Saturday, January 09, 2010

His Dog

There is a reason why Briggs is Murph's dog, while Tucker is my dog. I'm guessing a lot of couples experience this, but there is just something about the big brown dog's personality that "clicks" with the Husband's. They are just similar in some ways. Take their sleep style for instance.

I come upstairs, arms loaded with folded laundry and entered my bedroom to find Briggs laying directly in front of my dresser. There was no way around him, so as I attempted to step over him, I tripped, stumble a bit and dropped all of the socks destined for my drawer on the dog. ooops.

His reaction:
What a sleeper. I dropped an armload of clean socks onto the dog and not only did he not wake up, he didn't even flinch. He didn't look up. He didn't even crack an eyelid. In fact, he was so sleepy that I put away the socks, went downstairs, got the camera, came back up to the bedroom, and then took this picture. He didn't wake up until I opened the curtain to get some better lighting.

This is pretty much how Murph sleeps. I could light myself on fire in bed and he would barely roll over. I envy this ability to fall asleep and not wake up until the alarm goes off.

Now the Tino and I are pretty much also kindred spirits, canine soul mates, a match made in heaven, ect. ect.

This picture explains it all:

(heaven is lined with fleece)

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Where do babies come from?

When I was small, my Dad carried this photo of me in his wallet. Come to think of it, I believe he carried this photo of me in his wallet until the thing (the wallet that is) disintegrated in like 2001. Or for all I know, he could still be carrying the same wallet from 1980 around in his pocket. It's possible.

I was quite enamored with this photo of myself as a young child. I've noticed that toddlers are frequently excited by the fact that they used to be babies. Why? No clue. But this is a handy trick to be aware of should you be babysitting a 2 year old with attitude. Just whip out a baby picture and -bam- toddler attention is diverted.

Every time I asked to see this photo my Dad would tell the story about how this was the picture he took when he found me in the woods. As the story goes, he was walking through the forest and found a baby (me). He came home and asked my Mom if they could keep me. My Mom, thinking that this lost child of the woods was quite cute said "okay, we can keep her."

That is where babies come from. The woods.

So yes, I fully believed that I was found in the woods on a snowy day (dressed in tights no less) until far past the age where I could really find this plausible.

Other things I believed:
That when my Dad pointed to Massachusetts on the globe we owned that I would be able to see his finger if I looked up at the sky.

I also believed there were half days. Like when I asked what day it was someone was going to say "Tomorrow is Tuesday, bit only 'til noon, then it will be Wednesday."

Thursday, December 31, 2009

All the places I've been in the 'aughts

My attempt at a decade long recap of life as it's happened. Also, I feel that there should be points awarded for use of the term 'aught.

2000 - 2nd and 3rd year of college. Seems like a blur. I think I worked at the hospital then, and I'm pretty sure Murph and I went to Toronto in the winter to visit Lou. Upon arriving in Canada, we learned that Lou was in Worcester. It all worked out though because we met Dave, the nicest guy in Canada.

2001 - Still in college. I started working at Filene's in the junior's department. 9/11 happened. I turned 21 the next day. We went to NYC at Christmas time and saw a midnight showing of The Royal Tenenbaums. I may have worked for 30 days or less as a telemarketer. Besides these details this year is even more blurry.

2002 - Graduated from college. Spent several months homeless. Started the very expensive experiment called graduate school. Took a data entry job that weirdly turned into a career in the insurance industry. Likely spent way too much time wondering if Murph and I should live together - because how often do people really marry their college sweetheart? Also took a fantastic trip to California and saw LA to SF while we drove PCH 1. So many great memories.

2003 - Learned that graduate school sucked my will to live. Took my first trans-atlantic flight and went to Paris with Murph for a week. Despite the fact that we were poor, living in a shitty basement apartment and Murph wasn't even working yet, going to Paris was the best idea we ever had. yay! This was also the year we moved out of Worcester -woot! Murph proposed on Christmas Eve after I gave him a matching bath towel set. I also recall whitewater rafting, buying a Jetta and being introduced to Idylwild Farm.

2004 - Got married on my birthday! Went on honeymoon to Las Vegas. I accidentally bumped into Pierce Brosnan in the pool area at the MGM Grand. Moved into my Great Grandmother's house in Auburn so that we could start saving for a house of our own. Other things must have happened, but I probably spent all my time reading wedding-related message boards (read: actually just reading the daily drama of If only I gotten married after wedding blogs really exploded.

2005 - Went to Iceland in February for a long weekend. Best idea ever. No really, it was. Ranks up there as one of my favorite vacations of all time. There was swimming, massages and a wonderful vegetarian restaurant that served chocolate cake every night. We lived in Auburn and I started going to yoga 3 times a week. Also joined Weighwatchers online (which worked!) and started cooking a whole lot more. Murph bought the yellow GTI.

