Tofu Scramble ala Christopher’s

Drain and press* two 14 oz blocks of firm or extra firm tofu. Crumble with your hands and toss with a mixture of 2 T Worcestershire sauce, 2 T low sodium soy sauce, 2 T oil, and 2 T apple cider vinegar. It’s preferable if you can let this sit for 30 minutes to an hour, but you can definitely just use as is.

Saute 1 diced onion, 1/2 red or green pepper diced, in 1/4 C oil. Add tofu and saute until the tofu starts to get golden brown in a few places (about 10 minutes). Add 1-2 C finely chopped broccoli** and 1 small grated carrot***. Cook 2 minutes. Add 1 t turmeric, 1/2 t ground sage, 1/2 t thyme, 1 t oregano, 1/2-1 t black pepper, 2 T nutritional yeast, and cook for 5-10 minutes. Adjust to your tastes (you may want to add a bit more oil and salt, for starters, depending on your palate.)

*No fancy tofu press needed. Wrap the block(s) in a clean towel, place under something decently hefty (heavy cookbook, tin of oil etc) for 15-30 minutes. The heavier your object, the faster it will press and vice versa.

** Fresh, or frozen. Other vegetables would probably work just as well as this.

Lentil Stew

Saute 1 diced onion, and 1-8oz package of sliced mushrooms* in 1/4 C oil. Add 2 grated carrots, 2 C green or French lentils,** 2-14 oz cans of diced tomatoes, and cook 5 minutes. Add 4 C broth, 2-4 C water, 1 t dried basil, 1 t dried oregano, 1/2 -1 t black pepper, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until lentils are cooked (~35 minutes). Adjust seasonings/salt as desired, and adjust consistency by adding more water/broth, or simmering longer to reduce volume.

*Fun fact – when you find a good sale on mushrooms you can pop the box of mushrooms into the freezer as is and then pop the frozen mushrooms right into the pot after a quick rinse.

** Presumably normal brown lentils would work too.

Baby Inspiration

TD is an independent walker. She’s still in the feet get her tangled up when she walks too fast stage. Twenty or thirty times a day, at least, she stumbles, falls, and then gets back up again. When she sits back up after a fall, she smiles and claps, then gets right back up and keeps toddling towards her destination with as much enthusiasm as if she didn’t just end up flat on her face. It is truly adorable, and also inspirational.

Just like TD, Christ learned to walk once! TD loves to kiss her icon of Christ’s first steps.

How often do we fall, not physically, but spiritually, emotionally, or mentally, and we stay down on the ground, thinking we are a failure for falling, moaning inwardly that we have to make the effort to get back up? Personally, it happens a lot. During Lent we are constantly reminded that we WILL fall, and we HAVE to get back up. Hopefully I can learn this lesson from a 12 month old – when you fall, get right back up with a smile, and try again with all your heart, even though you are probably about to fall again. Although it’s perhaps not a perfect analogy to the spiritual life, when TD tumbles because she’s pushing her limits of coordination and strength I’m often reminded of my friend Yuki telling me when we went ice skating “If you’re not falling, you’re not trying hard enough.” I wonder when we learn to think of falling as failure, something to be mourned. Have a blessed Lent!

Determination, your name is TD. Tiny little TD pushed the stroller that easily weighs more than she does a good quarter mile.

Linking up with Rosie.

This n’ That

A long time ago, a blog I read used to do these “Daybook posts” using a template I think from here . I always enjoyed them, and think it might be fun to look back on this sort of post in the future.

