Saturday, March 22, 2014

Adventures in Vegetarian Cooking: Shepard's Pie

Hey, hey - a recipe! It has been awhile.  Our eat the freezer month has involved a lot of meat, since we have a lot in the freezer.  Yesterday I wanted to get a vegetarian meal in, vegan even, so I could still claim the title I made up for myself - "quasi-vegetarian."

I don't remember where I got the idea for this, but I've been wanting to try it for awhile.  I've never liked shepard's pie, I remember it being my least favorite school lunch day.  But replacing white potatoes (never been a huge fan) with sweet potatoes (always been a huge fan) sounded appealing to me.  Also sweet potatoes, black beans and corn go really well together. I also had some meatless crumbles in the freezer I was looking to use up for the challenge so I added those in as well.

I paired it with cornbread and a Custom Brewcrafter vanilla latte stout and it made a really nice Friday night dinner!

Even though he made a face when I said I was making vegetarian shepard's pie for dinner, the skeptic gave it a:

Vegan Shepard's Pie

2 T olive oil
1/2 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
16 oz black beans and/or meatless crumbles
16 oz corn (I used frozen but fresh or canned would work)
3 sweet potatoes, roasted or microwaved and then mashed
Trader Joe's African smoke spice blend to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350.  Sautee the onions in olive oil over medium low heat until they are just about carmelized (about 10 min) and then add the garlic.  Sautee a few minutes more.  Add the meatless crumbles, black beans, corn and spices.  Cook for 5 minutes and then transfer to a greased casserole dish.  Layer the sweet potatoes over the bean and corn mixture and then bake for 30 minutes. 

 I used this South African Smoke Spice, but if you don't have this I would suggest using paprika, garlic powder and basil.  Or you could go with a taco type seasoning and use cumin, chili pepper, and oregano.  That would be good too.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Sh! Happens

Maybe it just seems this way, but sh!t always goes down when I have very little capacity to deal with it. We came home to this on February 10:

It had been perfectly straight when we left for work that morning.  Both puzzled it wasn't until Kevin went to check his email that the mystery was solved: our tenant happened to be home and sent an email saying she heard a loud crash and looked out to see a garbage truck (a local private company, not the city) back into our fence.  We are just happy that she was home and thought to tell us because there was no note, no message from the garbage company (not cool).

The timing couldn't have been worse since it was the first week of owning the clinic and Kevin's dad was in the hospital. He is okay, thank goodness, but for that week we were not sure and were really stressed about it.  Dealing with this as well just seemed like the last thing we needed. It several phone calls (like a dozen), going up the chain, having a police officer agree to file an accident report if they didn't respond to me (leaving the scene of an accident is a crime), getting progressively more lawerly, and giving a deadline ("if I don't hear back from you by EOB xx date, I'll be pursuing my legal options) but the garbage company did end up admitting fault and fixed the fence.

We came home one day to the fence being completely gone.  And then a few days later:

Fixed! Well almost.  We didn't know before this happened but the last fence post is wired for electricity.  There must have been a lamp there at some point.  The wires are still hot, which Kevin discovered when he went to put the cap back on and got a little shock.  I called again, telling them they need to send out an electrician to tape off the wires and put the cap back on but I haven't heard back from them yet.  Only 11 more calls until we get a response I suppose.



Saturday, March 15, 2014

Eat the Freezer Month: Week 2

An update on how we did on our goal to clear out our freezer this week.  I am not including pictures this week for two reasons (1) I lost the SD card in my phone (long and boring story) and (2) the bad lighting made most of the food look like dog food, even on my dslr.  Except the pesto dish - that looked like dog vomit (red tomatoes + green pesto = not appetizing brown sauce).  Luckily, they all tasted good (even the pesto).

Monday: Veggie burgers (freezer) with harvest medley grains cooked in chicken stock (freezer) and kale.  It very closely resembled this meal.  I broke rule number 2 by buying the kale but (a) they're my rules, I can break them if I want to and (b) I was feeling like I needed some leafy greens.

