Torn

30 Tue, 2010 § 8 Comments

Townhome ” F ” was built in the 60s & has “character”.  Townhome ” C ” is newer & nicer.

Townhome ” F ” is closer to downtown & Flagstaff “culture”.  Townhome ” C ” is closer to New Frontiers [the natural food store ;)].

Townhome ” C ” has a small, fenced in front patio & outside entrance.

Townhome ” F ” has a narrow, enclosed, staircase entryway…but it also has a deep garage.

Townhome ” C ” has an outside storage closet that would be perfect for our bikes.  We really like the handyman at Townhome ” F “.

Townhome ” F ” is slightly larger, but Townhome ” C ” is brighter.

We might be able to move into Townhome ” F ” sooner, but we might pay a lot less in deposits to move into Townhome ” C “.

We’re conflicted…

as if you couldn’t tell.

After a day of searching for that perfect home, we are debating between two rentals in Flagstaff & each have pros & cons.  We could analyze it to death…& [over]think our way into a decision.

We’re going to try something else though:

Clear our minds & see where things settle.

Our intuitions know where we will be happiest, so we’re going to sense it rather than think it.

I hope this works…maybe I should go with the first thought I have in the morning [obviously I’m writing this Monday evening ;)].  Do you think that will work?

~

Are you an analyzer or an intuition follower?  How do you make these decisions?

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Biscuits & Gravy…sort of

29 Mon, 2010 § 3 Comments

Good morning!

I have been trying to find ways to get in more protein for breakfast, so dinner leftovers have come in handy.

It reminded me of a sort of vegan biscuits & gravy…& it was too simple.

Ezekial english muffins, toasted & buttered with Earth Balance

Leftover lentil stew, warmed

A couple dollops of cashew cream

Lentil Stew

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup onion, chopped [I was out but think it would be a nice addition]

Saute in a small saucepan in EVOO over medium heat until fragrant.

  • 1 cup lentils, rinsed
  • ¼ tsp paprika
  • ¼ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp pasta toss spice [basil, oregano, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic]
  • dash nutmeg
  • dash sea salt
  • jarred/canned tomatoes, drained [I used a half quart of my mom’s]
  • 1 tsp molasses
  • 1 tsp carob

Combine with garlic & saute ~1 minute.

  • juice from jarred tomatoes + water = 2 cups

Add liquid & bring to boil.  Reduce heat & simmer until lentils are soft & cooked, ~50 minutes.

This thick stew was tasty & warming after bouldering in the cold, but it was missing a little something.  I stirred in a couple dollops of cashew cream.  Mmm.

I loved it even more the next morning.

~

I am rediscovering lentils.  What is your favorite way to make them?

I Think We Should Be Naughty…for Breakfast

28 Sun, 2010 § 7 Comments

This post is supposed to be a cure for our post celebration dinner bangover  [ask Rachel what that means], but honestly we woke up feeling amazing.  We spent the morning singing songs about Eisley to the tune of Beach Boy’s Run, Run Reindeer — instigated by Dave of course — while she ran around the baseball field.

Apparently we were in good humor.

Obviously we are comfortable enough to be silly with each other — we certainly should be after nearly 5 years.

Apparently we are not past the point of wanting to be silly with each other.  🙂  We never plan to be past it, because we make a point of being silly…I think we should make a point every day.

After our morning walk, I was desperate for something naughty…but not too naughty.

I wanted delicious…but not a lot of effort.

Fortunately, I had planned ahead & incorporated dinner leftovers into breakfast.

You all just gagged, didn’t you?

Stay with me; I’m not going to lure you to the dark side…even though steamed kale with ginger & real garlic toast is one the best breakfasts ever…I don’t think you’re ready.

So we’ll go slow.

Remember the sweet potato gnocchi I made by hand?  I roasted extra sweet potatoes for breakfast.

Then I remembered the best crust ever & knew Thanksgiving would not be complete without pie.

