Recipe: Fall Root Vegetable and Quinoa Hash with Poached Peppered Egg

Oooooooh yeahhhhhh. Spurred on by my new resolve to eat locally and in-season, I found the springboard for this recipe in the October 2010 issue of Martha Stewart Living. I’ve made some changes, but this recipe has singlehandedly cured me of my phobia of beets. It just goes to show, if you think you don’t like something, in all likelihood you just haven’t had it prepared properly.

The mixture of sweet potatoes and roasting goes a long way towards melding the earthy fall flavors, and the addition of a cippollini onion added carmel-y sweetness. Seriously, the best new things I’ve made in a long time… I used golden and red beets for extra color and to fool the kids- they hide better amid the sweet potato. Takes about an hour, serves four.

Fall Root Vegetable and Quinoa Hash with Poached Peppered Egg

  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced 1/4 inch
  • 3 beets, peeled and diced 1/4 inch, greens reserved, rinsed and sliced thinly
  • 2 cippollini onions, sliced (you can sub 1/2 a regular onion if your market doesn’t have the small flat Italian cippollini)
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa (from 1/4 cup dry)
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 clove garlic
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp vinegar
  • salt and pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 400*. Peel and dice sweet potato and toss with 1 tsp olive oil and lay in a single layer on half a rimmed cookie sheet. Peel and dice beets separately to keep from coloring potatoes, and place in a single layer on other half of baking sheet. (Enjoy the spectacular color in your sink as you wash up after the beets.) Throw the onion slices on too, with a dab of oil as well, and salt the whole tray. Roast one hour, stirring half way through.
  2. Back at the ranch, as the veggies near their completion, warm the remaining olive oil in a skillet, and saute the garlic clove and thyme on low heat to bring out their flavors. (Don’t burn  your garlicky friends.) Add the beet greens and saute until slightly browned and tender- about 5 minutes. Add the cup of prepared quinoa (wonder grain!) and saute until warmed through.
  3. Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a low simmer, adding the Tbsp of vinegar (any old kind will do) Break each egg into a cup, and slowly lower the cup into the water and gently slide the egg out. Use a spoon to fold the edges of the white over the poaching egg. Simmer until white is set, yolk is still soft- about 3 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to gently transfer to plates.
  4. Toss the roasted vegetables with the quinoa mixture, divide on four plates and top each plate with a poached egg and garnish with fresh black pepper.
  5. Yummmmy!! Now if I can get the boys to eat it…

The Dog Ate My Homework

The kids are in the bedroom (which here in Little House means 5 feet behind my kitchen table) half arguing half playing, and I’ve got my ear cocked (forevermore) for the tipping point when good-natured ribbing turns to malicious needling. Malicious needling is the fuel for flashpoint, when in mere seconds there is pummeling, wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Tomorrow I have a giant paper due for my comparative literature class. That means not much sleep tonight, and I’m already stretched too thin. You might not be able to be too rich, but whoever said you can’t be too think was never a single mother. (Yeah, yeah, I know what they meant.) Instead of writing my paper today, as I had planned and prepped, I was scraping the barrel and driving to the water and electric company with my bill, which a nice man knocked on my door to kindly tell me would be turned off tomorrow. Nothing like living on the edge, babies.

Child support would sure help out right about now. Did you know that visitation is not tied to support? It’s not. You can be a total deadbeat, not contribute a dime to the support of said children, leaving their responsible parent to juggle not only three (beloved and protected) children, but full time school and bill collectors all by herself- and yet still gain visitation rights? It’s true.

For the first time in ten months, X was allowed visitation this last weekend. I’m still trying to get everyone back to level- mostly Bean. We’ve had some biting and emotional acting out. Which is super fun- after X spends his (supervised, by order of the court) three hours with them, I then spend three days cleaning up the emotional wreckage left behind. Again.

Do you think my professor would buy this story? Or should I lie and say the dog ate my homework?

Adventures in Online Dating or What Level of Hell is This?

It’s been more than a year. And truth be told, I had a long time before my divorce was “official” to mourn and process the dissolution of my marriage. Which is a convoluted way of saying I’m ready to go on a date. Now, there’s a dearth of single men in my area- as in- zero, zilch, nada. Okay, that’s a little hyperbolic, but if I want someone reasonably not-messed-up the pool shrinks from “narrow” to “nonexistent”.

