Thursday, February 25, 2010

Gettin' Fancy!

In case you forgot, it snowed on Tuesday! Crazy!

My Bikram Yoga 60 day challenge is winding down. 9 days left!
I decided to further challenge myself by taking a "double" on Wednesday. I took the 10am regular class and the 1215 advanced class. Four hours of yoga later I was ready for a nap, an epsom salt bath, and a slathering of muscle cream.

The instructors at my studio are amazing. They not only are completing their own challenge, but they teach classes on top of that. And they regularly take doubles with students to motivate them. So I decided to bring a few of my kale chips to give to the teachers.

This time I wanted to try two new flavors, Orange Sesame and Salt n' Vinegar.
I toasted sesame seeds
For the Orange Sesame: orange juice and orange zest, crushed ginger, sesame oil, toasted sesame seeds, and dark soy sauce

The other batch had Bragg's Apple Cider vinegar, Kosher salt, and lemon juice

I also decided to make labels.
Even though some of the chips did not end up as crispy as before and I now know what to do to my next batches to make them extra vinegary, I hope everyone who got to try them enjoyed!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Updates, Woweeeee-Pow!

I am currently reading Michael Pollan's 'Food Rules', and hope to move on to "Omnivore's Dilemma" afterwards. I tend to have a hard time finding books I like or can get through so I'm hoping the food-subject-approach will help. :)

Today I was informed that I won the best booth/ activity for the Chinese New Year celebration I wrote about earlier. Yee-haw! An accomplishment as a teacher to put down for upcoming job searches. The school gave me a gift certificate (in a red envelope!) to Toys-R-US and I'm looking forward to exploring and finding some new games.

I have only one(ish) week of my Bikram challenge left and we are going out with a Bang! I plan to continue practicing 5-6 days a week after the challenge is over, but it will be nice some days (like when i'm running fever) to not feel like i have to go. It has been an amazingly challenging and rewarding experience thus far. I will write more about it after I officially finish!

Speaking of the yoga, this is Ky Ha, who has been guest teaching at Bikram Yoga Davenport. The other day I asked him about Bikram Yoga studio locations and the possibility of me continuing my practice in the Peace Corps if I go. He taught in Singapore the past two years and is about to move to London. Pretty amazing.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Eggceptionally Sunny

Although I hold a strong fear deep inside, I've always had a love for all things farm or ranch related.
My grandparents have a wide assortment of animals on thier West Texas land, from llamas and miniature donkeys, to two dromedary camels. I could watch these guys (and feed them!) for hours. But I prefer to be on the other side of a fence from them. Even my grandparent's sweet, bottle-fed longhorn/cow Oliver scares me a bit with his giant horns.

Enter chickens.
Mr. and Mr. Roosters, roosting on my bike

Randy had chickens when I met him but they were soon killed off by raccoons because of his unfinished chicken coop. Randy and I finished his chicken coop. Randy's roommate Tara got chickens from her friend.

Pro: baby chickens to look at, and feed, and watch gro.
Con: baby chickens that were not sexed. Nobody knew how many would become hens or how many would become roosters.

Now they have grown in to 3 large cacklin' roosters and 2 hens that lay eggs.
Lately one hen and one rooster have gone missing so we are left with one hen and two roosters. I'm sure one rooster will kill the other soon enough. Lovely.
Despite what some people might think, these roosters begin their crowing well before sun-up. I'm sure the neighbors are just thrilled.

Even though they poop everywhere and their pointy beaks and claws somehow scare me, I can't help but have a strong attraction to the little guys. Every time I go to Randy's I am outside feeding them and more recently looking for eggs. I love that we even have the opportunity to own such animals in our backyard in East Austin. Like a lil' slice of country living. Did I mention Randy also has one "Hunny Bunny" left by an ex who I have also adopted as my own?

I even set up a nesting spot for the hen that she now goes to and lays eggs in. I found 3 yesterday!!

So what is the point of this post?

Simply to gloat that I will soon be eating backyard chicken eggs.
I foresee chickens of my very own in my future.
And a goat.
Possibly a bunny.
Hopefully a pot belly pig.

And they will all be friends with my future Basset Hound named Pickle

Monday, February 15, 2010

祝各位虎年進步, 萬事如意, 心想事成!!

Because Randy and I created our own Love-Love Day, we spent the weekend celebrating the Chinese New Year which fell on February 14th this year.
As it is the Year of the Tiger it is extra special for me since my birthday year was 1986.

