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First Time Trying Polenta!

25 Aug

My tastebuds no longer find polenta shrouded in mystery. I’ve seen polenta in so many vegetarian recipes, but have had yet to try it and experiment with it. At its most basic, polenta is just corn grits that is boiled until a thick paste and can pretty much take the form of whatever dish you’re thinking of (sweet or savory!) I just picked up a bag of Bob’s Red Mill corn grits, googled for some general advice/ideas on what to do with polenta and pretty much just made it to see if I would even like it. This really isn’t a recipe or specific dish per se because I just wanted to use up some veggies I had sitting around. And the avocado was staring deep into my soul, beckoning me to devour it. So it goes. I am loving all the roma tomatoes I keep picking from our garden! They are small, sweet and beefy and I seem to be eating them with every meal. Yay lycopene! Overall, I really enjoyed the polenta! It was creamy and I can see it having much potential to develop into any sort of dish. I baked my polenta because I wasn’t too in the mood for mush! This went well with some roasted veggies on the side.

Basic Polenta

  • 1 cup corn grits / meal/ polenta stuff
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 cups milk of choice (I used almond)
  • Salt/pepper to taste
  • Spices of choice (i.e. onion powder, garlic, chili powder, sage, rosemary…depends on the dish you’re looking to make!)
  • 1 cup of shredded vegan cheddar cheese (optional)
  • Tbsp of favorite sweetener (this was an afterthought to the dish–just a hint of sweetness would make this even better)
Bring liquids to a boil in a large pot. Slowly whisk in corn grits and simmer for 5-10 minutes, or until thick, being sure to avoid lumps. Remove from heat and stir in cheese. The polenta can be eaten this way or fried in a pan for a few minutes, spread into a thin layer on a greased baking sheet and cooked for about 10-15 minutes, flipping once during that time. There are also many other ways to prepare polenta! Just do some googling and experimenting. Leftover polenta is awesome. I think I will be slicing some of mine up and grilling it! Yum.


First week of fall semester has been conquered! Just 14 more…eeek! I really think I’m going to enjoy my “Religious Movements of the US” class. I am constantly fascinated by the objective study of religions, their ideologies and effects on society and truly get sucked in by learning about cultural taboos, similarities between all religions and their historical background, whether rooted in fact or fiction. This can be a touchy subject for many people, but I love this sort of controversy and seeing what it stems from. Thank you, anthropology! ๐Ÿ™‚ My professor for the course is definitely a button-pusher–from the moment she made her grand entrance into the classroom, she’s been dropping f-bombs, pushing boundaries and forcing us to think about our own beliefs. I really feel I learn the most from eccentric, critical professors that force your to think outside the box. Classes such as this one make me feel like the amount of money I’m putting toward my education is worth it. ๐Ÿ™‚ But now, it’s late and I have to get up early! Goodnight moon!

Weekend Recap! Palisade & the Warrior Dash!

24 Aug

Whoa, it’s Tuesday (Wednesday? I started this yesterday…) already? The past few days have been quite the whirlwind and I still don’t feel caught up! I blame Fall semester starting and the high pollen count in the air! Can’t. stop. sneezing. Time for more coffee!

We stayed in Glenwood Springs this weekend, but didn’t go to any hot springs! It was just too hot. Didn’t feel right getting into a 106 degree pool of water when the air temperature was still 85. eeesh. On Saturday we moseyed an hour west to the beautiful town (city?) of Palisade, Colorado for the Peach Festival and some wine tasting. It’s a strange landscape in Palisade because you see all these large mesas and a desert-like terrain and then there’s all these lush orchards in vineyards. Makes for some great pictures!

The Peach Festival was…interesting. Not as peach-themed as I had hoped! It just seemed like a typical art fair thing with booths set up for Verizon and a couple other local retailers. Kind of strange seeing cell phones being sold next to peaches… Though, we did have a really great peach daquiri and I devoured a veggie gyro that had DOLMADES in it! Gah, I love dolmades. Can’t say I’m brave enough to attempt making them, but maybe someday. It was a super hot day and we were quickly baking in the sun, so after I had a chance to pet an alpaca, we bought a couple boxes of peaches and headed out to some vineyards!

