Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sunday Brunch: Spicy Tofu & Plum Scramble

INGREDIENTS:
1/2 brick X-Firm Tofu, large crumbles
1/2 small Onion, diced
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1/2 tsp Fennel Seeds (optional)
1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1 Dried Chili, crushed
Salt + Pepper to taste
1 Plum, chopped + pit removed

In a pan, saute the onions in a bit of water over high heat. Add the tofu and stir, splash in a little more water if it dries up. Stir in the spices until everything is evenly coated. Add the chopped plums and stir until the plums soften. Serve with oatmeal for a complete gluten-free breakfast.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Sunday Brunch: Fruity Overnight Oats

INGREDIENTS:
2/3 cup Large Flake Oats
2/3 cup Unsweetened Almond Milk
1 tsp Chia Seeds
1/2 cup Mixed chopped fruits (I used Mango, Melon, Banana and Strawberry)

In a blender or food processor, purée the fruits. In a jar or lidded shake cup (pictured), combine purée with oats, milk and chia. Give it a good shake until mixed and then throw the lid on, put in the fridge and let sit overnight. In the morning, top with fresh berries/sliced fruit and eat it up. The result is a creamy, yummy raw treat.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sunday Brunch: Spiced Chickpea Casserole

*Adapted from a recipe at fatfreevegan.com

















INGREDIENTS:
2 cups Water + more for cooking
1 tbsp Soy Milk Powder
3 tbsp Corn Starch
1/2 cup Nutritional Yeast
1 tsp Salt
1 tbsp Lemon Juice
2 tbsp Tahini
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1/2 tsp Cumin
1/4 tsp Cayenne (or more if you like spicy)
1/2 tsp Paprika
1/2 tsp Dry Mustard
2 cups Potatoes, peeled and diced
2 cups Chick Peas (drained and rinsed, I cooked dried ones and used the water as one of the cups of water for the sauce)
1 cup Cauliflower, chopped
1 Onion, diced
3 cloves Garlic, minced

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a food processor, add the first 12 ingredients (up to Dry Mustard) and combine.

Add 2 tbsp water to a large pan and brown the onions (add more water as needed to prevent sticking). Add garlic and stir for 1 minute. Add cauliflower, potatoes, chick peas and sauce and stir until it thickens. Pour mixture into a casserole dish and bake for 40 minutes.


A Record a Week: Johnny Mathis - Give Me Your Love For Christmas




















SIDE 1.
JINGLE BELL ROCK
HAVE YOURSELF A MERRY LITTLE CHRISTMAS
MY FAVORITE THINGS
GIVE ME YOUR LOVE FOR CHRISTMAS
SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN
WHAT ARE YOU DOING NEW YEAR'S EVE?

SIDE 2.
DO YOU HEAR WHAT I HEAR?
CALYPSO NOEL
THE LITTLE DRUMMER BOY
CHRISTMAS DAY
THE LORD'S PRAYER

Well, Christmas in March, who knew? More accurately, I didn't think I could possibly have owned any Christmas albums that weren't Bing Crosby (except for possibly Jim Reeves, but R is a long way away and I wasn't concerned about that yet). Lo and Behold, here's Johnny Mathis, who Bette Midler (via Wikipedia) has dubbed 'the king of Christmas'. My lack of knowledge of Christmas music besides Bing, and the general association with Tin Pan Alley, is clear to me after reading about this man. This was his third out of now six Christmas-themed albums. Who knew?

The style itself is a bit more up-tempo than most Christmas stuff I've heard, while not being super schmooze-y.  In fact, Mathis presents a mostly palatable version of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, a song my wife has accurately described as a 'funeral dirge'. When next Christmas comes around, I am going to keep an ear out for him and if I don't hear him, I'm going to call and request him from stations that insist on Michael Bublé or any soft pop garbage.

Extended Absence Due To Cats

I am aware that my posting has been down as of late, but there's a reason for that. Well, a few reasons. For one, I've been reducing my sugar intake and that pairs up with less brunch posts (though I am determined to try out some things that aren't just fresh fruit arrangements). Mostly though, we've had an interesting couple of months involving cats.

