I love . . .

Today’s WordPress Daily Prompts:  Party Animals? asks:  After spending time with a group of people, do you feel energized and ready for anything or do you want to hide in the corner with a good book?

I Love

I love a good party ’cause I love to talk.

I love to talk ’cause then I can get you talking.

I love to get you talking ’cause I love listening.

I love listening to you ’cause I love having you in my life if only for an hour or two.

I love having you in my life ’cause I love hearing about what you are having in your life.

I love hearing about your life ’cause I love that you’ll share your adventures with me.

I love that you’ll share your adventures with me ’cause I love knowing about you.

I love knowing about you ’cause I love finding out what we have in common.

I love finding out what we have in common ’cause I love feeling connected with you.

I love feeling connected with you ’cause I also love seeing what is different about us.

I love seeing how we’re different ’cause I love understanding you my sister and my brother.

I love understanding you ’cause that is one of life’s great joys.

Understanding is one of life’s great joys ’cause then we can feel kinship and friendship.

I love feeling kinship and friendship ’cause that way, whatever we’re doing, it’s going to be a beautiful time.

I love having a beautiful time with you ’cause that is my kind of richness.

I love that kind of richness ’cause it even makes doing the dishes after the party okay with me.

I don’t love doing the dishes though.

But it’s okay if you’re there and we’re talking.

That I love.

I’ll wash, you dry.

Unwashed dishes in a sink; an authentic situation.
I’ll wash, you dry.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
  1. 21 july Daily Prompt: Party Animals (?) | family photos food & craft
  2. Will you play with me? |
  3. Personality | Books, Music and Movies : my best friends
  4. Daily Prompt: From Dr. Hyde’s Perspective | The Whimsical Circumlocutor
  5. Daily Prompt: Party Animals (?) | writinglikeastoner
  6. Daily Prompt: Party Animals (?) | Chicomallorca’s Blog
  7. I Do Not Photoshop Any Picture I Upload | Daily Prompt: Party Animals (?) | likereadingontrains
  8. ‘Tis Not Something You Ask An Introvert | Black and White Heart
  9. Party Animal with Social Anxiety | Tony’s Texts
  10. Daily Prompt: Party Animals | suzie81’s Blog
  11. A Daily Prompt Poem: Personality « Vicariously Poetic
  12. Which Party Known By | clarior e tenebris
  13. Daily Prompt: Party Animals (?) « The Blogging Path
  14. The After Party Diner (short fiction) | The Jittery Goat
  15. Party Animals (?): Who Was She? | Khana’s Web
  16. Daily Prompt: About Last Night… | In diesen Augenblick
  17. Daily Prompt: Party Animals, aka me vs. going out | printed cats
  18. Party Animals (Sonet) | Liars, Hypocrites & The Development of Human Emotion
  19. Daily Prompt: Hiding After Midnight | Creative Mysteries
  20. Daily Prompt: Party Animals (?) – AND THE PARTY GOES ON AND ON | LADYBOY PROMPT
  21. Daily Prompt: Party Animals (?) « Mama Bear Musings
  22. There are two sides to the coin | tornin2’s Blog
  23. Quiet Time is a Good Thing | Code For Confession
  24. Party Butterfly | The Magic Black Book
  25. Party Animals | Geek Ergo Sum
  26. Daily Prompt: Party Animals (?), No Thanks | Mindful Splatter
  27. Daily Prompt: Party Animals (?). | Chronicles of an Anglo Swiss
  28. Pup Party… | Haiku By Ku
  29. Philosophy of Friendship|Daily Prompt: Party Animals (?) | Ireland, Multiple Sclerosis and Me
  30. Daily Post – Personality | the mmmmm family
  31. Party Animals – Daily Prompt | oh lovely existence
  32. It’s National Ice Cream Day! | Spirit Lights The Way
  33. Summa Cum Laude | A Day in the Life
  34. Daily Prompt: Party Animals (?) | The Bluebird of Happiness 幸福
  35. Daily Prompt: Party Animal (NOT) | Tangled Up In Daydreams
  36. I love . . . | mycookinglifebypatty
  37. Daily Prompt: Party Animals (?) | My Endless Rants & Ramblings
  38. Party Hard | Daily Prompt: Party Animals? | Catherine B.’s Blog
  39. Party Animals (?) | The Nameless One
  40. Depression and party not a good company | Life is great

Vegan Chilled Cucumber Fennel Soup

Lately, it’s been too darn hot to cook!

Summer has hit very hard around here with temperatures over 100 degrees for the last several days. On top of that we are having the worst drought in history with no prediction of when relief will come.

What’s a cook to do?