Pie makes everything better…or even better.

This one is indulgent but still seems healthy.

The pecan & chickpea flour crust is rich & creamy & lends an amazing texture & taste;  it complements the silky smooth & rich filling superbly.  This is probably my favorite pie crust ever — this is probably my favorite pie.

This Silky Sweet Potato Pie is from one of my favorite & most often used cookbooks, Clean Food by Terry Walter’s. I don’t feel ok posting her recipe, but am more than happy to email it to anyone who would like to try it — & I really think you should because it’s so good & so simple.  If you’ve never made pie & are a little intimidated, this is a great one to start with.  I promise.  Just send me a message & you can be a little naughty in the morning too.

I easily could have devoured this pie alone, but I thought we needed at least a little protein to follow our workout.  I still had a couple spoonfuls of the best greek yogurt; so before taking a little hiatus from dairy, I thought this would be the perfect way to finish it off.

After the Green Tea Cashew Cream, I’m a little obsessed with infusing tea into food.  So it was time to play around with Dave’s favorite tea, Chai.

Chai Greek Yogurt

  • Fage or other greek yogurt [I only had ~¼ C but use more if you have it!]
  • substantial dash of cheater’s chai
  • agave or other sweetener, to taste

Combine all ingredients to taste & whip until smooth.

Cheater’s Chai

Equal parts:

  • ground Cardamon
  • Chinese five spice powder or Garam Marsala

Combine.

I used Chinese five spice which had much more of a fennel taste than I was expecting. This also packed a little heat! It was still good, but if you’re not a huge fan of black licorice, I would go with garam marsala.

What?  More tea?

I told you I’m obsessed.

I actually stirred several pinches of one of my favorite teas into the pie filling.

Rooibos [roy-bos] is extremely high in antioxidants, caffeine-free & low in tannin.  It can even help with allergies & digestive issues…& it’s yummy.

Dave didn’t pick up on it; it added only a very subtle, sweet, earthy flavor to the pie.  I wonder what would happen if you steeped it with the milk before blending the filling.   Mmmm, now I’m craving more pie.

Aren’t you? 😉

~

What’s your favorite pie?  I’m not a huge cake fan in general, but I LOVE pie.

What’s your favorite “naughty” breakfast?

 

Yes, the Frazzled Mad Woman in the Kitchen is Indeed Trying to Seduce You

27 Sat, 2010 § 3 Comments

Dave & I were in Flagstaff on Wednesday for his 2nd 3rd 4th interview.  These guys were serious about finding someone who fit into the culture of the company.

Apparently he does, because they offered him the job.  He starts next Wednesday.

🙂

This calls for some celebrating.

I think he deserves to be seduced.  😉  Which is perfect because Project Tasteless’ 5th challenge calls just for that.

A little unconventional that his celebration dinner fell on Thanksgiving; but he is what I’m most thankful for, so I suppose it fits.

They say the surest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.  Not exactly going for his heart here, but I think the saying still holds true.

There are some dos & do nots to keep in mind when trying to seduce through food though.  Don’t worry, because if you do what I say & not always what I do, you should find yourself satisfied & satisfied at the end of the evening.

Consider Your Menu & plan

Yes, plan, because kitchen timing — or rather mistiming — can kill your evening & libido.  There is also a delicate balance to consider: you want a delicious meal that highlights the sexy culinary goddess that you are; but it also needs to be appropriate for your intentions.  It should be tasty, impressive & on the “lighter” side — think like the French [or most Europeans for that matter].  I could make Dave a heaping plateful of cheesy, oozy pasta & win his heart hands down; but would that get me what I want [& ultimately what he wants]?  You don’t want your man stuffed, bloated & spending more time in the bathroom than the bedroom.  Does “lighter” mean salads?  No.  Does it mean you can’t do pasta?  Of course not, but really consider portions & the entire meal when plating & planning.

My game plan was a sexy, vegan feast.

