I've been so busy the past few days, I've been totally neglecting this site. Kevin and I were running around like crazy all weekend for the holiday, we actually went Geocaching on Monday (which we hadn't gotten to do in almost two months!), and yesterday was an errand-running kind of day. I was aware of my negligence over the weekend, but yesterday I didn't even think about blogging until it was far too late in the day for me to be cooking or writing. OK, I admit my new addiction to "The Sims" hasn't helped matters much (I know, I'm a couple years behind on that one -- I just bought the software last month!).
For the past few days, I've been craving taco pizza from one of my favorite local pizza places. I just might get ambitious enough to try making my own this afternoon instead of getting take-out. I can make a whole-wheat crust and control the toppings better. For those of you who aren't familiar with this concoction, here's what it's all about: it starts with a regular crust. Then, instead of traditional pizza sauce and mozzarella, it has salsa and cheddar cheese on it. Next up is a layer of seasoned "taco meat," which is ground beef with taco-style spices. I, of course, get it without the hamburger! Veggies include black olives (which I also don't order -- they use those yucky canned black things that can't possibly be real olives!), onions, jalapenos, tomatoes, and lettuce. Yes, lettuce. Don't knock it 'til you've tried it! It's topped off with a layer of slightly crushed tortilla chips. It's pretty heavy-duty stuff, but it's amazing. If I make my own, I'll be able to use reduced fat organic cheese, better olives, baked tortilla chips, and a healthier crust. I will also go a bit lighter on the toppings so that one slice doesn't weigh a pound and a half. =)
I have a ton of stuff to do this afternoon, too, but a lot of the pizza making can be done in between other chores. I can vacuum while the dough rises and clean out the fridge while the pizza bakes. I may have to sacrifice some time out in the sun (today is supposed to be gorgeous for a change), but I think I can make it all work. Stay tuned for the results!
As you may have noticed, I used the long holiday weekend (even though I still had to work today!) as an excuse to take a break fom blogging. After spending a bit of time this morning checking on the food blogs I usually read, it looks like I wasn't the only one! I did, however, prepare for today's entry while making yesterday's breakfast -- I am finally going to reveal my secret smoothie recipe! It's really quite simple, and not so secretive. It's just the way I've found I like them the best.
It all starts with a frozen banana. I always buy more bananas than I know I'll eat before they overripen, and throw the overripe ones in the freezer. I freeze them as is -- no peeling, slicing, dicing, or packaging other than what Mother Nature gave them. They're a bit of a pain in the butt to peel once they're frozen, though. One of these days I'll get enough ambition to at least peel them and throw them in plastic bags before I freeze them. But anyway...
For each smoothie, I peel and break up one frozen banana, putting the chunks into my trusty purple blender (I'm so proud of it!). The banana makes a super-smooth smoothie, and I like frozen banana because it makes for a good, cold, almost milk-shaky drink. To this I add half a cup of soy milk. I've only tried a couple of brands, but I really like Edensoy Extra. Most people, I am finding, go for the soy milk products (Silk, 8th Continent, etc.) that try to be more like cow's milk. If I want cow's milk, I'll buy cow's milk. When I want soy milk, I want my Edensoy! I think it's rich and creamy and not overly sweetened. It add that certain "je ne sais quoi" to my smoothies. Finally, I add half a cup or so of whatever fruit I feel like that day. Kiwis are great, as are berries, peaches, or even peanut butter and jelly! Yesterday, I used a mango...
Since I was making smoothies for two, I used two bananas, one cup of soy milk, and a whole mango, cubed. The mango was a little overripe -- a bit too perfumy for me, if you know what I mean. There's a fine line with mangoes between just sweet enough and too flowery. Don't get me wrong -- I love mangoes no matter what! But to counteract this extra floweriness, I threw in one of my lime juice ice cubes. I always squeeze a bit of lime juice onto mangoes when I eat them "au naturelle," and thought this would work just as well. It did. It tempered the mango without imparting too much tartness. The smoothies were a great way to start a warm, summery 4th of July.
Here are some of my favorite "recipes," starting with one banana and half a cup of soy milk, to make one smoothie:
One kiwi, peeled and cubed (unless you like furry drinks!)
One peach or nectarine, cubed - I usually peel these, but they're probably fine unpeeled, too
1 cup berries of your choice -- I love raspberries, and throw them right in, seeds and all!
1 tablespoon each peanut butter and jelly/jam/fruit spread
1/2 to 1 cup pineapple, drained (crushed or chunks are fine) and a tablespoon or so of shredded coconut
1/2 mango, cubed, and the juice of half a lime
Or... anything else you can imagine!
