Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Kale Tuesday, and What Was in That Box?

My Tuesday was absolutely green, with some red. 
For  breakfast I had a sauteed chard, for lunch - a cabbage-mushroom stew, and my dinner cravings were satisfied with a kale salad, which I made today with a roasted red pepper and decorated with strawberries. 
With Valentine's approaching I see a lot of red in the air, and I love red on green.
Salad is simple: finely cut kale leaves (stems removed), decorate with roasted pepper and strawberries and spray with balsamic vinegar, just a little. Let it stand 10-15 min and enjoy! Strawberries  add a perfect balance to a balsamic vinegar. Eat it slow, let all the flavor blend, tease your taste buds...

Did you ever wander what was in that box I had to stay home all day long (UPS delivered it at 5.30PM!)?


After I learn how to use it, I will post my photo progress here. "Hello" to a new adventure!

Until next time,
Cowboy Country Vegetarian

Home Bound and Natural Simplicity

I am waiting for a package. It is so important for me that I skipped the yoga class (and I almost never miss my yoga!) You wonder what's in that package?  Let it be a little secret until it arrives, yes? I can tell you that: I've been working on getting it for about five, yes, five! years.
Waiting is not my favorite time spending activity.  It feels as day stretches from 24 hours to ... endless.
I had my breakfast: sauteed chard. I know, it's not a traditional morning oats and something. But I wanted my chard. I don't divide food into breakfast, lunch or dinner, or a snack for that matter. My breakfast can be a stew, and my dinner can be an apple with a walnuts and a cap of tea. Too flexible?!
Then I checked the blogs I follow and left my comments.
Then I turned on TV to watch on Netflix next episode of Anthony Bourdain's  show No Reservations, where he visits meatless institution in Rajasthan, India. Oh dear, it's a vegetarian heaven and I want to go there. I could smell all the herbs, spices mixed with all a very simple ingredients. I love Indian food, and am a little intimidated to cook it. However, I do make a little steps in that direction.
Here I need to make a note about my food philosophy: I am not against the meat consumption. As cliche as it sounds, everyone has a choice of what to eat. I cook with meat about once a week for my family. I am not brainwashed with all that  animal rights, etc. propaganda. 
I do though believe that animal deserved better life than feedlots, therefore I buy only meat of animals that were treated well, mostly chicken meat. 
And once a week we have fish, which I eat too (so I guess, I am 97% vegetarian with occasional fish consumption - 3% pescatarian?  Oh, I don't really care much!)
I am more of Michael Pollan's: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. (from In Defense of Food) Hence, my cooking is all about making a healthy meals with whole ingredients, organic, natural, non-modified, and naturally existing. I call my cooking (and my lifestyle too) The  Natural Simplicity in Cowboy Country. Isn't it the way cowboys in this part lived like for decades? 

It's only quarter to noon. That UPS truck can't come fast enough...

Until next time,
Cowboy Country Vegetarian

Monday, January 30, 2012

Potato Salad

View from my patio

Please, remind me what month it is? January or June?
If January, why it is sooo hot?


If June, why I want some warm soup... or salad? 
I am not the only one who is confused.
My plants went crazy.
My lemon tree decided it's spring - time to bloom, and I am a busy bee  pollinating it!


My tomatoes, that I planted two month earlier than last year so they would be in full bloom before southern heat hits Fort Smith, got a wrong message too: look how big they are.

Tomatoes in January...

No, that's not what I meant when I planted you so early! Slow down, please, I don't have enough room in the house!

And bird outside... are they suppose to sing this time of the year?! Is it still January really?
I think it's around 70s outside, and I have both balcony and patio doors open.

Parsley in my  garden

I think I need some salad. A June salad. A cold potato salad...
A la  Alton Brown cold potato salad.

I made a few substitutions: used pickles instead of cornichones; and I had Vegenais instead of mayonnaise. It was perfect salad for a warm day!

Potato salad a la Alton Brown, a very "good eats"... and parsley from my garden

Was your weather confusing?
Was it a soup-day or a salad-day?

