Home In Disarray

January 24, 2013

Rainbow Sesame Cabbage Salad

Rainbow Sesame Cabbage Salad
Did you know that foods that are naturally saturated in color have a tendency to have more nutrients?  True story.  Berries, kale, carrots, broccoli, etc.  I was looking for something robust, filling, and tasty, but not just “another salad.”  I happened upon this kind of intense vegan blog, but it had a few really good recipes.  This is one of them. The recipe follows

Rainbow Sesame Cabbage Salad

Over The Rainbow Cabbage Salad with Tahini-Lemon Dressing
Yield: 4 servings
About 6-7 cups of roughly chopped red/purple cabbage (I used 1/2 of a large cabbage)
1 carrot, shaved with a peeler into 2-3 inch strips
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
2 handfuls of fresh parsley, chopped finely (or use other herb)
Half a batch of Lightened Up Tahini-Lemon Dressing (or make the full batch and save for later)

Here are my notes on it.

Chopping up purple cabbage

Cut up your cabbage.  My small red cabbage used 1/2 a head.  Cut it into quarters, then easily cut the corner of the wedge off to remove the core.

Carrot Strips

Peel your carrots, then use the peeler to shred them into manageable strips.

Chopped Celery

Cut up a few ribs of celery

Sliced Bell Pepper

And a bell pepper

Parsley Bunch

Then half a bunch of parsley

Raw Cabbage Salad

Then throw it all in a bowl

Raw Cabbage Salad

Give it a toss

Raw Cabbage Salad

Plate it up

Get going on your sauce now

Lightened Up Tahini-Lemon Dressing
Yield: Just under 1 cup of dressing
1/4 cup Tahini
2 garlic cloves
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
1/4 cup Nutritional yeast or a bit more, to taste
2-4 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil, to taste
1 tsp kosher salt + freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
3 tbsp water, or as needed

1. In a food processor or blender, add all ingredients and process until smooth. Makes just under 1 cup.

Nutritional yeast tahini lemon dressing

Nutritional yeast is tasty in a lot of different things.  It has a mild nutty flavor reminiscent of parmesan cheese.  It’s great sprinkled on popcorn with salt and garlic powder and butter, and also crucial for this sauce recipe.  Grocery stores with robust bulk bins tend to have this.  Our local Fred Meyer carries it as well as most of the natural food and high end grocery stores in the area.

Rainbow Cabbage Salad

I topped ours with some sauteed shrimp.

Posted in: Cooking, Food
January 21, 2013

Fresh Spring Rolls

Fresh Spring Rolls

These are pretty easy to make.  They do take a little while, but they’re delicious, healthy, and flavorful.  You want to start by making your sauce.  This is the basic recipe that I used.  Adding a little sriracha woulda been good in this.

Delicious Fresh Spring Rolls

For the limey peanut sauce:
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp sesame oil
1/4 cup natural roasted peanut butter
1.5 tbsp peeled & roughly chopped fresh ginger
3 tbsp fresh lime juice
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp honey
1-3 tsp rice vinegar, to thin as needed
dash or 2 of fish sauce

Throw everything in the blender and whir for however long it takes your blender to liquefy things.

For the rolls themselves:
Rice paper spring roll wrappers
1 bell pepper, core and white parts removed, sliced into thin strips
1 cucumber, (if not english, peeled and seeds removed), sliced into thin strips
1/2 bunch cilantro, thick stems removed
2-3 carrots, peeled and cut into ribbons using peeler
1 bunch firm or extra firm tofu, cut into strips and pan fried til crisp
a couple handfuls of shrimp, peeled, deveined, cooked, and cut in half laterally
Some greens – I started with romaine and switched over to spinach partway through as it lays flatter

Fresh Spring Rolls Fixins

Ok, so prep all of your fillings, once those are done, get a pie plate and put some hot water in it.  Soak one rice paper wrapper at a time for 10-30 seconds until it gets soft.  Spread it out on a cutting board or clean lint-free towel.

