Thursday, June 24, 2010

Artsy weekend

Hello, last second! I've been ridiculously busy the past two weeks, but I wanted to pop in quickly to say that this is my big weekend. Tonight, we open our production of The Misanthrope:

And Saturday is the Alliday Show:

Come see me! Lots of love!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Salad Challenge Day 7

Sunday was the final installment of my Salad Challenge, and I pulled it off, despite Dilly Deli’s always enticing Michael Roy sandwich. Instead, I ordered the Rayzor salad and added a grilled portobello mushroom:



I either misread the menu or they decided to give me a little extra somethin’ by sprinkling shredded cheese on top. Basic yellow fromage does nothing for me, though, so I happily picked the little pieces off. I should have photographed the resulting pile, which looked quite silly.

So, thus ends the challenge. Six of my seven salads fit the bill. Three were absolutely delicious, three were serviceable, and one I will not make again. I’m glad I did the experiment, and I may try it again in a couple of weeks – after play rehearsals are over. When I have more time to do prep work, I know the results will be more interesting. However, my overall goal of cleaning up my eating habits was mostly achieved, so that’s the good news. I do plan to carry that over into the rest of the summer.

Thanks for watching and for playing along at home!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Salad Challenge Day 6

I broke my own rules today, but I'm OK with it. Let me rewind.

I won two tickets to yesterday's Wine, Women and Shoes event: "From Manolo to Merlot: Fashion Show, Luncheon & Shopping." (Have I before properly expressed my deep love for TashaDoesTulsa?) Like a truly hip, swinging twentysomething, I brought my mom. For several hours, we sampled different wines, tried on shoes, mingled and had a ball. We also shopped a little to benefit the YWCA. I'll be picking up a tasty bottle of cabernet sauvignon next week, and Mom and I both when home with even T-shirts and amazing shoes. I have another big event to go to Sunday, and somehow I ended up buying two new dresses, so I wore one today:

I love this dress! I won't annoyingly rub in exactly the amazing deal I got on this vintage-inspired Calvin Klein beauty, but it was pretty impressive. I also bought the shoes on sale at Macy's, and the "sash" is the last batik scarf I made with a brooch my grandmother gave me in the center.

Grey caught me all windblown. :)

Anyway, as a last-minute addition, I was not able to request a special-diet meal in advance, so when I saw the menu was a salad topped with chicken, I just asked that mine be brought out meatless. Normally I don't mind raising a bit of a fuss, but in a room full of people who paid $75 for their tickets and I feel like the kid who sneaks in, I decided to be grateful for what I got. Since I'm not actually a full-time vegan, I have chosen adaptability over pickiness in this instance. Here was the lunch salad:

The picture was not actually taken inside a cave, I promise. It was just dark in there, and I used my camera phone. It was Bibb lettuce, cherry tomatoes, black beans, corn, avocado, pepperjack cheese, and these delicious tortilla strips. There was chipotle ranch to go on top. I only used a very small amount, but it had a wonderful bite. I want to thank the waitstaff for getting me my chicken-less order quickly even though it was a last-minute request!

OK, Sunday is the last day. Look for more fancy-dress photos in addition to a final salad that will meet my own rules. :)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Salad Challenge Days 4 and 5

I decided to be a bit adventurous with today’s salad. I had a salad shaker from Whole Foods a week or two ago that featured quinoa and black beans. I enjoyed it greatly, and thus this week’s entry was born. It’s not identical, of course, but I wanted to try cooking quinoa for the first time. Here’s what I came up with:

Before you is a combination of quinoa, black beans and corn topped with juice from half a lime, a drizzle of olive oil, what I thought was a ton of cumin but really isn’t, salt, pepper and, my exciting mystery ingredient: epazote! Anyone else who enjoys watching Rick Bayless cook from his impossibly awesome house has undoubtedly noted his affection for this Central and South American herb, which he gathers fresh from his impossibly awesome garden. I’ve always been interested in trying it, thanks to him, but had never seen it in any supermarkets or plant stores. On Saturday’s farmers market, it appeared! The grower said it hadn’t occurred to her to bring it to market until a customer mentioned she wanted some. It just grows crazily in her back yard. The moment I saw it, I knew I’d have to plop over the measly buck for a bunch of the stuff.

