Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Farm Sanctuary

I often wonder - If people were more informed about the horrors of factory farming if they would actually still buy its products? A lot of companies these days are catching on that anything labeled "all natural" will sell like mad. They show commercials with images of sunlight beaming on an open pasture with cows grazing, chickens clucking away in their open coops and pigs laying by their favorite mud puddle. Often times these images couldnt be further from the truth of what the actual story is behind the slab of meat on your plate.

I was visiting Farmsanctuary.org ( a rescue farm for abused, neglected and abandoned livestock) this morning and this story of an adorable baby calf, named Billy, was so touching that I had to share a quick blog about him. All too often many baby male calves are either stripped away from their mothers just a few hours after birth and confined in small pens to be used as veal meat or killed all together with their throats slit or a blunt hammer hit to the head.
This guy was saved!
I love reading over their featured rescue stories. It brightens my day!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Summery Italian Pasta Salad

So I just started the book Eat, Pray, Love. And I'm fully standing by my previous statement, that all books come to me at the PERFECT time in my life. This one is speaking to me in ways I couldn't have imagined.

Anyway I'm currently reading the part about her stay in Italy. Numerous times she talks about the simplicity and deliciousness of the dishes she has there. And while unfortunately shes not vegan ( and even more unfortunately, she talks of eating veal on more than one occasion) It inspired me to throw a few things together and create a simple, easy, summer Italian Pasta Dish.

Summery Italian Pasta Salad
1/2 Box Pasta of your choice - I used Cavatappi
1/2 red onion chopped
1 zucchini chopped
1/2 bunch of scallions chopped
6 oz chopped mushrooms
4 oz kalamatta olives chopped and drained ( if using jarred)
3 Tablespoons olive oil - plus more for tossing the salad
2 Teaspoons basil (fresh or dried will work) or more to taste
2 Teaspoons oregano - or more to taste
salt and pepper to taste
juice of half a lemon
1 bag of baby or regular spinach

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, rinse in cold water and set aside.

Heat olive oil in skillet. Once heated add mushrooms and onion. Saute for 5 minutes or until mushrooms and onions are slightly tender, then add zucchini, season with salt and pepper and basil to taste and saute for an addition few minutes or until all veggies are softer, but still have a slight crisp.

Remove veggies from skillet, place into large bowl and put in the fridge until they are chilled. (usually around 20 minutes) Once they are chilled toss cooked pasta with veggie mixture, and add the olives. Next add the lemon juice, oregano and more salt, pepper and basil if desired. Add another splash of olive oil and toss till well mixed.

Serve on top of spinach and top off with a few chopped scallions.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Fieldroast Sausage and Veggie Pasta Dish

Threw a few things in my brand new pan my Aunt got me for my birthday! Man it was a hot day for cooking.... but it came out great! It was so worth it!!

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic
2 fieldroast brand Italian style sausages cut into bite sized rounds
1 red onion finely chopped
1 green bell pepper cut in thin strips
1 zucchini chopped
8 small mushrooms sliced
half package spinach stems removed and torn into pieces.
salt and pepper to taste
basil and oregano to taste
nutritional yeast
2/3 cup pasta sauce
1/2 lb whole wheat spaghetti

Boil water and cook pasta according to package directions.

Heat olive oil in deep skillet, the add onions, peppers and garlic. Saute until onions become clearish but not quite translucent.

Add the sausage and continue sauteing with pan covered for 5-7 minutes. Make sure to scrape the bottom of the pan, you don't want the garlic to burn. Next add the zucchini and mushrooms, and continue sauteing with pan covered for an additional 5 -7 minutes, or until zucchini becomes softer. Next add the marinara sauce, turn heat down to simmer and keep pan covered for an additional 5 minutes. Next stir in spinach and cook until its wilted. Stir in oregano, basil and salt and pepper to your taste.

