Sunday, January 30, 2011
OOPS. We've accidentally made it to 100 posts! CONGRATULATIONS ARE IN ORDER!
We (the Oops! team) feel so honored and loved that you, dear readers (all five or so of you) have stuck with us through 100 posts. This blog has seen us through lethargy, unemployment, Farch*-based despair, and other trials. However, this blog has also given us creative outlets, reasons to gather and eat waaay too much food, and, dare I say, launched a career (go Pancake!).
I can't wait to see where we are in another 100 posts.
What kind of recipe could be worthy for the 100th post, you ask? A creamy, steamy beverage known as...the Perfect Cup of Chai.
*Farch: February/March. The most awful time of year. Sloppy, gray, cold. Gross. Notice the calendar? Bad news - it's almost Farch!! Don't fret though. This chai is a Farch BLASTER.
2 teaspoons grated ginger
1 star anise, crushed
2 teaspoons powdered cinnamon
1 teaspoon cardamom seeds, plus the pods
1 teaspoon ground pepper
15 whole cloves
5 cups water
1/4 cup high quality loose black tea leaves (I used Assam tea. Buy fair trade!)
3 cups almond milk
Gather your spices. It will look like this:
Put 5 cups of water in a pot, and add the spices. You may choose to use cheesecloth to make a custom tea-bag type thing for all these bits and pieces, but I didn't have any, so I just dumped them all in loose. Bring the water to a gentle boil, then lower the heat so the water is steamy. I had mine so that no bubbles appeared in the pot. This is because I think tea tastes flat if the water is boiled too long. Let the spices steep for 20 minutes.
Add your tea to the pot. I allowed the tea to steep for 15 minutes, with no bitterness as a result. Feel free to experiment, but remember - tea steeped for too long will taste bitter! If you want a stronger flavor, add more tea and not more steeping time.
After 15 minutes, drain everything through a colander or sieve or a cheesecloth into another pan. Return the first pan to the stove, and into that pour 3 cups of almond milk. Heat until steamy, stirring often. Meanwhile, rinse your mug in hot water. Once the milk is hot, return the chai to the pan with the milk and stir together. Serve with your favorite sweetener!
You might feel like this recipe is way more work than pouring some hot water over a chai tea-flavored bag. You're wrong. It's only a little bit more work. And your chai tea-flavored bag sucks.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Saturday, January 22, 2011
It's January. It's Michigan. It's COLD. So why the eff did I bring salad for lunch on Wednesday?
CAUSE IT WAS A KALE POWER SALAD THAT'S WHY!
Greens are quite possibly the healthiest thing you can eat. The World's Healthiest Foods tells me that kale has over 45 flavonoids! I don't know what a flavonoid is, but I think its good. When we're deep in the thick of cold, gray, ugly winter, it's good to pack in nutritious foods so you can pretend the outside world isn't as gross and miserable as it is.
For this magical bowl, I de-stemmed a bunch of purple kale, chopped in into thin strips, and steamed it briefly, until the color brightened up a little bit. I've read this technique allows for better nutrient absorption. To this base I added:
-chopped black radish
-raw sunflower seeds
-leftover roasted chickpeas
and drizzled some toasted sesame oil, zested ginger and lemon juice over the top.
Eat this, and FEEL THE POWER.
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Being busy is a tricky thing. Especially if you're on a tight financial budget (like many of us), a tight time budget (i'm sure there are lots of those too), and have your tight budget funded by government money you have to pay back some day (probably a good number of you out there too). So, I've been practicing a few tricks over the months so far and have learned some rather useful ones. Prepare to have your minds BLOWN:
1) Make larger batches of different inexpensive but tasty things, less frequently, and spend more time eating, getting shit done, and resting when you can, instead of cooking all the time. (or worse, buying expensive food out every day!)
2) Slow cookers fuckin RULE. 'Nuff said.
So, here is a recipe that uses these two tricks to their fullest. And it's perfect for this cold and gray time of year.
