Category Archives: vegan

Tasty Tuesday’s Aftermath

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Wowzer! I’m thrilled to report that the chicken baked using the Dijon honey mustard Flavor Magic Portion Control Sheets was a huge hit with the boys! They said it was the best chicken I had ever made (and, believe it or not, they sometimes actually like the chicken I’ve cooked for them). The entire process was easy, peasy, lemon-squeezy. Here’s how it worked:

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First, you cut the chicken to size (I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts, because I’m lazy, of course), dampen it, and lay it on one of the sheets (above left). Then you put plastic wrap over it and pop it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and cook for about 30 minutes. Then be prepared to bask in the praise and glory of your ever-indebted family who have crowned you the Cooking Queen . . . as if!

I especially liked that there was almost no mess with the sheets, so cleanup was a snap. I’ll keep using the Dijon honey mustard sheets, as well as the Rivieria tomato and basil sheets, with chicken, pork, and fish. I might even try the Rivieria sheet with tofu, since it’s vegan!

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Speaking of vegan

Double-wowzer! While the boys were scarfing down their chicken, I was enjoying my red pepper and spinach hashed browns. They were really good! The recipe was a natural for my limited cooking abilities: It didn’t have a lot of ingredients (red pepper, onion, garlic, potatoes, and spinach), it didn’t take long to prepare and cook, and it wasn’t too messy. I definitely would make it again.

5259-me-goggles1The only problem with the recipe was chopping the onions. I try to chop as fast as I can, but I can’t stand how much the little buggers sting my eyes. If I had only checked out the National Onion Association‘s website! Guess I should’ve figured that the little buggers would have their own site. The NOA recommends chilling the onion before cutting and trimming off the root end last for reducing the tears. Me? I reasoned if the irritant can’t get into my eyes, it wouldn’t affect me. So I grabbed some handy swim goggles . . . and it worked! And it made the #1 son laugh! I did learn that it’s pretty hard to take a quick photo of yourself, so this was the best I could do.

Tonight’s TV watch

bob-harperIt’s an embarrassment of riches on the tube tonight! There’s the second half of “The Biggest Loser” along with “American Idol” and “Lost.”  Whew!

Speaking of “TBL,” there was sooo much crying, especially by my third husband, trainer Bob, on last night’s show. You would’ve thought Bob’s former trainees were moving to Siberia! Man up, Bob!

Get ’er dones

I’ll be spending more time on the phone talking to Applecare. Yesterday they advised uninstalling and reinstalling iLife ’09 to try to solve the GarageBand ’09 problem of not opening GB ’08 songs, but that didn’t work. I remain suspicious of the install disc.

Of course, it’s Kitchen Wednesday, so I’ll at least open mail and shred. There’s always so much more to do with so little energy in the afternoon.

Finally, there will be dinner and TV. How did John Locke die? I think we finally get that question answered on “Lost.” One answer down, 533 more to go!

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Tasty Tuesday, Omni- and Vegan-Style

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The Ice Bowl

The ironically named (for Houston) Ice Bowl Saturday was warmer than the evening’s scouts shooting gig, although a front passing through did dip the temps 10 degrees (from 71 to 61) along with a short shower. The Mister and the boys played in this 18-hole disc golf tournament that benefitted the Houston Food Bank, one of my favorite causes. I tagged along to click some pix and take some video for the blog.

183-2-wbeanie#2 son is the best player among the three (disc golf is his passion), so he, of course, posted the best score, followed by his Pops. But #1 son in only his second tournament did really well and only whined when he wanted the drink that he had left in the car. I went to get it, and, of course, missed #2 son’s drive that landed a few feet from the basket on the first hole, which eventually won him his first-ever CTP (closest to the pin) prize of a natty Ice Bowl knit beanie (he loves those).