So I thought, what the heck, I’ll toss a profile up on an LDS dating site, and see what happens. I snapped this picture with my laptop two days ago, and wrote a quippy little snippet about myself and popped it out to the interwebs. You know that song “It’s Raining Men”? They lied. I don’t know how to write this without sounding snotty, but I’m going to try…

In the two or three days my profile has been up at the LDS site, more than 130 men have looked at my profile. More than a dozen have emailed me, and 12 additional men have sent what is called a “flirt” which is a canned message saying something like “I’m interested in you!” (ok) or “You’re cute!” (that’s nice)  or even “Blowing Kisses!” (ick). Of the more than two dozen men who initiated contact of some sort (canned or otherwise) more than HALF were older than my father (60). Of the other half, two could not speak English (which is fine, but it’s hard to communicate anything, right?), one admitted up-front that he was unemployed and lived with his sister (thanks, actually), one asked me in the first email if I would start an eternal family with him right away, one was younger than my youngest brother (ick again) and one has repeatedly sent “flirts” despite my emailing him and asking if we could have an actual conversation. Two are “separated” but not divorced yet- yeah, that means you are STILL MARRIED. That leaves a handful of guys.

Now, let me assert forcefully- I am not being persnickety about looks or income or children or profession. I would like a guy who is legally single, who is employed, who does not live with his mother or other family member, and who is not old enough to be my father. Is that asking too much?  Evidently it is. Yesterday I got an email from a new man. He enclosed a photo of himself leaning on his big truck, and another of him holding a hunting rifle. He is 81 years old.

So help me…

Somewhere there has to be a single man who fits in my (incredibly broad) demographic, right? I’d like him to be an intelligent, honest man who is not afraid of a traditional family situation, but who is also supportive of independence within a relationship. I’m not looking for someone to take care of me, but to walk next to me, and who is comfortable with a woman who is her own person. I’d like to get to know someone slowly, especially since my children are involved and effected by anyone I may date. If he is divorced and has children too, that is perfectly okay. Life happens and none of us have perfect situations.

Tell me friends, is this unreasonable?

Tutorial: Make a Suspension Trainer

So you all know I’ve been going to the YMCA for most of this year. It’s great, and I love it and I continue to go as much as I possibly can. However, with the advent of full time school, my gym time was really cut- and while many moms can rise before their kids and run or hit a class it’s just not an option here. I find myself late at night or early morning wishing I could get a workout in- I have hand weights and a ball and can do something, but not enough.

Meanwhile, I have been taking TRX classes at my YMCA. I LOVE these classes- it’s 30 intense minutes, and it covers both cardio and weights. But the classes are hard for me to get to- so I’m lucky if I catch one a week. Not enough, clearly. I looked online to see what it would cost to buy a TRX brand suspension trainer- the brand my YMCA uses- and it’s $189 for the set. You can see them here. They are well made and for that price you get workout DVD’s and extras. But that was beyond my budget. Then I got a bright idea. In my last class, I really took a close look at them. “Hmmm… I think I can make these!”

A quick google search showed me I wasn’t the first to think this, and I watched a few YouTube videos from other people who had done the same thing. Some went super simple and just made straps with handles. I wanted to make them as close as possible, adjustable and with the foot harnesses.  Off to Target then ACE Hardware. Here is what you will need:

  • 1 set of cam-buckle straps. $12.95 at Target
  • 2 six inch sections of PVC pipe (from the scrap pile at Ace, they cut it for free $1.00)
  • 1 eye bolt, rated to 350 lbs (that really should be enough, right??) ($1.95)
  • 1 steel ring ( I bought two, but only used one) ($0.79)
  • 1 roll of friction tape for hockey sticks (Ace had this, $3.95)
  • 1 carabiner, rated to 250 lbs ($2.95 at Ace)
  • Sewing machine

This is more than enough to make the entire thing. But I wanted to make mine pretty, so I stopped at the fabric store so I could have a two-toned trainer like the ones at the Y, and bought 2 yards of pink nylon strapping to contrast. ($1.19 per yard)

The set of cam-buckle straps will provide enough to make two compete trainers- you will use two of the straps and two of the buckles. The first thing to do is wrap you pipe in the sports friction tape. This is not as plush as the padded handles of the professional model, but it makes a nice, comfortable grip:

Each of your straps will have a plain end and an end with an S-hook. Take one of your straps and cut the S-hook from the end. Fold the strap in half evenly.

Don’t panic. Everything is fine. Now, the simple version is that you thread the raw end of each strap through the cambuckle and then through the handle, and tie an oxbow knot. You can see an example here. It’s a good tutorial, and will work well. But I’m a girl and I wanted mine to be pretty. So you can stop here, and have a fully functional trainer. Or, you can continue for fanciness.

From above, with your strap folded in half evenly, thread a camhook on each end, then nip the S-hook off. This is where you are going to stitch your handles on:

Make two loops for each handle, big enough for your comfort- there is no right size. One will attach to the cam-buckle, one will be your foot loop. Thread them through the tape-covered PVC pipe, and then stitch in big X’s with your sewing machine, going over the X several times for strength. Then attach the handles to the webbing where you removed the S-hook from the cam-buckles with the same giant X stitching.

