Happy 2012! Year of the Veg

January 1, 2012

Happy New Year, lovely readers!  I’ve spent the past few weeks off the grid, trying to restore health, balance, and mental energy by just not plugging in.  I actually read an entire book. Impressive stuff, I know.

I can’t say that I succeeded in all areas–it was the holiday season, after all–but I am feeling a little more quiet, a little more at peace in my body and my head. And that’s a good thing.

In my past life, I may have been a turtle or a tortoise, because when things get batshit crazy, I pull myself into my little shell and just hang out in there for a while.  I used to beat myself up about this tendency. It’s a cowardly way to cope, is it not?  But as I get older, I’m a little more accepting.  Some people are tigers, and some people are turtles.  Undeniably, I’m the latter.

I have really missed you all, though, and I’m glad to be back in this space and I look forward to inching my way back into the loop, reptilian-style.

A few updates from the last few weeks:

~Miss M. has made a full recovery from her tonsil trauma. I’m busily trying to purge our freezer; it’s Popsicle Mountain in there. She tired quickly of them and nobody wants to eat popsicles in the winter, especially with 8 inches of snow in the back yard.  Does anyone in Miami need some popsicles?

~Miss D. is restless and ready to return to school. She’s bored, even with shiny new things to play with.  She’s so bored that she’s taken to bizarre forms of entertainment, such as trying to eat her morning cereal with a fork. That little experiment didn’t go so well.

~Mama was back to chemo treatments the day after Christmas. Geez, talk about a buzzkill. But she’s anxious to get through, so she climbed back in the saddle with grace.  She’s got a lot to teach me about weathering through, that one.

~I’m trying desperately to get inspired about cooking again.  We’ve been far to reliant on Honeybaked ham sandwiches and leftover mashed potatoes.  Not that I’ll ever tire of a pile of mashed potatoes, but it’s time to shake things up a bit in the kitchen. Maybe lighten it up just a bit, eat things a tad lower on the food chain after the Month of Meat.

This is not a Resolution. I want to make this clear. I don’t make New Year’s resolutions because I am weak in constitution. Why set myself up for failure?

Okay, I just re-read that sentence and it’s official. Past life? Totally a turtle.

Anyways, I don’t do the resolution thing, but I would like to get inspired to eat more veggies in the winter. Summertime is never a problem–I scarf down tons of veg in the sunny months. Winter is problematic. When it’s snowy and cold, the only way I want a vegetable is if it’s smothered in cream and cheese, sitting next to a large hunk of filet mignon.

So while the Chinese declare 2012 the Year of the Dragon, I declare this the Year of the Veg.

So…I am going to try to go meatless once a week.

Did you notice how low I just set that bar?

Eating meatless once a week should so not be a problem–not for me, not for anyone–and yet, that’s all I’ll commit to.  In fact, I’m so uncommitted that I’ll consider a meatless weekly lunch as a victory.

Turtle, dudes.

The good news is, the Cookbook Addict got some new tomes for Christmas. I can’t help it, readers. I’m afflicted.

The super-good news? One of those tomes is Jacques Pepin’s Essential Pepin: More Than 700 All-Time Favorites from My Life in Food.

Jacques Pepin, aside from being an amazing chef, is a hard-core lover of the veg.  If I took a bite out of Pepin’s left leg, I’m pretty sure it would crunch and taste like celery.

And although Pepin is French, and classically trained as a French chef, he’s been in the food business so long that he’s branched out from the traditional, cream-sauce/gratineed preparations.

Not that there aren’t gratins or recipes with cream in the cookbook–there are–but there are also plenty of lighter, ass-friendlier offerings.

But you know what? I’m going to try some of those gratins, too.  They sound too delicious to bypass. I just will eat them as my main dish, not sitting next to a bloody slab of cow.  Adding a little cream or cheese to something as virtuous as a vegetable is really not a cardinal sin, in my book. At least once in a while.

This past week, I’ve been working my way through Essential Pepin, Post-It bookmarks in hand, and I’ve got to say, I’m kind of excited to get in the kitchen again.

