Thursday, July 30, 2009

Wrap it up, part 2

Like I said a few posts ago, I feel limited in the cafeteria at work, and I often get a wrap. Here is another variation on my veggie burger wrap. In part 1 of Wrap it up, I had steamed veggies stuffed into the wrap with my chopped up veggie burger, which melted the cheese. Here is my cold variation. :)

I get the same ingredients, except that I have fresh cucumbers and red onions put into the wrap instead of cooked vegetables. And I don't put cheese in this one either, since it wouldn't get melted. The cucumber adds a satisfying crunch and is very refreshing.

As my side, I often grab a piece of fresh fruit- a nectarine in this case.

Do you like veggie burgers? What brands can you recommend? How do you eat them? What kinds of fresh fruit do you regularly?

The lovely eggplant

Can anyone guess what these are? Slices of eggplant with a mix of onions, garlic, miso and honey on top. I got the recipe here. It was absolutely delicious. Even the husband raved about them!

We served the eggplant with some leftover spinach couscous, in order to use it up. But the recipe suggests serving over brown rice and a fried egg with the yolk still runny. We exchanged the brown rice for the couscous but did take the advice of serving with the fried egg. So good, in a very unexpected way.

Now you know how I feel about fried eggs (or zuppa zuppa eggs. Or dippy eggs.) They demand toast in order to dip in the egg, right? Well, Chris had brought home some of Panera's amazing Three Cheese Bread. To die for.

I had leftover eggplant and couscous at work the next day. Love food that works as leftovers, don't you?

Let's wrap it up

The food at the work cafeteria leaves a lot to be desired, to say the least. As I have said before, I often get salads, but lately I am all salad-ed out. So, instead I have been getting this nifty little number...

I ask the sandwich guy for a whole wheat wrap, and then ask him to stuff it with a chopped-up veggie burger, some steamed veggies, and if I am being "rebellious," s sprinkling of shredded chedder cheese.

The veggie burger is actually made of vegetables, it seems. Not some processed soy masquerading as beef. Nice for a change, right? He warms it up before chopping and placing on the wrap. The steamed veggies are also warm, so all that warmth melts the cheese just a bit.

So good, and much better than the damage I could do on an everyday basis, no?

Do you like wraps? What do you put in them?

I scream you scream... well you know how it goes

Chris and I don't smoke. We barely drink any alcohol. We don't do drugs. But our one real, true vice- one that is just unavoidable- is ice cream.

We try to buy healthier, more natural kinds. The fewer ingredients, the better. We don't buy low-fat or non-fat kinds- they just don't satisfy the craving, you know? And we figure if we don't do it often, buying full fat ice cream is ok. We have found some really good ice cream made from soy and rice milk that we really loved, but nothing beats Haagan Dazs or Ben and Jerry's.

Except maybe making your own. Above are two ice creams we made ourselves. The first is called Aphrodisiac Ice cream, I guess because the ingredients could be considered to have that effect. Aside from the cream part, it contains figs (mmmm, fresh figs), honey, and toasted almonds. I don't think the original recipe called for the honey, but it just compliments figs so well!

The second flavor you see above is Green Tea Ice cream. It came out just... ok. The recipe calls for six (six!) eggs. Since I had never made the recipe before, I followed it exactly, and the end result was very.... eggy. It is still ice cream and not green tea scrambled eggs, as some reviewers found, but next time around I will definitely cut back the eggs to three, maybe four.

Neither one of these treats is anywhere near lowfat, and eating too much of it could result in thighs that do resemble scrambled eggs in texture. But, we don't make ice cream often, just as we don't buy it often. But when I get the urge, I sure am glad I have my Cuisinart Ice Cream maker!

Have you ever made ice cream? What is your food vice? Do you have a hard time indulging only once in a while?

Drunken fish

I know, I know. You are sick of seeing fish. I probably should have just named this blog "Fish, fish, and more fish." Or maybe "A WHOLE lot of fish" would have been more apropos. But bear with me here.

This is tuna, once again.

Chris wanted to try something he remembered from when he worked at the Mediterranean restaurant Ayhan's on Long Island. They sauteed onions until soft, and tossed in red grapes cut in half (so they don't burst open, haha.) There was some more to the seasoning, but we season to taste, and it is usually on a whim. Once the onions and grapes are cooked a bit, he added a splash of red wine.

