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Happy New Year!

Posted Dec 31 2012 11:12pm

Happy New Year’s Eve! Hubby and I are having a quiet evening at home watching movies, playing video games, and playing in the kitchen. I’ve never been a huge fan of celebrating New Year’s, when we’ve gone out to parties in the past, we rarely had much fun – too much alcohol, drunk strangers, crazy traffic, and usually being tired after a work day. And it was a long work day today for me. For us, it’s a great excuse to relax at home after the holiday madness and have a calm start to the new year. And try out my new pressure cooker hubby got me for Christmas!

I’ve had a package of dried black eyed peas in my pantry for awhile and since they’re good luck on New Year’s, I figured a little luck using the pressure cooker for the first time was a good thing! I was a little nervous about it because of the safety warnings and horror stories I’ve heard about older models, but determined to master it because of the fast cooking of dried beans and other whole ingredients.

Reading up on southern tradition for New Year’s, it seemed split on if having black eyed peas was good luck on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day. Luckily the recipe I used from The New Fast Food: The Veggie Queen Pressure Cooks Whole Food Meals had plenty of servings for both days.

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And was a great excuse to use the smoked paprika I paid a small fortune for at Whole Foods awhile back. Well it was only like $6, but still.

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Hubby and I were like giddy geeks watching the pressure valve rise monitoring it carefully as we got to know how this stove top model worked with out stove. It only took about 2 minutes to reach high pressure.

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So I reduced the heat and set the timer for 3 minutes. That’s it, that’s all it took to cook dried black eyed peas!  Once the pressure vent completed releasing, I couldn’t wait to peek inside and found the beans have more than tripled in size.

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And were fully cooked to tender perfection, something I’ve previously had problems with after soaking beans overnight and cooking for hours on the stove top or in a slow cooker. This pressure cooker is amazing!

My New Year’s dinner plate was interesting to say the least, black eyed peas, beans and rice, and a steamed butternut squash half. Hope the color orange is good luck too!

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I haven’t spent much time reflecting on 2012 because it was a pretty low-key year for me with ups and downs. Most notably the year of saving money and paying off debt. We accomplished a lot paying off a huge chunk of mortgage and refinanced the rest which will mean huge money savings for 2013. But a bit of financial drama and disappointment fueled the journey when I realized early in the year it was not a good idea to use any of my savings and take on a car payment to replace my aging economy car with other debts we needed to pay off first or the budget would be too uncomfortably tight for me. And getting there had me obsessing and worrying about money for a good chunk of the year as we worked towards this goal. But I also learned tons about saving money, analyzing what I really wanted and needed to spend money on, and being very frugal in the grocery store. Trader Joe’s and Costco became my close friends for produce, bulk nuts and seeds, and vegan staples.

After a busy year of running races in 2011, I think I said I probably wouldn’t do any half marathons in 2012 and ended up doing two anyway, the Parkway Half Marathon for the company I work for :

And the Urban Cow for the third year in a row after bumpy training:

Never say never, right? For running races in 2013, it will be all about going with the flow and what seems fun. If someone asks me to do another half with them and/or for another good cause, I’m sure I will.

2012 was uneventful in traveling too as I focused on saving money, just a few small weekend road trips and that’s it. We had a fun few days in Napa on a Groupon .

And a celebratory weekend in San Francisco after meeting the financial goal where I finally got to experience Millennium .

Hopefully more adventures will be planned in 2013!

For my recipes, I’ll just say there were a lot of them with many raw salad dressings – that seemed to be my theme for 2012 because they’re simple, fast, cheap, and go perfectly with a raw staple dish – the salad. Some of my favorites:

- Tangy Green Dressing

- Creamy Banana Curry Dressing

- Hemp Seed Ranch Dressing

- Creamy Zucchini Dill Dressing

- Raw Vegan Sour Cream Dressing

- Dijon Rosemary Dressing

- Sweet Dijon Dressing

- Ginger Tahini Dressing

- Smokey Curry Avocado Dressing

- Raspberry Dressing

 

Tonight will be an evening of relaxing, playing, and thinking of goals and resolutions for 2013 as we enjoy our Christmas tree for one last night before taking it down tomorrow.

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Happy New Year!

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