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Friday, February 16, 2018

A Vegan Bowl Of Goodness and a Good Read

Each week I take time to cut up my veggies, this makes meal preparation a snap for the rest of the week. I bag all the chopped veggies up and keep them in the fridge. Once the bag is empty I clean it out and then keep it in the bottom of the fridge drawer so I can refill it at my cut up session.

For lunch and dinner most days I eat my Vegan Bowl of Goodness, sometimes known as a Buddha Bowl, or as my mother calls it, my bowl of weeds!

A pot of green tea and a VBG!

I steam my veggies, I will always have a couple of servings of greens, collard or kale, red cabbage, diced tomatoes, nutritional yeast, mushrooms and Brussel sprouts, the other veggies are added as the mood strikes me. I like sweet potato, rutabaga, turnip, parsnip, carrots, beets. 

Brussel sprouts and sweet potato
Collard greens, purple cabbage and mushrooms

The veggies go in the steamer first, then I dump in the greens and cabbage and top it all off with some sliced mushrooms. I put some diced tomatoes and lentils in a bowl and heat them in the microwave, and then add a couple tablespoons of nutritional yeast (nooch). 
Once my veggies are ready, ten minutes at the very most, I simply dump them on top of my lentil, tomato, nooch mixture and ENJOY!

For dessert I enjoy a half a cup of frozen blueberries.
Lentils and diced tomato
Nooch added to my lentil, tomato mix

My most favorite Vegan Bowl of Goodness is my morning bowl of oatmeal with a couple tablespoons of ground flax seed mixed in, it is sooooo yummy and I just absolutely love it. I often have a second bowl of oats in the afternoon for a snack, really I could live only on oatmeal and be quite happy.

Ahhh, me lovely oats!

I am so enjoying my "more reading" for 2018. I am devouring books and all have been good so far. Earlier this week I whipped through Symposium by Muriel Spark, it was excellent. It is a well written story, a wealthy London couple host a dinner party for ten, some of the guests know each other, and some know of, but don't know each other. There is a bit of mystery, a lot of comedy, a fabulous plot, no one is as they seem, and it is very enjoyable. Highly recommend it.

The second book I started this week is by Armistead Maupin, Tales of the City. This book is an absolute kitchy riot! It is laugh out loud funny, as it depicts life in the mid seventies in San Francisco, the gay scene, the drug scene, the one night stand scene, the restless, bored, never satisfied uber wealthy people and their scene. Lives intersect, part, regroup, in a constant changing scene of depravity, it is great stuff. And the kitchy part, OMG, the descriptions, from the milk crate book shelves, the macramé plant hangers, shag carpeting, hang in there baby cat posters, you can just picture it all! Highly recommend this book too.

Well good people that is all I have today, I've gotta get back to my Tales in the City babies!

Peace be with you,


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

A Cold and Frosty Morning and Kimchi Update

I LOVE walking on a cold winters morning. I leave when it is dark, layered up against the cold, and I totally enjoy the hour and half I spend outdoors as I begin my day. The sky is dark, the constellations stand out well, the moon is bright, if there is snow on the ground it crunches pleasingly as I march along. I listen to BBC Radio 4, or 4Extra, as I walk, enjoying a story or play. It is the best time, I think I am a bit of a loner at heart, and I really enjoy being alone with my thoughts and being outside.
As I mentioned it is dark when I start out, but by the end of my walk the sun is rising, and the last part of my walk is due east, so I really get the full impact of a winter morning sunrise, and they are spectacularly beautiful. Here are some pictures to enjoy from this mornings walk, it was 12 degrees, so quite cold, but no wind, and believe me that makes all the difference.

Kimchi update - FAILURE :) Oh my, I followed for the most part a recipe from Epicurious.  I read the recipe review comments after making my kimchi, many noted that the recipe was way too salty. I thought mine would be okay because I omitted the soy sauce and fish sauce, both very salty. Sadly I was quite mistaken, to say my kimchi was salty is truly a gross understatement of the facts, it was so salty it was inedible. And, then the half cup of red pepper, I did a little less, made the mixture so spicy hot it literally burned my mouth. I let the kimchi sit another day and tried it again, it was still vile beyond belief so I had to throw it all away. I feel sad, quite sad, to have wasted two entire Napa cabbages, as they are so delightfully tasty. I did however very much enjoy the small jar of store bought kimchi, but will not make this a regular purchase as it is very expensive. I think if I want to eat fermented food I will stick with my old, inexpensive standby, sauerkraut!