At the restaurant, this sauce would have been for chicken, but as we do not keep chicken in the house anymore, Chris had to improvise with seafood, so he used tuna steaks. We served the fish on a bed of spinach couscous with some pignoli nuts.

Normally I think white wine is better suited to seafood than red, but this came out pretty good- very tasty! Plus, it made for a very colorful meal.

What is the most interesting thing you have cooked/eaten lately?

Frittata is so hot- ah...

When we are in the mood for eggs, we usually go with over easy ones, where the yolk is still dip-able. But we feel there is no point to making this kind of egg when you have no bread/toast- you know? So, when we want something quick and easy, like eggs, and we have no bread in the house we sometimes make an omelet (or frittata.) These are great because they are tasty both hot and cold, you can use up excess vegetables in them, and you can put a slice between pieces of bread for a quick and filling sandwich.

This one was made by sauteing onions, garlic, and zucchini in olive oil until soft. Whisk eggs (we used 6 eggs for this one) in a bowl with salt and fresh ground pepper, then pour the eggs over the vegetables. Let the eggs cook and firm up around the vegetables (we put a cover on the pan to speed up cooking and make sure the top got cooked as well), then turn the pan over onto a big plate. We sprinkled pignoli nuts on top (since we love them so much, haha).

How do you cook your eggs?

P.S. I call sunny-side up and over-easy eggs "zuppa zuppa" while Chris calls them "dippy eggs." Do you have a funny name for them?

Grocery list- a glimpse

Grapes, cherries, bananas, watermelon, figs and rainier cherries. Just a few of the things we got last time we really grocery-shopped (last weekend). This is all the fruit we got, and then in the middle of the week I picked up some more bananas and one of those huge cartons of blueberries from Trader Joe's.

What kind of fruit do you keep in the house? Do you decide depending on what is in season?


Going out to eat can be hard when you are trying to stay healthy and eat right. It gets worse when you are trying to be vegetarian and eat as little animal protein as possible. But it is possible.

Once in a great while Chris will meet me for a quick lunch. He leaves work, I leave work, we take a break and just hang out together for an hour. Panera is close by for both of us, so that is where we have gone on more than one occasion.

Chris likes to have something different pretty much every time we eat there, while I usually stick to my old standbys.

Chris had the Strawberry Poppyseed Salad and a half of the Mediterranean Veggie sandwich- the you-pick-two option on the menu is great because you get the best of both worlds. He also had this amazing Strawberry smoothie. Yum!

I also had the you-pick-two option, but I went with the Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich (my fave! I even buy the bread they use, get the other ingredients at the grocery store, and make it myself. It still doesn't come out quite as good as theirs, for some reason. Panera must mix crack into the feta they use, haha) and a cup of the low-fat Vegetarian Garden Vegetable. The soup was good, but my favorite soup will always be the Creamy Tomato soup with Asiago croutons. Sadly, it is off the menu for now :(

I also had the iced green tea to drink. I figured, green tea is full of antioxidants and it might have less sugar than the soft drinks they offer.

Chris is not a fan of my new habit of taking pictures of my food when we go out to eat. He gets embarrassed. Ha!

Do you have a hard time ordering when you are out to eat? Do you try to "stay on the wagon?" Do you figure you are out to eat, so you can eat whatever you want?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A melange of sorts

This one is from a while back. There is some Tilapia buried in there, under all that tomato-zucchini-yellow squash goodness.

Just sautee onion and garlic until golden in a tiny bit of olive oil, over medium heat. Add the crushed tomatoes, sliced zucchini and yellow squash (or whatever other vegetables of which you may dream). When it's all good and hot, lay the Tilapia in the mix, grind some fresh black pepper and maybe add some salt, if you think it needs salt. (Oftentimes, I don't use salt in my cooking and I don't even miss it. Trust me, neither will you.)

You'll know when the Tilapia is done, it will get completely white and will be more flaky in texture. Tilapia fillets are cut pretty thin, so they don't take long to cook. You could serve this over pasta of some sort, but I think we just ate it as you see it here.

