February 22, 2011

Preaching 'bout Plastic

OK, preachy Samantha time. I appologize in advance... So my friend Kate of A Kate Day, is blogging about her 2011 commitments of reducing waste, limited driving and going vegan...HUGE kudos to her and her hubby Shane! She recently posted this video and I LOVED it so I wanted to impose share it with my readers!

To be completely honest I don't remember to bring by reusable shopping bags with me EVERY time I go to the store...I'm getting better, but alas I am human, and I would be lying to you all if I pretended that you will NEVER see me with a plastic bag.

One thing that I do struggle with is those little pesky plastic bags to put your fruit and veggies in. Lets face it I don't even pretend I can reuse them. And most of them get thrown out the second I unpack my groceries...so sad....

SO, I did a little research and found a great solution!!

Produce Bags for the Consumer

Belief Beyond Bags had created these handy light weight bags for carrying produce. For about $7 bucks you get three bags of two different sizes and piece of mind! I ordered mine today and will review for you when I get them...so excited!!

We can do it people!!! Less plastic!!! Yay!!

Pasta alla Puttanesca Sammy Style

Last Friday I had the wonderful pleasure of dinning at my dear friend Emily's house. When I walked in to her darling apartment a wonderful wonderful smell greeted me! I am not sure exactly what Emily cooked for us but I entered the ingredients in the handy google search bar and found Pasta alla Puttanesca. Apparently, Puttana is the Italian word for "whore," and legend has it that this dish was used by Neapolitan ladies of the night to entice potential clients to sample their other offerings. Naturally, I was intrigued. This dish does call for anchovies but states that to make it vegetarian you simply leave them out... I also Modified like crazy from the original recipe so let me share what I did....


1/4 cup olive oil
5 cloves of garlic (2 sliced, 3 diced)
Whole wheat pasta (any variety that tickles your fancy)
About 4- 5 tomatoes
About 8 callamata pitted olives, sliced
About 1 TBS Capers, rinsed
1 bunch fresh basil, chopped

1. Cook Pasta according to box directions
2. Begin to warm O.O in pan. Slice 2 of the cloves of garlic. Allow them to simmer away in OO until golden brown and then remove with a fork.
3. Add 3 cloves of diced garlic to OO, then Capers and tomatoes. Allow to simmer for a few minutes while the toms reduce and become more saucy. Add the olives and continue to simmer. I took this time to work on my salad and pasta.
4. Just before serving, add diced basil  to the tom sauce mixture. (it only needs to be in the heat for about 1 minute, then you can remove your sauce pan from the heat.

I served mine with a side salad with avocado and sunflower seeds and some yummy whole grain bread.
Bon Appetite!

This was REALLY yummy but I would like to state for the record that this was not exactly what Emily prepared and I liked hers more so I still have some work to do on this....

What Ill change next time.... I think Ill use about 1/2 to 3/4 the amount of O.O and substitute the rest with butter. As a general rule of thumb I don't cook with butter (hence I didn't have any in my house to use yesterday). But I really think a little butter would soften the stronger flavors in this dish and make it truly comforting. I also might sprinkle a little feta cheese on top of my pasta...Obviously these changes would mean it was no longer vegan.

My grandparents are in Seattle from England!! Woo Hoo!! I am going to cook them dinner on Friday night and I think I know whats on the menu.... :)

February 15, 2011

Valentine Schmoopies 2011!

Just wanted to share a picture of the beau and I at dinner last night. He made reservations at a great little Veg friendly local restaurant Mizuna. The food is so fresh and tasty. And make sure you ask for some bread!!
When are server came to the table Thor said "Erin!" and she said "Thor". Turns out they had worked together and went on a date ohhhh 13 years ago. A little v-day irony for ya! :)

I love this man so much and feel I am the luckiest girl in the world to be sat across the table from him on v-day. This is our 5th!!

February 14, 2011

Valentines DIY

 Here is a cute little easy V-day project to let that special someone know just how much you love them. I got this idea from Martha. Who doesn't love her??

OK so SUPER easy. Take ten red envelopes and glue the flap of one to the back bottom edge of another like so....

Cut out ten pretty pieces of paper that will fit your envelopes. Be creative here...I wanted to keep it simple so I just hole punched the bottom of my paper and threaded a ribbon through but you could cut into heart shapes, add scalloped edges etc...

Write something that you love about your sweetie on each card and insert it into one of the envelopes. Again, you can get a little more creative here and add photos, mementos, movie or dinner vouchers.....

