Winner winner, vegan dinner!!! Or it could be a lunch or as hearty side dish. In the midst of a non-ideal Christmas Eve when Mr. Plastic Picker and I both worked part of the day and our youngest daughter woke up with torticollis – we still were able to cook a surprisingly easy dish that was good for us and the planet.
I hope everyone had somewhat of a normal Christmas Eve and Christmas this year. I mean this is what upper management gave me.
And inside the bag was a KeySmart key chain with a fancy metal thingamajiggy that helps you open doors without touching the handles. I found one on the beach as well and had gifted it to my father-in-law. But the one I received was purchased for about $25. I gave it to my father-in-law and took back the one I found on the beach. The one I found on the beach is not as fancy but it has a beer can openener on it as well. Plus I found it.
It happened. I made my own tortillas yesterday and our tween daughter approved. That is saying a lot. It was made with partial whole what flour and olive oil, instead of butter or lard or the worse is all those hidden ingredients that actually come from palm oil and hurt the orangatangs. Some things I’ve made on this less-plastic life journey are not sustainable. I’ve decided today to forgo the apple cider vinegar. The beer vinegar is fine for me to make to clean with, but the third batch went moldy again. That is fine. I made one batch that worked, it just took too much time to monitor the vinegar. But the tortillas. The whole-wheat tortillas! This is definitely a keeper!
Yesterday was a “food waste” dinner, and it was very delicious. Friday night our daughter had made her first Pad Thai, and it was heavy on the noodles. She added a fried egg which I’ve never added. In general, it was well appreciated by the entire family. She had reminded everyone to eat fruit.
Yesterday was Saturday I spent a good portion of the day doing a solo beach clean up and I found a plastic cow stuck in the hedges near our house. I just looked online and it cost exactly $34.99 at Target. Not one of my most expensive finds (I once found a pristine portable speaker that costs about $150), but definitely up there.
I’m trying to remember what happened yestserday? I spent most of the morning trying to clean Plastic Cow. She required a lot of vinegar, magic eraser, 409 spray and boiling water to clean. But she looks really good now.
I was teasing our puppy yesterday with the Plastic Cow, and last night I realized that I ought not have done that. That was not a kind thing to do. But as I was reminded someone I love very much to remember to be kind to me, I realized that I am usually kind but my gentle teasing of our puppy was not kind. Now I look back at this picture and it isn’t funny anymore. Now I will use the cow for my social media work to remind the world and my patients to eat less beef.
What else happened yesterday? I went through our finances and realized we had reached our goal of saving for both kids’ college accounts to fund college. We had started 15 years ago and always made it a priority to fund their 529. There are a lot of personal finance bloggers that have written about having their own children pay for college, or taking out loans. I do believe the children should have “skin in the game” but given that my parents paid for most of my college and my husband’s parents almost sold their house to pay for his education, it seems like a dual income physician couple household like us should provide for our children at least what our parents who were working class immigrants did. We won’t fund all of graduate school though, because I do want our children to appreciate their education. I have told them that whatever scholarships they earn, it will mean more money for graduate school later. For those that question whether it’s prudent to save for college, all I can say is that in review of our financial history – Mr. Plastic Picker and I am glad we did. This is advice more fore high earninig physician couples, but the tax benefits of a 529 plan is quite good. We fully funded our retirement and kept on investing, but we put at least $10,000 a year in each kids’ college sometimes the max of $14,000 after becoming attending physicians. I won’t disclose the total amounts, but lets just say if X was the principal we put in – over the last 10-12 years the earnings have been X so essentially doubled in value. It’s a great load off our mind knowing that no matter what happends to us, there is money set aside for college for them. Most of the tax benefits are more those in the upper income brackets because the earnings are not taxed. We are taxed at a high bracket (which let me tell you I have no guilt about because we pay a lot of taxes and more than Donald Trump ever has, that cheat).
The other thing that happened yesterday, is our tween daughter had a busy Girl Scout day as their troop had a letter writing campaign to try to cheer up senior citizens. She was working on her history day project and my job was to remind her every 2 hours to work on her history day project. I talked to my sister a little bit yesterday and caught up on her life, and what my niece and nephew have been up to. I watched Star Trek Discovery, and it was SOOOOOOO good. Phillipa Georgeiou is the Asian-American woman character that is strong and complex that we’ve all been waiting for! Our son was alternatively studying, playing video games, and virtual tutoring as part of his public service work. And Mr. Plastic Picker was working an extra shift from home. And we ended the night with watching a movie about Ghandi which is related to our daughter’s school project. It was very good.
