Thursday, December 6, 2012

cleaning out the pantry

is my goal for the rest of this year. January 1 I am going vegan which means nothing will be from an animal. No more fish, meat (been doing that for a couple of years), dairy (also doing that for a few years), eggs, etc. So emptying out my pantry of everything to start anew. Most of what I had there was vegan anyway except for a few things. The day before yesterday I found a tin of sardines and tunafish. I mixed it together and added other ingredients to make a tuna fish salad. I did add cinnamon and crushed pineapple for more of a tropical tuna. It is very delish on whole wheat tandoori naan.
Today I am making Enchilada Soup w/ avocado.
You need 1 tbsp of olive oil, 6 cloves of garlic (minced), 1 tbsp cilantro (chopped) 8 corn tortillas, 2 lbs of seitan, 1 15 oz can of pureed tomatoes, 2 onions (finely chopped), 6 cups of vegetable broth , 2 cups of water, 1 6oz can of tomato paste, 1tbsp ground cumin, 2 tsp chili powder, 2 bay leaves, ground red pepper to taste, 3/4 cup cheddar Daiya cheese and 1 avocado (peeled, pitted, diced)
I know it looks like alot of ingredients and work but it will be so worth it. It is yummilicious.
warm olive oil in a large pot over medium-low heat. add garlic and cilantro and saute that for 3 minutes. keep a close eye cause those suckers burn quickly and it will be very bitter. tear up 4 of the tortillas into 1 inch squares and add to the pot. saute that until it is nice and soft for about 5 minutes. try not to burn. while the tortillas are cooking slice the chicken or tofu into bite-size pieces. add the chicken, pureed tomatoes, onions, broth, water, tomato paste, cumin, chili powder and bay leaves. let it boil over high heat. once it starts boiling reduce heat to low and add the ground red pepper and let it simmer for 30 minutes stirring from time to time.
now go get a nice glass of wine because we are half way done.
preheat your oven to 400 degrees. using your special kitchen scissors or really good pizza slicer (am sure that there is a proper name but that is what I call it) cut the remaining tortillas into 1/4 inch wide strips and place them on a baking sheet in a single layer. bake until they are LIGHTLY browned, about 7 minutes. let them cool away from the oven so they will be nice and crispy. after the soup has simmered for 30 minutes remove the bay leaves. sometimes I can't find them which is fine. just don't forget to warn everyone that the bay leaves aren't really edible and they should dispose of them nicely on a napkin and not the nice tablecloth you just bought.
oh wait I just spaced out there.
ladle a portion of the soup into a bowl and top with the shredded cheese, diced avocado and tortilla strips and enjoy!
This recipe serves 8 adults. Go ahead and pack the extras for lunch or freeze it for those days you just don't have the time to cook a full meal.
This recipe was taken from a cookbook called Eating for Life by Bill Phillips. I did tweak it. My husband bought this a couple of years back when he wanted a change in his life. It was more like here 'make me some'. He didn't like most of the food because it was 'too healthy'. I thought it was really great recipes and I just adapted most of them to be dairy-free. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

My Aha Moment

This morning, like most mornings in the last month, I did not want to get out of bed.  I started to ask myself what was wrong with me.  I usually get out of bed start a load of laundry or go straight to the kitchen to start my coffee.  
I only wanted to stay in bed and read a book or read the latest in Twitter or Facebook.  
Then it hit me.  
It's December 4.  Close to our school break. Close to the end of the year.  
I am burned out!  
It's the same feeling when Spring break comes around.  Counting the weeks and days until Summer break when I can just sit by the pool and read a book or play in the pool with my kids.  
Except this time I wanted to snuggle with my blankie and a good book.  
So starting tomorrow, I'm going to make myself get out of bed at 7am and start the laundry and make my coffee.  Get my blood pumping and plan out the rest of the day.  

I had some leftover Daiya cheese from our Thanksgiving feast.  I knew I needed to use it before it spoils. Realized I haven't made this delicious dish in a while....

Pasta Pizza

1 lb pasta (any shape)
pizza sauce (I used Ragu but whatever you have at hand is good. Any red/marinara sauce will do)
8oz or more of any non-dairy cheese you might have at hand

Cook pasta according to directions
While the pasta is being drained heat up the pizza sauce until it bubbles
Add the pasta back into the pot with the sauce and add the cheese
Heat and cover until the cheese gets nice and melty.

You can add whatever veggies you have, TVP, or any other vegan protein you might have.


Monday, November 19, 2012

Another Sick Day

Today is my first vacation day but it's not the way I would have wanted it. Since Friday I have had strep throat. Saturday I started sneezing. Sunday morning I had sinus pain.
This is not how I wanted to spend my staycation.
I had visions of me going to Y and exercising and taking advantage of the steam room and detoxing and praying.
Visions of me sitting at a local coffee shop and knitting and maybe walking around the mall doing some window shopping for inspiration before I head to the thrift store.
Unless there is some kind of turnaround, I'll be home knitting with some hot beverage nearby watching whatever craptv has going.
The positive thing since being sick is that I finished one book and started another. I also watched a few movies at home since I canceled our weekly trip to Girl Scouts and acting class.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Because Seriously, Sometimes You Have To Be Like, WTF?!?!

I wasn't going to write today.
Feeling really distracted by an event last night.
Last night I took my daughters to a pink carpet event we were invited to.  A few faces stood out besides the owner.  Several were kids/moms we have come across in this year we have been auditioning and filming.
But one gave me a sour taste.
She is a mom who I believe thinks she is a competition.  I guess it is if you have that mindset.  She gives me dirty looks when we walk into the audition waiting room.  I always greet her with a smile and say hi to her and her kid (and her husband if he's there).  They usually just like at me like I'm an alien.  Blank stares like they have no sense.  My kids were dancers in one particular project where we first had contact with them.  The kid kept grabbing my kid's iPod Touch.  At one point I had to take it because this kid did not understand the word no and they adults did nothing!  What kind of shit is that?  How are you going to witness your kid grabbing other people's property and not say anything?  Oh wait, one of the adults did.  She said, "oh she always does that".  My response was that maybe she should buy her one to keep her entertained.  I was a bit irritable at that point but what the fuck?
The last time we were in contact with this family, one of my kids played her sister.  She was a bit snippy with me but I just ignored her.  One other mom there didn't like her much since the kid kept grabbing her iPad and did not understand no.  At one point the director had a good talking to the adult (I'm not sure if she was the mom or the grandmom since she looked old and decrepit). While the camera was rolling, the kid decided to go on a rant about "how fucking tired and stupid this film was".

I started writing this Sunday morning.  Still reeling on what happened the night before.
We went on a Disneyland staycation and I certainly feel more calm and zen-like.

So now, I am just waiting on my coffee and so I can get into my zone.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Vegan Thanksgiving Countdown

The only thing I buy already made is the Tofurkey and the yummy mushroom gravy but everything else is from scratch.  One thing I discovered several years ago was this mofongo stuffing or green plantain stuffing.  It was a huge hit for us at home.  I hope you like it.  This is my own vegan version.

6 green plantains

Vegetable oil for frying

1 lb. tempeh bacon (chopped into small pieces)

6 cloves garlic (chopped)

3 sweet chili peppers (seeded and finely chopped)

1 small onion (finely chopped)

1/3 cup olive oil

1/3 cup vegetable broth


1. Heat the oil for frying to 375 degrees.
2. While the oil is heating up, peel the green plantains and then cut them into 3/4 inch slices.
3. Fry the slices in the hot oil for 3 minutes. They should be a light golden color and semi-soft.
4. Remove the plantain slices with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
Tip: Maintain the oil’s temperature.
5. When the plantain slices are cool enough to handle (about 1 minute), smash them into flat rounds.
6. Fry the rounds in the hot oil for 3 minutes. They will turn crisp and golden brown.
7. Remove the slices with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
8. In a mortar and pestle, mash together the bacon, garlic, peppers, onion and olive oil a little at a time until everything is incorporated.
9. Add the broth. If the stuffing is not moist enough, add more broth until you get the consistency you prefer.

