Pre-Thanksgiving Feast

Hi eaters.

It’s been a long and slightly painful day, thanks to a visit to the chiropractor.

But Leon bought me pie for dinner dessert and now my dog is lying on top of my leg (yes, just the one leg) so I’m pretty happy.

Now let’s talk Thanksgiving, shall we?!

Dinner was set for 3pm on Saturday, so the cooking started on Thursday. And the bulk of it was done of Friday. But we still had plenty of cooking to do Saturday morning.

I'm in my cooking crevice.

So while Leon and I cooked, Mother set the table.

Light and airy, just like I like it.

As you can see, I kept it all very simple. I fell in love with the idea of butcher paper and crayons, so that’s exactly what we did.

Crayons in reused jars, because they're classier than the crayon box.

And then I went around and wrote everyone’s name above his or her plate. (Fyi, “his or her” is the proper pronoun here, not “their.” #WordNerd)

While everyone was mingling we snacked on a little appetizer plate of cheese and crackers and dips and a bowl of candied almonds that Leon made.

Three cheeses. Three spreads. Two crackers.

Please don’t confuse the three cheeses and three dips as any sort of pairing. The only thing that was even slightly paired was the goat’s milk brie and mixed berry jam.

And finally, after a long morning and one last frantic cooking spree, dinner was served.

The most beautiful bird I've ever seen.

On the menu:

Guinness roasted turkey, sausage and cornbread stuffing, Eureka Paprika split pea soup, mashed potatoes, balsamic roasted Brussels sprouts, wild mushroom and butternut squash risotto, cranberry chutney (a simpler version than the recipe I posted here), a massaged kale salad with roasted acorn squash, 1/3 whole wheat rolls, gravy, and maple butter.

Yes, that is our unused flat sheet used as a tablecloth.

I think that’s it. I’ll be posting recipes for a lot of those dishes this week, so stay tuned.

I piled my plate high and ate every bite. And surprisingly, I didn’t feel grossly full. I think that had a lot to do with the fact that everything save for the turkey, stuffing, and gravy was vegan.

So.Freaking.Good.

Mother’s boyfriend is vegan and I certainly don’t mind vegan food, obviously. And once Leon agreed to make mashed potatoes with Earth Balance and coconut milk we were set.

Anyway, everything turned out really, surprisingly well. The Brussels sprouts were a touch underdone, but that was the only glitch so I was beyond thrilled.

I was so thrilled by how well everything went that all day I was walking around punching the air and yelling “O’Doyles rule!” (Two points if you can tell me what movie that’s from.)

Everyone retired to the RV for a while (Did I mention that Mother and her boyfriend drove up in his giant RV?) to watch the NC State vs Clemson game. I took a little nap first. And then we had dessert.

Dippables.

I know I was talking in my earlier post about bourbon sweet potato casserole and vegan coconut nutmeg pudding. But when I thought about it, I really didn’t need another complicated thing to the list of things to cook. So I went easy. Really easy.

Thanks to this fondue, I've got a really awesome chocolate tip to post about.

And it doesn’t get easier than chocolate fondue in a crockpot, let me tell you.

The only problem with chocolate fondue is that there are no leftovers, hence the pie for dinner tonight.

Possibly the best part of the whole day, though, was that Mother did ALL the dishes. But then, Charlie’s bow tie is a close second.

Isn't he handsome?

What do you think, eaters:

Could you vegan-ize or mostly vegan-ize your Thanksgiving feast? What wouldn’t you compromise on?

What would be the best thing a house guest could give you/do for you?

G’night eaters!

PS — Seriously, get ready for as many Thanksgiving recipes as I can cram in before Thanksgiving.

All Over Sunday

Hellooo eaters!

It’s Sunday and unfortunately I don’t have tomorrow off.

Oh the joys of going to a Quaker school where they believe celebrating holidays is favoring one day over another.

