Sunday, January 13, 2013

Vegetarian Pot Pie Experiment

The Not-Vegetarian Pot Pie from The Kitchn

Cleaning Out The Fridge For Vacation Pot Pie

We leave on Thursday for Tenerife (Yahoo!) and I'm determined to not buy groceries before we leave. While going through my RSS feeds I found a good lookin' recipe for Chicken Pot Pie on The Kitchn. Working within the parameters of being vegetarian, and not wanting to go to the grocery store this is what I'm cooking up. (Incidentally, this recipe looks good too, and it's veggie, so maybe I'll try it another time)

The Filling

2 large carrots, cut in half and then into 1/4 in pieces
2 small vidalia onions, chopped
3 - 4 cloves garlic, minced
1 zucchini, halved, halved again and cut into 1/2 in pieces
~12 baby corn, cut into 1/2 in pieces
~15 peas in shell, cut into 1/2 in pieces
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 tsp dried sage (or 4 or 5 fresh leaves, chopped)
1 tsp dried thyme (or 4 or 5 fresh leaves, chopped)
3 Tbs olive oil
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup semi-skimmed milk, warmed
3 hard boiled eggs, peeled and sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

The Biscuit Topping

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup semi-skimmed milk, room temperature or slightly warm 
2 tsp vinegar


Preheat oven to 425°F.

For the filling, heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy pot on medium heat. Add the onions, and carrots and sauté until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Add the baby corn and peas to the pan and cook for another 5-7 minutes. Add the zucchini and garlic, continuing to cook until zucchini just tender. Season with salt, and set aside.

Melt the butter in the Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the flour and cook until a thick paste forms. Continue stirring for a minute or so. Add the vegetable broth and milk and cook, whisking constantly until thickened, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in salt and pepper to taste. Fold in the vegetables, kidney beans, and chickpeas into the cream sauce. Season generously with salt and pepper. (Seriously, don't go light on the salt here, but taste as you go.) Pour the filling into a 2- to 3-quart greased casserole dish. Arrange the sliced boiled egg slices over the top.

For the topping, add the vinegar to room temperature milk and allow to curdle (= buttermilk). Then stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl. Add the buttermilk to the melted butter, and whisk until combined. (Just a warning, the batter will seem fairly runny. That's okay.) Pour the batter evenly over the casserole dish.

Bake the pot pie for 45 minutes, until the biscuit topping is light golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

The results? Oh my. It was tasty. Really tasty. And I even forgot to add the thyme and sage!
We have more than enough to last us all the way to Thursday and beyond. So it might be pot-pie for breakfast, lunch and dinner. But we'll also have to eat the banana bread I made the other day too, since all the 'nanas had gone brown.

Here's a bit of my cooking process and finished product to see!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Around The Web

Crayon Creatures Credit

Crayon Creatures!! Aren't these great? I love the idea of bringing drawings to life. They remind me of a time in Art Therapy training when we made our totem animals out of butcher paper and markers or oil pastels. We made a few at Children's Hospital Oakland as well. Somehow even better when they are plushy and made of cloth. Love these!

Here's a sweet film I just watched last night about Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Not sure how accurate/factual it is, but fun to watch. After watching the film I looked around online to learn more about her and found this page. Methinks I might need to take a trip down to London and check it out. (Amber & Andrea, have you been to this exhibit?)

I also stumbled upon this page, which intrigues me to no end. I don't have access to the site, but am looking into it. I'm a big fan of creative writing or the journaling/documenting process and have keep a book of some sort since I was an adolescent. Do you write? Journal? Blog? I'd love to hear about it and why it's important to you!

I've tried my hand at no-knead bread twice now and each time they turn out tasty, but man-oh-man is the dough so goopy! I've read many reviews that say this is just how it is since it's such a wet recipe to begin with. Regardless, I found this webpage with some tips and modifications. Can't wait to try it again soon. 

A friend of mine, Amanda Kingloff, has started writing on her lovely blog, The Violet Hours again! She's working on publishing a book about children's craft projects and I can't wait to see the finished product! Please stop on by her blog and be sure to subscribe or visit often to see what beautiful and creative projects she shares!

