Weekend Update: Feb. 21-22

I’m stuck on the intro to this one.  I really just want to jump right into the good stuff but years of English classes have ingrained this need in me to have an intro.  A hook.  And I’m stuck.  Which is silly because this is my blog and I can write whatever way I want, right?  Jeez, here we go.  We have been hosting/rooming with our friends Luke and Kaitie for the past month.  They both race bikes professionally (cool friends are cool, am I right?) and they are the most considerate house guests/living buddies you could imagine.  Collin and I concluded that the worst part about having them around all the times is that they do too much for us i.e. dry our dishes and help with groceries.  Like, seriously what is that?  Does that even count as a complaint?

But honestly, it’s been so much fun to have people around to do cool stuff with, make good food with, and generally have a ton of fun with (please don’t ever leave.  I’m kidding.  No I’m not.)

Look at them, aren't they cute!?

Look at them, aren’t they cute!?

ANYWAY what I actually want to write about is this past weekend In Which We Went Camping and Also to a Cocktail Party.  You know our motto, don’t ever say no to anything even if trying to do it all causes some mid-Saturday morning stress (classic).

So, on Saturday we made it up to the woods around 2:30 PM.  Finding a first-come-first-serve campsite was too easy and we did a 4-5 mile hike down to the actual Muir Woods that afternoon.  We didn’t see any Ewoks but we did almost convince Kaitie that they are real animals 😉

Magic, pure magic

Magic, pure magic

Saturday night, Collin and I also had his employee appreciation party in the City for Apple.  So, when we got back from our hike, we changed into cocktail attire, and headed to the California Academy of Sciences in SF.  You did read that right, Apple rented out a MUSEUM for the WHOLE NIGHT and then gave us FOOD AND ALCOHOL and said HAVE FUN.  It rocked.  Although, as the resident vegans, we were a little disturbed by the fresh sushi being served in the aquarium part of the museum.  It was just really weird.  But we had a great night and it was an amazing experience!

Aquarium selfie!

Aquarium selfie!

Lots of Apple people and also the Rain Forest room which was sick!

Lots of Apple people and also the Rain Forest room which was sick!

We called it a night around 10:30, changed back into camping clothes on the side of the road, and drove the 40 minutes back up to the mountains to enjoy a wonderful night’s sleep in the woods.  Shout out to Mom and Dad for getting me a great sleeping bag for Christmas this year!  It rocked and I was so cozy!

Sunday we woke up, had a classic camping breakfast of tea and oatmeal, and then did a hike out to Red Cliff Beach.  California is a crazy state.  One minute we’re in woods that are straight out of Jurassic Park, and then next we’re on a beach getting sunburnt.  Like what is this place?  Why aren’t you all out here already?

Red Cliff Beach

Red Cliff Beach

We explored Sausalito on our way home (a little disappointing, a lot overly bourgeois) and found an insane hot dog joint in SF that also had an extensive Vegan menu.  Seriously, Underdogs – so good.  So vegan!

GROUP PIC!

GROUP PIC!

Collin took all of these pictures since he’s recently added Amateur Photog Extraordinaire to his many talents/interests/hobbies.  Look at more of his pictures here!

Snacks – Banana Bread Edition

We’re continuing full force with 2015 – Year of Guests.  This month features some of our favorite bike racers, Luke and Kaitie who are out here for the good training weather and, obviously, our spectacular company.

I know (because we’ve asked them bluntly) that everyone who’s stayed with us so far has been nervous about the Vegan thing and about what we’ll make them eat.  Luckily (I think/hope!), no one’s been totally grossed out or left hungry so far!  Yay plants!

On Sunday, I had a need to bake and a couple of old frozen bananas i.e. THE PERFECT STORM/combination for Banana Bread!  Last time I made banana bread, the recipe use a lot of coconut oil which, although a miracle oil, tends to get kind of thick when said baked good is left at room temperature thus requiring that the aforementioned baked good requires is warmed up every time you want a nibble.  So, round two, new coconut oil-less recipe.

I used this recipe from Dairy Free Cooking but, based on the ingredients I had, made some substitutions.