So, yes, back to the salad itself. This is not my most impressive concoction ever, but I like that it has a good amount of protein, a great dose of magnesium (which helps control migraines), and a wollop of fiber. The flavor is only a step up from bland – I should have bathed it in cumin and added garlic – with the exception of the bites containing epazote. It has such an interesting flavor. The bite is akin to parsley, but the actual flavor is vaguely licorice-y, but in a good way. It’s apparently an anti-flatulent, too, so it pairs well with beans. :)

As an aside, quinoa goes from a little bit of raw grain to enough to feed an army when cooked, so I had some last night topped with zucchini (from a friend’s garden) sautéed in garlic and olive oil and some Italian seasoning. That was pretty dern amazing, much better than today’s salad. I am a big quinoa fan now, and I’m currently looking for new ways to eat it.

And today I enjoyed one of my favorite salads at Tulsa's Dragon Moon Tea Co.:

Soba noodles, cabbage, red pepper, jalapeno, green onion, carrots and a dressing of peanut oil, sesame seeds, soy sauce, and some "mystery" ingredients formed this delicious thing. The cheese-coated things atop did not end up in my belly.

Just two more days of salad-y goodness! I hope some of you are playing along at home.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Salad Challenge Day 3

My company has started a new wellness program. To be honest, I’m not sure anyone knows what it is going to be, but to kick it off, folks from one of the local hospitals are on-site today and next Wednesday to do health screenings. I got one done today, even though I knew I’d be stabbed poked with a needle. It was only a finger prick, though, and I was brave. There were no tears, no hyperventilation, and no amusing stories to tell about getting whiplash from passing out. The news is excellent: all my stats are normal! This was my first cholesterol test, and my total is 126 with my HDL being 58 (ideal numbers are <> 55 for women, respectively). As a totally-vegetarian-and-mostly-vegan eater, I assumed my cholesterol would be low, so I’m glad to see I was right. I’m gonna live!

Speaking of my eating habits, here is today’s response to my salad challenge:

Sorry, no n00dz this time. I dressed this puppy as I assembled it. Before you is a mostly local salad, containing lettuce (green and red leaf), broccoli and maitake mushrooms all from the farmers market. Last night, I sautéed the broccoli and mushrooms in garlic and olive oil. I also threw together my favorite dressing: juice from one small lime, about 2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard, and a few healthy dashes of cumin. This dressing is incredibly flavorful, thanks to the nearly overwhelming mustard I bought this last time. Oh, and I also washed and cut up the lettuce. Today, I heated the sautéed goodies in the microwave for 30 seconds and put everything together on the plate. Quick, easy and delicious. It’s even better topped with a roasted portobello mushroom instead of the maitakes, though the latter are quite tasty, too.

Ah, the goodness of local produce.

Once again, I had fruit salad at tea, so I won’t bore you with more pictures of the same. Tomorrow, I’m looking forward to a salad involving two somethings I’m using for the first time. Here’s a hint . . . one component is one of Rick Bayless’s favorites.

See you on the flipside of Hump Day!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Salad Challenge Day 2

For some reason, I woke up with an upset stomach, so I attempted to quiet things by only making half my usual breakfast. I made a good-sized smoothie but forewent my usual toast with cashew butter. As a result, my stomach got angry with my further starting around 8 a.m. I don’t know how I fended off stomach-eating-itself hunger until 11:30, but I did. Since Monday was another busy night, I got my salad on at Jason’s Deli today. Here’s the delicious beast:

Nekkid again. ;)

Dressed and tossed.

This delicious monstrosity features nearly everything a salad could ever need: lettuce, baby spinach, red and yellow bell peppers, baby carrots, broccoli, mushrooms, red onion, sunflower seeds, a dollop of hummus on the side, and the thing that makes any salad something to moan about: artichoke hearts. And lots of them. The whole thing was crowned by balsamic vinegar and enjoyed with two organic flatbread crackers (of which one is pictured). Yum! Seriously, this thing must have weighed two pounds. I did prefer this combination of salad toppings more when I was still using the Italian dressing, but it contains a milk product (I assume parmesan cheese), so I now opt for the balsamic, which is good, but it lacks some bite. I, however, lacked no bites today and instead ate every bit of this baby I could scrape from the plastic container. Scrumptious!

