Monday, May 2, 2016

Gluten Free Mexican Casserole with Pickled Onions

This dinner should be called, "my-kitchen's-calling-me" casserole. 
Here' how this awesome vegan (oh and did I mention it was gluten-free, too?) casserole came about.

 I made a lovely pan of veggies and beans to use as my filler: onion, garlic, green pepper, mushrooms, black beans, corn and a can of tomatoes, plenty of cumin and oregano--spice it up to your heart's content. *I have a special Penzey's blend I use, too. Let this mixture simmer for a bit (let the juices reduce, too), and while it simmers, make the pickled onions: red onion slice thin, juice of one lime with a pinch of sugar and some salt and white vinegar--enough to cover the onions in a bowl. Set this aside. When you've finished the pickling stuff, begin layering the casserole by using a square dish, spread a bit of salsa over the bottom to begin with, then cover this with corn tortillas (you'll have to break a few in half just to fill in the corners well. In between the three or four layers you make, add a smattering of vegan cheeze in between for good measure, then top the casserole with a bit of the cheese and bake at 375 until bubbly, about 30 minutes. While this bakes, make your rice and guacamole you'll be serving with it on the side. This has been on our table at least once a week for the past few weeks now. 
You can see here what I'm talking about with the whole "layering" thing. Just keep layering until you run out of filling. You'll want to keep room at the top so while it bakes, you don't have oven spillage.
This is delicious and makes for an even better left over.  

Sunday, March 20, 2016

March Gardening Chores and What the. . . Snow?! (And Books I'm Reading Now: Padma Lakshmi, and When Breath Becomes Air)

I'm so glad mother nature has a sense of humor. It's not unheard of to have snow in St. Louis in March or April for that matter. But this morning, it looked like a December morning when I pulled back the curtains and looked outside. The flakes were like wet cotton balls coming down. Very odd.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Vegan Feel-Good Chili with Everything (cooking to help heal--isn't that what all cooking is anyway?)

I needed to spend the entire afternoon in the kitchen. It began like all chili making endeavors: a glug of oil, spoonfuls of cumin, coriander, some mustard seeds, cumin seeds, turmeric, salt and the pile of veggies I had carefully spent the last half hour chopping and mincing. I literally just kept pulling out veggies from the crisper and methodically went through them with the knife: zucchini, onion, carrot, garlic, green pepper, celery. Then poured in a can of black beans and a can of kidney beans, then two cans of tomatoes--one sauce, one diced. And finally, added a bag of my favorite vegan crumbles (Beyond Beef). With the aroma of cumin and my heavy-handed scoops of some favorite chili blends (okay, it's Penzey's), my kitchen began to heal my soul. 
Low and slow--the way all chili should be cooked, the way all souls should heal. 
Quickly, while one eye was on the pot of chili, I whipped up a batch of brownies, too. 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Easy Vegan Veggie Pot Pie with Puff Pastry Crust (comfort food cooking. . . simple knitting)

I will give this pot pie recipe one thing, and that is, it came together in a snap. My prep work consisted of pulling a puff pastry sheet out from the freezer and putting it in the fridge while I went about sauteing an onion, some mushrooms and garlic, adding a can of tomatoes, then opening a bag of veggies, pouring in some ready-made potato leek soup (oh the horrors! but hey, that's life right now) and a smattering of seasoning, close it up with the pastry top, bake: ta-da! 

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Finding My Voice and Strength Through Change (and a new blog direction)

Time is ridiculously cruel. How dare spring think she can rear her head up! It's only February for goodness' sake! Now here I am post-seven-years-of-solitude, and everything around me seems to be moving at lightening speed.

 I loved every minute of my time alone. Well, I wasn't exactly "alone" in the sense that I sat in my hovel worrying away every minute of the day in my own head--there were the dogs, my husband, our garden, the woods, books, my cooking, running, knitting. 
Every day had its ebb and flow. 

Mornings were set aside for morning stuff, like coffee (lots), reading, knitting, walking the dogs and running. 

Monday, January 18, 2016

Taming the Introvert Anxiety with LOTS of Knitting (new career, more gray hair: I Want to Believe!)