Serves: 12 people (if you can control yourself)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sweet potatoes

Yay to autumn! So many vegetables and fruits in season.
Fire up the slow cooker and get some vegetables. Make it a side dish or a meal. I love it as a meal with Earth Balance buttery spread.

Slow cooked sweet potatoes

Scrub 4-5 sweet potatoes
Do not dry
Throw it in the slow cooker for 4-5 hours (or until done) on low.
Stick a fork in and if it sinks, it's done.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Miss Jessie's Curly Pudding

Please excuse this post since km doing it on the phone and typing as fast as i can. So you will find plenty of errors and probably grammar....
Living in a one income family is hard. More so if the one income is from a teacher. Living one income for a family of 4, I've had to do without and one of the big things I've had to cut out is my hair. I don't have "good" hair like my mom or my cousins from that side of my family. I have the Dominican hair. Hair that my mom was able to tame with lots and lots of product and hair relaxers. My hair after washing and left alone is very curl and scrunches. When my hair was past my shoulders, if left alone, was up to my ears. That's what I mean by scrunched. This past May we attended the mother and daughter soirée hosted by My Beauty Inc. in our swag bag was a hair product line called Miss Jessie. It's for those of us with curly, kinky or wavy hair. I decided why not. They do not test on animals so I was impressed by that. First tries the slippery shampoo. It was a different texture that I'm used to. It is great on dry and damaged hair. After towel drying my and putting a comb through it. I decided to try the curly pudding. It smelled so good I almost wanted to eat it! I decided to follow the guide book and applied the curly pudding all over my hair and comb through it again, separated my hair and did the 2 strand twist. I can do about 8 2 strand twists all around. Grabbed my cotton doo rag, handkerchief or whatever you want to call it and kept my hair in for the night. Next morning I took it off and undid the 2 strands and divided those into 4s. First off, my hair was not tangled. It seems like the curly pudding conditioned my hair. After all of undoing the 2 strands and make it to four I looked at myself and loved the result! I had no frizz. Had my natural hair length and my hair looked healthy. Many months later I still use only the curly pudding. When needed and between washing I just spray my hair with water and finger curl my hair with the curly pudding and I'm good to go.

What Hispanic Heritage Month Taught Me

Yesterday was the end of Hispanic Heritage Month.  
I've always tried to instill into my children where their grandparents came from.  
My husband is of Guatemalan descent and I am of Dominican and Puertorican descent.  I had an easier time instilling my ancestry with my children from a very early age but now that the kids are older and are doing so many things this year was a little challenging.  The books I picked up from various Dominican and Puertorican authors are still sitting in out library bookcase.  Untouched.  The music was a little challenging since the kids have their ear buds on or they are in their rooms with the door closed.  
They have to eat.
That was the most successful contribution I was able to make for my kids.  Platanos almost every day.  Rice and beans is always a staple in our home so it wasn't much of a big deal.  Without realizing it, I was already instilling that part of our heritage.  
Also another thing I realized is this.  We as Latinos are not including a variety of vegetables in our meals.  I used the cookbook, A Taste of Puerto Rico by Yvonne Ortiz for a few of our meals with a twist.  More vegetables.  Our dishes are tomato based and that is great but the lack of greens was astounding.  How are we to raise a family with such a lack of vegetables.  Growing up we didn't eat much in the vegetable department.  A lot of meals were cooked around meat.  It hasn't been easy doing this at home.  Right now my kids hate it but I am hoping that when they grow up they will remember what I have been trying to do and hopefully they will adopt this new way of eating as a norm.
This weekend I re-invented the Puertorican spaghetti sauce.  I added some ingredients and it was so very good.  This recipe will leave you with leftovers to freeze for another day.

Maria's Vegan Puertorican Spaghetti Sauce

2 tbsps olive oil
1 medium yellow onion chopped finely
2 minced garlic cloves 
1 red bell pepper seeded and chopped
4 mushrooms sliced
6 tbsps tomato paste
4 cups tomato sauce
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
5 cups water
1 tbsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp adobo
2 cups re hydrated TVP
1 tbsp Italian seasoning

Heat the oil in a skillet and saute vegetables until soft.
Transfer to a slow cooker and add the rest of the ingredients except the TVP. 
Cook on low for 6 hours.
One hour before serving add the re hydrated TVP w/Italian seasoning and stir.

Enjoy with crusty bread and your choice of pasta.

You can also just cook in a stockpot and let it simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally and adding water if it gets to dry.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

No Wii? No Cable? Boring life? Oh please!

Yesterday someone asked what did we do for fun since we didn't own the latest in video game consoles or subscribed to cable.
I simply said, "We go outside".

Let me explain.

We are a busy family.
During the day as I send my husband and oldest daughter to work and school I am home with my youngest.  Our school day starts at about 8am until 3ish.  We get ready and head out to our local YMCA where my daughters are taking a variety of dance classes, an art class or an acting class.  We are there for a good 2 hours a day.

My husband picks us up on the way home.  Sometimes we go to the library first and pick up books and videos.  We read A LOT.  You will always find a book in our bags.  Depending on our schedule for the weekend, we go food shopping.
Once we are home, we start our evening routine which consists of dinner, shower, grading, math tutoring and homework.
After all is done, we do watch an hour or two of TV.  It might be in a form of a video from the library (we watched Cars 2 last week) or a show on TV.
Once the weekend comes around we are not home much.
Our Saturdays are filled with the teen interning and the tween going to girl scouts and acting/theatre class.
Sometimes they have a gig which is usually an all day event.  They love their job.  Sundays is our day of rest.  If they don't have a gig you will find us at home watching movies (again the library has tons of free movies.  My husband and I watched In the Land of Blood and Honey last week) and resting.  Sometimes my husband wants a day of fun because of a stressful week and we go to Disneyland.

You see?

Why have the latest in gaming or shell out all that money for cable if we can enjoy what is all around us?  The library lends us so many wonderful books (and if you have an e-reader you can borrow from there) and videos.  Why do I want to shell out hundreds of dollars a year to let it go to waste?  We enjoy doing things as a family.  Yes, Disneyland is starting to get expensive because of ticket prices but where else can a family hang out and go on rides, dance, and just enjoy your surroundings with the added security measures they put into place?
Maybe they idea of sitting around all day long is something I sometimes long for but the truth of the matter is

(I wanted to post more pics but my DSL/WIFI is extremely slow at the moment)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

In the wake of Romney wanting to shutdown PBS, I pray everyone steps up and consider donating to this non-profit.
It's because of their programs like Electric Company and Sesame Street, many 1st generation Americans learned the English language.
Children have learned to be a little gentler watching shows like Mister Rogers and Barney.
PBS also educates the adults through their programming like History Detectives, NOVA, and Secrets of the Dead.

If you can give to your local cable or satellite company to further watch the antics of kid who calls herself a boo boo or housewives who have cameras following them around to show the people of America how gangsta they are.  Watching their salaries go up per episode while you're scrounging to find an extra dollar for that classy coffee you like to drink. Certainly you can can donate a few dollars to keep this non-profit on air and watch your mind be blown.