I did not have time to prepare a lunch today because, between work and rehearsal, I scarfed down the mock chicken salad sandwich I posted yesterday and made a tangy fruit salad. And guess what was my teatime snack today . . . yep!

This time, the mixture is two Granny Smith apples, a container of fresh pineapple (chopped by Whole Foods), a pint of strawberries, slightly more than half a bag of green grapes, and the juices of half a large lemon and a whole small lime. I like my fruit salad a bit sour, as you can probably tell, and I never add sweetener. Fruit is naturally sweet; I never understood the need to top a mix like this with sugar or honey.

So another successful day in my Salad Challenge. Did you participate today?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Salad Challenge Day 1

I am a creature of habit. I follow a highly regimented eating schedule, largely to avoid blood-sugar crashes and the nasty migraines and crankiness that accompany them. Any given work day, I eat at the following times:

· 6:30 a.m. – breakfast (usually toast with nut butter and a fruit smoothie)
· 7:30 a.m. – tea with honey
· 10 a.m. – coffee (black)
· 12:00 p.m. – lunch
· Between 3:30 and 4 p.m. – tea with honey
· Between 6 and 6:30 p.m. – dinner

Today has been a whole different story. I signed up for a wellness check this morning at 8 a.m., for which I had to fast two hours in advance. So, I packed up my smoothie, a slice of bread and my homemade cashew butter to eat afterward. However, the city got caught in a crazy storm, which caused a power outage at work starting at 7:45 a.m. Needless to say, my wellness screening was cancelled. I finally remembered that I could eat at 8:30, so I drank my smoothie and then smeared cashew butter on my untoasted bread. The power went on and off for a while, finally choosing the latter for a while around 10:30. We were all told to take an early lunch until noon. A coworker and I headed to Panera, where I drank a massive large coffee (black) and ate 3/4 of a whole grain bagel (plain, no cream cheese) at about 11 a.m. So when noon rolled around, I was definitely not ready for lunch, which meant I didn’t enjoy my first salad of the week until 2:30. Sheesh.

Anyway, here is my first entry into my Salad Challenge:

Nekkid. (tee hee!)


It’s going to be a crazy week, so I will admit that I did not make this salad. It is one of Whole Foods’ salad shakers. However, the ingredients are all-natural and fit the bill. The salad contains brown rice, edamame, carrots, mushrooms, cabbage, almonds and their no-oil carrot ginger dressing (carrots, mirin, agave, tamari, rice vinegar, mustard and ginger). The verdict: it’s tasty, though not particularly filling. I intended to serve it atop spinach I washed, spun and tore up previously, but they were pretty nasty by the time I got them out of the Ziploc. Given my particular non-love for spinach, it’s probably tastier without the greens, though the added iron and magnesium would have been nice. The dressing is great without oil; I love the ginger zing.

Here's some bonus salad pr0n:

OK, so there's really nothing salad-like about chicken salad. Mine is, of course, of the vegan variety. This post was apparently sponsored by Whole Foods.

(Not really. I paid for all of these items. Or rather, my love did, since it was his week to buy.)

Verdict on this one: tasty, though not life-altering. I'm not sure I've ever eaten actual chicken salad, so I have no basis for comparison. I will tell you that, last week, when my taste buds weren't working properly, nothing tasted as amazing as this sandwich. Today, I would not go that far, but I still enjoyed it.

Did you enjoy a nutritious salad today?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Salad Challenge starts tomorrow

If you're joining me in my 7-day Salad Challenge, tomorrow is the start. I loaded up with farmers market goodies yesterday, and today we will take our weekly Whole Foods trip. I will be sharing my concoctions throughout the week. Please feel free to do the same!

See you on the flip side of Sunday.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

My grandmother's memory

My coworker has a dry-erase board on which she displays a new quote every so often. The last couple of weeks, it’s been a modified version of this gem by Charles H. Spurgeon:

A good character is the best tombstone. Those who loved you and were
helped by you will remember you when forget-me-nots have withered.
Carve your name on hearts, not on marble.