Banana Bread

Ingredients:

  • 2 c. flour
  • 3/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 3/4 t. baking soda
  • 3/4 t. salt
  • 3/4 t. cinnamon
  • 1/2 c. coconut milk *recipe suggested plain soy milk or almond milk
  • 1 t. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups mashed banana *I only had 3 bananas, it was fine!
  • 1/4 c. vegetable oil *recipe suggested canola
  • 2 T. maple syrup
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • Walnuts (optional) but highly recommended!

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly oil a 9″x5″ loaf pan and set aside.

2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the coconut milk and cider vinegar and let stand for 2 minutes

3. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, mix together the flour, sugars, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.

4. Add the mashed banana, canola oil, maple syrup, and vanilla extract to the coconut milk/vinegar mixture, whisking until well combined.

5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, mixing until just combined (try not to overmix!). Fold in the walnuts if using and pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan.

6. Bake for about 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted into the center emerges clean. Allow the bread to cool on a wire cooling rack for 20 minutes before serving. Enjoy warm or at room temperature.

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We’ve also enjoyed banana bread warmed up in our cast iron skillet, shmeared with almond butter, and topped with some avocado slices.  That brainwave belongs to Collin – another reason to keep him around!

Team Adventure, Reunited!

This is a post on Life Lately.  Our friend, Brent, flew in last Wednesday night and the three of us have just been having a grand old time back together again doing our usual ridiculous stuff.  One of the last adventures we had together in NH was to hike to the top of Mt. Carrigain on a Friday night, starting around 9 PM and reaching the summit around midnight where we then camped.  You know, normal stuff.  SO, knowing that that kind of nonsense is our M.O., hopefully you won’t think we’re too bananas by the end of this post.

SATURDAY:

We drove down to Santa Cruz Saturday morning since we’re only about an hour away from the beach and the forecast was GORGEOUS (75 and sunny, sorry New England!)  We walked down and around the beach, watched some surfers, hopped some fences, and watched some CRAZY waves for about 3 hours.

My favorite guy getting his photography sea legs, if you will ;)

My favorite guy getting his photography sea legs, if you will 😉

For lunch we drove up Hwy 1 until we found some beach access and ate a picnic of Collin’s homemade Japanese curry (you’ll have to ask him for the recipe or be patient and keep your fingers crossed that I post it here!) while watching dolphins play in the waves.  YEA.  DOLPHINS.  OVER LUNCH.  NO I DIDN’T TAKE ANY PICTURES, WHY DO YOU ASK?

After lunch we drove maybe 30 min to a Redwood grove and basked in the glory of the biggest and bestest trees at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park.  We didn’t pay the parking fees, don’t tell!

a Brent Doscher original @ the Redwoods.

a Brent Doscher original @ the Redwoods.

THEN (I know you’re getting tired but stick with me) we drove 4ish hours including a Chipotle break up into the Sierras.  We had originally planned to spend the whole weekend up in the mountains but with the snow the way it was (read: nonexistent), it didn’t seem worth it.  We got to the hotel around 11:30 (I think?) and then went on a nighttime hiking adventure so C and B could play with some nighttime astrophotography.  It was very cold, very dark, and very very awesome.

SUNDAY (I know, you never thought we’d get here):

The boys went snowboarding.  I decided that it wasn’t worth it for me to buy a lift ticket and instead spent some time reading outside in the sunshine (it was 65 degrees out) and took a little snow hike in the afternoon.  Even with the unseasonable warmth, there was still several inches of snow cover everywhere and I couldn’t make it very far without snowshoes.  But heck, any day is a good day to be outside!

Snowy, solo woods exploring.  My feet got really wet.

Snowy, solo woods exploring. My feet got really wet.

MONDAY:

After work we drove up for dinner in SF.  We went to Herbivore which was not bad but not great.  The key to a Great vegan restaurant is that they don’t try to be Not vegan.  Like, having Penne and “Meatballs” on your menu is not something a Great vegan restaurant would do.  Still, it is a good compromise to go to these types of vegan restaurants when you are hosting non-vegans.  But I digress.

