Friday, February 24, 2012

Very Random Post

I'm covering all the bases tonight -- vegan food, knitting, and comic books!
It's been unseasonably warm for February, but that hasn't deterred me from making more soup! Last night I made a piping hot Black Bean and Tomato Soup from Skinny Bitch: Ultimate Everyday Cookbook. It was easy enough to pull off on a weeknight, even on a Thursday night when my energy level is usually low. More importantly, it tasted great. I had a cup with a smoked Tofurky sandwich. 
There's a few tomato slices tucked in there, but no lettuce. Our fridge has been freezing all of our lettuce lately, which is an annoying problem I haven't been able to fix yet. 

I finished the cardigan! Here is a picture of it blocking. I tried to enlist J in taking a picture of me wearing the cardigan, but no luck so far. Maybe tomorrow, when the sun is out. 

Overall I'm pleased. I did spaz out when I was making the raglan decreases (I was paying attention to Captain America on the blu-ray when I should have been looking at my knitting!), so the neckline turned out to be off-the-shoulders instead of a traditional scoop-neck. I added a black button in an asymmetrical position to make it look intentional  (not shown in the picture).
Here are the details:
Pattern: Vinelle by Voolenvine (you can download it from Ravelry)
Needle size: 8
Yarn: Brown Sheep Nature Spun Worsted (in Eucalyptus) 

My newest project is a shawl in striping colors. The pattern is Athena, by Kate Ray. I love stripes, but I hate weaving in all the loose ends. Sigh.

And finally ... I didn't get to my local comic book store this week. I think Animal Man came out this week, so I have to go there soon to get my copy. But in the meantime, I've been reading Terry Moore's Strangers in Paradise. I'm on the fourth volume of the pocket book edition.
My introduction to Terry Moore's work has been unusual. I read the first few issues of Rachel Rising first, then the first trade volume of Echo, and then finally picked up the first volume of Strangers in Paradise. SIP is like an addictive soap opera in comic book form. Katchoo and Francine are best friends who may also be in love with each other ... except there is everything standing in their way, from a sweet boy named David to gangsters, plane crashes, and pregnancies. SIP is over-the-top, bittersweet, addictive fun. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Fat Tuesday

Why do they call it Fat Tuesday? I guess it's because you're supposed to gorge yourself before the long stretch of meaty deprivation. As I don't eat meat, I had to indulge in a different (yet still extravagant!) way. 

So here's what I ate today:
I made another steel-cut oatmeal in my slow cooker last night: Slow Cooker White Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie Oatmeal, from The recipe is here. And yes, that is graham cracker crust sprinkled over the oatmeal! I added an extra half a cup of coconut milk this time, and cooked it on low for only six hours to prevent burning/sticking. 

For lunch, the aforementioned jambalaya. J actually cooked this one while I was at spinning class last night. I left out the Red Jambalaya recipe from 500 Vegan Recipes for him, but he improvised, adding extra vegetable broth, Tofurkey kielbasa, and a lot of Old Bay and cayenne pepper. It was almost too spicy for him to eat, but perfect for me!
For dinner, a meal with no vegetables in sight! Grilled cheese sandwiches (with Daiya), french fries, and Tempeh's Smoky Maple Tempeh Bacon. After snapping the picture, I stuck the bacon in the sandwich. The Daiya shreds didn't exactly melt, but it was still a really good dinner. Oh, and I used Trader Joe's low calorie wheat bread to minimize the guilt factor.
For dessert, half a piece of the best chocolate cake in the world, from the East End Co-op. 
In other news, I'm 98% done with the cardigan I've been knitting for three weeks. I have to sew the armholes and loose ends, and then acquire some suitably pretty buttons from either the LYS or Etsy. I'll post pictures as soon as I'm done.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Good Belly 12-Day Challenge, Day One

Today J and I went to see a matinee performance of The Gammage Project today, a harrowing docudrama based on the true events of October 12, 1995, when a black man was stopped by police due to a traffic violation, and ended up dead. It was a great performance, but we needed cheering up when it was over. So we went to Whole Foods, where I got another container of Brad's Raw Leafy Kale. I also picked up a quart of GoodBelly Probiotic juice in cranberry watermelon. 
I'll admit, I didn't read the back label until I got home. I'm not that big of a juice drinker, mostly because of the added calories and sugar, and the serving of this has 100 calories and 24 grams of sugar. I'll drink the juice, of course, but next time I think I'll pick up the Goodbelly Straightshot (no added sugar, and just 30 calories). 