One thing I have been doing is getting up early enough to cook something in the morning when the air is . . . well I wouldn’t go so far as to say “cool” . .  but I figure early a.m. is when the temp is as low as it’s going to get for the day. Even so, I do not want to fill our home with heat from my stove and oven!

The other evening I was through with work and even though it was rather late evening, it was still mucho calor fuera and even though I had not eaten since about 11 a.m. (only breakfast and second breakfast). I still didn’t want to eat anything. Just too hot! But I knew I would eventually get hungry.

(And that’s the thing about summer, don’t eat, don’t eat, too hot to eat, and then Wham! Starving! Eat Everything!. I mean, what’s with ‘second breakfast’ lately? What am I, a Hobbit?  I’ll let you know if I ever get that under control.)

Mucho calor fuera!
Mucho calor fuera!

I thought, “I should eat something at least. What could I possibly make that I might feel like eating?”

There it was! A visionary flash of the ultimate cool-as-a-cucumber but loaded with savory, satisfying flavors.
There it was—a visionary flash of the ultimate cool-as-a-cucumber-but-loaded-with savory-satisfying-flavors summer refreshment idea!

“How about a cold, creamy cucumber soup?”

So I got busy. There was a little cooking involved, but not much.

1. I minced a little red onion—very fine mince—and sauted that with a touch of olive oil until it was sweet and tender.

2. I added some soup stock. I used Imagine Foods Vegetable Soup Stock which is the only ready-made stock I have found that does not have cane sugar in it. (More notes about the soup stock later.)

3. I grated a bulb of fennel and a cucumber—both organic—and added that.  I added salt, white pepper and then a little unsweetened coconut milk and some nutmeg. I adjusted the salt and then chilled the soup. Surely you could play around with the seasonings. A bit of cardamom perhaps? Or go for a hit of hot chili pepper?

Lovely chilled soup in three four easy steps!

4. Use the fluffy end of the fennel as a garnish. (That is, if you can. The fluffy tips of the fennel look lovely when dry and seem like the perfect garnish. But as soon as they get wet they rapidly collapse and resemble a wet Shih Tzu.  So throw on that garnish and serve it fast!)

Now let me talk to you about the color.  If you buy one of these ready-made soup stocks it’s going to be orangey-yellow because they use a lot of carrots or squash. And the flavor of this stock is very nice but definitely affects the outcome of the soup.

If you think creamy cucumber soup should NOT look like pea soup, and you want a more traditional white-looking soup, you should make dashi as your soup stock.  This is not hard to do at all. Then you will have a clear broth to start with. Further, if you really want a whiter soup, you could peel the cucumber before grating it and then you would have much less green color.

I’m sure my photo of this soup would be much more picture perfect had I done that but I was looking for something very fast so used the packaged broth and I prefer to use whole organic foods whenever possible so I generally don’t peel my cucumbers.  There’s lots of good stuff (nutrients) right under that skin!

When the soup was chilled, I served it to my Hubbin’ and myself. I thought probably the soup would be too mild for him and he might not like it. Wrong!! He did like it very much! We both enjoyed the flavors and felt refreshed after eating it.

Another tip about this soup is that you can keep it chilled in a container for work or travel and enjoy it as is! How simple is that?

Vegan Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry

BEEF AND BROCCOLI STIR FRY

I needed a quick dinner and had just the right ingredients on hand for a “Beef” and Broccoli Stir Fry. Of course mine will be vegan and I will use Seitan instead of beef and I will make a few other adjustments so my finished dish will be very tasty and free of sugar.

Seitan is something I use on occasion, though not weekly. It is easy to make and I promise to show you how to do it sometime. But tonight I am just home from work as many of you are too on a weekday and I am using store-bought seitan. (say tan—not satan!) Seitan is essentially  a wheat product in which the starch and the bran has been washed away leaving just the gluten, which is the protein part of the wheat. So you see it is a somewhat refined product and not a whole food. This is why I use it only once in a while.

“G L U T E N !!!!!” you say? “But isn’t gluten bad for you? Some people are even allergic to it, arent’ they?”

Yes, I’m sure some people really cannot tolerate gluten but that isn’t the fault of innocent wheat. Whole grains, including wheat, do have protein in them and we vegans eat whole grains and grain products as part of our protein intake. But some people may not be able to assimilate seitan if their system is not in a condition to do so.

Gluten-free folks, please don’t get upset! You can substitute tempeh or tofu and it will be delicious especially if you do the marinating part.

I’m mid-reading The China Study by T. Colin Campbell and I had a cognition about gluten based on Campbell’s expose of the shenanigans that have been going on for decades between the government, the medical establishment, the media and food industry giants to make us believe certain falsehoods about animal-based versus plant-based foods.

