Saturday, June 6, 2009

Pasta with mushroom sauce

Recipe by request.

3/4 lb dry pasta
1/4 cup crumbled dried wild mushrooms (you can use porcini or those assorted wild mushrooms blends)
1-1/4 cups boiling water
1 large onion, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
1 teaspoon oregano and 1 teaspoon basil, or about 1 tablespoon each of chopped fresh basil/oregano
dash of salt
2 tablespoons flour
2/3 cup red wine
1 tablespoon soy sauce
black pepper to taste
chopped parsley and/or cheesey substance of your choice

Place the dried mushrooms in a bowl with the boiling water. While they soften, start sauteeing the onions. When they begin to soften, add the herbs, salt, and fresh mushrooms and continue cooking over medium heat. At this point, begin boiling the pasta water and cooking the pasta. When everything is soft in the saute pan, sprinkle in the flour, wine, and soy sauce. Stir and continue to simmer for a minute or two.

Place a coffee filter or paper towel in a strainer and drain the wild mushrooms, making sure to save the soaking liquid. Add the soaking liquid to the saute pan. Rinse the wild mushroom pieces, chop them finely, and add them to the pan. Simmer everything on low heat for about eight more minutes, until the sauce has thickened a bit.

Serve over the cooked pasta, topped with parsley or cheese.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

In which I try to poison my husband

I know my updates have been sporadic and incomplete lately. Many forces (work, social life, charity work, housework, The Wire) are in a tug-of-war for my time and updating my blog is not winning. I'll be updating when I can/ want to, but it probably won't be every week.

I've been trying a few new or so-old-they're-new recipes over the past few weeks. Last night we had pasta with mushroom sauce, which is deliciously rich and complex, but easy to make (and vegan). I think the secret is the generous amount of red wine. The alcohol burns off during cooking...or does it? If anyone wants the recipe, leave a comment.

I also made a broccoli-tofu stirfry with a hoisin-based sauce. Because I'm not sure if I like hoisin, I told the Mr. "I have to warn you that this sauce includes hoisin..." Before I could continue, he said, "POISON?? The sauce is POISON??" Heh heh.

Tonight I'm excited about going to see Bryant Terry, the author of Vegan Soul Kitchen, speak at our local library. Will they serve food in the library? I hope so but I'm skeptical. Does anyone have his cookbook? It's getting a lot of buzz around here.

I tend to be unduly hard on myself when I miss a workout or eat something that's not good for me. I got a dose of perspective when I was in a class last week. At the beginning of the class, they put out a plate of doughnuts, muffins, bagels, etc. People devoured them and got coke or coffee during the breaks. Then huge plates of cookies and brownies appeared each day after lunch, and people helped themselves to about 4 or 5 pieces each. At one time, I would have been carbo-loading right along with them. I'm not trying to sound judgmental, but watching their eating habits reinforced to me how far I've come in overhauling my diet. It feels good to be healthy.

PS: I'm now on Twitter.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Adieu, Starbucks

I'm back, with a new hard drive. Man, you never realize how many preferences, plug-ins, etc. reside on your computer until you have to replace your hard drive.

I spent all evening at a bike maintenance class and am turning in soon, but I don't want to keep my two or three readers in suspense about the results of my allergy test for any longer.

I'm writing an essay about the two week break from wheat and dairy for a fine publication, so I'll keep it short here. I discovered that I am not gluten intolerant (oh, how relieved I was), but that I have a moderate intolerance to dairy. It's not a true allergy, but I realized that milk makes me congested and probably makes my skin break out. So I am bidding farewell to liquid milk, and ice cream, except for a very rare gelato. This is a change that I tried to make about two years ago, but I couldn't summon the will to just give up milk voluntarily. I think I like it so much because the protein in it helps to modulate my blood sugar. I know there are many evil sides to milk, though, and other things have the protein that I crave. I have switched to almond milk, which I find the most palatable of the non-dairy milks.

Yogurt does not seem to cause the intolerance symptoms, so I'll continue to have yogurt a few times a week. If I don't have it, I find that I'm a lot more susceptible to yeast infections (sorry if TMI).

