Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Baby Step Changes Part 3

Continued thoughts on little changes that shape our tomorrows....


Take a deep look at yourself, who you are, who you want to be.

If you remain exactly where you are right now, how do you feel about being in that place in five years, ten years, twenty years?

Reality says that very few become Sports Illustrated swimsuit models. Most of us won't win a Nobel Peace Prize. Many of us will not achieve 100 percent emotional, spiritual and physical health. But could we become healthier versions of who we are right now? With an attitude tweak, or a different way of looking at a situation, or an alternate way of thinking about life? Or simply doing a few things a little differently?

Do you feel stuck in and detest a particular rut? Do you regret a bad habit? Do you wish you had done something ten years ago and have decided you are too late to make a change now?

Steer out of the rut, find a different path. Find out how you can begin to tweak that habit into eventual oblivion. Sometimes it's so hard to take that first step. And chances are very good you'll trip up and slide back into a habit you hate every once in awhile. But if you don't try no one else is going to do that work for you. They can't. For starters, stop thinking that you can't change. There is so much evidence that you can change. It's all over the place. When you think "I can't" change it to "I won't" and then own it. It's one thing to choose not to, it's another to be a victim who in unable to choose.

In ten years, how do you want to feel about the choices you make today? Regret? Disappointment? A sense of accomplishment? A bit of self-respect?

Friday, May 27, 2011

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Baby Step Changes Part 2


Change the way you think. Just like I mentioned insanity being the (summed up and in my words) inability to understand cause and effect. The realization that I don’t like the way I feel when I don’t take care of myself forced me to choose to change the way I think. The little ugly negative thoughts, the excuses, the whining, other’s perceptions…those have had to change one thought at a time.

The truth is that I do have some control. I can’t change my genes or family disease tree but I can make it really challenging for the family disease tree to fully root in the soil of my life.

With a change in thinking comes change in action. What I believe I will act on. I didn’t like Brussel Sprouts or the idea of rabbit food at every meal. But, I was a vegetable bigot.

Vegetables taste really good when you give them a shot. I ate spinach leaves, cranberries and slivered almonds without dressing the other day. I didn’t know what was in the dressing so I passed. And I once thought a salad without a mound of dressing, cheese and croutons was a waste of stomach space. Nope. It was good. Really.


Make the changes in thinking leak over into the choices you make. This vs. this? That’s a choice. Choose the healthiest one and pretty soon, little choices at a time you are going to have a life that becomes more of what you wished for vs one that you are stuck with. Do you have extra time on your hands? Do you have options? You could use it to walk. You could use it to pray. Or read your Bible or take a class, or learn the hobby you’ve always wanted to learn.

To be continued....after the long and going-to-be-beautiful-in-these-parts weekend.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Baby Step Changes Part 1

It’s overwhelming to think about all that you SHOULD do and the changes you should make to become healthier. And then when some crazy person starts blogging about their own journey and throwing out an alphabet soup of bizarre words, foods and techniques, it can be even more overwhelming.

Almost four years ago we decided to start this journey toward better health. In four years we’ve learned a lot. And looking at what’s out there, we have a long, long way to go down the learning path. Some of what we found is contradictory. Really. “Health” is a lot like Christianity with it’s camps and bents and denominational mindsets. From those who swear by exercise to those who say food choices alone are the ticket…to the ones who swear that your blood type determines your metabolic profile and cravings, to those who are raw foodists, there are hundreds of ways to think about what you put in your mouth and what you do with your body.

Two years ago I met my first true blue vegetarian. At the time, I was like, no way, too rigid for me, as I watched her scrutinize menus, and tweak recipes and bring along a dish that she could eat so she wouldn’t starve. She strongly embraces the blood type theory. And she introduced me to the whole idea of raw eating. She had been there, done that, for six months but found it too restrictive (and too painful if she stepped away into cooked food for a meal or two.).

But, I’ve learned that sometimes, your opinion can change with changes in circumstances.

Truth…we are able to choose some of what our life will become, and who we will be, and how we will feel. Not all. But some. And those little choices can add up to a lot in the long chain of little choices.

In a reversal of what I was doing... growing weaker and achier and heavier with each passing year, now making different choices has me growing stronger, healthier and teenily incrementally smaller within each of the past three years of healthier changes.

I don’t really like paying attention to what goes in my mouth, or actively choosing to be active and move. I’d rather sit on my couch and eat bag upon bag of whatever sounds good to me. But. I don’t like the outcome of sitting and eating. Not at all.

So, since I subscribe to the theory that Insanity is making the same choices but expecting different results, I decided to change my choices. Here are a few simplistic but really powerful choices I’ve discovered that helped me further down the path of feeling better.

