Monday, February 20, 2012

Simple Asparagus & Quinoa

I found asparagus on sale at our market and let it sit on the counter for a few days while I tried to figure out what I wanted to do with it.  This is what I did with it:

1/2 cup Quinoa, rinsed
1 cup Water
1 lb. Asparagus, rinsed and trimmed
1 tsp. olive oil
2 Tbs. Butter
1 Tbs. Balsamic Vinegar
1 tsp. soy sauce
Salt & Pepper

Bring water, with a pinch of salt, to a boil.  Add quinoa and reduce heat to low.  Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.  When cooked, remove from heat.

Toss asparagus in olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Bake in an oven-proof pan for 12 minutes or until tender.  Brown butter in a heavy bottomed pan.  Be careful not to burn, but it should be a golden brown.  Add vinegar and soy sauce and simmer until slightly thickened.  Poor over cooked asparagus.  Top with quinoa and enjoy!

Devin Hendrick Photography

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Salt Lake City, Utah - August 2011

I don't have many pictures from Salt Lake City because I simply could not capture the beauty of the mountains with my camera (though I'll show you anyway).

How we got there & where we stayed:
We stayed at the Snowbird Inn - a time share we booked through a friend (for just under $400 for the week).  We had a kitchen and a bed but not much else.  Our view was terrible, but it didn't matter because we spent most of our time outside.  We booked our flight on Travelocity and flew into Phoenix, which has some of the best airport art I've ever seen, and then to Salt Lake City.

Obligatory arms-length couple shot

The Fun Details: We bought a "Connect Pass" which allowed us into 13 different attractions - we made it to 9: The Lion House, Clark Planetarium, Tracy Aviary, Hogle Zoo, Thanksgiving Point, Snowbird Resort Rides, Red Butte Gardens, and the Discovery Gateway.

At Thanksgiving Point we explored the gardens on a golf cart, had a scientifically good time at the science museum, and ate a fabulous dinner.

The view from the top of the hill
There were sculptures and installations everywhere
...and a secret garden
Thanksgiving Point is home of the world's largest man-made waterfall

We saw k.d. lang in concert at the Red Butte Gardens, but before the concert we explored the botanical gardens.

k.d. lang concert 
k.d. lang concert in the rain
Seemed appropriate 
The sky after the storm

We made sure to take some time to explore the resort before we left.  We took a tram ride into the mountains and talked to a few ground squirrels (called "Potguts").  These pictures are nothing compared to the real thing.

A storm rolling in while we shopped for groceries
Our potgut friend walked with us all morning 

My first panoramic shot
The view from our tram
Top of the mountain
Panoramic version

There aren't really food details from this trip.  Our Sunday brunch at the resort was amazing (no real pictures).  The food was sublime and we sat out in the sun, surrounded by mountains, listening to a great musician playing acoustic Beatles ballads.  I would also highly recommend dinner at the Thanksgiving Pointe restaurant.  The rest of our meals were cooked in our room.

Our flight home
All in all we had a great time.  I will definitely be back - while we saw the Great Salt Lake we didn't spend nearly enough time in the national forests.

Our First Granola

Devin and I made granola for the first time this afternoon.  We had 110 servings of oats to work through and figured this would a good start.

3 cups rolled oats
1 cup slivered and shaved almonds
1 cup raw sunflower seeds
1 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
1-2 Tbs. cinnamon (to taste)
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup wildflower honey
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup real maple syrup

Combine all ingredients well.  Spread onto a baking sheet (on parchment paper) and bake at 250 (F) for 80 minutes, stirring every 20 minutes.  Delicious - and subtle.  I like that it doesn't contain any sugar.

Devin Hendrick Photography

Friday, February 10, 2012

Bruleed Bananas

Devin and I had a hankering for something sweet this afternoon.  Inspired by an episode of Good Eats and equipped with a blow torch from my dear friend, Monica, we tried our hand at Bruleed Bananas.

Photography by Devin Hendrick of dehephotography.
2 bananas
3 tsp vanilla sugar*

Sugared bananas, before they were peeled.

1. Slice the ends off each banana then cut them in half length-wise and width-wise so you're left with 4 pieces per banana.

2. Coat the cut edge of banana in the vanilla sugar (nestle it in).

See that guy in the back? Burned.  It happens fast, people.

3. Peel the bananas and lay them, sugar side up, on a heat proof pan.

4. Torch those babies in an even sweeping motion until the sugar caramelizes - don't let it burn.

Delicious with that crispy crunch!

5. Cool and enjoy!

*You can use regular white sugar, but we thought the hint of vanilla would add to our enjoyment.  I make my own vanilla sugar by stashing emptied/used vanilla bean pods in a small container of sugar.  I shake it and adjust every few months.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Hello 2012

I'm about a month late on this one, but its given me time to adjust.  I have one major over-arching goal this year (call it a resolution if you will): I can't buy anything new*.  Now, see that asterisk? Let me 'splain:

* I can buy most "consumable" goods: food, toiletries, cleaning supplies, gasoline, medicine, a massage, etc.
My usual food rules still apply (whole, local, sustainable, blah, blah).  While I don't think I'll need to buy much in terms of person and cleaning supplies (I have a stock pile and I make a lot of my own), I've allowed myself the wiggle room to get my dishes clean come November.

* I can buy, barter, or accept donations of new-to-me-used things.
I have enough of everything I need.  But if that changes, I can buy used from garage sales or thrift/consignment/reuse stores (although with all the concerning things I'm learning about the Salvation Army, this option is getting harder to find).  I can also take used items of the hands of friends and family (like every couch I've ever owned).  Or I can barter, swap, trade, etc.

* I have an emergency clause.
We need new headlines in the car? There's a small fire and we lose all our pillows and underwear?  The fridge/stove/dishwasher/laptop break?  Okay - but we're taking the path-of-least-consumerism.  We would do any repairs we're able to do on the vehicles. We would replace our old burned pillows and underwear with the most sustainable ones we could find.  We would repair any damage we could do the appliances, look for used, etc., before buying new.  (The TV does not count and would not be replaced...gasp).

Why no new stuff?  Why this year?
Why not?  Our house is cluttered and hard to keep clean.  Our budget has been expanding each year and we want to keep it in check in order to pay off our student loans and save up for a house as soon as possible.  We want to move soon and we certainly don't want to move all of this crap to a new location!  I want to be happy with what I have.  I want to feel free from the pressure to improve my life with stuff.  I want to spend more time with friends and family.  I want to reduce my impact on the environment.  I want to live a simpler lifestyle so that after I graduate I can take the job I love instead of the job that pays best.

I addition to this year long goal I have monthly focuses as well.  In January my goal was to find a new internship and get settled in there.  Check - I'll tell you all about it later.  In February my goal is to stop gaining weight!  I've gained roughly 10 pounds a year for the last 6 years and I'm well beyond sick of it. While my eventual goal will be to decrease my weight, I'm starting small by adjusting my eating and my walking with the short to goal to halt that dial.