Oh well. I really don’t mind Mondays because I kind of love getting back to my routine. And I also can’t complain about starting a new week when the old one ended like mine did.

As I’ve mentioned before, Sundays are my day. I am guaranteed to have them off (and so is Leon). It’s a lazy day where most places are closed, so I can’t really waste it doing annoying errands. And as of recently, Sundays also include zoning out in front of some Law & Order while clipping coupons.

Yup, it’s a lazy, yet oddly productive, and overall wonderful day.

And this Sunday was no different.

I started the day with a complete balanced breakfast.

Half a Devil's food cake donut with sprinkles and eggs with spinach and Texas Pete.

FYI, I blame Holly for the intense donut craving that set in on Saturday, prompting a nighttime trip to Donut World (on West Market St by Guilford College Rd for all you Greensboro/Triad people), where I can never ever get just one.

(This time I got three. Don’t judge. They have an amazing variety.)

I then proceeded to laze around the house, hanging out with Leon and Charlie, and wasting time on Pinterest.

It’s amazing how much time you can spend looking and pinning and how many ideas for things you can’t possibly do/eat/own/see you’ll find.

Once I had my fill of dreaming, I got to doing. And today that “doing” included buying picture frames from Goodwill for a decorating project, buying fabric and a few other supplies for a pillow project, and going to the gym for the first time since I started Crossfit.

FYI, the gym is super boring.

Once I got home I got down to business. And in no time flat I had two pillow covers sewn and filled.

My plan was to then iron on a black deer head silhouette to make something akin to these pillows. Except for the fact that the couch is new so I remembered the upholstery wrong when I was buying fabric and ended up with pillows that just don’t look right.

These two fabrics just don't work, right?

I can move the pillows to another room in the house and make new ones with new fabric, but I’m bad at picking colors. The living room has the couch, a Kelly green/avocado green vinyl recliner, and a couple of gold accents. The living room is openly connected to the dining room, which has dark blue walls and light pink chairs. There’s also lots of dark stained wood. And I’m locked in with the black deer heads.

Thoughts?

While mulling over new fabric colors and discussion options for what to do with Charlie while Leon and I are at a wedding in Vermont in a few weeks (we don’t want to board him for fear of him having Vietnam flashbacks of being in the shelter), we ate an easy stir fry.

Sunday night always used to be “brown rice and vegetables” night growing up — a scoop of brown rice and a scoop of stir fried vegetables and chicken in some brown sauce while we watched “60 Minutes.” As I got older the two scoops were allowed to touch and eventually the stir fry was served on top of the rice.

That’s a sign of maturity, right?

Anyway, this post has been all over the place tonight, but it’s kind of been a segmented, all over the place day. I hope you don’t mind.

What do you think, eaters:

 PleasepleasePLEASE tell me what color fabric I should choose. I don’t know if you can tell, but the couch is grey with threads of brown running through.

Did you/do you have any set meals based on days of the week?

G’night eaters!

Angry Zucchini Cookies

Hi eaters!

I’m exhausted to no end.

Over the last two days I’ve gone from living it up like a single lady on summer vacation to trying to balance classes, homework, work, being a girlfriend, working out, all my awesomeness, and the normal things that are necessary to sustain life.

I got 5 hours of sleep last night and have been up for 18 hours without a break.

Can “stressed” even begin to cover it?

Yeah…

So today when I came home for what should have been a three hour break full of a Zone-balanced lunch and baking some Beyond Bitchtastic Brownies only to find that we didn’t have ANY protein or cocoa powder, I threw a bit of a tantrum.

I yelled and slammed cabinets and didn’t cry. (Luckily, no one was there to witness this lovely display of adult-ness.)

Once I was done acting like a spoiled toddler (which was ironic behavior for the first day of my senior year of college), I decided to get proactive.

I hand grated my anger away.

I dirtied a lot of dishes without regards to the fact that I would have to wash them.

This wasn't even all of them.

I ate cookie dough while watching “Workaholics.”

