Category Archives: Food

Why I Can’t Eat Beans (right now)

During the winter season, I ran across a fantastic 3-bean vegetarian chili recipe.  I made it a few times over the course of a month and my husband and I both enjoyed it tremendously.  After telling my friend (who is the kitchen manager at Bluestem Bistro) about the recipe, she recommended I substitute in Great Northern beans for a change of pace.  To my delight, my granny brought by some wholesale foods a few days after that, that she wanted to give to us and in the box was a package of Great Northern beans.

I decided to substitute the Great Northern beans for the chickpeas in my recipe.  As I let the chili simmer, I thought, “I’m so glad Jenny suggested this.  I’m always up for trying new things.”  But after I sat down with my bowl and took the first bite, I regretted it.  You see, the other two beans in the recipe were black beans and kidney beans, already cooked.  The Great Northern beans I had were dried.  Dried, I say!!  What an amateur mistake I made!  As I chewed and chewed the white beans in the chili amidst the deliciousness that was the rest of it, I couldn’t believe my error.

Admittedly, I tried to salvage the huge pot that I had made by picking out all the white beans, but it was too late in my mind.  I couldn’t stomach the rest of it, even after a few days and a reheated bowl.  Since that time, I flinch at eating beans because I have this idea in my mind that I will bite into them and they will be chewy and undercooked.  So there you have it, my friends.  My confession of the day.  Hopefully I will slowly be able to add beans to my diet again.


Posted by on April 27, 2011 in Food, Vegetarian


A Few Changes. . .

For those of you that have been following my blog from the beginning (a meager ten months ago), you know that I have included a few recipes and posts on cooking experiences along the way.  Originally, I wanted my blog to be focused on 2 things: books and my life as a wife, hence the title, The Literary Wife.  Along the way, it has become mostly focused on books.  As the Top 100 Childrens Books reading challenge finishes up, I will be making some changes to refocus what I write about and feature here on the blog.  Be prepared for some rambling. . .

I love being a wife.  Being a wife is often difficult and challenging, but for the most part rewarding.  At this point in our lives, our biggest role is supporting each other emotionally and making decisions together.  We don’t have children or a big house to tend to.  We have enough money to enjoy our lives with ease, but not too much that we are spending it all the time.  All that to say that, if I talked about my life as a wife right now, you would be bored and get tired of hearing me rave about how great my husband is.

However, one of the most important roles that I have right now is the cook in our family.  Before I go into detail about that, I want to address the issue of gender roles in families.  I am not the cook in our family because I am the woman.  I am not the apartment-cleaner in our family because I am the woman.  I am not the grocery-shopper because I am the woman.  I do these things because, currently, I am working part-time while my husband works at least 40 hours a week.  Previously, when I was working an 8-5, he was working 50-55 hours a week.  We decided that I would be in charge of these things because I had more free time, not because I am the woman and he is the man.  I want to clear that up so you know 1) that I am not a big fan of traditional gender roles in marriage and 2) my husband is fabulous because he has volunteered numerous times to go grocery shopping or cook after a long day at work.

Now, on to the cooking part.  Before I got married, my diet consisted of frozen pizza and Kraft macaroni and cheese.  I wish that I was kidding you.  After I got married, my husband and I discussed moving to a vegetarian or a flexitarian lifestyle, which requires a lot more work and thinking than being a carnivore.  It is because of this that I have acquired a genuine love of being in the kitchen.  Cooking meals for my family is my large contribution, as it requires thought and effort to keep us under budget, healthy and enjoying each other’s company while eating.  As I move forward with my blog, I want to share with you my love of cooking, hoping that you can glean something from the knowledge that I have acquired and maybe pick up a favorite recipe or two.

Here are some things you will NOT see here on the blog:

  • Recipes in which meat is the main course or the majority of the dish (while I will not push vegetarianism on you, I just do not have interest in huge bulks of meat in recipes that I feature)
  • Me bragging about all the expertise that I have in the kitchen or with food.  This is the point of me talking about cooking, the fact that I know little to nothing and I want you to be along for the ride as I learn to navigate the kitchen and a vegetarian lifestyle.
  • Baking or sweet recipes.  I’m sorry, Ginger, but I do not enjoy cupcakes (or cookies or pies) in the least and I don’t see much point writing about things that I won’t even eat.

