Trivia Nights

We formed a trivia team and the past few weeks have been competing in trivia night at a local bar. I never thought of myself as the trivia type, but between the four of us we usually don't do too terribly! I even got a bonus question correctly - hence the beer money coupon I'm holding below - which was a Thanksgiving miracle. 

A Weekend in Seattle

Evan, Chris, Ellie, and I went to Seattle this past weekend to see Damien Jurado in concert and to celebrate Chris' birthday. We started off our morning by getting coffee at Kainos because Pip's Donuts had a deal where if you bought a drink at Kainos you could bring in your receipt for a free dozen donuts. The deal was too good to pass up, so we each got a drink and subsequent dozen donuts. Note to self: a dozen donuts is way too many for one person. We had lunch at my house in Tacoma before heading up to Seattle. After much deliberation about how to spend the hours leading up to the concert, we stumbled upon a free museum day at the Asian Art Museum in Volunteer Park (!) and then followed that up with a visit to the Fremont Troll, Yak's Teriyaki, and beers at Fremont Brewing. The concert was at St. Mark's Cathedral - one of the most beautiful venues I've been to both for the space and the sound. Damien Jurado was incredible to see live and I definitely have a new respect for him and his music.
On Sunday we drove down to Owen's beach to make the most of the rare sunny winter day and a woman offered to take our picture. Once I got over the fear of her stealing my phone she took our picture and it turned out quite nicely (even considering the random child in the background)!


Red Lentil and Apricot Soup

Since it's getting darker so much earlier, I'm having a hard time getting enough light for these pictures so they are so blurry! Oh well. You get the idea.
Evan and I first had this soup at a young adults potluck dinner with people from our church. It was unlike any soup I'd had an I quickly got the recipe. It was quick to make and so satisfying.
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 cup finely chopped dried apricots
1 1/2 cups dried split red lentils, well rinsed
5 cups chicken/vegetable stock
1 28 can of plum tomatoes, diced
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary or thyme
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1. Saute onion, garlic, and apricots in olive oil until onions are soft and browned - about 12 minutes. I did this step earlier in the day and stored in the fridge for later.
2. In a saucepan, pour in stock and lentils and bring to a boil uncovered. Once boiling, cover the pan and reduce to low. Simmer for about 30 minutes or until lentils are cooked. Add onion mixture, plum tomatoes, seasonings, and lemon juice. Simmer together for a few more minutes.

Autumn Salad with Butternut Squash and Cranberries

I just discovered that Trader Joes has a recipe section on their website! In searching through the recipes, I found a delicious looking autumn salad. It was nice to get the fall flavors on a salad since I keep finding myself making soups and heavier dishes now.
This was super fast and easy to make.
1. Cut up half of a small butternut squash into little chunks. Saute in a cast iron pan with coconut oil until soft. Season with cinnamon, a pinch of nutmet, salt, and a little bit of brown sugar.
2. When the squash is done, remove from the pan and add a can of chickpeas. Cook in coconut oil and season with curry powder, salt, and cinnamon.
3. Chop up a red pepper.
4. Top spinach with the squash, chickpeas, almonds, goat cheese, and dried cranberries. For the dressing, I mixed together balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and a pinch of blue agave syrup for sweetness.

Roasted Vegetable and Goat Cheese Paninis

I discovered that you can roast veggies in the crockpot! This has changed so much.
Veggies: cut in thin slices, toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, and oregano. Set in crockpot on low for 8-10 hours (this also works on the faster settings)
2 zucchini
2-3 bell peppers
2 sweet potatoes

On sourdough bread, spread goat cheese on one half and pesto on the other. Pile on the roasted vegetables and stick it all in the panini press. Delicious!

Vegan Alfredo Pasta

THIS ALFREDO IS SO GOOD. Evan thought it was by far the best vegan imitation I have made. It really tastes like the real thing without any of the heavy cream that I thought was required to make a good cream sauce.
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 heaping Tbsp. garlic
4 Tbsp. arrowroot powder or flour
2 cups unsweetened almond milk
4-6 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 cup vegan parmesan cheese (1 Tbsp. nutritional yeast, 1/4 cup raw cashews, 1/4 tsp. garlic powder, pinch of salt, blended)

1. In a saucepan, heat oil until hot. Add garlic. Quickly stir in arrowroot powder or flour and cook for one minute.
2. Add almond milk 1/4 cup at a time, stirring to avoid clumps. Cook for 2 minutes.
3. Transfer to blender and add nutritional yeast (I did 4 heaping Tbsp.), salt, pepper, garlic powder, and vegan parmesan.
We cooked up some peas, broccoli, and mushrooms (carrots would have been good too) and added that to our noodles.

