Time to Eat

First off, I want to say that we made a Cauliflower and Tomato Coconut Curry a couple nights ago, and we are still enjoying the fruits of our labor. Thank you to A Couple Cooks for sharing that one. [On a side note, I don’t know Sonja and Alex, but I love them. I love their food, I love their photo, I covet their kitchen, I want to emulate their healthy lifestyle. Huge blog crush!]

Anyway, I don’t often follow recipes exactly–not because I’m all into experimenting or anything; it’s usually because I don’t have all the ingredients and tend to just make do. Often it works, but just as often the results are very meh! But I pretty much followed this recipe, except for substituting red quinoa for the rice. Great the first night and even better today. And there’s plenty more for at least a couple more meals. I have a feeling that as those flavors continue to meld, it’s just going to get better.

But tonight we decided to take a break from the curry and move toward northern Africa. And this time I took a recipe and totally changed it up. The original recipe actually sounds delicious as is, but … (1) I don’t have a full chicken; I just have drumsticks. (2) I didn’t want to take the time to simmer and then roast said chicken; I need to get in a meal so that we can digest our food somewhat before heading out for a late workout at the Y. (Who are we, and what have we done with our real selves?) and (3) I didn’t have all the ingredients anyway.

So, take one Chicken Tagine with Herbs and Harissa Olives, courtesy of Food and Wine, and turn it into chicken thighs marinated in mint tea with ginger, cumin, coriander, turmeric, onion salt, pepper, and parsley. Add a side of roasted new and sweet potatoes tossed with chopped onion and garlic and a bunch of herbs and spices: cilantro, parsley, coriander, ginger, salt, pepper, saffron (yes, I had saffron but I didn’t have butter or olives … go figure).

We cheated and microwaved the potatoes first (we have a schedule, people!) and then threw it all together into the oven. While Mr. J grilled the chicken, I threw together a spinach, cuke, pear, goat cheese salad with another delicious discovery from A Couple Cooks: 2 T stone ground mustard + 2 T honey + 2 T white wine vinegar + 2 T olive oil.

Easy peasy. And I’m happy to say that except for overdoing it a bit with the saffron and roasting the potatoes just a little too long, it was all absolutely delicious. It would have been great with that off-dry viognier chilling in our fridge, but alas, the Y beckons.

Stupid healthy lifestyle!*

 

* I kid.

Hauling Myself Back on Track

I fell off the writing-regularly wagon … and how! The holidays, family, work, and on and on. But these are all lame excuses, because there certainly were days when I sat around and stared at the tube or colored (really) or just flipped through the various phone apps that suck up so many minutes of my days.

But I am back, even if I’m not necessarily in the best frame of mind to write. I’ve been hit with what I am self-diagnosing as a post-holidaze funk. My cupboards, mental and physical, are bare. So, in usual fashion, I am scrounging around to find something nutritious to feed my soul.

As part of that search, I’ve gotten back into exercise after much too long away. But it hasn’t been an immediate, soul-improving event. Yesterday’s dog walk turned into an exercise of patience, as we stopped every few steps to remind her who is in charge (me?!) and that pulling on the leash is not acceptable. Yes, it’s true that we got in 5 miles of walking, but it took nearly two hours.

And this morning’s attempt at making this delicious-looking Dutch Pancake failed miserably, as our light, fluffy concoction came out as thin and flat and solid as an old shoe sole. So appetizing. Apparently egg nog and milk are not interchangeable.

And yet I continue to strive to find the upbeat and positive. I have food in my cupboards, I spent two hours in the sunshine, I came home to a man I love with a dog I (usually) adore. I am able to walk, see, hear, feel, smell, taste, touch, love, share. My life is truly good, and I am thankful for it everyday.

But I’m still allowed to be grumpy. So, there.

Eating In

Scene: Our bed
Players: The Lovely Couple
Time: 8:30 a.m., 10/28/2015
The Mood: Utter and Complete Laziness

Mr. J (while reading Flipboard): Where should we go for breakfast?
Me (snoozing): Mmmmmmm??
Mr. J: Or should we eat at home?
Me: How many eggs do we have? Or maybe just cereal and a smoothie?
Mr. J: On a Saturday?!
Me: Well, we do have kale in the garden. And maybe there are still some egg whites.

