Happy Monday, Dear Readers!
Again, my apologies for being late writing. I’ve been busy on the copywriting side. Nothing big to report yet, but I’m getting there.
Two weeks ago I went to a conference for audio-visual people sponsored by Whitlock. I went to the JW Marriott in the Galleria, and had a great time talking to people, handing out my business cards, and. . .eating. No kidding. When I walked in, I was greeted by decaf Starbucks coffee; I didn’t see the bagels, but that’s OK. In addition to winning a $5 gift card from Starbucks, I was also gifted a few other times, including an Italian lunch buffet at the Marriott! Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures because I was too busy talking to people. Like the Marriott in Delray Beach, Florida, everything was delicious (and I forgot about “gluten free” that day.) I will tell you that the Tiramisu in shot glasses was quite the tasty treat. . .both of them. This week is another conference that’s three days long. Don’t know if I can hold up for three days of it, but we’ll see.
Never fear, I will NOT be world’s next size 22 “supermodel.” Meet the new object of my affection:
Now, admittedly, it’s not actually new–it’s a 22-year-old Huffy that was newly refurbished. I took it to Bay Area Cycling about a month ago and asked for new tires, brake pads, and a “tune-up.” Runs like a top, and I’ve been riding it nearly every evening, except when we were under a typhoon warning. Walking hurt like the dickens, and I get a little stiffness from riding 10 or more miles a day, but not the kind I got walking. I just had to quit, and I hated doing that. But I’m absolutely loving the bike–I forgot how enjoyable a bike ride is.
We got some heavy rain, but 2 weeks before the rain that made the national news. We’re still dealing with the aftermath of flooding. . .but nearly every evening, I’ve hopped up on my ride and gone for 10 to 14 mile rides.
Neighbor K does the competitive kind of riding, whereas I just enjoy the ride and the exercise. (Translation: her sport-grade bike cost a lot more than mine, even with the tune up.) Last weekend, she told me about an app for my phone called Road ID, and had me put it on my phone. Neat little item, but the biggest reason is safety. We’re connected on this app, so that when I go out riding, I activate it, K gets a text and she can see exactly where I am and where I’m going. If I stop for more than five minutes, she gets an alert and my phone screams at me. If that happens, she’ll text or call.
Sunday’s Wal-Mart excursion found a perfect little bike bag that sits on the middle bar and has a clear top that holds the phone, so I can see how far I’ve gone, how much time has elapsed, and the “off” button.
Neighbor R, my eighty-something neighbor on the other side, was also glad to hear about us getting the app and connecting on it.
So far, we haven’t had anything bad happen, but if one of us is out and needs help, the other can find and get help if needed. It also gives you the option to create an emergency number lock screen picture so that if you can’t get to your phone, someone else can call for you–like a paramedic.
Granted, we hope it never happens, but it’s there if needed. Unlike our esteemed 71-yo Secretary of State, we will probably not have the benefit of having a doctor flown in from somewhere else. I’ll probably have to set my own broken leg!
Well, anyway. . . .
The garden is just happening with all the rain we’ve had, including tomatoes:
Sweet Basil and mint:
I’ve never had so many grow before, so I guess I’ll be finding a few more uses for them.
I have harvested a few tomatoes:
That’s the Chocolate Cherry tomato, which I just ate today. Yes, it was delicious, a very rich tomato, but it did not taste like chocolate. It’s a slow grower, but there are more coming. The Sungold plant, however, is a prolific producer, and the Tiny Tom is producing too.
I’m still working on getting lettuce to grow–Neighbor K has given me a couple of lettuce ends to plant, and the one she gave me about a month ago is growing great:
I bought two more, and K gave me another stub, with one more to come:
However, I have had problems with the inconsiderate animals who treat my little urban garden is their personal salad bar. But I fixed them. I bought a Nite Guard, and have it flashing outside at night. Designed for farms and ranches, it flashes a little red light that scares the bejeezus out of possums. Yes, it’s possums–because cats don’t dig up lettuce. Our little condo complex is apparently a possum sanctuary and breeding ground, because they get as big as cats. Bigger, in fact. Possums aren’t vicious unless attacked, and don’t carry rabies, but they’ll stand their ground and get into anything. EWWW.
