Friday, December 30, 2011

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ A New Kind of a New Year....

Here's wishing you all a Happy New Year.

Many of us look at each upcoming New Year with a mix of apprehension. After all, we tend to think of January 1st (and often every Monday) as the day that we will start a new life. We will be more in control, healthier, more patient etc. etc. etc. So we often make a list of things we hope to do differently, or over, or better. And, like in years past, we cling to that spark of enthusiasm until the first time we fall and skin our knees on our new path. Then we default back to the person who just wishes that things could be different.

But let's look at the hope of a clean slate/ a new year differently. Let's consider that this new year holds much promise BECAUSE every day is loaded with choices and opportunities. And if you really think about it, it's true.

What daily choices, Monday thru Sunday do I face? How can those make a difference?

For starters. We can choose our attitudes. If we wake up grumpy. We don't have to remain there. We can tell ourselves to smile even though we don't feel it, and eventually, that smile may become a real one. We can be kind to cashiers and co-workers and family members by remembering that sometimes they might need just a touch of kindness because they may be having a bad day, too. We can start out our mornings with a few minutes of prayer for our loved ones rather than cursing our schedules or others expectations on our schedules.

We can take each choice we make as an opportunity. Will this response to my friend build a bridge or tear one down? Will this item I'm putting into my mouth feed my body or poison my body? Will this item I'm buying stress my finances and my emotional well-being or add joy to my life? On and on. The choices are endless. 

Honestly, life is in the details.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ The Lingerings of the Ghosts of Christmases...Past, Present, Future

I learned a few things this Christmas, and relearned a few from previous Christmases Past.

Hopefully, they won't come back to haunt me.

1) Stressing details is ridiculous. The energy I put into cleaning spots that wouldn't be visited was wasted energy. The spots didn't get visited. Two kinds of soup crackers, three kinds of breads, multiple choices, matching tags and paper are details that no one is going to notice, and if they do, they can own that issue. I don't have to. Even though my freakishness makes sense to me at the time. It really doesn't make sense at all.

2) Quality vs quantity is a decent goal. I have this fear of people starving on my watch. If two soups is adequate, then three is better and four is what I need to do. And each soup needs to have it's own toppings. I'll need to provide lots of things to nibble in case people aren't rolling around, clutching their bellies and begging, "No MORE!" I'm guessing that the time together really is the important thing.

Decorating, too. I seriously put up two Christmas decorations this year. One was a gift, the second was a post-Christmas bargain that had gotten tucked away where I could put my hands on it. The stuff doesn't really add to Christmas. I have too much Christmas stuff. And if I paint a beautiful cozy looking nest, but am a stressed freak who snaps at her loved ones, that nest isn't exactly comfort and joy, merry or peace.

3) Kindness and patience make the whole Christmas season peaceful. From Black Friday to "Rush-to-return-em" 26th, patience will save some from stroking out while waiting in line, or flipping out on the Salvation Army bell-ringer. And if we'd all keep in mind that if we've got a wedge of stinky-crazy on our plate, others will have one, too. My stinky-crazy holiday need list really doesn't take priority's not about me, or mine.

If I had gone ballistic on my husband, because I needed to use the stove on the 23rd, I wouldn't have the beautiful kitchen floor with the little island nest. That floor is a HUGE deal. And it's beautiful. And because I didn't flip out, he's patiently adding things daily. Yesterday I got a door on my pantry. (aka the Troll Cave)

4) If I start eating junk I will eat the junk til it's gone. My Vegan Thanksgiving was pure. Christmas started off that way. I had great intentions and was a good Vegan til about the 22nd. Then I began nibbling on treats that came to the office. Oh my, there were some treats. Boxes of candy, nuts, chips, popcorn, fruit baskets, baked goods. Though I pulled off vegetarian, I sucked in a lot of hidden dairy. The baked goods, the creamy ooey gooey treats, not like I poured milk or cheese directly upon them, but they all contained dairy. I succumbed big time. And paid for it. Am paying for it. I am lethargic and bloated and feeling a lot drawn to processed food.

Enough for now. There are probably eleven more points, now sure to be the ghosts of Christmases Future, but like I said, I've got a coating of dairy on the brain and I'm sluggish.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Scraps and Snippets ~ Pizza Soup

This is my husband's most requested soup. It was chock full of hamburger and pepperoni and covered with melty mozzarella cheese.

However, I think this version was sufficient to satisfy. (I did broil some real deal pepperoni for the omnivores in the house, and there was mozzarella cheese, too. I ate it plain and it pizza in a bowl.)

Pizza Soup - Vegan Version

14 oz can/jar of tomato sauce
1 cup chopped peppers (green or mixed)
1 cup diced onions
1 cup mushrooms (you can do whatever veggies you like on your pizza)
1-2 TBSP Earth Balance
2 cans diced tomatoes with juice (14 oz)
1 jar (the standard size, 25 ozs whatever flavor, I used a chunky Vegan version)spaghetti sauce. You could make the equivalent amount of your favorite sauce.
1 and 1/2 cups vegan "hamburger"
1 and 1/2 spaghetti jars of water (or about 38 ounces or 4 and 1/2 cups more or less)
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
2 TBSP dried Italian spice mix.

In a pan melt earth balance (or mix of EB and olive oil) saute the onions and peppers til tender, add the mushrooms.

