Crash Test Vegetarian

Vegan to Omnivore outreach program

What the Health

After watching the documentary, “What the Health” on Netflix, I have been reinvigorated in my goals of following a completely whole food, plant based diet.

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If you’re not familiar with “What The Health,” and are interested in learning more about the health benefits of a plant based diet, I highly recommend you check it out.  And, if you’re feeling skeptical, I challenge you to search for the clinical trials and read them yourself.

It’s been many years since I posted, and much has changed. I’m looking forward to the many years ahead.

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Creole Black-Eyed Peas

I actually made this months and months ago, but I couldn’t find it in myself to post.  But I promised myself that this week I would post a new recipe if it killed me, and now that I’m doing it I have a very good feeling it will indeed, not kill me.

Since I was taking care of our foster son at the time, you can imagine that one of the big reasons I loved this recipe from FatFreeVegan is because of course, it’s easy as pie.  She uses a slow cooker to cook the black-eyed peas, but I don’t have one of those, and won’t until after we move in a couple of years.

For the purpose of this recipe, however, I used canned black-eyed peas, which I suspect do not have the same kind of lovely flavor as dried ones do.  So if you feel so inclined to cooking your own, please do so.  In the meantime, have at this:

In a frying pan or soup pan, saute
1-2 ribs celery, sliced
1 green and 1 red bell pepper (red is optional but tasty and pretty), roughly chopped
1 large onion, diced*

When the vegetables start to get slightly tender, briefly saute
3-5 cloves garlic, minced

Then add
2 cans black-eyed peas, drained
1 can petite diced tomatoes, with liquid
1 tsp dried oregano’

And to taste, add about:
1/8 tsp cayenne
1 Tbsp hot sauce
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp kosher salt

Simmer the mixture for about 15 or so minutes, then add
1/2 tsp Liquid Smoke
and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

Serve with rice.

* It always amuses me when recipes call for 1 large onion, or 2 small onions, or half a large onion… why not a small one?   In any event use the equivalent to approximately one large onion.  However you wanna do it.

 

 

 

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Days of Our Lives… Cheesy and True

It’s been … a while, since I’ve posted.

I wanted to take a minute to thank each and every one of my readers, you’ve all been such a support and so patient in my absence.  I also wanted to explain a little and in doing so to remind each and every one of you to take a minute and give your children an extra hug.

This photo was taken on 6/18, the day before we saw our foster son for the last time. It was both his and my first time at the zoo.

Some of you know that we’d been taking care of this little guy for a while.   I posted a video when we brought him home.   And I posted a picture when we got custody.   We’d had him since he was just about 7 months old, and he went back into his mother’s custody on 6/20 (I appreciate no negative or positive comments on this fact, as we do not have any good feelings towards the mother or or feigned interest, and it is neither productive nor healthy to dwell on).

If you have any comments to make on the subject, please feel free to send him prayers, positive thoughts, and good energy.  He needs all that he can get.

In any event, there we have it.  I can’t guarantee that I’ll be back into things just yet, but I will eventually.    And while I’m not okay, I also know that I will be eventually.

Wishing you all blessings of love, peace and joy… and the perfect love of a child.

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What are your favorite salad dressing recipes?

These are my two favorite dressings.

Lemon Tahini Soy (My favorite of all time)

Tahini Dressing

 

 

 

 

 

and

Cilantro Lime Dressing

Cilantro Lime Dressing

 

 

 

 

 

What are YOURS?

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Refreshing Lettuce

Have you ever had a head of lettuce that you didn’t exactly get around to using right away?  You take it out of the crisper and find that it’s anything but crisp?  It’s wilted, limp and sad.

Prior to learning this trick, I tossed my share of lettuce (and celery – the principle is the same but you can leave the celery in the water).  In these pictures I’m using green leaf lettuce (isn’t all lettuce green leaf??), which I’m really not a fan of but the produce stand was out of romaine.  It doesn’t hold up as well as romaine does (which, when using this method can last a week or more).  It also seems to die faster, it’s just not as hearty. I’ve refreshed 1 week old romaine lettuce and had it taste great – green leaf is dead slime by then.  After using this method, the green leaf lettuce lasted 3 days.

In any event, this is the method.  I suggest using this method with romaine lettuce.

