Back to Basics

Well, friends, June is almost over and I’m staring at July like “Where the fuck did you come from?!” Probably because I took it upon myself to mostly ruin June. And some of May. And in case the pale skin and extra 5-7 pounds from binge eating and even more binge drinking wasn’t motivation enough, I’m actually kind of bored and totally ready to leave this particular party. I’m ready for a different kind of summer fun. (Yes, it still includes rosé and books and omg maybe boys!) Just 86ing too much booze and then drowning my sadness in a GIANT bowl of pasta with butter and cheese because being a graduate student in English might be the least lucrative thing ever.

Anyways, things got messy. Never got out of that post-finals feeling of over-scheduled and too much sugar and not enough sleep. So it is finally time to clean up.

There are a few rules when shit gets messy. First, so many things are out of your control – but many also that are all on you. Small thing: shower. Oh my gosh when I’ve been kind of sloppy and rushed and hungover and busy sometimes I just don’t shower enough. You’d think I’d remember after all of these years that a hangover is deeply improved by a long hot shower. But, sometimes I’m lazy and don’t feel like getting wet. So there.

Point being,  probably the simplest way to change your day for the better is wash/put on fresh sheets and then hop in the shower, shave your legs (shave your neck if you are a dude) and and curl up with your soft, fresh smelling self in bed. See! The world is not that terrible! (Just kidding b/c yes, it is.)

Another easy thing to feel adult is to floss. Yeah some of you do it daily, and everyone tells their dentist that they do – so if you really want to get out of a funk, actually do it!

More on Adulting 101:

  • groceries (healthy snacks and fruit so you don’t reach for junk)
  • start on the other laundry (it feels good!)
  • delete all phone and text history from your bender (if you don’t remember, no sense wondering about it and ruining a whole other week!)
  • make a list (I don’t care what is on it, just make one.)

This week I’m all about going back to basics (because next week I’m doing some crazy diet cleanse shit) and cooking and living simple.

A few weeks ago I met my favorite breakfast partner for bagels and we both decided to also grab a hard boiled egg. Protein, you know? They were a bitch to peel. I don’t eat the yolk unless its egg salad or a deviled egg (see the difference?) so having big chunks of the egg white torn away with the shell while I cursed over a tiny trashcan was not ideal.

But it did inspire me. At home my mom always keeps a dozen boiled eggs and she is really good at it. You can always peel them. The peeling issue has prompted me, on many occasions, to take to the internet for research. Alas, after all that searching, my mom’s way is the best. Sometimes, when I’ve worked out an need to just shower and get dressed, I look for an easy, nutritious breakfast to send me on my way.

Break Fast with this Open-face Egg Salad 

Step One: Turn on a pot of water and bring it to a full boil. (Pour enough to make sure the water can cover the eggs.)

Step Two: Add eggs to boiling water, one at a time, with a large spoon. Kind of close a lid over it between eggs to keep the water boiling. Make sure the water is back up to a complete boil before securing a lid tight and then turning off the burner.

Step Three: Walk away. If you go all day the yolk might get a little greenish tint (but still tasty) 15 minutes is the sweet spot. If you walk away to get dressed and come back in 15, this is what you get:

Hello, egg!

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Me, peeling an egg.

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And look how cute they are!

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I made egg salad – under a Tbsp. of mayo (because the eggs are super fluffy), sea salt, fresh ground pepper on a toasted English muffin. Eggs are still a bit warm. It is V yummy.

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Sometimes egg salad makes people gassy. Try this perfect Tuesday morning breakfast at your own risk/if you don’t care that you may bombard your coworkers with egg-farts, you hate you significant other, you love your significant other – OR, if you are like me – eat it because you are born alone and die alone and if you must eat breakfast alone you might as well enjoy something that is really simple but really fucking tasty and has enough going on that you aren’t starving again at 9:30 a.m. thinking about diving into your lunch.