Until next time,
Cowboy Country Vegetarian

Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Little Treat

After a whole "sweetless week" I am in for a treat. And to my big surprise, it's a Liebster Blog Award given me by Ruth from Spring of a Curiouseed! Thank you Ruth!
I was so thrilled: my very own first award! There was a big smile on my face (still is), a happy dance or a joyful swirl, a few jumps, and some other movements and sounds that usually accompany receiving of a good news.

Liebster Blog Award is given by a fellow blogger to a blog (s) that have less than 200 followers as a gesture of recognition and encouragement. 
From what I've learned, Liebster blog in German means "favorite blog". It is very sweet and encouraging.

There are some rules that you have to follow as a receiver of this award:

1. Acknowledge (comment) the blogger, that awarded you and link back to person's blog.
2. Nominate five blogs and let them know by leaving comments on their blogs.
3. Copy and paste award on your blog.
4. Enjoy this moment and spread the happiness around.

So here are five blogger I am happy to give this award:

Shin's Vegan Loving
The Vegetarian Who Hates Tofu
Fitnessnfoodiegirl's Blog
Cookin' Cowgirl

I apologize if some of you don't want to play along. 

Another sweet treat of the day was my little desert: goat cheese and strawberry on a half of a bagel with walnuts and a black cherry jam. 
As I embarked on my next "sweetless week" journey, I indulge in every bite, murmuring from overwhelming pleasure.

How sweet was your Sunday?

Until next time,
Cowboy Country Vegetarian

Friday, January 27, 2012


My relationships with coffee are the longest and the sweetest.
I used to drink coffee 3-4 time a day, at home, on a go, in the office, back at home. 
Now I drink it 3-4 times a month at home, slowly, indulging in every sip. 
It became more of the ritual, it's a "Me" time.

Coffee beans go into the grinder and I crank it rhythmically a few times until beans are ground. That motion is the best stress "remedy" for me.

Then I empty the coffee into a coffee pot, the old fashioned one, pour hot water over it and put on the stove. I stir it until froth starts to raise and then I lift the pot from the heat. 
I add a pinch of high quality salt, and pour it in a coffee cup. Coffee aroma fills the kitchen, I close my eyes and take a deep breath. Mmmm. I am in paradise! 

Do you have a "Me" time? How do you like to spend it?

Until next time,
Cowboy Country Vegetarian

Thursday, January 26, 2012

One Skillet Dinner

One skillet meal

When it comes to cooking, I need to have a good "company" of pots, pans, knives, etc. Many brands went through my kitchen but only the most reliable still live here and help me cook delicious meals for my family. 
Over the years my kitchen visited and quickly left non-stick pans (My husband was extremely observant for any scratches. He was lecturing me that as soon as there is a scratch it start to release harmful gas or chemicals into the food, so it had to go into the trash). 
Trough trial and error I came back to the good old cast iron and I can't say enough about how good it is. 
Let me introduce to you some of my hard workers:

This soup pot is a working horse of my kitchen

Staub is a new addition to my cast iron cookware

When properly maintained this Lodge becomes best ever non-stick pan

For today's dinner I employed one of my cast iron pans (see photo above) for an interesting meal. 
I was amazed what came out of just a few ingredients, scrambled from the refrigerator.

One Skillet Meal:

  • 10 fingerling potatoes, boiled
  • 2 zucchini, pealed and cut
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 7 crimini mushrooms
  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • 4 Tbsp cornmeal
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup cheese (I had cheddar)
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1 jalapeno pepper. chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook potatoes and peel the skin.
2. Preheat oven to 415F.
3. Preheat cast iron skillet, add oil.
4. When oil in the skillet is hot, add onions and stir. 
5. Add salt and pepper to bring up the flavor.
6. Add sliced mushrooms and zucchini, stir.
7. Add jalapenos, stir and put skillet on the side.

At this stage pour egg-cornmeal-cream mixture on the top

8. Mix eggs, cream and cornmeal, add salt, mix well and pour the mixture in the skillet. Top with a cheese and pop in the oven for 10 minutes.

