Sunday, February 17, 2008

Mario Kart as a Metaphor For Life

Bear with me for a moment here, people. (XKCD rocks!) This will have a point. (Whether it's totally a judgment call on your part.) When I was a kid, my bestest childhood friend and I used to spend hours playing Mario Kart, a racing game for the Super Nintendo. She would kick my butt routinely -- though not quite as badly as when we played Street Fighter -- and sometimes, I'd be trying my hardest not to win (because I didn't have a chance!) but to avoid being beaten by more than one lap. There's nothing like getting passed for the second time :)

And so it is now in CPH-land. Kabs is thinking about starting a second one, and it'll probably be started before I finish mine...but I'll be damned if she finishes a second before I finish my first! It's on.

Per Request...A Discussion of Nutritional Yeast

This is nutritional yeast. It, along with tofu, brown rice, sprouts, and nutloaf, make me think of 1970s vegetarians. (I love all of these...except nutloaf, which I've never tried. The name makes me giggle too much.)

Some people say that it tastes like cheese, and indeed, it's the main ingredient in a lot of homemade non-dairy cheeses. (Although I've never had a non-dairy cheese that I liked, I don't blame the nutritional yeast.) Nutritional yeast is a good source of vitamin B12, which is difficult to get on a vegan diet...and in fact, I "discovered" nutritional yeast during a foray into veganism.

I don't really think that it tastes much like cheese -- at best, it bears a vague resemblance to a very mild Swiss cheese -- but I do like it on pasta. I'll often mix it with a little bit of pasta cooking water, salt, and pepper, and add some cooked green peas... it looks like mac-and-cheese, at least :) Or I'll sprinkle it on pasta and tomato sauce to cut the acidity. I really like it mixed into vinaigrette dressing, or in potato soup. (Some people also say that it's got a chicken-esque flavor. It's been a long time since I've had chicken...but I'll say that it probably tastes about as much like chicken as it does like cheese. But it does add some depth/complexity.) I usually add a little to pesto, use it to make the sauce for veggie pot pie, and I've also heard people say that it's good on popcorn (sprayed with olive oil to make it stick). And it's vital to my broccoli casserole, which also features, um, brown rice and tofu.

And just for the standard disclaimer: nutritional yeast is NOT baker's yeast (the stuff that makes bread rise), nor is it brewer's yeast (the stuff that makes beer fabulous). It is also (contrary to my beliefs until about 10 minutes ago) not an ingredient in Marmite or in Annie's Goddess Dressing. But it is wonderful!

Bad Weather, Good Soup

It got cold here! (I want to say that it's not fair, but whatever, it's February.) So I made soup, and it's one of the best soups that I've made in a loooooooong time. Not so pretty, but that's just how it goes sometimes.

1 tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 T oil
1 medium onion, sliced
1 Thai chile, minced
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup dried split peas
1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped
2 small white potatoes, peeled and chopped
Put the mustard seeds and cumin seeds in a large pot over medium heat. Do not add oil. Toast seeds for about 3 minutes, until they develop a nutty smell and begin to pop. Add oil, onion, chile, and salt, and saute for 2 more minutes. Add peas and 4 cups water. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Add sweet potatoes and white potatoes and cook 15 minutes more until peas and potatoes are tender. Add seasonings to taste. Fabulous!

Friday, February 15, 2008

I <3 Fridays

I live a quiet life, and I'm OK with that. Generally, people are like, "Woohoo! Weekend! Time to go out and get WASTED!" Good for them. Not I. (At least, not often.) But I do like weekends just as much as the next person, and this has been a tedious week.

I haven't cooked much in a while, so I was looking forward to making something out of my somewhat limited pantry. (I've been so spoiled by the Soulard Market that, even though people are taking me to stores -- and I totally appreciate it -- I haven't bought much produce recently.)

As luck would have it, Nupur posted this fabulous recipe for tomato soup, and I happened to have nearly everything on hand. (Except salt, but I borrowed some from Jessie. Having nice neighbors rocks.) I changed it a little bit -- it's me that we're talking about here -- but only a little bit, I promise. I omitted the milk (OK, I didn't have that either, but I never do), substituted Italian seasoning for the oregano, cut the sugar to 1 tsp, and added some garlic, a few slices of Thai chile, and some nutritional yeast. Perfect! And I also baked a batch of rolls to go with the soup.

And I made a dishcloth on Monday -- took about 2 hours and made class go by a lot more quickly. Nothing too exciting, but since the progress on CPH has been minimal, and Kabs' present is still top-secret, I wanted to post proof that, indeed, I'm still knitting. The "Chinese Waves" pattern (I swear it's not just garter stitch) can be found here. The yarn is variegated Sugar & Creme cotton.

Friday, February 08, 2008


Today is my two-week "anniversary" of carlessness. I'm grateful to Jessie and Nupur and Jackie for driving me places, thus making the carlessness possible. Dad's made a lot of progress dealing with the insurance company, and I hope to have the car back soon-ish. Not much bloggable has been going on -- CPH is stalled, Kabs' mystery project is going well but it's a secret, and I've not cooked anything recently that merits a post. So, here's a post that's been bubbling for a while.

I was told that I'm not easily impressed. This is true. And I don't know why it's like that, but it is...and when put on the spot, the only thing that I could think of was "I'm impressed by people who can burp on command." Absolutely, entirely, 100% true. But I knew that there had to be more...because honestly (I promise) I'm not that shallow. So here we no particular order, and with no promises of completeness.

-I'm impressed by people who are multilingual.
-And people who can knit sweaters like it's no big deal.
-And people who wake up without hitting "snooze" on their alarms.
-And people with consistently well-behaved dogs.
-I'm ridiculously impressed by Maya Lin.
-I'm impressed by people who can program code. (Is that redundant?)
-And people who are articulate.
-And electrons. Very impressed by electrons.
-I'm impressed by gardeners.
-And neurons.
-And people in the US who've chosen to be carless. (This really and truly had been thought of before my car got stolen...but the last two weeks have confirmed my original thoughts.)
-And people who can write vegan recipes that don't use margarine, Ener-G powder, or any other "fake" egg, dairy, or meat products.
-And lots of other things too, I'm sure. It's been my mind-occupying tool-of-choice recently when walking to work, and I've thought of about a zillion things that impress me. But then I've forgotten them. So I guess I'm impressed by people with good memories.

AKA Not Me. (I do apologize for the lack of interesting posts...working on it.)