The whole-fish craze continues

Readers, let me introduce Red Snapper. He had quite a good life. He enjoyed swimming in large schools at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico and along the Southeast coast in the Atlantic. He could often be found in reefs and shipwrecks. He ate almost anything but preferred small fish and crustaceans.

We drizzled olive oil on him, sprinkled on some salt, fresh ground pepper and parsley and served him with a side of brown rice with zucchini and yellow squash.

More fish a la Chris

Not completely true, I do a lot of the helping and suggesting. Sometimes I even cook all by myself. Chris would have you think differently though, ha!

Here we have a dish we made a while ago. That is a Jerk seasoned tuna steak, sitting on a bed of quinoa with green beans, navy beans, corn and (you guessed it) pignoli nuts.

Quinoa is a great grain alternative to rice and pasta. It has a crazy amount of protein (and other nutrients), so it is a fabulous choice for vegetarians, near-vegetarians, or just people who don't get enough lean protein. It has a very interesting texture when cooked- it gets a spiral shape. It is great in cold pasta salad-type dishes too, and is great prepared like Tabbouleh.

The tuna is seared on the outside to get the jerk seasoning to form a crust, and left slightly pink on the inside. If cooked all the way through, we have found the fish gets a bit dry and loses some of the great flavor.

Homemade energy bars

Fruit in it's natural state is the ultimate, perfect grab-and-go food. But it's nice to change things up, no?

That there, my friends, is a raw, vegan, homemade energy bar, not unlike Larabars. The difference is that mine were much cheaper to make.

Larabars are typically $1-$2 apiece. While I think they are definitely worth the money you pay for them (they have only 3 or 4 ingredients, are raw, vegan, and organic, they give you a serving or two of fruit and sometimes nuts, and they are crazy high in fiber and offer a good amount of other nutrients), I do not have that kind of money to buy them and eat them on a regular basis, so I buy them as treats or if we are going to be on a long road trip.

But now that I have made my own and I was successful, I may not buy them even then. I found some recipes here and here, but I really only used them as a guide. I didn't want to get to the point (as I often do) where I find a recipe and go on a crazy hunt for crazy ingredients of which I had never heard (which happens a lot lately.) I wanted to use things I would have in my own kitchen at any time. Bars like this are easy to experiment with in that way, and isn't that what cooking should be anyway?

So basically I find dried fruit and pulse it to form a paste, adding some water to help it along. You still want it to be dry though so that it holds the bar shape easily. For this bar I used dates (Larabars seem to use them as a base in most of their bars) and prunes. Prunes are slightly less expensive, have less sugar, and more fiber and potassium than dates. But dates have an awesome sweet taste- they're like nature's candy. So, I pulse the dried fruits together, and once it is paste-like I throw in other stuff. I used pecans, dark chocolate pieces and cocoa powder for the bar shown.

Sorry for not including actual amounts- like I said, it involved some experimenting to get to the right consistency.

Once I had everything mixed together, I lined a pan with wax paper and dumped the mix in. I cut another piece of wax paper to lay on top and pressed the mix down to even it out and flatten it. Then I put the pan in the fridge to get the soon-to-be bars cold and hard. After a few hours, I pulled it out, and used a sharp knife to cut into it into bars, but I left the wax paper on- both sides. It acts like a wrapping, making the bar portable. I keep the bars stacked in a tupperware container in the fridge where they are easily accessible so one can reach in, grab one and go. They make a good, high energy, high fiber breakfast, or an anytime snack for when you need sustenance but you don't have time for a meal.

Chris and I loved them, and a friend who had one seemed to enjoy his as well. Since they were a hit, they didn't last long. But that's ok, that just means I can experiment with different flavors. Chris suggested apricots for a future trial- sounds good to me!

Apparently you can buy date paste ready-made, but I haven't found it in any grocery stores yet. I checked Giant and Trader Joe's. I read somewhere that it can be found in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean Stores, but here in Phoenixville, I doubt there are many of those. So for now, I will be making my own paste.

Do you like to have grab-and-go food on hand? Do you buy it, or make your own?

