AC Off, Soup ON!

FOOD

Okay, I’m a big believer in soups whenever the heck you want soup. Doesn’t matter about the weather, but there IS something fun about fall soup season kicking in.

I was going to whip up a butternut squash/apple soup for dinner tonight but the darn thing was bad. But, I did have an acorn squash, so whipped up something fun with that.

Ingredients

  • 1 acorn squash, cut in half, seeds removed
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed into large chunks
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 3 cups veggie broth
  • 1 can lite coconut milk
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 400
  • Place squash cut side down in oven-safe dish with about 1 inch of water
  • Place remaining veggies and garlic in a different oven-safe dish. Coat with olive oil and maple syrup
  • Roast everything in the oven for 45 minutes. Let cool.
  • Put all the veggies (scoop out the squash, silly), the broth, coconut milk, and broth in a large sauce pan. Blend with immersion blender. If you don’t have one, blend in batches in your blender. But really – for $25, if you’re a soup junkie like me, just get the immersion blender!

Also – will say I went a little sweet with this. I think it’d be yummy with curry in place of the nutmeg and cinnamon too.

And this was not my only soup either! I whipped up the Spicy Potato Kale soup from Awesome Vegan Soups, using hot peppers from our garden of course.

Speaking of hot peppers, we’ve had so many from the garden, had to do something with them. My guy suggested pickling. Brilliant! Used this recipe. Minus the bell peppers, with a blend of jalapeño and hot cherry peppers, and 1/2 white vinegar and 1/2 bragg’s apple cider vinegar.

Other eats I made include this applesauce cake, tahini/maple/balsamic dressing, vegan sushi bowls (which I shared w my guy’s youngest), creamy mushroom stroganoff, salads, and smoothies.

Seasoned sushi rice, spicy cucumbers, edamame, tofu, and shaved carrot

Eats out include salads, Thai, various portabello mushroom dishes, olives, and pasta.

One of the portabello dishes. It has a LOT going on, but was tasty!

Olives and Wine!!!

Out with friends – portabello dish #2 from Whiskey Kitchen

Also had a few harvests. Not much as the season is winding down. We pulled the tomato plants. BUT – today I spotted a cucumber. The FIRST of the season! The cuc and squash plants all died in late spring. But, they found their way back! Also, A had decided to try her hand at sweet potatoes. After vines going crazy, we pulled them – and had a pretty surprising harvest. SO tasty.

FITNESS

Been a busy and good week. Alternating runs, yoga, and kickboxing. Been taking advantage of the beach body streaming workouts now that I’m not going to drop in yoga classes or kickboxing classes anymore!

LIFE

Busy, but fun week! Started with…FIGHTER JETS! My friend D – whom I mentioned in my last post – is part of a charity group called Warrior Team – seriously check the link because what they do is pretty cool! We got to see their pilots flying Russian jets dog fighting while my friend MC’d the whole thing. After we (me, my youngest R, my guy, and his youngest) went to go meet them. D gave us a tour and history lesson of all the planes on the tarmac, down to which battles they fought in (like WWII), etc. It was fascinating and made the whole air show that much cooler.

After, we dropped the kids, got cleaned up, and then met D, one of his pilot buds, and good friends MM and RM for dinner and drinks. Very fun night.

Grad school buds and friends for life.

Since I have no school until the 8th, I’ve spent quite a bit of time reading! Taking FULL advantage of the library and my Kindle Unlimited subscription!

So while I was reading, caught Kuma hopping around the yard. Clearly stalking something – assuming a cricket or grasshopper or frog. You know. Something that’s actually smaller than her!

If you must know, it’s the Rylee Adamson series from Shannon Mayer. quick and fun reads and right up my alley when I’m between classes and research

Tuesday after work I met up with a friend for happy hour. It rained off and on that day, and on my way to my car after work, slipped on the wooden bridge. Argh. Wasn’t wearing heels, nor running, or anything! Busted knee and wounded pride. Both are healing nicely.

My guy and I hit up the Oceanfront one evening for a drink and a stroll. Tourists are gone, so it was quiet. Watched some surfers and then went home.

