Lunches for the week

As I put away our leftover honey beans on Monday night, I happily realized that the fridge held enough leftovers to provide lunches for the rest of the week.  That knowledge removes the pressure to continue making big, leftover-yielding dinners, buying me an easy night or two of sandwiches, pasta, or leftovers for dinner instead of just for lunch.

In order to keep track of all the leftover goodness and avoid food waste, I grabbed a piece of scratch paper and sketched out our lunches for the week.


The full lunch menu — most of the veggies in the dishes are locally grown:

Monday: Kale quinoa quiche with a side of squash
Tuesday: Black bean soup w/avocado and tortilla chips; side of collard greens
Wednesday: Rotini w/red sauce and sauteed eggplant, ‘shrooms, and squash
Thursday: Polenta topped with black-eyed peas, collards, and sundried tomatoes w/a side of roasted sweet potatoes
Friday: Honey beans, whole wheat bread w/olive oil, sides of squash and kale

On the top half of the page, I brainstormed dinner ideas based on what we had to use and what types of food (i.e., rice, lentils, tofu) we haven’t eaten in awhile.


Our fridge full of leftover goodness (and a huge hunk of rising Danish pastry dough, second shelf from top, on the right).  A bit crazy, but I have a pretty good mental map of what is where, and this is nothing compared to high gardening season when we’re truly overflowing with fresh produce.

In case you were wondering, I have yet to use my “coasting” dinner (many weeks I don’t — it’s just nice knowing I have a cushion, if necessary).  Tuesday night I made risotto (recipe coming soon) and Wednesday night I made a variation of my Persian stew, with lentils instead of chickpeas and [garden!] cabbage instead of cauliflower.

Holiday eats

Feels like just yesterday we were looking at ideas for Thanksgiving meals, right?  Despite the many lovely recipes in the NYTimes Vegetarian Thanksgiving compilations, my search for something featuring tempeh ultimately led me to the orange-maple tempeh at 101 Cookbooks.

The tempeh went perfectly with the wonderful array of traditional sides that my mom prepared, including mashed potatoes, dressing (AKA stuffing), mixed green salad, and whipped sweet potatoes (from my dad’s garden — candy sweet with no sugar added).  I doubled the recipe to insure we had enough for leftovers, which were delicious topped with the vegetarian gravy I made.

Still, our perusal of other holiday recipe ideas left us with a nice list of things to make later, including this Buckwheat Harvest Tart.  It looked labor- and time-intensive, so we kept postponing it, but I took advantage of my baby-free Monday last week and spent most of the afternoon in the kitchen, working with this guy. IMG_1019

Perhaps Matthew will share the real name in the comments, but I call it “the big warty squash.”  Less-than-attractive nickname aside, this is a delicious variety of winter squash, with lots of rich, flavorful flesh (and the seeds roast well, too).  I cubed some for the tart (along with some Silver Bell, another of our favorite squash varieties from this year), but I was left with quite a lot for roasting.  I followed my usual, fast and easy, slice and rub with coconut oil approach.


Roasted squash perfection — yum!  But not to be outdone, here’s the star of the show, pre-cheese sprinkling step and before oven time.


The various flavors came together so well here, showing the value of a good recipe.  Labor-intensive, but worth it!


We’re brainstorming ways to use the flavors of the filling in dishes other than tarts.  For starters, you could certainly omit the eggs and serve the cooked veggies over pasta or another grain.

After making this on Monday, I settled down to simpler meals for the rest of the week, and Matthew focused his attention on baking cookies, old favorites and a new-to-us variety.  More on those later . . . .

Veggie potluck caught on camera (sort-of)

For the past few years, we’ve been part of a vegetarian potluck group that meets once a month.  Up until, oh, July of 2011 or so, we rarely missed one of the monthly gatherings, enjoying both the company and the food, which frequently served as a source of inspiration.

The group includes cooks of all levels (and omnivores as well as vegetarians), but many participants are epicures and foodies like us, and dished often feature local ingredients, either from gardens or CSAs.  Our attendance over the last year could be described as sporadic, at best, but we made it to the October gathering, which had an Asian them.

