Archive for June, 2010

Vegetarian Paella

Sadly the past few days I seem to be having an arthritis flare up.  I can feel some serious stiffness throughout my spine and am extremely fatigued.  I am hoping this will pass quickly and will do everything in my power to ensure that happens.

I always try to eat very healthily but at times like this it’s really imperative.  There are several foods found in nature that have anti inflammatory components that I eat and others that are inflammatory and I avoid.  Sadly the inflammatory vegetables are among my favorites so it’s more difficult to avoid them then to eat the correct foods.

Among inflammatory foods are nightshade produce.  Included are tomato, eggplant, pepper, and some potato’s.  These vegetables contain alkaloids and can impact nerve-muscle function.

Anti inflammatory foods that I try to eat regularly are pineapple, mango, papaya, turmeric, cherries, blueberries, olive oil, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower.  I have a daily smoothie using many of the fruits so that part is easy.

When cooking I try to use no more than 1 inflammatory food as an ingredient so as not to overload on them.  For my paella I decided to forgo tomato and stick with mini sweet peppers.  I realize that tomato is often a staple of paella but I decided that I have enough tomato based meals and it is a flavor that often overpowers others.

My other unorthodox addition to this recipe is turmeric.  It’s a spice I can’t get enough of  but am very careful of what I add it to.  Turmeric adds a richness that has to blend well with other flavors to work.  A word of caution, turmeric will stain anything and everything a lovely tint of yellow-orange.  The stain is not easy to remove!

Ingredients

2 cups of rice cooked with 1/2 teaspoon turmeric

3-4 links of soy sausage

8-10 mini sweet peppers cut into 1-2″ pieces

3 cups broccoli florets cut in bite sized pieces

6 oz sliced mushrooms

2 zucchini halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2″ slices

A few teaspoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic chopped

1 vegetables bouillon cube heated with 1/2 cup of water and 1 bay leaf (done in microwave for 2-3 minutes

A few saffron threads

1 teaspoon turmeric, salt and pepper and paprika to taste

1/2 teaspoon adobo seasoning

Directions

Add olive oil to pan and brown sausage links, remove from heat and add veggies saute until lightly browned  and broccoli is bright green, then add garlic and seasonings cook for 1 more minute

Slice sausage into 1″ pieces and add back into pot with vegetables, stir in  precooked rice and bouillon mixture and let stir for a few more minutes.  Serve immediately

If you prefer your vegetables more cooked than that you can bake the entire dish in the oven at 350 for 10 minutes.  It will help blend the flavors but for my personal taste the veggies end up overcooked.

Eating Lions

I am very perplexed by the recent uproar regarding an Arizona restaurant serving lion meat.  This restaurant owner decided that the best way to honor FIFA’s World Cup location was to serve Lion Burgers!  Poor lion, how did it get caught up in the middle of all of this.  How is eating an animal paying homage to anything.

In reality it is just a pathetic sick way to make a buck. If people are willing to eat lion meat then he will profit greatly.  So will the entire chain behind him including those that obtained the meat, the seller of the meat, the butcher, etc etc.

There’s one thing I don’t understand.  If you’re willing to eat a cow, pig, deer, chicken, or fish why not eat a lion?  Why not eat a dog or a cat?  Is it because we haven’t changed the name of lion meat to make it more diet friendly.  We have beef,pork, venison, and poultry, do we just need a friendly, less obvious name for lion meat to make it more palatable?

I wish I could say I was a lifelong vegetarian but I’m not.  It’s been an on and off process for years although I never ate much meat.  I had odd rules like nothing with bones so that I could fool myself into believing it hadn’t once been alive.  I can no longer do that.  An animal is an animal, life is life and we should not eat those that are unable to defend themselves.

Gandhi stated: “I hold that the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man.”  Personally I think that says it all.

Baked Quesadilla

If you’ve read my previous post then you know that my 11 year old puppy Shana passed away on Monday.  With that said the past few days have been both emotional and hectic.  My 2 dogs are a bit lost and confused without their beloved alpha in the house.

Casey my Pit mix is going back and forth between clingy and trying to figure out if she’s the new alpha dog.  We’ve discovered that she can be a bit of a bully but so far not too much so.  Our little Rocki is extremely attached to us and seems anxious when we leave the house.  This is not surprising when you consider that my son left 3 weeks ago for Europe and my daughter has been sporadically in and out.  Bill and I are doing our best to be here for her but it’s not possible 24/7.

What does any of this have to do with quesadillas?  Not much except for the fact that I had a really great recipe in my mind and ended up with a very good but less ambitious version due to an unexpectedly busy day.  Between the dogs and catching my son on Skype I ended up making a quick, simple but delicious quesadilla.

Usually when I make quesadilla’s I use a lot of oil and cook then on the stove top.  Tonight I made a much lighter version by spraying them with cooking oil and baking them in the oven.  They came out surprisingly crispy and took way less effort.

