Saturday, September 26, 2015

Plan September 28-October 4

Leftover curry tofu scramble
Buffalo cauliflower lentil tacos
Pre-cook T, Th meals

Buffalo cauliflower lentil tacos
Chana aloo stew (make on Monday)

Chana aloo stew

Belizey burrito (make on Monday)
Creamy dijon pasta (make on Monday)

Long Run
Creamy dijon pasta
Eggplant falafel burgers


Eggplant falafel burgers
Belizey burrito

A book to read, a book to avoid, and a book to revisit...

I haven't done as much reading in the last month as I usually do. No excuses, really. I'm busy with getting my work published and this semester I am teaching quite a bit. There have been three books I've read recently that deserve discussion, however.
A book to read....
The advent of Sage by Scott Newman
You may recall I reviewed Newman's first book, Draco, here. This second book of the series finds Draco going to Japan to fight the Yakuza, the evil criminal empire that killed his friends and the love of his life. With great battle scenes, and martial arts sequences, this book often reads like a graphic novel. I particularly enjoyed the X-Men like special school that Draco has clearly been chosen for, through his discovery of the book that started it all in the first novel.  Of course, Draco is the most talented student since Sage, who becomes part of the Yazuka, and Draco is pitted against him in several fights, including the climatic battle. Poignant in imagery is one of these first fights atop a snowy mountain.
My favorite part about this book, however, is the character development of Kat, Draco's partner who not only saves him in several situations, but most importantly, grounds Draco in his self discovery.
Newman's writing style is clearly an homage to martial arts films and Japanese animation, and his dialogue and character development have improved in this second novel. Frequently, authors find their voice and flow with additional publications, and Newman fits in this category. We are left eagerly awaiting the next adventures.  I had a chance to ask Scott about his next book, which is currently being written.  He said that Draco's adventures would continue in the next book with a super Martial Arts tournament.  This new book, he says will have more action and that the characters will be more diverse and philosophical. I look forward to future books in this series!

A book to avoid.....
Go set a Watchman by Harper Lee
I loved To kill a mockingbird, so when I heard that Lee's first book featuring Scout was going to be published, I pre-ordered it. At first, it was okay. This book started with 20-something Scout returning to Maycomb from New York, for a vacation. I could picture Scout growing up to be this Jean-Louise, and it was fun to think about how these characters would have evolved. However, it quickly soured. First of all, Jem is dead, and this issue is never resolved. Secondly, the pseudo-romance between Scout and Hank is tedious. There is one major issue with this book that should cause any potential reader to have second thoughts. Racism.
After I'd ordered the book, I read the initial reviews of this book, several people noted that some readers may be disappointed in finding out that Atticus was a racist. I wondered how terrible it could be. IT WAS TERRIBLE.Holy goodness, bad. Scout finds out upon her return that not only is racism rampant in Maycomb, but her father, Atticus, and her maybe fiance Henry are members of the Klan. The second half of this book is dedicated to arguments and conversations in which both try to justify themselves to Scout. I couldn't wait for it to just be over, and I'm not only sad that I spent money on this book, but  I may never be able to read Mockingbird again.

 A book to revisit....
The Time Traveler's wife by Audrey Niffenger
Sometimes, like above, a book is so terrible that I am dissuaded from reading anything at all. So I revisited one of my top-ten favorite books, a story about a chrono-displaced man and the woman he loves. Re-reading favorite books is soothing, like hearing a beloved song on the radio, or wearing an old, worn t-shirt. It is comfortable and fits right. I love re-reading a favorite book, because each time I find something new to love about the book.
This time around, I have been really entranced by how Niffenger chose to order the book.  Really, she could have told the story from the point of view of Claire- meeting Henry at age 6, and her acceptance of Henry's comings and goings, or it could have been told in Henry's order, can you imagine meeting someone at age 20 who has known you for years? I've also been fascinated with the idea that this story could also have been told from Alba's eyes.  I could see how a sequel to this book all about Alba would have done well, but I am so glad it wasn't written.  That would have cheapened the love story here.

This week, I am looking forward to the new releases of The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood and Free Country: The Children's Crusade by Neil Gaiman.  Ahh, fall. Bring me cool weather, warm coffee, and some lovely books to read.

Happy reading, friends!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

And so, then, what do we do about the fraud police?

The fraud police. We all know about them.  You may call them by another name, but they're there for everyone. Some of us worry about the fraud police more than others, but everyone has at one point or another felt the fear of being discovered by the fraud police.

I never put a name to this fear before I read Amanda Palmer's book, The Art of Asking.  But she fears the fraud police, too.