Dump the veggie mix and all the rest into a 4 quart (or bigger) crockpot. Stir well. Simmer for at least six hours (low) so all the flavors marry. If the soup is too thick add more water or another can of tomatoes. It will cook down and thicken. If you want to stay vegan and need cheese go for Daiya. Dipping garlic bread or bread sticks into it is delicious. Rob said this version is as good as the original.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Scraps and Snippets ~ Wild Rice Mushroom Chowder

Hope you all had a terrific Christmas. Christmas Eve is a soup feed at our house. I've always prepped at least three soups. Baked Potato, Chili, etc. Two of my favorites (and Rob's) are Pizza Soup and Wild Rice Soup. Rob asks for Pizza Soup every year.

The challenge this year was to veganize these recipes and make them taste as good as the dairy/animal product versions. Could I do it?

I did serve a chicken curry chili, too. But the omnivores in the bunch ate up the pizza and mushroom soup. There ended up being a bowl or two of each.

Wild Rice Mushroom Chowder (VEGAN)

4 celery stalks (finely diced)
4 medium sized carrots (finely diced)
1 medium sized onion small dice
6-8 ounces of mushrooms small dice
1 cup uncooked wild rice (rinsed thoroughly)
1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
2 TBSP Earth Balance
2 TBSP flour (whatever kind you want to use)
6 cups vegetable broth
32 ounces unsweetened, plain non-dairy milk (I used unsweetened shelf stable soy)

In dutch oven, melt Earth Balance. Toss in onion and saute until onions become tender and caramelize. Turn heat down, and add carrots and celery and cook til they soften. Add mushrooms and cook until they begin to soften. About three minutes. Add the flour until the veggies are coated. Add vegetable broth and simmer on low. Add brown rice and wild rice. Simmer at least two hours. If the mixture thickens too much you can add more vegetable broth. A half hour before serving add the milk and keep on low simmer until you serve.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Christmas Zingings and Flingings...Santa? Is that You?

I have 3/4 of a kitchen floor. By the time I get home from work...I'm hoping... it's going to be the whole shebang. Because if it's not, the finishing up of the soup detail duties I need for tomorrow afternoon's soups could be challenging. What's left to place is at the oven/stove/refrigerator and kitchen sink area.

I'm thinking holly jolly thoughts and refusing to look at my "WHY DO I DO THIS TO MYSELF??????" mess of disorganized chaos. I now have two Christmas decorations hung because a friend gave me one yesterday. By hung, I mean laying on the makeshift counter/i.e. table. 

Oddly enough, I picked this morning (in case you don't know what time it is, 6:46 a.m. and I've been up since 5:15) to go over my lists and check them twice. There are a few names who don't quite have goodies yet.  And I think I need to go to the grocery store, too.

While chopping onions last night, my phone rang. I didn't get to it in time, which is good, because the voicemail picked up and I got to enjoy my message over and over. At first it felt a little like a call from kidnappers demanding a ransom. The caller knew who I was, where I lived and certain food items I like and catch phrases I use. The voice was pleasant but slightly mechanical. My detective instincts (from reading mysteries, of course) kicked in, as well as my flight or fight mechanism. But it turned out to be a friendly mechanical Santa (or one of his crazy fun-loving elves) warning me that he would be passing through and that I'd better leave him a Vegan cup cake or two. Ha. Ha. My crazy brother. The adrenaline rush did get me through a few more tasks on my list. Turns out anyone can send a friend a call from Santa. Here's the link should you be inclined. (Santa does respect the mere mortals need for sleep. So he won't call before 8:00 a.m or after 9:00 p.m. What a guy.) 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Serials and Scenarios ~ Canteen Slim's Barrel of Laughs and the Circle of Grins ~ Reviewed

My friends, Nashville Kat and Canteen Slim are releasing books this month.

I featured Kat's Happy Husband Cookbook a few days ago. And today, I want to turn the spotlight to Canteen Slim's Barrel of Laughs and the Circle of Grins.

Here's what Kat has to say. "My husband's kids rhyme book is his creative outlet. He's an actor and singer/songwriter who loves to write and draw and paint. If you squeeze him, creativity just flows out. Plus he's really cute! His book is fun and silly plus it has important life lesson's in it. When I read his rhyme called 'Character Counts' to my cousin, she bought 10 copies - sight unseen. I know what he wrote was annointed and most just flowed off his pen."

And my thoughts.

I love the silliness of children's books. My favorites include those that contain creative writing, rhymes, fun tongue-in-cheek playful word play, quirky drawings/art, or absurdities. Barrel of Laughs and the Circle of Grins contains all of the above. A little bit of gross humor, a few creatively worded lessons, common sense delivered in a whimsical manner, and just plain fun. This little collection is just pretty darn enchanting.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Christmas Musings...

Christmas is just days away. 

Lentils are steaming on my stovetop. The piles of receipts, utility bills and statements for the year 2011 have been sorted and put in their proper place. My huge piles of books have been re-sorted and placed in more appropriate piles/areas. My clothes are hung in my closet rather than draped upon the HUGE Mount Clothing that tends to accumulate. Actually, Mount Clothing is a triple peak behemoth. One truly dirty sheer-face, one gently worn mount, and one even more gently worn hill. Hey, It's a system. It works. It's not pretty like the Rockies, but I don't know anyone who'd take Christmas card pictures in anyone's closet, no matter how nice it is. So, there it is. 

My friend suggested taking in a little play tomorrow night. My answer was this. " If I didn’t have a houseful of people coming on Saturday and DID have dust bunnies corralled and Christmas decorations up, and food further along in the process than vain imaginings….I’d be oh, so tempted. Oh, so. If I experience a Christmas miracle tonight wherein dust bunnies are slain, decorations throw themselves on trees, in windows, on doors, and somehow three bubbly delicious soups merge ingredients in preparation for Friday night Crockpot saunas, I’ll let you know tomorrow. Somehow, I think this is just a sugar-plum-bashing-repeatedly-into-my-skull-kind of dream. But, hey! I’m an optimist."