After dinner we drove around the city for a bit.  We drove down Lombard Street which I had never heard of before and which was a little terrifying.  Our end game was driving over the Golden Gate and up into the Marin Headlands park for more night photo taking.  It was such a calm, warm night it felt like summer time stomping around the park.  We were there until about 11:30 PM and then had an hour drive home.  Worth the exhaustion, without a doubt.

Brent's asking me to stand awkwardly in his pictures has totally gone to my head/I'm a model.

Brent’s asking me to stand awkwardly in his pictures has totally gone to my head/I think I could really make it as a professional model.

Probably the most exciting part of my weekend was making Brent’s website portfolio with my Stance in the Redwoods.  Check out the rest of his work at www.brentdoscher.com.  He’s real good with a camera.

Also check out Collin’s blog soon, he’s got a lot of sick shots waiting to be posted as well.  I assume.  This could be awkward if he never puts them on the internet……………………………

It’s been so so great having a friend here to explore our new turf with.  I’m looking forward to more visitors and for repeat trips (cough Brent cough)!

2015 and a Quinoa Salad

Hi Hello!  I’m back!  Sorry for the 3 month hiatus.  In between moving across the country (lol yea I live in California now) and the holidays, this kind of fell to the wayside.  BUT it’s a new year and life has sort of normalized now so I’m back in the game.

I thought about doing a quick life update here, but the longer I waited, the more intimidating that post became.  So I’m not going to do that and instead I’m going to point you in the direction of my boyfriend’s blog because he HAS been keeping up with updates!  So if you want to know what moving to California was like, check out seahuston.blogspot.com.

AND NOW: THE POST.  And a little background because obviously.

With Collin’s new job at Apple, he travels a lot and by a lot I mean minimum 10 trips per year to China for a week and a half at a time.  That’s a lot of Katherine time especially since we don’t really know anyone out here yet.  So!  I’ve been cooking!  One, so I don’t starve and two, because it’s fun to find a recipe and take the time to make it good!

Without further ado, this is what I made myself for dinner two nights ago!

Quinoa with zuchinni, mint, cranberries, and walnuts

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Quinoa
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Olive oil
  • 1 large zucchini, cut into ¼” rounds
  • kosher salt to taste
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup toasted walnut pieces
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • mint to taste
  • kosher salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Cook the quinoa according to the instructions in the white wine and water mixture.
  2. Once the quinoa is done, fluff with a fork, and set aside to cool.
  3. In a heavy pan, add the olive oil over medium heat. Add the zucchini rounds and cook until browned on each side and tender, about 3 minutes. Season with kosher salt to taste, and remove from heat and set aside

    Cooking the zucchini!

    Cooking the zucchini!

  4. In a small bowl combine the shallots, vinegar and olive oil and whisk together.
  5. In a large bowl combine the cooled quinoa and the olive oil mixture, tossing to coat the quinoa. Season to taste with Kosher salt.
  6. Gently fold in the zucchini, walnuts, dried cranberries and fresh mint. Transfer to a serving platter.

    My quinoa bowl!

    My quinoa bowl!

I was really pleased with how this recipe turned out!  It accomplished that great vegan balance of being satisfying but not heavy and over filling.  Also, I think I might add craisins to everything from now on because yum.

This recipe was adapted from the recipe on Heather Christo’s blog.  She’s not exclusively vegan, but I’ve found some really great options there!  Check out her Spicy Thai Noodle Soup!

Until next time, blog-sphere!

Resolution-ing

Two thousand fifteen.  We are as far away from 2000 as we are now from 2030.  I don’t remember where I heard that after Christmas but it blew my mind.  I remember the 1999-2000 New Year’s.  I was in 3rd grade, Oregon Trail was still good, I exchanged Best Friends necklaces with someone for the first time.  To think that I am now living exactly in between that Katherine and 2030 Katherine is equal parts frightening and exciting.

Anyway!  January!  Latin: ianuarius, named for Janus, the Roman god of beginnings and transitions.  Funny how these things work out, ain’t it?  2014 was a doozy of a year.  We moved twice, the second time all the way across the country.  I left my first big girl job and got another one, this time (hopefully) more aligned with what I’d like to do long-term career wise.   I (maybe) figured out what I want to do long-term career wise.  Collin and have now spent our longest time apart since we moved in together.  Presently, he’s halfway done a two week trip to China for work.  I ran a 5k.  Like I said, a doozy.

