Monthly Archives: August 2012

Morning Orange

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In case you didn’t already know, orange is my absolute favorite color. It has been since I was 13. I love anything orange – food, clothes, shoes, accessories, furniture, the list goes on. Today I thought I’d bring you some morning orange – here are some lovely images from around the web that brightened up my morning.

I would sit here and drink tea every morning.

some great dresses.

the perfect clutch.

love these shoes.

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A promise

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OK, that’s enough for now but I want to PROMISE you all that from now on I will include lots of fun and exciting pictures.  I’m visiting my sister in Wisconsin later this week and we’re going on a puppy hunt to find she and her boyfriend the perfect puppy, so I can promise lots of goofy seester pictures and lots of adorable puppy pictures too! Until then, here is Peanut. She’s first on the list to visit!

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Peanut, from Puppy Love Rescue in West Bend, WI

Update: Peanut, now known as Kira, came home with my sister and Matt on Sunday. She now lives in Madison, WI and is the cutest puppy I have ever seen. We love her already!

The weekend in food, part 2

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The next morning we woke up and went directly to the farmer’s market. Grand Junction is kind of a meccas for fruit and vegetables this time of year (two of the nearby communities are called Fruita and Orchard Mesa) so it’s a sin to eat anything other than fresh, local food. We bought a box of peaches, took them home and made corn meal pancakes slathered with Greek honey yogurt and fresh, juicy sliced peaches. It’s one of my favorite summer breakfasts and if you’ve visited me here during the months of July and October, it’s probably what we ate for at least one, if not multiple, breakfasts. The natural sweetness of the peaches and the not-to sweet quality of the yogurt means you can eat these pancakes with no syrup (and they only have 1T of sugar in the recipe)!

And then Nora left and Kyle was gone and I was starting to feel sick so I slept a lot, went for a run and cooked some more. Here are my culinary adventures from yesterday (needless to say, we have leftovers for the whole week!)

Zucchini Patty Sandwiches (courtesy of WholeLiving – a delicious falafel-like meal that helps me use the millions of zucchini coming out of my garden right now)

  • 1 15.5-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup plain breadcrumbs
  • 1 zucchini, grated (I used one and a half and added a few extra breadcrumbs)
  • 1 small red onion, grated
  • 1 egg, lightly whisked
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 whole-wheat pitas, toasted
  • 1 cup low-fat Greek yogurt
  • 8 leaves tender lettuce
  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves
  1. Mash chickpeas in a bowl until smooth. Stir in breadcrumbs, zucchini, onion, egg, and salt. I added garlic powder and a little dash of cayenne for some heat. I also threw in a bit of white pepper. Form into eight 4-by-1/2-inch patties.
  2. Saute patties in oil until golden and crisp, 2 to 3 minutes per side.
  3. Halve pitas and stuff with patties, yogurt, lettuce, and mint. I added tomatoes and avacado to mine because they were in the fridge and it was a delicious addition.

    These were so delicious. I added a few extra ingredients as I was going through because I wanted to use extra zucchini, so we’ll have leftovers for awhile, but this is a great thing to throw together for a delicious lunch at work. I highly recommend this recipe as well!

    And finally, I was feeling a little sugar deprived so I made some yummy red velvet cupcakes to take for dessert at work this week. I left the frosting off because I was a little mortified at how much butter the cream cheese frosting recipes called for and these cupcakes had enough flavor and moisture to stand along. Of course, now I can’t find the recipe I used, but the secret was using plain vanilla yogurt as your dairy product – no milk or butter milk. That gives the cupcake a hint of the flavor the frosting usually brings, thus eliminating the need for frosting. Genius! Ok, that’s enough food talk for now. Just know that my tummy was happy this weekend 🙂

The weekend in food, part 1

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Food is something that has traditionally been very communal for me. I guess it comes from living very communally for most of my late adolescence and early adult life. From the time I was 18 until 9 months ago, there was only a three month period when I wasn’t in some sort of roommate situation (I don’t count right now – Kyle is NOT my roommate, he’s my partner. This is a surprisingly important distinction). In college, we were lucky to get people together for one “house dinner” every couple of weeks, but in my post-college years where schedules can be a bit more predictable, my roommates and I have made it a point to enjoy our meals together whenever possible. Plus, what’s the fun in cooking for one?

