Saturday, February 20, 2010

Life, Loaf and the Blues

OK, that is a horrible pun on one of my favorite Etta James CDs (hope Etta is feeling better! I still want to see her in person).

Anywho, just wanted to share one of my favorite but as yet untested by me websites.
It's the Magical Loaf Studio. It's run by the blogger and now book author at Vegan Lunchbox.

I've had the studio generate a garbanzo-sesame seed-quinoa loaf recipe for me. It's almost the same as the garbazo quinoa stew I made a couple of weeks ago which was delicious. Basically a loaf will only be slightly thicker than one of my stews so how could it go wrong.

For those who don't like veggies (you know who you are...we'll use your code name here: Schmangela), this is a great website. If you go back in the blog to a year or so ago, she was packing lunches for her little boy so they are creative and veggie-resistant tested. Those recipes and blog posts got her a book deal or two. Really, if you are trying to cook veggies or be non-dairy, the vegans are the place to look. They know their veggies and generally know how to cook them.

I'll let you know how the loaf turns out.

Other thrifty/simple projects I've got going:

-- learning to make my own malt. I read it on line and think I can do it. They say it works well to feed the yeast (including sourdough) in bread. Better than sugar. And it has to be cheaper than the local organic (and delicious) honey I've been getting.

-- rehabed one of the worm beds and got about 2 gallons of fully processed worm castings. That means it's pretty well straight poo. No discernible remnants of the paper or food scraps that went into the bed. This is a bit late to be changing the bedding and kind of hard on the worms because it gets too acidic from their wee and is too dense for them to move about nicely. I feel a bit bad for the worms, and yet, it is extremely good plant starting compound.

-- planning the garden. The 4foot square will be expanded this year. It will be at least the 4foot square plus all the containers I have. I might add another 4foot square. I had a long super boring meeting on Thursday and used the time to plan out the plants I need and what I'm going to try to start in the house (tomatoes and peppers). Probably will fail again with the starts but I learned quite a bit from my spindly starts last year. The best place to get them going would be in the bedroom window but I'd have to rearrange and find somewhere else for the nice furniture and that isn't going to happen.

And much much more.
(the meeting is the "blues"bit)

OMG! Dolly Freed totally called me at my house...well, trailer. She's got a sinus infection but will still be on the show tomorrow. I hope she doesn't do damage to herself with just a 20 minute interview. We'll go easy on her. She sounds just like she did in the old videos.
For those who don't know her: She wrote "Possum Living" when she was 18 in 1978. It's about being self-sufficient in the suburbs and going your own way rather than being part of the rat race. She went on (after having only a 7th grade formal education) to college and grad school and NASA...seriously. Then stopped all that nonsense to get back in the world she liked better and be an environmental educator. She's a hoot and a half and should be a great interview tomorrow.
For more info on her:
She's great. I think we'd be bff's if we lived in the same area. She lives very frugally so that she can do what she wants. Has virtually no interest in knickknacks or worrying about what the neighbors think and of course she likes nature. My favorite little anecdote about her right now is when her mother came to live with her and her family for a bit. Her mom brought decorative pillows and tchotchkes so to retaliate, Dolly put bats in her mom's bedroom. And when her son asked why his friend's parents were paying for college while Dolly and the Mr. were not paying for his college, she told her son that his friend's parents must love their kids more.

If you have a few minutes at 2:10ish pm tomorrow, tune in online to to hear the interview...unless Dolly's sinus infection gets the best of her. Let's hope it doesn't.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I Can't Believe I Didn't Try This Before!

OK, we all know I don't do dairy.
So I've been buying almond milk because soy milk is crap. It tastes like beans. Almond milk is a bit thicker than rice milk. I don't drink it straight but use it in smoothies and for cooking and the occassional homebrewed latte or mocha.

SO, I kept reading that it was easy to make almond (or any nut) milk. But when I looked it up it sounded complicated. All this hot water, cold water, blending, grinding, steeping, seiving and filtering.