Chili! (Inspired by this recipe at Andrea's Recipes, I've mutated it over the handful of times I've made it so far)
1 large white onion, chopped
3-6 stalks of celery (depending on their size, mine were kinda small so I used more)
|Critical!: Arrange ingredients into silly face|
6 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 8oz block of tempeh, crumbled
1-3 cups cooked/canned beans (depending on how beany you like your chili!)
2 large 28 oz cans of tomatoes (diced or crushed)
1/2 small can of tomato paste (or more, if richer chili is wanted)
1 heaping tablespoon gochujang [korean hot pepper paste] (optional)
4 tablespoons cumin powder
2 heaping tablespoons chili powder (or to heat preference)
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried dill
1 teaspoon ginger powder (optional)
1 teaspoon paprika
Salt to taste
First start off the onions in the pan on medium heat, tossing in a little salt to help pull the moisture out and soften them up. Once they've gone translucent and maybe even picked up some brown spots, add in the celery and garlic and let that sweat too. And then after giving those two a few minutes to mingle, chuck in the sweet potato and stand back!
|Nothing too crazy...except for an aromatic veggie threesome!|
What do you mean it looks weird? You wouldn't eat it like that?
Well DUH. It's not done fool! Relax, there's more.
This is like a super chili base. It's way concentrated and obviously not chili-like. At this point, mix in your canned tomato, then your beans (gently, so you don't smoosh them) and then, if it's looking like a nice, thick chili....make it soupy. WTF you say? Chill out, just add enough water (or liquid of preference) to make it thinner than you'd like it to be when you eat it, so that it can bubble in the cooker without burning and give all the ingredients a chance to swim around and dance. It'll thicken up again as it evaporates! Add enough salt, and then, leave it alone!
Depending on your style, this chili will be done in a few hours or when you wake up in the morning. Personally, I prefer the overnight method with the cooker on low. You get to wake up to the best smelling house/apartment/kitchen/bedroom/cardboard box you've ever woken in.
Thursday, January 13, 2011
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
You may have noticed the lack of sensational posts from me, xtina, recently. I'll tell you why:
When you're poor, and cooking for one, you don't get to make real exciting meals. You get to make lots of beans and rice, and jazz it up using condiment packets you stole from the office.
Ok, I'm being a little dramatic. I haven't actually stolen any condiment packets - my office doesn't even have those really! But, I have been living off a pot of chickpea and tomato curry for a few days. Today when I got home, instead of grocery shopping for new ingredients, I looked into the fridge and tried to use up all the imperfect odds and ends of randomness to JAZZ up...a pot of rice and beans. Here's what I ended up with:
and this is how I got there. I think.
2 cups cooked brown rice
2 cups cooked and drained black beans
1 bunch kale, chopped
4 cloves roasted garlic (odd end from the fridge)
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
about 1 cup butternut squash, chunked and roasted (odd end from the fridge)
1 small black radish, grated (odd end from fridge)
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
salt and pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients. Season to taste. Eat for days.
I feel boring blogging this. Dear readers, what's your go-to poverty food? How should I get out of a boring food rut, while being held back by a significant monetary barrier? Tweet us (@oopsitsvegan)! Email me (firstname.lastname@example.org)! Comment (see box below)! I need you to save me from eating yet another pot of rice and beans...
Sunday, January 9, 2011
Thursday, January 6, 2011
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Most people who travel in the skies will probably remark the tedium of America’s airports. The same squat buildings dumped in a location that most of the state’s population must drive 3 hours to, or find their long lost third cousin twice removed to house them the night before and (most importantly) take their cars back, thus saving you the extravagant bills of airline parking lot fees. To be fair, there are a lot of nice buildings in America that serve as airports, but the people passing through probably don’t stop to appreciate the fountains or nice glass structures because they are too busy waiting in security lines, arguing about the feasibility of bringing their 3.2 oz container of nasal spray with the impatient people in official government uniforms or shuffling to the supposed radiation-blasting x-ray body scanners that have been newly instituted as I write this. (Apparently we will get cancer from this, but as they also say that I can probably get cancer just by sitting on a park bench according to studies, I’m not sure how scared I should be. Although much has been made about the ability to see you without your clothes off, I’m sure that the TSA official scanning that obese man’s body didn’t apply to the job with this technology and the resulting images in mind either.) From the security lines, any good American who travels should know that you should get to the airport 3 hours early – just in case. This often results in either 2 hours and 45 minutes of trying to appreciate the airport architecture, although you’re just irritated that your dad insisted you get here so early and there were 2 people in the line, or 5 minutes of running through the airport while trying to look “unsuspicious” because the line was so damn long you can’t believe Dad didn’t suggest getting here the day before.
