12.30.2009

52

me, larry & stella

mo & stella

front row - chip, alexander, travis
back row - stella & larry


I'm 52 today. Shocking, I know. How did this happen? What happened to the skinny little girl that loved to run barefoot? Well, I'm all grown up now and I don't mind getting older. I actually kind of like it. I'm okay with the wrinkles and changing body type. When I was a young mom with little boys to raise, I was always worried that something bad would happen to me, then who would teach my sons that which only I could teach them. Well that worry is gone. My sons are all grown and capable young men. They are a mothers dream come true. And I also have a beautiful, smart and funny daughter-in-law who has given me all the beauty that is Stella, my 3 year old grand daughter. Don't even get me started on my husband, Larry. He deserves a medal of some sort for putting up with all my crazy ideas. He is simply the best. Way better than I deserve. So as I write this I realize that getting old is not to be feared. There are so many gifts that can only come from getting older. Love deepens. Love heals everything. Love is all there is.

12.16.2009

christmas @ the gardeners cottage




















































Just some random bits of Christmas throughout the house.
HAPPY HOLIDAYS


12.03.2009

living room remix

I'm calling this a living room remix because nothing is new. Everything is the same just moved around a bit. The walls got a fresh coat of BM Simply White. The pictures below are what the room looked like when I started blogging.








^the room slowly evolved to this, above


Before you see what the room looks likes now, I'd like to credit two bloggers in helping this room change. The first is Joni at Cote De Texas She showed my kitchen when she did one of her "Readers Homes" post. I asked her for advice on the living/dining room and she most graciously agreed. She is the sweetest, most thorough person. She analyzed the room and gave me great, detailed advice. I was unable to make the purchases she suggested but I got the point she was making with continuity, balance and scale. I used what I had on hand and I couldn't be happier with the results. I feel the rooms now relate to the heart of the home which is the kitchen.


Secondly I'd like to credit Daryl at Vermont Cottage for challenging me to remove 100 items from my home. I didn't think it would be possible, but it was and it was easy. I think the space looks less crowded and I'm left with what I truly love instead of just items taking up space. Thanks Daryl.


































Can you see how the rooms now relate. I feel so much better about them now. Below are a few details that now stand out.





^above, 120 year old floorboards








^wood grain




^pencil etchings



I hope you like the changes because I do!

11.30.2009

EASY soup*

I have been getting emails asking for recipes so instead of posting my weekly menu, today I'm going to post what is perhaps the easiest soup recipe I have ever made. I got the recipe from http://www.vegetariantimes.com/ but made a few changes. If you can use a can opener then you can make this soup. There is no chopping, measuring or pureeing involved. You don't even add spices. Each serving packs a whopping 19 grams of protein. It makes a huge batch so it's perfect for this time of year. You can bring it to a potluck or share it with a neighbor. It's a spicy soup so if you need to mellow it out, just add a dollop of sour cream or cut back the enchilada sauce and use a little vegetable broth instead. But I think it is perfect just the way it is. I serve it with slices of fresh avocado on top and crusty french bread.

~
green chili and pumpkin soup
~
1 can black beans
1 can kidney beans
1 can garbanzo beans
1 28 oz can cut tomatoes w/juice
1 30 oz can green enchilada sauce
1 15 oz can unsweetened pumpkin
s & p

  combine rinsed beans with the rest of the ingredients and heat through.


*no animals were harmed making this soup




11.27.2009

shopping

The day before Thanksgiving I found 6 of these darling English ironstone dessert/salad plates at the Salvation Army for $1 each. I thought they looked perfect for my Thanksgiving table. Since I will be at work today, I'm wishing you all happy shopping. Be brave!

11.24.2009

thanksgiving menu

What exactly does a vegan eat on turkey day? The answer is, really, really good clean food. Food that is colorful, healthy and delicious. Food that digests easily and that you feel good eating because you know that no animals were harmed in order for you to enjoy this day of gratitude.
menu
~
pumpkin soup with roasted pepitas
garden lettuces with apples, dried cranberries and pecans
wild rice rissoles with mushroom gravy
roasted garlic mashed potatoes
fresh green beans
cranberry orange relish
whole wheat rolls
blueberry apple pie
HAPPY THANKSGIVING

11.21.2009

dining room evolution

When I started blogging this is what my dining room looked like (below.) The major renovations to the house had been done and I just filled up the rooms with my stuff, wanting it to feel like home. But I've never felt as if the living room/dining room related to the rest of the house, mainly the kitchen. When you walk in the front door, since there is no formal entryway, you are standing smack dab in the middle of these two rooms and you look right into the kitchen. I love the kitchen, it's white and spare and perfect in my eyes. So again, wanting the two rooms to flow I went ahead and painted the rooms BM Simply White which is the color of all the moulding in the house. Then I went through and removed a bunch of clutter, leaving only what I truly love. While it is by no means perfect, I like it so much better and I feel it is now more "me."


