Sunday, January 31, 2010

Iced In

So we have been pretty much iced in since yesterday morning. Not totally. The guys and I went out to Showmars for lunch yesterday (we were heading to the new pizza place, Amici's, but it was closed), and then to Target. It was pretty nasty and slow going. I took advantage of my status as resident female and made them drop me at doors so I wouldn't have to slog across slushy parking lots.

Showmars was dead enough that Erin was able to sit and visit with us while we ate. That was nice. We don't get to see her much when Nate's not home. Target was devoid of shrieking toddlers and their equally-shrieky mothers. And I popped into Ulta to get more foundation and blush. I hate going in there because their employees must be screened for a high level of grouchiness before they get hired. But it beats going up to Southpark to the Bare Escentuals shop.

I made brownies Friday night with a recipe I found that uses maple syrup and honey for sweetener. I then dropped in the rest of the grain-sweetened chocolate chips that I had left over from the peanut butter cookies. They have been delicious, if perhaps a bit TOO sweet, and made a delightful breakfast yesterday as well as a pre-bedtime snack last night. There is only one left. I really should shoot it and put up the recipe. I'll do that.

The "no refined sugar challenge" is working pretty well. I did snap Friday afternoon when I came home from school. Mensa Boy brought back some "extra sauer" gummy worms from the Frankfurt airport. Taylor ate some and left the rest on the counter. I love those things. With just a millesecond pause I opened up the bag, dug out a red one, and popped it in my mouth.

Grapefruit. What a waste! Serves me right, I guess.

Yogabuddy Liz wrote on her facebook page a moment ago that she is making blueberry muffins. I have a TON of blueberries in the freezer. I dug out my favorite muffin cookbook and there is a recipe in there that calls for all-fruit jam as a sweetener. It wants blueberry or grape. I have two jars of apricot. I wonder how that would taste? I'll have to think about whether I want to do that or not. They are cornbread blueberry muffins.

The vegetarian challenge is going even better. I have absolutely NO CRAVINGS for meat. I've had fish once and crab once. The tuna casserole was just "ehhh." The artichoke crab dip at Big View Diner was so artichoke-y that I couldn't even taste the crab. Last night I made salisbury steak for MB and Taylor for supper. I really didn't have anything similar to make for myself. Hmm...I didn't think of it at the time but I could have made "salisbury mushrooms." I have leftover 'shrooms in the fridge that need to be used. Well anyway, I had leftover pizza and a salad.

So that's it. Lots of resting and movie watching and book reading yesterday. I have bread in the oven this morning and probably will cook something this afternoon. The bread is wheat in the middle and white on the outside. I had an odd amount of wheat dough leftover so just "cladded" it in white.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

WoYoPracMo Jan 20 Post

A Little of This, a Little of That.

I'm still doing yoga every day, even if it's only 10 minutes. But honestly, I think my minimum time is more like 20 0r 25. I think, to be honest, I'll be glad when WoYoPracMo is over because then I won't be all OCD about WRITING about it! Doing the yoga is not the issue.

"Why not just stop?" you say.

Hey. It took me 46 years to be able to put down a book I hated instead of soldiering through to the end. "Finish what you start" has always been my one big thing! I only have 10 days of WoYo blogging. I can do it.

I haven't written about the Yin weekend. And I should. I think I'm still processing it. It was pretty mind-blowing, and not really about the yin itself. It was all the other life lessons we had along the way. It was definitely more than I bargained for. Was it fun? Well, kinda. I'd say it was more "cool" than "fun."

More on that later. I'm baking up a pizza pie for my guys before heading out to yoga.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

WoYoPracMo Restoration, Meditation, Pranayama

Days 11 and 12

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Lying Around in the Woods

This is kind of a typical hanging-out style for me and yogabuddy Liz. This afternoon we were on some rocks in a creek shooting photos. I don't know why, but we always seem to be lying around somewhere!

The light was great for about 45 minutes this afternoon. Liz is much better at seeing photo ops in this kind of condition. I tend to need flowers or color or something like that. She'll no doubt have a few good ones from this afternoon, even though all was brown with a little green.

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Sunday, January 10, 2010

WoYoPracMo Jan 10 Post

Yin Sunday

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Saturday, January 09, 2010

WoYoPracMo Jan 8 & 9

Two Classes to Warm Up the Day Saturday

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Thursday, January 07, 2010

WoYoPracMo Jan 7 Post

Something

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Just about Snapped!

Last night as we walked into the kitchen after yoga, we were greeted with the most delicious smell. Pork Loin roasting in the crockpot on a bed of (by then) caramelized onions! Oh. My. Gosh.

I told Liz it was just so so tempting.

"Me too," she said. "I've always been a big fan of roast pork."

That made me feel better. She's been a veggie for more than a year.

I lifted the meat and onions into a container for the refrigerator. Liz tipped up the crock to pour in the pot liquor.

Neither of us licked our fingers.

yiiiikes!

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Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Roasted Vegetable Stock


VegStock1
Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
This is my favorite recipe. It's from the new Joy of Cooking (although there might be an even newer one than the one I have).