Thursday night was wine class! We had a lot of fun – there was a pretty big crowd. We sampled 8-9 wines or so. After we went to a late dinner and then home.

Tonight was quiet – cut the grass, clean the kitchen kinda quiet. But – the biggest thing of the day is I TURNED OFF MY AIR CONDITIONER! I officially declare summer over. Let the breezes blow the fresh air through my house!

Tomorrow will be fun though – making a monster Indian Feast + Game Night for all my kids, a few friends, my guy, and his youngest. Will be cooking ALL day. Sounds pretty perfect to me!

Kuma clearly digging for something!

And while I don’t often get political on here (I leave that for Twitter, and boy oh boy have I lately!). – this week has made me CRAZY.

MY YEAR OF LESS

So I really did have to switch to the $200 limit this month. I thought 4x per month of going out would be logical. Once per week with my guy and that’s it! But life is quite different. Taking my daughter to her appointment with no choice but to stop for lunch, or work related networking outings, etc. As of today – 9/28 – I’m at $198.72 in “going out”. Though I went out 8 times.

Everything else this week has been groceries ($32).

I should have been taking advantage of the school break to work on purging – but I haven’t. I see that as some rainy weekend ahead!

Popcorn, Wine, and Fighter Jets

FOOD

Honestly, the last two days I’ve not had smoothies (I KNOW – shocker. I’m okay, I promise). Yesterday was coffee and a banana. This morning was just coffee. Granted, I spent the night at my guys house – and he always makes us coffee in the morning. Then we snuggle outside and enjoy it until life takes over.

I did make a big batch of homemade soy yogurt on Wednesday. Couldn’t be easer – 1 carton Westsoy soy milk (the shelf stable kind, not the stuff from the fridge – I order mine from Amazon), 1/2 tsp vegan probiotic powder – put in jars and put in the Instant Pot on the Yogurt setting for 15 hours. It makes a very tart – almost sour cream-like yogurt. I use it for dressings and honestly just eating plain. NOT meant for any sweet dishes though. Would bump the incubation down to 9 hrs or so for that. Final step is to put on the lids and leave in the fridge for 24 hrs to finish. Perfecto.

Dinner on Wednesday was a BAS (Big A$$ Salad for newbie readers). Super simple really – pressed and cubed tofu that is dry fried in a skillet until starting to turn brown, and then put about a tablespoon or so of Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (tamari or soy sauce would be the same) – cook until it boils off and toss it in a salad. Mine was lettuce, cucs, cauliflower, and red onion and then a FF Catalina. I had to almost fight R over the tofu cubes though. She declared this her “favorite ever”, which is hilarious. Clearly all my other tofu dishes I’ve been trying too hard….

I didn’t get a shot of dinner last night. Was at my guy’s house. He grilled and made mashers and I made mushroom gravy and brought pie. So it was a veggie burger and corn on the cob. His son put the mushroom gravy on his burger, which I have to admit is pretty bloody clever!

Today’s first meal was lunch – and it was a Happy Herbivore Alfredo with edamame and corn. It was super filling, but only “ok”. Think it needed more spices and salt to be honest. I’d make it again, but play with the recipe more.

Dinner was the last of the leftover Caribbean Beans & Rice. I topped with lettuce, hot sauce, and some homemade soy yogurt.

Then there’s the popcorn and wine snack. Don’t judge. This just may be my favorite meal ever!

FITNESS

Kickboxing yesterday. Nada today. Was going to run, but found I’m just a bit too sore for it. So a day off won’t kill me. Did some yoga this afternoon – about 20 minutes of sun salutations. Felt wonderful.

LIFE

Well, it’s only been 2 days since my last post so there can only be so much that’s happened!

Work and life. That’s about it. Let’s see. I mowed the front lawn and R did the back. House is still clean and laundry is still mostly done. Got a lot of research done (work related mostly) and read, which was awesome.