The lower part is now complete, and you need to make the harness to attach to the ceiling:

Remember how your strap was folded in half? Now make a loop from some of your extra webbing, slip the O-ring in, and stitch the raw edges of that webbing to a second loop of webbing through which your finished lower part is looped. Shown in the photo above. I don’t know how to explain it better than that, but hopefully the picture will help. Put several rows of stitches or X’s. It’s now ready to hang.

Have someone help you really get that I-bolt sunk deep into a joist in your ceiling. If you are going to be leaning hard on these straps, you don’t want that thing to fail. Hang it up with the carabiner. And that’s it.

Milestones are not Millstones

So a few things happened. With zero fanfare and surprisingly few tears, I just passed the year milestone of my divorce. At this time last year, I was on a plane headed to Houston. And this week, instead of trekking back to Texas, I had headshots taken for the flap of the book last year’s trip netted me. The book is still due to be out in January. My super photographer friend snapped a few pictures of Abby while we were at her place. This is my favorite:

Also, I had a birthday Sunday. I cannot stress how little I cared and how old I felt. The weight of the world on my shoulders, and I’m just a tired old turtle. That’s just how I feel. Carpool, school, kids, study, homework, kids, bedtime stories, homework, lather, rinse, repeat. People are kind to me- and there were cards and well-wishes and family and friends who showed their love. There are glimmering moments of joy sprinkled through those days, like bits of glitter on your skin from yesterday’s craft project- but it’s a whole lot of hard too. Then, I look at that picture, put my head down, give thanks, and carry on.

Good Stuff: President Uchtdorf

A few excerpts from what I suspect will be one of my favorite General Conference talks ever:

“…it is good advice to slow down a little, steady the course, and focus on the essentials when experiencing adverse conditions.”

This is a simple, but critical lesson to learn. It may seem logical when put in terms of trees or turbulence, but it’s surprising how easy it is to ignore this lesson when it comes to applying theses principles in our own daily lives. When stress levels rise, when distress appears, when tragedy strikes, too often we attempt to keep up the same frantic pace or even accelerate, thinking somehow that the more rushed our pace, the better off we will be.”

“It is said that any virtue, when taken to an extreme, can become a vice. …There comes a point where milestones can become millstones, and ambitions, albatrosses around our neck.”

“The wise understand and apply the lessons of tree rings and air turbulence. They resist the temptation to get caught up in the frantic rush of everyday life. They follow the advice, “There is more to life than increasing its speed,” In short, they focus on things that matter most.”
“It is said that any virtue, when taken to an extreme, can become a vice. …There comes a point where milestones can become millstones, and ambitions, albatrosses around our neck.”

…most of us intuitively understand how important the fundamentals are. It is just that we sometimes get distracted by so many things that seem more enticing. Printed material, wide-ranging media sources, electronic tools and gadgets…can become hurtful diversions or heartless chambers of isolation. Yet amidst the multitude of voices and choices, the humble Man of Galilee stands with hands outstretched. Waiting. …He does not speak with a powerful megaphone but with a still, small voice.

Brothers and sisters, diligently doing the things that matter most will lead us to the Savior of the world. That is why we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ… In the complexity, confusion, and rush of modern living, this is the “more excellent way.”

What are the basics?

Four key relationships: with our God, with our families, with our fellow man, and with ourselves.

First, our relationship with God is most sacred and vital. …We experience greater peace, joy, and fulfillment as we give our best to live according to God’s eternal plan and keep His commandments. We improve our relationship with our Heavenly Father by learning of Him; by communing with Him, repenting of our sins, and actively following Jesus Christ.

Second key relationship with our families. …We build deep and loving family relationships by doing simple things together, like famiy dinner, and family home evening, and just having fun. In family relationships, love is really spelled t-i-m-e.

The third key relationship we have is with our fellow man. We build this relationship one person at a time–by being sensitive to the needs of others, serving them, and giving of our time and talents.

Fourth…relationship with ourselves. It may seem odd to think of having a relationship with ourselves, but we do. Some people can’t get along with themselves. They criticize and belittle themselves all day long until they begin to hate themselves. …Walk in nature, watch a sunrise, enjoy God’s creations, ponder the truths of the restored gospel, and find out what they mean for you personally. Learn to see yourself as Heavenly Father sees you–as His precious daughter or son with divine potential.

Strength comes not from frantic activity but from being settled on a firm foundation of truth and light. It comes from placing our attention and efforts on the basics of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. It comes from paying attention to the things that matter most.

Let us simplify our lives a little. Let us make the changes necessary to refocus our lives on the sublime beauty of the simple, humble path of Christian discipleship–the path that leads always toward a life of meaning, gladness, and peace.

Thanks to my friend Kristine H. who transcribed these quotes at the Conference Center today.