So. Right now. At 7:18 p.m. I have yet to see a fairy with a wand, or any elves. (My Mom is going to feel guilty when she reads this. She keeps offering to help, sweet, sweet woman that she is. I considered it. But. As I pondered which insane, Martha cartoonish moment I might thrust her into, I came to my senses and I just thanked her for the offer to bring tomato soup and a few other goodies on Christmas Eve. I think she's paid her dues. There was the Christmas Eve that Toad-Boy tried to chop the tip of his finger off while making Christmas gifts after all.) Thanks, Mom. 

My life is crazy, but it's a familiar crazy. And. Good news. My closet is clean, and my paper is organized. And darn it. I've got lentils done, at least five other things partially done, a dozen more just a few steps away from done. And I do hear a kitchen floor elf sawing and pounding as I type this. I won't be hitting the play, but I'm pretty darn sure there's some fairy dust somewhere in one of the corners I haven't started decorating. 

If I don't get back to the blog before Christmas. Here's wishing you a Merry, Merry, Merry and stress free Christmas.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ The Happy Husband Cookbook

The Happy Husband Cookbook

A note from Kat about her book, The Happy Husband Cookbook.

"My cookbook has 204 tried and true recipes, the things we eat at our home daily. It is filled with black and white drawings my husband did. I decided to start a cookbook when I got married a little over 4 years ago. The book came from this. My husband did the art work on the front. The picture hangs on our kitchen wall and one day while having lunch together I looked at it and said, 'there's my cover.' I had the title for the book first then it all came together at lunch that day."

And a note from me.

Kat introduced me to a whole lot of food adventures while she worked on The Happy Husband cookbook. I had the opportunity to join delicious parties where she'd assign recipes and a dozen cooks would get together to eat, rate and suggest.

Kat was the first truly diverse foodie I had the opportunity to cook and eat with. And I had never heard of Miso or considered raw food until she shared some of her experiences with those items and those she gained enjoying food from all over the United States as well as an European adventure. She collects recipes and techniques like others might collect shot glasses or refrigerator magnets from all the special places and moments in life. 

Though this cookbook is not Vegan, and my regular readers all know that's my current recipe book collection bent, it's a keeper. Her recipes, though occasionally heavy on ingredients, are ALL heavy on love of food and folks and chock full of taste. Many of her recipes have stories and helpful hints. Kat loves taste and mouth feel and will work until it's just right, while her husband is a meat and potatoes kind of guy. Her experiences and skills as a foodie all come together to make for some great recipes. Her midwest roots and country bent also guarantee that many of these recipes are comfort foods that will become some of your favorites. Her husband's art work adds the cherry-on-the-top charm.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Peingle Bells...

Technology struck again. Tomorrow is the last chance for the current company to fix the problem. Of COURSE, since the major meltdown this morning that left me unable to even check email and drove me to complain yet again, it's been working like a dream. Now that I say that the internet will come to a sudden FREEZE mid-post. But. I'll have at least vented my spleen, I may be the only audience, but I'll have vented. 

I got my handmade gifts finished, complete and even beribboned. They will be the ONLY sort of Christmas decoration in the house until the weekend, too. Yikes. This is the least Christmas prepared I have ever felt.

There was quite a bit of crabby at my office today. I include myself in that description. I headed down the hall for a little R&R in the public restroom. I got settled in the stall, knowing that there is another person next door but not expecting anything out of the ordinary. I've vented about cell phone use in public restrooms before. You know I'm not a fan. So. All of a sudden this loud voice says. "Hi Blah, This is Blah! I'm just calling to double check and make sure you got my prescription because earlier, blah, blah, blah." My immediate dilemma? Should I just go ahead and pee, since I really have to, but, if I do, it's going to be background noise for my newly intimate stall neighbor. 


Then I'm like. Really? Why would I be concerned about being polite? So. I did my business. The toilet is an auto flush. Had no control over that. At this point, the pharmacy or doctor's office on the other end knows for certain the call was taking place in a public restroom. 

Now. Here's the rest of the yuck. She was using the phone with those hands. Did she disinfect the phone? Heck, maybe she didn't even wash her hands. 

Maybe I'm being unkind. Maybe there was some sort of reason she had to make the call while on the toilet. Like I said, I felt a little cranky. But dang. There's a long hallway, an elevator, a stairwell and the great outdoors and all of those get pretty good reception, too. Who knows. If I was thinking a little clearer at the time, I could've tried to pee the Jingle Bells tune at least.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ BBC

No, not the British Broadcasting Company. Bad Blogger Confessions.

I didn't blog yesterday. I thought about it. I could've found a YouTube video or some great sites to send you to. I could've typed up one of the many recipe scratchings on various assorted pieces of paper lying about on my table and counter. I could have posted a picture and an encouraging verse for the busy season in which we find ourselves. 

Instead, I ignored Blogger. 

While soup bubbled (it was a double batch made weeks ago and frozen for such a day) (and it was also lentil soup, so it double bubbled if you get my drift.) I sewed my little brains out. First, I had to buy thread. I've purchased 6 spools of thread since I started this project. When I post my pictures of my finished items you'll see why I've kept Hobby Lobby hopping to order new thread spools. In the meantime, I'm almost done. I took a four foot pile of fabric and condensed the leftovers into a neat 8 x 10 stack. (And about a dozen gifts.) I'm pretty happy with the outcome.

I think I'll get em done today. And then. Then I need to clear the clutter of crafting, and life, put my thinking cap on, plan the soups for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and prepare to have some festivities in my house. Oh, I still need to decorate. Hey, it's only the 14th. No problem. And here's an aside. It is currently pouring rain. So. No shoveling today. If it was colder there would be a lot of snow. :  ). Iowa is weird that way. One never knows what might be coming down the pike or out of the sky.

