thinking about the autumnal equinox

this is one of the holidays that i get bent out of shape about.

all ya’ll in the north get the pretty leaves, apple cider, and cool temperatures.

~~~ wrote this the week of september 14th. ~~~

it’s still in the upper 90s, i’m swarmed by mosquitoes the second i step outside and the atlantic is full of hurricanes. it’s LITERALLY full, there were 6 or 7 disturbances last time i checked the NHC. all it takes is a weakening in the high pressure ridge over texas for them to come on through. at least it gets dark a little sooner?

i was looking through this post to find some inspiration for what to do this year. not gonna lie, kind of jealous. partially because this post is from the before times, which we all kinda feel, but because up north the threat of bugs and dangerous heat is over by now. a nice period before the winter sets in. i’ve already forgotten what winter was like, my memories of a big snow are from the early 90s before we moved to texas. never seen anything like it in person since.

what does the autumnal equinox look like in southeast texas?

~~~ now, to current. september 24th. ~~~

IT LOOKS LIKE A FLOOD. the peak of the flooding occurred the day of the equinox. my bayou thankfully didn’t cause a lot of damage in my condo complex. we are up on stilts and the folks that own down on the low side of the complex were able to move their vehicles to higher ground in time. this is from the harris county flood warning system:

this is downstream from us. if i had to guess, we were holding around 6.5 – 7 feet on the 21st and 22nd. we normally sit somewhere between 1.5 – 3 feet.

as for how i celebrated the equinox:

i set up my barebones altar in my bedroom and worked the solitary autumn equinox ritual from the AODA book. i had some acorns i collected last year as decoration. i think the ritual as written in the book i received from the AODA is a bit different than the one that appears in the jmg book? idk. it felt less gendered? that’s a good thing. i suppose as i go i’ll be more comfortable and get more out of the experience.

felt good to do something that wasn’t refreshing harris FWS/Radarscope on my phone, or checking the pantry to make sure we have enough food and water to last a couple days if we get inundated, or walking out to my truck to make sure a drunk didn’t fly off the road and hit it, or worrying the office was going to flood and having no way to see the creek levels on my commute because it’s in a different county.

week 14 of socially distanced lunch

low effort week because i’m going on vacation next week.

baked sweet potatoes, refried black beans, brown rice and collard greens. the hotlogic mini box i got has been a game changer for me. don’t have to rely on my camping gear to keep food hot all day, i can just plug that thing in and let it heat up my lunch. tastes better than cooking stuff in the microwave and keeps me away from the breakroom.

week 12 of socially distanced lunch + notes

so hurricane laura really got me off track. i got twisted preparing for another ike, but we were spared last minute. survivor’s guilt is fucking real and i’m still fucked up about it. give some money to SBP or something, dear reader.

either way, my meal prep was thrown WAY OFF TRACK and i ended up eating ramen, frozen falafel, frozen mixed vegetables, whatever other stuff i had in the freezer for the week of hurricane laura and the week after. back on track this week.

i have the small instant pot, the duo mini. i had to split this recipe into two batches, but i will write it as if i could make it all in one go. the cook times should not be affected, as all the reference recipes i looked at for cook times were all for the larger instant pot.

red beans & rice

1 lb dry small red beans, soaked overnight in the fridge & drained (**not kidney beans**)

2 large ribs celery, diced

1 white or yellow onion, diced

1 bell pepper, diced

a lot of garlic cloves, minced. i used 5.

2 tbsp earth balance butter sub or your pick oil/water for sweating vegetables

2 1/2 tbsp low sodium slap ya mama seasoning

2 generous tbsp smoked paprika, add more if the jar is old. this goes for all your dried seasoning tbh

1 – 2 tbsp mushroom powder *this is important, since there’s no meat this imparts some of that umami that sausage would have imparted*

2 tsp dried oregano

2 tsp dried thyme

2 tsp dried sage

2 of the larger bay leaves in the container

just enough water to cover the beans

*** set this off to the side, don’t put it in your cooking liquid. it will make your beans tough as fuck since it’s mostly sodium ***

3 level tsp orrington farms vegan ham broth

a shake or so of liquid smoke

*** you’re going to mix this in after the beans cook ***

1: drain beans and set aside. measure out about 4 cups of fresh water in another container, set aside. you may not use all the water.

2: dice vegetables and set aside

3: measure out seasonings above the *** note

4: hit saute on instant pot, add butter substitute. wait for it to start popping. add onion, celery and bell pepper. sweat until onions are translucent. add garlic, stir & saute for a minute more. turn off saute mode.

5: add beans, stir. add water to just above beans and seasonings above the *** note. stir again to make sure there are no clumps.

6: seal instant pot, cook on manual high pressure for 33 minutes. allow pressure to naturally release.