Last night after dinner, my guy and I went to a fav bar – Birch Bar. It was advertised at Cider Thursday – and you know we’re cider fans. It’s also their 43 Hours of Sour, and I’m a huge sour beer fan. So – out we went. Cribbage board in tow (he kicked my a$$), and we had a few. The cider wasn’t blowing him away (I mostly had the sour beers and only one cider). I think the ciders were sour, and he’s not the biggest fan. But it was still a ton of fun. Then again, we always have a good time. Then it was back to his house and I spent the night there. Home and work in the morning!

Today was busy for work, and my last meeting didn’t end until 5 – which kinda sucks for a Friday. Alas, is what it is. Was still a great day, and I’m feeling all floppy and chill, which is never a bad thing.

A really good book. Sent this pic to a co worker when she told me she “loved my brain” after a meeting where I’m working on some business development for a new product to bring to market. It’s all in the story – it’s how you relate to your market…

This evening has been doing more research, and the chilling outside and reading. It’s an amazingly beautiful night too.

Lying on my enclosed back deck, feet up, enjoying my library book!

Excited for tomorrow! A grad school friend of mine is retired from the Airforce as a pilot (he’s a commercial jet pilot now). But he’s still very engaged in military air shows, and we’re going to see him tomorrow! He’s in town for a big air show, and after the flight, we should get to see the planes up close and personal! Mostly I’m excited to see him – he’s a really awesome person and friend. I’m pretty positive my next blog post will be full of pics of planes!

MY YEAR OF LESS

Well, I haven’t spent any money that wasn’t bill related or other necessary expenses like gas for my car. Well, other than the pie I got the boys yesterday, but I consider that part grocery, part gift – both allowed on the spending ban.

I was more than ready to use last night’s outing as my final “go out” for the month, but my guy picked up the tab. It wasn’t bad really – we basically had flights which are small pours and cheap – but still. It was nice. I’m usually very adamant about always splitting down the middle, but I couldn’t argue with him when he said it meant more outings with him yet this month!

I will be honest, I’m rethinking the 4 outings a month and thinking of turning it into a dollar limit. Like $200 per month in going out. Thing is – I do like going out, and find it can be a very small amount of $$ spent. So who cares if I go out 8 times or 4 as long as it’s kept to a dollar amount. Will finalize that after I analyze the September spending and budget. Would like to know your thoughts on that tho….

So that’s it! Hope you have as exciting of a weekend as I’m planning to have! (FYI – air show is free!).

Sangria IS Fruit Salad

FOOD

Was nice to have a pretty lazy week, which meant some fairly lazy eats. Since I don’t have to study all evening, I can whip up some good stuff!

There were smoothies of course. And LOTS of popcorn! My new microwave popcorn popper is amazing. No oil or added anything if you don’t want – and typically I don’t. Plain with some salt is fine. I did put Earth Balance on the lid to melt into the popcorn for R tho.

Black beans and rice
Tofu green curry with my guy! I only get 4 outings a mo, but he’s worth it!
BAS with chickpeas
Simple tomato and lentil stew I whipped up in the Instant Pot
Pressed and cut tofu (obviously…)

Cajun baked tofu, masher w mushroom gravy, and broccoli

BAS w/ dry fried tofu & bragg’s liquid aminos, tons of veg, and a Catalina dressing

FITNESS

Have run most of the past 4 days. Kickboxing yesterday. Meditating daily. Working my way back up to 20-30 min per day.

Perfect running weather!
Good thing you’re not supposed to look cute after a run! I turn beet red for HOURS

LIFE

The skies cleared, no rain in the forecast, so it was off to Busch Gardens on Sunday! Me and R and my guy and his youngest. The place was dead, so we road all the rides multiple times, did a couple laps, and had a fun time. Howl O Scream was starting, so I was super stoked for that. Turns out though, that they had expected Hurricane Florence to keep them closed that weekend, so they weren’t prepared for the full experience. Just a couple haunted houses were open. So we decided to call it a night with plans to come back on my birthday. I try to go every year on or near my birthday – especially since Halloween is my fav holiday.

