Thursday, January 20, 2011

Culinary Adventures

I love to cook. Have I mentioned that before? Well, I do. And if you are like me, you like to try new things. Not just for my own taste bud's sake, but to see if I can make whatever it is and have it come out right.

I usually can't.

I seem to have this thing...if I follow a recipe exactly, it comes out awful! So I must always change it, add something, delete something...whatever. Today I made Brazilian Black Bean Soup. First off, I love soup. (Oh, and just so you know, soup is NOT supposed to be cold. All soup must be hot. That's my rule.)
Soup makes you feel good.
It warms the tummy as well as the heart.
It says, 'I love you enough that I slaved over this stove for, oh, maybe 20 minutes.'

Add a side of French or Italian bread and you have the makings of a wonderful Winter afternoon.

So, without further ado, here is my Brazilian Black Bean Soup:

Dash of oil in the bottom of a soup or large sauce pot
1 (or 2 if you like) chopped onions
1 carrot chopped (I used about 12 baby carrots)
1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped (I slice it into 4th's lengthwise then chop)
6-10 chopped garlic cloves (to taste, basically)
Simmer for 10 minutes

Then add
1 can Beef Stock
2 can's Black Beans (undrained)
2 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp canned chipotle peppers (I use chili powder if I'm out of peppers)

Simmer for 30 mins. Use a hand blender to blend to desired consistency. I usually remove 1 or 2 cups of soup, blend the rest, then add it back.

Serve with dollop of sour cream and diced tomatoes if you wish.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Still on the Organic Train

I have never really liked chemicals much. As a teen, I would put anything in my hair I thought would make it do what I wanted. That includes lemon juice. So, while I dye my hair (and don't give me a lecture about chemicals in dye) I try to keep everything else, chemical-wise, to a minimum. I choose a color close to my natural color and I've stuck with it for years now. Besides, if I tried pulling all the grey, I'd have no hair left! As I get older, the less chemicals I use, the better. There are two main reasons for this.

One- it's cheaper to use what you have. I mean,if there is an alternative in your kitchen cabinet, why not use it?

Two- Chemicals mimic the organics. They may work better, or quicker, but they are still chemicals. How much 'natural' mimicking can they really be/do?

I went into the salon a couple days ago. My hair needed trimming and I loathe to try to cut straight in the back of my head. My bangs? Yes, I will trim those myself. The back? Yeah, not really a good idea. There were three stylists, two were busy with other customers. I still had to wait a few minutes and while I waited, both stylist looked at me and told me how pretty my hair color was.

Wow. Really? Cool. I politely thanked them and waited on my stylist.

I was really stoked! I love my hair color. Let me rephrase, I love my hair. The color, the style, the texture. I have long straight hair, with a slight wave. I usually blow dry the wave out, then add Argan Oil and let my hair dry the rest of the way naturally. Once a month I use Coconut oil in my hair. That's it. I don't use chemicals (other than my dye), I don't use hair spray, or poufy-gel or pomade or foam. (Now, if only I my new favorite company would sell shampoo, I'd be set!)
The stylist said my hair, for being as long as it is, is in great shape. Most people she sees with hair as long as mine? Yeah, usually dry, brittle and with many a split ends. Mine was almost blissfully free from all that....almost. Hence, the trim.

Not only have I used kitchen ingredients to clear up my acne, I have found that I can use buttermilk and salt to make a pore-reducing face mask. It leaves my face feeling wonderfully tight, smooth and soft. And yes, even my large pores look smaller. I will have to give this little experiment a couple more weeks and report back. So far, so good!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Soup Nazi

I have a love affair with soup. I just love it. Really, I do. And not those wimpy, brothy soups. No. I love the full-bodied, hearty soups. You know the kind...they add pounds just by looking at them? Yeah, *that* kind of soup. Oh, I made a potato soup the other die for! Really. Rich and creamy and full of so many calories my ass got bigger while I was making it. It was simple to make, too. Just a little chicken broth to boil the taters in, add some chopped onion, when soft, add cream cheese and blend. Yeah, heavenly! Serve it in a bread bowl with bacon and shredded cheddar and you might as well call the heart surgeon.

In the past six weeks, I have made not only potato soup, but also Mulligatawny soup, taco soup, white bean garlic soup, chicken noodle soup, and chili.

So why am I the soup nazi? I'm on a diet. Yes, I said the die word. Shoot me, m'kay? And tonight I made another batch (albeit a half batch this time) of potato soup because my Grau likes it. So to summize- I am making a soup I love but cannot eat. No Soup for me!

Grau took taco soup to work for dinner tonight. (I freeze leftover soup in individual containers for his lunches and general ease of quick eating!) We also had some leftover bread bowls. He took the last one with him tonight. I just got a text that read, 'Taco soup =good. Taco soup w/sweet corn mixed in it in a bread bowl= teh awesome!'

Why do I do this to myself? I've often wondered why I cook things I cannot eat. I've come to the conclusion it is because I chose to be on the diet. No one forced me. So why should I quit doing the things I would normally do? Besides, if I don't cook, Grau may wither away. :-)
Okay, so that is a stretch. But I do continue to cook for him because I like to make him happy. And I like to cook. It's a win-win. Winter seems to lend itself to hearty, warm soups and loaves of bread.

Unfortunately, No Soup For Me!
At least, not for another 10 days. That's when I go off my diet for the following three weeks. (Three on, three off)

So, go make yourself a nice hearty bowl of soup. I suggest the Mulligatawny. It's fantastic!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Baby, Now That I've Found You

I am amazed, every single day, just how lucky I am to have found someone that literally is the ying to my yang. I have been living with my prince for almost seven (7) months now, and not a single argument. Not even a major disagreement. Or small disagreement.

We are adults. We talk about things. We discuss things. We voice our concerns and feelings and reasons. It is absolutely amazing.

And I thank the unknown almighty universe for bringing me the exact match I needed to start my fire.