Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Road Trips, Earthquakes and Hurricanes Oh My!

Weekend of August 20 and 21:

We had another one of those crazy busy couple of weeks. You know the type where you go from one task to another and there seems to be little time to kick back and relax. On the bright side we did get a lot accomplished including overdue yard work and some plumbing. *woo hoo* Okay not really but I am trying to look on the bright side. :-)

The weather was nice most of last Saturday but Sunday was a bust with more rain. I know we haven’t had much rain this weekend but I wish it wouldn’t come all at one time.

Sunday morning started at the farmers’ market like always. Like usual we came home with a big haul of produce. This time we bought: kale, collards, ginger, portabella, tomatoes, bell peppers, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, habanero, blackberries, raspberries, dill, cilantro, and two types of hummus.

The hummus flavors we picked up this week were wasabi sesame and basil and pineapple pesto, which was apparently not actually pesto since they said there was no cheese in it. Don’t you love the creativity of the hummus dude? He has a restaurant near us, not as close as Ian though, which we plan to check out this week (which Ian is on vacation) so we can tell you how it is. I hear there are a lot of vegan options. ;-)

We ran to the health food store (The Natural Market), the library in Cockeysville and Wegman’s Sunday afternoon. Wegman’s was a madhouse Sunday after lunch. If you are thinking of going to Wegman’s over the weekend stick to early morning (before 8am) or later (after 8pm) which is what we usually do.

Dinner on Sunday included a big green salad with spicy chickpeas. The chickpea dish was very simple. I cooked the chickpeas and while they were hot tossed them with chili garlic sauce, lemon juice and cilantro to taste. Be careful not to add too much at first as chili garlic sauce can be extremely spicy depending on the brand. I also added chopped marinated mushrooms and roasted red peppers to the leftovers to change the dish a little. We ate this cold and it tasted better the next day after it had a chance to sit overnight in the refrigerator.

Week of August 22- 26:

Monday I spent most of the day trying to get things accomplished at home. The weather was SO gorgeous that it was difficult to focus. All I wanted to do was spend time outside enjoying the weather. The weather was nice I had all the windows open to air out the house. The felines and I loved having the windows open all day.

There wasn’t any cooking to speak of on Monday. I ate leftovers for lunch and dinner was green smoothies. We definitely have those days where meals are nothing more than a way to fuel ourselves in the most quick and healthy way possible. In the past I used to focus on making every meal special but I am so busy now that fueling us wins out more often than it used to.

Tuesday started early with a trip to DC with Dan. I don’t like needing to rush to get ready but I do love to go to DC with Dan.

We got to DC at 10am and I stopped in to say hello to the folks Dan was meeting with. After that I headed across the street to get a large iced coffee and soy milk at Starbucks. The weather was gorgeous again on Tuesday so I sat outside, relax, enjoy a little people watching and catch up on my email. What at fantastic way to spend the morning. It is hard to believe that most of life I would have been “locked up” in my office or involved in some boring meeting. I can definitely say that I enjoyed Tuesday morning more because of my prior life. If you are wondering about the barricades in the picture I am sure that is because the Starbucks is in the same building as the US Department of Transportation. Seeing the barricades always reminds me of the world that we live in now. It is a very sad commentary on life. *sigh*

However looking on the bright side I love that DC has so many food trucks. Here they are lining up outside the office building (1100 New Jersey Ave SE). The first truck in the row “Tasty Kabob” had halal food which I thought was great though I did find it odd that it was out given that this is Ramadan and Muslims aren’t eating while the sun is up. *scratches head* DC is very multi cultural in a great way. The last truck “Capital Greenz” specialized in salads, soups and panini. We have some food trucks in Baltimore but not a huge number. Do you have a lot of food trucks where you live? Please share the city and the truck name and location of your favorites in the comment section. Let’s help other readers know where to find them.

Whenever Dan has a meeting in DC that is an opportunity for us to stop at one of Jose’s restaurants for a nice meal so I join in whenever I can. As you may have guessed that we both really enjoy Jose’s food. If you are ever in DC please try out Jaleo. They have a nice selection of vegan options and have not problem leaving off the animal products when you ask.

