The Haveman Household Goes Solar!

By Trish on October 10, 2013

Our two Nissan LEAFs in front of our 6 kW solar array

Our two Nissan LEAFs in front of our 6 kW solar array

This summer, Ty and I finally made the decision to invest in solar technology at our home. We tossed the idea around for quite a while, but ultimately it came down to several key factors:

  1. Now that we each drive a Nissan LEAF pretty much exclusively, we wanted to make sure that our fuel source was guaranteed to be sustainable. We purchase electricity through PSE’s green power program, but what better way to cover your fuel needs than by generating it in your own backyard? Our current system will completely cover the electricity needs for keeping our LEAFs on the road, plus a little extra on the side.
  2. We want solar technology to grow and succeed on a local and national scale; it’s already taking off in some countries, but the US is severely lacking in this respect. As with investing in EV technology with the purchase of our LEAFs, we wanted to contribute to the future of solar technology Plus, these solar panels are made in Bellingham. How cool is that?
  3. With current state incentives and the availability of specifically-solar loans, if we got the highest loan available, at the lowest interest rate available, to purchase the most panels (plus labor) we could, we’d be making a profit. That was my ultimate deciding factor, when it came time for Ty to confirm signing our contracts for our loan and with Western Solar, the Bellingham-based company who did our install. If solar was going to be a complete money sink with no tangible benefits to us, it wasn’t worth doing quite yet.

Ty wrote a post about the specifics of our system and how the loan and state incentives come into play, over on our blog about our EVs and solar project. He also documented the installation of our ground-mount system and a recent tour we took of itek Energy in Bellingham.

And finally, in other news, we recently went on an all-electric road trip! We took my LEAF (the blue one) and drove down I-5 through Washington, as far as Eugene, then over to the Oregon coast and headed north. Oregon has an even better charging infrastructure than Washington, so we had no problems making our way around the state. We camped for most of our drive up the coast and used that as an opportunity to charge the car at the campsites, rather than the available chargers. Our trip took two weeks, as we weren’t sure which places were worth stopping at along the way, so we stopped pretty much everywhere. The next time we take a trip along the Oregon coast, we’ll be more familiar with it and already have an idea of what interests us and what doesn’t. Because I have to say, camping in a different place almost every night can get old very quickly!

I considered creating a gallery of my photos on the blog, but I don’t have the energy to mess with my stylesheet right now, to get everything formatted to my liking. So, if you’d like to see photos from our trip, take a peek at my public EV Roadtrip album on Facebook.

All from me, for now. If anyone in the Bellingham area is interested in learning more about the Nissan LEAF, just hit me up! You’re more than welcome to take mine for a test drive.

Spinach & Mushroom Enchiladas

By Trish on April 3, 2013

Vegan Spinach and Mushroom Enchiladas

These enchiladas are, without a doubt, one of my favorite things to make right now. They’re a result of discovering the deliciousness of spinach enchiladas at a Mexican restaurant we like to visit in Ferndale (Chihuahua’s, for anyone who cares), but which, unfortunately, aren’t vegan; and trying to have the restaurant modify their dish to make it vegan would probably have a disappointing result.

Chihuahua’s version of these are covered in a green sauce and jack cheese, but I decided to add a bit of a kick to mine by using a more standard enchilada sauce recipe that I picked up from my friend Jennifer, who makes some mean yam enchiladas with it. I also opted for Daiya’s mozzarella shreds, but you could use a different flavor or forego the cheese altogether, if you wish.

I’ve been scared and daunted by the idea of making enchiladas at home for what seems like forever, though I have no idea why. They’re not hard, and pretty much impossible to screw up!

This recipe makes enough sauce to cover a 13″ by 9″ baking dish filled with enchiladas, however the filling listed below usually makes for two hefty, ready-to-burst enchiladas, as my husband usually makes his own chicken ones and uses some of the sauce for those. To make a full pan of spinach enchiladas, multiply the filling recipe as desired, or simply don’t fill them as full as I do. I prefer a larger filling-to-tortilla ratio.

