Tag Archives: food

Follow the Recipe. Or Don’t.

Last night I made tofu Banh Mi for supper.  Well, more accurately, I made something that kind of looked like Banh Mi from about 20 feet away.  By way of background, Banh Mi is a Vietnamese sandwich with of one or more meats, accompanying vegetables like fresh cucumber slices, cilantro and pickled carrots and white radishes in shredded form, and spicy condiments. Mine was seasoned fried tofu topped with carrot ribbons, sweet onion, and thinly sliced cucumber sautéed with garlic and red pepper flakes-and a healthy shot of Siracha.  I got the idea for this meal from a cookbook, but I used the recipe as more of a guideline than as a set process.

That’s kind of how I handle a lot of things.  Someone comes up with a strictly regimented process and promotes it as “the” way to do something.  Then I come along and trouble-maker that I am, I take a look at the process and go my own way.  I tend to look at the end I wish to achieve, and work the path backwards from it to where I presently am and hit pause.  Once I see how I can get the result I want, I hit play and away I go.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.  Even if I mess up along the way, I can take a detour if necessary.  And I try to learn from my mistakes.

This is my take on Banh Mi.

Time For A Change

Two days ago I started an new workout program, The Masters Hammer and Chisel, a weights and sculpting program, having completed two rounds of Body Beast, a weights program.  I’m pleased with the results from Body Beast with one exception: my belly.  I can’t seem to get rid of my excess middle!

So I’m going to try something for a while.  I’m going to consciously minimize-not eliminate-my intake of refined carbohydrates.  For example, last night I had leftover organic spaghetti with homemade marinara.   While the spaghetti was organic, it was still a refined carb.  Ever since I went vegan, I think I have unconsciously gravitated toward carbs.  When I do have refined cards from this point on, I’m going to seek out whole grains.

Lucky for me, I have a Fitbit that I can use to help me track my intake.  So far today by mid-morning, my refined carbs have consisted of two fig Newtons.  Wish me luck!

My weakness!

Living Simply in the Summer

Summer is a great time of the year, up here in Maine.  The cold of winter has receded and snow is just a memory (for a few months, anyway).  Now is a good time to just slow down and take a deep breath.

One of the wonderful things about summer is that farmers’ markets and roadside stands are open for business. Summer eating can be simple and at the same time fulfilling.   Early in the season there are often a lot of greens from which to choose, as well as last fall’s root crops.  A nice salad or a plate of veggies and humus are a great way to eat a simple and satisfy meal that will actually do you some good, nutrionally speaking.  Later on, tomatoes arrive-there are not many things as pleasant to eat as a fresh, vine-ripened tomato, in my book.

A great way to spend time outdoors in the summer is to grab a good book (or e-book in my case) and set yourself down under a shady tree.  It doesn’t matter whether you are sitting in a lawn chair, a blanket on the grass, or on the grass itself.  With a book in one hand and a glass of iced lemonade in the other, you can experience the simple pleasure of relaxing.  That’s something which is often in short supply in our modern, hectic lives.

Another simple and fun summer activity is to drive to one of Maine’s many tourist-enticing coastal towns, and just walk around.  Do some window shopping, eat at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant, and people watch.  If you take your own lunch and eat in a park or by the water, all it will cost you is the price of some gasoline.  What a deal!

A basket of ripe tomatoes.

One of the simple pleasures of summer: fresh tomatoes!

Elusive Serenity

I have written before that I view decrappification as having multiple aspects.  There is the rather obvious one of minimizing the number of possessions in my home.  That leads to a streamlining of the way I organize my home, which is to say less stuff to take care of means a less cluttered environment.  A third aspect, by no means the last, is a certain spiritual decluttering that comes with pursuit of simplicity.

The funny thing is, spiritual serenity can be quite elusive if it’s actively sought.  Think of trying to hold on to a slippery wet bar of soap-the harder you try, the less likely you are to succeed.  This past Sunday I found such serenity even though I was not actively seeking it.

I found it while planting my gardens.  As I was digging up my raised beds, the aroma of soil and compost calmed me.  I got my hands right into the soil as I transplanted my seedlings, and the feel of the sun-warmed soil soothed me.  I marveled at how tiny the kale seeds are and the potential they contain despite their small size.  I enjoyed watching wildlife from insects exploring the newly turned-over soil to the trio of bald eagles that slowly drifted on thermals above me.  And I had a sense of satisfaction from taking personal and direct responsibility for the source and quality of my food.

All this without even trying!

my gardnes 2014

Simplified Eating

A couple of weeks ago I made a decision to no longer eat meat, based largely upon ethical choices.  There’s a lot more to this decision than that simple sentence suggests, but this post isn’t about why I chose as I did.  It’s about how I have simplified my cooking and eating.

First, I make my life easier during the week by pre-cooking a few staples during the weekend.  I make a big batch of organic pasta of some variety, a couple (dry) cups of brown rice, and some quinoa.  I also steam a good sized bunch of kale or other greens to about the half-done point, as well as other veggies depending upon what’s on sale or strikes my fancy.  I store these in containers in the fridge, and when I am ready for supper I can mix and match, along with tofu, tempeh, beans, or lentils and fresh veggies like mushrooms, tomatoes and cucumbers for soup, stir fry, pasta, and so on.

I also make a big pot of something that can be frozen, like chili or stew.  This gives me an option of just popping something into the microwave.  That’s about as simple as supper gets during the week for me!

The other thing I do is make sure I have lots of herbs and spices on hand.  (Nothing is worse for my appetite than blandness.)  I add these at the last minute so that an entire batch of rice, for example, isn’t curried.  Also, I’m not above buying pasta sauce and so forth, but since it’s so easy I usually make my own by blending drained diced canned tomatoes (organic if possible) with herbs and simmering until I like the consistency-this seldom takes more than 15 minutes.

In truth, I rarely eat salads at home-I want a real meal when I get home from work.  By having the majority of my cooking done on Sunday, I can easily and quickly whip up a tasty meal in very little time during the work week.