I love the cranberry watermelon flavor. It has a slight yogurt-ish taste to it, but of course it's vegan, so there's no dairy involved.
I also purchased the ingredients to make Cheesy Kale Chips, recipe courtesy of Pride & Vejudice. My food processor went kaput when I was making the cashew/nutritional yeast spread, so I didn't get a very smooth consistency. A few of the chips didn't get that crispy, due to excessive glops of cheesy sauce. I cooked the kale at 200 degrees for 50 minutes; maybe I should have kept in the oven longer. But it didn't matter, because these taste so freaking good! 
J and I ate half a batch. The other half I put away in sandwich baggies to eat tomorrow. Oh, and tomorrow, one day ahead of Fat Tuesday (cause I can never cook elaborate dishes on workdays), I'll be making jumbalaya!

New Kitchen Bling

I finally got one! After years of waiting for soups to cool before ladling them into our blender or food processor, and then laboriously blending in batches, I went to Target and purchased an immersion blender. It isn't the fanciest model, but it has made cooking a whole lot easier. 

Here is my tortilla soup (recipe from The Happy Herbivore) in chunky form. 
And here it is, after the immersion blender did its magic. The process literally took 30 seconds.
Best of all, the immersion blender was easy to clean. I loathe kitchen gadgets that have a lot of intricate nooks and crannies to clean.

Earlier in the week, I made the Baigan Aaloo (aka Eggplant and Potatoes) from Skinny Bitch: Ultimate Everyday Cookbook. Sigh. This turned out to be mediocre. I didn't think there were enough spices involved to give this dish a full-flavored taste. The directions were also mystifying. There was no mention of oil, broth or water to saute the onions and garlic in. I went ahead and used broth. 

I then had some difficulty getting to the red potatoes to become tender without having the eggplant mush down to a paste. I ended up fishing the potatoes out and cooking them separately in another pan.

Maybe it was just me having an "off" day in the kitchen, but my Baigan Aaloo didn't compare to the dozen of other recipes I've made from Skinny Bitch: Ultimate Everyday Cookbook.
On an entirely different subject: I am always on the quest for healthy breakfast choices. On Sundays I love to make elaborate spreads with tofu scrambles and pancakes. But for the rest of week, I try to eat conscientiously. I want to eat enough to keep me satisfied until lunch (which means that fruit or non-dairy yogurt isn't really an option), yet minimize the processed, packaged food factor. 

Last night before I went to bed, I made the Slow Cooker White Chocolate Peanut Butter Apple Oatmeal from This is steel-cut oats with the Peanut Butter & Co's white chocolate pb I keep religiously in my pantry.  I cooked it on low for seven hours, but it was starting to burn on the edges, so next time I'll check it at six hours. Even slightly burnt, it was delicious. Here is the before picture; I forgot to take an after one.
Do you have a favorite healthy breakfast? 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Comic Book Love

No new single issues for me this week. Birds of Prey and Wonder Woman, both #6, had cover art that appealed to me, but I couldn't find any back issues at the store. Guess this means I have to wait for the trades. I also kept an eye out for Adventure Time #1, based on the Cartoon Network television show, but I heard through the grapevine that it sold out quickly, so I wasn't surprised that my local comic book store didn't have any in stock.

Just an aside, but is there an abbreviation for local comic book store? LYS stands for local yarn store; it seems like there should be an equivalent for your friendly neighborhood comic book store. 

I have been reading amazing trade paperbacks. Sweet Tooth #2, Chew #2, Tiny Titans: Welcome to the Treehouse, and Criminal: The Last of the Innocent. 
God, all of these books were so good.  

Jeff Lemire's Sweet Tooth: In Captivity gives us a better understanding of its post-apocalyptic landscape through flashbacks from Jepperd. We also find out his motivation for betraying Sweet Tooth in exchange for a mysterious knapsack. In between flashbacks, Dr. Singh hypnotizes Sweet Tooth and makes an alarming discovery about ST's father. Did the man orchestrate the apocalypse? Was Sweet Tooth born, or created? 

I know I mentioned this before, but I just want to emphasize the point: Lemire writes and illustrates this comic. He does everything. Amazing! 

I love Chew: International Flavor, by John Layman and Rob Guillory. Tony Chiu just gets more endearing. This time his investigations takes him to a remote pacific island, where Tony stumbles into murder, civil war, a fruit that tastes exactly like chicken, and possibly the woman of his dreams! This comic is a perfect blend of violence, comedy, and gross-out food moments. I can't recommend it enough. 