 

Repent/Purgatory (And 20 Min. Dinner)

Well, the last ten days have been hellish. I believe the phrase that was sent my way was “Odd how vengeance does not make one feel better. Just vengeful.” Pine over that for a few minutes. I certainly did.

On the bright side, this dude that got my number without permission from my roommate’s phone one night while they were having drinks after work has finally decided to stop texting me. I guess I could have blocked him, but there was a little bit of astonishment that these messages kept coming, even though I never, ever wrote back.

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There were more… Saturday at 12:14am: “What you doing”

Saturday at 5:33 am : “????????” then “Can i come over”

FINALLY on Sunday at 1:25 am: “Damn I’m done” and then “I’ll delete your number”

Good call, buddy. Seeing as I never gave it to you. Never responded to your texts. And SURE one night we flirted and danced at a late-night spot back in December but then when I bumped into you on Christmas at the bar, you were like “UMMM I have a girlfriend” – Hence why I never had any desire to hang out with you again or dance with you again and certainly give zero fucks whether you guys broke up and now feel compelled to send me unsolicited text messages.

I certainly earned the many, MANY apologies my roommate gave me for allowing his phone to be commandeered.

In other news, I had a midterm last week and am currently sorting out the writing of an epic term paper for a graduate course on “The Novel.” So, as I am trying to manage my 6am workouts and my internship and every now and again check to make sure I’m still a whole person, maybe neurotically check my email for a message from a certain someone, I decided to make my favorite breakfast dish into an early dinner today.

Eggs in Purgatory – Pasta Style! (warning: for high-stress times only)

Oh my god so fucking good. Although, as I said, not something I will make regularly because this constitutes a gluttonous binge-like meal where far too many calories were consumed. But here is the gist of my semi-homemade tasty treat:

Step 1: Boil water and salt liberally.

Step 2: In the meantime, slice about a half of a green bell pepper and two large cloves of garlic. (I skipped the onion today. I might have added mushrooms if I had them, but honestly, sometimes simple is best.)

Step 3: Once the pasta is in (I used penne this afternoon), sautee the pepper and garlic in a little bit of olive oil in a small skillet. *Use a bigger one if you are making for two.

Step 4: Cover with a really (I mean really) simple tomato sauce. I used the Walgreen’s Nice! traditional pasta sauce because it is as simple as they come in a jar. Once the sauce comes to a boil and there is about 3 minutes left on your pastas, crack an egg on top and season with salt and pepper. Place a lid on top.

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Once your egg looks like that, drain the pasta. Pour into a bowl and top with grated Parmesan. Gently top pasta with sauce and egg and then, because this is SAD PEOPLE FOOD, add Mozzerella cheese too.

And then get in bed and flip on your Netflix. Who cares if it is 4:30 pm on a beautiful Friday. I sure as fuck don’t.

See you bitches in hell.

Gimmie Dat Bean

No, I’m not talking about the bean hidden in the King Cake. I’m decidedly not getting the baby either for that matter because (blasphemy) I don’t spend from Twelfth Night through Mardi Gras eating massive amounts of pastry. Why? Because I don’t eat that shit the rest of the year, with the exception of caving on occasion to the ever-present junk food of the Christmas holiday, so you better believe I’m not trying to fatten myself up for another month. I’d way rather eat Chinese food. (Exception being eating King Cake at a parade-watching party because you can eat whatever you want once the parades start and you walk everywhere.)

As a matter of fact, I’m doing a cleanse and I’m slowly trucking through the same ten-day moderate cleanse that I did right before 4th of July over the summer. I think I’m going to try to make it a biannual thing and (weather permitting) cleanse and then hit up the Swan River Yoga retreat again too.

