Rainy, lazy Sunday

Today has been the perfect lazy, rainy day. I only have one day a week off from work, Sundays, so I often try to catch up on too much on my day off and rarely relax. I did manage to do a fair amount of work around the house (washing, dishes, tidying) but I have spent the majority of the day doing things I enjoy.

I did a little Halloween decorating. Halloween is my favorite day of the year. I always make my own costumes and I try to make the majority of my own decorations. I even by some decorations second hand during rummage sale season.  However, every year I just have to give in and buy some new stuff.

Here’s a shot of the decorating I did in the dining room today with my bat tablecloth from a few years ago and the new “Trick or Treat” bunting I bought. The candle is “Purr-Chouli” from Yankee Candle that I inherited from my sister. It’s just the right amount of patchouli without being overbearing.

This is only a tiny bit of how much I decorate, but I am going to try to get it done early so I can actually enjoy the decorations all month. Usually, I decorate the week before our Halloween party, but I am really pushing to be almost full decorated by the end of the week. As the month progresses, I would like to share some old costumes and decorations with you all.

Earlier this afternoon, my friend Aubrey came over and we shared some of that hard sour cherry cider that I posted about last time. Then we had cups of tea and shortbread cookies. I had some Twinings nettle and peppermint that my friend sent me from England. It’s so delicious and sadly, I can’t buy it here.

While Aubrey and I were visiting, our conversation turned to soup, more specifically, how it’s now soup weather in the North Country. She was going home to make a delicious corn chowder and I was wondering if I had anything to make soup. I had the items to make black bean soup, but I wanted some thing creamy and comforting. I still haven’t been grocery shopping so it was slim pickings. I looked in the freezer to see what frozen veg I had and I discovered the last two bags of broccoli florets that I had frozen from last year. My friend and I were talking about roasted veggies today too, so that was on my mind.

Using what few ingredients I could scrounge: two small bags of frozen broccoli, one red onion, just barely enough bullion to make three cups of broth, a can of coconut milk, and five slices of really stale bread, I made vegan cream of roasted broccoli soup with homemade croutons for tonight’s dinner.

Vegan Cream of Roasted Broccoli Soup with Homemade Croutons

1 bag of frozen broccoli Florettes
1 red onion, diced
6 garlic cloves, minced
salt, pepper, nutritional yeast, and smoked paprika – to taste
a drizzle of olive oil
3 cups of vegetable stock
1 cane of coconut milk

Directions:
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Toss the frozen broccoli florets with the diced onion, minced garlic, salt, pepper, nutritional yeast, and smoked paprika together in a large bowl. Next drizzle a little olive oil into the mixture, just enough so that all of the broccoli is covered when you give it a toss. Spread the broccoli and onion mixture in an even layer on a baking pan and roast for 20 minutes or so, until the broccoli is a little brown.

In a large soup pot, heat the vegetable stock on low. When your broccoli and onions are finished roasting, add them to your broth. Cover the pan and let it simmer for 20 minutes or so. When the soup has simmered for 20 minutes, use an immersion blender and blend the soup until it’s creamy. You can also do this with a blender, but please wait until the soup is completely cool. If you put hot soup in a blender, it will explode, covering you in scalding soup. Just take my word for that, okay? Should you want a hearty soup, you can skip this step all together. Finally, whisk in a can of coconut milk into the soup. Cover the soup and let it simmer on low for 10 minutes. The coconut milk adds a nice creamy consistency to the soup, while keeping it vegan.

To make the croutons, cube stale bread and toss the bread cubes with olive oil and spices. To keep the flavors similar, I chose salt, pepper, smoked paprika, and garlic powder. When the bread cubes are fully covered with the spice and oil mixture, spread the cubes in a layer on a baking sheet at 350 degrees, for about 8 minutes. You can throw the croutons in at the same time as the veggies, but keep an eye on them, because they will burn fast.

Serve the soup with the croutons on top with some hard cider at your beverage. A delicious and satisfying meal for a rainy, autumn day.

Now, I am just relaxing with a cider while listening to The Cure and Jethro Tull, enjoying what’s left of my Sunday. I am not a huge TV watcher, but the new episode of “Bob’s Burgers” is on tonight, and I will admit, I am excited.

Have a great night and keep cooking!

The October Project

So another October is upon us and that means yet another October Project. For those of you who are new friends, The October Project is a very personal, long running, art project that I started in 2005 as a way to combat my struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder. I have only missed one year since I started: 2006 which was the month before I got married and was too busy to take photos.

I take a photo every day of the month, documenting my life in my favorite month, October. I may love this month, but when it gets darker earlier, I start to get terribly depressed. The October Project gives me something to look forward to and it seems a lot folks enjoy it too. Here’s where you can find all of the October Project sets in one collection.