I love corn

This is a typical dinner for us. The first dish may look like vomit (at least Chris thought so), but rest assured it TASTED fabulous. We sauteed onions, garlic and mushrooms until soft in olive or vegetable oil. Then we laid salmon fillets in the pan and seasoned everything with a tiny bit of salt, fresh ground pepper, red pepper flakes, and we tossed in some pignoli nuts (yum.) We covered the pan and waited for it to whistle, signaling it was done. (For whistling pans, check here. The are really good, heavy pans, can be great for healthy cooking and eating, and if cared for properly will last a lifetime- making up for the high cost.) When it was done we plated it over some cooked amaranth and raw baby spinach.

Chris decided he isn't a huge fan of amaranth. It kind of has the consistency of porridge if cooked too long- much better if left with a bit of crunch to it. I think I read somewhere that amaranth is related to spinach, which I could believe, because it kind of smelled like spinach when we were cooking it. You boil it and watch for the right consistency, kind of like you would with pasta or rice. It didn't come out as good as I would have liked, but I haven't given up totally on it.

The salad was simple and fresh. Just more of that baby spinach, sliced tomatoes, and uncooked corn. The corn gave it some crisp sweetness. It was frozen from a bag and thawed so I can't even imagine how much better it would have tasted if we had in season, local corn to use. After this salad I decided I love corn, even more so when it is raw. I will admit that it does not offer as much nutrition as a lot of other vegetables, like broccoli or carrots. But it does have plenty of fiber in a 1 cup serving- 17% of your daily value, and only 132 calories.

Do you like corn? What's your favorite vegetable? Do you eat a lot of fish? What kinds? :)

P.S. When using pignoli nuts, be careful not to overdo it- they are pretty high in calories (915 in 1 cup), fat (93g!), and saturated fat (6.7g!) This is not a nut you would necessarily want to snack on, like walnuts or almonds. But they have good flavor and add a lot as a garnish, or in pesto, in different pasta dishes, etc.

The grapes are coming, the GRAPES ARE COMING!

These pictures were taken weeks ago, so they don't even fully represent how quickly the vines in the backyard are growing. By the end of summer we should have our first grapes to taste test!

A rack and then some

I just had to post this picture. That is a rack and a half of baby back ribs. My friend ordered it at a happy hour get together a while ago, and I took a picture of it because I thought it was enormous. I don't know if they were any good because I didn't have any, but she seemed to enjoy them!

If you like ribs, and you want to try these, they can be found at The Audubon Ale House, in Audubon, PA.

In a state of boredom

With the salad bar at work, that is. Since I have stopped eating chicken, beef and pork, and I try not to eat refined carbs and most breads, I am left with few options to choose from at work. Now, don't get me wrong, the lunch is free and I am grateful for that. But when I feel limited and bored by my options.... that is when I am most likely to make up excuses and eat unhealthy. "This cookie? It is vegetarian, though! No meat in it! And this chocolate? Full of antioxidants!"

Since the hot special is usually some combination of pasta and cheese, or chicken/beef/pork smothered in a buttery sauce, all of which can be very appealing, I try to stay away from that. The sandwich line is somewhat better- they have whole wheat wraps if you don't fancy carbolicious breads, they have veggies to stuff your wrap or sandwich, and you can opt for tuna instead of ham and cheese-but I am usually too tempted by the less stellar offerings. Like bacon. Mmm, bacon. I gave up pork without a care, but bacon calls me for some reason....

The soups tend to be full of salt, I think. How do I know, you ask? Because I am thirsty the entire rest of the day when I have the soup. And oftentimes the soups have chicken or beef or cream.

So, I get the salad most days. The salad bar has a lot of options, but it is pretty much the same everyday. Even the layout of it stays the same. So I end up getting the same fixings, and I always dress it with oil and vinegar and avoid the packaged dressings. Boring, I know. Here is what it looks like most days:

Spinach, peppers, red onion, tomatoes, black olives, grated carrots, chickpeas, cucumbers, boiled egg, tuna, and sunflower seeds. It is like my own healthy version of "two beef patties, special sauce, onions, tomatoes, lettuce, on a sesame seed bun."

Today, I needed anything but my usually layout. I ended up only getting pepper slices, cherry tomatoes, and cucumbers. And I just munched on those the rest of the afternoon- not deserving of a gold star, but better than the damage I could have done, right? I also got an apple sauce, and sprinkled some cinnamon on top. But I did notice it was much sweeter than the kind I buy myself. I am pretty sure it had added sugar... Bastards.