Here are other PBS sites:
Cooking Shows
What's on Tonight!
Educational FUN Games
Parents Get the Heads Up on Helping Their Child
Teachers! PBS Loves You Too!
Help Support PBS
Join Me in Supporting PBS

I am not associated with the non-profit, Public Broadcasting Service (PBS).
All links are theirs.
All words are mine.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Calendar Overload

This month is the busiest time of the year.
Right now my middle child is already rehearsing for the Laramie Project at her school.  Rehearsals are several times a week and when they get closer to the date, it will be daily.  She is also a leader at the local AWANA club.  Her Saturday acting class is on hold until she finishes her weekly internship at a local parks and rec.
My youngest is learning 3 different choreography for an upcoming show with our local YMCA.  She also has girl scouts and acting classes on Saturday and a couple of projects she will be filming this month.

I think I just tired myself from writing that down.

Some people wonder why I do it.  I certainly didn't grow up with any of these opportunities when I was growing up.
My oldest was interested for less than a month on taekwondo and wasn't interesting in anything else but hanging with his friends and playing video games. So I let him because that is what he wanted to do.

I do this because my kids want to do this.  I have said no (if you can believe it) on other activities.

Most importantly, it is a girl thing.  I have nothing against boys.  I had one and he is and always will be the love of my life.
Girls have been taught, since an early age, that boys are dominant in everything.  Sports, business, and entertainment.
When my daughters decided they wanted to enter the entertainment business as actresses I was a bit hesitant, at first.  Then it became a big deal for me when I started getting breakdowns.  I choose roles they audition for very carefully.  They are just getting there foot in the door but I am still very careful what they do.  I would rather my daughters do small roles instead of big roles that are violent or come across as some hoochie.  Believe me when I tell you that I have across roles when they are looking for hot 8-12 year olds or roles where the 13 and over is in a scene where sex is implied.  Implied or not there minds are too young and can't really understand it.
I want my daughters to be positive role models and play them on film.

I also want them to be the best at what they do now and what they will do later on in their lives.

Let your children follow their dreams.
Even if it will take up your space on your calendar.
You will still have a life.  I promise you.
And if that's not enough, remember, they won't live with you forever.
If you're lucky.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Banned Books Week 2012

One thing I hate is when "the man" is trying to censor what I read, write or watch.  Am I not an adult and can make my own decisions? Shouldn't I also be the one to censor what my child reads or watch?
This is what Banned Books Week means to me.  Exercising my First Amendment Right:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

I did skim through the books listed on Censored books and I will admit that my teen has read a large portion of the books listed but that was OUR decision.  

A book is not going to change her.  
After reading Huckleberry Finn, neither of my children went around calling people niggers.  
After reading Harry Potter they did not practice wizardry.  
This is OUR decision to make.
Exercise your right and ye to the library!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Gentlemen Prefer Bimbos

Often times I have my children read a book for our literature class or because it won an award or it was highly recommended.
Many times it starts out with a book they do not like from beginning to end.
Other times, they get to the middle of the book and they are already on our local library's website looking to check out other books from the author.
I decided if I have to "make" my children read selected books maybe I should too. A very funny author suggested the book Gentlemen Prefer Blondes by Anita Loos.
I am half way through the book and I can't like it.  All the spelling errors is driving me BANANAS.  Every time I come across one, I have to read the sentence and try to understand what she was trying to say.
Do "gentlemen" just prefer women who are so unintelligent that they feel good about themselves?

Please forgive my misspellings and grammatical errors from this brunette. :-)

Friday, September 21, 2012

Platanos...For the Dominican in Me

Yesterday I spent almost the entire day going through my wallet.
Dividing receipts. Shredding the ones I didn't need.  Shredding cards I no longer use.
We carry so much in our purses and wallets and it just seems to drag us down.  Physically and mentally.
I thought maybe that was the reason why I have had such a hard time sleeping.  Money is always an issue for us.
My husband is a high school math teacher and we barely survive with his paycheck.  Never mind the furloughs.  How about the fact that his Godsend of a check comes once a month.
One thing it has taught me was to be a saver.
Not like hoarder but a money saver.
We recently joined Costco after a 5 year break from them.
Smart and Final is across the street from me but prices have gone up slightly and they no longer sell bulk items in foods I normally buy.
Things like coconut milk, beans, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, tomato paste and other canned goods is now sold individually.
That just doesn't work for me.
I'm shelling out more money and more visits to the store.
Our first day back at Costco came with a nice surprise.
They sell Morning Star and other similar products very well known in the vegetarian/vegan community.  They sell tofu now by the case!
My heart is happy and I know I'm saving some money.
They don't have everything I need so I will still visit Smart and Final for some fresh produce Costco doesn't sell and Whole Foods for my nondairy cheese, etc.

Yesterday I introduced my family to baked maduros (yellow plantains).  I haven't had these in a long time and was very happy that my most picky eater loved it.

Maduros Asados

6 medium/large yellow plantains

preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
cut a 2 inch slit in each plantain and wrap with aluminum foil.
bake for 40 minutes.
peel the plantains and arrange them on a serving platter.
drizzle with this....

Garlic Dipping Sauce

6 peeled garlic cloves
1 cup olive oil
1 tsp salt

add everything into a blender or food processor.
store, tightly covered in the refrigerator.

You will have plenty left over.
Store the leftovers in the fridge and use it tomorrow as a dipping sauce for other platanos.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

REPOST! Sofrito and Quick Bean Stew

September 15 is the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month.  I will be doing my part here at home to cook more meals from my parent's home countries.  It is very difficult for me to do here in California since so many ingredients I grew up here are not readily available to me.  Also so many of the dishes I grew up eating had meat as the main dish.  I will be doing a whole vegetarian spin on all of the dishes.  Many I came to terms with not eating again.  Of course, everything with fish and all the meats available.
Yesterday instead of buying the sofrito at the Cuban store, I went and bought the necessary ingredients for recaito.  It took some figuring out what I could and couldn't use.  I couldn't use Italian frying or cubanelle pepper but instead used a poblano pepper.  Instead of using sweet chili peppers (ajitos) I went for red, yellow and green bell peppers. I could not find recao leaves so I used a bunch of cilantro. 
If anyone has the readily available to them, please send me your seeds.  I would really appreciate it.

Basic Recaito
1/2 medium yellow onion
1 Italian frying pepper or Cubanelle pepper
2 garlic cloves, peeled
3 sweet chili peppers or bell peppers or mini bell peppers
3 recao leaves or 3 cilantro sprigs
1 sprig cilantro
1 tbsp olive oil

cut and remove seeds from all peppers.
combine all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor.  

Refrigerate or freeze in 1/4 cup batches.  Good for stews and beans.

Vegetarian Bean Stew
(habichuelas guisadas vegetariana)

1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup Recaito
1 cup tomato sauce
2 cups water or vegetable stock (I like to use the stock to give it more of a nutritional value)
1/4 lb calabaza (West Indian pumpkin or whatever you can find) Peeled and diced.
1 cup alcaparrado (a mix of olives and capers but it does boost its flavor but if it's not your thing it's OK to omit)
2  cans of beans (black, pinto, kidney) drained and rinsed
1 tsp black pepper 

heat the oil in a pot.
add the recaito and tomato sauce and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes.
add the stock and calabaza.
bring to a boil and the alcaparrado, beans and black pepper.
bring to a boil again.
reduce and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes

You can enjoy this with rice, quinoa, or alone with some crusty bread and vegetables.