My period of abstinence was grueling at times, but honestly, I felt so good that the cravings were generally easy to ignore. I credit the good spirits to my vitamin regimen, which I started about a month ago. I agree with my nutritionist, who thinks that vitamins shouldn't be used in place of food with nutrients. However, because I feel distinctly better, I must have been lacking some of the vitamins I'm now supplementing. I eat at least 2 servings of fruits and a minimum of 2 vegetable servings a day, but perhaps that was not adequate.

I have a few food pictures to post, but I'm not sure if the camera app is back on my computer yet. More next week!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Living without

Sorry it's been a while. This will be short because it's late, plus my hard drive is dying and I'm afraid to use my computer too much at this point.

I'm on day 10 of a 14 day no wheat, no dairy diet. This is to determine whether I'm allergic to these foods. My nutritionist thinks I could be allergic to something because I've had recurring eczema and sinus issues, plus I retain a lot of water. We'll see. Personally, I don't think it's either of these foods. My symptoms have not improved since I started this diet. But, in general, I have been feeling great for the past few weeks. I credit it to my new vitamin program. I'm taking a multivitamin plus vitamins C, E, and B, as well as chromium, which has had a wonderfully stabilizing effect on my blood sugar. Also, since I started taking the vitamins, I am no longer cold all the time, and I've been sleeping like a log every night.

I'll write on the results of the allergy test next week, whenever my computer is back from the shop. More pictures then, too.

Man, I am really tired of brown rice at this point.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Getting biblical

A day late because I'm briefly home between trips this week. I just finished the book The New Optimum Nutrition Bible by Patrick Holford. I highly recommend it. It's just so damn rational, for one thing. None of that "how to make a fat-free cupcake" shiz that I can't stand. Tofu is pretty much the most processed food that Holford endorses. But don't think that he's just telling you to eat more vegetables. The book is a very comprehensive guide to vitamins, minerals, and other supplements like Omega-3s. Holford's position is that it's pretty much impossible to achieve optimum nutrition without supplements. He includes a quiz that gives you the vitamins and minerals you need, and recommended dosages.

I never was a believer in vitamins, but his evidence is extremely convincing. Most significantly, he talks about an amino acid called homocysteine which is a very accurate predictor of how long you will live. Your homocysteine level can be lowered (which is desirable) by cutting down on caffeine, eating more greens and less meat, and by taking supplements like B vitamins, zinc, and folic acid.

I could go on for some time about all of the good info in this book. Here are a few changes I'm making after reading it:
1) Renewed dedication to a low glycemic load diet which keeps my blood sugar more stable
2) A 2-week regimen of no gluten or dairy (starting Monday!). I have a lot of symptoms of a low-level food allergy, according to the book.
3) Taking a multivitamin plus additional vitamin C, B vitamins, chromium (to stabilize blood sugar), and vitamin E.

I'm hoping that within a month I'll be free of sugar cravings and that the intermittent eczema on my hands clears up. I've already noticed a large drop in cravings and an increase in energy since I started following a low glycemic diet. Like the Katamari video game, a low glycemic diet builds on itself. By this I mean that when your blood sugar is more even, it's easier to resist bad foods. In Katamari, you're rolling a ball around and gradually picking up larger objects. In other words, the bigger you get, the fewer things stand in your way. How's that for a tortured analogy?

In other news, the cafeteria at my government office building put on one heck of an Earth Week celebration. I was dubious, because they put out layer cake as one of the breakfast offerings. Today at lunch, they had a bunch of vendors giving out samples of "green" foods. It was quite a lineup:
--Artist Michael Albert, who creates cool art and tasty natural juices
--Hormone-, antibiotic-, preservative-, and clone-free cheese from Andrew and Everett
--Green tea beverages from Steaz
--Various hummus and tofu-based products
--And the piece de resistance, One Stop Natural's smorgasbord of delicious vegan snacks and dishes. But there weren't just samples; they were giving away full size containers of everything! I snagged some BBQ tofu which has a delicious smoky flavor and some vegan dumplings.

In the elevator, someone commented on how good the food I had looked. I mentioned that they were giveaways from Earth Day. A guy on the elevator said "Oh, EARTH DAY" in the most scornful tone. What's your damage, dude?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Earth Day= Vegan Day?

