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Monday, February 27, 2012

Another Month Closer To Doom-Or A Seussical World?

Well, it's only another month closer to doom if you think the world ends in December.  I like to think we'll have a rebirth of peace and happiness and all that old anger, bitterness, and war will go away.  We'll all live in a  Dr. Seuss colored land, hand out flowers to each other as we sing our way through our wonderful days and be able to eat as much candy as we want without repercussions.  

Ahem.  Sorry.  Too much inhaling of Mr. Clean fumes while cleaning.  

Oops.  Not really cleaning.  Just thinking about it.

March is just around the corner--it is true the older you get the faster time flies by.  Except when you're  waiting for a table on a Friday night.  

Since this Winter hasn't really been much of a Winter, and Spring seems just around the corner, I've been making my lists of things I'd like to do, and if all the world was right and I had oodles of ambition, things I would actually do.  But it's fun to make those lists and get all those fluffy random brain ramblings down on paper.  If only to see what I actually thought I would do in the future.  I impress myself by actually thinking I would do all those things in a respectable period of time.

Anyhoo, March is here, and I have a lot of book talks to do this month.  I have one tomorrow night at a local library, then another one next week, then two book talks to give at a women's conference later this month.  This means I'm dithering over what to talk about.  There's stuff I have read and loved, and then there's the stuff I think people would actually read.  Sometimes they are miles apart.  It's keeping me busy and compulsively trying to read 10 books at once.  After this month, I don't have any book talks planned until June.  

I've been looking around my wee house, and decided that some things must be taken down and put away.  Time for a fresh start.  I have a beautiful big purple victorian birdhouse my father made for a friend years ago, and when my Dad died, she gave it back to me.  It's sat on a shelf for the last 8 years, keeping guard of my living room.  I thought--Dad's not a birdhouse, so perhaps I should put it away for now and make a new vignette on that bookshelf (which has no books on it--just knick knacks).  I feel the need to change things up a bit.  I'm pretty sure Dad wouldn't mind, and since he's always on my mind, I don't need a birdhouse to think of him.  I have realized that most of the things I have around my house have been occupying the same places for years, and I want to clear things out, move stuff around, and make the place a bit more up to date.  

Cheaply, of course.  I'm not investing millions here.  

If I did win the lottery, well, I'd sell my house and buy a bigger place and all new stuff!  And I'd have a pony in the back yard, a carousel in the side yard, and a chocolate stream by the back door.  You could double dip and I wouldn't be upset.

So my plans for March are....more declutter.  Got off track earlier this month and need to get back in the groove.  Try the Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred DVD I just bought yesterday.  If I can run for hours, I can make it through 20 minutes of her particular hell.  We'll see how I do for 30 days.  It's my own particular ode to Lent.  
And yes, I do realize Lent started last week.  Better late than never, right?

And, hmm...since I have failed miserably against the ongoing obsession with books, I am recommitting myself to reading the stacks on the floor.  I decided that if these books mean that much to me, I have to read them all.  This year.  And to prove that point, I started writing down titles of everything I've got stacked on the floor.  Old, new, half-way started, haven't even opened the cover--that's what I've got on the floor.  I won't even look in the basement til these are done.  I have to come up with a reward system for myself--how's about, for every book I read that I already have, I put $5 in my vacation fund?  That is one quick way to save up money for a trip around the world.  Or New Mexico.  I think that sounds like a great idea.  Geez, writing down all that stuff on paper made more room in my brain.

And as horrible as this makes me feel, I am going to go through the folders I have of recipes I've ripped out of magazines, printed off the internet, and scribbled down-and detrash.  If I actually made all of these dishes just once I would never make the same meal for the next 20 years.  Sigh.  This is gonna be hard.  I'm also hoping to make plans with a few friends and family I haven't seen much of lately and have some dinners out.

And running.  Oh yes.  I so admire all the ladies I follow who run, train, and work their life around running.  They take care of themselves.  Bravo.  I have not taken care of myself since November.  I can't wait to get outside with my iPod and go for a run.  It will be painful, slow, and frustrating, but there's  nothing like feeling that fresh air on my face, and knowing with every step I take, I'm improving my stamina.  Running and Jillian Michaels together will redefine this body--fingers and toes crossed.  