Today’s version was filled with sautéed onions, black beans, mushrooms, and frozen corn,  My original plan had roasted corn and chipolte peppers.  I managed to get a similar flavor with less work.  Then I topped them with a very quick guacamole recipe.

Ingredients

4 large burrito wraps

8 oz shredded sharp cheddar

4 oz shredded monterey jack cheese

1 large onion diced

1 can black beans drained

1./4 bag frozen corn

6 oz sliced mushrooms

Juice of 1 lime

Tabasco Chipolte Pepper Sauce

1 teaspoon cumin

Salt to taste (optional)

A few sprigs chopped fresh cilantro or coriander if available

Sour cream and/or guacamole to top with

Directions

Add all veggies in a bowl and add juice of 1 lime, a few teaspoons of the chipolte sauce, cumin and salt, toss all ingredients until well mixed  Heat oil in a pan and add veggies, saute until onions are lightly browned, add cilantro or coriander.

Lay each burrito wrap and place cheese mixture on 1/2, top with veggie mixture and add another layer of cheese.  Fold in half

Spray a baking sheet with cooking oil and place each quesadilla on the sheet, spray the top of each quesadilla

Bake at 350 5-7 minutes, flip over as lightly browned and cook on the other side until browned as well.  Total bake time 12-14 minutes

If any of the filling oozes out, just spoon it back in, then cut into triangles, top as desired

Memories of Shana

Monday June 21st 2010 my wonderful canine companion Shana took her last breath.  She was 11 1/2 years old.  We knew she wasn’t feeling well and after a lengthy conversation with the vet we scheduled an appointment for her late that day.

We were aware that she was having difficulty walking so we regularly checked in on her offering food or water.  I believe she chose a time to leave her body when both Bill and I were busy.  Having the honor of knowing this dog for so long I’m reasonably sure her timing truly was a choice.  She was a very dignified dog who never complained and never seemed to want to impose or be a bother to anyone.

It always seemed that Shana was what some would call and “old soul.”  She was very understanding of our emotions and took very good care of us without ever being troublesome.  At night if I heard a scary sound I just looked at Shana, if she was comfortable with the noise so was I.

We adopted Shana from a family at a very young age.  I actually lied to people about her age because she was much younger than was recommended for adoption.  She came to us at just 5 weeks old.  The family she came from took excellent care of the pups but did not want them any longer and were planning to give them to a shelter if not adopted.  Our shelters are already too full of unwanted dogs so we took her.

Shana was no purebred, which is true of all our dogs.  She started out looking like a Lab Shepard mix but between 4 & 5 months of age she turned into a true German Shepard.  In reality, each of her parents are purebred, 1 Lab, 1 Shepard.  In the beginning I was actually upset by her new Shepard characteristics, I liked Labs much better than Shepards.  This was not what I signed on for.  11+ years later when I see a Shepard I think how beautiful they are.

From the day Shana adopted us she was our protector.  All 7 pounds of her sat at the foot of the bed eyes on the door ensuring no intruder would harm her family.  We tried and tried to get her to play with us by the pillows but she knew she had a job to do and never forgot that.

Shana, you have taught me so many important lessons that I will never forget.  You’ve left a huge imprint on both your human and canine family.

To those of you who are considering getting a dog I urge you to please adopt a dog from a shelter, or someone who can no longer care for their pet.  Purebreds have special qualities but the same is true of all mutts.  Every mutt is incredibly unique and is capable of bringing such joy to your life.  While my grief at the moment is great my life is much improved by her presence, even for such a short time.

What’s so Funny About Peace Love & Understanding

Most of the time I enjoy my job.  I work in customer service for a company that advertises nationally and provides a service many people need.  I have the rare ability to be my natural self on the phone which is not typical in a call center environment.  I also find that a reasonable percentage of people that I speak to are relatively interesting and I enjoy speaking to them..

With that said, every once in awhile I speak to someone who just irritates the hell out of me.  I had that call the other day.  After my typical greeting the response I had took me by surprise.  The caller angrily wanted to know if my company was promoting a “Homosexual Agenda.”

Of  course I was taken aback, and my casual immediate response was “No sir, we do not promote a homosexual agenda, however, we also do not discriminate against anyone regardless of their background.  This certainly did not end the conversation.

Apparently the reason for concern is that a character on a commercial is allegedly wearing a rainbow t-shirt.  Now I think I’ve figured out which commercial it is, and frankly the shirt that is worn has a band of stripes with a few colors that might be found in a rainbow.  One would have to be really looking hard to see this and would have to really be looking to see it.

In reality, I happily work for a company which does not discriminate either against employees or clients.  My company will happily participate in or help sponsor an event for the GLBT community.  But how does this equate with having or promoting a homosexual agenda?  In all honesty, I don’t know what this agenda really means other than wanting the equal rights that should be considered inalienable to all Americans.  Is that actually an agenda?