I only took a few pix before the rain came. But I got some pretty good video with the Flip Mino. I really like this little camcorder; it’s so handy and easy to carry. I haven’t tried making a movie using the Flip’s software yet because I’m used to iMovie, but it looks pretty straightforward. The music, by the way, is part of iMovie. It’s easy to use and handy but almost impossible to tweak by a couple seconds, which is why it sounds a little short. One of these days I’d like #1 son to teach me how to compose in GarageBand, so I can be more exact with the music. That’s a way-in-the-future get ’er done!

Tasty Tuesday

flavor-magicIn our quest for healthier eating while watching “The Biggest Loser” (an hour tonight and tomorrow, for a change, because of the presidential address), I’m going to try something new for the guys: Flavor Magic Portion Control Sheets. Basically, they are easy seasoning sheets that marinate meat and fish in one simple step. I’ve never gotten the hang of seasoning food, so I’m taking the easy way out. I’m going to use the dijon honey mustard sheets with boneless, skinless chicken breasts tonight and will have my human taste testers report back.

Meanwhile, I’m going to try a new vegan recipe: Red pepper and spinach hashed browns that I saw on Jenn’s Hello Veggie blog. As you may recall, this is where I found the marinara squash recipe; I’m hoping that this attempt will turn out better.

cropped-mori-nu-silken-tofuEven though I’m not much of an experimenter when it comes to cooking (which usually is an experiment for me anyway), I have a box of Mori-Nu Extra Firm Silken Tofu that needs to be used this week that I might add to the recipe. Or I just might wait until Wednesday or Thursday to use it. Wow, two new recipes for me in one week?!? Did anyone else feel the earth shift on its axis?!?

Get ’er dones

I’m still working on the scout photos, of course. Those are top priority today. I also need to call Applecare to see why GarageBand 09 won’t play most of #1 son’s GB 08 songs. If I have a chance, I might Ten-Minute Task a certain family room chair that still isn’t done.

Squashing My Enthusiasm

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Was it hard to sleep last night, wondering how Tasty Tuesday turned out? The wait is finally over! Here’s the 411:

Possibly the hardest part of making the marinara squash was, no surprise, cutting the squash in half. That sucker was rock solid! I almost succumbed to running next door and pleading with JJ, the organizational wiz and accomplished chef, to help with the unyielding vegetable, but instead I just pierced its skin and microwaved it for a few minutes. That helped immensely. As is par for the course for me, I put the halves fleshy part down on the baking pan, popped it in the oven, and then read the rest of the instructions. Duh! Will I ever learn? So I had to pull the pan out of the oven, season the squash skin as instructed, and push it back in for 30 minutes.

Chipotle logoWhen I looked at the baked spaghetti squash, I was naturally dismayed: There seemed to be a lot of work ahead. This is why I’m usually the simplest of vegans: I can live on salads, which are easy to make, and fruit. Or I can live at Chipotle and let them cook for me. Either way, I’m a happy camper.

But I digress . . . I sat down at the kitchen table to deseed the squash while watching “American Idol” (which we never did finish; got to catch up tonight). It was a long, torturous job, with many seeds hiding everywhere. After a long sigh, it was time to rake the spaghetti-like strands with a fork. Raking = gardening = too much work! But I really wanted to eat dinner, so rake away I did. I finally got a bowl full, added the marinara sauce, nixed the chives (too much added work), and sat down for a taste test while watching the lovefest on “The Biggest Loser.” 

The verdict: The best part probably was the marinara sauce. Otherwise, I think spaghetti squash is too bland for my tastes and much too much work for me to ever make it again. I’m glad I tried it, though; now I can cross it off my veggie bucket list. Oh, and #2 son’s comment was, “That doesn’t look at all like spaghetti.” Doesn’t taste like it either, son.

