Friday, March 30, 2012

House, Spain, Food!

I have gotten so much done this week, I am shock at myself.  I should be ready for my first renter in a week or so.  In the meantime, I am preparing for my trip to Spain.  I have been to distracted with the house to get excited but I am trying to focus on it now.  I want to treat it like a reward for my hard work!

I hope to get back into the kitchen soon.  I have been eating far to many quick 1 player foods.  I have made a couple of decent dishes to take to work though.  It has now been nearly 18 months since I have paid for food while at work.  It has saved me thousands, literally.

I made some basil chili for work which turned out very good.  I made to much and may try to freeze it though.

Having a roommate has helped me eat a littler better as well.  Occasionally we offer each other lefter overs.  She made some great bruschetta recently.  I got to have a couple of pieces.  Despite the fact that she says she can not cook, Jamie's bruschetta was phenomenal.  I have never made it myself but I think I am going to give it a shot after this!

Of course, since it is March, I have tried to catch a few college basketball games.  That means DYI fries!  Always the best!

Thursday, March 29, 2012


I have been diligently working on getting my new investment property set up for a renter.  It feels good, like there may be some light at the end of the tunnel for the jobby job, not in the very near future but closer then it has ever been.

With all efforts I have been putting into the house, I have not been cooking much.  In fact, I have not been doing much of anything.  I am taking the evening off tonight to have some fun though.  It will be game night at the Crack the Plates house!

To celebrate my hard work, I made myself a nice sandwich.  I took a pair of s'mores cookies (from a recent batch), lathered them with some vanilla soy ice cream and stuck it in the freezer.  There is nothing like a good sandwich after a long days work.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Nomads are Settling Down

I have been working the jobby job for over 8 years now.  For about half of that time, it was something I enjoyed and saw a future in (to some extent).  In the last couple years it has become fairly unbearable, as we cut staffing and add additional responsibilities with no extra compensation.  I have been looking for an out.  The Real Estate market has yet to make a substantial recovery here in Georgia and has not proven to be a reliable vehicle out of the jobby job.

In that time, I have become one of the most financially conservative people I know.  I save money anywhere I can and it has helped.  A year ago I decided that buying cheap move-in ready properties and renting them out would be a way to get out of the jobby job.

This is the first step.  It has been a long process but it a major risk with a great reward.  I have purchased my first investment property, in cash.  No mortgages lessens the risk and allows me full equity.  I now have a solid plan for my exit from a job that I do not want to be in.  I also will have options financially for some time.

I am very proud of myself and all that this purchase shows about me, my determination, my commitment, my patience.  I have come a long way from the 21 year old guy who had lived in 6 states in 2 years.

The Nomads are Settling Down.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


For my birthday, Ashley got me tickets to go to see the Boston Celtic play against the local Atlanta Hawks.  Growing up in New England, the Celtics were always the home-town team.  I was never able to go to a Celtics game when I lived in the North so this was a special treat.  It was almost like watching the home team.

It was a great opportunity to see these future Hall of Fame players on the court together.  It was an awesome game and the Celtics won by 3.  It seemed like about half of the crowd was in the arena to support Boston, so many green shirts and chants for the Celtics.

I was there early and able to see the teams warm up.  As I look back through the pictures I took, I realized I did not take any of the Atlanta Hawks.  Oops.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Recipe: S'mores Cookies

I have been in a cookie mood recently.  Experimenting with my poor baking skills and wild ideas.  I stumbled onto a fantastic cookie!  I had to make them twice to, in order to be sure it was not a fluke.  It was not, these are fantastic.   The perfect bedtime snack for a cool spring evening.

S'mores Cookies

2 cups of flour
1 cup of sugar

3/4 cup of chocolate chips
1/3 cup of brown sugar
2/3 cup of vegan marshmallows
1/2 cup of oil
1/4 cup of water
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 teaspoon of salt

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Chop the marshmallows into 1/8 inch chunks.  If the marshmallows are too large, they will expand and the cookies will not hold.  Do not overlook the step.

In a bowl, add the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, brown sugar, chips, and marshmallows and stir well.  Add the oil, water, and vanilla and mix well.  This dough should be a nice brown color and damp.

Form into 1 inch balls on a baking sheet.  Bake for about 14 minutes and allow to cool on the baking sheet for another 5 after removing from the oven.  This will allow the marshmallows to shrink back to a normal size.  Then place cookies on a cooling rack and allow to cool.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A trip to the mountain

Late last week, Ashley and I took her daughter, Kaleigh on a short hike.  Stone Mountain is a little cheeky tourist sport on the outskirts of Atlanta.  In fact, it is just minutes from my house.  As corny as the activities are, there is a mountain to hike.  It is a short hike, taking about 45 minutes  to get to the stop and can get a little steep as you get up there.  We played around a bit at the top of the mountain before it started to sprinkle.  We opted to hike back down before the rock got to slick from the rain.