Because overripe bananas are so sweet, I rarely need to add any more sweetener. I blend all the fruit together, then taste. If I think it needs something, usually just a quick squeeze of honey does the trick.
Just a note: these smoothies don't usually taste much like bananas once you add other fruit. The bananas are so mildly flavored, they really just act as a base. The added fruit becomes the star. If you just want a banana flavored smoothie, I'm sure using another half a banana or so would work out great.
Think you don't like soy milk? Try it in a smoothie and see if you change your mind. =)
Oh! One more thing -- one day, for some reason, I had some mango chunks in the freezer. I didn't really think about it and threw them into my smoothie. The use of all frozen fruit made something not so straw-friendly, but it very closely resembled soft-serve ice cream. Yum!!
Not much to report on the food front today -- it was laundry day. Yes, I still do laundry at my parents' place -- I get to wash my clothes for free, my Mom gets to see me... it's a win-win situation! Plus, it was really nice out today, and they live on a small lake (it's called Field's Pond, but I'm pretty sure a pond is a completely contained, still body of water, and this one has a stream that leads out of it, which I'm pretty sure makes it a lake. I really should look that up someday.). I'll post a picture as soon as I find one -- I think I have some on my computer at work. Mom and I floated around on the pond on our air mattresses while my clothes dried. A bit of a lazy day, but it was nice to see the sun for a change.
I found out today that this site is listed on a fantasy stock-exchange website -- members buy and sell shares of blogs! Does anyone know what that's about? I registered and claimed my blog, and I got $500 in fantasy cash to start out. I haven't done any trading yet... I need to find out what I'm getting into first! =) The site is called "Blogshares", and my "listing" can be found here. I should look up C&Z -- I'm sure Clotilde's "stocks" are worth an absolute fortune!
Supper tonight was Pete's Tofu to Go -- Sesame Ginger flavor with "jazzed ginger soy sauce." Pretty good stuff, though not the lowest fat food in the world. I think there's a good bit of toasted sesame oil in the sauce. Toasted sesame oil is good.
My kitties are all being very cute, sleeping in the sunshine coming through the window, but I know they're dreaming about supper. I think tuna with cheese is on their menu. Honestly, I don't know how they eat that stuff. =P
OK, I admit it: I'm tired, I'm grouchy, I had a bad day at work. I don't really feel like eating, much less cooking. Or even writing. But I am, right now, as we speak, taking part in one of my favorite "healing" rituals -- Moroccan Mint Tea. I am a huge believer in its powers.
I got addicted to Moroccan Mint Tea in Paris (of course. tired of hearing about Paris yet? too bad!). The Paris Mosque and the World Arab Institute both have tea rooms where it's served practically by the gallon. I LOVE to go to the Institute in the middle of the day with a crossword puzzle and have a pot of tea. I LOVE to go to the Mosque late in the evening, sit outside, and have a glass or two. It's such a great way to wind down or chill out.
Moroccan Mint Tea is very simple: gunpowder green tea and mint. At the Institute and the Mosque, it's made with fresh mint. It's traditionally very heavily sweetened -- the glasses are always sticky! It's such a beautiful thing. It's served out of long-spouted brass teapots, poured from about a foot above, into intricately decorated glasses that are only slightly bigger than shot glasses. I'm too lazy tonight to go looking for pictures, but you can find them very easily with a little internet search. You can also find real Moroccan Mint Tea recipes, and actually buy the pots and glasses. I, unfortunately, have not procured any of this equipment yet... but it's all on my mental wish list. Instead, I bought this beautiful tea set at the Grasshopper Shop in Bangor -- a very cool store with lots of gifts, clothes, housewares, and generally neat stuff...
Isn't it beautiful? I love the color, I love the size, I love the shape, I love the feel. It has an amazing texture that can only be described as silky smooth. Yes, I am a tactile person. I can't walk past a marble countertop or polished granite building without touching. But I digress (as I so often do). I also have a much fancier Bodum tea press, which I will show off sometime in the future. This pot holds eight ounces of tea -- enough to fill the little cup twice. I use Republic of Tea's Moroccan Mint Tea, and I sweeten it with Splenda (not so traditional, I know... but if I used real sugar in all the tea I drink, I'd weigh 200 pounds!). We've all heard about the health benefits of green tea, and mint is good for a lot of ailments, too. This tea is crisp, refreshing, relaxing, and low enough in caffeine so that I can drink a couple cups right before I go to bed, and still sleep. It cures what ails me. I just finished my first cup... and now the second one is calling my name!