A week or two ago I was making muffins and didn't have any milk or fake milk or powdered soy milk. I did have a jar of almonds (unsalted, not roasted...just raw organic almonds). The recipes for nut milks generally said 1 part nuts to 3 parts water. I threw 1/4cup in of almonds in the blender with 3/4cup water and hit blend. I let it go for a minute or so until it looked like milk.

Since I usually put ground nuts or seeds in the muffins anyway, I went ahead and just poured the lot, chunkies and all, in the muffins. It worked fine. It was cheap not just because of the low cost, but I probably threw out 50% of the almond milk I bought since it comes in quarts and I only use a cup or two a week.

I can't believe I didn't try it before. I needed some yesterday for pumpkin muffins and made an extra half cup for coffee or a smoothie. It's in the fridge in a jar. Should be fine for a day or two.

In other news, it's now time to start planning the garden. Any suggestions for plants to try?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Ever more pictures

Here are the cooks in the basement of the Hermitage. You can barely see it, but the bald one has GIANT stretchers in his earlobes. He thought the picture taking was funny.

Typical canal scene. Tons of bikes. Tons of boats. Note the snow. It snowed while we were there and was very pretty.

Here is the rijstafel after we annihilated it.

This sign is at the photography museum as you come in from the garden building with the documentary. I liked it.

And this is just for Pam. Yes, a restaurant called "Nooch"

More Amsterdam pictures

This shot shows both a cool bike with a seat in the front for kids. You can get 2 medium size kids or a buttload of groceries and stuff in there. There is a little bench for the kids. Not all are this nicely painted.

This is how you move stuff in and out of the canal houses. They all have an arm, or beam, coming out over the center. This has a hook. Put a pulley on the hook, a rope through the pulley and you're set:

Here a guy is getting something going out an upper window

And here it is on the way down:

This is the side of one of the old canal houses. It has trusses to keep the walls from bowing out. This building had the most that I'd seen. You can also see doors that open right onto a canal rather than on the street. Presumably there are also streetward doors to the homes.

This is just a nice central area in the old town.

December 30 in Amsterdam

First, I forgot to mention the Anne Frank Museum we did on the 29th. Obviously an excellent, if depressing, visit.

On the 30th, we started with breakfast. I had Pannenkoeken. Note the awesome eyebags. I could pack those for the weekend.

Then we went to the Hermitage Museum, Amsterdam Branch. Very very cool. All about Russian history, obviously. We split up so we could go at our own paces. I took a break in a little cafe by the children's giftshop and had a coffee and a ham sandwich. THEN I saw the pie. Oh well. While looking out the window on to the canal and trying to console myself about not having eaten the pie, I totally saw a dog take a wizz. That was funny.

Here's my delicious lunch. The bread in Amsterdam was incredible. Also good in France, but more variety in Amsterdam.

We were walking around later and went into a photography museum that is in an old canal house (like what I was staying in the attic of). It was amazing as they were showing Edward Burtynsky. There was even a little room in the basement where you could get a coffee out of a machine and have a cookie with it while reading photography mags. So I did. It was excellent coffee.

Then I went out the back door, through the garden and into a tiny garden room thingy where a documentary "Manufactured Landscapes" about Mr. Burtynsky was showing. I watched a bit. Then back in to locate Chris and Pat.

I've since gotten the documentary and watched it and it is awesome.

This is the little garden thingy with the documentary in it. I took it from the 2nd floor of the canalhouse/photography museum.

After that, we stopped at C&P's room then off to dinner at Sampurna. WOW! We had rijstafel. That's "rice table" and is a buttload of little dishes of indonesian foods and a big pot of rice. It was most excellent.

Here is the Rijstafel BEFORE we sowed down.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

December 28 and 29

We're skimming over the 28th because there aren't many photos.
That is the day we all traveled to Amsterdam. We ended up on different trains (though I would have been in crap class and Chris and Pat in first class even if we were on the same train so it didn't matter too much)

I was going earlier and headed to the station in a taxi because I don't like to get lost. We left from the Gare du Nord (North Station) on one of those high speed trains. I was in a set of facing seats at the end. The 2 across from me were a mother and daughter and beside me (I had the window) was a girl who was part of a family of five who had the set of seats across the aisle. Everyone was very pleasant and the woman across the way even let me text from her mobile when it turned out that the virgin mobile phone I'd gotten was shite as they say in Scotland. It did not work once we left France. Nice. I won't be going with virgin again.
Anyway, I needed to contact the owner of the apartment since it seemed that once we got to Belgium the high speed direct train turned into the slow speed milk run. Something about there being new tracks and their train not able to run on them. You know, they probably knew that when we all paid for our tickets but nothing could be done about it anyway.

