Monthly Archives: October 2011

Roasted Fall Veggies

Roasted veggies mmm

Now that we’re vegetarians and my daughter probably needs iron boosts once a month, we eat beets. I’ve made them several ways. Sometimes it’s successful (beet pilaf) and sometimes not (beets with yogurt topping.) Most recipes with beets are in salads. I love my daughter’s eating habits … but she’s really not huge into salads.

When we first went vegetarian, I needed some help and I bought a few books. One of my favorites is Alicia Silverstone’s The Kind Diet. Now she’s a total vegan, which is great and all, but I haven’t gone THAT far with it. Still, she’s got some fun recipes in there and they aren’t all tofu either. (Actually … we don’t eat a lot of tofu either!) So, this is based on her recipe.

Here’s what we used. (Adapt as necessary.)

  • 2 shallots
  • a bunch of beets (which for us was 5 beets of various sizes), peeled and cut into 1″ chunks.
  • 2 parsnips, peeled and cut into big chunks
  • 2 carrots, same as the parsnips
  • 1 fennel bulb, halved, cored and thickly sliced (this was a new one on me folks, and the guy bagging the groceries said “fennel, what are you going to do with that?” and I had to say “well roast it I think, new to me too!”)
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into cubes (Alicia always called for kabocha squash but since I don’t live in Southern California, I go with a butternut or acorn.)
  • 2-3 celery stalks
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Handful of walnuts (she called for pecans but I had walnuts, so walnuts it was)
  • 8 dried apricots, cut into pieces
  • Olive oil (about 2 tablespoons)
  • Lemon juice (about 2 tablespoons)
  • Soy sauce (about 2 teaspoons)
  • Parsley

I chopped up everything and stuck it in a large bowl and then the bowl was too small. So I then spread out said veggies on a baking sheet, added the non-veggie ingredients and tossed the ingredients until well mixed. TIP: USE PARCHMENT PAPER. Christine, you are saying, why would I waste my money on parchment paper? What is the point? To you I say use it, trust me. Your clean ups are way WAY easier. Save the elbow grease for the gym. You’ll also use less water when cleaning up and perhaps you have heard we are in a drought. And third, it browns better. Don’t believe me? Make a batch of cookies without parchment paper. Now make a batch with parchment paper. The bottoms on the parchment baked cookies? Nice and even and light brown. The non-parchment? Dark brown, probably. The parchment paper lets the heat distribute better. Do I have scientific proof of this? Hell no. I have an art degree people. I just have my own anecdotal stories of cookies that came out much happier on parchment.

Once you’ve spread the veggies and mixed them up with the remaining ingredients and all, you can put them in the oven at 350 and let them cook for an hour. (NOTE: if you are like me and don’t bother to read carefully, you roast with the parley. Turns out you can GARNISH with the parsley. It was still good anyway, so pick either way.) She recommends putting aluminum foil on them for 45 minutes, removing said foil and cooking for another 15. I did not do this. For one, it’s only 350. For another … well … I wouldn’t be there to remove said foil. Here’s the other thing I love about this kind of recipe. The kid had a martial arts lesson from 6-7, so that kind of interferes with dinner preparation, UNLESS you get it all cut up and on a baking sheet by 5:30 (totally do-able.) Then you can throw it in the oven, set the oven to kick on at 6:15 and let it cook for an hour and fifteen minutes. (Why the extra time? We have an oven with the heat units hidden, which means it can take a while to heat up.

Here’s the great thing about this too. We drove home, got in the house and the kid goes “wow, the house smells great!” It’s almost like someone cooked FOR you.

Now your option what you want to put the veggies on top. I suggest a nice whole grain (of course) but you can do whatever you like. We went with barley, because I had planned to make a barley casserole too, but turns out we couldn’t fit it in and I had already made the barley. Barley by itself is really good if you like a nice chewy grain. Couscous is good, quinoa is a good choice with protein. Rice works too. (If you can sneak brown rice past your husband, even better.)

Or you can eat this as a side dish too.

Kid gobbled this up, but my kid is weird. Still, a great way to discover those awesome fall root veggies.

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Coastal Cooking

Plant? Or alien posing as plant?

This past week, I spent a week out in Arizona. Interesting place, but the only way it could be more different than South Carolina was if it was really super cold. Our parks are full of dense, lush trees with creeks and waterfalls and red clay beneath our feet. Arizona’s parks (at least the one I saw) are full of rocks and dust, with no shade, because the trees are all five feet tall, if you find one, and the plants look like they might be aliens. In fact, I found the park a bit as I might imagine running on the moon might be, if the moon was extremely hot.

Really, I can’t complain. My conference was at a beautiful location, the Pointe Hilton at Tapatio Cliffs, very nice. A great event and the food was just fine. I didn’t really get to sample much local cuisine, as nothing in Phoenix is located within walking distance, but the food was also quite good. I just didn’t get to sample much Mexican fare.