Tomorrow's post may be a picture of me curled up in the fetal position. But today. Today, right now, I feel totally in control.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Scraps and Snippets ~ Citrus Sesame Glaze


I had a few oranges that had seen better days. So I squeezed them, measured the juice, calculated a few combinations and put it all together.

Citrus Sesame Glaze

1/4 Cup rice vinegar
1/4 Cup sesame oil
3/4 Cup orange juice
1/3 Cup maple syrup
2 tsps sesame seeds
1 pinch of garlic powder
1 pinch of ground ginger

Heat orange juice and oil in saucepan. Add vinegar, maple syrup and sesame seeds. Let simmer approx 20 minutes until sauce thickens and reduces to a syrupy consistency. Stir frequently but not constantly. When it's the consistency you want add the pinch of garlic and ginger. Serve over veggies, meat subs or meat. We braised sliced seitan in it for 20 minutes and served over brown rice. Yummy.

It would work as a salad dressing, too.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Scraps and Snippets ~ "Hamburger" Crumbles

I did not post yesterday. I can't blame it on my internet connection, which may or may not be fixed as I had to reboot it this morning. (Happy thoughts, happy thoughts, butterflies and daisies, ah yes, I feel better.) 

I spent the evening crafting. Why? Because I'm making a few gifts this year. Oh, and because I'm INSANE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have a closet full of craft items that I just want to use up. And since I'll be having company in about two weeks and that will require massive cleaning, I decided it's time to HAUL 
everything out. That way my stress level can be OFF THE CHARTS 24/7 until Christmas Eve morning. Ha.Ha.Ha (add the deranged, twisty-eye look and a touch of desperation to the ha, ha, ha, and you've got it.) 

However, while I'm crafting Netflix is making sure I'm catching up on all sorts of stuff. In the meantime, still looking for those recipe ideas to incorporate into the family file. Here's a great one. Really. And inexpensive, too. And if my grand craft ideas turn out, I'll even share those pictures and success stories with you all. (After I gift them, of course.)

"Hamburger" Crumbles

2 Cups brown rice
2 Cups prepared lentils
1 Cup oatmeal
1/2 Cup TVP (textured Veggie Protein or more rice if you prefer)
3/4 Cup finely chopped mushrooms (not minced, but small) (or extra pecans or rice)
1/2 Cup chopped (small) pecans (Or use more rice or more mushrooms)
2 tsp black pepper
1 TBSP garlic powder
1/2 tsp tumeric
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp cumin
1/8 Cup olive oil
1/8 Cup soy sauce

Mix this all together very well. Place in lightly greased 9 x 13 pan. Place in 300 degree oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes or so.

You don't have to use TVP, it doesn't hold the recipe together but does give a little extra protein. I loved the texture and taste of this. I probably got 6 or 7 cups. Keeps in the fridge for a week or so. I froze cup sized bags for future use and it freezes well.

Here is the original recipe

My tweaks made it way easier. It did not require a trip to a store and helped use up some of the stuff I have on hand.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Farm away from Farm Part 2

Yesterday I shared a bit about the grower's conference we attended. One of the experts is a tree guy who travels the world because of his knowledge of trees. With him he brought loads of pictures of places he's traveled. And the crops they grow. Golden wheat fields in Australia, corn fields in parts of Asia etc. Bottom line, exotic and different places with crops that look freakishly like our own heartland.

And then he shared some disturbing information. Disturbing because I really want to know what has touched my food. Disturbing because I think eating local saves so much wear and tear on the planet and makes for food that actually still retains taste and food value.

Shipping, exporting and importing of food is big business. If we don't eat local, we may be eating something grown in another part of the world and shipped to us. While this is pretty much necessary when talking about things like bananas, should it be when we are talking about apples? Do we not all live within 50 miles of an orchard?

He said that much of the fish that is caught in Norway is shipped to China for processing and then back to Norway before coming to the states. It's cheaper to ship it back and forth than to process it where it was caught. He said that China has a goal of supplying 40% of America's food by 2020. What? Yeah. China. He also said he is not surprised with some of the food issues and contamination problems as he has seen the quality and processing of crops first hand.

Like I said, disturbing.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Farm away from Farm Fun

& and I went to a tri-state farm conference put on by the three state extension offices. Fascinating information. 

I learned there are lots of ways to kill bugs. The key is to start early and show no mercy. Bad bug life spans are fleeting and impressive. Get em before they multiply themselves by thousands and you have a chance. 

Growing ethnic vegetables is a tongue twister adventure. Most can't easily be pronounced by the Midwesterner and apparently our tastebuds are pretty wimpy in America. Other cultures favor bitter. Most of the ethnic vegetables I learned about will not end up on my to grow list, but I’m thinking Bok Choy sounds good and possible.

A farmer who started growing strawberries and selling them to co-workers has built a multimillion dollar harvest empire out of that very humble beginning. Another speaker, a farm manager went into the ins and outs of his CSA (Community Sustained Agriculture) experiences. (After listening to his talk, I'm pretty sure our little CSA is way better than I even realized.)

A well-traveled tree expert shared much about what he’s learned on his travels, and as a grower who runs a pick-your-own raspberry farm. He shared the do’s and don’ts if you want to attempt to make any sort of money growing fruits or vegetables. His advice was to plan, plan, plan. With his power point expertise he shared an entertaining look at good get-rich-quick agricultural ideas gone bad. Christmas tree farms. (How difficult can they be? Grow and chop 8 years later, lots of pictures of abandoned farms.) Llamas. Emu’s. Loads of people invested a whole lot of money into ideas that sounded good but just never took off. The advice…go slow, have a plan, know that you aren't going to get rich quick, or without blisters. If you don't love getting dirty, you are going to grow to hate what you do. I think that's advice that covers a lot of areas.

