Monday, March 31, 2008

International Yummies!

Today we had an Indian lunch and a Thai dinner. It was a yummy day!

Lunch ~ Indian Spiced Whole Wheat Couscous with Yogurt Chutney

Couscous (from
2 1/4 c. vegetable stock
1 tsp. olive oil
1-2 T. dried onions
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (to taste)
3/4 tsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp. garam masala or allspice
1/2 tsp. cumin
salt and pepper
1 c. whole wheat couscous
1 (14 oz.) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Bring veg. stock, olive oil and spices to a boil. Add couscous & chickpeas; cover and remove from heat. Let stand for 7-8 minutes

Yogurt Chutney
Blend 2 c. chilled yogurt; 3/4 c. grated coconut; 1 T. sugar or sweetened condensed milk; a few raisins, cashews, or walnuts. Serve as a side dish or dessert with curry meal.

For lunch we were looking for a way to use a big thing of plain yogurt that was going out of date today. We found the yogurt chutney recipe in the More With Less cookbook and since it said it was good with a curry dish we pulled out one of our favorite recipes. We make the Indian Spiced Couscous all the time because it is quick, simple and really tasty.

For dinner we had pan fried tofu over rice with a spicy peanut sauce. We also make this Thai dish a lot, but we normally use chicken intead of tofu. I have to say that I didn't miss the chicken at all and neither did Brent. Maybe we could become vegetarians after all :) Vegan however is really tough. We were much stricter on our dairy intake the first few days, but it seems like it keeps sneaking its way in (though we did have yogurt for lunch it was only because it would have wasted otherwise). It is good though, we are definitely eating/drinking way less dairy than we normally do. It was a big part of our diet.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Asparagus Soup

Tonight's vegetarian recipe is for Asparagus Soup from the cookbook Simply in Season:

1 lb. asparagus
Cut off tip ends and blanch until tender, 3-5 minutes. Drain (saving the water for some of the broth) and set aside asparagus tips. Chop the spears, peeling the tough ends first if needed.

2 c. water or broth
1 med. potato (peeled and chopped)
1 sm. onion (chopped; optional)
1 stalk celery or celery leaves (chopped; optional)
Cook with chopped asparagus spears until soft, 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat, cool slightly and puree until smooth. Return to heat.

2 c. broth
1 c. dry milk powder
2 T. flour
salt and pepper to taste
Blend separately. Add to soup and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture thickens slightly.

1/2 c. plain yogurt
Drain yogurt slightly through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth. Place a dab of yogurt in each bowl and pour hot soup over it. Garnish with the reserved asparagus tops.

We both agreed that this soup was delicious. Actually I should say the three of girl really loved it too!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Did you turn off your lights tonight?

Tonight at 8 p.m. Brent and I turned off all our lights, unplugged our appliances and lit candles throughout the house. I know what you're thinking...a bit of romance after the baby is down for the night...nudge, nudge, wink, wink. Well, not exactly...even though the glow of candlelight provided a nice ambiance. We participated in Earth Hour, where from 8-9 PM people were encouraged to turn off their lights as a statement that more needs to be done to cut down on our energy usage. Last year's Earth Hour, which happened only in Sydney, Australia, had the effect of taking 48,000 cars off the road for an hour. Since this year's event was global, I'm sure it had a much larger impact. We had fun talking in the candlelight. It felt very peaceful. If you missed tonight's event you could always do your own Earth Hour any night.

I didn't post a recipe last night because I ate at my parents. They were having chicken and sausage, so I made myself a salad and had some mashed potatoes. Brent was out at Messiah for a Youth Pastor conference and took two students out for dinner (part of the job ;) and did very well getting a portabello something or another...but then he said had some chicken wings later that night. I told him he had to start the 10 days over. I think he thought I was joking.

