This has to be one of the easiest, cheapest, and tastiest recipes I have come across. Throw everything in a casserole dish and cook for 90 minutes? Brilliant
How many a new job?
Part of the January and February stress index (in fact, a major part) has been the pursuit of a new job. I had not intended to transition away from my current role, as, for the most part, I really enjoy my job. I work for a nonprofit that inspires people to register for organ, eye and tissue donation. I have met incredible people whose lives have been touched by the incredible gift of life. I work for and with one of the most supportive supervisors a person could ask for – one that has allowed me to take risks, add more responsibilities, and bring our outreach to new levels.
But, when an Online Engagement Coordinator position came across one of my listservs, I stopped in my tracks. While I have worn numerous hats in my role as a Program Manager, my favorite hat is communications – online, face-to-face, printed, however. After completing my Master program last year, one of the “dream jobs” I discussed was serving as a Public Information Officer with a local government, nonprofit, etc. While not off the table, this position with the NC League of Conservation Voters will allow me to fuse together my passion for outreach and advocacy in the online realm (and dive into fundraising – an uncharted but desired to explore territory!)
I gave my official notice of resignation on Friday but will continue in my current role until the end of the month. March kicks off our annual DMV Awards program where I will be traversing the great state of North Carolina in my 2007 Corolla, literally traveling from Murphy to Manteo. At the same time, I will begin to educate myself on the NCLCV and what lies ahead there. All of that to say: March is going to be challenging. Not expecting to have time to do a lot of fun things, and that will likely include both cooking and writing blog posts.
Two other perks of the new position – outside of becoming part of a powerful pro-conservation voice – are that I will get to be back in an office setting (goodbye cats!) AND will be working in downtown Raleigh. While the City of Oaks is not on par with a downtown Chi-town or Manhattan, it is still alluring to have the option of walking and obtaining morning coffee, running the streets at lunch, and opening new doors of opportunities and events at night.
Here’s to taking risks, pursuing passions, and growing as a person and professional in a whole new sector of society!
Last week, Aaron and I tried to engage in some food frugality post-Richmond vacation and played the: “What can we make from the pantry, fridge and freezer?” game. I still did require SOME fresh food but minimal: bananas, snow peas, apples discounted veggies, and Amy’s lunches for Aaron’s work. Outside of those few items, it was time to engage culinary creativity.
One meal I threw together was a simple marinated tempeh (fridge) stir-fry with snow peas (purchased), peas (freezer), okra (freezer) tossed over pasta (pantry). This was (I’m almost embarrassed to admit this) the first time I had marinated the tempeh, and boy, did that shake it up! A simple marinade of tamari, sesame oil, black pepper, and white wine vinegar.
For dinner another night, we went spicy – ole! This dish was infused with red pepper flakes, cumin, and black pepper. This was an almost glorified freezer meal: broccoli, peas, okra thrown together with diced tomatoes and chickpeas, all plopped on some wonderful brown rice. It brought the sweat…and coughing fits.
Not photographed, but better believe there was a taco night or two mixed in there. Our Costco-supply of black beans, chickpeas, and corn tortillas always prove to be a lifeline for quick, delicious meals on those nights when cooking/dicing/prepping is just not likely to happen. My friend Michelle wrote a great blog post on how to create tasty weekly meals by stocking up on key staples to have in your pantry, freezer, and fridge, especially for vegan cooks.
Some of my go-tos to help in all dishes, but especially on the cheap, are:
1) Nutritional yeast (I could eat this on everything)
2) Dried beans (black, chickpeas, navy)
3) Nuts (almonds, cashews, walnuts – Costco, baby!)
4) Dried herbs and spices (in particular: cumin, basil, thyme, parsley, chili powder)
5) Grains, such as quinoa, bulgur, whole-wheat pasta and brown rice
6) Other proteins: tempeh, tofu
7) Frozen veggies, especially Edamame and stiry-fry blends
8) Toasted sesame oil
9) Hummus (i know, I know. We should make this at home. But Sabra…Sabra just knows what’s up!)
10) A good balsamic vinegar (we are fortunate to have Blue Sky Oil & Vinegar not too far from our house, which has an incredibly array of vinegars and oils – you can even taste them!)
What sort of ingredients are your must haves?
I can’t resist the lists.
In honor of her 100th blog post, my friend Jennie gifted us with ten of the 100 things she likes about herself, inspired by another blogger, Daile. Begin your homework: two more amazing bloggers to add to your reading repertoire.