On the menu this weekend, we had some old favorites and some new experiments. Everything was delicious! For dinner with Nora on Friday night, I made one of my family’s favorite healthy dishes, the Glory Bowl. This recipe comes from Whitewater Cooks, a wonderful cookbook full of recipes put together by the talented and creative chefs at Whitewater Ski Resort in Nelson, BC. This cookbook is full of recipes that use fresh, local ingredients and burst with flavor. The dressing on this bowl is easily my favorite dressing (and sauce for that matter). It can go on almost anything.

Glory Bowl, serves 8

The Bowl

8 cups cooked brown rice
2 cups beets,grated
2 cups carrots, grated
2 cups almonds, toasted
2 cups spinach leaves
2 cups tofu, cubed

Dressing

1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup tamari or soy sauce
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
2 tbsp tahini paste

Prepare brown rice and set aside. In a skillet saute tofu cubes or braise under broiler with tamari, garlic, ginger and sesame oil.
Combine nutritional yeast flakes, water, tamari, apple cider vinegar, tahini and crushed garlic in blender. Add oil in a steady stream.
Place brown rice into 8 bowls, top with beets, carrots, spinach leaves, almonds and tofu. Drizzle (or completely drench in my case) with dressing.

This is a super healthy, yet filling and very satisfying combination between a salad and a stir fry. I described it to Nora as a stir fry minus the fry. I highly recommend it!

While I was grating and sauteeing and steaming, Nora was on the other side of the kitchen whipping up our favorite no-bake vegan desert, Chocolate Avocado Pie. The first time I had this pie, I remember thinking, “Who are the crazy people wasting avocados on dessert? Let’s just make guacamole!” I’m so glad they convinced me otherwise. This recipe is sooo satisfying and surprisingly not too bad for you!

Filling:
5-6 avocados
1/2 cup coconut oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tblsp cinnamon
1 cup agave
3/4 cup cacao powder
1 tsp vanillacrust
1 1/2 cups ground almond meal (or ground flax seed for a denser crust)
1 tblsp coconut oil
1/4 cup agave (I usually use honey, but some vegans choose not to eat honey, so check with them if you are making this pie for vegan friends!)
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 cup water

Mix em both separate, pat crust in pie plate with fingers (or a fork if you care), layer pudding mix on top, chill in freezer for a bit or leave in the fridge as long as you like. It works best to mix the filling in a food processor to make it smooth!

No-bake vegan chocolate avocado pie. Yum! Photo: Nora Livingston

We ate dinner while the pie was chilling, then gorged ourselves on pie (which is actually quite filling, given all the avocado goodness inside) while we listened to love Ooolation music and continued catching up. What a lovely and nostalgic evening!

The weekend in words

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Unusual, I know. Usually it’s the weekend in picture, but my boyfriend took our camera to Las Vegas with him to visit his high school friends and their one year old daughter. Let’s just hope he took tons of adorable pictures of her!

This weekend was really fun! I’ve recently started working 4-10 hour days at my job, so I have three day weekends every weekend. This time around, my dear friend Nora who I met during my time at Mono Lake (which you can read about here) was driving to Fort Collins and stopped to spend 24 hours with me! This is a major treat. The time I spent in Le Vining, CA is easily the best time of my life. I had just graduated from college, was relatively stress and commitment free, was completely carefree and not at all worried about the future. I was able to be 100% committed to where I was and what I was doing, no outside distractions and no wishes for the past or future. One of my biggest challenges is really being where I am, and for two years I was able to do it without a second thought.

