wheat Germ

1 t. Ground Cinnamon

¼ t. Ground Nutmeg (optional)

¼ t. Ground Ginger (optional)

¼ t. Ground Cloves (optional)

¼ t. Salt

Wet Ingredients:

¼ C. + 2 T. honey

½ C. Agave nectar (you can use white refined sugar in the same amount)

½ C. Canola, vegetable or light olive oil

2 T. Blackstrap molasses

1 T. Vanilla

*1 egg (or use egg substitute at the beginning of the recipe)

Optional: May add ¾ C. of dried fruit and/or ¼ – ½ C. nuts if not allergic.
(I used ½ C. of dried cranberries and ½ C. of chopped almonds.)

Instructions:

– Preheat oven to 350F/175C.

– Thoroughly grease either 3 bread pans or one 9″x13″ large cake pan (I use glass, you may need to adjust temperature up a little if you use metal).

– Prepare Egg Substitute: Boil water. Place flaxseed meal in pyrex measuring cup, and add boiling water until the mixture measures 1/3 c. Whip with fork or small whisk and set aside. (Can sub one egg if not allergic.)

– In a *large* bowl (this stuff can be messy), mix together the dry ingredients.

– Add wet ingredients and egg substitute (or egg). Mix thoroughly with wooden spoon, fork or hands.

– Divide into three bread pans or place in one large cake pan, and press the bar mixture as flat as possible with rubber spatula or oiled hands.

– Bake 25 minutes for bread pans or 35 minutes for large cake pan (should start to look lightly browned on edges). Cool for 5-10 minutes and cut into 12-14 bars before they are totally cooled to room temperature.