This recipe was taken from Minimalist Baker


I kept seeing pictures of ramen floating around on Facebook and my favorite cooking blogs, so I figured I would try it out myself. It was a bit difficult to find all of the ingredients (I should have gone to an Asian grocery story but I just went by Trader Joes and Whole Foods) but it turned out yummy still.
1. Preheat oven to 400. Slice carrots and mushrooms, coat with olive oil and garlic, and roast until soft - about 30 minutes.
2. Slice tofu and coat with cornmeal, salt, and pepper (I tossed mine in a large Ziploc bag). Set aside.
3. Finely chop one medium yellow onion, one piece of ginger, and four cloves of garlic. Simmer in sesame oil until soft. Add 6 cups of vegetable stock, 4 packages of miso flavored ramen (mine were from Whole Foods), 2 Tbsp. liquid aminos/soy sauce, and one Tbsp. umami paste, and simmer for 10-15 minutes until noodles are soft. Add extra seasonings to the broth to taste. Add roasted veggies.
3. In a hot cast iron, add about 2 Tbsp. of sesame oil and pan fry tofu until firm.
4. Saute some kale or other desired toppings.


Slice eggplant into 1/4"-1/2" slices and drizzle with olive oil and salt. On a baking sheet, broil for 4-5 minutes (until browned) on each side. Remove from oven and cover with foil to steam. After a few minutes, remove the skin from the eggplant and put in a blender with 1 cup unsweetened almond milk, 5 Tbsp. nutritional yeast, 1 scoop of salsa (optional), 1 Tbsp. cumin, 1 tsp. chili powder, 1 tsp. minced garlic, and a can of Rotel or green chilis. For more spice add smoked paprika. Blend together. If too runny, put in a saucepan with cornstarch until it thickens.
We topped corn chips with black beans, sauteed peppers and onions, and tomatillo salsa.
This made quite a bit of queso - enough for two dinners and two lunches - so next time I'd need to brainstorm a better way to use the leftovers.


"Sometimes unbelievers ask, 'Where is God? Why can't I see Him? Why doesn't He manifest Himself so that I may believe?' or 'Prove to me that God exists.' But how can anybody do that for someone who lacks sight? Their case is similar to a blind man who does not believe that there are chandeliers. He just does not have the eyes to see them. But those with eyes to see know from experience that all of reality is permeated with God. And you know what a sweet feeling it is to have that experience? To be within creation and to feel everywhere God's presence? Then life becomes intensely joyous. Everything is blessed. When you don't have this experiential understanding of God's Grace, then with the slightest provocation you become critical, constantly blaming others, constantly finding fault with them."
- Mountain of Silence, 63


Roasted Cauliflower Soup

1 large head of cauliflower, cut into florets
1 medium yellow onion, cut in chunks
2 leeks, cut into small chunks
2 small/medium sweet potatoes, cut into small chunks

Drizzle veggies with olive oil and salt and roast (mine fit onto two baking sheets) for roughly an hour at 400.

3 1/2 cups vegetable stock
4 Tbsp. butter (could be left out)
1/2 cup coconut almond milk
salt and pepper to taste

When veggies are almost done (starting to get brown and caramelized), heat two cups vegetable stock with 4 tbsp. of butter in a saucepan. In a cast iron, caramelize red onion in olive oil.
Remove veggies from oven. Put one sheet of veggies into blender (I used my Nutribullet but if you had a bigger blender just do it all at once) and add one cup of veggie stock and one clove of minced garlic. Pour mixture into saucepan. Put the second sheet of veggies into the blender with half cup veggie stock and half cup coconut/almond milk (use less if using cream). Pour mixture into saucepan and stir together until blended. Top with caramelized onion! The recipe I adapted this from suggested toasted croutons and steamed kale - I'm planning to try that next time!