I Am Not Drinking the Kool-Aid On Purpose

After almost 30 minutes in the store, trying to figure out which phone will have the privilege to live in my pocket, I went with the iPhone 4.
Only because it was free.
I was loving the Samsung Galaxy but could not afford it.
I had to say adios to Android.
But only for a short moment.
My husband's phone will be up for an upgrade in the new year and he said he would be OK keeping his current Motorola or taking the iPhone and storing the Motorola as a backup.
I'm hoping that one of the Samsung Galaxies will be available for super cheap (read free) by that time.
For now I have to deal with the iPhone.
The iPhone that will not allow me to download my friends contact information from Facebook.    
The iPhone with it's small screen and the heaviness of  free weights.
But I do have my Pandora back. :-)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

My Quest for a New Cell phone

My beloved Samsung Infuse was murdered...okay broken over the weekend. 
So Saturday night I informed my cell phone provider that even though I wasn't due for a free upgrade, I have been a long time customer and wanted it now instead of later.  
After being on hold for about 5 minutes customer service said sure which phone do you want?  I did not want to pay for another phone, actually.  I wanted something free or very low cost.  
The Infuse was free and before that my iPhone was $50.  Yes.  I am a cheap ass. I was only given 2 choices and chose the free phone.  It was with a Windows Operating System and decided to try it out.  
What the fuck!  That piece of shit! The app store is laughable and WHAT?!?!?! NO PANDORA?!?!?! I LIVE ON PANDORA!!!!
Today I am returning the phone in hopes to find a really cheap ass or free Android phone with a larger screen than 3 inches.  
My previous phone was 4" and it packed a punch (that's what she said).  
I could clearly see the screen and not have to pinch and expand to read 3 words at a time.  
Today I continue on my quest for my new phone.  A new phone to fall in love.  A new phone to take to bed with me when I have a bout of insomnia and have no new books to read.

In other news, Saturday is the first day of Hispanic Month.  Going to introduce my younger kids some foods and will be converting A LOT of recipes vegan.  It should be interesting.  
I think I will need a mojito.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Carta de Amor a los Mal Informados

En menos de 7 días, 2 personas me han dicho cosas más tonta sobre homeschoolers.
Aún más tonta es el hecho que conozcan mis hijos, pero todavía tienen la necesidad de decir el más ignorante de cosas.

1. ¿Tienen amigos y cuando tienen la oportunidad de socializar?

¿En serio? ¿No conozcan mis hijos? Conozco adultos que son socialmente torpes (ejem) y han estado alrededor de gente sus propias edades desde preescolar hasta la universidad. Mis hijos tienen la oportunidad de estar cerca de personas de todas las edades, géneros, clases, razas y nunca han tenido un momento incómodo. Se adaptan a cualquier situación.
Mi hija adolescente fue a una escuela de ladrillo y mortero por la primera vez este ano y sabes qué fue lo primero que notó? Los grupos de niños que sólo salían con chicos que parecían de ellos, vestido como ellos, y estaban en el mismo grado. Ella no podía entender por qué estudiantes de 8vo grado no estan "permitidos" a sentarse con los alumnos de sexto durante el almuerzo. Estoy orgullosa de decir que ella se sentó con todos. Viajaba de una mesa a otra era la forma en que mi mariposa social pasó su tiempo durante la hora del almuerzo.
¿Cuántos niños puede hacer eso?
De hecho, vaya a su página de Facebook y elegir cualquier persona al azar que usted tiene en su timeline y desplazamiento a través de su lista de amigos. Apuesto a que tiene más de un amigo cuyo amigos miran como ellos.
La socialización de hecho!
No es que haya educadores en el hogar que pueden estar bajo las paraguas de lo que los medios han retratado a ser educadores en el hogar.
He conocido a muchos, pero mis hijos, no es uno de ellos.

2. ¿Están aprendiendo algo? Ellos no pueden aprender en casa! Eso es una locura. ¿No te cansas de estar cerca de ellos durante tanto tiempo?

Ese tipo de pregunta que me hace reir tanto.
Recuerdo cuando mi, entonces 1er grado, se fue a la casa de los abuelos para el día llevandose libros en el bulto de Hello Kitty. Estaba leyendo La Serie de Eventos Desafortunados. El abuelo se sorprendió que supiera ella leer. Cuando llegó a casa esa noche y me dijo como paso el dia y me dijo que sorprendidos estaban que ella sabia leer. Ella, en torno, le miro bien a los ojos del y dijo "¿qué se creen que hago todo el día?"
Tal vez pensó que comiamos chocolate y mirando episodios de I Love Lucy todo el día. A una edad temprana les enseñé la cantidad que realmente puede amar a su biblioteca y todas las maravillas que puedes encontrar en ese gran edificio grande. Allí fue donde mi chiquilla salio de su cochecito y descubrió el pasillo donde se puede aprender todo lo que usted siempre quiso saber acerca de los insectos.

Por supuesto, es mucho de trabajo. Una madre comentó lo mucho que digo "nosotros" cuando hable de la forma en que hacemos la escuela en la casa. Trabajamos a partir de las 8am hasta las 3:00pm.
Nos tomamos descansos y tal vez caminamos por el bloque durante nuestro dia.
Nosotros aprendemos sobre la historia del mundo.
Nos encantó la lectura de los clásicos de Mark Twain.
Sí. Yo digo que mucho digo "nosotros".

Ni siquiera voy a pedir disculpas por no tener la niñera en el speed dial.
Por supuesto, tengo mis momentos en los que necesitamos tiempo a solas.
Gracias a Dios por la YMCA donde durante los últimos 10 años, mis hijas tenían clases de ballet, gimnasia,  natación, actuación y clases de baile.
Esta Mami ha tenido mucho con ella misma.
A medida que avanzo en otro año homeschooling con mi chiquilla, no me arrepiento.
Bueno, por lo menos puedo tener un lote grande de chocolate todos los días.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Are you really prepared?

Yesterday the lights went out for about 5 minutes.  I panicked!  I am not prepared in case of an emergency.
I am prepared food wise.
Plenty of snacks and boxed drinks.  Flashlight and extra batteries.  Extra battery for my cell phone.
What I am not prepared is mentally.
I freak out if we have a tiny shake.
Okay not tiny for me.  They are all HUGE to me.
I'm a New Yawker.  The most shaking we ever get is in a train.  I do remember one in 1986 (?).  I remember not being able to sleep at all.  The birds, cats and dogs were especially noisy hours before the quake.  I thought I was going to die.
Mentally I am not prepared for anything disastrous.  I scream and cry.
I really need to get my shit together.  Two out of three of my kids still living at home and they do not need to see me losing my shit because the lights went out or if we have a little shaking going on.
Or if the a/c decides not to turn on.
So, I am going to start calming myself down.
That means not on the verge of tears when the phone rings after 10pm (casting directors, producers, directors?  Please call me early when you need my kids on set.  You will give me a heart attack. :-)   )
Or if I hear rumbling because of an earthquake or if a truck is going by and I think it's an earthquake.  True story.
Staying calm is something I need to practice. Maybe yoga breathing and not hyperventilating breathing.
Over the weekend I decided to tweak my bean stew in the crockpot.  I usually just cook it over the stove but we were really busy this weekend and I wanted to come home to food.  All I had to do was make the rice and dinner was ready 20 minutes after walking in through the door.

2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp minced garlic (use less if you're not a fan)
1/4 cup sofrito
1 cup tomato sauce
2 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup alcaparrado
2 cans beans (any will do.  I made mine with red kidney beans)
1 tsp adobo

Heat the oil in a saute pan.
Add the sofrito and tomato sauce and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes.
Add the garlic and saute for 2 minutes.
Transfer to a slow cooker and the rest of the ingredients and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
You can totally double this recipe and freeze half.


