Category Archives: Food

#WEverb12: CREATE

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16. replicate [CREATE]: What were you inspired to create/make this year based on something else? (i.e. a pin from pinterest, recipe from a friend, etc.)

Well, I am a hardcore Pinterest ADDICT!  I try to actually make a lot of the things I pin.  The one craft idea I tried so far didn’t work out so well (a DIY cut-away workout shirt) but a lot of the recipes I’ve made have been great.  I made this whole board called “It’s Good!  Make it Again!” based on my Pinterest successes.

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#WEverb12: LIVE

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6. cook [LIVE]: What was your best recipe/dish of the year? Share it!

Man, this is HARD!  I love cooking and baking and I try new recipes all the time.  I don’t know if I can pick only one…

pesto summer squash

Ok, maybe I can.  This Pesto-Topped Grilled Summer Squash was THE BOMB DOT COM and made several appearances in our menu this summer.  It was my first time making homemade pesto and OH MY GOODNESS it was amazing.  Like, I wanted to eat the whole bowl with a spoon.  I think the smell of basil is my favorite smell in the world; I could just inhale it all day!  The delicious, fresh, homemade pesto on top of some simple summer squash or zucchini sauteed in olive oil is TO. DIE. FOR.  (Click the picture for the recipe.)

Veggie Vendetta

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I’m about to tell you something you might find shocking.  But hold onto your hats, because our wedding is going to be a….

That’s right folks!  I am a longtime vegetarian and Zach rarely eats meat nowadays.  So we won’t be serving anything that used to breathe and have eyeballs at our wedding.  I think a lot of our non-vegetarian friends and family members are surprised we’re doing this.  But really, even if we were hiring a caterer, I wouldn’t want to pay for people to eat in a way I don’t believe in.  Because we’re cooking all the food ourselves, of course we’re not going to serve meat.  I don’t even know how to cook it!

We’re having a vegetarian taco bar!

I hope that people aren’t upset about not eating meat and I really hope they enjoy our food.  If it forces them to try something new, then good!  Maybe some will realize that it is possible to eat a satisfying and delicious meal without meat.  Maybe some will freak out and slam burgers before they come.  I don’t really care.  At least we’ll be showing off our values (and our mad cooking skills, hopefully) on our wedding day!

As a side note, I have been to several weddings at which vegetarian options were not even offered!  Maybe I have a slight vendetta, but after not being able to eat at weddings I’ve been invited to, I am super pumped to turn the tables on everyone and not serve any meat!  I promise that the food will be delicious and that there will still be lots of protein (beans, guacamole) and cheese (we’re not vegan).

Is it crazy to have a totally-veggie reception?  Do you think people will freak out or enjoy the food?  Have you ever been unable to eat at a wedding reception?

#WEverb12: WATCH

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2. watch [LIVE]: What movie did you see this year that you would recommend to a friend?

I didn’t see a lot of movies this year, sadly. You know, traveling and being broke and all that. So my picks are two great documentaries available on Netflix instant.forks

Forks Over Knives is a shocking/inspiring food doc about “The China Study”, all the things that are wrong with the way we eat in this country, and the benefits of a plant-based whole-foods diet. REVERSE diabetes by changing the way you eat? Apparently, it’s possible!

happy

Happy is a crazy awesome doc about “positive psychology” and the factors that affect the human race’s happiness around the world. Hint: it has a lot LESS to do with money than we think.

Ugly Duckling Syndrome

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Confession: Wedding planning has turned me into a way more superficial brat than I used to be.

There’s nothing like imagining walking down the aisle with all those eyes on me, plus getting professional photographs taken of myself, to make me worry like crazy about how I will look.

Yes, I know everyone says brides ALWAYS look beautiful.  I know I have dreadlocks so I won’t seem like a traditionally-styled bride no matter what, not that I want to.  But I still feel tons of pressure to look my best!  This pressure is mostly self-inflicted, and lately I’m just feeling like an ugly duckling!

Pardon the bitchfest for a moment, but my two main complaints are my weight and my skin.  In a way, the weight is the easy one.  Too many desserts and cervezas have taken their toll on my midsection, but if I really commit to healthier choices I know I can shed a few pounds by June.  I don’t want to be unrealistic and go on a torturous diet, just lose the beer belly and get more fit!  I know if I can pull it off I’ll feel much more confident on my wedding day!

My skin has always confused me.  First of all, my skin tone is very uneven, freckly, and red.  I blame the Irish in me.  I’ve tried several different makeup regimens over the years but I always end up looking shiny by the end of the day.  With an outdoor summer wedding, I’m really worried about looking like a sweaty beast in all the pictures!  Secondly, I have really dark under-eye circles.  No matter how much sleep I get or how little caffeine/alcohol I drink, they remain.  I’ve even tried this:

The concealers I’ve tried never really hide my circles as much as I’d like, and they too end up melting down my face after several hours.  I’m really worried about how I’m going to DIY my wedding makeup when I’m not even satisfied with my day-to-day look!  I’m terrified I won’t feel confident and I won’t like how I look in the photos.  I know these concerns are totally stupid and conceited, but I can’t help feeling stressed about the beauty aspects of the big day!