So what do you have planned for March?  I wanna know!!  

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Random Thoughts About Random Things

Ever crave a spoonful of peanut butter?  I do, all the time.  It has to be a tablespoon, too.  Just one.  Not two.  That would be too much.

Why is it that all of my yard is free of snow, except one teeny tiny spot that has resisted melting through weeks of 45+ temps?  Should I collect some of this snow and send it in for testing?  Is it a new melt resistant snow I don't know about?

Why do people get angry and annoyed at you when they want a book, but can't remember the title, author, or subject---and you have no idea what they're looking for? Really?  If you can't take the time to write it down or remember it, how do I know what you want?  Mind reading does not come with the job.

Why do ghost hunters scream all the dang time, so those of us watching at home can't hear what the heck they heard?  And why, God why, do they have to run and jerk the camera.  Give it to me.  I would be a kick ass ghost hunter.  Steady as a rock.  And I promise you, no screaming.  Maybe a bit of  potty mouth, but no screaming.  

Why is the gym a mere 5 miles away, and not in my basement?  

How come I will crave Mexican food at least once every few weeks, and become so  (quite frankly) maddening until I shove some down my pie hole?  What is in it that keeps that obsession going?  Are refried beans really that addictive?
Oh my God that rice looks good!

Just how many people can you follow on Twitter?  How can you read all those tweets?  

I--just today--realized that thanks to Suzanne Collins and the Hunger Games Trilogy, the vampire craze in teen world has been replaced by the dystopian/plague riddled world/teens in charge/ craze.  Thank you, Suzanne Collins.  

This craze, however, has not effected the Romance and Sci-Fi genres, which are still on the paranormal/vampire/demon/angel/werewolf/dead-raiser kick.  

One small victory at a time, people.  

Why is it knowing a particular food will calculate into actually running/biking for miles to burn it off not stop me from eating that food?  And stop me from said running/biking?  

I think it's called lack of motivation and laziness.  And an addiction to carbs.

How come small children always recognize the golden arches from their earliest moments of consciousness?  Why not, say, a cow, or a tomato?  No, McDonald's.  The finger pointing and jumping up and down soon follows.  And continues until middle age.  Sigh.  
Come to Me.....

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Valentine's Recap: I Think I Done Good

Well.  I was going to have beef tenderloin, but upon reaching the meat counter at my grocery store, the butcher told me it's $21.00 a pound.  Holy Shit, Batman!  

No beef tenderloin for Bud.  I feverishly searched the beef section, looking for something, anything! that would be suitable for a special dinner.  Steak?  No, I don't want him to have to stand out in the dark and grill his own steak.  Pork?  No!  I wanted beef.  So I found a pot roast.  Just the name Pot Roast has such a romantic, hearts aflutter, birds chirping feel about it, right?  

Thank god for Google.  My Mom made pot roast all the time when I was growing up, and I remember the smell, and the taste. But I don't have Mom's special pot to cook it in, and I can't remember how she did it.  So Google, my bestie friend gave me this recipe: Pot Roast to Wow A Man (My name for it).  I decided to put it in the oven, cause I didn't trust myself to cook it properly on the stove.  

I followed the directions, but made a few changes, cause I can't help but f**k around with a recipe:  I added beef broth instead of bullion, and put salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder on the roast before browning it.  Dumped in the broth and basil, and put it in the oven.  After an hour, I tossed a few chunked potatoes in the pot, and put it back in the oven.  No carrots (hate cooked carrots!) and no celery (hate celery!).  After another 45 minutes, I took it out and had Bud check it.  He said, ominously, "Yep, it's done" and took it out of the pot to cut it up.  

And the magic began.  Right then and there in my wee little kitchen.  I heard, from a distance "This is sooooo tender!" and then Bud shoved a piece in my face. and holy shit, he was right.  I did a happy dance, singing "I didn't screw it up!  I cooked it right!"  And Bud was happy.  And world continued to turn.  

The beans were tasty as all get out, too.  I couldn't roast them, since the pot roast was in the oven on low and slow, so instead I steamed them in the microwave, then dumped chopped olives, chopped sun dried tomatoes, feta cheese, and a bit of lemon zest and lemon juice on them.  They were the bomb, too.