Thus, 2014 ended.  On NYE actually we went to bed at 11 PM and woke up at 11 AM.  So we started 2015 on a GREAT, fully rested foot.  I’ve got my fingers crossed that the year continues to follow that pattern because man alive, I felt like a million bucks that morning.

And so we come to the the traditional resolution making segment!  The thing about resolutions is that I have this problem of thinking about them as a success vs. failure thing.  If I make this resolution in January, and December Katherine can’t make it happen, then what does that mean?  Does that mean my whole year was a bust?  Classic Katherine to put that much pressure on something that’s not intended that way and to see things as black and white, right and wrong, success and failure.

This year I’m going to try to keep my resolutions a little grayer, and little more flexible, a little me forgiving. And with that: the resolutions or whatever!

Fitness

  • Work towards running a 10k by the time I’m 24
  • Keep doing yoga and learn how to do an armstand

Intellectual

  • Take some technical writing classes, maybe complete a full course
  • Read new books instead of always re-reading old ones

Culinary

  • Perfect JUST ONE vegan baking recipe (because cookies, man, I miss them)

Financial

  • Stick to a savings plan because my bank account is very very sad after a month of unemployment/moving across the country
  • Curb the impulse spending

Personal

  • Stay happy.  Above all things, stay happy.
Kennebunk Beach, Christmas Day 2014

Kennebunk Beach, Christmas Day 2014

Merry 2015, babes, and good luck resolution-ing.

That Vegan Life

In 7th grade home ec (rebranded Family and Consumer Science by that time #politicalcorrectitude), our class watched a movie on vegetarianism. I don’t remember much of the movie except that it upset and inspired 12 year old me to declare my new resolution to become vegetarian. I was even committed enough to get some books from the library on being vegetarian and eating well!  The only flaw in my plan was that during this phase of my life (ages 0-20) I ate approximately 0 vegetables and pretty much sustained myself on fruit, meat, and carbs.  In fact, this foray into vegetarianism coincided with Easter weekend (a.k.a. the Catholic Ham Holiday) and, since I did not partake in any of the side dishes full of veggies, my meal consisted almost entirely of potato chips.  And chocolate.  Because Easter candy… NEEDLESS TO SAY, my first meat free diet attempt did not go well or last long.

About a year ago, Collin and I decided to “go local” i.e. we tried to only buy meat and eggs from local farms.  We decided to do this because it helped to make us much more aware of what we were consuming, not only for our own health, but so that we did not take the lives of farm animals for granted.  We got our meat from a farmer who worked with Collin and we got eggs from my coworker who was living on her boyfriend’s parents’ farm (which was a GREAT system).  The main comment we heard from people was that eating local was expensive and that’s true, it is more expensive.  So we started to eat less meat and we really enjoyed it when we did.  On the nights that we did have meat for dinner, it was a big deal and that was kind of the point for us.  It should be a big deal.  We also tried to eat local when we went out which is where everything got a little fuzzier and where we yielded way more often to our food cravings.  We would try to ask where the meat came from but slowly our convictions started sliding to ordering food with meat sourced from New York or Montreal (not really local) if it was from a good, organic, ethical farm, because that made it okay, right?  Things just started being good enough and we would casually laugh it off and enjoy our pulled pork burritos or McDonald’s chicken nuggets.

Enter, Veganism.  Collin got there first.  He read a book loaned to us by our already vegan friends – Eating Animals, by Jonathan Safran-Foer.  I have not actually read the words off of these pages, but I have heard a lot of them read out loud and a lot of the points of the book were discussed at length in our house while Collin was reading it.  I really should pick it up one of these days though.  Essentially- it was the catalyst for Collin go make the leap to go vegan.  I won’t speak for him as to his personal reasons for making the choice.  They are similar to mine, but they are also different.  I took another couple weeks to make the step on my own and it basically came down to this – I cannot ignore the fact that I believe killing and abusing animals for my consumption is wrong.  Factory farming is a horrible, horrible system.  Dairy cows and egg-laying chickens live awful, disgusting, and miserable lives.  Those are facts.  And I can’t and refuse to pretend like I don’t care about it anymore.

