Is Your Diet Boring You? Get Grooving in the Kitchen…

Believe me, I know how hard it can be to pull yourself to the kitchen counter to prepare a meal. The easiest thing to do is to pull out a microwave meal from the freezer but hey… that’s no fun. And not as nutritious as something you whip up from fresh ingredients. And those meals usually have way too many calories.

On difficult days, boil some whole wheat noodles and make a salad from spring greens. Throw a handful of sunflower seeds on top of the noodles on the plate, as a garnish and to add protein. Add avocado and tomato to the salad, sprinkle apple cider vinegar on the salad and soy sauce on the pasta. A dribble of olive oil and a sprinkle of black pepper on the pasta will make the meal complete.

Suellen Ocean is the author of the vegetarian cookbook, Poor Jonny’s Cookbook. Available here:

http://www.amazon.com/Poor-Jonnys-Cookbook-Suellen-Ocean/dp/0965114031

Advertisements

Food and Cooking: Nothing Moo Under the Sun

I’m reading, “The Day the Bubble Burst: A Social History of the Wall Street Crash of 1929” by Gordon Thomas and Max Morgan-Witts. As I do, I see parallels with 1928 and what’s going on today. Believe it or not, even cows offer nothing new under the sun. Just as they did in the days before the Great Depression, they’re very much in the news. And somehow, they’ve managed to work their way into the political discourse.

Henry Ford did not like cows and he let America know it. To Ford, cows never stopped eating and they left their slurry everywhere. He believed that crime and health could be attributed to a person’s diet and his reasoning was that people who filled up on steak were more likely to steal than those who didn’t fill up on steak. And those who indulged in butter fats, he said, were more likely to get sick. “Bad food causes crime,” was his rallying cry, believing that if people ate right, they would act right. To Ford, eating right meant no beef and no butterfat.

Henry Ford didn’t win that battle and isn’t it interesting that the meat/no meat conversation continues today. One decade a substance is bad, the next decade it’s a miracle food. Makes for plenty of apathy for those of us who’ve lived more than a few decades. But if you’re looking for ways to decrease your meat eating, I’ve got just the book for you. Suellen Ocean is the author of the vegetarian cookbook, Poor Jonny’s Cookbook. Available here:

http://www.amazon.com/Poor-Jonnys-Cookbook-Suellen-Ocean/dp/0965114031

 

 

Sewing: It’s OK, Make Your Buttonholes by Hand

The reason I do so many things by hand is because I trust that I can do it right. I don’t always trust my sewing machine, or my ability to operate it perfectly, so sometimes, I make button holes by hand. I have an old Singer from the 1970’s that does zig zag so I use that most of the time, but I am not opposed to doing them by hand. It’s relaxing to sit and watch a movie while making handmade buttonholes. The feeling is a lot like doing embroidery.

Don’t slice your fabric until AFTER you’ve made the buttonholes. Hold the button up to the fabric, so you can tell how long to make the buttonhole. Make it just a tad longer than the button. Check which side of the blouse is the correct side. Although it’s silly, for some reason, it’s different for men than it is for women. Basically, your reinforcing the fabric so that it won’t rip when you button and unbutton repeatedly. Look at a ready-made blouse as a guide.

Use what’s called a buttonhole stitch. Look at your computer keyboard. Strike the key for zero. See what that looks like? Don’t make your stitches any further apart than that. An even smaller hole is preferable. After you’ve made the buttonhole, use a seam ripper to splice it open. After you’ve slit it, slide your button in and out of the hole a few times to loosen it up. You’re good to go. Don’t forget to tie your knots so the thread doesn’t come loose.

When she’s not sewing, she’s writing. Suellen Ocean is the author of the Civil War Era romance, Rose Thorn. Available here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06X1GN58T

Sewing Can Be Funky and Fun and Look Nice Too

I’m not afraid to take short cuts that some would think are funky. Why spend hours doing something that’s not necessary? The women of my mother and grandmother’s era were fussy, fussy, fussy about everything being right. When I came of age, the Grunge era was taking off. Enjoy yourself, don’t worry about the past and how they did it. It’s not the Victorian era. Make something!

Suellen Ocean is the author of the series, Civil War Era Romances. Available here:

Book One, Black Pansy: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CNWG6QU

Book Two, Blue Violet: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B018ZWX0R4

Book Three, Black Lilac: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01EKJMTKA

Too Old to be Generation X… Too Young to Be a Baby Boomer… Call Me a BoXer…

I don’t care what the cutoff date is, I’ve never felt like a Baby Boomer. I went to college late in life, surrounded by Generation X. They were younger, but they were my peers. Nonetheless, I wasn’t part of that classification, so I’ve decided to take it upon myself and create a new group. I’m going to call them BoXers. Boomers with an X. Here is a little criterion for being a BoXer:

You feel a generation gap between yourself and Baby Boomers.

