Live music

We just purchased tickets for the Ann Arbor Folk Festival at Hill Auditorium (pictured above) this Friday, January 29th & I’m really looking forward to seeing all this great live music; it looks like there’ll be some great performers there, including Iron & Wine!

Also, this Friday, our friend & guitar instructor Ryan Vanderhoof will be performing at Crazy Wisdom from 8:30-10:30pm & we hope to make it there as well.

by Valerie | 01.27.10 | Around town, For Funsies | No Comments »

Everytime I look for you

Everytime I Look for You by Blink 182, that’s the last song on my workout mix that was playing at the end of our 20 minute tabata workout today.

Tabata seems to have several slightly varying definitions, but basically it’s 20 seconds of intense exercise with 10 seconds of rest in between each round & each exercise is completed in 8 rounds; the number of different exercises you do is entirely up to you. Today we did 5 different exercises, which consisted of push-ups, sit-ups, squats, step-ups/plyo jumps, & mountain climbers, & the workout lasted a total of 20 minutes. You can adjust the intensity & number of reps for these tabata workouts to your fitness level, which I like because Ryan can usually do much more & in a much shorter time span than I can & with this workout being timed we all finish at the same time (& I don’t feel like a total loser!) regardless of how many reps we each individually can do.

And since this week is the first week of Active U, which I’ve signed up to participate in again this year, it seemed like a great time to start trying to get back in shape!

by Valerie | 01.26.10 | Around our home, Workout | No Comments »

Ken’s Birthday Salsa (a.k.a. Red Adobo “Cheater Salsa”)

Old Mesilla

A “cheater salsa”, according to our good friend Mark & my husband Ryan, is defined as a salsa that doesn’t use 100% fresh ingredients; therefore, any salsa that’s made using canned tomatoes or chiles, etc. would be a “cheater salsa”. The term “cheater salsa” came about after the discovery that our friend Michael Reedy used canned tomatoes to make his own homemade, delicious salsa – oh, the shock, the horror… Mark & Ryan were dismayed as they had assumed Michael’s salsa was made with entirely fresh ingredients. However, with that said, sometimes it’s ok to cheat & boy does it taste good!

Ken's Birthday Salsa (a.k.a. Red Adobo Cheater Salsa)

8 on the vine, ripe, red tomatoes
1 14.5oz can fire roasted, adobo seasoned, diced tomatoes (we use Muir Glen)
1/2 large purple onion, diced
2 jalapeños
1 poblano pepper
1 cup fresh cliantro
1.5 tbsp kosher salt
1/2 lime, juiced

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Lightly coat the fresh tomatoes, jalapeño, & poblano peppers with olive oil. Place these on a baking sheet & roast in the oven for about 30-40 minutes, or until peppers start to blacken & the tomatoes start to peel; flip these occasionally while roasting. Once the tomatoes & peppers are ready, remove from oven & let tomatoes cool. Place peppers in a paper bag & fold the bag shut for about 15 minutes or until the peppers cool to touch; this will help to skin the peppers more easily. Remove skins from peppers, cut the tops off, & deseed to your liking (remember, seeds = spicy). Dice the peppers (and remaining seeds). Core and deseed the tomatoes; they fall apart easily so if you lose some of the yummy roasted peel and tomato it isn’t a total loss. In a food processor chop the cilanto into tiny bits. Add the fresh roasted tomatoes, canned tomatoes, peppers, cilantro, lime juice, and salt, into a blender or large food processor. Puree ingredients into a texture of your liking. If your blender or food processor allows pulsing, puree it with several bursts of pulse power versus one constant puree (we’re not trying to make smoothies here).

Note, this recipe makes a lot of salsa, after all it’s for a party. So, make yourself some guacamole, open up some Coronas, make a margarita or two, grab some chips, and enjoy!

If you don’t want to cheat, you can make your own adobo seasoning (garlic powder, onion powder, salt, black pepper, cayenne, and dry Mexican oregano). Also, if it isn’t 28 degrees outside, as it is here, you can fire roast fresh tomatoes over the grill and let them marinate in the adobo mix overnight to get them close to the same flavor as the canned tomatoes.