My guy and I really love cider. Was happy they had a local Bold Rock Pear on tap!
My baby girl 🙂
I have a good friend with a pup named Lulu. Took this for him

It’s been 4 days of no school. I’ve mowed, cleaned the house several times, did wash, and eventually – when there was nothing left to clean – started reading my library book! I also got notified that the one I put on hold is available, so I’ll be picking that up this week too!

And other life updates thru pictures!

I

Getting to be end of the harvest! Tomato plants have been ripped out, but peppers still going strong!
Chatting Econ with my guys son, saw this, and totally made me giggle
ME!!!!
Snuggle buddy while I read Sunday after my run and before going to BG

My guy got R a tool box and some tools for her bday (perfect gift, let me tell you). She went around tightening all the hinges and handles in the house. Which I greatly appreciated

MY YEAR OF LESS

It’s been a pretty good week. I did use 2 of my going out this week; one on the theme park and one on lunch. Both reasonable though since I have passes to the theme park. Only spend was food and drink and a locker rental for our bags on two of the rides.

I also did have to buy new silverware. Almost all my forks are missing. We have a theory in the house that they ran off to Mexico. See – several years ago, all my spoons went missing. We theorized that they went to party in Mexico and didn’t come back (I mean…margaritas, sunshine…would you come back?!). Clearly the forks felt slighted, and went too. Actually, I’m pretty sure the kids accidentally threw them away. I really dislike using anything disposable. Utensils, paper plates, cups etc – unless it’s absolutely necessary (I admit I picked some up when I thought the hurricane was gonna slammed and I wasn’t going to have water to do dishes – alas – will donate them to a local shelter).

So today I attended a budgeting seminar that Fidelity put on through work. Figured why not? I keep a pretty good budget I think, but there’s always an opportunity to learn more. Honestly, it was a good hour. It went over things like what % of your income should be spent on essentials vs savings vs “other” (It’s 50/20/30, btw), and some other resources. Also good info on what debt to pay down first, etc. I’m posting them here for you if you’re interested. I did compare my budget to the Fidelity model, and will be applying my monthly expenses to it to see how I fare.

Savings and Spending Check Up

Video – based on the interactive session I had today

Power of Saving Small Amounts

And a few articles

https://www.fidelity.com/viewpoints/personal-finance/learn-about-types-of-debt#Carloans

https://www.fidelity.com/labs/student-loans/#/

https://www.fidelity.com/viewpoints/personal-finance/how-to-pay-off-debt

Spending

Sept 16 – $57.38 at Busch Gardens (not bad when considering those prices!)

Sept 17 – $0

Sept 18 – $12.81 for Thai Food for my guy

Sept 19 – $57 on silverware. I used my Target Red Debit card to save 5%

Aliens and Hurricanes!

FOOD

Well, I certainly over prepared for the hurricane that wasn’t! I made a couple batch dishes in case power was an issue, and picked up foods that didn’t need refrigeration nor cooking – like lot of fruit, granola, etc.

So the eats ended up being fairly typical. Smoothies, soups, and rice and beans.

Simple carbonara w silken tofu & nutritional yeast, tossed with GF pasta and corn

Beyond Meat crumbles, sauce, and pasta for a quick meal

Adapted from the China Study cookbook – the Caribbean Rice & Beans – threw it all in the rice cooker with extra veg and spices. Serve with shredded cabbage and hot sauce!
Vega All-in-One Vanilla, blueberries, and kale

My guy had invited us over for the duration of the hurricane if it looked like it was going to be bad. There would have been 7 people, 3 dogs, and a sugar glider. His son was calling it the Hurricane Party, but it never happened since Flo really fizzled out. Instead, I had them over for brunch today. So yummy! Pancakes, potatoes, tofu scramble, and biscuits & gravy! And a Bloody Mary bar 🙂

FITNESS

Got in 2 runs and then did kickboxing (core de force) on my streaming Beach body workouts. Also been picking up on meditating again. Really need to stick to that regularly, it’s just so awesome.

