Sunday, January 24, 2010


Tucson, AZ

The news truly took my breath away.

A friend I have had since college is gone. For good. Never to be replaced.

This dear friend taught me to dream, look beyond my doorstep, and crawl out of my shell. My friend showed me a portion of what I wanted my life to look like, revealed my craving to experience God's creation a little closer-up.

National Geographic Adventure, what on earth will I do without you? Your pictures of oceans and mountains and trails beckoned me. I chopped every issue apart. What will I hang on the inside of my cupboards? I have so many empty pages in my Dream Book! You told me what to do Next Weekend. I even want to hike in Oklahoma because of you.

Devil's Lake, WI

WHO ELSE would publish a picture of a waterfall so amazing, that I had to dump my stuff in my car and drive to Vermont alone and FIND that waterfall and take the same picture of it myself?

It is because of you that I can turn the pages of a magazine, and upon seeing a breathtaking picture, I can say, "Hey, I've been there!" or even, "Hey, I LIVED there!" or "I so biked that trail!" or "I stood in that canyon!"

Pagosa Springs, CO

Thanks to you, my Alero has taken me across the country and back more times than I can count...because I looked at your pictures and read your articles and realized that the open road is for someone just like me, who just wants to try it out...see something new...try a different life on for size.

Seriously, you kept me sane when I was sleep-deprived and heartbroken. I could reach for my stack of chopped-up magazines or hunker down with my dream book and imagine myself someplace else for a little bit, instead of sitting alone on my couch surrounded by tear-and-mascara-stained pillows.

Lake Tahoe, NV

How will I know now the best coffee shop in Kanab, Utah? The best place to put in my kayak in the Baja? The best treehouse "hotel" in Oregon? Huh? How?

National Geographic, how could you do this to me?! HOW COULD YOU?!?! You dare rip from my hands the one thing that kept me sane in the cold, bleak Michigan winter? You snuff the life out of my wanderlusting dreams?? You strip my mailbox of the very essence of its existence?
And then you offer me - *ugh* - National Geographic TRAVELER as a penance?

Oh, no. Nonononononono. Traveler will NEVER do. You simply cannot replace a beat-up mud-crusted Jeep loaded down with skis, surfboards, or mountain bikes with tanned bods dressed in flowing white linen pants holding pink cocktails at a Sandals-like resort in Boom-shaka-laka. It simply will NOT do. I want to know where I can road-trip next weekend, NOT where I can get Club Med membership. I'm so insulted.

Kailua Kona, HI

I've courted Outside mag before, but they became a little too hard-core, too elitist, too much frippery. Backpacker isn't too bad, but oddly, backpacking isn't really my thing. Adventure held it all for me: travel for the Everyman, the unsophisticated, the person like me who just needed a little nudge out the door. It was accessible. Feasible.

So long, National Geographic Adventure. You characterized my twenties and held so many possibilities for my thirties. I wish our parting hadn't been so abrupt and cold. I will always, always hold fond memories of you and the possibilities you poured into my mind. You exhorted me to Dream it, Plan it, Do it...and in your honor, I will.


Sunday, January 17, 2010

More popular demand!

Okay foodies, I have actually received requests for certain recipes. I feel like I should start a separate blog for them!!! Again, sorry if you're bored by recipes. I like to post them because, A) who doesn't love having a new recipe to try?, and B) I get frustrated sifting through websites and shelves full of cookbooks that have weird ingredients that I would never buy. So if I find a good recipe that is fairly easy and healthy, I love to pass it along.

Three of these recipes make a divine little symphony together. One of my FB friends asked for a couple of them. My favorite "ethnic" food is here is an amazing Mediterranean meal you can make with fairly basic ingredients, though a few of the ingredients are "weird"...but once you buy them, you can use them for a while.

And CA Mommy, they're all g- and d- free. ;) Except the pita chips. Whoops.

Today I will introduce you to hummus, pita chips (if you didn't see it on one of my FB statuses), tabouleh, and chicken souvlaki (basically shishkabobs). Grab a towel, because you WILL drool.


Don't knock it till you try it. A staple at the Gouveia house. This recipe is from my aunt Ginger.

