Wednesday, April 27, 2011

These Are a Few of Our Favorite Things

For those of you who we haven't told, Matt and I have made a big investment. Since last Friday, we are officially owners of a Vitamix.

This piece of culinary genius has changed our lives for the better!  Before it's purchase, I had read on all kinds of health and vegan blogs  about the majesty of the Vitamix.  It can make soups, juice, ice cream, purees.  You name it, it can do it.  And it has a seven year warranty, but usually lasts for decades. 

I have been a fan since I heard about the thing, but Matt was a little hard to sell on it.  Especially with a retail price around $700.  This isn't your grandmother's blender; it's what they use at Smoothie King.  But, thank the retail gods!  The PX had a showcase of sorts and we found this beauty for a fraction of the cost! 

Will I make pina coladas with it?  Of course.  But before you start judging us for shelling out for this machine, you have to realize it is imperative to our daily meals.

First of all, I love to make everything I can homemade.  Especially hummus and marinara sauce.  But we had a cheapo blender and it wasn't able to even make hummus, and the marinara often turned out clumpy.  I used the food processor every day, which was a double hand-me-down.  We started using it excessively and the darn thing, bless it's soul, had just about given out.  It didn't know it would meet its demise with me.

So we invested in a Bosch immersion blender/food processor.  It's perfect for quick things (like easy baking or Fudge Babies), but it just wasn't cutting it for my favorites like hummus. 

Plus, our old juicer....let me start with a back story.  I saw  a Juiceman Jr. commercial when I was about 12 years old.  I wanted to start juicing!  So I thought if I bought it for my mom, she would start making juice.  Mother's Day came, mom got a top of the line 90's juicer, and no juice followed.  Fast forward 13 years and we got the juicer.  Which is awesome, but it's a dinosaur.

So the Juiceman Jr. has officially been retired, because of the new addition.  Listen to this:  All you have to do is cut up the fruit, remove the core, and put it in the blender with a splash of water (or ice...but we don't have ice here).  You get all the nutrients from the pulp and skin that most juicers leave out!  Matt and I make a juice composed of apple, pear, spinach, carrots, grapes, and spirulina nearly every morning.  It has the high of coffee without the crash.  Genius.  And it will change your life!!

So that's all about the Vitamix.  I am serious when I say it will change your life.  All of the sudden, eating healthy is not even remotely a chore!

We've also been eating a lot of Asian cuisine lately.  My entire life I have been a good eater.  I think I get that from my dad, as he has introduced me to pickled artichoke hearts and tomato juice.  You know, things your average kid would never indulge in.

When we lived in Richmond, Matt and I were introduced to Thai.  And on our weekends in DC we would try all kinds of different things, including Ethiopian and Indian foods.  As a kid I tried a few curry dishes, but never liked them.  Now I can't seem to get enough!

I've even ventured out to local stores to find curry and Thai spices. 

And couscous.  We are obsessed and could probably eat it for every meal, but switch it up with quinoa and bulgar just to make it interesting.

Besides immersing us in culture and spice, these foods are fantastic because they are mostly vegan.  Which means when we go to a Thai restaurant, I fear not.  And they're so comforting.  Comfort food without cheese, say you?  It is true.  I just wish we could find a good Turkish restaurant that's not a doner stand around here...then I'd be in HEAVEN!

And I will salivate until we get to London and have amazing curry!  Oh my goodness, I can hardly wait :)

So there you have it.  Some of our favorite things as of late.  Heads up for when you visit, because you will not be eating your every day meatloaf and pork chops.  Though, if you're nice, I'll make my famous vegan sloppy joes and sweet potato fries.

That's it for me.  I'm in dire need of some fresh juice!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Pookie Pattootie

We have recovered from the Patton-broccoli incident of 2011. To catch you up to speed, Matt and I did not sleep well last night due to Patton's flatulence. It was putrid. Broccoli shall never find it's way to his bowl ever again.

But, this makes up for it. A cute photo of Petunia sleeping with his tongue out:

And here he is loving on daddy:

Tis it for now.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter at the Cole House

I love Easter! As in, the whole celebration of Spring and such. There is something about bunnies and hunting for eggs that makes me happy! But I also like to take time to focus on the importance of Spring, and it's arrival. Renewal, rebirth, nature. It's all so magical!

We held our first annual Easter party on Saturday and had such a great time. Friends came over and we grilled and had our own version of an Easter egg hunt.

See for yourself...

 Watching futbol
 Grilling out.  Matt is quite the grill master!
 Getting ready for the hunt...
 The spoils!  We decided to try a more adult version of the Easter egg hunt.  It was a hit.
And of course Patton was begging everyone to play futbol with him.  What a cutie.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Earth Day!

In honor of Earth Day, I decided to share a fee of my favorite eco-friendly products.

First, one of Matt's least favorite things in my closet, Simple shoes.

These shoes are made out of recycled tires! How cool is that?! They are super comfortable and perfect for a lazy Saturday. Next on my list of sustainable shoes, TOMS vegan variety made with organic cotton :)

Anything Seventh Generation.

