Vegan, Jane Austen student, Minimalist, Reader, Librarian

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Of Hearth and Home

Music: The Look of Love: The Burt Bacharach Collection

You never hear that word anymore, do you? Hearth. But it sounds nice, like home. My latest CLP blog post on Eleventh Stack describes some books that evoke the comforts of home, one of my favorite places.

"I’ve always been the kind of person who enjoys staying home instead of traveling or going out a lot. This is why I’ve taken especially great care to make my home as vacation-like and comfortable as possible (slip-covered sofa, linen sheets, fluffy towels, etc.) with minimal possessions and clutter. I enjoy cooking, listening to music, reading, and writing–all activities conducive to a quiet, home environment. " Read more here.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

History of the American South

Music: Erik Satie: Works for Piano, Anne Queffelec

The continuation of my on-going series of recommended historical non-fiction on the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh's Eleventh Stack blog. This post's theme is the turbulent history of the American South. 

"As an English literature major and history minor, I was introduced to the American South’s turbulent history as well as its great fiction writers (such as William Faulkner, Kate Chopin, and Flannery O’Connor)." Read more here.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Black Eyed Peas Are Good Luck*

Noodles with black eyed peas & chard, homemade bread
After working on New Year's Eve (yes, the library was open), I really enjoyed my three days off. This allowed time for some slow cooking and enjoying of meals.

I had some black eyed peas and found this easy recipe in The New York Times. Unlike some of the recipes I've tried from this column (Recipes for Health), it wasn't a long and involved process with a lengthy list of ingredients. 

I substituted some Swiss chard for the spinach and used whole wheat spaghetti noodles in lieu of the soba noodles. It turned out fantastic.

To continue my black eyed peas theme, I also made a soup (completely oil free) the next day to savor during the work week:

2 1/2 C black eyed peas, rinsed and picked over for stones
1 small onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 bouillon cubes
8 C water
1 tsp dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste
nutritional yeast, optional, for sprinkling finished servings

Combine all (except nutritional yeast) in a large soup pot and bring to a boil. Cover, lower to simmer/slow boil for 40 minutes until black eyed peas are soft. Blend half with immersion blender if desired for creaminess. Enjoy with crusty homemade bread, candlelight, and some quiet classical music on a cold winter's night!


Monday, January 2, 2012

New Year, New Changes

Music: Iron & Wine, Around the Well

Another year is upon us and with that in mind, as always, I try to find ways to make things even better. This year is a full conversion to an alternative to plastic produce bags and wax paper (which we use to wrap sandwiches).

I don't use microwave ovens (I don't like the way they heat my food or change its texture and I believe they are dangerous for you in the long run) so my lunches always contain a sandwich of some kind. So we picked up these Eco Lunch Gear (fabric/PVC-free lining) wraps to use in lieu of wax paper at the East End Food Co-op last week. They are machine/hand washable and dry quickly.

We also purchased reusable produce bags from Chicobag and Onyabags. All are machine/hand washable and, since we already have washable bulk bags and shopping bags, now we are completely using reusable bags for our shopping trips.

Another change is our conversion from plastic food storage containers to glass food storage containers. We are trying to get away from plastic as much as possible as I'm just not comfortable with the toxin levels in them, especially when filled with warm food; I just don't trust it. I read a book last year called Toxic Free by Debra Lynn Dadd and, in it, I found many useful suggestions to reduce the toxins in my life even more.

I welcome any other tips that readers out there can share. Happy New Year!