Just as we sat down to order lunch the floor started shaking. At first we had no idea what it was and wondered if the subway ran under the building but the shaking seemed too strong for that. Then we thought of terrorism and a bomb in the subway. The couple at the next table was from California and confirmed that it was probably an earthquake. They said this wasn’t bad and that they would let us know if it was time to leave the building.

Everyone in the restaurant seemed confused but no one got up to the leave. The crazy thing was that we were watching all the other buildings and restaurants around us clear and we all stayed to eat. What does that say about the food at Jaleo?

Okay back to the food….. Phiet ordered “meaty dishes” and we had a nice selection of vegan foods.  I love restaurants like Jaleo that have something for everyone.

First we ordered the mushrooms with garlic which we both love.

Then we ordered the cauliflower with dates, olives and smoked paprika which is absolutely mind blowing. I need to make my own version of this when I find cauliflower at the market. The combination of the sweet, salty and smoky is magnificent. Can you tell how much I love this dish? We order it every time we come in.

We also ordered the green beans with apples, apricots and grapes but asked them to hold the ham.

The final dish was the sautéed spinach with apple, raisin, pine nut and garlic. This reminds me of my favorite Sicilian preparation for greens.

We took time to enjoy our lunch since we had parked a few levels down in an underground parking lot. There was no sense to run and get the car given the earthquake.

It was about an hour after the earthquake before we tried to leave DC. The operative word in that sentence was tried to leave DC. Traffic lights were out, cell service was down and the city was in gridlock. It took us over 3 hours to go 4 miles. This was definitely not the day to be in DC.

Even the police seemed to not have any idea what to do.

Here is the ATF building whose architecture I find fascinating. Usually we are driving too quickly to get a good photograph of the building. However that wasn’t a problem this Tuesday. I had plenty of time to takes pictures. ;-) There really is always a bright side to things.

We also had to stop at Dan's office to pick up some files to take to Richmond the following day. I took a few photographs of the lobby in his building which I love because of the old architecture. The stainled glass windows you see are Tiffany. They just don't build things like this any more.

Since it took us so long to get home and we had to be up out the door at 6:30 the next morning to drive to Richmond we opted to stop and grab and bite for dinner at our favorite place which fortunately happens to be in the neighborhood. Lucky us!  ;-)

We ordered the antipasti plate, made vegan for us.

Dan had a samosa with the cilantro lime sauce which is one of his favorite foods now.

We finished the meal with the sweet and sour butternut squash salad with pistaschios.

The next morning we were out the door early to Richmond. Dan had a meeting there at 10am and given that the earthquake center was located near Richmond I really didn’t want him to go alone.

I took a picture of the Jefferson and the Pentagon to share with you as we went through DC on our way to Richmond.  Even though the Pentagon often I am always struck by how large it is.  Additionally I am still impressed by what a good job they did repairing it after 9/11. If you didn't know which section was destroyed you couldn't tell me looking. 

Rest in Peace Ian (not chef Ian this was another Ian who was on the plane that crashed into the Pentagon).  I think of you each time I see the Pentagon.  You may be gone but you are not forgoten.  *sigh*

We arrived in Richmond 15 minutes before the meeting and took a couple of quick pictures. I love old architecture in case you hadn’t noticed.

I stopped into the meeting see Richard and give him a hug. Richard is a great guy who is also a licensed captain. He had offered to bring the boat home from Grenada for us but didn't have enough time. It is such a shame that he lives in Norfolk since it means that we don’t get to see him very often.

While Dan was in his meeting I went next door to Starbucks. Tuesday and Wednesday of this week I had more coffee in two days than I had in the last year. It was delicious but my GI system wasn’t too sure it was a good idea. That was a good reminder of why I gave up coffee.

After the meeting we went to lunch with Richard, Rhonda and Terry. We ended up at a little place called Gibbon’s Grill. When I scanned the menu initially I was a little worried that we wouldn’t find anything to eat. However they did have a hummus platter that was easy to make vegan by leaving off the feta cheese.

There was also a veggie wrap that we could make vegan by again leaving off the feta cheese. We ordered the fresh fruit to go with the sandwich rather than the cole slaw (mayo) or chips. We were both surprised by how clean these two dishes actually were. The hummus wasn't fatty and the veggies didn’t have any oil added. We would both go back to this restaurant.

