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Archive for August, 2010

Best Day of my Life

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Off to Hawaii 🙂

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Patience is a virtue

It’s a totally random coincidence that my 2nd blogiversary falls on the same day as my wedding.

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Although one is semi-noteworthy, the other far outweighs it (by leaps and bounds) in importance…and so I will be postponing the celebration of hungryhungryhippie turning two until I return from Hawaii.  But you can be sure the wait will be worth it for you because I have several giveaways in the works.  Go big or go home, right?

Hey, I waited 6 years for this day to come, so I know something about patience. 

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[College]

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[1st Anniversary]

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[Graduation]

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[Lord and Lady]

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[Wine Tasting]

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[San Francisco]

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[Beach]

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[Vegas]

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[Central Park]

 

🙂

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Add first…

…subtract later never.

That’s my version of the improve-your-diet rule, at least.  I like trying new things, but I also like keeping the old (can you tell I was a Girl Scout?). 

New: Israeli couscous & French Whole Wheat couscous

Old: Quinoa

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And so the three-grain pilaf was born…

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Into the pot went:

  • 1/3 cup Israeli couscous
  • 1/3 cup French WW couscous
  • 1/3 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water

I left it to soak in the pot while I went on a run, showered, and answered emails (~1.5 hours).

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When I returned to the stove, almost all the water had been absorbed.

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Having over an hour to soak first made the cooking process WAY faster.  Soaking also has numerous other benefits (although these aren’t quite as valid in this case, since I cooked the grains afterwards).  Still, soaking improves nutritional bioavailability and makes digestion easier.  This is more important in nuts, beans, and seeds, but also applies to grains and pseudograins, too. 

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I added another 1/2 cup water (to just cover the grains) and then turned on the heat.

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Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble.  10 minutes went by and it was beyond done.  Because I was aiming for a more mushy rice pudding-like consistency, I purposefully left it on longer than necessary.  For it’s last minute on the stove I added TVP.

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What, you ask, is TVPTextured vegetable protein is made from reduced-fat soy beans and is most commonly used to replace meat in vegetarian dishes.  It’s super easy to use – all you need to do is add water – and voila! instant (vegetarian) ground meat.  I mostly use it in chili (recipe here), but today I decided to make a “meaty” grain-filled salad.

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  • 3/4 cup TVP
  • 1 tsp onion powder (or sub 1/2 yellow onion sautéed)
  • 1/4 cup Bragg’s liquid aminos
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup water

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The TVP really only needs 30 seconds to soak up the liquid, but I gave it a few minutes to get it extra mushy while melding with the other flavors.   

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Once it cooled, I served it up alongside a simple raw veggie salad.

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Simple summer veggie chop:

  • 4 baby carrots
  • 1 tomatillo
  • 1/2 tomato
  • 20 snap peas
  • 1 tbsp EVOO
  • 1 tbsp Bragg’s liquid aminos

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Lately I’m loving tomatillos as a sweeter contrast in my salads.  And aren’t they pretty? 

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Yes. 

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I actually don’t know which dish I liked better. 

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The battle of the summer: on the left we have the crispy crunch of fresh summer veggies and on the right we have the nutrient packed grain pudding with wholesome protein galore.

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It’s a tough call for sure.  You try and let me know which you prefer.

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I definitely had seconds and thirds of the 3 grain protein pilaf. 

Do yourself a favor and get on this recipe like white on rice me on hummus.

How sad that ten different foods just came to mind to plug into that last phrase.  Or maybe that’s not sad at all…I’m going with awesome.  Instead of hummus, I could have said a number of things, starting with coffee and ending with bread.  How would you fill in this sentence for yourself? 

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Savory leftovers

If there’s one thing I pride myself on, it’s my ability to create meals out of the most random hodgepodge assortment of leftovers.  This should come as no surprise given my love for everything-but-the-kitchen-sink salads, but I definitely think I have a knack for making cupboard scraps and a nearly empty fridge into a fairly decent dish. 

Oats are the perfect central ingredient for this little something-out-of-nothing trick. 

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If I’m going the savory route with oats, there’s one ingredient I turn to without fail, and that’s nutritional yeast

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Welcome to nooch mountain.  Full of fresh powder.  Lift tickets cost $20.

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Like the snow cover in NYC after a blizzard in January April.  In addition to the nooch, it wouldn’t be a complete hippie meal without fiber loading.

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Leftover salad of red bell peppers, black beans, and raw white corn, plus steamed broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots.