The fraud police. This is the fear of someone one day discovering that you've been faking it. That you're not worthy. And because we all harbor these self doubts, we all live in fear of being outed by the FP.

Here's the thing. I am a successful person. I am smart. I am fun. I work hard. And I live in fear of the fraud police.

When I was finishing my PhD program, my mentor called me and told me to apply for graduation. I waited a month before I told anyone.

A month.

Why? Because what if they'd made a mistake? What if my research was really stupid and not worthy of the degree? WHAT IF I TOLD PEOPLE AND THEN DIDN'T DO IT??

This is the fraud police.

I finished my program. I invited my family to graduation and it was wonderful, magical.  Today I spoke with my mentor and we discussed publishing something together. Now I am one of the few people at my work with a PhD, and the only woman in my division with this standing.

But then, in a string of emails among a committee that I serve on, there was a debate. I weighed in with what I thought was a good option, and several people thought that my idea was a great one.  However, one person on the committee, a person that I've looked up to for a long time, a person with lots of experience, sent me an email that said "You're wrong, DOC." Ergh. Fraud police. Was I wrong to voice my idea? Lots of other people liked it, and  in the end, the committee is going to follow my suggestion.

Later, in a discussion with him, I found out that he felt slighted that I didn't automatically just agree with him.  His feelings were hurt. Huh.

So. What do we do about this blasted fraud police?

In the end, there is nothing we CAN do.  The fraud police will always be there.

Monday, September 21, 2015

The dangers of being a mathematician runner....

On Sunday, I ran the Air Force/Navy Half Marathon.  This is my 5th half, and by far my best.  I had a good training summer, even with a three week hiatus of Niki visitation. The weather was great, I felt great.  I forgot to eat breakfast, but Rob met me up at mile 8.5 with a vegan bar, which was AMAZING.

This year, for the first time, the race management didn't outright ban ipods and earphones.  In the past, they have, but everyone (at least in my part of the pack) disregarded that rule, because the worst thing that could happen is that you wouldn't be allowed to win.  Trust me, no one won in my part of the pack.  My part of the pack, winning is just FINISHING. 

This year, I was glad to see them rescind that ruling.  I mean, I'm a slow runner. I finished in record time, 2:59, but that's still HOURS of just listening to your feet pounding and your breath heaving.  I find I actually slow down when I start thinking too much, which I do without a distraction of an audio track.

Even with the audio, I can still let myself slip into a zone where I over think.  For instance, as I was coming up on mile 8, I passed my friend, Rune, running the other direction.  Rune ran the half, and is much faster than I. He was at mile 10 or so.  His partner, and my friend, Cari, had joked on the train ride in that he would finish the half about at the same pace that she walked the 5 mile race course. 

I got to thinking.  And when a mathematician gets to thinking, what we are really doing is writing and solving word problems.

If Rune does 13 miles in the same time that Cari does 5 miles, how much faster is he running? If I was still only at mile 8 when Rune and Cari finished, would Rune/my speed = My speed/Cari?  If I ran at a 10% increased speed, what would that mean?

By the time I was done calculating these out in my head, I noticed that my pace had dropped from 11:15 to 14:55 per mile.  Shoot. That is why I need my ipod.

Anyway, the RUNNING SEASON is now upon us.  If you are a runner, good races friends.  If you are not, watch out for runners on the road.  Especially those wearing ipods.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Plan September 14-20

Rob's birthday
Yoga, abs, walk
365 smoothie
Everlasting life leftovers
"Lobster Rolls" (HHMP)

Legs & cardio BBT, yoga
365 smoothie
"lobster Rolls"
Grilled sweet potato salad (HHMP)

Run 5, yoga
365 smoothie
Grilled sweet potato salad
Chickpea ceasar salad tacos (HHMP)

Abs & arms BBT,  yoga
365 smoothie
Chickpea ceasar salad tacos
Tomato rigatoni (HHMP)

Run 6, yoga
365 smoothie
Packet pickup and lunch with Cari
Mac Attack Burgers (HHMP)

Yoga, abs
365 smoothie
Leftover portobello burger
Leftover Mac and "cheese"

Half marathon
Pre-run breakfast of bananas and PB
Lunch out
Frito salad

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Vegan MoFo day 7

For today, we were to make a vegan dish inspired by a book or movie, etc.

I thought I'd be inspired by the only time I liked a movie or tv show better than a book. Because, lets face it, the book is always better. Except here.

Sorry to tell you, Piper Kerman, your book was poorly written and pretty terrible. But you, go, girl. You get mad revenues for the tv show, which is great.

