5.12.2015

Mother's Day Weekend 2015

Happy (belated) Mother's Day to all of the moms out there.  Since just buying our first house and having all those "adulting" things that go with that, I'm so happy to have my mom be my biggest cheerleader through it all!

Kevin spent the last weekend in Spokane for a friend's bachelor party, so it was happy timing that my parents wanted to come visit last weekend for Mother's Day and to see our new house. I'm always so happy to see them, and it is so nice to be able to cook whatever nutritarian thing I want and know it will be loved and appreciated.  No need to make any substitutions like I have to do with Kevin; my parents love every veggie and fruit under the sun!

On Friday, my dad had business in Seattle, so my mom and I enjoyed breakfast at home, then shopped around the area for a few new things for the home, including extra rugs and trash cans for two bathrooms and the kitchen.  While out shopping, Mom and I had lunch out at my favorite Indian restaurant in Puyallup.  That evening, we enjoyed my new "cabana" having some chips and guac and probably way too much wine!

The next day, we headed to Northwest Trek, a wildlife park only 20 minutes south of our new house.  We spent the majority of our day here enjoying the cat, wolf, bear, wetland, and aviary exhibits, as well as an hour long tram ride through 400 acres of protected natural habitat that housed 8 different types of herbivores and other small critters.  It was a beautiful way to spend a sunny, warm Saturday.

Saturday evening, we enjoyed a homemade dinner of corn on the cob, two different salads, and a quinoa red kidney bean burger I made (can you tell we love our food?).  Then, we all got to work on little things around the house.

My amazingly handy dad, with the help of my mom's coaching, tore apart pieces of our recently broken couch, reinforced it, and put it back together.  I couldn't believe it!  Kevin and I had bought this (cheap) couch with part of our tax return the first year we were married, after I begged for months for us to have real furniture rather than a futon.  About a month ago, a few weeks before we moved, a heard a clunk in the couch and the entire back cushion just collapsed.  It was still sit-able with a lot of pillows behind, but Kevin and I figured we would have to toss it for a new one soon.  Thankfully, my dad was able to save it, so when we do get a new bigger couch for our family room, it will move to the living room next to the fire place.

A few other things my dad helped me out with include fixing the tight door to the closet below the stairs, fixing the front door deadbolt so it slides into the lock position without pulling the door tight, hanging Kevin's United States map in the stairway, hanging our family room clock, checking what was malfunctioning with our new lawn mower, and changing the battery on my garage door opener.

While my dad was busy with his fixes, my mom helped me by making a curtain for my small pantry doorway, weeding a portion of my garden, figuring out how my garden soaker system worked, showing me how to use my sourdough starter, helped me set up my new hummingbird feeder, as well as drinking wine and mimosas! ;)

Here are a few pictures of all the fun...

My parents arrive Thursday evening and I give my mom her Mother's Day present.
Part of it was this bottle of merlot from Columbia Winery,
where one of my best childhood friends actually works at near Seattle.

On Friday shopping, we find a clock even bigger than the one we already have.
Kevin has an obsession with gigantic clocks for some reason,
so I assume we will get another one someday for our house.

Getting every scrape of Indian leftovers from my favorite Indian restaurant in Puyallup.
I love that we can always find beans/lentils at Indian restaurants.


In the evening, we enjoy too much wine, and my dad figures out how our lighted grape string work.

Mom and I getting ready to go into Northwest Trek.

On the tram ride through the wildlife reserve we see caribou...

One mountain goat,

Two mountain goat,

some elk, and much more!

Later on Saturday evening, my dad hangs Kevin's U.S. Map.
This is one that Kevin snagged from an alternative school he was student teaching at when it closed last year.
The map was made in 1969, and it truly one of our favorite things we own.

On Sunday we have steel cut oats for breakfast,
 and my mom poses with the small yellow rose plant I got her for Mother's Day.
My parents got married with yellow roses, so I always try to go for yellow roses for her when I can.

After my parents left on Sunday (after an already extremely productive weekend),
I started gardening in my front yard with all of the new garden tools my parents gifted to me.
I should have taken a before picture or two, because it was a BIG improvement!  

Out of this front yard bed I pulled out tons of weeks, some tulips, and daffodils.
Not sure why, but tulips and daffodils don't really ring my bell.
I'm saving the bulbs I pulled and thinking I will plant elsewhere come fall.
In this bed, there are hydrangeas in the middle,
lavender in a "L" that I transplanted the middle ones,
and day lilies (I think?) in the bottom that I left in place.
My first hummingbird visitor came when Kevin got home
and we were catching up in the Cabana on both of our fun weekends.

I mentioned that my mom sewed me a curtain for my small pantry door this weekend.
She also brought me this dress and one other top she had made me.
I can't believe how much talent (and patience) for sewing she has!  

Health and Happiness,

Amy


5.04.2015

Pressure Cooker Potato Leek Soup

In our house, we have potato leek soup a couple of times a month.  The facts that potatoes keep on the shelf so well, are often the last produce around before grocery shopping day, and cook relatively quickly have made this soup one of our main staples.