(30 minutes later)

Mr. J has motivated while I debate staying under the flannel sheets all day. My internal dialogue is soon interrupted by the siren aroma of coffee and the clanging and banging of dishes in the kitchen. I am slowly lured up and at ’em.

By the time I finally make it downstairs, Mr. J has chopped up freshish peppers from the garden, ’shrooms from the fridge, those last two pieces of bacon I never did use for those Brussels sprouts, and some onion and garlic. I scramble together the last two eggs, the rest of the egg whites, and some milk, while Mr. J fries up all that goodness in an olive oil/coconut oil mix.

I venture to the garden to dump the compost material and return after harvesting some kale and arugula to be tossed into the mix. We let it all cook down a bit and then in go the eggs with a little turmeric and salt and pepper for taste. Turn down the heat and let it all cook up frittata style while I research what the hell to do with all those pounds of peppers we’ve had explode in the garden the past few weeks.

Turn on the broiler. Once the sides are a little brown and the top is almost set, sprinkle some cheddar cheese on top and throw it in the oven.

Broil it up … but don’t forget about it! We don’t want to burn down the kitchen. Check on it soon after to see the top turning to a beautiful golden crustiness. Ready to go.

Serve it up with a perfectly ripe avocado and a little Amarula in the coffee. The perfect pre-World Rugby Cup breakfast.

Encroaching Hangriness

Scene: Living Room Couch
Players: The Lovely Couple
Time: 5:30 p.m., 10/20/2015
The Mood: Encroaching Hangriness

Me (while playing Solitaire on my phone): We really need to go grocery shopping.

Mr. J (while watching Isle of Man racing videos on his phone): It’s silly to go now. You’ll just get swamped by the post-work crowds.

Me: But I’m starving and we have nothing to eat!

{15 minutes later}

I finally get up off the couch and try to scrounge up whatever I can find from the fridge. I’ll deal with grocery shopping another day. Fiddle-dee-dee.

Leftover rice salad? One egg? Frozen solid chicken thighs? No. No. No.

Dig a little deeper. Oh wait—we have some bacon! Oops, only two pieces. If I were single, it’d be perfect, but it’s not nearly enough for two starving adults.

Wait, what’s that in the back of the crisper? A package of Aidells Andouille sausage, leftover from Sunday’s overly salty gumbo. (Sidenote: The Food & Wine recipe for the gumbo was probably delicious, but I made the fatal error of using “Better Than Bouillon” in place of fish broth. Sooooo very salty!)

Oh, and look at all these veggies. Cauliflower, carrots, garlic, red onion, mushrooms.

Are mushrooms really considered a veg? Whatever, in they go!

Mr. J gets in on the action and “discovers” eggplant and banana pepper, which have been sitting in big silver bowls on our counter so long, after being harvested from our garden, that I don’t even see them anymore.

Mr. J: Should we throw in some Brussels sprouts?

Me: Nah, this is plenty. [If I can get that bacon to make it until tomorrow night, I will fry it up with those sprouts for a tasty side dish … perhaps for those frozen chicken thighs … which I should probably take out to start defrosting now.]

Preheat the oven to 375°. Line a pan with parchment for easier clean-up and spray it with coconut oil. Chop up all the veggies … and the ’shrooms. Toss them with some olive oil, fleur de sel (imported by moi from France, mais oui), throw on some Creole seasoning (also leftover from gumbo night), and throw it in the oven.

Let it roast while I play with the dog, clean up the dog poop, admire the canna lilies, scrub my hands three times over (just in case), do some dishes.

When it starts smelling good, check it all out. Sizzling and getting golden.

Time to sear up those sausages!

Serve it all with the last bits of leftover rice salad, some Mr. Mustard (sent as a Christmas gift every year from Mom), and a bit of our own local winery’s (Cinder’s) Laissez-Faire white.

Another day of grocery shopping successfully averted!

p.s. Next up is to learn to be a better photographer, as there is nothing more unappetizing than bad food photos. So for now, I’m using related but unrelated images that at least look pretty.

Let’s Get Cooking

By trade, I am an editor, proofreader, general publishing person. I’ve been doing this for longer than I care to admit. I’m good at what I do, and most days I enjoy it. But I have certainly been wanting a change lately. Something that will make a difference, if not in the world then at least for individuals.

