Thanksgiving

Lots of good food

Lots of good food
Lots of good food
We stayed home for Thanksgiving this year. It was very nice not to be traveling, and since we invited some friends and family over, it also forced us to clean the house, which was good. Our old roommate from Ann Arbor, Stephanie, came to stay with us for a couple days. She was very helpful in cleaning up and preparing food. Thanks a bunch! Our friend Nick from Boulder, as well as my Aunt Betty, Uncle Phil, and cousin Melissa also came. We had a very nice time, and some excellent food. I got a few pictures, but unfortunately did not get any of Phil and Betty, or of Clare and me. Oh well, maybe another time.

Zoo

Clare, Rob, and Spencer in Bird World

Clare, Rob, and Spencer in Bird World
Clare, Rob, and Spencer in Bird World
Last weekend we went to the zoo with some friends. It ended up being much colder than we had expected, so we bought Spencer a hat and mittens from the gift shop, which he ended up liking. Lately Spencer seems to be getting very attached to certain toys, books, or blankets. Interestingly though, he seems to switch attachments every 12-36 hours or so. Some days it is a blanket, other days some hot wheels cars, and some days it is a book. Last weekend he would not put his Trucks book down. He took it in the car to the zoo, and when he got there, he would not let go of it. He ended up carrying the book around the zoo for over an hour. He did still enjoy looking at the elephants and the birds, but it is pretty hard to compete with trucks.

Fashionista

Sunglasses help Spencer use the computer

Sunglasses help Spencer use the computer
Sunglasses help Spencer use the computer
Spencer trying on Clare's glasses
Spencer trying on Clare's glasses
Spencer playing with Clare's purses
Spencer playing with Clare's purses
Spencer is more and more interested in what we are doing all the time. He likes to try on our clothes (shoes, jackets, glasses etc.), carry around accessories (like purses, laptop bags, and canvas bags), and help clean (e.g. sweep, mop, rake). One of the cutest things is when he picks up my laptop bag like a briefcase and says bye, as if he is going to work. Here are a couple shots of him wearing glasses and purses.

Hot Wheels

Ta da! Spencer has organized his hot wheels

Ta da! Spencer has organized his hot wheels
Ta da! Spencer has organized his hot wheels
Spencer lining up his hot wheels
Spencer lining up his hot wheels
Clare and Spencer playing with hot wheels
Clare and Spencer playing with hot wheels
Two weeks ago we stopped at Target on our way to the children’s museum to get Spencer some underwear, since he has been doing so well potty training. While we there, I spotted some hot wheels, and remembered that my niece Sadie wanted some for Christmas, so we got some. This was of course a big mistake to buy while we had Spencer with us. He did not understand that the toy wasn’t for him. So within a day the toy was now Spencer’s. He played with them non-stop for several days — they even went into the bath, and into his bed at night. One thing he likes to do with them is to line them all up.

Stuffed squash

stuffedSquash

This recipe is largely inspired by a combination of recipes from the Moosewood New Classics and Very Vegetarian cookbooks. It is a bit time intensive, so it is not the kind of dish I prepare often, but it is fun for dinner parties, and most of the preparation can be done the day before.

Little helper

Spencer and Rob pushing the wheelbarrow

Spencer and Rob pushing the wheelbarrow
Spencer and Rob pushing the wheelbarrow
Spencer has been quite helpful lately. The last couple weeks we have spent a fair amount of time getting ready for winter. We took out the garden about a week ago, and this past weekend I raked a bunch of leaves, and winterized the swamp cooler. Spencer likes to try out whatever tool I am using. He also likes to wear my gloves. He is getting to the point now where his help actually does help a little bit. It’s pretty exciting. I am of course totally prepared for him to stop wanting to help once he can actually help on his own. But who knows, maybe we’ll get lucky. He is a pretty helpful and sharing kid so far.

Whole wheat vegan pizza

pizza

Pizza is a very common food in the United States, and it is difficult to avoid. Many people find it very tasty, but it is also seen as very practical, in that it can be ordered for delivery, is relatively inexpensive, and usually pleases most. As a vegan, I started experimenting with cheeseless pizza. This may seem like heresy to some — pizza without cheese — but I have learned that if it is made with certain parameters, it can be very tasty. For eating pizza out, it is crucial to have ample sauce and tasty toppings. A no topping, $5 pizza from Hungry Howies will not be good. But a $10 pizza with extra sauce and lots of tasty vegetable toppings from Papa John’s can be very tasty. But if you want truly good vegan pizza, you probably need to make it yourself. This recipe aims to be both tasty and healthy, and is actually not that difficult to make. I took the dough recipe from a recipe for calzone dough I found on the Vegan Chef (Sometimes I do put on some cheese. The top picture does have a little mozzarella and feta cheese on it; the extra pictures at the bottom do not).

Macaroni and “Cheese” with Spinach

macaroni and cheese with spinach

This is largely based off of a recipe from Very Vegetarian, but after a couple years of enjoying it, Clare helped me find the missing ingredient — spinach. The downside of mac and cheese is that it is low on the vegetables. I tried broccoli, green beans, and snap peas, but they weren’t that good. Spinach goes very well though. The “cheese” part is actually a nutritional yeast sauce, which doesn’t sound too tasty, but it is. Even my parents liked it!

Note that since I am no longer vegan, I usually use regular milk instead of soymilk, and I sometimes add a little real cheese after mixing the pasta and sauce. I have also found that running the spinach through the food processor is better, especially if you have picky children who don’t want big chunks of spinach. Sometimes I use fresh spinach instead of frozen if I have it, and it is better, though more expensive.

German Potato Salad

potatoSalad

When many Americans (especially Midwesterners) hear “German Potato Salad”, they frequently think of a warm, vinegary potato salad, sometimes including bacon. In fact, this sort of potato salad can even be found in cans in the supermarket. In my numerous trips to Germany, I can’t recall ever eating potato salad of this sort. Most of the potato salad I ate there was more similar to American potato salad, containing mayonnaise, and sometimes boiled eggs. I definitely had quite a few other variants though, and my favorite one was from my friend, Markus Hofbauer. This one is a bit more similar to the Midwestern vision of potato salad, as it contains vinegar, but is usually served cold or at room temperature. I don’t think that Markus put any dill in his version, but I think it makes a nice addition. And, because it’s vegan, you don’t have to worry about anyone getting food poisoning from eating your potato salad that has been sitting out during a hot summer picnic.

Peppernuts

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This recipe comes from my mom’s dad’s mom. It seems that we make more every year around Christmas time, as more and more friends expect their share of the tasty, gingerbread-like cookies that look a lot like dog food. They taste quite a bit like gingerbread, though they have no ginger. The name is also similar to the German Pfeffernüsse, but they do not have anise.