Sunday, August 25, 2013


There's something about loving where you live.

I just love our yard, and each season, find beautiful things in it.  The previous owners kept the landscaping meticulously, but I love things that grow naturally.

These pictures are from the front yard of our house.

Reading, eating, running plan 8/25

Run 3.5
Mini Winesday 
Vegan paella

Run 2
Cross train
Jerk tofu with spicy cornbread

Run 4.5
Samosas for lunch, vegan book club @ Sticky Fingers cafe for dinner

Run 2
Cross train
Vegan crab cake salad

Run 6
Cilantro ginger tempeh eggplant toss

Labor day weekend
Cross train 
Veggie burger cookout

I'm currently listening to Dress your family in denim and courdory by David Sedaris, and reading Just Kids by Patti Smith, and The Curiosity by Stephen Kiernan. Also reading books by Myra and David Sadker on gender equity for the dissertation, and I have so many books stacked up on my kindle it's crazy...

Classes start in a week, so I'll be in and out of my office getting ready.

Friday, August 23, 2013


It is Eggplant season, and I've been fortunate enough to get eggplant from various sources lately (The organic eco-farm, my tutoring student, Zach, and my neighbor/farmer Randy).  It has been an eggplant heavy week in our house!
Sunday morning, I woke up with an idea for a eggplant sandwich.  I made Rob get up and go to the store with me so I could make it RIGHT AWAY.
First of all, almost any time I cook eggplant, I slice it first, salt it on both sides and let it sit for about 20 minutes.  I'm not totally sure the reason for this- I think that by removing the excess moisture from the eggplant it gives it a better texture.  I've also read that by removing the water it is less likely to absorb fat in the cooking process.  Rob always heard that it takes away the bitterness, but I have roasted eggplant whole before and have it not be bitter.  Anyway, I'm not going to knock what works.  Slice it, salt both sides.  Let it sit for 20 minutes, then wipe away the salt and water with a paper towel.  Sometimes I even press the eggplant with a paper towel.

Next, I mixed up a combination of coconut milk, flour, and herbs (recipe inspired by Oh She Glows) and Panko crumbs, and baked the eggplant slices for 10 minutes per side at 450.

I put the eggplant slices on ciabatta buns with arugula, sliced onion, and a mixture of veganaise, dill, and horseradish.

Tell me how good this looks!

I had some leftover breading, so I made a side with the different types of yellow squash & zucchini we've gotten last week!

While I had the oven on, I also roasted up a whole eggplant (two smaller eggplants, actually).  First- prick them a couple of times with a fork- apparently eggplant will explode in the oven if you don't do this first- I have never tempted fate by not pricking!  After about an hour, I took out the eggplant and let it cool.  I had the time, but if you don't, just drop it in some cold water to shock it and stop the cooking process.  Peel & blend in the food processor with tahini, garlic, and salt.  (I haven't tried their recipe, but Thug Kitchen has one posted that looks delicious if you need measurements and such. Plus, they're super clever- but don't use language that is "family friendly")
So, Tuesday night, we still had some ciabatta buns, and more eggplant, but I didn't want to repeat, so I made TLT's (tempeh, lettuce & tomato).  You can use pre-seasoned tempeh, but I really like to flavor my own like The Vegan Zombie does.  I also always purchase the flax-seed enriched tempeh, since it has such great cholesterol  reducing properties.

With the eggplant, I roasted the slices for about 10-15 minutes, then I put them in a muffin tin, making little eggplant cups.  After another 10 minutes, I added soy vegan feta cheese, and some pesto I made with pine nuts, garlic, and spinach.

I definitely wanted to include this recipe in the week of eggplant.

This was the first vegetarian cookbook I ever got- I lived this cookbook and learned to cook from Anna Thomas.  I loved her mantra- that eating was a celebration of life.  Curries quickly became my specialty as a teenager- and this one was always a hit.  I hadn't cooked it in at least 15 years, and had never made it vegan (a staple of Thomas' curries is a butter ghee and yogurt). 

For this dish, I used Randy's eggplant (the one pictured whole at the beginning of the blog), a potato, an onion, some peas, carrots, and a pepper, along with earth balance, spices, and coconut yogurt.  Served on brown rice- delicious!!

Happy eating!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Week plan 8/19/13

Run 5k
Dinner- TLTsandwiches with eggplant feta pesto cups.