I saw a story yesterday on a very mainstream news broadcast advocating eating vegan on Earth Day. And I do mean advocating: it was an opinion-style piece rather than news reporting. They mentioned a cafe called Bread and Brew which is Green Restaurant Certified. On Earth Day, Bread and Brew will be serving a totally vegan menu. The piece also gave props to another very popular cafe, Java Green, which is vegetarian all the time. I hope that this "vegan for a day" idea catches on. The amount of animal products spared will be small, but I think it could be a great step in helping people overcome their fear of veganism. I do enjoy it when people think veganism is a weird cult but will sit down to a meal of spaghetti with a chunky veggie sauce and a green salad, unaware that they're eating vegan.

This article in today's Times also talks about veganism. Has anyone read Jeffrey Masson's new book? He's a sometime vegan, but probably more frequently than me.

What is everyone doing for Earth Day? I plan to eat vegan, even though I'll be en route back from vegan-unfriendly Texas on that day. Yup, I'm taking two round-trip flights the week of Earth Day, although I don't usually fly a lot.

I'm exhausted tonight so I'll keep this short. I've been to 3 concerts in 8 days recently, the biggest of which was the men who brought me my blog tag line.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Being mindful

Before I get to the experiment I've been doing with mindful eating, I have an important question to resolve. Namely: Which is cuter, Tai Shan the baby panda or the new litter of clouded leopard cubs? Please vote in the comments, because I cannot decide.

Tai Shan:

Leopards, as yet unnamed:

I've been checking out a few books on mindful eating. I'm working through "Eat, Drink, and be Mindful," and on deck I have "Mindful Eating." I'm reading these on the advice of my nutritionist. See, I'm almost always multi-tasking when I'm eating. I eat breakfast and lunch at my desk most days during the work week. Mr. RV and I often eat dinner in front of the TV. I think these habits are pretty detrimental, since for me (and for most people, I would guess) they often lead to overeating and not feeling satisfied.

Experimenting with mindful eating has been a real eye-opener for me. For at least one meal a day, I've been:
--Focusing on the way the food smells, looks, and tastes instead of having most of my attention on something else
--Eating much more slowly and pausing between bites
--Trying to make the meal last 25 minutes (because your body only registers that it's full after 20 minutes, this technique makes it easier to stop eating if you're full before you finish your meal)
--Paying attention to the level of hunger or fullness that I'm feeling. I imagine my stomach as a gas tank gradually getting fuller when I'm eating.

I think I've been eating less in the week or two that I've been doing this. If I mindfully eat breakfast, I usually don't need a snack before lunch (but if I'm on my computer and scarfing down breakfast, I do). I also really enjoy the pleasure of tasting and eating more than I have in recent memory. I'm happy to have the 25 minutes to clear my mind and not worry about anything further than feeding myself.

It's been hard to find the time for this practice, though. I often work out at lunch, so I'm done with my allotted lunch break before I even eat. And I'm waiting to get busted when I disappear from my desk an hour after arriving to go eat breakfast. But it's worth it to enjoy food so much more. If you're a chronic multi-tasker like me, try this and let me know what you think. One downside is that it's harder to ignore bad food. Yesterday, the oatmeal in our cafeteria was watery and like something from Oliver Twist. I couldn't eat more than a few spoonfuls of it, so I had a Probar instead.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Consider the parsnip

This evening on the news we saw a brief interview with Jamie Oliver, who is cooking for the G-20 summit. No pressure, huh? He was saying that if he had a private moment with Obama, he'd tell him to start taxing sugary foods, since Americans eat about 4x as much sugar as they should. I like that idea, but I highly doubt that I'll see a sugar tax in my lifetime. What they should do first is tax meat instead of subsidizing it.

Two cooking features this week:
1) Parsnip/pear/carrot soup
This was part of the first meal I ever made for the Mr. He recollects fondly that it sounded weird, but was good. I think I tried it on a whim, because I had never cooked with parsnips before. I really didn't even know what they were supposed to look like. Well, the picture is above, and they look like overgrown albino carrots. The flavor in this soup is really delicious and creamy, even though it's vegan and impeccably healthy. I think of parsnips as wild carrots flavor-wise. The flavor is sweet, but with an edge. Parsnips also have more nutrients than carrots and a heap of potassium. Here's the recipe:

1-1/2 cups each of chopped onions, pears, carrots, and parsnips ((peel the last three ingredients first)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon each of cinnamon, allspice or nutmeg, and salt
2 teaspoons (packed) brown sugar

Heat the oil over medium heat. Stir in the chopped things and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the spices and brown sugar and saute for another minute. Add 4 cups water and simmer about 15 minutes, or until everything is very tender. Puree the whole mess in a blender.