So I managed to make a meal that Bud loved.  He was very complimentary, and didn't say much as he shoveled it all in his pie hole.  I told him to save room for dessert, but I was a bit worried this would be my downfall.

I kinda messed up the dessert, even though it looked awesome.  I ditched the recipe I had picked, just cause I didn't feel like buying little baking dishes for it.  So instead, I made it using the Pioneer Woman's recipe, which has no cream in it!
Yep.  It has hot coffee instead, and no oven time.  I didn't tell Bud about the coffee, since he's not a huge fan.  And I added Grand Marnier to it, like Ree did.  I didn't blend the mixture enough, so the chocolate chips weren't completely dissolved.  

This I did not know until I "tested" a cup of it later.  Aw, crap.  But I forged ahead anyway, and did whip up some real whip cream, and added some orange zest to the top of it.  

Bud loved it.  I told him not to eat the whole thing, cause it was really rich and, well, I didn't want him to have issues today.  But he ate the whole thing anyway.

He told me today he liked the bits of chocolate chips in it.  

I was gobsmacked.  

Here's the recipe for Ree Drummond's Pots de Creme.  Super easy, and so rich you will be amazed.  And no cream--just eggs.  

So I did okay for this dinner.  I can now make pot roast--I will always always cook it in a dutch oven low and slow & in the oven.  Fool proof.  And it tasted just like I remember it did, all those years ago.  

And most importantly, Bud gave me a high five.  And a kiss.  And a hug.  

Now what the hell am I gonna make next?!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Valentine's Day Dinner: Can I Pull This Off?

Once again, I have decided to throw caution to the winds and go into a special dinner making dishes I haven't made before.  All for my sweetie.  Yep.  Gonna do it.  I have pieced together a dinner menu that could A) Be a total disaster, wherein we order pizza or B) Have Bud fall even more in love with me and my cooking skills.  Razzle Dazzle!

Here's what I have planned for our Valentine's Dinner tomorrow night:

Pot Roast
Roasted Green Beans with kalamata olives, sun dried tomatoes, and goat cheese
Chocolate Pots de Creme  (click to get the recipe)

I cannot wait to make all these dishes.  I show my love by feeding Bud.  This is good only when I don't feed him super fattening dishes, so really the only "bad" thing is the dessert.  But since this is a special day, I'm going for it!  

A trip to the gym beforehand is required so I don't feel so guilty eating that chocolate.  I will report back on the success/failure of my special Valentine's dinner.  Fingers crossed!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Kale Chip Update & Some Other Foodie Stuff

I made kale chips again; this time with cajun seasoning sprinkled on just before baking.  I baked them too long, and some were burnt.  I'm thinking 12 minutes in the oven will be about right.

Bud took one look at them, and said "What is wrong with that lettuce?  It looks rotten!"

I had to take the remaining kale from the fridge and show him the before product.  He tried one, but wasn't impressed.  By golly, he will be impressed with future efforts, cause I really like kale chips and I'm gonna keep making them!

I have another snack for you that is so extraordinarily yummy that my stomach is growling just thinking of them.  Perfect for a quick snack, or if guests drop by and you need nibbles.  Also would be good with a salad for a warm summer night.  

Here it is:  slice a baguette into rounds, brush with olive oil, and put in a 350 degree oven until toasted.  I guessed at the time; around 6-7 minutes or until they look good.

While they're toasting, combine softened goat cheese, lemon zest, and chopped kalamata olives together.  No need for salt, since the olives are salty on their own.

Spread on warm baguette slices.   Then hold off your guests or loved ones as you eat every last bit.  Cause you will.  Trust me on this.  

I have no pictures for this--made it a few weeks ago, and can't stop thinking about it!  Perfect for Valentine's Day with your sweetie.  It's on my menu for dinner that night.  

I was reading an article in a foodie magazine about roasting green beans.  Apparently they're quite tasty this way but look a bit odd.  You roast them til they're wrinkled!  I quickly typed in some of the recipes on my Itouch notes and can't wait to try this.  Bud and I love roasted asparagus and broccoli, so this is a must try for me.  I will let you know how these turn out, and try and remember to take pictures.  