Not just a different pointe of view, a different world

Still, I was gone for eight days and while I was sad to see the event come to a close, I was happy to get back to my routine. Sure, running in the desert was a good experience, but I was happy to run on campus, get back to Jazzercise. Yeah the food was great in Arizona, but I was happy to eat my own food again, and even cook it again.

The night I got back, I was just dog tired. We had a super early flight, which meant getting up at 4 am, and then we didn’t get coffee for hours due to long lines, even at the bag drop off. I think they forgot what the term “drop off” means. One of those times when I wished I could have ordered a skinny vanilla latte from my phone and had it delivered to the gate. So when I got home, I was in no mood to cook. Lots of Cheerios and then to bed! I told the kid “you’ll have to put yourself to bed, sorry!” Thursday was a Kuk Sool night, so we made a pizza. Good, but not really cooking. So tonight? YES to cooking. I even invited the parents. And, feeling a little romantic about my home state, I went to the coastal living cookbook. Here’s the recipe:

  • Butter, unsalted, .25 cup
  • Onions, raw, 2 cup, chopped
  • Carrots, raw, .5 cup, chopped
  • Celery, raw, .5 cup, diced
  • Garlic, 2 clove
  • Thyme, ground, 1 tsp
  • Salt, .5 tsp
  • Pepper, black, .5 tsp
  • Brown Rice, long grain, 2 cup
  • Tomatoes, red, ripe, raw, year round average, 2 large whole (3″ dia)
  • Vegetable Broth, 3.5 cup
  • Bay leaf
  • Shrimp, raw, 24 oz
  • Cod (fish), 8 oz

Melt the butter in a large pot. Add garlic, onions, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper and cook about 5 minutes, until soft. Add tomatoes and rice and stir until coated. Add the broth and cook about 30 minutes. Add the cod and cook for 5 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook another 5. Serve.

Now the original recipe called for clams and crabmeat and oysters and mussels, along with shrimp, but I figured I could add whatever seafood I liked. So I went to my favorite grocery store (Ingles, of course) and they had NC wild caught shrimp, $9.98 a pound and they had wild caught US cod, so I bought a filet of that. Heck, they even sell local grown tomatoes and bulk brown basmati rice, so I was set.

Bonus: there’s enough for tomorrow too, which means I don’t have to brave the streets tomorrow for any more than my 6 mile run, because there’s a football game in town. With the tigers winning, well, it’s gonna be a bit nutty out there. Still, football game or not, I’m glad to be back home. Sure, I came back to freezing weather and leaves that need to be raked and work that needed to be done. But if nothing else, I get good fresh shrimp around here and that’s as good a reason to live down here as any!

The Ladies of EIU

Me and Stacia

This week, I’m getting ready to head to my last board meeting for UCDA, the University and College Designers Association. This has been an important organization for me. It’s taught me a lot: design inspiration and practice, networking, leadership skills, organization skills, and all the while, I met lots of incredible people and saw some amazing cities. I feel lucky to have had the opportunity, not just because I got elected by my peers, but because Clemson gave me the time to be a part of this organization. (I’ll still be involved, just not on the board for now. Time for someone else to have some fun shaping the organization.)

One of the amazing people I met through UCDA is Stacia Lynch, and through her, the Eastern Illinois University communications staff. What a fun group of ladies this is. They’ve been sweet to adopt me as a sister staff member and we have fun looking at each other’s posts and pictures. I feel I know them as well as some of the people I actually work with at Clemson.

Thanks for all the donations!

Stacia is one of the reasons I started running. Well, along with a fellow Jazzerbuddy who ran a half and got a medal for it. Stacia participated in Team in Training to run a marathon and raised a lot of money for leukemia. This inspired me to put on the running shoes and I’m not the only one; from what I can tell, she’s got most of the office running as well. When I started to raise money for Alzheimer’s during the Bridge Run, the EIU ladies donated to my cause. In fact, they donated a lot more than my own colleagues.

Would you let these ladies help you move in?

So, for the EIU ladies, I made them a beard, in royal blue, as a thanks for all their support. I hope they look good with the blue wigs, ladies!

And there’s one more special lady at the EIU office that gets one more extra gift. Tracy Hall-Ingram was the very first to click on that “make you a gift” thing so many of us posted back in January. Tracy has been through a lot this year. She too took up running and even finished a half-marathon, but as a result, has also found she has a fair number of health problems. Looks like she’s switched to biking, as well as working hard to find out a diagnosis and answers to feeling better. She’s also a big supporter of my sister Carla, who wrote a book about her issues with lupus. (If you know anyone chronically ill, they will thank you for buying them this book.) So Tracy, you get a purse, and for you, I lined it with the same royal blue color. Imagine how fabulous you’ll look if you carry the purse AND wear the beard!

A purse for Tracy!

