Saturday, February 13, 2010

Valentine's Wish: Take Care of Your Pets...

Ok, I'm sure you've figured out by now that I'm an animal lover.  After all, I give my dogs full props for my new dietary choices (although I'm pretty sure they DON'T understand WHY I would want to give up meat, for heaven's sake!).  What I have failed to do was mention my beautiful pain in the ass sweet tempered, vicious loving cat, Snickers.  She is making great strides and trying to support my new lifestyle.  I'm not sure, but I think she's given up the notion of beef, lamb and even fish for a new tasty treat:

When I scolded her for being so mean and a bully rambunctious, she just stared at me.  I know she understands...and means well.

And then she simply turned away, ignoring me completely.  While leaving some of her fur on my beautiful white bed.

What can I say?  I'm devoted to these animals.  Snickers has the most incredible, soft, thick fur that would make a great coat that is wonderful to cuddle with.  Did I mention she barks?  Yeah, and growls too - for no apparent reason.  The few times I've actually heard her purr, she quickly ran away - as if embarassed to be caught acting so cat-ish.  In my house, it's the cat who chases the dogs.

So why do I bring this up?  Yes, I do have a reason...  If you happen to be fond of animals, take the time to read whats in their food and do some research on the internet.  Dog/cat food tip:  there is NO food sold at Wal-Mart, Target, Safeway, etc. that is good for your dog.  None.  But you can get cheap food there.  Just do the research, you'll soon find yourself at Petco, Petsmart or your local feedstore.  The ONLY thing I feed my dogs and cat is "human-grade" food.  None of those weird animal parts (by-products), euthanized animals from the shelter, fillers (corn, wheat), or sugar.  And no, I'm not exaggerating.  My pets eat Blue Buffalo and Natural Balance.  It is a little more expensive, but they eat less of it, so it last longer and they are soooo much healthier.

So that is my wish for Valentine's Day:  pay attention to not only what YOU eat, but what your pets are eating too.  And watch out for those dog treats!  If it doesn't say "fit for human consumption" or something similar, why would you feed it to your dog or cat?  Ewwww...  Now you've received the benefit of all my hours obsessively researching pet food, in short form.  Use the knowledge well.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Cape Verde meets Ireland - Two Islands Unite

Tonight was International Night. Totally by accident, of course - I don't usually plan that well. I've talked about the Cape Verdean rice dish - Jagacita - in a previous post and once again, managed to make a splendid replication. I'm so proud... My daughters are 1/4 Cape Verdean from their father so I feel I owe it to them to just enrich their little complaining, teenage lives with some culture. Whether they like it or not. And just to round things out, I made some steamed cabbage to represent a 'wee bit o' the Irish' from their mom. The Irish are a simple folk: boil some water, throw in cabbage, put a lid on it til soft. Period. Pour me another pint, mate!

The Cape Verdeans, on the other hand, are a tad more complex. Peel, chop. Peel, chop - said the onion and garlic. Sizzle went the pan as the olive oil heated up - all together now - SAUTE! Lets do the carmelize dance and throw in some dark red paprika for color and flavor. Oops, did someone send Little Will out to pick some fresh Bay leaves? Go ahead, toss them too. Add some water, some lima beans and rice. Cover and relax for a bit. Or just go ahead and keep dancing. Dinner with a Cape Verdean is always a party!

So there you have it. And you're wondering if the cranky, demanding, volitile teenage girls willing ate this veritable 'island' feast? The surprising answer is YES. Of course they poked around trying to find the MEAT...and grumbling that they just can't get full from these crazy veggie dishes I insist on making. Interesting side note: they practically licked their plates clean and are in bed as I type this - sleepy from full tummies... Dontcha just love kids?

Now it's recipe time (the cabbage is pretty self explanatory so I won't insult you by explaining how to boil water or cut a cabbage in half!):

1 medium onion
3-4 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons Paprika
1/2 cup frozen lima beans
2-3 tablespoons Olive Oil
3-4 Bay Leaves
1 1/2 cup Uncle Ben's Rice
3 cups hot water

Peel onion and garlic. Heat heavy pot on medium-high stove, add olive oil. Slice onion and chop garlic, add to hot oil and saute until soft. Add Paprika and Bay leaf, stir. Add hot water and lima beans. Bring to a boil, add rice and stir to prevent sticking. Cover with lid and turn heat down to low. Simmer 15-20 minutes until water is absorbed. Enjoy! (don't forget to remove Bay leaves before eating!)

Note: I use the same pot for everything and almost always double the recipe - this is a favorite dish in my house. The leftovers are wonderful! And while I've used other rice, this dish always turns out PERFECT for me when I use Uncle Ben's Rice. I don't plan to risk my rep with this recipe! Also, don't skimp on the Paprika - that and Bay leaf really make this dish. Many Cape Verdeans will use other beans (kidney, pinto, etc.) so feel free to experiment if you have a preference. There are many recipes available online for Jag, but they are essentially the same. Every family is just a touch different.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Ok, have you ever wondered how people eat those Boca Burgers? I mean, they look kind of disgusting - right? Lol - I discovered how just yesterday. I was looking for more variety and a good source of protein while grocery shopping yesterday and found myself looking at that section of the frozen food (you know, the soy replacement - "pretend" food). I decided, what the heck! I'll give it a shot, and just for good measure I also bought some portobella mushroom veggie burgers (by Garden Burger). Well, surprise surprise... I do believe I'm a convert!

