Friday, October 12, 2007

Ups and Downs

So, this week, like every week and every day in life, consisted a little of everything - beauty, peace, struggles, stress, faith, courage, and determination. Everyone experiences roadblocks, and we learn along the way and try to find hope and courage to get through life. We've been studying nonstop (to prepare for 4 tests), which has been giving us stress and requires a lot of motivation, focus, and endurance! Also, I think that for the first time we may have failed an exam, and we both feel awful (and afraid to look in the eyes of our professor when she lectures...haha). This experience happens for a reason, like all experiences, and teaches us to have courage, accept failure, and realize that God has a plan for each of us. In spite of the frustrations, we have found time to relax and have hope. Of course, cooking and baking always boost our moods - we had fun baking homemade cracker and cookies and preparing our dinners. Also, we finally have cooler and drier weather (low 63, high 88, perfectly clear blue skies), so we have enjoyed listening to the birds sing, being among nature, and studying outside. A lot of other changes has occurred too; our friends are graduating or will graduate like us in May, and some are moving away and getting married! It makes us realize that life flies by too fast and that every person goes their own path.

Anyways, this week we have made a lot of great, simple, tasty, and cheap dinners (to reduce our grocery bill). Being vegetarian can be expensive, from buying frozen veggie burgers, processed organic snacks, etc....but we have been trying to make our own crackers, cookies, and veggie burgers. We also find that beans, tofu, and potatoes are filling and cheap for the main dish.

When we first walked into the grocery store this past week, it was a delicious haven of rows and rows of apples!
We love apple season and both miss apple picking, which we did last year when we were exchange students at the University of New Hampshire. What is the one thing you would grow and have in your own backyard if you could? We would definitely love to have our own apple trees! Also, tomatoes and watermelon would be awesome. What are your favorite apples? Some apples we love include #1 Honey Crisp, and then Braeburn, Fuji, Jazz, Granny Smith, Gala, etc...What was so crazy this week, was that the apples were the size of grapefruit! Here is a picture of an apple we enjoyed - it was bigger than our cat's head, like 3 apples in one!

Another great "fresh" thing we enjoyed was fresh herbs from our herb garden at home. We went home last weekend, so we got to pick basil and oregano and use them in our cooking this week! We made a macaroni pasta dinner with an impulsive mix of foods that came together rather well. We cooked fresh green beans, diced onions, minced garlic, herbs, a can of stewed tomatoes, a little bit of tomato sauce, a can of lima beans, and a small amount of TVP in a large skillet till nicely sauteed.

We also enjoyed the fresh basil in Tofu Basil Sandwiches, from Students Go Vegan cookbook.
It turned out really tasty and addicting. It had medium tofu, crumbled, and Naynonnaise, organic ketchup, tons of fresh basil, garlic powder, chopped celery, and nutritional yeast. We served it on Great Harvest Bread Company Honey Whole Wheat bread, lettuce, and sliced tomatoes. It would also be awesome as a dip, with bell pepper strips and cucumber strips, or as "ricotta" on top of pizza or in lasagna.We brought leftover tofu mix to school and ate it for lunch with homemade "wheat thin" crackers (discussed in earlier posts), but this time we added toasted sesame seeds. They are awesome, better than any store bought cracker! We also enjoyed the crackers with some hummus and almond butter.

Another great dish in the works tonight for dinner includes baked sliced, breadcrumbed
eggplant, with couscous and garbanzo bean saute. We have a great big, hearty, purple eggplant ready to be eaten!

*Update on the eggplant dinner - it was very filling and flavorful! We haven't used eggplant in a while, and it was tasty, with Italian seasonings, sesame seeds, a little olive oil, and homemade breadcrumbs, broiled for a few minutes. And the couscous is always tasty- Hodgson's Mills Whole Wheat Couscous with Flaxseed and Soy. The garbanzo saute was a unique flavorful dish, with diced celery, red bell pepper, onion, garlic, oregano, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and lots of paprika! It was creamy, crunchy, spicy, and overall wow.

Our dessert this week was simple, yet tasty -
cinnamon applesauce cookie bites, veganized. They are light, fluffy, and soft, with flaxseed, margarine, cinnamon, brown sugar, wheat flour, and lots of applesauce. Such a healthy treat, with no eggs!

Cinnamon Applesauce Cookie Bites
1/4 cup margarine, softened
1/3 cup Brown Sugar Splenda mix, or 2/3 cup regular brown sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 1/4 cup various grain flours (did 1 cup Kamut, 1 1/4 cup Spelt)
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp or more ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp flaxseed, ground

In a large bowl, beat butter, sugar, applesauce, and flaxseed until smooth. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Add to the applesauce mixture, stirring by hand just until you have a soft dough.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Roll dough into 1 - 1 1/2 inch balls and place on cookie sheet coated with cooking spray. If desired, flatten the balls slightly.
Bake the cookies for 9-12 minutes, checking every few minutes and covering with foil to avoid getting too hard or overbrowned on top. Cool and enjoy!
Makes ~15 cookies.
(Could make bigger to be extra soft and fluffy, and add currants or dried cranberries)

So, this week, let us think of all the great things in our lives and not let the bad things bring us down. Let us all find time to enjoy life, either through cooking, reading, praying, etc.., and keep on doing the best we can. We shouldn't hurt others and be the person to bring their day down either. "Sometimes we need to look hard at a person and remember that he is doing the best he can. He's just trying to find his way. ~Ernest Thompson" (The Attitude of Gratitude blog, 10/06/07)

Smile!, LK


maybepigscanfly said...

Yes- life is all about ups and downs. I hope you guys aren't stressing too much about the failed test- hey we're not perfect and we've got to fail sometime. Otherwise, how would we learn?

Well you definitely didn't fail in the kitchen. The eggplant dish is my favorite- then again I eat a LOT of eggplant. Oh and those apples must have been delish!

The Little Vegan said...

I'm always sad when apple season ends and I get stuck with mushy, tasteless apples,so I am super-excited it's apple season again :o).

Your idea to heat Odwalla bars-- genius! I am definitely going to try it; it sounds like they'd be reminiscent of hot banana bread, fresh out of the oven.

VeggieGirl said...

too much goodness in this post to name a favorite!! wow!! but I DO have to mention just how great the Students Go Vegan cookbook is - I constantly find myself creating simple lunches or dinners from that book :0)