Creative quarantine and hummus recipe (vegan)

“Are you kidding me? Is this for real? Didn’t you buy this 2 days ago?”

Yes, yes I did buy that half gallon of ice cream 2 days ago. And yes it’s almost gone. And no I don’t eat it so I didn’t notice it was almost gone. But yes this is what happens when 2 grown boys/ men are stuck inside. They eat.

It’s only been just about 2 weeks of shelter in place self-quarantine, but time seems to have taken on another dimension. Slower? But warped? It feels like a holiday break except there’s no big family dinners. Just the 4 of us. All close together. All the time.

So as of yesterday, I decided I needed some behavior adjustments and made 5 commitments to myself:

  • Hygiene. Did I really have to make a rule for this? Apparently. Skipping showers and wearing pajamas longer than appropriate needs to end.
  • Self care. Yes, this is a category different from hygiene. It’s exercise, meditation, not overeating or drinking. 5 days a week may be more realistic than every day.
  • Work boundaries. Be more intentional about turning it off. It’s easy to overwork as a form of coping.
  • Fellowship. Family, friends, online connections. Reach out daily to a few. We started a Sunday family Zoom meeting. It’s highly entertaining 🤣
  • Creative endeavors. Coloring, writing, cooking, blogging. Catching up on reading blogs I follow and trying recipes!

Yes, these rules seem kinda basic, but it’s clear that I need better routines to adjust to the current situation.

I have been making at least one new recipe a week. A roasted carrot farro fennel salad. Green curry zoodles with roasted shiitakes. Hummus this week…I will never buy it again! I have plenty of time to make it 😁

Hummus (vegan)

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cloves garlic smashed
  • Juice of a lemon
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • Salt
  • 3 tbsp cold water
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Puree chickpeas in food processor until smooth. Add garlic, tahini, salt and lemon juice. Process until smooth. Add water and olive oil. Allow to set for 30 minutes.

Eat it before the boys find it. Hide it behind the tofu.

Travelogue: Cabo San Lucas, MX

Oh the fantastic warmth of the sand and crashing sounds of the mighty Pacific! We have spent a week in pure bliss at a yoga wellness retreat center, Prana del Mar, just outside of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

Neither Matt nor I have ever done an extended wellness vacation like this, so going into it we were probably “apprehensive” at best. Wow. Serious eye opener and an absolute week of bliss.

I have never felt so spoiled! Redefines luxury not to the ideals of material luxury, but soul luxury. Every detail was considered to make our lives easier. Chef Efrain prepared special vegan meals just for me! I am so grateful to have had time to care and recover in such a beautiful environment. (Rooftop view out to the Pacific).

Our daily routine was:

  • Pre-breakfast smoothie/fruit/nuts/coffee
  • Yoga
  • Real breakfast
  • Laps in the pool or activities (whale watching on the Sea of Cortez, surfing, cooking class)
  • Lunch
  • Chill
  • Meditation
  • Dinner
  • Bed

Eating vegan is already healthy, but I also learned how dependent on carbs/pasta I am. We ate very little rice and no pasta or bread. Both of us noticed a significant difference in our digestive health including more “even” energy levels.

I will post some recipes, but the most significant learnings were:

  • Avocado cartels. I didn’t realize that the global demand for avocados has become as serious as the drug trade in Mexico. I understand now why the cost is significantly different at the coop, which uses responsible sourcing. Avocado toast and guacamole mean something different now.
  • Nut soups. Walnut and pistachio soup?! Yum. And easy. The base for all soups is the same, with finishing touches creating flavor differences.
  • Oils. EVOO should not be heated. What?! Avocado oil is better, and regular olive oil should be used when richer flavor is needed. Adding olive oil to both guacamole and cold soups (watermelon, apple, cucumber) adds richness and depth.
  • Chia pudding for breakfast. I am a HUGE fan now, plus understand the additional nutrients from the seeds. Super easy to make ahead+granola+fruit.
  • Watermelon and beet sashimi. ‘Nuff said.
  • …More to come with recipes!

  • It’s ok! Play with your food

    The end of summer is near–Alec returned to college in Chicago this week.

    For those of you not from the midwest, a drive through Wisconsin creates the opportunity for comedic experiences. Such as the Mousehouse Cheesehouse that has a giant rat/cheese wheel on it. Interesting enough, this is not the ONLY giant rat/cheese “sculpture” found on the I94 route.

    Beer, Cheese, Gifts and Fudge were advertised. None were purchased. This is Wisconsin. They’re serious about cheese. They also sell beer everywhere. I am unclear how fudge got involved except that after beer and cheese obviously one needs fudge to cleanse the palate. We stopped to snap a pic with the rat.

    It got me thinking about how much fun we have in our house with food–trying new recipes or restaurants. So this post is a rather haphazard look at some of the experiments from the last few weeks (and hopefully distracts from my lack of actual recipe posts lately 😉).