Sexy may have gone out the window when I spilled tears over the roasted chestnut soup fail…

but our feast was more than salvaged.

Ginger Roasted Kabocha Squash

&

handmade Sweet Potato Gnocchi & Fried Eggplant with Green Tea Cashew Cream

[recipes below]

The squash was surprisingly filling with the gnocchi.  We weren’t stuffed but definitely full.  I didn’t realize how closely I played the line here.

Seduce Your Own Tastebuds Too

He loves pasta; but I am slightly intolerant to wheat.  You don’t want any digestive discomfort to kill your own libido for the sake of his taste buds.   Believe me, he won’t resent a little selfishness on your part here. 😉

Think Sexy

When I think sexy food, I think fresh, clean, simple but with a little flair, hence the Green Tea Cashew Cream.  Appealing appetizers & finger foods can be oh.so.sexy.  What comes to your mind when thinking “sexy food”?  Sexy for me does not come from a box, but you have to decide what works for you.

Speaking of you, your sexy thoughts can’t be limited to food.  You have to own your own sexy.  It has to be legit or he’ll see right through it — don’t try too hard — make it real.  Guys dig a confident woman.  Do whatever you need to do to know you are sexy.  Love your arms?  Fit in some weight training/toning earlier in the day & dress to show them off.  Do you have the cutest toes ever?  Paint them the sexiest shade of red you can find.  Don’t dwell on insecurities!  Play up your best feature.

Set the Mood

Lighting.  Once, Dave draped a t-shirt over the lamp.  It was the sexiest red lighting…& his shirt sports the burn scar to prove it.

Music.  It doesn’t have to be cliche, what makes you feel sexy?  Sometimes a little groovy electronica meets alternative…Idon’tknow, think Kenna – Free Time…does it for me.

Picnic by the Fire.  It’s difficult to feel sexy if I’m freezing.

Drinks.  [Proceed with caution; we’re not looking for a hangover here.]  A little Reed’s ginger brew hit the spot for us.

It doesn’t have to be this generic — set your sexy mood.  If burning candles arouse a deep-rooted fear of an ensnaring inferno, don’t burn candles.

Make Him Feel Like a Man.

Ask him to help with something manly — even if it’s reaching that serving bowl on the top shelf [why would you have put that there? ;)] or lighting the fire.

Don’t Forget Dessert

You might need a sweet palate cleanse, but remember the first rule & keep it delicate.  I debated making truffles to feed each other — remember what I said about finger foods? — but opted for simple coconut ice cream with mandarin oranges & a small, soft ginger cookie.  If dinner left you both on the verge of too full though, maybe you should scrap the sweets for the time being & opt for a different course of dessert…followed by the sweets of course. 😉

Connect

Cooking for others can be stressful; it’s easy to distract yourself with all the logistics of the meal.  I tested it out to see if the stressed out, perplexed mad woman in the kitchen is indeed sexy.  She’s not.

So, slow down, include him, enjoy your time together  & connect —

there’s something fun & sexy about working with your hands together — even if he’s shelling chestnuts that didn’t roast quite right, which means no soup = no first course.  Don’t cry over fails.  Again, the sobbing lady in the apron: not sexy. Then again, it did give him a knight-in-shining-armor-moment…but, in general, I wouldn’t risk it.

Seduce

So the food is finally ready & you can relax.  Now don’t get so caught up in the delicious food, good conversation…that you forget the art of seduction.  Touch his hand.  Meet his eyes.  Smile.  Take charge.  You just planned this entire, slammin’ evening because you.are.amazing.  This isn’t the time to turn timid.

So put on that apron…just so you can take it off!

Green Tea Cashew Cream

[I’m proud of this & think I might be obsessed with tea-infused dishes now.]

Makes ~2 cups,

plenty for a lot of other uses which I’m discovering.

  • 1 ¼ C cashews, toasted
  • 1 C water
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 T Lemon Juice
  • 1 tsp Matcha green tea
  • pinch of salt

Combine all ingredients in a blender & blend to desired consistency.

