Friday, February 26, 2010

Vegan Broccoli Soup

Last Friday, my tooth broke. This tooth had a long history of damage, starting when it was hit with a wiffle ball bat when I was 13 and ending last week when I rushed to the emergency dentist and he put in an acrylic crown. I get my real crown in a few weeks.

Until then, I have this rather large not real front tooth. It's a bit too big for my mouth and even though the dentist said I could eat, I'm finding chewing to be difficult because I can't bite properly.

So I've been eating soups and smoothies and other soft things for the most part. I'm a particularly big fan of broccoli cheddar soup. I usually use a recipe I got from Emeril on the Food Network's website. While I love that recipe, it does have copious amounts of fat in it, in the form of heavy cream, butter, and of course, the cheese.

I'm also feeling a bit guilty about my cheese habit and want to cut back. So, puttering around the Internet a few weeks ago, I found this recipe for a vegan broccoli cheese soup.

As you may have guessed, the "cheese" in this soup comes from nutritional yeast. It's pretty yummy, with a sharp, tangy taste. It won't fool anyone into thinking it's actually cheese but it's a darn fine soup in its own right.

I modified her recipe a bit. She says to steam your onion, which seems weird to me. I simply fried it in the oil, then added minced garlic (her recipe calls for garlic powder) and cooked the garlic till it was fragrant. I also reduced the size of the recipe by a quarter and used a squirt of liquid mustard instead of dry and a cup of no-chicken broth mixed with a cup of water.

Finally, I pureed the soup in the blender, since the whole point of this project is to have non-chunky yet still filling food.

It made enough for two servings of soup.
Here's a run down of what I did:

Chop 1 very small onion
Mince 2 cloves of garlic
Steam 5 ounces of broccoli (I used frozen)
Melt butter/margarine in saucepot
Add onion, fry until softened and slightly golden brown.
Add garlic, cook until fragrant.
Mix 1/4 cup nutritional yeast with 1/4 cup ap flour and about a teaspoon salt, add to onion/garlic mixture and stir or whisk to combine.
Throw in a pinch or so of dried thyme
Slowly pour in 1 cup of vegetable broth (Imagine's No-Chicken broth is awesome here) and 1 cup of water, stirring as you pour.
Stir/whisk until there are no chunks (obviously, onion bits are okay).
Squirt in a bit of mustard, stir.
Let simmer for five minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add in steamed broccoli, return to a simmer for a minute or two.
Puree in a blender.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

My First Quilt

I saw this quilt back around the holidays and wanted to make one for my nana for Christmas. Well, stuff happened, mainly (this is my theory at least) a giant snow storm, and the fabric (Heather Bailey's Nicey Jane) I ordered for the quilt never showed up. After some e-mails back and forth with the company, they reshipped it and it finally got here at the end of January. So that means I started working on my nana's Christmas present a week ago.

I veered away from the other quilt a bit, my has more pieces, as you can see in the sloppy layout of the quilt below:


Figuring out how to array the fabric was a bit tricky, I would have done better to choose one additional fabric design. But for someone just guessing, I think it turned out all right layout-wise.

I ended up cutting two pieces 14.5" X 24.5" for the center panel, six pieces 15.5" X 5.5", six pieces 5.5" X 15.5", and two pieces 15.5" X 17" for the two corner panels. As you can see in the image, the 5.5" X 17" pieces are the long vertical strips and the 5.5" X 15.5" pieces are the horizontal strips.


I then lined the strips up and pinned them together, as shown above.
 

 Next, I sewed the strips together using what I call a 1/4 inch seam, but is really the edge of my presser foot. 

 

When the three strips were attached to each other, I pressed the seams and got the above. I repeated this with the remaining strips, making four panels total. I then attached the top 3 section panel to the middle 3 section panel, sewed those together and then attached one of the 15.5 X 17 panels to the bottom.
 