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This was bowl number one of three, but in my defense (not that I need it) the second and third bowls combined were roughly the size of this first one.  I learned from portion numero uno about the pitfalls of filling the bowl to the brim, which made it SO difficult to eat.  Everything was spilling over the edge each time I dug the spoon in to try and mix up the ingreds. 

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I don’t like losing ingredients, so the spillage factor definitely caused me to slow my roll…hence the less packed bowls for my seconds and thirds.

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If you are like my sister, you are probably sick of these old posts from last week.  She told me yesterday that she wants photos from the days leading up to the wedding…and as much as I’d love to oblige her request, I’m just too busy running errands all over the place.  I’ve been taking photos like crazy, so after the honeymoon look forward to one mother-of-a-recap.  And now I’m off…

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Beachy keen

I started the day with a java the size of my head and a bowl of oats topped with some peanut buttah, which left me bouncing with energy.  Kyle suggested some beach time and I thought, why not?!

Ok, the placement of the peanut butter didn’t work out for the photo at all…

I made the oats on the stove with more water than I typically use and because of that they were super gooey.  So even though I tried to leave the spoon on top to show off the PB, the other blobs just sunk to the bottom of the bowl.  Good for eating, not good for photographing.  Oh well, blog schmog, taste is all that I care about.

After digesting, I threw on my swim suit, snapped a model shot like ma gurl, and grabbed some beach eats.

apple + Sabra + snap peas

Only semi-portable in nature (sandy Sabra?), but still perfectly delicious.  We read on the beach for an hour plus…and returned home for a real meal.

This sando had more of the good stuff (hummus): Sabra hummus, avocado, spinach, and tomato.

With another apple a la mode.

After lunch we went to get my bike tires fixed, which resulted in unexpected fees, unexpected delays, and…long story short…my bike now has a week long vacay in the shop.  Hopefully when I see my Giant on the flip side it will have gears that switch when I want them too, brakes that stop when I want them to, and tires that don’t deflate when I don’t want them to.  Not too much to ask, right?

One Lucky Duck’s blonde macaroons made errrthang better.

I mean look at that gorgeous coconut construction.  Ah Sarma, she truly knows what she’s doing.  Too bad Crate & Barrel doesn’t carry dehydrators to round out our registry.

Eventually I decided it was time to get dinner started.  I really wanted two things: salty nuts and greens.  I also knew I had to use up some stuff in our fridge that would go bad while we were away.  I felt like it was a Top Chef challenge.

While my chopping technique is mighty fine, my nut crunching skills could use some work.  I keep forgetting I have a food processor now!

I went with a more ghetto approach…mashing.

My measuring spoons are heavy, so this was actually a really easy approach.

See?

Now add all the ingreds into a big a$$ mixing bowl.

Carrots, celery, cucumbers, dried cranberries, and mega-salty crushed nuts over a bed of spinach.

Crunch master flex.  I doused the entire bowl in Bragg’s liquid aminos and nooch.  I’m thinking I need to start getting more creative in the dressing department.  I just got this new dressing container (thanks Ethel!), so with that and the help of Brendan Brazier’s book, I think I have some good salads in my future.

I had a steamed sweet potato on the side which I covered in more extra salty nuts.

I was craving nuts like a mad woman (talk about a twss moment).  Even after I finished the salad and the taters, I still went back for more.  The salt makes them impossible to stop eating, but I managed to peel myself away from them after a few handfuls.  For those who know me, this post may have you doing a double-take (I typically detest nuts).  What’s the point in trying to explain myself?  Who knows how or why I want what I want, but there you have it.  Nutty.  Do you ever randomly crave something that you otherwise have no interest in?

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Visiting the vines

I’ve been meaning to introduce you all to the vineyard for quite some time now…but I, myself, hadn’t been to Healdsburg in a while.

Fortunate for you, my Grandpa was kind enough to remind me that I was long overdue for a visit.  And fortunate for me, I remembered to bring along my camera. 

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Hello Zinfandel.

Kyle and I left bright and early to arrive in Dry Creek Valley just as the clouds were clearing out.  It may be summer, but Sonoma mornings are still a tad overcast with AM fog. 

In case you are a new reader, my fam has a vineyard in Healdsburg. 

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For a long time, the grapes went to Quivira. 

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Yum. 

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But then, I am a bit biased…

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Some grapes have gone to Murphy-Goode.

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In addition to a variety of other wineries’ yields…which are always tasty.  And that’s fact. 

Are you a fan of Zinfandel? 