We visited Carlson Vineyards and Canyon Wind Cellars, sipping quite a few varieties of wine while taking in the views. The pourers at Carlson Vineyards were super nice, chatty and informative on the wines and grapes they were cultivating and kept pouring the wine! I could have tried more, but 6 tastes was plenty. They had some really interesting ways to spice up their wines and use them in non-traditional ways. We tried a “peach cobbler” that was their peach wine warmed up and mixed with spices and some syrup. So delicious!

i didn’t like the port.

Canyon Wind Cellars…wow. The views here were breathtaking and I just couldn’t get over the idyllic way the tasting area was set up. There was a small terrace that led into the tasting room and outside of it was a large lawn surrounded by a small stone fence. The area was shaded by a massive tree with two tables to sit at, sip wine and soak in the surroundings. This is what I had pictured a vineyard to be like–quiet, relaxing, full of alcohol and personality. Loved their cabernet sauvignon! Gotta represent for the dry red wines ๐Ÿ™‚

Sunday brought us cooler weather and the WARRIOR DASH at Copper Mountain! Being at Copper made me want to put my skis on. Who cares if there’s no snow? I was thankful that being at high elevation (9712 ft) the weather was much cooler, but then again, being at that elevation didn’t make this 5k any easier. It seemed like I couldn’t catch my breath the entire time! Totally worth it. So challenging and something I have never done before. Check out Warrior Dash’s website to see the obstacles we did. I jumped over fire! And crawled under barbed wire through mud! And conquered a wall! If you’re interested in doing a Warrior Dash, they hold them all over the US, in Canada and Australia! I would recommend anyone with an adventurous spirit to try it, even if it seems intimidating or “too hard”. You can do it! We didn’t even run for most of it because the obstacles were hard enough. I’ll definitely train hard for next year and think of a great costume.

So, currently, my life is playing out as such: 3 classes, 4 days a week at 8am, 25 hours/week of working at the library, blogging, forcing myself to go for a jog, cooking…though cooking has seriously been lacking lately. Need to go to the grocery store ASAP! I ran out of flour last week, we have no vanilla, and just a few veggies remain. I’m not even sure what I’ve been eating these last few days. Terrible! Expect a zucchini bread recipe coming up since I can’t stop buying them! Yum. So, most of my time and energy will have to be put toward my classes, so I won’t be able to blog as much. But I will still be here! ๐Ÿ™‚ And today is the one month anniversary of my blog! I wonder how long I can keep it going…. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Garden Updates

7 Aug


The community garden we are a part of (located conveniently at the library I work at) has helped us learn the ins and outs of gardening by means of trial and error (and the occasional words of wisdom from the more experienced crowd). So far, we’ve had quite a few very sweet little strawberries to munch on over the summer, but they’ve all been taken over by the sprawling pumpkin vines that are acting like they own the place and make themselves comfortable wherever. The snow peas died off awhile ago, a result of a week of massive thunderstorms and flooding. I could have sworn I had planted heirloom tomato seeds, but the tomatoes that are growing look like romas! No complaints here, just a bit bizarre. Can’t wait to have fresh tomatoes to make salsa & sauces! The little jalapenos that are popping up will pair nicely with those tomatoes. I’m a bit scared of the habaneros, so those will be going to my sister! The bell peppers are so cute and doll-sized at the moment. I just hope that critters stay away! It’s funny how animals know exactly when things are ripe and at their best and chomp on them.

After watering the garden this morning, I was greeted with the wonderful smell of banana-walnut waffles! Yum. They tasted just like fresh banana bread, but in waffle form. Dense, but lovely! While taking pictures of the waffle-goodness, someone wanted to take a bite…Izze really likes banana peels, so no wonder she wanted to sniff these waffles! The original recipe for these came from the glorious Veganomicon. Truly a grand resource for all things vegan!

Now, to continue my lazy Sunday by reading the rest of the Julia Child biography, planning some recipes and finishing up that bottle of Pinot Noir…

Saturday Antiquing and Poking Around Denver

6 Aug

new Pyrex mixing bowl! Town & Country print.

Oof! What a tiring Saturday!