Drizzle over finished gnocchi & eggplant.

Ginger-Roasted Kabocha Squash

Serves 2 – 4

  • 1 kabocha squash, halved & seeded
  • ½ – 1 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled
  • s & p

Preheat oven to 325*F & line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Rub the squash with olive oil & season with salt & pepper.  Using a zester [or fine grater] grate the ginger over the squash & rub it into the flesh.

Transfer the squash to the prepared baking sheet, cut side down & roast for ~15 minutes, until the squash starts to soften.

Turn the squash cut side up & roast ~17 minutes longer, until tender; transfer to a work surface & let cool slightly.

Increase the oven temperature to 425*F.

Cut the squash into 1 ½-inch-thick wedges.  Lightly rub the foil with oil & arrange the squash on the baking sheet.

Roast ~25 minutes, turning once halfway through, until golden & crisp along the edges.

We garnished with quick-pickled dried blueberries — which were really good — then drizzled the squash with the pickling liquid.  I didn’t love the pickling dressing, so I will dress is with a gingery vinaigrette next time.

This is definitely one of my favorite ways to cook squash — the long roasting process is worth it & I love the ginger.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

serves 2 – 4

[My first time making my own gnocchi, & this was tasty!  The texture wasn’t perfect, but with practice I’m sure it eventually will be.]

  • 2 sweet potatoes, baked & peeled [save the skins, fill them with pecans & maple & bake again for a yummy appetizer/treat]
  • 1 scant C bread flour [the high gluten content will help the pasta set up while it’s cooking better than regular flour]
  • (No salt!  salt in the dough will make your gnocchi mushy)

While the squash roasts, prepare the gnocchi.

Shred the potatoes with a fork — the hotter the potatoes are during this step, the better the gnocchi will be — over a wide, flat surface to maximize contact with the air to help them dry out better [I forgot his part & think it would have helped make lighter gnocchi].

Let the potatoes cool/dry for 10 – 15 minutes, while you prep the eggplant.

Gather your cooled potatoes into a flat disc & sprinkle about ½ the flour over it.  Work the dough with your hands, adding more flour if needed, until just combined.  Do not overwork it!  You probably won’t need the whole cup of flour.  It should be soft, not sticky or crumbly.  You must shape the dough immediately.

Roll some of the dough out into a long snake, about as thick as your thumb.

Cut the snake into little “pillows” & dust them with flour.

To shape, simply roll one of the pillows down the tines of a fork.  The gnocchi should curl around your thumb: one side will be ridged, & the other side will have an indent in it, which helps to catch sauce.

Gently place the gnocchi into salted, boiling water.  After a minute or two, the gnocchi will float to the surface.  About 30 seconds after they begin floating, use a slotted spoon to remove them from the water, draining them well.

I then tossed them into an oiled pan to fry just a bit, [optional].

Plate with the eggplant & drizzle with cashew cream.

Fried Eggplant

[adapted from Food & Wine, December 2010]

serves 2 – 4

  • 1 small Japanese eggplant or half a regular eggplant, sliced into ½-inch rounds [quarter if using a regular eggplant]
  • 2 cups panko (Japanese bread crumbs), crushed
  • 2 flax”eggs” [2T ground flax + 6T warm water, whisk & allow to thicken]
  • scant 1/3 C arrowroot
  • oil for frying [I used grapeseed oil]

Sprinkle the eggplant slices with salt & let stand on a rack set over a rimmed baking sheet for 20 minutes.

Rinse & pat dry.

In a medium bowl, whisk flax “eggs” with the arrowroot powder.

Put the panko in a shallow bowl & season lightly with salt.

Dip the eggplant quarters in the arrowroot mixture, spreading it thinly with your fingers.  Dredge the eggplant in the panko, pressing to help the crumbs adhere.

Transfer the eggplant to a baking sheet.