Ten-Minute Tasks

The NuShield is on the MacBook! It actually only took about five minutes to apply. You can see the edges of it, but it’s not too noticeable. The $64,000 question, though, is how does it handle the glare? Quite nicely, I’m happy to report. I think it cuts the glare a good 75-80 percent, making it a worthwhile acquisition for those glossy laptop screens. Recommended!

mac-mail-logo1The iMac’s TMT is stretching for much longer than 10 minutes, unfortunately. The good news was that the Apple store geniuses put the data back on the computer. But there have been some glitches: First, the system administrator password doesn’t work anymore, which means I can’t install new software or certain downloads. That has to be reset via the install disks (hassle!). Second, Mac Mail isn’t working properly. I can set up the boys’ mailboxes and mail comes in but doesn’t go out. Grrrr! Finally, not only did the so-called geniuses not install iLife ’09 like they said they would, they didn’t reinstall iLife ’08, which came with the iMac! Major grrrrr!!

So along with Kitchen Wednesday, today I will be solving the above iMac problems, hopefully, satisfactorily. Maybe I’ll also solve a few of the “Lost” mysteries in anticipation of tonight’s episode!

Happy Veganniversary to Me!

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Today is my two-year veganniversary! Two years ago I decided to make a rather drastic (for me) lifestyle change and overnight became a vegan. No more eating animal products! I had dabbled with veganism back in 2001, but this time I went into it whole hog (pun intended). The impetus was a high cholesterol reading. I thought I might as well give myself three months to see if I could lower the result strictly with better eating habits. So I went vegan, and 90 days later, my cholesterol reading was down 70 points, still a little high but out of the danger zone. I was sold!

Giving up meat wasn’t all that hard. Eating animal flesh already bothered me. And it wasn’t hard to give up dairy—I’m lactose-intolerant and shouldn’t eat it anyway. There are a few foods that I miss eating, but I’ve really enjoyed having better control of my eating habits. I don’t preach about veganism and try to convert everyone nor do I make the males in the household eat what I eat; I do cook meat for them, and they taste it to make sure it’s done.

I started out being a dietary vegan, and I’ve come full circle and become an ethical vegan. I’ll bet that’s typical of most dietary vegans. I avoid leather products (I’ve got cloth seats in my new Honda Pilot) for everyone in our household. It just makes sense that if I’m not going to eat an animal, I shouldn’t wear it or sit on it.

Lacking a crystal ball, I can’t say if this is a lifetime lifestyle change or just a passing phase. Right now I’m happy eating the way I do, although I would like to learn to cook better. That’s something I’m going to be exploring in the near future, and, of course, I will be reporting the results right here on the blog. Stay tuned!

eat2liveA terrific website for vegan recipes is Fatfree Vegan Kitchen. Susan V does a great job coming up with delicious-looking recipes. Unfortunately for me, most of them have more than three ingredients, and my eyes start to glaze over as I read them. A book that I highly recommend for anyone thinking of making this dietary lifestyle change is “Eat to Live” by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. The science behind the eating plan made a lot of sense to me and made it easy to get started on the vegan path. By the way, the book cover claims that one can lose 20 pounds or more in six weeks. Personally, it took me about six months to drop 25 pounds.

 

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“Lost” pulls us in deeper

It looks like poor Charlotte, pictured above with Daniel, has had her last nosebleed on the island. But at least she did tell us that she grew up on the island, as we already had guessed. She was the first one to get the dreaded time-flash nosebleed, and it seems like the nosebleeds hit the Left Behinders in the order in which they have been on the island the longest. Here’s hoping the Oceanic 6 make it back before the ghostly Miles (aka Dr. Chang’s son) becomes another victim.

Nikki Stafford on her excellent Nik at Nite blog says that the smoke monster (aka Smokey) mimics Montand’s voice (he’s the guy who left his arm behind . . . ugh!) to get the rest of Rousseau’s crew into the hole and “change” them (if you remember waay back when, Rousseau had said the crew became sick, so she killed them. Glad she’s not my doctor!). That made me think of the old “Saturday Night Live” shows (Gilda Radner, Laraine Newman era) with the land shark who tried using different voices to get into the gals’ apartments and attack them.