I thought about how gluten intolerance has become a modern dietary dilema relatively recently and I strongly suspect that those promoting the evils of gluten have a vested interest in keeping the meat and dairy industries at peak profit. Coupled with the degradation of our food supply and the increasing difficulty in getting regular, organic, whole, unprocessed, un-sugared food (at least in the Western world) it is no mystery to me why many are so worried about gluten!

Is it possible that if people are convinced by all the no-carb, high animal protein dietary programs around that they shouldn’t eat carbs, and if people don’t differentiate between simple and complex carbs and mostly only eat the simple, refined ones anyway, that they could reach a point where they can no longer tolerate gluten?

But I digress, sorry. Here’s my version of fabulous

Chinese Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry!  (Serves 3)

Measurements are approximate and mostly according to your tastes. I myself don’t measure any of it.

  • 8 ounces of pre-cooked seitan, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup naturally brewed soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup brown rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons mirin (rice wine)
  • 1/4 teaspoon chile pepper flakes (optional)
  • 4 cups of broccoli florets and stems
  • 6 baby bella mushrooms, cut into chunky wedges
  • roasted sesame oil or olive oil
  • 2-3 crushed garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon kuzu

Marinate the cubes of seitan in the soy sauce, rice vinegar, mirin and chili pepper flakes. This will be a strong mixture and you need it strong in order to get enough flavor into the seitan.  Let the seitan marinate while you prepare the rest of the ingredients—or at least a half hour.

Wash and cut the broccoli florets. Try to make them about the same size so they will cook in the same length of time. Trim the outer layer of the broccoli stem and discard. (These tend to be too tough!) Then slice the stem in diagonal 1/4 inch thick slices. Broccoli stems, by the way, can be very sweet and delicious!

Dissolve the kuzu in water and set it aside until you are ready to make your thickened sauce.

Begin the stir fry by heating up your oil in a wok or low, wide pan—medium high flame. Saute the broccoli stem pieces for a minute or so and then add the florets and a pinch of sea salt. Next add the mushrooms, another pinch of sea salt and the ginger and stir fry until the veggies are cooked but still a bit crisp.

Add the seitan and the garlic. As the seitan is already cooked, it just has to heat up. If you like a milder garlic taste, add the garlic in the beginning so it cooks more.

When everything is done, add the marinade and the kuzu dissolved in water. Keep stirring as the liquid thickens and will take on a glossy appearance. If there isn’t enough sauce, just add more of the liquid ingredients and use more kuzu dissolved in water. This will depend somewhat on whether you’re serving the stir fry over noodles or rice or just eating it by itself.