Season 3 came out, and no spoiler alerts, because we like to take our time. One episode per night, if that.

But there's a scene where Chang makes fritters in the prison microwave using frito chips and peas.

Raise your hand if you're an OITNB watcher and you didn't want to try that.
Now put them down because you're a liar.

In this scene, Chang smashes up a bag of fritos (vegan!) Mixes in peas, and ends up with something that looks delicious. A brief scan of the web reveals multiple blog posts where people have tried to replicate her method. The consensus is that microwaving doesn't get you anything with an appealing texture. They all recommend pan frying the fritters. I do 2 only as an experiment, as I think frying fritos in even more oil has got to be gross.

I also microwave a couple, as she does in the show. These get the best look, but end up being mushy inside.

And I bake a few, which initially looks like a great idea, but then they all fall apart when I go to flip them.

Sigh. I resort to then making Orange is the new black bean nachos. With black beans, vegan crumbles, shredded romaine lettuce, daiya cheddar,  sliced jalapeño and some salsa atop a bed of tortilia chips.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Vegan MoFo day 6

Today's challenge in Vegan MoFo was to re-create a restaurant meal.

My goal yesterday was to make a lovely Buddha Bowl. My favorite restaurant Buddha  Bowl I ate a number of years ago when visiting my dear friend Kimmy in NYC. She was performing with a belly dance troupe in Grenwich village and I took myself to dinner when she was rehearsing before the show.

While wandering around, I found a cute little restaurant that had a communal table. The bowl I ordered and ate there was served in a wooden bowl, and was brown rice, tofu, red cabbage, greens, and other root vegetables. The next two times I visited my friend, I looked and looked for this restaurant. I never found it again....

So, today I went down to our rental house that is currently on the market to paint. I got a little frustrated due to an alarm issue, and the fact I left some necessities at home. On my way home, I deviated from my original plan and I stopped at our favorite Chinese takeout where they have a number of vegan items on the menu. I picked up some vegan General Tsos Tofu with broccoli, and at the liquor store next door, a bottle of Malbec.

So I guess I recreated a restaurant meal by buying a restaurant meal?

Now, do you want to hear about my alarm issue? One of our previous tenants installed an alarm system. I left the doors open while I was painting to air it out, and the system kept beeping. So. I went to the wall panel to try to turn off the beeps, and somehow that activated and armed the system. The next time I opened the door, sirens started wailing. Holy crap. 

So I called the alarm cimpany and told them about my situation. They said they couldn't/wouldn't disarm it or reset it or even tell me how because I wasn't the account holder (the tenant). They also said they wouldn't send a technician unless I opened an account with them for the property. Bah.

Giving up on getting any help from them, I pulled the system from the wall, and started pulling wires from the unit. It stopped before the cops showed up!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Vegan MoFo day 5

For day 5 of Vegan MoFo, we are to share the best sandwich ever.  The sandwich I will share with you here could have also been my post for breakfast or for quick and easy.

How do I know this is the best sandwich ever? Easy,  I have eaten it TWO TIMES TODAY.

Yup. I planned to have it for lunch today, and something else for dinner. But it was so delicious, I ate it all before I took any pictures! Oh! So sad!

Today I went on my long run. I did a little over 11 miles, and when I got home, I was tired and hungry. This is my favorite post-run meal.

This sandwich, a little yoga, some netflix binge watching, and a nap are my post run glories!

I first got the idea for this sandwich from a Vegan Zombie take on a Strong Hearts breakfast. Over the years, I have modified this recipe to be my own. I call it my tofu breakfast sandwich. The two most important ingredients are a nooch encrusted tofu and a tortilia.

Today, I started by tossing my tofu in a mixture of nutritional yeast and flax seed meal. I make this sandwich so often that I keep a mixture of this combination in my fridge at all times.

Then I put them in my cast iron skillet with a tiny bit of coconut oil, and two tempeh bacon slices.

Today I also added some daiya cheddar shreds and some baked sweet potato. I generally bake a sweet potato or two every time I turn on my oven, I use them in everything. I've also been known to add greens, both steamed and raw, avocado, or zucchini. I love to drizzle a bit of hot sauce over top.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Vegan MoFo day 4

Today, I want to share with you a weird food combination that I love.

But first, let me tell you about my day. Sigh, Thursdays are exhausting. I drafted an overload of classes this semester, and also have choir practice. So I have to get up super early to work out, and I have all three meals either on the go or at work. I actually got home a little early tonight, but I am pooped. It will take me a few days to get back into the swing of the semester.