1 can garbanzo beans (chick peas)
1/4 fresh squeezed lemon juice (roughly the juice of one medium lemon)
1/4 c tahini (don't freak out - it's sesame paste - found in the Mediterranean section of the ethnic food aisle)
1 T olive oil
1/4 c water
1 or 2 garlic cloves (I have this huge jar of minced garlic that sits in the fridge. Perfect for all these recipes)
Salt and pepper to taste (I use Morton's Nature's Seasonings for just about every recipe, BTW)

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender. Process until smooth. That's it. Serve it with.....

Pita Chips

You can play with this one and put on them whatever you want. You need pita bread (I use Meijer brand wheat pitas). Cut one up into 1-inch-ish squares (or triangles, if you're a purist). Put them on a cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil (I use less than a Tbsp and brush it on either with one of those little cooking brushes or my finger if I'm lazy). Place them under the broiler on high for ~5 minutes (watch closely! They burn easily!).

My most recent variation (I think I saw it someplace in a magazine) is to sprinkle on some oregano and a little bit of feta before I broil it.

Eat it with your hummus and die of happiness.

How about making this into a little bigger meal?? May I suggest...

Chicken souvlaki

Again, don't be daunted by the fancy name. It's marinated chicken on a skewer. It's paired with a recipe for something called "tzatziki" (I'd love to know what that means - any Greekophones out there????) that actually looks kind of yummy - a yogurt-based dipping sauce for the chicken. But I like to dip mine in hummus.


3 T olive oil
2 T white wine vinegar
1 T lemon juice
1/2 small red onion, diced (I forgot this, BTW, when I was making it)
1 t dried oregano
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into large cubes
skewers soaked in water (if you don't have skewers, it's okay. I bought a huge pack at Meijer and they've lasted me a long time)

1. In a bowl, combine all the ingredients minus the chicken. Add the chicken and stir to coat, then cover and marinate in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.

2. Remove the chicken from the marinade and thread onto skewers. Grill or broil until cooked through, turning to brown evenly. (I broiled on high for about fifteen minutes)

Need a different sort of salad? How about

Quinoa (keenwa) Tabouleh

Quinoa is a grain that is similar to rice with a more nutty taste. It contains every amino acid to make a "complete" protein. It is more expensive, though, so if you prefer you could probably use brown rice in this recipe instead.

1/2 c quinoa (or rice) cooked in broth (I use veggie) instead of plain water
3 1/2 oz semi-dried tomatoes, diced (um, I was lazy and dice cherry tomatoes instead)
1 short cucumber, diced
6 scallions, finely chopped
1 c finely chopped parsley
3 T olive oil or the oil reserved from the tomatoes
3 T lemon juice
1/4 t crushed garlic (I used my huge jar of minced garlic)
salt and pepper, to taste

1. In a large bowl place the tomatoes, cucumber, scallions, and parsley and toss to combine. Stir in as much of the quinoa as needed to give a balanced look to the salad.

2. In a glass jar with a lid combine the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and salt and pepper. Shake well. Pour over the salad, toss to coat and serve.

If you pair the chicken with the tabouleh or the Greek salad I posted earlier, some hummus (and a few pita chips, if desired), maybe some brown rice mixed with slivered almonds (or Almond Accents - the rice/almond combo is something I got from my aunt, and it's amazing - I love crunchy in my foods), and a few orange slices, not only will your stomach be dazzled but your eyes will be too!!!

Gotta give credit where it's due!!! I'm not such a genius that I invented these things. The chicken and tabouleh recipes are from "Gluten Free and Easy" by Robyn Russell.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Food and Discernment

I was struck by a very odd disparity at the grocery store yesterday. I've been struck by it before, but in light of what I was shopping for, it was even more abundantly obvious. I was putting a few extra items in my cart to send to Haiti...and it hits me: There is a royal food crisis going on all over the world...not the least of which is a disaster-struck city in a nation that ALREADY is severely malnourished. Yet here I am, in the good ol' U.S. of A., surrounded not only by aisles and aisles of food - but food that is now specially packaged in little divvied-up portions because we as a nation don't have the ability to, um, regulate our own intake. What is UP with all these little 100-calorie snack packs? I'm not saying I haven't ecstatically thought, "What a GRAND idea!" and bought my own little packs of Sunchips (and ate, like, three at once). But seriously, we the people would consume engine oil as long as it's only 100 calories, because that's what matters, right? RIGHT?