Normally, I provide a Flickr link to the photo of the day on my personal Facebook, but this year, I think I am going to incorporate the daily photo into a blog post here. It will be a good way to get myself into a practice of blogging daily. However, cooking and outfit posts will be separate, so you might get a couple of post a day from me for a while.

If you and I are hanging out in the month of October, there is a good chance you will be a part of the October Project, too! For my readers (both international and those not in New York state), this is a good way to see what Autumn in upstate New York looks like.

I am looking forward to sharing this year’s project with you, friends. I hope you enjoy it too.

Refrigerator clean out!

So, I mentioned in my last post that I am open to suggestions as to what to blog about. If you want to suggest something, please leave a comment.

One of the suggestions I received on The Pugnacious Vegetarian Facebook page was from my friend Shannon who said she always liked it when I post about meals I make when use up the things in my fridge.   Admittedly, I was too lazy to go grocery shopping last night, so it was a good time to see what I had in the fridge that was about to go.

Here’s what I came up with:  kale salad with blue cheese, chopped pecans, dried cranberries, and warm spring onion vinaigrette and oven baked panko breaded Quorn cutlets.

Last year for my birthday, my mom and my sister bought me a set of four Cinderella round casserole dishes  in the Forest Fancies pattern.  I absolutely love them, because among other things, I collect mushrooms.  The vintage yellow refrigerator dish was also a gift from my mother.  It’s the perfect size for so many things.  Bonus points for the lids because that’s less foil or plastic wrap I have to use.

Another friend was talking about kale on Facebook, so I told her about this salad that I make.  I made it for a Christmas Eve dinner we had last year and it really is perfect for Autumn and it would also find a nice home on your Thanksgiving table, too.

The more I thought about the salad, the more I wanted to make it and luckily enough, I had a big bag of kale that needed to be used up!  The basis of the vinaigrette was some leftover olive oil and balsamic vinegar and spices that I had saved from a week or so ago.  We were dipping focaccia bread into the oil and vinegar, but I made too much of the oil and vinegar mixture and I couldn’t bear to throw it away, so I put the leftover mixture in my salad dressing shaker, hoping to do something with it.

The oven baked Quorn cutlets  are so easy and helped me to use up the rest of my panko bread crumbs and this delicious mustard. Note to self: put mustard on the shopping list.

Kale Salad with Blue Cheese, pecans, Dried Cranberries, and Warm Spring Onion Vinaigrette

As with the majority of my recipes, this one can be made for one person or many people, so the measurements are not exact.

  • -pre-washed and torn kale (or other greens, spinach is a nice green to use with this)
  • -blue cheese (or Gorgonzola) crumbles
  • -dried cranberries
  • -chopped pecans (or your favorite nut-walnuts or almonds would be good)
  • -a bunch of spring (green) onions (or a small red onion or a shallot), chopped
  • -olive oil
  • -balsamic vinegar
  • -chopped garlic
  • -salt and pepper

Directions:

I recommend using a large bowl for this salad.  It’s nice to rub a clove of garlic along the inside of the bowl to add a little extra flavor.  Mix blue cheese crumbles, pecans, and dried cranberries together in the bottom of the bowl and top with the kale, giving everything a good mix.  Sure, you can toss this salad with tongs, but I like to wash my hands and give this salad a good mix with my hands.  It really mixes everything up well.  The trouble with tongs is that since there are a lot of little bits in this salad, they tend to get lost on the bottom of the bowl.

To make the vinaigrette, heat the oil, vinegar, garlic, and chopped onions on low heat until bubbly, almost caramelized.  When you have reached that state, take the vinaigrette off the heat and immediately dress the salad with the warm dressing and toss the salad (again, I like to do this with clean hands because it really mixes the dressing with the salad.  Next, cover the salad, as this will wilt the kale, which is what you want.  Serve this salad soon while it’s still warm or serve it cold, which is also tasty and how I ate it for lunch.

Oven Baked Panko Breaded Quorn Cutlets

-one box of Quorn Cutlets (4 cutlets per box)

-3 tablespoons (give or take) of vegan may0.  I use Veganaise but if you use regular mayo or salad cream, that would be fine too.

-3 tablespoons of mustard (yellow would work, but try to go for a stone ground or a Dijon)

-a healthy squirt of agave syrup (or a 1/2 teaspoon of sugar)

-salt, pepper, and garlic powder, to taste (If you wanted to make this spicier, you could add a little cayenne pepper or other seasoning of your choice.)

-panko breadcrumbs (I am not going to give an amount of breadcrumbs, because I didn’t measure them last night.  Basically, just add some to a bowl and if you need more, add more!)