This recipe is super fast to put together once the veggies are roasted, so I'm looking for a way to speed up the roasting process. I'd like to try roasting veggies in the crockpot so dinner would be much faster to put together when we come home from work.

Lentil Sloppy Joes

Bring to boil over medium heat. Reduce to a simmer for 18 minutes or until tender. Discard remaining liquid:
1 1/4 cup green lentils
2 1/2 cups water

Chop and saute in cast iron with olive oil: 
1/2 yellow onion
1 green bell pepper
2 cloves minced garlic

Add lentils to cast iron and stir in:
1 1/2 cup marinara sauce (I used one from Trader Joes)
1 can diced tomatoes
3 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika

Serve on hamburger buns! Recipe adapted from here.


The Way of a Pilgrim

Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me.

After hearing about the book The Way of a Pilgrim in numerous conversations and other books about Orthodoxy, I borrowed a copy from our church's library. I spend the remainder of Sunday afternoon in bed reading - unable to put the book down. The book records the spiritual and physical journey of a Russian pilgrim in the 1850s who, after hearing in a sermon the exhortation of St. Paul to "pray without ceasing," makes it his life aim to discover how one truly can pray without ceasing and to dedicate himself to a habit of constant inward prayer. With just a Bible and a copy of the Philokalia - a collection of writings on prayer by the Eastern Orthodox spiritual Fathers - he journeys across Russia, meeting spiritual mentors along the way. I had to hold myself back from bookmarking every other page (at least until my own copy arrives from Amazon...) so I thought I would put some of the passages here for reference and remembrance. 

"Consequently it is just to pray often, to pray always, which falls within our power as the means of attaining purity of prayer, which is the mother of all spiritual blessings. 'Capture the Mother, and she will bring you the children,' said St. Isaac the Syrian. Learn first to acquire the power of prayer and you will easily practice all the other virtues" (8).

"It costs nothing but the effort to sink down in silence into the depths of one's heart and call more and more upon the radiant Name of Jesus. Everyone who does that feels at once the inward light, everything becomes understandable to him, he even catches sight in this light of some of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God" (88-9).

"Then picture to yourself your heart in just the same way, turn your eyes to it just as though you were looking at it through your breast, and picture it as clearly as you can. And with your ears listen closely to its beating, beat by beat. When you have got into the way of doing this, begin to fit the words of the Prayer to the beats of the heart one after the other, looking at it all the time. Thus, with the first beat, say or think 'Lord,' with the second, 'Jesus,' with the third, 'Christ,' with the fourth, 'have mercy,' and with the fifth, 'on me.' And do it over and over again. This will come easily to you, for you already know the groundwork and the first part of praying with the heart. Afterwards, when you have grown used to what I have just told you about, you must begin bringing the whole Prayer of Jesus into and out of your heart in time with your breathing, as the Fathers taught. Thus, as you draw your breath in, say, or imagine yourself saying, 'Lord Jesus Christ,' and as you breathe again, 'have mercy on me.' Do this as often and as much as you can, and in a short space of time you will feel a slight and not unpleasant pain in your heart, followed by a warmth. Thus by God's help you will get the joy of self-acting inward prayer of the heart" (102-3).

"No prayer, good or bad, fails in God's sight. Lightness, warmth and gladness show that God is rewarding and consoling us for the effort, while heaviness, darkness and dryness mean that God is cleansing and strengthening the soul, and by this wholesome trial is saving it, preparing it in humility for the enjoyment of blessed happiness in the future" (143).

"Frequency of prayer certainly forms a habit and becomes second nature. It brings the mind and the heart into a proper state from time to time. Suppose a man continually fullfils this one commandment of God about ceaseless prayer, then in that one thing he would have fulfilled all; for it he uninterruptedly, at all times, and in all circumstances, offers the Prayer, calling in secret upon the most holy Name of Jesus (although at first he may do so without spiritual ardour and zeal and even forcing himself), then he will have no time for vain conversation, for judging his neighbors, for useless waste of time in sinful pleasures of the senses. Every evil thought of his would meet opposition to its growth. Every sinful act he contemplated would not come to fruition so readily as with an empty mind. Much talking and vain talking would be checked or entirely done away with, and every fault at once cleansed from the soul by the gracious power of so frequently calling upon the divine Name. The frequent exercise of prayer would often recall the soul from sinful action and summon it to what is the essential exercise of its skill, to union with God. Now do you see how important and necessary quantity is in prayer?" (193).