Monday, August 20, 2012

First Day of School

I kid you not when I tell you that a stay at home mom on my street was having a party at 8am this morning!
Classes in the elementary, middle and high schools start at 8am so I can only guess someone was celebrating the first day of school and it wasn't a child.
Today I sent my teen off to her first year of high school.  She showed me her outfit she had chosen as her debut to the high school.  A lavender off the shoulder tunic with one of her favorite skinny jeans.  She looked so cute today with her wavy and slightly curly hair.
Pray she has an awesome first year of high school.
She auditioned back in Spring to be part of the high school's glee and she was called in.  Super excited she is!  I hope it's everything she was hoping (minus the drama from the show) it to be.  She will be doing a lot this school year.  She still volunteers a a co-leader for the local AWANA club, part of the library teen club where she will help decide on activities for the teens, auditions and filming as much as her schedule allows.  On top of that she will continue taking acting classes and dance class and go to as many high school games.
She is such a wonderful teenager.  Friendly and unlike many teens, she doesn't believe she is in a higher status than others.  She is not your typical teen.  Her preference is to be behind a book and her favorite app is Good Reads.

Over the weekend I made a huge pot of beans and rice to celebrate our last summer before everyone is off to school (husband started last week and the tween is homeschooled).
Sent the huz to the Cuban store to get some Caribbean ingredients that are not normally found in our local grocery stores.  Yeah.  We're special.

Habichuelas Guisadas

2 tbsps olive oil
1/4 cup sofrito
1 cup tomato sauce
2 cups vegetable stock
1/4 lb peeled and diced West Indian pumpkin
1 cup alcaparrado (you can add as little or as many as you want.  I don't like to bite into one but it does enhance the flavor)
2 16 oz cans beans (you can use just about any whole bean. I used red kidney beans)
1 tsp black pepper

Heat the oil in a large pot.
When heated add the sofrito and tomato sauce and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes.
Add the water and pumpkin.
Bring to a boil and add the alcaparrado, beans, and black pepper.
Bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.

I actually doubled the ingredients to last us for a few more days since were are trying to get back to a school day schedule.




Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Public Letter to the Misinformed

In less than 7 days 2 people have said the dumbest thing about homeschoolers. Even more dumb is the fact that they know my children but yet have the need to say the most ignorant of things.

1. Do they have friends and would they have opportunities to socialize?

Seriously? Do you not know my kids? I know adults who are socially awkward (ahem) and they have been around people their own ages from kindergarten through college. My children have the opportunity to be around people of all ages, genders, classes, race and never had an awkward moment. They adapt to whatever situation is thrown at them.My teenager went to a brick and mortar school for the very first time and you know what was the first thing she noticed? Groups of kids that only hung out with kids that looked like them, dressed like them, and were in the same grade. She just could not understand why 8th graders were not "allowed" to sit with 6th graders during lunch break. I'm proud to say she sat with everyone. Traveling from one table to another was the way my social butterfly spent her time during her break. How many kids can do that? In fact, go to your Facebook page and pick any random person that you have on your timeline and scroll through their friend list. I bet you have more than one friend whose friends look just like them. Socialization indeed. Not that there homeschoolers who might be under the umbrella of what the media has portrayed homeschoolers to be. Believe me. I've met A LOT but my kids, are not one of them.

2. Are they learning anything? They can't learn at home! That's crazy talk. Don't you get tired of being near them for so long?

That type of question makes me laugh so hard. I remember when my then 1st grader went to her grandparents house for the day carrying a stack of books. She was reading the Series of Unfortunate Events. The grandfather was surprised she could read. When she came home that evening and told me I asked her what did she say. Ever the quick one she responded "what do you think I do all day?" Maybe he thought she ate chocolate and watched episodes of I Love Lucy all day. At an early age I taught them how much you can really love your library and all the wonders you can find in that great big building. There was where my tween would climb out of her stroller and discovered the aisle where you can learn all you ever wanted to know about bugs.

Of course, it's a lot of work. One mom commented on how much I say "we" when talking about how we school at home. We work from about 8am or so until about 3pm. We take breaks and maybe walk around the neighborhood during our school day.We love learning about world history.
We loved reading classics by Mark Twain.
Yes. I say WE a lot.
Like we had a rough day with school. We are taking a mental health day. We can't wait for (fill in the blank) vacation.
I won't even apologize for not having a live in nanny or a nanny on speed dial.
Of course, I have my moments when I need alone time. Thank God for the YMCA where for the past 10 years my daughters had ballet, cheerleader, gymnastics, swimming, acting and dance classes. This Mami has had plenty of me, myself, and I time.
As I go into another homeschooling year with my tween, I have no regrets.
Well, except I wish I can have a large batch of chocolate everyday.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

I ?%&$ up!

30 day eating in challenge is too difficult for us to do. Yesterday from all the running around we had to stop and eat somewhere outside of home. At first, we bent the challenge a little with only drinks like Coffee, tea, and Smoothies. The kids have grown tired of cold sandwiches. I have also with a smile. But I think I did prove a point to my husband that we needed to cut it out.
So we're still eating vegan. Me mostly. Everyone else at home.
I don't see it as giving up. More like more conscious of what we put in our mouths.
I often wonder what other people do, who are as busy as we are, not eat outside of the home. Or maybe they just don't realize how often they do it. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

In other related news ...

Kinda fucked up the other day.
We ate out. 
For those not in the know, I challenged my family to eat vegan and not eat out. So, basically, a hybrid of the books The Art of Eating In and 30 Day Vegan Challenge.
The girls were really busy w/an Audition on the westside and rehearsals in Hollywood.
I haven't gone to the grocery store to do my weekly shopping because I was too tired to walk around the store w/the most annoying people who park their carts in the middle of the aisle.
Or waiting in a long line with people who are still writing checks or counting their change.
So I really didn't have anything to throw together in hopes that it wouldn't spoil in the heat.
We hit the Veggie Grill near LAX using my birthday coupon.
BTW, if you have one nearby go try the carne asada w/avocado sandwich and sweet potato fries. And their yummylicious strawberry Lemonade drink.
Today I will be hitting the store and stocking up on bread rolls, tofurkey, Daiya, and sprouts. Then start on the baked beans, by request. I make a mean baked beans in the crock pot.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

1st day eating in/vegan

Was boring. Nothing fancy.
We were out of town and I am still tired and not wanting to do too much in the kitchen.
Brunch was a Smokey Bacon tempeh w/ tomato, Daiya cheese and tomatoes in a vegan bun.
Dinner was a veggie Burger with all the fixings.
Tomorrow I'm hoping for more energy to stand in front of the stove for a more complete meal.
It is funny how my daughter is complaining about not being able to eat meats and eggs when 1. I haven't bought meat in YEARS and 2. We ran out of eggs last month.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Inspired to start a short challenge

A couple of years ago after reading The Art of Eating In, I challenged everyone at home to not eat out for 30 days. It was hard for my husband and drive-thru windows.
Today I picked up from my library 30 Day Vegan Challenge and asked my husband if he would be on board.
He agreed!
Starting Sunday we will be taking ideas from both of the books and starting our own challenge.  Perfect timing because
1. We will be back from a very short vacation with no access to a kitchen of my own and
2. he goes back to school the 2nd week of August.

I'm so excited!
Sunday I'll go food shopping with my trusty list!

And no I did ask my kids because the spend as little time as possible in the kitchen and they are not the breadwinners.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Enjoy Your Independence

We're staying home and enjoying vegan kielbasa, vegan hot dogs and vegan potato salad.
Don't drink and drive and stay safe everyone!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Pot lucks

Hardest thing ever.
Lesson learned.
Completely my fault.
Totally have a game plan next time.