    What happens when you freeze watermelon cubes as mojito “ice”? Delicious drink for the lake

    What happens when you puree an entire cucumber for a martini? Great flavor and color, not so great texture 😉

    Challenge day: Can you make a breakfast baked good with a half eaten container of yogurt and a random amount of blueberries and no eggs because you haven’t done the grocery shopping at the lake yet? Oh-yes-you-can lemon-blueberry muffins. Could you repeat it because you wrote any of it down or measured? Oh no.

    Favorite new food toy: the Jaguar of zoodlers (“leased” from my sister). Alec and I also laughed while doing this, it’s like the old Play-Dough toys.

    I need another drink after all of that creativity! But a perfect reminder to stop and smell the roses (jasmine). It goes fast.

    Actual recipes forthcoming now that Alec isn’t here to distract me.

    Banana bread dump cake (vegan)—a non recipe

    There’s an entire category of desserts that are particularly popular in Minnesota during “cabin season”–our brief 3 months of summer when pretty much the entire Twin Cities metro area heads north to a lake for the weekend: dump desserts.

    These are the kind of thing you put together with whatever random cans of fruit (or perhaps some sour rhubarb bought on the side of the road) you have in the cupboard plus lots of sugar and white flour. Served with ice cream or “Cool Whip” of course. There’s no measuring involved, which certainly evolved because whoever started this tradition probably was sauced by the end of a long day on the boat (for my European readers, that means “tipsy”).

    I have decided that this type of baking is right up my alley. I sincerely struggle with the whole measuring thing, particularly if there’s extra care required like sifting flour. Seriously? That’s not happening.

    Unfortunately this definitely creates inconsistent results, and I can’t even blame it on it being a vegan recipe. This lazy attitude about measuring has been with me long before the dietary switch.

    My last banana bread was a total disaster. I didn’t read closely enough to notice the step of grinding the oats. It was a bit like glue. Green glue, as it had zucchini in it. Poor Avery desperately tried to pick through for the chocolate chunks. Alas, the compost got most of it. Not even butter helped.

    Today I had 3 bananas to use up, so here we go again. I found a good vegan recipe, but there’s a catch: it’s in metrics. I know many of my devoted followers easily make the conversion from my usual U.S. customary measures to metric units and that a simple Google search brings up conversions. But that’s too much work: why not just guess? (No I am not sauced, it’s only Monday).

    So that’s what I did and here’s the non recipe, which I think should become the universal standard since everyone understands the units.

    BTW, no one is more surprised than me when something comes out of the oven looking like this! Luck is on my side tonight!

    Banana bread dump cake

    • 3 overripe bananas, mashed.
    • Vegetable oil, coconut milk yogurt, coconut milk to equal just a bit more than 1c total (325mL)
    • ~2x as much dry to wet (flour). I lost track and just kept adding until it wasn’t soupy anymore.
    • A scoop of brown sugar
    • A scoop of cane sugar, plus the little bit that’s left in the bottom of the package, putting that back would be annoying.
    • The sugars are equal to half of the flour. Next time I will add more. Hopefully I remember to buy more since I just used it up.
    • A capful of vanilla
    • A pinch of salt, not the regular salt but the fancy coarse flake salt because I forgot to buy regular kosher salt this week.
    • A sprinkle of baking powder and baking soda
    • What’s left of that dark chocolate bar you’ve secretly been eating, chopped

    Mix all the wet ingredients together and then add the dry, finishing with the chocolate. Coat loaf pan with cooking spray (seriously people don’t skip this step). Bake at 325 Fahrenheit for 55 minutes.

    Good luck with that. Sometimes it’ll work. Sometimes not. When it does, everyone–especially teenage boys just home from hockey–will be very very happy. Dump cakes help keep expectations low…which makes it occasionally easier to exceed them.

    Bunny battle royale & 2 vegan summer salads

    While traveling this week, the bunnies got into my garden. They ate the zinnias out of the front pots, two new arbor vines and–most annoyingly–my herbs. They destroyed the cilantro, did quite a number on the dill and parsley.

    People: This is war.

    My mom graciously enclosed what’s left and let’s hope they bounce back. Avery has been assigned to “shoot” hockey pucks. Not my fault if bunnies are in the way.

    Read below for the draft post I had started while on the road. The irony!

    ………

    Which herb is my favorite? Tough choice. Why limit life to just one?

    I am thrilled with my expanded herb garden, which is going gang busters with all of the rain we’ve had–except the basil, which is craving for the sun and heat.

    Fresh tarragon, dill and mint are growing well right now and I am sprucing everything up with a few herbs. I vary those 3 on my avocado toasts for breakfast. I have an avocado toast “problem”/addiction. I love it! I substitute tomatoes for the salmon now, but that recipe remains the best base.