Despite these factors, there will always be some subtle (or not so subtle) hints about just where you are in America – or indeed, the world – when you traverse the airport. Detroit, my hometown’s airport, is not always the most exciting I’m afraid to say. Although a new terminal was built which does make it a better experience for all, and the old terminal was renovated so that all the poor saps like me who can’t afford Delta/Northwest prices every time can brood comfortably – I’m afraid thtat the most noticeable landmarks the airport offers about its location are the postcards, Coney Island restaurant, and “automobile memorabilia” shop.
Atlanta’s airport doesn’t necessarily have more “character”, but one of the striking features is its size. I’m fairly confident that they must have hosted a few 1996 Olympics events in its subterranean chambers, as all 7-10 buildings that consist of terminals shuttle you along points A-Z in elongated, massive tunnels. If the apocalypse does happen in 2012, you can rest assured that there will be thousands of Atlanta airport patrons who won’t realize it until they reemerge to surface level. But my favorite part about Atlanta’s airport is the smoking rooms that are set to the side every so often. These small, crowded rooms afford a nostalgic view to what I’m sure was the state of airports in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Sliding glass doors allow such nonsmokers as myself to gawk with amazement at the 40-50 people who cluster together in a haze of cigarette smoke, quenching their nicotine thirst and perhaps reveling that there is one last “public place” left for them to engage in their vice. Nothing says the South, to me, like that. Of course, there are so many people in Atlanta’s airport that the more you stand, the more likely you are to end up getting trampled (usually by a contingent of Marines or other military personnel rushing to the plane that will get them deployed ASAP), so I’ve only paused appreciatively to reminisce at what an asthmatic time America’s public places must have been before the enlightened era of MY generation came along.
I haven’t spent too much time at all the other airports in America, but I can note the striking features of some other ones that I’ve passed through. North Carolina’s airport, for instance, was a busy, clustered place when I rushed through there for a connecting flight, but the designers obviously wanted to add a touch of Southern charm to the place, and so there are lines of rocking chairs placed in locations throughout the airport (mainly by the walkway, so visitors who are too busy to sit down can appreciatively glance at the chairs as they whizz by), some even with plaques commemorating soldiers and other important people. Philadelphia, on the other hand, doesn’t offer even a hint of charm. I’ve only been there through connections, but it was a memorable 3 hour experience to hunt for an outlet throughout the terminal after walking 15 miles to the other end of an ugly, squat structure, passing the nondescript stores and people selling you a “free” Visa that apparently guarantees you 20 million frequent flier miles as long as you pay their annual fees of three thousand dollars. I managed to find an outlet from the 1950s, got a good shock when I plugged in my computer, and after realizing they didn’t have free internet spent a lot of time staring at the cement walls. Once I connected to Boston, however, I was afforded the luxury of a large, modern airport that obviously made good use of those Massachusetts tax dollars. The Boston charm was evident when I asked politely for directions from an official-looking person and was greeted by a suspicious stare and gruff, barking response with lots of pointing in the general direction of the bus stop. My only West Coast airport experiences were from Eugene, Oregon – one of those charmingly small, outrageously expensive places where the officials don’t mind giving you directions, although there are about 2 gates so it’s not likely you need to ask – and an overnight in Seattle, of which I vaguely recall soft illumination and an abundance of coffee smells. There was also the Tuscon airport, which smelled of Mexican food and senior citizens and had a haze of dirt surrounding it, but was very nice anyway because Arizona is much nicer than Detroit in the middle of February.