In a large skillet, heat ¼ inch of oil until shimmering.  Add eggplant [in batches if necessary] & fry over moderately high heat, turning once, until golden & crisp, ~5 minutes.

Drain the eggplant on paper towels & sprinkle lightly with salt.

Transfer the eggplant to a wire rack and keep warm in the oven.

~

Do you have any special dishes for those special occasions?

Happy Day After

26 Fri, 2010 § Leave a comment

I hope you had a lovely & safe Thanksgiving — & that you stay safe if you are out & about today!  Yikes, we avoid the Black Friday frenzy at all costs.

Even though Dave & I had a fairly simple Thanksgiving yesterday, I feel I stressed the food more than I had wanted & didn’t spend enough time with him.

Well, we did make time for a little bodywork session because his shoulder was in need of some serious mobilization…& we started the day off with yoga.

But we’re going to make up for the actionlessness [what? it could be a word] of the rest of our day by going for a hike or climbing — doing something together.

So, I’ll tell you about our meal tomorrow.

For now, here’s a little remedy if you’re feeling the “gut shot” of all that gobbling.

Make a simple green smoothie chock full of nourishing foods to cleanse & re-energize.  Try a mix of 3 cups kale or spinach, 1 cup frozen blueberries, 1 small banana, 1 T chia seeds & 1 cup unsweetened almond milk.

& if you’re not pumpkined out yet — as if that’s possible — try this healthy snack.

Pumpkin Yogurt

Mix equal parts pumpkin puree & greek yogurt. [~¼ – ½ cup]

Stir in ½ – 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice mix or a blend of ground cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg & cloves.

Sweeten to your liking with maple syrup or other sweetener.

Top with homemade granola, leftover candied pecans or walnuts, or spread over cranberry-walnut toast [my favorite].

Simple, healthy, delicious.

All the things that the day after Thanksgiving calls for.

~

Are you fighting the Black Friday crowds & shopping the sales

or

taking part in No Buy Day?

I’m Thankful…

25 Thu, 2010 § 4 Comments

…for my life…

I’m thankful I share it with a person who has the courage to embrace his passions & nudge me to do the same…

I’m thankful for days like today…spent with each other…shaping our own traditions…

I’m thankful for the random things we can share…like our camera date on Tuesday…

As promised, here are highlights from our day in Prescott — I’m thankful I can share these random things with you. 😉

I antiqued.

Dave captured the emotions of Prescott.

I basked in the history of each object.

~

Dave created stories with his images.

I played around, bonded with my camera…

& found pretty things

~

Dave found beauty too,

& inspiration.

While I got distracted.

Dave can tell you about my obsession with old pins — it’s difficult to tear me away — I was actually late to our “meet up” because of this pair.  oops.

~

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  I hope you enjoy your day as much as I intend to. 🙂

What are you thankful for?

‘Tis the Season to Give

24 Wed, 2010 § 7 Comments

Dave & I had planned a very special day date in Prescott yesterday.  One-third of it was spent away from each other though.

What made it so special then?  It was more of a date with our cameras than with each other.  We parted ways for about an hour, then met back up & shared our favorite shots with the other.

Why don’t I share some of those with you tomorrow? 😉

Dave wanted to explore the emotions of the town along the streets & creek.

I intended to hide from the cold antiquing in local shops.

I have a thing for thrift & secondhand stores; antiques are so fun, unique & “green”.

This got me thinking about PRESENTS — obviously the holidays are just around the corner — & I’m hoping to get some discussions going about gift giving.

This is sort of an area of stress for me right now because Dave & I are not bringing in money just yet; so I am hoping to spark excitement & ideas by talking about a few of my gift giving rules guidelines.

Dave & I have actually celebrated the last couple “Black Fridays” as Buy Nothing Day.  But just because we don’t want to get caught up in all the consumerism, we still enjoy giving & receiving gifts — meaningful gifts.