I was originally going to make this a food rant. But the more I marinated in it (get it?), the more I was like, no, there's always a deeper issue. Food's only one of them. So stick with me.

You go to the grocery store. There are, what, 15-some-odd aisles of every food you can imagine.

Or is it food?

Look at the packages. It screams that it's low-fat, low-cal, low-cholesterol, low, low, low, healthy, healthy, healthy.

How healthy is something that has to scream that it's healthy? Ever think about it?

Why does water need to be infused with vitamins...when there's a produce section three paces away? Why on earth does POP (sorry West Coast - "soda") need to have vitamins added to it?? Why do we need 100-calorie packs of sugary, salty, processed, imitation snacks? WHY do we think that this is healthy?

Consider the humble apple. Or carrot. Or avacado. They don't get sparkly packages. There's no new-and-improved version. No new hoopdie added to them when the most recent article comes out and says that we are in desperate need of it. They just are what they are, and they sit in silent reverie, overlooked and underestimated in favor of sparkly bottles and boxes of "fortified" thingies that are evidently "good" for us because the label says so.


When - when, I ask - did we become such a people who lack...discernment? We are the product of convincing advertising, base our decisions on research that is dodgy at best, and buy whatever Oprah says. When did we cease stepping back to say, "Hold on a minute..."?

We live in a world where, more than ever, we reallllllly need to be able to advocate for our bodies, our minds, our spirit, our families, our marriages...because we'll truly believe anything as long as it looks like it comes from a reputable source. And if it sounds at least sort of true. We're a society that is content to live in a fog, and will gravitate towards the first thing that looks even remotely like a lighthouse.

With food, with ideas, with theology...we just pare down to what we want, take out the stuff we think we don't want, inject the things the Today Show told us we need, inflate it, redecorate it, spiffy up the color, vacuum-seal it, and voila! Apparently THIS is the Holy Grail.


As if anything in the produce section wouldn't just have provided you with all that in the first place. As if any of it needed any improvement.

As if God needed our help improving on what He made.

As if God needed our help improving upon Himself.

There is a difference between being judgmental and exercising sound judgment. It's flexing your discernment muscle. Don't just read labels; know what those things mean and where they come from. Don't just read a book or listen to a sermon; know God's Word and develop an understanding of sound doctrine.

Be keen. Be aware. Flap your arms a little to dispel the fog.

And for heaven's sake, toss the hundred-calorie donut and eat a banana instead!! ;)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

By popular demand

Heavenly Father - wrap your arms around your children in Haiti. We can't conceive of their fear and helplessness. You are Father to the fatherless; You are Jehovah-Jireh, our Provider; You are sovereign and can bring good things out of what is horribly bad. Show us what we can do to help these people. Help supplies get to the people who need them. Let Your good overcome evil, in Christ's name.

For those who live in the Holland area, I know that there is someone from Eagle Crest Academy (the charter school off Riley and 120th) who is heading to Haiti in the next several days with a mission relief organization. They have a drop-box in the front hallway, and everything will make it to Haiti safely and get to the people who need it. Food, can openers, and medical supplies will be so helpful (and remember the fact that non-perishables that can be opened and eaten without needing to be mixed with water are best).

Anyway, very quickly switching topics here: I wasn't planning on posting two recipe posts back-to-back (I'm sure they're boring if you don't like to cook), but I have received so many requests for "my" corn chowder recipe, that I have to post it!!!

This recipe is totally gluten and dairy free, vegan, and delicious. Now, don't knock it till you try it!!! I took it to work in my lunch the past couple of days and got many remarks on how great it smelled and how good it looked. It's not a typical chowder in that it's not a cream-based soup, so it's less chowder-y and more soup-y. But it's a yummy and comforting soup to eat nonetheless, and you could definitely toss in some chicken if the thought of a vegan recipe is too weird. ;) But I really encourage you to try it as-is. You might be surprised...AND it's roughly 100 calories per 1-cup serving (the recipe doesn't provide the nutrition info, so I crunched the calorie numbers myself), so it's a great complement for your lunch or a snack that packs plenty of veggies, no fat, and zero cholesterol.