Very short post.
kids have to be on set early tomorrow.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Sorry but there is no vodka in the vodka sauce

Tonight I was in the mood for some vodka sauce with my penne.
Yes there is dairy in it but I was feeling a bit rundown with all the running around we did today.
First to renew my daughters entertainment work permit (and I still have to go back on Wednesday). Then FINALLY cutting our ties with our bank. Sorry but you have been screwing us for the past 13 years with your changing of hands, names, and your ridiculous fees. Then off to make some deposits on the girls coogan accounts and opening our own credit union accounts.
Very productive day.
We did take a break and stopped at our local Trader Joe's for lunch and picniked with the lovely LOUD parakeets.
After all was done I was able to take my nap and head to the library. My Celina is obsessed with reading the most books so that she can as many tickets as possible to win the grand prize of an iPad. Lovely girl.
Realizing I had to make dinner I took the easy way and picked up whole wheat penne, vodka sauce, and garlic bread for the family. No veggies. Estoy cansada.
Tomorrow I pray for a slow day.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

On set and eating right...

Is not an easy thing to do. What with the jumbo Costco size Twizzlers and the different variety of sweet breads that can be found up and down the west coast. I'm happy to bring my own food. I'm not the talent. I'm just the mom so I don't feel "entitled" to eat from craft services which is just fine with me. I packed a big glass bowl full of broccoli salad and a sandwich with sprouts and veggies. And that was just perfect for me. :-)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Major headache as I detox from...

Unhealthy foods.
We did hang out at Disney's California Adventure and spent about 5 hours in Carsland.
Then we hit Souplantation for a late lunch/early dinner. I piled lots of veggies and ate until I was full. Tomorrow will be interesting since my youngest has acting and puppetry class and that takes almost the entire day.
Think I will just pack fruits, veggies, and nuts for tomorrow. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Now that graduation and end of the year celebrations are over, I can get back to good eating.
Not that eating out wasn't good.
I appreciate the break from shopping and preparing of our meals but I like knowing what was in my food.
Was it organic?  Did you add animal fat (lard) to cook my beans?
When I cut an onion or open a jar of garlic in my kitchen is what makes me happy.  Curry and coconut milk heating up in my small pot makes this girl very happy.
I thought I was going to go back to good eating today but this morning I remembered that we were invited to ANOTHER end of the school year get together.
So, tomorrow, hopefully I will be back in my kitchen.


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Feel so blah....

And I know it has to do with my eating. I have no energy and my body feels off. So, to make sure I do what I need to do, I'm going to push myself to blog daily and up my vegetables and fruits.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Happily busy...and grateful

Trying to finish up the school year with one kid and with the other all her upcoming end of the school year events and graduation for the other makes me tired just filling up the calendar!
But I am grateful that my children are healthy and thriving in everything they do.  Kids are so lucky.  I didn't have so many activities to do afterschool or on weekends.  So much is available!  Celina and Yesenia both take art, acting and dance classes at our local Y Monday-Friday with our family membership.  Yesenia takes a motion and improv class and a puppeteer class at a theater/gallery on Saturdays which are totally free (they do take donations) but how amazing is that!  I don't know why more families aren't taking advantage of so much that is offered in our community and nearby communities.
A few years ago we traveled several miles away from my front door to attend a cooking, art, and acting class.
Everyone should have access to this.
If you're not sure if you have these programs go online and checkout your city's website, your local YMCA or YWCA.  If you are not sure drop me a line and I will help.
This summer in most cities around the U.S. there will be free swimming lessons.  Another great opportunity for children to learn water safety and swim.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so before you get the kids ready for school or weekend fun, have some yummy goodness that will fill you up.

Scrambled Tofu Biscuit Sandwich w/Sausage Gravy
from  Vegan Junk Food by Lane Gold

4 biscuits or English muffins
1 16 oz carton of firm tofu, drained and pressed and broken up into small chunks
1 tsp oil
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/8 turmeric
2 tsps soy sauce
1 14 oz package Gimme Lean sausage
1 tbsp oil
1/4 cup flour
2 cups nondairy milk
1 tsp salt
1tsp pepper

In a medium saute pan over medium-high heat, cook tofu in 1 tsp of oil.
Cook for 5 minutes or when all liquid is absorbed.
Stir in nutritional yeast, onion powder, turmeric, and soy sauce and cook for 2 more minutes. Remove from pan.
In the same pan cook sausage in oil until browned.
Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute.
Whisk in the milk.
Cook, stirring constantly, until thick and bubbly.
Season with salt and pepper
On a biscuit or muffin, spoon 1/4 of the scrambled tofu, smother in gravy.  Cover with the other biscuit or muffin.


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

May Gloom

Yesterday Yesenia worked in Griffith Park near Shane's Inspiration.  The weather was not typical LA weather.  It was more like a regular day in San Francisco where it was drizzling and gloomy.  Despite the non-typical day in LA fun was to be had.  Yesenia had so much fun looking for gophers and staying very quiet to see them pop their heads out of their burrows.  At one point she was imitating a guinea pig and it was sniffing and looking around his hole in the ground.  I guess she is that good.
After being on set for close to 10 hours, we rushed back to our own city for acting class.  Although she was so tired she had fun with the other kids and high praises from her acting coach.  She's such a trooper.
Not me.  Either my new thyroid meds did not kick in or sitting outside in the cold reading and talking to other cast members (there was another child actor on set but the guardian was never seen except for lunch) really did me in.
I thank God I still had leftovers from the night before because I only reheat, ate and fell asleep still wearing my clothes!

Trying To Stay Warm Soup

1 can stewed tomatoes
3 green onions diced
4 cups vegetarian broth
1 small package of vermicilli or whatever noodles you have on hand
2 celery stalks diced
8 ozs frozen green beans
2 carrots diced
2 bell peppers diced
season with salt or whatever seasonings you have (curry, salt and pepper, vegan worcestshire sauce, etc.)
cover with water.

add all ingredients and cover with water.
boil fast for 10 minutes.
reduce to simmer and continue to cook until veggies are tender.

This is good alone or with a sandwich.


Monday, April 30, 2012

Quinoa...the other grain

This was my second time cooking quinoa.  It is a staple in South American from the time of the ancient Incas.  Quinoa has more protein than any most other grains.  You can use it in soups, salads, as a breakfast cereal or prepare it and eat it like you would eat rice!
I prepared this yesterday before taking Celina on set.  It cooks quickly enough that I could have prepared it after the shoot but I knew I would be too tired.

You can add chicken or another protein before adding the vegetables.

1 cup quinoa prepared with vegetable stock ahead of time
2 cups vegetable broth
4 tbsps olive oil
1 small onion sliced thinly
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
5 garlic cloves, minced
20 leaves fresh sweet basil, julienned
grated vegan parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

heat large nonstick skillet over high heat and add the oil.
add onions, bell peppers, saute for one or two minute.
add garlic and saute until peppers for 2 minutes.
season with salt and pepper.
remove the pan from heat.
add basil and quinoa.
toss until basil wilts.
garnish with parmesan cheese.

serves 4

If you like my blog let me know!  I love to hear from anybody who takes time out of their busy day to read it.  Let me know if you try any recipes.  Take a picture!  Do you know of any new vegan/vegetarian cookbooks?  Let me know!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Saturdays are going to get busy for the next 8 weeks as theater classes begin again at CASA 0101.  My daughters have learned so much from this program.  
Celina chose not to continue with the program since she gets so much from her advanced drama class in school and her classes at 321 Talent Showcase.  
Yesenia really enjoys the classes and will continue.
So that we have full bellies before we walk out the door I will have the oatmeal cooking overnight in the crock pot and this wonderful baked french toast I found in the Junk Food Vegan cookbook.