I am trying to get in some hiking trip to get myself back into "summer shape" before my trip to Spain.  I hope to spend some time hiking in the mountains and do not want to miss it because I was too sore to keep pushing my body.  I really need to take advantage of this great little hike, so close to me, more often.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Stave off the hunger

As I thought, the roommate situation is helping me to cook.  Even if I am still not cooking as often as I would like, I have made a few more meals worth mentioning then I would have prior.  There is something about the presence of someone else that helps me stay accountable to myself.  I suppose that is a sad statement about me, but I will take it for what it is right now.

One evening both Jamie and I were milling around the kitchen looking for what to make.  She had some bagels and greens, I had some chic peas and tahini.  We combined our efforts and I wiped up some quick sun dried tomato hummus while she toasted her bagels.  Nothing fancy, nothing special, but some hummus and bagel sandwiches go a long way to stave off the hunger.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Old School Gaming

Growing up, my dad got me into games.  We would take trips to the arcade where $5 would last hours.  When we were home, we played horseshoes, friz-bee, and lawn darts.  When we spent time with family, we would play board games and cards games.  Games were a large part of my youth.  As I got older, in my teen years, I started to get out of the video games a bit more.  I played a lot of pencil and paper games, dungeons and dragons type stuff.  I have always wanted to get back into a game if I had the time and a group.  Recently the opportunity presented itself!

I am back in it!  Not with the people I grew up with playing but a new group of people I am getting to know.  It has been a lot of fun and kind of a throw-back to my teen years.  In a world cluttered with smart phones, 10 button controllers, high speed internet, and all the other instant gratification, it is nice to sit down with humans, pencils, paper and our long forgotten imaginations!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

I turned 32!

Saturday was my Birthday.  The big 32.  No a significant number but still a significant day.  As a child, I stopped celebrating holidays at about the age of 13 or so.  I would not accept gifts of christmas, eat veggie dogs on thanksgiving, stayed home of halloween ,etc.  This made the one day of the year that was meant to celebrate me all the more important.  It set very high expectations that could hardly be lived up too.  At 32, I have tried to quell the significance of the day for myself but it is difficult.

This birthday was not extravagant but certainly one of the better ones in the last few years.  It actually started Friday, when I got a nice surprise.  A couple of friends came to my work with a book for me!  Then, after work, Ashley met me at my house and made me dinner.  As someone who cooks often, it is rare that I am the one that gets to relax while someone else prepares for for me.  It meant a lot and was a nice change of pace.  Ashley is a very good cook but does not give herself enough credit.

She made mini calzone type things.  It was spinach, potatoes, and green peppers with some herbs mashed into a pizza like dough, folded over and baked.  She started to panic a bit when she realized that she forgot to add cilantro so we wiped but a quick cilantro dip to go on the side.  They were great, the garlic asparagus on the side just added to the yummy-ness of dinner.

The next morning, I woke up and opened a couple of cards I got in the mail (that I saved for the big day).  Ashley got me a couple tickets to an upcoming basketball game with the Boston Celtics.  I am really looking forward to that!  Unrelated, I got a CD I ordered in the mail.  A great big vegan cake, watched a movie and had an early dinner at Green Sprout.

That evening, Ashley and I went out to a comedy club.  Myk Kaplan is a vegan atheist comedian which seemed like the perfect addition to the birthday.  All in all it was a good day!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Chic Pea and Red Pepper Soup

It has been awhile since I have posted a recipe so you thought I would drop this gem on the blogworld.  I made this the other night when Ashley and Kaleigh came for dinner.  It was really good, even the 5 year old liked it!

Chic Pea and Red Pepper Soup

3 cloves of garlic (chopped)
2 tomatoes (chopped)
1 red pepper (chopped in 1/2 inch cubes)
1/2 of an onion (chopped)
2 cups of vegetable broth
2 cups of chic peas
1 tablespoon of oil
1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
3/4 tablespoon of dill
1/2 tablespoon of salt
1/2 tablespoon of ground black pepper

In a saute pan, heat 1/2 the oil on a low heat.  Lightly fry the garlic, onion, 1 of the chopped tomatoes, 1/2 of the salt and 1/2 of the ground black pepper.  Cook until the onion is translucent and the tomato has releases its liquid (roughly 5-10 minutes).  Add to a blender and puree until smooth.  You may need to add a little of the vegetable broth to get it going.

In a pot, add the remaining oil, remaining tomato, remaining salt, remaining pepper, chic peas, red wine vinegar, dill, and red pepper.  Cook on med temperature until the tomato releases its liquid and the chic peas are tender (roughly 8-12 minutes).  This can be down while also frying the garlic and onion mixture.

Add the vegetable broth to the pot along with the blender contents. and allow to cook on a low heat for about 15-20 minutes.  Do not allow to simmer.