Without further ado, Ms. Jennie and readers, I’ll share my list – with the hope that you will take up the quill and pen your own – whether as a comment or in your own blog post. It’s essentially a chain letter of positive thought, so unlike its 1990s counterparts full of death, disease, and YOU ONLY HAVE 24 HOURS OR NOTHING WILL HAPPEN directives.
1) My pinkie toes on both feet essentially ride on top of my fourth toes. Efficient little extremities.
2) I like to hang my mouth open in photos, especially those around beer:
4) I have surrounded myself with people who make me: smarter, more compassionate, laugh, and love easily.
6) My spirit of adventure – whether to new destinations, attempting activities outside of my comfort zone, and even being willing to put my own need for control aside and give faith to someone else.
7) I can making purring sounds with both my tongue and my uvula. Take that, Spanish language trills and cats.
8) I can drop some slick lyrics and beats – has to be on the fly. Can’t think too much about it.
This is a great exercise for a Monday.
Alright – you’re turn! What 10 things do you like about yourself?
The weather on Saturday was not what one would describe as “ideal”: wind, rain, and just above freezing temperatures. You cannot escape winter. We did spend our later morning exploring the Carytown neighborhood, full of boutiques, coffee shops, restaurants, and other quirky installations. Sometimes I do fall prey to retail therapy: this was one of those times. The first shop was one of my favorites: Clementine, a consignment shop. Its corner display caught my attention:
While I didn’t find anything to purchase by the pound, I was still quite pleased by the concept. During hour two of shopping adventures, Aaron gently bowed out to find him both a warm venue and an adult beverage, leaving me to lurk inside another used book store that turned out to NOT offer used book store prices (and only upon evaluating my receipt did I realize this – label this an official “dunce moment.”)
Aaron had parked himself across the street at Portrait House, imbibing some local VA brew:
This place didn’t offer much for the non-meat/dairy crowd, so we found a Greek restaurant down the street. Ironically, the Greek Cafe’s special for the day involved black bean patties – I had the gyro while Aaron ate his patty in burger form, and both of us gave the meal a big thumbs up:
Then, it was time to make it over to a brewery bucket list location: Hardywood Park Craft Brewery. Unintentionally, we were visiting on the weekend of its Raspberry Stout Release. Per our usual brewery MO, we saw out in the parking lot until the doors opened at 2pm, watching the hardcore beer nerds begin to line up [did I mention the rain/wind/cold awaiting the folks outside?] from our heated seats.
Once inside, we jumped in line, grabbed a Raspberry Stout and The Great Return [West Coast IPA] and began our task of people watching as well as ooing and awing over the space.
After purchasing some goodies to bring back, we ventured to brewery #2 on Saturday: Isley Brewing Company.
Full of a diverse group of patrons, this open brewery space offered intriguing options for the palate. We opted for the Root of All Evil [Ginger Golden Ale] and Choosy Mother [Peanut Butter Butter]. Both were fantastic, as we sipped and sad on a coach overlooking the entire taproom.
What to do after some day drinking? A little hotel hot tub, a little napping, and some reading. [Yes, party people!] Dinner that night involved another highly-regarded vegan restaurant via Yelp: Phoenix Garden Vegetarian Restaurant. All menu items were vegan – pretty exciting, eh?
I ordered the Vegetarian Pho while Aaron tried the Bahn Mi:
I did end up adding from sriracha to the Pho, which overall I found welcoming on a cold evening, choked full of rice noodles, mushrooms, and bamboo sprouts. But, I was not impressed my the Bahn Mi. And, what I found as my biggest turnoff was the abundance of faux meat. Not tofu, not seitan, not tempeh but some pinkish, processed (?), meat-like product. That’s not my jam, and it was the main star in the Bahn Mi and even played a supporting role in my Pho.
The following day, we spent our final morning wandering through downtown Richmond proper: starting off at Urban Farmhouse Market & Cafe for coffee and then venturing to and around the State Capitol Complex, Governor’s Mansion, canal walk along the James River, Tredegar Iron Works, and more. Although another chilly morning, the sun was out and warmed us on our journey of Richmond’s historical and pivotal role for the South in the Civil War. On future visits, we plan to do more around the historical components of this city. For now, enjoy some of our final shots of a fantastic weekend in Richmond: