Wednesday, April 8, 2015

8 Good Things


1. The Colors of Nature. It's a collection of nature essays. I'm reading it with a class this semester, and I find it to be accessible yet insightful and moving at the same time.

2. Homemade pesto. I don't know why I haven't been making pesto my whole life. It's pretty much the easiest thing ever and makes pasta night not seem like laziness because I'm making something. Recently, I made some from parsley instead of basil (because we got parsley in our CSA box), and it was still quite good.

3. Oh! Our new CSA! I told my students about CSA and several of them were saying they were looking into joining one. Then I thought, Why haven't I signed up for one yet? And then I fixed that. The first week was kale, carrots, lettuce, cauliflower, huge beets, bok choy, oranges, an avocado, strawberries, and the aforementioned parsley. We pay $25 per week/box. I can't get over how ridiculously exciting produce is when it's delivered rather than picked out by me at a store.

4. Katy Bowman's blog and books. I still have plantar fasciitis. Still. It's been about two years. I feel like I've tried everything, but a Twitter friend recommended Katy Bowman's work, and I'm giving the stretches from this book a try and paying more attention to my alignment. I've noticed a difference after a short time, so I'm hopeful. I also fashioned a less-floppy flip-flop (details later) that are incredibly comfortable for my little piggies.

5. Black bean chili with sweet potatoes. I've seen several recipes for black bean and sweet potato tacos or similar and it sounded gross, but I tossed a sweet potato into a pot of my regular black bean chili, and it was quite tasty. I didn't taste the sweet potato much, but somehow the blend was really good. I'll have to share a recipe soon.

6. Spring break! I'm actually at a pretty chill time in the semester, in between major assignments right now, but I still welcome a break. We don't have any real plans, but it's nice to catch up on some sleep.

7. Learning Spanish via pop songs. I've decided in my spare time (hah!) I'm going to improve my Spanish speaking skills (I can read and write decently) by learning songs. It's fun but really, really hard.

8. Going to UC Berkeley to listen to the Caravana 43 panel talk about what happened to the students from Ayotzinapa. Can I call this a "good" thing? I was honored to have the opportunity to hear them speak and show my support. I left feeling a greater sense of my responsibilities as an educator. So, yeah, it was a good thing that was born from a tragedy.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Potato Lentil Soup


I make this recipe almost weekly because I can make it with items I always have in stock: dry lentils, potatoes, and canned diced tomatoes. Everything else is fluff, so even when I plan to make something else, I end up making this because it requires very little thinking and no impromptu trips to the grocery store.

My kind of cooking.

Oh, and let's be honest: I know red lentils when I see them, but I have no idea if I've been buying brown or green ones. They look brownish green. They're the kind that I see most commonly in regular grocery stores.

1-2 Tbl olive oil
about 1/2 a yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
enough water/vegetable broth to cover ingredients
about 3 medium-sized potatoes (I like red potatoes best for all things)
about 1 fistful of dry lentils (they'll expand a little, so don't go too crazy)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground chili powder
a couple dashes of ground coriander
salt and pepper to taste

options: sliced jalapeño, frozen corn, chopped zucchini, black beans

Directions:
  1. Sauté the onion, garlic, and celery together in some olive oil for a few minutes.
  2. Add in the diced tomatoes. Fill up the can with water and add that.
  3. Add in the remaining ingredients and additional broth/water as needed to cover the ingredients to your desired soupiness.
  4. Simmer until the potatoes and lentils are tender. Blend a cup or two for a creamier soup.


Enjoy!





Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Spicy Butternut Squash Soup


This recipe was adapted from Crazy Sexy Kitchen's Pumpkin Bisque.

To be honest, I'm not a big fan of the squash family unless the flavor is really dressed up, and this soup does the job. 

This makes around 6 bowls. All ingredients in my recipes are "to taste" and "depending on what's available in my fridge." But here's roughly how I make it.