The Up Series. I only watched a few episodes when I was living with a group of girlfriends in Oakland (remember those days ladies?). Here's a post from A Cup Of Jo talking about the latest release, 56 Up. Maybe I'll have to start at the beginning and work my way through the series. The premise of the show is an interesting one.

As some of you learned from my Facebook post yesterday, I'm finally a paid Art Therapist here in the UK! (Squeeeeeeeeeee!) It's not much, and it's very part time (4 hours a week) but it's with a fantastic organisation that I really believe in (and we are merging with another fantastic organisation as I type this) so it's completely worth it! Thanks for all the support and encouragement from family and friends who believed in me! I couldn't have done it without you! (And just to brag . . . I pitched myself to them, showed them what I could do and had experience in, and they loved it so much they created a position for me! Just proves to me that you have to go for what you want in life.)

Speaking of, I'm getting all trained up to volunteer at Arthur Rank Hospice. I start next week helping facilitate an arts education group for elementary school children to discuss themes of loss and death in the hospice's day therapy suite. Eventually I hope to facilitate legacy book-making with patients at the hospice. I'm looking forward to spending time in this setting as it's something I've wanted to do for a long time now.

One week from today Devo and I will be waking up in Tenerife, The Canaries, Spain (just off the western Africa coast of Morocco/Western Sahara). Oh man. I'm so excited about it. The weather won't be hot (upper  70°F/20°C), but it'll be warmer than Cambridge, and there's a mountain! volcano! So we'll get some good hikes in while we're there. I cannot WAIT!

Last post I talked about going to see Swan Lake at the Cambridge Corn Exchange. I just want to follow up by saying that we had a great time, the dancing was beautiful, as were the costumes, but I don't recommend sitting on the flat part of the auditorium floor for ballets. If you don't see the feet, you're missing 1/2 the show! We had a good time anyway, even if we did tweak our necks trying to catch a glimpse of the toe shoes!

If you're ever visiting Cambridge, (Call Me!) you should eat at Bill's restaurant. I went there with some girlfriends for lunch this week and had some very tasty food. I ordered the mushroom and leek macaroni and cheese but there were many other tasty options to choose from. Great interior and atmosphere to boot. Very cute place. Four stars.

Tonight we are meeting friends at a new (to us) pub called The Avery for dinner and drinks. We met up with this same crew last week but at a different pub which we'd been to before, The Anchor. Devin also hit two other pubs this week for a post-work pint, so he's really getting his pub time in like a proper English lad. 

I just finished a good book (easy, fast read) by Sandra Dallas called The Persian Pickle Club. If you're from the midwest (or even if you're not) you'll like this little novel about women, quilting, farming, and friends. 

I've been battling a few different viruses for a few weeks now. It's loads of fun. Especially for Devin who has to listen to me hack and snort (Sorry Hon!). This recent cold has me in love all over again with Ricola cough drops. I also am drinking Throat Coat tea like it's going out of style. Stuff is good.

One of my dear friends (Hi Sadie!) and her husband Jon are expecting a wee one in mid-February. This week the department at Children's (where I used to work) had a surprise baby shower for her, and I got to Skype in! It was so much fun. I felt like I was really there, only people were carrying me around, which they don't do when I'm actually there . . . that would be awkward. Devin and I bought them a cool gift (or so I think). Sadie and Jon are both creative, music-loving, dancing, socializing, movers and shakers so we got their baby a set of these. (Spoiler alert for Sadie/Jon if you've not opened the box yet!)

I guess this post of Around The Web was rather self-centered, but hey, it's my blog. I'll write about what I want! (Unless and until someone pays me to write about something different. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? . . .)

Hope everyone is gearing up for a lovely weekend.
Happy Friday! 
And come visit soon!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Saturday & Sunday Walks

I wrote this intending to post it on Sunday afternoon. It's not Monday night. Just an FYI

January 5th + 6th, 2013 

Just a quick post to give those of you back home a tast of what Cambridge is like right now. We seem to have passed the coldest part of winter (no frosty mornings for a few weeks now) Temps are around 48-50 F° each day, sunny patches alternate with clouds and fog. All the leaves are gone, and the pavement is almost always wet or damp, regardless of whether or not we've had rain. The fields and flat areas (which is most of the area around here) are muddy and wet, filled with pop-up ponds in areas making the fenlands really feel like fenlands.