This recipe is also from the "Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker" book.

Corn Chowder in Winter

1 T olive oil (can I just take a second and say how much I loooooove olive oil????)
1 small yellow onion, chopped (get out your veggie chopper!!!!!)
1 celery rib, chopped
1 large potato, peeled and diced (I actually like to leave the skin on...a lot of nutrients in that skin!)
3 c frozen corn
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped
4 c vegetable stock (you could use chicken stock/broth if that's what you have on hand) - I like to use "Better Than Bouillon" vegetable base - a little jar found by the broths in the soup aisle
Salt and pepper (I just use seasoning salt)

1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and celery, cover, and cook until softened, ~5 min.

2. Transfer the cooked veggies to your slow cooker. Add the potato, corn, bell pepper, and stock; season to taste, cover, and cook on Low for 6 hours.

3. Lade 2 cups of the soup solids into a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Stir the puree back into the chowder (this is what gives it a "chowder-y" base).

Bon appetit!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A culinary world tour

The only times I have sat down today were to update blog posts and catch up on email! I'm whupped! I'm now sitting down with some jasmine tea, a new Title 9 catalog (drooool), and a new cookbook.

I don't have pictures of these recipes, because we gobbled them up too quickly. ;) But they're easy and I highly, highly recommend that you try them real soon!!

Okay, first, I made a Greek salad last night. Divine. And then tonight I served the leftover Greek salad with salsa soup. Double divine. And that's why it's a culinary world tour. So here we go...

BTW - both of these are from "Gluten Free and Easy" by Robyn Russell

Greek Salad

2 medium roma tomatoes, cut into wedges
1 medium cucumber, halved lengthwise and sliced
1 head romaine, chopped
1 c pitted black olives (I sprung for kalamatas)
1 red onion, finely diced (use the veggie chopper I know you just went out and bought!!)
4 scallions, chopped (I actually forgot to use these)
2T chopped Italian parsley

2 T EV olive oil
1 T white wine vinegar
1 T lemon juice
1/2 t dried oregano
1/4 t crushed garlic (I just used a small amount of minced garlic out of a jar)
salt, to taste

1. Combine all ingredients, except the feta, in a bowl and toss
2. Combine dressing ingredients in a glass jar with a lid and shake well. Pour over salad, toss to coat, and add feta.

Salsa Soup

A fun version of vegetable soup with a bit of a kick

3 c chicken stock (I used veggie broth)
1 small carrot, diced
1 can corn, drained (I used a cup of frozen)
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
3/4 c salsa (I used Meijer brand garlic salsa and it was perfect)
1c chopped cooked chicken
1 T chopped cilantro leaves (I left this out. I don't like cilantro.)

Heat the stock to simmering. Add the celery and carrot and simmer for a few minutes, then add the corn and beans. Stir in the salsa, using more or less to suit your taste. Add the chicken, heat through, and stir in the cilantro.

I served this with crumbled tortilla chips (to use as crackers). You can sprinkle in some cheese or serve with a dollop of sour cream if you want to.

Hope you enjoyed the world tour!!!

Pictures and thoughts

I just got back from running errands and came home to package up some Christmas presents I have yet to send (*gulp*), but my laptop just beckoned me to sit down and write a little more. I want to update on how we're doing, and what we're doing...

So I love to cross country ski. My parents taught me how to downhill and cross country ski when I was pretty little. I really, really started to appreciate cross country skiing when I got older, because it is A) an amazing workout, and B) an excellent winter form of hiking, which I love to do. Enter my California husband, who loves to do things along with me. :) So this past year, I bought some new skis on clearance downtown, and we finished up his set a couple weeks ago. He's only been out twice (once last year with me and my parents, where he did amazingly well for a first-timer), and then the day we bought the rest of his stuff, we took a turn about the neighborhood. Again, he catches on alarmingly quickly!!