Has anyone else been infected with Ugly Duckling Syndrome while planning “the most important day of your life”?  Anyone have advice on longer-lasting makeup brands?

A Venue Decision!

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Remember my state debate from this post?  Well, here’s the follow-up…

Time was ticking away.  More and more people kept asking me if we had set a date yet, as their calendars were booking up for next summer.  My online search for an affordable spot in California was proving fruitless.  More than anything, we just wanted to decide on a place and set a date so that we could give people enough advance notice in this over-scheduled day and age.

So, after much discussion, we made the decision I somehow knew in my gut we would make all along:

We’re getting married in Arizona!

After examining all factors, we decided that having our wedding at Zach’s parents’ house in northern Arizona would allow us the most freedom to DIY and be the most affordable, despite the cost of renting tables and chairs.  We talked to his parents about the idea and they were thrilled!  They’re happy for an excuse to do more work on the house and give some of their relatives an extra reason to come visit.  We’re happy because we know there’s lots of fun stuff for our guests to do in the area, and the hotels are affordable.

I’m already drawing inspiration from gorgeous photos of backyard weddings.  The mission now is to turn this:

into this:

Source: Young House Love

 

It’ll be a challenge but I think we can do it!  I’m so excited to dance the night away under the gorgeous Arizona stars!

Did anyone else have an at-home backyard wedding?  Was it worth all the DIY work?

Old Standby Asian Veggies

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Sorry I’ve been super MIA lately!  We got an apartment for the summer (pictures forthcoming), but we still don’t have Internet!  So I’ve got lots of blog ideas in my brain but haven’t had the ability to post them!

Today I’m sharing a recipe I can’t believe I’ve never blogged!  It’s Zach and my all-time favorite easy-to-make, for-when-we-can’t-think-of-anything-else dinner!  I first made this with a fellow Peace Corps Volunteer in Tanzania, and I believe he got the recipe from an Alton Brown show.  The great thing about this dish is that it’s so easy to customize and modify based on what you like and what’s in your fridge that there are endless possibilities!  I apologize in advance for the iPhone pictures.  My camera is in the shop.  It looks better than this in real life.

The basic concept is: COLESLAW+RICE OR NOODLES+SAUCE=PARTY IN YOUR MOUTH.

First, cook rice, pasta, rice noodles, whatever grain you want.  This time I used brown rice.

Then, chop up some cabbage and whatever other veggies you want to include.

Veggies, pre-cooking

Cook them in a pot with some oil and salt.  This time I was just cleaning out the fridge so I used cabbage, kale, red pepper, broccoli, and jalapeno.  Cook them down as much or as little as you want!  I also added an egg toward the end of the cooking time and stirred it up so it scrambled in pieces mixed throughout the veggies.

Veggies, post-cooking

Then, make the sauce.  You only really need four essential ingredients: PEANUT BUTTER, SOY SAUCE, VINEGAR, AND OIL.

The 4 essential ingredients for your sauce

Mix equal parts of each item in a bowl.  I use about 1/2 cup of each when I’m making this for two people.  Easy, right!  Actually, it takes a few minutes to get the peanut butter to mix in, but it gets there. Then you can taste it and adjust to your liking.  Some extra (but unnecessary) things I like to add to make it more flavorful include: brown sugar, mustard, red pepper flakes, and ginger.

Next, mix it all together!  You can eat it hot or cold and it’s delicious!  Adding peanuts can also give the dish an extra crunch and protein kick!  I just didn’t have any on hand this time.

Mmmmm mmmm amazing

There you have it!  Tell me that’s not a delectable and easy way to use up extra produce!  Let me know what you think in the comments!

I think I need an intervention…

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Guys, I am officially OBSESSED with Pinterest.  And I only joined it about a month ago, because I gave into the idea that it is the new be-all and end-all of wedding inspiration.  It didn’t take long for the obsession to develop, once I realized how many absolutely splendiferous-sounding recipes I could find EVERY SINGLE DAY!!!  I am obsessed with food, trying new recipes, and looking at food porn.  So now I find myself, here in El Salvador, when I should be out exploring and hiking, sitting on my laptop PINNING!  I do think it’s a brilliant organizational tool.  But I had over 100 “Recipes to Try” before I realized that a board with over 100 pins was not very organized!  So now, on a Friday night in El Salvador, I am going through re-pinning all my recipe pins to new, sub-categorized boards.  I AM PINNING MY PINS, AHHHH!!!!!  WHEN DOES IT STOP????  Of course I realize that I will never actually try half these recipes, but I can’t pass up adding something that just looks so delicious!!!!

Zach just makes fun of me for it.  “What are you doing, babe?”  “Oh, I’m pinning shit.”  This is a normal conversation between us nowadays.  What was hilarious was a couple weeks ago in Panamá, when we saw a lady cutting out random magazine pictures of clothes and stuff and fixing them to an actual, real-life corkboard.  Zach said, “Look, she’s pinning shit!!!!”