Sticky Caramel Baked French Toast

1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup vegan margarine
2 tbsps agave syrup
6 slices day-old thick-sliced bread cut in half to make triangles
1 cup nondairy soy creamer or nondairy milk
1 1/2 tbsps flour
2 tbsps nutritional yeast
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt

in a saucepan over medium heat, stir sugar, margarine, and agave syrup until it comes to a boil.
continue to cook for 1 minute and remove from heat
lightly grease a 9" x 13" baking dish and pour mixture into prepared baking dish.
place bread over caramel.
in a small bowl, mix milk, flour, nutritional yeast, cinnamon, vanilla, sugar, and salt.
pour over bread.
let it sit for at least an hour or overnight in the refrigerator.
when read to cook, set oven to 350 degrees and bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown.


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Spring Break Dia Numero Tres

Yesterday I busted out my Mini Donut Pan I bought for $9.99 and made Baked Donuts from the Vegan Junk Food.

1 1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup oil
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup non-dairy milk (I used vanilla soy but you can use any kind of nut milk and flavor)
1 tsps ground flaxseeds
1 1/2 tsps baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

preheat oven to 350 degrees
combine all ingredients in a bowl until smooth.
lightly grease a donut pan or mini-muffin pan (I used both.  Using a mini-muffin made donut holes which are equally awesome)
fill each halfway with batter.
bake for 15 minutes or when a toothpick comes out clean.

while they are still warm you can roll with these...
cinnamon sugar: 1/2 cup sugar mixed with 1 tsps cinnamon
powdered sugar
chocolate glaze: in a microwave-safe bowl, heat 1 package vegan chocolate chips w/1 tbsp coconut oil in increments of 15 seconds, stirring after each until all melted. using 2 forks, dip each donut turning to coat evenly and allowing extra chocolate to drip off. place on a sheet of parchment paper and refrigerate until chocolate is firm.  alternatively while chocolate is still wet, sprinkle each donut with chopped nuts, shredded coconut or sprinkles.


Monday, April 9, 2012

Spring Break Day 1

This week is going to be challenging.
It is Spring break for Celina, which means I will have a bored teenager that will find everything boring and not fun.
Although we had beautiful pool weather on Sunday, I will not have it this week. I can't rely on hours of splashing and relaxing.
With no car and not a lot of $$$. It should make for an interesting week.
I'm going to break out the ice cream machine and attempt to make some non-dairy ice cream trying different flavors.
The flat bread maker has not been used in a long time so I will dust that off also to make different breads.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Homeschooling is time consuming...

but I am so making this sourdough bread.
I just started the sourdough starter.  Can't wait!

1 package active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
2 cups warm water
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp sugar

In a large mixing bowl dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup warm water.
Stir in 2 cups warm water, flour, and sugar.
Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed till smooth.
Cover bowl with 100% cotton unbleached cheesecloth.
Let the mixture stand at room temp for 5-10 days, or till it has a fermented aroma, stirring 2-3 times a day.
To store the starter, transfer to a jar, cover with the cheesecloth and refrigerate till ready to use.
Do not cover tightly or use a metal lid.
To use starter, bring desired amount to room temp.
For each cup of starter used, replenish remaining starter by adding 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, 3/4 cup water and 1 tsp of sugar.
Cover and let mixture stand at room temp for at least 1 day or till it is bubbly.
Refrigerate starter for later use.
If you have not used the starter within 10 days, stir in 1 tsp of sugar.  Repeat every 10 days unless starter is replenished.

After the 5-10 days that it has fermented, I will post recipes.
Also if you ever have the chance to go to Disney's California Adventure, go to Boudin tour.  They give you sourdough bread to eat while you are on the tour.  It is so yummy!
Here is a video tape of the tour not by me.


This and other cookbooks can be found on  Just click the ad on the right. :-*

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

My name is Maria and I am a Mom over 40

Last night while enjoying my popcorn sprinkled with nutritional yeast and looking through Wednesday's lesson plan, I received an email inviting me to join a group of moms in the SFV called moms over 40.
I was appalled! How dare they they invite me to such a group!
But then I realized 
It hit me like a Lego brick.
I felt so down that I was tempted to pop another bag of popcorn.
Just the words alone put me in a depressive state.
Mom over 40.
Then looking back at my over 20 years (!!!!) experience of being a mom the Lego brick came back to me like a boomerang.
It's not so bad.
I am looking forward to the next 20 years of being a mom over 40 with an empty nest.
In fact, in 6 1/2 years my youngest will be 18.  Which in my mind means I can do what I feel in my own time and at my own pace.  I know many moms who do that with kids underfoot but I am my mother's daughter.
A martyr, if you will.
I put my kids first in everything and I'm okay with it.  Now I'm not perfect.  I've made many mistakes over the years.
Perfection is not my game because honestly those who claim to be perfect with the organic foods, cooked from scratch have some serious probs, dude.
I'm all for eating well but sometimes I will buy that jar of pasta sauce or (gasp!) fruit juice with only 10% juice.
So yeah, I am a mom over 40.
I have the cesarean scar, stretch marks that looks like the map of freeways crossing Southern California, allergy to dairy and thyroid disease since the birth of my youngest to prove it.  And the promise from my youngest to put me in a nursing home where they will treat me like royalty because I wiped her butt clean when she was a baby.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Pad Thai Wrap

Yesterday, my Yesenia did a 2-3 minute shoot in warm and sunny Venice Beach for YouTube sensation Beck Bennett.
The woman who played her mom was talking about cable and how expensive it was. She asked me what cable company we belonged to and I told her we did not have cable.
Her response was the typical response I have been hearing for years: What no Disney? Do you own a TV? Do you not watch TV at all? What do you do to relax? What do you do for fun?
First off, I told her we don't watch TV for fun.  Fun is to all jump into the car and GO somewhere.  We go to Disneyland.  We go to the museum.  We go somewhere where we communicate and joke around.  For relaxation, we pop lots of popcorn and watch a movie from our own DVD library or we pick up what we find at the library.  We own 2 televisions.  One in the living room and one in my bedroom and they are all powered by a regular TV antenna.
So, what is the big deal?
I think we rely too much on hiding in front of too many electrical devices.  When my kids are filming or are at an audition, I see about 98% of the kids hiding in front of their phones, Nintendos and tablets.  I have made it our business to not do that at all.
An up and coming director told me she prefers to see kids communicating with other children or adults in the waiting room or onset.  It shows they are friendly and have better communications skills.
How refreshing!
My teen and husband always take a book to Disneyland.  Most of the time we are deep in conversation about Disney facts or whatever. When we are waiting on a line and are trying to be patient and I find myself defending them.  One woman said out loud "why would someone bring a book to Disneyland".  I confronted her and was also loud when I said "why is it okay for someone to hide in front a device be any different that someone in front of a book? Is it not the same thing?"
She gave me a surprised look (I'm little but I have a big voice and it carries) and agreed.
By the way, she was reading from her Nook.
Now, I am not perfect.  Sometimes I am behind my computer or phone but I always try to be mindful of others and be more approachable.

Now about some eats!

A couple of months a new cookbook came in the mail, Vegan Junk Food by Lane Gold.
My new favorite recipe is my 2 favorite things, a wrap and Pad Thai.
For real.
And is so good that you will have to control yourself and not more than one.