Assembling Fresh Spring Rolls

Start adding in your fillings, like you’re making a burrito.  Be sure to leave some room at the edges so you can seal them up.  I did a couple layers of each item (except the shrimp and greens) by alternating.  Roll it all up(getting it tight takes a little finesse)

Assembled Fresh Spring Roll

Slice in half, and spoon your peanut-lime sauce in.

Fresh Spring Roll
Fresh Spring Rolls with peanut dipping sauce

You could easily swap out a different protein for the shrimp if they’re not your thing.  Thin strips of chicken, white fish, shredded pork would all be tasty.  Also, sweet chili sauce would be a magical sauce instead of the peanut sauce.

Posted in: Cooking, Food
January 17, 2013

The Floor Project: Part 6

Eleganza Hampton Tile Installation

We seem to be making some great progress.  These photos are from 2 evenings ago, but there’s just going around the edges now, under kitchen appliances, etc; basically all of the annoying detail work that I’m really glad we’re paying someone to do.  There’s nothing better than coming home from work and seeing a huge change that you didn’t have to put any labor into.

Eleganza Hampton Tile Installation
View from the hallway

Today he is grouting the main living area and hopefully finishing the details in the kitchen, as most of my prepped food has been consumed and we haven’t yet been kicked out of the kitchen.

Eleganza Hampton Tile Installation
Here’s the view from our front door
Eleganza Hampton Tile Installation
And a detail shot.  Sorry for the thinset and pine needles

A couple days ago while they were laying the tile, our contractor’s wife (who sometimes helps him with short projects that he needs to complete quickly) said to him “I wish we had known about this kind of tile before we put in our hardwood floors.  Then our dogs wouldn’t have messed them up! You can’t even tell it’s tile!”  That always feels good.

Eleganza Hampton Tile Installation
View from the corner of our dining room

I also heard from him “You picked a PRETTY HARD tile!  It takes forever to cut!”  So if you’re thinking of using Eleganza Hampton line tiles, keep that in mind; they’re super hard.  I assume that translates into tough to chip and unlikely to break.  I guess time will tell.


January 15, 2013

The Floor Project: Part 5

The Floor Project: Part 5

Alright.  I don’t have anything REALLY interesting to share. I am already making excuses for this post.  My photos are terrible because a)I left my SD card reader at work so I had to use my phone b)my phone’s flash and lens sucks c)all of our lamps are unreachable and this room’s overhead lighting leaves something to be desired.

But here you go.  This is what I came home to yesterday.  They took all of the carpet out of the main living area of the house and had cement board installed almost everywhere.  They started out laying whole tiles in the family room area.  From what I hear, they will probably be doing our hallway tonight.

Grout will be close to the darkest brown in the wood grain – definitely not white!

It’s been kind of an ordeal with the animals in the house while we’re doing this.  Due to the fairly open floor plan of the house, we’re unable to effectively barricade any area off to keep the 2 dogs and 1 cat from running all over the freshly-laid tile.  As such, the cat has been locked up in our bedroom/bathroom with his food, water and litter box.  During the day (after the tile has set overnight and is “cleared” to walk on), Boris is allowed to roam free (he won’t split when the contractor has the doors open and requires much less attention to prevent escape), and Helo is crated in the bedroom with the cat.  Last night we made a wall of our dining room chairs and sectioned off the sunken living room (where we’re storing all of our furniture and “living” while the installation occurs).  The dogs could easily get through that so had to be “babysat” by one of us at all times.  We stayed there, ate microwaved leftovers (vegetarian moussaka) and watched TV/did some interneting until about 8.  Then we took the dogs around to the bedroom through the back yard (we have a slider in the bedroom) and hung out with them and the cat until it was time to go to sleep.

As it stands, the dogs are pissed, the cat is pissed, and I’m really hoping this will be done soon!  Luckily the really crazy stuff should only last about a week.  The up side?  It looks fabulous and the house already smells better.

Posted in: Flooring, House, Renovations
January 14, 2013

The Floor Project: Part 4


Our contractor gets started on installing the flooring today.  In fact, as I’m typing this, he is probably tearing up our disgusting carpet and regretting taking on the job.  Craig and my father in law, Joe, tore out our pantry, preliminarily installed our island, and did a whole lot of wiring this weekend.