"If it were an impossible thing to pray midst distracting business or int he society of other people, then, of course, it would not have been bidden us. St. John Chrysostom in his teaching about prayer, speaks as follows: 'No one should give the answer that it is impossible for a man occupied with worldly cares, and who is unable to go to church, to pray always. Everywhere, wherever you may find yourself, you can set up an alter to God in your mind by means of prayer. And so it is fitting to pray at your trade, on a journey, standing at the counter or sitting at your handicraft. Everywhere and in every place it is possible to pray, and, indeed, if a man diligently turns his attention upon himself, then everywhere he will find convenient circumstances for prayer, if only he is convinced of the fact that prayer should constitute his chief occupation and come before every other duty. And in that case he would, of course, order his affairs with greater decision; in necessary conversation with other people he would maintain brevity, a tendency to silence, and a disinclination for useless words; he would not be unduly anxious about worrying things. And in all these ways he would find more time for quiet prayer" (199).

"Imagine that a severe and exacting monarch ordered you to compose a treatise on some abstruse subject in his presence, at the steps of his throne. Although you might be absolutely occupied by your work, the presence of the king who has power over you and who holds your life in his hands would still not allow you to forget for a single moment that you are thinking, considering and writing, not in solitude, but in a place which demands of you particular reverence, respect, and decorum. This lively feeling of the nearness of the king very clearly expresses the possibility of being occupied in ceaseless inward prayer even during intellectual work," (200).


Candle Harvest

Last Sunday, Evan, our friend Laura and I went to IKEA to load up on candles in preparation for the oncoming fall and winter evenings - inspired by the Scandinavian concept of "cozy" as a way to survive the dark, cold months. Evan and I have started to rely on candles in the morning and evening instead of lamps and it has made a big difference. There is something so comforting and magical about the flicker of candlelight bouncing off our white walls.

Pumpkin Muffins

Mix together:
2 eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup sugar
1 cup pumpkin
Stir in:
1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.

Stuffed Peppers

6 green peppers
1 cup uncooked quinoa
1 can black beans
1 can refried beans
1 heaping tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
3 Tbsp. lime juice
½ cup roasted tomatillo salsa
½ cup pico de gallo
½ cup corn salsa from Trader Joes
¼ cup water

Crockpot OR at 400 for 45 minutes in a pan with a little water in the bottom and foil covering pan. Saves pretty well so this could be used for three meals for two people.


Sesame Noodle Stir fry & Noodle Trick

Noodle Stir fry
2 large heads broccoli, cut in small pieces
10 mushrooms
Stir fry broccoli with toasted sesame oil and garlic. Saute mushrooms. In wok, stir fry spaghetti noodles in toasted sesame oil, sriracha, and Island Soyaki (from Trader Joes).

Zucchini and Yum Sauce 
2 zucchini (although I should have cooked 3-4!) cut in wedges and stir fried with salt and pepper.
Mix together...
1/3 cup mayo
1 Tbsp. Sriracha
1 tsp. rice vinegar
1 tsp. agave syrup
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
sprinkle of salt and pepper

Place dry spaghetti noodles in a large saute pan, cover with cold water, add salt, and bring to a boil uncovered. Turn off the heat, cover it, and let it stand for 15 minutes. Drain and you have super tasty noodles!

Chickpea Caesar Wraps

I used this caesar dressing recipe but cut the recipe in half. At Trader Joes on Sunday I picked out a package of their Middle Eastern flatbread which was the perfect texture and thickness for the wraps. After warming the flatbread in a pan, we topped it with some lightly steamed kale, red leaf lettuce, spiced chickpeas (with turmeric, black pepper, smoked paprika, garlic salt and oregano), and caesar dressing! We made it in under a half an hour - a record time considering how long I've been taking to make dinner lately.

1/2 cup soaked raw cashews
1/4 cup water
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1 clove garlic
1/2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. capers
1/2 tsp. salt


Kombucha: Batch 01

I'm so excited to be back to brewing kombucha again. Last week my friend Scott gave me a SCOBY and the first batch turned out delicious.