On New Year's Day we took our skis to the beach. I love to ski at the is an alien moonscape in the winter, and I'm amazed at the fact that within six months time, a place that was teeming with people and kids and volleyballs and umbrellas and campfire smoke is now silent, save for the waves crashing against the ice that's building on the shore. It's spooky and beautiful.

For Christmas, Matt bought me a black pearl necklace. Now, I have always wanted a black pearl least since I lived in the Bay Area and saw black pearls on Pier 39. But they cost a bajillion dollars there, where they had just been hauled up out of the ocean. Alas, then, for the past few years I have been pining away after elusive black pearls.

Enter a jewelry party I attended a couple months ago for Women At Risk, International. WAR sells jewelry that is made by women all over the world who live in at-risk situations. By making and selling jewelry, they are able to support themselves and stay out of the sex trafficking "industry" (did you know that there is WAAAAAAY more slavery in the world today than there was in the times that we envision when we think of slavery???). Anyway, going to these parties is amazing because you learn about these situations and are able to support these women by buying their stunning jewelry...and the pearl jewelry (which is all real) is appraised for much higher than the cost at which they sell it.

Anyway, I saw this pearl necklace that you can double or triple loop. I didn't buy it at the time, but long story short, Matt ordered it for me when I started to miscarry. He thought it would be something special for me to have, and I love it love it love it!

(You can kinda see my necklace here. I feel very lovely when I wear it!)

Finally, on New Year's Eve I hadn't planned on us doing anything, but when Matt came home he said he was taking me to the Piper...our FAVORITE restaurant. It's near the beach by the marina and is a very eclectic atmosphere with amazing food...and a g-free menu. So we toasted the New Year with some Asti (sp??) and my favorite dish (Michelle Bales, if you're reading this, you know exactly what that is)! Then we watched Anne of Green Gables.

Anyway, we're doing pretty well. It felt good to turn a new year over and anticipate the promise that a new year holds. I miss our Glory Baby immensely. I would be...ummmm...12 weeks this weekend? The tears still come at random times (like when my mom and I went to Younker's to make a return and they had signs up all over the door advertising their new maternity department). I had to get a note from my doctor to excuse me from work the Monday after Christmas (when I had actually started to fully miscarry)...and it didn't even occur to me until after I entered the office that the last time I was there was, oh, the worst day of my life. And to make matters worse, a young woman in the waiting room was complaining to someone else that she was disappointed that she's having a boy because she was hoping for a girl. I truly wanted to kick her in the face. I just grabbed my note, ran back out to my car, and sobbed. I love seeing my pregnant friends, but sometimes in the store when I see someone who is pregnant it's a visceral reaction to just turn away without thinking about it. I don't even have to think about it; I just do it. I hope that passes. I don't want all these pregnant ladies thinking I hate them or something.

I have a soapbox. There are some things that people say all the time that drive me wild. They think they're quoting something really profound and scriptural and they're not. The one that drives me the most wild is "God never gives us more than we can handle." Um, yeah NO. He sometimes...often...give us way more than we can handle - and that's where He steps in and scoops us up and proves He is sufficient for ALL of our needs. If I could handle this by myself, I would only be glorifying myself. And that's just not cool with God. It's not ABOUT me. He WILL be glorified. Sometimes that means He'll bless us and hopefully we'll give the credit right back to Him. And sometimes that means He'll strip everything away, until we have NO choice but to lift our faces out of the mud and look straight past ourselves and up to Him. This miscarriage was way more than I could handle...and way more than our marriage could have handled apart from Him. But He picked me up and carried me - both of us - through the valley. He gives and He takes away and while I wonder why, I don't even desire to ask that question...because I know that in this instance, He saw fit to glorify Himself through loss. Several people have remarked that I've handled this remarkably well...and I need to clarify that I really haven't when it's the moments where I've attempted to handle it on my own. I've said angry, biting things, I've wanted to kick people's faces in (as I so lovingly mentioned above!), I've fought with my husband, I've made no sense. So if it seems like I've handled it really well, it's no thanks to me, but thanks to the Lord who sustains me and holds me together.