400 degree oven. Lightly oil a roaster. Drop in whole mushrooms, cut up turnips, carrots, garlic, onion. Cut them all big. Smash the garlic. Roast for an hour. The veggies should be browning around the edges.

Put the veggies in a crockpot. Deglaze the roaster with a little water. Pour that into the stockpot. Fill up with water. Add celery tops, red pepper flakes and some herbs. I put some dried thyme in a teaball and dropped it in (I don't have any fresh herbs right now), along with a couple of bay leaves

Simmer for an hour. Strain and refrigerate/freeze.

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WoYoPracMo Jan 6 Post

Fish Decision Deferred

I haven't decided whether or not my 6-week foray into vegetarianism will include fish. As of 6:45 last night I had decided it would not. I pulled some frozen flounder that was lurking in the bottom of the freezer and put it in the oven to bake. Intention: big salads with a nice fillet on the side or top. We all like salads with salmon fillets but there was no fresh salmon to be found at Harris Teeter. By 6:46 the decision was reversed with yogiLiz showed up to take me to a restorative yoga class. I ran out the door throwing instructions for dinner completion over my shoulder.

Today at lunch I thought I'd have the leftover fish and a salad. It was gone, taken by Mensa Boy to work in HIS lunch! I'm quite delighted that he enjoyed it well enough to do that.

So I'm still fish-less. And undecided.

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Tuesday, January 05, 2010

The Initiatives

I said the other day that I would write out some resolutions. But I prefer to call them initiatives. Why? Mainly because everyone calls them resolutions and I hate to be average. Also because the word "resolutions" makes me think of the usual stuff like lose weight and de-clutter, which usually lasts about a week and then are forgotten. I don't need to lose weight and I de-clutter all the time (it seems to be a never-ending process). But also because the word "initiative" just sounds important and somewhat inflexible and, most of all, self-driven.

So. The 2010 Initiatives

1. And this is the biggest: Go vegetarian until February 14. At least until then. I came up with that date because, for as long as I can remember, my mom has gotten rid of sugary-snacks on January 1. Why? To lose weight. I don't know how she actually did with that...I guess we should ask her. But she has always said "On January 1 we are all going on diets and there will be no more cookies and fudge and candy and all that around."
So I've been around "THE BIG ANNUAL FOOD CHANGE" a lot. And I do it myself still. I continue that tradition by purging the house of sugar on January 1. This year I figured if I was going to be doing that, I might as well give vegetarianism a go too.
I started thinking about it in early December. My yogabuddy Liz is a veggie and we love to cook together. We've played with our food, and I've enjoyed working on new vegetarian entrees that would pass muster with my guys. So I figured why not do it full-time for 6 weeks?
In a nutshell, I'm not going vegetarian because of the animals. Yes, I do feel badly about them and how we do terrible things to them in the name of mass food production. But I still see the value of meat...and firmly believe that God intended us to be omnivores. No, I'm going vegetarian to flex my culinary muscles. Can I keep it up even when there don't seem to a lot of quick choices in the house? Some days when I'm tired I like to just zap a pound of burger, boil up a pot of macaroni and toss it all together with some tomatoes. We'll see. (by the way, when I was thinking about doing this, I asked Mensa Boy if he wanted to think about it too. "No." He said. Didn't even pause)

2. No refined sugar until Valentine's Day. That goes back to #1, I know. But it's a little harder. Rather than just stopping with all sugar until V-Day, I've decided just to forgo REFINED sugar. This will also flex my cooking brain. I will have sweet, but it has to be sweetened with honey, molasses, fruit, agave or what have you. Only natural sweeteners. Tricky, huh? I think that will allow me to make it all the way until V-Day. I never have before. I've gotten close...

3. Waste Not. This is also about food. And water. I end up throwing away eggplants that I bought and forgot. Or half a head of cabbage or leftover meatloaf. It's ridiculous. And water...that's just crazy. I think we run about 3 gallons of water in the kitchen before it gets hot. And I think that's a pretty conservative estimate.
So my plan is to take a look in those crisper drawers every morning. Scope out the contents. Noodle around with that during the day, and then cook from there at night. ALSO...I'm doing a pantry purge right now. I found 4 half-empty bags of various kinds of beans in there. They will all get eaten. Four kinds of rice? To be eaten.
The water situation. The only thing I can think there is to actually run water into the teakettle and bring it to a boil on top of the stove to add to the dishwater. But then I'm using gas on the stove instead of gas in the water heater. My main plan is to get an under-sink point-of-service water heater before the year is out. (note to self: mention this to MB. I think I've forgotten to do that)

4. Yoga every single day. No time limit. Could be 5 minutes, could be two hours. Could be by myself, could be in a class. Could be any kind of yoga. I never understand when people say they don't have time to do yoga. 5 minutes? That's brushing my teeth twice! Gimme a break!

5. Back to the camera. I wish I could say I'll take at least one picture a day. But then I end up at 8:15 p.m. thinking "I need to shoot something, quick!" That's not real. But I will try to photograph more. Kind of a lame statement, I know.