Here are some posts you might see in the future on the blog:

  • Cookbook reviews
  • Featured recipes
  • Thoughts on the vegetarian/flexitarian lifestyle
  • Guest posts from my friends who have knowledge on cooking
  • Easy-peasy recipes
  • Tips for maintaining a usable and comfortable kitchen

These are just some ideas that I have floating around, some of which might not make the cut.  I just wanted to give you an idea of what to expect, as I am not one that enjoys surprises.  And please keep in mind that this is still The Literary Wife, and I will still be featuring YA and children’s book reviews.  Thanks for reading through this huge post and I would love to hear your thoughts about my blog and its future.


Posted by on February 19, 2011 in Food, Married Life


Great Things in December

Inspired by Kari, I wanted to sum up my month of December with good things that happened on each day of the month.  I did miss a few, so if you see a few days skipped, don’t worry.

December 1: First real shift at my new library job

December 2: Finally getting to meet little miss Zoe

December 3: An encouraging, honest talk with Maris

December 4: Celebrating my husband’s grandfather’s 90th birthday

December 5: Watching the Office with my husband

December 6: Watching Remember the Titans with my husband, while he allowed me to quote all of the actors

December 7: Getting to work in the YA section at my library

December 8: Starting to read a book I’ve been wanting to read for a while now

December 9: Stopping by my old workplace and talking to friends there

December 10: Having my cousin Jamie stop by my apartment

December 11: Talking with my mom about The Hunger Games

December 12: Cooking broccoli and cauliflower stir-fry

December 13: Hosting my first giveaway on the blog!

December 14: Staying up late to read Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour

December 15: Having my husband’s best friend (who lives in California) eat with us

December 16: Babysitting my favorite little one-year-old

December 18: Getting my Christmas shopping done in 45 minutes

December 19: Attempting to ice skate

December 20: Johnson family annual sugar cookie making

December 21: Jenny’s tuna melt at the Bistro

December 23: A Very Merry Kyle Moreland Christmas show

December 24: Celebrating Christmas with my husband’s family

December 25: Playing Outburst with my family

December 26: Making homemade mozzarella sticks with my brothers

December 27: Making Mediterranean hotpot

December 29: Getting trained to work at the desk at work


Posted by on January 1, 2011 in Food, Manhattan, Married Life


Broccoli and Not Cheese

In the past year or so, my husband and I have been trying to live a vegetarian lifestyle.  We started out removing beef from our diet, and we gradually worked out pork, turkey and chicken.  The reasons behind this lifestyle are still being solidified in our minds, so please be patient while I work those out, before sharing them with you.  I will share with you, however, my experiences in creating vegetarian-friendly meals for my  husband and I.  Behold, I present you Broccoli and Cauliflower Stir-Fry.

It may look a little odd, but let me tell you, it was so delicious.  But back to the beginning.  Here’s our cast of characters for this recipe (and yes, I stole that phrase from the Pioneer Woman).

12 ounces of broccoli (not frozen)

12 ounces of cauliflower (not frozen)

half a medium-sized onion

vegetable oil

chili powder, cumin and garlic

First, cut up the onion into wedges.  It’s not necessary for them to be huge pieces, but definitely don’t dice them because you want to remain large for additional flavor.  Kind of like this:

Heat up a wok or frying pan on high heat, add oil and spices and let the spices heat up a bit. Then add the onion wedges and let them simmer for 2-3 minutes, so they are golden brown.

Add the broccoli and cauliflower and let them cook with the onions for another 2-3 minutes, making sure they remain crisp.

Serve immediately.  Voila!  Wonderful veggie stir fry.

A few lessons that I learned from using this recipe:

  1. 12 ounces of broccoli and 12 ounces of cauliflower is not enough to fill up 2 people.  The stir-fry would be most filling and enjoyable if served on a bed of rice.
  2. The onion contributes the most flavor and should not be added sparingly to the recipe.
  3. Get fresh broccoli and cauliflower.  Enough said.

Posted by on December 28, 2010 in Food, Married Life


cooking with quinoa

Cooking with wha?  Wha’s tha?