You relate to both Generation X and Baby Boomer culture and music.

You panic when someone asks you to go in-depth about the politics of Vietnam. Watergate makes you waffle too.

You feel like a little kid around Boomers. They can be intimidating, especially if they ask what YOU were up to during the sixties. They’re proud of what they did. And should be.

In 1965, you stood in front of the dime store with a furry coat, tight, TIGHT pants and a rat-tailed comb sticking out of your back pocket.

You know what the Bump and the Hustle are, and you were a BG’s fan.

Your place in history is not behind the millions of Boomers, it’s at the beginning of another era. An era in which we embraced nature. Even hugged trees. Literally. We became vegetarians when no restaurants provided meat-free alternatives. We watched people die of AIDS. We stared at the TV when David Bowie did weird things on MTV and if we were lucky enough to afford a ticket to see the Rolling Stones, we watched Mick Jagger ride on a giant inflatable penis. We were children when JFK died, I remember, but I remember that I didn’t understand. We watched as colored people became Blacks who fought for their rightful place in American society. While Black musicians provided us with the best music to dance to. Ever.

I will never be a Baby Boomer. I have friends who feel the same way. And I cannot for the life of me, understand how such a cool, intelligent, fighting force of young people, allowed themselves to be called Baby Boomers. Perhaps the time has come for them to revolt against that title. Because as we all know, these were the young people who were excellent at revolution. I see them all the time. Still leading the way. I tip my hat to them. Better yet, I take it off and wave it. They knew how to create excitement and make change. They deserve a more dignified title. They are no longer babies. They never were.

Suellen Ocean is the author of Chimney Fire. Available here: https://www.amazon.com//dp/B00XDCPLEW

 

Mediterranean-Style Eggplant with a Vegan Twist

My mother-in-law makes delicious eggplant sauce. She bakes the eggplant whole, making sure to blacken the bottom to impart a smoky flavor. She blends it with lemon, salt, pepper, sour cream and a little mayonnaise. It’s very good.

My husband won’t eat even a little mayonnaise, nor will he eat sour cream. So, on New Year’s Eve, I baked an eggplant on a cast iron skillet (50 minutes in a 350 degree oven did the trick). Whirled it, skin and all, in the food processor. Scooped it into a bowl and added one-third a container of Tofutti (plant based) sour cream. That’s it. Only those two ingredients. The sour cream and eggplant were tasty enough, on their own. I served it with toasted sourdough, Greek olives and baby spring mix salad.

This Vegan version worked for both me and hubby. If you want to try my mother-in-law’s version, you can find it in my cookbook, “Poor Jonny’s.” Happy New Year!!!

Suellen Ocean is the author of the vegetarian cookbook, Poor Jonny’s Cookbook. Available here:  http://www.amazon.com/Poor-Jonnys-Cookbook-Suellen-Ocean/dp/0965114031

 

 

 

 

The Diversity Within Our Families… Americana 2019

American families are interesting. There is no shortage of diversity. My husband’s Jewish uncle, is married to the divorced wife of a Christian minister. Thinking she was an attractive Jewish girl, the former preacher’s wife caught uncle’s eye. “No,” she told me, “Polish ancestry. Not Jewish.” She descends from Polish immigrants who settled in Indiana in the 1800s.

Anyone who has read my books, knows that I raised an eyebrow and considered that uncle’s wife’s family tree might have Jewish roots. Whatever the family history, uncle married a beautiful woman, inside and out. Uncle is a proud Jew who loves to call and wish us, “Merry Christmas,” and the Christmas cards they send, leave me with the sense that he had more to do with it than she did.

When they called yesterday to wish us, “Happy New Year,” I grabbed the calendar to see when Passover was, so that we might meet up with our Jewish family members. To my embarrassment, Passover was not listed on the calendar. An error? I thumbed back to December and could not believe that Hanukkah had been omitted too. Christmas was there. Cinco de Mayo was there. “Oh,” I told them as they remained on speakerphone, “it’s an anti-Semitic calendar.” They laughed.

All my life, these two Jewish holidays have appeared on calendars. Even the White House has a Hanukkah party. I’ll bet that the individual who thought these two Jewish holidays were unimportant, descends from ancient Jews, somewhere on his or her family tree. Odds are high that they have an Old Testament name, like Hannah, David, Jacob or Rachel.

Yes, I called my favorite grocery store and spoke up about their calendar. Together, the customer service rep and I, constructed a letter to the president of the store. And the more I think about it, what about Kwanzaa and all the other days of significance? Doesn’t the store want everyone to feel welcome?

Yes, I know, Israel uses a completely different calendar. I can’t do anything about that. Although, I could call the grocery store and shout, “Don’t forget to  include Jewish New Year!”