I just realized this embodies all my hobbies and in every one I say I'm going to do more. More cooking, more yoga, more photography. More fun!

That's all. There might be more but I can't remember them right now. I don't think there are more. If so, I'll post again.

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WoYoPracMo Jan 5 Post

Monday, January 04, 2010

WoYoPracMo Jan 4 Post

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Yoga on Top of the World


crowdersheadstand
Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
Well, as close to the top of the world that you can get in Gastonia, NC...

So after we huffed and puffed our way up to the top (Well, actually I was doing all the huffing and puffing. Mensa Boy never opened his mouth for breathing purposes. "Can't you at least pretend you're out of breath?" I asked. "I feel like I'm drowning out all the nature sounds."), I asked him if he'd take some photos of some yoga poses.

"As long as it's a safe spot," he said. (I'm going to assume he was concerned for MY safety!)

So I did a half-moon, which pretty much was awful. The photo is on Flickr but I'm not posting it here. I'm not extended in the middle and my hips aren't stacked. It's an all-around pretty bad pose, actually. (But not nearly as bad as the wheel, where I just looked like I was doing a reverse tabletop. No arch whatsoever. THAT one is NOT on flickr) But in my defense, I was pretty cold and sweaty from the climb...it was about 38 degrees by then...and my human shutter pusher didn't know enough about form to correct me. AND he kept shooting and saying "oops," which had me kind of distracted. OK?

Where was I? Oh yeah, the safe spot. We moved away from the edge, but were actually at the highest point here. A nice, flat spot. Good thing we did move from the edge because see those rocks behind me? I fell backwards on to them during the first try. Nope, no bruises. I managed to control my descent pretty well and got my boots down on the rocks and flicked my hands out to save my wrists. Just landed with a slight "oomph" on my back.

It was a fun morning. We climbed up and back down in about 90 minutes. A little over 3 miles of straight up and down. Then we rewarded ourselves with Olive Garden for lunch (THANKS MOM & DAD!).

Back to work tomorrow. Four days left of this semester and then the second semester will be a DOOZY!

WoYoPracMo Jan 3 Post

Kundalini

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Saturday, January 02, 2010

Vegan Chocolate Bundt Cake


Vegan Chocolate Bundt
Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
We had a wonderful Christmas dinner with friends this year and I was charged with desserts. The crowd included my own sweet-toothed family, two vegans and assorted diabetics. So on my list was a vegan dessert, a sugar-free pumpkin pie and a regular sugared pumpkin pie.

I saw this recipe in the December, 2009 issue of Yoga Journal and knew immediately that I had to try it. I didn't know if this held true in the other family, but I know in ours the standard dessert fare at Thanksgiving and Christmas never includes chocolate. This is simply amazing, considering the rabid choco-holic my mother is, but there you have it.

The bundt turned out as beautifully as the photo in the magazine. This is my own photo, which I'm not absolutely delighted with, but I gave it a shot, anyway (pun fully intended).

And so here is the recipe:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8-or10-inch bundt pan.

1 3/4 C freshly brewed coffee
2/3 C unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 1/2 C granulated sugar
1/3 C Canola oil
1/3 C applesauce (we made ours out of a pink lady apple simmered in a couple of Tablespoons apple cider)
1/4 C cornstarch
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
2 C whole wheat pastry flour or all-purpose white flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp confectioners' sugar

Heat the coffee in a saucepan over medium heat until it comes to a simmer. Turn the heat down to low and whisk in cocoa powder until it has dissolved. Remove the saucepan from the heat and set aside to bring to room temperature.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, oil, applesauce, and cornstarch until the sugar and cornstarch dissolve, about 2 minutes. Mix in the extracts. Once the chocolate mixture has cooled a bit, stir that in as well.

Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Beat until the batter is relatively smooth.

Pour the batter into a prepared pan and bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake's center comes out clean.

Remove from oven and let cool in pan for 20 minutes. then invert the cake onto a serving plate and cool completely.

Once the cake is cool, sift the confectioners' sugar over top.

We also enjoyed drizzling chocolate syrup over the cake. And whipped cream or soy whip. I'll make this one over and over, for sure. I think the only thing I'd LOVE to change about it is to change out the granulated sugar for something un-refined, like agave.

Thank you, Yoga Journal!

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WoYoPracMo Jan 2 Post

Friday, January 01, 2010

WoYoPracMo

Hello. As if I don't have enough to do online already, I've joing WoYoPracMo, which is an online community of yogis that have committed to practicing more yoga. Specifically during the month of January. WoYoPracMo stands for "World Yoga Practice Month."

When you join the community, you are given a page on which to write about your progress. Here is a link to my first posting.

I have stuff to write about, but will not do it now. It's already 9:50 p.m! Those of you who know me know that this is more than an hour past my bedtime. So I'll get to it tomorrow. I have actually come up with a few initiatives for 2010. Most people call them RESOLUTIONS. But I don't want to. I want to call them INITIATIVES. And so I will.

Stay tuned.

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WoYoPracMo Jan 1 Post

I'll post links each day to my WoYoPracMo blog. Do I get credit for posting here each day then?
It may very well be the only blogging I do some days.

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