Is it just me or does Eloise Hawking (aka Daniel’s mother) look really creepy? I think she outcreeps old bug-eyed Ben! I loved how Charlotte spoke Korean. What in the heck is with Christian Shephard?!? Was I the only one who noticed that he told Locke to give the wheel a push, and Locke actually pulled the wheel. But it looks like it’s going to work, thank goodness. I also loved Christian’s final line to Locke:

“Say hello to my son.”

Locke: “Who’s your son?”

Or did Christian mean to say, “Say hello to Sun”?!?

As usual, a lot to absorb, a lot to think about, a lot to look forward to as the season continues to unfold.

Dramarican Idol

american-idolMy worst fears were realized: Tatiana (aka the drama queen) and Nathanial (aka the drama queen) both moved on to the final 36. Ugh and double ugh. I liked that there wasn’t the silly elevator for the contestants to use to see the judges; I didn’t miss the elevator cam. But I didn’t like the sing-off; it was very awkward for the contestants. And why do they have to drag out the decisions for two hours? Can’t they just say yes or no to these people who are minutes away from a breakdown?

Time-Traveling Thursday

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I just had to add that “Time” to Traveling Thursday in honor of “Lost.” I just hope I don’t get a nosebleed while I’m typing (cue the haunting music!).

I’ve traveled to our local library to type this blog post. This is the first time I’ve been back to the main branch in months; it’s been closed since mid-September when Hurricane Ike snatched away parts of its roof and flooded the building. Many books gave their lives that day, unfortunately. But now all the books are back, and there are plenty of tables or cubicles for laptop use, and it’s relatively quiet. And it was easy to tap into the free wifi. Yay!

the-little-princeLast night’s “Lost” episode was called “The Little Prince.” It was in reference both to Aaron, Claire’s son who is being raised off the island by Kate, and the Antoine de Saint-Exupéry book that I and so many other French students read in high school (in the native French, bien sûr!). There are many parallels between the book and the episode; the best places to explore those are on ew.com (“Entertainment Weekly’s” website) and Nik at Nite. They deal with the minutiae of “Lost” much better than I do.

My next-door neighbor JJ e-mailed me when the episode started and said to stick a fork in her, she was done with “Lost.” And her son was the one who got us hooked on the show just in time for season 3! The time-travel part of the show (or “time-travel crap,” as she so eloquently put it) bothers her so much that she’s throwing in the time-traveling towel (yep, I did that just for the alliterative effect). 

Science fiction just ain’t for everyone. I’m not the biggest sci-fi fan, but I do get hooked on character development. “Lost” has presented us with some very fascinating characters! Our family still feels we have an investment in the show, especially given that it has a concrete end next year, so we plan to soldier on and continue to be captivated every Wednesday evening.

A few “Lost” thoughts

• I’m thinking that Miles definitely is Dr. Chang’s son. He had to have been on the island before in order to have gotten the dreaded (cue haunting music) time-travel nosebleed. He doesn’t remember having been on the island, so he must have left when he was fairly young.

• Sayid is one bad dude . . . loved the move he made when the “doctor” shot the tranquilizer darts at him!

• This would’ve been my reaction if I had opened the box that Sun received: Oooh, are any of those chocolates vegan?? Sun didn’t even pause to think that life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re going to get (she probably never watched “Forrest Gump” while in Korea). And what she was going to get was some heat! Who sent the gun to Sun? Was it Widmore, who is anxious to be rid of Ben?

• When Locke turned over the canister on the beach and said, “Anybody know French?,” I figured it just had to be Rousseau and the other French scientists! And, no, my long-ago, rusty high school French did not enable me to translate what they were saying.

• How exciting was it to see Jin alive (I never really thought he had died) and to see the young Rousseau pregnant with Alex!

• Loved it when Sawyer said, “Thank you, Lord!” after the flash got the people who were shooting at the Left Behinders out of the picture, quickly followed by “I take that back!” when they time -traveled into a monsoon.

