Monday, October 31, 2011

Yoga for Night Owls

OK, I've said it before, I'll say it again. I am NOT a morning person.

This has been a great source of consternation throughout much of my life. And while I long ago gave up the notion that I'd ever be one of those people who can pop out of bed and be full of energy - I hate those people...

There are times when I really wish that I could wake up and feel like something other than shit on a biscuit.

This is particularly true when it comes to yoga. I LOVE yoga, I really do. But they all say you're supposed to get up and do it first thing in the morning. I have really, REALLY tried, but unfortunately, it just doesn't seem to work out that well for me.

It's not just that I'm tired and grumpy in the mornings, I generally wake up feeling totally famished.

And I don't know about you, but I find it REALLY hard to make myself perform ANY physical activity when I'm literally weak with hunger.

So a week or so ago, Kristin over at Slightly Irritating & Inconvenient mentioned that she was gonna do a 30 day yoga challenge in November. I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to get back on the yoga bandwagon. But almost immediately my thoughts turned to the whole getting out of bed thing.

But suddenly it occurred to me that perhaps I was making this more difficult than it actually was.

Just because "they" say that you're supposed to do your yoga first thing in the morning, doesn't mean that I have to listen to "them."

I mean there ARE other times of the day after all. Soooo I decided that perhaps I should try doing my yoga at night before bed and see what happened....

And the results have been AMAZING!

Seriously, I'm sleeping much better, and I find that I really look forward to having my winding down yoga time at the end of the day... and it totally does away with the temptation for late night zoning out on the couch watching stupid television.

I've been doing it every night for a week or so now, and I sort of can't believe how easy it's been.

I guess I should know by now not to listen to "them."

Soooo... does anybody out there want to join me and Kristin for the 30 day yoga challenge? It'll be really fun, I promise!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Ready or Not...

Well, we enjoyed a long and beautiful Indian summer here in the mile high city. For me it included many a bike ride...

Lots of walks in the park...

And plentiful days outside playing in the garden...

The garden staged a remarkable comeback after the hail storm, and I was almost starting to think that maybe we'd have a nice smooth ride this year with gradually cooling temperatures and beautiful autumn days like this one last week...

But, this is Denver after all, and Denver wouldn't be Denver without crazy unpredictable weather. So after posting a record high of 80 degrees on Monday, this morning we awoke to this:

Fortunately, that's my next door neighbor's tree, and not mine. But here's how my garden looks today:

Actually, the snow is rather pretty...

And even though it was a bit of a sprint to the finish, I managed to harvest everything that was harvest-able...

I am still musing over the monstrous quantity of volunteer pumpkins and squash...

As compared to the one I actually tried to cultivate...

I think there's a lesson in there somewhere about the relative enthusiasm one shows when one is acting out of pure desire vs. being drafted into service...

Anyhow, the cook-a-thon continues. I think there will be MANY more batches of marinara to come...

As well as whatever else I can think to do with my garden bounty. Today's experiment was roasted rosemary chicken with potatoes, onions and red bell peppers... Not bad for a recovering vegetarian who still doesn't have a clue!

And while the kitties certainly enjoyed all of the warm weather...

I'm actually looking forward to snuggling up with a cup of hot tea...

And enjoying the fact that I don't have to worry about my little Princess Kitty this year, because she's now safe and warm and INSIDE! (Note to Cat Fairy... the Inn is full... seriously... I'm NOT taking any more in, so don't EVEN think of sending any more starving strays my direction.)

It's all good!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Worth Every Penny

I mentioned in my last post that I've been cooking my brains out. I'm having great fun, but after several batches of creamed soup I began to grow extremely weary of the messy and seemingly endless task of putting it all through the blender one batch at a time.

Since the garden has produced an abundance of what can only be described as "mystery squash" this year...

I was really starting to dread the idea of an autumn filled with endless batches of squash soup in the blender followed by endless hours of kitchen cleaning.

But, many of the recipes I found online talked about a mysterious device known as an immersion blender.

It's basically a blender on a stick and you just put the thing into your pot of soup and blend it into a nice smooth consistency.

Now, I'm not generally a big fan of kitchen gadgets, because they're such a pain to haul out, set up, tear down, clean up etc.

But, after the last soup-making extravaganza left me with an hour-long kitchen clean up, I finally bit the bullet and bought one. OMG! I am SOOOO glad that I did. I mean, this thing is truly magic!

What used to be a half hour job of complete and utter mess, suddenly became a 5 minute piece of cake task. Plus, clean up was a dream... you just rinse it off, pop off the end, and toss it in the dishwasher. Seriously, it was so easy I felt like I was cheating!

It's really amazing what a difference it makes when you have the right tool for the job.

So I am now looking forward to many, Many, MANY more batches of soup.

And, in case you're curious... the best new recipe so far is most definitely the Mexican squash/corn chowder.

Basic recipe...

Saute an onion and pepper in olive oil - I used half a green pepper and 2 jalapenos, but you could use green chilies or any other sort of pepper that you like. Add about a cup or so of corn - I used frozen, but you could use either fresh or canned. Add cubed hunks of squash - any variety - mine was mystery squash - and enough stock to cover the chunks. Simmer until the squash is soft and then blend with your fancy schmancy, nifty gallifty, totally cool and amazingly awesome new immersion blender. Top with grated cheese or sour cream. Totally YUMMY!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Psychology of Freezing Garden Produce

A few years back, I had a mammoth tomato harvest...

OK more like a ridiculous tomato harvest - this was only about a third of the total haul. Anyhow, that was the thing that made me decide that the time had come to buy a chest freezer.

Now, I totally LOVE having the freezer, but after several seasons of use, I have come to the conclusion that there is a definite psychology to using the thing effectively.

You see, while it's easy for me to get all excited about preserving my surplus veggies...

I find that when the time comes to use the frozen bounty, my enthusiasm tends to wane a bit.

In fact, I've discovered that each year as the gardening season approaches, I'm in a mad dash to use up all of last year's take...
...before the new harvest starts to arrive.

The thing is, when it's garden season I tend to cook with what I have on hand. So during the winter, I kind of like to explore other options. Plus... it's just WAY more fun to cook with fresh veggies than frozen.

BUT - I have made a very interesting and useful discovery. If I actually prepare something from my garden abundance, and freeze the prepared dish, I am utterly delighted to gobble it right up in a hungry moment... even if it is a zucchini quiche.

I guess it's like the Norwegians say: Sult er det beste krydder!  And for all of you non-Norsk speakers out there, that translates to Hunger is the best Spice.

So this year, instead of blanching and freezing, and blanching and freezing some more, I'm cooking my little brains out.

I'm finding that it really isn't much more time or hassle to actually prepare the food than it is to just prepare the veggies for freezing. Of course this year's harvest is a bit on the meager side thanks to the hail storm, but nevertheless, I'm looking forward to a winter full of casseroles, soups and zucchini/pumpkin bread.

It will be SOOOO nice to have something I can just warm up when I don't feel like cooking. 

And maybe next year I'll actually head into the gardening season with an empty freezer just waiting to be filled.