LIFE

This week was a lot about Hurricane Florence for the most part. Evacuations were issued Monday for people living in certain areas (those in Zone A. I’m Zone D), and schools and most business canceled Tuesday morning “until further notice”. Honestly, we knew we weren’t going to get a direct hit, but the flooding from intense wind and rain did generate quite the regional panic. Gas stations were running out, and everyone ran out of water as soon as it was stocked. I managed to get a case and 5 gallons at target before anyone thought to look there.

So, it was time to hunker down. I contacted my university to let them know I was in Flo’s path in case I had service interruption, set up all work meetings as conference calls, and then got ready for the floods.

Meanwhile. R AND M CAME HOME FROM CALIFORNIA! They landed around 1130pm Wednesday night. We got their bags and hustled home. Got home right before midnight – which was perfect because it was R’s bday and we all sang to her.

Thursday was her 15th bday. Because it was storm fun, we did lasagna, a homemade cake (due to nut allergies we ALWAYS do homemade cakes! This was strawberry and decorated by her big sis). As a recap, she was out in Cali visiting her dad. Her fav thing was learning to surf! Good thing there’s some awesome surfing in Virginia Beach!

Yesterday marked the end of my 3rd term of my doctorate program! I submitted my final two papers and now I’m done until Oct 8! I’m excited for the break, but know I risk getting bored. So today, after my guy and his young one left, I went to drop off donations at Goodwill and then stopped at the library! The book AB recommended was checked out (both copies) so I put a hold on it.

Okay, so I want to talk a little bit about Nextdoor. If you’re not on it (or are), it is basically Facebook for neighborhoods that is mostly about “those darn kids”, perceived suspicious activity, people who speed, or lost/found pets. But this little gem popped up this week, and it was the funniest thing ever.

LOUD ROARING NOISES AT NIGHT

Occasionally I hear super loud roaring noises coming from the sky, which usually happens at night. The noise appears to come from some kind of strange aircraft. Does anyone know what the noises are? What’s the purpose of it? I live in the country, so it’s kind of creepy and makes me worry about aliens.

But the responses are the best….

~It’s definitely aliens! I would try and capture one and turn it into the government for study.

~Probably the purple people eaters I see in the fields when I’m out running. OR it’s the jet/helo training since we live near Fentress airfield. Whichever makes more sense.

~It’s my stomach. I apologize.

~My cat says not to worry, it will be over soon. But the dog has been strangely quiet….

~You’re not from around here, are you?

~sorry about this…one of my aliens got loose the other night and found his spaceship in the tool shed behind the house. We got him back though thanks to our flying dog.

MY YEAR OF LESS

So far, so good! I did use two of my going out and one movie. I’m keeping track in a OneNote document (I’m a hard core OneNote junkie).

Also I realize that I’m incredibly difficult to buy for. Not because I don’t have interests (believe me, I have too many!), but I typically just get the things I want and that’s that. Now that I’m not buying myself things, it’s kind of fun to keep a list. Now family and friends won’t struggle come holidays! And it’s funny – it’s not big things. Very little, actually. And it really makes me realize the things I value, and it’s not new shoes and technology toys. It’s books, and candles, and small things.

  • Candles
  • Books – see public Amazon list
  • Race entries
  • Frame my painting from Brazil

Spending

Hurricane spending on things like extra food (though it’ll get eaten eventually), water, batteries, etc. I’ll actually be returning the Amazon things – I couldn’t find batteries anywhere in town that I needed, so I ordered on Amazon. It was supposed to be here by Wednesday – in advance of the storm – but didn’t arrive until today. So I’m sending that back since it’s not needed. Everything else can be used.

Sept 10:

  • $8.15 – Cinema Cafe movie
  • $20.59 – Cinema Cafe dinner
  • $50.72 – Amazon hurricane prep
  • $15.89 – Petco – extra dog food hurricane prep
  • $60 – money for M for food on the trip back to VA for him and R
  • $48.28 – Target hurricane prep

Sept 11:

  • $0

Sept 12:

  • $41 – out with my guy
  • $3 airport parking

Sept 13:

  • $0

Sept 14:

  • $26.19 – Lidl groceries
  • $28.61 – Bloody Mary supplies

Sept 15:

  • $0

I Can’t Be the Only Person Who Cries at Museums….Right?!?!