It's that time of year when thoughts turn to my backyard, and a yearning for growing things starts to sputter in my 'lil 'ole chest.  Since I don't plan (and we all know this can change) on running any major races this year, I will have more time to spend in the yard, attempting to grow things.  I am hoping to try gardening on top of the yard, rather than digging up the yard.  I think Bud will help me build a few boxes for veggies.  I haven't had much success with tomatoes or peppers in pots, so I'm going to try this.  I am averting my eyes from seed catalogs and greenhouses.  Not going anywhere near them. 


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Kale Chips!

I've heard of kale chips for quite some time, and after talking to a friend at work who made them, I decided to try them myself.  This means making a test batch before I present them to Bud.  I found a recipe in the March 2012 issue of Women's Health, but really you don't need to follow a recipe at all--they're that simple to make.

I took a bunch of kale, and removed the stems.  This involved ripping the leaves off, which isn't hard to do.  Dumped them on a cookie sheet, drizzled some olive oil on them, then kosher salt and some pepper.  I also added some garlic powder.  I imagine you can add any spices you want to these--next time I think I'll try some chili powder or paprika:

Kale before the oven!
I put them in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes.  They came out pretty tasty, but I put them back in for another 5 minutes to really crunch them up:

These were great!  Very crunchy, and that bit of salt and garlic powder made them irresistible.  If you're making this for more than just yourself, I would double or triple the amount of kale, and make a few batches.  They are hard to stop eating.  Kale is high in Vitamins K, A, and C, high in fiber, and also a great anti-inflammatory.  Plus it doesn't have too much taste, so whatever you put it in or put on it will only make it taste better.  Yum.  Try these for yourself, or make 'em for your kids as an alternative to fried snacks.  

Friday, February 3, 2012

Here's February!

Well, as I've said before, January 2012 sucked eggs.  February must not be nearly as full of junk as January, right?  I sure hope not, cause this girl thought 2012 would be better than 2011.  2011 had it's good moments, but overall, was a blah kinda year.  I expected much more out of 2012.  

So, Ms. February (I think this month is female)--what do you have for me?  Getting to the gym for the first time in months--yep.  Gonna do that.  Really.  Great books to read?  Without a doubt.  Time spent with my sweetie?  Of course.  More detrashing of the house?  Oh yes--much more awaits the garbage can.  

But what about fun stuff?  That remains to be seen.  Except for a planned weekend away with Bud to have some quality "alone" time, not much.  Looking to my piles of clipped out recipes to refresh the cooking skills and focus on eating a bit more healthy--and smaller portions.  I promised Bud I would get us to eat healthier.  I think first up is the baked kale chips I seen and heard so many people talk about.  Simple to make, and gooood for you.  I'll try them once for sure.  

And running--what about that?  I've been reading all the blogs with all amazing runners who have kept going through the winter months, and have races planned out for many months to come.  I still want to run--I do enjoy the feeling afterwards, like I've worked out hard--all that sweating and muscle aching makes me feel oddly clean, somehow--a detox of crud in the body and the mind.  I don't feel that way when I work out with weights or ride a bike.  I think propelling myself forward by my own power has something to do with it.  I am trying very hard not to put myself under pressure to look at races.  I want to enjoy them, and be prepared for whatever race I do, so I have a lot of work to do on that end.  There are things going on in my life right now that could potentially stress me out, so I think it's important to get some of that off my back by exhausting myself with running and working out at the gym.  Plus, I pay each month for that darn membership--why waste it?  And I've been sharply reminded in the past week or so that being healthy is a gift--sometimes things are beyond our control, but being healthy luckily for me is within my control.  I cannot sit by and gain more weight and feel yucky.  I'm blessed with a body that doesn't have any congenital problems, no health problems due to diet, and I have to appreciate that.  And appreciating that means thanking my body every day for getting me up and moving around all day, every day.  Treating my body with more dignity and respect is my goal for this year.  Respect, sadly for me, doesn't come in a hostess cupcake--dammit!  This will be super hard for me to do, but I will work on it!  

And YMX has had some wonderful sales on running shirts lately, so I have no excuse now not to get out there and run.  I have two new shirts to try out, so that is motivation enough for me to get me started.

What's keeping you motivated?