My mother used to take my sister and I garage sale-ing (for now, to be referred to as “garage sailing”) quite frequently during the summers, always on the look for interesting antiques or whatever caught our eye. I remember going to many estate sales, amazed by the mass amounts of things that people accumulate during their lives and now on display for the entire world to judge. I don’t recall these experiences being so exhausting and laden with crap! Since we’ve both noticed (and embraced) the fact that we are indeed turning into our lovely mother, the sibling and I meandered around the Washington Park area today because we were entranced by the advertisement of 75+ homes with yard sales this weekend!ย  Wash Park is quite an affluent area, guaranteeing our chances of having some great finds, right? NO. You take the good with the bad of course, but really people? Some of the so-called “yard sales” were two card tables with a random smattering of card games from the 80s, salt and peppers shakers and a candelabra…THESE ARE THINGS YOU DONATE. Goodwill or the Salvation Army can truly find good uses for these things. Just take the tax write-off and run away from your crap as fast as possible. Still, we enjoyed ourselves, drooling over the gorgeous arts & craft style bungalows with large, ornate front porches and heavy, rounded front doors. Which we cannot afford. It’s ok to dream!

My good find of the day was a large, vintage Pyrex bowl (Town & Country Pattern) and a wide mouth, 1/2 pint mason jar (to use for jar pies, of course) for $2.50. I drove a mean bargain, haggling the woman down from $3. It was rough, but I prevailed.

i dream of having a large, farm-style kitchen with an apron front sink and worn, wooden cabinets with big hinges ๐Ÿ™‚

After numerous disappointmentsย  and staring at way too many diet books from the 80s, we ended our garage sailing and stepped it up a notch: antique stores! Denver apparently has a plentiful bounty of unique, independent antique shops, all varying in prices and styles. The bulk of our antiquing took place on Antiques Row on South Broadway, where there are 7 blocks of antique shops! SEVEN BLOCKS. We barely made it through one block before calling it a day with aching feet! There was just so much to look at and it became dizzying at times. Amazing mission-style furniture, Fenton glassware, Americana knick-knacks, overpriced junk…what struck me most during this entire day was when we entered one shop, I was completely awestruck from the antique saloon back bars (example) that lined the entire front of this particular store. It was incredible. These pieces were priced around $35,000+, but they really were gargantuan pieces of wood art. Beautiful and ornate, they made me want to open up a bar. Oh, the things you find while antiquing!

so. much. furniture. typically for the low low price of $600+. out of the budget.

Sadly, we didn’t come across much of my current favorites: vintage Pyrex. The things we did come across were grossly overpriced, especially for the condition they were in. I seem to be having more luck at thrift stores than at antique stores! Though, my sister did nab a lovely Pyrex casserole dish (snowflake pattern) that is fashionable and functional! That’s what I mainly enjoy so much about these Pyrex dishes–not only will I stare at them, but I will cook in them…and then stare at them some more.

On top of all the antiquing fun, I was so thrilled to see that my picture/recipe for Vegan Macaroni & Cheese was accepted by foodgawker today! Hours have been spent scrolling through the glorious pictures on FG and dreaming of one day being featured! I’m still quite thrilled. eek. I also had two recipes on Findingvegan.com, one of my new favorite sites to see all the fancy, tasty dishes vegan bloggers are coming up with around the internet. Yes, I would say today was a good day ๐Ÿ™‚

Vintage Pyrex Overload

31 Jul

Oh dear. I have a problem.

I’m addicted to buying vintage Pyrex cookware!

ITSSOPRETTY. and apparently there are tons of other people out there with a similar obsession to mine…PYREXLOVE.COM. I love picking pieces up at various thrift stores and today, my sister and I ventured to this incredibly overwhelming antique mall,

i basically shrieked when I saw this display in the antique mall...

Brass Armadillo, in Arvada, CO. SO MUCH TO LOOK AT. Massive place filled with good crap and bad crap. We literally found Pyrex cookware in every aisle, in various places. I just kept grabbing things and was dazzled by the pretty patterns…ack! I’m not sure what it is…the nostalgia of them or that they’ve lasted so long and are still going strong! My mom has old Pyrex and they’re just so reliable and lovely. I already have a crap ton and I’m only 24…I’ll have an entire kitchen of Pyrex by the time I’m 30. eek.

Brass Armadillo was just such a neat place with aisle just full of fascinating antiques. Many of the items have such history and you want to know their story! We just perused the rows and rows of pre-loved things and found many things that we remember seeing at our grandparents’ homes and stuff that my parents still have at their house! Very quirky, random things, like skiing posters from Breckenridge in the ’80s with a hot dude whisking down the slopes in tight tight spandex pants. Not sure how I resisted buying that…

between the thrift store and the antique mall, I got all this for about $55. i'm happy!

I’m already thinking of what to buy on my next trip to the antique mall…definitely need to wear better shoes next time! Feet hurt!

Time to make something interesting for dinner!