On my way home I saw a tree beginning to bud, which brought me all kinds of joy. Though we've not had a freezing cold winter, the short dark days have really gotten to my psyche and so any sign of spring is a welcome one in my mind.

Tonight as part of my Christmas gift Devin is taking me out to Japanese dinner and then to see the ballet Swan Lake (not Sean Lake you smart-asses)! I've never seen it, and I'm so excited to go. I love watching dance, especially ballet. Guess the little girl in me that wanted to be a ballerina (for like 6 months) is still in me somewhere.

Hope everyone is having a nice weekend. Indoors or out.

Bridge over the M11 toward Coton Reserve

Lichen, Lichen Everywhere 
Beauty in the Details

Pretty Winter Color Palette

Pop-up Lake 

Home. Our building is the short one in the middle.

Lunch, aka "Vegetarian Smorgasbord"

Large Tractors & Devin

I don't need to tell you what this is, right?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

ZipCar Road Trip

December 30, 2012

We needed to go for a drive.

If you drive a car on a regular basis, maybe you don't have this feeling very often, but if you're like us and without a car, sometimes you just want to go for a drive. See what's around. Listen to music. Watch the scenery roll by. Not get pelted by rain, or wind, or cold. Safe in the capsule of a car with a heater, warm coffee in travel mugs, and egg sandwiches wrapped in foil.

I didn't do much planning, I didn't want to think too much about it so after poking around on google maps I picked a destination city, and a scenic route by which to get there.

Long Melford, here we come! (Or, so we went!)
My phone died as soon as we got there so there aren't too many pictures. Luckily Devo took a few snapshots just so I could post about it here!

Our Destination, 1 hour SE of Cambridge

Zippin along eating breakfast

Our first stop in a wee-little town, Stoke By Clare. I 'm pretty sure that's Mr.Burns in the middle.

Stoke By Clare Tower With Secret Message

Adorable house near the church, Stoke By Clare

Church at Stoke By Clare

Stoke By Clare was full of pink houses! Love the thatched roof on this one.

And guess what I loved about this one?! Bun-Buns on the Roof!

Approaching the church in Long Melford

Beautiful cemetery at Long Melford Church

Tea at Tiffins Tea Emporium,  Long Melford

Our first, but certainly not last, Sticky Toffee Pudding!

Thanks for taking the time to read!
I hope this post inspires you to go out and explore where you live, even if it's just a new restaurant, or a walk about town. 

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2013 Day One

No Filter on the red one. That's the color of our bedroom shade. Spooky eh?

  • Played Settlers of Catan until 3:30AM (Embracing my inner nerd)
  • Biked home in the rain. The birds were singing.
  • Slept until 11:30AM
  • Ate sesame bagels and garlic & chive "soft cheese" for breakfast. Mmmm.
  • Cleaned house . . . well, a bit.
  • Went for a run (still using this app). Listened to This American Life.
  • Did some Bodyweight work-out (link is just to give you an idea of what bodyweight exercises are. I'm using this app for pushups, and also doing some squats, and quadruped lifts, as well as gentle stretching.
  • Played catch up in my inbox.
  • Planned meals, ordered groceries.
  • Secured apartment for Tenerife, Canary Islands. (Yahoo! 16 days away!)
  • Made a batch of no-knead bread (currently rising) and tweaked the recipe a bit since last time it was way too wet and goopy. Here's what I did:
    • Rounded 1/2 cup whole wheat strong flour (instead of plain flour)
    • Rounded 2 1/2 cups strong white flour (instead of plain flour)
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon quick acting yeast
    • 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cup luke warm water
    • Started with flour in the bowl, placing the yeast and salt on opposite sides of the bowl (salt can kill yeast and interfere with the bread rise), created a reservoir in the flour and slowly added in enough water until the dough just came together. Covered with plastic wrap. Now we wait and see . . . 
  • Started a blog post (Ta Da!)
  • Welcomed Devin home (just now) after his afternoon at the lab and are we currently debating what to watch on the screen tonight. Sherlock or Sleepwalk With Me
  • Pizza for dinner! 
  • And hopefully after all is said and done I'll spend some time reading Lonely Planet Tenerife and The Diary of Mattie Spenser.