View of kitchen from front door.  You can see how the pantry really closed off the space.
Here it is from the sunken living room.

The wiring part was the biggest pain.  Since we are leaving a sophit and installing pendant lights there, we had to tap into the existing kitchen lighting to tie it to the same switch.  Because we wanted an outlet on the island (and needed to mount the dining room’s light switch somewhere), Joe & Craig had to fish the wires up through the ceiling, down the wall next to the fridge, into the crawl space under the house, and back up through the floor next to the island.  There was a lot of additional technical stuff that went right over my head.   Regardless, it gone done and everything seems to function beautifully.

Constant dog photobombing.  That’s Helo’s butt.

One thing that we did besides adding the wiring to above the island is we poked another hole for pendants over the table.  Hopefully all of the lighting stuff that I ordered trickles in over the next week or so and after I get the-cap-that’ll-be-going-in-over-the-island painted, we can get everything in. You can see in many of the photos that one of the 4 bulbs is out on our existing dining room fixture.  It’s a bad socket.

View from the corner of where our sectional sofa usually is.

All of the furniture got moved out of the main living area of the house to the sunken living room.  That’ll be phase II, so we can continue living in the house while the flooring gets installed without renting a storage unit for all of our furniture.

Photo from the stove/sink area of the kitchen

We plan to try to track down the “right” soapstone remnant to make up a top once we get the island wrapped, filled, painted, etc.  For now, we have some granite take-offs from my dad’s recent kitchen renovation that we hope to someday turn into an outdoor food prep station.  Beats the pants off of a mis-sized scrap of plywood!

January 12, 2013

Meal Prep for having the house torn apart

meal prep
I didn’t quite think this through til a couple days ago, but for at least 3 days, the kitchen will be unusable.
meal prep

Day 1= Putting down underlayment, laying tile, letting tile dry
Day 2= Grouting tile and letting it dry
Day 3= Sealing grout/putting stove/dishwasher/fridge back in

That means that I’ll be unable to make breakfast or dinner for 3 WHOLE DAYS!!!

meal prep

Which may not seem like much, but for me, it is.  And since Craig and I have gone on this “clean eating” kick and we’re trying to avoid processed foods, wheat, seriously processed grains, and most animal products (still eating eggs, butter, milk and occasionally chicken and fish) and trying to increase our chlorophyll-laden veggie intake, not using the kitchen is kind of a big deal.  Our diet is consisting mostly of brown rice, legumes, and fresh vegetables.  In preparation, I am making a number of dishes that are prepared and can be consumed cold, microwaved at work, or (hopefully) microwaved in our kitchen (worst case scenario is that we either borrow a microwave from a friend or remove the over-the-stove one that’s used as a hood and put it on a table somewhere).

meal prep

Next week’s menu includes(numerous recipes have been modified to fit within our “restraints”):
White bean soup w/ kale, topped with a microwave poached egg
Red Flannel Hash
Vegetarian Moussaka
Spicy Thai Coconut Quinoa
Roasted Winter Squash & Kale brown rice
Baked Brown Rice w/ eggplant, zucchini, and mozzarella
Broccolette & Crimini fried brown rice w/ chicken breast cubes
Lemony Harissa Couscous w/ poached hake fillets
Brown rice & chicken w/ fresh and sun dried tomatoes, cucumber, and artichoke hearts w/ yogurty dressing
Crockpot steel cut oatmeal

meal prep

Anyway, here’s where I’m at on things with the floor.  This weekend I’m working towards trying to get our meals in line.  As such, I still expect we’ll have to get takeout one night next week.  My father in law is coming to tear out the pantry in the morning, and the contractor doing the floor is making a stop by the house tomorrow to go over the last specifics and get his down payment.

Posted in: Cooking, Kitchen
January 9, 2013

The Floor Project: Part 3

tearing out a pantry

Alrighty….. My father in law came by tonight and we ‘poked’ into the wall to see what we were dealing with. I am thrilled at how open the house feels.tearing out a pantry