2019 promises to be interesting, doesn’t it? Hang tight and have a happy one.

Suellen Ocean is the author of Secret GenealogyA How-to for Tracing Ancient Jewish Ancestry. Available here:  http://www.amazon.com/Secret-Genealogy-Volume-Suellen-Ocean/dp/0965114082

Quick Baked Potatoes in the Microwave

It’s hard to imagine that potatoes would taste fine cooking them in the microwave instead of baking them but they’re wonderful once you get the knack. The first time I tried it, I almost blew out my microwave. The reason? The potatoes were too dry. The microwave thought it was on fire. It almost was. That problem was easily solved. I put the potatoes on a plate and added a little water. I experimented slowly with the timer and now I’ve got it down.

This method is perfect for making hash browns without really frying them. Microwave the potatoes until soft. Cool, then slice them and throw them into a cast iron skillet with a little olive oil on the bottom. You might want to throw chopped onions into the skillet first. Because the potatoes are already cooked, you don’t need to cook them very long. The more oil you use, the browner and crustier the potatoes will be but oil is high calorie so be careful. They’re just as tasty with a little bit of oil. Once the onions have been cooked, crack your eggs and stir them in. Keep the heat down on the skillet. The hotter it is, the more the eggs and potatoes stick to the skillet.

This microwave method is also effective for baking yams. I love yams. Not just because they taste good but because they provide nutrition galore. They are the ultimate fast food. We must eat vegetables and we must get our vitamin A. Put two yams on a plate with a little water on the plate and press start. For those days when we’re too lazy to make a salad or chop and steam broccoli, yams are a blessing.

Suellen Ocean is the author of the vegetarian cookbook, Poor Jonny’s Cookbook. Available herehttp://www.amazon.com/Poor-Jonnys-Cookbook-Suellen-Ocean/dp/0965114031

Avoid Post-Holiday Fatigue: Cook Beans and Legumes for Quick and Easy Wholesome Meals

If we let our diet slide during the holidays, it’s important to get back into the swing of things. Beans and legumes are a great place to start. When I’m fatigued, a bowl of chili gives me strength. This time of year, when it gets dark early, we need all the help we can get. Help yourself by keeping them around.

Those of us who prepare the meals, love it when we have ingredients in the fridge that we can whip up. Problem is, prepared foods are expensive and probably not as fresh. Vegetarians rely on beans, legumes, nuts and grains as staples. Keep containers of cooked beans and legumes in the fridge. Knowing that there’s a container of cooked lentils in the fridge that you can turn into a nice easy meal, might keep you from eating unhealthy fast foods. Here are some ideas:

Lentils: a can of tomatoes and a bag of frozen vegetables, seasoned with a
bit of olive oil and soy sauce, make a nice soup. Or roll them into
tortillas with salsa.

Garbanzos: Throw garbanzos in with spring salad mix, tomatoes and avocados. Or make a soup from cooked garbanzos whirled in the blender with a big chopped onion. Simmer it and season with a spoonful of olive oil and soy sauce. Serve with a tasty bread.

Black beans: these cooked beans make great burritos but another options is
to serve them with cooked brown rice. They’re a little bit dry so load them up with salsa and add soy sauce. Sour cream and black beans are also tasty.

There are days when we don’t feel motivated. When it happens, remember… beans and legumes are our best friends.

Suellen Ocean is the author of the vegetarian cookbook, Poor Jonny’s Cookbook. Available herehttp://www.amazon.com/Poor-Jonnys-Cookbook-Suellen-Ocean/dp/0965114031

Have a Very No-Nazi Christmas, Thank You Very Much…

When my family was visiting London in 2006, my son’s girlfriend Marla insisted on seeing Trafalgar Square. It was a long walk from where we were but fair is fair. It’s what she wanted to see, so we obliged. She was vague about why she wanted to see it and no one asked. We were all too busy taking in the sights that London offers. When we got there, no one was there. I remember cement and statues amidst a quiet atmosphere. Since then, I’ve heard Trafalgar Square mentioned many times in the news. It’s the location of numerous historic demonstrations and the site itself pays tribute to a sea battle where Britain fought French and Spanish fleets (at the same time) on the Southwest coast of Spain in October of 1805. Britain lost no ships and demolished a substantial amount of those belonging to France and Spain.

Fast forward to today. No wait, let’s go back to 1947, after World War II. This was the first year that Norway, grateful for England’s role in defeating the Nazis, presented Britain with a Christmas tree. Today, Norway’s continued gift of a Christmas tree stands in Trafalgar Square as a testament to the friendship between the two countries and a world free of Nazism.

Suellen Ocean is the author of Herr Boy, available here:

http://www.amazon.com//dp/B014XHUT1K