I'll be back....you know the drill.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Soggy Farm

The farm.

At noon we met up, grabbed lunch, put our grubby clothes on. (Except my sweet new pink gloves... I had to take a picture because they won't ever look like this again.) The plan was to leave at 12:30. The skies opened up at about 12:45. When I say opened up, I mean OPENED up. Lightning, thunder, buckets of rain. (The picture didn't quite capture said torrents.)

We arrived, thinking, that possibly the women would be hiding in an outbuilding, or waiting in cars. No. The ladies were ankle deep in mud, out in the field wrestling with two by fours, building a dam.

We jumped out, sloshed into the field and began working. The greenhouse had a small river running through it. We harvested lettuce once the lightning died down though the warning about not touching metal was restated. The squatting and duck waking was made more challenging because of the greasy black river and the extra ducking to avoid the metal shelving.

Today's harvest and packaging took only five hours. Impressive. The team seems to have their stuff down. Even though the spinach needed an extra wash....aphids... ants' little herds of cattle, and someone accidentally put some spinach in the lettuce wash bin and the spinach had to be painstakingly picked out. And, there was the forgotten radishes in two boxes incident. Counting is not my strength, and there were 23 boxes.

Another successful day, another harvest of goodies in the fridge, and another night wherein I slept like a baby.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Under My Skin

Today should be a full day.

Yesterday was as well. It included two long walks in the slightly sticky but beautiful, beautiful weather, a trip to procure a used burnt orange chair for 24's book nook room redo, and eating leftovers for dinner.

Today blooms with the promise of some old-fashioned sweaty good work. It's farm day.

And somehow I'm hooked. Big time.

24 is committed via verbal and written commitment, but I was the substitute helper. I had every intention of not going today. The other helper is back, and, well, they could do it without me. But the day promises to be beautiful, and there is something about the snipping and gathering....the smells, the sounds, the sweat that is getting under my skin.

If I go, the process will be that much quicker and smoother.

And I'm sure I'll have some stories or comments to share with you all so that you feel like you were there, too.

So barring a downpour...I'll have a thing to two to blab about...come back tomorrow.

And Mom and Kim your comments cracked me up. Tell Dad that his remarks on the banana did indeed spark the banana bars. My taste-buds thank him and if he plays his cards right he'll get to taste his inspired dessert sometime.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Banana Bars

We had two sorry looking bananas on the counter. I could've frozen them for a future baking opp, but decided to find something to do with them right then and there. I looked up a few recipes, combined, made a few tweaks and got some yummy results.

A nice mix of cake/bars. Chewy, dense, moist and flavorful.

Banana Bars

3/4 Cup coconut oil
1 Cup sugar
3 TBSP ground golden flax seed
5 TBSP water
2 Ripe bananas
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
1 Cup flour
2 Cups oatmeal
1 Cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 chopped nuts of choice (optional)

Set oven to 350. Grease a 9 x 13 pan (I use the oil left in the bottom of the measuring cup after I dump the coconut oil into the bowl. )

In small cereal size bowl mix flax seed and water together. Allow to sit while you stir sugar into the coconut oil in a medium to large mixing bowl, Mash bananas into that mixture, Stir in vanilla, baking powder and salt. Add the flax seed mixture and blend well. Stir in flour and oatmeal. Finally mix in chocolate chips and nuts.

Bake 30-35 minutes.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Menu Ideas

X-ta asked for more menu ideas.

So here are a few....

Cashew no-Chicken

over prepared brown rice or quinoa
Chop Salad with Asian dressing..
Purple Cabbage, Edamame, diced celery, onions, bits of ginger if you like fresh ginger, chopped almonds or peanuts and a sprinkling of sesame seeds.

Or here's a recipe I think I need to try...

Another favorite

TJ's has tasty falafel in their freezer case.
We have a great Dhal recipe over rice. Served with Vegan Naan bread.

1 TBSP olive oil

1 medium onion
1 tsp dried mustard
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 teasp cinnamon
1 clove garlic minced
4 cups vegetable broth
1 cup dried lentils
1/4 cup cilantro (fresh) or 1 tsp dried

Heat olive oil, saute chopped onion, garlic. Add spices and vegetable broth. Add lentils. Bring to low boil, turn down heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Allow to cool a bit, blend to a chunky gravy.

And a link to another version.

Have a terrific weekend.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Farm Field Trip 2

So I was waxing on about this organic superpower, a woman who exudes horticultural wisdom and many, many, many green thumbs... (Super Organic Girl - SOG) in the heart of small town Iowa. This woman who sounded like a mix of gun-toting, chew-chomping Granny Clampett and Windchime Moodring Stamensniffer, the love child of the "Make Love not War" 60’s prom king and queen.