Spinach & Mushroom Enchiladas

Enchilada Sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon diced sweet onion, or just throw in 1/4 of an onion and don’t be picky about it
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1 15-oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • pinch cinnamon
  • 1/2 tablespoon cumin
  • 1-2 tablespoons chili powder, depending on how spicy you prefer
  • 1/2 lime, juiced

Saute the garlic and onion in a small amount of water or a splash of olive oil, until translucent. Add the tomato sauce and spices, then heat until boiling. Reduce the heat to simmer and cover, cooking for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add fresh lime juice, stirring to combine.

Enchiladas:

  • 1 10-oz package frozen chopped spinach, cooked and strained
  • 1/2 sweet onion, or whatever is left over from the onion you cut for the sauce
  • 10 cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1/4 cup sliced olives, if desired
  • 1/4 cup Daiya mozzarella cheese
  • package of medium-sized whole wheat flour tortillas (not burrito-sized)

Cook spinach according to the package directions, then strain and place in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Saute the onion, mushrooms, and garlic until the mushrooms release liquid and are soft and meaty. Add to the spinach, along with olives and cheese, and stir well.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Spread a few spoonfuls of enchilada sauce on the bottom of a 13″ x 9″ baking dish. Spoon spinach mixture into a tortilla and roll up, placing it in the pan folded-part down. Repeat for as many enchiladas as you wish to make. Spread sauce in a layer over each enchilada and top with a sprinkling of Daiya and olives, if desired. If you have leftover sauce, drizzle it down between each of the enchiladas, so the tortillas stay moist as they cook in the sauce.

Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, or until heated through and the cheese on top melts.

Sweet Onion Whole Wheat Pizza

By Trish on August 14, 2012

Do you love pizza as much as I do? What about caramelized onions? And artichoke hearts? I think they’re all just about amazing, and when put together make a kick-ass pizza. I fell in love with this combination after trying the Roasted Vegetable Pizza from Amy’s Kitchen. It was good. And expensive. And just plain tiny. Somewhere along the line I wondered why I wasn’t making my own version of this pizza, so here we are.

Whole wheat pizza dough:

  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Making the pizza:

  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup artichoke hearts, chopped
  • 1/4 cup sliced black olives
  • 1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/3 cup Daiya mozzarella shreds (or more!), optional
  • a handful of corn meal

In a small bowl, stir together the sugar and water until dissolved. Mix in the yeast and let sit for ten minutes to proof until creamy. While the yeast is proofing, mix together the flour and salt in a large bowl. Combine the proofed yeast with the flour mixture until well mixed.

Turn onto a floured surface and knead until the dough forms a smooth ball — a few minutes, adding extra flour as necessary. Add olive oil to original mixing bowl and toss the dough to coat. Cover with a towel and set in a warm place to rise for an hour.

While the dough is rising, start cooking the onion over medium-low heat in a large frying pan. Add water as necessary to keep them moist. Once onions are translucent, add the brown sugar and stir to mix. Reduce heat to low and let the onions cook for at least 30 minutes, checking them regularly and adding small amounts of water as needed to keep the onions from burning. I like to cook the onions for as long as possible, for optimum sweetness and tenderness. I hate to say it like this, but … cook them until they’re done. You’re looking for a sweet, caramelized onion that’s lost most of its crunch (do they ever lose all of it?).

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Once dough has risen, sprinkle corn meal over your pizza pan or stone and spread the dough out  to desired size. Make sure the dough slides freely on the pan and add corn meal to any spots which stick. Spread the caramelized onions evenly over the dough, leaving an edge for the outer crust. Add the remaining toppings, finishing with the Daiya, if using.

Bake for 12-18 minutes, depending on the thickness of the crust. I like to check it at ten minutes in, and then every few minutes after that, until the crust is to my liking. Slice and enjoy!

Trying New Things

By Trish on August 5, 2012

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Since adopting a plant-based diet, I’ve discovered so many new foods that I just can’t get enough of, and it saddens me to know that I’ve lived more than twenty years without enjoying these delicious foods. My brother and I like to give my mom a hard time about how both of us were in our twenties when we each discovered the joy of sweet potatoes roasted with a bit of olive oil and thyme. Mom blames it on Grandma, who turns right around and shakes her finger at Mom and says that she was the one who didn’t like them in the first place! Well!

