Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Spider Central

I was doing laundry at my neighbors on Saturday (does the simple phrase "laundry room remodel" speak volumes?) and noticed some activity on the handrail of the stairs so I sat down on the bottom step to see what was up.

There was a huge hatch of baby spiders in cluster about the size of a silver dollar on the railing so I decided to trot home to get my camera. I held my breath and moved in for a close up.

When I slowly exhaled 100's of these youngsters dropped a foot or so on their silken threads creating a jeweled fringe. Still others spread out on a before unseen network of webs. A few seconds went by and they all scurried back up to home base. I have no idea what kind of spiders they are, but I was charmed and amazed by their antics.

"The artist is a receptacle for the emotions that come from all over the place: from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider's web." Pablo Picasso

Monday, April 25, 2011

Cowboy Caviar Synchronicity

As mentioned in earlier blogs my husband and I started on a Vegan diet three weeks ago to take charge of our health. It has been a lot easier than expected and we've already seen some early results. There's a binder of great recipes on the counter and additional recipes will continue to come via email ~ more bricks for our foundation of change. We pick 3-4 recipes for the week and shop for any ingredient we don't already have.

We aren't what you'd consider hard core Vegans, but strive to stay on point. There were some great quotes from Marilu Henner on Day 9 that will no doubt make it to the refrigerator door:
  • Nothing tastes as good as healthy feels
  • Set up your environment to win
  • Life is all about progress, not perfection
  • There's no such thing as cheating, every day is an experiment
  • It's all about choices (I said that!)
I brought home one of my friend Trisha's cookbooks and I found the following recipe folded up inside. It had been emailed to her in 2008 by a friend who brought the dish to a potluck. I remember how good it was. Three years later the recipe found it's way to me. The fact that it fits into our experiment in health is not lost on either one of us.

Cowboy Caviar


1~16oz can shoe-peg corn, drained
1~16oz can black eyed peas
1 to 2 avocados, cubed
2/3 cup chopped cilantro
2/3 cup chopped green onions
1 tomato, seeded and chopped


1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 cloves of minced garlic
3/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. cumin

Mix together black eyed peas, corn, avocados, cilantro, green onions and tomato. Mix dressing and then pour over veggies and toss to mix. Chill. Makes 6-8 servings. Serving ideas: As a dip with baked chips, over salad greens, stuff a potato, or dress up a brown rice dish. The possibilities are endless, eat in good health!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Vegan Morning - Bodacious Porridge

I'm hunkered down in my studio trying to stay out of the way as our contractor demolishes and rebuilds a "plumbing wall" for the reconfiguration of our laundry room and installation of an on demand water heater. You know how it is, you're simply going to replace one thing that broke and then your wheels start to turn and off you go "well as long as we're in this deep we might as well do this and change that..." Sounds like he's coming through the wall in about 7 different places, but his whistling and self conversation are quite amusing.

We'll be camping for a day or two with no hot water. No challenge there boss, I've learned how to wash a dinner's worth of dishes and pans in the motorhome using only a large coffee pot of water heated on the stove.

So, as promised here is the great hot breakfast cereal we have a couple of times a week ~ rain or shine. Components make up about a 1.5 quarts of dry ingredients. We buy in bulk to minimize cost, mix together and store in a container in the fridge (wheat germ needs refrigeration, so if you want to store mix elsewhere add wheat germ when you're ready to make porridge). 


2 cups cracked wheat
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
1/2 cup raw wheat germ
1/2 soy grits
1/2 cut wheat bran
1 cup course cornmeal

Preparing in a double boiler is recommended, it will preserve vitamin B which will get destroyed over direct heat. Get the water boiling and then add 2 cups water and 1 cup of the mixture to the double boiler (that's the perfect amont for two). Stir it a bit, then cover and cook at very low heat for about 20-25 minutes. Throw in a handful of dried blueberries, raisins or craisins on top so they plump up during cooking time. We often serve over fresh berries or banana slices, the possibilities are endless so just make it up as you go along. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Variations on a Theme

Becoming a Vegan is a consciousness raising experience. You have to rethink a lot of things you used to do without a second thought: Behavior Modification 101. We're learning to plan ahead (what a novel concept) so we are prepared to eat right. This is the no excuses tour after all!

