Friday, December 30, 2011

December, 30th 2011. Evening

I am glad to rest with a glass of red wine,  a toasted bread topped with a bruschetta and listen to a  cracking logs  in a fireplace...after about 10 hours of work to prepare best meals of the year. 

Here is a list of already made dishes:

1. Spiced carrots - next year is a year of Dragon. My mom said that we need more spicy-hot food to please the Dragon. Well, who could argue with mom!
2. Traditional European salad Olivie.
3. Layered Herring Salad - for good luck.
4. Texas Caviar (from black eyed peas) - symbolic of money.
5. Sauerkraut - more cabbage on your plate bigger the fortune next year! :)
6. Cake

Cake in progress...

Tomorrow we will make a  grape leaves stuffed with corn-amaranth-mushroom filling; baked fish; roasted chicken with a spicy rub. Also I will make a kale salad with a kumquats, a kiwi, and a red pepper. I tested this salad today - all was gone in seconds. I will post the recipe on the next Kale Tuesday.

I hope the Dragon will be happy and will bring good health, good luck, and prosperity to everyone.

Happy New Year!

Until Next Year,
Cowboy Country Vegetarian

December 30th, 2011. Midday

News from the kitchen corner

Blackeyed peas for Texas Caviar are done, ready to go into the mix of Jalapeno peppers, Roma tomatoes, red onions, and fresh green herbs. 


My dad worked patiently on peeling the carrots, washing and shredding it for a spicy carrots salad. 
It needs at least 24 hours to blend all the flavor.


Ingredients for traditional Olivie (potato) salad are cooked and ready to be dices.


After a quick brunch (homemade yogurt with blueberries and polenta with tofu and egg), we are heading out to do last minute shopping for missing ingredients.

Until next time,
Cowboy Country Vegetarian

December 30th, 2011. Morning

It is official - my husband is half way through his residency training. 
I am very proud of him and for everything he achieved so far. As of me, I woke up with a smile - I could see a top of Space Needle from here... 
Big smile...

Today is also the busiest day in the New Year's celebration preparations. 
I started my morning with a cup of coffee while reading and revising the holiday's menu. 
Culturally, New Year is a festive celebration with a lot of good food, some of which was saved especially for the New Year.  
This year we have my parents with us, and my dad insists we have all traditional food for good luck. 
Who would argue that?!

Until next time,
Cowboy country vegetarian

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Pizza Night

Dinner plans for tonight were different until I drove my son to his soccer practice.  Out of nowhere I asked him if he wants pizza for dinner. Is there a teenager who would say no to this offer? I haven't met one yet...
So pizza night it was... 
One pizza was made off all Christmas dinner leftovers laying in the refrigerators.
Another one was a vegetarian, with portobello mushrooms, pepper, olives and lovage.

Vegetarian version

Let me know if there is a teenager who would say no to pizza! :)

Until next time,
Cowboy Country Vegetarian

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Comfort Food

Yesterday I drove to Dallas, TX to drop off my daughter at the airport. Her vacations were over and she had to leave back to Seattle.  From Fort Smith to Dallas is a five hours drive one way. So after my daughter left I spent a night in the nearby airport hotel to rest and ... be sad... on my own...
I miss you, my little princes, I miss you a lot...

This morning, still a little sad but assured that she's got home, I had to drive back to Fort Smith. Yet another five hours drive.
Before heading north, I needed some comfort food for which I stopped at the Whole Foods.
My breakfast was a kale salad, so good that with each bite I felt better and better (that's why they call it "comfort food" - the food that makes you feel better?!).

Then after some little shopping for the New Year's table, I drove back. 
I made only one stop for gas as I decided to skip the lunch until I get home.
Upon my arrival my mom treated me with a great soup, which she mindfully made vegetarian. It was delicious!
Then we all enjoyed a Texas caviar with some more kale.

After the holidays everyone appreciated something light and really simple.

How was your Tuesday: Kale or No Kale?

Until next time,
Cowboy Country Vegetarian

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Unwrapping the Glifts

Napoleon cake with coffee for Christmas Day breakfast 

Christmas Day morning is long anticipated... 
A gifts under the Christmas tree finally can be unwrapped and enjoyed... 
For this Christmas I received the greatest gift off all - time with my parents and my family. 

Here is how we spent this morning... (after we ate that cake):

This apron really "suits" you, mom!


Do you ever have enough iTunes? 


What am I going to do with old ones?!


Next order of business - to have some fun!!!

Until next time,
Cowboy Country Vegetarian

Friday, December 23, 2011

Happy Holidays!

