Monday, June 30, 2014

Mark your calendar - vote on November 4, 2014

Supreme Court Building

In a stunningly horrible decision made by five mostly white men today, Hobby Lobby and 90% of American businesses can deny contraceptive coverage to their female employees. Yes, the Supreme Court of the United States of America voted against science. The science that says that contraceptives don't cause abortions (yes, even the morning after pill). Shame.

Today's ruling effectively says that women aren't people, but corporations are. No, it's not up to a woman and her doctor to make a healthcare decision. It is up to five old men on the Supreme Court, not one of whom has ever had to worry about their physical, mental, or financial capacity to unintentionally become a parent. Shame.

Furthermore, Hobby Lobby covers vasectomies (and Viagra, obviously) under their insurance plan. Excuse me while I wonder why vasectomies are not considered contraception. Shame.

I see this decision as opening the door to businesses run by Jehovah's Witnesses denying their employees blood transfusions, by Christian Scientists denying vaccinations (or what about denying healthcare coverage at all? some of them don't go to the doctor), or Scientologists denying mental healthcare coverage. Alito said that today's decision only applies to contraception, but saying so isn't the same as making it so. Shame.

And in yet another slap in our faces, Hobby Lobby, a company supposedly so ruled by "Christian" values that they fought about contraception all the way to the Supreme Court, invests in the manufacturers of both contraceptives and drugs that induce miscarriages/abortions. But it's not all about profits, right?


1059 20120313 Congress vs Planned Parenthood

Shame on the Supreme Court. We can't vote them out of chambers, but we can vote on the local, state, and federal representatives and senators who do get to vote them in. So, ladies and gentlemen, mark your calendars and choose to vote on November 4, 2014. Vote to keep America from embarrassing itself again. Vote to keep science and faith and church and state separated as they should be. Vote to make your wife, your sister, your mother a person.

Marines support 57th Presidential Inauguration

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Weekend Reading

dehydrating organic, farm fresh strawberries makes me happy

Happy weekend! You know what that means...time enough for jam projects, Netflix, and (hopefully) naps. What are you up to?


Buzzfeed is watching. How much data do you really want to give them?

Really, really, really pretty pictures.

Verizon doing good with their new ad that encourages people to think before they simply tell a girl she's pretty.

tomato, tomahto

How to make sprouted grains.

Mark Bittman wants us to rethink the word "foodie."

Look! Really pretty beet hummus.

Low sugar apricot jam.

Have you heard of Kiva and not joined because, well, life? Well, right now if you join through this link, you can lend $25 for free. And if you do so, I also get to loan $25 for free. That's like winning to the fourth degree. It's fun (at least I think so) and gives me the warm fuzzies.

Want more great reads? Check out all weekend reading posts here

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Tex-Mex Casserole - vegan & gluten free


If you've been following along for a while, you may have picked up that a) I admit to being lazy fairly often b) my recipes are generally low-fuss and c) the ingredient lists aren't usually terribly long.

At first glance, this recipe may appear not to fit into any of the above categories. That first glance would be wrong. It takes about 20 minutes to put together from beginning to oven, and while there are more ingredients than I usually list, the whole thing is pretty easy and very satisfying. I suspect that you have most (if not all) of the ingredients in your pantry already. This was the first meal I made when we got back from vacation, and the fridge was pretty bare. I didn't even have all the ingredients the first time I made it, and it was still delicious.


To streamline it further, make the rice in advance. I like making it in the morning. The rice cooks while I putz around and eat breakfast, so it's all set at night. If you're one of those big batch cooks, make a batch of rice and freeze it in portions. Then just defrost what you need.


This is one of those recipes you can scale up or down, and it's going to satisfy not only lots of dietary restrictions, but it's going to satisfy vegans and omnivores alike.