2) The cake I made for my mom's 60th birthday. This was about 10x more complicated to make than the soup above. It is also not vegan, not by a long shot. But it was freaking great. The cake is an orange cake, with the egg whites whipped separately to keep it light. The filling is a mixture of ricotta cheese with jam, dried fruit, and almonds. The glaze is simply chocolate with a bit of almond extract added. Has anyone ever noticed what a crowd pleaser almond extract is? People love the flavor, even if they can't quite put their finger on it.

That's all for now. Next week I'll probably write about mindful eating, which seems to be a hot topic lately.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

When did having a garden become a radical act?

The article in the Sunday NY Times titled "Is a Food Revolution Now in Season?" has been nagging at me. It describes the recent groundswell of support for organic gardening, improving the nutritional value of school lunches, and a move towards organic, nutritious, and sustainable food in general. Some of my favorite food-activists, like Michael Pollan and Alice Waters, are quoted. So why am I bothered?

I think it's because this "revolution" is not so new. Humans, of course, have grown, hunted, or foraged for their own food for almost the entire time we've been around. Organic gardening was the default for all but the last hundred or so years. If you didn't have a sustainable food system, sooner or later you'd run out of food.

Mostly, I worry that by labeling organic, sustainable food as a liberal or radical theme, we risk alienating more conservative people (who are usually the group most in need of adding more nutritious foods to their diet). They'll show us! They'll subsist on highly processed corn products!

Sometimes I think that blogs like mine are part of the problem, too. Food has become so politicized. There are good reasons for that, because the food system has inflicted great harm on animals and the planet. But nutritious, naturally produced food has an intrinsic appeal. It's much more delicious than the processed, packaged alternatives. You feel physically better after eating it. Food does not need to be so divisive.

Moving on...We planted a garden (mostly from seeds, so there's no pictures yet) last weekend for the sheer fun of playing in the dirt. I'm not sure our patio gets enough sunlight for everything to sprout, but we'll see. Truman enjoys the cat grass plant I picked up for him:

I'm sure most of you have read this article about new research on the risks of red meat. All of us vegetarians/vegans can hang out together in our old age.

Finally, the obligatory food picture, from taco nite. This is becoming a regular thing for us. This week's tacos were based on a mixture of black beans and fake hamburger meat, sauteed with tomato, garlic, onion, and chili powder. Of course avocados play a starring role, too.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I am nutty (but healthy)

(I've noticed that the posts seem to get truncated in this new blog format. I think you can click on the title of the entry to see the whole thing. Anyway, this post ends with a mention of Morrissey.)

I didn't post last week because I was in the grip of the flu. 11 days later, I finally don't scare people when they hear my voice on the phone.

I've cooked a few things since last we spoke (I'm hardly ever too sick to cook):
--Lentil Soup. This was advertised as "Tibetan" but the spices are not especially exotic. Perhaps it's Tibetan because there are potatoes in it?

--Curried potato wraps. These are like samosa filling, but with tomatoes. Very tasty.

--Portobellos stuffed with a tofu/veggie/breadcrumb/walnut mixture. I've posted this before and it's one of my favorites. It reheats very well.

I'm excited today because I received my (huge) order from Nuts Online. I love our grocery store but their nut selection is spotty (probably because they only carry organic food and I imagine they're having supply problems with organic nuts). But I eat nuts every morning on oatmeal or yogurt, so I hate running out. The nuts I got in the mail are cheaper than the grocery store, and more importantly, they are large, beautiful, fresh, and so delicious. Yum. Nuts Online also sends an amusing email when your order has been delivered:

"Hip hip hooray! Hey there nutty Amy! According to the galactic delivery
powers that be (aka UPS), your order has been delivered. Yippee! We
certainly hope it deliciously smashes your expectations with enough force
to crack a macadamia nut in the shell!!!"

