Monday, January 31, 2011

The Ice Storm Cometh ("Hunker Down" Checklist: Chocolate, Yarn, Flour, Dog Food, Generator. . . Chocolate)

Pictures of ice from this morning.
If you ever wanted to see what a prediction of "The End of the World" might look like, shopping in St. Louis yesterday would have given you a pretty good idea. I got out of my car at the farthest end of our Super Wal Mart's parking lot (note--about a half mile away!) to look up and find a short woman (much shorter than I) pushing her cart around, completely lost, talking to herself, holding a set of keys in hand. Being taller, I thought I could lend a hand--I knew that look. "Lost your car?" "Yes." So we proceeded to wander aimlessly around looking for her car, her key chain up in the air to prompt the beep-beep. She seemed to be in the same Almost Fifty age bracket I'm in. I felt for her. I've been there, sister, I really have. After about ten minutes of me dashing in and out of parked cars, and not having any luck and the ocean of cars growing by the minute as new panic-stricken shoppers arrived,  I had to go. She wouldn't stop talking to herself and I became concerned. Thankfully, another woman joined in the hunt--she could finish because I was at the point where I realized I'd now lost MY car. Almost Fifty moment number 157.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Vegan Chicken B'stilla: French Fridays with Dorie

I said I had no idea where Morocco was, but if I could guess, maybe Spain? (I probably just lost what few readers I had admitting this.) But. Yep. I'll go with Spain. My husband, No, Kelly. . . it's in Africa. I said, Wanna bet? Really? A bet? To which DH then turned to the laptop and within a blink of an eye, we were looking at a nice bright green detail area clearly located in Northern Africa. Hmmm, I said to myself. Then, out loud, What is it with the French? (Well and if we are being totally honest here, What is it with public education that let me get to be Almost Fifty thinking Morocco was in Spain! Life with a really smart person can sometimes be such a downer.) 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Missouri Puppy Mill Debate (It's NOT About Getting Everyone to Stop Eating Meat--It's About Humane Treatment for Dogs!)

I know of no better life to have than the life I have with my dogs. I am sure if there is a heaven's gate, the one with the dog as guardian is the one I will walk through.

"Watch out Missouri! The Prop B Puppy Mill Agenda Folks are on the rise! They'll have us all banned from eating meat if we don't stop 'em! Those animal lovers will bring an end to the biggest lobby in our state: Agriculture. They'll change life as we've known it. Our farms. . . our small, safe, homogeneous communities will suffer."

You know what I think? I think this is the Salem Witch Trials all over again and that many mis-informed folks are sitting in small towns across this state touting "animal breeding reform of any kind will kill our rural lives!" While meantime, thousands of helpless animals are in the backwoods of front door puppy breeding operations with said "breeders" who have nothing but dollar signs in their eyes. How did we go from Prop B will limit the number of dogs a "breeder" can have to, "Prop B folks will stop us from eating meat!" Oh, the humanity.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Vegan Wild Rice Soup En Croute (or "Under Puff Pastry" for the Non-French)

Don't let the simplicity of this dish fool you. It is amazing. I crave hot soup year round for the obvious reason: my waistline likes it better, plus it compensates for my ridiculous obsession with bread right now. So I try to cram as many warm comfort foods--wrapped, stuffed or baked suitable to the dark days of January and February--as I can, placing bread somewhere within the plate of whatever it is I'm having.
 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Master Gardener (ME!) Visits Snowy Missouri Botanical Garden And Falls in Love with Winter. . . Again

I'll admit it: I love snow. I begin praying for snow about mid-October. I think I got my wish this winter, and then some. Forecasters in the area say this is our ninth snowiest winter on record. This girl is loving it! Five more inches predicted for today. Growing up on Lake Michigan has, I'm sure, endeared me to snow-covered landscapes. I love getting my camera out and just taking photos of anything covered in the white stuff.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Michael Rostang's Double Chocolate Mousse Cake: French Fridays With Dorie

If there is one thing I know, it's chocolate. (See "My Profile" on right). If there's another thing I know, it's how to bake. No, I'm not "professionally" trained nor do I have the money to do so, but I've been baking since I could hold a spatula. Once I'd even considered opening a small bakery doing cookies, cakes and books. I take baking seriously. Then yesterday happened and I'll reserve the comments that flew from my lips in trying to re-create this Frenchie chocolate specialty in vegan form for "offline".  I'll also not be posting any pictures of my kitchen in the aftermath, as I found myself wiping counters down one last time ten thirty last night (third failed attempt going into the trash).

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Vegan Breaded Pork Chops, Creamy Horseradish Mashed Potatoes with Shitake Gravy And Green Beans (Welcome to the Wiener Schnitzel Chronicles)

Sometimes the food I grew up with gets a hold of me and just won't let go, no matter how hard I try. Now, I'm not saying ALL the food I grew up with should make a re-appearance on my vegan menu (Spam, round steak. . . ew), but there are some dishes so worthy of a vegan attempt, it'd be a sin not to at least try. Take last night. I had this overwhelming desire for an ultimate childhood comfort dish: pork chops (minus the pork), a side of mashers made with vegan mayo and horseradish and then, an easy, but oh-so-good shitake mushroom gravy and a heaping side of green beans. . . I had earned it. (Note: *If your grocery store does not usually have shitake mushrooms on hand--like mine never seems to have, I found a bag of frozen shitakes and this really helps in those dire circumstances where shitakes are called for. Just a suggestion: check the frozen food area.) 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Vegan Carrot Cake (On Finding Just The Right One: Cookbooks and Recipe Hunting)

Yesterday afternoon I was wandering through my kitchen in a sort of haze. I had no sense of direction, but I knew I wanted to get my hands on something. . . anything. Cookie? Cake? Coookie? Cake? (Unfortunately, it never seems to be a carrot stick or celery stick.) 