Serve hot with chopped green onions, smoked paprika and cayenne pepper. Or improvise!

Do you have a favorite cookware?

Until next time,
Cowboy Country Vegetarian

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sugarless For a Week

Dill salad...  I just love it! Dill! More dill!

I've been working on my waistline for a while with almost no results. Over the holidays I put some  extra three pounds and they all perfectly settled on my waist. It took me three weeks to get back to my pre-holiday weight. But that "doughnut" belt is still there. I eat clean, I exercise, I control my portion. 
So what is it? 
Why is that stubborn  "doughnut"  not melting down? 

After referring to my fitness "advisor" Oxygen, I decided to change my cardio routine and drop sugars.
I've heard of benefits of high-intensity interval exercise (HIIE) and decided to incorporate it in my workout for next eight weeks. 
I follow the recommended frequency ratio 1:3 (30 seconds of sprint followed by 90 seconds recovery jog). And my goal is to be able to repeat this cycle 8 times. So far I can complete 4 cycles at this ratio.

Another advise from the Oxygen was to drop sugar intake to only sugars that naturally exist in fruits and vegetables. I signed myself for one sugarless week.  Even though I don't have a "sweet tooth", it is more challenging because sugar is everywhere!!!!!!! 
Oh well, it's already Wednesday, and I am OK so far. I just need not to think about  any dried fruits, a jam with my afternoon tea or a chocolate for a few more days.

Fresh fruit "torte" 

Here's how I deal with cravings: I make a fruit plate with walnuts and sprinkle it with some cinnamon. 
And Dill salad is my new "chocolate"... :)
Fresh apples with walnuts and cinnamon is my new favorite snack.

Do you have any cravings? How do you deal or "dill" with it?

Until next time,
Cowboy Country Vegetarian

Monday, January 23, 2012

Food revolution in my kitchen

Photo courtesy of Andrey Mischenko

My Monday, as busy as it was, left me satisfied: I did a couple of good things.
I reduced the amount of my scrapbooking stuff to a small shoe box. I am glad it will be put to a good use and not clutter my closet anymore.

Another good thing I did, a very important one, I participated in Jamie Oliver's action of fighting child's obesity. 
I have a very mixed fillings on the subject. 
First, I am glad someone's doing it: raises our attention and awareness to such a devastating  issue.
Second, I am sad that this someone, Jamie Oliver, is  many thousand miles away, in Great Britain,  and cares about our children more than we do. 
The reality is frightening: "today's children will be the first generation ever to live shorter lives than their parents". 
I listened to Jamie's impressive speech, and read even more impressive comments:  If you have not fed your 
children a 100% organic, vegan (or non-factory
farmed meat) diet since before their conception...
Have you apologized to them for the way you have 
been shortening their lives and hampering their
overall health? (Attilio Guadagno).

It was my turn to take an action: I signed a petition. 
Obesity is preventable! So are other diet related diseases, that kills millions around the globe with US making top of the list. 
It's all about what's on the spoon...

I pledge to my kids to teach them in the kitchen and through this blog to cook and eat healthy. 
I love my kids, I love my family and friends, and I want my food to be a fuel on the road to a  healthy and happy life. 
There is no room in my kitchen for GMO, hormones, pesticides, processed food, or any food with suspicious ingredients. 
Food revolution starts in my kitchen, and thank you, Jamie Oliver, for reminding me.  I do care.

Until next time,
Cowboy Country Vegetarian

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Cauliflower Savory Muffins

Cauliflower ... what? Muffins? Yes, I baked it in a muffin pan, so I guess it's muffins. 

It all started with that one cauliflower, that was sitting on the middle shelf in the refrigerator. Each time I opened the door to get a milk, or a soup, or an apple, or ... well, it was just there. By dinner time I had enough of cauliflower looks and took it out. And there I was, at the kitchen counter with a head of cauliflower, thinking what to make out of it. 
Salad? No, it's cold. Something warm would be more pleasant.  
Mashed cauliflower? Yes, it's warm but a bit too boring. And then it just hit me, yes, mushed cauliflower and potatoes with a few more ingredients, baked in a muffin pan... Bingo, dinner is coming!

