Thursday, October 27, 2016

Quick. Healthy. Vegan. Bloomin' Onion!

Eat food that is good for me and my environment.

...and tastes so good.

There are a million and one recipes out there for bloomin' onion knock offs. But here's the thing. They take time. They have a lot of ingredients. I'm not feeling any of that. I want something quick and easy that doesn't involve multiple dishes. After all, I've just started keeping up with the dishes on a daily basis. I don't really want to begin a downward spiral.

So, my solution is super tasty, a little messy, and so easy. It requires one bowl, one cookie sheet, and five ingredients. The End. (Well, plus the sauce.)

Also, while this recipe uses chickpea flour and tumeric (things not every person has lying around), I'm pretty sure you can replace the flour with any flour you have, and the tumeric can be left out or replaced with...smoked paprika, curry powder, ground mustard...pretty much anything you like. This is really more suggestion than recipe, if we're honest.

Bloomin' Onion Bits

  • Chickpea flour 1/2 cup (heaping)
  • Tumeric (optional) 1/2 teaspoon
  • Kosher salt 1/2 teaspoon
  • Garlic powder 3 teaspoons
  • Onion 1 medium
  • Water 1/4 cup
Saucy Sauce
  • Mayonnaise
  • Frank's Red Hot or Sriracha

For the batter, mix the flour, the tumeric, the garlic powder, the salt, and the water. You don't actually need to follow the measurements. I never do. But your batter should be about this consistency:

Slice your onion into thin discs, 1/4 inch thickness or less. You can separate them, but who has time for that? I just toss them in the batter.

Mix with vigor! This is where I try to separate the rings and coat each one with batter. This is not a precise science.

Dump them out on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper which is coated in olive oil. If you don't have parchment, you can use aluminum foil or just a plain old cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees.

Flip the onions over and bake another 15 minutes.

Mix the mayo and red hot/sriracha however you prefer. I start with about 1/4 cup of Just Mayo and then about 2 tbsp of Frank's. But, you do you.

Eat them immediately, while they're crunchy and warm. And don't even feel guilty. I read a million internet articles that said I should eat an onion a day for my best health, and I am taking that very seriously! I've made this about 5 times in the last week. I mean, c'mon. It's for my health! It's for our health!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Letting Go of 'Someday'

Get rid of the stuff that's weighing me down.

Some of letting go is knowing who you are – not who you wish you were.

I love books. When I walk into a book store or a library, I get a thrill of giddiness that stays put until I leave the store. I think of it as a religious experience! So you can see where books are a difficult place to declutter for me.

But here's the thing. If I'm honest with myself, I used to read voraciously! I don't read as much anymore, but I still have that thrill, and I WANT to read more. I want to find that time and I want to want to read again. But, things have changed for me and I just don't read books as much. I've had books for years – potentially decades! - which I haven't read, but I keep them anyhow. Igot rid of a lot of books in my last apartment, but when I moved, I found that I had multiple books of boxes I hadn't sorted at that time.

I still have one large bookcase full of books. But I found a few changes in mindset that helped me clear out a few large boxes of books, and have allowed me to loosen my hold on some of the books I still have. Next time around, I'll have more books to let go of.

It made sense for me to make a list of reasons I keep books I don't read. I hadn't really thought about it in detail, and, as it turns out, that was the key!

Most of my books fit in one of the follow categories:

  • I love them and plan to read them over and over.
  • I loved them and want other people to be able to read them, but I probably won't read them again. This includes some of my most precious children's books, and a lot of the fantasy/sci fi I loved in high school. These books were my friends and my escape.
  • They are now out of print.
  • I want to read them at some point.

Once I defined the groups, I was able to evaluate them more clearly. The books I plan to read again? I'll keep them! They bring me joy now and I expect them to bring me joy in the future.

The books I loved at one time, that I want to loan out or pass on? I have loaned out two books in the past ten years, I think. Two. I'm not doing very well as a lending library. When I'm honest with myself, my best chance at having someone else read these precious books is to pass them on. To friends, to family, or to the library or Goodwill. They are literally doing no one any good on my shelves.

The books that are out of print are hard. I spent a lot of effort collecting them, and I did it because I loved them. Those, I'm keeping for now. Maybe, in the aftermath of this latest purge, I'll be able to let them go. But in the meantime, I have a better space to keep them in, where they're not overcrowded.

The books I want to read were the most significant change. Isn't it funny what we think we want to do, but somehow we're never in the mood or the time isn't right? I realized that I didn't really want to read any of them all that desperately. What I really wanted was a place holder – a reminder that this was a book I wanted to read at some point. With that in mind, I made a list on Goodreads, and I let those go. So many people could enjoy that book in the time that it took me to get around to it! And all of those books should be available from the library when I decide that I want to read that particular book that particular week.

In each of the groups above there are exceptions. I kept things that I was really uncomfortable getting rid of. There's no reason to stress myself out right now by making hard decisions when I have easy ones that can be made. In a month or a year, it might be easier, and I'll make that decision then. I don't want to force anything at this point. I find that my ability to let go naturally improves with practice. So, I proceed with kindness and a heavy dose of logic, and I've made great strides without forcing myself into any incredibly difficult decisions.

Give it a try – make a list of the reasons you hang on to certain things, and see if there is a compromise you can make with yourself. At the very least, you learn a little bit more about yourself – and that's a side of minimalism, too!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Enjoying the Journey

Think critically about what I bring into my living space.

Sometimes, what you bring into your living space is people, animals, and new ideas.

What an adventure life is! I look at the goals I laid out three years ago, and I'm thrilled to see that the core values remain. I've succeeded, I've faltered, I've re-prioritized, I've adjusted...I've lived.

In the six months following the last blog post, I made a lot of progress. I became more active, became almost completely vegan, cooked regularly at home, was moving toward a zero waste lifestyle, and was about 90% of the way to getting all of my belongings into my living space.

Then life threw me a beautiful curveball in the form of my partner. Two and a half years of courting, moving, adopting animals, cooking for two, finding out what was important for the two of us to was bound to cause a hiccup or two.

However, coming back to the blog three years later, I find that I'm closer than ever to the goals I set and newly motivated to keep moving! My debt is limited to my car and my house. My house is on the market. I just got rid of seven boxes of stuff I don't need. I still have things to bring to my partner's house from mine, but I'm more sure than ever that I don't need a lot of those things, and they will likely go directly to a donation box. We agree that a small house with a lot of land and a garage for hobbies would be ideal – my partner makes furniture and I have picked up quilting and painting as hobbies. Keeping those separate from the main house would allow us to save on utilities, and to keep our living space (the space that needs to be cleaned regularly!) to a minimum.

I remain vegetarian, and I'm slowly making attempts to move toward a lower waste lifestyle.

My partner has a lot of tools, but very little else, and hates shopping with a passion. I could not have found anyone better to explore this minimalist lifestyle with! Our minimalism doesn't look much like the minimalism you see on the internet – we have a project room filled with art supplies and fabric – all of it loved and used! We have a lot of collected art on the walls. We have a bright green kitchen. But we are intentional. We don't have things just to have them. We have them to live the life we love, right now.

Goals are great, and they've gotten me far. But the last three years have taught me to go with the flow, enjoy the detours, and love the now.