                           Dear friends,

This holiday season I want to wish you gifts you'll never outgrow - snow angels, warm cookies, and memories that make you smile...

My parents came from Europe and my daughter traveled from Seattle to join us for the holidays.  
We've been busy baking some cookies and "cooking" some fun memories.  
There is nothing more precious than the time you spend with your loved ones. 
And I hope this season brings to all my friends one happy moment, one special wish,  and may it be just the beginning of a great new year for you.

Until next time,
Cowboy Country Vegetarian

Friday, December 9, 2011

Daily Routine

Last night cookies were good, really good. I had a few. Everyone needs sometimes a cookie or two?!
The main word here is sometimes. And I am perfectly aware of calories I put in. 
But if I want to loose weight, I need to put in less calories than I burn during a day (or night - according to Calorie Counter I burn 548 cal during eight hours sleep - when I have it that long).  
Sometimes I am good with the math, sometimes some extra cookies keep me at the gym for an extra hour or so. Nobody's perfect, right? And if there are perfect people they are bo-ring...
Today was one of those "sometimes" when I spent over two hours at the gym on elliptical and in aqua fitness class. And you know what? I think I had more endorphins from my workout than from the cookies... Paradox?!
Anyway, along with extra exercises I went vegan for the day. Some of my readers asked me what I eat on my vegan days. 

Here is today's menu:

Breakfast - a rolled multigrains and a whole rye hot cereal with a blueberries.

Lunch - Tabbouleh salad (well, a variation actually as I didn't have all the ingredients for a classic Tabbouleh).

Dinner - a mix of a roasted eggplants, a zucchini, a red pepper, and a fennel with a microgreens salad.

I also had about 5 cups of green tea throughout the day, few almonds, an orange, and an apple.

Thank you for stopping by...

Until next time,
Cowboy Country Vegetarian

Thursday, December 8, 2011


My journey to loose weight hits a plato now and then. My calendar keeps me motivated, and also keeps me informed whether I hit the plato or not. 
November was a month when digits on my scale hardly changed. 
My first plato month was discouraging, I was anxious to see some changes on the scale. 
At some point I had a thought: "will I ever see those digits moving?!" 
Bob, my trainer from the gym, told me once: "you didn't put all those pounds in one day, or even one month. It took time. And it will take time to melt it off as well". 
Well, that time has passed along with anxiety. 
I am perfectly OK with my plato months. 
However, when digits on my scale do go down, I celebrate by giving myself a small treat: a new running shoes, another workout outfit (I started to love shopping again but only for a fitness clothes). 
Last month I celebrated my 30lb weight loss by treating myself with one hour massage. 
Then for about three weeks I was on the plato again. And yesterday scales finally started to show a smaller digits. Celebration time!!! 
I asked my mom to show me how she makes our all time favorite cookies. 
So today was a baking day with my mom. 
I enjoyed the time we spent together, experimenting with some new twists to an old recipe. What a treat!
And cookies were really tasty, just like when we were kids... 

Until next time,
Cowboy Country Vegetarian

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Kale Day

Another Tuesday, and another Kale Day.
I finally got some fennel and was able to make my all time favorite kale-fennel salad. 
This morning  kale at my garden was "winking" with sparkling icicles after a last night frost as I walked by. I smiled and nodded: I know it's Tuesday. 
After I was done with my yoga class, I rushed home to make a kale salad, which was easy. 
The hard part was to let it rest for about an hour or so to blend all the flavors.

  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 1 orange
  • 1 grapefruit
  • 1 lemon (or 1 tbsp lemon juice)
  • 1 Asian pear (also called apple pear)

Shave kale into thin ribbons,  julienne fennel and Asian pear. 
Remove skin and white membrane from the grapefruit an brake it into one inch pieces. 
Place all the above ingredients in the ball, and squeeze orange and lemon over it. 
Using your washed hands, mix it well and let stand for at least one hour, then mix it again and serve. 

Until next time,
Cowboy Country Vegetarian

Monday, December 5, 2011

Eggplant Dip

With my parents in town I try to spend with them as much time as possible, and that leaves sometimes a little time to cook... or to take pictures of what I cooked. 
Today we were busy with holiday decorations inside and out. By dinner time I had an appetite for something warm and light. I had just about 15 minutes to create a meal before driving to school to pick up the cowboy-son, so in a blender went what I had already cooked:

  • 1 roasted eggplant
  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas
  • 5 drops liquid smoke
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 1/8 tsp garam masala powder
  • 1/4 tsp dry dill
  • salt to taste

My Blendtec has a setting that allows to warm up ingredients during blending.  In less than two minutes I had a hot meal all family enjoyed so much that I didn't have a chance to take a good picture. 
By the time I was ready with my garnishments, I was left with this:

For me it was a main course plus some salad, for everyone else it was a side dish as they all had some meat with it. 

