Tips from The Lightbulb Ninja

When I was about 12 years old, I became quite a stickler about shutting off unnecessary lights. Suddenly all the adult nagging and public-service announcements I’d ever heard got through to me (I can’t recall why) and I began to see how amazingly wasteful it is to leave a bunch of extra lights on, just burning up energy for no reason, when it’s so easy to turn them off! After all, even if electricity is generated in a non-polluting way, it costs money!

For a while I was a bit too zealous. One day I ducked around a corner, flipped off a switch, and went swiftly on my way, drawing a yelp of annoyance from my mother, who was in that room (sitting very still) and using that light! I happened to be wearing a dark navy sweater and jeans that day, so my mom nicknamed me The Lightbulb Ninja for my swift and merciless killing of excess lights.

Since then, I’ve continued to strike lightswitches everywhere I go, and I’ve also come to embrace the darkness. Here are my strategies for minimizing lighting: Read more…

Tofu Soba Supper

Daniel and I are really into one-pot meals, but once in a while we make a meal with three separate components. This is one of those meals that is quick and easy to make despite the multiple parts. It has many possible variations.

Soba noodles are spaghetti-like Japanese noodles made from buckwheat. They have a nice flavor and cook quickly. I recommend buying them from an Asian market so you can compare the nutrition profiles of several brands; they vary quite a bit, with some being pretty high in protein, fiber, and iron. They can be eaten with all kinds of meals but are particularly good with things of at least vaguely Japanese flavor.

Thus, for this meal you want to put your tofu (firm, with excess water squeezed out, cut into bite-size chunks) in a Japanese-style sauce. Read more…

Veggie Burger Lunch, Version 2.0

On February 27, 2002, I wrote in my SoyLent Diary: I had a lunch that I’ve found is very convenient for work: pack a food-storage container about 3/4 full of leftover rice or pasta and put a frozen veggie burger on top. The burger thaws slowly during the morning, so the whole thing can be heated in a microwave in 1-2 minutes. Then I use a fork to break off a piece of burger and pick it up along with a bite of rice. With a piece of fruit or some canned fruit (today I had canned tropical fruit salad) this makes a good lunch.

I still eat this type of lunch fairly often–I’m eating one as I write this!–but it’s evolved over the past six years.

First, I switched from plastic food-storage containers to ceramic or glass ones. They’re heavier (which adds to the exercise in my daily routine!), but they don’t leach harmful chemicals into food. The more obvious advantage is that they clean up nicely. Like glass jars for storing leftovers, they don’t get scratched-up, grease doesn’t bond onto them, and they don’t stain (except maybe the lid). And it’s easy to find brands that are made in USA!

Also, I’ve been using a wider variety of carbs under my veggie burgers:

  • A toddler neighbor turned us on to couscous, a kind of pasta that cooks really fast and is a more complex (slowly digested) carbohydrate than typical pasta.  We buy the whole-wheat kind, which is very nutritious and filling, in bulk at our co-op.  It’s so easy and quick to cook that, if I need to bring a lunch and we don’t have any leftovers to go with my veggie burger, I can whip up a batch of couscous while making breakfast!
  • Whole-wheat vegetable rotini is more nutritious than white pasta, and because of the vegetables in it, the individual noodles are 4 different colors, which makes it more fun to eat. I never can decide whether the different colors have slightly different flavors or that’s just my imagination!
  • With the new “Asian flavor” veggie burger, I sometimes have buckwheat soba noodles.

Any of these options keeps me feeling full longer than white pasta or rice.

What right have you to be angry?

Nicholas still acts up in church sometimes. A couple of weeks ago, we had an even more difficult time than the one I wrote about last year.

It started with Nicholas wanting to go to the bathroom just as I was listening eagerly to the Old Testament reading, which was the story of what happened to Jonah after he got out of that fish–although I knew Jonah had his own book of the Bible, I’d never read or heard any of it other than the part about being swallowed by a fish, so I was curious.  But I didn’t get to hear it because Nicholas had to go to the bathroom, and he’s only three-and-a-half years old and afraid to wander around the church hallways alone, so I had to go with him.  Well, that couldn’t be helped.  I would read it in the service leaflet when we got back.

The moment we got back, Nicholas grabbed my leaflet and began scrambling the pages around, scribbling on it with a pencil, crumpling it, and generally rendering it unreadable even if I ever managed to get it back from him. I resolved to read Jonah at home later, and I turned my attention to the next reading.

That lasted about twelve seconds before Nicholas began whispering at me. Read more…

The Cheap Thrills of Thrifty Fashion

Last night, our three-year-old night owl conked out at 8:00!! Daniel and I did a little dance of glee and launched into an evening of companionable adult pursuits, which of course included sorting through our wardrobes, getting out the winter clothes and putting away the summer ones, and deciding the fate of unwanted garments.

What? That’s not your idea of fun and excitement? Well, you’ve got a point, but you have to realize that this sorting process includes my flinging off my clothes at unexpected moments, to try on other garments, so that adds to the romance.  Read more…