There’s an idea floating around in the back of my head that is slowly, slowly percolating to the surface. It is not fully formed or thought-out, but that’s where I’m going today.

“So, what do you do?”

I help people learn to prepare healthy, delicious meals with easy-to-find grocery items in a short amount of time. I teach them how to love create delicious meals for and with their families. I show them how with even the craziest schedules, they can find time in their lives to nourish themselves.

Proud Moments

Oh, all this introspection and looking back on my life is tough. I have been wracking my mind for days over what makes me feel proud, in what moments I felt most proud, what accomplishments have made me proud.

And I am drawing a blank.

A big part of the problem is that I equate pride and proudness with bragging and posturing. I’m all about staying low key. I don’t usually like to draw attention to myself or to make ripples. Because then someone might see a flaw or, even worse, expect me to do those proud-producing things all the time. I mean, what if I fail?

But back to the question. What in my life has made me proud?

So, let me just list some little moments:

  • I was proud of getting accepted to Smith College on early decision, especially as my high school guidance counselor advised me against applying there, because she said it was unlikely I would get accepted. (Really?! What kind of guidance counselor was she?!)
  • I was proud of being able to use my high school AP credits and a few extra credit hours each semester in order to graduate a year early, thus saving my overly generous parents another year’s worth of tuition and getting me out into the workforce sooner!
  • I was proud of getting a job in publishing so soon after graduating from Denver University Publishing Institute and then moving up through the ranks from editorial assistant to full-on production editor in such a short time.

But in my mind, I tend to taint each proud moment in my life with some kind of disclaimer.

I half-jokingly tell people the only reason I got into Smith was that I was the only applicant from Alabama.

Even though I graduated early, my grades were lackluster, and since I sort of rushed through it all, I still feel like I didn’t get all I could out of college.

But, hey, I don’t have a disclaimer for that first job. I really did get that job on my own merit. And thanks to a fabulous mentor and a super-supportive boss, I was able to learn a great deal in a short time and move up through the ranks, putting me on the road to where I am now. So, hooray for me.

But the point isn’t really to toot my own horn, is it? What deeper meaning can I learn from this little prompt?

Well, obviously, I need to value those proud moments in my life more and stop putting myself down. I did get into a good school, even if I am now the first to (loudly) proclaim that no school is good or bad; it’s what you get out of it that counts. And I did get through that college in three quick years. And my GPA never ever came up in the real world, so who cares if it wasn’t a 4.0. What mattered more is that I learned how to study, get work done, prioritize projects, work with others, make new friends, and deal with difficult situations. All of which come in handy on a regular basis in every day of my life.

So, my task for myself is to look at other moments from my life that I put down and really look at what I have achieved, what I have learned, and how it has all helped me to become who I am and who I will be.

 

Happy Birthday to Me!

It has been an insane day, and I am rapidly falling behind in the daily blog-posting challenge. I believe we are up to our sixth prompt, and I’ve technically only done three. But I am writing today, even if I don’t have time for any real depth.

I have no idea where this blog is going to go. Right now, I am treating it purely as a place to explore … explore my self, my ideas, new directions, my creativity, my life. If no one is really reading it right now, that’s actually fine by me. I’m not writing this to make money or change minds, except perhaps my own mind.

I’ve been on the road to self-improvement, self-discovery, self-love for years now. I jump on and off the main road, take detours, get laid up at greasy roadside fast food joints, find great tourist spots and scenic overlooks. I may not always stick with the map for bettering myself, but I always get back on the road … eventually. And each time I do, it’s more productive miles that I can learn from.

So this is another one of those productive periods. It may lead me into a whole new career, an entirely new outlook on life, a series of new and improved habits for a better life. Or I may take another detour down the line. In any case, I’m excited to see where it all leads.

And just to make myself a little accountable for the coming two weeks: Although we’ll have family in town and holidays and festivities, not to mention squeezing in a bunch of work, I vow to myself and to whoever is reading this that I will find time everyday to write. I will get back to those LYL prompts.

But for now, I’m off to pick up the folks and finally start celebrating my birthday. Better late than never!