Cross train
Dinner- Eggplant and pea curry (vegetarian epicure)

Run 4+ miles
Carnival of Madness, dinner out

Run 2 miles
Evening meetings

Run 7 miles
Dinner- Cilantro ginger tempeh eggplant toss (Go vegan)

Paella party

Rest day

Thursday, August 15, 2013

What I did on my summer vacation

Classes started yesterday, so in my mind, summer is now over.
Here's what I did on my summer vacation, 2013, which was so busy, I am reluctant to call it a vacation!

I passed my comprehensive exams for my PhD program.
I got my dissertation topic approved, and started research.
I taught four summer session math courses.
I wrote a STEM camp course for kids college.
I taught the STEM course, and two sessions of LEGO math for kids.
I ran. A lot. Everywhere. Almost everyday.
I passed the 20 pound mark of weight lost since I started running.
I read books.
I threw a party for my daughter's high school graduation.
I travelled to CO and PA.
I climbed a mountain.
I wove a basket and made a tile mosaic.
I got a massage.
I helped Mia adopt a new cat.
I went white water rafting.
I went to concerts and danced.
I cleaned Rob's office.
I grew two tomatoes.
I made friends with local farmers.
I caught mice.
I laughed, and I cried.
I battled my inner demons.
I walked the entire IHRT. 
I renewed my wedding vows.

This is okay! 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Satur-me-day Part II

Woke up, did a little yoga & meditation, and headed out for adventures.

My first stop, the Ecosystem Farm at the the Accokeek Foundation.  

My directions took me to the main entrance of the Accokeek Foundation at Piscataway Park, and I hiked the trails leading around the working Colonial Farm and then over to the Ecosystem farm.  It was a beautiful hike, with some trails right along the Potomac.  Across the water, you could see Mt. Vernon (You know, George Washington's digs).

When I found the Ecosystem Farm, I was really pleased.  It is quite magical over there!  I got to meet Farmer Becky, and Danny not only gave me a tour of the farm, but also promised me a fig tree for our yard!  I'm very excited about this!

The farm is a working organic farm, and I traipsed around getting a little dirty, but having a great time.  Most of their produce is sold through CSA boxes, but extras are sold through their farmer's market, and sometimes is sold through MOM's (where Mia works).  After my tour, I bought all sorts of great looking veggies at the market.  The cantaloupe smells AMAZING and I'm planning on cooking my zucchini and summer squash tonight.  Possibly making a zucchini bread, if I'm so motivated.

I asked Farmer Becky about eggplant (I didn't see any for sale, but Danny had pointed some out to me on my tour), and she picked three especially for me.  Talk about fresh produce!  The heirloom eggplant were beautiful!

Fresh herbs and flowers attracted all sorts of butterflies and buzzing things- I was entranced. And I got some beautiful produce to play with at home.

After my adventure at the farm, I went to Booknuts Used Bookstore for their author signing.  I was particularly interested in the children's book author who wrote a series of books about firefighters, because I have a nephew who really likes trucks.  Shhhh- don't tell him, this is a surprise!

As I was talking to the author, Jim Brewster, I met his family, including his daughter, who was a student of mine at the college a few years ago- talk about small worlds!

I headed up to MOM's to drop some things off to Mia.  When she's working customer service, she's in charge of the samples that are put out during the day.  If she knows I am coming by, she makes a vegan sample.  Today she made roasted peaches with vegan vanilla wafers, very tasty.  

I was starting to get hungry, so I picked up some lunch.  A vegan tuna sub and a kombucha.  The sub was very tasty, maybe a little too much bread, but I'm weird about bread that way.  After I left, I realized the sub might be tough to eat while driving, so I sat in the car and ate while reading.

My last stop of the day was at Target, where I bought supplies for my STEM camp next week.  I was able to get just about everything I needed, AND fit it all in a single container.  

One little boy who was shopping with his mom stood near me in the checkout line, and was pretty entranced with what I bought.

I had to go to a different store for a few things I couldn't find (or forgot) at Target.  At the checkout there, the woman in front of me was buying kid's soap and nail brushes.  She told me that her kids had really dirty hands and nails when they got home from day camp last week.  I looked down at my purchases and had to laugh, because I was buying craft glue and marshmallows.  No wonder!

The two things I couldn't find at either store- marbles and wooden blocks.  What the heck?

A Breakfast Blog. (For Rachel)

I've been asked by a few people to share my breakfast routine.  It is delicious, I might add!

