Sautéed Chickpeas Recipe

Y’all, this is the easiest thing in the world to make. Seriously. I forgot to take a picture before I gobbled them up, but trust me, they’re tasty. Here’s what you need:

  • 1 tsp olive oil (optional)
  • 1 15-oz can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • salt
  • pepper
  • basil
  • oregano
  • thyme
  • chili powder

This is going to be a little Cooking 101 for a second. Bear with me if you are already an expert. When you make any kind of beans that come from a can, you really should rinse them well. Those things are packed in lots of salt to keep them fresh, and you don’t need that much salt. Also, the liquid in the can tends to get kind of yucky and gelatinous, and it grosses me out, so I always rinse them. The easiest way to do it is to dump the beans into a strainer and stir them around with your hand while you run water over them. If you’re making a dish with multiple types of beans and you have a big enough strainer, just toss ’em all in there at once.

So rinse your garbanzos and let them sit in the strainer in the sink to drain a bit while you heat your pan and get your garlic going.

If you want to use oil, go for it, but you really only need the tee-tiniest little drop of it. We’re not frying things here, just making sure nothing sticks to the pan. If you have a non-stick pan, you really don’t need oil.

Heat the pan on medium-high with or without oil, and then drop in your garlic. Fresh garlic is so amazing it makes me cry, but the kind in the jar will work too, and it’s faster. Stir the garlic around a bit until it starts to smell kind of toasted. Then throw in the chickpeas.

Stir the chickpeas around in the pan so they get all nice and garlicky. Then start seasoning. A quarter of a teaspoon of salt is MORE than enough. An eighth is probably plenty. The rest, just use as much as you like. This is not a science, but for those of you who require precise measurements, I’d go with 1/8 teaspoon salt and chili powder, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, basil, oregano and thyme. If you want them spicier, use more chili powder and/or more garlic.

Canned beans are already ready to eat, so all you’re doing here is heating them up and combining them with other yumminess. The whole process should take 10 minutes or less.

That’s it! I put these in salads, and they’re delicious hot or cold (A can of beans makes two servings, so I’ll put half on a salad fresh out of the pan and keep the rest in the fridge for another day). For a nice side dish with dinner, you could also toss two cups of baby spinach into the skillet along with the garbanzos and cook them both together (with the same herbs and spices) until the spinach gets floppy. If you do that, though, I would suggest using the olive oil or, better yet, a little water, which will create some steam, which will wilt your spinach nicely.

If you add spinach, try topping the whole shebang off with a little Tabasco. That ought to kick it up a couple of notches in spice AND taste!

Spicy Greek Yogurt Cauliflower Recipe

You asked for it, and I’m going to give it to you! You can find this recipe in a bunch of different places on the internet, but I’m not exactly sure where it came from originally. I saw it on Facebook. I’ll give you the original recipe and then tell you how we did it slightly differently.

Ingredients

cauliflower
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 1½ cups plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • 2 tablespoons chile powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400° and lightly grease a small baking sheet with vegetable oil. Set aside.
  2. Trim the base of the cauliflower to remove any green leaves and the woody stem.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the yogurt with the lime zest and juice, chile powder, cumin, garlic powder, curry powder, salt and pepper.
  4. Dunk the cauliflower into the bowl and use a brush or your hands to smear the marinade evenly over its surface. (Excess marinade can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to three days and used with meat, fish or other veggies.)
  5. Place the cauliflower on the prepared baking sheet and roast until the surface is dry and lightly browned, 30 to 40 minutes. The marinade will make a crust on the surface of the cauliflower.
  6. Let the cauliflower cool for 10 minutes before cutting it into wedges and serving alongside a big green salad.

Modifications

As you can see, the recipe tells you to dunk the whole head of cauliflower in the yogurt mixture and roast it. I thought this sounded entirely too delicious to let the whole inside of the cauliflower miss out (and I hate chopping cauliflower because it’s so crumbly), so we bought pre-cut cauliflower and dunked EVERY SINGLE PIECE into the yogurt. We spread the pieces out in a baking dish and roasted them that way.