Tex-Mex Casserole - vegan & gluten free
adapted from Oh She Glows

Don't have ingredient or two? Don't sweat it. Unless it's something major like rice, beans, or tomatoes, you can probably skip it. Want it spicier? Add another jalapeno. Don't like spice? Don't use a jalapeno. Have some frozen edamame taking up space in your freezer? It can definitely go in with the corn (or in place of it). You can halve the recipe and bake it in a smaller pan. If you double it, you'll need to use a second large pan. 

for the spice blend
1 Tbsp (150mL) chili powder
1 1/2 tsp (7 mL) ground cumin
1 tsp (5 mL) smoked sweet paprika or 1/2 tsp (2 mL) regular paprika
1/4 tsp (1 mL) cayenne pepper, plus more as needed
1 1/4 tsp (6 mL) fine-grain sea salt
1/4 tsp (1 mL) ground coriander (optional)

for the casserole
1 1/2 tsp (7 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
1 red onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 bell peppers, ideally two different colors, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded if desired, and diced
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 C (125 mL) fresh or frozen corn
1 14oz/397g can diced tomatoes (with their juices)
1 C (250 mL) tomato sauce or tomato puree
2 to 3 C (500 to 700 mL) chopped kale leaves or baby spinach
1 15oz.425g can black beans, drained and rinsed
3 C (750 mL) cooked rice (wild, brown, or white - your choice)
1/2 C (125 mL) vegan shredded cheese, such as Daiya (optional)
1 to 2 handfuls tortilla chips, crushed (gf for gluten free folks)

optional topping ideas
green onions, salsa, avocado, additional cheese, fresh chopped cilantro, vegan sour cream

Preheat oven to 375F. Oil a large baking pan.

In a small bowl combine all the spices for the blend. Set aside.

In a large wok, pot, or Dutch oven (when I halved the recipe, I was able to use a large sauce pan), heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, bell peppers, and jalapeno. Saute until starting to soften (approx 5-7 minutes). Add garlic and cook another minute or two. Season with salt and pepper.

Stir in spice blend, corn diced tomatoes and their juices, tomato sauce, kale or spinach, beans, rice, and 1/4 cup (60 mL) of the vegan shredded cheese (if using). Saute for a few minutes and season with more salt and pepper, if desired.

Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish and smooth the top. Sprinkle the crushed chips and then the remaining cheese (if using) evenly over the mixture. Cover with a lid or foil and bake for 15 minutes.

Uncover the baking dish and cook for another 5-10 minutes or so, until bubbly and lightly golden around the edges.

Serve and top, as desired.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Weekend Reading

my latest obsession

Happy summer! I hope you had a good week and that you're enjoying some high-quality-weekending before you begin the next one. My week at work made me tired (that's why it's called 'work' eh?), but I spent much of yesterday playing with strawberries (see photo below) and have plans for more today. This week on Short & Sweets, I talked about my week in Kauai and where we ate, vacation habits I'd like to keep, and a delicious new Strawberry Rhubarb Double Crisp to start Summer off right. What have you been up to this week?

Onto links!

Frozen coconut limeade sounds perfect for summer.

Speaking of summer, will someone make me this peach arugula grilled cheese?

In the wake of so much shooting, five practical things you can do about gun violence.

No one applauds this woman (for good reason) and what it has to say about us.

How cool is it that rhythm and dance can help people with neurological diseases?

Pantene's pithy video on #sorrynotsorry

doesn't everybody spend their days off experimenting with strawberries?
Ashton Kutcher being smart. It's kind of nice to see him that way.

Texas women are still fighting the good fight.

I don't like broccoli, but it seems that maybe I should since it may actually clear harmful chemicals out of your body.

If you find 10,000 steps a day too hard, this article about only needing 6000 per day is for you.

A new generation of "Golden Girls" embrace communal living.

Anything to add to the list?

Friday, June 20, 2014

Strawberry Rhubarb Double Crisp - vegan & gluten free

Strawberry Rhubarb Double Crisp - vegan and gluten free

Happy (almost) Summer! Tomorrow, June 21, marks the official start of summer. Around here it's still cool enough to drink hot tea in the morning, but the afternoons have been glorious. I've been busy with strawberries lately, and I think my berry obsession will go on for the next several months (you're welcome). Last year my strawberry forays were pretty tame, but this year I'm hoping to share more creative ideas. I'll be the first to admit that a crisp isn't a terribly good example of said creativity, but crisps top the list of my favorite summer desserts, so I think I'll give myself a pass.

Strawberry Rhubarb Double Crisp

(One of) the great things about crisps is their endless adaptability. Want to use different fruit? Go ahead, it's no problem! Want something warm for dessert? These are perfect! Want a cold breakfast? Crisps to the rescue! I really can't say enough good things about them.