So if you're going through something that just feels like it's more than you can're right: it IS more than you can bear. We are these teeny little people in an enormous universe that is held in the palm of an unfathomable God...and He loves us so intensely that He rushes to our side before we even know we need it, and He lets the weight of the world crush us if that's what's required for us to cry out and acknowledge our need.

He is so good. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

A wonderful-gut day

For those among you who are not nearly as Amish as I am, the title does not imply any reference to my actual gut (innards, outards, or otherwise). It is the (evidently) typical Amish way of saying 'wonderful-good.'

But today I am feeling quite Amish and am pretending that I am. Sometimes I do that: I'll snuggle down underneath our (new from Christmas) quilt (thanks Mom/Dad/Rich/California Mommy!) at night and imagine that I'm in a cold farmhouse out in the country (it's not too far from reality: I'm in a very cold Cape Cod on the city grid), with the snow blowing around the landscape (also not that far from reality).

So today is setting up to be a snow, gray day: a perfect day to remain in my kitchen and make wonderful-gut things.

I've had the past three days off - you would think that with so much time off I'd have all kinds of time to kick back and do whatever I want. Yeah, not so much. I had these grand ideas of catching up with friends and so forth, and it never happened. See, I work this weekend for three days. Off one day, and then on two more. Since I work twelve hour shifts, this means that more than half my time for nearly the next six days will be spent at work, considering I show up there around 6:45 and don't leave to around 7:30pm. Come home, eat dinner, go to bed. Wash, rinse, repeat.

So that means piling dishes, piling laundry, a house that is quite askew. And it literally takes at least a day or two to prepare for the work/sleep deluge, make sure the laundry is done and dried and put away, make sure there's enough food (and preferably prepared meals) to get us through without needing to run to Wendy's, etc.

Anyway, I'm rambling. My mom Facebooked me and told me I need to post a new blog. hahahaha!!!! What a weird age we live in. But I DO need to post again, I've been wanting to, but I simply haven't had much of a moment to sit down and do so. I'm hoping today I can catch up with that. I might have one of those multiple-post days if time allows, because there is plenty I want to share.

One thing I want to share is some recipes. If you're bored by recipes, you may kindly skip over those posts. But if you're looking for new, delicious recipes, I have some grand ones. I've collected a few new cookbooks over the past few months and have been cooking up a storm some days. The recipes I will share in forthcoming posts are gluten- and dairy-free for my allergen-sensitive friends and family, vegetarian (actually, vegan) for my veggie friends, AND delicious, for my food-loving me! And they can all be tweaked by adding beef or chicken or whatever you want, so it's not like they're bland, tree-hugging-grass-grazing freak recipes or anything like that.

Before I embark on my culinary cruise with you, I need to share with you the most delightful kitchen tool that you absolutely MUST have: the Vidalia Chop Wizard.

I can take no credit for discovering this countertop maven that can - and will - exponentially increase your culinary prowess. My friend Carolyn and my aunt Ginger introduced me to it. I give it out for birthday gifts now. It can be yours for a mere $20 at that black hole of a store, Bed Bath and Beyond (I say black hole because it sucks you in under the guise of a "wedding registry"...and then you leave either coveting everything, or owning everything).

The Chop Wizard will bring you to new heights of edible success. Let me introduce:

You place your vegetable on the chopping grid like so (it comes with two grids, one is better for mincing)...

...give it a good healthy whap, and voila!

Perfectly chopped veggies.

Imagine the possibilities!!! Imagine how quickly (and uniformly!) you can prepare vegetable soup (like I am this morning), salsa, salads...the possibilities are endless. Imagine being able to chop onions (even red ones) without looking like you just watched Julia Roberts in Stepmom...again.

I'm not sure if the Amish would use a Chop Wizard (they doesn't need to be plugged in, after all), but they should. It is truly a wonderful-gut tool.

So I'm going to now continue with my morning: my favorite radio station is on, the snow is falling, and I'm making my vegetable soup in the slow-cooker so we can have dinners throughout the weekend. Hopefully I'll have time today to sit down and update again. Talk to you soon!