We also made this Mujadara recipe (to which we added caramelized onions, which made angels sing in my mouth). It required a much lower baking temperature, but since it also needed an hour of baking time, we thought we’d try just throwing the cauliflower in there at the same temperature for the same length of time. We crossed our fingers and hoped for the best.

After about half an hour, we pulled the cauliflower out and turned the pieces over. They had started to get a nice brown crust on top, but the bottoms were still kind of gooey. We put it back in with the Mujadara and waited another half an hour.

With both dishes in the oven at once at 325, we ended up baking both for just over an hour, and that was about perfect. They were delicious. Highly recommend.

Easy Dijon Vinaigrette Recipe

I promised you the other day that I would give you a good vinaigrette recipe if you wanted it, and since I usually deliver on my promises, here you go!

The 21-Day Fix eating plan booklet has several salad dressing recipes in it. This is the only one I’ve tried so far, but the others look good too. I just made this one because I happened to have all the ingredients, and my salad was naked. In a jar (I used an empty salsa jar, washed out), combine:

  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Put the lid on the jar and shake. This will make you 8-10 servings of dressing. If you think that doesn’t seem like a lot of dressing for a big salad, trust me. The Dijon is so strong, plus the lemon and the vinegar. You really don’t need a lot of this to get a great flavor throughout your salad.

Pop the lid on your jar and store in the fridge until it’s gone. One warning: Sometimes, the oil can sort of harden in the fridge. I took mine out yesterday, and all the oil, mustard, and garlic had formed a glob in the middle of the lemon juice and vinegar. I tried to stir it with a fork, but that didn’t help, so I just let it sit out on the counter for half an hour or so while we went for a walk, and when we came back, it was fine again.

Enjoy!

Meaty vs. Veggie

I went to look at my prompt for today and immediately got “Ebony and Ivory” stuck in my head for some reason. And it’s funny that today’s prompt is what it is because my students asked me this exact question in class today: How do an herbivore and an omnivore cook together?

It comes up a lot when people find out I’m a vegetarian. One of the first questions they ask (after wondering what I eat and how I get enough protein) is, “Is your husband a vegetarian too?” No. No, he is most definitely not. That always invites the follow-up question, “Sooooooo…how does that work?”

It’s honestly not that complicated. I’ve been meatless for seven years, and I’ve known my husband for about seven and a half years, maybe eight, so for the vast majority of the time he’s known me, I’ve been a vegetarian. And we didn’t get together until two years ago, so we both knew exactly what we were getting into before we ever got together. Also, cooking together became a pretty normal thing when we started dating, so we had a good bit of practice before we got married.

Usually, it goes like this…

On Saturday, we decide what we want to make for the following week’s dinners. We pull from a lot of different sources, including a weekly meal-planning service we got cheap with a Groupon (emeals), but my favorites are Forks over Knives, Thug Kitchen (pardon the language if you visit the site), Food Network, and All Recipes. We also have several cookbooks and a recipe box full of vegetarian slow cooker ideas. We both have to agree that we either really want or are willing to try a recipe before we add it to the week’s list. If we’re both on board, I print out the recipe.

Doesn't the mullet magnet guy look like Sir Paul McCartney?
Doesn’t the mullet magnet guy look like Sir Paul McCartney?

Once we’ve picked our poisons, if you will (though you really shouldn’t), we make a grocery list based on what each recipe calls for and what we already happen to have. If we haven’t been very inspired by the recipes we’ve found and only have a few, we’ll make a stirfry one night or just sautee some veggies and pair them with pasta. ORRRR we’ll have “lazy night,” where we go out to eat or order Chinese or something. We put the meal schedule on a white board on the fridge so that whoever is home when it’s time to cook can see what’s on the menu and get it started. We stick all the printed-out recipes on the side of the fridge so they are visible while standing in front of the stove.