I personally envy people who can plan their menu for a week and shop with a list of ingredients. 
I am always spontaneous in the kitchen (except holidays, when I do make a menu). 
I can change, add, or drop an ingredient from a recipe. I love improvisation in the kitchen and am not afraid to fail (it happened couple of times). 
Kitchen is a canvas, ingredients are a paint, and I am an artist of my own breakfast-lunch-dinner.

Back to the muffins.

Dill, Garlic, Pepper

Cauliflower Savory Muffins 


  • One head cauliflower, washed and cut
  • 2 Russet potatoes
  • 1 egg
  • a handful of whole wheat breadcrumbs (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/3 cup almond flour (optional)
  • 1/4 cup extra sharp Tillamook cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 tsp dry dill
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic or 1-2 clove fresh, minced
  • salt  and pepper to taste

Cook cauliflower and potatoes until done, mash it, and salt to taste. 
Add garlic and dill, mix and set aside to cool down.
Preheat oven to 375F.
Presoak breadcrumbs in a little warm water.
When mushed cauliflower is cool enough to handle, add almond flour, mix well.
Squeeze  excess water from the breadcrumbs, add to the cauliflower. 
Add an egg, and mix.
Spray muffin pan lightly with a oil. 
Form a balls to fit the form. 
Top each muffin with shredded cheese and place the pan in the oven.
Bake 15-20 minutes until cheese on the top starts to turn golden-brown.
Serve with a sauce. I made a caramelized onions and Dijon mustard sauce. 
Freshly ground black pepper on the top adds an appetizing aroma to this muffins.

Until next time,
Cowboy Country Vegetarian

Russian Pie - Kulebyaka

Our menu this week was quite culturally diverse:
pizza (Italian); mujadara (Middle Eastern); Subway (American); Greek salad (Greek).
As for  Saturday dinner, my husband asked me to bake some Russian piroshki, he loves it! 

And then this passage came to my mind:
"in the first place, make a pasty in four sections. Into one of the section put the sturgeon's cheeks, and into another section some buckwheat, young mushrooms and onions,   ... and anything else that you may find suitable--anything else that you may have handy. 
Also, bake the pastry to a nice brown on one side, and a bit lighter on the other. Yes, and, as to the bottom side, bake it so that it will be all juicy and flaky, so that it shall not crumble into bits, but melt in the mouth like the softest snow that  you ever heard of."
N.Gogol, Dead Souls, 1842

Food anthropologists argue about  the age of Russian fish pie - kulebyaka: some say it's been around since XVI century, some date it as early as XII century. 
But sure enough is was popular among both reach an poor. 
This elaborate oblong-shaped pie originally was made out of pastry dough and several different fillings, one of which was sturgeon, also mushrooms, grains, cabbage, hard boiled eggs, anything that complimented each other. 
In the mid-nineteen century most popular kulebyaka had 12 (!) layers of fillings for which a wealthy Russian aristocracy had to be on a waiting list for 24 hours if not more. This pie was worth waiting for. 
Then in the same XIX century it was in fashion among Russian aristocracy to have a french cook in the palace or mansion, and soon enough variation of this pie under the name Coulibiac started to appear in many french cookbooks. 

I need to work on my decorating skills though... :)

And then was my round-shaped kulebyaka with a layer of caramelised onions, topped with a cod, rice and lentil, sprinkled with some dill and sea salt, and  encased in a yeast dough envelope.  
Baked in the 350F oven for 35 minutes. 

My husband was surprised and sincerely pleased, so was my son, who loves anything baked. 
Even I enjoyed a piece of "juicy and flaky" goodness. Pineapple and blackberries as a desert added a sweet finishing touch to our Saturday dinner.

Until next time,
Cowboy Country Vegetarian

Friday, January 20, 2012


Last two days were super busy for me.
How busy? Yesterday I had a handful of walnuts for lunch, and for dinner we went to Subway for Veggie Delight, came home just to take a quick shower and dropped in bed.
I did go to one hour yoga class, though.

