Monday, January 15, 2018

Pizza Dough

Homemade pizza with caramelized onions and sauteed cremini mushrooms

In my opinion, pizza dough has to have the perfect blend of crispy and chewy.  Here is a recipe that I've worked out that I like.

1 (1/4 oz) packet active dry yeast
1.5 tsp sugar
1 cup warm water
1.5 cups all-purpose flour
1.5 cups bread flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pizza seasoning (optional - I like Frontier brand or use any herbs you like)
1 Tb olive oil

Add the sugar and yeast to the warm water and let sit for 10 minutes. 

In a large bowl, mix the all-purpose flour, bread flour, salt, and pizza seasoning.  Add the water mixture to the flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until it comes together.  Flour a clean surface and knead the dough for a few minutes until it is smooth and elastic.

Wash the  bowl and dry and coat with the oil.  Add the dough, cover with plastic wrap and let rest in a warm spot for 1 hour.  I turn the oven on to 200 F briefly and then turn it off to create a warm space in winter. After 1 hour punch down the dough and give it a light knead in the bowl.  Let rest for at least another hour or longer.  If you don't get to it that day, you can get away with refrigerating your dough and using it the next day.

Makes 1 large pizza crust.

Pizza tips: Use a pizza screen for a nice crispy crust.  You can get them on Amazon and they are inexpensive.  Just make sure you get a size that will fit in your oven.  I bake pizza at 480 F with convection on and it is done in 9 minutes.  Basically you want the oven as hot as you can get it. 

Do Less, Feel More

So, I took a yoga ropes class yesterday.  I had some trepidation about how difficult it would be and if I would be able to _do_it_.   The instructor started us off with a series of gentle spinal waves.  Ahh, spinal waves!  I had forgotten all about spinal the gentle undulations slowly wake up your body.  With the spinal waves, our instructor set our intention for the practice to "do less and feel more."  These words helped me to relax and to understand that today would not be an exercise primarily in muscular force but instead, in allowing energy to flow and to listen carefully to what messages the body was sending.  As space was created in the spine, joints, and organs, I felt an expansiveness of the mind and a great sense of calm and well-being.  Then I had the thought that I could carry this idea to other areas in my life.  And as I am writing this, I see how this also aligns with my minimalist values, to pare life down to the essentials and find out what is important to you and to spend your resources(time, energy, focus, $) on those things.  So now, one of my intentions for the year is to consciously do less and feel more.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Vegan Migas

5 small corn tortillas, cut in half and then each half into thin strips
4 tsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 large onion, diced
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 plum tomatoes, diced
14 oz block of extra-firm tofu
3/4 cup frozen corn (I used trader joe's fire roasted corn)
2 Tb nutritional yeast
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
few grinds of fresh cracked pepper
1 tsp salt
2 tsp hot sauce (I like cholula)
2 tsp diced pickled jalapenos
1/2 cup shredded vegan cheese (optional)
1 can pinto or black beans, drained and rinsed (optional)

Heat 2 tsp oil in large skillet or shallow pan.  Add tortillas and saute til brown and crisp.  Watch carefully because they can burn fast.  Remove to a bowl.  

Add the remaining 2 tsp of oil and saute the onion until golden and translucent.  Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute.  Then add the plum tomatoes.  Crumble in the tofu and add the frozen corn and mix.  Add the nutritional yeast, cumin, turmeric, paprikas, pepper, salt, hot sauce, and pickled jalapenos.  Cook and stir for 5 minutes.  Add the vegan cheese and beans if desired and heat through.

Serve with toast and eat with some hot sauce or salsa.  Migas also make a nice filling for a wrap with some greens. 

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Its Better than OK to Change Your Mind

Yes, it is better than ok to change your mind!  This is a vital life lesson that we all need to learn and one that I am continually learning.  Perhaps you've agreed to do something and you've begun whatever it is and find that it is not something you can do.  It is imperative at this point to speak up and say "ouch, this is too hard", "this isn't right for me", "I thought I could do this, but I can't."  I always used to be the person that would "grin and bear it" but I have found that does not serve me or others because you are suffering under false pretenses. You allow yourself to suffer and perhaps feel anger and resentment because of it, and the other person doesn't even know that something is wrong.

Situations like this remind me of a SARK story.  I am referring to Susan Arielle Rainbow Kennedy, who wrote all those wonderful SARK books (recommended).  She tells the story of going to Parrot Jungle in Miami and how one of the photo opportunities is when a staff person puts a very large parrot on your head so that whomever you are with can take a picture (I have also been to Parrot Jungle and can really relate to this story).  Anyway, she says that when the parrot was placed on her head, its claws were digging into her scalp and hurting her.  I can't remember if she spoke up or not but the idea is that it is so important to learn to say "ouch, I don't want to do this!", even after you have agreed to the thing.  It is VITAL to speak your truth and advocate for yourself. 

Others may disagree with you and think you are overreacting and say things like "what's the big deal?", "that never bothered me", etc. They may try to downplay what you are experiencing.  Don't let that stop you.  We all have different tolerances for discomfort, pain, stress, hunger, etc.  You have to honor your own boundaries and limits.  You are the one that gets to define them and stick to them.

