Thursday, July 26, 2012

Photo Update + DECATHLON!

Summer continues to be focused on outdoor time, adventures, visits from friends and family, and lots of travels.  I hope you'll excuse my recent departure from regular posting and know it is only temporary!  The whirlwind of July is going to ease into a far more lazy, chill August (or at least I think it is) and then I'll be back to my usual internet ways.  In the meantime, I thought I'd share a few recent photos and fill you in on a fun Stonyfield event going on over the next few weeks!
What's been going on lately?
This guy rides a skateboard now.  Oh dear.  
If he's anything like his dad and me, I'll be on a first name/Christmas card exchanging basis with the stitches person at the local ER by the time he is four.

We are complete and total biking junkies around here.
Isn't my dad's vintage Peugeot sweet?  I love how if you keep something and take good care of it long enough, it inevitably becomes "vintage".  Good stuff.

Extreme belly poppage in effect.  
I am officially living in fear of having a twelve pound baby, as we still have three months left to go.  Scary.
Please ignore my hawk-like death grip on my phone.
On the Stonyfield front, I'm so excited to share that I am one of twenty bloggers who has been selected as a crowd leader in the Stonyfield Frozen Decathalon!
If you are like me, you are currently obsessed with tangy, healthy, probiotic-rich Greek yogurt, as well as any variation on tart frozen yogurt.  Stonyfield Oikos happens to be some of the finest organic Greek stuff around, and this summer they've rolled out a frozen variety which is absolutely delicious.  To celebrate their new flavors, Superfruits and Peach Mango, Stonyfield is hosting a month-long "decathlon" on Facebook, pitting the flavors against one another and seeing who can get more votes.  I'm digging this adorable and Olympic-related marketing creativity, and am excited to participate.  

I'll be representing Superfruits in the Pole Throw from August 7-9, so expect lots of reminders to head to the Decathlon Facebook Page during that time.  Lest you be concerned about me hurling actual poles with the belly pictured above, let me assure you this is all about driving traffic to the Facebook page just for fun.  If I get Superfruits the most votes during my three day event, I'll get 50 FREE OIKOS COUPONS to share with ya'll, so let's make this happen!  

When you place your first vote, you get a $1 Frozen Oikos coupon automatically. After that, each entry gives you a chance at winning prizes including a $100 Patagonia gift certificate (awesome) and a year of free Frozen Oikos (dangerous), so this contest if definitely worth your click. Plus, it really is adorable.  You've gotta head over there just to see the little yogurt tubs in their decathlon gear.  Seriously.   The whole thing kicks off today, so click on over there and check it out!
Thanks in advance for playing!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Millions of Peaches

One amazing feature of our new home is the gorgeous peach tree in our side yard.

Our peaches are still a bit hard and green, but with each passing day of July heat and humidity, they look riper and riper.  Soon, we are going to have more peaches than we know what to do with, so to prepare for the onslaught, I've been pinning peach recipes left and right.  Each photo screams summer and makes my mouth water, so I thought I would share, just in case any of you are also lousy with stone fruit.  Check out the peachy goodness...

I'm also hoping to can some peaches and a simple peach jam just so we can continue to enjoy the plenty in the dead of winter. 
What's your favorite way to enjoy the precious peach?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Summer Day

lily blooming in our backyard

The Summer Day
by Mary Oliver
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean—
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down—
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

Monday, July 9, 2012

Drink of the Summer

If I were to set about creating my ideal summer beverage, I would have several wishes: the drink would be hydrating and refreshing with fringe health benefits, it would have a caffeine kick without leaving me jittery, and it would taste fantastic, with a slight sweetness and maybe a nutty or bitter edge to round it out.   Purely delicious.

As it is, I've been starting my day with iced coffee so that I can get my sluggish preggo buns in gear and keep up with the little man all morning.  Then I periodically hydrate throughout the afternoon with coconut water; rich in potassium for energy and muscle maintenance, and as hydrating as any sports drink, it is my summer elixir.  Together with lots of water, these beverages fuel my day.  On a really good day, espresso is an upgrade for the coffee, and then life is perfect. So imagine my intense glee when I spied this in the cooler case of a local bakery:
Stop the presses.
Espresso Coconut Water.

Honestly, if I were a millionaire and could commission my personal signature beverage, this is exactly what I would create.  There are basically three ingredients: organic, fair trade espresso, pure coconut water, and a bit of low fat milk.  The drink is absolutely perfectly energizing, giving you the pick-me-up of a nice, strong coffee, but with that cell-quenching feeling you get from chugging an electrolyte drink after a really phenomenal workout.  The creator is a surfer yogi who knew what he was going for in formulating this perfect buzz for the active person. Check out the promotional video, and swoon further...

Now that I'm turned on to this product, I'm seeing it everywhere: in our local cafes, at the grocery, and even in the beverage section of Target.  And because the creators of this product seem to live inside my brain and want to make my life perfect, it is even priced more reasonably than both straight coconut water or an Americano at your local coffee joint.  Imagine, the perfect pre-or-post workout drink, individually packaged and ready to go in your fridge, for less than you would pay to roll out to the cafe and buy a coffee on your way to yoga. If the box could give me a foot massage, my life would truly be complete.