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Kimchi Experimentation and a Book Review

2 Quarts of Kimchi

I purchased a small jar of kimchi so I could try it, and I found it very pleasant, very flavorful, a nice little addition to a meal. I looked at several recipes online and just kind of cobbled them together to make my own vat. So this is how I made mine, can't tell you how it tastes as it now needs to sit for three days and ferment.

I took two heads of napa cabbage and mixed in 1 cup of coarse salt and then covered everything with water, placed a plate on top of the cabbage to weight it down, covered the bowl with saran wrap, and then set the bowl in the basement overnight. This morning I drained and very thoroughly rinsed the Napa cabbage. I cut up 8 ounces of daikon radish into matchstick size pieces, finely chopped ginger, probably 2 ounces, a bunch of green onions chopped, a few leaves of mustard greens chopped, 2 tablespoons of garlic, 1 tablespoon of sugar, and almost half a cup of ground red pepper. I mixed everything together for a while, then jammed the whole lot into a half gallon mason jar. The jar is now sitting in the fridge and I will leave it alone for three days and hopefully have some good tasting kimchi on Tuesday. My Kimchi is vegan, I did not had fish sauce, or shrimp sauce, this is a standard ingredient in most Kimchi, I also did not add soy sauce as I didn't want to continue to boost the salt level of the mixture.
Kimchi is good for gut health as the fermentation process produces good microbes for your gut, a little bit goes a long way, it sure is a powerhouse of flavors, and it will keep indefinitely in the fridge. I assume it will just become more flavorful the longer it sits.

 Granddaughter Alivia in her "bright stripe" sweater
I finished the sweater I was knitting for Alivia, I like how it turned out, I have started a second sweater for little sister Aubrey.

Bean - Book Reviewer
I mentioned in my last post that I finished reading Fall of the Giants by Ken Follett. I would now like to review the book.

I was not a big fan of the characters in the book, they were so obviously plot devices to be the eyes of each major historical event, and they continually kept crossing each others paths in a way that seemed unbelievable, and of course one or more where always present at all major historical events during the time period covered. But that said, I feel that I learned a lot about WW1, and other political issues going on during that time period.

I learned a lot about the suffragettes and how initially only women age 30 or older, who owned property worth more than five pounds, and/or were married to a man who owned property at the value or more were finally allowed the right to vote in 1918, in fact the 100 year anniversary just occurred and I knew what a battle that limited right was, and all thanks to the book I read.
I learned that the average working man did not have the right to vote, all decisions favored the wealthy and they had all of the power and all of the say in the governing of Great Britain, and unsurprisingly laws favored the wealthy and did nothing for the working man but keep him poor and in his place.
I learned that WW1 was a war started for no really good reason, and it kind of ran out of steam because no one really knew what they wanted as an end result. The average working man had no say whatsoever about going into war and they were literally slaughtered by the tens of thousands in a completely unnecessary war. 
I learned a lot about the Russian revolution, how desperately impoverished the Russian people were under the thumb of the Tsars, and how they managed to unseat the Tsars and to get in new leadership, the Soviets (a word that means council) only to find that for the most part they were no better off. I guess as they say, absolute power corrupts absolutely.

So, I would recommend this book because it is jam packed with historical facts, it shows the impact of historical events on the elite, middle class and working poor, and sadly makes you realize that 100 years later the world is still just as confusing and power hungry as it ever was.

I will be starting the 2nd book in the trilogy in the next week or two and will review when finished.

Friday, February 9, 2018

January In Review

Here we are already a week into February, craziness!

In January I made some new year resolutions and so far have kept them!

1. Dry January - best thing I did - and now I am having a dry February, and other than the first week or two of January I have not missed my evening glass(es) of wine! Win Win for Bean.

2. Healthy vegan diet, and exercise - check - in fact I have added strength training and after a month of weights, crunches, push ups, leg lifts etc. I am feeling quite buff and definitely feel stronger and look more toned, this is a fantastic addition to my exercise regime. I still walk or run 5 plus miles most days of the week.  And, Dave has started lifting weights too, so evenings of relaxing with an alcoholic beverage are replaced with a trip to the basement to strength train.