Every cleaning product in our house is Seventh Generation. We love it! It cleans just like those harmful conventional cleaners, but are non-toxic, use plant derived ingredients, and the packaging is made from 90% PC (post costumer) recycled waste. Not to mention, they have aromatherapy type qualities with scents like lavender, but they also come in fragrance free, as well.

Another kitchen product I adore is my Veggie Wash.

Sadly, there is no Whole Foods here, so sometimes we can't find certain produce we like in organic form. That's when we use this all natural veggie wash. It uses citrus to clean off waxes and pesticides, and smells terrific. Plus, you aren't ingesting anything harmful from the wash.

Then we have organic goodies.

USDA certified organic goods are free of toxic pesticides, as well as hormones and antibiotics (which is in every meat product that is not USDA certified). I'll try to stay off my soap box, but I stress that it is very very important that you buy certified organic goods whenever possible. Not only for your short and long-term health, but for the earth, as well as the livelihood of the farmers and manufacturers that produce these goods for us. They obviously have high standards and morals, so I want our money to go to them. Also, every time you purchase an item, it casts a vote. We should demand high quality, toxin-free produce and goods. So vote organic!

Ah, and one of my favorites, soy candles.

We burn candles nightly. It cuts electricity costs, and creates a nice ambiance. You will only find soy candles in the Cole house. They are much better for the environment, and often last longer.

Last, but not least, our compost pile. Just kidding, it's kind of gross. But I do have one more for ya...

BOOKS! You may be thinking, those are made of paper, hence, cut down trees. And you'd be correct. However, you can reduce your carbon footprint by recycling books, like buying them from used bookstores or on Amazon. I can't do the kindle thing...I need a book in my hands. So I try to purchase them second hand, whenever possible. Plus, a lot of books these days (at least the ones I've been reading on the environment and vegan whatnots) are printed on recycled paper.
It is also very important that we read up on these things. Don't you want a better planet for your grandchildren? And I'm sure God isn't happy with they way we've destroyed his/her blessed creation.

So please remember when you are at the store to consider what you are buying. You are casting a vote. Sure, you are probably going to spend a little more, but you will have a clear conscience, and your mother (earth) will thank you.

Now get outside and enjoy the day!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Happy Earth Week!

Finally, one of my favorite weeks of the year - EARTH WEEK! Every week is earth week in the Cole household, but I enjoy seeing it discussed on every media outlet, talked about in schools, etc.

And Friday is Earth Day, so we will surely be having a fun time with that.

In the past, Matt and I have celebrated by nixing electricity for an evening, spending extra time in nature, and visiting our favorite farmer's market at the Heritage Ag Fields in Auburn (we miss you!!).

But like I said earlier, we don't subject just one week to celebrating our earth. We recycle (and are happy to announce that it is German law - WAKE UP AMERICA!), compost, follow a vegan lifestyle, and don't use electricity during the day (unless computer work must be done).

Matt knew what he was getting into when he met a hemp sandal wearing "granola" in 2008, and he has been so supportive of my involvement in the movement since that day (though he hates those shoes). I set up a recycling center with instructions at his apartment, he slowly transitioned into "veganish", he has made frequent solo ventures to the farmer's market, and he does most of the composting at our house :)

It doesn't take mounting solar panels on your rooftop to be green (though most of our neighbors have them and it makes me smile). It can start with switching all of your bulbs to CFLs, or writing/calling your local congressperson about how important it is they consider the environment in heir decision-making (if I had a dollar for every call I made, we would have solar panels). Even eliminating one meat based meal from your diet a week will save energy (not to mention, extend compassion).

Want to do something good for yourself AND the environment? Become a vegan. It will change your life and send a message to factory farmers that we don't need their wasteful and cruel products.

But I digress...

This is all about our ONE planet and our children, and their children. May they see this world cleaner and more fruitful than we do.

If you are interested in any films on the subject matter, check out the list below. None of them are bias or offensive, and make great sense.

Food, Inc.
Kilowatt Hours
Who Killed The Electric Car?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Our First Seder

Matt and I attended our first Seder, or Passover dinner, last night. Seder marks the beginning of the Jewish holiday of Passover. The story of the captivity of Jews in Egypt is told, as well as their liberation. 

It was especially interesting to Matt and me; after being raised in Christian households we knew all of the stories of Moses and such. Our new friend, Aaron, was one of our hosts, and led us through the Seder. It really meant a lot to us that we were invited to this religious and personal event, and he was so gracious with explaining things that we didn't understand, or answer any questions we had. And Abi, whose house we had the dinner at, was such an amazing host. She made it feel like a family gathering, and we had such an amazing time.