I sewed the middle two panels together, then lay that panel right side down on top of one of the other panels. I then arranged the panels on the batting and stitched them in place, as shown above. 
The third panel was placed face down on the middle panel and stitched to the batting. The seams were pressed open, then the back was placed right side down on top of what was now the quilt front. I pinned it in place and stitched around the edges with a half inch seam. I left a six or seven inch opening, trimmed the corners, turned the quilt out, and then top stitched around the edges to close the opening and give it a nice look. I got lazy and kinda quilted the back a bit, but since my machine isn't really a quilting machine and things were getting messy, I didn't go too crazy quilting the back.

And here's the finished quilt:
 
 Hope my nana likes it.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Snow, Snow, Snow

It is snowing here in Philadelphia and I am not a huge fan of it. At this point, I don't think any one is. It has gone from being beautiful and majestic to quite the pain in the ass. I haven't left the house all day. And I spent all day Saturday indoors as well. This snow isn't really even snow so much as icy cold globules that are blowing every which way.

But, despite the fact that there are about two or three feet of the cold, sticky white stuff on the ground, and the fact that SEPTA buses stopped running at 5PM today, I have to find a way to trudge the 2+ miles up to my job tomorrow morning. I'm not sure how that will go just yet.

However, I find that I quite enjoy the National Weather Service's warnings about all the snow lately. On Tuesday, they described it as an explosively forming storm. And their blizzard warning for this evening is priceless:

NEAR-BLIZZARD OR BLIZZARD CONDITIONS ARE RARE FOR OUR AREA... SO
IT IS LIKELY THAT PEOPLE WILL NOT REALIZE THE PERIL THAT EXISTS
IN VENTURING OUT IN SUCH STORMS. LIFE-THREATENING CONDITIONS ARE
POSSIBLE... AND DRIVING WILL BE HAZARDOUS AT BEST DURING THIS
WINTER STORM TODAY AND EARLY TONIGHT. IT IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
THAT TRAVEL BE CURTAILED DUE TO THE DANGEROUS CONDITIONS... AND
ONLY DRIVE IF IT IS TRULY AN EMERGENCY SITUATION.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Writing Update

I've decided to give up on writing for Suite101. For those of you not familiar with it, Suite101 is an online magazine a la About.com. However, unlike About.com, they do not guarantee their writers a set amount monthly. You make money from ad revenue. And you have to share your earnings with them.

I don't know what percent they give you. What I do know is that I started writing for them in July, I've written 12 articles for the site, and I've made less than $6.00. Total. That's not even enough to make pay-out (which is $10.00). So, I've written these articles and haven't made a dime. And worse yet, I've only made about 50 cents each article.

People criticize sites like Suite for the extremely low rates they pay. Poking around the internet, there are claims from people that they make $100+ monthly. That's what got me to even consider writing them. Apparently, one writer made $5,000 in one month. I don't know if that is true. What I do know is that that is definitely not true for me. So I don't even want to play anymore. It's not worth my time. I wish I could take those articles back and post them here, especially the recipes. I guess this was a learning experience.

Maybe I'm just bad at writing SEO articles. Or at choosing the most lucrative keywords. But really, it shouldn't be that hard. There's AdWords, which is a great little tool. And really, as a writer, shouldn't I be more concerned that people get something useful from an article over and above whether the keywords I've tagged bring in the most money per click?

In other upsetting news, Life123 has shut down it's writer's community. Which is a shame. I really enjoyed writing for that site. In addition to the basic community, I was also writing assigned, flat fee articles for them. Then suddenly, last week, I got a note from my editor letting me know that they won't be taking any more articles. It also seems that the staff of Life123 was let go. I'm bummed, because the flat fee articles were a great source of extra income. I was tempted to quit my temp job and write full time, between demand and life123, I definitely would have been able to make it work. And I'd have time to focus on my other, non-lucrative creative writing and on pitching more articles to other outlets.

Sigh. But here's a bit of good news: I did just start writing a short story that's been swimming around in my head for a few days.