You NEED a salad spinner for this.  Just go get one.  OXO brand is my favorite.  You will never buy another bag of overpriced bag lettuce.  I’ll take my $.99 cent lettuce, thank you very much!

Chop off the lettuce butt.

Pile the lettuce leaves on top of each other, and slice down the center.

Either use a long knife to cut it again into slices, or roll it up and cut it thick-chiffonade style (or shape-an-egg as my husband calls it).

Toss it into your favorite salad spinner.

Oops, that looks empty.

There, that’s better.  Now fill with ice water.  Or water and ice which turns into ice water!  We have a handy, dandy water cooler I use.

Swish it around like you’re washing it because, well, you ARE.

Now go cuddle for a bit with your the loves of your life.   Or if you are sad and lonely, poor yourself a glass of wine.

Or clean.

Or watch TV.

I’m flexible like that.  Be creative with this portion of the recipe.

Now drain the water.  The conveniently located (under the lettuce) salad spinner basket helps with that.

Then spin away.

When you’re done spinning, the lettuce will be moist, but not wet.  Romaine – I pack away moist.  I’m kind of inclined to suggest eating green leaf right away.

So there you  have it.

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Grieving

I don’t generally talk about my personal life on my blog.  Typically it’s a little bit of an escape for me.  But lately, the overwhelming sadness has taken over our lives.    I haven’t actually cooked much of anything in weeks, other than just plain vegetables so I’ve been trying to spread out the recipes I’ve made as much as possible.

So I’m not sure exactly why I’m typing this now.  But here it is.  A cry to the universe for some answers or the tiniest sprinkle of peace.

Also, I ask for your forgiveness in advance for the potentially morbid future posts.

~

9 months ago a little man came into our lives.

That was the day after we met him.  Cute, isn’t he?  Well, we think he is.

The funny thing is, I didn’t want kids.  I was horribly abused as a child by people that were supposed to love me, and I was afraid I didn’t have the capacity the love a child.  But when we walked into the trailer he was living in, my entire world turned upside down and inside out.  I fell instantly and unequivocally head over heals in love with him.

We were asked to bring him home and raise him as our own.  Not really sure what to do or think other than that he needed a home and that he didn’t even recognize his own mother and she didn’t want anything to do with him, we did.  We bought him his first crib, and he’s been with us ever since.

A number of months passed and his mother never once asked after him.  Never contacted us.  We tried to get medical release papers, every person in the family asked, and she couldn’t seem to make time for it.  Until she needed money, then she asked for some in exchange for giving us the ability to take her son to the doctor and get him the shots he never got, and the checkup he hadn’t had since he was born.   After we said no, we didn’t hear from her again.  And nobody could get in touch with her.

My whole family was supporting us, “Let her hang herself,” they told us – meaning not to call DCF until she had no chance whatsoever of getting him back.  They didn’t want him going back to her.  After all, she smoked pot in the same room as him, she smoked in the house with him, she let him eat a cigarette butt and laughed it off.    And we could count on one hand the number of times he’d been OUTSIDE.

We just wanted to do what was right for him.

When we finally called DCF, she decided to perk right up and suddenly be interested.  Oh?  Interested now that someone is looking?  Where were you the past how many months when we needed to take him to the doctor?

She got her case plan in November and has been following it.  APPARENTLY taking a bus to parenting classes shows dedication.  

We are the ones that have stayed up all night with him when he was sick/teething.

We are the ones that comforted him through the pain of his first tooth.

My husband is the one he took his first steps to.

He ran for the first time to me.

We got him his first book.

We got him his first crib.

We took him to the library for the first time.

And to this day, he still doesn’t recognize his “mother.”   He still reaches back for us when we take him to visitations.  He squeals and runs to us from her when we go to pick him up.

But we’re not his biological mother.  We have no rights.  Nevermind the fact that he doesn’t KNOW her despite weekly visits and the fact that he supposedly “needs his mother.”

We’re nothing, other than a place holder in his life.  Could we get a lawyer?  Maybe.  For what?  To lose thousands of dollars that we don’t have on a situation we never had a hope to win.

After all, Florida is about “keeping families together.”  At all costs, especially the child – the one the “system” is supposed to protect.  And we have absolutely no recourse.  We’ve offered to adopt him, but nobody cares – the mother is the one that has all the rights.  We’re essentially just foster parents.