I haven’t been excited to get in the kitchen for three months. This renewed motivation is big deal in the Land of Kitch.  I’m excited to be excited.

My first offering to you is a simple salad of carrot and sunflower seeds, which probably sounds weird and repellent to you but it didn’t to me.  I love sunflower seeds. And raw carrots.*

I was intrigued by the recipe because–well, it was kind of weird. But it also got my attention because I thought this salad would be texturally interesting.  Sweet shards of carrot, rich walnut oil, little meaty pops of sunflower seed? Call me curious.

Pepin suggests this salad as a side or a first course; however, he also mentions that it makes a delicious filling for a sandwich.  It was this last suggestion that made my mouth water, so I tried it that way.

It was delicious.  I ate my sandwich and immediately called Mama, the giver of the cookbook.

“I just ate the weirdest sandwich for lunch but it was so delicious! It’s the simplest thing, really, but when you put it together, it works. You really have to try it.”

“I’m glad you like the cookbook. I’ll try it as soon as I don’t feel like rat shit.”

Mama, bless her.  I love a good cuss.

I encourage you to try this. I must confess, I ate the leftovers as a salad, topped with some crumbled French feta, with a bit of fresh parsley stirred in, and loved it even more.

The next time I make this, I think I’ll grate my own carrot on a box grater instead of using the pre-shredded carrot from the grocery store. I think the more delicate the texture of the carrot, the better.

Happy New Year, everyone.  I’m happy to stuff my foot up the hind end of 2011.

And hey, look at me!

Meatless Lunch #1? Done and done.

Carrot and Sunflower Seed Salad

serves 6

from Essential Pepin

6 medium carrots (about 12 ounces), peeled and shredded

1/2 cup sunflower seeds ( the shelled kind, yo)

2 teaspoons crushed, chopped garlic

1/2 cup chopped mild onion, such as Vidalia or Walla Walla (or shallot)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

5 tablespoons peanut, walnut, hazelnut or almond oil

red lettuce leaves (I used spinach)

Combine all ingredients except lettuce in a bowl. Mix well. Serve on lettuce leaves or as a sandwich filling.

*I said raw carrots were delicious, okay? Cooked carrots are loathsome nuggets of vileness.

{ 63 comments… read them below or add one }

Erica@PLRH January 1, 2012 at 8:46 am

Dear fellow past-life turtle –
I love this! Any sort of shredded carrot salad is yummy. I never thought to make it a sandwich filling. This I will have to try.
I’m going to make one last heavy meat dish this weekend and then I’m forcing this household to switch gears for the lighter fare. Perhaps we’ll attempt a meatless day as well. Does seafood count?
Happy 2012!
Love, Yertle the Turtle
PS – ditto on the cooked carrots


TKW January 1, 2012 at 9:50 am

Erica aka: Yertle,

You crack me up! I think seafood may not count, but eggs do! I’m doing the French thing today and making an herb omelet with a salad for lunch today!


elizabeth January 1, 2012 at 9:10 am

This looks really, really tasty–and I support your Year of the Veg! I agree that shredding the carrot yourself would yield a more delicate salad/sandwich filling.

Happy New Year!


TKW January 1, 2012 at 9:50 am


Off to check out your blog…I’ve missed you.


Heather @girlichef January 1, 2012 at 9:12 am

I’d happily eat that sammich…sounds really good. I also want to eat more veg in the winter. There. I said it out loud. Happy New Year! :D


TKW January 1, 2012 at 9:51 am


If you do it, you could start a revolution :)


Amber January 1, 2012 at 10:13 am

I’m with your mom, as soon as I don’t feel like rat shit, I’ll try this. :)

In other news, I think I was a porcupine. As soon as shit happens, those prickly things flare out as I curl into a ball.

As for 2012, may it be as kick ass as you.


TKW January 1, 2012 at 11:22 am


This turtle loves ya, porcupine!


