Friday, April 30, 2010

My week

I cooked for company. (Take the skin off the chicken, use more garlic and celery, and sub diced tomatoes for the tomato sauce.)

I turned 36. Thanks to Dr. G. for surprising me with ice cream cake and balloons. It's not too hard to make me happy!

I made some bread.

I did some good OCD-type menu planning. Wonder if I will really cook breakfast? I need to try. We spend way too much on cold cereal.

It snowed again. But as you can see, it's already melting fast.

I also got my Montana driver's license in the mail. I look like a hardened criminal. Not sharing that one on the blog. Torturing the store clerks and airport check-in attendants of the world with that scary, scary image will be enough.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Hello, Mother

For Earth Day yesterday we decided to go hiking instead of our usual morning jaunt to the YMCA. We chose Maud S Canyon because it is close by and easy to get to. A little much on the "up" factor for my kids, who have not hiked much. They pooped out before we got to the top. We will have to remedy that. We still had a beautiful hike and enjoyed some good sunshine, getting home well before the weather changed in the afternoon. Springtime in the Rockies!

We got some good discussion time in about erosion, the history of mining in this area, the Boulder Batholith, the purpose of public lands, and why you don't usually want to drink water from a stream (great way to get Giardia!)

This is the fun, fun, fun part of home school!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

In a beanery

The family has christened this recipe "Indian Beans." Fair enough, since I changed it enough that it is really no longer Toor Dal, at all, although I started with that recipe from my "A Little Taste of India" cookbook. (Real Toor Dal, according to the book, would be based on yellow lentils; use something called kokum instead of oranges to impart a tart, fruity flavor to the lentils; start with whole spices to be ground and roasted, and have curry leaves and jaggery and fresh cilantro. None of those were around in my kitchen!)

Impressively, the whole family except one notoriously picky person enjoyed it, and we even had A's friend over for dinner, and he claimed to like it. He ate it, at least.

This is a super earthy dish, rich with spices without being spicy-hot. It's very nice for the still-cold weather up here! We served it with rice, this egg curry, fat-free Greek yogurt standing in for real raita, and sliced oranges. Not too shabby. I ate the leftovers (pictured here) with roasted mushrooms and orange slices.

Indian Beans (modified Toor Dal)
2 c lentils
1 small navel orange, not peeled, cut into quarters

2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground turmeric

1 small can diced green chilies
1 (14-0z) can diced tomatoes
2 tbsp. molasses, honey or agave syrup

Rinse and pick over lentils. Remove any seeds from orange. Place lentils and orange in a medium sized saucepan. Cover with 4 c. water. Bring to a boil, then simmer, adding more water if needed, for about 30 minutes or until the lentils are soft. Remove orange sections and discard. Set lentils aside.

In a large pan, heat oil over low heat. Add the mustard seeds and allow to pop. Add other dry spices and cook for 1 minute. Add tomato and green chilies and cook 2-3 minutes. Add the sweetening of your choice, then stir in the lentils. Bring to a simmer and cook another 10 minutes. Season with salt to taste.

Monday, April 12, 2010


A couple of weeks ago we went up to G's parents' property in the hills north of town to tool around and waste time on a Sunday afternoon.

It was spectacularly lovely.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Groovy tunes

Miriam requested my workout playlist. It is not a carefully crafted type deal. Just a collection of random stuff I had and/or got recommended by friends and/or got for free from Amazon's free tracks list. Whatever seemed motivational or had the right kind of pace, went on the list.

This baby goes on shuffle, and I skip songs if they aren't working for where I am in the workout at that moment. I also sometimes adjust the resistance on the elliptical so I can match the speed of the songs and stay challenged.

The Breeders: It's the Love
Coldplay: Death and All His Friends
The Breeders: Bang On
Gnarls Barkley: Charity Case
Gnarls Barkley: Run
Lenny Kravitz: Are You Gonna Go My Way?
Lenny Kravitz: Fly Away
Prince: U Got the Look
Prince: Kiss
Prince: 1999
Amy Winehouse: Rehab
Coldplay: Strawberry Swing
Gnarls Barkley: Surprise
Gnarls Barkley: She Knows
Ari Hest: The Weight
Bob Mould: Paralyzed
Caitlin Cary and Thad Cockrell: Second Option
Jack Johnson: Staple It Together
Jack Johnson: Breakdown
Los Lonely Boys: Senorita
Los Lonely Boys: Crazy Dream
Parker Brother: Your California
Sloan: Who Taught You to Live Like That?
The Chevelles: Get it On
Paul Simon: Proof
India Arie: Beautiful Day
Robert Plant and Alison Krauss: Fortune Teller
Gnarls Barkley: Going On
Ari Hest: Dead End Driving
David Bowie: All the Young Dudes
Paul Simon: Can't Run But
The Whigs: Kill Me Carolyn
The Ting Tings: That's Not My Name
OK Go: Here it Goes Again
Jupiter One: Countdown
Joss Stone: Fell in Love With a Boy
Michael Franti: Say Hey (I Love You)
Goldfrapp: Rocket
The Nadas: Long Goodbye
India Arie: Better Way
India Arie: Ghetto
Ari Hest: A Day a Week a Month a Year
Lenny Kravitz: Again

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Dare I say

Diet? I have never wanted to blog about this a lot. I find it a strange combination of personal and boring, at least when it's a constant topic. Nonetheless ...