Ken's Birthday Salsa (a.k.a. Red Adobo Cheater Salsa)

by Valerie | 01.23.10 | Recipes | 2 Comments »

Tempeh Philly with Oven Baked Fries

We had a hankerin’ for a philly cheese steak & fries; but, since I don’t eat steak, we thought it’d be fun to try this with tempeh instead. Also we usually just buy the frozen, bagged fries at the grocery store, but we figured it probably wouldn’t be all that hard to make these ourselves with fresh potatoes & bake them so that they’d be healthier. So, based on some other recipes we’d perused for this sort of thing & with Ryan’s kitchen wizardry thrown in, this is what we came up with…

Tempeh Philly Ingredients:
marinade (recipe below)
olive oil or Earth Balance organic buttery spread (enough to saute veggies)
1 bell pepper (we used green), cut into strips (think fajitas)
1 small to medium size onion (we used purple), cut into thin strips (think fajitas)
1 package tempeh, sliced thin
provolone (optional; we used mozzarella because it’s what we had on hand)
hoagie bread of your choice (we used a white, french baguette)

For the marinade:
1/2 cup + 1 tsp soy sauce (we use Tamari)
2 tbsp sake
1 tbsp + 1 tsp honey
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
1/4+ tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp coarse ground black pepper

Marinade the tempeh for 30+ minutes (until it’s soaked up most of the marinade). In a pan over medium heat, heat about 1 tbsp olive oil/Earth Balance. Add bell pepper & onion to pan & saute for about 5 minutes or until they start to caramelize. Add tempeh & cook it through. Place tempeh philly mix on bread & top with cheese (we actually put our cheese on the bottom, before the philly mix – that way it melts well & helps to hold the bread together), if you like, salt & pepper to taste & enjoy! Note: This recipe is mostly vegan & you could leave out the cheese or use vegan cheese instead of course.

Oven Baked Fry Ingredients:
Russet potatoes (quantity is up to you), cut into 1/4 strips
Olive oil (enough to thinly coat potatoes)
Sea salt (to taste)
Coarse ground black pepper (to taste)

Cut potatoes into 1/4 strips & place in bowl. Add olive oil & toss. Place potatoes on baking sheet (we used aluminum foil on the baking sheet to keep them from sticking) & top with ground sea salt & coarse ground black pepper to taste & then toss once more; you could easily add additional seasonings or fresh herbs (rosemary or thyme would be nice) to these to spice them up a bit. Bake in oven at 450 degrees for approximately 45 minutes or until cooked to your taste. Enjoy!

Note: if you happen to be Ryan’s taste twin with a fear and dislike for vinegar, don’t worry you can’t taste the balsamic vinegar at all.

by Valerie | 01.21.10 | Recipes | No Comments »

Spicy & Sweet 3 Bean Chili

Three beans, they’re delicious!

1 medium purple onion, diced
1 lb carrots, peeled & diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 red bell peppers, diced
1 28oz can Muir Glen Fire Roasted diced tomatoes
1 14 oz can Muir Glen Fire Roasted diced tomatoes
1 15oz can cannellini beans, drained & rinsed
1 15oz can great northern beans, drained & rinsed
1 150z can navy beans, drained & rinsed
~2 tbsp olive oil (or cooking oil of your choice)
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cumin
2.5-3 tbsp chili powder (we use a mixture of smoked chili powder & la mesa dark chili powder)
1+ tsp cayenne (or less, if you’re a wuss)
1/2 tsp ancho chili powder
1 tbsp kosher salt (to taste)

Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, & dry ingredients (chili powders, cumin, cocoa powder, & cinnamon) minus the salt (which you add at the end); sweat these for a few minutes. Add carrots & sweat for a few more minutes. Add bell peppers & sweat for a few more minutes. Add tomatoes & bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to simmer for 5-10 minutes. Add beans (rinsed & drained first) & then simmer for 10-15 more minutes until everything is fully cooked/heated through. Salt to taste. And, finally, put in a cup/bowl & enjoy – yummy!

by Valerie | 01.19.10 | Recipes | No Comments »

potato faux-rizo hash


This is a fairly easy recipe for breakfast brunch goodness.

