Fall coming!
dalestaines
Last Thanksgiving, I started an avocado seed in water. 
It eventually sprouted and I moved it to a round decorative pot and it's been outside since them.
Almost 11 months later, it is a wonderful tree with 2 branches.  It is nearly 5ft tall in the pot with a thick trunk.

Since we've had such a great time seeing this tree grow, we have decided to start a new tree (possibly another avocado) each Thanksgiving.  Brent and I just celebrated our 10th anniversary and have been redoing a lot of things at our house.  I think that having a new tree like this every year will be a great way to add fun and memory to our house and life.

November Gardening
dalestaines
This month of gardening has yielded me lots of new growth!

For this month, here is what I've accomplished:

3 Butternut squash plants
3 dozen carrots (1 dozen half way to harvest - transplanting them today)
8 kidney bean plants that are growing incredibly quickly with constant new growth
6 pinto bean plants that are just starting up
3-4 dozen onions with steady growth
10 big garlic plants with even more new growth.
2 gold potato plants
1 newly acquired avocado seed plant
6 Gladiolus bulbs starting up for January planting
2 apple sprouts
1 lemon sprout
5 Moso Bamboo seeds collected and started

Next month, my carrots should be finished and my onions will be big enough to transplant. I'll also be planting peas.  PLUS...I have super hot peppers in the mail.  I'm excited about how much I've been able to do.  I'm even more excited about the continual growth and collection of new seeds.






Thanksgiving Dinner
dalestaines
When you take meat and dairy out of a Thanksgiving meal, it can be daunting to come up with something acceptable to folks looking for the nostalgic tastes and smells that are attached to such a dinner.  There are generally only two choices: Compromise or Ditch Tradition.  Being a nontraditional individual, I adapted a meal that ditches the turkey, dressing and gravy while holding onto the feeling of Fall.  I have a few surprises that I believe my guests will appreciate, though this ain't yo mama's Thanksgiving food.  These recipes are very vague because I cook with my senses and add/remove as I taste.

Baby Greens salad beside a 3 bean spicy chili
The chili is started in a crock pot the night before.  It includes, Kidney Beans, Black Beans, and Northern Beans.
Along with every Italian herb I have, it also includes Turmeric, Red Onion, Carrots & garlic sprouts from my garden.
I will also be including jalapenos and Tabasco.

Stuffed Squash with wild rice
I'm preparing the Butternut Squash halved vertically.  Each person will have half of a squash.
The squash will be baked with the inside down in order to keep it moist and to caramelized the tops a bit.
I will core out some of the squash to make a nice "boat", then add the removed flesh to the prepared wild rice.
After seasoning the rice and squash mixture with salt and pepper, I will add it back into the squash "boat" and garnish.

Cauliflower and Potato Mash
I use a combination of steamed Cauliflower and Yukon Gold potatoes.
Along with that, I add a roasted garlic head, black pepper and almond milk.

For dessert, I'm making candied citrus.
I boil the peels of 2 Oranges, 2 Lemons and 2 Grapefruit for about 20 minutes.
After making a simple syrup that reaches around 230 degrees, I add the rinds to it for about 5 minutes then set them on a wire rack.  If you haven't had them, they taste like gum drops. To make them pretty and extra sweet, you can put a handful of sugar into a plastic bag and shake the candy inside of it while it's still warm and tacky. 





Why I disliked X-Men: First Class
dalestaines
-Too many references to Xavier's hair became cheesy
-Emma Frost actress was not very good and did not portray her accurately ...she looked confused and cheap
-Shaw sending Frost for ice in his drink was just wrong.  She's masterfully powerful White Queen and would never have stood for that.
-Both Scotsman had American accents which led to the Moira character being disconnected completely from the movie - she could have been any random female lack luster support role.
-Beast's story was random and wrong
-Cameo of Wolverine was stupid and pointless just to have the actor in the movie...it was funny though
-They killed Darwin in 3 minutes

Honestly, I did dislike many details, but the movie was good and I liked it.  Movies about massive things like X-Men are never going to be completely "correct".  I accepted that, but some of these things just annoyed me so much that I needed to write them out - for closure.  I'll watch anything that has to do with X-Men and I'm just happy that there's another movie.  I guess the best fans are also the best critics.  I'll be happy to get it on video when it's out.
Believe me.  I adore X-Men.  You can ask all of my pets: Sebastion, Karma, Forge...not forgetting my late sweet kitty, Rogue.

@brenthatton's Taco Chili
dalestaines
      
Monday Dinner!

This one is from my partner.  It's a slow cook recipe that we made in the crock pot.
It makes a ton, so you'll have it for days or a big gathering.
Vegetarian, of course...and lots of cans because it comes from @brenthatton  :)

-2 cans kidney beans
-1 can black beans
-2 cans sweet peas
-2 cans corn
-1 regular can of tomato paste (not the tiny ones)
-2 cans sliced carrots
-2 packets of taco seasoning
-1 can of water

Combine everything and cook on high for as little as an hour in a crock pot.
You can also let it simmer all day on low.

We eat it with tortilla chips.



Burgers and Fries (Vegan)
dalestaines
          
Friday Dinner!


Vegetarian Hamburgers

  • 1 cup canned black beans
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1/2 onion, diced (optional)
  • 3 potatoes, grated
  • 4 scallions, chopped (optional)
  • 1 cup corn
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • oil for frying
  • Mash beans. Add the remaining ingredients, except the oil and mix until well combined.  Shape the mixture into patties. Heat about two tablespoons of olive oil and cook each patty until the veggie burgers are done, about 3 minutes on each side.