Unfortunately, budgets mean that the EIU ladies can’t make it to Phoenix. I can’t express how disappointed I am not to see them. They’ve managed to keep me sane on the difficult days and make me laugh on a regular basis. And I know they are just as disappointed to not get to go. So, I hope this little care package brings them a small smile. I promise, I’m dropping it in the mail tomorrow.

Maybe I’ll see them in Montreal!

Player Action at Clemson

Players 1988

Circa 1988, I think

This weekend was the second (I think) Clemson Players reunion. The Players are the theater group at Clemson, which when I was there from 1984-1987 (as a transfer student, not an overachiever who graduated in three years), was a small band of rebels that weren’t necessarily Greeks or engineers or business majors. We were out on the fringe, not fitting in with the larger group of Clemson students and we liked theater. Either that, or we were looking for other people that were also out on the fringe. We used to do plays in Daniel Auditorium, which would was probably a smaller stage than most auditoriums you would find in a good elementary school. We were working with very little. There was no theater major. If you wanted to do theater, you probably majored in the next closest thing they had: English. Or maybe Art. There wasn’t even a music major.

And we were lucky. Before Daniel was built in the late 60s, they did their shows in Newman Auditorium, which wasn’t even a stage. It was a theater-style classroom, with a floor at the bottom and a chalkboard behind it. The smell might be a bit odd, but that was the price you paid for having to hold shows at one of the agriculture buildings where they cured meat. (I’m not kidding.)

Now, of course, Clemson has built a very nice theater program. You have to audition and it’s competitive. They have a nice performing arts building with a real theater and a real stage. They even attract some touring Broadway shows!

Clemson buds

Me and MJ, on campus

At some point, I heard from some Facebook friends that there was another reunion in town. “OK, we’ll see what’s going on this weekend,” I thought. “I’ll probably have to go or Mark will never speak to me again, since I live all of four miles away.” And so I didn’t bother to sign up until the week of, and then because of Mark and because I heard my buddy Merrie Jo was coming in. The last time I saw MJ was, well, 10 years ago when she came out for the last reunion.

MJ showed up at my office on late Friday afternoon and we got ice cream (of course) at the Exchange. Thumbs up on the pumpkin pie flavor, kids! We walked campus, and talked and caught up as though we hadn’t been apart for 10 years. Suddenly, the reception seemed like it might be more fun than I thought. Off to the reception and it was even more fun than I thought. I knew more faces than I thought too and was surprised by some of the faces that returned. And even best of all, I liked these people. They turned out to be such interesting folks, with cool interests and thoughts and lives. Some people I was meeting for the first time, but really enjoyed talking with. Others, I hadn’t seen in 20+ years, but it was so amazing to reconnect with them again.

And that’s when things took a turn for the wacky.

Saturday morning, they gave a tour of Daniel and the Brooks Center. My husband went to see the Petite LeMans, which he loves and missed last year. I took my daughter to her martial arts class and went running on campus. I had a lovely run, picked up her and had planned to get cleaned up and take her to a friend’s house while I attended the luncheon. We got home with 40 minutes to take that shower, drop her off and get to the luncheon … and the garage door wouldn’t open. So we tried opening it from the keypad. Nothing. After 10 frantic minutes and a call to my husband, 2 hours away with the only key to the house, we realized we keep the house locked up pretty tight after all. (The fact he’s got the only key isn’t his fault … he didn’t know.) So, a quick Plan B: we drove to Wal-Mart, bought new clothes, sponged off in the bathroom and changed clothes.

And this is why I love these people: I know I had to still smell, and not very well either. And, while the rest of them were much better dressed and cleaned up, they didn’t care. Mostly, they thought it was funny (which it was and still is) and were very sweet to offer me their showers in their rooms or anything I needed.

The day ended with another reception back at the Martin Inn, watching the football game while socializing. Now when I was at Clemson, I almost never went to the games. Blasphemy, I’m sure, to hear this, especially since I went from 1984-87, otherwise known as the Danny Ford years. To some Clemson fans, this was the heyday of football for us. As someone referred to him last night, he was like Clemson’s Reagan. But now that I work with admissions and been at Clemson as a staff member for more than 16 years, I’m much more interested in it. And there was mild interest in the game, until the last quarter. Then there was rabid interest in it. What a thrill it was to enjoy the game with a bunch of my fellow classmates, cheering as Dabo had orange Gatorade poured on him TWICE.

As fun as the first reception was, the second one was even better. All the “what are you doing, who are you, yadda yadda yadda” that had to happen the first reception was over and now we were all best buddies again, at least for the night. Bill got some dark rum and made something called Dark and Stormies. Good! I had one. (Hey, I had my kid watching TV in a guest room nearby.) Everyone else had a blast with them. It was like that episode of Parks and Recreation where Tom gets everyone to come down to the Snake Pit to tout his new drink Snake Juice and everyone gets totally blitzed out of their mind. Good times, folks. Good times.

See all you Players again in 2013?