Two spoons means I was double-fisting cookie dough.

I realized that I over worked the flour and forgot the vanilla.

Vanilla is for bitches.

I decided that I really didn’t give a damn anymore.

(Yeah, I’d crossed over the threshold from thinking I could still make the day wonderful and productive to just wanting to make it till the end.)

I ate a bunch of cookies* without regard to Zone blocks or imperfections.

Thank-you, Mama Pea.

These cookies didn’t make the day sunny and wonderful, nor did they magically give me an extra couple of hours of sleep, and they also didn’t get me off work early or out of homework, but Leon did wash the dishes and for once I wasn’t eating the chocolate chips straight out of the bag. So really, things were looking up.

Not to mention that they used an entire zucchini, which is good considering that Leon came home with what looks like a lifetimes supply of zucchini and summer squash.

Get ready for an endless stream of zucchini recipes. (And hopefully far fewer of these “I’m stressed and cranky and bitter” posts.)

Your turn, eaters:

How do you handle stress? I’d love some tips.

What’s a funny 22-minute sitcom on Netflix that I can watch next? I’m done with 30 Rock, the Office, Workaholics, and Scrubs.

G’night eaters!

*FIY — I made these with whole wheat pastry flour, a chia egg (1 T chia seeds + 2 T water), 1/4 c Earth Balance and 1/4 c coconut oil, and ~3 T sugar. And they are AWESOME.

WIAW: Fatty

Hiya eaters!

It’s been a bit of a doozy day for me, so please excuse me if not everything I saw makes sense.

Breakfast #1:

1 1/2 smaller carrots and Trader Joe's sunflower seed butter.

I kinda messed up my early morning workout fuel. For the 6am Crossfit class I wake up at 5:15 so I have time to drink my usual ½ liter of pre-food water, digest it a bit, and each a little something before going. I’m not hungry by the time I eat, but I know I need just a little bit to get me through.

For some reason, though, when I was setting my alarm for the 8:30am Crossfit class, I set it for 7:15. I immediately woke up and chugged my water without thinking, so I actually started to get hungry 15 minutes before I had to leave. The extra half a block (as in the food blocks used by The Zone, which I’m loosely following) helped, but I still wasn’t 100%.

Crossfit:

Because I wasn’t totally with it, my experience with the benchmark workout “Linda” wasn’t all that great.

If you don’t know, “Linda” is deadlifts, floor presses, and hang cleans done in a pyramid fashion for 10 rounds. So the first round is 10 reps, then 9 reps, then 8 reps, so on and so forth until you finish. I finished in 29:17 (which is slooooow) using 95# for the deadlift, 50# for the clean (because I had a huge knot in my shoulder), and 55# for the floor press.

Breakfast #2:

2 scrambled eggs with onions, lettuce, salsa, and avocado on a Whole Foods' blue corn tortilla.

Leon and I both had the morning off, so I made us breakfast.

Note to self — those tortillas don’t hold two scrambled eggs.

Lunch:

A quick curry made from a bell pepper, baked tofu, and TJ's simmer sauce with the last cherries.

I’m trying to get into the habit of prepping some kind of plant protein to eat throughout the week. So I used a bit of soy-coconut marinated tofu and some really awesome Trader Joe’s Thai Green Curry simmer sauce to make this quick little curry-type thing.

Sidenote — I want more cherries.

Snack:

Luna Protein bar in chocolate cherry almond.

I ended up filling in for someone at work yesterday, so I grabbed this bar and ate half while there.

Sunflower seed butter.

I also ate a spoon of sunflower seed butter before leaving for work.

Dinner:

Thai pork meatball hoagie.

If I can remember the exact ingredients and measurements to this I’ll post the recipe. If not, I’ll try to remake it sooner rather than later.

It was that good.

Dessert:

I finished the other half of that Luna bar. The flavor was good, but a bit too sweet and the texture was definitely too nougat-y.

