Reggie says…

I will not leave my post and I will not abandon my bone.

Zucchini Bread

Finally, gardening comes full circle. Last year’s garden produced a lot, but mainly zucchini. Millions and millions of them, it seemed. We would go out one day and see a few orangey flowers and then a few days later we’d be hauling in watermelon sized zucchinis and scratching our heads as to what to do with them. So by the end of the summer when I had fed the entire newsroom with massive zucchini and I felt bad about tossing them, I started bagging them up and throwing them in the freezer. And finally, nearly a year later I had one big bag of shredded zucchini left.

So, I made zucchini bread, of course. Who wouldn’t want to see those green shreds mixed with three cups of sugar and a cup of oil?

This recipe is from Paula Deen, and with the exception of the time I made it in Colorado and it sank into a two-inch tall pathetic heap of sweet bread, it’s perfect. Soft on the inside, a little crispy on the edges. It makes two good-sized loaves.

Zucchini Bread

3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup water
2 cups grated zucchini
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, nutmeg, baking soda, cinnamon and sugar. In a separate bowl, combine oil, eggs, water, zucchini and lemon juice. Mix wet ingredients into dry, add nuts and fold in. Bake in 2 standard loaf pans, sprayed with nonstick spray, for 1 hour, or until a tester comes out clean. Alternately, bake in 5 mini loaf pans for about 45 minutes.

Signs of spring

Thank God.

A second bloom on my peace lily plant.

The first hosta of the year.

Daffodils. Plus a gnome.


This one I could have done without.

Loving: Delight.com

I don’t have the budget to shop online whenever I feel like it, but I have to make the occasional exception for Delight.com. They don’t carry a lot of items a la Amazon, but they do seem to pick just the right ones to carry. Plus they have a daily discounted special. I’m not even gonna get into everything I love there. Just spend some time clicking through it (and be prepared to break out your debit card).

When you get your package in the mail it’s always neatly packaged with a couple of stickers or other freebies and a handwritten note on your invoice. Which is nice, because if you’re going to eat my paychecks, you should at least say thanks.

Loving: Chico Bag

Mike’s brother and his wife gave us (well, I took it) a Chico Bag for Christmas and I’ve been grateful to have it at least a dozen times since. I just stuck it in my purse because it folds up so small, and whenever I’m buying enough stuff to fit into one sack I pull it out and use it.

Even though I reuse plastic shopping bags for trash sacks, I always have more than I know what to do with, so this is one more way to keep from getting them. At Target, especially, it seems like they force you to take extra bags. Oh, you asked for paper? Why don’t I put your eggs in an extra plastic sack? And why don’t I put about three things in your canvas bag so that I have to add at least a few more extra bags to your cart? I don’t get it. I worked at Target and I don’t remember being told to load up hippies with plastic sacks.

You can buy them at health foods stores or online, and I think they’re only $5.

Missing Boulder

Every once in a while it will just hit me. Oh yeah, there was that one time when I lived in Boulder. There was that one time I woke up pretty much every day and it was sunny and beautiful and I could walk a few blocks and start climbing a mountain. It really feels like a dream because it was so short, yet so impactful and so needed.

It wasn’t like I went there to join some hippie commune or study naturopathy at Naropa or train for climbing Everest. I went there as a completely average person who took a cool job at the newspaper. But at the time I was one miserable and confused person. All I knew was that I needed to get out of Iowa and try something different. Be somewhere different until I could wake up for once not terrified.

I’m not sure what kept me awake until dawn so many nights or sent me to the doctor so many times just sure I was dying. I think it was just fear that even though everything appeared right, it was not right. And it just kept getting more wrong by the day. I couldn’t stand one more day straining to read HTML code. I couldn’t bear the thought that I’d lost Mike. I didn’t know how to feel about the fact that I didn’t go to New York.

I’m so proud of myself for stopping it. I’m so proud of myself for taking a part time job with no benefits in another state that paid zero moving expenses. Even knowing that I would lose my job 10 months later I would do it over again a million times. As soon as I got there I felt different. Like the cloud had lifted.

No one had to convince me to smell the roses. I smelled the roses, the microbrews, the bulk granola, the dogs, the coffee, the burritos, the hippies, the money. I smelled the dirt, people. I soaked it all up.

Of course I got lonely and broke. And pretty soon I transferred my anxiety to wanting Mike to join me. There were some hard days.

But there are times I have to admit just how much I miss it.

I miss face-sized biscuits at Burnt Toast.
I miss the sometimes Chinese/sometimes breakfast restaurant in north Boulder.
I miss Whole Foods.
I miss running really slowly on the Boulder Creek Trail.
I miss hiking Mt. Sanitas.
I miss interviewing people who complete unbelievable feats of athleticism on a regular basis and then seeing them quoted in Outside later.
I miss biodiesel buses and bike lanes.
I miss Chinese food menus with brown rice and vegetarian egg rolls.
I miss the raccoon who ate pizza out of our dumpster.
I miss playing Pickle Ball with my co-workers.
I miss Jennie and Pete and Jim.
I miss working on Pearl Street.
I miss outfitters dedicated to women.
I miss the guy with the “John Kerry throws like a girl” sign.

I don’t miss drunken college students. Or the Denver airport. Or not having air conditioning.

I am truly afraid to go back because I am afraid I’ll strap myself to the nearest Aspen tree and never leave. But my life is here and my life is now. I’m just glad I sniffed the dirt while I had the chance.

3-Bean Chipotle Chili

You’d never believe a dish this hearty was vegan. Well, until you put the crackers and cheese in it, but who’s counting?

I think we planned to have this last week because it was so damn cold. Again. We just needed as much comfort food as we could get. But then we ran out of time to cook it and had to make it today when it was sunny and beautiful.

The secret, I think, is to use crushed tomatoes instead of whole or cut tomatoes. And then mix in a few chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, as many as you can handle, for extra flavor.

3-Bean Chipotle Chili

2 T. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 zucchini, chopped (peeled, if you like)
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 15 oz. can dark kidney beans, drained
1 15 oz. can black beans, drained
1 15 oz. can chili beans
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 7 oz. can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1 T. cumin
1 T. chili powder
1 t. oregano
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper to taste

While the oil is heating in a big saucepan over medium, chop up all the vegetables.

I usually throw the garlic and onions in first, followed by the peppers, then the other veggies. After they’ve cooked about five minutes, mix in the spices, salt and pepper and bay leaf. Once everything is combined, add the tomatoes and beans and put a lid on the pot.

While that simmers, take out as many chipotle peppers as you want. If you don’t like spicy foods, I would take one or even one without the seeds. Those suckers are hot! I use three, but I had to work up to that. Put the rest in a container in the fridge until you need them again. Chop the chiles super fine and add them to the pot.

Simmer over medium-low heat for 30 minutes, remove the bay leaf and serve with cheddar and saltines.

Vegetarian Cassoulet

I’ve tried a number of so-so vegetarian bean soups, hoping they’d turn out to be regulars in my arsenal, but this one finally hit the spot.

I’ll just let you go there for the recipe (complete with gorgeous photos), plus some tips on how to cook beans from scratch. I really think that might have made all the difference somehow.

Instead of making the breadcrumbs, we just dropped or dipped chunks of baguette into the soup and were plenty satisfied with that. I made some other adjustments (a little more tomatoes, dried herbs instead of fresh…), but overall the recipe is solid.

Can I get a little rock chalk?

As a lifelong Jayhawk, raised in Lawrence, Kansas on a steady diet of granola and men’s basketball, I just had to say…

ROCK CHALK BABBBYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!