Anyway, I love adding in fruit to my entrée dishes. Especially at this time of year, when fruits are so fresh and juicy! I have two dishes to share with you.

The first is a dinner recipe from The Vegan Zombie. A citrus baked tofu.

I baked the tofu in a marinade of orange juice and tamari. Then finished it off in a skillet.

I also made some couscous, and broccolini.

The second dish I want to share with you is a Happy Herbivore recipe for a peach and white bean quesidilia. 

I love quesidilias!! I eat quesidilias, but never get through a loaf of bread.

Just a simple mash of beans, tahini, basil, and pink salt. Then an addition of peach slices and romaine lettuce.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Plan September 7-13

BBT & yoga
Make / eat some thing inspired by a book or film.
Blueberry beginning smoothie 365
Orange is the new black bean burrito
Eggless salad sandwich (HHVK)

BBT & yoga
Reach out! Make a new vegan friend & tell us about it.
Blueberry banana builder smoothie 365
Eggless salad sandwich
Coconut chickpea curry (HH)

Run 5
Most retro recipe.
Blueberry brainiac smoothie 365
Coconut chickpea curry
Creamy Cashew Potpie (HHVK)

BBT & yoga
Something blue.
Blue chia paradise  smoothie 365
Creamy cashew pot pie
Protein shake

Run 12
Focus on a nutrient
Quiet bluebird smoothie 365
Slow-cooker enchiladas (HH)

Tell us about your favourite cookbook!
Raw green smoothie 
Corn & black bean cakes  (HH)

It’s kitchen tour time!
Raw green smoothie
Thai Peanut Pizzas (HH)

HH- Happy herbivore
HHVK- Happy healthy vegan kitchen
365- 365 vegan smoothies

Vegan MoFo day 3

For the third day of Vegan MoFo,  I share with you a quick and easy meal.
This meal isn't necessarily quick to cook, but it is quickly assembled, and the perfect kind of meal for the start of a busy semester.

Today was the first day of fall semester classes. I have drafted a heavy load this term, and will need to start pre-prepping meals and packing lunches.

For these baked potatoes, I used my automatic timer setting on my oven to get them cooking while I was at work.   I washed the potatoes the night before, then this morning, I set my oven to come on at 3pm at 300 degrees. I vary how long I cook my potatoes. If I can cook them all day (generally in the winter when I don't mind the oven being on all day, I cook them for 5-6 hours at 200 degrees.

I love some vegan products to top my potatoes. I have steamed veggies (for convenience,  I buy pre-washed and chopped veggies that I can steam in the bag), maple tempeh bacon, tofutti sour cream, daiya cheddar cheese, and earth balance butter.

While I prepped my potato, I also made up my lunch for tomorrow. In addition, when I baked my potatoes, I also baked two sweet potatoes that I will use in other recipes this week. I also steamed all the veggies so that I can eat them on Friday!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Vegan MoFo day 2

For today's MoFo, we were asked to veganize a meal from our childhood.

I was not raised in a veg household, but I became a vegetarian at the age of 10. At that point, I started to do most of my own cooking. Before that, I honestly donxt remember that many family meals. My dad traveled quite a bit for work, and my mom worked at night. The only meals I remember with any sort of clarity were the chicken curry, jamazetti, and hamburger gravy.

The hamburger gravy was the first recipe I recreated with vegetarian ingredients on my own. I used fake meat crumbles, and felt pretty proud of myself. This went on to become a favorite comfort food in my adult household. My daughter used to request it all the time.

When I made the shift to veganism, this recipe was an easy transition. As I became a better cook, and started learning more about food and wholezfood ingredients, this recipe has evolved.

Here it is in its current incarnation.  A vegan tempeh gravy over polenta and wilted arugula.

1 tube polenta, sliced into 1/4" rounds
2 cups arugula
1 package tempeh, sliced into 1" chunks
1 T tamari
1/4 c flour
1/2 - 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
Black pepper

In a skillet, steam tempeh with a little water. Add tamari. Break up chunks with a potato masher.
When it is soft, add flour and milk to make gravy. Add pepper to taste.
In second skillet, use a little bit of oil to fry up polenta rounds. After they are done, wilt the arugula.

On plates, place polenta, top with arugula then gravy. I also added a little dill for flavor and color.
Serves 3.

I have found that I became a decent cook when I was vegetarian, but now, as a vegan, I feel like I am a very good cook. Have any of you found that?

Otherwise, the semester starts today! So my lovely summer freetime is gone. Sigh. No more long runs every day. My puppies will miss me during the day!