Until next time,
Cowboy Country Vegetarian

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Yet Another Breakfast

Few years ago we decided to eat less processed food and go back to the roots, seeds (grains), fruits, berries, and vegetables.
We began from fruits, vegetables, berries, then added roots.
Just recently I started to buy seeds/ whole grains and  make food from it: wheat, rye, oat, quinoa, barley, buckwheat, amaranth, all kind of beans.
Some seeds are common in my kitchen (beans), some are experimental. Rye is a new discovery for us.
Even though rye is a popular ingredient in cereals (rolled rye), rye flower, sometimes rye is used in whiskey and vodka production, often times near a rye bin in any health food stores you can hear comments: "What do I do with it?"
Same question I had looking at the rye at the Whole Foods.
Fear aside, I bought a pound of whole rye berries. If we don't like it, I can always sprout it or use it in my breads (I love pumpernickel bread).

Rye grains (yellow berries are for decoration)

After rinsing I left grains for pre-soaking overnight. Next morning I cooked rye for about 25 minutes. The amount of water is not specified as you need to drain all the excess of water after anyway.
I used ratio 1 cup of rye to 3 cups of water. I didn't add any salt or sugar, I wanted to taste the real rye.
It has a mild flavour with a hint of nuttiness.
From it I made a delicious breakfast today.
To a half a cup of cooked rye I added 1/4 cup blueberries, 3 prunes, 2 tbsp walnuts.
Everyone enjoyed it.
I don't think I will be buying box cereal any time soon.

Until next time,
Cowboy Country Vegetarian

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Farm trip

This morning I had a road trip to a local farm to pick up a fresh raw goat milk. 
It's all started with Farmer's Market and ... a soap. 
Because of a hot summer our Farmers Market had fewer merchants to buy from. Some didn't have much to sell, and other, my guess is, didn't want to bake themselves in over 100F temperature. I don't blame them.

While produce section was almost empty, "honey" man and "soap" lady were at the market very often. At first, I passed by the "soap" lady thinking to myself: I am planning on making my own soap... soon... 
Few Saturdays later I stopped at the "soap" lady's tent to ask a few questions about her product and soap making. I think we chatted for an hour that morning, often interrupted by a real customers, who actually bought from her something. At the end of our conversation I picked a few soaps to try (without any fragrances, only goat milk, oils, lye  and essential oils). 
I fell in love with the soap as I unwrapped it. It smelled of eucalyptus and mint. I closed my eyes,  inhaled and murmured something... Soap formed soft and smooth lather when I washed my hands   Well, I can sing dithyramb for a long time...
Anyhow, I've been using that soap since. "Soap" lady was very nice and later made me a non-scented soaps and a Lavender soaps. 
When I went to pick up my Lavender soap order, it was a last day before Farmers Market closed for the season. I had a short chat with the "soap" lady, when it occurred to me to ask her about a goat milk. Dah! Oh, well, I was interested in a raw goat milk. She said, yes, she sells it and she can add me to her list. I think I jumped up from an excitement! Because I wanted raw and fresh (not frozen) milk we scheduled a first pick up for December 1st. 
This morning, December 1st,  I geared up with two half a gallon jars, cooler, asked my dad to come with me, and drove 17 beautiful miles to Ginger's (that's "soap" lady's name) house. Road took me through a little hills and valleys of countryside to the town of Hackett, population 812. 

Ginger was kind enough to give us a farm tour, introduced her "girls-goats" to us, told us how milking is done, where goats sleep, what they eat. 
Next to the goat house was a smaller construction, very cute. She said it is a chicken coop! Her chickens have a awnings on the window!  I told her I want to be her chicken and live in in that coop...:)

Chicken coop...

We spent about an hour at Ginger's place. She also showed me her soap making space (garage is sacrificed for it), nice, neat, and perfectly organised. 
As I headed to the cooler with two jars of fresh goat milk, I asked if she sells eggs. To my surprise, she had some.  What a nice day! 
I left with a warm feeling in my heart and a big smile on my face. 
I feel this way always when I pay someone for their hard work of planting, raising, milking, harvesting food for my table. And I prefer to pay directly to a farmer when I can so every dollar goes back to Ginger to help her raise chickens and goats, to "honey" man, to a "produce girl", that helps her parents grow and sell produce on the Farmers Market. 