I was intimidated. Me, a part-time volunteer, clueless plant-gatherer, daring to step onto her property…very intimidated.

We pulled up to the compound located on a ribbon of intersecting gravel roads. The gate was open, and clearly it was a garden as there were large greenhouses next to the modern home. A few people milled aroun
d. We’d been told that we might not get to see “her.” But that her assistant would help us out.

But then the sun glinted off a flash of metal and a gasp escaped the farmer. She said her name…the grown-up professional name, not the y-ended softie nickname. Upon glimpsing her, I renamed her Plant-Xena.

Let me describe her. Have you seen the Terminator movies? (Not sure which one, I tend to multitask during those types of movies.) However, I do remember one scene wherein the female lead is all muscle and sinew, and packing heat. She puts a whole new spin on the word stunning. If you know what I'm talking about pull up that mental picture. Replace “heat” with a knife, some gloves and a stick, the camo clothing with crocs, and dirt encrusted jeans and t-shirt, and the golden hair with glittering silver and you might have a good mental image of Plant-Xena.

Plant-Xena would make a perfect poster-girl for organic growers. Lean, mean, planting/harvesting machine. Firm handshake, no apologies for any dirt streaks on her face, no time for wasting. “Grab your boxes and let’s go ladies.”

We power harvested, all the time listening to the functional plantish conversation between our farmer and Plant-Xena. I did notice that every time I worked up the courage to look at Plant-Xena she was nibbling on leaves. “Oh, this kale is delicious.” “Have you tried the chard? Try it!” and she would make short work of whatever green she was bunny-rabbiting.

When the boxes were filled, she dismissed us, then hesitated. “Wait, come in for a minute. Chop. Chop. Ladies.” We chopped, chopped. “Here, taste this.” She filled two cups with green liquid. “Dandelion tea.”


I had tea with Plant-Xena the Organic Warrior Queen. What did you do on Tuesday.

: ) Sorry. Couldn’t resist.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Farm Field Trip

The vegetable farm was an adventure yesterday. A cool, pleasant adventure. I donned my glove (24 and I shared hers as she's a lefty and I'm a righty and, well, we only needed to protect one hand from the other hand) grabbed the sharpened lettuce knife (hence the protection... can't very well offer organic lettuce that has been bled upon... even though that would be, technically, organic.)

I harvested bags of the green stuff, while 24 harvested braising mix and spinach. However, the kale was not cooperating. And since the previous week had found our farmer buying some produce from another grower, she decided to do the same with kale. And swiss chard. But someone had to go pick it up.

We went on a field trip. Apparently there is a thriving organic pocket in my side yard (not literally, but a mere twenty minute drive away). And crazy as this sounds, there is a female organic guru of sorts who lives in said pocket who provides the classy, natural and upscale restaurants in our metro area with produce. Our farmer filled us in on Super Organic Girl (SOG) while we drove the seven miles to her compound. Now I can't tell you her name, but it's one that could be shortened into a cute nickname ending in y. I doubt anyone calls her by a cute y-ending nickname. Apparently, this woman is the go-to woman for any person looking into organic growing or selling and is surrounded by organic groupies and wanna bes wherever she makes an appearance.

This chick (SOG) is the real deal. So while we were driving and talking, I'm wondering what we will see. Will she be like Beverly Hillbillies Granny, a wizened woman who packs heat and sits in a rocking chair? Will she be the stereotype hippie who wears hemp, dreadlocks and no footwear?

We pulled into the compound....and I have to get to work....to be continued.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Veggie Adventures

After a week of bizarre and record breaking weather, Iowa is perfectly in the 60's and 70's. Last Tuesday's 97 degree day (the one where we swooned in the green house -- gasping for air and water) was followed by a weekend that hit high 30's in the evenings. Really.

Today will be another day at the organic farm. I'm so looking forward to it. It may be my last organic garden adventure for a bit since the other helper should be back next week. And last night, after we had to shop for a washing machine. (BUNNY TRAIL ) UGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Don't you just hate being grown-up sometimes? Sheesh.

When we were kids money grew on trees and appliances were just there to make our parent's lives easier -- and more importantly, ours. The machine we are replacing is one that was a used one, and last year it took a powder... the repairman, after collecting his $50.00 service call fee, switched out a belt, and gave it a test drive. UGH. It then began leaking and he pointed out the heavy duty plastic drum that had a small leak.