When I first became a Nutritarian, I really missed the creaminess of thick soups and sauces, so potato leek soup was one of my first favorites because it gives you that creaminess without any cow cream.  To make a similar recipe, but on the stovetop, refer to Katie's Creamy Potato Soup recipe here.  This was a recipe I adapted from my sister-in-law that I love love!

Now-a-days, I make my potato leek soup a bit differently, and in "my precious" pressure cooker.  Quite literally, I called it "my precious" in our move last weekend while a coworker of Kevin's was packing it.  Yep...  I went full-on LOTR Gollum with an appliance, but if you have one, you will know what I mean.

In the recipe I am about to share with you, I like to add lots of veggies besides potatoes and leeks.  I often throw in whatever sounds good in my fridge that needs to be used up, but this is my general recipe.  In the pressure cooker, this takes only 6 minutes at pressure with a quick release at the end!

Pressure Cooker Potato Leek Soup
Time: 10 minute prep, 6 minutes high pressure, quick release
Servings: 8-10 servings


Ingredients:
        2 lbs mixed white, red, golden potatoes - peeled if not organic and cut into 2 inch cubes
        2 leeks trimmed, washed well, and sliced including most of the green portion
        2 cloves garlic, minced
        3 medium carrots, peeled and diced
        3 medium celery stalks, diced
        1 cup mushrooms, roughly chopped, any variety
        1 Tbsp dried herb mix - see note below
        8 cups of water (boiling when added, if desired to reach high pressure faster)
        1-2 cups unsweetened plant-based milk (optional)

Instructions:
1.)  On the saute function, saute the chopped leeks and minced garlic for 3-5 minutes, adding water as needed to prevent burning.
2.)  Add in the remainder of the ingredients EXCEPT for the plant-based milk.  Lock the pressure cooker lid in place and cook at high pressure for 5-7 minutes.
3.)  After the allotted time, do a manual quick release of the pressure, or allow the pressure to come down naturally.
4.)  With an immersion blender or high-powered blender, blend the soup to your desired thickness, being cautious not to overprocess.  Potatoes can get a bit gummy if they are blended too much.
5.)  Season with salt and pepper, and serve warm topped with fresh herbs, nutritional yeast, and/or green onion.


Amy's Notes:

Sometimes I substitute one leek with one yellow onion or two bunches of green onions, depending on the price of leeks during the year and my pantry stock of onions.  I find the flavor to be just as nice, and save me a bit of money as well.

For the dried herbs, I like to mix it up from batch to batch, but I generally add at least 1 Tbsp total of dried herbs.  My favorite lately is Herbs de Provence, but you could also do a mixture of thyme, rosemary, fennel seeds, basil, oregano, parsley, marjoram, sage, etc.



Health and Happiness,

Amy


4.27.2015

Moving Weekend

This was a very exciting weekend!  We were able to move into our first house!

A few weeks ago, I gave you guys a sneak peek of some of the pictures I had of our house... and that garden with a "Cabana"!  I've spent many a nights leading up to our move cherishing these photos and trying to imagine how our stuff will look in them.  What pictures I'll hang on the wall (actually using levels for once to get everything just right).  How I will organize all of the kitchen cabinets (and teaching Kevin where everything goes this time so he has no excuses to not put away the washed dishes).  What colors I want to paint the walls (I actually have a few paint swatches hanging out in my purse that I pull out and admire in different lighting from day to day).  I know... I'm a big nerd.

I'll tell you right now.  I am not a good mover.  I grew up in the same house my whole life until I moved for college and then when Kevin and I were first married.  In total, I've moved about seven times in my whole life.  Kevin, on the other hand has moved nearly 20 times.  He moved many times as a kid in California because his dad was a real estate agent and was able to find them really cheap rent until certain houses sold.  His mom and him made it a game, so Kevin thoroughly enjoys moving.

I do not.  I hate the feeling of all my things in boxes not ready for me to grab when I need them.  I don't like the uncertainty of when those boxes will be unpacked someday.  I hate the anxiety of feeling temporarily homeless because a place doesn't feel like home until I unpack.

This move, however, felt a bit different.  I did get anxious from all of the chaos, but not nearly to the extent I have in the past.  I think the peace of mind of knowing that this is the last move for a long while made me more calm.


On Saturday, we finished packing up the apartment and cleaning a few things.  Then on Sunday, Kevin had several of his coworkers come (with trucks, yay!) to load up.  We ended up making it in two trips with four trucks and two cars.  We worked loading and unloading from 11 to 4, but we got it done!  We spent the rest of the evening unpacking (the kitchen for me, the tv room for Kevin), and were able to set up our bed in the spare room to sleep in (we are getting a new master bed set soon).


It was exhausting and exciting all rolled into one.  I ended up hitting my step count goal around 1 (10,000) and the majority of that was stairs since our apartment was on the 3rd floor.  After a long weekend, we are in and so excited to be home owners.  Hopefully (!) very soon I'll be able to start bringing you some new recipes from my own kitchen!


Health and Happiness,

Amy