Place cooked spaghetti in a plate and top with the saucy sausage mixture sprinkle with nutritional yeast and serve.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Homemade Infused Vodka Cocktails

I had one of the absolute BEST cocktails ever this past weekend when I was in Boston. Cucumber vodka and lemonade - Couldn't be simpler, but couldn't taste any better! Its the perfect combination of strong, smooth and refreshing.

The cocktail I had was made with SquareOne Organic Cucumber vodka. Unfortunately for me, it proved difficult to find. And though I love me a good drink, I couldn't see myself driving 45 mins to the closest retailer.

And then my AH HA moment came!
I'm sure I could make my own! I headed down to the liquor store, picked up a bottle of plain vodka (Tenure is one of my fav bangs for the buck) and then headed to the grocery store and picked up a cucumber. I dumped the vodka into this canister , washed the cucumber, sliced it up and put them into the vodka with two small lemon peels. I let it sit for 3 days, then I put it back into the original bottle and put it in the freezer to chill.

It made the best cocktail!

Cucumber Infused Lemonade

Equal parts Cucumber Vodka and Newman's Own Organic Lemonade.
Serve in a highball glass over ice, with a slice of the marinated cucumber. I'm sure a sprig of fresh basil would be good in there as well!

Now that I know how easy it is to infuse your own vodkas I cant wait to try more variations!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Naturally Clean

Just finished re-reading the book Naturally Clean: The Seventh Generation Guide to Safe and Healthy, Non-Toxic Cleaning. This is such a well written and informative book.

It breaks down the different hazardous and often carcinogenic chemicals and toxins in most household cleaners and their linked effects on the human body, ranging from asthma to infertility. It's TERRIFYING how few chemicals have been tested by the FDA before the allowance of their use in our household products.

This book is associated with "Seventh Generation" and though I LOVE their products, they can get a tad expensive. Soooo... I decided to put together a few recipes for some of the natural household cleaners I make to clean my house.

I know a lot of people use AJAX or some other form of a bleach based cleaner to clean their tubs and sinks, here is a recipe for an alternative that requires a little elbow grease, but your hands and respiratory system will thank you.

Tub and Sink Scrub

1 cup of baking soda

1/2 cup of fine sea salt ( coarse may score your tub finish)

couple of squeezes of fresh lemon juice

Wet the surface of your tub and sink, apply baking soda mixture along with a few squeezes of fresh lemon juice and scrub with the scrubbie side of a sponge. That's all there is too it. It couldn't be cheaper or easier. Also I like to experiment with different smells. Adding a few drops of lavender oil leaves the bathroom smelling GREAT!

Glass Cleaner
Equal parts water and white vinegar added to a spray bottle

So I know this cleaner probably doesn't smell the best, but cleaning glass doesn't get more natural than this. Also cleaning the top of your counters and stove works well with this mixed with a little lemon juice.

Laundry Detergent
I also found this laundry detergent recipe on one of my favorite blogs. I have four bottles of Bi-o-kleen detergent in the basement now, but when those are done I'm going to give this a whirl! The author of the recipe (linked above) says that the peppermint version is her family's favorite smell.
2 cups (finely) grated castile soap
1 cup borax
1 cup baking soda
1 cup soda ash (washing soda)

It's great to know what EXACTLY is in your cleaning products. And more than that its great to know that all of your cleaning products are really making your house clean and fresh instead of toxic. There are some great all natural household brands out there, but these substitutes are a great, affordable alternative when you're trying to pinch pennies.
Remember- just because you wash something down the drain, doesn't mean it disappears. Think about where your drain water goes and what its putting into our environment.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Whole Wheat Chocolate Jam Muffins

No air conditioning= no sleep

Since when did air conditioning become a prerequisite for sleeping in the summertime in NH!?