Strawberry Rhubarb Double Crisp - vegan, gluten free

Up until this point, I've always made crisps comprised of a layer of fruit and a layer of topping/crumbley crisp/crust/whathaveyou. This was my first double crisp experiment, and I was pleasantly surprised. Two crusts make them more bar-like, and thus more structured, which, besides photographing better, leads to easier serving to guests. It also makes the crisp a bit heartier, and (I think) even better for breakfast.

vegan, gf Strawberry Rhubarb Double Crisp

Strawberry Rhubarb Double Crisp - vegan & gluten free
adapted from Smitten Kitchen

I doubled the amount of fruit Deb used in her version, so if you have less, know that will work. I tested this recipe with olive oil and melted coconut oil AND with white whole wheat flour, almond flour, and brown rice flour. I preferred the coconut oil (crispier than olive oil) and the almond flour (yum). I see no reason that whole wheat flour or your favorite gluten free flour will not work in place of the listed all-purpose. To make this corn free, be sure to omit the cornstarch (duh), but also don't sprinkle any confectioners' sugar on top. 

Yield: 16 small bars or 9 larger ones (pictured); recipe can be doubled and baked in a 9×13-inch baking pan, where they will come out a little thicker

1 C (80 grams) rolled oats
3/4 C (95 grams) plus up to 2 Tbsp (15 grams) extra all-purpose or gluten free flour (see note)
1/2 C (95 grams) Sucanat or brown sugar
Heaped 1/4 tsp table salt
5 Tbsp vegetable oil or coconut oil, melted (see note)
1 tsp cornstarch (optional, but helps firm up the filling)
1 Tbsp (15 ml) lemon juice
1 Tbsp (15 grams) granulated sugar
2 C (250 grams) small-diced rhubarb (from about 3 medium stalks)
2 C (310 grams) small-diced strawberries
Powdered sugar, for decoration, if desired

Preheat oven to 375F. For easy removal, line bottom and two sides of 8-by-8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper. No need to bother (and no greasing needed) if you plan to serve them right in the pan, as I did.

Place oats, flour, Sucanat, and salt in a large bowl and mix. Pour oil over the mix and stir until clumps form. If the clumps feel soft or look overly damp, add the remaining 2 tablespoons flour. Pour in and press a generous half of the crumb mixture evenly in the bottom of the pan.

Toss fruit with lemon juice, sugar, and cornstarch if using; then spread evenly over the crust. Scatter reserved crumbs over fruit and bake bars for 30 to 40 minutes (firmer fruits will take longer), until fruit is bubbly and crisp portion is golden and smells toasty and amazing.

Let cool in pan and cut into squares. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired. Store leftovers covered in fridge.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

5 Vacation Habits to Keep

5 vacation habits to keep

Last week in Kauai was incredibly relaxing, and I ended the week refreshed, tan for me (i.e. most peoples' normal), and happy. Beyond realizing that I need to take regular breaks, I've also come to the conclusion that there are some routines that I should carry from Paradise to real life. I realize that it's not always going to be possible, and that they are a bit idealized, but I figure it's worth writing them down so I can refer back to them and remind myself of them.

all green all the time

5 Vacation Habits to Keep

  1. Less screen time. When we went to Hawaii last week, I planned on spending a lot of time reading. I didn't even bring my computer, and my (spotty service) phone only got checked once or twice a day. I removed Facebook from my phone a few months ago, so really all I did tech wise was to get a few new ebooks for my Kindle, delete emails so I wouldn't come home to hundreds, and look at Instagram once in a while. It was great to ignore the screen, the social media, and the ever-present urge to check and see what's new. I'd love to keep that habit up here. I know it's not possible to be as unconnected as I was, but I think it's a worthwhile goal.
  2. Since I'll be spending less time interneting, I can spend more time reading. I've always loved to read, and there's been a clear correlation between more screen time and fewer books. I read a ton last week, and it was a great reminder how much reading is a part of my (good) mental health and general state of relaxation. 
  3. Separation of work and not work. This is something I've been working on for a while, but last week I was really able to completely forget about my job and not worry about something late at night. I couldn't do anything about it then, and the same is true now. If I'm not at work, there's pretty much nothing I can do about it. Yes, if I remember something critical I can text someone still at work, but I'd like to have a firm mental separation at night. 
  4. Drinking. I'm (mostly) talking about water here. Except for the first night, my feet didn't do their usual cramping routine at night. Beyond all the relaxing-with-my-feet-up time, I'd like to give credit to all the water and iced tea drinking I did in Kauai. 
  5. Down time in the morning and evening. Again, this is something I've been working on for a few months, but I've found it really helps me wake up, relax, and fall asleep again to have distinct buffer zones around my waking and sleeping. Just an extra thirty minutes in the morning to have a hot cup of tea and a real breakfast improves my outlook on the day, and some time at night - after dinner and before bed - of relaxing (reading!) helps me fall asleep more quickly. I think I also sleep more soundly. 
I hope to keep these up! What do you do to keep yourself sane and happy?