He basically said that $50.00 was too much to invest and he was really sorry it was non-refundable. Rob actually gorilla glued a chunk of plastic over the leak. The dang thing was working, leak-free, until it stopped spinning and agitating last week. It's time to retire it. Forever. At least we got a year out of it before it tanked.

Back to the garden talk... after the washing machine hunt, we walked around our own little piece of agriculture. Our blueberry bushes are decked out in white flowery buds and my folks bought us an apple tree for mother and father's day. Our raspberries look like they are really going to come through with a yield this year. Rob wants to add another four-by-four section to the garden, cut out some tree branches that have made our main garden a little shady in spots, and add another row of stones at the base of the main garden for a tomato bed.

One of the things the organic farmers mentioned to 24 was that placing potatoes, eggplant and tomatoes in the same spot
year after year is not good. They need to be rotated or the yield starts to suffer. Apparently they release something into the ground that makes future crops suffer. So. We will be planting tomatoes and eggplant in different spots and skipping the potatoes this year. They weren't worth it last year. As in we got a handful, if that.

After we are done at the organic garden, 24 and I have been given honey-do lists for what we can do to help Rob out since this weekend the garden will be going in. In July I'm going to be happy, happy, joy, joy when we start hauling in delicious produce.

And, lest you think I won't be trying any new recipes for awhile. Ha. We just got some information about tempeh.... what is that? you might ask. Fermented tofu...more or less.....you, of course, will be hearing about that.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ "Chicken Salad"

Another kind of weird twist on recipes....is there any other kind in the Klepfer house?

"Chicken Salad"

1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp garlic powder
1 cup non dairy plain yogurt
2 TBSP finely minced celery
1 TBSP lemon juice
1 TBSP mustard
1 1/2 cups of finely diced seitan.

Mix and use as you would any chicken salad. The picture has sprouts and extra mustard should you be concerned.... and the bread was rosemary from the garden bread that 24 baked. Pretty tasty.

Seitan recipe.

1 cup vital wheat gluten
3 TBSP nutritional yeast
1 tsp onion or garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon basil, or cilantro or cumin
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup vegetable broth (or mixture of veggie broth and amino acids or soy or hot sauce to taste)
2 TBSP tahini,, hummus or almond butter

Mix tahini or almond butter into broth, stir until butter breaks down.
Mix all dry ingredients together, very well.
Pour liquid into dry ingredients and mix well. When it's hard to stir, use hands, knead until elasticy. Then pat dough into large rectangle (makes about a 9x9 pan's worth. Spray or lightly grease a cookie sheet. Then cut dough into small to smaller pieces. (For chick
Linken salad, cut to size of small crouton). For other recipes where you will be using this as chicken, cut in small cubes or strips. Place all on the cookie sheet, bake at 400 for 15 minutes, turning once in the middle. It will look and taste densely breadlike (because it pretty much is) but when saturated with a sauce or dressing it takes on a chicken-like density. You can refrigerate the extras for another meal.

And here's a link to a delicious award winning "brownie" dessert that I didn't tweak one iota. Yum.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Rhubarb Oh My Pie

So Blogger was seriously misbehaving. Hope yesterday's post comes back.

But. Here is a delici
ous pie recipe. I don't LOVE pie. And as far as pie choices...rhubarb would not be my first.

24 made this and I felt I should try it. Oh MY. It is delish.

Rhubarb Oh My Pie

4 c cho
pped fruit
3/4 c sugar
Mix fruit with sugar set aside.

After fruit has sat a hour. Mix in 3 heaping tablespoons of flour mix let sit.

1 c oil (coconut)
3 c flour
4 Tablespoon coconut milk
1 tsp salt
4 Tablespoon sugar

Mix all dry ingredients. Add liquid then mix with a fork.

Press crust dough into pie pan. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of flour into bottom of crust dump in fruit mix. Crumble remainder crust dough on top and sprinkle with sugar. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 350 for 45 mins.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Some Menus and Links

The rhubarb, waiting to be encased in pastry.

Some of the blogs we frequent for inspiration and the "what in the world do we do with ________?" moments.

We've visited each of these and found at least one recipe we decided to make and hang onto. Not that everything is going to be fabulous...got to account for tastebud differences. But these sites are generous with recipes and some of the pictures are beautiful.

Vegan Yum Yum
Fat Free Vegan
Made Just Right

And here are some blogs we haven't done much but visit, some of what I see intrigues me.
Bittersweet Blog
Loves Veggies and Yoga
Your Vegan Mom

These are a few of our meals...