I read somewhere that many people don’t want it if they can’t eat it, wear it or read it.  This seems like a good place to start.

[Eat It]

You don’t have to consider yourself a foodie to appreciate delicious food or something to enhance your dining [or photo taking ;)] experiences…

like lovely cups & saucers…

aw…every food blogger’s weakness. 😉

or a random air-popper for the popcorn lover [how did I ever live without mine?].

If baking for others seems too overwhelming or stressful, you could simply share a favorite recipe along with a key ingredient or kitchen tool.  One day, I would love to make an entire recipe book.

[Wear It]

For the most part, my concern has transitioned from fashion to function when buying new clothes [usually for climbing, camping, etc].  When I just want something cute to wear though, I feel less guilty buying vintage.  Clothing can be tricky for me to buy for others though; accessories are easier to pick out or make, so I usually stick with those.  My mom has given me a couple beautiful scarves recently, & Dave rocks at dressing me [who knew he’d be one of my best shopping partners?].  Apparently my family is much better at fashion-for-others than I am.

[Read It/Listen to It]

I love passing along cherished books just as much as I love experiencing a friend’s favorite.  Not a book lover?  Most people enjoy flipping through a particular magazine & might consider it a luxury they wouldn’t necessarily treat themselves to.  Ever thought of giving a gift subscription of one of your favorites?  Music is another beautiful element of life that should be shared; I often wish I had someone to exchange piano sheet music with; for now, it’s fun to share what’s on my iPod.

[Make It]

Though it does make me nervous to give something I’ve made 😛 I really enjoy everything that goes into it.  The giftee is in your thoughts during the whole process.  I really love when someone makes something specifically for me,

like these adorable aprons my sister sewed for my birthday.

Though it may not come to you quickly, every one has something to offer in this aspect, & it’s AMAZING to see what people create.

[Experience It]

Rather than giving more “stuff”, offer experiences.  You can give anything from a golfing pass to a massage to an ATV tour to a cooking class to a trip.  Think about what this person loves to do or has always wanted to try.

[Consider It]

If you are going to buy something new, think about how it is made & the trace it leaves.  Supporting local can add just another touch to the meaningfulness of your gift.  There really are compassionate, respectful & honest companies out there, & more & more are springing up.  I suggest watching The Story of Stuff to remind ourselves to be discriminating with our choices as consumers.

I just realized I recently won something fun that could make a great “girlie” gift.  I’ll tell you more about it next week in a proper review of sorts.  For now, here’s a photo hint:

[Any guesses?]

Gift giving should be a balance between

Appreciating who that person is & recognizing his/her passions.

&

Sharing a part of yourself/your passions.

Obviously one passion I love sharing is food — wait, I think we already talked about food…oh well. 🙂

Stuffed Delicata Squash for one

  • Delicata Squash, halved & deseeded

Place one half of squash cut-side down in a baking dish with about an inch of water.

Bake at 400*F for 15 – 20 minutes until flesh is just tender.

Wrap other half of squash in plastic wrap & store in crisper to be used in next couple days — you’ll want to make this again! 😉

  • ½ C bread, torn into pieces
  • 2T orange juice
  • 2T almonds, chopped
  • 2T apricots, chopped
  • ½ Leek, sliced into half moons
  • ¼-inch slice fresh ginger, diced
  • dash of dried sage

While squash cooks, toss the rest of the ingredients together.

Once squash is ready, gently pack the delicata with the stuffing.

Lower oven temperature to 350*F.

Cook 20 – 30 minutes until bread is golden & squash is tender.

One of the beautiful things about tender delicata is how soft & edible the skin becomes…

so you can savor every bit of the squash.

Well…almost every bit of it.

This recipe is extremely versatile, so use whatever you have on hand.  Replace almonds with walnuts; use raisins instead of apricots; choose scallions over leek or rosemary rather than sage.

This makes a perfect, light entree for lunch or dinner.

~

What do you like to give?

What do you like to receive?

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