Tuesday, September 25, 2012

4-year checkup

A visit to the doctor:

Eye test - hearts, moons, rectangles, stars, hands - 20/30 (normal for this age)
Clothes off
First blood pressure cuff: 100/64
Weight: 39.2 lbs
Height: 44 inches (3' 8" - BMI ~50%, Doctor Nader says "it's better to be lower")
Hearing with headphones and beeps: "good listener!"
Standing and jumping on alternate legs - "strong legs"
2 shots :'( followed by the treasure box :)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Rehydrating dried-out bread, Tea rusk or biscotti

I love tea rusks. My family in India used to dip them in tea, but I just liked snacking on them. Turns out they're not really vegan, nor are they as healthy as they seem! So when I found myself with a french baguette that turned rock solid, I went looking for answers.

Step 1: Rehydrate the bread. If you have any really dry, hard-as-rock bread, you can bring it back to life. I used to spend time trying to microwave it into softness, but try the oven instead for good results. If you're softening bread to make rusks see below to save heating time and energy:

Rehydrating Bread

Run water over the bread (or pour water so that all sides are covered). Place in oven and bake at 250-300 degrees F for 5 minutes. Check for softness. If still hard, cover with water again and bake an additional 3 minutes. Cut into desired size slices immediately.

To soften slices further, sprinkle them with water and bake again a few minutes. Store with fruit peels or a slice of bread to keep them soft.

Step 2: Now that the bread is in beautiful rusk-size slices, it can be ruskified! I like the recipe below because it'svegan, simple, uses bread you already have, and is endlessly modifiable into your own personal rusk creation (chili-lemon rusk anyone?) Recipe adapted from Show Me the Curry.

Vegan Tea Rusk
french baguette, buns, or stale bread
earth balance or other vegan buttery spread
raw sugar or maple syrup

Preheat oven to 275F. (use part of the preheating time to rehydrate your bread, see above).

Cut bread into desired size pieces.

Spread a thin layer of earth balance on one side of each slice. Sprinkle with a light coating of sugar or syrup.

Arrange on two trays (or one) and bake for 30 minutes. Swap trays top to bottom. Bake another 30 minutes, until well done and dry.

Remove and cool, then store in an air tight container. Use them for dipping in your tea (or coffee)!

Variations: sprinkle with cinnamon sugar or other spices. Long slices with a dash of almond extract make a vegan biscotti!

Slow cooker Chili

My friend Jill came up with a deceptively complex chili, full of nuance and flavor, that suits infants, children, and grownups alike (wow). The sweet potato adds a special something. Her simple recipe, without measurements because you can make it to taste:

Cubed sweet potato
Dried beans (black or red)
Onion, minced
Tomatoes, chopped (or a can)
Cumin, powdered (optional)
Paprika (optional)
salt and pepper

Put everything in the slow cooker. Cover with water and then some. Cook on low overnight or high for 3 hours until thickened and soft.

I made this recently with (guess what?) corn and bell peppers and potatoes. Yum.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

JOT #40: Homemade tahini (for kale chips!)

It's been a while since I made kale chips, so when I saw the vendor at the farmer's market who carries the cheap but perfect curly kale, I grabbed two bunches.

I was ready to crisp them up when I remembered: I'm out of tahini. A quick search later turned up this recipe at Cinnamon Spice and everything nice (lots of good recipes there). I couldn't help but make it with the large jar of sesame seeds I seem to have accumulated.

It's simple - 1 cup sesame seeds (I used white, you could use black for a really cool color), toasted until golden brown, food processed (you could blend or grind or crush with a mortar and pestle) with 2 tablespoons or more of oil. I used sesame to help retain the flavor, but you could use olive (traditional) or some other oil. You'll have to grind finely and it still stays coarse compared to store tahini, but it's oh-so-flavorful.

Add that to the Green Goddess dressing and make your chips!

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Power's out!

The power going out is a great way to focus on what's essential and important. Last week, the power went out in the morning. After the initial "what will I do without the internet!" panic, I realized several things, with a start:

- I had to conserve cell phone and laptop power
- My landline phone needs to be plugged in to work
- The clock I rely on, the microwave, was off. I had to read an analog clock that...also runs on batteries.
- I couldn't find my emergency radio at first. And I had no AA batteries for it.
- Lots of things wouldn't work: the alarm clock, the tv, the electric kettle, the rice cooker, the toaster, the ceiling and floor fans, the bathroom fan, the chargers, and even the spark on the gas stove.
- It's no use having lots of food in the house if you can't cook it.
- I have a fridge and freezer full of food that might go bad very soon.
- I don't have a car to use during the day

- I was very grateful for having a gas stove to cook lunch, and a lighter (though I realized I was out of matches)
- I was grateful for having a solar oven to cook rice, or other things if needed.
- I was glad I had the utilities phone number in a file somewhere
- I was glad I'd stocked up on bulk foods just in case.
- I was glad I had an emergency radio, and a candle, a flashlight with working batteries, and a cell phone
- and I was super happy and relieved when the power came back on at noon

Things I'll be doing now:
- get some matches
- figure out how to get water out of my water heater
- put the utility phone numbers in my cell phone and write them down
- find an old-fashioned phone
- buy some extra AA batteries
- get a solar or crank phone charger
- stock up with an emergency kit

What will you do?