Potato Casserole
Salad w/ leafy lettuce, whatever veggies, fruit or nuts you like and w/ dressing of choice.
Almond Milk or Green Tea

Vegan Naan Pizza (Scroll down a bit. And use soy yogurt instead of reg...makes it vegan ).
Tomato Sauce...( scroll down)
Veggies: chopped olives, onion, garlic, peppers, eggplant, squash, mushrooms etc.
Add quinoa or brown rice if you want a little extra body/texture/protein.
Sprinkle with Daiya cheese.

I have a huge two burner griddle. I roll out a flat piece of naan and cook it on the stove top til it bubbles, then slide it under the broiler til it bubbles more. Then I add the sauce and veggies. Broil again. Add the cheese and broil til it bubbles.

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ What Does it Take to Bring a Pound of Produce to the Table? SWEAT

If you ever go to a Farmer's Market and experience the temptation to complain about the price of organic food...don't.

I now have some insight into what kind of work brings food to our tables.

At 1:30 p.m. I entered a greenhouse. Not a big deal. Unless, said greenhouse is in the middle of a farm in the middle of a record breakingly hot day in May. The greenhouse increases the temperature by about 15 degrees, and this particular one also sported no ventilation save for two small "windows" at the ends of the house. It was so hot in the greenhouse that stepping outside into the humid 87+ degrees felt like heaven on earth. Not kidding. I drank at least two quarts of water while cutting lettuce.

Cutting lettuce. A knife, gloves and a squat. Seven different kinds of lettuce, and brazings, and spinach. Then onto the garlic. We didn't have to pick asparagus or rhubarb, that had already been done. Three of us
harvested leafy greens for 20 CSA boxes. For about three hours.

After three hours in the greenhouses, high tunnel and field we were able to wash and pack = fwo hours. So, five hours times three people to harvest and prep 20 boxes worth of fruit and veggies, plus half the time the farmer was helping. I'm talking a lot of man hours to bring a small box of produce to those who signed up. And that is just the harvesting....th
ere is the planting, the weeding, the watering. Oy. And the upkeep -- the 60-year-old female farmer spent the lettuce cutting time wiring a fence so she could plant more tomatoes.

Each pre-purchased full share (550.00 for the season = 22 weeks of produce) comes to approx $25.00 bucks a week. Hmmmm. Our hard earned box contained 4 pounds of pesticide/chemical-free produce, and a lot of sweat. Come July the boxes will be pounds and pounds of tomatoes and zucchini and cucumbers etc. I'm thinking that a CSA is a stinking bargain!

Seriously, the next time you meet an organic farmer, shake that farmer's hand and give them a double thumbs up. They EARN every dime they make.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Humidity ~ Ahhh, Iowa.

It is supposed to reach 90 today.

So what I have committed to doing? This afternoon? In the hottest part of the day?

Helping at the organic farm. Today is pick, prep and box up the CSA (
Community Supported Agriculture) shares day. And one of the volunteers was unable to be there and 24 asked me to fill in and guess what I said?

In hindsight -- as I sit here and type this and already feel the humid/dense air of the early morning that should be crisp and cool since it's barely May -- wisdom would've checked the weather forecast before saying the Y-word.

But, being an Iowa girl, I can handle it. I'll pack some water in. Do a little whining, but power through it and hope I don't see the vultures circling. After all, I did do a few days of bean walking back in the day. I probably won't encounter any snakes, it'll be too darn hot for them. Right?

Monday, May 09, 2011

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Meatan/Seitan?

I made Seitan Thursday evening. This is a classic Vegan/Vegetarian stand-by we hadn't tried yet. And I was a little apprehensive. Yes. I know. Me apprehensive, the woman who has a mother hovering over fermenting liquid that she then drinks...

But seitan is a meat substitute made from wheat gluten. Think kind of like bread dough. Cooked, but in a stretchy way vs. fluffy, delicious bread way.

Weird. Really weird. But freakishly deliciously so.

Here is the recipe. Anyone with gluten issues will need to not want to try this at home. But. Hmmm. Dare I say it tastes like chicken?

I'm going to make this again with a Mexican bent and use it in fajitas. And then Xta has asked me to make over one of her favorite recipes that requires about a million spices. So once I get the seitan tricks down, I'm going to take her up on the request.

The next meat substitute item we need to attempt is tempeh. Oddly, this is an item that shouldn't be too odd for our experimental palettes since it is fermented soy. But again....I'm a little put off.

Hmmm. So I wondered if that's something I could do at home.

Uhhh. Not so much. But. I'll bet I can find it at TJ's or WF's. I'll let you know.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Lifer Flexitarian ~ Shopping List and Hints

Vegan/Flexitarian follow-up.