Here are some pictures:
 Elijah's cup - In Judaism, Elijah never died, but ascended into Heaven.  So at Passover, there is a cup of wine left for him, and during the dinner a door is even opened to allow him in.
 Matzo Bark.  It was a bit of a challenge to find a vegan/kosher dessert for Passover.  I just took matzo, poured caramel on top, then ganache on top of that.  Sprinkle on chopped walnuts and kosher salt, and you have matzo bark :)
 Matt finishing off matzo ball soup.
 Finishing off my second cup of sparkling cider.  In case you didn't know, there are four, yes FOUR, cups of wine consumed during Seder - per person!  It's crazy.  I decided to stick to cider.

Below:  The Seder plate.  Maror is the bitter herbs - horseradish - symbolizing the bitterness and harshness of the slavery which the Jews endured in Ancient Egypt.  Charoset is the purple mixture to the left of the bone, and it is composed of nuts, fruit and wine.  Charoset represents the mortar used by the Jews to build the storehouses of Egypt.  Next is Zeroa, or the lamb bone which symbolizes the korban Pesach, or lamb sacrifice offered at the temple in Jerusalem.   The parsley is the Karpas, or the parsley which is dipped into salt water, twice, and then eaten at the very beginning of the meal.  And last, the Beitzah, or the egg.  the Beitzah symbolizes korban chagigah, the festival sacrifice, that was offered in the Temple in Jerusalem, and then eaten on Passover night.
 Here Matt prepares to eat the Karpas.  It is quite possibly the most bitter thing I've ever consumed.
We survived our first Seder!

For the recipe for Matzo Bark, visit my other blog, Becoming a Veganista

Thursday, April 14, 2011

What Germans Think of Americans

I was at Real today (German big box mart) in hopes of finding curry and other Thai/Indian cooking essentials. I found the international section, which is fabulous and mammoth in comparison to wimpy international cuisine sections found at your typical American grocer.

And yes, I found an American section. Behold.

So if you were skeptical about Americans' food choices being subpar, well, just take a looksy. It seems that American cuisine consists of cheese wiz, marshmallows, mayonnaise, chocolate syrup, pop tarts, crisco, and other highly processed/downright loser foods.

I laughed to myself, and then grew somber. The Mexican section had various peppers and salsas, Asian had rices and sauces, Middle Eastern had olives, hummus and cous cous (as well as my drool), and this is all the US of A has to show for in a German supermarket. Sigh.

In other fun news, Matt and I went to pick ip mail the other day and found this at the counter:

Yes, that's a rock on a box. It seems the Army is really cutting corners these days.

Have a spectacular poptartless day :)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Tillman Story

Matt and I just got done watching "The Tillman Story". Wow.

It's about former NFL player and soldier Pat Tillman. He left his career as a million dollar football star to become an Army Ranger and was killed in Afghanistan.

A compelling story of an amazing family, and remembering their brother, son and husband.  What dedication and love.  

Watch this film.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Do you believe in Superman?

This weekend was awesome! Matt came back home (yessss!) and we spent the entire weekend with the Zimas. Friday night we had sloppy joes and played bananagrams (shout out to the Florys!) and Scattagories.

Saturday we went on a fun hike through the Palatinate Forest, and Patton was able to join. Gosh, I love hiking, but I am SO out of shape. It really gave us the itch to go camping, so I'm sure we'll be doing that soon. Is there anything more grounding than nature???

And Sunday we went golfing! Our first time on this continent - twas fun. Then we ate dinner at a super exclusive restaurant, Chili's. We didn't even have to call in reservations!

On top of a fun filled weekend with our friends, we also watched a phenomenal documentary called "Waiting for Superman". I picked it up a couple weeks ago and (anxiously) waited to watch it with the hubby.

It is about the United States' education system and is quite riveting. I have always been a firm, nay, staunch, supporter of all unions. Going into this I had my own opinions, but decided to keep an open mind. This film is not based on dismantling teacher's unions, but it addresses issues with them, for sure. 

We did not find it politically bias in any way, and I urge everyone to watch it, even if they don't have children.  Just watch :)


Sunday, April 3, 2011

Spring's first BBQ!

Matt came home on Friday for the weekend (SQUEEL!!!) and we had friends over that evening for a BBQ. It was vegan, with the exception of brats that folks brought over for themselves.

Brett even made homemade black bean burgers and they were phenomenal! I better get that recipe...

Some of our friends that came over are the Byrd family, who just had a baby, Jack, in December. Patton has never seen such a small human, and we were interested to see how they would interact.

Jack is just the cutest, happiest baby of life, and I love to hold/play with him! I always mess with Matt because I've never seen him hold a baby, but he swore to me he could do it. And he showed me Friday night that he is daddy material! One day (you can breathe now, Matt).

Patton just wanted to lick the heck out of Jack, which is what I expected. He was so intrigued by a little baby, and even tried to take one of Jack's toys, ha!

We spent Saturday hanging out around the house.  We watched "The Switch" with Jennifer Anniston and Jason Bateman, which was hilarious!  Later we took Patton on a walk and saw that so many flowers had started to bloom.  It was 74 degrees and absolutely beautiful.  When we made it back home, I saw that our little garden had started to welcome Spring. YAY!

I hope you all had a spectacular weekend as well!