It made me smile the first time I saw it. Since my grandmother died last week, it has made me smile even more.

My grandmother was a truly amazing woman. She was born in 1931 in Sallisaw, a tiny community even today in Oklahoma’s Cotton Belt, to Georgia and Benjamin Franklin Davis. They later moved to Muskogee, where she always considered home. She was married to my crazy grandfather for 40 years and, if not for his mental problems, would probably still have been with him to her last day. She got a two-year degree from Connors State College, where she studied literature. She raised two children while also working, certainly an anomaly for a middle-class woman of the time. After my grandfather served her with divorce papers, she picked herself up and kept living the life she chose. She went to work at several different doctors’ offices over the years, doing administrative work and assisting in physical therapy. She was an active member of her church, the guiding force behind her class reunions (which happened every two years), the family photographer and record-keeper, a reliable friend, and an omnipresent grandparent. She was also strong, independent, vibrant, hard-working (even at 78, she still occasionally went in to her most recent employer’s office to help train new physical therapists), reliable, loving, and big-hearted. She watched what she ate, got regular exercise, and had her hair done at the salon every Friday. She had a kind word for everyone, a smile even in the hardest times, and an unending supply of encouraging and supportive thoughts. The only time I heard her complain during the past year of hospitalizations was at the very end. I last visited her a week before her death, at which time she told me she didn’t feel like company. As much as I wanted to be with her, I preferred her honesty, and I knew she appreciated me coming.

My grandmother considered nine of us her grandchildren, though three were not related by blood (and one not even by marriage). Being a grandparent was one of her greatest joys in life, and being the oldest, I always felt a special connection to her. I was forever her princess. I never doubted for a second that she was proud of me or that she loved me completely. We all had photo albums, and thanks to my several years of precedence, mine comprised two separate albums. Her home was a photographic shrine to us all. In fact, she so often had her camera in hand that my little sister called her “Cheese” for several years. She had a sponge-like memory and could quickly recall funny things we’d said or did throughout our lives. She remembered our ambitions, our quirks, what sports we played, our friends’ names, what foods we liked, and what we called her (Meemaw, Grandma, Grandma Margaret, Cheese or Mother Goose).

At the funeral last week, I met and hugged people who loved her throughout her life. I saw family I hadn’t seen in years – some in two decades. I cried with my beloved aunt, her daughter, over her memory and what we’re going to do without her. I shook hands with members of her church who remember me as a little girl. I knew these people better than the rest of the family, and it made me feel privileged, like I was in an important part of her life that no one else was. Even the man who mows my grandmother’s lawn was there. When the preacher asked him before the service if she was as meticulous about her grass as she was about her appearance, he told him that she was the only one of his clients who never complained. “She treated me like the valedictorian,” he said. She treated everyone that way.

My grandmother, Margaret Jane Davis Vance, most certainly carved her name on my heart, as I know she did on the heart of anyone she ever met.

Saying goodbye is taking its toll on me. I won’t pretend that everything’s fine, but I will get there. I remember a line from a movie saying that you lose people in pieces, not all at once, and it’s true. I suppose I’ve been lucky not to have lost a grandparent until age 25, but knowing that doesn’t make the pain any less. I’m sad, because I loved her. I regret that she left us before any of her grandchildren married or gave her great-grandchildren. I’m angry that she – the most life-loving and healthy-living of my grandparents – was the first to lose her fight against time. I’m disappointed that I didn’t get to see her again before her death, but I know you always feel that way. I’m still in shock, too, because we weren’t expecting the end to come so soon. I wasn’t ready to let her go. None of us were.

However, if my grandmother left a legacy, it is this: love with your whole heart, respect your body, embrace adventure, and never leave home without a dab of red lipstick.

You can read her formal obituary here.

About Me

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Tulsa, OK, United States
Hello! Welcome to my blog, which I run in conjunction with my Etsy shop, Here, I'll track things I'm working on, do reviews and interviews, and offer advice and information. Thanks for stopping by!

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