Do you ever get bored with your food choices? How do you mix things up?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Whole fish can be a whole lot of YUM!

Chris has been in a whole fish frenzy. It seems he won't eat unless it still has the head and tail when placed in front of him. (Just to clarify- he DOES NOT eat the head and tail. That would be gross.)

At first, I said, "You want whole fish? Fine. But you clean it, you cook it, and you debone it before we eat it. And I don't want the head or tail on my plate."

I know, I sound pretty hoity-toity. I have since softened, mostly because we have had some good experiences when he has made it. Plus, it does make for a pretty and extravagant-looking dish, even if it was simply prepared. Take a look:

Meet Striped Sea Bass- Chris got it at the H-Mart when in Philly yesterday. They even cleaned the fish out and de-scaled it before wrapping it up. H-Mart is an Asian food market, and they have a pretty great seafood selection, among other things. And prices are pretty great too.

Chris drizzled olive oil and lemon juice inside and on both sides, stuffed the inside with whole crushed garlic cloves, dill and parsley from the garden, sprinkled some paprika, and ground some fresh pepper and salt all over. So simple, and it only took 25 minutes from start to finish! And it came out so scrumptious.

He wanted to cook avocado WITH the fish, or maybe inside it. But I warned him that the avocado is mushy to begin with, so the consistency might not make it conducive to the high heat (he broiled the fish). So I helped by slicing it up and arranging it with the finished fish, and then drizzling with more lemon juice to keep it from browning. I thought it made the perfect accompaniment- being so refreshing. We had a bit leftover brown rice as well- from a meal we made on Sunday, more about that tomorrow, when I post the leftovers from that!

Do you like whole fish? Seafood in general? (We love pretty much all kinds!) Does it gross you out when cleaning or preparing it? Do you like avocado? Do you know of any recipes where you actually COOK it? (I have only ever seen it in raw recipes- like guacamole, on salads, in sandwiches, etc...)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Dehydrated much?

So my friend Alberta came to visit from NY this past weekend. Blame her for the lack of posting- Chris and I wanted to spend as much time with her as we could since we never get to see her, what with her hectic work and school schedule and the hundred mile difference. :)

While she was with us I also forgot to take pictures of everything I ate for blogging purposes. (I also forgot to take pictures of the three of us hanging out...oops.)

But something we talked a lot about is drinking water. Alberta says she never drank a lot of water, maybe a glass a day. She said she was just never thirsty enough for more and she felt fine.

I am close to obsessed, and if I don't get at least two liters a day, I feel awful, at least in my head. So her glass a day seems crazy to me. Just crazy!

I found these two articles- one on the effects of not drinking enough water and one on how to calculate how much water you need. They sum up the most important points and arguments for drinking enough water.

While I don't think she looks like she suffers from some of the signs of insufficient water, like excess body fat, poor muscle tone, and water-retention problems (she's beautiful, of course :), she like most of us, could definitely use more.

And in her defense, she did drink a lot more than usual this past weekend!

Do you drink enough water? Do you drink an extra glass for every glass of caffeinated beverage? An extra glass for every alcoholic drink? How about after salty foods? Only drink water when you feel thirsty? (They say you are already slightly dehydrated by then!) Think the taste of water is boring? (That is how I prefer it, actually!) Do you drink it with a splash of juice or lemon to jazz it up? Share!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Dinner out- Isreali food at Palermo's Pizzeria

Dinner out can be high calorie and high cost for my husband and me, so I insist on not doing it often. We like trying out new restaurants, and we LOVE food, so we make it worth it and go all out. Since I try not to eat chicken, beef, or pork I stick with seafood or pasta. There are plenty of healthy options in both categories, but inevitably I start thinking, "we're out to dinner, why eat healthy?" And then I end up ordering something with lots of pasta, lots of cheese, just LOTS of everything. And I also tend to eat everything placed in front of me (thanks Mom for making me clean my plate, you have created a monster, haha.) My husband orders steak or fish entrees- not always healthy when covered in sauce.

But once in a while we go to Palermo's in Phoenixville PA. It is a short drive, it is a very low-key place and the pizza is decent- the crust is thin and not too doughy, and the cheese isn't falling off the slice, drowning in grease, my only two pizza dealbreakers. Palermo's gets bonus points with me because they have good sauce, and they have OPTIONS. Like Margherita, my fave, veggie pizza and white three cheese. (I know, I sound obsessed with cheese. This is why I won't keep much in the house.)

