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My New Signature Pizza and the Cactus Show

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I’m ready to declare this my signature pizza:Untitled

  • thin crust
  • olive oil
  • apricot preserves
  • roasted garlic
  • rainbow chard (heat a little olive oil over medium head, add chard, fry (covered, stirring occasionally) for approximately 10 minutes until pleasantly soft, add salt and pepper to taste)
  • a little parmesan
  • smoked gouda
  • thinly sliced brie (I remove the rind)

So good. It’s kind of similar to the last pizza I made with chard, although that one is a lot more work.

Sorry the only picture I have is the bad one I just took of the microwaved leftovers at work (the other slice has red sauce, roasted garlic, yellow peppers, onions, and parmesan/mozzarella/gouda).

We went to the Colorado Cactus and Succulent Society show at the Botanic Gardens yesterday. It was cool. We bought a cactus that’s winter hardy and will allegedly grow to be 5 feet tall. We also got the guy below, who was picked out by Soren. I have a thing for cacti/succulents in glass containers, if that can be considered a thing.

another silly photo of usat the Botanic GardensUntitledUntitled

Written by Tracy

March 18th, 2013 at 2:11 pm

Stuffed Artichokes

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Have you made stuffed artichokes? Until today, I never had. We used to get them all the time when we lived in Oak Park. There was one place in particular — a little sandwich/pizza place called Massa in Elmwood Park, IL — that made awesome stuffed artichokes. (They’re still open, but I don’t see stuffed artichokes on the menu. If you’re in the Elmwood Park area and you enjoy panini, I recommend the Giardino (seasoned grilled eggplant & zucchini, roasted red pepper, Portabella mushrooms, provolone cheese, leaf spinach, red onions, Roma tomatoes & basil pesto mayo) no mushrooms of course because mushrooms are gross.

Anyway, we hadn’t had stuffed artichokes since we lived in Illinois, so it’s been what, almost 10 years now. Holy crap I can’t believe we’ve been living in Colorado for almost 10 years. We never found a place in Denver that has stuffed artichokes and they seemed like a total pain in the ass to make, so we just forgot about them.

Until artichokes showed up in our weekly produce bin and instead of swapping them for something else I figured it’s about damn time we tried making stuffed artichokes. So tonight we did and . . . holy shit. Do you ever do that thing where you eat something really, really good and you kind of roll your eyes back into your head and say “Oh my god” several times? Homemade stuffed artichokes might make you do that. They’re exactly as good as the ones you get at a restaurant.

The good news is they’re not bad to make. The trick is to focus on stuffing the center of the artichoke and the outer leaves really well, and be okay with the fact that there will be some leaves in the middle that won’t get stuffed. When you’re eating them, you really won’t care.

As always, I took a shitty iPhone picture of my food.

stuffed artichokes

The other good news is I found a recipe on the internet that’s pretty much perfect from Saveur (here), so I don’t have to sit here and write a new recipe. The only adjustments we made were: add oregano and bake for 60 minutes. Also our artichokes were on the small size but we still used four and had the right amount of  filling and we forgot to broil after sprinkling cheese on top, but oh well. We made bread crumbs by baking a few slices of homemade French bread at 350 until dried and then crunching them up using a bowl and a cup mortar-and-pestle style.

If you’ve ever had even the slightest desire to make stuffed artichokes, you should totally do it. So good.

Written by Tracy

February 17th, 2013 at 8:33 pm

Posted in and life,Food

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WTF do I do with this baby bok choy?

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Toasted sesame noodle salad

Well, the title of this post is kind of a lie because I’m not going to tell you exactly what to do with baby bok choy, or at least I’m not going to tell you exactly what I did with it tonight, because I used a recipe from a cookbook and didn’t make any changes to it and I’m not a plagiarist so I’m not going to reprint it here. I don’t know why I’m such a stickler about these things when we live in a world where nobody cares about food blogger plagiarism (not that I’m a food blogger) and food blogger plagiarists are known to be widely adored and get book deals and six-figure advances. But whatever, I’m many things but I’m no plagiarist.

Anyway, you don’t even need a recipe to cook bok choy. It’s a very forgiving vegetable, surprisingly mellow and delicious. Soren loves it, or at least he pretends he does even though when faced with it, he scrunches up his face and says he doesn’t want to eat it. (The other day someone asked him what his friends were named and the first thing he said was “Bok choy!”) You can stir fry it with pretty much anything, like tofu or Gardein Mandarin Orange Crispy Chick’n.

Tonight I made the Toasted Sesame Noodle Salad from Totally Vegetarian: Easy, Fast, Comforting Cooking for Every Kind of Vegetarian by Toni Fiore (no affiliate link). I’ve mentioned this book before and it’s really good — we’ve never made anything from it that wasn’t awesome. It’s a basic noodle salad with a tamari, sweet chili sauce, and ginger (it’s always a good idea to have fresh ginger in the house) dressing and scallions and cilantro. I added baby bok choy, which I thinly sliced and fried in a little oil first, and tofu, which I baked ahead of time.