    A long-standing favorite summer salad is chicken tarragon with grapes. So when I came across this vegan version on the Charming Chickpea, I couldn’t resist. Super easy and super awesome! I added tarragon, red grapes and red onions and threw it in a wrap.

    We also tried a new recipe from Bon Appetite: Asian melon salad. Super bright with mixing textures of the soft honeydew and crisp cucumber. The ginger dressing with the serrano is fantastic. We skipped the avocado (not ripe yet plus I use it in my toast) and peanuts (oops forgot those at the store!) but made up for it with plenty of fresh mint! It’s a weed. And I am thankful because that means I can’t kill it.

    Unless the bunnies figure it out, I should be good.

    Stop to smell the lavender

    It’s finally spring here in Minnesota!! I planted my flowers and an entire bed of herbs. I decided to give them more space and perhaps overdid it. But I expect to use lots of mint for mojitos amongst other things this summer on the patio. All told, I planted 10 different herbs including multiple varieties of basil, mint, thyme and lavender. And some swiss chard for color.

    I was in such a hurry to get it all planted that I didn’t really enjoy it. They say gardening is one of the most mindful things you can do because it requires you to get multiple senses involved. It was definitely a signal that I am working too hard in that my mind refused to turn off.

    So having a week off came just in the nick of time. Well actually I needed to do this several months ago, but lesson learned. I truly slowed down this week as I accompanied Matt to a work trip in Phoenix. It’s hot, like 100 degrees hot. It takes some adjusting.

    Regardless I spent as much time outside as I could handle. I found a fantastic outdoor lap pool and started to get back in swim shape.

    Sidenote: The outdoor pool in MN opens in just a few weeks!! I can’t wait to see all of my friends…or as Matt calls them, my “subjects” since I am like royalty after all of these years as the Mayor of Swim Town.

    We didn’t have a car so I walked a ton and that really allows you to take notice of things you miss. The desert is beautiful in its own way, but I am definitely a water girl!

    Of course there was food involved. I was impressed to find multiple new fast food salad/healthy chains. It’s getting easier to find vegan options. The highlight was a kale guacamole with grapefruit, honeydew cucumber spritzer and pomegranate limeade. I will be tinkering with those recipes with all of my herbs for sure.

    In Minnesota our summers are truly beautiful and perfect. Especially on the lake. Every time I see the lavender in my garden I will be reminded to slow down and enjoy it!

    NYR (New Year’s Review)

    Life is good. A box full of chocolates in fact.

    I have recently picked up a podcast habit to explore various topics including creativity. My favorite is the Tim Ferriss show.

    He sends out a weekly email too and this idea is from his year end edition. Instead of doing New Year’s resolutions, he does a New Year Review.

    How it works: Look back at the past year week-by-week to identify the people that I spent time with that had a positive or negative impact. And how will I get more time this year with the positive list and less time with the negative?

    I did this and realized from a people perspective that there are very very very few people on my negative list. That I am already investing time with people I enjoy. Even when that’s work related. What a gift that is!

    But I wanted to dig deeper and say of the time I invested with others, what was most valuable, rewarding and memorable? How will I do more of that in 2019 WITH people that I enjoy?

    Here’s my list for “more of” in 2019:

    • Explore new places (cities/restaurants here in MN). We have travel plans to New Orleans and Central Iowa (for a college swim meet) in the next 6 weeks. Omaha surprised me, surely I can find an interesting spot in Grinnell. Dinner reservations are already made for Nola and a few stop in for cocktails spots 😉. This family tradition has created an open minded sense of adventure.
    • Learn new creative skills (I found out I love beading this year!) A food styling Photography class or refreshing my graphic design skills comes to mind to improve the blog. Doing artist dates with friends in 2018 was awesome! I want to take a limoncello making class (which sells out fast every year) or perhaps something for craft cocktails. Local distillery Copperwing has become a favorite.
    • Get outside. Even in winter. Combining walks with new restaurants was a particular highlight this year. Summer days strolling by the creek and then stopping for a glass of rose on the patio, ahhh I miss July! The luminary Loppet ski race and beer garden is on my list (so long as it isn’t minus 5 like today) and watching to see where the Ice Art Shanty village lands. The summer options are endless.
    • Bring together my favorite people to explore food. Perhaps a cooking club? I can think of some fantastic conversationalists that I would love to bring together over food. Gotta get organized for that, surely there’s an app that can help me.
    • Continue learning and challenging how our family eats. I started exploring different ways to shop and cook, including local meal prep delivery, online grocery shopping and shopping more frequently. All in an effort to reduce food waste, eat more locally grown products and to save time. I have more exploring to do here to get us more efficient. Maybe a garden expansion or finding a new CSA.
    • Share what I learn here 😊

    It’s easy to get motivated to think about planning fun food related experiences with my “peeps” that will help me grow in 2019, and equally rewarding to share it here with my virtual friends. Would love to hear what you have on your “more of” list.

    Chocolate cheers to an awesome 2019!