This conference food was the best I've ever had. All locally grown and produced. Carrot cake, roasted root vegetables. Yum. After arriving back at the farm, the farmer gave us one last load of garden booty. She had harvested lettuces, kale, chard and had a few tomatoes. Unbelievable. Especially since the lettuce was picked just days before Saturday's snow. (Pictured).

All in all, it was a very good, interesting and tasty day. 

And there was an element of disturbing, too. Come back tomorrow for that. 

Monday, December 05, 2011

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Technical Difficulties...

I had the internet provider fix-it squad come to the house on Saturday. My internet suffers from a cute little ebb and flow nervous tic. One minute it’ll be fully fine, so much so that three of us can be using the internet at the same time. Speed? Check. Continuity? Check. But then. Something hiccups and we lose it. The cable company aka internet provider offers an automatic troubleshooter line and I have gotten very well acquainted with the computer who asks the same questions, tells me that my internet indeed is not working, resets it and all is well. For a time. The quicker, and more often, fix has been to reset the modem myself. But. As you can imagine, this is very frustrating. When I am posting a blog post and the whole thing goes down. BIG FROWNIE FACE. When I just want to check my e-mail. BIG FROWNIE FACE. When I’m trying to make payments or look up a recipe or zone out at Netflix instant streaming or Pinterest. GRRRRR BIG ANGRY FACE. The cable guy diagnosed the problem, but didn’t fix it. He put an order in with the guys with the big trucks. And this morning I got a trickle of internet, that’s all. TRIPLE FROWNIE FACE DOUBLE DOG DARE INTENSITY ANGRY FACE.

Then I went to work. And my tower is DEAD. It’s been acting weird every once in awhile. Today it refused to do anything but look at me with it’s green eye. No heat, no fan, no power up or down noises. NADA. At least the IT guy, who is located a thousand miles away, didn't ask me if I was sure it was plugged in. Whew. He pronounced it dead. A new one is on order. I do love technology. When it works.

All that to say. Guess I’m posting when I can, if I can, and don't expect it to make sense if it dies mi.....

Friday, December 02, 2011

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Road Trips and Word Clounds..

Wordle: scrambledwords

Thought I'd buzz over to Wordle to see what word cloud came out of recent Scrambled Dregs ingredients.

Today I head out with two farmers, & and an unknown earth girl for an organic gardening conference. Should be rich. I'll see what I can glean and share.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Fowl Score and Twenty...

Slightly odd happenings and happenstances over the Thanksgiving weekend.

A) Settlers of Catan. A favorite game. Kind of like Monopoly/Pit and not sure what else. You build little wooden empires. Usually, I lose. I'm pretty sure I can count my wins on one hand and I've played it a few dozen times. Pictured is one of those few times. I trounced the table of wannabe winners.

Skill? Luck? Hmmm. A little of both. And the pictured loser is one who usually eats no meat, and he succumbed to the siren call of turkey...dare I suggest it slowed him down a bit?

And he's also prone to gloating when he wins, which is frequently. His version of gloating is subtle, Tweeting about it, taking pictures. That kind of thing.

Can I resist? No. I'll be tweaking a link so he'll be sure to see it. Ha. Ha. Salt in wound, Scott. Salt in wound. You'll lay off the turkey at Christmas won't you?

B) My folks went shopping in Walnut. Home of many antiques and apparently the original Christmas Geese. They wear diapers, too. How cute is that? I'm tempted to visit just to see this is in person.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Scraps and Snippets ~ Salted Caramel Pecan Fudge Pie...

Salted Caramel Pecan Fudge Pie


2 Cups pecans
1 Cup pitted dates
2 tsp cocoa
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla

In food processor or super blender combine these items until they stick together in a doughlike clump. If too sticky to handle add a little more cocoa and a few more pecans. If not sticky enough add a few more dates. Press the mixture into a large (greased) pie pan or the bottom of two greased tart pans. If your mixture is a little weepy, just soak up the extra juice with a paper towel, I had to blot mine.


1 2/3 cups dark chocolate chips (melted)
1 pkg silken tofu (Mori Nu 12.3 oz, I used firm)
1 1/2 TBSP cocoa
1/8 tsp salt
2 TBSP agave nectar
1 tsp vanilla
1 TBSP non-dairy milk.

Mix all together all ingredients except melted chocolate. When completely mixed add the chocolate and combine until uniformly chocolate. Spoon mixture into pie shell or tart pans. Place in refrigerator.

Salted Caramel Pecan Topping

2 TBSP Earth Balance
3 TBSP brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 Cup chopped pecans (toasted are nice)
1.5 tsp cocoa powder
3 pinches of salt (about 1/16 to 1/8 teaspoon)

Melt Earth Balance, add brown sugar and heat til it bubbles and comes together, stirring constantly, turn heat down and simmer for about a minute. Add the remainder of the ingredients. Drop randomly onto the pie.

Keep refrigerated. (If you don't eat it in one sitting.)This is delicious. Totally. Every omnivore who tried it loved it, so it's not just for those freaky Vegan tastebuds.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Scraps and Snippets ~ Post Thanksgiving Recipe Round Up

A few more Thanksgiving recipes. As long as I still have a few leftovers, I can keep posting, right? & made a brown rice "stuffing" that cannot be shared with y'all. If I don't watch her and write down what she's doing the "recipe" remains in her brain alone...and not for long. Ha. Ha. But there is one more meal's worth of that bad boy... so one more recipe tomorrow. It will be worth it. Salted Caramel Pecan Fudge Pie....oh, BABY, it's amazing!