For Today –

Outside my window… sunny, 43, feels like Spring! The snow is melting fast. You can tell it is approaching Spring by how much stronger the sun is and how late it stays light. (Ok that was yesterday… TD woke up and am finishing this a day later – now it is 60 and pouring rain.)
I am thinking…of so many things. We have some Big Family Decisions to make very soon. Pray for us if you think of it please!
I am thankful for…TD taking a nap after fighting a nap the last 2 hours of my work day. (Also yesterday. Right now she is busy removing tupperware from “her” cabinet.)
I am remembering… that this time last year I was massively pregnant, wondering if baby would be a girl or boy, and when he or she would make his or her appearance. And now TD is toddling around, pulling kleenex out of boxes, snuggling, and being just the best baby.
On my mind… This is a year when the Western and Eastern calendars are quite divergent and I always find it rather jarring to be honest. Perhaps that is because most of the blogs I read are Catholic, so when Lent starts for Catholics but we’re in the fast-free week of the Triodion it just feels… odd. It feels like a long time since last Lent. TD was born in the first week of Lent last year, the whole lockdown started about 8 days later, and while it was a time with many mortifications of the flesh, so to speak, it was so different from any Lent I’d ever experienced that it feels like it has been two years since I had a “real” Lent.* I am trying to use these weeks of preparation for Lent to actually, you know, prepare. Mainly I am working to stock the freezer with (Lenten) meals, and also thinking about what are things to prune from my life during Lent. I am grateful the Church gives us these weeks of preparation for Great Fast (which is of course a preparation).
I am pondering these words… none really

From the kitchen… Faux Eggs Benny for dinner – yum! (Again that was yesterday -today it is gigandes and fresh bread)
I am wearing… purple pants and a floral tee shirt – being able to wear clothes like this is one of the better parts of working from home
I am creating… nothing?
I am going… to take TD for a walk in the rain.
I am reading… The Two Towers. This is a re-read and it is once again so, so, so good.
I am hoping… for many things that I am not going to put here, online
I am hearing… Raffi’s “Everything Grows” from the CD player. TD l.o.v.e.s. Raffi. She is getting very good at keeping time to music!
Around the house… it needs cleaning.
One of my favorite things… TD’s grin

Here is a picture thought I am sharing… a favorite picture that I can share on the blog (I don’t do faces on the blog).

Linking with Rosie (one of the Catholic blogs I read 😉 )

Easy Vegan Mashed Potatoes With No Weird Ingredients

Peel and chop ~5 lb potatoes* Boil in salted water until tender (~15-25 minutes depending on size of pieces). Before draining, remove a mug full of the potato water. This is the crucial ingredient. Drain potatoes and return to hot pot. Add 1/2 C margarine/vegan butter, and lightly beat with hand mixer. Add the saved potato water a table spoon at a time to get the right consistency, beating with hand mixer, but being careful to not overbeat to the point of making potato glue. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

*Yukon golds are hands down the best.

Postcrossing

postcard image of UZ-8194
Arguably the most “rare country” card I’ve gotten

“So, what are your hobbies?” What a question. First I was a grad student, so I basically had no hobbies, then I had a brief span of time when I had hobbies, and now i have a baby. However, one thing that has stayed as a constant hobby for almost 7(!?!?!) years is Postcrossing. My oldest cousin and I have been penpals for over 20 years, and probably 10 years ago or so she started mentioning Postcrossing to me. After a few years of hearing her mention it I finally signed up and became pretty hooked. The general idea is that you click a button saying “I want to send a postcard” and you get an address of another member and a postcard ID. You send the card to the other member, with the ID written on there. When it arrives, the recipient registers it on the site, and then you get credited for sending it, so that when the next person asks for an address, they get yours and you get a postcard.

I’ve gotten cards from many countries, and sent to at least as many. It’s resulted in several long-term pen friendships, including meeting one in real life, and there is another pen pal who almost came to our wedding (but had a visa get delayed). It’s a hobby that has brought me great joy, and one that I would heartily recommend to anyone!*

*The only caveat is that you should put that you want family friendly cards in your profile. I didn’t at first and got one that (in my opinion) was not really appropriate/family friendly. I registered it then threw it out, and added family friendly only to my profile, and have had no issues since.

