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Wow. Last week was a long one. Lots of emotion, togetherness, and love. Now, it’s a new week, and I’m once again reaching for my comforts. For me, winter has always been synonymous with warmth: finding it, creating it, keeping it close. This winter, I find myself thankful for those around me – both family and friends – who give me consistent warmth, sometimes without even trying. Plus, there’s food to help. Like

I don’t know if you’re like me, but I’m just a tad stressed about the upcoming Christmas season. It’s my own fault. I do this to myself every year. I make an unnecessarily long to-do list of crafting projects, decorations, Christmas cards. I should really start this process much earlier than I did, but the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is just too short. Now, I find myself spending my evenings tinkering on this or that in the dining room until I’m almost falling asleep on the table. The trouble is: I just can’t help myself. These are the gifts I love to give to those I love. When I have a goal in mind, I just have to finish it.

Sometimes I feel like other people think my level of energy is crazy. I don’t rest until the late hours of the night, and I usually have a plan in mind for what I’d like to do within a week. What people don’t understand is that sometimes I feel like I’m “resting” all day long. Yes, my job is mentally taxing. But there’s no real physical labor. I can be a little creative but not in an artful way (more through language). So I think that’s why I spend most of my evenings crafting until I’m so dead tired I can’t keep my eyes open. I haven’t really moved all day. So, in the evenings, I like working with my hands. I like motoring around my home, picking up this or that, trying to find a creative solution for a project. I especially enjoy being around people as much as I can, as I’m alone most of the workday. And I like to plan plans for the week or weekend because I like to have something to look forward to. I work to live – not the other way around.

I’m finding too that the more I workout, the more energy I seem to have. Thankfully, I know what to do with it. Between food and crafts, I can keep these little hands busy. And this big heart can be filled in a much bigger way. I’m thankful for my hobbies; they keep me sane, at peace and happy.

Tell me about your hobbies. Or your Christmas to-do list. Or just anything you’d like to share today.

Mama Pea’s Indian Shepherd’s Pie

Tonight, I was very by this dish: Indian Shepherd’s Pie.

After a very long Monday, Cat and I cooked together – roomie bonding night – and broke out my newest recipe book,  For some reason, I thought this would be a breeze. A little chopping, throw it in the oven, presto. We eat. But I learned two things tonight: 1.) good-for-you food takes a while to prepare and 2.) Mama Pea actually is wonder woman. It’s confirmed. This dish is too complex for her not to be a superhero.

 

I quickly took advantage of making the book nice and sticky. Aren’t you proud, M. Pea?

The great thing about this dish is that we got to use our last garden goods of the season: carrots. The bad news is that we bought some at the grocery store because we thought we wouldn’t have enough. FAIL. I love a dirt-encrusted carrot; don’t you?

What happened in this dish was magic. A complete and wide array of all the vegetables I love and quinoa – a super power food for me. Are you buying the book now? I think I just saw you click to Amazon. If you didn’t, you better.

The final part of the dish was adding it to the casserole dish. The vegetables go first, followed by a mashed sweet potato and butternut squash mixture. I got to use my mixer tonight. Grandma would surely be proud.

I spent the majority of the night in the kitchen with Cat, and it was very much needed. There is nothing better than cooking to relax nerves, calm anxieties and delight in a good evening. Mondays can be  good days. Mondays can be happy days. Plus the healthier we eat, the better we feel (no brainer), and I thank Mama Pea from the bottom of my heart for creating my sustainable dinner this evening. I so very much needed it.

Brother/Sister Bonding

My older brother and I both like to cook. It doesn’t really make sense that we’ve never cooked together. We have completely different styles, which I like. He knows what to do with meat. I know how to make things that are cheap. Together, we are an interesting team.

Recently, Eric proposed the idea of a family-style cooking show. I took him up on the offer, and a week ago we gathered together in his kitchen to make our first episode:

We gathered our ingredients for both stuffed tomatoes and stuffed zucchini. We may have bit off more than we could chew (pun intended). We hadn’t really planned too well for our video, but we made the most of it on the fly. I’m sure we’ll both do things quite differently next time around, but we’re still okay with our little pilot episode.

I think the experience showed me that there is much more to a “cooking show” than acting goofy. You need to know (or at least pretend to know) what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. As much as I hate to admit it – Eric has a better handle on explaining how to cook than I do. I’ve never really had to do it, so it’s a challenge, but a good one for me.

Regardless of the outcome of the video, our food was delicious. I don’t care much for tomatoes, but I ate this and truly enjoyed it. It was great to nourish my body with the food we had spent more than an hour creating.

Will we film again? Most certainly. Stay tuned.

 

My Edible Enjoyment

My food philosophy is simple. Cook from the heart, for the heart. I like to make dishes that not only taste good but also feel good. After years of being a chronic dieter, I now focus on what I’m putting into my body, rather than the calories.

It was in 2008 that I had my reawakening with food. I put away the diet foods, the low-calorie snacks, the processed boxes full of junk. Now, I pick vegetables from a garden, try to buy locally and eat as close to the ground as possible.

Like anyone though, I have my guilty pleasures. Diet soda (on very rare occasion), chips (particularly salt and vinegar) and ice cream. I believe in healthy moderation.

I am not a registered dietitian. I am not a nutritionist. I’m just a regular human being, like so many of us out there, who likes to eat well and live a healthy existence.

Please visit my link to see the foods I bake and cook.

Leisurely Breakfast Burritos

“Never work before breakfast; if you have to work before breakfast, eat your breakfast first.”  ~Josh Billings

I think this is what Saturdays were invented for, why brunch exists. Eat before you do anything. On Saturday, I did just that. It was a long kind of morning, the kind of morning you have after a night of being up late and not caring. I tried to entice my overnight out-of-towners with these breakfast burritos, but there were few takers. Thankfully, the roommate and another friend joined in the fueling.

Let’s face it. The same old thing every day is boring. I’m guessing this is why brunch was invented in the first place. It was completely worth straying away from my usual oatmeal or cereal start.

This is also just incredibly easy. Try it for yourself.

Ingredients
(makes four) 

  • 4 tortilla shells
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 4-blend cheese
  • (1-2 patties, depending, crumbled)
  • Dash of salt, pepper
Directions
1. Mix your eggs, milk, salt and pepper together. Progress to make scrambled eggs.
2. Lay out your wraps. Sprinkle a bit of cheese.
3. Add your eggs and faux sausage meat.
4. Sprinkle with more cheese.
5. Broil for about five minutes.
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