Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

Last night I made a quick dinner with prepared foods. Tony and I had sweet potato pecan tamales, made locally by White Mountain.

I served these vegan tamales with homemade tomatillo salsa. They are so good, and easy -- you just steam them and dig in.

I warmed up some Gardein chick'n sliders for Jackson and Olivia.

This was a new purchase for us, and they gave it a thumbs-up. Perfect size for little hands.

The reason for our speedy dinner was because we had something important to do after dinner. Pumpkin carving time!

What, you don't wear your underwear outside of your clothes when carving pumpkins? 

And you don't draw a big 'P' on your chest to show your pumpkin-carving-superhero status?

The result was super, indeed. Super spooky and silly!

This morning, enjoying pumpkin seeds roasted with Magic Unicorn Salt and gathering energy for a marathon trick-or-treating session tonight.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Bangers and Mash and Wigs

Today while Jackson was at school, Olivia and I entertained ourselves in the Halloween section at Target.

Space age Olivia.

Mad Men Olivia.

Punk rock gladiator Olivia?

Jackson may only be in pre-K, but he occasionally has homework. Today's assignment was to design a family shield.

While he worked on that, I made dinner: Bangers and Mash, from 30-Minute Vegan's Taste of Europe. I used Field Roast smoked apple sage sausages, sauteed with onions, served over mashed potatoes with an onion gravy. If that sounds like a lot of onions, it was. I realized this toward the end of my cooking and decided to strain the onions out of my gravy. Had I left them in, I think it would've been onion overload! But it turned out very nicely. I'm not into many faux meats but I love those Field Roast sausages.

On the side, mushy peas (from the same cookbook). Not much to look at, but quite tasty with a fresh, minty flavor.

I feel like I need to put an English flag here or something.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Sweet Berry Farm Fall Festival

This past weekend we drove out to Sweet Berry Farm in Marble Falls to spend the afternoon at the pumpkin patch.

We had to walk under several arbors to get from the parking lot to the farm. Looking up, I noticed huge gourds hanging above my head. I didn't know they grew that way! Pretty cool.

It was a warm day and there was little shade, so I immediately sought out some relief from the heat in the form of pumpkin ice cream.

Jackson and Olivia first wanted to climb on the firetruck that was on site for just that reason. Kids were clambering all over it.

Next up, the jumping pillow. Olivia couldn't quite find her legs.

Obligatory pumpkin pics.

We bought some small pumpkins for the kids to paint.

The funny thing is, we set the pumpkins outside when we got home, and that evening it rained, and washed all the paint off. So they got to be pumpkin artists all over again. Double the painting fun!

A small petting zoo (as in, goats only) occupied the lone shady spot. Jackson and Olivia offered goat feed, but I think these goats were already satiated. They kind of turned up their noses.

Goat bridge! Watch out for trolls...

Finally, we took a hayride. Jackson kept exclaiming, "We're really having fun now!" so I think he enjoyed this part most of all.

When we got home, I baked a vegan lasagna I had prepared that morning. I used cashew ricotta (Veganomicon recipe) and spinach for the filling, with Costco marinara. I love their marinara! On top I sprinkled a mixture of ground almonds and nutritional yeast.

For dessert, we nibbled on some quick breads that I made. Pumpkin-cranberry and apple-walnut-raisin (both from 1000 Vegan Recipes).  The apple bread is my favorite and tastes so good with a smear of apple butter.

Are there any fall festivals in your area that you attend?

Friday, October 25, 2013

Round Rock Chalk Walk

One afternoon not long ago, we headed up to the suburb of Round Rock, home of the Round Rock Chalk Walk. This was our first time attending, so I wasn't sure what to expect, but I heard it was fun for kids.

When we arrived, the chalk artists were still getting set up.

 So we walked down Main Street and admired all the sculptures we passed.

Blocky thing.

Cat with fiddle.

Lizard friend.

Jackson and Olivia warmed up their artist fingers by making postcards.

Then it was time to draw. They each got a square to themselves.

"I am making the sun."

The messier it is, the more fun it is.

We had dinner at Magnolia. I had the Flamingo sandwich with avocado, sprouts, tomato, Swiss cheese, and hummus, with a side of home fries.

The kids had syrup with a side of gingerbread pancakes.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Ethiopian At Home

After a recent excursion to Aster's, I decided it had been far too long since I prepared a homemade Ethiopian feast. So I spent a leisurely Sunday afternoon in the kitchen.

First I made niter kibbeh, a spiced oil blend. Watching it simmer on the stove with all those vibrant colors, you just know it's going to add great flavor to your dishes.

Clockwise from top left: gomen wat (collard greens), atakilt wat (cabbage stew), mesir wat (spicy red lentils), and but'echa. The but'echa recipe came from Vegan Eats World. I was so excited to see a recipe for this dish, made from chickpea flour. I had only eaten it once before, at an Ethiopian restaurant in Montreal. It was like a thick hummus with a strong garlic flavor. This version of but'echa turned out quite different. It was more like scrambled eggs! We still enjoyed it even though it wasn't what I was expecting.

Random thing I learned when I set out to make my own injera bread: Austin is experiencing a teff flour shortage! In the past, it was easy to find at the health food stores. Now, according to a guy at Whole Foods, they're having trouble sourcing it. You can still get the teff grains, but they're so hard and tiny, there's no way my cheapo food processor would be able to grind them into flour. Fortunately, I was able to buy a big bag of readymade injera from an Ethiopian restaurant near my house.

I frequently post pics of Jackson or Olivia enjoying food, but rarely Tony. He eats, too.

Jackson is all about zombies these days. Today he created a zombie repellant for our backyard.

Did you know zombies are allergic to black pepper? He also rubbed his bare feet on the rock, explaining that the "stink" would drive the creatures away. (He may have a point there. Oh, how I miss the days when his feet had that sweet baby smell!) The device seems to work -- no zombie invasions to report.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Trader Joe's Haul

Austin got its very first Trader Joe's last month. Weeeee! Here's what I picked up on my first visit.

Pumpkin macarons.

Pumpkin pecan oatmeal.

See a pattern yet? Pumpkin cereal bars.

Pumpkin spice rooibos tea.

I finally stepped (dragged myself) away from the pumpkin extravaganza to pick up a few staples. Whole wheat bread for Jackson's lunchtime sandos.

Sprouted grain tortillas for making wraps.

Edamame, Jackson and Olivia's second favorite snack (next to blueberries.)

I also couldn't resist a few treats, like chocolate covered sea salt butterscotch candies.

For the kids, blackcurrant juice. 

For Tony, a tapas sampler of Spanish cheeses.

All in all, I think I showed admirable restraint. Do you have a Trader Joe's near you? What are your favorite goodies from there?

Off to karate class!