On the ride home we decided it was a good idea to stop at Costco to fill up the car with gas and to pick up a few things to ride out the coming of hurricane Irene. It was disconcerting watching so many generators go out the door while we were there. However we don’t usually have much damage from hurricanes here so we weren’t worried.

Thursday we both had appointments with our internist. You know what that meant right? Yes we had our usual contest to see who had the best results. It pains to me say that Dan won everything but the blood glucose number. Darn him! ;-) However on the bright side my triglycerides were way down (40 points), HDL was up 9 points and scale was down 4 pounds. The doctor seemed a little surprised by the drop in my triglycerides which I think was due to my daily consumption of either flax or chia seeds. I had to explain chia seeds to the doctor whose only reference was a chia pet. *shakes head* Hey, at least he was open to hearing about them and that was better than most MDs that I know.

Friday I spent the day preparing for the hurricane. This meant things like cooking beans and grains to have in the refrigerator, making non-dairy milk, freezing blocks of ice to move to the refrigerator if the power went out, getting rid of the outdoor items that could become projectiles and closing all the storm windows.

August 27 and 28:

The hurricane weekend wasn’t bad at all. There was rain and wind but we experienced no flooding and less rain than most areas of the east coast.

This is the tree that we lost part of in our yard. Fortunately it didn’t fall against the house and we had it cleaned up Sunday around lunch time.

We went for a walk Sunday afternoon and saw this car which was smashed by a tree. This is less than a mile from us. Clearly we were very lucky during the storm.

When we got to the Starbucks we found out that they lost power. We heard the same thing from Troy and Sheila on Monday as they also lost power and still didn’t have it Tuesday morning and they are also very close to us. How we didn’t lose power I have no idea.

Here is another tree that went down in our neighborhood. As expected falling trees was more of a problem around here than anything else.

This is one of our meals from the hurricane weekend. There is a bed of quinoa topped with curried tomato sauce with chickpeas and wilted kale and it is topped with chopped cashews.  I love things like this that I can make in the time it takes the quinoa to cook.  Those ceci (chickpeas) that I precooked before the storm came in handy this weekend.

Making a Healthy Transition:

Thank you to all of you who commented and shared your thoughts and suggestions. Your comments were greatly appreciated.

My advice was to this reader was to educate herself so that she understood the ramifications of eating the way her family desires. Personally I find it much easier to stick to this lifestyle since I know the science. While it is easier to give in and feed people what they want it isn’t generally better for them. I also made sure that she knew that after a month or so everyone’s taste bud would adjust but that only happens when you make permanent changes. If you vacillate between healthy and unhealthy food you never lose the taste for the unhealthy items and that make permanent meaningful change less likely.

Happy Thoughts:

In spite of earthquake and hurricane I still have many things to be happy about:

• Most of this week we have had the most glorious weather. When I went outside this morning I was greeted by temperatures in the low 70’s and a nice breeze. We are definitely coming into fall soon and this is the time when we have great sailing on the Chesapeake Bay. *woo hoo*

• With the fantastic weather today I had all the windows open which gave me a chance to air the house out after being closed up with the air conditioning one for more weeks that I care to remember. If we lived in a different climate I would have the windows open every day since I love fresh air.

• We were very fortunate have little damage from both the earthquake and the hurricane. I was also thankful that I was with Dan during the earthquake because I knew he was okay since I was with him. I would have worried had we been apart.

• We both got good news from our latest doctor appointment and that was also wonderful. I was very pleased with the drop in my triglycerides. This has encouraged me to continue to add either a tablespoon of ground flax or chia seeds to my diet every day.

Signing Out:

Sorry that I disappeared on your guys over the last few weeks. Life has been crazy and I am behind on everything. I have found some time to post on Facebook if you aren’t following me there please doing. When my schedule gets busy it is much easier to post there since it is quicker.

Now I need to run and do a few things here and then write up the next chapter on the book club blog. With a little luck I will get that posted later today.