Most of the time, Will just eats a vegetarian dinner and has something meaty for lunch, and most of the time, he says he doesn’t feel like the meal is lacking anything, but bless him, he loves me a lot, so he may just not be saying it, though we definitely do have some recipes that he REALLY likes as they are (including our risotto and our tortilla soup). However, there are a lot of times when he says, “It’s good. But it would be a lot better with chicken.” We now have a bag of chicken in the freezer if he ever wants to cook some and add it to his meal. When we make stirfry, he might cook some chicken separately, and I might cook some tofu, and then we’ll just add our own protein to our own bowls.

Last night, we made pasta. We cooked a skillet of veggies for me and a skillet of peppers, onions, garlic, and sausage for him. He then added tomato sauce to his skillet, and I had plain sauce. He now has a jar full of meat sauce that he can use over the next couple of weeks. Making all of that at once was a little hectic, but now when he wants meat sauce with his pasta again, he’s all set.

That’s pretty much it. I usually eat the leftovers for lunch the following day, and that’s planned into my week on purpose, so we make sure we have enough for me to do that. He usually eats whatever he feels like eating for lunch, and we do our own breakfast things too because we have different morning routines and tastes. He doesn’t get as much steak as he’d like in his life, but he gets WAY more veggies than he was getting when he was single, and he recognizes that this is a good thing. I don’t mind him cooking meat, but if it’s beef, we have to set up an elaborate ventilation system so I can’t smell it.

Oh, and eating out or getting take-out is easy, and if he’s like dying for some meat or something, we figure it out. It’s really not so hard.

Tortilla Soup Recipe

Ok so even though it’s the end of our vacation week, I’m really excited that it’s Friday so I can give you this recipe! We made it the other night, and it was AMAAAAZIIIIINNNG (done in a sing-song voice for best effect)!!! If you’re a vegetarian on the 21-Day Fix, I would estimate that about a cup and a half of this soup equals 1 red, 1 green, 1-2 yellows, and 1 teaspoon. If you’re not a vegetarian, I would estimate that the same amount is 1 green, 2-3 yellows, and 1 teaspoon. I also added tofu to mine for an extra red container, and Will added chicken to his. If you’ve got a blue to spare, I highly recommend the avocado, and if you’re not on the 21-Day Fix at all, dude, go to Trader Joe’s and get you some Mexican Cheese. Go crazy.

Here we go. For this, you will need:

tortilla soup

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped (any color is fine, but I like red)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 (28-oz.) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 carton veggie broth or stock
  • 1 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen, or I imagine grilled/roasted would be delicious)
  • 1 cup white hominy
  • 1 (4-oz.) can chopped green chiles
  • 1 (15-oz.) can black beans, drained and well-rinsed
  • 1 (15-oz.) can garbanzo beans, drained and well-rinsed
  • sliced avocado (optional)
  • Mexican cheese blend (optional)
  • cilantro (optional)

Ok, now it’s very easy.

  1. Sautee the garlic, onions, bell pepper and garbanzos in the olive oil until fragrant.
  2. Add the chili powder, cumin and oregano, and sautee for another minute.
  3. Add the tomatoes and broth. Bring it to a boil, and simmer for 5-10 minutes.
  4. Stir in the hominy, corn, green chiles and black beans. Simmer for another 10 minutes.
  5. Top it off with the any of the optional ingredients you want. Serve and eat!

Food Diary

I haven’t eaten meat in years. I couldn’t remember whether it was 2006 or 2007 when I went quasi-vegan, but luckily I have a blog to remember things for me. It was just after Thanksgiving, 2007. I had been toying with the idea for a while, but I didn’t know if I could really do it. I remember very clearly, though, taking a bite of turkey at Thanksgiving, putting my fork down, and thinking, “I’m out.” I just re-read my blog post about it, and in it, I said I didn’t know if it would last. The vegan part of it hasn’t lasted, but the vegetarian part has and will. I honestly don’t know what would happen to my stomach if I tried to eat meat now, but I don’t think it would be pretty.