I have lost 14 pounds since we moved. Part of it is that I have been very consistent about going to the YMCA and have even joined a class, something I never thought I would be into. I am famously uncoordinated and not much of a joiner. Plus, the group fitness room at my gym in Merced was really a fishbowl. No, thanks.

But I like exercise now. The gym is my kid-free time, what with my husband working lots of hours in a new job, with living in a town where we have not yet figured out a good babysitter, and with not having any spare money for that babysitter anyway as we pay off our move and our last several months of living in California. And when I don't have a class (where I will, in fact, work a little harder just because Holly the teacher is there asking me to!) I have an MP3 player and an outstanding list of tunes to motivate me through 30 minutes on the treadmill and 30 on the elliptical. (Those are the really good days!)

See, I'm avoiding the food topic. But in fact I have improved a bit on food, too, and the change has certainly helped.

Our bedroom and TV room are now not on the same floor as the refrigerator. So once we put the kids to bed and head downstairs for the evening, it's not so tempting to climb the stairs for a snack.

And I've been sticking pretty religiously with a no-seconds rule. Hard. I love good food. I cook pretty good food. It's really easy for me to keep eating after I should be done, when the food tastes good.

In January and February, the fam and I went on a no-sweets fast and donated what I felt we saved to a couple of different Haiti recovery efforts. This was a big help, no lie. I have a severe sweet tooth. It's better for me sometimes to just go cold turkey. After Easter, I think I need to do it again. Cursed Cadbury mini-eggs. Lucky for me they are seasonal.

I have a few other food principles, too. I will call them principles, not rules. Because there are always exceptions. If I start a plan with no exceptions, pretty soon I want to rebel. And that never turns out well. But at this point I think it is good for me to state them, to help myself stick to them.

First, eating lots and lots and lots of fresh produce. Mushrooms, asparagus, carrots, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, onions and cabbage are all great roasted in the oven with a little olive oil. Fabulous for lunch on a baked potato or a bed of greens. And just every once in a while I am buying veggies I don't normally get - radishes are great with salt! Most often I am avoiding animal products for lunch in this way - a great tip from my sister Mary. This does mean actually cooking myself something for lunch instead of grabbing whatever is easy. It takes more effort and I know I am very lucky to be able to do it right now.

Second, making sure I get good fats and antioxidant stuff to make me feel un-deprived: good olive oil, raw almonds, avocados, pomegranates, dark chocolate, strawberries, just yummy foods that are good for me and make me feel like I am having treats.

Third, using whole grain everything when it comes to carbs. Tortillas, breads, pasta, rice. When I make pancakes or cookies or anything I use half and half white and wheat flour.

Fourth, keeping a selection of herbal teas and agave syrup for sweetener on hand in the cupboard.

Fifth, I have been substituting coconut oil for butter in a lot baked goods. My mom gave me a big bucket of it. It is expensive but yummy and much better for you than butter. If you google it there are all kinds of crazy claims - who knows what's true about that. At Christmas I made sugar cookies with coconut oil in the dough and rum flavoring in the icing. They were awesome!

Sixth, I finally got a stainless steel water bottle. I love this. You all need one!

I generally do not like low fat and diet foods. I far, far prefer just eating good and natural foods, and if I am going to have something like butter or cheese or dessert, I just want the real thing in small amounts. But I do buy light salad dressings. The Newman's Own light dressings are fantastic - the lime one is my all time favorite! Hidden Valley's light ranch is good. I can't even remember the difference anymore; it's been so long since I had regular ranch. And I do buy light mayo also (BestFoods) when I buy mayo, although right now we are using homemade mayo made with olive oil that is delicious!

That's all for now. Here's hoping to hit 15 pounds down this week.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Egging on

Just some photos of our Easter egg exploits today. I had big ideas about doing the Martha Stewart silk tie method and even found several colorful silk ties for 50 cents apiece at my favorite thrift store (same one where I got the blue vinyl chair). But I didn't read the instructions and boiled all the eggs before dyeing. If you click the link you will see that is not how to do it. Moral: read the instructions before you do anything, anything at all, all you geniuses out there.

Thank goodness I had a straightforward PAAS kit stashed, thanks to Dana who sent it via Good Mail. Old skool.