Stack the cards up accordion style and package with a little ribbon tied in a bow. Ill let you know what he thinks later.... ;)

February 11, 2011

Full Circle and "The Big Salad"

The other day I had my first fruit and vegetable pick up from Full Circle Farm. You may of heard of the new movements to get fresh fruits and veggies from the farm to you table as quickly as possible. All of the produce is organic and they try to source it as locally as possible.
I know of two organizations in the Spokane area that do this. Other than Full Circle, there is also Bountiful Baskets. I believe Baskets is more of a government program that stations out-posts to local communities and Full Circle is based out of WA state and is mainly on the west coast. Full Circle offers only organic produce and you select between a standard box ($32) or a family box ($41). You pick it up at a designated location of your choice between about noon and 7pm on a Thursday.
Bountiful Baskets offers a "regular" basket ($15) or an organic basket ($25). You pick a location to pick it up on Saturday mornings, but you only have about a 15 minute window to collect your produce.
Both organizations are very flexible with your orders and you can select weekly or bi-weekly schedules. You can of course opt out whenever you wish.
I managed to find a $15 off code for Full circle Farms so decided to try it out and share that experience with you! (the code was Q13FOX in case you want to give it a shot).
Placing my order was easy peasy and I was able to select food that I wanted to permanently exclude from by boxes. Also, the weekend before pick-up day, I was able to log-in and see what I was going to be receiving and make some substitutions....pretty handy in menu planning!

Here is the cute box that I picked up from a local Spa in town. Cant wait to open it and see what my $18 bought me!!! By the way the smell is soooo good and fresh! 

Oh My!! Organic broccoli, green lettuce, kale, mushrooms, turnips, pears, oranges, tomatillos, cilantro, spinach, a cucumber and a mango! 

 I love seeing fresh soil on the ends of my spinach!!!

Due to lack of creativity and a great hunger I decided you use my new box of veggies to make a Big Salad (Seinfeld anyone?). I used many things from the box and also some things I had in the fridge already...

Green Lettuce
Clover Sprouts
Sunflower seeds (I actually intended to add these and forgot!)
Dressing of Choice (this salad tasted so vibrant and fresh it really needed very little dressing!)

I'm also thinking I want to use those tomatillos and Cilantro for a green salsa...Ill post this weekend :)

February 7, 2011

Weekend in Cali!

I LOVE to travel. AND I love to travel to places that are warm and beautiful. I normally love to return home too, but I must admit that this trip I was a little reluctant to land back in Spokane, maybe it was that we were only away for a weekend. But....I must give these winter blues the shake soon!

Regardless, Thor and I had a wonderful weekend get-away to Southern California. He is the best travel buddy ever! He is a wonderful companion on long flights and drives, we are able to keep each other laughing in the most mundane situations.

We left for this trip on a Thursday night. Since I didn't have any bags to check, Thor went on up to the baggage check solo. I saw him laughing and flirting with the little flight gals but figured this could only bode well for my future.....sure enough, first class upgrades!! Oh the benefits of having a handsome and charming boyfriend!

The flight into LAX was pleasant. Although I had to be reminded to use my "airplane voice" oops...I was excited!

The next day Thor had a work meeting which left me with a couple of hours to explore Long Beach, California solo. I had looked up a little Vegetarian Cafe that I wanted to check out ....it was amazing! Kinda  tucked away with a great little local atmosphere. The food was AMAZING with very good prices. It does make me a little disappointed to know that not only is vegetarian cuisine in Spokane a little harder to come by, but much more expensive.

After my very enjoyable lunch, I strolled around downtown and was lucky enough to find a farmers market! So fun to see the different vendors and take in the atmosphere.

From there I headed down to the docking area to grab a couple of quick pics with the Queen Mary Ship and such. A nice man saw me trying to take pics of myself and offered to help me out. He was so sweet and talking to me about what the different things around were. When I asked him what he was up to today, he told me that he was homeless and a little bit of his story. My heart continues to hurt for that sweet man....

It was now time for me to head back to the hotel to meet up with Thor for our drive to Santa Barbara. SO, being very intelligent tourists we decided to drive from LA to Santa Barbara at about 330 on a Friday afternoon.....yup anyone familiar with Southern Cali is likely laughing at us right now...and we deserve it.The good news is we got to enjoy each other company and chat about life, with the windows rolled down while we sat between various bumpers for a few hours..... At least there was a beautiful sunset.... :)

In Santa Barbara we stayed with a client/friend of Thors. In the mornings we would wake up, pick some oranges from the tree in the yard, squeeze them for juice, and then drink the fresh OJ while listening to birds outside..... I cant even tell you how wonderful that was. We also took some time to check out downtown, eat at a natural cafe (I love the heathy CA food options!!!), and head to the BEACH!

There is something just magical about the ocean. The rhythm of waves, the unending horizon, the smell, the sound, the power......very therapeutic to the soul. We also watched a man play Frisbee with his dog. The pure joy, excitement and never-ending energy of the dog for his Frisbee was so charming. Why can't we all find joy so simply?

The next day was a drive back to LA and on home to Spokane....I must admit that when the pilot announced that due to fog and snow in Spokane, landing might be compromised, I hoped that maybe we could just go back to California??