We have learned that children are possessions and that while we’ve been fighting to love and protect this little person, while the court has been trying to return property to the original owner.

He’s our world.  He’s our heart.  He’s everything we never wanted or expected in our lives.

We KNEW from the beginning that we would be hurt.  We chose to love him with our whole hearts, not holding back for one moment because we knew he deserved better.  We knew a day might come when he’d go back to a home where he’s note even wanted, much less loved.

What we didn’t know is that our whole family would turn against us once we called DCF, and that I would end up along except my husband and the family I married into (and love very much).

What we also didn’t know, is just how much this would hurt.

We’ve been living for months with this hanging over our heads.  We knew for a while we’d be losing him soon, but we have been trying to live every day in the moment as much as possible.  We’ve been hanging onto some small sense of false hope that the stars would align themselves and protect him from this trauma…. of being pulled away from the people he knows as his parents to be given back to a girl he doesn’t know, that doesn’t know him, that abandoned him.  

But the fact of the matter is, we’re losing him.  And the time is almost here.   Less than 3 months to go.  In just a few short weeks he starts overnight visits.  No, she doesn’t have a roof for him, but my also-abusive aunt (remember the one that told us to let her hang herself so she’d never get him back) does, and that’s good enough for DCF.

Working, taking care of a child, and trying to keep your head just above the most earth shattering depression is more difficult than it sounds.  We know we have to be strong for him, and thankfully when he’s near us we are blessed with near super-human strength.  

But the moment he’s out of our sight, the tears flow and our just-barely-glued-together hearts crumble, heavy with the knowledge that after court on 6-20, we will see him walk away from us for the last time.

Support and love welcomed.  Questions are not.

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Lemon Garlic Oven Roasted Asparagus

I can’t be the only vegan/vegetarian/person on the planet that can happily shovel away a plate full of NOTHING but vegetables and walk away happy.

*crickets chirping*

Really? Nobody?  Chime in if you’re with me.

Well, that’s just what I had for dinner tonight.  I had a big ol’ plate of asparagus that was perfectly (honestly, no matter how it was cooked, if it wasn’t canned I’d probably adore it) cooked asparagus.

It helped that I picked up a couple bunches for $.99 each!

 

I’d never cooked asparagus before this batch, but I did recall that you need to chop the woody ends off.

 

 

Then I broke out my handy dandy roll of non-stick foil.

Drizzle the asparagus very lightly with oil and sprinkle it with garlic and salt and roll it around.

 

 

Roast at 400 degrees for about 8-10 minutes, or until desired tenderness.  Splash with some lemon and eat a whole plate full of it for dinner. 🙂

 

 

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Happy colcannon day :)

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What are you cooking up for your [vegan] St Patty’s day?

I’ve got a few things up my sleeves, but I’m interested to hear what everyone else has planned.

Clearly corned beef and cabbage are not on the menu, but I do have some “meaty” things on the experiment menu that I’ll be trying soon.

What are your favorite culinary regions?

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Thai Curry – Again!

Yep.  I’m addicted.  Just wish my husband was.  🙂  This is a super easy, super simple recipe.

Thai Curry

In a non-stick fry pan, dry fry
1 lb cubed, drained and pressed (or vacuum packed) tofu.

In a  mixing bowl make a cornstarch slurry using a little bit of water (about 1/4 cup)  and some chicken flavored bullion (I use Better than Bullion No Chicken Base).

To the slurry, add
1 can light coconut milk
3 Tbsp Red Curry Paste (I used Taste of Thai)
1 squirt Sriracha sauce
3-5 Tbsp Soy Sauce
a pinch or two of kosher salt

When the tofu cubes have more sides dry and crispy than not, add
about 2-3 cups fresh broccoli florets
a healthy handful of sugar snap peas
1-2 green onions, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
any other veggies you’d like 

Simmer everything together until veggies are desired tenderness.  If they aren’t cooking quickly enough for you, cover the pan with aluminum foil or a lid if your fry pan has one.

Serve over rice and top with
fresh lime wedges and cilantro

OR

Lime and Thai Basil

Oh, and do not freaking skip the basil or cilantro or basil.

I mean it!

Original recipe found at My Everest.   Baby liked this, hubby liked it but wasn’t thrilled by it.  I did not find this to pack well for lunches.  Eat it fresh!

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