People always want to know what I eat as a vegetarian, and it’s a fair question, though a bit silly in my opinion. I eat food, just not animals. If it never had a face or a heart, it’s fair game. That leaves:

  • fruit (anything but melons – I don’t like melons)
  • vegetables (except a few I don’t care for – cucumbers, eggplant, raw tomatoes, raw onions)
  • grains (bread, pasta, rice, cereal, couscous, quinoa, farro, bulgur – Yes, please.)
  • beans (Chili, anyone?)
  • nuts (peanuts, almonds, walnuts, pecans, etc.)
  • dairy (yogurt, cheese, butter, milk, ice cream)
  • ALL the herbs and spices

Y’all, that’s a LOT of things. With all of those as options, I can literally walk into 98% of restaurants and find something on the menu that I can eat (unless I’m in Gatlinburg, TN, but we won’t go into that right now). My only problem is that up until about a month ago, the majority of my diet consisted of things that my body turned into sugar – dairy and pasta. So much pasta. Delicious, delicious pasta. I was eating the amount of starch that I should have been eating protein and vice versa. A typical day would have looked like this:

  • Breakfast – Krave Double Chocolate cereal with unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • Snack – Fruit-on-the-bottom Greek yogurt
  • Lunch – Left-overs from the night before (generally some kind of grain and veggies, usually with beans, possibly with cheese or other dairy)
  • Dinner – We try a lot of new recipes, but most of them involve rice or pasta, beans, and veggies. We’ve also been known to order pizza or get Chinese take-out.
  • If I was still hungry after dinner, I might have eaten another bowl of cereal or some applesauce.

I know, it doesn’t seem THAT bad, does it? But what I’m learning is that not THAT bad is also not very good at all. And vegetarian or not, you can make good and bad food choices. Oreos are vegan. So are Twizzlers. And I have a whole book of vegan cupcake recipes, each more delicious than the next. That doesn’t make them good for you, especially when you make a whole batch and eat them all yourself.

So I’m trying something new. And I’m not doing it perfectly, but I’m working on it.

21-Day Fix Containers (not my ugly countertop)
21-Day Fix Containers (not my ugly countertop)

These are my food containers. They are color-coded so I know how much I should eat of what. Green is for veggies, purple is fruit, red is protein, yellow is starch, blue is good fats like nuts and avocado, and orange is not-so-good fats like salad dressing. When I got them, I thought, “Is this all I get to eat in a day?! No wonder it makes you lose weight!” But no. Every day, based on my weight, I get 5 green containers, 3 purple, 5 red, 4 yellow, 1 blue, and 1 orange. I’m supposed to eat all of them every day in 5 small meals, and there are days when I could eat that and WAY more, and there are days when I skip a container because I’m full. Like I said, not perfect, but I’m working on it.

This requires a LOT of planning, but that’s the hardest part. Once the planning is done, the eating is easy. I would say it’s even easier than trying to force yourself not to eat certain things by sheer willpower because you never have bad-for-you things in your plan. I make a chart of what I’m going to eat, and that’s what I eat. I’m never rooting around in the kitchen looking for something to eat. I’m never tempted to just swing through the Taco Bell drive-thru because I have food waiting for me at home, and usually it’s vegetables or fruits that will go bad if I don’t eat them, so I feel obligated to go home and eat them. Otherwise, I’ve wasted money on good food that went bad while spending even more money on bad food.

If you’re super-curious, here’s my first week on this plan (and for those who don’t know, Shakeology is a protein shake to which I add fruit and/or almond or rice milk):

21-Day Fix Week 1

I’ve color-coded it for my own benefit, so I could easily count how many of each container I had planned into each day. Again, not perfect, and some days got tweaked as I went, but not bad for my first go.

If anyone has tips, tricks or recommendations for how I can get more non-dairy protein in my life, I’m all ears. I’m eating a lot of plain Greek yogurt at this point, and I’d like to eventually cut back on that, but the struggle is real, especially if, like me, you can’t eat that much soy in a day (or any soy at all like some folks).