On the other hand, I love thinking of all the new things I’m now enjoying, and thought it would be fun to make a list of the foods I wouldn’t have touched with a five-foot pole a few years ago:

  • avocados and guacamole
  • cherry tomatoes, fresh from the vine! — see photo above
  • kale and kale chips!
  • sweet potatoes
  • tofu in any form other than fried in pad thai
  • quinoa
  • nutritional yeast
  • chia seeds (this berry chia seed jam is amazing!)
  • butternut squash soup
  • chickpea cutlets (OMG yum!)
  • yellow mustard (what?! I blame this on Ty…)
  • Ethiopian food from the farmers market (Clarissa’s fault!)
  • grilled asparagus
  • raw sugar snap peas
  • anything Thai curry (but not too spicy)
  • roasted Brussels sprouts
  • cucumbers (not dipped in anything)
  • pico de gallo
  • cilantro
  • three- or four-bean salad
  • chocolate hemp milk (my guilty pleasure, and totally my brother’s fault)

I love how our tastes changes as we get older. Food is so much more interesting now, than it used to be. However, you still won’t get me to eat a lima bean!

Do you have a newfound food love, which you couldn’t stand before?

A Summer Recap

By Trish on August 4, 2012

blueberries

I’ve neglected this blog, as of late. There are often times when I look it over and want to write, to post a recipe, or post a new favorite food photo, but then I realize I don’t have the mental energy to do so. Today, I feel like I have that energy.

To say the last several months have been crazy is a massive understatement. It began with my husband coming down with the flu, then realizing it was finally time to leave my job, then drama and stress with our start-up farm, anxiety over getting our condo sold and how much money we’ll have to shell out in order to get rid of it, trying to get new projects on the schedule for my fledgling web design business, and finally some back issues which have thrown poor Ty for a loop and sent his anxiety to new highs. So that’s what I’ve been up to since the end of February.

But things are looking up and I feel like we have some control over the chaos, as busy as things are. We’ve decided that the stress from the farm is just not worth it right now, so that has been put on hold until we feel mentally and financially ready to tackle it again. It feels like a bit of a let-down to do that, but we’ve come to terms with that and just keep reminding ourselves that things happen and we need to do what’s best for us.

A couple of months ago, Ty tweaked something in his back while driving the tractor and it hasn’t been the same since. He’s been going to a chiropractor and just had a first session with a massage therapist last week, which seems to have had positive results. I finally have my husband back, instead of the anxious and depressed guy on the couch, as he was two weeks ago for an entire week. I’m so happy that he’s feeling better and so proud of him for lifting himself up and working to feel better, rather than relying to antidepressants and other medication.

But on to happier things…

We attempted a couple of gardens this year, with so-so results. A couple of weeks ago we dug up a small bucketful of russet, Yukon gold, and red potatoes, have harvested a fair quantity of snap and shelling peas, and our strawberry patches gave us glorious amounts of beautiful and delicious red berries throughout June and July. Our established blueberry bushes have been doing well and providing a ton of tasty berries, and in the greenhouse for the farm we have a steady flow of tasty golden cherry tomatoes, with the larger tomato varieties gradually growing more ripe.

Other than that, though, everything else we’ve planted has pretty much failed. The corn is still only a foot high, cucumbers withered, basil and cilantro barely got a few leaves before going away, spinach has bolted, the baby artichoke plant died, and so on. The main issue is with our terrible soil, so I’m trying to convince Ty that it would be worth it to shell out the money to build some raised beds. He wants to, but so far doesn’t want to spend the money. I’ll keep working on him.

Our four apple trees are just loaded with tons of baby apples and I’m really looking forward to the fall, when they’re ready to pick. I don’t know what variety of apples these are, but they break down perfectly to make amazing applesauce. I want to try to can some and give it as gifts, this year.

I have a yummy recipe all written out and ready to share soon, but I need to make it once more in order to get a good photo to post with it. I should be able to wrap that up this week.

Last but not least, I know we need to schedule a date for the next vegan potluck. Any suggestions on when to hold it?

Good Food and Great Friends

By Trish on February 19, 2012

Last night we had another vegan potluck, and wow — best turnout ever! And if I may say, best food ever? I’m pretty certain that everyone stuffed themselves silly and the majority of us went back for seconds or thirds. And when a berry crisp made a late appearance, there was a collective groan before everyone rose to grab a serving. I think I’m going to need a copy of each of the recipes … especially the lasagnas. I don’t usually say things like this, but OMG YUM!