Mushroom Sage Gravy

3 TBSP Earth Balance
3 TBSP flour
1 oz package mushrooms (diced)
1/2 med or 1 small onion (small dice)
1 minced clove of garlic
4 Cups vegetable broth
2 tsp dried sage
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp salt
3 TBSP red wine vinegar

Saute onion and garlic in Earth Balance until they are carmelized. Add mushrooms and saute until tender. Add flour. When it is all mixed in and forms a paste add the veggie broth. As sauce thickens and simmers add the sage and thyme. When it gets to the consistency you want taste it. Add the vinegar, taste again, add the salt if needed. Great over potatoes or on the Chick pea cutlets. I spied a few family members drenching turkey, too. Makes about 3 1/2 cups depending on how thick you like it.

Here is a bonus. Vegan Mashed Potatoes

4 Lbs organic potatoes, large dice (leave skin on unless you hate chunky potatoes)
1 head of cauliflower (deflowered, as in cut the good stuff off the stems and get rid of the stems)
4 cloves garlic
4 TBSP vegan cream cheese
3 TBSP Earth Balance
potato water or unflavored/unsweetened non-dairy milk if needed
salt and pepper to taste.

Boil the potato chunks and garlic in a pot large enough to add cauliflower to so all can be covered in water and lidded (a dutch oven worked, a large crockpot will work too, if you are doing this the night before. If you want to use a crockpot, add the cauliflower with the raw potatoes and cook on low overnight). Add cauliflower when potatoes are nearly done. (25 minutes or so into the simmer process.)When everything is tender (45 minutes or so) turn off heat. When cooled enough to handle without danger of scalding, carefully drain, saving a cup or two of potato water. (More if you are making gravy and need it for that.) Mash all -- garlic, potatoes, cauliflower. Mash some more. It won't be smooth with the skins. And that's good. Add the cream cheese and mix it in real well. Taste, add potato water or unsweetened non-dairy milk if needed for consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste. When happy with texture and taste, mix one more time and leave three small wells on top of potatoes. Add the 3 TBSP of Earth Balance, one in each well. As people dig in the "butter" will end up on most servings. Feeds at least 15 people unless they are potato freaks. My 3 quart crockpot was nicely full.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Scraps and Snippets ~ Brrr It's Cold Outside...Soup for You...

I spent the weekend being domestic. I. E. I did a lot of cooking and began the start of some craft projects. I made a big ol' batch of Seitan (Vegan with a Vengeance version) and decided I needed to use up some onions that had decided to begin sprouting in my pantry. Here's what came out of that. 

(Happy Tail-end Side of Birthday Week to You, X-ta! Hope it's been a good one.)

"Steak" and  Potato Stew

2 Cups Potatoes small dice (3-4 potatoes)
1 TBSP Earth Balance
1 Cup Chopped Mushrooms
2 Small or 1 Medium/Large Onion
7 Cups Vegetable Broth
1/4 Cup Soy Sauce
2 Cups Small Dice Seitan
1/2 tsp Salt
1 TBSP Balsamic or Red Wine Vinegar

Melt Earth Balance in Dutch oven/soup pot) or frying pan. When hot add onions until they begin to caramelize, then add mushrooms and saute until tender. Either transfer to a crock pot (if using frying pan) or add directly to the Dutch oven the vegetable broth, soy sauce, potatoes, seitan. Simmer until the potatoes are tender. (Low 5-6 hours, high 2-3, stove top 1 hour) Taste and either add the salt or skip it. Add vinegar and serve with crusty bread.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Scraps and Snippets ~ ThanksgiVing Cranberry Citrus Apple Bake

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

I'm watching a colorful sunset and relaxing before we go to our next Thanksgiving meal. The recipes I wanted to create worked. Which is why I didn't post yesterday. Not that they worked but because I was still doing research. Or, maybe experimentation would be a better description.

I'm going to share them with you.

The first one is the:

Cranberry Citrus Apple Bake

1 1/2 Cup Dried Cranberries (you could probably use fresh with no problem)
1 Cup Craisins
5 Small Oranges (Like Clementines or Mandarins) or 2-3 larger ones.
3 TBSP Maple Syrup
3/4 Cup Chopped Pecans
6 Medium-sized Apples
1 Cup of Oatmeal
1/3 Cup Brown Sugar

Spray 9 x 13 pan. Preheat oven to 350 when ready to bake.

Mix the cranberries, craisins, Pecans and 2 TBSP of the maple syrup together. Squeeze all the oranges over the mixture, scrape out any extra pulp you want. Set aside to let the flavors marry.

Slice the apples into thin slices, you don't need to peel them. Lay the slices in the 9 x 13. Drizzle the apple slices with the remaining maple syrup, sprinkle brown sugar over that and follow with the oatmeal. Cover this with the cranberry mixture.

Bake at 350 for 45-minutes to an hour. Serves 20-24.

If you are doing Black Friday, be careful out there!!!!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Scraps and Snippets ~ Affluenza and the Thanksgiving Season...

It is late afternoon, a late, gray afternoon. Three animals are curled up next to me. One purrs, another snores. All are blessedly warm.

And I'm hurrying to post some blog posts for the three blogs I dilly-dally around with and am feeling a sense of accomplishment, or maybe relief.

Dinner is partially ready. I've got a kitchen chemistry class tonight, and am going tomorrow to buy the rest of the food I need to create Vegan masterpieces for Thanksgiving. I don't plan to shop on Black Friday. I plan to sleep in two or three mornings this weekend.