Greetings From the Family Reunion

Hey friends! I’m at the family reunion! So far, it’s been pretty fun. Yesterday, we went into Franklin, VA to the Elms, which was my great-great-grandparents’ house, and I’ma just say that you know a house is awesome when it’s named. When I grow up and have a house, I’m going to name it something classy and old money-sounding like Prestwood or Roger, and people will write memoirs about things that happened there.

Then we came back and had lunch, and the afternoon was pretty low-key. We just sat around at the pool or in the room, reading. Then it was time for cocktail hour, followed by dinner, followed by KARAOKE!! I skipped most of that, though, to help put together our family cookbooks, which are pretty awesome, but let’s be honest. Whitney’s going to get more use out of it than I am as I’m sure there are only about five recipes in there I can eat. It’s still a really good idea, though, and we had fun putting them together while listening to karaoke, playing “Name That Tune,” and guessing which family members were singing. Then, my sister and I sang “You’re So Vain” to close out the night.

Today, we’ve had Fun and Games time, and now we’re getting ready for lunch. On the agenda for the afternoon is yoga, reading by the pool aaaaaaand that’s about it. How’s YOUR weekend going?

Back to the Questions

Well good golly, I had completely forgotten about my formspring page until I was notified earlier today that someone had asked me a question. And let me just tell you, it’s a doozy. We have to get through several more, however, before that one can have its turn. So let’s start where we left off, shall we?

We all know the moon is not made of green cheese, but what if it was made of spare ribs? Would you eat it then? Heck, I know I would – I’d have seconds and then wash it down with a nice, cool Budweiser.

Well, Harry Caray, it appears as though you’ve forgotten at least one thing about me, and that is that I don’t eat spare ribs. I wouldn’t eat green cheese either, and as I’m sure you are well aware, I don’t like beer. If you were not aware of that, now you are. I also don’t like coffee.

Now let me ask you a question. Would you rather be the top scientist in your field or have mad cow disease?

The next “question” isn’t really question at all. In fact, I’m not sure it’s even a complete thought. It just says:

your first

I’ll be honest. I’m not really sure what you’re going for here, and I really don’t remember a lot of my firsts, but I’ll make a list and hope it meets with your approval. Let’s go with alphabetical, yeah?