We've not veered from Vegan since last Sunday's first Flexitarian free for all. (the salmon and cheese sauce).

Interestingly, I find myself able to say no to things just because I know there is something else I could have and would rather have. Weird.

Since we talked about costs and wondered how much this adventure would cost I thought I'd share my findings and lists with you.

We averaged $100.00 a week for three adults. This was 90% organic and without pinching pennies. This was also all of the food we purchased. No restaurants etc. We all packed our lunches and/or ate at home.

I'll put a TJ (Trader Joes) or WF (Whole Foods) for items that are a better deal at one place or the other (some aren't available in both places.)

We did a big run every ten days or so, with an occasional jaunt for something we ran out of. I've made comments regarding how often I bought or what discovery I made about the items.


Vanilla Almond Milk (TJ) (2 half gallons)
Coconut Milk (WF) (2 half gallons)

(I have just discovered that Swag Bucks has coupons for So Delicious coconut milk and Larabars. You join Swag Bucks, go to coupons, print them and get Swag points when they are redeemed. This is pretty sweet because the Swag points can be turned into merchandise or gift cards. Each coupon you redeem is worth 10 points and a $5.00 Amazon giftcard is 450 points. Not like I'll earn one every day, or even every week, but a buck here and there adds up. So if you don't swag and want to Search & Win

ONCE A MONTH or so we also buy:

Earth Balance Non-Soy Spread in the tub (WF)
(I've heard the sticks don't do so well in baked goods so I haven't baked with them...the tub is easy enough)

Soy or Coconut Milk Yogurt (Soy especially plain soy for Naan Bread) (WF)

Fresh Vegetables: (The trick is to plan out what you will be having for the week or so. You don't want so much produce it goes bad, but not too little either. You can be creative with produce. Search for recipes that use the ingredient you have on hand. Throw together a lasagna either with noodles or with eggplant or zucchini as the noodles. Peppers can be chopped and frozen, so can onions. A soup, (even just a veggie broth from stuff that is going south too fast)...then freeze that. Lettuce is probably the hardest to be creative with. But there is always a good chopped salad or wraps.

Lettuces (not iceberg) (2 pkges) (TJ) (NOTE: Sam's and Costco have large bags/containers of organic spinach and lettuce that are great deals, but they are large.)
Mushrooms (1-2 pkges depending on menu) (TJ)
Zucchini or Spring Squash (1 to 2 depending on menu) (TJ)
Eggplant (TJ if they have it fresh, if not they have a frozen bag of zucc/eggplant slices)
Tomatoes (TJ)
Peppers (However, we usually buy the frozen chopped pepper medley at TJs)

ONCE A MONTH or for MENU choices we will also pick up:

Bag of Organic Garlic (TJ)
Bag of Organic Onions (TJ)
Fresh Basil (TJ)
Fresh Cilantro (TJ)
Bagged Organic Potatoes (TJ)
Tofu (TJ) (it's in the produce aisle)

Fresh Fruit:

Bananas (TJ)
apples (in the bags) (TJ)
Oranges ( bagged) (TJ)
Berries (TJ)
Other in season or appealing fruit (TJ) (I'm going to be honest. Whole Foods produce is a little bigger and maybe even prettier. But TJs prices are pretty amazing. I can get a 3 lb bag of organic apples for about $3.50 give or take. That's comparable to what I used to spend at my local grocery store for non-organic apples.)

NOTE: If you a smoothie person, note how much you will use in each smoothie and buy accordingly. 24 drinks breakfast smoothies, Rob and I usually don't. And for smoothies we usually buy TJ's frozen fruit chunks which are very reasonable. And then they are always there and the nutrition is not disappearing slowly every day it sits on the counter. We usually buy several bags (three or so per trip).

And since I'm at frozen, the following TJ's products are terrific and decently priced....frozen asparagus, artichokes and falafel, egg rolls (not pure vegan, have egg white on them) And the peppers. We buy these as needed based on the menu. Yes. I'll share menus next week. : )

Rob and I each take a PB or Almond Butter and Jelly sandwich to work. So we buy a jar of each at TJ's. WF is comparable on PB but not Almond Butter.
Two Loaves of multi-grain sandwich breads. (TJ) They have a great variety and we don't grab the same one each time. Organic and multi-grain are anywhere from 2.50 to 4.00 a loaf....
Also based on menu needs additional breads, rolls, buns, or wraps (TJs)

Dried fruits, juices and nuts are good deals at TJs. We grab what menu need says or what sounds good for nibbling.