Directions:

First, mix the vegan mayo, mustard, and agave syrup together in a large bowl (wet mixture).  In another bowl, mix the panko breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, and garlic powder (dry mixture).  Next, dip the Quorn cutlet in the wet mixture, thoroughly coating the cutlet, followed by dredging the cutlet in the dry mixture, ensuring the whole cutlet is covered in the breadcrumbs.  Place the coated cutlets in an oven safe pan and bake at 400 for twenty minutes.

Mark had to work late that night, so I ate by myself, by candlelight.  I also had a glass of Doc’s Hard Cider. I might have also had a whole bottle of their sour cherry cider while cooking, but shush.

While I was eating dinner, I threw a couple of batches of kale chips in the oven. Only two trays came out well, because to borrow a term from Vix, I cremated one batch.

I forgot to post what I picked up over the weekend.  The bowl with the kale chips is actually blue, but it’s all washed out in this photo, so check out the next photo to see it’s true color, along with the other things I got over the weekend.

Here it is with the majority of the haul I got over the weekend.  Small, but good haul.  Total cost was around $18, but not pictured are the elements of my Halloween costume (which is now 50% complete) and a pair of white go-go boots that don’t quite fit me.  So what did I get?  Vintage blue mini dress and a vintage (Montgomery Ward!  See it in action below!) flowered dress, a new rag rug for Crick to sleep on (he loves ’em!) when he comes home, and a vintage orange teapot that has a chip or two, but come on, look at that color!, I also got a white foam pumpkin for an upcoming Halloween decorating project, a black plastic caldron, a vintage blue melamine bowl, and a book, “Encyclopedia of Fruits, Vegetables, Nuts, and Seeds for Healthful Living.”  Edie not included.

Before I wrap things up, here’s what I wore yesterday.  This sweater is still one of my favorites.  Actually, it’s in a tie with the acid green sweater from the last post.  I was kinda iffy about the dress when I saw it at the thrift shop on Saturday, but it was only a buck, so I took a chance and I am so glad I did!

Outfit details:  vintage 70’s dress (Montgomery Ward brand!) and brown Italian boots – thrifted, robin’s egg blue sweater-consignment shop, blue tights-rummage sale, scarf-from a once a year, factory sale that is held locally (I’ll blog about that when it happens), psychedelic owl pin-antique shop (only $2!).

Here’s a pin close up:

So that’s what I have been up to the past few days or so.  I am still taking blog suggestions, so please feel free to let me know what you would like to see.

Have a great day, friends!


	

A picture round up.

Warning!  This is a photo heavy entry!  Here are all of the photos I have been meaning to blog but I haven’t had time for!

Looking at the photos for today’s post, there is an awful lot of green! It’s funny, green has never been one of my favorite colors, or so I thought. But, green in all shades, has started to find it’s way into my life, in the foods I eat, my wardrobe, and my home decor.

Actually, I have loved green kitchenware forever. When I moved to the apartment I lived in until we bought the house, the first thing I did was paint the cabinet doors green (Shy Absinthe). Here’s an old photo of me in front of said cabinets, holding two jars of my beloved Branston pickle:

I promised a photo of Brussels sprouts and here it is. I wish I would have had a chance to take a photo of the huge stock of ’em I got at the Farmer’s Market.  I didn’t get a chance to cook this right away, because I bought them the day Crick went missing, but I managed to salvage a few for cooking.

See?  More green!  That tea cup is my favorite tea cup, by the way.  I think I got it at a thrift shop.

These sprouts were cooked down in brown butter and garlic.  Yum!

We harvested a lot of the garden a week or so ago.  Here’s what we got:

So many jalapenos!  A lot of our tomatoes had fungus, so we might not be able to make pickled green tomatoes after all, but we had no shortages of peppers!  I am hoping to get some more from our plants so I have some to dry over the winter.  I had much bigger plans for food preservation (freezing, canning, drying) this summer, but with all of the things that have been going on, I am coming to terms with the fact that eating from the garden might be all we are able to do this year.

Here’s some outfit photos from the past few days or so.

Outfit details: acid green cardigan that I absolutely adore (and waited forever for it to go on clearance)-retail, psychedelic scarf-thrift shop, black dress-retail,Kermit the Frog green tights-yard sale, black Mary Jane heels (not pictured-see next photo)-retail, and ratty ass pony tail (thank goodness for the haircut I am getting tomorrow!), cats from left to right: Bella, Edie, Watson, and Ox (all rescues).

Detail shot, because we all love ’em!

This photo has been cracking me up since I took it.  Death metal cat!

This was my first day of autumn outfit. Orange and brown are two of my favorite colors. Outfit details: vintage boy’s jacket (with a few embellishments made by me), striped boy’s ringer tee shirt, brown corduroy skirt, vintage psychedelic scarf (one of my favorites), Italian leather boots -thrifted, argyle knee socks-retail, but on clearance. Also, new hair cut!