Abby January 1, 2012 at 10:21 am

1) I’ve missed you.
2) I remember reading something about Miss D hissing, so I’m glad (for you) that she’s feeling better and headed back to school.
3) I’ve been a vegetarian turtle for more than seven years, so I welcome you to my world one day a week. Just don’t eat all my greens. I will also hiss.


TKW January 1, 2012 at 11:23 am


It was the little one (M.) who was the hisser. But she goes back to school, too. Alas, not until Wednesday. groan.

Seven years without bacon? I cry just thinking about it.


Jennifer January 1, 2012 at 10:47 am

I know desserts aren’t your favorite thing to make, but I have the BEST dessert cookbook made with local recipes from all over Louisiana. I’m not sure they are still making it, but if you want the details let me know and I’ll send them to you. It is one of those community things.


TKW January 1, 2012 at 11:24 am


I’d love the book. Just in case I decide to get my sweet on. What a generous and sweet offer!


GEW January 1, 2012 at 11:27 am

That sandwich looks fantastic. And there are much worse ways of dealing with trouble than closing up like a turtle. Shooting sprees, for example, are WAY worse.

Happy New Year from one turtle to another!


Katybeth January 1, 2012 at 11:56 am

Happy New Year. My mother wonders when Cole starts to drive in March if I will ever leave home. Doubtful.
Glad everyone is regaining there health–cause when you got your health you got everything! :-)
I like the three word approach to New Years resolutions–coming up with three words to guide me through 2012 (Chris Brogan) I do have to write them on a post-a-note and stick it to my mirror or I will forget them by January 15th….


BigLittleWolf January 1, 2012 at 1:49 pm

Ah… someone else who doesn’t make resolutions (you, too, could say it is because they don’t work, not because you are weak of constitution, tra la).

This veggie sandwich sounds like a winner! (Would go nicely with Julia’s French Onion Soup… )



The Hungry Housewife January 1, 2012 at 2:57 pm

The year of the Veg?? I need to get on that train!


Ink January 1, 2012 at 3:28 pm

So much to love about the writing in this post (except the chemo return–sorry and hugs to your brave Mama). Plus: vegetable promotion! You’re awesome.

I am a turtle, too. SO very, very turtle. *slaps fins* <turtle equiv of high five, though is that what they're called? fins? or are they paws? or…?????


TKW January 2, 2012 at 10:24 am


Hooray for turtle hi-fives! I think it’s fins, or flippers? Hmmm. Clearly, I need to brush up on my turtle anatomy. Glad to be in such fine turtle company.


Amy @ Never-True Tales January 1, 2012 at 5:10 pm

Hello, turtle friend! Yay on the veg non-resolution, because now there will be even more recipes here for me to be too intimidated try! Here’s a good 2012!


TKW January 2, 2012 at 10:25 am


I’m so glad to be hanging out with such awesome fellow turtles!


SuziCate January 1, 2012 at 5:14 pm

The sandwich sounds good. I love cookbooks and did no get a single one this year for Christmas, waah….but I did buy lots of cooking mags ahead of time! Wishing for a healthy 2012 for your entire family!


TKW January 2, 2012 at 1:17 pm


I got new cookbooks and *still* had to pick up a few food rags today at the grocery store. Agg, the shame of it.


Maggie S. January 1, 2012 at 6:27 pm

Sounds delish…and I totally agree, cooked carrots are awful.


Phoo-d January 1, 2012 at 7:24 pm

Turtles, that is why we are friends. =) I’ve been disappearing into my shell lately too. Desperately trying to get control of life and find normal again. Eating crazy healthy, dieting through the holidays, and realizing that ‘normal’ with a small child is nothing like ‘normal’ before kids. Is it sad that I’ve been spending time cleaning the house instead of blogging? Xoxoxo your fellow tortoise.


TKW January 2, 2012 at 10:26 am


You have a new baby, my little turtle. You are allowed every excuse on the planet. xoxo


Meister @ The Nervous Cook January 1, 2012 at 7:26 pm

Veggies are the best! Good on you — I hope you love your semi-meatlessness. (As a mostly-meatless gal myself, I’m more than happy to offer recipes, support, and advice should you need it. VEGGIES RULE!)

