Sometimes I Get a Little Raw

This past week I was really feeling an itch to be a little more creative in the kitchen.  I mean, I love soups, and I could make and eat them every single day of my life (and for the most part I DO), but I was feeling ready to switch it up a bit from cooked foods.  So, I cracked into my trusted raw food repertoire.  And BOY! have I missed it!

Spiralized zucchini with various types and styles of sauces is something we really enjoy eating and is usually a go to raw meal for me.  This week I tried a little something different with a marinated mushroom topping rather than just a bit of oil or raw marinara.  And MAN it was so, so good! 

Here’s what I did:  I cut up baby bellas, shallots, a few cloves of garlic and an Anaheim chili.  I marinated all of it in olive oil and apple cider vinegar with paprika, and salt and pepper.  While that was getting happy,  I spiralized 5 zucchini.  When it was time to plate, I just mixed the two thoroughly in a bowl and topped with hemp seed hearts.  It was really no fuss at all.  Basically a 15-20 minute meal to prep, but the flavors were full, complex, delightful and could easily pass for an hour prep 😉  We were pleasantly full after one serving with enough for us both to have it for another meal – I was more #winning than Charlie Sheen! 

Diced and sliced & ready to marinate!
Dig in!
The next day I changed it up a little bit.  Added avocado and toasted some gf corn tortillas’s and made a little vegan taco fare.  Sooooo YUM!

Next time I make this, I will try adding a little creaminess to it with a raw cashew cheeze sauce and maybe add a little more heat with cayenne…..mmmmmm, I can taste it already!  I’m thinking of cutting the zucchini into ribbons and making the dish more raw-fettucine-alfredo-like.  Doesn’t that sound mouthwatering? 

Now, I know that eating plant based or being a vegan is not something everyone is willing to take on entirely, and I understand that completely.  We are all at different places in life with different experiences and values and opinions.  I get that, I really do.  I will never push it on you, PROMISE.  But I also promise, that if you come over to my house to eat, you are going to eat a 100% plant based meal, and you will push away from the table afterward having experienced flavors like you have never imagined….and you will be totally satisfied.  Trust me, we don’t just eat salads y’all! 

I believe everyone would improve their health exponentially and have like a eleventy-billion new dishes added to their mealtime line up if they would just buy a good vegan cookbook (I know that math doesn’t appear to compute, but in my mind it does. hahah).  Aren’t standard side dishes in America and other places around the world mainly vegetables and grains anyway?  Why not find ways to make them BETTER THAN EVER?!  Nope, I’m not pushing.  I’m just making a loving suggestion to my friends. 😊

In other completely unrelated news: I reconnected with an old friend from high school last night while chatting on Facebook Messenger.  Well, we have been friends on FB for about 12 years, but we grew up and went to school together in the same small town in Maryland.  Once or twice a year we get into a good chat.  Last night our discussion marked a whole new phase in both of our lives. At a particular moment it dawned on me that 98% of our discussion was about politics, how kids today don’t know anything, our preferred brand of heated blankets, how customer service usually sucks, what life was like ‘when we were young’ (in days of youre), and what part of our bodies was hurting the most….and I realized:  we’re getting older.  I know, right?!  I thought this only happened to *other* people.  I mean, I don’t feel old.  I still feel like a teenager.  I don’t look old (depending on who you ask), I still feel youthful and lively and fun….like I really feel like I am just getting started in life.  But, if I had been a fly on the wall to witness this particular conversation I would quickly deduce: OLD FOLKS.  I’m not sure how I feel about that.  Like, when did our conversations become less ‘edgy’, ‘now’ and ‘pop-culturey’, and become about our recent doctor appointments, and medications? For the record, neither of those things did we discuss, but given the direction everything else was going, it was only a matter of time….. 

I now realize that time can be cruel, and youth is thoroughly wasted on the young.

Faux Fair Isle: A Patterny Blessing (annnnnd of course food)

One day, about a year ago, I found myself breathing heavy and slobbering all over myself as I loomed like an ogre in the yarn aisle of Hobby Lobby. I have always been a sucker for inexpensive yarns.  Especially for inexpensive yarns that LOOK like they cost me an arm and a leg. Yarns with rich colors and lofty fibers with promise to sail through my fingers and dance delightfully across my needles.  Finding yarns that fit that bill is not always an easy thing to do.  But occasionally, like this one day in Hob Lob, I scored!

I discovered a yarn that knitted up to look like fair isle…without actually having to do the real work of learning how to do it.  I know fair isle is no big mystery, it is just color work.  It’s not impossible.  I’m a seasoned knitter.  I’ve been doing this for many years.  I can knit with more than one color at a time while following a pattern.  So why haven’t I taken up fair isle knitting?  The short answer?  I’m lazy.  There really isn’t a long answer…I just don’t feel like doing it.  I am more in the camp of Appreciaters of Fair Isle rather than Doers of Fair Isle.  And I’m pretty ok with that. 

But I got to thinking about how maybe I might be judged by other knitters for taking this route, and I took that as my queue to harshly judge myself along with ALL my yarning decisions.  I determined that although it mimicked fair isle, it really isn’t anything like it.  At all.  It’s a crap shoot as to whether the patterns will line up to make it all work out.  Where in fair isle, it is precision and perfection….and lovely.  Knitting with self-patterning yarn isn’t a new concept to me, I’ve worked with it easily a hundred times when making socks.  I never felt like I was cheating while doing it either.  I just knitted them up, pounded my chest and declared “I! Make Sock!” But then again,  I wasn’t making this gigantic blanket like cape thing that I would wear around in public for the whole world to see…..I wasn’t going to stick my poncho in my shoes and hide them.  Everyone was going to SEE it.  Including people who actually KNOW how to fair isle knit.  How could I open myself up to such ridicule?