And that’s it, eaters. I probably should have worked more vegetables into my day, but I generally say that every day. I’ve also noticed that in order for me to feel really satiated I need to eat some solid form of fat.

Example: I thought the fat from the coconut milk in the simmer sauce would be enough, but I still needed that spoon of seed butter not too long later. And when I forget the avocado from my eggs, I don’t feel as full, despite eggs having a good bit of fat in them.

So I need to work on getting some hardcore fat in (and finding more sources of fat, so I don’t burn out on avocado and nut/seed butter).

What do you think, eaters:

Do you eat before a morning workout? If so, what?

What are some good sources of dense, healthy fat?

Later eaters!

I Heart Grilling

Hiya eaters!

So, it’s July.

This probably should have hit me a week ago, but I only really realized this fact a couple of days ago. And when I did, it was a little unnerving.

Where has half my summer gone? What have I been doing with my time? Why was I so behind on schoolwork and picture hanging?

And why haven’t Leon and I grilled more?

Yes eaters, grilling food is by far one of my favorite summer pastimes.

We set up the grill in the yard and bring the dog out. We sit on the steps and drink good beer while the coals heat up. Sometimes we sneak in a bit of reading. Sometimes we just people watch and wonder what the heck our neighbors do in their house all day.

When the coals are ready we throw something that’s probably been marinating all day on the grill and drink a bit more. By the time I’m done with my beer the food is usually about ready. I go inside and stir something on the stove or chop up a salad. Leon slices the meat. We open more beers and dinner is served.

It doesn’t get much better than that to me. And while there are few things in the world better than a well grilled piece of chicken, all summer Leon and I have been talking about playing with vegetables and tofu and marinades.

So the other night we did just that.

I sliced a zucchini into planks and marinated it in 1 t oil, 1 T apple cider vinegar, 1 t smoked paprika, 1 ½ t chili powder, salt, and pepper.

I pressed the heck out of a block of (black soybean) tofu and cut it into planks. I added a few splashes of soy sauce, a drizzle of oil, salt and pepper. I then baked them in a 375F oven for 5 minutes, to insure they didn’t fall apart on the grill.

Like a burst of freshness.

I chopped off two quarters from a head of romaine lettuce. I brushed it with a bit of oil and cracked pepper.

Then everything hit the grill.

The tofu for ~ 5minutes/side. The zucchini for ~3minutes/side. The romaine for ~2minutes.

The tofu got finished off with a schmear of Trader Joe’s Roasted Red Pepper Sauce (with eggplant and garlic) and the romaine got a drizzle of Annie’s balsamic vinaigrette.

And to drink we cracked open a bottle of Rogue Chipotle Ale (which was lacking almost any hint of spice and was thus severely disappointing).

So promising, but so disappointing.

It was a pretty perfect meal and a pretty perfect night. Made only more perfect by the after dinner s’mores we made on the barely hot coals.

Can you tell why I like grilling so much?

Your turn, eaters:

What’s your favorite thing to grill?

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever grilled?

G’night eaters!

How to Brew Kombucha

G’day eaters!

Life at the beach is still pretty grand. I’ll give you a blow by blow when I show you WIAW (which will be posted on Thursday because tomorrow I’m taking the day off).

But for now, I’m going to get all wordy on you and teach you how to make kombucha!

Yes, you know that really delicious, but really expensive carbonated, fermented drink you buy far too often for your budget at the grocery store?

Well, it’s so wonderfully easy to make at home that you now have no excuse for spending so much money on drinks.

Step 1: SCOBY

A SCOBY, which stands for Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast, is the mushroom that your ‘bucha grows off. If you want to buy one I hear Kamp Kombucha is really good.