We discovered a delicious breakfast porridge recipe in the Laurel's Kitchen Cookbook (I'll post it on the next blog) that we have a couple of times a week. It's easy to make up a large container of the dry mix and store it in the refrigerator.

The 21 Vegan Kickstart Program provides a thorough list of ingredients to help you stay on track. We now keep a variety of dry beans in the pantry, veggie burgers in the freezer, and a great selection of fruits and veggies for meal prep and snacks. I made up a tasty brown, black and wild rice mix so we can easily prepare enough for a couple of days.

The program also emails you recipes for each day.  We've been printing out the ones we liked and set up a binder in the kitchen. Yesterday we picked out a weeks worth and will get any missing ingredients on the next shopping trip. So we have been following the basic guidelines since the program started but have been winging it on recipes.

Chef-Boy has truly stepped up to the challenge and is a master of creating utter gastronomic bliss with whatever ingredients are on hand. He is the "cooka" and I am the designated "cleana-upa" which is a partnership that work's great for us. Here is one of his Variations on a Theme: 

He slow cooked a large pot of red beans and sauce (home canned tomato sauce from last summer), froze 2 quarts for another time and kept some aside some for dinner. I should have photographed the presentation, but I was too hungry! Red beans topped with asparagus tips, carrots and squash; a small portion of edemame salad (Costco has a great one) with sliced tomatoes and the kicker: mashed sweet/white potatoes smoothed with an avocado instead of milk and/or butter and little ground pepper. Oh Baby!

Day 10 Observation: We are more creative than we imagined and aren't missing meat, dairy and eggs.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Day One As a 66 Year Old Vegan

We recently watched a PBS program called the "21 Day Vegan KickStart" that set us on a journey to see how changes in eating habits might keep us healthy and add to longevity. At 66 you start thinking about those things.

Wake Up Call ~ Slap on the Back of the Head ~ Hello is Anyone in There?

For most of our lives we have taken our bodies for granted and along the way forgotten the concept of common sense. Our eating habits are a train wreck and self discipline left the building along with Elvis. When we were young we could get away with it because we had something called a metabolism rate and walked to school, played sports, hiked the local woods and spent most of our time outdoors. There were no electronic diversions except perhaps Ed Sullivan and Bonanza on Sunday night.

Over scheduled lives, computers, advertising and fast food have led us down the proverbial garden path and into an endless maze of bad habits. The truth of the matter is we're easy and have mastered the art of justification. The irony is that we now have the audacity to wonder why we aren't as healthy as we used to be and whine about aches, pains, adult onset diabetes, weight, and bad numbers on blood tests. Well guess what it's our fault and we're the only ones that can fix it: no whining, no excuses! So here we go.

To our credit we already work out at the local gym and have a large garden that keeps us physically active. We still however will be making a paradigm shift in eating habits. Sacrifices to come for sure, but it's only for 21 days. And truth be told we may find the new habits are worth keeping.

For me the toughest part is giving up butter, cheese, chicken and yogurt. However that loss is tempered by the fact I'm married to "Chef Boy" who has already been doing a little experimenting within our new perimeters. So stay tuned for further adventures of the 66 Year Old Vegan.

The web site is if you're interested in finding out more.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A Moment in Time

I'm starting to work on my family genealogy again. It's been on the back burner since 2007. I was sorting accumulated information into folders this morning and tucked into some historical letters, totally out of place, was an experience, a moment in time, I wrote down on 07/07/07. 

Two highways intersect in my home town of Sebastopol. I was on my way home from Santa Rosa and was stopped in the left turn lane on Hwy 12 waiting to turn south onto Hwy 116. It was one of those magical windows down, summer days. Traffic was backed up because of the timing of the signal so both directions were stopped, but no one seemed to mind (unusual to say the least).

I looked to my left at the same time the driver of a car going in the opposite direction looked up and we caught each other's eye. He was grinning from ear to ear and out of the blue said "I just found out my pregnant wife and her baby are healthy". She and her young daughter (maybe 2 or 3) were also in the car and she broke into a big smile at his comment.

I said "It doesn't get much better than that" and then thought for a second and added "unless you get to retire (which I had done the previous year)!" We laughed out loud, wished each other well and then traffic started moving.