Today wasn't better. I woke up at 6 AM and realised that I don't have time for the gym today at all. This didn't sound promising. As I prepared breakfast, I twisted and turned today's schedule in my head with no positive results.
But that wasn't good enough for me. I set down and put everything I had to do on a piece of paper and twisted and turned it again. Seriously, I did literally turn that piece of paper around a few times and then... yes!
There was a 30 minutes window, and if I move that task for the lunch time, I can squeeze in a trip to the gym!
And that's exactly what I did and was happy to have 50 minutes of aqua fitness.
I pumped myself with endorphins and was ready to fly all day, performing whatever was left on that schedule.

What I am saying is this: we are all busy, have many chores to do, goals to achieve, books to read, TV-shows to watch.
But it is only my responsibility to be healthy and to do something for that, without looking for excuses:

MAKE that time to exercise (as I usually say, no one will put my running shoes on and run or walk for me, it has to be me!)

MAKE a healthy food choices (once again, I compare my body to my car. I love my little Barcelona Red Corolla. I don't  fill it with junk, I make sure it is well maintained). Why my body then is neglected sometimes? 
This example with my car became a simple but significant turning point in the way I treat myself.

So, my friends, give yourself permission to be healthy and happy, and lets Move It!

Until next time,
Cowboy Country Vegetarian

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

First purchase of 2012 and Mujadara

For this year  I have decided to buy less stuff, just food, gas and extreme necessities. And limit spending to $500 a month. I've been good so far (except we will exceed a little the spending limit for January - we had more people, extra trip to Dallas, gifts for relatives).

Do you want to know what was my first 2012 purchase? 
It was this:

Not what you've expected? 
Neither did I, but my son needed it. So here it is - some protective gear for the soccer player. 
This year is Soccer Euro Cup, I guess it's symbolic... :)


Back in my field, in the kitchen, I made Mujadara (Rice, Lentil and Caramelized onions pilaf). 
I found this recipe on Herbivoracious.com and followed Michael's step-by-step instruction (I see some of my friend smiling. Yes, I did follow it. Ingredients don't count!)

I did cook  brown rice and lentils separately, and made my first caramelized onions. I was so proud of myself!

About half way through...

I did adjust some of the ingredients though: 
1. I had Black "Beluga" lentils, which were great: it holds together well and gives a deep contrast to the rice on the plate.

Black "Beluga" Lentils

2. I also didn't have white wine or vermouth, and the closest combination I thought was  going to work was 1/3 cup of red wine and half of the orange, squeezed over the onions.

3. I was afraid to use cinnamon, so I increased cumin to 1/2 teaspoon and left only 1/4 cinnamon. 

It was a very delicious and healthy dinner. 
I have to admit, I never thought much about any rice, including brown. I just didn't know what to do with it. 
I am glad I learned something useful today.

Until next time,
Cowboy Country Vegetarian

Workout log:
Walking 10% incline - 40 minutes
Aqua fitness - 60 minutes
Weights - 25 minutes

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Let The Workout Begin!

Breakfast: homemade kefir with kumquats zest

Today was my first day of complete workout at the gym after a break. 
While my parents were here I was able to squeeze a yoga class here and there, some elliptical at home and weights, also at home. Then I took a whole week to rest. 
So today I was as excited as a first grader to go to Marvin Altman Health and Fitness Center. 
For some people gym is a boring routine. Same was for me in the beginning until I found what I love: yoga classes with Bryan, aqua fitness with Mamie, listening to my favorite radio station while on  the elliptical (not the other way!). 
And I made many good friends with whom I have a lot in common. What a benefit of membership!

This morning on my way to the gym I was thinking: ok, yoga class and a short run, a mile or so.
There is something about the favorite radio station, isn't it? 
I tuned in, stepped on the elliptical, and next thing I knew I run whole 5K (3,1 miles). Surprises me each time (the radio station).
I achieved my workout goal for today, well, you're right, over-achieved... No complains on this part.
Next I needed some food. For lunch I wanted some warm soup, like from the Pho Vietnam, my favorite vegetarian curry.