I start my day off with a detox-lemonade.  It's easy to make.

You need:
1 lemon (this is rather tart, so you may want to start with just 1/2 a lemon)
1-1.5oz. Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar (I don't care about the brand, but it must be unfiltered ACV)
Dash Cinnamon
Dash Cayenne Pepper
1-3 drops Stevia Extract (I like Vanilla flavor)

I juice the lemon, and mix in 10-12 oz. of water, then I add the ACV, Cinnamon, Cayenne, and Stevia, and give it a good shake.  From my reading, I understand that the detox properties of these ingredients is best consumed on an empty stomach, but since I drink water while I run, and I run before breakfast, this is usually sipped for an hour or so while I eat and get ready for my day after my run.

Like I said, you may find the taste to be a little overwhelming at first- but start with less lemon and ACV.  When you start drinking this, you may notice some pimples, as your skin starts to clear.  I have noticed that when I drink this every day, my skin looks and feels better. 

Okay, now I've run, and started sipping my lemonade, and I'm starving, let's eat!

After I run, I am hungry, and I try to eat protein in the am to help build running muscles.  This is my standard go-to breakfast after a run, which is bastardized from The Vegan Zombie's "Egg-trick muffin". (BTW- did you know TVZ is in the process of writing a graphic-novel zombie style cookbook?  I'm so excited and have already pre-ordered my copy through their kickstarter.

You need:
Extra firm tofu (cut into 1/2 slices,halved.  One package of XFT yields 4 servings Cut in half, half, half, and half again...)
Nutritional Yeast (pictured here is a canister of Red Star, but I buy my Nutritional Yeast in bulk and just refill the canister)
Chia Seed
Flax Seed and/or Flaxseed meal
Hemp Seed
Kosher Salt (optional)
Vegan cheese (my favorite is Daiya Cheddar)
Vegan bacon (my favorite is Turtle Mountain's Tempeh Smoked Maple Strips)
Flour tort ilia (6-8 inch, I prefer whole grain)

Start off by making your dry tofu topping- flaxseed yields nutritional properties best if crushed or ground.  I have a coffee grinder that I like to use just for seeds.  If you get the flaxseed meal, you don't need to pre-grind.  I like the taste of the whole seed, so I use a combination of the flaxseed meal and whole flaxseeds.
Mix your Flax, Chia, Hemp, and Nutritional Yeast together in equal parts.  Any and or all of these is optional, and you may adjust to taste.  I have recently added in the Hemp seed to the mixture, but the only ingredient I think is really necessary is the nutritional yeast.  Add salt, if desired- just a pinch.

Pre-heat skillet, with a smidge of olive oil.  I add three strips of tempeh (if I'm using another brand- Lightlife has a good vegan bacon, I only use two strips) and four squares of tofu tossed in the topping to the pan, and cook until lightly browned on each side.

I actually have it down to a science so that if I put the skillet on 4, I can go take a shower and flip the tofu when I get out, then get dressed while the second side is cooking.

After both sides of the tofu and fakin are browned, I pull them out of the skillet- and put a tortilla on the skillet and top with the vegan cheese.  Just a little will go a long way, I probably use about 1/8 of a cup.  Top with the tofu and fakin, and toast the tortilla until the cheese starts to melt.  Fold in half, and breakfast is ready!

Let me know if you have any questions, and Happy breakfast!


It's Saturday, and I have the whole day to myself.  Mia's working, and Rob is fixing the floor at the rental unit. I, on the other hand, have no pressing engagements, and a day just for me!  I'm going to combine getting some basic errands done with some relaxation time.  Here's my plan:

  • Order new food processor blade.  My beloved fp broke a blade last month.  I've been getting by with our mini-fp and my hand crank fp, but neither makes hummus like my big one did.
  • Drop by the post office and mail my brother, Jeff, a package.
  • Go to the Ecosystem Farm for a farm tour and market.
  • Go to Booknuts Bookstore for their monthly book signing. This month, I am excited to meet a children's book author (Jim Brewster) who writes about firefighters!
  • Visit Mia at MOM's.  I love visiting this girl when she's working.  She's so cute.  Maybe buy some groceries.
  • Read.  I'm midway through Bag of Bones.
  • Swing by the store to pick up materials for my STEM camp next week.
  • No running today, I did 5.66 miles yesterday, and am running the Dog days of Summer virtual 5k tomorrow.
  • Meal planning and blog updating.