Linking up with Rosie

Vegetable Broth Powder – The Secret Ingredient

About a year or so ago, we ran out of vegetable broth cubes and since a good vegetable broth instead of water takes vegan food up a level, we needed more. Unfortunately, the ones we had been using had been the remaining stash from our days in the Finger Lakes of NY and they were not to be easily found here for some reason. So, I grabbed the first thing I saw – Knorr’s Vegetable Broth Powder. I am picky about bouillon/broth cubes or powder. I know a lot of people looooove Better than Bouillon, but I personally think it is too strong and makes everything taste like itself. This vegetable powder gets the job done without making everything taste like it. That, however, wasn’t the cooking breakthrough. The real secret is using it to season things that don’t have broth in them, like tofu dishes. It really increases the depth and fullness of flavor with very little effort on the part of the chef. One caveat is that it does contain salt, so keep that in mind when using and reduce any other salt you add. The second caveat is that Knorr makes a chicken broth with a nearly identical label. Funnily enough it was the VEGAN of the family who bought the chicken broth powder by accident. 😉

Baptismal Candle for the Non-crafty

Earlier this month Randy and I were overjoyed to become godparents to a sweet baby girl. Pre-baptism I was looking for the necessary supplies. (For an Orthodox baptism the godparents provide the newly illumined with a cross and the candle used during the service, and often an icon of the patron saint.) The first two were easy enough to find from a monastery, but the candle was another story. $100 for a baptismal candle with WAY too much tulle? Nope. I am not the most crafty person ever (case in point, I will make cakes or cupcakes and then just sort of smear the frosting on top, whereas both my sisters love making intricate designs with frosting). However, I was sure that I could figure it out, and it was actually easier than I thought.

I bought a plain white taper (I used a 10 inch one), 1.5 yards of 3/4-1 inch wide white ribbon, 1.5 yards of a narrower pink ribbon , and a set of little crosses that were probably for a charm bracelet(?), as well as double sided tape and super glue. The amount of ribbon was overkill, but I figured there was at least a 50% chance I’d mess up and need more ribbon. (Funny story, the craft supplies came from the tiny local craft store. Randy had gone the day before to get the supplies but quickly decided this was a decision better left to me. I was suspicious that the proprietor of the store has mostly female customers and when I mentioned my husband had been there the day before, she knew exactly what little cross charms he had been looking at.)

To decorate it, I experimented with different anges to wrap the ribbon etc, and when I was happy with it, I wrapped up as far as I wanted to, then unwrapped and applied the double0sided sticky tape to that length of the white ribbon plus about an inch more, then carefully wrapped the ribbon around the candle. At the top I looped a couple of times then trimmed the ribbon. The pink criss-cross ribbon was applied with a little bit of super glue in key points (usually where the criss-cross occurred) and I used a gel super glue to try to prevent it bleeding through the ribbon. I considered the fact that my fingers did not get (a) glued together or (b) glued to the ribbon or candle to be a smashing success. The little cross charms are glued on with super glue as well. All in all it took about 15 minutes and it was quite satisfying to do, and was a fraction of the cost of a pre-made candle. Our new goddaughter seemed to like the candle too!

Linking up with Rosie!

Quick and Easy Lentil Soup

Soak 2 c brown lentils in enough water to cover by 3 inches for 30 min – 4 h. * Discard soaking water and rinse lentils.

Saute 1 diced onion and 4 minced cloves of garlic in 1/4 C olive oil for 5 minutes. Add in 1 diced carrot and saute another 2 minutes. Add in soaked lentils, 8 C broth, 1/4 t black pepper, 1 t dried parsley, and 2 t dried basil. Bring to boil and simmer for 45 min or until lentils are done to your taste.

Notes:

  • You can totally skip the lentil soaking step if you want. The internet alleges that soaking reduces the gas-production-potential of legumes. This is probably true. However, lentils are quick cooing so you can skip the soak entirely and have the recipe work, though it might take a bit longer to get them as soft as you want.
  • Other things that could be nice add-ins: diced potato, a bit of tomato, frozen green beans or corn.
  • If you want a thicker soup reduce the broth to 6 C. This recipe is for a pretty watery soup because it was inspired by Randy asking for “…lentil soup, not stew, where I can taste the lentils.”

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