If you are a coffee drinker and a coconut water lover, you've got to track down a box of this stuff, stat.  And if you are a coconut hater, try it anyway!  The smooth espresso really tamps down that primal coconut water flavor that some find unpalatable.  You can order Coco Cafe online, and it is also carried at Whole Foods, but keep your eye peeled for it elsewhere, as we have nary a WF in sight up here, and I've now seen it at least four different places.  I'd love to hear what you think of my perfect summer drink!
Cheers and Happy Monday!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Time Flying + Tofu Taco Salad

The last month-plus has truly been a blur.  Since our move, we've had visitors in town or been traveling for all but just a handful of days, and suddenly I find myself feeling pregnant enough that keeping up with the rest of my crew is a bit of a challenge.  Keeping the little man well-run and largely outdoors takes up most mornings, and I've been totally ready to fall asleep in the afternoons when he does to gear up for some fun and unusually active evenings.  With the fourth of July holiday passed, I'm only just now starting to catch my breath and feel like we actually live here.  Did I mention we found out we are having another BOY?  Crazy!  It has been a big month to say the least...

In addition, we've had lots of things to celebrate... sisters in from out of town, birthdays, engagements... so, meals have been heavy on festive meats, cheeses, and sweets.  June was largely a blur of burgers and ice cream.  Ironically, most of my pregnancy cravings have fallen on the vegetarian end of the spectrum, so on the rare recent nights when we've found ourselves home alone, I've made a big effort to focus our meals around light, vegetable based entrees with a little kick of protein.  This plan, as well as disjointed grocery shopping in new-to-me stores, resulted in this new recipe for Tofu Taco Salad.

Our family-favorite taco salad recipe comes from a tennis pro my parents took lessons from at an Oregon resort in the seventies, and reads exactly like it came from some mustachioed, sun-kissed fellow hitting balls around with tourists for a living: the recipe is heavy on mayo, cheese and nacho-flavored tortilla chips, and it is flipping delicious in a naughty, retro-recipe kind of way.  Over the years, I've worked on lightening it, and my current version replaces turkey for ground beef, halves the cheese, ups the veg, and uses light mayo in the dressing... all in all a pretty good compromise, and one of the husband's favorite and most oft-requested dinners.

In the midst of the last heat wave, we were home one evening in the middle of a burger-bender kind of a week, and I realized that I had almost everything to pull together a quickie taco salad for dinner, except for the ground meat.  I did, however, have a block of extra firm tofu, and two ears of corn + a red pepper that were about to expire.  I asked the husband to grill all of these things, draining the tofu very well first, then squeezing lime juice over it and spicing it liberally.  I prepared the rest of the taco salad per usual.  The result was so incredibly delicious, and even lighter than our beloved Lightened Up Tennis Pro Taco Salad.  This was one of those dinners that was totally filling and energizing without being the least bit heavy... an instant classic.

If you want to try some old-school tennis pro goodness, simply omit the peppers and corn and substitute a pound of ground turkey or beef (sautéed with a taco seasoning packet per package directions for the tofu).  I should add that my mom used to double, triple, or even quadruple this recipe for parties and it was always a huge hit.  It is one of those great all-in-one-bowl meals that a easy to prep ahead of time and a huge crowd pleaser.  Try it for your next gathering! Then put on some Abba and get down.  That's an order.

Tofu Taco Salad
Serves 4
For the salad:
1 block extra firm tofu, well-drained, and sliced into eighths
2 ears of corn, shucked
1 red pepper, halved and seeded
1 head lettuce, shredded (the original recipe calls for iceberg, I used a beautiful head of local red leaf lettuce for this one... take your pick)
1/4 of a red onion, finely chopped
4 green onions, sliced
2 large, ripe tomatoes, cubed
8 ounces of sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (or try a pepper jack if you are feeling saucy)
1 15-ounce can of red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 bag of flavored tortilla chips, crushed (back in the day we'd use Nacho Cheese or Cool Ranch Doritos, but these days I like using anything from the Food Should Taste Good company, especially their lime or multi-grain chips. All the natural chip brands make great flavored options... try a few until you find what you love!)
Juice of 1 lime
salt, pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper

For the dressing:
1 cup of light mayo
1/3 cup green taco sauce or salsa verde
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

1) Drain and slice the tofu.  Arrange on a platter and squeeze lime juice evenly over the slices, then sprinkle with salt, pepper, paprika and cayenne.  I used about a teaspoon of salt, pepper and paprika, and a quarter-teaspoon of cayenne, but feel free to spice to your own taste and preference.
2) Prepare the dressing.  I like to add all of the ingredients to a jar and shake vigorously until they are blended, but whisking them in a bowl would also work.
3) Light a grill and grill the tofu, corn and red pepper until done.  All should have grill marks, and the tofu will be firm to the touch.
4) Remove corn kernels from ears, and chop the pepper, removing the most charred pieces of skin with a paring knife (a little char is good, a lot is nasty).
5) Add all of the salad components to a large bowl, top with the dressing and toss.