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You should be.  Just sayin’…

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After hanging out for a while, it was time to hit the road.  My Gramps was generous enough to send us home with figs from his tree and his own Santa Rosa plums.

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Juicy.

So yeah, hope you enjoyed this quick post introducing you to the vines.

Later that night my family got to BBQing, so we did what we do best…

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Pulled out the Riedel wide bowled glasses and poured. 

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This bottle of 2004 Endeavor Cab Sauv is a product of Dry Creek Valley, and a mighty fine one at that.  My dad loves opening good bottles.  His cellar is packed and rather than hoard his fine wines away to never be enjoyed, he has embraced a motto that I’ve come to love (as I benefit from it greatly)…OTBT

Open That Bottle Today.

It’s kinda one of those “seize the day” phrases, but for winos.  You may as well live in the moments and enjoy things now, because life is short and there’s no sense in missing out on a good thing because you want to save it for a later time that may or may not come.  That’s not intended to sound morbid, it’s just that I tend to do the same thing in other areas of my life and for what?  Have you ever saved a special outfit for an occasion that’s never come?  I have; and it’s pretty silly when I think about it.  So Carpe Diem and Open That Bottle Today

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While sipping on my vino I started prepping le veg for le ‘cue. 

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Summer squash, mushrooms, bell peppers, and a heavy-handed pour of Garlic Gold’s vinaigrette dressing.  In another bowl, I coated some extra mushrooms with the same dressing. 

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Then I tossed it all into this brilliant device and let my dad tend to it on the grill, while I helped with the salad.

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Mixed greens with beets, edamame, and cherry toms.

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Salmon and sausage were available for the non-vegetarians.

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But who could choose meat with perfectly grilled veggies like these!?!  Not I.  Obviously. 

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Eggless is Best

Sorry Chicken Little, I’m sure you have a fine product, but I have a egg salad alternative that will make even non-vegans dig in. 

Talk about a timely post.  With the recall fresh on people’s minds, I’m fairly certain eggs aren’t flying off the grocery shelves quite like they used to…

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This recipe was the result of half a box of unclaimed silken tofu.  Unclaimed?  As if Kyle would be fighting me for tofu!?!?  Ha!  Ok, so I had leftovers from an undocumented carob tofu pudding dessert (when late night munchies strike all bets are off in capturing it on camera).

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Silken ‘fu + raw veg (I didn’t actually use the entire amount in that bowl)

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Add the following into a food processor (unless you haven’t done your arm workout for the day, in which case, suck it up and get those biceps working, ya pansy!):

  • 3 broccoli florets
  • 3 cauliflower florets
  • 5 baby carrots
  • 1/2 box of silken tofu
  • 1 tbsp BBQ sauce (I prefer Annie’s)
  • 1/2 tbsp spicy dijon mustard
  • 1/2 can chickpeas (if you’re lazy or don’t have canned chickpeas on hand [the tragedy!] you can use 1/4 cup hummus)

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Pulse briefly so it’s still moderately lumpy, then spread onto the fluffiest bread you can find. 

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I prefer it un-toasted because I love the way the bread sticks to the roof of my mouth.  It’s just how I remember the egg salad sammies of my childhood.

*Side note: I didn’t had no idea what egg salad was until I was almost a teenager.  I was at a friend’s house and her mom made us egg salad sandwiches, and – I kid you not – I felt like Columbus discovering America.  I was in shock that I was so oblivious to the existence of such a dish!?  Upon getting home, I immediately told my mom about this wondrous “egg salad” thing.  It soon became a staple in my lunch rotation…until I entered high school and decided that egg salad was too stinky I was too cool. 

But back to my egg-less salad.

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The chickpeas added such a delicious (almost creamy!) texture with the silky tofu and crunchy raw veggies.  Plus, the zing of the BBQ sauce and mustard wasn’t strong enough to overpower the salad, but still offered a nice bite. 

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Perrrrrfect.

What was your favorite lunch sandwich as a kiddo?  Did your friends get things that your mom/dad didn’t give you?  I was fortunate enough to have a (mostly) vegetarian mom who packed my lunches every day.  Wholesome, home-made eats that differed every day and covered every food group…and I enjoyed it all without any clue that cow/pig products were MIA from my diet.  What my friends got that I didn’t get was packaged snacks, chips, cookies, etc.  I feigned jealousy at the time (it was the popular thing to have Doritos and Oreos), but really had no interest in such crap.  My favorite was PB&J.  But I bet if I had known what hummus was…whole different story.

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