Boil 5 cups of water and pour into 64 oz. glass jar. Stir in 1/2 cup sugar until dissolved. Add four green tea bags and let steep until water cools to room temperature. Remove tea bags and pour in the 1-2 cups of leftover kombucha and SCOBY. Cover jar with paper towels and store in a dry place for about ten days.

After 10 days, I poured out all but two cups of the kombucha into a big measuring cup (I was left with about five cups) and added ginger and cranberry juice. I was going to second ferment for a few days, but I decided it had enough fizz already, so I just stuck it in the fridge. I'm thinking the key to the success of this batch was the green tea - I used to use black before and it made the kombucha more bitter and less bubbly. I'm excited to experiment with more flavors!

Banana Chocolate Chip Pancakes

Mix together:
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 flax egg (2 1/2 Tbsp. water and 1 Tbsp. flax meal; let rest for 5 minutes)
1 cup Almond/Coconut milk
1/4 cup oats
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp. salt

Stir everything together until combined. This was originally a waffle recipe but they did not cook well and made a mess of my waffle iron, but I discovered that they make much better pancakes. This time around I noticed that using coconut oil on the pan made them stick to my cast iron, but a little butter made them much easier to flip. I'm not sure why! We add chocolate chips after putting the batter on the pan and that pairs really well with the banana.


Vegan Caesar Salad

This caesar dressing is SO good.
1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight (I forgot this step but it turned out fine)
1/2 cup water
4 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. garlic powder
2 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
4 tsp. capers
1 tsp. salt
pepper to taste

...just blend everything together for a delicious Caesar dressing. We put this on a mixture of romaine lettuce and lightly cooked kale and topped it with spiced chickpeas (chickpeas sprinkled with turmeric, pepper, oregano, dill, and smoked paprika in a cast iron pan with a bit of oil) and vegan parmesan. It was surprisingly filling!

Recipe from here

Banana Muffins

2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 egg, beaten
2 bananas, mashed
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup buttermilk (I used 3/4 cup Almond/Coconut milk with 1 Tbsp. lemon juice)

Preheat oven to 400. Cream butter and sugar together. Beat in egg, banana, and vanilla. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together. Add to banana mixture and slowly stir in buttermilk.

Bake for 15-20 minutes. Makes 12 muffins.

Eggplant 'Parmesan'

Eggplant, cut in 1/2 inch slices
Egg Mixture:
1 egg (or flax egg) with a bit of water to thin
about 1/3 cup flour with salt and pepper
1 cup panko bread crumbs

Vegan parmesan:
3/4 cup raw cashews
3 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
heaping 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
3/4 tsp. salt

Dip each eggplant slice in flour, then egg, then bread crumbs and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 400 for about 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, take slices out in batches and cook in cast iron with 1 Tbsp. olive oil to brown and crisp (this is really important!). Sprinkle with vegan parmesan and oregano.

Serve on top of spaghetti noodles and marinara. Sprinkle with more parmesan since you don't have to feel guilty about this stuff.

Evan Starts Work & We Celebrate with Chocolate Cake

I'm so proud of Evan and excited for him as he undertakes his first year as a teacher! Obviously this occasion called for chocolate cake...which we promptly ate half of as a snack.
I'm indebted to my youngest sister for discovering this delicious chocolate cake recipe on Pinterest from here. It always turns out incredibly. 

1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 of 3/4 cup cocoa powder (this was originally for two cakes so some measurements are kind of weird)
1 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup milk (I used our Almond/Coconut milk)
1/4 cup canola oil
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup boiling water

Preheat oven to 350. Grease 9 inch cake pan with butter or coconut oil. 
In a large bowl, add dry ingredients and whisk together. Add milk, oil, egg, and vanilla to the bowl and mix together with an electric mixer. Add boiling water to the batter (the batter will seem really thin but it will work out fine!) and mix on medium/high for a minute to add air to the batter. Pour into cake pan and bake for about 25-30 minutes.


Vegan Chili

1 can drained corn
1 can black beans
1 can kidney or chili beans
1 small can vegetarian baked beans
1 28 oz can chopped tomatoes with juice
1 can Rotel (or just do a can of chilis)
1 medium onion, diced
2 chopped green bell peppers
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
2 Tbsp. chili powder
1 Tbsp. cumin

1 can water

Mix everything together in a crockpot and put on low for 8 hours. Even better served with Trader Joes Corn Cake Bread.
Thursdays are our hectic days - I have class all afternoon and evening, Evan works all day and then has catechism class in the evening - and we miss each other for dinner. I'm trying to get better at crockpot meals since that seems to be the best solution!