• Kate obviously really loves Aaron and considers herself to be his mother. Remember when Kate marveled at Claire’s natural ability to mother Aaron, saying that she could never do that? Yes, Kate, you can!

MacBook review

I had read many reviews about the MacBook’s glossy screen, more of them con than pro. I didn’t think it would bother me, because I’m used to the iMac’s glossy screen. And it’s not a problem at home most of the time. However, now that I’m typing in an environment with overhead fluorescent lighting, the glare is almost too much to take. I could never Photoshop photos here, that’s for sure. When I’m done here and have published this post, I’m hightailing it over to the Apple store a few minutes away and buying antiglare film. Apple really should reconsider its decision to not produce its MacBook screens with a matte finish; it’s much better in all kinds of light (our Powerbook has a matte screen).

iPod Touch update

fingerprint_definitionStill connected to the iMac with nary a fingerprint from the #1 son upon it. He reports that he’s up to the “J’s” in iTunes, as he methodically makes sure that every one of the several thousand songs he owns has accurate information as far as date, artist, and genre. He thinks he’ll be able to put the Touch into operation tomorrow. Stay tuned (pun intended)!

Gotta love the kitchen chair!

Kitchen Wednesday was successful! The chair looks like . . . an empty chair (albeit dusty . . . good thing the cleaning crew is coming!). Can we keep it clutterfree? Anyone taking odds?

Get ’er dones

Not much on the menu today. I easily got ready for the cleaning crew, thanks to Kitchen Wednesday. I’m going to take my final middle school boys’ basketball photos today (mostly of the eighth-grade A team). I’ll see if I can be good and actually cull and upload the photos to my external hard drive tonight. I need to do a DVD backup of my photos once these are Photoshopped, so I can delete pics from my memory cards.

Time to travel on to the Apple store!

Travelin’ Thursday

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“I’m a travelin’ gal, made a lot of stops

All over the world . . . .”

–shades of Ricky Nelson

Welcome to Travelin’ Thursday! Much like Waldo and Carmen San Diego, I plan to move out of my comfort zone and wander the friendly confines of my 10-mile personal travel bubble. Wherever I land is where I plan to type the day’s blog post.

I guess I’d better put reliable wifi on the top of my preference list of far-flung places to type profound thoughts and observations. I had hoped to type and post this from Dimassi’s Mediterranean Buffet, where I just finished a scrumptious vegan feast. But even though wifi is available, it’s not a strong-enough signal for me to access e-mail (I took a couple photos with my iPhone and e-mailed them to myself to use in this blog post) and post. So I must wait until I get back home.

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Good Eats Once a Month

I love Dimassi’s, but I limit myself to monthly visits due to the cost ($9.99 plus tax, which at least does include soda). What I like best about this restaurant is that it lists the ingredients of every dish above it in the buffet line. That way there are none of those unwelcome surprises that those of us with food allergies and/or are veg*ns (shorthand for vegetarians and/or vegans) so often stumble across on our way to healthier eating and/or eating according to our convictions. Dimassi’s has possibly the world’s-tastiest hummus (or maybe just the Houston area’s) and plenty of other good vegan delights.

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Watched It Twice and Still “Lost”

Last night I watched “Lost” twice (once with the boys and the second time with the Mister, who worked late), and I found it to be fascinating both times with still more questions than answers. Yesterday I had lunch with my friends Karen C. and Kelly. Karen declared that she was sitting out this season of “Lost,” because she’s mad at the show due to the lack of answers in recent seasons. I find the utter confusion to be a great hook to keep our family interested in the eventual outcome. I enjoy reading what EW.com has to say about the show, as well as Nik at Nite and Docartz’ blog. They and their readers always seem to find so much substance in the show’s nuances. Pictured above is time traveler Daniel Faraday (a fitting choice for Travelin’ Tuesday!).