You may have feelings of disappointment and anger at the lack of empathy or concern from those around you.  Its ok to feel those things but don't dwell on those feelings and let them pass (meditation helps with this).  Have you read The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz? The first agreement is to not take anything personally.   Everyone is living in their own world with their own experiences and motivations.  Ultimately, the things that people do have nothing to do with other people but with themselves.  Ruiz explains this much better and in greater detail.   I highly recommend the book.  As many people as there are in the world, that's how many "worlds" there are.  None of us thinks like the other.  So the bottom line is, don't take the other person's lack of concern or empathy personally.  Work at this and you will find that it is very freeing.  You are freed from anger, disappointment, and resentment.  Note that it doesn't mean that your relationship with the person won't change but you will be freeing yourself of the negative emotions of the situation.   If someone in your life does not respect your boundaries or truths, you have to re-examine what their role should be in your life.  The people that genuinely care about you will at least respect your position and honor it,  even if they don't understand it.

Ultimately what I want you to know is that you are responsible for taking care of yourself....for learning, understanding, maintaining and sometimes stretching your boundaries.  We are human, we will make mistakes.  If we agree to do something in good faith and then it turns out to not be manageable, the best thing to do for all involved is to say "I'm sorry, I've changed my mind."  The more you practice this skill of speaking your truth, the more it will grow, and the more peace you will have in your life.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New Year

I'm setting some intentions for myself at the start of this New Year.

1.  I was inspired by this article to make 2018, The Year of No Shopping.  The nice thing is everyone can make their own rules.  My rules are to buy something for myself only if something breaks or wears out (toaster, clothing, shoes).  The exception is if I find some clothing or shoes that are good for work (I could use a few more items in this area).  I will try to buy secondhand. Food is ok.  Like the author, I am ok with buying books as gifts, especially for kids.  Also fine with buying toiletries but only when they run out.  No stocking up.   I will also give homemade gifts.  I started this at Christmas and made homemade granola and raw vegan fruit cake bars as presents.  Experiences are fine such as admission to see bands, movies, and occassionally to eat out (2x/month).

2. This blog post inspired me to Eat My Pantry.  I'm going to be using up the beans, rice, noodles, dried mushrooms, canned goods and freezer items that I already have.  Instead of finding a recipe I want to make, I am going to find some stuff in the pantry and freezer that I want to use up and then figure out what to make with the item(s).  I will continue to buy fresh items such as fruits, veggies, almond milk and tofu. 

3. The Minimalists inspired me to take a Break from Facebook for the month of January.   I played the minimalism game in November 2017 and got rid of a lot of items.  They have helped me to get rid a lot of physical and mental clutter in my life.  They have a nice podcast that I recommend.

4. I am going to Read More Books.  I've finished two books and almost done with a 3rd during my Christmas break.  These books have been sitting on my book shelf for months and I finally got around to reading them.  It feels great!   Another thing that has helped is a tip I got from Austin Kleon and that is if you don't like what you are reading, stop reading it.  Reading should not be an exercise in suffering, unless you are in grad school ;-)

5. I am going to Meditate Daily.  Life feels better when I have taken the time to sit, even if it is for a few minutes.  One of my favorite teachers is Pema Chodron and this is a very nice article about meditation.

6.  Lastly, I set an intention to Move My Body Daily.  Whether it is going for a run, walking the dog, or doing some yoga,  I am going to do something physical each day to take care of my body.

Have you set some intentions for 2018?  If so, I'd love to hear about them :)

Monday, December 4, 2017

Grits Casserole

This is good for breakfast with a fruit salad or for  lunch and dinner with a green salad.  Its easy to make and travels and stores well.  The basic idea is to make the grits and then mix in fillings of your choice and then bake.  The products I used are in the parentheses.

1.5 cups grits (not instant)
6 cups vegetable stock ( I added a tsp of Better Than Bouillion Roasted Garlic paste to water)
3 Tb vegan butter (Earth Balance)
1.5 cups vegan cheese + more to sprinkle on top (Daiya cheddar)
2 Tb nutritional yeast
 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
4 green onions, sliced
2 cups corn (Trader Joe's frozen roasted corn)
1-4 oz can mild green chilies
2 vegan sausages, chopped (Field Roast Mexican Chipotle flavor)

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Grease a 9x13 baking pan.  I like pyrex. 

Heat the veggie stock to boiling and slowly stir in the grits.  Turn the heat to low and cover.  Stir the grits every few minutes.  It takes about 15 minutes for them to cook.  Don't let them get too firm. 

Meanwhile, saute the red bell pepper and green onions.  You can do this with a little oil or water saute.  You want to soften them up.  Put them in a bowl and then warm up the frozen corn in the same pan.  Add this to the ingredients in the bowl along with the green chilies.

Once grits are done, stir in vegan butter, cheese,  and nutritional yeast.  Add the veggies in the bowl and your vegan sausage.  Mix well and scrape into your baking pan and level.  Sprinkle some more vegan cheese on top and bake for 45 minutes.

Notes: You can try different cheeses and different veggies.  Instead of sausages you could add chopped vegan bacon or ham.  

Monday, October 30, 2017

Spanish Rice

6 servings, 3 cups

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup white basmati rice
  • 1 12 cups crushed tomatoes
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cups vegetable broth (no sodium or low sodium)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 green bell pepper and 1/2 red bell pepper, diced (or whatever color peppers you like)
  • 1 (4 ounce) can mild green chilies
  • 1.5 cups chopped cilantro
  • 1 cup chopped pimento stuffed green olives
  • salt to taste

  1. In a food processor or blender, blend the tomatoes, garlic, onion and 1/3 cup of the vegetable broth until smooth. Set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan with tight fitting lid over medium heat. Add the rice and bell peppers and sauté for a few minutes.  Add the cumin, chili powder, and smoked paprika and sauté a few minutes until the spices are fragrant.
  3. Stir the tomato mixture and green chilies into the rice. Add the remaining broth, cover, and cook over low heat until the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender, about 25 minutes.
  4. Stir in the cilantro and green olives. Heat through.  Taste and add salt if needed.