Archive for February, 2014

Hi there, I hope February was nicer than January for a lot of you.  Just think–it’s almost over…the cold weather, the unrelenting snow(at least where I came from in Ohio) & ice storms, the overcast days…it’s almost over & now it’s time to…

…..go….

…..outside.

I’m pretty lucky in the fact that it isn’t so bad here in Jacksonville, plus in a couple of days it’s going to be No Meat March(did you sign up or check it out?  If not, it’s described in the last post)!

So there’s that.

That said, I’ve got a good start to my community garden & balcony garden(despite a three day freeze we had in January, but I won’t dwell).

The community garden is less than a mile from where I live, so it gets me out on my bike to check it out daily & work a bit on everything.  After all, my plot is typically pretty well-kept, weeded & pest free(save the cat that thinks the plot is a litter box two minutes after I get done sowing seeds into the ground), so I like to take care of other parts of the garden as well.

Like this part I just started on:

Weeds, weeds, everywhere.

Weeds, weeds, everywhere.

In the next post, I’ll show the progress.  At the time of writing & editing this, I’m halfway done getting the weeds out of there.

You kind of have to look at it like this:  if there are weeds in the pathways, there will be weeds in your garden soon.  If there are pests somewhere, same deal.  You have to be preemptive when it comes to this, because nature will fight a controlled area(I love that about nature, that rebel fighter!).

Last year, I had a bumper crop of chili peppers, peanuts(yes, I grew PEANUTS!!), sweet potatoes, green onions, tomatoes, kale, okra, and a whole bunch of herbs.  So far this year I have green onions, kale, mustard greens, tobacco(I don’t smoke it anymore, it has absolutely beautiful flowers though), a plethora of herbs, broccoli, brussel sprouts, and two avocado trees started.  Here are some of the pictures:

Mustard green kale onion salad, anyone?

Mustard green kale onion salad, anyone?

The rest of our garden.  Not at all shabby I must say.

The rest of our garden. Not at all shabby I must say.

Even balconies need gardens.

Even balconies need gardens.

Indoor gardens are cool too, especially when you have fresh herbs for cooking.

Indoor gardens are cool too, especially when you have fresh herbs for cooking.

This particular community garden plot only costs ten dollars & is a great getaway/meditative break from the typical hustle & bustle of our current, often confusing, busy society.  Plus, when you do it right & put in some time, you get an unlimited amount of veggie grub!  Needless to say, I’m a giant fan of that.

So get a plot.  Or just start gardening.  I didn’t have a green thumb until I tried, so there’s no such thing as a “black thumb” or whatever it is called when you can’t keep a plant alive.  You just have to try & give it love, just like everything else needs to grow.  Or just start with weeds.  They grow great for anyone(plus some are edible!!  Dandelions, anyone?!).

I guess it’s because I’ve been taking enough time out of my day to go out there & work extra that I was made the garden manager.  It’s not a giant deal, just being the eyes & ears for the committee taking care of this little piece of heaven–helping out where needed, encouraging other plot owners to jump in and make sure their gardens are clear of pests & weeds, that kind of stuff.  I’m pretty excited for all of that; it helps the community & is a great cause!

That’s my take on community gardens–it is a great year-round project that anyone can do, plus it gets you active & outside!

Now an easy recipe!!

Gather this stuff:

2 1/5 cups of cooked(I like mine a bit overcooked) lentils

1/2 cups of water

1 tablespoon of lemon juice(squeezed fresh if possible)

1/2 teaspoon of sea salt

2 tablespoons of tahini

a clove of garlic

four small ornamental Thai peppers or half of a regular Thai pepper

Here’s the trick….throw them all in a food processor or blender & blend that until it is creamy.  It shouldn’t take too long.  Put it in a bowl, add some paprika to the top, & refrigerate for a couple of hours.  Cut a cucumber, bell pepper, whatever your dipping veggie of choice & enjoy!  It should feed a few people or be a cool dip at a party.  I totally would have had a picture, but it went so fast.

Last thing.

I was growing a beard(not a tough thing for me to do), and had to cut it off for work.  Apparently people don’t like vegan chefs to have beards or something crazy like that.