TJ's also has tasty cookies, chips and the prices are reasonable. So keep that in mind if you want to plan splurges. The Jo-Jo cookies are Vegan and they are delicious. And their Veggie Straws are pretty tasty, too. Coffee at TJ's is great. I buy the fair trade organic beans and they run about 6.99-8.99 for 14oz. (This stuff is sparingly bought and if we splurge too much we tip over the budget and things will sit there and don't get used up sometimes, too.)

Sun-dried tomatoes, Kalamata olives, canned beans, some soups, artichokes in the jar...these are all good prices at TJ and we pick them up as recipes or convenience dictate. (the olives and sun-dried tomatoes are really good prices). TJ's also has good pasta sauces, dressings, marinades and condiments. As needed I buy a bag of brown rice there, too. (again, though these all keep, I don't go too crazy because we don't need to store it on our shelves just because we can).

Finally. We head down the road to Whole Foods. So far the only thing TJ's doesn't have/beat is the Earth Balance Soy Free spread, the coconut milk and the yogurt.

WF is where I get my:

Cane Sugar
Flour (Spelt - which I do buy online, too, Amazon actually) or King Arthur minimally processed.
TVP (Bob's)
Gluten (WF)
Oatmeal (Bulk Organic)

Nutritional Yeast (Bulk)
Ground Flaxseed (whichever is best deal)
Chocolate or carob chips (bulk)
Bagged beans (usually 365 brand is cheapest)
Bagged quinoa (usually 365 brand is cheapest)
Vegetable broth in carton (365 brand...1.00 cheaper than TJ's)
365 Brand frozen waffles (blueberry and flax flavors) ( a fav breakfast, theirs are Vegan, TJ's has some but they have eggs... A waffle, smeared with Almond butter and fresh fruit on top. Yum)

And the above are items we don't need every 10 days and purchase is based on what we plan to eat.

And thoughts. Since we went organic (mostly) a couple of years ago I was getting pretty used to spending high dollar amounts on dairy. Eggs runs $4.00 a dozen, milk $6.00 a gallon, fruits/veggies aiy yiiyii. And meat prices are up there with cheese and organic yogurt....this change is not a huge shock to us costwise. But. If you are shopping with coupons and buying processed food, and store brand, this food list and the cost may shock you. Super processed is cheaper, especially with coupons. But since price was a subject talked about early on, and because I was curious, I thought I'd share my findings with you, and where I found the best deals.

Next week I'll share our menu's for the month.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Serials and Scenarios ~ Next on my To Be Read Pile ~ Holy Guacamole

Cinco De Mayo Fun...


Nestled along San Diego's coast, the former romantic getaway of the silver screen's most notorious lovers is now the sizzling hacienda of Bonnie Miller's culinary boot camp. "If you are what you eat, make it hot, spicy and irresistible," is her motto, and this queen of Southwestern cuisine enjoys quite a savory life; success, fame, and a reputation for the finest palate west of Barcelona. That is, until a pot-rattling bang causes Trace Domingo, a washed-up sp
orts writer, to crash into her life. His arrival turns up the heat at the culinary boot camp as Bonnie discovers in life's recipe book, it is not the spices which add the most flavor, but how truly hungry you are.

Laced with local references, historical sites, and culinary delights, Holy Guacamole is a fun summer beach read.

About the Authors

Dan and Denise Harmer enjoy living in Southern California's "Avocado Capital of the World" where they maintain a laid-back lifestyle as they run a cabinet shop, raise four children, and tend a small ranch. (Okay, maybe it does get a little hectic.) Learn more about Dan and Denise.

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book go to support the ministry of Outside the Bowl.

My thoughts since I haven't read it...

This book sounded like it pulled together a few of my favorite things, guacamole and a few thrills. When I read it, I'll come back and review it. In the meantime I'm going to check out the Harmer website. Interesting life. : ) and I love that some of the proceeds go toward ministry.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ A Mushroom Hunter Reports ~ Part 2

Mushroom saga....continued

We were ashamed. No. 24 was inexperienced. I was the one who carried the shame. I have hunted mushrooms before. I know what they look like. And I hadn't found one, in over an hour, in a place where they should be plentiful. I began to think every walnut shell and leaf was a Morel. I began to lament my lack of mushroom skills. I even began to question my status as an Iowan.

It got pretty bad.

Of course, I may have been playing it up a bit. Being a little over the top in the drama department.

And as I was lamenting, and 24 was laughing at my ridiculous statements I looked over and realized that I had been loudly carrying on by a stinkin bee hive. Okay. What I know about bees is limited. I have seen beekeepers in the suits with smoke to soothe the bees. And I know bees are suicide stingers. And I know that bee stings hurt real bad. All of this knowledge flashed through my brain and left me frozen in horror.