Sweet Potato Fries

  • 1/2 teaspoon(s) ground cumin (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon(s) salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon(s) red pepper flakes  (or just black pepper)
  • 1 tablespoon(s) vegetable oil
  • 2 large (about 1 1/2 pounds) sweet potatoes
  • Combine cumin, salt and pepper - set aside.  Preheat to 400 degrees.  Peel and cut potatoes, cut in half, then cut each half into 6 wedges.  Mix potatoes, oil and spices in bowl. Bake 30 minutes until edges are crisp.


Taco Balls!
dalestaines
     

Thursday Dinner!

 

Taco Balls!

- 1 can Black Beans (mashed, smashed, obliterated)
- Various "Taco" Seasonings (chili powder, onion powder, cumin, etc)
- About 1/4 cup Corn Meal
- Tablespoon of Flax seed (milled)
- 3 or 4 cloves of Garlic
- 4 - 6 Taco shells (smashed, crunched, demolished)
- Splash of vinegar (I used an old Balsamic)
- Enough oil to fill your skillet about 1/2 - 1 inch high.
   I used a combination of olive oil and peanut oil.  Any vegetable oil works.

I combined everything in a bowl (except the Taco shells and Oil) and let it marinate in the fridge all day.  That isn't necessary, but I like preparing things early so that when I cook, I have it all ready.

*Put the oil in your pan and heat it up to medium heat.
*Add the smashed Taco Shells into the batter and mix well
*Use a spoon or two, make 1-2 inch balls with the batter and slide them into the oil.
*2 or 3 minutes of cooking is all it takes

You can eat them plain, but I served these with a sauce combination of green pesto sauce, hot salsa and a sprinkle of cheese.  Green peas are a nice side addition to bring in a little sweetness to contrast with the hot salsa.  It was a really good dinner.







Sesame and Chili Noodles
dalestaines
1 lb of noodles (I use a combo of rotini and bowtie - cause it's cute)

1/4 cup Sesame Seed Oil

1/4 cup Soy Sauce

1 1/2 tablespoons of vinegar (I use an old Balsamic)

3 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons of salt (if your soy sauce is unsalted or you like things salty)

1 chiptle chili chopped finely

1 or 2 drops of the adobo sauce from the chili

Any vegetables that you'd like.  I used baby spinach and butter peas.



As I'm cooking the pasta, I warm a sauce pan and put in the liquids, sugar, salt and chili (and adobo sauce) so that the sugar will melt and combine with the rest.
I add the peas in with the pasta water as it's cooking.
When the pasta is ready, I drain it and the peas.
I add a drop of butter to the pot.
Saute the veggies and add the pasta back. 
Toss in the sauce, mix it all up and SERVE!

So good.
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The Lightning Thief
dalestaines
Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief
Rick Riordan

I really enjoy this type of book being in first person narrative.  From the beginning, it made me feel like I was "on the inside" of a conspiracy, but then it shifts to an interesting state of curiosity that is reflected by the other characters.  There's a mystery and an adventure.

This book is obviously marketed to young people, but it doesn't make you regret reading it as an adult.  The main character is only in 6th grade, but the supporting characters are very intelligent, so don't expect silly children speak.  In fact, the characters could have been in their 20s if it wasn't crucial to have them young for the story to make sense. 
In that respect, I can see how they cast older people for the movie.  I have not seen the movie, but the trailers do not show 6th graders in the movie cast.

I read this book in only a few days.  I could have read it faster if I wasn't also attached to a few other books at the moment.  It is only 375 pages, but leads right into the next book.  I believe that there are currently 5 in the series. 

I recommend this to anyone.  It was very easy to read.  The author writes very clearly and directly so you are able to progress through the story without the need to put it down and reflect.  It isn't incredible literature, but it is a very entertaining story and has a lot similar with stories such as the Harry Potter series.  I enjoyed it and I am currently reading the second book.  
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Beyond the Deepwoods (Edge Chronicles, Book 1)
dalestaines
Beyond the Deepwoods (Edge Chronicles, Book 1)

After beginning this book, I figured out that it is actually written for children.  At the time, I had no book to read.  This book has been on my shelf for a few years.  It was given to my partner as a gift and he was never interested in it.  So, out of necessity to have something to read, I grabbed it.

I was shocked at how much I liked it.  I wasn't incredible, but it was very well written and the story was well thought out.  It had a few twists and turns that I did not expect...actually, the entire book was a twist and a turn.  There is constant action and the lead character goes from one problem to the next.  A few of the main points of the story did surprise me and a few shocked me deeply.

Even though this is written for children, it is a bit dark and some overbearing parents might not like their kids being exposed to situations like death even if they are artfully presented.  I don't see the point in pretending children aren't humans like the rest of us, but I digress.  There are many scenes that remind me of some of the movies from the 1980s with dark, odd puppetry characters.  The book even has a few illustrations that put you in that frame of mind.  However, I wouldn't call anything in this book scary.  However, anticipation is constant.

The main character is the usual weak male that finds his strength along the way, but the story is generally unique and pleasing.  He always manages to find a way out of his situation.  The main moral that this story centers around is the acceptance and promotion of individuality.  The main character strays from the path and chooses adventure over assimilation.  I can respect that.
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