I’m broke so I grew my own. If you want to do that you’ll need:

1 jar GT’s Original Plain Kombucha

1 c filtered water

1 plain black tea bag

2 T cane sugar*

1 jar large enough

1 breathable cloth**

1 rubberband

Brew the tea in the water and mix in the sugar. Once the tea cools to room temperature, pour it and the bottled kombucha into the jar. Cover the lid only with the cloth, secure it with a rubberband, and place it in a warm, dark place (I used the cabinet closest to my stove) for up to 3 weeks.

A SCOBY and a baby sitting in kombucha.

A film — the SCOBY! — should start to form after about a week. It usually forms on the top, but it’s fine if it falls. Once it’s about ¼” thick (a little less is fine), remove the SCOBY to a bowl and cover it with at least ½ c of the liquid you grew it in. Throw out the rest of the liquid. Now you’re ready to brew!

To brew you’ll need:

1 SCOBY

1 gallon jar

1 gallon filtered water

8 plain black tea bags

1 ½ c cane sugar

1 breathable cloth

1 rubberband

at least ½ c kombucha (this can be from a bottle, a previous batch, or the liquid you grew it in, but it has to be plain)

Ready to ferment!

Brew the tea and mix in the sugar. Once the sweetened tea cools to room temperature, pour it into the jar. Add in the SCOBY and the liquid it’s sitting in. Cover the lid with only the cloth and secure it with a rubberband. Place the jar in the same warm, dark place for 4-10 days.

The length of time you let the ‘buch ferment is up to your taste. The longer you let it sit the more acidic it’ll taste. I like it sour, so I left it the full 10 days, but I suggest tasting a little bit with a straw every couple of days after day 4 until you figure it out.

Once the kombucha is to your liking, it’s time to bottle.

To bottle you’ll need:

~8 16-ounce bottles with an air-tight cap

funnel

juice, as desired

A new, smaller SCOBY — a “baby” — will have formed. You can keep it or throw it out, but generally a SCOBY will only be good for about 6 brew cycles, so eventually you’ll need to keep one.

Remove the SCOBYs to a bowl and cover with at least half a cup of kombucha. Put the funnel in a bottle and pour in as much or as little juice as you’d like.

I put about a teaspoon of fresh ginger juice and a combinations of about 2 tablespoons of 100% apple-raspberry and 100% apple-cherry juice in each bottle.

Then, using a ladle, pour kombucha into each bottle until almost entirely full. Put the lid tightly on the bottles and place them in the same dark, warm spot for up to 5 days.

This next step is optional. It allows the kombucha to carbonate more and for the flavors to mellow a little. It’s not necessary, but it’s nice. After the bottles sit for up to 5 days, move them to the fridge. Once they’re chilled they’re ready to drink!

It may seem like a lot of steps, but each step requires less than an hour of work. And in the end you have about 8 bottles, a roughly $24 value, of as fresh as it gets kombucha.

Not bad for a couple of hours of work, right?

PleasepleasePLEASE do let me know if you brew some and if you have any questions. I’d be happy to answer what I can.

What do you think, eaters:

Would you ever brew your own kombucha?

What’s your favorite flavor?

Later eaters! And have a very happy, safe (no drunk driving or blowing yourselves up with fire works) 4th!

*You can try a sugar substitute, but from everything I’ve read it won’t work. The sugar is a vital food source for the SCOBY, so be careful with any tweaks.

**By a breathable cloth I mean a dish towel or a paper towel. You need to let the air in and the dust and bugs out, so a cheese cloth won’t work.

Compromising Your Diet

Hi eaters!

Let’s get down to real talk, shall we?

Alright.

Real talk topic of the day: Compromising your diet.

Now when I say “diet” I do now and always will mean your dietary choices. I don’t think I’ll ever talk about weight loss plans or the Zone or whatever else people follow to lose “those last ten pounds.”

No, today I want to talk about your dietary choices and when and why you choose to compromise them.

Ya see eaters, I may not be vegan or vegetarian anymore, but I still like to eat that way most of the time. Of course I enjoy a nice block of cheese or bacon-y treat, but I don’t like that to be my usual fare.

