Wednesday, February 29, 2012

WIP update: Cherry bounce

Apparently I only posted one making-of entry about my foray into the world of cherry bounce. In short, it's booze + sugar + cherries; mix and store for six months or so.

When I first discovered a recipe for cherry bounce it specified bourbon and sweet cherries, so that's what I made. I went so far as to make TWO batches with TWO different bourbons (Maker's Mark and Four Roses).I kind of ignored the fact that I've never been much of a bourbon drinker. I figured it would be interesting, and might make it into something more to my taste.

Of course, a couple weeks later I found out that cherry bounce is much more flexible than I knew.. and right around that time a friend picked up a flat of sour cherries for me, since she knows about my obsession with that hard-to-find fruit. So of COURSE I took another pass at cherry bounce. I bought some high-quality locally-made vodka and used the same recipe I used for the bourbon version. Hot tip: if you do this, save the bottles to store the completed project! This seems obvious, yet didn't cross my mind with the last several boozes I've infused and I've been left scrambling for booze storage. Tough life, I know.

Turns out I am not a fan of bourbon, cherry-infused or no. And I am a MAJOR fan of sour cherry bounce! Look at that amazing color!

I've mostly been mixing it with fresh squeezed Meyer lemon juice and some sparkling water. It's a great source of vitamin C after all..

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Vegan project: What am I eating?

So far this whole eating vegan thing has been going great. Perhaps that's because I'm not killing myself to be perfect: in the month of February every meal but one has been vegan, but only four of the days have been 100% free of animal products. Mostly the slippage is things like a piece of chocolate, or a fruit bar I ate one afternoon - it's got a bit of a crust and the crust includes butter, and maybe eggs.

It also helps that I've only eaten out a couple of times. On Saturday I went to a mac & cheese restaurant for a friend's baby shower, and yep, ordered the vegan mac. It wasn't dreadful but let's just say I won't seek it out...ever. I did sample a couple of the macs others had ordered, so that was yet another imperfect day. I'm also glad I don't feel compelled to eat vegan forever - wow, talk about limited menu options! I am going to make a point of seeking out a vegan restaurant this month, if only for the sheer pleasure of knowing I can have ANYTHING. 

So what have I been eating? Breakfast is easy - I make a big pot of steel-cut oats and then take portions of it to work in a jar with some pomegranate molasses. Nuke for 90 seconds and I've got a great breakfast I eat at my desk. For lunch and dinner I've been making pretty big batches of food and enjoying it over several days. I've always been leftover-tolerant, and pity the person who isn't, especially if they are cooking for one like I do!

About a week ago I made a version of Mark Bittman's autumn millet bake (pictured above). I made it with wheat berries instead of millet, and it wasn't the best substitution. The grains didn't really seem fully cooked - or remained a little more firm than I think the recipe called for. Still, it was flavorful and filling, and the wheat berries were a nice contrast to the sweetness of the butternut squash and the tartness of the cranberries. Definitely a keeper! 
I really liked Joy the Baker's carrot ginger coconut soup. I went wild and used full-fat coconut milk, and used more ginger than it called for. It's a gorgeous flavor-filled combination, with the sweetness of the coconut contrasting nicely with the spicy ginger. That's another recipe to hold onto!

The last picture above is of a combo I enjoyed several nights in a row: lavosh, white bean hummus, shredded carrots, a few leaves of arugula, and several chunks of perfectly fresh avocado. MAN is that a good sandwich. I'm kind of looking forward to the next time I get to have one - later this week, I think.

As far as the things I was specifically worried about: I opted to skip my monthly wine group dinner party, and I've been drinking soy milk in my coffee - and it's admittedly vastly inferior to cream. 

All in all I call the vegan project a success thus far. I don't feel markedly different, but perhaps that will come with time. Either that or I was already so bursting with energy that there isn't any room for improvement!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Calendar: February

I'm lucky, lucky, lucky to know people who are fun to travel with. Last January I went to New Mexico with a couple of travel-friends and had an amazing time. We hiked into a slot canyon,
saw cacti in bloom,
poked around an amazing bridge (which apparently was in some tv show or movie or something that I saw, but I didn't notice it.. how's that for vague?),
and explored some cliff dwellings.
We also met up with some librarian-friends of mine in Santa Fe, and went to a hot spring/spa called Ojo Caliente (hot eye!). Funny enough, my favorite memory was us pulled over on the side of the road while all three of us tried to get pictures of the sunset.

Monday, February 6, 2012

WIP: Sweater!

Yes, I'm still knitting:
Obviously the sweater is juuuuust about half done. I cast on the back last night, actually, but it's going to be a while before it's complete. It will be this sweater when it is complete. Note the trellis pattern on the back! This will take some serious focus!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Vegan Project: status report

So far I've failed both days of February. On the first I had some chana masala which was made with a bit of yogurt. Yesterday I had a late-breaking invite to a friend's for pizza and opted to go for social goodness rather than dietary restriction. It was vegetarian, so I've been achieving veggie status no problem, and I've been eating vegan before 6pm both days - so, definitely good things.

But the month isn't over, not by a long shot! I started ramping up to this last week so I've been eating very healthy food, except for the 36 hours when I wasn't eating anything after an unfortunate stomach bug. So I started off the Vegan Project with a very clean slate!