Moving on...has anyone read this month's issue of Mother Jones? It's food-themed and it's great. The article with Michael Pollan alone would have made me buy it. But my favorite article is about farmers' markets, and the sad trend towards overrunning them with soap makers and the like. It seems that not enough people will go to a farmers' market just to shop for produce. Sufficient crowds will come only if the market adopts a carnival-esque atmosphere, with a coffee stand and a candy maker. Also, some of the vendors can be large grocery store employees ("large" is modifying "store" here) and not actual farmers. I don't think it's wrong, on the face of it, to include non-food vendors in farmers' markets. But as the crowds swell, demand rises to a level that small farmers can't compete with. Then the grocery stores set up ersatz stands and the whole point of a farmers' market is lost. It's a complex problem without an easy answer, and I hope you'll read the article and let me know your thoughts. I feel fortunate that the (very small) farmers' market outside my office on Tuesdays only has two produce stands, but they're staffed by actual farmers who can answer any question about their produce, and tell you what they'll have next week. It should open for the season next month and I can't wait.

I roused myself from my sickbed on Saturday to see one of my favorite vegetarians ever, Morrissey. Peta had a stand at the concert and a postcard featuring Morrissey (and titled with Mr. RV's favorite Smiths album. Mine, if you are curious, is Strangeways. It's not usually as critically acclaimed, but it was the first album of theirs that I ever heard so I'll always have a sentimental attachment to it).

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

And miles to go before I sleep

This is one of those weeks where blogging takes a backseat. We had a large snowstorm (for the area), and our heat pump is not nearly keeping up with the demands placed upon it. It does not help when the repair company fails to show up on the only day I can be home for them all week.

My main food-related concern this week has been how to keep my eczema in check. I was sick last week, and have still been feeling a bit weak and under the weather. I'm not sure if the illness and eczema are related (common thread=inflammation?), but I'm trying to consume as much Omega-3 as possible. This means a lot of fish and fish oil supplements. It does seem to provide some relief. I'm still trying to work out if these symptoms are all related to candida or not.

Obviously I need to get some sleep to be more coherent. See you next week!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Single Ladies

Mr. RV is away for a few days. (He is sending me desparate text messages from the land of soft rock and bad Chinese food, otherwise known as a retirement community in Florida.) When I'm cooking for myself, I like to make delicate, light food. But you serve a guy a dainty salad and bruschetta for dinner and he's like, that was a good appetizer, but where is the main course?

Tonight I made sushi (and am working on tomato-chard-barley soup to go with it). Please do not laugh at my sushi. This is my first time ever making it. I highly doubt I used the proper Japanese technique, but it came out tasty regardless.

First, I julienned a bunch of stuff: scallions, carrots, baked tofu, and cream cheese (easily omitted, but I had some leftover from last week's blueberry tart).

Then I set out my mat with seaweed, brown rice seasoned with a little vinegar and sugar, and julienned stuff on top.

Next, I realized my seaweed was oriented wrong, and very carefully flipped it (and added the cream cheese).

Then, er, long story short, I huffed and puffed and rolled up the sushi, and cut it into slices.

Et voila! Next, I might try the spicy tempeh roll recipe from Veganomicon. I just didn't have the patience to steam the tempeh tonight.

I've just returned from a few days in Austin, where I stayed at at a great vegetarian B&B. Here are two breakfasts:

I loved the breakfast/diner culture in Austin, and the spicy southwestern food, like this homemade salsa sampler at the South Congress Cafe:

And you've gotta love a trailer repurposed as a cupcake stand! They even had vegan cupcakes!

I've gotta get back to the soup, but I'll close with a picture of an unexpected visitor to my office last week. In the past 6-ish months, we've had George W. Shrub, the pope, and this visitor come. Needless to say, they saved the best for last!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Gimme some sugar

A new look for the blog, and time for the first Wednesday update. First, sweet things.

1. Blueberry-cream cheese tart

I made this for Valentine's Day. I've been trying my best to limit my sugar intake and the tart only has about 1/3 cup sugar in the whole thing. The recipe is from the Greens cookbook by Deborah Madison. Her recipes come out great, but boy, are they complicated. She has meticulous notes about technique, many of which I disregard. The base of this tart was a mixture of cream cheese and sour cream with lemon and a dash of sugar. I think you could use tofu cream cheese, maybe thinned with a little soy milk, as a good substitute.

2. Rice krispie treats

By the time I remembered to take a picture of these, only two were left. As I said before, they use no refined sugar, yet the texture is exactly like traditional RK treats. The flavor is also the same, with a hint of nut butter. Here is the recipe, via my awesome nutritionist:

1 box rice krispie cereal (brown rice krispies if you can find them)
1 1/3 cups brown rice syrup, or a mixture of rice syrup and barley malt syrup
½ Cup almond, peanut, or cashew butter
1/2 Cup coarsely chopped toasted almonds
1/2 Cup chopped dried fruit

Pour cereal into large bowl, add fruit and nuts. Bring rice syrup (or barley malt syrup) and nut butter to a boil. Cook for a few minutes. Pour over cereal mixture, mix, pour into a 9x13 inch pan lined with parchment paper. Moisten hands with cold water and pat to compact.