So what did I do with all that self-doubt and fear of ridicule? I’ll tell you what I did with it….I stuffed it all deep down inside, where I keep all the other stuff I never actually confront or deal with and I pushed through. And MAN, am I so glad I did. Seven thousand stitches later, and by early this last fall I finished the project that had started the winter before.  I made this.  This beautiful, one of a kind poncho that has mismatched lines and uneven seeming….but it is mine.  It is MY thing that I made for ME.  And I love it! 

A few weeks ago I went back to Hob Lob to see if I could find more of this yarn and there was none to be found…I later discovered that the yarn had been discontinued (a four letter word to all yarn crafters!) It’s probably just as well….since I would likely hold onto the yarn for years before I got around to making another poncho……along with ALL the other yarn stuffed in my closet, waiting for their projects-to-be.

In other news….I’ve been a maker of food lately.  For months I’ve been cooking from Melissa Costello’s The Karma Chow Ultimate Cookbook.  I’ve made many of her soups and other dishes over the last few months, and I gotta say everything has been Out of This WORLD delicious.  (I receive no royalties from raving about this *all vegan* cookbook or the food that springs out of it – I just LOVE IT!)

Wednesday night I made the Baja-Style Fajitas, which were Slap-Yo-Mama good!  I think I felt a tear form in the corner of my left eye with the first bite!  Tonight I tried the Baked Ziti with Spinach.  I really didn’t want to make anything at all, because I feel like I’m coming down with something (tonsils are hurting and I feel exhausted).   But I also wanted to use up the remainder of the Cashew Ricotta Cheez from the fajitas. You know – Waste Not Want Not.   I don’t know how this woman makes food taste so groovy but she is spot on every time.  I swear she’s like the Ina Garten of the vegan world.  I’m totally fan girling. No joke.

Karma Chow Baja-Style Fajitas for THE WIN!

I have tons of foodie finds, and about eleventy million more projects that I made the last few months that I can’t wait to share. Christmas projects and surprise gifts coming soon. I promise!

Surprise Tunisian crocheted pot holders for a loved one 🙂

Hello out there?

Day one of my new blog. What to say? If you’ve read my “About Me” section, then you already know me in a nutshell. Some would say I’m a bit more complex than my summary would indicate….okay, okaaaay, “complicated” might be the word I have heard from time to time to describe me. And I would have to disagree. I feel that I’m pretty plain, and dullish. Even normalish. (maybe?) But, I will leave that up for you all to decide. (Is anyone there?)

So, this last week I had chosen to try a new vegan dish every night of the week. Each of the dishes I selected seemed pretty easy on the outset….given my tendency to only just read the ingredients list and never ever read through the entire recipe to see what I’m getting myself into. Needless to say, I was overwhelmed to death each night. (understatement)

The dish that stood out the most to me, both for how delicious it was and for how truly unprepared I was to make such a dish from scratch after putting in my 9-5 at work all day, was the Cha Cha Enchiladarole from The Karma Chow Ultimate Cookbook by Melissa Costello – a wonderful plant-based, vegan cookbook that I have had for years, but have yet to try out all the recipes. I started cooking when I got home from work at 5:30, and dinner was served at 9 pm. Well, 9:07. It took me nearly 4 hours to prepare this meal. To be honest, and fair, I am a bit of a whirlwind in the kitchen. A little scattered, a little disorganized, a little distracted. I believe that had I had my act together, it still would have taken me 2 hours to prepare this dish. Too long for a week night dinner in my opinion. In addition to the Enchiladarole, I also made the Chile Ranchero Sauce and Chipotle Cashew Cheeze Sauce – all from scratch. I chopped my little heart out until I could chop no more! To be honest though, it was an ugly dish on my plate and I refused to take a photo of what looked like a disaster food spill to share with the world. So I will share the picture from the book and leave it up to myself to describe this dish in a way that will make you want to rush out and get this book so you can try it yourself. (You should buy it even if you don’t think my description sounds great. It’s a fantastic cookbook! And no, I am not affiliated in any way whatsoever and make no money off of this recommendation. I’m just a big fan).

The magic of this dish comes in part from the diced sweet potatoes, of which I diced into perfectly consistent ¼ inch cubes. They were tender enough to just melt in your mouth and the sweetness works so well with the savory and warm spices used in this dish. Unfortunately, I had to make a substitution for the tempeh. Neither local store had tempeh in stock, so I decided to use baby bella mushrooms and that turned out to be the right decision, Yum! The Chile Ranchero Sauce combined with the Chipotle Cashew Cheeze Sauce provided a delightful creamy layer with heat from the Anaheim chili, garlic and other spices. It was like heaven in the mouth. Without it, the dish would be good, but who would just want that??! I PROMISE you; I will be making this dish many times over the coming years of my life. It was AMAAY-ZING!

In addition to what has been brewing in my kitchen, I pulled out some old WIP’s and have been knitting in the evenings before I collapse into bed from full belly exhaustion. Pictured is a simple, but elegant evening shawl using a very inexpensive yarn that I bought a billion years ago, Red Heart’s Boutique Unforgettable in Tidal. To get the ladder effect, I’m using bamboo size 19 and size 8’s. Every third row I switch to the size 19. I didn’t follow a pattern, I just cast on and went for it. I’m really pleased with the color progression; it has been fun to watch it unfold. I cannot explain why I ever put this away and didn’t finish it…it’s such a joy to knit. Simple and nearly thoughtless – a watch-tv-without-looking-at-your-knitting kind of project, MY FAVORITE!

I’m looking forward to planning some new dishes and finishing a few other WIP’s in the coming weeks. I see hot soups, dreamy yarns and extended beagle snuggles in my very near future…