And the two remaining Meyer Lemons are doing well, as are the two key limes on the plant behind the lemons.
No idea why, I just harvest them when they’re ready.
So, Saturday I headed to LK’s house for our district Buddhist chanting session we have, and after another attendant left, we got to talking about all kinds of things, but usually food. While not a food blogger, LK is a definite foodie, and worked for Williams-Sonoma until January when they closed the store in Baybrook Mall. LK has some nicer stuff than I have, like a Vita-Mix, since she had that lovely employee discount. But I’m not jealous. . .not REALLY. . . .
In all seriousness, we really do have many of the same cookbooks, particularly Martha Stewart and the Everyday Food books, although LK leans toward the vegetarian side and eat meat occasionally. We talk a lot about foodie things, cause we love it. We compare notes, and when one of us is seeking, the other brings. Let me tell you what I mean by that.
Now, after I got the bike tuned up, I did something awful: I hopped on my bathroom scale. Oh, boy–but I knew it wasn’t going to be good. Well. . .it hurts, so I’ve got to start working that number down. Otherwise, I’ll be walking with a cane or a frame until it’s time for knee replacements! No thanks. I went back to LoseIt.com and downloaded the app to my tablet. (You can also add it to your smartphone.) I added in my (ugh) weight as a baseline and have been recording everything, including the bike rides. Nothing fantastic to report yet, but, as always, I’m working on it. If all goes well, I could be wearing a bikini by October.
Laugh if you want, but October in Texas, it’s not unlikely–the real chill generally comes about November. We’re good with it.
I also mentioned my love for the bike to LK. Made me feel good when she said, “that was money well spent.” Well, it was.
So Saturday I tell LK about all this, and she mentions the book Clean Slate. HUH? I forgot about this one–from the editors of Martha Stewart Living. Published in mid-December, it’s a book for detoxing and rejuvenation and. . .well, clean food. That is not to say gluten free, although many recipes are; but there are many with whole wheat, too.
I looked through it a couple of times when it came out, but when I saw two or three recipes with tofu, I put it back. Then LK starts showing me a recipe that is wonderful for after the bike rides: Bell Pepper, Yogurt and Harissa Soup on page 164. It’s COLD, y’all! I needed tissue anyway, so the Target trip turned into a grocery trip. After the Scott tissue, I picked up the book and thumbed through it while I shopped.
Later in the day, Neighbor K came over to show me the app to put on my phone. I showed her the book, then she saw all the smoothie drinks. Now K is interested in this book, too.
The soup was really simple: three bell peppers, chopped, 2 cups of yogurt (I used Greek, I like it better) and a spice called Harissa. LK had some, she found it in town. Well. . .I couldn’t find it locally, but there’s a recipe. Guess what? I didn’t have all the ingredients to make it–heck with it, I grabbed something called Garam Masala, which is used in Indian cooking, and tossed that in. Maybe it doesn’t taste the way the recipe intended, but it sure is GOOD. I’ll get the Harissa (or ingredients) one day soon and whip some up.
Next thing I want to try is the Pureed Cauliflower Soup on page 152. Three ingredients. . .cook, blitz with a hand-held blender, and serve hot. I can’t wait.