1 package soyrizo (or your preffered faux-rizo)
2 tbsp chili powder blend (ie use a combination of smoked chili powder, la mesa dark chili powder, cayenne, and chipotle)
1-2 tbsp dried herbs (oregono and thyme worked well)
2 or so lbs of yukon gold potato (diced into 1/4″ pieces)
1 jalapeño (diced)
2 cans green chiles (if you live in New Mexico or like my parents in El Paso and can get ’em fresh use those)
1 medium purple onion (diced into small pieces)
2 tbsp and 1 1/2 tsp of vegetable oil (I prefer canola)
salt (to you taste preference)

I used two pans for this recipe. In a large pan heat over medium to medium high heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Toss the potatoes in to start cooking. Cook them for about 20-25 minutes or so, until they start to become tender. Note: the time it takes might vary based on the size and depth of your pan and whether or not you make this covered or uncovered, I cook it uncovered. Stir often so that the potatoes don’t stick to the pan, if using non-stick cookware you may want to add oil if things start to stick. Once the potatoes have started to brown add the onions and jalapeño. Stir often again making sure everything is getting cooked.

In a smaller pan heat the remaining vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the soyrizo and chili powder blend and cook throughly. Depending on the brand that means until it starts to brown and break into smaller pieces. It took mine about 6-8 minutes. Add the soyrizo, dried herbs, and green chilies to the potato mixture. Cook for an additional 3-5 minutes so that all the flavors mix. Make sure your potatoes are cooked all the way through and add salt to your liking. All and all it takes anywhere between 35-45 minutes for things to cook properly in my kitchen.

For additional spiciness use more jalapeños, cayenne, or whatever pepper preference you may have. I tamed this one down for guests at a brunch, if it was for myself I would have added more spice to this one. Toss in some salsa, add in some eggs, maybe some black beans, throw it on a tortilla (or 4 or 5) and you have yourself a pretty nice breakfast burrito.

Sorry folks, no finished pics here, I was so hungry I forgot to take pics. But just look at it cooking on the stove nice a purty-like and use your imagination what it looks like when that delicious faux-meat substance on the right is added to the potatoes.

by Ryan | 01.18.10 | Recipes | No Comments »

Pan Fried Tofu with Spicy Bean Sauce and Veggies


Before I get to the nuts and bolts of this recipe I will say the spicy bean sauce was store bought. Sure I could have probably found a way to make it myself, but it was just easier to try it this way since it was the first time I cooked tofu. So here it is:

for the tofu:
1 package firm or extra firm tofu
soy sauce (about 1/2 cup)
sesame oil (about a tablespoon)
sesame seeds (toasted, either toast yourself or buy them that way)
spicy bean sauce (or whatever sauce you like, tiger sauce, rooster sauce, awesome sauce, etc.)

for the veggies:
garlic (about 3 cloves diced)
2 red bell peppers (cut into 1″ pieces)
green onions chopped
broccoli (1 bunch cut into small florets)
1 can baby corn (drained)
1 can water chestnuts (drained)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

To prepare the tofu:
The first thing to do is to try to remove as much of the moisture from the tofu as possible. I did this by wrapping the tofu in a few paper towels and microwaving it a few times. Basically you wrap the tofu in paper towels then microwave for 30 seconds, remove the paper towel, rewrap and do it again. Do this 2-4 times. Then cut into slices about 1/4″-3/8″ thick. Again wrap in paper towels to remove more moisture. Once the tofu feels fairly firm and dryish place on a shallow plate. In a separate container mix together the soy sauce and sesame oil. Pour it over the tofu so that the tofu soaks in the sauce mixture. Heat up a pan to medium, if you need to lightly coat the bottom of the pan with some vegetable oil so that the tofu does not stick. Once heated lay the tofu in pan, coat the top of the tofu with bean sauce. After about 3 minutes or so (till it starts to brown on the bottom) flip the tofu. Again coat the top with sauce and cook for about 3-4 minutes. Remove tofu from the pan and sprinkle on some of the toasted sesame seeds.