The thing I’ve learned about tofu is that, unless you’re making tofu scram, you want to prepare the tofu ahead of time because otherwise it’s Tuesday evening and you’re making dinner and you don’t feel like dealing with the tofu in addition to everything else you’re doing. This time, I baked the tofu on Sunday night (based on this recipe) — thinly sliced and placed on an oiled baking sheet (I oil generously enough to coat one side of each slice of tofu and then flip it over so the result it that it’s oiled on both sides; seasoned with a drizzle of Bragg’s liquid aminos, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder; baked at 400 for 20 minutes on each side; refrigerated until needed and then cut into smaller pieces and thrown in with the bok choy when it was almost done cooking so the tofu wouldn’t be cold. The result is a super-firm texture even people like Ben who are very picky about texture, in particular the texture of tofu, will enjoy.

The noodle salad was one of the best things I’ve had to eat in a while. So good. Soren and Ben really liked it, too. The recipe makes a lot and I suspect this is the kind of thing that’ll taste even better the next day (the recipe says to let it sit for a few hours, which I didn’t do), so it’ll provide a few awesome lunches. This is good because as much as I’m all about homemade food, I sometimes eat frozen meals (organic, but still) at the office.
Also, here’s a conversation with Soren from earlier tonight:

Soren: Mommy, what do you do at school?
Me: I don’t go to school. Do you mean what do I do at work?
Soren: Yeah!
Me: I’m an editor.
Soren: What’s an editor?
Me: Well, I take things people have written and make them better.
Soren: Oh okay. . . . Mommy, what’s written?

How would you explain your job to a 3-year-old?

Written by Tracy

February 12th, 2013 at 8:05 pm

Cheese & 70s-ish Music

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Put cream cheese on your pizza OMG!!

I’m sorry I keep using all these filters on my crappy iPhone photos. It’s not even Instagram, because I don’t have the patience for that shit. I’ve been using Camera+ and Flickr filters because I feel like it maybe makes it seem like I don’t care that I’m just taking crappy iPhone photos instead of getting out an actual camera, making an effort to take a good picture (which requires setting up lighting OMG), plugging the camera into the computer, and blah blah blah I’m a total lazy ass. Anyway, the point of this photo, which you’re probably totally missing thanks to the filter and a mass of unnecessary words, is that you should put cream cheese on your pizza. Holy shit. My ideal cheese blend for pizza is now as follows: mozzarella, parmesan, cheddar, and cream cheese. It’s hard to distribute cream cheese onto a pizza, though. Ben tried to grate it, which didn’t work, so he cut off little pieces, which ended up more blobby than he would like (I, on the other hand, totally approve of blobbiness). Next time, he’s going to try freezing a block of cream cheese for 1/2 an hour or so and then grating it. I’ll keep you posted (thrilling!).

Also this song is great and you already know this but I can’t wait until summer when we can do things like drink beer outside at Tour de Fat. February is Cabin Fever Month.

Written by Tracy

February 9th, 2013 at 8:25 pm

Posted in and life,Food,Music

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Cheese Sauce for Nachos Recipe

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homemade nachos

As a result of trying to eat better food and avoid GMOs, hormones, and other icky stuff, we no longer consume Velveeta. It’s not like we consumed much Velveeta before — the only time I ever used it was in nachos, because when making nachos, you need a very creamy, melty cheese in addition to shredded cheese to attain the proper creamy-melty-cheesy-deliciousness ratio for amazing nachos.

Can I take a minute to say that I hope I don’t sound smug when I talk about food? As a vegetarian, I know there’s already a chance of smugness when I talk about food. Whenever you say you don’t eat something, it almost always seems like you’re doing a little disdainful sniff after saying what you don’t eat. Like:

  • I don’t eat meat. *disdainful sniff*
  • I don’t eat processed foods. *disdainful sniff*
  • I don’t have celiac disease but I avoid gluten. *disdainful sniff*

I guess saying you don’t eat something comes off as smug because what’s implied is that you know better than to eat that or you’re kind of judgy about what other people eat. Or something. It’s just one of those things that bothers me, so I try not to do it. Obviously, there are lots of things I don’t eat because of my philosophy, but I try to focus on what I do eat rather than what I don’t, first because I find it more constructive and second because one of my worst fears (as a hippie liberal vegetarian) is coming off as smug and self-satisfied.