Today is Ginger's birthday. 
Happy Birthday, "Soap" Lady and thank you for everything!

Until next time,
Cowboy Country Vegetarian

P.S. Lye in soap making is needed for saponification. There is no lye left in the final product.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pho Vietnam

Pho Vietnam is a small family owned and family operated restaurant, located on a busy Rogers Avenue in Fort Smith. 
I heard they have a big selection of vegetarian dishes. 
Outside it looks like a gas station, well, because it was a gas station before.
Inside...  here I need to elaborate some more. My first impression was: Wow! Is it a place to eat or a craft store? 
I almost stepped back, but then I saw people being waited at a tables behind a palm tree, I proceeded through an artificial tree "jungle" to an empty spot.
While waiting to be served, I occupied myself exploring the rest of the decor: from a farm animals to lobsters, a piece of everything is  in this little place.
My observation was interrupted by a middle-age gentlemen, who brought me some water and a menu. 
Another Wow! They sure have  a hundred dishes on the menu!

My eye caught a Vegetable Curry soup.
Yes, I'll have this.

Back in Seattle I use to go to a Vietnamese Deli just to get their delicious sandwiches with tofu and pickled vegetables. 
I was happy to see it on the menu at Pho Vietnam and ordered it to go, for later.

As a starter I asked for a vegetarian spring rolls.

When the food came, no decorations interested me anymore.
I indulged myself into delicious mini feast.
Everything was so good.


There was something else about the food: it didn't taste commercial. It had a rich flavor, an oriental taste, and something else that I couldn't figure out what it was.
I shared my thoughts with my yoga friends, who go to Pho Vietnam often for lunch and dinner.
Bryan, my yoga instructor, told me later that Lilly (she and her husband Eric own and run this little place) cooks everything by herself and seasons every dish she cooks with a very special ingredient - Love...
I certainly felt it...

Pho Vietnam from across the street

Until next time,
Cowboy Country Vegetarian

Monday, November 28, 2011

No Stories, Just a Pie

This morning was cold... I just wanted to stay at home wrapped in a  warm blanket and read a new book.  
However, I had a full schedule. 
By midday all  I wanted was potatoes and mushroom pie.

Here is how to make it:

Boil five Russet potatoes until done.
Pill the skin and mash it while potatoes are still warm. 
Let it cool.

Prepare filling from:

5 Portobello mushrooms, cleaned and cut in 1/2 inches cubes
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup of grated cheese (I used extra sharp cheddar this time)
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp dry dill
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 F.
Simmer onions in a frying pan on a medium-high until golden brown. 
Add mushrooms and simmer for another 7 minutes, stirring a few times. 
Season with salt, pepper, and dry dill. 
Taste. Adjust a flavor. 
Taste again.
Remove from the heat, let it cool for a few minutes. 
Add 1/3 cup of cheese. Mix well.

Grease a 9 inch round pie pan with a little olive oil. 
Press mashed potatoes to form a pie crust. 
Place the pan in the oven for 10 min. 
Add filling and cover with the remaining cheese. 
Bake another 10-12 minutes until cheese forms a nice golden-brown crust. 
Remove from the oven and let it rest for 5-7 minutes. 

Serve with fresh vegetables or pickles. 

This pie was so warm and cozy, just what I needed to wrap up this cold day.

Until next time,
Cowboy Country Vegetarian

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Cabbage Baby

When I was a little girl, probably 3 or 4 years old, I use to ask my grandparents and my parents where did they find me. And the answer was: in the cabbage.
I remember even taking my grandfather to a garden and asking him to show me that cabbage!
I guess, those stories really effected my special relationships with all the cabbage family, I just love it!
Kale, Brussel Sprouts, collards, red cabbage, green, cauliflower, Kohlrabi, you name it.
If I don't have a lunch or dinner planned, it will be some dish made of cabbage.
Easy, quick, and super healthy...
Confession: I can eat cabbage rolls or borshch even for breakfast...
Last week my parents flew in from Europe, and with my dad being a diabetic I have to cook keeping it in mind.
So today I made a roasted Brussel sprouts.

I used:

2 lb Brussel sprouts, halved

For dressing:
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp dried dill (fresh can be used but dried has more aroma)
1/2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp lemon juice
Juice from 1/2 orange
1/2 tsp granulated garlic
1/2 tsp salt

I mixed all the dressing ingredients into a paste, then coated Brussel sprouts with it and  placed those baby cabbages in one layer in the non-stick baking pan.
Baked it for 30 min at 375 F.

