Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Long long days...

It has been a crazy week and a half.  With its ups and downs, it looks to end on a low note.  Sometimes things just do not go your way.  Frustration.  One of the few highlights of the week was that a friend of mine brought my some nice vegan cake.  I do always enjoy a treat!

That made two great bedtime snacks!  They are made by a local natural foods store.  There are only a few things that make me feel better after a long crummy day.  A large slice of cake in bed is one of them.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Eye of the storm

It has been a crazy work week.  While everyone is busy with their families, I have been racking up the hours at the jobby job as well as working on the Real Estate business.  I love logged about 55 hours in 5 days, busy days, this week.  It has been rough but this is the middle point.  I still have some long hours heading into the weekend.  I should be back on track around the first of the week.  This is the eye of the storm.

Needless to say, long work days leads to very little kitchen time.  I did have a few stored up pictures from recent dishes that I thought I would share.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A holiday to remember?

For me, the holiday season is a mess.  I have no family close by so I offer to work the holidays at the jobby job so other can have them off (and I get my time and a half).  This week I will be logging well over 55 hours (busy hours) as well as doing the needed Real Estate stuff.

This leaves very little time to cook, or do much of anything for that matter.  The other side of that situation is that this is the time I need the best food.  I need to keep my body going, lots of sleep and healthy food.  Not blogging at midnight and eating popcorn.

Much of the next week food items look much like this cashew and kale stir fry.  Not sure if I will have much time to write this week nor will I have much to say.  Have fun over the holiday and make sure you are extra nice to people who spend it at work.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Smokey Black Beans and Kale

I have been on a bean soaking kick recently.  For convince, I have used pre-cooked beans for most of my life.  I started the "from scratch" only recently but have quite a handle on it so far.  I am shocked at how easy it is.  As a younger dude, I tried to make some chicpeas from dry beans and ruined one of my mum's good pots by bot using enough water.  Going to hang out with my friends while they were boiling on high did not seem to help either.  Sorry mum.

Here we have no burned pots, just delicious black beans and kale.  It was fairly low fat too, for what that is worth out there in the blog world.

Smokey Black Beans and Kale

8 cloves of garlic (chopped)
4 bay leaves
2 tomatoes (chopped)
1 onion (chopped)
1 bushel of kale (torn from the stem)
1/2 green pepper (chopped)
1/2 red pepper (chopped)
5 1/2 cups of vegetable broth
2 cups of black beans (soaked)

1/3 cup of cilantro (chopped)
1 tablespoon of cumin
1 tablespoon of jalapeno pepper (chopped)
1 tablespoon of oil
2 teaspoon of liquid smoke
1 teaspoon of black peppercorns
1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of dried chipotle pepper

If you are using pre-cooked black beans, reduce the water to 1 cup.

In a large pot, bring the vegetable broth to a simmer and add the pre-soaked black beans.  If you are using pre-cooked black beans, add the beans and vegetable broth at the same time.  Add the liquid smoke, bay leaves, dried chipotle pepper, and cumin.

If you are using pre-soaked beans, this should simmer for about 1 hour and 45 minutes before moving to the next step.  Pre-cooked beans can ignore this.

In a saute pan, add the oil, onion, garlic, black peppercorns, jalapeno pepper, red pepper, green pepper, and tomatoes.  Cook on low heat until the tomatoes begin to break down (about 20 minutes).

After the beans have been simmering for about 15 minutes, add the kale, cover and reduce heat to low.  When the kale has reduced, add the ingredients from the saute pan and salt.  Mix well and allow to simmer for at least 30 minutes.  The longer this simmers, the more the flavors meld.

About 5 minute prior to serving, remove the bay leaves and add the cilantro.  This dish is best served with brown rice.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

I was sick but now I am better.

It was a week or two ago that I had to use a sick day for my jobby job.  I am feeling better now, so no worries.  However, I did find some pictures that reminded me of a nice treat.

Home sick on a Sunday evening, Ashley and her daughter come over to make me some dinner.  We had some veggie dogs, broccoli and  Ashley tried her hand at some fried mushrooms.  She took some portobello mushrooms and soaked them in bbq sauce, breaded them and fried them up.  Honestly, I am not exactly sure what she did to them but they were delicious!  I will have to ask her what she did so that I can replicate it.

It was really nice of them to come make me some nice dinner when I was not feeling well.  It felt good to have some folks come take care of me when I was in need.  Some people are real nice.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Happy Birthday Mum!

Today is my mum's birthday.  Happy Birthday Mum!  It is times like this that I feel guilty that I am 1200 miles away from my nearest family.  I would loveto be able to see and spend time with my mum on her birthday.  I suppose that it the price I pay for being in Atlanta when all the family is in New England.

Monday, November 14, 2011

500 posts and 4 years later...

This is my 500th post on my blog.  Not only that but it is right around the 4 year marker for writing here.  It was interesting how I got started; at the time, I was taking some college classes, one of which was an English writing class.  My professor said that I should look into getting a degree is English as she really enjoyed my writing.  She said I have a "unique voice is writing", my step brother (also an English teacher) has said the same thing and I am not quite sure I even know what it means.

My professor said she would really like to see me write more.  I wrote a few things for the school paper but nothing significant.  One day, after class, she showed me her blog.  It was the first time I ever read a blog.  I was living with Jamie at the time and she had just started a blog to sell some of her artwork.  From there, I made my first post.

I remember posting it and feeling like I would not be likely to ever post again.  I felt like it would be unlikely that anyone would read it and that there was not much of a point.  Even now, I am not sure what kept me posting but I did.