Friday: Chinese dumpling party
assembling and eating pork dumplings with a lovely group of people

Saturday: Dumpling experiment and Asian flick
Randy and I had a brilliant idea to make Gyro-style dumplings. We thought dumplings were easy-peasy after our Friday experience, but it turns out there is more to it than we thought.
We mixed lamb meat, mint, feta, minced garlic, chopped red onion, and chopped mushroom to use for the filling which actually turned out to be quite delicious. The problem came when we had to quick thaw our frozen dumpling wrappers. When we boiled our dumplings, the meat shrunk up way to much (I'm thinking the lamb was too lean) and the wrappers bust rather than wrinkle up and stayed gooey and limp. We ended up with what looked like alien eggs in broth.
We did successfully cook rice, a delicious broth, and steam edamame.

But as for the dumplings:
Our idea- A+
Our execution- D

Watching Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, a Park Chan-wook film made up for it, even though it is a Korean film so does not quiiiite fit in to the Chinese theme.

Sunday: Chinese New Year celebration
I am the Art 2 teacher at the Austin Great Wall Chinese School. We had a New Year celebration on Sunday instead of usual classes.

I hosted a Paper lantern and Lucky Red Envelope origami booth. Thanks to Randy for drawing the dragon on my poster and helping cut hundreds of red paper into squares for the envelope making.

The kids were so adorable in their traditional outfits. I hung up a long chain of handmade lanterns above the prize table and it was great seeing the students from my class excitedly show their parents the lanterns they had made.

While I could not understand the speeches being made or read the signs posted on the wall, there was a warm fuzzy feeling floating around the room and it was lovely seeing several generations of families celebrating their Chinese traditions together.

I definitely got more out of this weekend than simply going out to an expensive restaurant with my boy. No matter what holiday you celebrated or who you chose to share your love with, I hope you all felt loved and continue to feel warm as this cool weather comes to an end and Spring slowly rolls in.
Happy Monday!

Monday, February 8, 2010

No Fail Kale!

I am loving this weather. Even if it isn't rainbow-colored, bright, and shiny.
I know Austin needs rain badly and I try to keep in mind that we will soon be heading in to 9 months of hot weather again. Keeping positive and finding little things to do, like wearing smiling ladybug rain boots to teach in, helps keep me happy when it is gray outside.

I am on day 34 of my Bikram Yoga Challenge. This 60 day challenge has brought along a strange side effect that I wouldn't at all call bad. I have been craving vegetables, in particular dark green superfood type veggies, and fruit more than ever before. This is forcing me to explore produce sections I did not frequent before.

Today I decided to make kale chips, something a customer told me about back when I worked at Central Market.

I have seen them on sale once in a gas station for an obscene price (something like 6 or 7 bucks a bag) and figured with Kale being $1 a bunch, might as well give it a go. Afterall, Kale IS an awesome super food.

The process was so simple. I cut the stems off the kale and cut it into smallish pieces. (They shrink significantly as they bake)

I tossed the greens in the oil mixture. Some people suggested putting them in a salad spinner after adding the oil to ensure they were not over-coated. I do not own a salad spinner so I just shook them off before arranging them in a single layer on a pan.

For one smallish bunch of curly kale, I used about 2T olive oil, one small lemon, salt and pepper to taste.
Bake at 250 for 30 minutes. I found that my smaller pieces were ready to come out about 5 minutes early. Then I turned over some of the larger pieces so they would dry out more evenly. They are done when they are crisp. So easy!

For those who have never tried Kale, I would liken it to brussel sprouts. Haven't tried those? It's a bit like broccoli- definitely meaty and can be a bit bitter when overcooked.

I already have several varieties in mind to make next time, from Salt n' Vinegar to Orange Sesame. I plan to make some baggies for my yoga team The Cobras, because we are super and all.

Happy Rainy Monday!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Love to Love to Love

I love and want some of these badly.
Too bad they are not for sale.

Randy and I made up our own version of Valentine's Day- "Love Love Sandwich Day."
We will be spreading our love on February 13th and 15th... A nice little sandwich around the actual upcoming pink and red Sunday.
I might make one of these in celebration.

P.S. I know I have been slacking in the blogosphere, but I have good reason. When I am not substitute teaching I am sleeping, cooking, and partaking in a 60 day Bikram Yoga challenge. I am on the "Cobras" team and today will make day 30! Weeeeee!

Bikram says, "Do my yoga every day for 60 days and you will have a new body, a new mind, and a new life."
After 3 days my biceps were larger. After a week my flexibility had almost returned to when I had done yoga previously, and now I am so much calmer in the room and the heat (almost) doesn't bother me. Not to mention my entire body is toned. Unfortunately my butt has shrunk more than I'd have liked :)
Now that I have reached day 30 I have the opportunity to take an advanced class and I am moy excited!
I can't wait to see what happens over the next couple of weeks.