To prepare the veggies:
Heat the oil up in another pan. Saute the garlic for a few minutes. Add the bell peppers and cook for another few minutes 3-4. Add the broccoli cook for a few more minutes. Add the corn, water chestnuts, and onions. Splash some soy sauce on for a bit more flavor. Cook until things are cooked all the way through. If you want it a bit spicy add some chili garlic paste or spicy mustard (if that is your thing).

The total prep and cook time was some where around 45 minutes. You can cook both the tofu and veggies simultaneously.


by Ryan | 01.18.10 | Recipes | 1 Comment »



As Wikipedia puts it, anniversary comes from the Latin word anniversarius – from the words year & to turn, meaning (re)turning yearly. As of today, January 13, 2010, Ryan & I have been married for 9 years; I can’t believe that it’s been that long & time has really flown by!

Tonight we’re having dinner at Eve to celebrate our anniversary. And although we won’t be giving each other any pottery or china, which is the traditional 9 year anniversary gift, we will most certainly be eating off of it; here’s to love, marriage, & many more years of wonderful memories ahead!

As Franklin P. Jones said, “Love doesn’t make the world go ’round. Love is what makes the ride worthwhile.”

by Valerie | 01.13.10 | Around town, For Funsies | 1 Comment »

Onion Gobo Potato Soup


So I screwed up the other day when buying ingredients for soup and ended up buying burdock root (also called gobo). It is the root of a thistle plant. According to wikipedia it has a “very crisp and has a sweet, mild, and pungent flavour with a little muddy harshness that can be reduced by soaking julienne/shredded roots in water for five to ten minutes.” Doesn’t sound too appealing but with further digging I found that often it is soaked in lemon juice because the root when cut, peeled, or shredded browns extremely quickly. Not wanting to throw it away I used it in the soup. So here things go.

3 gobos (Burdock Root)
1 medium purple onion diced
6 russet potatoes baking size (give or take), cut into about 1″ chunks
4 cups of vegetable stock
1 lemon (for lemon juice)
course ground black pepper
dried Basil
kosher Salt
2 tbsp butter (or vegan buttery spread)

Cut the lemon in half and juice 1-half of the lemon in a bowl. Peel and dice the gobo, then soak in the lemon juice. In a large pot over medium heat heat and melt the butter. Once heated saute the gobo and onion until tender (about 5-7 minutes). Add the vegetable stock, turn the heat up to medium high and bring to a boil. Once boiling add the potatoes, lower to a simmer, and cook potatoes until tender (about 20 or so minutes). Once cooked add the course ground black pepper, salt, and basil flakes. This is to your taste as a guide I fill up my palm with each one (about 1.5 tablespoons maybe). Squeeze the remainder of the lemon juice into the pot. Mash/puree the soup to a consistency of your liking. I used a potato masher in lieu of our emersion blender and things worked out fine.

I tasted the gobo while it was sauteing, it had a light earthy flavor that mixed really well with the onion and lemon juice. It seems like it would be a great slightly crisp/crunchy ingredient to add to a stir fry. Also, apparently burdock root has a slew of traditional medicinal uses from burn treatment to diuretic to blood purifier to scalp oil. So perhaps this soup recipe may prevent male pattern baldness. So eat up and enjoy my fellow aging balding friends and fight back that receding hairline!


by Ryan | 01.09.10 | Recipes | No Comments »

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow…


One of the nice things (until it gets to be March & it’s still snowing, of course, & then you might hear another word from me to describe it!) about living in Ann Arbor, MI is the lovely, snowy winters. Everything is so quiet, peaceful, still, & covered in a blanket of pure, white, beautiful snow after a fresh snowfall; there’s something really magical about it that I do appreciate!

Here’s a video I took out of my office window today, for those of you (back in TX!) who may not get to see this much or any at all, of the snowfall – enjoy!

by Valerie | 01.07.10 | Around town | No Comments »

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