2006 - Went to London with Murph for a week. This decision was made on the fly, but well worth it and conveniently occurred while the boiler in our house was busted in March in New England. Which is a terrible time for a broken boiler. Oh and our bathroom was also torn apart - like down to the studs torn apart. Ah, London, home of tea and working toilets. Then we bought a House and spent 4th of July of scrubbing and painting. I can still smell the vinegar. We adopted Sir Briggsington Neck Beard III. I started this blog.

2007 - There must have been more painting of the house. We adopted Tuckertino Ninja Murphy. Traded in the red GTI for the Forester. Celebrated my Grandparents 50th wedding anniversary by going bowling. Decided it would be a good time to see a counselor and get some of this anxiety in check. Had the worst camping trip ever at Basin Pond. I went to San Diego to visit my friend Heather and then we went back when she got married in November. I missed the work convention but vowed never to do that again.

2008 - Hired a dog trainer after the terrible Briggs-protest-sprained-ankle incident. Murph and I vacationed in Bar Harbor, Maine and I showered at a lobster pound. Joined a gym and also learned how much I HATE exercising in the morning. Murph had his jaw wired shut for 6 weeks. I could have lived without that experience, but now I know how to liquefy a cupcake. My Dad was sober for the first time since I can remember - ever. Birthday re-do! Acupuncture. Snowshoeing! Went to the Blogher Boston mini conference.

2009 - Five Years married! Ate at a raw-vegan restaurant where clove ice cream was the star of the evening. Made enchiladas for the first time ever. Decided it was time to give up real ice cream forever so I bought an ice cream machine and started working on some vegan versions. Went on a cruise. Started a blog at work. We camped in Vermont and visited the home of Ben & Jerry's and Green Mountain Coffee. Murph made a double fire and we ate vegan 'smores. During the summer it rained almost every day for months, which was a great excuse for having a really crappy garden. Then it stopped raining entirely for the next few months, which was also a really good excuse for having a crappy garden. Started going to the gym in the evening and that has made all the difference.

And there it is - my decade. Something tells me the next 10 are going to be even better.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Two Party Appetizers - Asparagus Phyllo Cigars & Red Peppper Dip

So you said you would bring an appetizer to the party but now don't have any idea what to bring. Or worse, you committed to bringing more than one appetizer and now you're really stuck! Here are two options - one super easy and one a little more time consuming.

Asparagus Phyllo Cigars
This is a great savory and warm appetizer that happens to be vegan. To my knowledge, phyllo dough is usually vegan, while Puff Pastry typically is not. They take a little time to assemble, but they make a splash once they are served, which is worth it to me. As always, when working with phyllo, keep it covered with a damp towel until you are going to actually work with that piece.

In this recipe, you'll make an herb paste, which you'll spread on the phyllo, then cut into strips and wrap around the asparagus. Drizzle with olive oil and bake at 425 for 20 mins and serve immediately.

24 Asparagus Spears - washed and trimmed
1 Package of Frozen Phyllo Dough
1/4 each of chopped Dill, Parsley, Chives
1 TBS grated lemon zest
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

In a small bowl combine the chopped herbs, lemon zest, salt & pepper and about a TBS of olive oil to make an herb paste.

Using 2 sheets of phyllo, lightly cover with the herb paste. You may have to drizzle with a bit more olive oil to spread the herbs around.

Cut the phyllo into 2 inch strips and wrap each strip around an asparagus spear. Place on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and then bake uncovered. Each one will be golden brown and a little crunchy.

Red Pepper Dip
2 cans White Beans
1 16 oz jar of roasted red peppers (drained).
4 Cloves of garlic
Squeeze of Lemon juice
Salt to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste

Blend all in a food processor. Taste and ajust the seasoning. Serve as an alternative or along side some hummus with pita chips or wedges.

Friday, December 04, 2009

More Cake - The Best Vegan Boxed Cake Mix

So after a week or so of posting home made, from scratch type of recipes for you all, I have to come clean...sometimes I totally use boxed cake mix. Yup. And why not? As long as the quality is good and the price is right, sometimes the convenice of one bowl baking is sublime. Especially when you bite into a warm piece of gingerbread that didn't create a huge mess.

This Hodgson Mills Gingerbread Mix is something that my Aunt Candy used to make when I was a kid. I'd file this box under "Mom Tricks". You know, things that Mom's can do quickly with one hand that appease all the children and doesn't make too much of a mess? It's also a whole grain product and typically sold for like $3 a box. I believe the recipe calls for egg and either oil or milk. I just sub in some Ener-g Egg Replacer and soy or rice milk which makes it vegan.