I hope the earthquake and hurricane didn’t cause too much disruption in your life. I am going to try to get back to daily posting on this blog. Talk with you again soon. :-)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Making the Transition to a Healthy Plant-Based Diet

I talk to so many people who say things to me that go something like this:

“I have read The China Study and I know I should change my diet but I just can’t do it. The idea of giving up cheese makes me crazy. I can’t imagine pizza without cheese no matter how good you say it is. Sure I believe that meat, dairy, meat and sugar are bad for me but my family won’t read The China Studay and they won’t eat this way with me. I am too busy to make 3 different meals every day, one for the kids, another for my husband and then one myself.”

This was a real world example that I clipped from an email of a person who wants to remain nameless. What was your reaction when you read this? Do you think this lady is ready to change, or does she need just a little help to cross the goal line as it were? What would you say to help her since she is clearly asking for guidance? Why do you think she hasn’t changed? What advice would you give to this lady to help her incorporate more healthy vegan meals into her life and the lives of their family?

I have some thoughts on this which I have already shared with this lady but I want to hear your thoughts. The reason I posted this was that I get emails like this all the time. I suppose I am a safe to talk for a number of reasons. First I am reasonably anonymous so they don’t have to run into me later unless they choose to. Next I am not going to jump on them for eating meat because I do believe that while a healthy plant-based diet is the best answer I also realize that most people aren’t going to go there. I suppose I am in the minority vegans that thinks that every small change should be celebrated.

I know that this woman isn’t alone. She is not the only one that has this same problem based on the email I get. The most common thing I hear from women is that their husbands won’t eat a vegan diet. In fact it is so prevalent that I can only think of 5 women whose husbands actually eat vegan at home, and 3 who are married to other vegan. Since I am sure there are many of you who have experienced this first hand I am sure you have some thoughts on this what would help this woman. Please share what you have discoverd so that we can all learn from each other.

My week:

Wow, how can it be Friday already? This week has flown by at a very quick pace. It seems like it should be Wednesday today. I guess that is a good thing except that I haven’t gotten nearly enough things crossed off my to-do list. *sigh*

On the bright side Dan and I had a nice chat about him taking care of himself which was my way of bringing up his lack of exercise. Dan agrees that exercise is good for him and has been joining me for long walks before work this week. :-) This is a very good thing! Now I need to get him home from work early enough so that we can get back to the gym in the morning.

This is one of my quick meals from Wednesday. I roasted zucchini, portabellas, bell peppers and potatoes and topped them with a spicy roasted red pepper sauce with chili garlic sauce and raw cashews. This is a great dish because you can make it all ahead of time and then have it cold as leftovers. I love meals like this.

I had my phone call with my coach this week which was a little sad. It is extremely nice to have someone to talk to who shares so many of my goals and values. However I am grateful for making the connection and I am certain we will be keeping in touch! *waves hi to Janet* :-)

Thursday afternoon my girlfriend Deirdre texted and announced that she was starving and wanted to know if I had lunch. What lunch at 1:30 of course I hadn’t eaten yet. Heck I didn’t get home from my 4.5 mile trek until 10 something and then I still needed to use my TRX and shower before breakfast ... needless to say I typically eat a late breakfast. So 20 minutes later I was running out the door to meet Deirdre at our usual place. I am not kidding when I say we all end up spending more time with Ian than we do our families. ;-)

Deirdre had a tough morning of neuropsychology so she just wanted to kick back and relax and who could blame her. We chatted briefly about healthcare and traumatic brain injury and then shifted into laid back mode which involved talking about boys.

I forgot to shoot pictures of Deirdre’s lunch but she had the lamb sausage pizza with roasted red peppers, feta, olives, harissa and tomato sauce. It looked really good but Ian does make fantastic pizza.

I asked him to make me a veggie and hummus wrap which I really wish he would put on the menu…I am still working on that. This was a monster sandwich with a big pile of roasted white and sweet potatoes. Needless to say half the pizza and sandwich were boxed up for us.

That doesn’t mean Deirdre didn’t have room for dessert .., she loves dessert. ;-) This time she had chocolate mousse cake and a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side. LOL only Deirdre, I wish I was 32 again and could eat that way and not blow up.