Happiest New Year. Let’s hope this one is better than the last, right? Onward and upward.


Jane January 1, 2012 at 9:12 pm

I love (raw) carrot salad so this sounds devine. And adding feta? Perfection, in my book.

But going meatless once a week? I’ve tried this again and again and again. For myself, not that hard. I love legumes. Of all varieties. But my family? If there isn’t recognizable meat on the plate? Forget about it! If you succeed in this endeavor – I’ll be all ears/eyes. I could use some inspiration that might turn my family around!

Love all the good news shared here in this post. I’ve missed the sunny spirit that sneaks past your snark. (Say that fast 5 times.)

But I love you, most of all! Happy New Year, dear friend! xo


TKW January 2, 2012 at 10:27 am


My kids will go meatless only if I serve: quesadillas, grilled cheese, macaroni and cheese, omelets, twice-baked potatoes. *hangs head in shame* So you will get no amazing solutions from me!


The Curious Cat January 2, 2012 at 5:03 am

Interesting sandwich…I’d be tempted to sneak some cheese in…but maybe that wouldn’t work? Hope your mum is ok and hope you had a lovely Christmas! Good luck with veg week -I’m doing no booze Jan! Argh…xxx


TKW January 2, 2012 at 10:28 am


Ugh! That was me last year. It was torture. Sending you good luck wishes!


Sherri January 2, 2012 at 7:49 am

Hope your Mom is feeling OK. Glad to hear that you are refreshed a bit. I go veggie quite a bit – will look forward to your veg recipes :). Happy 2012!


MKCountryman January 2, 2012 at 8:25 am

Your sandwich looks good. I have had a problem with sandwiches lately (meaning a few years) since I tried to start eating healthier bread. Your bread looks good – not too thick, not too brown, not too white. What do you use?


TKW January 2, 2012 at 10:30 am


It’s Oatnut bread, which is made by Orowheat. Even my kids will eat this bread, as long as I cut off the crust. That’s saying something!


Rudri Bhatt Patel @ Being Rudri January 2, 2012 at 11:22 am

Vegetarian recipes from my favorite chef? Sounds like a great start to the New Year. xoxo


Christine @ Coffees & Commutes January 2, 2012 at 12:56 pm

We try and do meatless twice a week. I’m not always successful, and sometimes it means that my two fussy boys barely eat anything (since they are both practically anti-veg), but I persevere. Also, since I’m on Weight Watcher (hello 8 weeks!) and veg is 0 pts, it means I consume A LOT. I suppose that’s the point.

Glad to hear you are edging your way back in the saddle. We miss you and love you in these parts!


TKW January 2, 2012 at 1:20 pm


Just wait–I’m cooking “throw a bunch of veggies and crap into a pot soup” as we speak. It’s actually damn good. Recipe to follow soon :)


Katrina Kenison January 2, 2012 at 7:00 pm

This salad looks great. I became a spontaneous vegetarian after reading John Robbins’s The Food Revolution two years ago. It changed my life. And I’ve cooked more than ever in these last two years, from some amazing cookbooks. Check out Heidi Swanson, and her blog, 101 Cookbooks for starters. And these easy recipes from Mark Bittman in the NYT today:
http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/01/01/magazine/eat-vegan-recipes.html?ref=magazine#Loaded_Miso_Soup Good luck! Happy grazing!


TKW January 3, 2012 at 8:31 am


Isn’t Bittman the best? I have all of his cookbooks and he never lets me down. Off to check Heidi out! Thanks for the rec!


Heather January 2, 2012 at 8:08 pm

You absolutely have to post some of the gratins! I cannot wait. Veg with creamy anything has my name written all over it. As for the sandwich… I’m gonna pass. Too much veg, especially fresh veg, does not do my body well. Hugs to mama and to you. It’s good to have you back!


Cathy January 2, 2012 at 8:38 pm

Meatless once a week. I can manage that – that’s our standard spaghetti night – sauce from the jar and all.