Well, week one went off without a hitch. I arrived, I met, I chatted, I learned. In the evenings I crawled into my shell and collapsed into bed for very hard, long sleeps. I got up the next day and hit repeat. 
Suddenly our whole world has been turned on its head by the arrival of my new career/J-O-B. 
I am in the book business now. Books and people, how bad can it be you ask? Not bad at all. . . so far.
I love books. I love people who love books. I love reading. (Truth be told, not much of that going on now that I'm the working girl again--though I sneak in as much as I can in the wee hours of the mornings or late evenings right before bed.) The working girl in me says, "calm down, this is the chaos part", this is the remembering what it's like to be surrounded by noise, people, and strangers all day. The introvert in me climbs out of her shell (yes the one who has spent the last seven years and mostly every day surrounded by canines, plants, food and my own quiet pace and rhythm)--and crawls into the depths of business/work. It's going to be a long road to my fully grasping every little detail of my new role.

Monday, January 4, 2016

It's Organized Chaos

I have spent the better part of these last few days "tidying up". The stories of people in my community losing everything to raging flood waters sparked something in my heart that said, "if that were me, how would I manage." Every year around this time, I go through and try to purge from life those items and things collected that might have worn out their welcome and need a new home. It's a long process of self inventory as well as physical inventory of what we have, what we need and what can simply go. For me, doing so is a luxury, for others right now, it is a forced experience brought on by the floods.
I can't even begin to imagine what it must be like.

This is a year of change for our household. My blog will serve as my "outlet" for navigating around this coming year and all it brings. I'll continue to highlight vegan eats as much as possible and toss in those sometimes "snarky" observations of life here and there. 

The year ended on a sad note for us with the loss of Annie. We spent a lot of time during the holiday reflecting on our life as a family of "many dogs" and how each dog we've shared our life with has shaped us, changed us and made us better people. 
We cannot ever imagine our lives without the dogs. 

Then the floods hit and we once again, reflected on life
How can you not when you see neighbors suffering through one of the worst disasters to hit this area since the floods of '93. 

People impacted by the flooding still need help and I read in this morning's paper the Red Cross  provided shelter to over five hundred families at the height of the disaster. The Salvation Army is also assisting families. Donations of items to the displaced are now being sorted and will be distributed. 
It is still beyond comprehension the loss.

Soon I was considering the "things" we have and hold on to. I function best with very little clutter, straight lines and organization. Simple is better. That little best selling book on the matter of "tidying up" is my manifesto when it comes to dealing with life as I have dealt with it over these fifty-some decades. Does it give me joy, no? Out it goes.
Well. . . not so fast: Hello, YARN! 
All yarn gives joy, does it not? 
And cookbooks and books in general, they give joy, too. Right?
According to me, the answer is YES. 

So my tidying up began in earnest with my yarn. Oh. The. Places. I. Thought. I'd. Go. (with my yarn). And the places I still think I'll go to with my yarn: brioche knitting (loved it, then hated it, then NO). Cabled pullover sweater, maybe. Tons of shawls I never wear, YES! Why so many shawls? Mostly because they are fun to knit, to manipulate, to look at in admiration as I: YO, p1 and skpsso.
Knitting works to calm my mind. 
One of the last things I do every night before bed is to knit. 
So the yarn stays.
All one full closet of it and dresser drawer.
It all stays. 
Saroyan Shawl I am knitting (has a beautiful leaf pattern along the side. Pretty!). 

On the wardrobe front, I pulled every single piece of clothing I owned out from my closet and placed them in piles: keep, donate, business, casual, long sleeve, short sleeve, workout, light-to-dark color--one thing became clear: I am someone for whom the color spectrum of black bell tolls. My closet consists of black (mostly), grey (second mostly), purple (third place), and a very few teals have come to be my staples. No yellows, blues, greens, whites or any funky horizontal stripes or polka dots either. 
I hate stripes and when they began to appear in fashion I thought the world had gone mad! 
Stripes should be banished from fashion forever.

My life already feels lighter.


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