Friday, February 26, 2010

the latest and greatest!

Clouds in the sky at the Great Sand Dunes National Monument, Colorado
Copyright (c) 2008 Wendee Holtcamp

How is it only 10:45pm? It seems like it should be midnight or later. Guess not. I had a quite productive day, crossing several things off my to-do list but not the "most important" thing which I'd identified in the morning to do (work-wise). Well, I guess tomorrow is the day for that!

Doug is now offshore, and after just one day I miss him terribly! I didn't realize how much I would miss him. We normally talk regularly throughout the day and see each other almost daily. Over the past 14 months he's become my closest friend, the one I talk to about everything. We also worked out every day for the last two months (with the exception of maybe a handful of days). So here I am. I am hoping to get a lot of work accomplished while he's gone but I've always found it's easier to leave than to be the one staying behind. Yesterday he called to tell me about the boat, but today he didn't. Wah! Do you hear the tiny violins?

A week ago Friday, I went to Bastrop, Texas to meet up with Dr. Mike Forstner, a genetics professor at Texas State University who has studied the endangered Houston toad for years. We met up around 6pm and started driving around on his normal route, listening for Houston toads as well as other froggies and toadies. Toads have distinctive high-pitched trills and each species of frog and toad has its own unique call. We also got out and walked around a few ponds, and lo and behold, at one we found a single Houston toad! These guys are critically endangered and they only come out with very specific weather conditions. The temp has to be above 50 degrees F, and it was about 55-59 or so, and there he was sitting at the pond edge. No calling though. Mike caught him and took a blood sample, inserted a PIT tag (Passive Integrated Transponder - used to id him when they catch him again) and took measurements.

Anyway that was exciting! I have oodles of interviews to transcribe now... not the most fun part of writing but sort of a mindless task. And the one thing I wanted to get started on today that I failed to do.

But it's not a wasted day because I made some yummy food! Started out the day with my Yoga Inspired Breakfast (I make a batch and save it in the fridge to eat through the week), and then for lunch finished up this absolutely totally flamboyantly delicious and nutritious Cold French Lentil Salad. I made it yesterday but Oh. My. God. I freaking l.o.v.e. this recipe! Something about the Dijon I guess. I made a ocuple substitutions.

Cold French Lentil Salad

1 cup green lentils, sorted and rinsed
1 bay leaf
3 Tbs. olive oil
2 Tbs. red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp.)
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. dried dill
3 celery stalks, finely diced (1 cup)
1 cup peeled and diced cucumber
1/3 cup finely diced fennel bulb
1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed
1/2 cup diced white onion

1. Bring lentils, bay leaf, and 3 cups water to a boil in saucepan. Reduce heat to medium -low, cover, and simmer 20 minutes, or until lentils are tender. Drain, remove bay leaf, and cool.

2. Whisk together oil, vinegar, garlic, mustard, and dill in bowl. Stir in lentils, celery, cucumber, fennel, corn, and onion. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

NOTES: I used regular plain jane brown lentils rather than green ones (which are more firm when cooked apparently), because that's what I had on hand. I'm all about using what I have, since I love groceries! Though I rarely shop I for clothes or other stuff I have a knack for getting too many groceries. Don't get me wrong, I eat it all but I am on a mission to use up ingredients in my freezer and pantry! Course the need for freshness - ie veggies, milk, cheese etc - never ends. Anyway, onward. I substituted balsamic vinegar since I didn't have red vinegar. It was either that or apple cider vinegar which I also have. I love balsamic so went with that. Verdict: Two Thumbs up! I think the balsamic is what gave it the flavor I just adore, along with the dijon. I cooked the lentils in (organic) beef broth because I had some that I need to use up.

The other thing I made this evening was Ultimate Veggie Fried Rice. I already shared this recipe but last time I made it with millet. This time I used a brown rice-wild rice mix I had leftover in the fridge. It was amazing! Much better than the recipe with millet. I leave you now with a few photos from my last adventure!

A pic of the Houston toad we caught. By we, I mean Mike. :) Copyright (c) 2010 Mike Forstner
The toad's belly. What a cutie! We had an interesting conversation about toad-licking. Copyright (c) 2010 Mike Forstner

A self-portrait at Bastrop State Park, one of the toad's last strongholds. I had interviewed the park superintendent and then took some quiet time with God while sitting overlooking the small lake.

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