Monday, November 15, 2010

Playing Catch-Up

I am so proud of Roger's newly developed farming skills. He comes from a long line of city folks, so it is a major accomplishment that he can grow anything in my opinion. This spring mix he harvested Saturday morning for us to take to the market was the most beautiful I had ever seen, and delicious to boot. Am I blessed, or what?

I never got a blog out last week, and now I'm very disoriented! I also have two week's worth of beast reviews, so I think I'll get those on here first so that I don't have to worry about them anymore.

2 weeks ago box (delivered 10/30/10)

tomatillo salsa 5.56
almond butter cacao cups 5.50
Tamales 5.06
almond butter smoothie base 5.00
Hoisin sauce 4.86
caramel bars 4.63
soul dates 4.63
ensalada 4.57
chili lime corny chips 4.29
onion flat bread 4.20
Mu Shu Filling 4.00
Taco soup 3.93
Thai salad 3.92
chili mac topping w/ cheese sauce 3.86
cottage cheese 3.58

Some people may be wondering why some of the scores are higher than 5.0 when 5's are the highest score. There are 2 reasons for this: one is that some people like these items so much they give them higher scores than 5 to indicate this. When I average them, they raise the overall score, sometimes higher than 5 (especially when most of the other scores were high). Generally when someone likes something well enough to give it a higher than 5 score, everyone else liked it too.

The second reason there are scores higher than 5 is how much it bugs Darius. hehehe. You'd have to know how OCD he is to understand why... I know, he doesn't seem like the type, does he? Well, he's an engineer by trade, and they tend to be a little neurotic about their numbers. All of the numbers are legit, but I do enjoy averaging in those higher than 5 scores!

We're pretty happy about everything being above a 3.5. Of course, we'd love to have everything above a 4, but we see a three as average, as in "I like it all right, but I like this other thing better."

now for last week: 11/06/10

crunchmeister 5.83
Waldorf salad topping 5.75
raspberry granola 5.42
Asian salad 5.33
key lime pie 5.30
creamy broccoli soup 4.88
date bars 4.75
sushi & dipping sauce 4.42
stir fry 4.42
parsnip rice 4.33
enchiladas w/ sauces, cheese 4.25
lasagna layered veggies 4.10
everyday bread 3.70

So there it is. Some surprises. I always think it is funny when the stuff we just think is okay scores high, and the stuff we love doesn't do as well as other things.

We're pretty stoked about our menu for Thanksgiving. We've actually been working on it for several weeks (the menu, not the food). We finally decided on having a regular beast box that week that would be delivered 2 days early on Wednesday. Since some won't be having Thanksgiving vegan style, we decided to make an add-on with the holiday foods (stuffing, sweet potato souffle, and cranberry relish). Included in the weekly beast box will be some marinated portabello "steaks", braised greens, and mashed no-taters that can be used for any meal if one didn't want to eat it on Thanksgiving. Then we're going to load the rest of the box with LIGHT food so we can come down off the feasting!

The management of the Beaver Street Market has come to us twice in the last few weeks to ask us to extend the number of days we are there. They had asked us before, but they are really pushing for it now. Since we physically could not do it and keep up everything we normally do, we have not known what to do. There is a critical factor in that the market does not generate enough revenue to seriously consider it as a viable business decision, but we are wondering how many more people we could reach if we were able to be there most of the week. We'll have to wait and see if things fall into place.

I also owe the blog readers a couple of recipes. One of our customers really doesn't like any of the soups in the beast box. I think this might be 1) people like their soup hot, and 2) soups are best made fresh. We'd like a little more feed-back on this from our readers who have also eaten our soups so we know whether to keep working on this. Here's a nice soup to help lighten the load of the heavier foods everyone is eating this time of year:

Cucumber Soup

4 medium cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and shredded


2 bunches celery juiced with leaves for 2 cups juice
⅔ cup tahini
6 T lemon juice
2 cloves garlic
1 t sea salt
½ t white pepper

Blend the broth well and stir in your shredded cucumber.

This is good topped with chopped scallions, diced avocado, and/or diced tomato. If you decide to heat this soup, please do so gently so as to preserve as many enzymes as possible.

Another recipe we are asked for a lot is our kale salad. This is another recipe that we think tastes better made fresh, so you won't see it in our beast boxes very often.

Savory Kale Salad

1 head kale, shredded
1 c tomato, diced
1 c avocado, chopped
2 ½ T olive oil
1 ½ T lemon juice
1 t sea salt
½ t cayenne

Mix all ingredients together, squeezing as you mix to wilt the kale and creaming the avocado. Serve immediately. We also like it with a little chopped sweet and/or green onion (but we like onions in everything).

We had a group over for a church activity this week, and we were excited to see how they'd like our vegan menu since they were meat eaters. We served tamales made with no-bean and marinated mushrooms, tomatillo salsa, crema, cotija (sesame parm), ensalada, creamy cabbage, veggie crisps, rooibos tea, and caramel bars. Either it went over pretty well, or they were very polite. I think the men wondered what they were eating, but they didn't say anything. The women all knew our lifestyle and had been pretty curious about it, so they asked a lot of questions. I think the main message we would like to get across is that raw vegan food can be good. At the market, we have learned that a lot of the vegan food that people have tried has not been very appetizing, so they are leary about trying it again. They are usually pleasantly surprised when they try some of our dishes.