In the smoothie department, there are lots of things to drink that are rehydrating, refreshing, detoxing, all that. (A couple have tofu and beets–yuck!) When I got home, the first one I made was from the desserts chapter, the Almond-Cinnamon Frappe on page 312. Toss into a blender 2 tablespoons of almond butter (there’s a recipe, but I bought Justin’s), 1 cup of almond milk (again, preferably homemade, but I have Almond Breeze on hand), 1 tablespoon honey (from Texas, of course) and a quarter teaspoon of ground cinnamon. I poured it over ice, then called LK to tell her what I was drinking. YUM. Yes, the Frappuccinos from Starbucks are delicious. In addition to being very expensive, they’re also very high in sugar and other things. . .while this frappe is 327 calories, it fewer, healthier ingredients.
Since Neighbor R has gifted me with Starbucks gift cards recently, I was going to go try one of the Mini-Frappuccinos last week. Then I saw not only the price but the calorie count, and said “decaf, please.”
When I record these things in LoseIt, it’s all there. I can create a new recipe, add the ingredients all in, and it tells me how many calories per serving; this is helpful when the recipe makes more than one serving. I’ll be having that more often, but maybe not as much as iced coffee. Sometimes the calorie counts are a bit off, but that’s OK. LoseIt doesn’t tell you what to eat or not, it’s a calorie and exercise counter. K has a similar one, but I’ve used this one off and on for a couple of years–first on my home laptop, now on mobile devices.
The next drink I tried was the Grapefruit, Carrot and Ginger drink. You need a juicer for it, which I don’t have, so the blender had to suffice. Well. . .it was chunky. And a bit weird, especially with the potent ginger in it. You know what I always say. . .two packets of Sweet & Low will kill the taste of anything! That one is on page 111; if you really, really like carrots and have a juicer, go for it.
This morning, I whipped up the Strawberry, Grapefruit and Ginger smoothie; that makes three servings, so the other two are in the fridge. I forgot to add the water, so when I drink tomorrow’s, I’ll add a third cup and whiz it in the little blender. It’s good, I like it, but the ginger is a bit overpowering, so I’ll cut back on it next time. (No Sweet & Low needed here, though.)
This afternoon I also whipped up a Blueberry Yogurt smoothie, (page 114) which included a little orange juice, and unsweetened almond milk. Not bad! Guess I need to get more blueberries; the ones I used today were some from the last time the GER went berry-picking and gave me some. I made some ice cream last summer with some of them.
I’m particularly interested in the grapefruit recipes since I have so many of them after buying them for the Butsudan and forgetting to eat them. Turns out I can make some nice juicy drinks with them, and they’re detoxifying, too. (Not sure about that carrot drink, but if you like it, go for it.) There is also one on page 112 called Coconut Cherry Smoothie, with 2 cups frozen pitted cherries (my favorite!!!), 1 cup coconut water and a tablespoon of lime juice. That serves two, but you can make one at a time, too.
I’ve never bought or tasted coconut water. Ever. So if I do indulge, it’ll be a first.
I have looked through the recipes and found a number that I want to try soon, just because they look tasty. I hope to cook my way through most of this book, sans the ones with tofu, edamame and any other form of soy I find. Coconut oil is something that plays a part in this book, so that made me happy, too.
I’m glad I finally bought this book and got into it. I wish I’d bought it when it was published, but I have friends like LK and K who tell me about such things. It’s good to have friends like that, you know? (And make sure that you can call those same friends at 4:00 am to bail you out of jail. . .before you have to.)
So I’m a little late with it, but if you’re looking for some healthier fare and prefer the clean eating, Clean Slate is a good place to start. If you aren’t familiar with what’s called “clean eating,” take some time to read the first section of the book, the introduction and all the “golden rules” before jumping into the delicious recipes. Staying hydrated is one rule, and this summer I’ll have lots of healthy drinks to chose from. (That’s not to say I’m giving up the occasional Mojito, however–but notice I said “occasional.”) Most of the recipes don’t require a large number of ingredients, and most are easy to locate (except that Harissa.)
Oh, LK also says we have a new Sprouts store in town. . .I’ll check that out when I can.
Meantime, be healthy and happy, and have some healthy, delicious food, whatever you like the best.