This caller continued his barrage against my company and “homosexuals” a word he couldn’t let go of.  He stated that he was a “Good Christian” from the bible belt and homosexuality was against G-d.  As pissed as I was I kind of chucked that of all people who could have taken this call he got stuck with an Agnostic Jew.

I politely and innocently stated “But I always thought Jesus loved all people.”  This gave a moments pause before he started quoting the bible.  At this point I had enough, I simply said “Sir I will not have this conversation with you.”  I repeated this phrase a few more times with no uncertainty when he mentioned that it was common knowledge that most pedophiles are homosexuals.  At this point I wrapped up the call I had enough.

The icing on the cake was when he questioned why our advertisers chose people in rainbow shirts but won’t promote anyone waving a confederate flag because that was what he believed in.  I then had a moments consideration of a commercial with someone sporting a rainbow shirt while waving a confederate flag.  Too much?  Maybe.

I held back and bit my tongue because I like my job and the company I work for.  This man is not worthy of my risking that job.  It left me shaking and in need of a 5 minute restorative break just to get my bearings back.  It is so sad that as far as our society has come we still have so much further to go.

Fresh French Bread Pizza

Thursday was the last day I was able to cook anything due to my crazy work schedule.  Usually I cook food that will last a few days providing me with at least 2 meals of leftovers to bring to work for dinner.  However, this past Thursday I wanted some simple comfort food.

This past Thursday I had an inexplicable craving for some home made French Bread Pizza, something I haven’t craved in years.  I had rented the movie It’s Complicated (not so complicated or good) and decided to give into my craving as it seemed like a great movie dinner.

This is a really simple recipe using fresh bread, fresh mozzerella, fresh tomato’s and fresh basil.  You get the picture.  It took about 15 minutes to prepare another 10 minutes to cook and was the perfect way to satisfy my craving.  It would also work great as a party food cut into 1-2 inch slices.

Ingredients

1 fresh loaf of French bread (Italian will do)

2-3 large beefsteak tomato’s sliced

1 lb fresh mozzarella sliced thin

1/2 stick butter

several sprigs of fresh basil julienned

2-3 cloves of garlic minced

salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and Italian seasoning (I use Italian Herb Seasoning Grinder ) parsley

Directions

Melt butter in a small saucepan and add garlic and seasonings to your preference, saute for 1-2 minutes.

Slice bread lengthwise and paint bread with the melted butter mixture spreading seasoning somewhat evenly over bread.

Top with sliced tomato’s seasoning with more salt and pepper if desired

Then add julienned basil and top with cheese

Personally, I think these flavors work perfectly together so I prefer no additional toppings.  Feel free to top with any of your favorite pizza toppings.

Vegan Nike’s

I know some people view being a vegan as simply a dietary choice.  For me, if and when I go vegan it will be a lifestyle choice.  I will not abstain from eating animal products while wearing leather shoes.  It makes no sense.

One of my greatest reasons for not being a vegan is footwear.  I don’t mean this in a vanity based way.  I have some back issues and am supposed to wear supportive shoes with good arch support etc.  I personally interpret this as ugly, boring, practical shoes.

My mom has similar issues and is a huge fan of Birkenstocks.  She dragged me into the store once.  I asked the salesperson if the Birks with a little cushion were the ugliest of the ugly shoes and her reply was “as a matter of fact, yes they are!”  She cracked me up and I ended up buying  a pair that I never wear because they’re so ugly.  I need to get over that because I did wear then on vacation in Tn and they were great!  However, they are ugly and leather.

My favorite footwear is actually Reef flipflop’s.  They have a decent arch and feel great, plus I hate wearing closed shoes.  If forced to wear my supportive practical sneakers I prefer Nike’s.  I have a couple of pairs and none of they mention what they are actually made of, so I decided to email them inquiring as to which products are vegan. Ironically I don’t normally contact companies, but have done so several times recently.  They replied to my query very quickly and would like to share their response:

Hello Lin,

That’s a great question.

Actually most of our Nike running shoes are made out of Synthetic leather.  To help keep the shoe light weight.  I will include a link below so you can view them.  Also the reason why we don’t list our material on our shoe’s is due to it being proprietary information.  I will certainly let our corporate department know about your request.  If you have any other question/suggestions for me, feel free to email me back on this.  Have a great day Lin.

Nike Women’s Running shoes.
http://store.nike.com/index.jsp?country=US&lang_locale=en_US#l=shop,pwp,c-1+100701/hf-10001+4294967132+12001/t-Women’s_Running_Shoes
Nike Men’s Running shoes.
http://store.nike.com/index.jsp?country=US&lang_locale=en_US#l=shop,pwp,c-1+100701/hf-10002+4294967132+12001/t-Men’s_Running_Shoes

I hope I was able to answer all your questions, if you have any more questions please feel free to email me back or contact us by phone at 1-800-806-6453 7 days a week 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. pst.

Best regards,
Joey
Nike