The room slowly evolved to the this, below

this is what it looks like this morning



Next week I will post pictures of the living room as there are a few details left to finish. So that's it. Not a big change, but for me I feel so much more relaxed in the space. Do any of you feel uneasy when you are sitting in one of your rooms and it's just not right? I was really dreading this project because in essence, the rooms were fine and I knew the change would be subtle, but I'm SO glad I did it and it's over (for now!)
"There is relief in imperfection." ~Darryl Carter

11.16.2009

menu monday*



While my living room is a disaster and I'm trying to figure out what to do with it, I'm going to have a little fun in the kitchen this week. We went out for dinner saturday night to a local Mexican/Yucatan restaurant called Casa Maya. They make delicious potato and avocado empanadas. I'm going to try and re-create the recipe using Pepperidge Farm puff pastry which happens to be vegan. Also, I'm making a sundried tomato and faux sausage calzone. I'm also going to work on a wild rice casserole w/seitan. So here's to a little fun.

monday
sundried tomato & sausageless calzone
garden lettuces
~
tuesday
asian stir fry with tofu, vegetables & crushed peanuts
~
wednesday
potato & avocado empanadas with balsamic reduction
~
thursday
spicy black bean tacos w/peach salsa
~
friday
oven roasted eggplant w/orzo
garden lettuces
~
saturday
gardenburgers w/oven roasted red bliss potatoes
~
sunday
split pea and carrot soup
cornbread
*not a single animal was harmed in the making of this food

11.15.2009

beige



Beige is atmosphere. It's bisque, it's ivory, it's cream, it's stone, it's toast, it's cappuccino. It's, well, it's magic. ~Albert Hadley



(That beautiful quote being said, my living room is in the process of being painted. Everything is a mess and I'm almost sorry I started this project. Arghhh!)

11.09.2009

menu monday*

The husband is out of town this week. So in essence I have the week off. But this is also a great time to experiment in the kitchen. There are a couple of things I want to make for Thanksgiving dinner that will need a little practice. My friend Sarah will be coming over on wednesday to play in the kitchen.

I don't know about you, but my idea of the perfect dinner is a bowl of soup, crusty french bread and a glass of wine. So for sure I will be making soup this week. Our local farmers market is winding down but they still had a great assortment of potatoes and onions, leeks, carrots and beautiful garden lettuces. So this week the menu is going to look something like this...

~
monday
farmstand vegetable pot pie
~
tuesday
leftovers
~
wednesday
carrot cappuccino soup
garden lettuce salad
french bread
~
thursday
farmstand vegetable pot pie
carrot cappuccino soup
~
friday
potato leek soup
recipe by julia child (sheer perfection)
french bread
~
saturday
husband returns - dinner out
~
potato leek soup
garden lettuce salad
*not a single animal was harmed in the making of this food.
~RECIPE~
carrot cappuccino soup
recipe by rick tramanto of tru restaurant
1 lb carrots, sliced thin
1 celery rib sliced thin
1/2 med onion sliced thin
1 1/2 T grated fresh ginger
2 oranges juiced
3-4 c no salt or low salt vegetable stock
s & p to taste
sweat carrots, celery and onion. add vegetable stock and ginger. bring to simmer, add oj and cook until carrots are tender. puree in batches until smooth, pass through chinois or fine strainer, season to taste.
note: as you pass the puree through the strainer, use the back of a ladle or spoon to really press the liquid out. i hope you enjoy this soup as much as i do.

11.04.2009

my pantry




Ok, well here it is. my pantry. Don't be shocked by how little food there appears to be in here. It's just that I don't buy many prepared foods, few canned goods at all. I make my beans and rice from scratch and pair those with fresh produce. So I really just keep beans, lentils, rice, pasta and lots of vinegars and oils and nuts. I've had people ask me where I keep my food while they are standing in the pantry. So anyways this little room was a nightmare when we got the house. It is much better now. Lots of beadboard and white paint. The only thing that remains of the original is the pull chain for the light.











So the real point of this post is to tell you about the simple substitutions that I use in my everyday cooking. These ingredients are amazing and make vegan cooking so, so easy.




