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I have been trying to plan a garden here in Germany. With our six month old daughter in the house everything has been difficult to make time for.  I barely have the time to write this blog. I keep getting distracted. She needs to be entertained for most of the day and fed the other portion of the day that I’m not entertaining her. When she sleeps, which hardly seems long enough, I do things like eat and sleep and whatever I may need to do to stay alive. I have allowed myself certain frills, however. I bake every now and then when my husband is tending to Anna or I clean or plant some seeds. It has been hard to do all of these things because what I really want to do all the time is sleep. I feel like I haven’t had a good nights rest for…. She woke up…. Ok I’m back now. Anyway, I haven’t had the time to cook meals the way I used to either. My husband and I used to love to cook and eat together and now we have to do things in shifts. My recipes have become quick ones with throw together ingredients and we don’t have the time to make the elaborate meals which once upon a time graced our dinner table. I still eat what is in season, though, and this month it seems to be rhubarb and asparagus. I have made rhubarb crisp since we moved here, banana-rhubarb cake, strawberry-rhubarb pie and rhubarb compote and last night for dinner we had grilled asparagus. My husband has been doing a lot of the cooking lately or at least starting it and then taking Anna and I finish it. This type of cooking is not as fulfilling as cooking together and is a little confusing: “You already added the salt?” or “I thought the pasta was supposed to be al dente.”. We manage to eat what we make, I just wish that we could be a little more fancy. I would like a dish with vegetables not just steamed vegetables or a lasagna, not mac n cheese. You get the picture. I also have the interesting dietary restriction since Anna has been born of no dairy. She seems to have a dairy protein allergy which some babies  have and typically grow out of by 12 to 18 months of age. She can’t handle the proteins in milk so even lactose free is not happening for me.  I was sad about this at first. I would dream about eating butter, milk, and cheese. I sang songs about butter and how everything is better with it and, well, I went a little loopy for a while with such a deprivation. No trace of dairy could be in my diet which meant cutting out all kinds of things. Just pick up something randomly from your pantry that has more than one ingredient in it and it probably contains some form of dairy. I have since learned to deal with it and it is actually not all that bad. I still miss baking with butter but cheese doesn’t bother me anymore the way it used to. I have found some decent alternatives and the health food stores and alternative food markets have been a blessing. I discovered that coconut cream “ice cream” can be better than real ice cream, that most vegan chocolate deserts are to die for, that olive oil is fabulously versatile and that I actually prefer vegan mac n cheese to the real thing.

Recipe for Vegan Mac n Cheese

by Laura Valetutto

1/2 lb of whole wheat pasta of your choice

1/2 cup nutritional yeast (you can find this at any health food store)

1 cup unsweetened soy milk

1/4 cup flour

1/4 cup oil

2-3 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari

3 tablespoons of Earth Balance or other butter substitute

black and/or red pepper to taste

Melt the Earth Balance in a sauce pan. Over medium heat stir in the yeast and flour. Add milk slowly while stirring and the oil and soy sauce. It must be hot enough that the sauce will start to thicken otherwise turn up the heat gradually while stirring. If the consistency gets too thick and looks curdled add more milk. Stir until smooth and add to cooked pasta along with any additional seasonings. Best served with a side vegetable like steamed broccoli.

*This is what I had for lunch today. Thanks Thomas : )