Friday, January 14, 2011

Vegan Gnocchi a' la Parisienne: French Fridays with Dorie, Y'all!

I counted down the days to last night's French Fridays with Dorie cooking selection: vegan gnocchi. I'll be honest, this was a nail biter. Did I have the chops to pull it off? I needed to substitute butter, eggs, cheese AND whole milk. Each ingredient a French cooking mainstay. Each ingredient, a vegan cook's worst nightmare--especially when the ingredients ARE the recipe! However, chefs around the world have combined these simple (dare I say "peasant-like") ingredients to make the seemingly mundane into something to behold. Now the question was: Could I? See for yourself. I was so darn proud when this came out of the oven, I nearly cried. I spent the whole day speaking with a French accent and channeling Julia--I had even considered donning a French maid's outfit, feather duster and all--but didn't. My ego got such a boost from this reecipe, I think I'm ready to conquer vegan puff pastry. . . from scratch!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Vegan Baked Mustard, Cabbage and Potato Casserole (For a Very Snowy Day!)

 The snow day we're having today (nearly five inches) means casserole time. I try really hard to not become a casserole queen in the winter. (Oh, don't think I couldn't.) It's almost too easy--the casserole. Sort of like the slow cooker, there aren't a lot of failures in either. (Well, the mush factor can nip you in the butt if you aren't careful with slow cooking, but pay even a little attention to what you're doing and you will be feasting on some good grub with very little work.)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Seeking Comfort: Running and Knitting Baskets into A Warm Cowl

It was almost two in the afternoon Saturday when I turned NPR on to catch up on the day's events. I love listening to The Splendid Table while I cook and the show was coming up. Then as the news of the day was read, I heard, as everyone had by then, of the terrible tragedy in Tuscon. I was stunned. I just stared out my kitchen window wondering when the words "random" and "violence" will ever have to be heard together again. Then thought, My God. Why so many? Why. . .again? I also thought about how many tragic events I had heard standing in this very same spot: my kitchen, staring outside my window that sits right over my sink that looks right out at our large oak tree (much older than me).

Friday, January 7, 2011

Vegan Paris Mushroom Soup (French Fridays with Dorie)

My day began the usual way: feed the kids, fall down, have coffee (maybe I should have had my coffee before I attempted my "outside" chores), check email, then more coffee. (I'm okay, scraped up my knee. . . and my palm, you know catching myself from the fall.) So, back to the computer, something caught my eye on my blog roll: Paris Mushroom Soup on Tasty Trix. (I met Trixie waaay back via our blogs via Food Buzz and am really happy our paths crossed!). So I saw her post today: Whoa! Mushrooms. Soup. LOVE both of those! Then I read on and discovered there's a little cookin' thing going on every Friday on French Fridays with Dorie to honor and showcase cooking from the new cookbook: Around my French Table by Dorie Greenspan. I have another Dorie cookbook--(she's known for her incredible baking talent): Baking with Julia. She actually got to work with and bake with Julia! Sadly, Julia is gone. Double sad that I've never attempted French cooking, well. . . not much of it anyhow. And triple sad for me: Santa did not bring me this French Table cookbook for Christmas. (That's since been taken care of.) 

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Vegan Italian Meatballs with Slow Cooker Marinara Sauce (Pasta: The Other Comfort Food)

Before going to bed the other night, I had a vision of spaghetti and meatballs. It was nine at night, a little too late to do anything about it (and not that I would eat a plate of spaghetti before going to bed) but that's what I went to bed thinking about: a nice warm dish of pasta with amazing meatballs. I try not to dream about food too much, but it's difficult to control what happens once my eyes close. So yesterday morning when I woke up, I was FAMISHED (because I am once again trying to stick to my Eat to Live Fuhrman diet for at least two meals a day--trying to shed ten pounds). I have a physical with the doc coming up and nothing sends terror through my bones like having to weigh myself in front of a stranger with a clip board in hand. So, I headed straight for my slow cooker and began the prep for an all-day marinara sauce to accompany my meatball vision. Once the sauce prep was behind me, I knew the rest of the day would be a breeze. Plus the house smelled like a little Italian piece of heaven all day long.  

Monday, January 3, 2011

Vegan Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake (4 Mile Run for New Year and Pass the Cake!)

A vegan chocolate cake as my first new year post. Very fitting. While the rest of the free world begins their year with fad diets and insane workout promises I had another cake craving. A chocolate cake craving. I wanted a fast cake. I am so over the cookie thing. I'd be okay not seeing a cookie for a long time. (Even though I found myself in the kitchen yesterday afternoon whipping up a batch of almost healthy oatmeal coconut cookies!)
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