Wednesday, July 26, 2006

So this is completely non-food related, but I feel the need to write. It's wierd, how I only write the emotional stuff when I'm hurting. When life takes an unexpected turn, and I forgot to wear my seatbelt. I feel very lost, and alone inside, which I know is kinda silly. I have a beautiful baby and a wonderful husband, but at the same time am utterly exhausted, and find myself slipping ever-so-slowly into a depression.

When I was a kid, I almost drowned in our pool. I remember the feeling of being trapped under the water, with cold fingers pulling me further from the surface...when a bit of panic strikes and your mind freezes. That's where I am. I look okay to those around me, but I fear that the mirage is starting to crack. I've been snippy and bitchy to my loved ones, totally losing my cool amid the current family crisis.

And yet, I'm honest about my depression with everyone. I know it's an issue, but I'm handling it, and everything was under control until my grandma went into the hospital yesterday morning. I've asked my hubby to look into whether counceling is covered by our insurance, but I get the feeling he isn't taking my pleas for help seriously. Maybe I need to learn the lesson of being less dependent on others, and make the call myself? Maybe I need to meditate with a group and try to ground myself? Either way, I know I'll be okay. Eventually I will get a new job, and this fog will lift on it's own. I'm just not sure I want to wait that long.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Yesterday was the vegan brunch, and I must say it turned out better than I expected. I decided to go crazy this month, and make a few vegan dishes. Keep in mind, my only experience with tofu was last Saturday...and it was "okay" at best. I have been lurking at, where I found two recipes that really stood out. The first was a spinach artichoke pie that has been fondly referred to by my hubby as, "the green lasagna." This was amazingly easy to make, and turned out really well. I didn't buy enough extra firm tofu (had 8 oz, called for 16) so I crossed my fingers and threw in some silken tofu to compensate. This was also my first experience with phyllo dough, and I have come to appreciate it's delicate nature. SusanV recommended cutting the dough before baking, which made it super easy to dish out post-baking. Featured below is a veggie bowl, relish tray, homemade vegan focaccia and my homemade bean salad.

I decided last minute to get creative with a bag of dried beans, and made a completely from scratch 16 bean salad. The flavor was great, but the beans were a little hard post-boil. Next time I will use canned beans, but keep everything else the same. I need to get the recipe posted, because I think this is a summer salad worth trying out. Below is a close-up of the colorful salad.
Next, I made a vegan chocolate mousse pie. (recipe also compliments of SusanV over at Fat Free Vegan) This recipe is AMAZINGLY easy, and has a great end result. I used amaretto instead of orange liquor, which was a bit on the bitter side. I am planning to make it again this weekend with peppermint schnappes instead, and am expecting great results. I also added a Dream Whip topping made with Silk soymilk, which lightened the heaviness of the mousse. The picture below shows the mousse pie, a fruit tray and a "chocolate lover's" tray featuring chocolate covered pretzels, strawberries and carob-coated rice cakes.

Jess brought a vegan chili that was awesome, with homemade vegan cornbread. She also brought vegan chocolate chip cookies that were heavenly, and a still warm from the oven loaf of vegan sundried tomato bread, compliments of her mom. I completely forgot to take photos of Jess's food, but I'm sure she will post some over at I have GOT to get the chili recipe, as both my hubby and I really enjoyed it.

Overall, this was a really great "first vegan" cooking experience for me. I'm feeling pretty confident to use tofu in more recipes, especially desserts. I'd like to say a special thank you to SusanV at Fat Free Vegan for her wonderful recipes, and recommend that everyone check out her blog! Below are close-up photos that I took of all the dishes I made. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Okay, so I went to this amazing natural foods store in Spring Grove, Pa on Saturday. It was recommended by my friend Jess, and as the hubby was watching the munchkin...I thought a little "me time" was in order. So I was a organic store virgin, and I must say I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I was like a giddy school girl, wandering down the aisles, studying everything. You could tell most of the people that were there had been there a million times, and they buzzed around me, smiling at my obvious newbie-ism.