My first…

  • apartment – Junior year of college in an apartment complex called Pirate’s Cove. Becky, Faith and Nicole were my roommates. Ask me how I damaged the coffee table.
  • boyfriend – Brandon Inscore. We dated for about a year in high school, and we absolutely were NOT making out at the bottom of the stairs after the prom in ’97 when my mom snarled at us.
  • car – A light blue Toyota Corolla named Gloria the Disco Queen. Yes, that was her whole name.
  • date – With Brandon. I’m pretty sure we went to Wendy’s and a high school basketball game. Tres romantique!
  • email address – besufern@aol.com. Don’t try it. It no longer exists.
  • friend – I don’t know. Probably someone at church? There’s a great picture somewhere of me and 3 other kids in our 3-year-old Sunday school class. I went to 2 of their weddings in the past few years, and I go to all of the other one’s concerts when I can.
  • gynecologist visit – Don’t worry, guys, I won’t gross you out. I’ll just say that when she asked me what sort of contraception I was using, I told her abstinence. She asked me how long I thought that would last, and I said, “Until I get married.” She laughed at me and said, “Yeah we’ll see about that.”
  • hair color experience – I started out with the temporary stuff, back when they still made level 1 color that would wash out in a week. I’ve dyed it so many times now, I don’t remember the first one. But it was probably red, and Jeani was probably involved.
  • iPod – I bought it in NYC, in the SoHo Apple Store, just before I ran off to Europe for the first time, in 2004. I just bought my second one last summer.
  • job – If babysitting counts, then that’s what it was. But if we’re talking about work for which I was paid and then later received a W-2, then that would be Caswell.
  • knitting project – My grandmother taught me to knit when I was a kid. I have no idea how to start or finish a knitting project, but I can actually work those needles. In fact, in middle school, I played Beth in a drama class production of Little Women. In one scene, I sat by the fire, knitting. People were amazed by how real it looked. But alas, I don’t think I’ve ever actually finished a knitting project.
  • lemonade stand – I think it was with Rebecca Booi. Her house was in a great spot, right at an intersection.
  • musical – When I was in maybe 4th grade, my sisters and I got the soundtrack of The Phantom of the Opera on double cassette tape. We LOVED it, and the next year, we all went to New York for Thanksgiving and saw it on Broadway. So to all of you who have been (and will be) subjected to my random musical outbursts, you can thank my parents for getting me hooked early.
  • NYC apartment – It was graduate housing, which meant a shared studio with a Taiwanese Canadian named Lily Lu. It was in an unbelievably amazing location that made taxi drivers jealous, but I’m still paying for it.
  • origami – It might not have been my first, but I made literally hundreds of paper cranes in high school. What? I was the president of the Japanese club.
  • pet – I had a fish in high school named Chip. He was more than just decoration to me.
  • quadratic equation mnemonic device – It was to the tune of Frère Jacques and went like this: Minus b, minus b / plus or minus root, plus or minus root / b squared minus 4 ac, b squared minus 4 ac / over 2 a, over 2 a. BAM. Still got it. I have no idea what you use the quadratic equation for any more, but that’s how it goes. Music, check. Math, not so much.
  • rifle – No, I’ve never owned a rifle, but I sho nuff did learn to shoot one at Camp Cheerio when I was 10 years old. That was perhaps the unsung verse of the Cheerio Girl song (get me to sing it for you some time).
  • second language – I have a really vague memory of taking French classes when I was very young. Did I just make that up? Specifically, I remember a “cultural lesson” wherein we were expected to eat escargot, and I almost vomited.
  • trip outside of the U.S. and its territories – Honduras, 2002
  • UFO sighting – I’ve never actually seen one, but one Christmas at my grandparents’ house, we could have sworn Santa was on the roof with aliens, burping.
  • vote – I know several people who will be very upset with me for this, but I had never voted until the most recent presidential election. I plan on voting from now on, though.
  • wedding – Not MY first wedding, of course, but the first one I attended. And I have no idea. Someone in the family? An aunt and uncle, perhaps?
  • xylophone? – It is very late, and these letters are getting harder. I remember having one of those rolling xylophones as a kid with the mallet underneath that see-sawed as you pulled it, striking the same two bars over and over again. I learned to play “Do-Re-Mi” on that thing.
  • YouTube video – Has not yet been made, I told you. Sheesh. Give it a rest already.
  • Zumba class – Also has sadly not yet happened. But it will. Oh…it will.

Well that was fun! And exhausting. I’m going to bed. Join me again tomorrow for more blogging fun!

What Would You Do (oo-ooo) With a Time Machine?

I realized this morning that I’ve been neglecting my questions lately. I’m trying to find a balance between answering those and just telling you fun stories about what’s happening. For the most part, there aren’t a lot of fun stories about what’s happening because my days are spent sitting on my couch, writing articles, and then driving half an hour to teach. And sometimes after I drive the 30 minutes to teach, there are no students. So…yeah. The questions are really more interesting than my life. All of that is about to change, but I’m not ready to make a formal announcement just yet, so hang in there, internet, and let’s talk about time travel.

Presuming you had a time machine what’s the stupidest and most dangerous thing you would probably do with it, despite having answered this question and having labeled it as both stupid and dangerous?

Well, I think time travel in general is definitely dangerous and probably stupid. I mean, Marty McFly’s hand disappeared when his mom was slow dancing/struggling with Biff, and his dad was too wussy to step in. But that’s what you risk when you meddle in your parents’ high school lives. My parents didn’t go to high school together, so I wouldn’t have to worry about that, but if we’ve learned anything from Back to the Future, it’s that you don’t screw around with the space-time continuum. Doing so is both stupid and dangerous, and you could lose a hand in the middle of your guitar solo.