Happy New Year TKW!


tasteofbeirut January 3, 2012 at 2:44 am

Happy New Year!
Love monsieur Pépin and his recipes and techniques; great sandwich!
glad you are back in the swing of things and we’ll be reading more of you.


Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes January 3, 2012 at 6:32 am

Huray for the recovery of Miss M and here’s to hoping that mama feels better soon.
I’d take the liberty off adding some advocado to that sandwich and be as happy as a pig in the mud.


TKW January 3, 2012 at 8:32 am


Avocado is a brilliant addition!


Jenna January 3, 2012 at 10:48 am

Yup, I was also off the grid, and it was maaarrrvellous. I return armed with a food processor, but sadly a lack of kitchen inspiration. I think it will come back after a few days of normal, wonderful, glorious ROUTINE! I love routine much more than I like to admit. And your sandwich . . . well, it looks weird. I’ll just have to take your word for its deliciousness.


A Canadian Foodie January 3, 2012 at 1:47 pm

I love carrots and sunflower seeds in a salad – so why not in a sandwich? And, it looks divine. Great recap and nice to catch up as I too have been off the radar and much longer – for almost a year… but I am back! Hope to stay.
Happy 2012!


TKW January 3, 2012 at 6:38 pm

Glad to see you, V! I’ve missed you.


Tiffany January 3, 2012 at 4:45 pm

Honest to God I could sit and watch Pepin cook and talk or just read the dictionary every day. I’m going on a cleanse but when I’m allowed to eat real food again, I’m gonna try it!!


TKW January 3, 2012 at 6:38 pm


A cleanse? Really? Do we need to talk? I love you.


Biz January 4, 2012 at 6:45 am

Happy New Year! Hope your Momma is feeling better soon – but I have to disagree – cooked carrots are divine! But my hubs would be in your camp. :D


Chiara January 4, 2012 at 8:47 am

I would ever never thought of putting carrots in a sandwich, but it sounds like a good idea!


Belinda January 4, 2012 at 12:51 pm

Like you, I tend to withdraw when things go haywire. I’ve found it to be the perfect time to start doing something I love but haven’t had a lot of time to devote to, like going for a walk somewhere where there are lots of trees.

Happy new year to you all!


Dana January 4, 2012 at 1:24 pm

Happy new year Turtle!


Privilege of Parenting January 4, 2012 at 4:13 pm

Happy New Year, KW—I like the idea of making it a healthy one, within reason. As for turtles, I can relate, but I also seem to remember hearing of a Chinese myth that says the universe rests upon the back of a tortoise. The tortoise’s shell was also said to be the first stringed instrument, thanks to Hermes that artisinal trickster, sadly for the tortoise. Here’s to having our salad days and keeping our shells as well.


Mary Lee January 4, 2012 at 6:09 pm

We had three of the grandsons here for several days this week. I was over-the-moon ecstatic any time I fixed something that all three of them liked. (Besides hot dogs, I mean.) I think they’d have liked this sandwich.

What book did you read? Cookbooks don’t count, even if you take them to bed with you. :)


Salad in a Jar January 5, 2012 at 6:54 am

Turtle here too. Maybe that is why Twitter scares me.

A bite out of somebody’s left leg that crunches like celery? Where do you come up with this stuff? Thanks for a great read this morning. Glad to hear your mom is hanging in there.


Justine January 5, 2012 at 8:27 am

Yay! So glad to be back in one of my favorite corners of the Interwebs. This (and many more) is why I can never get enough of you:
“If I took a bite out of Pepin’s left leg, I’m pretty sure it would crunch and taste like celery.”

LOL. Good to hear your “voice” again. I’ve been off the grid myself over the holidays and missed everyone. Hope 2012’s Year of the Dragon/Veg is your best one yet.


Contemporary Troubadour January 5, 2012 at 1:29 pm

Turtles unite! I’ve been in hiding for a little while too. Call it holiday-induced (ahem) shell-shock …

Hoping 2012 is full of good things for you and your family.


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