No, I’d be more than happy eating a vegetarian diet that’s dotted with meat, not the other way around.

Leon, on the other hand, loves meat.

I think that growing up his family, like most families in America, built their meals around a meaty center. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Meat is (usually) delicious and it’s easy to think of vegetables and the like as side dishes.

I mean, that seems to be how American cuisine works.

The problem, though, comes now that Leon and I are living together and planning our meals together.

I want the equivalent of Meatless Monday through Thursday and he doesn’t want a dinner of side dishes, as he calls a lot of vegetarian meals. Add on to that that I’ve gone from cooking 2-3 times a week and then eating lots of leftovers to cooking every night (and not having a microwave for easy leftover eating), and you can see how I’m a bit thrown for a loop here.

I’ve been trying my damndest to think of great, hearty, healthy vegetarian fare that will please my need for cheap meat-free meals and Leon’s need for a centered meal.

So, what else do I turn to other than…beans.

Yup, I love beans. Beans are amazing. Beans are versatile. Beans don’t make you fart (when cooked properly), despite what that 10 year old down the block says.

And did I mention that they’re cheap?

Yup, I love beans.

And with a little help from my food processor, I was able to turn this big pot of beans into a dinner that satisfied both of us in more ways then one.

This was 1 1/2 c dried chickpeas.

Baked Falafel

2.5 c chickpeas (roughly 1 1/3 cans)

½ lemon, juiced

¼ c olive oil, plus some

½ t tumeric

1 ½ t cumin

1 t graham masala

1 clove garlic

1 c parsley

salt and pepper, to taste

Put the chickpeas into a food processor and whirl until they form a chunky paste, scraping the sides as necessary.

Add the remaining ingredients and pulse until evenly combined.

Form the dough into ~1/4 c patties and place on a greased baking sheet. Drizzle a little bit of oil on the top of each patty, spread it around with your fingers (or a pastry brush, if you’re fancy), and place in the oven.

Bake the patties at 375 F for 25 minutes, flip, and then bake for another 5.

Let the patties cool slightly before serving.

Speaking of serving…

I kept it simple and whipped up a quick, half-assed sauce by mixing ~1/3 c plain yogurt and ~1/4 c chopped cucumber.

A dollop of that and a falafel patty wrapped in a piece of red leaf lettuce and we were ready to go.

For pennies on the dollar (whatever that means…no really, can someone explain it to me), I had a tasty, healthy, satiating center for a vegetarian meal.

I added a side of some quick, half-assed bhindi masala (which I’ll remake with at least ¾ assedness and post the recipe for) and this was a more than legit meal.

And maybe the best part was that this makes about three servings (a serving being three single patty wraps), so I had a hearty dose of vegetables waiting for me for lunch the next day.

Always strive for leftovers.

Now if only I had a microwave to reheat the falafel with.

Your turn, eaters:

When and why do you compromise your ideal diet?

What is your ideal diet? This means what, when, and how much you eat.

G’night eaters!

Juicing for Cheaper

Hiya eaters!

Today’s been a long day and my arms are dead after a pretty damn intense Crossfit session this morning.

But you don’t come here to hear me bitch. So let’s talk about something sunny and happy.

Does juice for cheap fit the bill?

So here’s what’s up, eaters: since unearthing my…ehemvintage juicer a month or so ago I’ve made a big glass of fresh juicer a more than weekly part of my life. I love the way it tastes, the way it makes me feel, and that I can then make cool things out of the pulp.

Let's call her retro.

But I don’t love how dang expensive it is!

For my standard 12 oz glass of juice, I could go through roughly 1apple/pear, 2-3 carrots, and ½ a beet. That may not seem like a lot, but when you use all or mostly organic like I do (because if I wanted to juice chemicals I’d cut out the middleman and drink some Round Up), it adds up quickly.

Not wanting to lose my shirt to my burgeoning juice addiction, I quickly developed a plan of attack.