However, there are a few things I’d like to see happening:

  • my parents’ wedding – There is no video footage available that I know of. I assume it’s because video cameras were only for TV/film studios in the early 70s.
  • me as a baby – There are not a lot of pictures of me as a baby that I know of, and I don’t really remember anything before I started school, and even then, it’s all pretty hazy until about 5th grade. I’m sure my mom could tell us what I was like, but it would be way cuter to see tiny me in action. Unless I was a jerk. Was I a jerk?
  • my ancestors coming to the U.S. – My sister is making a massive family tree for our reunion this year, and I’m sure she’d love an eye-witness account of this. Plus, y’all know how much I love to travel, but to be ON THE BOAT with them, knowing what the country is going to become generations down the line, and seeing what it was like back then…man, that would be awesome.
  • Beethoven playing his own stuff

All of those things, I just want to witness. I don’t necessarily have to be a participant in history for those. But here are some things I would want to do:

  • meet Jane Austen
  • hang out with the Beatles before they were famous, and teach them all the Monkees’ songs before the Monkees even form a band (just to be a mischievous punk, not because I have anything against the Monkees)
  • follow Jesus, like literally, in person, walking in the dirt (and the rocks, and the…)
  • convince Amy Grant that “Baby, Baby” is a bad idea
  • convince John Mayer not to record half of his songs
  • stop Shutter Island from being filmed, and convince Leo to do a movie that requires more shirtlessness
  • convince myself to go vegetarian in college
  • introduce myself to Mediterranean food much sooner (hummus, falafel, stuffed grape leaves, etc.)
  • smuggle slaves to free states
  • smuggle Jews to safety during WWII
  • invent leg warmers before anyone else
  • invent velcro

Like I said, I think time travel in general would be pretty stupid and dangerous, so I don’t know which of these things is the worst. I’ll let y’all be the judge as to exactly which thing is the stupidest/most dangerous and/or which is the likeliest to cause me to lose appendages. What would YOU do with a time machine?

Story Time!

I don’t know if any of you have ever looked at a map of North Carolina and Virginia, but from the western tip of NC to the northern tip of VA is about as far as you can get just between those two states. It takes seven hours to drive from Asheville to Manassas. SEVEN HOURS. I could fly to Europe in that amount of time. And about 5.5 hours of the drive are in VA. It’s brutal.

So I was driving up to Manassas last weekend, and it was getting to be lunch time. There aren’t many fast food places I can go and get vegan enough food. My options are basically Taco Bell and Subway. I do not prefer Subway, so around 12:30, I started looking for an exit with a Taco Bell, but apparently the people of western VA hate Taco Bell. I couldn’t find one anywhere. I drove and drove and drove, and around 2:45, I finally came across an exit whose “Food” sign indicated I could get off there and make a run for the border. So I did.

When I got to the bottom of the exit ramp, though, I saw the other sign – the one that tells you which way to turn and how far it is to your desired junk food. 2.4 miles. Really, VA? There should be a 1-mile limit on how far a restaurant or gas station can be from the exit in order to be listed on the sign. MAYBE 1.5 miles in very rural areas, but 2.4? That is not ok. But I REALLY wanted a 7 Layer Burrito (Cheesy Wrap) al fresco, so I turned right and headed into the wild of rural Virginia.

Let me just say right now that I never did find that Taco Bell, and I ended up eating at Subway, where I could have eaten if I’d taken just about ANY other exit. But what I did find was a Bank of America (I needed to cash a check, so that was nice), gas for $2.47 (It’s like $2.69 in Asheville), and Historic Downtown Pulaski.

I didn’t really explore Historic Downtown Pulaski because I still had about four more hours to go until I hit Manassas, but I did pull over on the side of Main Street, write a post card to Emily Furr Hogan, and toss it in a mailbox before I topped off my tank, ate a six-inch Veggie Delight, and headed back to the highway.

I lost an hour of my life, but I gained a new experience and a new page in the coffee table book I’m going to make at the end of the year. I’m not at liberty to release details about that just yet, but I can tell you that it’s going to document my 2010 travels in a most unique fashion. Look for it in my living room early next year.