FOOD

Well, I’ve been on the road since the last post. Had some amazing eats though for sure.

I left Wednesday morning, and on my drive to DC stopped in Richmond to have lunch with my girl HF. We went to Kuba Kuba Dos, and basically got the same thing. A mushroom panini with plantains. Mine with no cheese. Her family is more interested in plant-based meals, so I brought her a few books for ideas. They’re really busy (she’s a nurse, he’s in management consulting) and they have two wee ones. So I focused on quick and easy but with lots of variety. She just sent me a pic of some tofu vindaloo she made, and it looks amazing! #veganactivism

Wednesday evening I went to Chercher Ethiopian with L. OMG. It was literally the best food. And super cheap. We split the Vegan Deluxe (which is 11 dishes), a bottle of wine, and an extra tomato/jalapeño salad. With plenty of injera, it was amazing at only $62!

Thursday I had an event most of the day. Afterwards I went to my fav DC based Thai place – Thaiphoon in Dupont Circle. Got edamame and my tofu green curry!

Friday was the event again, and I had snacks there. For dinner, I went to The Fancy Radish with WB and AB. WB and I went to grad school together, and AB is his totally amazing wife I’ve also gotten to be friends with. We each ordered 2 dishes to share. Didn’t get pics of them all, but everything was amazing. Rutabaga fondu, smoked beets, the heirloom tomato BLT, spicy dan dan noodles, peas and carrots creamy ramen, and Peruvian potatoes. We couldn’t finish it all, but it was so wonderful. The fact that it was an all vegan restaurant definitely impressed.

Okay, their cocktail list was fun too. I stuck with the Aperol Spritz (it’s the AB special, and I only get to drink them when I’m with her!). But still. Impressive!

Got home this morning. The kitchen was a mess that I didn’t feel like cleaning up (damn kids), so I made popcorn. I did eventually clean, and there’s a spicy tofu veg soup in the crockpot for dinner!

Lookit all that sriracha!!

FITNESS

Felt great to get a lot of runs in the past few. Plus walking around the city.

LIFE

First – on Wednesday I woke to this baby. Seriously – I love her SO much…

Been a really good couple of days. My trip to DC was wonderful. I went to a very good military event, and walked away with some great contacts. Also got to see some wonderful friends. L and I hadn’t seen each other in probably 2 years now, so it was really great catching up at dinner Wednesday.

Thursday afternoon I went to the National Mall area. Had no real goal other than to wander. That’s sort of how I roll – plans are nothing but loose guidelines. I decided upon getting off the metro to visit the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. I had never been, and heard nothing but amazing things about it. I spent quite a few hours there, and didn’t come close to absorbing it all. I’m not ashamed to admit that I cried at one of the exhibits. It was on the 3rd floor and was about the Chicago real estate industry and their role in segregation well into the 1980’s and beyond. What got to me is how much I just don’t know, and how I’m incredibly ashamed about that. We learn about slavery and it’s abolishment, civil rights movements, Rosa Parks, and desegregation, and think it all ended. Abe Lincoln and MLK are hero’s, and then the story ends. I learned that day – and I know it’s just scratching the surface – about what white business owners have done to keep segregation real. The real estate industry, for example, made white home owners sign covenants that made them unable to sell or rent to people of color. Red lines were drawn that banks used to deny loans to areas and people of color. Much was done to keep segregation alive and well, and I honestly couldn’t handle that knowledge very eloquently. I can’t fathom how we’re really supposed to move forward in equality when we don’t fully shine a light on the past and present. The only way to learn is perhaps to major in African American studies, and what white person really does that? It just all made me feel a little hopeless. What was even more amazing was a woman and her friend, both African American, came up to me when they saw me. Patted my shoulder and said not to worry, because I didn’t do this. But I haven’t done anything to make it better, have I? So – a lot of thinking for me to do.

I told WB and AB this story, and WB has a good friend who works at that museum. Shared his story too. And AB is reading this book as part of her work book club (she’s a nurse), and on my next school break – which starts next week – I hope to find a copy in my library.