Ty and I opted to bring our favorite macaroni and “cheese” recipe, which he ended up making, and a batch of my current favorite food in the entire world: soft pretzels. (I really wish I could take credit for those pretzels…)

I spent the majority of yesterday baking and doing dishes, due to the fact that we were also going to be attending a James Bond-themed cocktail party after the vegan potluck, and I’d promised to make pretzels and “crack cookies” — I mean chocolate chip cookies — for that. So, two batches of pretzels and a double recipe of cookies later, I’d fulfilled my baking commitment, Ty was finishing up the macaroni, and we were ready to go.

So we made some new friends, caught up with old ones, and generally had a good time at both events. Unfortunately, Ty’s down for the count today, with what appears to be the flu. Poor guy — he’s feeling so rotten. I wish there was more that I could do, other than wait it out and hope his fever goes down soon. I put the word out on Facebook for everyone we’ve had contact with recently to shore up their immune systems. I sure hope nobody else has caught it — we mingled with 50+ people yesterday.

On a positive note, I have to say, it’s really an awesome feeling when you arrive at a party, whip the covering off a bowl of some tasty thing you’ve made, and half of said food item have already been removed from the bowl before you can even set it down on a table. Especially when someone has a pretzel in one hand and a cookie in another, and can’t decide which to eat first…

World’s Best Homemade Pretzels

By Trish on February 15, 2012

IMG_4009

A week ago, my friend Adina brought homemade soft pretzels to Wednesday Night Dinner and they were divine. I have a standard soft pretzel recipe which I got in 7th grade home economics and have used ever since, and let me tell you … that recipe is never seeing the light of day ever again.

We hosted tonight’s WND and I decided that I just had to make pretzels. Adina had sent me the recipe and I was so ready to taste them again. They’re a bit more work than my old recipe, which just had you mix the ingredients together, roll out the dough into pencils, and bake. These involve proofing the yeast, kneading and letting the dough rise, rolling and twisting the pretzels together, then dunking them into a baking soda and water bath and sprinkling with salt. As long as you have the time to let the dough rise (and half a cup of baking soda to spare for the water mixture), these are definitely worth the effort. And really, the effort is minimal.

The recipe says to brush with butter/margarine, but I didn’t bother. The salt stuck to the dough nicely after its water and baking soda bath, and who needs the extra calories, right? We enjoyed them straight up and also had some fun dipping them in melted semi-sweet chocolate from the fondue pot which was in attendance tonight.

Amazingly, we had two pretzels left of the dozen the recipe made. And there were six of us at dinner, tonight. I guess that gives you an idea of how good they are. Ty and I are looking forward to enjoying pretzels with our lunch tomorrow. Yum!

Oh, did you want the recipe? Here you go! Buttery soft pretzels, by Christa Rose.

One quick note: The recipe says to cut into 12 pieces of dough, but 16 yields a similarly-sized pretzel. Just bake for 7 minutes instead of 8.

Apple Sausage Stuffing

By Trish on November 13, 2011

I am a huge fan of stuffing, but I’ve never been all that crazy about those eclectic stuffing recipes which have things like raisins and walnuts and other odds and ends tossed in. I’m happy to say, though, that I’ve found my favorite, ultimate stuffing recipe — which is slightly eclectic.

For Christmas last year, I brought stuffing using this recipe from NovelEats.com, and it was a pretty big hit, even among Ty’s “meat and potatoes”-type family. I liked it, although I felt that it needed some tweaking to suit my tastes. I had a chance to have another go at it yesterday, while making it for Friends Thanksgiving. Everybody raved about how delicious it was last night, and I was all, “Score for the vegan team!” Something like that. (more…)

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds: 2 Ways

By Trish on October 17, 2011

Saturday night, Ty and I participated in the 3rd Annual Power Tool Pumpkin Carving event at a friend’s house. This was our first time joining in, and I just have to say … carving a pumpkin with power tools totally appeals to the perfectionist in me. The eyes were perfectly round! Amazing!

