Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Celery in a Pot

A Facebook friend shared this tip for how you can re-grow celery from the base of the stalk. Just cut off the bottom of the stalk and cover with soil. New growth magically appears from the same stalk! I had no idea! We pulled one out of our compost bin and put it in a pot on the windowsill (with this warm weather we were tempted to just planted it outside even though it's only January). This picture is after one week.

This is a great thing to do with kids. Celery grows fast, so we enjoy checking on it every morning. Can you tell we are looking forward to the gardening season to begin?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Rainy Day At Home

A wet and gray day here and Philly's murder rate is at 31 so far this year.

On a brighter note, we had Swedish pancakes for dinner. The kids ate unsupervised while I finished up in the kitchen. By the time I joined them at the table my jar of expensive strawberry preserves was almost empty.
"What's for dessert?" they asked.

Since the weather was dreary we tried to squeeze a lot of school work in today. Gayatri needed a piece of fabric for a project she was working on, and suddenly got interested in my shirt.
"Maybe when you grow out of that..."
"In which way do you think I would grow out of it?" (I was not sure how to take that one.)
She starts gesturing upwards, then catches herself.
Thinks real hard:
And goes through a full range of facial expressions before a final "...oh."

In between the rain showers, I took the kids and the dog out for a walk. Look what we saw! Can't wait for spring!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Vegan Chili

This recipe is pretty versatile, you can switch out many of the ingredients to suit what is in season or what you happen to have in the fridge. I like the veggies a little al dente, but you can adjust the cooking time to suit your preference.

olive oil
1 jalapeno pepper
1 small onion
2-3 cups chopped veggies: celery, cauliflower, peppers, carrots, zucchini etc.
2 cans diced tomatoes
2 cans beans (I like to use red kidney beans)
1 can of corn
1/2 lb firm tofu, crumbled
1 cup of spinach (fresh or frozen)
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp black pepper
dash of cayenne
salt to taste
fresh cilantro

In a large pot, saute the jalapeno and onion for a couple of minutes, then add the rest of the vegetables. Saute for a few more minutes, then add all remaining ingredients except salt and cilantro. Simmer on low heat for about 30 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Salt to taste if needed. Many brands of beans and tomatoes already contain salt, so you may not need to add much. I usually add about 1 tsp. Add the fresh cilantro just before serving. Serves 6-8.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

First Week With Pandit

It's been a little over a week since we adopted our dog, and things are going really well so far! January is probably not the ideal month to try to housebreak a puppy, but he is making great progress. Thank god for hardwood floors!

One interesting thing I have noticed is that I talk to Pandit almost as I would to a child. Since our kids are bilingual, I have always made a point to speak to them a lot. When they were babies, I would tell them what I was doing and explain things even if it was beyond their understanding at the time. I am now realizing that I do the same thing with my dog, as if he too would eventually get it. So now I wonder what would have happened if I had a dog before kids. Would I be speaking to them in one-word commands?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Creamy Carrot & Potato Soup

It has finally gotten really cold here. Not that I was looking forward to it, but just that it had been a relatively mild January so far. Well, winter is here, and now that we have a puppy that needs to go outside every hour (or else he'll do his business inside), there is no hiding from the elements. We've been trying our best to keep warm by eating lots of soup.

This soup is very easy to make, but since people always ask me about what we eat, I am going to try to get some more recipes up here.

Carrot & Potato Soup

1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion
5 carrots
2 potatoes
1 veg. bouillon cube
1/4 cup raw cashews + 1 cup water for cashew cream
1 tbsp bragg's or soy sauce
salt & pepper to taste
parsley for garnish (optional)

Chop onion and cut veggies into about 1-inch pieces. Saute in olive oil for a few minutes. Add water to cover, along with the bouillon cube (or just use vegetable broth instead). Cook until veggies are soft.

In the mean time, blend the cashews and water for several minutes, until completely smooth. I use a stick blender for this. When the veggies are done, blend the soup, add cashew cream, and more water until desired consistency. Reheat until just boiling, and season with soy sauce, salt and pepper. Garnish with parsley.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Our Dog!

This past Tuesday we drove out to Lancaster and picked up our newest addition to the family. Meet Pandit!

He is a super-snuggly little Cocker Spaniel, about 7 months old. Nowhere near housebroken, but we're working hard on it. So far, he has been very good. He gets along great with everyone, tolerates our three year old, and is making friends with the other neighborhood dogs. He is a bit of a whirlwind in the house. We've had to do more child-proofing for this pup than we did for any of our kids. The Christmas tree was the first thing to go. It was about time anyway.

We had been talking about adopting a dog for a while, and finally felt like the time was right. We really wanted a Cocker Spaniel (Dave grew up with one), so we looked up a rescue group that focuses on these. Seriously, adopting a dog is a big deal. The application took about two hours to fill out. On Saturday, a lady from the rescue came for a visit to check our home. Up for inspection! We cleaned all morning. "Anyone who wants to get a puppy better help out!!!" (I wish we could adopt dogs more often.)

The idea of someone coming to inspect your home is a bit unnerving. "Is she going to look in the closets?" "What about the fridge?" But all went well. She checked out the house and the fence, and met the kids. We even saw her write "very neat" in her papers. I liked her!

I really wanted to have a dog when I was little. My dad was allergic, so we couldn't have one, but oh, how I wished! At a certain point, probably in second grade or so, I discovered that some of my friends' parents were divorced, and no longer lived together. I told my parents that when they got divorced, I wanted to live with my mom so that we could have a dog. Fortunately, that never happened. I am also beginning to realize now that my dad was never really allergic to dogs anyway...

PS. For those curious about his name.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

For dinner: Vegan Beef Stew with Accordion Potatoes

As someone who spent years eating mostly Indian and American food, I now find myself more often reaching back to my Swedish roots when I cook. Simple ingredients, not overly seasoned, and lots of potatoes. Meat and potatoes, sea food by the coast. Dill and parsley, and did I mention potatoes? It is not the most vegetarian-friendly cuisine, but many things can be made without the meat.

My dad often made these potatoes when he cooked for us. Accordion potatoes, or Hasselback potatoes, named after the place in Stockholm where they were invented. These take a while in the oven, but they are really easy to make.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Peel about 2 potatoes per person (best if they are close to the same size). Slice the potatoes thinly, but only about 3/4 of the way. Cutting the potatoes on a wooden spoon will help prevent from accidentally cutting all the way through. Rub potatoes with oil and place in an oven-pan. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and breadcrumbs. Spray with some more oil for extra crisp potatoes. Bake about 45 minutes (check with a knife).

For the stew, brown a pack of vegan beef and transfer to a bowl. Next, saute about 3 cups of veggies: carrots, celery, and whatever other veggies you like (great for clearing out the fridge!) for a few minutes. Lower the heat, add the vegan beef with a cup of red wine and a teaspoon of soy sauce, then cover and simmer until the vegetables are tender. Finish off with salt, pepper, and 1/4 cup chopped parsley.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Winter Vacation

We took a little winter vacation to spend New Years with Grandma and Grandpa in North Carolina. The weather was beautiful and it is so peaceful where they live. We even managed to fit in a date-night in Charlotte!