Afterwards, I went to DuPont. Went to one of my fav books stores (and R too!) and got her a couple things for her upcoming bday. Can’t believe she’ll be 15! They did have this fun sign out front. I assured them on IG that I did NOT just walk by!

Friday was a really great day. The event in Pentagon City was very fruitful and I was feeling really good when it ended. Then it was back to my room to study and knock out some papers, then to WB and AB’s house. We hung out there and had a couple drinks, and then walked down the road to dinner. Very amazing night.

Got home this morning and the full focus was school. Lot’s to finish. It’s my last week of the term – ends the 14th – and I have some major research due.

M headed to San Diego to his sister and Dad. Sister is homesick, and also a bit afraid of flying – especially solo. Felt it would be better for her big bro to come out and escort her home. And to send a little bit of home to her. They get back late Wednesday night. Just in time for hurricane Florence….

MY YEAR OF LESS

On the purge front, I did finish the closet and bathroom. I had actually purged my closet last year, so there wasn’t as much to pitch. In the end, the combined purge of clothing was 45% – that’s dressers and closet. I purged 70% of the bathroom. I had WAY too many bottles of lotion, let me tell ya! I pitched 12 containers of lotion. Kept 1. It’s the only one I use anyway (Lush Dream Cream is where it’s AT).

So spending on my first travel trip wasn’t awesome, but not awful either. I was planning on using my lunch with H as one of my 4 outings, but she insisted on paying the bill (brat friend). My expenses were food and travel. Metro mostly, but two Uber. One after Ethiopian (L had picked me up since it was on her way from work, but would be way out of the way to take me back – it was late, so rather than metro I Uber’d). And on the way back from dinner with WB and AB because of storms and flooding. I took the metro there, and WB ended up picking me up at Union Station – would’ve drown walking to their place!

So – spending

Sept 5 – $37.79 at Chercher and $13.24 for Uber

Sept 6 – $27 for metro passes to last me the duration, $43 at Thaiphoon (wine + app + meal), and $34.93 for bday gift

Sept 7 – Whole Foods – $19.80 – flowers as a gift to my friends for hosting me for dinner & $19.46 Uber

Sept 8 – $25.20 gas and $36.58 at Wegman’s grocery

Sept 9 – $0

Of course not counted in all this are regular bills. Paid mortgage, car payment, electric, and credit cards.

I will say that it’s becoming almost a challenge to see how little I can spend, and that’s kinda fun. I know I could’ve eaten cheaper on my trip, but old habits die hard, and I’m not going to eat some fast food crap – especially in an amazing food city like DC! I like to eat healthy and drink good wine. Sorry. Not sorry.

The Revised and Expanded China Study Cookbook!

Okay boys and girls, this is apparently a Two for Tuesday on the blog post front! This post, however, will focus on a single topic – a review of the latest China Study cookbook!

If you haven’t read The China Study, which was originally published in 2005, and revised a couple times since – I highly suggest it. For people like me who would rather make my decisions based on facts over emotions (okay, so that may NOT always be true when buying new shoes, but for something as important as choosing a dietary path in life – gimmie the science!) it’s perfect.

In a nut shell, several scientists, in an effort to improve nutrition in developing countries, conducted the longest study of dietary habits ever – a 20 year study called the China-Cornell-Oxford Project. The China Study’s author (T. Colin Campbell) is one of those scientists. Without going into the details (it’s a large tome and would be a 50 page paper by the time I’m done!), it examines the link between meat eating and chronic illness. It presents significant data showing that a whole food, plant-based, low-fat diet leads to superior health and disease reversal. So – check it out if you are so inclined – it could honestly change (or save!) your life.

If you’ve read my blog for any amount of time, you’ll see other posts reviewing cookbooks that were spawned from the original China Study book. They are written by family members of the author who have embraced this life-style and make recipes that are easy, tasty, and accessible for anyone.

So, when I was approached by the publisher to review the latest, it was an easy YES. I can honestly say that each book has gotten better. The first, while good, was very basic, but could generate wonderful meals with some minor modifications (usually spices in my case). I also have to modify any meals to be nut-free due to an allergy in the house.