Tonight for dinner we had grilled asparagus and red peppers and a baked potato. Not so much a recipe...just a little olive oil, salt and a grill. The grilled asparagus in particular was soooo yummy! I find that I am not missing meat that much. I find it much harder to limit my dairy. I miss cheese! I did have a dot of butter on my potato and boy did it taste good. It is nice to cut back on the things you overindulge on because it makes it so much better when you can have them.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Last Night's Meal

Sorry! I forgot to post our dinner recipe last night. Here it is from the More With Less Cookbook:

Honey Baked Lentils
Combine in a dutch oven or saucepan:
1 lb. (2 1/3 c.) lentils
1 sm. bay leaf
5 c. water
2 t. salt
Bring to a boil. Cover tightly and reduce heat. Simmer 30 minutes. Do no drain. Discard bay leaf. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine separately and add to lentils:
1 t. dry mustard
1/4 t. powdered ginger
1 T. soy sauce
1/2 c. chopped onions
1 c. water
Cut in 1" pieces:
4 slices bacon
Stir most of the bacon into lentils and sprinkle remainder on top.
Pour over all:
1/3 c. honey
Cover tightly. Bake 1 hour. Uncover last 10 minutes to brown bacon.

We have had this dish once before and loved it so we thought we would try it again minus the bacon. I have to say that the bacon does add something to the dish, but it was still quite good without it. We had a salad with carrots, croutons and Newman's Own Light Honey Mustard Dressing. I did miss the cheese I normally cover my salad with but of course this was much healthier and the dressing was really flavorful. I probably should have made some rice to go on the side but I was lazy. Okay, now I'm off to find lentil-free recipe for dinner tonight. I need to branch out.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Daniel Diet

For the next 10 days Brent and I are going vegetarian. We have decided to cut out all meat from our diet and also seriously cut back on other animal products such as milk and eggs. Why eat vegetarian? There are lots of reasons people decide to abstain from eating meat, but for one, by eating plants rather than animals it consumes less of the world's resources. I'm not saying we are becoming vegetarians but we have been trying to incorporate more meat free meals into our meal planning. Each night I'll post the recipe for dinner and we will tell you what we thought of it.

Tonight's meal came from the cookbook "Extending the Table":
Dhal (India)
Fry in 2 T. oil until golden brown:
1 onion, diced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 t. ground tumeric
1 1/2 t. round cumin
1 t. ginger root, finely grated (optional)
1/4 t. ground cardamom (optional)
1 c. dried lentils or split peas (if using split peas, soak overnight)
3 c. hot water
1 t. salt or to taste

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until lentils are tender, about 45 minutes. Remove cover and simmer over very low heat, stirring frequently, about 20 more minutes, until lentils are mushy and thick, about the consistency of refried beans. Garnish with onions, thinly sliced and browned, or a squeeze of lemon. Serve with rice.

We each had a small bowl with rice and Dhal and found it to be very filling. We also had some raw carrots on the side. Brent said the Dhal was a little dry and I'm not sure that he loved the recipe, but he did like it. I personally really liked it. I would definitely make this again.

Why 10 days of eating vegetarian? We were inspired by Daniel 1. Give it a read.

A Thrifty Gal's Dilemma

For the most part buying things second hand is no big deal. I used to shop thrift stores and yard sales all the time anyway. I didn't buy second hand so I could decrease my ecological footprint, I did it because I was cheap! I truly used to think that being a good steward of my money meant spending as little as possible. I became really good at being cheap. I spent hours clipping coupons and looking over deals in circulars to plan my grocery shopping trip. If something wasn't on sale I didn't buy it unless I absolutely needed it. I've realized more recently that this is not the way to be a good steward. Sure, I am saving my money, but at whose expense? I could save $5 by buying the cheapest coffee, but what about the coffee farmers that receive an unfair wage for their labor? I could buy an $8 shirt from Walmart, but where was it made...a sweatshop perhaps? Is it worth for me to save a few bucks at the expense of those that already poor?

A couple times this week that cheap side of me tried to take away my better judgement. The other day I went to Staples to buy Turbo Tax. We decided that this would be a necessary purchase since we are truly are totally clueless when it comes to doing our taxes, especially since there are some crazy things because Brent is a pastor. The people at H&R Block were pretty stumped last year, so we figured we wouldn't do so well on our own. Anyway, there was a deal going that with the purchase of Turbo Tax you could get some other computer software for only $10. There was a photo software that I had really wanted to get last year but it was too expensive. Here it was for only $10! I was really tempted to just get it and not tell anyone. Very tempting, but I resisted.

