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Archive for January, 2012

You guys know I’ve been a part of a Vegan Dinner Club basically since I moved to DC, right? We’ve been over this. It’s a pretty good crowd, and it’s a nice reminder that I don’t need SWEET, GLORIOUS MEATS in every meal. It’s also good to step away from my weekends, which, if I’m not passed out on my couch in front of a Chopped marathon, are usually pretty busy affairs. I think we’ve made a pretty solid argument for “food as communal event” on this blog, so I don’t need to bore you with those details.

That’s why I’m so bummed I missed tonight’s VDC. The theme was “Spreads, Schmears, and Dips,” and I had a hankerin’ for veggies and bread with STUFF on them like you wouldn’t believe. I even had a dish already made! Knock-off vegan Nutella. Sorry dudes and ladydudes, I could not share this Tupperware of what looks…. pretty gross actually.

Tragically, I had a boatload of stories that weren’t going to write themselves for work, so I had to stay home and eat this alone. It’s not as good as the real thing, but it’ll do. I modified the recipe from here.

You’ll need:

1 1/2 C hazelnuts (I would toast these if I were you, to get some oils going. I didn’t, and I regret that decision.)

1 tsp vanilla

3/4 C powdered sugar (I used way more than this, because it wasn’t sweet enough for my taste. Maybe I just haven’t had Nutella in a long time?)

1/4 C powdered cocoa (Ditto)

3-4 TBSP veggie oil (a sweet almond oil would work nicely here, I think)

2 TBSP soy milk (again, use more here for your texture of choice)

What you’ll do:

Pour the hazelnuts (which you’ve toasted like a champion) into your food processor, and process the hell out of them. If you have a powerful food processor, ALLEGEDLY they’ll become liquid. Clearly, my food processor is not that good. Add the rest of your ingredients and kind of mess around with it until you’ve got a consistency you’re cool with. Mine was kind of like peanut butter, which is good for sticking your finger into the Tupperware and eating sans other food. It’s legit, OK?

In all seriousness, I wish I could have shared this with the vegans, if only for them to tell me where I went wrong. Until then, I guess my morning smoothies are  getting hazelier.

-Lindsey

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Hello! Did we all make it through last week’s super heavy but therapeutic (at least for me!) post? Good. Thanks for sticking around. I’m going to talk about my fridge.

It looks like this on the inside:

 

Not too shabby, right? Probably too much food for a single lady who lives alone, but whatever, it’s my money/house/body, I do/eat what I want! (That includes keeping tomatoes in the fridge, I know it’s a sin, sorry I’m not sorry.)

You’ve probably noticed a plethora of soup in there. I frickin’ love soup so much it hurts. My mom makes the best chicken noodle in the world, and as much as I whined about weeks’ worth of soup dinners as a kid, there is something comforting and easy about a soup lunch or dinner. I’ve been making the magic soup we made in December about once every seven to ten days or so, and then bringing it to work most days. I’m not even bored with it yet! I think there are two reasons for that:

  1. It reminds me of the Polish kitchens of my youth. Aww!
  2. I change it up every day.

Since the base of the soup is super simple (you’ll recall: garlic and onions, any green/crunchy veggies you’ve got around the house, whole cabbage, diced tomatoes) you can play around with it. I’ve been doing half of a spicy chicken andouille sausage some days. Rice every once in a while. I threw an avocado in there a couple of times and it was like tortilla soup without the tortillas! That was pretty great. In the leftovers bowl on the middle shelf there, I’ve got some ground beef (leftover from tonight’s attempt at homemade bibimbap; it was… not the most successful). With a little rice, it’s going to be my lazy woman’s version of golabki (pronounce this go-WUMP-kee), or stuffed cabbage.

You’ll also see a lot of juice in the fridge, left over from my weekend of perpetual sniffles and Patty and Selma voice. Part of my “clean livin'” attempts include healthy breakfasts, so I’ve been doing a smoothie on the way to work, then a small bowl of oatmeal or a Luna Bar once I get there. Don’t worry, I still go to town on Bagel Day at the office. My daily smoothie recipe: plop of yogurt (about half of a little cup or a big ol’ scoop of Greek yogurt, whatever), a handful of strawberries, one small banana, maybe some sorbet (I really like coconut because obviously that’s the least healthy option), and OJ. Blend with immersion blender. 

Also seen but unlabeled: Plum sauce that has been in the fridge since the week I moved into my apartment, sour cream that I only used for mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving and prune juice that I haven’t been brave enough to open yet.

Not pictured: my fruit basket (holds mostly citrus and garlic), cabinet full of baking supplies and the multiple stashes of Gummy Tummies tucked around my kitchen and living room. I promise, real recipes will return at some point. I turn 27 this week so expect some sort of “almost 30!” crisis coming down the pike! I predict: more whoopie pies.

-Lindsey

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And we’re back! I hope everyone had a lovely holiday season. I spent the bulk of mine cocooned on my parents’ couch in Michigan. We played some games, we opened some presents and we watched a lot of TV, as we are wont to do. A lot of that TV was Food Network or FN-related, and when it started, it freaked me out: What would my folks say? Would they give me the side-eye and ask how many of the things we saw I had made? Would my sister go into a “how could anyone ever eat meat/cheese/butter SO GROSS” tizzy before patting her own tiny stomach in a self-satisfied way? Would my mom immediately suggest we go on a walk?