I often wonder what it will take for people to eat more plant foods. As one of our customers put it last week, "God created them for us to eat not just look at and think 'Boy, they sure are pretty.'" In fact, they are as beautiful as they are so that we would be enticed into eating them. Imagine the garden of Eden where Adam and Eve were salivating over a pomegranate just coming into season or the first tangerine of the year the way we did last month. (I wonder if they even had seasons...Did everything just spring forth spontaneously regardless of the time of the year?)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Rough Times Ahead!

Rough times ahead for everyone. I don't believe there is any way around it. I don't know anyone that is not struggling in at least one area of their lives, and many feel their lives are in complete chaos. How do we find a safe harbor?

It seems we have an inability to cope with our difficult circumstances. More and more people are using prescription medications to help them deal with the stress of everyday life. The non-legal coping mechanisms continue to thrive as well and are out of control. Is that what our Creator had in mind when He sent us to earth? Was life here on earth so difficult that the only way through it was to be numbed?

I personally spent a lot of years numbing myself with food. When I hurt, I ate. When I didn't want to think about something, I ate. When I didn't want to think about coping in a different way, I ate so I wouldn't have to think about it. (I can still remember having panic attacks everytime I watched The Biggest Loser. I would literally eat myself into an oblivion while watching the show. I guess I was worrying about what my life would be like without the foods they taught needed to be eliminated.)

I have known I was a compulsive overeater for many years. In fact, I attended a 12 step program in the early 80's and was successful in overcoming some of my problems. After moving back here however, I let my program slip. (I have lots of good excuses for why, but I digress...) It wasn't long before I was using the food again to help me forget my "pain". (I say it that way because I, unlike many others, have not had a horrible life that has given me difficult things to bear. In fact, I have had a wonderful life with a wonderful family. I suppose I am just a wimp in that I cannot cope with the stress of day-to-day life without using my drug of choice.)

When we discovered the lifesyle of eating mostly living foods could help us maintain a level of health previously unknown, we were unprepared for the emotional impact this would have on each of us. No longer would we have our crutches that had served us so willingly for so many years. We were forced to actually deal with the pain of everyday living. We found we did not know how to do this. All of my life, I had "used" so that I didn't have to do this. I didn't even know what really feeling my emotions would be like.

Actually where we see this the most is with our grandchildren. Because they live with us, they adopted our lifestyle choices along with us. I can see in them how difficult this change is. As little people who do not have a strong emotional base anyway, they are totally unable to deal with their feelings in constructive ways. Because they have had difficult things happen in their lives, they have a lot to deal with, a lot more than I have ever had. I really don't know how they do it without a crutch especially since they don't have the tools to which adults have access.

While thinking of this, I found myself asking this question: If we were not supposed to have to be numbed while living here, what tools do we have exactly that can help us climb that mountain? Being a religious person, I found comfort in several examples in the scriptures of people who moved ahead and even endured to the end. I also found comfort in knowing that the Savior had endured all pains and had taken all my burdens upon Him. Why then did I have to hurt?

I remember something my youngest son told me when I was struggling. How could we hope to have anything great in this life or the next if we did not have to pay any kind of price for it? Personal growth does not come in being perfect - it comes in the effort to be perfect. Once perfect we would stop growing. How grateful we should be for the challenge then!

I had to find the exact quote from my son(it's from Neal A. Maxwell):
“How can you and I really expect to glide naively through life, as if to say, Lord, give me experience, but not grief, not sorrow, not pain, not opposition, not betrayal, and certainly not to be forsaken. Keep from me, Lord, all those experiences which made Thee what Thou art! Then let me come and dwell with Thee and fully share Thy joy!” (Ensign, May 1991, 88).

Time to find out what kind of cloth I really am cut from. I am always telling others, "It is never as bad as we think it is going to be." You'd think I'd believe it as many times as I've said it. We just build it up so much in our mind that it seems insurmountable. Well, it's not. There's nothing we can't handle one step at a time. It's when we quit moving ahead that we falter.

Here's our beast box scores for last week (not too many items make it to the top that are not desserts!):

tomato chewies 5.50
marshmallow cream cheese (fruit dip) 5.14
Caesar salad 5.00
honey almond butter 5.00
All Am Veggie Burger 4.71
rawky road 4.64
creamy spinach soup 4.57
zucchini nests (for pizza) 4.43
veggie crisps 4.43
macadamia ricotta 4.33
Alfredo sauce 4.14
tangy coleslaw 4.14
sweet potato chips 3.86
living taco fixins 3.57

We were pleased with these scores (none lower than a 3.5). Once again, it is a lot of fun experimenting with recipes we have been collecting and thinking about but have not had much time or room in the fridge for.

Recipe this week - the smoothie base from last week was a big hit, and here's the recipe:

4 tablespoons coconut oil
2 teaspoon lecithin
2 teaspoon vanilla
2 pinches sea salt
2 cups cacao nibs
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 ½ cups agave nectar
1 almond mylk recipe

Mix well. Blend 1 cup of this base with 2 frozen bananas.

Almond Mylk

2 cups almonds, soaked 4 - 6 hours
8 cups water

Blend well and strain.