Aw yeah Tiny Titans! Tiny Titans: Welcome to the Treehouse is a delightful all-ages series. I love the way superhero culture is subtly made fun of, like a series of panels involving Robin and his panicked decision to rename himself Nightwing.
Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips' Criminal: The Last of the Innocent is my first foray into the noir universe of the Criminal editions. The artwork in this volume is stunning, with the protagonist's childhood memories drawn in a bubbly, Archie style. It's an unsettling, stunning read. 

Not a bad book in the bunch. I call that a great comic book week.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Brad's Raw Leafy Kale

I just want to do a quick post about Brad's Raw Leafy Kale. I bought a container of the Nasty Hot flavor when I was shopping at Whole Foods last weekend, and it's incredible. I make kale chips all the time, but I bake them. Brad's Leafy Kale is dehydrated and has a great mixture of nutritional yeast, cashews, and jalapeno sprinkled over them. One 2.5 ounce container was kind of pricey, which makes me think a dehydrator of my own might be a good future investment. I have wanted one for years. In the meantime, I'll pick up another container of this Kale. It was a satisfying and healthy snack. 
Oh, and my household is divided about the spice level of this product. J thinks Nasty Hot is an accurate description, while I only found the kale to be mildly spicy.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Poetry Chapbook!

I don't think I've mentioned this on the blog yet, but I'm a writer. I write poetry and fiction, and Finishing Line Press has accepted my poetry chapbook (a chapbook is a smaller version of a full-length book) for publication. Being a small press, they depend on their authors for promoting the books. That being said, they are graciously providing promotional postcards of my upcoming book. So if you're interested in a postcard, email me at Remember, requesting a postcard does not mean you're obligated to buy a copy!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

I Love Trader Joe's

I really do. Today I braved the snow and the wind to get a bagful of lovely vegetables (including romaine lettuce, sweet  potatoes, and red peppers). I also ended up with a few extras in my cart, like these beauties:
Wow. This is one of the best salsas I've ever had. And the fresh is in the description is not a lie -- it tastes like it was made this morning. The guacamole was also out of this world. Both the guacamole and salsa were very reasonably priced, at least two dollars cheaper than what I could get at the other grocery stores. 

Going back in time ... want to know what J and I had for dinner last night? We had this:
It's Skillet Spanish Beef 'N Rice from Pillsbury's Hamburger magazine. This is a dish I used it to make all the time before I changed my diet. J mentioned how much he missed it the other day, and I thought to myself: I can veganize that.

I used Trader Joe's meatless ground beef instead of real hamburger, and added a few chipotles and a teaspoon of cayenne pepper to liven up the taste. It's shocking how easy this recipe is, and how, just a few years ago, I thought it was challenging. All in all, it tasted just as I remembered it. J had two helpings! 

Since I'm all about the food (or in this case, the drinks) today, I just wanted to mention that Good Belly, a vegan probiotic drink company, has a 12 Day Challenge on their website. If you sign up, they'll send you coupons! I haven't tried any of their products yet, but the next time I'm at Whole Foods I'll definitely pick up a bottle.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Chew and that Aforementioned Vest

Remember that vest-that-became-a-knitted-tee I mentioned last time? Well, here is a photo:
Pattern: Ms. Marigold by Sarah Moore (you can purchase a copy on Ravelry)
Needle: 5
Yarn: Schulana Sierrra

I really liked this pattern; the yarn, not so much. It was very splitty, and I had a hell of a time weaving in the ends and then keeping the stitches I weaved them under from looking bumpy and obvious. 

Oh, and one obvious alteration to the pattern are the addition of the sleeves. The pattern calls for a crocheted ruffle around the sleeves that looked very cute on other people, but I didn't think it would have been flattering on me. 

And now for a comic book endorsement: Chew by John Layman and Rob Guillory.
Tony Chiu is an FDA agent who is also a cibopath, a rare individual able to solve crimes by tasting the evidence. Tony's world is one in which the FDA rank higher than the police, and chicken is a contraband food, so illegal and coveted that some people will commit crimes to get their hands on it. 

I loved this book! The story is riveting, witty with great pacing, and the art is wonderful. There is a panel where Tony is trying (and failing) to fall asleep that blew me away with its innovativeness. Let's just say that white space was used. I've never seen white space used in a comic book before. 

