Friday, July 22, 2011

To vegan, or not to vegan?

  One of the greatest things about seeing an old friend is that you get to catch up on what's new in each other's lives.  Among other recent and momentous events, my friend Lauren decided to go all the way and start eating a vegan diet.  She has been a vegetarian for as long as I've known her, and we've talked a bit about its meaningfulness to us.   
  When I was 15 or so I got my first job working at a local wings place down the street from my house.  Within about 2 weeks of working there I decided I couldn't eat meat anymore.  I became a lacto-ovo vegetarian, continuing to eat dairy and eggs, and remained so for about 6 years.  Until one day, when I was watching a McDonald's commercial and started salivating and gargling like Homer Simpson at the sight of a donut.  I took that as a sign that I should probably start eating red meat again.  So I ordered a buffalo burger from Upland Brewery, devoured the entire thing and never looked back.  Until now.
  Was all that sumptuous consumption of pork belly, bacon, prosciutto and pancetta going to come back to haunt me?  All the heavy cream, butter and eggs?  Obviously without moderation and exercise that kind of a diet could make one less than slender and in good health, but what about the other implications?  Even while some sources will not explicitly state that meat is bad for you, they most likely recommend keeping red meat and dairy intake low.

So why not just cut them out altogether?             

I'm pondering...and that leads to cooking:
Smoky Corn and Tomato Bruschetta

Green Summer Soup (Pre-puree)

Watermelon Granita
And if the pictures don't hook you, this will: Two of the recipes only have three ingredients!

All recipes are from my favorite food and cooking reference (besides Joy)  Got an ingredient you have no idea what to do with?  No problem!  Customize to your heart's content.  You'll thank me later.

I am excited to chronicle this new endeavor in eating and lifestyle.  I welcome and hope for comments, suggestions, skeptics...

Life without cheese.  This should be interesting.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Weekend in the Clouds

  This past weekend we had the pleasure of enjoying Alma's Festival in the Clouds with new and old friends.  The festival is in its 14th year and is an annual free event that the town sponsors.  There was live music all day, children splashing in the Platte River and scraping in the sand at its shore, artists vending their wares, and a few rain showers to keep us on our toes. 
bruised sky threatens wet/snug in flimsy house we laugh/daring the drops down.
  Probably the most exciting part of the weekend was the chance to see my dear friend Lauren and meet her new husband, Greg.  The Foxes are on a westward honeymoon journey and we were just lucky enough to rendezvous with them on their travels.  Both have quit their jobs and embarked upon a quest to find their place in this vast space we call the American West.  I, for one, can't wait to see where they end up!
  We took a nice hike at Kite Lake on Sunday.  The lake is above timberline and gives access to three mountains over 14,000': Mount Democrat, Mount Lincoln and Mount Bross.  Though we chose not to climb much above the snowline, it was still magnificent.  Wildflowers blanketed the valley- sunflowers, Columbine, Indian paintbrush, and many others I could not identify.
Mariposa Lily

Some weather rolls in...

Indian Paintbrush

Puppies playing in the snow

Satisfying Summer Recipes

I'm sharing some summer favorites that require little to no cooking. Enjoy!  Comments and recipes are always welcome!

Summer Berry Salad
Black & Blue Summer Salad
Strawberry Salad

 The beauty of these salads is that you can use any fresh ingredients you have on hand.  It seems we can never eat our fresh fruit fast enough, so one day I decided to put some in the rather boring-looking salad I was having for lunch.  What a pleasant surprise!  I know I'm not the first to put fruit in a salad with lettuce, but sometimes you forget the simplest and most delicious things.


Salad greens; such as mâché, spinach, arugula
Fruit (strawberries, peaches, blueberries, blackberries- whatever sounds good!)
Sliced almonds
Chèvre, crumbled (optional) 
Raspberry vinaigrette or other vinaigrette salad dressing


Rinse greens; fruit.  Place greens in a bowl.  Top with fruit, crumbled chèvre, if using, and sliced almonds.  Drizzle with vinaigrette.   

The Minimalist's (Revised) Corn Chowder
I first tried this recipe last summer and got rave reviews from everyone who tried it.  The original recipe is Mark Bittman's and stands alone as one of the best and easiest corn chowder recipes I have ever come across.  His recipe, as is, is only 60 calories per serving.  My version ups the calories a bit for the sake of flavor. 


4 to 6 ears of corn
1 TB butter or neutral oil, such as canola
1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 tomatoes, cored, seeded and chopped
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped

  1.  Shuck the corn and strip the kernels from the cob with a sharp knife.  Reserve kernels, making sure to capture any juice.  Put cobs in a large pot with 2 cups of water and 2 cups of broth.  Cover, simmer for 10 minutes.
  2.  Place butter or oil in saucepan and heat on medium-high.  When hot, add onion and potatoes; season.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture begins to soften, about 5 minutes.  Add tomatoes.  Cook, stirring for another minute or so.
  3. Strain the corn cob mixture, return to large pot, and add onion potato mixture.  Bring to a boil, turn heat down so mixture simmers.  When potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes, add corn kernels and heavy whipping cream.  Heat through.  Season with salt and pepper and fresh parsley.
Sweet Alma Soul Sisters perform @ Festival in the Clouds