So maybe it’s a universal obsession for women in all walks of life nowadays.  It’s an obsession I should probably get over but I’m not quite sure I want to.  Is anyone else as addicted as I am?  If so, add me on Pinterest!

Whoopie! Pies!

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Today is a much-needed day off after a couple weeks of being stressed out.  I have not left the house or changed out of my PJs.  It’s necessary sometimes, don’t judge me.

I did engage in a baking adventure, one of my favorite things to do in my free time.  I found this Whoopie Pie recipe on Bakerella.  As soon as I saw the chocolate and peanut butter combo I was sold!  I also took the opportunity to practice my food photography, although I still have a long way to go.  Our kitchen is not super cute and my creations never look that beautiful. (I’m not patient enough!)  They taste delicious though!

1. Mix the batter. 2. Mix the filling. Make sure to enjoy the excess on those beaters!! Baker's privileges! 3. Bake. 4. Assemble the yummiest sandwiches ever!

Hopefully Zach will be happy to see these when he gets home from his first day at his new job today.  It would happen that he finally got called with a job on my first day off in forever.  To make up for all this butter and chocolate, I’m planning to try this Lemon-Scented Quinoa Salad for dinner.  But for now, I think it’s time to curl up with a book.  I can already feel this rest day rejuvenating me!

Guest Post: How Zach Became an Almost-Vegetarian

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As a lot of our friends know, I have been vegetarian for 5 years now.  Zach is not vegetarian; so many people ask him how he deals with me and if he misses meat.  I asked him to write a guest post on the subject.  One thing I want to clarify is that I have never asked him to not eat meat; he can do whatever he wants!  My policy is just that I won’t buy it or cook it; so if he wants some it’s up to him.  And, honestly, Zach doesn’t really cook for himself much so he doesn’t really eat much meat.  And, as he says, over the past year he’s found that he likes it this way!  But there was never any pressure from me.  I encourage everyone to rent the documentary “Food, Inc.” for a vastly more in-depth explanation of this subject.  I also encourage questions on this post as this is a subject I am passionate about and would love to discuss more.  Without further ado, my lovely partner Zach:

When I met Carrie in 2009, one of the first things I heard about was her vegetarianism.  This plays a big part in her life and at first I thought “she must be crazy” and “what do you eat?”.  Of course she educated me.  After cooking together almost every day for the past year, meat has been almost completely eliminated from my diet.  How do I feel?  Better probably.  Every time I eat lots of meat nowadays, I feel disgusting when finished.  All the fats in my belly and greasy fingers.  Not that I won’t eat meat if someone is making it for me, but I haven’t gotten any from the store since Safeway gave me a free Turkey for spending $100 last Thanksgiving.  (Note from Carrie:  And that turkey is still in the freezer.  As I said, Zach doesn’t cook for himself.)  There are some very logical reasons I see to not eat meat.

Reason 1: Health.  Have you ever seen how the meat you buy at the grocery store is raised?  “On the farm” you might say.  However, that is unfortunately not true.  Most meat we eat is raised in a factory.  Unless you buy meat that says “local/organic” or “grass fed” your meat is probably made it a factory.  And I choose “made” over “raised” because most chickens we eat don’t even see the sun in their lifetime.  Some don’t even stand.  What does encompass the majority of a chicken’s life?  Lying on the ground in a pile of all the other chicken’s shit waiting to die a fat unhealthy bird.  All they eat is food fueled with growth hormones to make them unhealthily fat, and did I mention they live life in a house full of shit?

Reason 2: Morals.  Does it seem right to raise millions of beautiful creatures just to make them fat and eat them?  Some never get the right to stand.  They are born, grown at unnatural rates, then killed.  If they die before they are big enough, they are thrown into the mix that feeds the rest of the fat creatures about to die and be eaten.  People tell me that we should eat meat because we are at the top of the food chain.  How many animals have you actually killed and eaten because you are stronger?  I would be willing to bet that most americans have never killed an animal that they planed to eat.  That is not to say that there isn’t a large portion of the nation that does shoot their own food.  I did shoot a rabbit once, and ate it.  I shot it and it didn’t die, so I had to club it on the head with my rifle.  This wasn’t fun for me, since the rabbit was so cute.  Think of all the meat you eat in a given month.  If you had to personally decapitate every one of those chickens, you would at least appreciate your food a lot more.  I would even be willing to bet that you would choose to plant a garden instead.

Reason 3: Cost.  I don’t have hard facts on this, but I have noticed that we spend way less money that carnivores.  We can get a whole bag of veggies at the farmers market for under $20.  You know I’m right, enough said.

The reasons go on and on but the point I try to make remains the same.  I’m not trying to convert everyone to vegetarianism, but it would be nice if people at least thought about what they ate.  For that matter, I wish people thought about half the things they do in their lives.  Don’t do something just because it’s the only way you know how.  Educate yourselves.  Don’t be on of the millions and billions of ignorant people who do things because they are told it’s the only way.  Do things because you have decided that it is the best way.