Monday, June 16, 2014

Kauai 2014 (and where to eat)

Ocean Blue, Sky Blue, and Jungle Green

hello! I'm back from vacation, and it was wonderful. Mr Official Taster, a couple friends, and I spent a week on the beautiful Hawaiian island of Kauai. The husband and I took the lazy, do-nothing approach, but our friends made up for it by hiking every day, snorkeling, and even going on a kayak trip.

over the river and through the woods

Sitting on our lanai (porch), overlooking the ocean with my feet propped up on the railing, and reading was my preferred activity. Maybe sipping some iced tea or chilled wine. It was pretty great. Note: all of today's photos are from my iPhone, but for a few others taken with a grownup camera, check this other post

in case you were wondering- yes, it's really in the middle of nowhere

In case you or a friend visits Kauai, I thought I'd share the few places we found with some good vegan/special diet options. There are lots of places that offer locally raised meat and vegetables, but vegan options are pretty few and far between, unless you stick with salads.

Menehune Fishpond

We cooked for ourselves several times, but here are some places where we had good luck:
  • Living Foods Market in Koloa. It's small and it's very pricey (even by island standards), but they seem to have good quality fresh food, and they bake bread every morning. They have a small selection of groceries, a coffee bar, a pre-made salad bar (think chicken and potato salads), and a small kitchen that makes pizzas, sweet and savory crepes, breakfast pastries and other light food. They have a few vegan groceries and some gluten free options as well. 
  • Kukuiula Store in Koloa. It's pretty much across the street from Living Foods. It's larger and has a consequently larger grocery selection. It seems to have a lot of special diet stuff - I didn't take notes, but I remember seeing Ener-G Egg Replacer, Bob's Red Mill products, vegan cheeses and frozen desserts, and gluten free tortillas. There's also a juice bar in the back. Apparently, their butcher is well liked, and they sell the locally raised, grass-fed beef. I think they have better produce and special diet options than the local Big Save.
screen saver worthy
  • Da Crack. Unfortunate name, but good Mexican food at reasonable prices. It's next door to Kukuiula Store. And anything you order is customizable, so you can avoid problem ingredients. There's no seating - it's just a take out window, but it's fast, fresh, and not a zillion dollars. 
  • Merriman's Pizza and Burgers - It's the downstairs, casual, less expensive sister to the upstairs, white tablecloth fish house. They source their ingredients locally, and the menu tells you which farm they came from. They've got a vegan pizza (pretty good) and a portobello burger (didn't try) on the menu, and you can get any pizza on a gluten free crust. 
  • Papayas in Kapaa. We didn't get there, but a server at Kauai Island Brewery & Grill recommended it. If we had time, we definitely would have tried it. The brewery was pretty meh in both food and drink. 
I say goodbye

Have you visited Kauai? Any food recommendations to share?

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Canning Jar Label Round Up

Happy weekend, friends! I am on my way to Paradise, and I'm also taking a vacation from blogging and a mostly-tech-unconnected vacation. Instagram and deleting emails occasionally will probably be about it.

So with that announcement, I leave you with some cute canning labels. Have you already started? Or perhaps these will inspire you to think about starting. All I've done is my small batch strawberry jam, though my friends with apricot trees (yay California) tell me that they are starting to be ripe. Apricot season, here we come!

download the blank template and customize!
Peach Jam labels
these cute chalkboard ones are customizable for freezing or canning
colorful (specifically) jam labels

Finally, want to be shamefully on top of things?

all sorts of Christmas labels for your edible gifts
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