And for dinner? Kale salad with a jicama and a grapefruit. 
How can I explain what kale is for me? It's like your favorite cake, or candy, or ice-cream (which I personally don't like - no ice cream for me, please. It's all yours!)
Not convinced? I thought so. 

Let me put it this way. Have you ever taken any medications? Did you like it? What about side effects? 
That's how I started - I knew I had to change the way I eat. I knew all of the cruciferous vegetables, especially dark leaf greens are good for me, but didn't taste good (except cabbage). 
So I ate it as I would take a medication - because I had to. Then I experimented with different flavors, techniques, and... fall in love with kale. 

Mister Timer is watching it for me...


If you ever wondered where the road took me yesterday, not far... to the soccer field. 
My cute teenager son came to me and with this innocent look asked me if I can drive him to school. 
He just remembered he had a soccer practice... Which meant I had to pick him up 2 hours later. 
Does it happened only in my family when kids give you a 10 minutes notice?

Until next time,
Cowboy Country Vegetarian

Monday, January 16, 2012


It's Monday and everyone is at home. My husband has one of a rare long weekends when he is not on-call. School is closed in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. birthday, hence my son is wandering around in search what other video game to play. 
I am wondering around the kitchen thinking what to make for breakfast when I see two bread rolls in my bread pot (yes, I keep my bread in a pot lined with a flour sack towel).  
They are called rolls but they are more diamond shaped. No one will eat it, I am sure. Well, lets see if I can come up with some meal. 

Whole grain  wheat "rolls"

I open refrigerator and see a carton with a weeping cream, a few zucchini, buttermilk... I think I have an idea!
Rolls are sliced and submerged into the weeping cream. While they are pre-soaking, I peal the zucchini, shred it, add a little salt and let it stand in a colander. 
By this time bread is ready to go in a blender for a couple of pulses. 
In the mixing ball I add a cup of all purpose flour, 1/2 a cup corn flour, 3 eggs, salt, granulated garlic, squeezed zucchini, 1 teaspoon of baking soda mixed with 1 teaspoon lemon juice. 
I give it a few good stirs and add the mixture from the blender, stir well again and adjust the batter with buttermilk and some more flour. 

Then I let the batter rest for 15 min (I use my kitchen friend Mister Timer for this). 
When  Mister Timer calls for me, I give the batter another good stir and cook my little savory pancakes until golden-brown on both sides. 

By the time I am ready to call for breakfast, I turn my head and see both of my hungry men coming downstairs: 
"Something smells very good", my husband murmurs. 
"Can we eat now?", ads my son. 
Perfect timing, yes, we can eat now. 
Breakfast is ready!
I love my zucchini pancakes with pickles, my boys - with a sour cream.


Now, well nourished I am ready for some adventures. Temperature outside is in low 70's (21C). I need some fresh air. Where would I go? If I were in Seattle, I would go for a hike, probably Mount Si
Let me see where the road will take me in Fort Smith...

Until next time,
Cowboy Country Vegetarian

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Lazy Sunday

Last night we were at my friend Lisa's house to celebrate... 
Oh, well, all this traditions and calendar challenges... an Old New Year. I was never able to explain Why we celebrate it, so just take my words for it. 
After having a delicious meals we listened to my husband playing a guitar, watched some favorite shows (thanks to the Internet), danced (somewhat) and most of all, laughed long pass the midnight (tradition!). 

Lisa has a cat, a very cute one, an independent, a top-model cat. When it comes to taking his pictures, he has this "I-am-not-sure-if-I-want-to-come-down-to-meet-you" attitude.
Last night, though, his curiosity won and we were prized with his rare presence. 

Check out this photos:

I made it this far... You can see me...

Let me think...

All this Paparazzi...

Do I smell... music?!

Yes, I do like it here! Can I have some privacy?!

Yes, this cat is something, I agree.  He is adorable and all other words. Looking at the pictures (I took 79!) and thinking of him, I had my lazy Sunday, slow paced.

How was you day? 

Until Next Time,
Cowboy Country Vegetarian