As we were finishing up lunch it started to pour down rain complete with hail the size of garbanzo beans. We both looked at other and said "I really don’t want to leave yet "because we had not bothered to bring umbrellas with us. So what did we do? Since we were impersonating “ladies who lunch” we ordered a bottle of sparkling rose and sat under the roof on the patio watching the rain and sipping wine. I know it is a rough life. LOL

While we were sipping wine we talked with everyone who was coming in for the dinner shift, continued talking about boys, school, sailing, etc. In other words we were goofing off and relaxing big time. David (our eveing server) is possibly leaving for Germany on Wednesday (he has his ticket) or he may change his mind. because this is what he does *shakes head* I was really surprised to see David at work on Thursday since he had been in NYC in the morning. Yes I realize that I know too much about what happens with everyone at the restaurant.

The craziest thing happens around here when it rains people seem to stay home; I kid you not they actually don’t venture out in the rain! The restaurant wasn’t very busy Thursday night and most people who came out opted to sit inside. *wimps* Since we weren’t keeping David from turning the table we ordered a second bottle of wine. I know you are shocked right? It was a very low alcohol wine, 5% to be specific, and by this point we had been at the restaurant for literally 6 hours. Dan ended up meeting us for "dinner" and he ordered an individual pizza which included roasted red peppers, roasted onions, red potatoes, basil, and tomatoes while Deirdre and I drank wine.  *hiccup*  Okay that was just to be funny, with the amount of time were were at the restaurant (8 hours) and the low alcohol content we were both sober.  This particular wine was probably about the same alcohol content as a wine cooler.

Friday evening we were back to the restaurant for dinner. What? I know, we need a new wife this one is just falling down on the job of cooking. ;-)

Dan started with a samosa because as you well know by now he loves them. I got my one bite and the rest of the samosa was all for Dan.

Then we ordered a new salad from the menu only without the parmesan. This salad was a sweet and sour butternut squash over baby arugula topped with roasted cloves of garlic (which were sweet and delicious, BTW), and pistaschios. I had to order this because I make a sweet and sour butternut squash that I wanted to compare to Ian’s.

After the butternut squash we also ordered the antipasti platter made vegan. This one really has become a family favorite. Our platter included roasted portabellas, olives, house-made pickles, roasted peppers, artichokes with dill, spicy chickpeas and topped with basil threads. This is served on top of very thin and very crispy semolina flatbread. I may have to make the flat bread soon just because I have never put that on the blog and they are really good because they are thin and crispy like crackers and you can make them on top the stove which is perfect in the summer. Feel free to remind me of this if you don’t see them in the next few weeks.

Our last dish was a fruit salad of melon, strawberries, grapes and oranges on baby arugula topped with balsamic glaze.

We ever one of the last few tables out of the restaurant on Friday, not that this is shocking since it is usually the case. We chatted with everyone and because we hadn’t seen most of them since Thursday. Hey, a lot can happen in a 24 hours. ;-) Are you starting to see why they make special dishes for us? We really do spend a lot of time at the restaurant.

Happy thoughts:

• It was wonderful to spend most of the day with Deirdre on Thursday. I am really enjoying having her live within walking distance. When Deirdre lived in Annapolis I didn’t see her very often which wasn’t good.

• I am totally thankful that today is Friday! *woo hoo* I love my weekends. :-) You will not be surprised to hear that I am looking forward to the weekend with my hubby. Now if he just doesn’t have to work this weekend I will even happier.

• We only have a few must do items this weekend which also makes me happy. I am looking forward to relaxing at least part of weekend.

• My girl Aimee should be back from Florida by now. I can’t wait to see her and hear about her vacation. Dan and I both adore Aimee whom we consider our “non-adopted daughter.”

• We dropped off “how-to” sailing videos for Jenn on Friday. We wanted to make certain that is we used any sailing terminology it was at least familiar to her. It is so much fun for us to have someone who wants to learn how to sail. Both Dan and I enjoy sharing our love of sailing.

• My precious little fur children are completely back to normal which is wonderful. Both babies (Luca and Masi) have recovered completely from their dental procedures. Additionally Massimo’s vomiting has disappeared as suddenly as it appeared. I am thrilled to have them back to their old selves.

