Category: In the Kitchen/Recipes

Learning to be Keen on Kale

I admit, I wasn’t a big kale lover, as a matter of fact, I didn’t like it at all.

It wasn’t the texture, which a friend of mine says reminds her of a garnish placed on your plate that is meant not to be eaten.

In an effort to get more dark green leafy veggies, I made a kale salad once last year. The thing I didn’t know was that it will taste bitter if you don’t strip the leaves from the stem.

After attending a vegan cooking class last month, I not only learned how to strip it from the stem easily (start at the bottom and just strip it away), but how to prepare massaged kale for fresh salads by putting a little olive oil and massaging the leaves to make them softer.

As I’ve continued on this journey of eating about a 90-95% plant based diet, I’ve learned the most important thing is to get a variety of veggies in my diet, as they all are like pieces to a puzzle, providing different vitamins and nutrients we all need.


I’m Sticking to Veggies

This past weekend, Dale and I decided to go out to brunch.

We don’t eat out a lot anymore, particularly breakfast because I’m still trying to follow an all-plant based diet as closely as possible. A little hard to do when confronted with eggs and cheese omelets. Still, my acupuncturist, trained in traditional Chinese medicine, says that a little “bad” stuff, particularly when you’re craving for it isn’t a bad thing, and I was craving an egg.

When I got to the brunch buffet, I realized I was also craving meat, so I also indulged in a couple of small pieces of pork tenderloin. Pork was my undoing during my last foray into vegetarianism, which lasted nine months about 12 years ago.

Anyway, I ended up having eggs, cheese and other dairy, I’m sure in the rich sauces on my eggs, in addition to the meat.

It tasted oh so good going down and I told Dale when we left the restaurant I felt “stuffed” and he agreed he did as well.


An Update on Our Vegan Diet

Vegetable Stir Fry


Back in April, we decided to go to an all plant based diet after we watched the documentary, Forks Over Knives.

Some people, including me, thought a vegan diet might be too extreme, and I know a lot of people didn’t think we could stay on it.

Actually, it’s been a lot easier than I imagined.

There are many things such as butter spread, coffee creamer, ice cream and other things that can be purchased that aren’t dairy or even soy based.

I think I do better than Dale, but he has done really well. He likes meat and will still get a chicken fried steak or tenderloin if we go out. I’ve had a couple of bites of pork, but that’s it.

I do indulge in sushi about once a month, and if there isn’t a good vegetarian option the few instances I go out, I will eat fish.

Other than that, I’ve given up all meat and dairy other than my beloved Ranch dressing.

Hey, we all can’t be perfect!


Avoiding the Dirty Dozen


Container Garden 2013

I finally got my container garden in this past week! It did get down into the high 30s on Sunday morning, but I’m hoping we’re done with the threat of frost.

This will be the biggest garden I’ve ever tried with 4 different types of tomatoes, 4 varieties of peppers, cucumbers and cilantro (which was a huge fail last year).

I container garden due to the very rocky terrain and the difficulty in keeping gardens out of the paws of critters.

We might just have to rename The Party Deck to The Plant Deck.

I’ll be glad to not have to buy some of these things when my plants start producing. I’m growing everything organic, which can get expensive at the store.

When I paid a visit to the doctor last week, we talked about our new healthier lifestyle and how it was going. We got on the subject of soda and diet soda and how bad they are for us. I told him we try to drink green tea, and he asked me if it was organic. I told him Dale had shopped for the tea and brought home conventional.

Tea, evidently, is one of the big no-nos to buy conventional (who knew?) as it has tested high in pesticide residue. Tea is not listed among the Dirty Dozen, but I trust my doctor, so we purchased organic green tea this week. It did get me to wondering again about the “Dirty Dozen,” so called by the Environmental Working Group for the foods that have tested the highest in pesticide residue.

Because of the cost of organic, if I can get away with not buying organic avocados and bananas, I will (they rank #48 and #35 respectively on the list of having lesser pesticide residue).

I read this list a while back, but had also read somewhere that if you can peel it, the food should be ok. Generally true, but not for potatoes, which I’ve been buying conventionally grown (#10 on the list, oops).

Here is the Dirty Dozen. For a list of all 48 tested foods, go to the link for EWG above:

  1. Apples
  2. Strawberries
  3. Grapes
  4. Celery
  5. Peaches
  6. Spinach
  7. Sweet Bell Peppers
  8. Nectarines
  9. Cucumbers
  10. Potatoes
  11. Cherry Tomatoes
  12. Hot Peppers

Keep in mind that this list tested for pesticide residue only and didn’t take into consideration genetically modified foods (GMOs). While corn is not on this list, we always buy organic to avoid buying a GMO, as up to 80 percent of all corn produced now is genetically modified.

Other foods they recommend you purchase organic are meat and dairy products. If meat and dairy are not marked organic, the animals could have been fed GMOs or been given hormones and antibiotics.

I bought 9 of the items on this list this past week and all but the potatoes were organic.

What’s your score?  


When Everyday is Meatless Monday


One of my meatless dishes that will have to be modified without cheese


Have you ever watched a documentary that changed the way you looked at things?

Last week, we watched the movie, “Forks Over Knives,” which advocates a “plant based, whole foods” diet, which is evidently the new way to say “vegan.”

I’ve written before about going vegetarian for 9 months, and then a deep fried pork tenderloin called my name and I fell off the wagon.

It was difficult because my husband and mother, who I also cooked for at that time, were not vegetarians. My mom didn’t eat a lot of meat, but Dale has always been a meat and potatoes guy, so most days I found myself cooking two meals.

Even working from home, that was a real pain.


Cooler Corn Going Around on Social Media Not All It’s Popped Up to Be

Cooler Corn photo from Facebook


We all know how quickly things can spread on social media. Yesterday on Facebook, I saw a couple of posts labeled “Cooler Corn” and friends saying they could hardly wait for corn season so they could try this.

The premise is that if you’re cooking a lot of ears of corn for a crowd, you can clean a regular cooler, place ears of corn in the cooler and dump boiling hot water over the corn, close the lid and allow them to cook.

The method is said to be an old method used by campers.

That well may be, but when I read it, I knew there was something that didn’t quite smell right about this method of cooking.


Sunday Meals at Our Little House

Sundays are special dinner nights around Our Little House, another throwback from my childhood. Since my father worked two jobs throughout most of my childhood, it was the rare day when we all got to sit down to a real (and not the boxed or frozen) home cooked meal together.

Dale works long hours and though he is home throughout the week on most nights for dinner, we don’t have time to really take pleasure in the cooking together.

On Sunday, we typically split the dinner cooking. He usually does something on the grill, and I cook veggies, rice or potatoes. Or, when the weather permits, we cook everything on the grill or do Dutch oven cooking together.

If I’m cooking inside, he will help by chopping the veggies or trimming the meat.