Star Fish / Sea Stars in East Timor

~~~~~~~

Patty Comments:

I was cruising around my WordPress reader and saw this delightful video blog my friend, Brian Pinkowski, created. Brian has been rubbing elbows with the stars! (so-to-speak) That is, if starfish have elbows which I don’t think they really do.

Anyway, I just loved this little tour of East Timor inhabitants! It’s not about food, or cooking star fish (heavens no!) but I enjoyed it so much I wanted to share it. Well . . . I did think about preparing some sea veggies!

Timor-Leste Images

I pulled together a short video of some of the Sea Stars (Star Fish) you’ll find in East Timor.

The reefs here are fantastic, and the sea stars are everywhere. The feather stars and basket stars are among my favorites.

Enjoy.

View original post

Be Mine, Valentine

Look who was nestled in my box of button mushrooms! These two must be in love. They have obviously grown very close to one another and now they are all cozy and snuggled together.

2013 VALENTINE

You’re the crop to my rotation

You’re the sum of my equation

I’m the answer to your question

If you follow my suggestion

We can turn this ship around

We’ll all go up instead of down

Your the pan and I’m the handle

You’re the flame and I’m the candle

I’m the bee and you’re the flower

You’re the princess in the tower

I’m the mast and you’re the sail

I’m the hammer and you’re the nail

Stand up, all you lovers in the world

Stand up and be counted, every boy and every girl

Stand up, all you lovers in the world

We’re starting up a brand new day

– Sting, Brand New Day

Top Five Last-Minute Christmas Gifts for Your Cooking Life

I often receive kitchen and cooking-related gifts at Christmas and I love to give them, too. Recently I have found some great gifts for cooks covering a broad price range so I thought I’d share them with you here.  (I know I said there were five but I ended up naming seven because there was a lot of good stuff to choose from. We’ll call the last two a bonus!)

1.  My favorite dishwashing tool is this little Scotch-Brite ™ “dishwand.” It’s a scrubber that holds the soap in the handle and has a nice scrubby sponge head that can be replaced. I heard some of you groan and chuckle! Commonplace and mundane as it is, I think everyone should have one of these.  Under $5. Buy it in any grocery store.

Dishwand

2. A vital necessity for keeping wooden cutting boards from drying and splitting especially in dry climates is Boos(R) Block Board Cream. Amazing stuff to use in between mineral oil treatments.  Really works.  Buy it in stores catering to cooks and cookware or online. Under $15.00.

Boos Block Cream

3.  Lovely New Mexican linen hand-printed dishtowels made by Kei & Molly Textiles, LLC.  Beautiful for drying glassware and they make great props for food photography.  Only $10.  The website is http://www.keiandmolly.com

RASTA PASTA 2

4.  Cooking for only one or two made simple with the Ohsawa (R) Pot.  You place this earthenware pot inside of your pressure cooker and you can cook small amounts of rice, beans and other things instead of a big potful.  And it comes out great! Starting at about $60.  Order from Gold Mine Natural Foods www.goldminenaturalfoods.com.

Ohsawa Pot

5.  Chocolate.  Gimme  Give someone chocolate from Kakawa Chocolate House in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  Great “forgive me for being late” gift in case you didn’t shop in time for Christmas Day.  And remember, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner!  Prices vary. Quality is consistently excellent.  Go to their website:  www.kakawachocolates.com or better yet, just come to visit in Santa Fe and get free samples.

6.  Amazing and versatile condiments from Olaecea olive oil and balsamic vinegar company.  Try expresso dark balsamic, roasted pumpkin seed oil to die for or lemongrass mint white balsamic and dozens of others.  Each bottle is under $20.00  You can visit them in Santa Fe too and get samples or visit their website at http://www.oleaceaeoliveoil.com.

7.  An excellent cook’s reference book that I keep nearby and use is the New Food Lover’s Companion by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst published by Barron’s. Answers all kinds of questions about ingredients, cooking methods, converting measurements etc. with over 6,700 entries.  Great for food/cooking bloggers, too, by the way!  Under $20 at any bookstore, Amazon, etc.

Cover of "The New Food Lover's Companion&...

Cover of The New Food Lover’s Companion

Happy last-minute shopping!

The End of An Era

I was watching the television show “America’s Test Kitchen” and they were reviewing measuring cups when they announced shocking news:  Pyrex glass measuring cups are DISCONTINUED!!!!!

Maybe this isn’t news to you, but it was to me.  I can’t believe it!  This is such a staple utensil for any kitchen and such an excellent measuring cup.  I still have one of these but I decided to go on a search for a few more.  Maybe they will become a collector’s item.  But mostly I just want to have them to use for years to come.

English: A measuring cup purchased in the Unit...

A measuring cup purchased in the United States circa 1980, showing both metric and U. S. Customary graduations.  Copyright ©2006 by Daniel P. B. Smith and released under the GFDL. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A bit of history–according to Wikipedia, Pyrex tempered glass measuring cups were first introduced by Corning in 1915. Corning discontinued manufacturing them but licensed the name “Pyrex” to a new company they formed in 1998 called World Kitchen, LLC who is still making the “Pyrex” measuring cup.  But . . . they are using a different type of glass that is cheaper to make and per Wikipedia, has less heat-resistance and can shatter because of it.  There are also other manufacturers licensed to use the name “Pyrex.”

C’est la vie.

What made these simple glass measuring cups so good?  They were sturdy and didn’t break easily, they were a good deal for the price, and they measured really accurately!  I use mine so much, I never seem to put it away.  It sits on my counter next to salt, pepper and my oil brush.

If you are also in search of Corning Ware Pyrex glass measuring cups you will have to look carefully to be sure you are getting the original.  So far I found plenty of “Pyrex”-named cups that definitely aren’t the original.  So I’m off to my thrift store circuit this weekend!

My Not-So-Secret Weapon

I have a secret weapon that I’ve been using for more than a quarter of a century.  It is like having nutritional insurance protecting me in case I don’t happen to get every single nutrient I need during the course of my daily meals.

Upper Klamath Lake map.

Upper Klamath Lake map. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What is the secret?  It is revealed on my new page, “The Aphonizomenon Phenomenon!”  You’ll find it at the top on the black banner.

Unraveling the recipes

Memories are funny things sometimes.  They can be like dreams and mix themselves together into a fine picture that has been rearranged and self-edited so as to create a three-dimensional package.  That package has a message which is not necessarily about the bare facts.

Thanks to my family and friends who have given me a little nudge to take a closer look at this wine cookie situation!  I do believe the wine cookies and the lace cookies were two different beloved traditions!  Lace cookies are lovely and recipes are available.  So now on to finding the perfect Wine Cookie recipe just like Grandmother’s!