Be warned: This does not necessarily produce the most delicious juices. This is also not a plan for someone who doesn’t juice 2-3 times a week. This is for the moderately die-hard juicers, or those looking to become that.

First, I ALWAYS have a bag of organic carrots (I loveloveLOVE Grimmway Farms carrots and only buy theirs) and either pears or apples. I really like the flavor of both of those juices, and generally their flavor is strong enough to save any less than palatable juice concoction.

Then, and here’s where the variation and potential for ewww comes in, I have my scrap bag.

What’s a scrap bag, you ask?

Well, to put it nicely, it’s a bag (or other sealable container) where I keep all the bits of produce that one would normally compost or throw away.

Example: the thick stems of kale, the core of an apple, the seedy pith of a bell pepper, the ends of zucchini or squash or green beans that you chop off, the tasteless end of a piece of lettuce that I don’t like in my salad.

You get the idea, right?

Well, as I go about my eating and cooking and whatnot, I take all of these odds and ends (pun!) and put them in my scrap bag.

For storage, I tie off the top of the bag and keep it in my vegetable crisper.

Then every couple of days — I try not to keep scraps for longer than four days, for mold/wilting reasons — I take out my scrap bag and dump it in my juicer.

Depending on what was in the bag — if I had more lettuce stems and bell pepper cores or more apple cores and random berries — I’ll usually add half to a whole apple and then a carrot or two.

As you can see, there’s a pretty big chance of getting a less than delicious juice. To lessen that chance I keep onions and hot peppers out of my scrap bag, cut off the rinds of citrus, and don’t juice anything that looks too old to eat, but there’s still a risk involved.

But thanks to my (oh so awesome, never sketchy Grimmway Farms) carrots and apples, I’ve never actually had a bad juice.

And that’s the trick — find the one or two juices that you always enjoy, that mix well with other flavors, and that last a while in your fridge, and add a bit of those fruits/vegetables to everything.

Mmmmmhealth.

Juicing still isn’t cheap, but it’s cheaper. And cheaper isn’t half bad when you think of all the benefits.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a scrap bag with a few summer squash ends and the core of a pineapple calling my name.

What do you think, eaters:

Do you have any tips for making healthy choices cheaper?

What is your go-to juicing fruit/veg?

G’night eaters!

Blueberry Blueberry Beer Bread

Hi eaters!!!!!

Lots of exclamation points today because I’m just plain happy!

The sun is shining. I got some new clothes from Dick’s. CharlieBaby (which is really what I call him, not just something cute for the blog) was perfectly well-behaved when I left him alone today. And tomorrow’s Friday (even though today is like Friday in summer school world)!

What’s not to be happy about?!

Quick: tell me something that you’re happy about right this very instant!

If you’re not happy about anything, let me give you something to be happy about.

Would it make you happy if I told you how to use up those gross flavored beers in your fridge?

Alrighty then.

So here’s the deal, eaters — Leon and I are variety pack people when it comes to beer. We both really enjoy beer. And while we each have our favorites (Sweet Water 420 IPA for me, and Black Hawk Stout for him), we like to mix to up. Usually, mixing it up comes in the form of a 12-pack variety box.

The only problem is that with summer in full swing, all of our beloved variety boxes are boasting…duh duh duuuh…fruity beers.

I hate fruity beers! They never taste like the fruit they claim to have. They never taste good. They’re just…ick.

Now if you like fruit beers, please come over and drink all mine. But until you do, I’ll just turn them into bread.

Blueberry Blueberry Beer Bread

Adapted from this recipe.

2 c whole wheat (pastry) flour

1 c AP flour

¼ c sugar

1 t salt

1 T baking powder

1 T chia seeds

1 bottle (Saranac) blueberry beer

~1/2 pint of blueberries

1 T lemon zest (or roughly ½ lemon, zested)

3 ½ T melted butter, divided

In a large bowl mix all the dry ingredients. In another bowl mix the berries, beer, lemon zest, and 2 T butter. Mix the wet into the dry.