The most common reaction I have gotten to my “I’m Vegan!” announcement has been, “wow, that must be so hard” or some variation on that theme.  Honestly, it’s not hard at all.  Not when I believe this is the right thing for me to be doing.  And I believe it so hard.  Yea, it does suck eating salads when you go out with friends  (which, luckily, is not the norm!) and yea, 100% I miss cheese but what I don’t miss is the guilty conscience and the needing the bury my feelings about it whenever I asked for extra parmesan.  And cooking at home is a piece of cake with the internet!  Just search vegan anything you want to eat and it exists.  Trust me!  We’ve had vegan buffalo “wings” twice!

Veganism is not for the faint of heart, I will say that.  I couldn’t have lived this way 2 years ago and I feel very strongly that it’s a decision a person needs to make on their own for their own reasons.  It is hard if you don’t care enough and I can’t fault anyone for that.  AND SO 7th grade Katherine played the long game, who knew!  She and I are very happy with where we’ve ended up.

SOME OF OUR FAVORITE VEGAN EATS:

  • Vegan Mac & Cheese – seriously I could stuff this in my face all day long, guys.  Try it, you won’t regret it.  Or notice that it isn’t cheese probably.
  • Garlic Pasta w/ Roasted tomatoes – I made this on my own the other night when Collin was out of town so you know it’s easy!

  • Pad thai – One of our big go tos.  Also, most thai food can be made vegan if you substitute soy sauce in for fish sauce.  FUN FACT!
  • Apple cider donuts – YUP.
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HELLO.

  • And my bagel recipe that I posted here!

Bottom line, I being vegan feels AND tastes good and I am more than happy/willing to answer any questions you may have.  Also there’s a lot more I could say on this subject so BE PREPARED FOR A SEQUEL POST.

 

The Great Purge

On Sunday afternoon, I pulled everything out of my closet.  Everything out of the drawers and those trusty winter storage boxes that somehow always manage to spell just a little musty.  I laid out all of my things on my bed carefully and then started making piles, the main pile was, of course, the Eliminate Pile.
Since starting my first big girl job in a business casual office, I’ve been struggling to keep a grasp on my personal style while also being work appropriate.  And, not surprisingly, made the classic mistake of trying to acquire as many pieces as I could all in the name of “keeping my options open”.  The problem was, with more options, came more indecision and insecurity.
So began the Great Purge.  Everything that I either hadn’t worn more than twice maximum this year got thrown in The Pile.  Let me tell you, there are not many things that are quite as therapeutic as getting rid of sh!t you don’t need!
I’ve donated clothes before and Saver’s is a godsend to get rid of things you just don’t want to deal with anymore.  It seemed a shame, however, to lose out on such an investment.  Earlier this summer, with our move from Newmarket, Collin and I explored Second Time Around.  I must say, I enjoy shopping there, I did not like selling there.  Their policy is to evaluate the donated items based on use (fine), age (alright), and, most of all, brand (wait.).  I mean, I get that.  I shop by brand too.  But it was the unworthy feeling of having some of my belongings labeled as “lesser” that I really didn’t like.
So this time, with my Pile, I looked online for some other options.  There are sites that operate a lot like STA – thredUp and Twice.  These are, honestly, really nice options if you a) have a closet full of brand name things and/or b) don’t really care.  I decided to use Poshmark because it gave me the ability to list all of my clothes and price them as I thought was appropriate.  I’ve even made one sale!  I’m not sure if I’ll be able to sell all of my clothes and I may end up mailing them to a third party to pick through or donating them to Saver’s, but, right now, I really like the control I have.
SHAMELESS PLUG: If you have ever wanted to shop through my closet or have no idea who I am and are interested on gr8 dealz, check out my closet!  Seriously, I listed almost 40 pieces (WOW) on there.
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I’m making the commitment to myself, to keep my wardrobe down to the essentials and down to pieces that I truly love.  It’s so much easier to get ready in the morning and to go about your day when you know that you’re always putting something on that you feel 100% comfortable in.  And all the extra space is really nice!