1 8oz package flat rice noodles
1 tsp oil
1 6oz package savory baked tofu, Teriyaki flavor
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tbsps lemon juice
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp chili paste
2 tbsps peanut oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 red chili, sliced
3 green onions, green and white parts, cut thinly on the diagonal
1/4 cup peanuts, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
6 tortillas or flatbread
3 cups mesclun greens
peanut sauce (they said spicy but I can't deal with so much spiciness)

in a large saucepan, boil enough water to cook noodles, about 10 minutes or until tender.
toss in 1 tsp oil to prevent them from sticking together
slice tofu into thin strips.
in a small bowl, combine soy sauce, lemon juice, brown sugar, and chili paste.
set aside
in a large saute pan over high heat, coat pan with peanut oil and saute onion, garlic and red chili until onions are translucent.
add noodles, tofu and green onion.
toss with tongs to mix well.
add the soy sauce mixture.
stir well.
remove from heat.
stir in peanuts and cilantro.
on each tortilla or flatbread, place about 1/2 cup Pad Thai, 1/2 cup mesclun greens and drizzle on the peanut sauce.
wrap into a cylinder, secure with a toothpick in 2 places and cut in half.


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Cream of Wheat Berries with Cranberries and Cardamom

I had every intention to put this together last night to have for breakfast this morning but I was so tired and crashed on the sofa until the partly sunny sky came through my window.
So, this morning, I decided to have breakfast for dinner.  It was so good the wheat berries was so yummy with the cranberries and maple syrup. You can add a splash of milk if you want, add brown sugar!

I used the smaller slow cooker (4 qt).  It serves 4 or even more if you like having a big breakfast with pancakes, toast, etc.

1/2 cup wheat berries
1/4 cup cracked wheat *I had to use bulgar because I could not find the cracked wheat*
1/2 cup rolled old-fashioned oats
4 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cardamom *you can use cinnamon or allspice if you like*
1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries

in a 3 1/2 - 4 qt slow cooker, combine the wheat berries, cracked wheat, oats and water.
stir in the salt and cardamom.
cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours *after 5 1/2 hours it was ready so you might want to have a timer installed or keep an eye on it*
stir in the cranberries just before serving.

From the Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker


Monday, February 27, 2012

How to Build a Better Vegetarian Lunch/Dinner

Breakfast is easy.  Cereal with nut milk (soy, almond, coconut) or rice milk.  Oatmeal with fruit, brown sugar or maple syrup.  Toast with peanut butter and jam.  Easy Peasy.
The problem, people ask me about is lunch and dinner.  Sure a salad is great but it doesn't really fill you up when you have kids to run after or when you are running around to the different business meetings or when you are working retail on the sales floor for hours and hours or running around to get to appointments, classes or auditions.
This is an easy guide you can print out and have in your wallet or refrigerator door.

1. choose something from each category
2. be mindful of portions
3. include as many colors as possible

Protein                                                                Whole grains
nut butter                                                               whole grain sandwich bread
vegan cheese                                                         whole grain pita bread or chips
beans                                                                     whole-grain tortilla
edamame                                                               whole grain English muffin
hummus                                                                 whole grain chips or crackers
tofu seitan                                                              whole grain pasta or couscous
tempeh                                                                   brown rice, quinoa or millet
nuts                                                                        whole grain muffin
sunflower seeds                                                     granola

Healthy Fats                                                        Vegetables
almonds or almond butter                                      Fruits
avocado                                                                 Calcium
flax oil                                                                   non-dairy yogurt
flax seed                                                                vegan cheese
olives                                                                     tofu
extra virgin olive oil                                              dark leafy greens
                                                                              almonds or almond butter
                                                                              nut or rice milk
                                                                              100% fortified orange juice

The list might look a bit scary but you should notice that there are repeat "offenders" like beans and avocado.
For example my lunch today is black beans (protein, calcium), 1 slice of flax seed whole wheat bread (whole grains, healthy fats), orange bell pepper, onions (vegetables), tomatoes (fruit), extra virgin olive oil (healthy fats) aka black bean chili with a side of bread.
No big whoop ;-)

I made a huge pot of the chili so I will be having this with cornbread for dinner.

Friday, February 24, 2012

I am often asked what do vegetarians or vegans eat.  
Being a vegetarian was easy for me but I have been trying to go vegan but I am addicted to cheese.  
You know the stuff for grilled cheese, quesadillas, macaroni and cheese, etc.  
Cheese is always in the house.  
Keeping vegan cheese at home is easy but when I run out of cheddar cheese for some peanut butter grilled cheese, I have to have the dairy kind.  
I was talking to a friend about it and she suggested I blog about it.  My struggle with staying away from dairy cheese and what I eat (what about protein?).  
For example, for breakfast I had tofu scramble with sauteed red peppers, with daiya cheese, green onions, and spinach.  Lunch was oatmeal w/pumpkin spice syrup.  For dinner we're having black bean chili.  
This weekend will be challenging since both of my daughters are filming.  I stay with the tween while the husband stays with the teen.  
Lots of peanut butter sandwiches for me to make tonight!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Barley, Kamut, and Oats....Oh My!

I'm giving my slow cooker a break from making us dinners and making it work overnight for breakfast.
I've made only oatmeal in it.  Sometimes fruit and agave or brown sugar and maple syrup.
Trying new things is my goal for 2012 and hoping to open the door to other tastes for the family to enjoy.
This recipe is from the Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker using ingredients I've never used.  Looking for them in the store was a challenge.  Most were found in our local Ralph's Supermarket.
I had it this morning and it took 3 spoonfuls to "get it".
The 1st spoonful was interesting.  I've never had this before so it was a little meh.
The 2nd spoonful left me thinking it can be a little bit better.  So I added a bit more maple syrup.
The 3rd spoonful and I was HOOKED.
You can adjust it to how sweet you like your morning hot cereal.
I used my small 4 qt. slow cooker which was THE PERFECT SIZE.
Having 2 slow cookers (4 & 6 qt) had me thinking....
Why am I not using one for breakfast and the other for dinner?

Barley and Kamut Breakfast Pilaf

1/3 cup kamut, soaked in water 6-8 hours
1/2 cup pearl barley
2 tbsps cornmeal
1/2 cup chopped mixed dried fruit (I used a 1/2 cup of a bag marked "mixed dried fruit" you can probably just purchase whatever dried fruit that tickles your fancy)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
4 cups water
1 tsp vanilla extract
maple syrup for serving (when I say maple syrup, I don't mean Aunt Jemima.  Buy the good grade A quality.  It is so much better for you and the taste is out of this world)

in the slow cooker, combine the kamut, barley, oats, and cornmeal.
stir in the dried fruit, cinnamon, and salt.
stir in the water and vanilla.
cover and cook 6-8 hours on low.
stir then spoon into bowls and drizzle, to taste, with maple syrup.

*Side note: The prices to the unusual ingredients were a bit more than what I would have wanted but you don't use much of it so it will last a long time.  So looking at the price and dividing it per serving size and it was a lot more settling.


The Deliciousness that is Double Chocolate Cinnamon Bread

Yesterday I was inspired after cleaning my pantry and seeing all the flour I had there. 
My daughters and I are BIG fans of the cacao bean.  Everything from hot cocoa to the ever loving s'mores, we are all over it!

This recipe I tweaked to fit my dietary needs.  
The original recipe is from the Better Homes and Gardens More Bread Machine Bounty.
This makes 1 lb of Double Chocolate Bread...
2/3 cup unsweetened soy milk 
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tsp Ener-G Egg Replacer plus 2 tbsp water (mix well before adding)
1 tbsp Earth Balance Coconut Spread
2 cups bread flour
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsps brown sugar
1 tbsp Hershey's Cocoa Special Dark powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup 365 Dark Chocolate Mini Chunks

Add ingredients to the bread machine according to manufacturer's directions.  My machine is about 10 years old and I don't know if the new machines (or older machines) are different.  Mine is wet ingredients then dry ingredients.
The 1 lb loaf serves 16.  
LOL Yeah ok...

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