I went with some friends to check out the WWII Museum over the weekend and it was incredibly informative and a heartbreaking mixture of awe at both the act of creation and devastation. Before heading to the final showing of Beyond All Boundaries , we headed over to the attached American Sector restaurant for a snack. No drinks for me and I had to look at the bartender straight in the face and ask if there was anything vegan on the menu. Then, realizing that I can’t eat most things that vegans eat (bread, nuts, salad dressing), I figured I might as well own up to my cleanse and ordered a $9 bowl of lettuce adorned with 2-4 halves of cherry tomatoes and a few shaved radishes. Yippee!! Oh yeah and I did put a little bit of black pepper and a splash of vinegar and a tiiiny bit of olive oil, because…lettuce. I also packed my own nuts… and on the streetcar I enjoyed my packed lunch of BEANS! And sliced cucumbers.

My excitement over beans is that on Day 5 (and for the remainder of the ten) I can add beans to my diet. Hallelujah! I might have been a tad irritable on days 1 & 2 that only allowed for fruits and vegetables but now I’m flying high and it is because of this amazing bean dish I’ve been making.

Here’s the gist: You can’t eat regular hummus so I modified a warm chickpea puree to fit my dietary restrictions.

Step one: Coarsely chop three cloves of garlic.

Step two: Cook garlic in a dollop of coconut oil.

Step three: Add a can of mostly strained chickpeas

Step four: Combine the garbanzo beans, with a little bit of the liquid from the can, with the sautéed garlic.

Step five: Cook, for kind of awhile. You really can’t overcook it? I walked away to get dressed the first time. The point is that it needs to be nice and hot.

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Step 5: Add a little bit of cayenne pepper, fresh black pepper, red pepper flakes and a shake of garlic powder.

Step 6: Puree! If it is too thick add a little bit of olive oil.

Serve with slices of bell pepper, carrots and cucumber. Or, just eat it with a spoon because that, my friends, is delicious.

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Egg-cellent

On a recent trip home, my slightly battered self-esteem was given a nice little boost as I spent time with my parents friends. I love coming home and spent a season here not too long ago working in New York, and many of them remember my cooking skills as being superb. It was quite the topic of conversation at both New Year’s Eve and another dinner at this amazing Greek restaurant a few days later. (Thanks, guys!)

The main point of reference was a pretty substantial dinner party for about 8 people during the end of my NYC project in which I made one recipe from a blog online and another of my own creation. I learned a lot by this dinner party (one time I made a huge plate of short ribs to be served family-style to a bunch of very, very old men and realized later that a) Omg there was so much prune/prune juice in it and they might poop themselves in the middle of the night and b) these guys can’t lift the serving platter to pass it around…awkward) so I was pretty set up for success. I planned the menu, made a grocery list and cleared the kitchen to execute the meal from prep to plating on the large counter in the kitchen and serving our guests seated in the dining room.

The first course was roasted acorn squash with sauteed kale, poached egg topped with small cubes of pecorino romano. Sounded great when I was researching with the tiny caveat that while I love poached eggs, I’d never made them for myself or two people, let alone a party of eight. Hmmm.

So, I went to my favorite blog, Smitten Kitchen, for help. The blog advocated for a splash of vinegar and a whirlpool method. Simple enough? Sure, why not. I gave it a whirl (tee hee) and both my mom and I had poached eggs for breakfast. Success!! Except how do I get 8 of them at the same time while managing the main course and plating the squash and kale while still hot? HMmmm. Fortunately, Smitten Kitchen came to the rescue again with something snarky like “If you happen to be crazy enough to be reading a blog post about how to poach an egg and intend to make several for a party…” (yes, do go on…) And explained that you could cook them just under and place them on a paper towel to and then reheat them briefly just before serving. Woohoo! I’m game.

The entree was my own creation, a swordfish stew, which involved seared cubes of swordfish, a spicy tomato sauce and then spicy toasted chickpeas as a topping served over quinoa. Of course one of the diners was vegetarian so before I added the fish, I separated some of the sauce to do a potato rendition (because I’m cool like that).

Everything seemed pretty good to go. But then one of the neighbors asked if it was okay if their son comes. Cue the scene in Clueless when Cher gives a speech in Mr. Hall’s class about the Hatians (read: Hate-ians) and an RSVP sit down dinner… yadda yadda yaddda… “but it’s like ‘the more the merrier!'” and I figured out a slight adjustment for portions and onward and upward!