Writing has kept me focused over the years.  I think it has certainly helped me eat better and motivated me to cook more often.  It has occasionally felt like a chore but overall has been a real joy.  Happy 500th post to me and my blog!  No signs of stopping!

In honor of my milestone achievement, I made myself a layered strawberry cake!  Another testament to my struggling to improve baking skills.  It was a great bedtime snack though!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Raspberry Muffins and my Nana

After breakfast for dinner, I had some raspberries left over.  Raspberries are one of my favorite foods.  I love to cook with them as well, they are so rarely used.  This time I used my basic raspberry muffin recipe and churned out a dozen amazing muffins.  I do enjoy a good muffin!

After about 11 years, my Nana's estate was finally closed.  I received my inheritance check yesterday.  It was nice to have closure, my sisters put in a lot of hard work to get us there.  I miss my Nana.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Breakfast for Dinner!

Breakfast for dinner often gets overlooked in my house.  I am not sure why, I really enjoy a good breakfast.  Maybe I will look at it as more of an option on the future.

On Monday, Ashley and her daughter, Kaleigh came over for breakfast for dinner.  It was fun and Kaleigh was able to help in the cooking a lot.  She basically did the pancakes herself.  She cut the strawberries, mixed the batter, and flipped them.  We had a lot of fun and I was surprised at how her attention span lasted the entire cooking process.

We ended up with some great food.  We had pancakes (strawberry, chocolate chuck and raspberry), homefries, and tofu scrambler.  It was great fun and i was sad to see them leave.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Smokey Artichoke Pasta

With the few hours I had before heading to the jobby job on Saturday, I decided to make something that I could have for my lunches over the weekend.  I wanted something a little new that I had not been eating all the time.  I thought back to a recent post when I made a paprika pasta dish that was very good but I wanted to make a few changes prior to sharing it with the blog world.

I headed to the kitchen to get to work.  It came out very well.  I brought it to the jobby job where I offered it to a co-worker to try.  I turned my back to take care of another issue and the whole dish was gone!  Eat loved it, and ate it all.  I was not upset (I had already eaten enough for myself for the day), it was nice to have someone tear into it like that.

When I got home, I wrote out the recipe and was going to post it here when I realized that I had forgotten to take a photograph.  Then of course, it was gone!  I set out to make it again for my long day on Tuesday, mostly to have a picture.

Smokey Artichoke Pasta

3 cloves of garlic
8 oz of pasta (bow-tie preferred)
3 cups of water
1 cup of artichoke hearts (cubed)
2/3 cup of green peas
1/3 cup of red onion (sliced)
2 tablespoons of vegan sour cream
1 tablespoon of oil
1 tablespoon of paprika
1 teaspoon of black pepper
1 teaspoon of salt

 In a pot, boil the three cups of water with the bow-tie pasta until tender.  About 25 minutes.

In a saute pan, heat the oil on low-med heat and add the garlic, onion and salt.  Cook the onions until tender.  Add the artichoke hearts, pasta, vegan sour cream and mix gently.  Add the pepper, paprika, and peas and mix gently.  When the sour cream is melted, remove from heat and let cool.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Salvaged Dinner for Three!

Over the weekend I went to see my pals at crack the plates for dinner and conversations.  We brainstormed some wild ideas about the Atlanta vegan community.  I will share more on that at a later date.  We ate a great salvaged meal.  It was something that was a lunch or some sort and all leftovers to be thrown away.  Nate grabbed them up, Adrienne made them edible, and I ate them.

It was a nice beans and rice meal with a side salad.  Adrianne went out of her way to make some amazing cup cakes for dessert, despite feeling ill.  It was a fun night of heated conversations and inspiring ideas.  Horry for great people and great food!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Halloween and an Ocobter recap.

October was a strange month.  I had a long vacation, some major financial ventures, significant relationship alternations, and have been re-united with an old nemesis / friend.  It has been odd and none of it had much to do with the kitchen.

The month ended with something that I have not done in years.  Maybe even 20 years.  I went trick-or-treating.  Ashley, her sister, her sisters boyfriend and I took Ashley's daughter Kaleigh out.  Kaleigh had a great dragon costume.  Everyone seemed to think she was a boy, apparently dragons are gender specific.  I never knew.

I had a little costume of my own.  Inspired by some old punk rock song lyrics and my long hours spent at the jobby job.

Strange month.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Paprika Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

I have been feeling under the weather recently.  It has been a drag and even resulted in me using a sick day at the jobby job.  I always feel guilty when I call out sick but I try and remember that I am given my sick days for a reason and I should be able to use them when I need.  I am feeling better now and should be 100% again soon.

Ashley and her daughter. Kaleigh, brought over the pumpkin that we picked a few weeks ago, for the Halloween carving.  As a child, I do not have many memories of pumpkin carving.  It was either not something we did often or it did not seem as significant as some others.  This time, we used a pattern.  I have never done used a pattern for pumpkin carving.  It came out nice but felt unimaginative.  Kaleigh liked it so I suppose that is what counts.

The best part of the pumpkin carving was fishing out the seeds and roasting them.  My mum roasted a few pumpkin seeds when I was a child but I have never done it.

Paprika Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

1 cup of pumpkin seeds
1 tablespoon of oil
3/4 tablespoon of smoked paprika
1/2 tablespoon of salt
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 teaspoon of pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 250 degrees.

Rise the seeds and separate from the pumpkin strings.  There is no need to dry overnight.  Simply rinse well and pat dry with a towel.

In a bowl, add all other ingredients and fold in the seeds.  Pour the seeds on a baking sheet lined with foil.  Bake for 1 hour.  Every 20 minutes, take the seeds out and flip them to avoid sticking and burning.