I ended up buying a lot of little things. They have a bulk foods room that was awesome, so I "tried" small amounts of everything that sounded appetizing. I also picked up some marinated tofu for a recipe I was trying. This was my first experience with tofu, and the end result was decent. I think that if I was a "tofu eater" it would have been really good. However, I'm not overly keen on the texture of it. I breaded and fried it in small chunks, but the longer you chewed, the bigger they seemed to get in your mouth. I plan to try it again, with an extra firm, non-marinated tofu. And a different recipe. I posted the photos below of my stir-fry. All things considered, a major breakthrough on the non-meat forefront. The hubby and I have decided rather than tofu-ing it, we'd rather just stir-fry veggies and serve over rice. Yum!

Above: The garlic herb marinated tofu.

Below: The tofu soy sauce stir-fry, recipe compliments of

Monday, July 10, 2006

My own personal challenge...

So here's the thing. I had this "vegetarian brunch" a month ago, and it was a BLAST. See, I'm a meat eater, but I enjoy being open-minded and trying new things. I enjoy being challenged in the kitchen, and my friend Jess put me to the test! She is a vegan, and while I can make a killer vegetarian quiche, I had never cooked something (other than serving raw veggies) for a non-dairy eater. I thought I was being all slick with the fruit and veggie trays, but she couldn't have the dip. So in planning for this month's "Meeting of the Non-Meat Eaters" I have done my homework! I really wanted to post the two recipes I am planning, but I sort of want it to be a surprise. I will hint in that one recipe is a dessert featuring vegan chocolate. The second is a phyllo casserole that sounds divine.

Here's the hard part...

Where do I find nutritional yeast flakes? *grin* I cannot WAIT to post the pictures!

And speaking of pictures... A few weeks back, I saw this large turtle making it's way through our yard on an extremely rainy Saturday. So I took some pictures of it, and a video of it trying to devour our shovel. After some internet investigative work, we concluded that it was a female snapper looking for a place to lay eggs. Very interesting, indeed. Though after the shovel incident, I doubt she will ever contemplate our yard again. :( Here are two of the photos.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Sketti Heaven... or not quite. So I decided to make spaghetti for some friends that were coming over by very last minute invitation. Hubby wanted to order in, but of course I had to make things difficult and decide to cook. Not only that, but I decided to try these new gourmet chicken sausages for the meat instead of burger or regular sausage. Well here's the deal...The sausages are precooked, and are intended to be heat-and-serve. So simmering for 20+ minutes in spaghetti sauce turns them to rubber. They are also really delicately flavored (tomato pesto and mozzarella) which is a great combo, but in the sauce lost all flavor and tomato-ish texture. They were just little round rubber discs. Below are the pictures when they still looked appetizing.

On to dessert. I made homemade cinnamon meltaway muffins, which the hubby really enjoyed. I thought they were okay, but very crumbly with entirely too much sugar on them for my tastes. The top photo is what they looked like prior to sugar-izing. Overall, dinner was not a big success. I'm quite a good cook, but need to follow the most important feeding "new stuff" to guests until the hubby and I try it first. Bleck!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Lentil Soup Goodness!

I snagged a recipe from Food Snob and tweaked it...a lot. Considering it was a vegan recipe that is now featuring sausage, I guess you could say I made a lot of changes. Here's the new recipe:

Yummy Lentil Soup

2 tsp. olive oil
1 large yellow onion
3 carrots (chopped)
3 stalks celery (chopped)
4 cloves garlic
1 lb. sausage
(fry until sausage is no longer pink and veggies are soft)

3 cans chicken broth (16 oz each)
2 cans tomatoes (i used italian herb) with juice
1 1/2 cups dried lentils
ground coriander to taste
black pepper to taste
2 bay leaves
(add fried mixture to these ingredients and simmer for 35-45 minutes)

**The soup is a tad salty, and I would recommend using no-salt-added broth OR no-salt-added tomatoes, unless you like a salty broth like I do. Also, I recommend using loose sausage and making little balls (like in italian wedding soup) instead of using little links like I did. The flavor is consistent either way, but the casing is not very pleasing to the eye. **

If you try it, please let me know what you think! Bon appetit!