But seriously, everyone stay the fuck out of my kitchen because I’m in focus mode and there can be absolutely zero questions asked in my direction. Just assume that yes, if my wine is looking empty, I would LOVE some more. (You’re the best, mom!)

As the beginning of the post might suggest, this all went magically. Woohoo! Okay, one egg was a little over but that one went to me because in reality, I’d eaten my share of eggs that day practicing anyway.

Also, apparently I made quite the impression on the across the street neighbor’s son because he apparently mentioned that he was quite taken by me. Too bad I’m ten year’s his senior and live in another state. It would be nice to have a boy crush on me and like it when I cook dinner.

The other couple offered to bring a traditional dessert from (ahh I am the worst I can’t remember what country they are from but I’m going to guess India) and that was great because it took me off the hook for the finale. But amid requests for a repeat, we will have to host again soon.

No pressure for next time or anything…

Quesadilla: The Superlative Grilled Cheese

Tortilla + Cheese + Goodies + Skillet = Delicious.

If you disagree, you are probably a bread person. See all previous posts re: the war on carbs if you are surprised that I do not, in fact, think the best part of a grilled cheese sandwich is the bread.

What I do love, however, is the diversity. OH THE DIVERSITY that you have when making a quesadilla.

The combination described below is a personal favorite because a) it uses kale (kale!) b) it uses goat cheese instead of loads and loads of heavier and higher calorie cheese and c) it can be modified based on whatever is in my refrigerator or yours and impress the shit out of everyone who gets to eat some. (You’re welcome.)

I almost always prefer my version to any that I could ever order out, so I was happy to have the opportunity to enjoy this version for an afternoon lunch with my mama.

I started with a hot nonstick skillet with an extra spritz of olive oil nonstick spray. **Important for getting the right level of toasted without it being greasy.

The large tortilla gets folded in half so basically I made two at once, with the inner parts of each tortilla making what looks like a tepee while I added the fillings on top of the half being heated.

First I grated a small amount of cheddar cheese (the unifier) and then threw on some raw kale, fresh ground salt and pepper. I had leftover spicy black beans (whole tomato, garlic, red onion, black beans and chili flakes cooked together) and threw them on and topped it all with a little fresh goat cheese. I then added a little Cholula hot sauce and a final grate of cheddar to glue it all together and … Ta Da… the bottom side is perfectly toasted and it was ready to be sandwiched and flipped.

This was all finished with a little bit of sour cream and a glass of wine. If you are nice, maybe next time you can come.

The Break Up Diet and other Healthy Eating Tips

Supplies

It is important for a girl to have some basic items on hand. Considering I have been more or less broken hearted for the better of the past two years, I have quite well established a method. When a boy breaks your heart, the initial instinct is to never get out of bed again. That lovely empty too sad to eat feeling is always the jump-start to The Break Up Diet. Wanting to feel as empty as your broken heart, let yourself just be engulfed by all of its tragic sadness, fear and longing. However, that won’t go on forever. As much as you want to wallow, it will eventually become less of a thing and you will need to get the fuck out of bed. And when that happens, you need to cook something amazing, healthy and nutritious. So when you jet off to the store to buy your umpteenth bottle of red wine to mourn your loss, pick up an avocado, a carton of eggs and some fresh kale.

What Should Already be on Hand, All the Time:

Go to the fish counter, have them cut 6 oz pieces of wild cut salmon, skin on filets that you can individually freeze in zip lock baggies.

Whole Grain Mustard (can stay in the fridge forever)

Quinoa

Raw almonds

Canned Tuna

Mayonnaise

Lean Ground Turkey (Freeze That Shit)

Laughing Cow Light Swiss Cheese Spreads

Some kind of bread (multigrain, English muffin, whatever you prefer)

Pasta

Also, go for a run. And kiss a pretty girl. They are soft and lovely and it will make you feel better for the moment. And then make a sandwich, because sandwiches are delicious.