But why do I feel a little crabby? And stressed? And overwhelmed?

My mind is already on the next few weeks and what that means. It means juggling, working, cleaning, shopping, cooking, cleaning, interacting, acting joyful. I want simple. But I don't allow myself to embrace simple. Instead, I complicate. If one is good enough, three would be incredible. But sometimes I give up at two and feel guilty.

Is this an American disease I've picked up? The dreaded affluenza? Is there a cure for it?

I've heard some sermons about words lately. Not new information. Crud. I've studied it myself. And it's not just a Biblical truth. It's a universal truth that a negative mindset breeds negative words and stinking thinking becomes the emotional equivalent to a bed bug infestation. What is the antidote to stinking thinking? This season, Thanksgiving (even though it's been completely eradicated by Christmas gloss and glitter at every store I've stepped into this week...but that's stink think) offers a huge piece of the puzzle. Gratitude.

I am grateful that today I have a few moments to breathe and catch up on a task. And I'm grateful I have a job. I'm grateful for warm animals who love me, heck, they adore me, and when I'm not tripping over, or cleaning up after them, a cuddle, a lick or a tail wag can definitely make a bad day not so bad after all. I'm grateful that I have three children who live close enough that I can see them on holidays. I love that I have been able to become friends with the grown-up versions of their special selves. I love that I have a roof over my head when some don't. I'm grateful that I have food in my freezer and pantry. I never have to worry about stretching one cup of rice or beans into three meals. My worry is what exactly I can add from my riches to make those beans and rice taste better. I have shoes. Lots of shoes. Not Imelda Marcos style, but I have more than one pair, and can always find socks without holes, too. My family is relatively healthy. No one is in the hospital. No one is currently reeling from bad news. My husband is a good man and we have a good life. We don't need for anything. Most of what we long for are wants.

Ten minutes of pondering what I'm grateful for and I already feel better.

Sigh. In and out. The air I breathe, the God who gives it to me. The sun that is hidden. The cold that has gripped the earth to slow the cycle of growth so even the ground can rest. And the signal that I am supposed to seek rest as well. Yes. I am very, very blessed.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Scraps and Snippets ~ Oh Yeah, This One Was Tasty...Asian Cranberry Slaw

On my quest to find delicious and Vegan or Veganable recipes for Thanksgiving I found a braised cabbage recipe that sounded pretty yummy. Except all the flavor came from pepperoni. Uhhh, so I put the idea of a warm cabbage slaw into my think-tank and this is what came out.

Braised Asian Cranberry Slaw.

1 Onion, small dice
2 TBSP sesame oil
1 tsp soy sauce
4 Cups Chopped Cabbage (or approx 1/2 large head cabbage, I used purple)
2 TBSP rice vinegar
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
1 TBSP sesame seeds
1/2 cup craisins

Heat 1 TBSP sesame oil in pan. Get it hot. Toss in onions and cook til browned and aromatic. Add cabbage and cook until it begins to shrink and tenderize, 3-5 minutes add soy sauce and hot pepper flakes. Stir and cook until cabbage is coated. Turn down flame and add sesame seeds, vinegar and last TBSP of sesame oil. Stir well, add craisins, stir again and serve.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Scraps and Snippets ~ ThanksgiVing with a Capital V...

To work through this Thanksgiving feast conundrum I think I have to dissect it. It helps to think about what I like, need, love about the Thanksgiving feast occasions.

Here is my early dissection list: the flavors and textures I love, the things that scream Thanksgiving meal.

Rolls. This is no issue. I’ve got a French bread recipe from the red gingham cookbook that is virtually Vegan. It calls for egg whites which I’m just going to skip since they just help make the bread crusty. And the suggestion was to use water if you want extra crusty. Win. Win. I’m going to make a batch of bread, as rolls, and with whole grain flour and some extra fun added. I'm thinking garlic rolls, some rosemary onion rolls, and maybe some herb with parsley, sage, and thyme.

I love the taste and texture of cranberry relish, but it has gelatin in it. I could use agar but I have an idea that will take a cranberries relish type dish another step into deliciousness. Stay tuned.

I’ve never been a die-hard turkey fan and I’ve always LOATHED dressing. This may be because early on I discovered my mom used giblet juice (and possibly little bits of giblets themselves sliced and diced but this is usually denied in an attempt to get me to eat it.) I always put gravy on my turkey and usually just ate one serving, calling it good. This year I’m going to make the Chickpea Cutlets. I think I might make smaller ones and bake them in the gravy. I’ll add sage and celery to the gravy to give it that Thanksgiving taste. More on this later, too.

Potatoes. That’s easy. We don’t need to make them, but I may do a batch anyway. Cut and boil potatoes (about 5 pounds) leave skin on for texture, a few peeled cloves of garlic and salt to taste, toss in a bag of frozen or fresh chopped cauliflower, when all tender, drain most of the water. Save some if needed. Add a container of Vegan Cream “Cheese” (Trader Joe’s has one.) Mash to consistency you like, add more potato water if needed. Make a few wells, add a TBSP or so of Earth Balance to each well.

My aunt has made a fudge pecan pie for years. That sucker is delicious. And full of dairy. So. I’m thinking that what I love best is the fudginess and the pecan. The flavors can be Veganized, No problem there, either. Not sure how yet, but it's on my list. Stay tuned.

Pumpkin. & has produced two different, delicious caramelized pumpkin nut “cheese”cakes. And she just needs to tweak her recipe to pull off the perfect Vegan pumpkin pie, traditional style.

& also keeps mentioning a Vegan stuffing recipe she found somewhere.

All of these sound delicious and I'm pretty sure they will scratch the itch and fill the "meat and dairy" void. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Scraps and Snippets ~ Gobble, Gobble, Gulp...