Clearly, I have a lot of complicated feelings about food. Much fewer than I did when I was younger. Food has always been a challenge for me. I think that’s why I like baking, especially for other people. There’s therapeutic value in measuring, and mixing, and tasting and giving a treat to someone who will really appreciate it. It takes your head, and your appetite, out of the game. For a long time, it wasn’t about the preparation for me, it was the aftermath: Why did I feel/look the way I did? I think a lot of that has to do with my family. My parents are crazy-supportive people. The kind of parents most kids dream of having. But I absolutely regret the first time (and I don’t remember when this was) I ever opened my mouth and said the words “I’m fat.”

You see, supportive parents want to push, push, push their baby birds to do the very best they can, to achieve the most. They never compared me to my sister, who’s a good six inches taller than me, rail-thin and vegan (except once, when my dad plucked a banana from my hand as I was about to bite, and handed it off to her, saying, “You don’t need this. She does.”). I’m grateful for that, since I spent a lot of my young adulthood doing just that. My folks, like all good parents, just wanted us to be our best selves, and be as happy as we can be. So a self-criticism like “I’m fat” was a recipe for encouraging exercise (my mom got me to join Curves with her when I was in high school), discouraging snacking, and a whole slew of food issues I wish I had never brought onto myself. Eating at my parents’ house, especially, has been fraught with nerves, the likes of which have previously:

  • sent me into “secret eating” mode, in which includes but is not limited to sneaking Christmas cookies after parents have gone to sleep, hiding food in my room, and once, at age eight or so, getting caught standing on the kitchen counter with a flashlight and my stuffed Lamb, mawing down Willy Wonka Heartbreakers at an alarming rate.
  • made me hyper-vigilant of portion sizes, so I only put two bites of kielbasa, a smidgen of kapusta, a dollop of potatoes, etc., on my plate, going for some sort of “oh, this is all I need” food martyrdom, only to be hungry again an hour or two later.
  • driven me to many, many visits to my grandparents’ houses, where I get a pile of junk food and a comment from my Grandma Woho “you must have lost weight!,” no matter how much I’ve gained.
  • on more than one occasion, spurred an IBS attack, the likes of which I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy (Nicole R. from second grade, who stole my friend Julia’s Squiggle-Wiggle Pen).

My parents have never called me fat; I need to make that very clear. And I haven’t called myself fat in years, although I think if we are going for an accurate description, I am obese by BMI standards (which are, of course, bullshit) and curvy/full-figured/round by many other people’s. I’ve been called a fat bitch by people I know, and by strangers on the bus and on the street. By my own standards and descriptions, I am awesome. That is what I am.

It’s taken a lot of time, and effort, and self-actualization to figure out my relationship with food and my body. It took a “you can’t tell me what to eat anymore” conversation, and several instances in which I felt like I needed to somehow “prove” that I’m healthy. “Look, I can run a mile! See how well I do in my yoga class? Still not diabetic!” But really, who do I need to prove my health to? Myself, and my doctor – and maybe not even that guy!

What I know now is this: I can run a mile. I do just fine in yoga, but not so well in Budokon classes. My blood pressure, heart rate and A1C are all pretty awesome – no major diseases in sight. I love to cook, and I love to eat, and I’ve learned what feels nourishing vs. what will satisfy only emotionally, and what benefits and pitfalls last with each thing I eat. I’ve learned that caffeine triggers my IBS, but so does stress, and that ordering three well drinks will make me sick for days, but one or two Makers Marks will warm me, and that’s it. I’ve learned that sometimes, I really DO need a cheeseburger from McDonald’s, and I’ve learned to not feel guilty about enjoying it. Food is fuel, yes. But it is not inherently good or bad. It is just food.

All of this is a long-winded way of saying: It sure was nice to watch the Food Network with my family and not feel anything other than pleasure about being home. My mom and I even decided we wanted to make one of the recipes we saw. Here’s my adaptation.

Lindsey’s take on Giada’s Forbidden Rice

You’ll need:

3 1/2 C salted water

2 C forbidden rice (Trader Joe’s didn’t have any when I went, so I went with brown jasmine rice. You do you!)

One big chunk of ginger, peeled and diced

Cook the rice with the ginger in it. Yum. 

When that’s done, saute with some oil:

A whole bunch of sugar snap peas, cut into 1-inch pieces (try to get the threads out of these guys if you can)

2 peaches, sliced (it is fine to use four peach halves from a jar, as far as I’m concerned)

Saute the peas for a couple of minutes, then throw the peaches in. After a couple of minutes (you want them to retain their shape), put those on top of the rice, which you have cleverly put in a bowl while the peas were sauteing, of course.

For the dressing, you’ll need:

1/4 C rice vinegar

1/4 C grapeseed oil

3 TBSP honey

1 TBSP soy sauce (but don’t kid yourself, you’ll probably add more)

Stir those together and pour over the rice. Eat warm or room temp. I put mine in the fridge, then warmed it up and ate it with some toasted peanuts. Delicious.

Happy new year, team. I hope that in 2012, any resolutions you made about food were to enjoy it, be healthy and not make yourself crazy.

xo

-Lindsey

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