I also read Alpha Girl #1, which I picked up from the comic book store last week. I'm behind in my reading. 
Anyway, this one seems interesting. The pacing isn't that hot -- I think they could have done a little more with this first issue. But the premise is certainly intriguing. Judith is a teenager living in a world overrun by female zombies. There's a nefarious cosmetic company involved in the outbreak, which we see in detail. What we only get in glimpses is Judith and her brother's sad, sordid past. Her brother is currently locked up in juvenile detention, and I'm assuming Judith will head down there to get him out. 

It wasn't a riveting read, but I'm interested enough to buy a copy of #2 next month.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Aliens, Apes, and Salad

I just had to read this volume of Power Girl. The charming art montage on the cover, paired with the title (Aliens and Apes) made it irresistible. I have to admit, however, that my expectations weren't very high. I read Power Girl: The New Beginning, and found it a bit hard to get through, especially the fight sequences.
Aliens and Apes is absolutely pitch perfect. It's funny, action-packed, and Power Girl is a compelling heroine. I especially loved her interactions with her best friend, Terra, whom she just happens to have to rescue from certain doom! Oh, and Power Girl's cat is super cute, too. 

It's been a rough week, so I haven't caught up on the single issue comics I purchased last Wednesday. I did read Animal Man #6 and Memorial #2.

The last issue of Animal Man ended on quite a cliffhanger. This issue takes a surprising detour -- I don't want to reveal any spoilers, but let me just say that it was nothing I was expecting. This comic book is BRILLIANT. Each issue gets better and better. 

I can't say the same thing about Memorial #2. I read the first issue, and found the writing clunky and the plot bland. I love the idea of the premise -- an ever expansive fairy tale, but on paper it just didn't appeal to me. I wasn't planning on picking up the second issue, but an interview with the writer and artist on War Rocket Ajax convinced me to give it another try. 
Alas, it was just more of the same. The protagonist and her talking cat companion were not interesting enough for me to want to read on. This is a shame, because I'm all for supporting comic books featuring female leads. 

Oh well. At least I had some great food lately. On Saturday night, J and I went to a friend's house for dinner. We brought a split pea soup (you can see a photograph of this soup from a few weeks ago), and our friend made a lovely Mango and Heart of Palm Salad with a Lime Vinaigrette. It was a nice alternative from the traditional tomato/lettuce salad.
Last night I was feeling sluggish, so I decided to give my system a nice jolt of energy by making a big pot of Creemy Kale Soup from Jae Steele's Ripe From Around Here. Mmm. There's really nothing better than kale. Here, pureed with zucchini and onions, the kale had an almost cilantro-ish taste. 
Oh yeah, and I finished that vest. Which turned out to be a short-sleeed knitted top instead. I'll post pictures next time, I promise!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Hellboy, Fables, What's Ahead

Here's the graphic novels I've been reading this week:
Hellboy: Seed of Destruction! I received this for a late Christmas present in the mail from my brother. Thanks Reg! Now this is a good introduction into the Hellboy/B.P.R.D universe. This book is all about Hellboy's origin, complete with Nazis, a Rasputin-like villain, and of course Hellboy's mysterious red right hand. The first movie was loosely based on the events in the book, so there were no surprises. Still, this was a satisfying read.
I've been on quite a Fables roll. After a long hiatus, I read three graphic novels in the past three weeks. Fables: War and Pieces is about the events leading up to and encompassing Fabletown's war against the Adversary. Remember when I complained about the lack of interesting female characters in Sons of Empire? Well, War and Pieces makes up for this with Cinderella, Fabletown's spy/assassin! She is sent out on a mission to retrieve a certain "package," and comes across all kinds of peril along the way. But nothing keeps Cinderella down! 

Looks can be deceiving in Fables, and this is one of my favorite things about the series. Unassuming characters (a janitor, a scrawny Fable always toting a trumpet) evolve to become kings or impressive warriors. In War and Pieces, Beauty complains about Cinderella's involvement in their war strategies. Why should Cindy be entrusted with such an important mission? She only owns a shoe store, after all. She's just another pretty face. Cinderella proves her to be so very, very wrong.

Speaking of wonderful women characters, Sue of DC Women Kicking Ass has started a new blog, This Is What Women in Superhero Comics Should Be. Anyone can submit pictures and panels of their favorite women characters. As soon as I figure out how to do it (I'm a bit tech unsavvy), I'm going to submit something. I encourage you to do the same. 

I went to the comic book store last night and picked up copies of the latest Animal Man, Memorial, Fatale, Rachel Rising, and Alpha Girl. I'll let you know what I think about these comic books in my next post.