I use nutritional yeast as a substitute for cheese. By mixing it with nuts in the food processor it makes a delicious topping for pastas, pizza, chili and soups. You can sprinkle it directly onto popcorn and it has a yummy parmesan taste to it. Egg Replacer is great in baked goods. Earth Balance margarine, probably the best margarine ever made. It is so creamy and delicious w/o the heavy fatty taste of real butter. Veganaise, I love this mayonnaise. I use it everyday for sandwiches and salad dressings. I also included agave syrup which I use daily instead of regular sugar. It has a really low glycemic index rating. One other thing I do daily is instead of discarding the peelings and ends of my veggies, I collect them in a bag throughout the week. Then I'll just pop them into a soup pot with cold water and seasonings and cook them for about an hour. I let it cool then strain the broth into containers so that I don't have to buy prepared vegetable stock. It keeps the waste down and saves money.


I post my weekly menus more for inspiration than anything. I spent quite a few years as a professional chef so lots of my recipes are in my head or are a combination of 2 or more recipes. There are so many good cookbooks and websites out there. I will try to start writing things down as I make them, cooking times, temperatures, etc. But again, if you see something that sounds good, just pop over to vegetarian times and they will most likely have the recipe or something like it. I hope this was useful to you. Happy cooking!

11.02.2009

menu monday*

i'd like to start this week off by saying that the simple act of posting my weekly menus has brought a great deal of focus to my cooking. instead of shooting from the hip and running to the store every other day for ingredients, i'm much more organized. organization and simplicity go hand in hand. what may seem like a bit of trouble; making lists, shopping and menu planning, pays off in the way of always having exactly what is needed for each recipe. plus i get the added benefit of eating a fresh, healthy dinner each night with a variety of locally grown organic produce. so in the end i save time, energy and money. i encourage each of you to become the executive chef of your own kitchen. plan, shop and create a beautiful meal each night just like a professional. that being said, this week i only have to plan for 5 nights, as we have dinner engagements for 2 nights.

monday
sweet potato & black bean enchiladas
recipe from clean food cookbook
garden lettuce salad
~
tuesday
soba noodle salad with ginger peanut dressing
~
wednesday
carrot & white bean soup
french baguette
~
thursday
oven roasted broccoli & walnuts w/pasta
~
friday
steamed veggies over brown rice w/dijon mustard sauce
*not a single animal will be harmed in the making of this food

10.28.2009

it's the little things


after almost 2 years we finally added closet doors to the only closet in the house


this is what the closet looked like after a major clean out



our neighbors were getting rid of these and they fit perfectly.



next, i polished the chandelier


added some garden roses








& a RL plaid blanket for warmth.
"if a room gets too busy, nothing looks special. keeping it simple lets the wonderful details stand out." ~mitchell gold

10.26.2009

menu monday

This week will be pizza and salad week here. I use the dough recipe from CPK. I double it and it yields 4 thin crust pizzas. it's really easy, tastes good and it's a great medium for healthy ingredients. We never get tired of pizza.

monday

bbq pizza w/tofu, red onion & cilantro
garden salad w/cucumber dressing
~
tuesday
italian pizza w/trader joes faux italian sausage
red leaf lettuce w/tomatoes & peperoncinis
~
wednesday
pizza w/oven roasted zucchini, broccoli & peppers
garden salad w/farmhouse dressing
~
thursday
pizza w/tofutti cream cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, red onion, peperoncinis & jalepeno
(basically the salad is on top of the pizza & it's delicious)
~
friday
asian stirfry w/tofu, broccoli, carrots, peppers & peanuts
(i told you we always eat the same thing!)
~
saturday
halloween dinner out!
~
sunday
veggie chili w/cornbread

10.21.2009

hydrangeas in the fall







hydrangeas picked yesterday. gorgeous fall color. new/old chalkboard.

10.19.2009

menu monday

monday
asian stir fry w/tofu, broccoli, carrots, peppers, brown rice and peanuts
~
tuesday
white chili tacos w/cherry tomatoes & guacamole
~
wednesday
penne pasta w/pumpkin sauce
garden lettuces & organic apples
~
thursday
white bean & spinach enchiladas
oranges, red onion and spinach salad
~
friday
spaghetti w/roasted red & yellow tomatoes, zucchini & peppers
red leaf lettuce & asian pears
~
saturday
gardenburgers w/garlic roasted potatoes
~
sunday
carrot cappuccino soup
french baguette

10.14.2009

chez loulou


imagine if this was your front door...

I

Now imagine being tagged by a fellow blogger to show some favorite blue items from your home. So you step outside and take these pictures of your village.
















This is the life that Jennifer Greco lives. Jennifer, aka chez loulou, used to live in the US but moved to the south of France six years ago. She works in France as a chef and her blog is a beautiful collection of her photography, recipes, and musings on her life there. The pictures she posts on wine and cheese alone makes her site worth reading. But it is so much more than that. Her photos capture a way of life that I can only dream about. Please do yourself a favor and click over and immerse yourself in all its beauty. I do daily.