So I let the beard go out with a simple, fun picture slideshow.  WITH MUSIC.

I hope I don’t get sued.

To start with the shaving process, I tried what’s called a “monkey tail”–look it up, people have been asking me to pull that off for a bit & I finally did, but it looks horrible.  Toward the end, I swear I was trying for a Charlie Chaplin(or just a Hanes commercial Michael Jordan).

In any case, I hope you laugh, I hope you get outside, & I hope overall that you enjoy life.  It’s kind of what we are all here for.  Here you go.

Have a great couple of weeks!!

Well, I’m officially wired.

Beyond belief.

From one cup of tea.

Not a bad thing.

I used to start my day with an entire pot of coffee(& often end them late night with more coffee, working on sketches at a diner).  I didn’t quite mind it, just because I never really developed any of those physical ailments that would dissuade me from drinking the stuff.  The only thing that I think was a point of concern is that coffee didn’t get me that caffeine high anymore.  I had maybe become used to it, maybe that was my homeostasis–a pot of coffee made me normal.  It seems I’m not alone, considering the lines at the chain coffee shops now.

I’m done with that though.

I wanted to be able to actually feel the caffeine, not just drink it like water.  Plus it’s a bit healthier to limit the caffeine intake, so I’m told.

I’m about as speedy as a squirrel chasing a jar of peanut butter anyway.

Now I’ve never had a problem cutting things completely and abruptly out of my life.  I stopped smoking cigarettes over two years ago, going from a pack a day to nothing.  I stop consuming sugar from time to time, and prefer to keep sweets to a minimum.  There was a “killsugar” hashtag on Twitter that I was following for a bit;  it’s helpful if you want to stop eating sugar & feel a bit better(I still LOVE vegan cupcakes.).  I will stop drinking alcohol every so often too, it helps to reassure myself that I don’t have cravings for it as much as I enjoy it.  You can’t let something rule you.  Unless it’s vegan pizza.  That is okay(It’s still not, but it’s a good semi-vice to have).

Concern grew over the fact that a caffeine headache would ruin quite a few of my days if I just stopped altogether.

So I started diminishing caffeine from the diet slowly, just a cup less every couple of days, then to light teas, and then interchanging naturally decaffeinated tea with caffeinated tea on an every other day basis.  That finally got me to just decaf tea in the morning eventually, and I stuck with that for a few weeks.

Now, whenever I have a coffee, I am EFFICIENT.  I get so much done in so little time it’s insane.  I love it.

Plus I have a giant appreciation for all kinds of teas with a couple slices of ginger in the water–so good.

But that’s just the way I went about it.  It might save you money as well….I know those chain coffee shops can get expensive!

Okay, so I was a bit late with the black eyed peas, but this recipe goes well all year round.  It’s great in cold weather because it warms you up, awesome in hot weather because it opens capillaries & cools you down!  Here’s a pic:

Pure yumminess.

Pure yumminess.

With the black eyed peas–I like to soak pretty much all of my dried beans & peas for about twelve hours, drain, rinse, and then cook until they are soft(black eyed peas are awesome on the slightly overcooked side).

Okay, so start out heating about a tablespoon of oil in a pan around medium high.  Dice a medium sized yellow onion & two cloves of garlic, then throw them in the oil.  Toss them around in the oil & cook until they are close to translucent.   Add a few sliced mushrooms into the mix too, it makes for an awesome multi-textured meal.

Next, add a can of coconut milk, stir the onion & garlic into it and add a cup of water.  Put a tablespoon of curry powder & a teaspoon of chili powder in there, mix, and let it all simmer for a few minutes.  If you really want to get crazy, grate about a teaspoon of fresh ginger in there too-that really sets it off.  Put the cooked beans into the mix & let that all simmer for about five minutes.  Take it off the heat and add about a tablespoon of minced fresh cilantro into the mix or on top.

Serve this on top of some jasmine rice, and you are about to be in the clouds.

If you like it spicy, try it with some minced Thai peppers, or cut a slice in the pepper & cook with the mix above for a couple of minutes.

Easy, right?  Also, it’s insanely good for you.

I could eat this almost every day, but I can’t today–I’m about to try to bake some falafel for tonight!  Enjoy & have a great couple of weeks!