Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Going Green(s)

During the month of August, Geoff and I accomplished one of the 28 goals - we spent a month being vegetarian.  We have been trying for a while to limit our meat consumption.  After a month or more of eating very poorly while I was finishing my dissertation writing, we decided August would be a great month to go for it.  The added bonus of August is that it is such a peak time for produce at the local farmers markets so it is much easier not to eat meat.  Tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini and now all of these gorgeous apples:

We found that being vegetarian at home was never a problem.  There are a lot of fantastic recipes out there for delicious, satisfying vegetarian meals.  A few of our favorites recipes are linked to below:

BBQ Bean Burgers - delicious topped with avocado
Mushroom and Spinach Enchiladas - I add a LOT of serrano peppers, but that is just me
Greek Lasagna - double the eggplant
Veggie Chili - the only way I make chili now
Huevos Rancheros - I've made it a few different ways, basically just pile up tortillas, beans, over easy eggs and hot sauce and you can't go wrong in my book
Ratatouille - very easy in the crockpot, top it with feta
Zucchini Fritters Stuffed w/ Goat Cheese - recommended and zucchini supplied by Laurel, they don't need the sauce
Greens Tart with Spelt Crust - the spelt crust will blow you away

The real difficulty, we found, was in eating out.  I had never before noticed how many restaurants have six ways of preparing chicken on their menu and only one vegetarian dish.  When we ate out, it was usually Chinese because there were more options.  We've decided to wait a while before we try going fully vegan for a week - honestly, the idea sort of overwhelms me in terms of finding really great vegan meals (you'll notice that most of the above contain cheese!).

Although it is nice to be able to go out and eat meat at restaurants, we're still eating mostly vegetarian at home with a heavy influence of seafood, some chicken, and occasionally beef or pork.  Since our primary reason for this type of diet is minimizing our ecological footprint, I've been focusing on trying to buy sustainable seafood (I just downloaded the Monterrey Bay Aquariums iPhone app for checking out which seafood are sustainable while on the go).  Additionally, there are a number of local farmers who sell reasonably priced, locally pasture-raised meat so I'm trying to buy most meat there and my milk and cheese from the cows in this barn:

Well, not from the cows, from the people who milk them.

And that brings me to the final addition to my 28 goals list: buy 50% Local.  Mostly, this applies to food, but as much as possible, I would like to patronize local stores, even if it requires a few more stops.  This afternoon, Geoff and I headed to the farmer's market on the grounds of the Pennsylvania Military Museum and came back with 75% of the things on the grocery list - plus some bonus pears.

Notice the tank in between the market stalls.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

End of Summer

The end of summer has been a little unusual for me this year.  For the past 25 years, summer has ended when I either started classes or started teaching.  For the first time in my memory, neither of those things is happening this September.  Nevertheless, the nights are getting colder and fall is most decidedly around the corner.  To cap off my summer, I had an AMAZING Labor Day weekend.

On Saturday morning, I got up at 8:30 to catch a bus down to the football stadium for my first ever Penn State football game which I felt was something that I just had to experience before I left.  My awesome friend Tracy had an extra ticket and took me along to the pre-game and post-game tailgate hosted by a friend of hers.  The noon game meant that the pre-game tailgating involved cinnamon rolls baked in a propane-fueled oven on the back of a pick-up truck.  And don't think that we were the only ones tail-gating at 9am.  Penn State fans are nothing if not dedicated.  The stadium (which seats well over 100,000 individuals) was about 3/4 full for this game but that still means that 75,000 people were there!

It was chilly and windy but we had a great time watching Penn State win 44-7 over the Youngstown State Penguins.  I never did figure out where they got that mascot.  The Star Trek tribute at half time was particularly awesome.

After the game, more tailgating, this time with burgers and beers.  Then I had to head home to get ready for Laurel's birthday party and the Wilcox Hotel Reunion show!!!!  Laurel loves animals and so I made her some birthday cookies with woodland creatures cookie cutters I found at IKEA.

I took the pictures quickly on the way out the door so if you can't tell there is a moose, a squirrel, a bear, a wolf, a snail, and a porcupine.  My favorite is the porcupine because of how I was able to make the spines.  If I have more time to devote to these cookie cutters in the future, I'll definitely want to add more details, but I sort of enjoy the simplicity of just the plain icing and eyes.

 The Wilcox Hotel show was phenomenal.  So many of our friends were back in town and I think we were all purely euphoric.  The rough thing about any college town is that most people are transitory and so most of my good friends from Penn State have already moved on to other jobs all over the country.  Having so many of them back and hearing Wilcox play took me back to Spring 2008 when we were all together and going to Wilcox shows twice a week.  Is it weird to be nostalgic for two years ago?  I didn't get many good pictures, but everyone had a phenomenal time.  It sounded something like this:

I forget how spoiled I am to always have Geoff around playing music and in particular to get to go watch him play great music like this with our awesome friends who I love and miss.  We didn't get to see them for long enough as almost everyone left on Sunday, but our friend Maria is in town from Mexico for a while so we got to hang out on Monday for a relaxed evening of grilling and bocce.  A great end to a fantastic weekend.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Nookie Monster

This is me and the "Nookie Monster" who lives in the nook at the State College Spikes baseball field and comes out when we score a run.  My department went to the game last night and this was the last time we saw the Nookie Monster.  Oh Spikes - when your mascot is a juvenile deer, perhaps this is the most ferocity we can expect.
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