So – when the Revised and Expanded China Study Cookbook arrived in my mailbox, I did what I always do – get excited, and lock myself away with a notebook, a highlighter, and some sticky notes to mark the recipes I really want to make.

And yes, placement of the stickies have meaning 🙂

So, I spent about 2 weeks cooking my way through it, and here’s my assessment. BUY IT. Okay, okay. I’ll go into more detail…

The book was penned by LeAnne Campbell, the daughter of T. Colin Campbell. She lives in the Dominican Republic, and that influence is apparent in many recipes, much to my delight. This very hard working humanitarian’s main purpose with this specific book was to develop recipes that were quick and nutritious and could easily be fit into a busy life. And…anyone who reads my blog typically sees the word “chaotic” mentioned several times, so this was perfect.

As usual, the book begins with forwards and backstory, but also spends a significant amount of time talking about raising plant-based children if you so choose to, using local ingredients – home grown gardens if possible, food storage and prep to maximize nutrient content, how to transition into a WFPB diet, suggested substitutions, and the tools you may want to outfit your kitchen with. And THEN it gets to the 175+ recipes. So it’s as much a lifestyle book as it is a cookbook.

I made several dishes from each chapter. Delights including corn bread, pancakes, salads (particularly fond of the Ensalada Azteca and the Asian Ginger Cabbage Salad), baked tofu cubes, the lemon tahini and mango Azteca dressings, Aztec soup (seeing a theme here??), coconut corn chowder, sweet and sour fusion, and the one I’m going to share with you today – Thai Vegetable Curry!

So again – if you’re a regular reader, you KNOW I have curry at least once per week. Now, my curry of choice is Thai Green Curry with steamed tofu and extra veggies. Of course from a Thai restaurant, it’s not exactly going to be overly healthy, but it’s SO yummy.

This version is incredibly simple to make, and very flavorful. Rather than curry paste (which Thai Kitchen makes one that’s pretty easy to find in most grocery store’s with an Asian or International aisle), my very favorite is a curry powder made by The Spice House – which happens to be from my home town and is AMAZING. But have no fear, if you don’t have this or any other red curry paste, the author has a substitution suggestion.

I used fresh jalapeños and basil from my garden, and an orange bell pepper since I took my red one to my boyfriend’s house this past weekend! And I skipped the peanuts. I also served mine over riced cauliflower rather than regular rice, though it would be delicious over any rice or quinoa too.

So I guess you’ve waited long enough. Here’s the recipe! Enjoy – and if you enjoy it, drop me a note and consider picking up the book. Happy (and healthy) eating!

THAI VEGETABLE CURRY

MAKES 4 SERVINGS

This simple, tasty dish can be prepared with a wide range of vegetables. I often make it at the end of the week, using whatever vegetables remain in my refrigerator. It’s slightly different each time, but always tasty.

1 cup sliced onions

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

2 tablespoons minced jalapeno

2 tablespoons vegetable broth

2 cups lite canned coconut milk

2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce

1½ teaspoons Thai red curry paste

1 teaspoon lime juice

2 cups chopped broccoli, steamed

1 cup green beans, steamed

½ red bell pepper, sliced, steamed

2 cups chopped spinach, steamed

1 cup fresh basil, loosely packed

Cooked brown rice, for serving

Peanuts, for garnish

Lime wedges, for garnish

1. In a large pot, saute onions, garlic, ginger, and jalapeno in vegetable broth over medium-high heat for 3–4 minutes, until onions are browned.

2. Add coconut milk, soy sauce, curry paste, and lime juice. Bring to a low simmer.

3. Fold in steamed vegetables and basil. Cook for 1 minute. I generally like my vegetables crunchy, but if you want, cook 1–5 minutes longer.

4. Serve over brown rice, garnished with peanuts and lime wedges.

Note: If I don’t have Thai red curry paste on hand, I replace it with 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 teaspoon ground coriander, 1 teaspoon ground turmeric, and ½ teaspoon of garam masala.