• Friday was a very busy day for me. Dan was extremely sweet to offer to take me out to dinner so that I could relax. I am a very lucky girl to have the world’s most understand and generous husband. Additionally I am also lucky to have Ian and the gang who go out of their way to make us vegan food even though they are not a vegan restaurant.

Signing Out:

It has been a long week but it has also been a good week. I was productive this week but I am also looking forward to a little relaxing time. Next week will be another busy one with Dan having meetings in DC and Richmond and both of us having our physicals.

Are you doing anything fun or relaxing this weekend? If the weather holds up we may have a picnic down at the harbor or just hang out by the water at sunset. I love spending time at the water and the weather has been so nice this week that if it holds up I think that would be great time to do at least one day this weekend.

Talk with you again soon.  :-)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Cold but Spicy Indian Soup

I am having another one of those “uber busy” weeks that have become my new normal. Whatever happened to retirement was supposed to be boring? ;-)

Monday is already a blur though I know I spent a lot of time on the book club blog. If you haven’t read “The China Study” and want to join us please do.

This morning (Tuesday) Dan and I started our morning with a nice trek through the neighborhood which was a little less than 3.5 miles. The weather was gorgeous with temps in the low 70’s and a reasonable amount of humidity. We covered most of the distance walking but there was some jogging too. I will cut back the jogging if my knee starts acting up again. I have to accept the fact that I am not young any longer.

When time came for dinner I had no idea what I was going to make, like usual. However I remembered a soup that Dennis had talked about last week at cooking class. I saw the recipe which he brought for the teacher and used that for inspiration for tonight’s dinner. Here is what I did:

Cold Spicy Indian Soup
Approximately 8 servings

Soup Ingredients:

2 cups split mung beans
4 carrots, roughly chopped
12 cups water, you may need more or less depending on evaporation
1 cup peeled, diced white onion
8 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced (approximately ½ head)
1 tablespoon garam masala
2 cups almond milk
1 – 3 diced jalapenos (depending on how much you like heat)
freshly ground black pepper to taste
½ teaspoon coconut extract
1 -3 inches fresh ginger (add to your taste)

Soup Toppings:

cashew crème fraiche
fresh herbs - cilantro/parsley/mint/green onions
sliced almonds or curried squash seeds
lime wedges


Combine the dried beans and 8 cups of water, onions, garlic, carrots, and garam masala and cook until the beans are tender. Now puree the soup in your blender until completely smooth and return to the pot. Add the almond milk and coconut extract and stir to blend. Cook until you like the flavor of the soup, in other words until the flavors have blended. Add water necessary to achieve a consistency of cream. Remember that the soup will thicken as it chills.

Now place a cup or two of the soup in your blender and process the ginger and jalapenos until the soup is smooth. Add this to the other soup and stir to combine and taste for flavor. I like a fresh ginger taste so I added this mixture off the heat. If you find that the soup is too hot or sharp in flavor you can add a little stevia to round out the flavor.

Move the soup to a large container and chill it in your refrigerator until it is completely cold. It is meant to be served like gazpacho as a thoroughly cold soup.

To serve top the soup with any or all of the suggested toppings listed above.

Happy thoughts:

Some days it is easier to come up with the things I am happy with than other days. However I also realize that the days when it is tough to focus on what is right is precisely the day when I need be still and write down as many as I can think of. Here goes:

• The weather was remarkable today. We had a gorgeous walk this morning before Dan went to work. Later I was able to open the windows at home and let the fresh air in. As I am typing this I am watching the sunset and listening to the locusts chirp (assuming that is the right word). The sound of the locusts is always comforting to me because they remind me of my grandmother we used to tell me they were the “hot bugs” when I was little.

• The fur children have been adorable today. They really enjoy lounging in the window and breathing the fresh air. It is so easy to make the cats happy. An open window and my little ones are as happy as they can be. We could learn a lot from cats couldn’t we?

• The boat was refueling at Turtle Cove today and is next headed for the Bahamas. It has been a long time coming but she is finally headed home. You have no idea how much we are both looking forward to her arrival.

• I finally figured out how to forward my new website to the domain I purchased. I was determined to make it work without calling anyone for help and a number of days later it is finally working. Now I need to refine the content and I will be ready to share the link with you.