3. My dietary journey
I started going to a nutritionist a few months ago. My goal was to take a fresh look at my dietary habits, and hopefully drop a few pounds along the way. We discovered the problems I experience are probably due to fluctuating blood sugar. I had to face the fact that my system is very sensitive to caffeine and sugar. Along the way, I:
--read The Low GI Diet by Patrick Holford. It's a great eating plan that's easy enough to do over the long term. It's also quite vegetarian-friendly.
--gave up all sugar and caffeine for two weeks. This was hard but got easier after the first few days.
--started paying more attention to signs of fluctuating blood sugar, and planned five small meals a day.
--decided to eat sweets only on Saturday.

4. Candida
My nutritionist thinks I probably have a problem with high levels of candida albicans. I have many symptoms that point to this, such as lethargy, "brain fog," recurring fungal skin infections, a nose like a bloodhound (seriously, an acute sense of smell is one of the symptoms), and mood swings. Strangely, though, I don't have the problem you'd most associate with women and yeast.

I probably got my candida levels out of whack when I lived in Africa and took an antibiotic every day for two years as an anti-malarial. Broad-spectrum antibiotic use is the most common cause of candida problems. But the other medicine available made me feel like I was going crazy and has a few class action lawsuits against it, so there you go.

If you're interested in taking a candida diagnostic questionnaire, there's one here.

The treatment for candida is a very restrictive diet. As you might guess, it does not involve a lot of desserts. I'll write up my experience with that in the next post.

Also, I'll try to get the other recipes people requested up next week. But between now and then I'm going on a mini-vacation!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Hey na, hey na, my blog is back

If you're like me, maybe you wonder briefly what happened to a blogger who's been off-air for a while. What's she up to? Is she okay? Doesn't she care about my blog-surfing fulfillment?

In my case, it was a matter of equal parts busy-ness and lazyness. I last wrote in early November. We bought a house around that time and moved in late November. A bunch of home projects (including blood-pressure-raising interactions with Ikea) and running a household of two people and one demanding cat has kept me busier than usual. I've been taking pictures and notes for blog entries, but keeping the blog current has been low on my priority list.

However, I enjoy blogging and I definitely enjoy reading other blogs. As I mentioned earlier, I came to the conclusion that being vegan isn't the right thing for me. About half my meals are vegan but I'm concentrating now on a low glycemic index diet. I have very delicate blood sugar and it seems to be helping. More on that later. Some of the recipes/pictures I'll be posting are not vegan, but if possible I'll include vegan substitutions.

Here is a montage, if you will, of food-related highlights of the past 3 months. I think from here on out I'll try to blog on Wednesdays, starting with this Wednesday.

1. Couscous and a minor celebrity
I'm a big fan of Couscous restaurant in Richmond. Pictured below is their amazing "mock chicken" tagine. I am weeping with longing for it now. (I live about 1.5 hours drive from Richmond.)

While we were there, the woman in the Room Store commercials walked in! This is probably only of interest to local people, but in the (oft-broadcast) commercials, she's pixielike and so perky you want to stuff her in a credenza. At Couscous, though, she looked hip and fun. I wanted to send her over a drink, but chickened out. (Our waitress confirmed that it was her, though.)

2. Another couscous dinner
Made this lovely vegan dish this week. Flanking the couscous are "tofu steaks" by Helen's Kitchen, which I highly recommend.

3. More new dishes
My nutritionist (another topic I'll revisit) came up with two great snack ideas for me. One is brown rice balls with umeboshi plums, wrapped in seaweed, and the other was rice krispie treats made without refined sugar. Believe it or not, they taste almost exactly the same as the sugar-packed ones. I'll post those recipes later if anyone's interested.

4. An offer you can't refuse
This is actually what prompted me to blog today: reading about an initiative by Anti records to donate money to an animal society for every blog who posts the video to a Neko Case song. Sadly, the offer expired February 3. But check out the details anyway. It's a great idea.