May 23rd, 2012 :: :: permalink
Crispy kale is so easy to make and it provides that salty fix I so often need. Kale was only introduced to my diet a few years ago, most likely because I was such a picky eater growing up. I was always a bit underweight as a child, so if my mom found a veggie or food that I actually liked, she never forgot about it. I remember her once bribing me to eat a cookie before I could go out to play. Pure desperation!
In the last 10 years, my taste buds have changed significantly. I can’t name one vegetable that I dislike and since I wasn’t force fed veggies when I was younger, I don’t have traumatic stories about soggy brussel sprouts or stinky asparagus. All of my memories of veggies are fairly pleasant.
My co-worker, a mom of two, told me that kale chips are one of her kids’ favorite snacks, so I thought I’d give it a try. Now I’ve had one more pleasant veggie experience.
Cook books and word-of-mouth used to be the only way to learn about new foods, but it’s great to be able to share a discovery like this so easily on a blog. Here’s hoping easier communication will open the doors to young people eating a variety of foods much sooner in life and creating happy memories of the veggie world.
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May 9th, 2012 :: :: permalink
Well…it’s finally happened after almost nine years of dating. We are tying the knot! We originally wanted to elope in March, but after thinking about it for a while, we decided it was important to share the moment with our parents and siblings. In just a few minutes, our idea of eloping transcended the Chicago courthouse and turned into a wedding in Ireland. And, because I’ve never been one for waiting around for things to happen, we decided to do it in August. Rational thought process, I know… (Dustin is fully aware of what he is signing up for). March and April have been a whirlwind of planning and decision making. Within three weeks, we found a wedding planner, venue, and dress and I had narrowed down my ideas for wedding invites.
Maybe it’s because I’m a designer, but I wanted the invites to be a little out of the ordinary. I wanted something organic and textured that would represent a trip to Ireland. I found a person on etsy.com that made the actual invites using wood. Once I found that first piece of the puzzle, the other ideas just kept coming.
I started out by buying most of my supplies from save-on-crafts.com. This store has everything quirky and crafty that you could ever dream of. I bought a large roll of dried moss that was a bright Irish-looking green. It smelled h o r r i b l e! I let it air out for a few days so I wouldn’t gas my family when they opened their invites. Once the smell dissipated, I trimmed and meshed the moss into boxes. If any holes were visible, adding an extra piece of moss quickly blended everything into one cohesive blanket.
When searching through the craft site, I was immediately drawn to this natural roll of fibers. I loved how light and airy it looked and thought it would be a nice added texture to our invite. I cut the fibers into thin strips to hold the invite, rsvp card, and return envelope together.
I was asked a few times from our planner and family members if we had a color theme. I didn’t have one until I found this simple purple yarn that would hold everything tightly together. When I think of Ireland, I picture quiet bright green fields and contrasting blooming flowers. I wanted to send a little piece of that to my immediate family who had no choice but to make the long trip to Ireland, and our extended family that probably wouldn’t be able to make it.
As a personal touch, I sent each person a hand written note stamped with an old oak tree. I enjoyed calligraphy class in college and jumped at a chance to use a dip pen again. It just feels so romantic and meaningful to write a letter in this way.
Once everything was assembled, I wrapped the boxed invitations with brown shipping paper that also fit in nicely into our theme.
I found old postage stamps for a reasonable price on ebay and thought they added nice additional texture to the outsides of the wrapped packages. A few of them were personally selected, for instance the stamp that said San Juan Puerto Rico was picked for my dad. Dustin’s family received a stamp that said Nebraska. We drove far into the suburbs to get the invites hand stamped and got a few weird looks as I took pictures of the process.
Throughout this process I have enjoyed organizing, making mood boards, and finding reasons to use art techniques that I haven’t used in a long time. I even water colored our save-the-date for our families.
We hope no one is offended that we have been keeping this news to ourselves the last couple of months, but we were waiting for our families to get the news and receive their invites first. It is now official though. We are getting married.
May 2nd, 2012 :: :: permalink
I first learned about raw foods from Stacy Stowers, a traveling chef that teaches the health benefits of eating raw and proves, through her dishes, that it can be just as delicious as cooked. Everything she said made sense. The more raw veggies you can get in your diet the better and heat can degrade or destroy some of the health benefits in vegetables. She cooked for me and my co-workers and I was honestly a little skeptical when I heard “completely raw” in her description. My first thought was that I would be hungry in an hour and my second was that it would taste like eating raw carrots. I was amazed at how flavorful everything was. Her raw spaghetti dish was one my favorites. I could enjoy pasta textures without eating pasta…amazing. I built my recipe off of hers.
I love mushrooms (the vegetable), but don’t necessarily like them completely untouched. I soaked the mushrooms in olive oil, salt, pepper, and a little Balsamic vinegar for 6 hours. The longer the soak, the more flavorful the mushrooms. I then took out all my veggies: tomatoes, red and yellow peppers, celery, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, zucchini, basil, arugula, pine nuts, onions and half a lemon. For a simplified version you really only need sun-dried tomatoes, tomatoes, basil and zucchini, but I wanted a little more zing.
Start the sauce by blending or food processing the peppers, pine nuts, celery, onion, pepper and salt until blended. Don’t overdo it, because there is still one more step.
I then added fresh tomatoes, lemon juice, and sun-dried tomatoes to my food processor. I find it better to go in this order otherwise things can get really mushy.
Making the noodles is easy. I don’t own a spiral slicer, which makes noodles that are extremely convincing, so I made linguine style pasta then topped everything with my marinated mushrooms and arugula. Raw spaghetti prepared this way tastes very fresh and has so much flavor. There is also no guilt if you get a second helping!
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