My international travels have included trips to Puerto Rico (no matter the fact it’s an American territory, it’s still vastly different from any of the States) – where you’re greeted by nice, white marble walls with those small light-up billboards that are advertising for the place you’re already at – and a brief stint in high school to Italy where I was connected through Frankfurt. Frankfurt was, by all accounts and purposes, rather scary to me because I knew nothing of German yet had to show my passport to uniformed Germans who spoke that harsh language (usually reserved in America for World War II movies, and only because it was the language the “bad guys” spoke) – but I managed to make it through, only to get in a rickety little plane to Milan, touch down on a hazy landing strip about twice the size of my suburban driveway, and promptly sit in a 1950s-era building filled with Italians on a smoke break for 6 hours while Lufthansa located our group’s misplaced luggage. (I have to note here that the Italians’ smoke breaks lasted about the same amount of time as our luggage retrieval.) The return flight home, our group had a layover in New York City, which I hope will be the only time I will ever have to go through there. I remember nothing from the jetlag except long lines at customs, and the post-9/11 officials being very suspicious of my Indian-by-heritage, American-by-voluntary-citizenship friend, who they were convinced for some reason was going to bring in many illegal fruits from far foreign places. I’m not sure what exotic fruits there are to have in Italy other than delicious grapes, but she barely escaped from being detained for a time. (I have to note right here that she is now a medical student and always has been an all-around standup young woman). Still, after a night of sleep and a feast of New York bagels, I have to admit being a bit charmed when I re-entered the airport the following day, got inundated with the “I <3 New York” merchandise, and heard a quintessential New York accent on a phone who told her phone buddy to “cwall her fo’ a cwup of cwoffee” next time they were in town. /p>
My favorite airport experience, however, must have been a recent foray back from Florida. By all accounts, the airport we were in was pretty nondescript, one of those nice places with white marble and lots of other Midwesterners who were grimacing at the thoughts of returning from their spring breaks to another 3 months of slush and sleet. But as we sat next to our gate, one of those Florida thunderstorms rolled in, opening the faucets and, more importantly, throwing lightning all over the runways thus shutting them down for a few minutes. The next thing to happen after the announcement of delays was that the airplane in the gate next to us, which we could see via a large, glass window, suddenly lit up for a brief second with an accompanying crack that announced that it had been struck by the lightning. There’s nothing like the weather to tell you about where you are in the world.
Hope everyone has safe travels this year!! :)
Monday, January 3, 2011
Saturday, January 1, 2011
You've survived. You've made it through 2010. Dear god, wasn't it a trial? Horrible, difficult, scary, ugly, stinky 2010....
Okay, so maybe it wasn't so bad. Or maybe it wasn't bad at all. But still, to make sure that 2011 is as far away from any of those adjectives as possible, you need to eat yourself some Hoppin John to get some luckitude for the next 365 days. Hopefully, after some fortifying, luck-infused black eyed peas, your year won't SUCK.
Here's how it goes kiddos:
Hoppin' John (serves 3-4)
1 cup dried black eyed peas, soaked
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp oil
Pinch of cayenne
Pinch of allspice
1 1/2 tsp soy sauce
1 tomato, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Chopped scallions and fresh parsley
Cook your black eyed peas in boiling water until tender, then drain and reserve the fortunate liquid. In a separate pan, saute the onions and garlic until golden, then add the cayenne, allspice, and soy sauce and give it a lucky stir. Add in the peas and dribble in the pea cooking liquid until it just covers the legumes and let it simmer for about 20 minutes or so, seasoning to taste with salt, pepper, cayenne until it's soft and excellent.
Serve this prosperous dish over brown rice, with sauteed greens of your choice (collards, kale, etc.) and feel the golden glow of a guaranteed successful, auspicious 52 weeks slide down your gullet. Rejoice. Discuss the future of your blog over the meal.
Have a doggy helper do the dishes.
2011. It's going to be a good one.