Detail shot.  Here you can see some of the vintage the buttons I sewed on the collar of the jacket. The one with the compact and lipstick came from Old Gold in Burlington VT and I don’t believe it’s old. This jacket also has yellow and orange buttons I sewed on the sleeves (It’s been a while, but I think the jacket was missing all of it’s buttons). There was also a cigarette burn on the sleeve, but I covered that up with a patch of shaking hands. Check out the prints on the scarf and shirt!

Boots and socks!

And finally here’s yesterday’s outfit.   It’s no secret how much I love Halloween.  I will go into more detail in future posts, but part of the reason why I love autumn so much is because Halloween is right around the corner!  If retailers are already pushing Christmas, then I am going to push Halloween! Outfit details: black cardigan, black and white striped shirt, and vintage orange purse – thrifted, giant vintage enameled orange flower pin and orange tights, yard sale, shoes and skirt-retail. A note about the pin: I got this for a dollar I think at a yard sale. I was just giddy when I bought it and I told the woman so. She thought I was crazy (I could tell) for being so exuberant over a pin.

Close up of this fabulous pin!  Please ignore all of the cat hair on my sweater. I didn’t realize how bad it was until after I took the photo. That’s what happens when I hug the cats before taking my photos.

 

Oh!  Before I forget, I mentioned on the Pugnacious Vegetarian Facebook page that I was open  to suggestion on topics to blog about.  Please leave me a comment on this blog or post your topics on the Facebook page.

Have a great day everyone and keep cooking!

 

A love song to a grilled cheese sandwich.

Someday, I would like to make you a grilled cheese sandwich.  I don’t mean to brag, but I make a pretty good grilled sandwich.  I don’t make them as often as I would like to, but they are probably the most satisfying thing I make.  Grilled cheese sandwiches nourish my body and my soul.

Now, this grilled cheese sandwich I would make you isn’t your ordinary sandwich.  No, this one is made with love and that’s why it’s will probably take a helluva lot longer to make than the average grilled sandwich.

I might make you a grilled cheese sandwich to go along with some tomato soup, either canned or homemade.

I might make one as a late night, too much booze, settle your stomach, snack before you go to sleep.  I made one of these type of sandwiches for a friend of mine, after a long night of beer and giggles.  I managed to break three Pyrex measuring cups of different sizes, in the process of trying to liberate my cast iron frying pan from the cupboard, but the sandwich was good and it gave me a story to tell, which is more than you can say for most sandwiches.

Speaking of cast iron frying pans, that’s the way to go to make a great grilled cheese sandwich.  Sometimes I will use a George Foreman grill (like I did tonight) but I will almost always finish the grilled cheese sandwich cooking process with a quick turn in the cast iron frying pan with a little butter.

Butter is important, no doubt about that.  I don’t butter my bread, instead choosing to melt small pats of butter in the frying pan before placing the sandwich in the pan.

I have a secret ingredient for the outside of the sandwich, but I can’t tell you about that.  You would have to just taste and see.

As for ingredients, there are so many combos to choose from!

I personally like to use a nice, dense whole grain bread, but you can beat the crispy, golden goodness of a grilled cheese sandwich made with white bread.  As for cheese, I usually go with a strong cheddar, sometimes sliced, sometimes shredded.  However, I will use any kind of cheese I have on hand, with the exception of mozzarella.

Your grilled cheese sandwich could include the following fillings:  caramelized onions, pickled jalapenos, strawberry rhubarb jam, tomatoes,  spicy salsa verde, or even another slice of bread to make a triple decker sandwich!

Part of the reason it would take so long to make a grilled sandwich for you is because you would be in the kitchen with me and I would be distracted.  See, we would be drinking beers or wine and I would have to find us some good music to listen to.  I would also have to rummage in the kitchen for the perfect ingredients to make you a grilled cheese sandwich, based on the mood of the night or the season.

We might eat our grilled cheese sandwiches out of our hands, still hot from the pan or I would crack us another beer and we could eat on mismatched plates, wiping our mouths on mismatched cloth napkins.  As for a side dish, I might even crack open a jar of my pickled green tomatoes or tear open a bag of kettle cooked chips if I have ’em.  Personally, I like to dip my grilled cheese sandwich in blue cheese dressing.  But, since I have no self-control around blue cheese dressing, I don’t keep it in house, so a little bowl of sriracha might have to suffice.

Here’s a photo of a grilled cheese sandwiches I made tonight:  12 grain bread, extra sharp cheddar that I shredded,  and smoky paprika caramelized onions served with Magic Hat Hex, straight from the bottle. I ate my sandwich off of a yellow plate.

Do you have any favorite ingredients for grilled cheese sandwiches? I would love to hear them.

Have a great night and keep cooking!