Dinner Guests

We love these two and are so excited for them to live just down the road.

Dutch Babies

For some reason, the past few months I have been craving Dutch Babies regularly. The salty-buttery-lemony-sweet-bready taste is just so satisfying! I've made Dutch Babies for quite a few breakfasts - and a few dinners - and it always hits the spot. Since Evan and I haven't been eating much dairy, I swapped the milk for the Blue Almond Almond/Coconut Blend we drink and it turned out just fine.

For two people (8x8 pan):
about 2 1/2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 cup milk
2 1/2 eggs (I do this by scrambling three eggs and then pouring out just a little into a cup to scramble later)
1/2 cup flour

While the oven is heating to 425, put the butter in 8x8 pan and put the pan in the oven. In a blender, blend together the milk, eggs, and flour. When the butter has melted and started to brown, remove the pan from the oven and pour the blended mixture into the pan. Return to the oven and bake for around 20 minutes.
Serve with - my favorite - lemon juice and a light dusting of powdered sugar.

Small Space Solution No. 2

Apparently the toaster works just as well on the floor as it does on the kitchen counter, which is great considering how little counter space we have!

Asian Quinoa Salad

2/3 cup white quinoa
1 cup water

small head of broccoli, cooked with minced garlic
2-3 carrots, cut in thin slices
thinly sliced red cabbage, cooked with minced ginger
water chestnuts
bell peppers
(I can't remember if I put mushrooms in this, but they would be good!)

heaping Tbsp. peanut butter
1 Tbsp. sweet chili sauce from Trader Joes
4 Tbsp. liquid aminos/soy sauce
4 Tbsp. lime juice
3 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil
1 Tbsp. Sriracha

I cooked the veggies in small batches in my little wok and mixed everything together in a big bowl. This was yummy reheated the next day, too! We added green onions and toasted sesame seeds to ours.

Recipe inspired by Minimalist Baker

Reading: Lord of the Rings

One year and 1250 pages later, we finished the Lord of the Rings series (including The Hobbit). What began last June as a way for Evan to entertain/comfort my sick self ended up occupying our attention for many evenings and long car rides over the next year. I'm thankful for writers like Tolkien who create worlds with words and thankful for Evan's many accents that made those words come alive.


Bless and Do Not Curse Them

"Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.
Enemies have driven me into your embrace more than friends have.
Friends have bound me to earth, enemies have loosed me from earth and have demolished all my aspirations in the world.
Enemies have made me a stranger in worldly realms and an extraneous inhabitant of the world. Just as a hunted animal finds safer shelter than an unhunted animal does, so have I, persecuted by enemies, found the safest sanctuary, having ensconced myself beneath your tabernacle, where neither friends nor enemies can slay my soul.
Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.
They, rather than I, have confessed my sins before the world.
They have punished me, whenever I have hesitated to punish myself.
They have tormented me, whenever I have tried to flee torments.
They have scolded me, whenever I have flattered myself.
They have spat upon me, whenever I have filled myself with arrogance.
Bless my enemies, O Lord, Even I bless them and do not curse them.
Whenever I have made myself wise, they have called me foolish.
Whenever I have made myself mighty, they have mocked me as though I were a dwarf.
Whenever I have wanted to lead people, they have shoved me into the background.
Whenever I have rushed to enrich myself, they have prevented me with an iron hand.
Whenever I thought that I would sleep peacefully, they have wakened me from sleep.
Whenever I have tried to build a home for a long and tranquil life, they have demolished it and driven me out.
Truly, enemies have cut me loose from the world and have stretched out my hands to the hem of your garment.
Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.
Bless them and multiply them; multiply them and make them even more bitterly against me:
so that my fleeing to You may have no return;
so that all hope in men may be scattered like cobwebs;
so that absolute serenity may begin to reign in my soul;
so that my heart may become the grave of my two evil twins, arrogance and anger;
so that I might amass all my treasure in heaven;
ah, so that I may for once be freed from self-deception, which has entangled me in the dreadful web of illusory life.
Enemies have taught me to know what hardly anyone knows, that a person has no enemies in the world except himself.
One hates his enemies only when he fails to realize that they are not enemies, but cruel friends.
It is truly difficult for me to say who has done me more good and who has done me more evil in the world: friends or enemies.
Therefore bless, O Lord, both my friends and enemies.
A slave curses enemies, for he does not understand. But a son blesses them, for he understands.
For a son knows that his enemies cannot touch his life.
Therefore he freely steps among them and prays to God for them.
Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them."
- Bishop Nikolai, a Serbian Orthodox bishop who spoke out against Nazism and was taken to Dachau concentration camp