Wouldn't bees be a little disturbed, needing a good smoke to calm them, if some idiot was yelling about mushrooms outside their hive? Hello. I certainly would be looking for some peace and quiet and a little something to calm my nerves if the shoe had been on the other foot...er, leg, tentacle?

I was a little afraid. However, when I calmed down enough to hear the whispered question "Can you hear them buzzing?" Good news! I couldn't....I began to back quietly, and stealthily away from the bees.

And within minutes of the clarity from the near death experience I found a mushroom. (Pictured) Mere coincidence? I think not. Then 24 found one, one about the 1/3 of the size of mine. A half hour later we had, between us, SEVEN tiny mushrooms!

The poor farmer, with an attempt to control her mirth, sent us home with our booty. And we cooked them up last night. The three of us divided up about a tablespoon's worth of deliciousness. Oh my, they were good.

But we refused to share them with the ticks that followed (er, rode) us home.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ A Mushroom Hunter Reports ~ Part 1

I posted a picture of a teeny-tiny mushroom yesterday and said I'd be back with a story.

Here it is. Well, part one anyway.

24 is volunteering at an organic farm in our rural-metro area. This in and of itself is pretty cool. She helped plant heirloom tomatoes in a high tunnel and onions in a 75 foot row. Some of the tomatoes will be striped and colors beyond the traditional red. She has brought a bit of useful information to us regarding our own garden. Did you know that you should rotate tomato sites, eggplants and potatoes? Different crops affect the ground so you shouldn't plant the same old, in the same place year after year or it will affect your yield. So. We have decided to change some things up placement wise. So already it's been a great benefit.

But she was also given the invitation, which included her family, to come hunt mushrooms.

If you are unfamiliar with Morel mushrooms, here is a fan/information page. I'll just say the few times I've eaten one over the years have been pretty magical. To say they are delicious is an understatement.

I've hunted for mushrooms before and have had some luck. There is a very short season (2 to 3 weeks) and the mushrooms like a perfect mix of shade and sun. Some people find pounds and pounds (or should I say hundreds and hundreds...because, as you can see in the picture, it would take a lot of tiny mushrooms to make up a pound). And, like in the days of prohibition and hidden moonshine stills, mushroom sites are a carefully protected secret. (Never heard of a mushroom murder...but...some shroomers are scary passionate about this little fungus. )

That said, being invited to canvas acres of woods for mushrooms was an adventure I couldn't pass up.

We arrived as one team was finishing up. They had found thirty-something mushrooms and one was literally the size of an orange. We had high hopes. Our area was a burned out (this valley, that is just 15 miles from us, is made up of several organic growers and they are slowly -- I say slowly because it will take a hundred years -- reverting the land back to prairie. That takes ridding the land of plants and trees that did not naturally belong there two hundred years ago) section that went straight up the bluff, down, through the garden valley and the into woods on the other side.

An hour into our search one of the owners came to check on our progress. Nada. She suggested we'd find paydirt (literally -- wonder if that's where that word came from) in the other woods. At this point we asked her how she'd done, she said we didn't want to know but she was carrying two plastic grocery bags that were bulgy and swayed with a bit of heft....I'm guessing a couple hundred or dozens of HUGE ones.

To be continued.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Thirty Day Vegan ~ Flexitarian

Final Full Vegan Report

30 Days. Done. Did it.

Rob and I both ended up saying that doing without meat and dairy was not as difficult as we thought it would be, and that it tasted better than we had even hoped for. So, success on all fronts.

Oddly, though we didn't count a single calorie or reduce intake or any such "diet" type thing, I lost 3 to 4 pounds. It's not a pound a day like some people can pull off, but I wasn't dieting. So I consider that to be another plus to cutting animal products.

Yesterday was day 1 of Flexitarian for the rest of our lives. We went out to eat and Rob celebrated by having salmon. I was really struggling with the hanging onto the newly ingrained habits. I ended up ordering a mushroom stuffed ravioli in a smoky cheese sauce. Yep. Full on dairy. But I shared half of it and ate Vegan friendly pomodoro, too.

None of us had raging gastrointestinal consequences. But between you and me, I like my fake cheese sauce better. And if I could find dairy free mushroom ravioli...well....

Tonight I'm going to try my hand at a Vegan classic, Seitan. Not sure how I'll use that particular meat substitute, but gotta give it a shot. We will also be enjoying a teeny, tiny handful of Morel mushrooms. And I'm modifying a cookie recipe for dessert. Mushroom story tomorrow. : )