My anxiety level clicked up a notch today.

Why? Probably because I solidified plans for two Thanksgivings and remembered a church Harvest dinner I'd signed up for. Not a big deal. Really. None of them are at my house. And I kind of have them all on my radar. But. These suckers are all a week or less away.


This is the first year we are going to concern ourselves with the Vegan thing, too. Which means that what I prepare has to be Vegan for us to eat without guilt and/or sadness that we are gorging on stuff we don't really want to gorge on, and it has to taste good to others, those who are hoping that what we bring to the table is going to be deliciously up to our normal standards of food.

I've been called a good cook. And I've had folks ask my husband and kids what I made so they can be sure to grab some at potlucks. I don't want to become the weirdo lady who brings tasteless food to gatherings. I want to keep my good cook badge.

The other issue I have is the stupid Martha Stewart inner freak who wants to not only make things good enough, she wants to make things that cause tastebuds to rejoice, and tears to well and maybe even spill over the eyelid and trickle down a cheek. You know. Sappy stuff which is better than a purple ribbon at a state fair.

My challenge over the next few days is to find, tweak, twist and wrestle foods that embody the spirit of Thanksgiving and the heart of "Kind" eating i.e. Whole Food Plant-Based.

I'm not even thinking about Christmas. The Eves of many Christmases past have been at my house and full of soups rich with meaty goodness, cheeses, creams. Cookies, and candies made with items like butter.

Suffice it to say. This blog is going to continue to be about food. I'm very grateful that there are hundreds of other blogs that are about food, too. I'm going to need all of them as I take the holiday challenge to beat my own holiday food expectations.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Scraps and Snippets ~ Monkeying Around

Crazy day.

For starters. I was a little crabby. People annoyed me today. So it's probably good that I didn't have a patient filled day as I was seriously lacking patience. : ). However. I did start out my morning with a new guy who laughed like I was a stand up comedian. (This is my absolute favorite thing. I have another patient that hoots and hollers at almost everything I say. Trust me, a person is seriously good when she can make, "I need you to put this paper top on so it opens in the front. Remove your blouse and bra and lay them right here." funny on any level. I do, apparently. It's pretty amazing. (Okay, sometimes I ad lib and add a few other one-liners, and these folks are fasting which means they DO not have the benefit of coffee in their systems, which can affect common sense and bring drastic mental changes.) But still. However, an enthusiastic hooter generally only crosses my path a total of three minutes, and they are usually long gone when I hit the paperwork part of my job.

I left work when the scanner took the equivalent to a spring break and refused to come back, even when I whistled for it and promised it treats.

& and I went to the big city again for groceries, our Financial Peace University Dave Ramsey class, and candle shopping et al. Ecoscents, a local "cottage" candle shop was kind enough to honor a Groupon we both purchased and then procrastinated and tried to redeem on a day they were closed, the last day of redemption. They gave us the full value, even though the date had passed, and really, honestly, we should not have procrastinated and should have noted that they wouldn't have been open on the last date because they don't have weekend hours. Nice of them to be generous, they really could've just given us the value we paid as required, instead they let us spend the full amount. The candles smell amazing. And they will refill the jars, and any other candle jars we have, for a discount of 30%. Kind of cool. I picked out a cranberry hot tea and an herbal medley that are yummy. 

Since we were in the neighborhood, (literally, we walked through the ditch that separated the stores) we visited an indoor farmer's market that is chock full of locally grown and made items. Fun and quirky and nice to know we can still find some local stuff after the farmer's markets go to sleep for the long winter.

Finally, the pictures. This is Latte Art. & made me a monkey. I'll let you figure out which one is her monkey in my mocha soy latte, and which is the pro's monkey. We will be generous and say this was a) her first attempt at a monkey, and b) soy milk doesn't quite produce the foam that milk does, so there's that. 

As far as financial wisdom. Uhh. I wish I had taken Financial Peace University about twenty years ago. I'd be typing this from some beach somewhere...maybe. :  )

Monday, November 14, 2011

Scraps and Snippets ~ Monday Malaise...

...might just have to do with the time change. Or the fact that Monday comes too early and weekends are too short. Or because the weather tells me that the cocooning season is here.

It is dark at 5:15 around here. Dark. Last week found me in PJ's and slippers twice before 7:00 p.m. In my defense, 7:00 p.m. felt like midnight. And I technically could wear my PJ's out and about. Could. Shouldn't, wouldn't, but could.

We've been doing some cooking and baking. Our goal is to use up what we've already got, creatively. Some of the results are mehhhh, which is the Monday Malaise way to say, edible but not yell-it-from-the-mountaintops-worthy, hence no recipes or photos of the results.

Veganomicon (by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero, really, I'm just a fan, not a full-on stalker. She's got great recipes! ) gave me a nice little chickpea cutlet to try out. Try out I did. And they will be on the Thanksgiving menu. Yum. I made a nice little mushroom sage gravy that, with a bit of tweaking, will star as well.

My dad's birthday celebration happened last night. Save for the salmon I steamed then broiled for the meat-eaters, everything else was Vegan and pretty much got snarfed up. We had frozen squash soup base from an earlier huge batch of squash soup and we added roasted veggies of all sorts (the last of the CSA farm veggies) turnips, beets, potatoes. & outdid herself with caramel walnut pumpkin "cheese"cake, and chocolate almond pies. She even tried her hand at a tofu-free regular pumpkin pie.

We ate well over the weekend. A quick trip into Trader Joe's gave us a thrill. The farm brussel sprouts bit it in the hail storm. But these little cuties looked great, tasted even better and make for lots of fun veggie moments.