Potential spoiler alert!

(respectful spoiler space inserted)

I especially loved how Desmond and Penny named their baby son Charlie. We miss you, rocker boy!

Entertainment Center Update

Yes, it’s still in the bedroom, unfortunately. I’ve e-mailed a picture to the person who hopefully will take the little beast off my hands and am waiting to hear what her final decision will be. I may be too impatient for Freecycle!

Get ’er dones

• Travelin’ and typin’ were today’s biggies. If you’re reading this, then I got ’em done.

• I need to get back into the master bedroom. I’m sure that the little beast will be mocking me as I go through boxes.

• I bought the Mister a digital frame for Christmas. Surely you don’t have to ask if I’ve set it up for him yet, right? It has slots for three photos, so I need to measure them, pick the photos of the boys to use in them, crop them to size, and output them on my Epson inkjet printer. Then I need to put photos on an SD card that will play in the digital frame, learn how to operate it, and teach the Mister (aka Mr. Technophobe) how to use it. It could be a long night!

TGIF!

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Finally made it to my favorite day of the week! I might even be able to extend the euphoria a day, because all three of my guys will be gone most of tomorrow—they have a disc golf tournament in Bryan. Yep, even #1 son who rarely plays. Normally, I would go, too, but the Mister has promised rides to three other players and one dog, so his Honda Odyssey will be mighty full. 

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Last night I tried to pull a fast one over on the guys. I’m vegan (I eat no animal products, so no meat, fish, or dairy), and I wanted to try a Tofurky roast. And I didn’t want to make two meals. So I tried to pass the Tofurky off as regular roast to see what would happen. I figured the boys would just eat it, because they put barbecue sauce on almost everything they eat (reminiscent of my childhood when I put ketchup on everything). I added bowls of white rice for the boys (they could live on that stuff) and leftover mashed potatoes for #2, who could eat that every day. The mashed potatoes also were vegan . . . I used Ore-Ida’s Steam ’n Mash Cut Russet Potatoes with Smart Balance (vegan variety) and vanilla soymilk. They taste different, but #2 still eats them. And they’re so much healthier than the ready-made, microwavable mashed potatoes. Most importantly, they’re soooo easy to make!

But I digress; back to the tofurky. With the vegan gravy that it comes with and especially the vegan stuffing, I thought it tasted pretty good. I’m not a big fan of fake meats (fruits, veggies, beans, and nuts float my boat), but I do like tofu. The roast has an odd texture, but it was fine for a meal or two. The boys ate the small portions I gave them, with #2 even asking for more. After he found out he had asked for seconds for tofu (perish the thought!), he claimed he just liked the barbecue sauce he smothered it in.

As for the Mister, he didn’t trust it right from the start; I think he saw me tasting it, which blew its vegan cover (darn it!). He did try a bite or two and then stepped away from the tofu. Fortunately, our next-door neighbors came to the rescue with a yummy meal of bass (which the Mister had caught months ago and given them) and cornbread, so he didn’t have to starve.

I was ready for the cleaning crew well in advance yesterday, and I culled my basketball photos, copied them to the hard drive, and converted raw to jpg. But I didn’t get any further. So today’s get ’er done menu is:

• Write an article about our neighborhood for our master-planned community’s monthly updates and e-mail to the association office by noon.

• Photoshop the yearbook candidate photos from Tuesday. Gather the best photos from the girls’ and boys’ basketball season, burn them to a CD, and drop them off at the middle school.

• Help sell candy after school at the middle school. Usually #1 son helps the PTO with the Friday candy sales (an easy fundraiser; we’re absolutely mobbed by these kids who need a sugar fix after seven long hours hitting the books), but he’s started guitar lessons and right now they’re scheduled for about the same time. He’s ecstatic, because he hates dealing with all those grubby hands grabbing at the candy.

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• Look forward to dinner at Pei-Wei, which is our Friday night tradition. Love their tofu and veggies!