You can also get fancy and serve it with some vegan whipped cream by Soyatoo. The first time I had this was at a restaurant. As a non-vegan this product totally fooled me. I think the Husband gave his dessert to my cousin because I was convinced it was a dairy product. Luckily our local Hannaford and Whole Foods markets carry this item.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Carrot Cake w/ Cream Cheese Frosting

I am always promising The Husband (@isitvegan) that I will write up and post some of the recipes that he posts about on Twitter. I'm finally resolved to do it, so I'm starting with some Holiday recipes. Hope you enjoy!

I know, you're either thinking, another cake recipe :) or another cake recipe :( I figured with the holiday season in full swing, it's a good time to have multiple dessert recipes on hand. Especially tried and true vegan recipes that work. I once offered to make a dessert for a family party. The cake I chose was this fantastic looking multi-layered chocolate espresso deal that promptly slpit down the middle and completely fell apart as soon as I got it frosted on the cake stand. I made a bee-line for the bakery that day, thanking them profusely for carrying vegan cupcakes.

This is probably one of the best cake recipes I've ever made (and it's guaranteed not to fall apart). This is the usual request from the Husband for his birthday and was what we had made for our wedding. It also makes a great cupcake. In this recipe I used chopped hazelnuts, which is unorthodox for carrot cake. The truth is that I really just hate walnuts. You can use the nut of your choice though.

4 TBS Applesauce
1 tsp Vanilla
1/2 Cup Softened Margarine
1 tsp Salt
1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
2 tsp Cinnamon
1 Cup Sugar
1 1/4 Cup Flour
1/4 Cup Soy Milk
1 Cup Grated Carrot
3/4 Cup Chopped Nuts

1. Preheat the oven to 325 and grease and flour a 9-Inch cake pan.
2. In a large bowl mix together the dry ingredients (sans nuts).
3. Add the wet ingredients in a large bowl. (I typically use the Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer with the paddle attachment for this, but a hand mixer would work, too.)
4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and once it is all "just mixed" stir in the carrot and then the shopped nuts.
5. Pour into your pans and bake at 325 for 45 mins.

Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting
To me, Cream Cheese Frosting is what takes carrot cake from breakfast food to dessert. This is some good stuff, so be warned, however, it is not a very stiff frosting. Sometimes its best to refrigerate it before frosting the cake.

8 oz Tofutti Better than Cream Cheese
1/2 Cup Margarine
2 Cups Powdered Sugar
1 tsp Orange Extract
1 tsp Vanilla Extract

Using either a hand or stand mixer, cream together the Cream Cheese and Margarine. Gradually add in the powdered sugar. Once the sugar has been incorporated add the extracts. Refrigerate in a ceramic bowl until the cake is cooled and try not to eat all the frosting with animal crackers before hand.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Easy Chocolate Cake & Easier Chocolate Frosting

I am always promising The Husband (@isitvegan) that I will write up and post some of the recipes that he posts about on Twitter. I'm finally resolved to do it, so I'm starting with some Holiday recipes. Hope you enjoy!

This recipe came from a cook book at my Mom's house. It will take me some time to figure out which one, but when I do, I'll update. I once made like 6 or 8 batches of this for a giant sheet cake for a party.

I have seen similar recipes in other places, and I am pretty sure that this is an old classic chocolate cake recipe that is more "accidentally vegan" than anything. It's "rise" comes from the baking soda and vinegar reaction instead of the egg. It's best to use a high quality coco powder. This simple recipe makes enough for one 8-inch cake - so double up if you're planning a double layer. It also makes for a good cupcake, just be sure to adjust the cooking time.

1 1/2 Cup Flour
1 Cup Sugar
1/4 Cup Cocoa Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp White Vinegar
1 tsp Vanilla
1/3 Vegetable (canola) oil
1 Cup Water

1. Preheat the oven to 350 and grease and flour your cake pan(s).
2. Stir together the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
3. Mix together the wet ingredients in a separate bowl.
4. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry and mix together by hand.
5. Pour into your greased pans or cupcake tins. Bake the 8-inch pan for approx 30 mins.

Chocolate Frosting
What is cake without frosting? This is the vegan version of the classic butter cream frosting that so many grandmothers can whip up without a second thought.

Beat these ingredients together with a hand mixer to make a stiff but creamy chocolate frosting for any cake. Once again- the better the cocoa powder, the better this will taste.

1 Cup Softened Margarine
1/2 Cocoa Powder
1//2 tsp Vanilla
2 Cups Powdered Sugar