Ingredients:
1-2 Tbl olive oil
half of a yellow onion, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, crushed and sliced
(sometimes instead of onion and garlic I use chopped leeks) 
2 celery stalks, chopped
half a large butternut squash, peeled and cut into medium-sized chunks
about 1/4 of a head of cauliflower, maybe 1 1/2 cups chopped into florets
1/4-1/2 cup of sherry cooking wine
enough vegetable broth/water to just cover all ingredients
2 dashes ground cinnamon 
3-4 dashes ground cayenne
sea salt and black pepper to taste

Directions:
Sauté onion, garlic, and celery in olive oil for a few minutes. 
Add remaining ingredients, and boil on low-medium until butternut squash breaks with a wooden spoon. 
Blend ingredients if desired.

Enjoy!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

8 Good Things







1. Homemade pickles. I had no idea they were this easy (although I think there are far more complicated ways to do it). I've been making mine with just a dollop of dijon mustard instead of the mustard seed, coriander, and celery seed. My favorite vegetables to use are cucumbers, carrots, cauliflower, and a few slices of jalapeño.

2. Lots of eating at home + shopping at Grocery Outlet. We've cut way back on our food expenses these past couple months; it helps that we're both home for dinner time now. We've been doing most of our food shopping at Grocery Outlet because their prices do seem significantly cheaper, they're hardly ever busy, and they generally carry our staple items.

3. House of Cards. Do I need to say anything else?

4. Trees in bloom. I don't know if spring is coming early here or if the warm weather we've had is normal, but it's pretty nonetheless.

5. A fun Zumba class at the local gym. I haven't been to a Zumba class since we moved because my foot needed a rest, and I was kind of over it. But we found an instructor we like, and it's brought back a lot of good memories. I've also been going to an interval class one morning a week. It feels good to exercise regularly again.

6. Introducing students to CSA. I wish I could convey in a short paragraph how happy that makes me. Every time it comes up (somehow, it just does), students are fascinated, and this time around, 2-3 of them have said they're looking into joining one. I think they like that it's an action they can take, not just an idea to write about. And on that note, I'm thinking of signing us up for one now that spring's just about here. 

7. Offbeat alphabet books. I'm tempted to buy some of these for myself, even though I'm quite sure they're supposed to be for children. I'm actually thinking they'd make a cute final project for an ESL class. 

8. Visiting Sonora + other little getaways. Before we moved, I had hoped for us to take day or weekend trips about once a month. So far, we've succeeded without necessarily trying. I think short trips that don't have the stress of planning a lot of details are great for maintaining a healthy relationship. I always feel closer to my husband after one of our little trips. While in Sonora, we stumbled upon a used bookstore, and although we split up to look at different things, we both coincidentally grabbed books about the Caribbean. 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Local Care


I wrestle with my intentions in this space. Recently, I was thinking about what kinds of blog posts I'd been working on: Project 333 and recipes/food posts. Is this the best I can do? Isn't there something more important I should be saying? I look around and see injustice everywhere, and I think I should be doing more than just writing about my life. To write about food and clothing like it's a choice everybody gets is to write within a place of privilege. 

On the other hand, there's a difference between acknowledging the privileges I've had in my life and overindulging in them just because I can. I keep coming back here because those of us who are able to shelter, feed, and clothe ourselves well, to the point of excess even, still need to take a step back, ditch the junk, and reconnect with our values.

Living simply is still relevant. I'd argue that people who choose to make things by hand, grow their own food, or downsize their possessions help make our world a little more equitable. 

Last week I had my students read an essay entitled "The Common Life" by Scott Russell Sanders. In it, Sanders claims, "The history of local care hardly ever makes it into our literature, for it is less glamorous than rebellion; yet it is a crucial part of our heritage."

You see, I'm not a leader. I'm an educator, but I'm not a leader. The pressure to initiate an idea, run with it, and get others to go along with me is too much. I think rebellion is rad, but I won't be the one starting it. Although I don't like to think of myself as a follower--nobody does--I do believe I am a mindful participant. Sanders' words hit me; "local care" is exactly what I'm working on. 

Caring for myself, for others around me, and for my immediate environment is a powerful act--powerful because it's accessible. Small actions I can take day by day and week by week might not make it into history books, but they can improve the lives of the people I care about most. Most importantly, these small but mindful acts change me