Thursday, March 29, 2007

Compost bin blues

My compost bin took a hit a couple months ago, and this week, one of three sides fell completely over.

I built the bin from left over fencing last spring (, and damn... I was so proud of it! It was a real compost bin (as opposed to the compost *pile* we had to make do with over the previous fall and winter), made from reclaimed building materials, and the best part was that I built it all by myself. When I was constructing it, I remembered reading somewhere that you should add a floor in order to not loose nutrients from the compost into the ground, so I even managed to find some cinder slabs that I carefully and levelly set into the ground.

I built the U-shaped bin right next to the back fence, bordering the alley, where it sat, happily composting our coffee grounds, veggie scraps, fruit peels and occasional paper towels for over a year. I noticed a couple months ago that it looked a bit skewed, as if someone had backed into it's alley-facing corner, and figured I straighten it out once I removed most of the compost into the vegetable garden bed this spring. A couple days ago, I saw that the entire side had come undone and was laying in the alley; avocado shells and coffee filters were oozing out onto the gravel from atop the cinder slabs, splintered fence pickets were jutting up from the ground. So sad.

It's too soon to completely assess the damage. I just leaned the fallen wall onto the compost for now. Hopefully that's enough to keep everything in place until I can move the pile into the garden and do a little "remodeling." Any tips for when I do so? I was thinking of building a half-height fourth wall for added stability, but was worried about accessibility. I have a few weeks to think on it, but any advice is welcome :)

Yes, I took a photograph of my garbage. From the compost bowl on the kitchen counter: On top, that's some houseplant trimmings, dead flower heads from a bouquet, a couple napkins and a clemantine skin, all on their way to the broken compost bin.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Gel babies of independence

I love it when I can convince AC to hang out and cook with me in the kitchen. These gel babies from Fatfree Vegan were perfect for that. Not only were they a sweet snack, but they also were being made especially for him and he could handle most of the prepping and cooking with little assistance from me. So, along with a special treat, he also got the good feelings that a little independence can bring to a nine-year-old.

They turned out great and we'll definitely be making them again. I only had eight containers, but easily could have used 10 or 12. We stuck to the traditional fruit cocktail-in-a-can because we'd never made them before, and although I kind of liked the cafeteria style that brought, we'll probably experiment with some different fruits and juices. I've also picked up on AC's, ahem, subtle hints that he doesn't like the name "gel babies;" he's thinking up new names. Any suggestions :)

Monday, March 19, 2007

Great grains

Lately, we've been eating lots of low-alkaline grains with a bit of sweetener and fruit for breakfast. Although we love the oatmeal and the Peanut Butter Panda Puffs, we also realize every morning with acidic oats and processed cereal is a bit much.

Luckily, AC's been studying/becoming obsessed with Buddhism and has just learned about Siddhartha's discovery and teachings of the middle path.

AC: "Why can't we have Paaanda Puuufs, mooom?"

MD: "Dude, that's so unBuddha-like. "

AC: " ... "

MD: "Remeber? Moderation?"

AC: sigh

Don't you love real-life manipulation - er, application? ;)

Quinoa with pears, nutmeg, agave, soy milk (I also added some peanut butter to mine):

Amaranth with blueberries, cinnamon, nutmeg and agave:

Amaranth with apples, cinnamon and maple syrup:

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Bye, stuff!

One of my 43 things is to "get rid of stuff."

It's an ongoing process.

And, I'm enjoying it :)

Monday, March 12, 2007

Garlic soup

White Bean and Roasted Garlic Soup from Vegan with a Vengeance (page 67).

Yum, garlic. This soup is lovely! I must say that the flavors and textures are really just not complete without an additional bowl-to-mouth vehicle (besides the spoon, i mean). It's perfect with a super yummy bread. Might I recommend Bakers on Broad sourdough or Italian slices? :)

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Totoro Fan Club

Ms. Susan V. and E. over at the Fatfree Vegan Kitchen blog turned us on to the Totoro love a few months ago. We rented, watched and absolutely fell in love with My Neighbor Totoro. Recently, Avery ordered the bento box.

Our favorite scene in the movie involves the very large and lovable Totoro, who has a Buddha vibe (and belly), standing under a rain-soaked tree holding an umbrella. As the raindrops gather on the tree leaves, they collect on the tips, creating heavy, larger drops of water that fall onto the umbrella, sounding out a very satisfying PLOP! Totoro makes the connection between the tree and the sound he's hearing from beneath the umbrella, grins, looks up, and jumps in place, shaking the ground, which in turn rustles the trees, and causes several drops to gather and PLOP! all at once. The look of happiness on his face is priceless. Clearly, Totoro is on the path to enlightenment.

And with this bento box, so is Avery.

We'll be hooking up with my sister sometime soon to learn how to make a proper roll, but there was no way Avery was waiting until then to use his new lunch box. We scavenged the kitchen for bento-worthy goods and came up with, from top left: stirfry (brown rice with frozen Blooming Glen greens, onions, corn, peas, broccoli and tofu sauteed in Soy Vay, caribbean spices and red chili powder), steamed carrots, toasted and cubed complet bread from Bakers on Broad, a square of Japanese caramel candy, and sticks of raw zucchini. He's also packed a clemantine on the side for morning snack.

His lunch totally kicks my lunch's ass. I love him and all, but he better keep a close eye on that bento box.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

12 Step burrito

My recent favorite local foodie stop is Xinantecatl, a Mexican grocery and grill a couple blocks from the house. I usually stop in to pick up plantains and avocados, and we really love their veggie burritos. Even without the beans (they're cooked in lard), the burritos are super filling, have a great texture and are quite delicious.

Lately though, Jason's fondness of the Xinantecatl veggie burrito has slowly shifted from general admiration to uncontrollable addiction. He's obsessed. He schedules appointments only after considering where a Xinantecatl stop will figure into his plans, and he shamelessly buys burritos for friends and family members in an effort to get them "turned on" to the "rice and veggie high, man." He's out of hand.

Out. Of hand.

He thought long and hard about his addiction, how it's influencing his decisions and effecting his relationships. And by "long and hard," I mean 4.2 seconds. His very thoughtful solution was, rather than working the 12 steps to overcome his ungodly desires to consume the burrito ("that's a lot like work"), to become a burrito super chef in his own right. Meh, he's getting older you know, the fight's just not worth it anymore.

Serves: Two bigguns'
2 whole wheat tortillas
1/2 can refried beans
1 cup cooked quinoa (add Bragg's to water when cooking)
1 cup cheese/not cheese
1 handful shredded spinach
1 handful diced tomatoes
1/2 handful chopped radishes
1/2 handful shredded purple cabbage
a bit of diced onion (like a third of an onion)
1 diced avocado
1 diced jalepeno
fresh cilantro leaves
spices like chili powder, ground cumin, chipolte powder
salt and pepper
salsa, hot sauce and sour cream to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Add beans to small pot and heat, stirring in spices, salt, pepper and/or salsa to desired taste; keep warm. Sprinkle cheese/not cheese onto tortillas and place in oven until melted (about four or five minutes). Remove tortillas from oven, add a layer of beans, a layer of quinoa and then distribute the veggies and cilantro. Add salsa, hot sauce and/or sour cream. Roll (or not) and serve with a plastic duck. And fruit - we used mango above.
I'm actually glad he decided to stay on the burrito. His version is health-ified (whole wheat instead of flour tortilla, quinoa instead of rice, spinach instead of lettuce), but still Xinantecatl yummy with their signature crunch (thanks, radishes!).