Vegetable Gyoza

(Very) finely chop all vegetables:
1 heaping cup red cabbage
1 heaping cup Shanghai bok choy (one bundle from Winco)
1/3 cup green onion
heaping 1/2 cup sweet onion
1 1/2 cups mushrooms
1 Tbsp. ginger
1 Tbsp. garlic

1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1/2 tsp. liquid aminos (or soy sauce)

Makes about 50 gyoza

I first cut up all the vegetables, then cooked the cabbage and bok choy with ginger and salt (in my wok), placed in a big bowl, then the mushrooms with a drizzle of Sriracha for some spice, and the onions with garlic. Stir in the vinegar and liquid aminos into the bowl of veggies. I was worried about there being too much liquid in the mixture (no one wants watery gyoza) but I - accidentally - solved this problem by boiling the liquids out from having the glass bowl set on a burner that was supposed to be cooking the rice...whoops.
I bought pre-made gyoza wrappers at Winco (which is what first gave me the idea to try my own) and filled each with a heaping teaspoon of mixture. Dip your finger in water and slightly wet the outside ring of the wrapper and then pinch the sides together firmly. I pan fried them in my wok in small batches with a drizzle of toasted sesame oil and they were so tasty! We ate most of them...but I managed to snag a few and froze them for later.

Sweet Potato, Chickpea, & Kale Bowls

Sweet potatoes:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut sweet potatoes in 1 inch thick slices, lightly coat with olive oil and salt, and place face down on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper. Roast for about 40 minutes. During this time, cut the kale, make the dressing, and boil and spice the chickpeas.

Remove the leaves from the thick stem and cut kale (I added some romaine too) in small pieces. Toss generously with dressing.

1/3 cup tahini sauce (from Trader Joes)
2 Tbsp. hummus
1 Tbsp. + lime or lemon juice
1 Tbsp. water
1 heaping Tbsp. minced garlic
black pepper

Boil a heaping cup of soaked chickpeas for about 10 minutes. Drain and toss into a cast iron pan with some oil and sprinkle with chili powder, oregano, salt, pepper, turmeric, and smoked paprika (I used quite a bit - gives it a good spice).

I whipped up this quick cabbage slaw and added it for some color and texture:
1 cup thinly sliced red cabbage
pinch of salt
1 tsp. lime juice (or lemon or apple cider vinegar)
massage cabbage with salt and juice for a minute
drizzle with honey and stir


A New Pot for Lilla

Lilla, our IKEA palm - named after the tiny island of Lilla Essingen in Stockholm - got a fancy new pot and some new soil today (thank you Lowe's giftcard). Hopefully she takes the change well - I'm afraid she doesn't quite get enough sun in our apartment and we are still figuring out how much water she needs.
In other news, we finally got a broom...

Falafel Waffles

Falafel Waffles:
2 heaping cups of chickpeas (I soaked mine in water overnight with a pinch of apple cider vinegar), rinsed and drained
2 tsp minced garlic
handful of chopped cilantro
handful of chopped mint (or other herb)
2 Tbsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. ground corriander
2 tsp. sea salt
black pepper
4 Tbsp. lemon juice
2/3 cup chickpea flour
2 Tbsp. water

Blend chickpeas, herbs, spices, and lemon juice in a food processor (I used my Nutribullet - but divided this into two batches). Pour into a bowl and add chickpea flour and water. Stir until mixture holds together well. On parchment paper, divide mixture into eight patties. Cook on waffle iron for 4-5 minutes or until well-cooked.