Pour the batter into a greased loaf pan. Bang the pan on the counter a few times to even it out and then pour the remaining melted butter over the top as evenly as possible.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for ~40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

I’d never had beer bread (to my knowledge) before this loaf. And while this loaf is damn tasty, I don’t think I’ll be making any bread with my favorite beers.

Isn't she beautiful?

Ya see eaters, it doesn’t exactly taste like beer (which might be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how you feel about beer). The beer gives this bread a lovely little fermented taste, almost like a mix between sourdough and a very light beer.

And what do you think of my pink dining room chairs?

It has a texture very similar to banana bread, or like a very dense blueberry muffin.

It’s not overly sweet, so while it’s not the healthiest thing in the world, it definitely qualifies as a breakfast food. Or a brunch food. Or a hangover brunch-that-really-happens-at-2pm food.

So in the end, this bread did exactly what it was supposed to do — gave me a pretty great way to use up the variety pack beers that I probably won’t drink on my own and gave me an excuse to buy (overpriced organic) blueberries.

What more can you ask for from a quick bread?

What do you think, eaters:

Do you like fruity beers?

What’s your summer drink of choice?

G’night eaters!

PS — If you swap the butter for Earth Balance or something of the sort, you’ve got a nice vegan bread.

Why Stir Fry?

G’day eaters!

It’s been a beautiful day in the neighborhood for me. Charlie is quickly adapting to his new home, learning not to poo inside, and doing lots of cute things.

So life is good over here.

And while today was a really laid back day (I actually didn’t know what to do with myself for a while), not all days are like that.

Between class and house things and Charlie and trying to have a social life (which now includes planning and driving, unlike when I liked on campus) and blogging and all the other things that I do, some nights the last thing I want to do is cook an elaborate dinner.

Some nights, I kinda wished I lived alone so eggs or an apple and pb or something equally thoughtless could fly as my last meal.

But I don’t live alone and Leon doesn’t share my belief that eggs are always appropriate. So on those nights, we make stir fry.

Why stir fry, you ask?

Because it’s crazy customizable.

Because it requires about 10 minutes (at most!) of prep and 5 minutes to cook (not including the grain).

Because it’s not eggs.

Because it dirties one knife, one pot, one wok, maybe one bowl (if you marinate your protein), and whatever you need to eat it.

Because it’s cheap.

Need any more reasons?

Alright, let me walk you through it all.

Yesterday morning I chopped up a block of Westsoy tempeh (because it was far cheaper than pork, which was our other protein option).

For me, this is cheaper (and tastier!) than Life Time tempeh.

I then whisked together a quick peanut-y marinade:

1 ½ T pb

1 T soy sauce

1 T rice vinegar

1 T green Tabasco sauce

1 T warm water

Or you could use a jarred sauce.

Ignore the fact that this resembles throw-up.

The tempeh got tossed in that and then left in the fridge all day.

When it finally came time to eat (around 8:45, after an exhausting day with an annoying hyper pup), we were minutes.

I put the rice on.

Leon diced up a handful of veggies from the fridge.

I went a little crazy in the produce section this week.

We heated the wok and I showed him how to cook tempeh.

The veggies went in with the rest of the marinade left in the bowl, plus another dash or two of soy sauce.

The rice was done. The veggies were done. We assembled.

Sorry for the dark pictures.

If I had even more foresight and was one of those people who could prep things at the beginning of the week, like that one annoying lady on Food Network, I could have cooked the rice and diced the vegetables beforehand.

But I didn’t, so think meal took 20 minutes.

I know, the hardship.

If you still need one more reason to love stir fries, though:

Leftovers.

Cook a little extra rice and a few extra vegetables and you could have lunch for the next day or two.

Now do you see why I love stir fries?

Your turn, eaters:

What’s your Go-To meal when things get hectic?

Do you like sauce from a jar or do you make your own?

Later eaters!