Monday, April 27, 2009

Cooking with TVP: Vegan Chili Edition

My friend Aisha gave me her recipe for Vegan Chili after we couldn't make it over to try a sampling of her batch. My husband and I are now hooked, and it was my first experiment with TVP (okay, my first awareness of it too)! Head over to Aisha's blog for the recipe, picture included! Hope you all can enjoy the tastiness, but warning! This chili is a bit spicy, but does pass my North Dakotan taste buds. It is better than any meat version I have ever had (sorry Mom, but you will never see this apology anyway).

Natasha

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Where I've Been: Naboo, er, Indy

When I see this pictures, I really do feel like I was in another world. Naboo, to be exact. The water, the capitol building, the clothes (do they really look like costumes here? I don't think so!). Everything seemed surreal.

This fountain stands across the street from the Indiana Convention Center. This picture was taken back in 2002 at Star Wars Celebration II, two months before Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones was released. It was my first convention, and the first time I met my Jedi Master Sue Dawe after three years of e-mails. It was also the first time I flew on a plane (by my nineteen year old self) and was away from my boyfriend of four months (and now husband of three years). Amazing how life changes, but this picture symbolizes the beginning of the many adventures in my life.

My favorite memory in this garden was lighsaber practice in the evening. Kids were having their pictures taken for prom and watched as Sue showed us some of her moves. Seeing their eyes light up, and especially when Sue handed them the lightsaber, told me that they would never forget their prom night. The garden on Naboo, the glow of lightsabers, and, I suppose, some dance. Watching them, I knew I had taken a step into a larger world. One of moments like that, so unusual and, yet, so special. Unique. Remarkable.

When I see this picture, it is hard to see myself standing in the middle of Indianpolis. Instead, I am really standing in another world. The world that I don't have any intention of leaving. The fun had only just begun.

Natasha

Picture: 2001, across from Indiana Convention Center, Star Wars Celebration II

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Cooking with TVP: Tater Tot Hotdish edition

I know I have been posting a lot about food, but being a vegetarian is fun! There are so many different things to explore. One of those things is TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein). My friend Aisha told me about Vegan Chili with TVP, and I decided to experiment with it. I scoured the Internet for recipes with TVP, but decided to create some hotdishes (or casseroles, depending where you come from). There are some great recipes featured on Bob's Red Mill website (the brand I buy) and I decided to explore on my own and here's one of my creations and old favorites I almost didn't think I could eat again!

Tater Tot Hotdish (with TVP)

1 lb. tater tots
1/2 cup TVP (replace ground beef)
1 can (15 oz) black, chili, or pinto beans with chili spices and cumin or add 1 tsp cumin and 1 tsp chili spices
1 can (15 oz) corn, drained (optional, but substitute with beans)
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese

Oven 450 degrees (or temperature directed on package for tater tots)

1) Add TVP to beans with spices. Let sit for at least fifteen minutes.
2) Put TVP/bean mixture on bottom of casserole dish.
3) Pour drained corn on top and spread evenly.
4) Put tater tots on top and sprinkle with cheddar cheese.

Cook approximately 40 minutes or until tater tots are cooked to appropriate crispiness. Broil if you feel like tater tots extra crispy for they can sometimes turn out soggy (my husband like them that way).

With the pictures shown, I used black beans with the spices already mixed in the can. Usually my mother or I use chili beans with the spices, but use the beans that you prefer (check the ingredients for beef stock, etc). The black beans tasted just as good as the chili beans. And doesn't the TVP almost look like beef? Will anyone know? We brought leftovers into work and people were fooled! The best part, though, is our stomaches didn't ache when we were finished eating. Our tummies were happy!

I hope you enjoy this recipe or have a chance to invent your own! Make sure to check out the Bob's Red Mill website for other uses of TVP.

Also, I know my recipe is confusing. I usually just make stuff up and writng them down is something new! It drives my husband nuts, but he doesn't complain when I feed him

Be sure to check out my other TVP recipes coming soon: Vegan chili and Mexican Hotdish.

Natasha

Monday, April 13, 2009

Core Con 2009: Heroes vs. Villains

We had our first Core Con April 3rd-5th. It is a sci fi and fantasy convention located here in Fargo. For the past year and a half my husband Joey and I worked on this with a great group of people. I ran the panel room and helped with the program guide. Joey was in charge of electronic gaming, the program guide, and acted as the convention liaison.

We are thrilled that the convention turned out to be a success! We had some high stakes with the Fargo Flood appearing beforehand, but we pushed through and managed to pull it off! People kept coming up to all of us and handing out compliments. We couldn't have asked for anything better for a first year con! I am stoked for 2010, the year of the zombie. We have some great things in mind for next year!

Highlights:

Spaceballs: The Band won the Rock Band contest. We had some great other bands and it was really hard to chose. It is only appropriate to have this cleverly named band win. Spaceballs is the well-known consuite (party room) that happens to label everything in the hotel.






The costume contest turned out to be entertaining and quite fun, and organized. What a great job, and we had creative costumes. We had a great amount of people that were in character, and they were all funny and thought out. Great costumes and great fun!






We had some great panels, including the Comic of Revelation (written by the hubby). We had a great sword demonstration, literature and writing, Heroes vs. Villains, and tons more! Everyone did such a great job and we had some great turnout. We also had a Star Wars Social where we showed a special presentation of A New Hope, had a long discussion, and gave away prizes (including a piece of the Return of the Jedi set)!



Want to see more pictures? Go to the Past Cons on the sidebar of the Core Con website. Want to see something at Core Con next year? Join our forums and throw us an e-mail. We would love to hear from you! Thanks to all that made this first year a success and we hope to see more of you there. I will be there!

Now onto Core Con 2010: Year of the Zombie!


Natasha

Zombie picture: I'm the one with her head down, wearing overalls. More on the website!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

I Wish I Could Say More...

The flood happened, as well as a blizzard, and the city still stands. Our mayor told state and national officials that the people are the only reason our city stands, and that we will not evacuate everyone. Our apartment is safe, and most of the city is intact. I feel for the people that have lost their homes, but overall, it has been a success. Thanks to all the volunteers and wonderful people for all their hard work! This truly shows the beauty of the North Dakota work ethic. We only needed about 1.5 millions sandbags, but we didn't take any chances. We went and made 3.5 million!

We might not be out of the woods yet. We still have snow, including the snow from the blizzard, to melt. We are taking one day at a time.

I wish I could say more, but Core Con is this weekend and I have a lot to do. I will get back to my writing schedule after the event. Come on by if you can! We have a lot of wonderful things lined up!

Natasha

Currently... Update Edition

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