A little while ago I could have gotten a baby carrier that normally costs anywhere from $40-$100 for only $15. The only problem was that it was new. I couldn't even get a carrier of this style second hand for that cheap. Ugh! That was really hard to pass up.

Today I got a coupon in the mail for $10 off a purchase of $10 at Fashion Bug. Now this one is sticky. Part of me really wants to justify using it...I could get something for free after all! For some reason though, it feels like using it would be going against the spirit of this year. Then again, I did get a free water ice at Rita's on Thursday! Maybe I'm contradicting myself. Sometimes it can be a little tricky navigating this year and we just kind of have to feel our way. What would you do?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Brent to the rescue...again :)

Okay, so this is another post about food. Sorry, but Brent and I are foodies.

So the other night Brent and I were both feeling really tired an neither of us felt like cooking diner. We both decided that it would be a great night to use on of our sacred gift cards. We chose a local eatery that we had a gift card for and decided that we both wanted buffalo chicken cheese steaks with cheese fries. Before we decided no more takeout and no more eating out we had been getting takeout or eating out at least once a week. Like I said we both love food (not hard to tell when you meet us) and not getting takeout and eating out has been one of the biggest challenges of our year so far (I hoo...poor babies). We were so excited about these chicken cheese steaks! So, Brent calls the restaurant and guess what?! They have gone out of business and a new restaurant has taken its place ~ and no, they do not accept their predecessor's gift cards. We went from major excitement to being majorly disappointed.

I decided it wasn't even worth making diner that I would just go hungry. I was no longer in the mood for eating. Brent however made the best of the situation (after a bit of pouting). He whipped up the most delicious faux takeout meal that I have ever had. You honestly would not be able to tell the difference. He made buffalo chicken cheese steaks and mozzarella fries as you can see from the picture. I wish you could have tasted them. And yes, we ate every last bite! Now off to find a good diet...

*sigh* I really got a keeper! Who needs takeout now?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Solid like an Oak

Helloooooo! La-la-la (You know, like how they said it on Seinfeld),
Anyway, it's Brent again. I'm supposed to blog about our (perhaps) hardest trial to date in this year of no newness.
Last Monday we went (for free of course) to the Philly Flower Show. I know...most of you are thinking "How could you handle that sort of frivolity and excitement?? It is almost too much fun to contain in one convention center!!!" Well, somehow we managed it. For four hours...four long, colorful, flowery hours. But that is not the trial that I'm writing about.

Our real trial began after we left the convention center and traveled across the street to the Reading Terminal Market. If you have never been there I will sum it up for is nothing but A HUGE indoor market filled with every type of incredible food that you could ever imagine. The smells make you want to weep...seriously.

So there we were...having just walked around for four hours straight looking at flowers. Don and Kathy (who went with us) decided to get something to eat for dinner and we went along. After all, we were prepared! We had...water...and...smushed peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Yum Yum.

So Don and Kathy say something like, "Why don't we buy some food for you. It can be for pastors appreciation month that we missed or Christmas or something"

We said no. And we were both very pleased that we had that sort of strength.

Then Don and Kathy got their food. Don got a bacon and bleu cheese burger and fries. A huge, thick, juicy, mouth watering burger with 4 pieces of crisp bacon and a mound of bleu cheese as think as the burger was!!!!!!! Kathy got crispy fish and chips... and they smelled amazing. A huge mound of fries and 5 large fish fillets in crunchy breading.

And again they asked if they could buy us something.

Again we said no. We just ate our smushed PB&J sandwiches.

So, why do I tell you this story? It is not to pat ourselves on the back. (Though I am really proud of how well we did)
I tell this because THAT is the hardest thing we have to face. And honestly...that isn't hard at all!!!!!!! We had food. We had something to drink.

How many people around the world don't have any of that? There are people all over the world that don't have water let alone food to eat.

And our big trial is that we couldn't order a burger????? Kinda seems puny in comparison right?

That is why I'm glad that we are doing this for a year. It isn't really the's reminding us of the tons and tons of things that we do have...things that we usually take for granted.