It’s called Quinoa, pronounced keen-wah, and it is a phenomenal food that I cooked for the first time this week.  At the recommendation of a few good friends, and after the hubby experienced a lack of energy from not getting good nutrients, we decided to try it out.  Quinoa is said to be the “best grain available,” as it has a tremendously high protein, fiber and iron content, and also has a low fat content.  With the reduction of meat in our diet and my tendency towards anemia, these nutritional facts are so significant for us.  Also, it was pretty delicious!

So, first we start with our uncooked grains.

If you buy a brand that is not pre-washed, you must rinse or wash the Quinoa grains in order to get rid of the bitter-tasting coating which protects the grain from birds, insects and the sunlight.  Must get rid of sapponins!  Me no like bitter tasting Quinoa.

Then, similar to rice-cooking, boil  water, chicken broth or vegetable broth, 2 cups for every 1 cup of Quinoa.  After the liquids come to a boil, add correct amount of grains, bring to a boil again, reduce heat to low and let it simmer for about 15 minutes.  You might need to drain a small amount of liquid and you should definitely fluff the cooked Quinoa before serving it.  I added sauteed mushrooms, onions and peppers to our mixture and it was some mighty fine tasting.

Then, tada!

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Posted by on July 1, 2010 in Food, Married Life


an ever-growing stack

For my fellow book bloggers out there, you know what it’s like to see your TBR pile (or shelf) continue to grow and expand to frightening proportions.  For my fellow wives out there, you know what it’s like to see your to-do list (groceries, meal planning, cleaning, time with family, date nights) continue to grow and expand to overwhelming proportions.  Tonight, these two piles are coming head-to-head in a showdown of sorts.  And you get to be my witnesses.

Now, I have to preface this conversation by saying that my husband is not a neanderthal incapable of cooking his own food and cleaning up after himself.  He is currently spending ten hours a week in class and 35+ hours a week working, so it is of my own volition that I tackle cleaning, cooking and keeping ourselves generally organized.  He knows that his time will soon come to be able to assist more on these tasks.  Here are just a few “housekeeping” tasks ahead of me tonight:

  • Follow the #bblog conversation on Twitter while waiting for the Drano to do its magic in our bathroom sink
  • Plan out meals for the next 3-4 days (vegetarian meals!)
  • Make grocery list for said meals
  • Scour the bathroom after aforementioned Drano works its magic
  • Wash all dirty dishes to elude the fear of looking in my kitchen

We shall see how many items get crossed off this list.  Now on to the books!  Below, you will see the books I am currently reading.

Connecting by Larry Crabb I have heard great things about this author/speaker/psychologist and am reading it in hopes of deepening my relationships with people and learning to love well.

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo  The next book (#97) on my way from #100 to #1 of the Top Children’s Books

An American Childhood by Annie Dillard I recently “joined” a book club and we will be meeting next Thursday to discuss this 1987 autobiography

The Wright 3 by Blue Balliett  You might recall from a few weeks ago, that this book was in my TBR pile for the 48-Hour Book Challenge, but I am just now getting to it!

The Wednesday Letters by Jason F. Wright Recommended by a fellow blogger and real-life friend

Cornelia and the Audacious Escapades of the Somerset Sisters by Lesley M.M. Blume Had the pleasure of reading The Rising Star of Rusty Nail by the same author, which was nominated for Kansas’ own book award, so I am excited to try out another one of hers

What’s on everyone else’s TBR pile or to-do list?  I know I’m not alone!

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Posted by on June 16, 2010 in Children's Books, Food, Manhattan


i ate a lovely bunch of burgers and dogs

Unfortunately, week three in our attempt at weekday vegetarianism was a flop.  Well, I must just speak for myself in this, as my husband fared a lot better than myself.  Due to unforeseen circumstances, my appetite reached an all-time low, and a frightening low at that, as I simply cannot afford to not eat because of the aforementioned doctor’s advice to gain twenty pounds to be at a healthy weight.  Needless to say, this week I ate whatever sounded good, and that did include a few burgers, a hot dog and a chicken sandwich.  This raises a few questions in my mind:

Is there a point where vegetarianism can be taken too far?

Is there a point where a carnivorous lifestyle can be taken too far?

Is general health relative to the person experiencing it?

Hopefully, I will gain some insight into these questions as I spend the afternoon with my friend Kate, an experienced vegetarian and mature young woman.

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Posted by on June 12, 2010 in Food, Married Life