I have to say, I LOVE this challenge!! It has really made me branch out and try some new things. Tonight Kate and I made vegan gumbo! But first, breakfast & lunch.
I had a green monster on the schedule for breakfast today, but it was really cold this morning so I opted for oatmeal instead. It works out because tomorrow is supposed to get above freezing (say what?!) which will be perfect for a smoothie. It will also be perfect for clearing up this ice luge of an alley that I have to drive down every day!
Today's oats featured good ol' peanut butter and jelly, which tasted awesome. I had blueberries on the side for some fresh fruit.
Lunch was NOT leftovers for once (gasp!). I had a sweet potato that I cooked in the microwave, topped with hummus and ratatouille. I also had a pear.
(Yes, I packed myself a note as a reminder to photograph my lunch. It worked, didn't it?!)
The ratatouille is from Trader Joe's and tastes pretty good! I was surprised to see such big chunks of veggies in it. Our favorite is made by Sabra (also our favorite hummus) and was once sold at Costco. However, we haven't been able to find it the last few times we were there.
Afternoon snack is where the leftovers came in - orzo and veggie salad. Just as good as last night.
Now we can talk about gumbo. Or as Kate put it, "Let's get ready to gumbooooooo!"
I read a lot of recipes and picked and chose what I liked about each one, which is typical for me. Here's what we ended up with. I'm not claiming that it's authentic by any means, but it sure tastes good!
Vegetarian (Vegan) Gumbo
- 1/4 c olive oil
- 1/3 c flour
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 1 large rib of celery, finely diced
- 1 medium carrot, finely diced
- 1 green bell pepper, finely diced (I used tricolor, frozen strips since I already had them)
- 10 oz frozen, sliced okra
- 3 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
- 1 15 oz can crushed tomatoes
- 1 15 oz can vegetable broth
- 1 15 oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp celery salt
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp cajun seasoning (paprika, salt, & lemon etc)
- 2 bay leaves
- Heat the oil in a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium-low heat.
- To make the roux, sprinkle the flour over the oil and stir to combine. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until it is toasty smelling and copper colored. This could take 15 minutes or more. Be patient, it's worth it!
Beginnings of a roux.
About 1/2 way there...starting to smell toasty.
- Add the onion, celery, carrot, and pepper, and stir until evenly coated.
- Cook the veggies over medium-high heat until softened (about 10 minutes), stirring often. This will smell amazing!
- Carefully add the veggie broth and stir, scraping up any bits that may have stuck to the bottom of the pot.
- Add the okra, garlic, tomatoes, and kidney beans. Stir together and bring to a boil.
- Stir in the seasonings and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer, partially covered, for 25-30 minutes, or until okra is tender.
- Remove bay leaves and serve with rice and plenty of hot sauce.
Dessert was a few bites of chocolate sorbet that I forgot we had. I don't really like chocolate-based ice cream, so I was surprised that I liked this. I think it helped that it wasn't overly sweet and had a dark chocolate flavor.
You may have noticed in my lunch photo that I'm reading In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto. I'm about 3/4 of the way through it and love it so far. It has really got me thinking about the food industry in a lot of ways. And it has me really excited to learn more! I know Micheal Pollan has been a guest on Oprah, so I may need to see if I can find an episode online. He is a journalist, not a registered dietician, politician, healthcare worker, or member of the food industry, which gives everything a neutral tone. Well, fairly neutral. It's easy to say that when you agree with it, right?
So, you may have put 2 and 2 together and guessed (correctly) that this book is part of my 2011 goal to read more! This book has been on my nightstand for months, and I'm so glad that I finally dove into it. It will count as one of my non-fiction reads.
I have also completed a book from the miscellaneous category! I found a copy of The Sweet Hereafter in a box of Kate's books from highschool. She was in Honors AP Lit (I was not), so we didn't read the same books. Except for a few...like Jane Eyre and Ethan Frome (gag). But this sounded interesting and Kate said, "I think I actually liked that one," so I gave it a whirl.
The Sweet Hereafter recounts the story of a school bus accident in small town in upstate New York, that resulted in several causualties. The interesting part is that it is told from 4 different perspectives: the bus driver, the father of 2 children who were on the bus (who also happened to witness the accident), a lawyer representing a few of the families, and a 12-yr old girl who survived the accident.
I really liked this approach! Each character pretty much picked up where the previous one left off, so it wasn't like you were reading the same story over and over again. They also gave a peek into their pasts and how they had changed since the accident.
I like how each section had it's own, distinct voice, but I wish they were broken up a little more. This is just a personal preference, but 75 continuous pages with no break is pretty daunting to me. I am a slow reader, and I like to be sure I have captured every word and idea as I go along. This makes it really hard to set a book down/pick it back up in the middle of a chapter.
Overall, I enjoyed the book but wouldn't deem it a "must read". There is definitely a vein of moral struggle throughout, which probably makes it good for a book club or Lit class - lots to discuss. However, I was surprised that a book that sports the f-word was distributed at my Catholic high school!
Have you read either of these books? What did you think? I'm trying to get my hands on a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird to read next. I read it in high school, but think it's time to revisit it.