I remembered to bring the camera, but failed to get a “before” shot of the spread.  Fortunately, after going through the buffet line, Matthew got caught up in a conversation and loaned me his almost untouched plate for a nice photo op.

For our dish, I turned a large quantity of [garden] eggplant into garlic-ginger eggplant with sesame noodles, which seemed to go over well.  Here’s an “after” shot of the buffet, which featured a couple of noodle dishes, coconut rice, two sushi platters, an Asian cabbage salad (which I loved), and tofu-kale dumplings, made by our hostess.

I’ve missed our regular attendance at these gatherings.  We employed our first “real” (i.e., non-family member or friend) babysitter for the outing, which went well, so we hope to make the potlucks a regular occurrence once again.


First Friday veg potlucks
As I’ve mentioned before, we’re part of a vegetarian potluck group that meets once a month to share delicious food and good company.  This month’s theme was “veggie adventure” (AKA, make something you’ve never made before).  Inspired by our recent Indian restaurant trip, I made chana masala, using this recipe from Smitten Kitchen, with delicious results.  (One of these months, I will actually remember to bring the camera and share more about these gatherings.)

And so it begins
Saturday marked the official opening of the 2012 gardening season, which unofficially opened in early January when Matthew started seedlings under the grow lights.*

The Dude “helped” Daddy and Grandma at the garden, giving me some time to myself.  Their day involved some heavy lifting — working to move two dump truck loads of compost while carrying a little monkey on their backs.

Meanwhile  . . .
I caught up on things around the apartment, cleaning the kitchen so we could mess it up again later, among other things

My bicycle turned routine errands into some nice physical activity and outside time, though the sun fooled me into under-dressing for the outingI’ll take a slightly chilly breeze on my face over being stuck in the car any day.

And then came Sunday
The Dude and I graced the church pews for the first time in eons — my attendance record since he’s been born is quite embarrassing.  I tell myself it will get better when he gets older and our routine is a bit more predictable, but thinking of families in times past (and present, I suppose) who make it to church Every. Single. Sunday., with a baby AND other little ones in tow makes my excuse look a little pathetic.

Pre-church bath -- we bathe a bit more frequently than we go to church, but not much 😉

Meanwhile . . .
In case he hadn’t gotten enough exercise at the garden on Saturday, Matthew spent a good chunk of Sunday on his bike, preparing for the Cycling Savvy class he’ll be teaching in a couple of weeks.**

We wrapped up the weekend with a relatively simple dinner featuring a large salad with greens from the low tunnel, homemade pasta (made and frozen on a previous weekend), and a delicious rhubard dessert.

*Stay tuned for a grow light guest post from Matthew.

**If you’re in the St. Louis area, check out the upcoming Cycling Savvy classes.  Thanks to some grant funding, they are offering the classroom potion for FREE, and each of the on-bike portions for $15/session.  All three sessions normally cost $75!  Whether you’re a newbie, someone who’s logged hundreds of miles, or somewhere in between, Cycling Savvy has a lot to offer.

Top 25 Vegan and Vegetarian Moms

HerGreenLife is in the running for Circle of Moms’ Top 25 Vegan and Vegetarian Moms.  To support HerGreenLife,  just follow the link and scroll through the candidates to vote.  (You can vote once every 24 hours, and voting closes on February 14th.)

I’ve been vegetarian for just over seven years now. I know a good bit about nutrition (I have enough college credits in nutrition to be considered a “nutritionist,” though not a dietitian, by most employers), and that foundation makes me confident in my dietary choices.

Though I don’t need outside validation, the last 15+ months provide some satisfactory evidence that my diet is not lacking.  Over nine months, I grew a big, healthy baby on a vegetarian diet*, and for the last 6 1/2 months, he’s thrived on nothing other than mama’s milk 🙂

As I wrote earlier this week, the time has come to expand The Dude’s one-item food menu, and we look forward to introducing him to our way of eating, meals filled with flavor, variety, and lots of nutrients, striving to eat in a way that is good for the body and gentle on the planet.

*In the interest of full disclosure, I took a high-quality fish oil supplement while pregnant, so I wasn’t quite vegetarian, technically speaking.

Read more about my thoughts on a vegetarian diet:
Vegetarian I
Vegetarian II