7: while the IP is cooking, make some long grain rice. i serve this with roughly a cup of rice and greens.

8: after the cook time is done, remove any excess liquid. there should be more beans than liquid, imo. stir in ham broth and liquid smoke. stir until no lumps remain, taste and adjust if you want. i like to add some hot sauce.

week 11 of socially distant lunch

kinda tired of rice + tofu + vegetables so i went in a wildly different direction. made mini chickpea loaves, collard greens, and mashed potatoes. i’m going to find out how this goes cold until the portable “oven” i bought gets here tuesday evening. idk it won’t matter, it’s food it will eat

instant pot collard greens

1 1/2 lb collards, large stem chunks removed & ripped into 2″ish pieces

1/2 onion

a lot of garlic

1 1/2 cups water

1 1/2 tsp orrignton farm’s vegan ham broth mix

black pepper

crushed red pepper

1: saute onions until translucent, add garlic and saute a minute more

2: add collards and saute until wilted

3: add water, broth mix, pepper and crushed red pepper

4: seal and cook at high pressure for 25 minutes. allow to release pressure naturally and tbh you could leave it on the keep warm setting until you’re ready to dish it. i think i left it in there for an hour + original cook time

5: serve w/ cooking liquid

chickpea loaf

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 onion, minced

1 medium carrot, minced

2 ribs celery, minced

1 tbsp tomato paste

3T – 1/4 cup water

1 can chickpeas, drained, rinsed and skinned

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp worchestershire sauce or sub

1 tbsp nutritional yeast

1 tbsp flax meal

3/4 – 1 cup panko breadcrumbs

black pepper and whatever other seasonings you want

meatloaf sauce:

3 tbsp ketchup

1 tsp brown sugar

1 tsp worchestershire sauce or sub

3 tbsp yellowbird serrano sauce

preheat oven to 375

1: combine the first 3 ingredients and saute until onions are translucent. add tomato paste and water, stir to dissolve the paste and cover the pan. cook until the carrots are tender. remove lid and allow the water to cook off.

2: mash everything except breadcrumbs together, mix in sauteed vegetables. then mix in breadcrumbs.

3: make 5 little loaves, place on greased foil and seal up into a package.

4: cook sealed up for 35 minutes

5: open up foil packet and brush loaves with sauce. leave the packet open and bake uncovered for 15 more minutes

week 8 of socially distant lunch

back to work this week. there’s still at of people out sick, at least they’re at home right? i had to start bringing my own soap because the stuff they’re using now in our bathrooms makes my dyshidrosis flare up. i found that out about 2 weeks ago and spent last week taking really good care of my hands so it didn’t get out of control.

anyway i made tofu soboro, frozen vegetables and rice.

tofu soboro, adapted from the just bento cookbook by makiko itoh

1 brick firm tofu

handful of dehydrated mushrooms, rehydrated and minced. do not discard liquid

3/4 cup green onions, sliced thin

1″ ginger, minced

2 tbsp white miso

1 tbsp soy sauce

2 tbsp sesame oil

1: rehydrate mushrooms with just enough hot water to cover. set aside 1/4 cup of mushroom water, dump the rest, mince the rehydrated mushrooms.

2: press and drain tofu, then crumble.

3: whisk together miso, soy sauce, and mushroom water. set aside

4: in a saute pan, heat sesame oil. add green onions, ginger, and mushrooms. saute until green onions wilt. add tofu, then soy sauce mixture. cook until tofu is even in color and the pan is dry.

the book says this will keep for a week or so in the fridge, i’ll find out.

frozen vegetables:

this was a couple different half-full bags of frozen vegetables that i sauteed in sesame oil and then dressed with that almond miso sauce i made a while back and froze. i portioned this and froze it again.

week 6 of socially distanced lunch

it’s pretty much the same as last week.

i decided to eat the green meatballs last week since those weren’t as good as the bean sprout patties. also got medium grain rice instead of long grain, that really changed shit around. if you’re doing bento style lunches don’t use long grain rice, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.

i made some roasted carrots tossed in the almond miso dressing from last week, and sauteed zucchini and squash. easy stuff.

breakfast was a little bit different this week though, that’s the meal i struggle with the most.

i made roasted potatoes and tofu with a bean not-queso sauce.

i originally saw the not queso sauce here, this is my version:

1 can cannellini or great northern beans, liquid included

1 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes

1 tbsp white miso

1 tbsp lemon juice

1/4 cup soy milk or water

1/4 cup jarred red salsa. not pace, shoot for more of a restaurant style

1/4 cup of pickled jalapeno slices

1/4 cup pickled jalapeno brine

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp coriander

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

3 tbsp potato starch

put all this in a high speed blender and puree until smooth