It all began with a friend posting an ad from Kijiji on a social media site. The ad was a cry for help from a person who was looking for a home for their pets while they underwent a medical emergency. We took in the cats and for a while, everything was hunky-dory. All six cats seemed to tolerate each other (I should say 4, one of the adoptives ran to hide in the basement and one of ours was completely sketchy). The adoptives each had personalities and other traits that mirrored our cats' and it was kind of neat discovering them. Then one day, something changed. I'm not sure if the balance of power amongst them switched or the other guys were just getting comfortable here, but they became the dominant group. The old guy in their group began sitting on top of our old guy wherever he chose to rest and would stay there until he pried himself up and moved. The polydactlyl one would chase around our small one until she hid under something (kitchen island, bathroom cupboards, etc.) and wait at the edge taunting her. The one who hid in the basement came to the top of the stairs, not brave enough to come out, but still would stand his ground at the cat door, preventing the other cats from getting to the basement (where the litter box is...and yes we tried opening the door, but they still wouldn't go past him). This very quickly progressed to our cats peeing other places. The one we caught we took to the vet and he had a 'possibly stress-related urinary problem'. Great, he peed all over our family room chair, the bathtub and the front hallway multiple times. In comes a litter box for the spot by the front door. What a wonderful way to greet house guests! Still though, it fixed the problem and in no way is that a bad thing. Then, though, our cats began showing up with scratches on their faces and bodies (vet said the body ones could be stress-related). One day, our old guy was not sitting properly and had a really swollen genital area. We immediately took him to the vet and they diagnosed him with 'crystals' in his urine that was blocking the tract. Now, this most likely was a result of us feeding him a blend of generic food and the more expensive high-protein food we usually feed our cats (6 cats is pricey) and not his normal vet food. I am taking full blame for this, even though the vet said it can be brought on by stress. Anyhow, we then had to monitor the old dude AND keep the other cats separate and the two factions separated from each other. The result was each floor of our house having either one, two or three cats cordoned off. Our cats are all back together post-healing, but still separate from the other ones for now. We are trying to get things dealt with, but it's not feeling fair to either set of cats.

Now, I realize that this makes the other cats seem like jerks. On their own, they are EXCELLENT cats. Very snuggly and sweet, but put 6 cats together and they are going to form a hierarchy of some sort and most likely, as happened, the two sets of three would stick together and be against one another. One set was bound to become the alphas and it just happened to not be ours. It's been a very stressful experience, for the cats especially, but us as well. I think fostering is a great and important thing and one we will probably do again, but maybe not until our cats have lived out there life stress-free.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sunday Brunch (Gluten-Free February): Monster Salad

INGREDIENTS:
1 cup Mixed Greens
1/2 cup Kale, massaged, pieces
1 cup Brown Rice, cooked
1/2 Red Pepper, diced
1 cup Brown Mushrooms, chopped
1 Zucchini, diced
1/2 brick Tofu, diced
1/2 Avocado, diced
1/2 cup Strawberries, diced
1/4 cup Chia Seeds
1/4 Cup Sesame Seeds
2 tbsp Gluten-Free BBQ Sauce
2 tbsp Salsa (should be GF, but check)

In a pan, steam fry the tofu, zucchini, mushrooms and peppers until soft. Add in rice and BBQ sauce/salsa.  Lay greens out on a plate and top with fried mixture. Top off with avocado, strawberries and seeds.

Monday, February 17, 2014

A Record a Week: Dean Martin - Greatest Hits Vol. 1



















SIDE 1.
EVERYBODY LOVES SOMEBODY
YOU'RE NOBODY 'TIL SOMEBODY LOVES YOU
IN THE CHAPEL IN THE MOONLIGHT
HOUSTON
(REMEMBER ME) I'M THE ONE WHO LOVES YOU
I CAN'T HELP REMEMBERING YOU

SIDE 2.
NOBODY'S BABY AGAIN
EVERY MINUTE, EVERY HOUR
BUMMING AROUND
YOU'LL ALWAYS BE THE ONE I LOVE
COME RUNNING BACK
THE BIRDS AND THE BEES


When you think of crooners, Dean Martin's name is one of the first that come to mind. He was in the heart of the crooning era and a part of the famous 'Rat Pack'. I am not sure if crooning was as cheesy in its day as I find it now, or if it fit more in with the times. I find artists like Bublé endlessly talented, but extremely over the top and I'm not sure if it's a result of artists from that time being remembered as idols and the ones at the origin of many of these crooning/big band standards that they aren't viewed in the same light. Then again, Bublé tours massive venues, so I guess I'm not the majority in that sense.

As mentioned, this album holds up as an album full of Martin's crooning standards and as such, has that smooth sound that makes that music what it is. It does, however, get a little old and stuffy by the end of the record. I imagine that is a result of me not knowing the later songs, but talent alone doesn't do it for me over the length of an album.

This album also came out in a time when you could seemingly make ENDLESS amounts of 'best of' records by the same artists. I find it hard to believe anyone made any money off of any of these compilations, when they all contained a selection of similar songs. Once copyright came into play that dried up pretty quick.