Needless to say I got no sleep last night, tossed and turned literally ALL night, and finally decided to get up at 3:00. Yes, 3 AM! GRRRRR! I went downstairs, turned on the lights (GOD only knows the last time I needed to do that in the morning) and thumbed through a cook book, figuring this is the PERFECT time to cure my baking fix during this heatwave. My pantry was pretty barren, but I found a recipe requiring what little items I have left. The recipe was from How It All Vegan by Sarah Kramer and Tanya Bernard. It was their "Anything Goes" muffins. Ha! Perfect I thought- anything does go as long as I have it in my pantry. Still a little bleary eyed from the lack of sleep, I wasn't quite sure how they would turn out, but they ended up being delicious! I added some leftover vegan chocolate chips, and some blueberries, blackberries and raspberries. They were like a whole wheat chocolate jam muffin- in fact that's what I will call them! A nice breakfast treat for the sleep deprivation. Now that Ive tried the basic "anything goes" muffin recipe, ill have to experiment with more variations. ( The next sleepless night/morning I suppose)

--Here they are just cooling off, which I suppose is a relative phrase in this heat.--

What goes better with muffins and sleep deprivation in the wee morning hours than some fresh Organic Bean coffee in the French Press?
All and all, I've had worse mornings, although its 9:30 and it feels like 12:00, I feel like I have a leg up on my day. A word from the wise - When you can't sleep don't bother counting sheep, just wake up and make some muffins !

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Fourth of JULY

Another 4th of July has come and passed. My family celebrated with the usual annual family cookout/pool party. I think its safe to say that thanks to the heatwave we are having here in good old New England, the pool was the most honored guest at the party.

I had some great simple food, my mother makes a killer pasta salad that tastes so good, you wouldn't believe how easy it is to put together.

Mom's Red Wine Vinegar Pasta Salad

- 1 box rotini pasta, cooked and drained

- 1 cucumber chopped

- 1 pkg shredded carrots (or four carrots if you are shredding them yourself)

- 3 stalks of celery chopped

- 1 can of black olives (optional)

- 1 can artichokes chopped (optional)

- 1 bottle red wine vinegar dressing

Add all ingredients together in a large bowl, toss with red wine vinegar dressing just before serving. (if you mix it in too long before you serve it, the pasta and veggies will become soggy) Serve extra cold

I know some people out there are very sensitive to soy products, this weekend I tried a new vegan sausage that was delicious, with NO soy. I actually almost spit it out because I thought I took a real sausage by mistake! Fieldroast is an amazing vegan sausage ! I tried the Italian, but I'm eager to try the others! I should have taken a picture of my sandwich before I ate it, but I had the sausage in a sub roll, with some onions, peppers and mushrooms roasted with olive oil on the grill. It was out of this world! In fact I'm craving one now, even thought its only 10 AM and I haven't even finished my coffee yet.

-Comatose Consuelo Can't Handle the Raging HEAT!

In light of the heatwave and my lack of air conditioning, I'm looking for some recipes that require little to no cooking. (I think if I turn my oven on this week I will literally VOM) Lets see what I can find !

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Birthdays are a time for reflection

Sooo.... its my birthday :)

I love how special I feel when I get happy birthday greetings from people I haven't spoken to in years. I start to think of how lucky I am to have such great people in my life, sure no one is perfect, and nobody gets along ALL the time. But in the grand scheme of things, I have some pretty amazing people surrounding me, and I feel blessed.

I started my morning in the usual way, painfully peeling myself out of bed to get ready to come to work. (Although I did have a nice birthday serenade from Jay) Somehow even the most menial tasks seem special and important on your birthday. I tried to buy a power ball ticket, and the machine was down :( womp womp. Guess I'm not winning millions today!

After I got to work I checked up on a couple of the usual blogs I follow. One being SouleMama.com. This post really inspired me. She lists a few of the things she loves best. Maybe because I can identify with a few of them, and maybe because its my birthday I feel that I should make a list of a few of my likes, reflecting on some of the times of my life that I have felt the most, well, like me.

What I Love Best:

-off season beach trips

-picturesque farms

-windy scenic roads


-beagle walks on snowy days

-fireside wine dates

-the colors orange and green
- the popping sound of a newly opened champagne bottle

Can't wait to see what the rest of today has in store for me. Or the rest of this year for that matter <3