Speaking of smug, I was reading a vegan starter guide the other day and I was almost strangled with the smugness. I’ve been having some thoughts about going vegan (although as you can see from the middle of a post about cheese sauce, I’m not there yet, and I regret to inform you that my first attempt at homemade vegan ice cream was not all I dreamed it would be) and was checking out the vegan starter guide to see if there was anything useful and/or inspirational. What I remember most about it was the thing about what to do with leather goods you already own. First off let me say that even if I become a die-hard, dedicated vegan, there’s no way in hell I’m getting rid of almost all my shoes because building even a limited a new shoe wardrobe is not a good financial move for me at this time. So right off the bat, I really don’t care what the vegan starter guide thinks I should do with my shoes. But I read it anyway. It said something about how sure, that pair of boots isn’t causing additional suffering to animals, but maybe you should ask yourself why you think it’s okay to wear the body parts of a dead animal in the name of fashion. That kind of smugness is hugely off-putting to me. Ugh.

Speaking of vegan shoes, how do I start designing them? Vegan shoes have come a long way, but there’s still much more progress to be made. I think I could contribute in this area. Maybe someone would Kickstart me.

Anyway, back to the cheese — specifically, creamy, melty cheese for nachos. I thought a cheese sauce might work. And it did! And here’s how you do it.

Recipe: Cheese Sauce for Nachos


I’d say this makes enough for a 4-5 serving platter of nachos.

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 generous cup shredded cheddar
  • salt and pepper to taste


In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Sprinkle in the flour and cook, stirring for a minute. Add the milk and cook, stirring, until thickened a bit. Remove from heat and stir in the cheddar until melted and smooth. Stir in salt and pepper. That’s it! It’s super easy. Use this in your nachos (recipe here) instead of Velveeta. Enjoy!

Written by Tracy

February 4th, 2013 at 10:27 am

Posted in and life,Food

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Things We Make Instead of Buying

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Green juice

So we’ve started juicing and it’s pretty much the greatest thing, ever. I want to have this green juice in particular every day for the rest of my life. I know correlation does not imply causation, but when I drink it, I almost feel like I’m on some sort of natural Adderall. I feel energetic and able to focus and really, really good. I follow this recipe from Choosing Raw exactly. I wasn’t sure green juice would be delicious, but it is.

The only downside of juicing is that it’s expensive. Aside from the juicer, you need a ton of produce. We already get a ton of produce every week and now we need even more if I’m going to have my green juice every day. Ben originally wanted to get a juicer because he thought it would be a good way to use our leftover produce each week but man, I’m kind of obsessed and am going to want more than that. Side note: I’m planning to grow a billion cucumbers this summer.

Making juice got me thinking about stuff we make that we used to buy, and I figured I should do an update on that. We’re still avoiding GMOs and trying to be simple and natural and healthy as much as possible. The good news is that the more we make stuff, the more it seems natural to make stuff, if that makes sense. It doesn’t seem tedious or overwhelming or anything — it feels good.

So here’s a list, with links to recipes (mine or other people’s) when available:

We’ve always made our own coffee (we grind beans and use a drip coffee maker or occasionally a French press or Toddy). We also make stuff like salad dressing, pie crust/baked goods, and granola . . . and probably other stuff I’m forgetting, too.

With all this making stuff, we have several single-purpose small appliances in our kitchen, which can get annoying: juicer, ice cream maker, bread machine, coffee maker, coffee grinder, deep fryer, rice cooker, in addition to several general small appliances: microwave, electric griddle, crock pot, food processor, stand mixer, toaster oven, blender (which we never use). We also have a waffle iron (got free) and a donut maker (gift) we haven’t used yet. Why have I not made donuts? I have no idea. I should get on that!

Up next on my to-make list: waffles (Soren loves waffles for breakfast and I’d like to make and freeze some instead of buying frozen waffles), pickles (with garden cucumbers), and more cleaning products. Maybe hot sauce. And one day soon, I’d like to make beer. It’s crazy that we haven’t done that yet.

Written by Tracy

January 27th, 2013 at 3:31 pm

High Fives and Stir Fry

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Soren interprets “don’t walk” signs as high fives, so this morning on our way to school, I had to high-five him every time we saw one. We drive right through downtown Denver, where we still have the ridiculous all-way walk situation, which I thought they were doing away with, so we stop a lot and see a lot of don’t walk signs and, as a result, high five a lot.

Do you know about the all-way walk situation? When you’re at an intersection, there’s a time when cars going in both directions (usually this is the intersection of two one-way streets) have red lights and pedestrians can walk in any direction. This is nice when you’re a pedestrian and you can do a diagonal street cross, but is annoying for cars. Unless you’re really into high fives, which I totally am.

stir fry

We had an awesome, super-easy stir fry for dinner tonight. Ben made it. This is remarkable because, although Ben is an excellent cook, one time he put beer in stir fry, which is even worse than it sounds, so he’s kind of been banned from making it for years.

Tonight, though, he kept it simple: Gardein Mandarin Orange Chick’n (you could use tofu instead), baby bok choy, broccoli, green onions, oil, pepper, garlic powder, and tamari (always better than soy sauce, in my opinion). Garnish with Sriracha, serve over rice. I ate what you see in the photo and then had more. It was freaking awesome.

Written by Tracy

January 11th, 2013 at 7:33 pm

Posted in and life,babies are silly,Food

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