And we also had roasted veggies. I’ve made roasted veggies plenty of times, but yesterday I was inspired by a real and Instagram friend who had suggested added apples. So I threw togehter all our left over veggies in particular 1.5 bell peppers, 1 parsnip (it’s our new “in” root vegetable), squash that was getting bad, mushy apple, and threw in a third of an onion and a red fancy pear. Instead of my usual salt, peper and olive oil – I used olive oil, salt, thyme and cinnamon. The cinnamon in combination with the parsnip and red pear with the usual veggies was sublime. It was really really really good. The smell of the cinnamon and the unexpected burst of sweetness of the roasted apples and pears was surpirsing. I had an avocado that was toward the end, and I kind of made up my own guacamole having watched our daughter do it so often. I used salt, my apple-cider vinegar, and Trader Joe’s everything bagel seasoning. We had store-bought hummus, and some crackers and cheese. Everyone was fed with food that was simple, plant based and lots of colors. So much fiber was consumed last night.
And that is it. That was our day. We had little dramas that as a family we all go through, and we are better for it. I got up early this morning with renewed hope, and was planning on making tortillas but I think I made a kind of flat-bread instead. I used whole wheat flour and all purpose flour, olive oil and rosemary. Whatever I made, it’s home made and healtheir and I just had one – and it’s very good. I was going to show you a picture of my flat-bread/tortilla project, but that’s okay. It’s taking too long to upload. Let’s just say it’s not perfectly round. It’s a bit uneven. But I know that inside there is such healthy olive oil and some wheat flour with more fiber. And since it’s home-made – it’s better. I don’t expect my tortillas/flat bread to be perfect and I certainly don’t expect my family to be perfect. Forgiveness is so important. Gratitude is so important. And those lessons I’ve learned so very late in life, and much of these lessons through writing and thinking my own thoughts on the beach, has so fundamentally changed me that I am litterally a different personality of the Myers-Briggs personality test.
And that is it! That was what happened yesterday at our home on Saturday. Roasted veggies with some fruit and some new spices, made a whole new dish. I’m off just around the neighborhood to get a bag of plastic pollution.
I used to think Costco was the answer to life. Costco wanted us to think that it was the answer to life. Costco is still a great place, and pays good wages. But I am reminded that Costco is not the answer to life. It’s just a warehouse store that generally runs an ethical business but usually pushes us to overconsume and has too much plastic packaging. I have a lot of self-control these days and I can walk into Costco without leaving with three giant Olaf plushies. Yes, we once did that. The last plushie went to a good highschool friend who also re-homed/bought our extra care. No one needs an extra car. I was trying to find that bloglink, but can’t find it. I’ll try to link it later.
Anyway, last weekend my college sweetheart and only ever boyfriend now husband of almost 20 years Mr. Plastic Picker and I went to Costco. It was very romantic. We bought mostly things in bulk but I was tempted by a crate of mangos. I have family in our southeast Asian homeland that has a mango tree farm, and mangos ripe from the tree are delicious. Here in southern california, we make due with Costco. But do we really need to? The mangoes on the outside looked decent, and I am well aware due to my ethnic heritage how to judge the ripeness of a mango. The ripeness was about right to eat the next week. Our daughter loves mangos. So we bought a crate. Last night I had a semi-tiring day at work. Mostly dealing with some adminstrative things again in my non-adminstrative off time. When everyone has left the office, I was still sitting there. But I also had a conversation with someone I care about and the conversation was very similar to conversations I’ve had prior to becoming Dr. Plastic Picker. Filled with gossip and some catching up, and some pettiness. I felt myself reverting to pettiness. It’s funny that when I join again with old intermittent acquaintances that have not been with me on this journey, I get to starkly look back at who I was before this blog – before I just decided to really care. I did not like that version of myself.
How beautiful is the sweet potatoe? I didn’t realize last night when we each had a half baked sweet potatoe that it matched the edging of our well-loved silicone baking sheet. Mr. Plastic Picker and I went to Costco last weekend, and I find great joy is buying food in bulk now. We hardly ever purchase the ready made foods and now cook real food. This has mostly been to avert plastic packaging and to avoid palm oil which is in most frozen or prepackaged foods. The flip side is that it has really inspired me to be more creative in the kitchen. It’s amazing what you can learn on the internet if you are motivated.