But the past two times we haven't gotten any pizza at all. Instead, we chose from the Isreali food section of the menu. It includes hummus, babaghanoush, and felafel- it has other stuff, but those are the main attractions for us, haha.

Palermo's calls this food Isreali, but I guess you could just say it is Meditteranean/Middle Eastern since so many different cultures eat it. It's no wonder why, it is fabulous AND healthy.

I know this all doesn't look like a lot for dinner for two people, and it may not be fancy looking, but we both left stuffed. Even my husband, with his hollow legs. It is pretty healthy, full of fiber and protein, and qualifies as finger food if you dip the pita in the hummus and eat it like you would chips! And the meal is vegetarian!

The only thing I would want them to change? If they offered wheat pitas in addition to the white ones- that would be the bees knees.

The things that look like poo- not to worry, they are felafel. Felafel are fried patties of chick peas and onions. I should have shot a picture of one of these broken open- they are green inside. We agreed that they were the best we ever had.

If you are ever in Phoenixville PA and looking for a cheap dinner- try Palermo's, and order off the Isreali Food part of the menu.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Almond Butter=Heaven

Nut butters can be very high in fat and calories, just like true butter. However, when you eat pretty healthy most of the time, I don't think some nut butter indulgence will hurt you.

I had some almond butter this morning along with my fruit, for breakfast. Delicious! And the almond butter has protein along with the fat, so I was fuller, longer.

According to Wikipedia, "Being made from almonds rather than peanuts, it is considered hypoallergenic, and, as such, it is easier for those with food sensitivities to digest. Almonds are high in monounsaturated fats, which are considered to be a healthier form of fat than saturated fat. They are an excellent source of Vitamin E, magnesium, and fiber. They contain monosaturated fat, protein, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, and iron."

'Course, I believe there are people who are also allergic to tree nuts like almonds as well as peanuts, but hey, you can't win 'em all....

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The day's food- just blue-tiful!

I found this ginormous container of blueberries at Trader Joe's for only $5.49. You probably can't tell just how big it is, but trust me.

For breakfast I ate a big container of fruit- I think tomorrow's fruit will be accompanied by some protein like all natural peanut butter or maybe some almond butter. I was hungry much too early after eating just the fruit, and I could feel my blood sugar spiking a bit...

The hot special in the cafeteria didn't seem too bad for a change- Baked Tilapia in a tomato and red wine caper sauce with a side of fire roasted vegetables and whipped potatoes. I decided to forgo the potatoes and asked for an extra helping of veggies instead.

I get hungry around 3pm, whether I eat a light lunch or a heavy one, so I always try to be prepared. I keep walnuts in my desk drawer and I had brought two clementines with me.

The clementines were just... ok. I could tell they are not in season- the skin was hard to peel off and there was some unripe green-ness. But the natural sugar kept me going and the walnuts' protein kept me full until dinner.

Speaking of dinner- Chris asked me to cook since he was painting. I asked him what he wanted- he answered fish- Tilapia to be exact. Well I guess I got my protein for the day haha.

We had the fish over some Amaranth. Delish!

Have a nice night everyone!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Lettuce Eat

So, I started this blog as a way to share my love for food. I love to cook, bake, decorate and arrange food. Pictures of food are some of the most visually appealing pictures out there. The colors, the shapes, the textures!

I enjoy trying new recipes and challenging the way I view diet and nourishment. My style of eating has changed dramatically over the last couple of years, and I hope that is for the better. I have in the past dabbled in raw food eating, clean eating, vegetarianism, and veganism, and I still do. I think nothing is bad in moderation, but I believe the term "moderation" is subject to interpretation.

In this blog, I hope to share recipes, websites, and pictures of the food I eat on a daily basis. I also plan on giving my philosophy on diets, detoxifying, and nourishment. I do a lot of research on the health behind the foods I eat or those I want to experiment with, and I will be showcasing foods I think get a bad rap or are not well known.

I love suggestions and comments, especially when it comes to food. Just email me or leave comments on the posts. Discussion will only make this food blog better.

Thanks for visiting and reading!