Maybe, I was found in some cabbage after all...  :)

Until next time,
Cowboy Country Vegetarian

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Personal Best

For me a Healthy Lifestyle is about healthy food, physical activities and some fun on a top of every day's routine.  
We all are busy with jobs and family obligations. It is very difficult to find time for  a walk or squeeze a trip to the gym in the schedule. 
How many times I hear: "Yes, I need to start walking" or "I have a gym membership, I need to start going..." And next day an invitation from a friend to have lunch/dinner or another "can't-live'without TV show" postpones us from taking some actions...

Day after day as we delay any physical activities to make our heart work to melt all the consumed calories into the energy we mount pound after pound on our bodies...

My friend Lisa is a very busy mom, spouse, daughter, and a director of hospitalist program at the local hospital. 
One week she works 12 hours shift for seven days straight, that leaves  her with time to sleep and a very little time for family and friends. 
Next week she is off but has all those administrative duties as the director, so she is not really off. Let me put it this way, she is off from treating patients. 
How much time do you think she has for herself? 

However, this April she decided to start running. She didn't just run, she had a schedule posted on her fridge, and she marked every day's routine after it was done. She also told me that she posted on her Face Book page her goals to help her to stay on track. Lisa made her health a priority, day after day.

In June Lisa run her first 5K. I was so proud and so happy for her! First achievement is the hardest one and therefore it is the  most rewarding!
Then Lisa signed up for  a 10K. Summer in Fort Smith was extremely hot and Lisa bought herself a treadmill to continue practicing. 
I was receiving short text messages with numbers only but I knew exactly what it meant: 5.2; 6.0; 8.4 - What? I thought 10K was 6.2 miles. 
When I asked her about 8.4 number, she said she changed her mind and signed up for a half marathon in San Antonio! Clarification: half marathon is 13.1 miles (21 km)! 
And yes, she did it! 

Lisa after running her first half marathon... San Antonio, November 2011

Practicing for marathon takes dedication and hard work (although Lisa thinks it's fun and I totally agree with her). 
And if busy Lisa can find two hours every day to run or exercise six days a week, I have no excuses at all. 
This morning I geared up and went to the gym to do my personal best for today!

Have you done something good for your body today?

Until next time,
Cowboy Country Vegetarian

Friday, November 25, 2011

Picking berries in Sweden

Walking on a fallen leaves always  makes me want to go into the woods and pick some berries or mushrooms. 
My ancestors, probably, were gatherers as I sometimes have this urge to gather something myself.  Occasionally, I tag alone with some friends who know what they are doing (vital skill when gathering wild berries and mushrooms).
Some years ago I spent a long weekend with my friends in Sweden. Weather was promising so we decided to hike and gather some food for our dinner table.  It was that time in the fall when all leaves have fallen to the ground and each step was accompanied by a crunch... 
By the end of the hike we had enough mushrooms for dinner, some lingonberries and cranberries.
From mushroom we made a delicious soup. 
A ball with berries though  traveled in a fridge from one corner to another for a few days. 
One cold night we were sitting around a fireplace wishing we had some pie. 
We remembered our berries and here what we came up to:

"Picking Berries in Sweden" Pie

2 cups rolled rye flakes
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup rye flour
1/3 cup turbinado sugar
1/3 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup Earth Balance (butter will work as well)
1/2 cup milk
2 cups  frozen blueberries
1 cup lingonberries jam (from IKEA)

Combine rye flakes, flour, salt and sugar.
In a measuring cup mix baking soda and lemon juice until foamy.

Melt Earth Balance (or butter), slowly add milk, and mixture of baking soda and lemon juice. Stir and add to the dry ingredients. Mix it well and set aside for 10-15 minutes.
At this point turn the oven and preheat it to 375 F (190 C).

When the oven is heated, press the dough in the 9 inch pie pan and bake 15 minutes until golden brown crust forms.

Mix lingonberries jam with frozen blueberries and spread it on the top of the crust.

Place back in the oven and bake for another 15-17 minutes.

Sprinkled with sunflower seeds

Pie needs to cool down for 2-3 hours (if you can wait).

We weren't patient that night and enjoyed the lingonberrie pie to the last crunch... 

Until next time,
Cowboy Country Vegetarian

P.S. Our pie was made from lingonberries only. I found combination of blueberries and lingonberries to be milder. Happy experimenting!