• Having purchased a large basket of peaches (about 100) this weekend at the farmers’ market means I am in bit of peach overload. Good thing I love peaches huh? Every day I find myself eating peaches breakfast, lunch and dinner. As much as I love peaches I may not buy another basket next week. I think I could use a peach break for a week. However it was great to get a big basket for $20 and I am sure that I will miss ripe local peaches when they are gone. ;-)

• I almost have all the laundry done. I know that doesn’t sound like a big deal but I rarely see the bottom of our laundry basket. Dan and I make a lot of dirty laundry so I am enjoying having it completely under control for a change.

• This morning I had time to take part in a good webinar about marketing. I love being able to learn online. It is nice to sit in my own family room with a cup of tea and take part in a webinar. It is good to be alive in this age of technology even though I am a bit of technology dinosaur. ;-)

Signing out:

I just fed my hubby and now I need to clean up the kitchen and turn in. Tomorrow will start early with a little exercise if weather permits. *fingers crossed*

Talk with you again soon. Enjoy the remainder of your evening.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Another Crazy Weekend and Pecan Taco Meat

I have been having one of those summers where we are home very little. Not being near my computer does make it tough to stay current with the blog.


We went to Ram’s Head On Stage to see Euge Groove who gave a great performance. He was the first artist who came out to sign CDs and chat after the show. Personally I thought that was a very nice touch on his part.

The picture above is one I took under very low light and I was extremely pleased with it. Apparently I can take pictures that don’t involve food. LOL

For those of you who may be going to Ram’s Head order the veggie sandwich (hold the mayo) and the red pepper hummus with all veggies (hold the pita) and you are good to go. Not only is this combination vegan but fairly healthy vegan if you avoid the potato chips which come with the sandwich. ;-)


Like all Friday’s mine was particularly jam packed. However this particular Friday I also had an appointment and we ran some errands after that. We did a little clothes shopping and then ran to West Marine for a few things that grew once we were inside. Both Dan and I got sandals with non-marking soles, sailing gloves and hats. We also picked up some extra sailing gloves while we were there since we know none of our friends are likely to have their own since all of them but Dennis don’t sail.

We were shopping longer than we expected so the evening turned into dinner out which we didn’t decide to do until the last minute. You know that meant that Ian didn’t get any advanced notice and fortunately he forgave us for that. ;-) I love having Open Table on my phone. It is very convenient to make reservations using my phone while Dan drives.

The weather was so gorgeous we had dinner on the patio. When we arrived it looked like all the tables outside were taken but no, there was one set up for us. It definitely pays to be a restaurant regular. Not only did we get a table on the patio but it was in Jenn and Janine’s section which was very nice. Since Jenn was working Dan grabbed the extra sailing gloves to make sure they fit her as I was worried that small might have been too big but fortunately that wasn’t an issue. :-)

I was in a vino mood and asked about a sparkling red that I had tasted a few weeks ago and it was only available by the bottle. Since it was 5% alcohol we decided that one bottle wouldn’t be that bad since we rarely ever drink now. The trick will be to not order this ever time we come in but I think we can do it because it is a perfect summer wine and we don’t typically enjoy sweet wine but will make an exception for this. It must be good because it is Italian … all the good stuff is you know. ;-)

We also had a pot of tea which was half green and half hibiscus.

We started with the vegetarian plate of the day which also happened to be vegan (Gee...I wonder why LOL). This dish included saffron rice, ratatouille, a corn salad over avocado and snow peas.

Then we ordered a dish that is one the regular menu but asked them to remove the smoked mozzarella and replace it with cubes of tofu. It certainly does come in handy knowing that Ian has tofu in the kitchen now. ;-) This pasta dish included tomato, fennel, green onions and I am fairly sure there is white wine in the sauce. It was a good summer pasta.


It rained overnight which meant it was muggy and humid when we got up. Thank goodness for air conditioning was all I could think. Since Dan promised to start exercising again he did go with in the morning for a nice little 3.5 mile walk to start the day.

While we were out for our walk we saw this cute little Mini with a red mustache like Snidely Whiplash from Dudley Doright. I could not help but see the humor in this. After our walk we had small bowls of oatmeal and then a small green smoothie (kale and banana).

