Oh, happy happiness: it is summer. It is summer, and we have celebrated by hitting three grocery stores in two days, finally finishing the job of re-stocking our freezer and pantry. Frozen vegetables! Canned beans! Dried lentils! And on top of that, we also have a ton of fresh vegetables. I actually spent some quality time dancing around the kitchen singing in happiness about our fridge full of veggies.
Having stocked the vegetables, however, I then used one of our few oranges for zest and juice (I was making beet slaw, which seems to love orange juice and zest-- also ginger), and then figured I might as well eat the rest of the orange. I took one bite and DEVOURED it. Oh, man, so good. I have concluded from this that we need to start stocking vast amounts of fruits, too. There's just something about summer: I think I could happily live on sweet corn and oranges this week and that is all I would need.
Ohhhhh, sweet corn. I drool for thee.
Seriously, someone stop me. I am feeling the desperate need to go back to the grocery store again
and get asparagus and kale and tons of sweet corn, but frankly we need to eat all the lettuce and zucchini and beet slaw, first. I sense that some three-bean salad is in my future-- a more healthy version than my mother used to make, but still, mmmm, cold marinated beeeeeans.
I did get a vegetarian cookbook on Friday. I intended it to be Deborah Madison's "Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone", but then I found that while it was $25 at Amazon.com, it was $40 at Border's, and I seriously could not face paying that much. I instead picked up Student's Vegetarian Cookbook: Quick, Easy, Cheap, and Tasty Vegetarian Recipes by Carole Raymond. BINGO. For a woman who's looking for fast vegetarian meals on the cheap, this is a find and a half. I've read the entire cookbook thus far, and in addition to being cheap and fast, it's big on whole grains, vegetables, fruit, beans, occasionally tofu or tempeh, and the occasional dose of olive oil-- exactly what I want to be eating. I am a happy, happy girl. I hereby pledge to try cooking one of these recipes every time it's my turn to cook this week-- which is usually every other evening.
I made beet slaw, as I mentioned-- actually, it's beet-and-carrot-and-celery slaw, with dressing that I kind of made up on the fly, red wine vinegar and fresh mint and fresh ginger and a bit of honey and a bit of sesame oil. So now we have sides for dinner this week.
I also made granola, this time with a twist: it occurred to me, having eaten granola from another source last week, that these days that there are soy crunchies in many snack foods, and that we had on hand some TVP which might serve this purpose. Lo and behold, it seems to work. Now I'm getting protein with my granola. I ate my first breakfast of it today, so we'll see if that improves how it holds me until lunchtime.
My Hub continued his TVP-chunk experiments, this time making chili out of it. I will add that he does chili differently than I do; we are a mixed household in that I have always been a believer that beans have a place in chili, while he finds this to be just short of sacreligeous. He will admit that I make a good "spicy bean stew" but he still says it's not chili. His chili, which is usually made entirely of meat and tomato and onion and masa and spices, now was made of TVP chunks, soaked in spiced tomato juice and then browned in a frying pan, then added back into the pot o' stuff. It was pretty tasty, although the texture was odd. I didn't really mind it, though.
It did remind me, however, of a certain someone's discussion of vegetarian dishes on Cooking With Ginger, in which the ever-brilliant DG indicated that it was difficult to find vegetarian dishes that:
1. Not be too reliant on butter, eggs or cheese
2. Not be too reliant on meat substitutes such as Quorn
3. Not make you fart all freaking night.
In this, my Hub's vegetarian chili works well on the first, not so well on the second (he is trying, and God bless him for it), and failed utterly on the third. Oh, holy hopping howitzers, the noise and the stench all evening long was just unbelievable, from both of us. Vegetarian cooking just doesn't make me very ladylike, I guess. Happily, I've thus far dodged the problem of intense gas pain that I ended up with the last time my Hub cooked with TVP, possibly because I immediately ran for a tablet of Phazyme. I should pick up some acidophilus tablets, I think.