Perfectionism aside, I was able to snag the seeds from the 8 or 9 pumpkins in attendance, which everyone (thankfully!) tossed into large bowls while they were cleaning out the pumpkin innards. Only a small amount of washing was needed to separate out a few stray bits of pumpkin from the seeds, and suddenly I found myself with somewhere around ten cups of raw pumpkin seeds! Um, yum?

To preserve my sanity, I decided it would be a good idea to try out a couple of different toasted pumpkin seed recipes. I’m not a big fan of monotony; gotta mix it up a bit. Also, the last time I tried toasting the seeds (a few years ago), the recipe wasn’t a real hit and I believe I ended up tossing most of them out. (Don’t stone me!) This time around, I have plenty of seeds at my disposal, so I can try as many new recipe as I like! It’s a win-win, all around.

So, without further delay, here are my two favorite recipes:

Spiced Pumpkin Seeds
For a salty-but-more-character-than-just-olive-oil-and-salt pumpkin seed, this recipe worked out pretty well. The original recipe called for both salt and garlic salt, which seems silly. There’s enough salt already, and the garlic powder worked just as well.

  • 2 cups raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

 

Cinnamon & Sugar Pumpkin Seeds
At first taste, I thought the cinnamon was over-powering and that this recipe had failed. Once the seeds (and my annoyance) had cooled off, I gave them another try and I actually quite like them!

  • 2 cups raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

 

Instructions (for both combinations):
Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and spread in a single layer on a cookie sheet (one which has edges, so the slippery buggers don’t slide off).

Bake for approximately 50-60 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes or so. Keep a close eye on them during the last 15 minutes, as they will start to brown really quickly, and you don’t want to burn the seeds. I actually don’t think any of mine made it to the 60-minute mark.

Behold! The Mac ‘n’ Cheese

By Trish on September 15, 2011

I’m a big fan of comfort food, and this definitely qualifies. I’ve tried a handful of vegan mac ‘n’ cheese recipes, and haven’t really been impressed. The only one I remotely liked used Daiya Vegan Cheese and the end result tasted (naturally) like Amy’s mac ‘n’ cheese, which you can find in the freezer section.

I like this recipe because it’s from scratch, uses ingredients which you probably have on hand, and is super simple. And any dish that has my picky husband returning to the kitchen for a heaping plate of seconds most definitely has my vote! However, if you have a distaste for nooch, you probably won’t be a fan. Just sayin’.

This vegan macaroni and cheese recipe came to me via my friend Christina, who received it after having it a friend’s wedding. Original source: unknown! But happy to credit where credit is due.

EDIT, Sept. 16: It looks like the recipe came from VegWeb, where it’s titled “Best Vegan Mac and Cheese in the entire world…seriously”. Works for me! Found via a post on Vegan Soapbox from a couple days ago, which listed store-bought options and recipes for macaroni and cheese.

EDIT, Feb. 19, 2012: We discovered that we prefer to use a cashew cream base for this, as it yields a much more flavorful sauce. The original recipe uses firm tofu, so if you’d prefer to go that route, check out the link above. I maintain that my modified version is better, though — and so does my picky husband.

 

Vegan Macaroni and “Cheese”

Ingredients:

  • 20 oz macaroni or other pasta (actually, a 14oz bag is plenty!)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1.5 cups nondairy milk
  • 1.5 cups nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup low-sodium tamari
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon paprika (use the good stuff)
  • 1 tablespoon salt (maybe less if tamari has salt added)
  • 1 rounded tablespoon yellow mustard
  • chopped veggies to your heart’s content!

Recipe:

Cook macaroni until it’s al dente. It will cook a bit more while it’s baked, so just try not to cook it to death in the pot.

While pasta is cooking, combine the water and cashews in a blender and process until creamy. Add the remaining sauce ingredients and process until well-blended and smooth.

Chop up any veggies you’d like to add. Broccoli is a delicious add-in, along with bell peppers.

Combine veggies, pasta, and sauce in a seriously large baking dish (our was our largest Pyrex glass pan, at around 4.5 liters — don’t know the dimensions, but it’s one step up from the 13″ x 9″ pan, and twice as large).

Bake at 375 degrees F for 25-30 minutes. You want it to get a little toasty brown on top, but don’t overcook it too much, as it might get a little dry around the edges.