Dan went downtown to the office to get some work done and I stayed home and worked on my new website. Have I said recently that I am good with technology? Well, I am not good with technology so it was a frustrating Saturday for me.

Dinner was a simple stew of mixed beans (13 to be specific) which I pressure cooked and then added canned tomatoes, Italian seasoning, fresh shitake mushrooms, wine vinegar and zucchini. Nothing too complicated just simple healthy food. To Dan’s stew I added some cooked pasta and pine nuts for extra calories.


We started our day at the farmers’ market like usual. We picked up two containers of hummus, the version with Old Bay (the traditional Maryland seafood seasoning) and a super hot version called XXX. I loved the heat in the XXX hummus but I do love heat. I found out today that the “hummus dude” also has a restaurant. When I look up his menu online if he has vegan options I will be checking it out and will let you know what I think.

While we were at the market Rudy and I had a quick talk about the causes of autism, He is going to bring me an article next week to read.  I love that one of our organic farmers has a PhD is biochemistry. He and I have the best conversations.  :-)

This is a cute bumper sticker I saw when leaving the farmers' market. I love unusual bumper stickes in case you hadn't noticed.

We came from the market with our usual ridiculous amount of produce with included: red leaf lettuce, kale, collards, oyster mushrooms, baby carrots, tomatoes, bell peppers and a basket of peaches (about 100). Yes I really do love peaches that much. Plus I will freeze some of them for smoothies. :-)

Breakfast was leftover soup from Saturday night because it was quick and easy.

Lunch was corn on the cob, fresh tomatoes, and roasted red potatoes with a spicy red pepper dipping sauce. The sauce was something that I whipped together in the Vitamix. Combine roasted red peppers, raw cashews and chili garlic sauce to taste.

Dinner was a taco salad which included: red leaf lettuce, cilantro, salsa, roasted sweet potato, tomatoes and was topped with pecan taco meat. The pecan taco meat was loosely based on the raw dinner we went to at Great Sage earlier this year. Soak pecans in water for a few hours and then drain thoroughly. Place the drained pecans in your food processor and pulse until they resemble ground meat. Now stir in finely diced red onion, grated garlic, a finely diced jalapeno, a little lime juice (or you could substitute wet hots for the jalapeno and lime), ground cumin, chili powder and no-salt seasoning. Stir well to combine all the flavors.

Happy Thoughts:

We had another great weekend though it was more busy than relaxing. However there is always plenty to be thankful for such as:

• We had a lot of fun at the Euge Groove concert Thursday evening in Annapolis. We both love live jazz and Euge did not disappoint. I was also thrilled to get some great pictures at the concert.

• Friday was another busy day but a productive one as well. We stopped at Marshalls before dinner and I found a cute Calvin Klein sweater, a Jones of NY sweater and a red floral maxi skirt. Dan found a great pair of Calvin Klein shorts for the boat. We also picked up some white organic tea and no-salt lemon pepper. Four bags later we were off to the boat store where we able to find more items that were on our boat to-do list. It was definitely a productive shopping trip.  ;-)

• Friday we had a very nice relaxing dinner on the patio. It was definitely the perfect way to wind down the week.

• I was very happy that I didn’t need to twist Dan’s arm to get him to do a little exercise this weekend. Dan claims he will be exercising more often now. Let’s hope work doesn’t continue to get in the way.

• Sunday we were fortunate to get more rain, in fact it rained most of the day. I don’t typically enjoy rain on the weekend but things have been so dry here that a rainy weekend was actually a very welcome sight. Not to mention it was nice to get it out of the way before the boat arrives. ;-)

• Even though Dan had to work again on Sunday we spent the morning together and he worked from his home office rather than going downtown. It was nice to have him at home for lunch and dinner and periodic green tea breaks.

Signing out:

Like always I am up later than I should be. Given what time it is now it looks like we won’t be getting up at 5:30 tomorrow morning. *rolls eyes* Oh well, you can’t win them all. We will at least focus on getting earlier than normal.

Looking at my schedule Monday doesn’t appear to be too hectic. I hope to have time to write another post tomorrow. Don’t forget to join us that the bookclub blog where we start discussing chapter one of “The China Study”. Talk to you again soon. :-)
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