Nora is a person I was destined to know. We went to the same college for a year and even had a class together, but missed the opportunity to get to know one another until we both had summer internships with the Mono Lake Committee. Nora is a person who loves unconditionally, and is so enthusiastic about life it’s hard not to be happy around her. Since I moved away from Lee Vining, Nora has come to visit me twice in Grand Junction and I’ve been back to visit her once and it’s always a wonderful time.

Friends from Lee Vining, Nora is in the middle.

This time around, we chatted about what’s been going on in Lee Vining since my visit last winter, went paddle boarding on Highline Lake, a small state park near town, made delicious food (more on this soon) and played cribbage (a tradition of ours). It was so lovely to catch up with Nora, and to be completely re-energized by her infectious enthusiasm! Nora, I love you so much! Thanks for taking time to come see me, and I can’t wait until next time.

Fall Time

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Fall is my favorite season. To me, it symbolizes new beginnings – a relic from years of going to back to school I guess. But it’s also the time when you get to think about drinking pumpkin spice lattes (yes, I will drink caffeine if it is in a pumpkin spice latte), scarves, cuddling up on the couch with warm blankets and watching movies. While spring a summer are very active in my mind, fall is a time to relax, to exhale, and to reassess. Plus, it’s the harvest! Ruby red tomatoes drooping from the vines, tiny green pumpkins peeking out behind giant, green flag leaves. Beets and onions, covered in dirt. Herbs straight from the garden into the tomato sauce. Yes, fall time – when the priorities are canning and cooking and not letting it all go to waste – is my favorite.

By the way, I caved recently and bought a pair of colored jeans. I’m a little embarrassed, but when I found a pair of emerald green jeans for $22, I couldn’t help myself. I’ve never been much for fashion, so integrating these into my pretty bare bones wardrobe may be a bit of a challenge. Fall, you and I have some fashion decisions to make. It’ll be interesting and possibly a huge disaster.

Speaking of fall and new beginnings and reassessing, this fall (Oct 1 eek!) I’m applying to a post baccalaureate pre medical certificate program at Montana State University in my hometown of Bozeman, MT. In my previous post, I mention that I’m planning to go to PA school. What I didn’t mention is that I will have to put in at least three years BEFORE I can even apply. In college I had no idea “what I wanted to be when I grow up” and as a result, I took classes that sounded interesting to me. I loved them. They’ve served me well in the thinking department. In college, I definitely learned how to think, I learned how to learn. But it was certainly not vocational and while I watched my friends (and boyfriend at the time) killing themselves to get through Organic Chemistry (Orgo or OChem depending on which college you went to), Genetics, MicroBio, etc, I wrote my 5 page papers and went outside to play volleyball. Now, four years later, I’m paying for that. Literally.

If I get in, I’ll start the program at MSU in May. It will be 15 months of INTENSE science classes – IntroBio, IntroChem, Orgo, Physics, MicroBio, Genetics, Anatomy&Physiology, the list goes on. I’m a little nervous considering I never had to study that much to get through my undergrad curriculum, but I’ve never felt so motivated before. Hopefully the feeling lasts until I can actually start the work.

In the meantime, I’m volunteering 3 hrs/week at our local hospital. I’m a nurses aid on the Med/Surg floor and my duties consist of wiping every surface down with a bleach-like substance to keep germs from being passed, checking the ceiling tiles in the patient rooms to make sure they’re not stained or dirty, and restocking rubber gloves throughout the floor. There’s more to it than that, but needless to say, it’s not glamorous work. It is fun when I get to go into patient rooms and chat with them as I work through my duties. It’s amazing and very sad how many people are alone in the hospital. I have some insight into this which I’ll be sharing in a later post.

Once I finish my post bacc work, then I have to accumulate as many “patient contact” hours as I can. I can gain these as an EMT, a CNA, an ER Tech or a few other positions that are highly competitive and will require additional training. It’s a lot of work, but it’s exciting to feel so motivated and ready. I’ve begun taking an online math class this fall to help prepare me for some of the more challenging classes ahead.

Wish me luck!