Tuesday: Pasta with chicken (freezer), mushrooms, pesto (freezer), and tomatoes.

Wednesday & Thursday: Pork steaks (freezer) with potatoes and green beans (freezer).

And berries (freezer) topped a lot of yogurt again this week!

To prevent this from being the most boring blog post ever, some other updates:

  • I'm using duolingo to learn some french before my trip.  Have I mentioned that I am going to Paris in May? I don't think I have.  Kevin is not, I am going with my mom and sister. #nohusbands #nokids.  This will make three times in the first half of 2014 that I leave Kevin to go off on my own (DC, plus an upcoming weekend to Philly, and Paris).  I'm going to have to get him a husband of the year plaque.  And hire a dogwalker so he doesn't have to do all the work at home.
  • I'm sure you will all be shocked to know that I decided not to run the half-marathon at the end of April.  I debated it, but have been averaging one 3 mile run a week so it is not going to happen.  Maybe in the fall?
  •  Roxy has good periods and bad periods in terms of pain.  Unfortunately, it seems like we are entering into a bad period.  She is limping a lot and we've upped her medications to compensate.  I hope this is just the down part of her cycle and not our new normal.
Probably still the most boring blog post ever, huh? Sorry about that.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Country Animal Doctor

It has been a bit over a month since we closed on the veterinary clinic.  I now can spell veterinarian without hesitation, rather than checking for the red spellcheck line to appear (ironically, it did just appear under "spellcheck").  Before that my process was more like: "He's a veterar... er vetinar..., er animal doctor!" ;)

I did spend the first week filling out forms and wishing that it was called the Country Animal Doctor, but I imagine that would not be so great for SEO.  People search for veterinarians, not animal doctors and google guesses what you want even if you spell it wrong.

Some photos:

The building wasn't burned - I blurred out the dr name and the phone number, keeping us anonymous (in theory)
A really cute dog waiting for his bad day to start (he got neutered).  Actually, by the end of the day he was rubbing up against the cage trying to get me to pet him, so he didn't seem like he was that traumatized.

Another cute dog to come by that day.  I heard there was also a Great Dane, but I missed him because I was in the back filling out paperwork.

Sebastian, the office chinchilla.  Roxy was very intrigued the first time she spotted him.  I was a bit worried she was about to be bit on the nose, but they both emerged unscathed.  From instagram:

Roxy and Kinsey come with us on Fridays (hang out in the office with me) and have made themselves at home.  Roxy regrets being excited to come - so bored:

"Let's get out of here already, at least there are couches at home!"

In terms of buying the clinic - so far so good! I've become accustomed to working 50+ hour weeks (Kevin has been doing that all along) and while I am really tired Friday nights, I feel okay the rest of the time.  My coffee consumption has doubled though - I was drinking 1 1/2 cups a day (both in the morning) and now I'm up to 3 (2 in the morning and 1 in the afternoon).

Kevin has wanted to own a clinic for a long time now.  We searched (and made offers) all over the country and ended up finding one two towns away.  I hope owning/managing a business lives up to his expectations, since he's stuck with it now.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

First Annual Eat Down the Freezer Month: Week 1

I've decided to start a new tradition in our house: March is eat down the freezer month.  We need to make room for the new growing season (even though it feels far away, it will be here soon).

The rules are simple:
1. As many of our meals as possible will come from foods already in our freezer.
2. No adding to the freezer unless the entire category is gone (for example, if we run out of vegetables we can buy more but not otherwise).

Our starting point:
How week 1 went:

Berries and cherries that were soon to be toppings for pancakes.

Veggie burgers with chutney and green beans from the freezer. I really liked the chutney, I will be making that again next fall.

I promise the green plant in the baggie is basil, not pot - that is not legal in NY (yet).
Tobie Ziegler approves
Pesto raviolis with bacon, scapes, basil and pureed tomatoes.

Berries topped yogurt a lot this week.

Stay tuned from more exciting updates from our freezer :)