My Hub purchased a three-pound log of ground beef on one of our shopping excursions, and separated it into three pieces, two of which ended up in the freezer and one in the fridge. Which reminds me of the hilarious part about my Hub's continued omnivorous tastes: he's starting to resent the meat. He loves eating it, but he is annoyed at how much it costs (as he has become accustomed to the meatless grocery bill), he is annoyed at how it stinks up the house when he cooks meat on the stovetop (again, having become accustomed to the less stinktastic vegetarian dishes), and, like Dietgirl's Scottish Companion (er, before he became a vegetarian), he is annoyed by the mess afterward-- particularly since we now lack a dishwasher and must do the dishes by hand. We're both rather nervous about cross-contamination and whatnot, and it had always been comforting to know that we would be able to just chuck things into the dishwasher and have them well scalded after being bathed in raw chicken juices; now, though, all we have is our dish soap and hot water (nowhere near as hot as the dishwasher) and our hand scrubbies, and it makes us even more nervous. The times when he fries things are notably worse, in terms of stench (oh GOD the smell) and clean-up.
All in all, it means that although my Hub likes meat, it is more and more becoming something that he'd rather just eat at restaurants, where he's paying for service as well as for the price-per-pound of meat, where someone else will cook it for him, and where he doesn't have to worry about clean-up. And that when he actually purchases and prepares it himself, he is very cranky about it.
Probably not a bad thing.
He's dropped about five pounds in the past month, which has surprised him greatly. Near-daily exercise and a mostly-vegetarian diet has started to add up. He is also delighted with how much better his cardio is getting-- he raced up the stairs to the El station the other day and realized, at the top, that while his heart rate and breathing rate were up, he didn't feel like he was going to die as he would have a month or so ago. He's quite proud of himself, and rightly so. I'm pretty damn proud of him, too. The problem is, now that his cardio is improving, and his legs are still a lot longer than mine, he's cheerfully walking a million miles per hour for however long on end without having to slow down, and I'm having to scramble to keep up-- which is fine in the short-term, but on a longer walk I occasionally threaten to murder him. Oh, how the tables have turned. Alas.
Also, his glutes are getting perkier, due to all his time on the exercise bike. I surprised the hell out of him by grabbing (and praising) his perky butt, which led to him standing in front of the full-length mirror, craning his chin over his shoulder, and flexing his glutes to see what on earth I was talking about. That was adorable. He claims that my butt is getting perkier, too; I can't see it, but I do know that my butt is sore, so I suspect some results are occurring somewhere.
Writing-wise, I got 500 words written every night last week, and then had to take a break Sunday because there was just TOO MUCH SHIT GOING ON and we had to get up an hour early in the morning and all in all it had added up to make me stressy. I'm going right back to it tonight, though.
It's time for summer hours at our workplace, a voluntary program in which we show up an hour early, four days a week, and then get a half-day on Friday. Huzzah! I love having an hour without customers calling, I love the easier commute (fewer people coming in at 7:30 AM than at 8:30 AM = guaranteed seat on the train, fewer train delays, much less of a crowd on the sidewalk when we're heading across the Loop; it's ALL GOOD), I love the fact that it's cooler that early in the morning. I do not, however, particularly like getting up earlier than normal. Happily Chicago has freakishly long days in June, with dawn before 5 AM and sunset around nine PM, so my sunlight-attuned body will be okay with summer hours until about halfway through July, at which point things may start to suck.
This will have the effect of making our evenings feel more compressed, though, because we'll need to get to bed around 9:30 PM, if not sooner. Considering that we've both been feeling like we've got too much to do and not enough time to do it in, that may become problematic. Eee.
The good thing is that summer does not require long hours of cooking. I should definitely get the bean salad marinating (ooh, the other half of the sweet onion we've got in the fridge would go really well in there), so that we'll have the option of toasted pita bread, bean salad, and beet slaw, rather than actually having to cook.
Lunch this week: some kind of wacky fish-and-wild-rice-and-vegetable stew, compliments of my Hub. Hooray for lunch that I didn't cook!
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