I made the most fabulous late lunch/early dinner: a cheddar/avocado Boca burger with grilled onions! It was very, very good! And extremely filling. Apparently I can no longer make fun of "those people" who eat Boca, et al. Darn.

P.S. In case you didn't notice, I've added some revelations to my Easy Tips: Subway and Panda Express menu options that are actually quite good! I've noticed that since I stopped eating meat, I have become more sensitive to the flavors of vegetables and what I may have thought of as bland before is now very flavorful and tasty! What really had me laughing was my newly revised opinion of a veggie burrito: previously, I thought ewww...why bother - it's so bland! After having one a few days ago, I'm now thinking what did I ever see in that meat anyway? Lol, anyway the good news all around is that generally speaking, it is cheaper to order menu items sans meat! Woo-hoo! More money to spend on my bedroom...

Which reminds me, I'm thinking of changing my lamps to white box shades and hanging my mosquito net canopy back up. Perhaps even recovering the long bench at the foot of my bed - and maybe even making my own padded headboard with a piece of plywood, batting/quilting stuffing, heavy cream and plum fabric (to match my bench), a staple gun and some fabric covered buttons. Mrs. Chic does inspire me so.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Shame on me!

Oh the shame!!... Did I eat meat? No, silly - I've been a bad blogger! It's been, what, almost 2 weeks? But I'm back, with lots to tell. First, I've been swamped with school - and school comes first (just in case my kids are reading this, lol). Then one of my daughters had to be admitted to the hospital for a severe asthma attack & pnemonia (very scary - 4 days of freaky machines, enough IV's on her arms to look like a Christmas tree, and a fortune in oxygen!). At the same time, we had a loss in our family (kids grandfather), and a birthday (I now have a 13, 15 [birthday girl] and 16 year old in the house - the 18 year old has her own place). I had my first real 'test' - and yeah, got a 97/100!
Everything is back to normal now (what the heck is normal?). I'm sitting on my wonderful, newly redone bed sneaking looks at my math I need to work on while I type this. About my bed - it was very autumn-y, with rust/gold/sage/forest/bronze colors. My window sheers were topped with a sage scarf. A few days ago, it was all just too much for me. So dark, and dreary. I'm tired of the rain, gloomy days, and cold weather. So, I decided to make spring come early (at least in my room!). I found a gorgeous pure white dobby-striped comforter, 500 thread count ($35), perfectly matching white bedskirt ($12), luscious plum square pillows ($10 ea.), classy white ornately embroidered king pillow cases, 700 thread count ($12), a pastel turquoise satin throw pillow ($7), new plum scarf to top my white window sheers ($20) and a couple of plum colored queen size solid colored pillows ($4 each). I already has some new sheets I had bought a few months ago but never took out - that turned out to be my inspiration. Once on my bed, I realized the color was Tiffany blue - that beautiful pastel turquoise! All together, my impromptu remodel was $114! Did I mention that I have a king size bed? This is the cheapest re-make I've ever done! Where did I go? Well, I started out at Ross - found a few pillows, the gorgeous embroidered white pillow cases and my beautiful white comforter. From there I went to Anna's Linens and found the rest of my pillows as well as my bed skirt - all marked down I might add... I'm not the sort of person who likes cheap bedding, so suffice it to say that my new look is not only crisp, clean and fresh - but also very soft, well made and classy. All for $114!

I do all my homework now on my bed - it's like sitting on a cloud, surrounded by spring! And my dogs are not allowed on my bed anymore, lol. Now I just have to finish cleaning my room!!

Ok, now that I've purged and shown off, time to talk veggie. I have to admit, this is a very easy lifestyle for me to follow. I'm not sure exactly why, but I think it has something to do with all the research I've done on meat processing plants, dog food, etc. I haven't been terribly creative lately in the kitchen, but here are a few things I threw together:

Quick breakfast for everyone: tortillas (the homemade ones from LaTortilla Factory) with scrambles eggs, cheese, grape tomato and a little hot sauce.
Lunch - french bread pizza: french bread (fresh), sun-dried tomato pesto sauce, artichoke heart brushetta, grape tomatoes, feta cheese, cheddar cheese, mozzarella cheese.
Mini-pizza's: homemade tortillas, sun-dried tomato pesto sauce, portobello mushroom, zucchini, pizza cheese. This was very good!
I realize there is a theme to the above dishes, but honestly, those are the only ones I have pictures of, lol. Some other things I've made are brown rice with veggies on the side, steamed cabbage with rice, fruit salad with marshmallows and cool whip, and just a few days ago I made some Jagacita (Cape Verdean rice dish) for my daughter who was giving a speech at school about Cape Verde. This is one of my favorites - and it turned out incredible! Basically, you saute sliced onion and garlic in olive oil with paprika, add to boiling water, add rice (I usually use Uncle Ben's), add a few bay leaves (very important) and some frozen baby lima beans (1/2 to 1 cup - depending on how much rice you are cooking). Everyone in my house loves this dish and there is never left-overs! My ex-mother-in-law is Cape Verdean so my recipe comes from the source, lol.
Well, that about wraps it up for today. It's grocery day, so we'll see what's on the menu in the coming week!