Yesterday was a semi-normal non-frustrating day at work. I had a minor scheduling issue to work through with one of the young pediatricians, and she was patient enough to listen to my nonsensical rantings about Human Resources and Policies and Procedures. Trying to navigate the real world needs of physicians, rules and regulations and also common sense – can be challenging. It helps that Dr. Plastic Picker is very rule orientated and have common sense. It helps most that I am fiscally responsible and good with numbers. Mr. Plastic Picker is working with his sisters on finalizing his parent’s trust and estates. I am CFO of our family, and have nothing to do with my in-law’s finances and take just passing note of things I hear about. They buy onions, eggs and rice for our family and that is it. He asked me what I thought their networth was. I thought for 15 seconds and said a number, and I was almost right on. My dear husband paused for a second in astonishment. Yes, I am that good.
Almost a year ago we had our first environmental campaign. It was a hyper-local small project called “Save the Persimmon Tree.” It was a request by one of “our lead nurses that his sister was considering chopping down this tree that is flourishing in the middle of Long Beach, California.” He had written “It hardly requires any water and no maintenance. It produces delicious fruit by the boxful. It would be such a waste to cut down.”
Our campaign was successful as I posted the original blogpost https://drplasticpicker.com/save-this-persimmon-tree/ and on Instagram. The social media pressure was enough to convince said sister-in-law to keep the persimmon tree. Yesterday I received a beautiful fruit from the persimmon tree. I’m sure it’s 100% organic and locally sourced from just an hour or so north of us. The persimmon fruit is on my counter next to my two stuffied chickens named Marilla and Rachel Lynde (yes after Anne of Green Gables fame). I am going to sit and look at it and enjoy it for a little bit. It’s still not quite ripe to eat. And indeed Dear Readers I have grand plans for my special persimmon fruit. I am going to make it into HOME-MADE PERSIMMON VINEGAR!!!
Did you know that Salvia rosmarinus or Rosmarinus officinalis commonly known as rosemary, is a woody, perennial herb with fragrant, evergreen, needle-like leaves and white, pink, purple, or blue flowers, native to the Mediterranean region.”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosemary I had known these shrubs on my walks around the parking lot, and I had seen bees around them. But for some reason yesterday I really noticed the plant, and broke off a few branches to smell the leaves. Indeed, it smelled like Rosemary. I thought they were native, but they are a transplant from the Mediterranean that has a very similar climate to our little corner in Southern California. This is a wild growing cultivated plant. Just reading the Wikipedia page there is a long history of it’s journey during Greek and Roman times, through Europe, and finally “Rosemary finally arrived in the Americas with early European settlers in the beginning of the 17th century.” Then at some point it arrived in a little hidden corner of our HMO Parking lot.
I know that the particular non-descript HMO complex I work at was built about 30 years ago. Rosemary plants can live about 30 years. I wonder how old this plant is? I wonder who planted it? I love Wikipedia. It details the history of Rosemary and “In Don Quixote (Part One, Chapter XVII), the fictional hero uses rosemary in his recipe for balm of fierbras.” What is the balm of fierbras? “According to a chanson from 1170, Fierabras and Balan conquered Rome and stole two barrels containing the balm used for the corpse of Jesus. This miraculous balm would heal whoever drank it . . . Don Quixote mentions to Sancho Panza that he knows the recipe of the balm. In Chapter XVII, Don Quixote instructs Sancho that the ingredients are oil, wine, salt and rosemary.” When Don Quixote drinks the balm of fierbras, he vomits and sweats and is healed from it. Sancho gets diarrhea and is nearly killed from it.
It’s important to give credit where credit it due. I made a super simple Udon Soup yesterday, but it was a reinvention of a recipe for Khoa Tom Pla Thai Rice Soup with Fish) from Retireby40 – one of the personal finance bloggers I follow. https://retireby40.org/sahd-cooking-khoa-tom-pla/ I really love Thai food and Joe is Thai, and his recipes are really good. I find them easy to follow and not too fussy. I called my mom to tell her about the recipe, and she approved. She is a superb Vietnamese cook and she has always thought Thai food is as fresh and healthy as our native foods. Plus Joe’s recipes are usually frugal. Please click on Joe’s original link to give him credit, and also he has links to buy the ingredients if you don’t have them at home.
We watched President-Elect Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris yesterday as a family. We made it an event. Before the actual speech and dinner, we had been inspired by real friends on my personal Facebook that suggested Philly Cheesesteak and Arizona Ice Tea in celebration of the swing states that brought the electoral collage home. The entire day had been happy with smiles and CNN playing in the background. Everyone seemed to be smiling, even the political pundits. Trump has really aged Jake Tapper. We were low on kitchen staples anyway so needed to go to a grocer.