3. The Garden. Well not much happening yet, it is only February, the snow is falling and spring seems a long way off. But Dave did go out and step off the gardens so we can begin to plan what we want to plant and where we will plant it. I plan to grow the foods I eat, I will do a lot of Roma tomatoes, like 50 plants, these will all be canned, I eat tomatoes every day, lunch and dinner. But I would like some Big Boy tomatoes planted in the second garden, maybe half a dozen, so we have some to enjoy fresh from the vine. I will grow Kale and Collard Greens, Turnips, Rutabaga, Cucumbers, Green Peppers, Radishes, all things I eat almost daily. We will grow some potatoes, Yukon Gold, and Red, and I would like to try some of the purple fingerling varieties, and we like to grow sweet onions and a little bit of corn and some melons. I can't wait to get out and start digging over the gardens and getting everything ready, another month and we should be able to get started, potatoes can go in on Good Friday.

4. Not buying stuff - well I did very well in January, only purchases were groceries. February I splurged a whole $4.84 on a book, the used book cost .85 cents, and shipping, from England, $3.99. So, all in all, I am for the most part doing well with this resolution.

What book did I order, Seasons Of My Life by Hannah Hauxhall. I learned of Hannah last week, she was mentioned in British newspapers as she had recently died at the age of 91. So who was she? Hannah was a unique woman with a strong constitution. The only child of Yorkshire farmers, she lived on an isolated farm in the Pennines, her life was hard. Hannah was left to run the farm on her own at the age of 46 after the deaths of her parents and uncle. Life was frugal to the extreme, in 1972 she was living on around two hundred and ninety pounds a year, she had no electricity and no running water. Hannah raised cows for a living, this involved a massive amount of physical work, hauling water by hand, hauling hay, and then just the struggles of day to day living, washing clothes in the stream, hauling her own drinking water. The one luxury she had was an organ in the living room which she enjoyed playing. Hannah became a sort of celebrity when she was featured in a film in 1972 that exposed her frugal, hard working life. The winters are brutal in the Penninnes and Hannah was quoted as saying, "in the summer I live, in the winter I exist". I am looking forward to reading her book. If you go to youtube and search Hannah Hauxhall you can find the hour or so long television program about her life on the farm.

Another goal I have this year is to read, and read, and read. I finished the first in a trilogy of books by Ken Follett, Fall of The Giants, a 1000 page read about World War I, I have the second, equally long book, Winter World, which continues the story in the interim years of WW1 and WWII, then the third book is Edge of Eternity, which I assume is about WWII.  I recently read Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Okay by Gail Honeyman, a very quick read, a very sad book, a good story. I really enjoyed Eleanor Oliphant and highly recommend it. I am now ready The Stories of Muriel Spark, what a fantastic writer Muriel is, she just has such an ability to show just what makes people tick and sees exactly what the real motivations are for why people do the things they do. When I finish with the Muriel Spark book I have Tales of The City by Armistead Maupin, I am looking forward to reading it, I have recently listened to a dramatization of the book on BBC4 radio and enjoyed it very much, so much so I decided to read the book. This is the same reason I stumbled across the Eleanor Oliphant book. I have a book ready for pick up at the library called Harvest by Jim Crace. I heard an interview with the author recently on BBC4 and he was interesting to listen to and although they were speaking about a more recent book he has written, they mentioned Harvest and  I read some reviews and decided I wanted to read it. So my goal to read more this year is going well.

I am going to experiment with making some Kimchi, it is a Korean food, apparently served with everything. Essentially it is fermented cabbage, but not sauerkraut. Using Napa cabbage, a very mild, tender, quite delicious cabbage, some scallions, daikon radish, ginger, garlic, red pepper and coarse salt, and if you like a few leaves of mustard greens, you make the Kimchi. The cabbage, scallions, radish are put in salted water and left to sit overnight, then the other ingredients are mixed together, then added to the drained and rinsed cabbage mixture. The whole lot is put into jars sealed with a lid, and left in a cool place for three or so days, then kept in the fridge indefinitely. The health benefits are for the gut, the microbes produced in the fermenting process are good for gut health. And, it is a tasty, high fiber, low calorie flavorful side dish. Traditional Kimchi has fish sauce in it, I will skip this as it is not vegan.

Well that is all for now,