The scenery along the way was lovely!

I get to amsterdam 2 hours LATE and didn't know if anyone was still waiting to let me into the apartment. It took me about another half hour to get a call through as the phones didn't take coins...the pay phones. Only special proprietary cards. I finally found one that would take a credit card for international calls and ended up having to call the US and bounce off an exchange there and back to Amsterdam to a place about 15 blocks from where I was standing. It was expensive but I learned an important lesson...don't get a virgin mobile phone. I got there and Jan, a friend of the owner, Hans was waiting for me (oh, and my taxi driver spoke about 8 languages! cool). Jan was very nice. Approximately 7 feet tall and blond and middle aged. I was pretty wiped out and just checked in and learned the ropes (how to work the key and what not...more complicated than you'd think as there wer 3 locked doors between me and the outside world).

The apartment was EXCELLENT.

Given that I was so late and I knew that Chris and Pat couldn't call me, what with the shite phone, I walked over to their lovely hotel and had the desk call. No answer. I walked around a bit and tried again. THEN they say "Oh, they haven't checked in yet"...well, that would explain why they didn't answer the room phone. So, I left a note that I was there and they could try me or we'd meet in the morning in their lobby at 9am.

I asked where I could get food. No real answer from the receptionist. It had been too long since I ate and I was grubby. I figured C & P's train must have also turned into the milk run and I figured by the time they got in, we'd all be shot. At least I would. So I walked around and headed back to my apartment. Turns out there was a little organic grocery store across the canal from me so I grabbed some foodage and went up to my apartment.

I made some potato soup (from potatoes and an onion) and enjoyed some lovely fresh bread and salad and tea and chocolate and washed my hair.

Never did see C&P but possibly was washing mjy hair when they came by.

SO on the 29th, we hooked up at their place. A very nice hotel. Hotel Pulitzer.

We got together, had some breakfast and headed out to see the sites.
Pat gave me the stroopwafels that were in his room...very nice. They are two thin waffles (very thin) stuck together with sugar syrup. Very sweet. I brought some home for gifts too. All mooched from Chris and Pat's hotel room

We did the houseboat museum, some shopping, some touring around and of course some eating. The food in Amsterdam is as amazing as the scenery.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

A Quick Aside

I KNOW I'm not done with the travel photos. I'm stretching them out and I have dial up so it takes FOREVER to post unless I can steal wifi somewhere. And I by "steal" I mean "legitimately use public wifi connection".

ANYWAY. I'm a little sick of the bogus money saving tips in the media.
A recent article in a local independent newspaper called The Inlander has something like 200 places to eat in the Inland Northwest (this region). NONE of these places were AT HOME. That is the cheapest place to eat. I would have thought they would have at least mentioned that NOT EATING OUT is the best way to save money. But no. AND they gave recommendations of places were a meal was 10$ at the least with no drink, no dessert and barely a side dish. That was like a burger or a pasta with no salad, no fries. Cripes. Come to the rez where you get a burrito as big as your head for 5$. The recommended places were also sit-down type places. I think you'll find that stand up places, like taco-wagons and hot dog carts are cheaper.

AND EAT AT HOME. Try going to the store and buying INGREDIENTS and cooking them.

I just made a lovely quinoa and lentil stew that is not only delicious. It might last forever. It soaked up all the juice after I took the first servings out and put it back in the fridge. So I added more juice...which it soaked up. I took more out and added more juice. I'm afraid I'll be eating it until I die. It is pretty healthy though. I think it will freeze well. Let's hope. I think the whole pot which will easily last 10 meals cost about 5$ and was made entirely with organic ingredients. Now that is cheap eats.