April 2013 archive

First Spring Farmer’s Market

Today was the first outdoor farmer’s market of the year, despite the snow we received yesterday. The market actually runs all year, but it’s indoors from mid-November through mid-April. Every year, we look forward to the market moving outdoors. Aaron and I went bright and early, even though we knew not to expect too many vendors or varied veggies. It was cold (low 30s when we left the house), but the weather was otherwise gorgeous–clear sky and lots of sun!

IMG_6310We didn’t actually buy anything; there were lots of flowers, maple syrup, and baked goods (and preserved meat, but that doesn’t really interest us anyway), but nothing we needed this week. Now we’re looking forward to the market filling as as the season progresses; we’re also looking forward to our CSA starting in mid-June!

It’s A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

The first set of structures I have been building for the model railroad are houses.  These houses will form a small neighborhood that will reside just east of the Grinnell College campus.  (If you are facing the layout, this is on the right half of the layout in the rear.)

I focused on building houses first because they are one of the few structures on the layout that do not need to be kit-bashed.  Also, it will help me judge how much space to dedicate to each of the other major sections of the layout (Grinnell College campus, downtown Grinnell, and Central Park).

Two houses have been built so far.

Two Houses for Model Railroad A third house is under construction.

House under construction

Old Model Railroad Blog Entries

Before I started blogging about my model railroad here, I used to blog about it on my personal website. You can access the full set of old posts, or you can view one of the posts directly:

Vegan Potluck

Last week, we went to a potluck and movie showing with the Plant-Based Eating Group at FUS. We first found out about the group at a winter farmers’ market, and we’ve been to brunch (at the Green Owl) with the group before. The group has both vegens and vegetarians (and some allies); the potluck was vegan to ensure that everyone could eat everything.

Aaron and I aren’t vegan, but we cook a lot of vegan food. If you check out our Cookbooks page, you’ll see that several of our favorites (in particular, Veganomicon and Vegan with a Vengance) are vegan cookbooks. So, finding a vegan dish appropriate for a potluck was actually pretty easy; much easier, in fact, than finding a Kosher-for-Passover dish for the seders a few weeks ago.

Before I talk about the dish we actually brought, I want to take a brief moment to exclaim just how wonderful this potluck was. Not only was there a wide range of tasty, home-cooked food brought by a fun group of folks, but I was able to eat more than just the dish I brought. I’ve gotten so used to bringing my own food to large events, or filling up on appetizers (yay, cheese and crackers). And in general, that’s fine. My family (and Aaron’s family!) have been pretty accommodating. But, it was incredibly refreshing to be among others with similar food beliefs.

We went with the Camelized Onion-Butternut Roast with Chestnuts from Veganomicon. This dish is one of our favorites (though, if you ask Aaron, he doesn’t always like eating it for days on end, and it even a half recipe yields many meals). We even brought this to Thanksgiving a few years ago, though I think that many of my relatives were scared by the chestnuts.

Butternut squash chestnut roast (Veganomicon)Although the recipe comes from a vegan cookbook, it’s pretty easy to accidentally make this non-vegan. The topping is breadcrumbs, and most breadcrumbs (at least that we could find) contain dairy. We used gluten-free all-purpose rice crumbs to make this recipe truly vegan.

I should also note that it can sometimes be challenging to find chestnuts. Our beloved HyVee used to carry them consistently, but we’ve had trouble finding them recently. We used to get jarred chestnuts, but these apparently became a “seasonal” item. Then there were vacuum-packed chestnuts, which worked just as well. But those disappeared off the shelves, too. This time, we had to go to a second store–Metcalfe’s–to get chestnuts, and so we stocked up! If you ever go looking for chestnuts, be warned that you will get the asked if you’re planning on “roasting them over an open fire” at least once!

After dinner, we watched VegucatedThe documentary follows three New Yorkers on a six-week vegan experiment. If you want to learn more, there’s a ton of information on the website.

Easter Eggs

Aaron and I celebrated Easter on Sunday, first at the family Easter service at church, which included this fantastic story: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fOwY9PbVMwk

I mentioned to Aaron last week that I missed getting an Easter basket (I tend to really enjoy when people give me things…), and he actually got me one, complete with a seder plate. It was very sweet.

We had also purchased a $1.50 egg dying kit (I wanted the wire egg holder, likely worth << $1.50). In an effort to capture a nice picture of my Easter spoils, I ended up with this photo. This scene is pretty indicative of the rest of the day; Hairy and Luna definitely wanted to participate in the festivities.

Hairy and the Easter Basket

Equipped with our egg dying supplies, we set out to dye our 7 hardboiled eggs.

Egg Dying Supplies

Our coffee mugs were just the right size for dying eggs; we ended up using bits of paper towel, however, to identify the colors, because it was (unsurprisingly) hard to tell the colors apart in the black mugs. Not to be left out, Hairy and Luna tried to partake in our festivities…

Luna with Easter Eggs

All in all, it was a pretty nice way to spend the weekend. We’re slowly starting to make our own holiday traditions, which is a wonderful process. We love spending the holidays with our families, but it can be difficult to carve out the time for travel, plus I’m not a huge fan of leaving the cats for too long (and, having taken Luna to the vet on Saturday, I think we can safely rule out the possibility of ever taking her on a car trip!).