This recipe pairs really well (in texture, taste, and aesthetics) with a red cabbage slaw:
2 cups thinly sliced red cabbage
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
- massage vinegar and salt into the cabbage for about one minute
drizzle with honey and black pepper and stir together

Top with sliced cucumber and tahini sauce (I used tahini sauce from Trader Joes mixed with olive oil to thin).

Recipe from My New Roots

A note on chickpeas from Sarah Britton of the blog "My New Roots:"
"We all know that chickpeas are fiber all-stars, providing 50% of your RDI in just one cup, (whoa!) but they have another party trick up their sleeve that I bet you didn’t know about. Two-thirds of the fiber in chickpeas is insoluble, meaning that it doesn’t break down during digestion, but instead moves through our digestive tract unchanged until it hits the large intestine. The fun starts here, where friendly bacteria (think probiotics!) go to town on said insoluble fiber and actually break it down to create short-chain fatty acids, including acetic acid, propionic acid, and butyric acid. These short-chain fatty acids can then be absorbed by the cells that line the wall of our large intestine and used for energy! How rad is that?! Butyric acid is in fact the preferredsource of energy for the cells lining our colon, and with this bonus fuel comes greater potential for optimally active and healthy cells. This translates into a reduced risk of colon problems including colon cancer. So friends, invite chickpeas to your next dinner party – they’ll feed you and your colon cells. Can your pot roast do that?"

Sweet & Sour Tofu Veggie Stir-Fry

One package extra-firm tofu
Toasted sesame oil
red cabbage
water chestnuts

Rinse tofu, wrap in paper towels, and set a cast-iron pan on top to drain excess moisture. Cook jasmine rice (1 1/4 cups dry rice with 1 3/4 cups water was the perfect amount for four servings). Cut tofu in small squares and rub with cornmeal and salt. Set aside. Cut up veggies and saute in sesame oil. Slice cabbage in thin strips, saute with garlic and salt. Put cooked veggies in a bowl and mix together. Put sesame oil in the wok and add half the tofu to the pan, cooking the tofu until browned and crisp (about 8 minutes). Repeat with the rest of the tofu. We added a mixture of soy sauce, Island Soyaki sauce, and Sweet Chili sauce from Trader Joes. Top with green onions.
This is one of our new favorites! The colors of the veggies are so pretty (especially the purple cabbage) and the water chestnuts add such a good texture.



How to pick a watermelon: from here
1. Pick it up: the watermelon should feel heavy for its size
2. Look for the yellow spot: when watermelons rest on the ground while growing, they develop a spot - when this spot is creamy yellow, it's ripe
3. Give it a thump: knock on the underbelly of the watermelon. A ripe one will have a hollow sound; under or over ripe melons will sound dull


Sweet Reunions

I got to catch up with one of my dear friends and hang out with two of my favorite boys this weekend. It is incredible to watch them grow and change each time I come home and I can't wait to see their personalities develop. I have so much love for these two tiny humans and their beautiful mama!
Thanks for snapping the pictures for me, Bethany
My friend from high school got married this weekend, and Evan and I got to attend. It was the first wedding we've attended as guests since our own and it was fun to sit back and enjoy a wedding knowing all the hard work that went into it.

Not the Hero Portland Wanted, but the One it Needed


Chickpea Salad Sandwiches

2 cans chickpeas, drained, rinsed, and smashed
2 stalks of celery, finely diced
2 small carrots, finely diced
1/2 medium red onion, finely diced
2 Tbsp. mayo
2 tsp. spicy mustard (I use Garlic Aioli mustard from Trader Joes)
2 tsp. sriracha
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. garlic powder, onion powder, and turmeric
black pepper

Mix everything together in a bowl and serve on bread in sandwich form (with pickles and lettuce!) or as a dip with pita chips. Makes, as always, two lunches and two dinners.

Recipe adapted from Chickpea Magazine

Peanut Butter Banana Overnight Oatmeal

1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cups unsweetened Almond-Coconut Milk (we use Blue Almond brand)
2 heaping Tbsp. flax meal or chia seeds
heaping Tbsp. peanut butter

Mix wet ingredients together first, then stir in the oats. Optional: add a dash of agave for sweetness. Soak overnight in the fridge, eat the next morning with bananas and cinnamon! Serves two.

Inspired by Minimalist Baker