Seeking Veggie Variety. Meat Need Not Apply.

After I stopped eating meat I found myself eating zucchini, summer squash, portabello mushrooms and asparagus a lot. I'd sauté some or all of these lovely veggies and toss the colorful collection with angel hair or linguine and a fresh balsamic vinaigrette.

But what happens after you start getting sick of tossed asparagus? As much as I love my vinaigrette it seemed as though it was becoming as commonplace as, dare I say, ketchup. I need a variety of dishes that I can prepare and enjoy. Seeing as how meat is no longer appealing I can see myself stuck eating the same thing over and over and over again. Problem is, I'm not "natural" cook like some folks I know. I can't toss a random assortment of ingredients together and proclaim VoilĂ ! I'm lucky that I can cook pasta al dente.

God bless the library. Do you have any idea of the sheer number of cookbooks that they have? While I look for vegetarian cookbooks my eyes glaze over the spines of such books as:
  • High Fiber, High Flavor: More Than 180 Recipes for Good Health
(I'm not looking to get that intimate with my diet)
  • A Taste of Murder: Diabolically Delicious Recipes From Contemporary Mystery Writers
(Should I be worried that these dishes will do me in?)
  • Beer-can Chicken and 74 Other Offbeat Recipes For The Grill
(Beer. Can. Chicken. Seriously?)
  • Cookies to die for!
(Lead me not into temptation...)

I finally run across a couple of vegetarian cookbooks that I like and pull them from the shelves. They had pictures. I gotta have the pictures. If there aren't any pictures how the hell am I suppose to know what the meal is supposed to look like?

With cookbooks finally in hand the next order of business will be deciding which I will try first: the Spaghetti with Black Olive and Mushroom Sauce or the Honey-roasted Eggplant with Sesame and Hummus in Pita Bread?

Decisions, decisions. Wish me luck.


Picture Day Mania

Nothing sets a mother's nerves on edge more than the dreaded Picture Day. If you are a smart parent you will mark this occasion on your calendar as a reminder. Perhaps you may find the time to purchase your kids a new shirt for the special event that will capture their spirit, those special smiles, that twinkling of their eyes. You might even treat the lovelies to a trim.

Or perhaps not.

Perhaps you will fail to remember that Picture Day is coming, much less that it's TOMORROW. You might say a prayer of thanks because all of the laundry is done. But then it's likely that as you dig through baskets of clothes that have yet to be put away you will notice that your child's wrinkled khaki capris have dirt stains from playground jaunts that are stubborn enough to stay put and refuse all efforts to wash out. You will likely hope that the photographer will grant your wish and go for a head shot only and not focus (both literally and figuratively) on the fact that you have purposely sent your child off to school with khaki capris (freshly ironed!) that are dirt stained.

After the Picture Day Outfit crisis has passed you will still fret over Picture Day Smiles. "Don't cheese too hard!" you'll beg in the same breath that you pleaded "Smile naturally!" Equally intimidating is the dreaded Picture Day Hair Faux Pas. Was it brushed properly? Is there a goofy hair sticking up? Are you really going to think in 20 years that spraying half a can of Aqua Net on your head to get your hairstyle just right was truly the look for you in the 9th grade?

Thank God for Picture Day Retakes. Bring it on.


The Amazing Catapults!

Look at what my ingenious girls came up with! After you're done watching...think about how closely "ingenious" and "evil genius" resemble each other.

Nim's Island, the inspiration for this little piece of work, is a really great family film, catapults and all.

(I don't know why the video is showing up so much darker than the one I took but hopefully you get the idea.)


This healthy living is going to kill me

I recently stopped eating meat. This piece of news has been met with dumbfounded stares and disbelieving gasps from my carnivorous acquaintances. Was I becoming....a vegetarian? Well, not if you ask a vegetarian, I wasn't. I was thoroughly enjoying fish--a vegetarian no-no. I was happy in my healthy lifestyle choices. I was biking, I was eating healthy, I was losing weight. What could possibly go wrong under these circumstances?

Last week, after a satisfying lunch of tuna fish and crackers (light on the mayo, thank you!), I had a sensation of a crushing weight on my chest. It came on lightning quick and it was so intense that I was a shallow breath away from a ride to the emergency room. Having paid $463 for essentially a Band Aide for my last ER visit when I was bit by a dog I was very hesitant in going again unless I was dying. And there was a moment there were I thought I might be. But the pressure finally subsided, my breathing returned to normal and I made a mental note to call my doctor for an appointment. I was convinced I had developed a fish allergy and I was pissed. Was I truly going to have to become a vegetarian after all? I had just discovered fish tacos!

My doctor wasn't buying the fish allergy though. Despite my assertions that I had been having little attacks like this for the past few weeks, most often right after eating fish, he wasn't convinced. My doctor thought I had an "esophageal spasm". A blood test was in order, definitely, to rule out the food allergy. And because I had chest pain I was destined for an EKG (I never considered that I might be having a heart attack). But I wasn't prepared for my doctor to tell me that I needed an Upper GI. Huh? Isn't that for *looks around* old people?

I had my innards x-rayed the next morning after an unsatisfying swig of barium. I saw all my bits on a monitor, and it was odd watching the gulps of this liquid chalk that I swallowed travel down to my tummy. A roll left, a roll right and then I was done.

A call from my doctor the next day both elated and frustrated me. My blood tests were back and I wasn't allergic to fish. (Game on, fish tacos!) But the upper GI showed that I had "abnormalities" and I required a scope down the old gullet to confirm either the presence of gastritis or ulcers. Until then take this prescription for Zantac. Take this Epi Pen just in case. And avoid caffeine and spicy foods.

Fan-friggin-tastic. Don't these people know that I live on caffeine and spicy foods? I have a cast iron stomach for goodness sake!

So for right now I can eat fish again but go easy on the seasoning. No garden fresh peppers on my homemade pizzas (mushrooms only please!) and I should avoid a spicy Chana Masala and make my Coriander Chutneys milder. This is going to suck.

But damnit, I'm NOT giving up my coffee.