food

SPRING BREAK!

Hi all!

My most humble apologies for my absence in the last three weeks. I had some crazy days leading up to my spring break and then by the time it was all over and I was able to go back home to visit my family, I pretty much swore off technology and the internet so I could really enjoy my time in New England. But I’m here with an update and maybe I will even post a new work for you tomorrow to make up for it. Forgive me?

Here are a few of the things I did while on hiatus:

-had family Pi(e) day including at least a dozen different pies and gamesspring break irish bread

-went bridesmaids’ dress shopping with my bestie (we’re still deciding)

-met a couple of adorable new kitties but I wasn’t ready to adopt

-went wedding dress shopping with my older sister (she said yes to the dress!)

-also picked out the bridesmaids’ dresses at the same time

-spent some quality girl time with my mom and sisters

-made Irish soda bread (with black currants) from scratch for the first time

-made my first boiled dinner all by myself for St. Patrick’s Dayspring break boiled dinner

-went swimming (indoors, obv) with my mom

-had dinner with my grandmother and great aunt

-helped my mom pick out mother-of-the-brides dresses

-went wine and cheese tasting with my mom and her friend

-watched season 8 and 9 of Smallville

-watched season 2 of Eureka

-avoided all schoolwork

-snuggled cats

-drank non-French Vanilla coffee

-slept in as much as possible

-went snowshoeing for the first time…and wanted to die after 2.5 hours and 5.5 miles

-ate freshly made donuts minutes after they were done, still warm

spring break hikeSo I think that mostly catches you up on what I’ve been doing. I have also been totally swamped with schoolwork, four classes instead of three in grad school is A LOT of work. I apologize if I disappear again to deal with that. I’ve also been struggling with some OCD flairs and some depression and anxiety. But I am so thankful that I had the time off to go home and be surrounded by love. And grateful that I have such an amazing support system that takes my calls any time that I need them to.

Thank you for your patience and I promise, I will try not to neglect you for as long in the future. But just in case, here’s what I’m reading right now:

currently reading 3.26.15

I have also been drawn back into The Chronicles of Nick by Sherrilyn Kenyon and am currently on book 2: Invincible. I was just in a mood to read about a sharp-mouthed Cajun who fights evil while trying to figure out himself, girls, and puberty. Good fun. And builds off of her Dark Hunter series…so, pick up one of these if you want something interesting to read.

Until next time, take care and as always, feel free to leave comments and remarks!

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Is it just me…

…or should Nutrition Fact labels have accurate serving sizes?gatorade

This is something that he genuinely bothered me for years. Why aren’t companies forced to put the accurate amounts of sodium, fat, and calories into a serving size that the average person will eat? I’m not going to drink a soda in two servings. I’m not going to count out 18 potato chips. I’m not going to separate my Gatorade into 2.5 servings. And I’m definitely not going to at half a can of Campbell’s pre-made soup. It’s just not going to happen.

Sure, maybe I will drink half my Gatorade one day and then half the next. Maybe I will only eat a few chips. But more than likely, I will drink the entire 32 ounces of delicious-ness, particularly after sports or working out or being sick, and I’m going to dump a bunch of chips onto a napkin and eat them, maybe a fourth of the bag (half the bag is air anyway).

I know that companies do this because the accurate serving size would look horrendous on those labels, especially the sodium content in most pre-packaged food, but don’t we have the right to know (without doing math in our heads) how much and of what we are actually consuming?

bc oreoIf there was a way to change this, contact the FDA and pass a law or something, I would be on board with that. Besides, for my favorite foods, I’m going to eat as much as I think I should, not how much a serving size tells me too. If I want to eat six freakin’ Birthday Cake Oreos (instead of the recommended two) then I’m going to do it. How do they even come up with these suggested servings sizes? Who ever eats just two Oreos? Who drinks half a soda? No one that I know.

I watch my caloric intake pretty well on most days. I try to balance my diet with grains, veggies, fruits, and lean meats, but when it comes to choose snacks that are healthier options, those labels can be very deceiving. Just like the ones that say “only 100 calories” or “low fat”, look at the sugar content, that might surprise you.

There has to be a better way to manage this doesn’t there? The United States has some of the fattest people on the planet and if our fast food restaurants now have to tell people how many calories are in a Big Mac or a large fry (which people will consume in one sitting), then shouldn’t we require the same of the people who are making prepackaged food? greek yogurt big mac

Writing 101: Happy (Insert Special Occasion Here)!

Writing 101: Happy (Insert Special Occasion Here)!.

For me, it would be Happy Spending Time with Grammy!

My favorite meals are both cooked by my grandmother. One of them can be made by anyone (meat pie) and often is but the best childhood memory of a meal that I can possibly think of that never fails to fill me with joy (and homesickness) is my grandmother’s meatloaf. Now I know most of you are probably puking on to your keyboards right now but to me, that is the ultimate comfort food.

I have had many meatloaves over the years. Barbeque ones, bacon ones, salty ones, mushroom ones, and even one filled with mac n’ cheese. And while each meatloaf is probably good in its own right, my grandmother’s is something special. Most people think of meatloaf and think of dried bricks of hamburg, excuse me, ground beef, and that it must be swimming in gravy to be any good at all.

Well, I’m here to tell you that you are wrong to think that. This meatloaf comes in your standard 9×13 baking pan. It is about 2 inches high, smothered in tomato paste of all things, and filled with chopped onions and love. It’s a little greasy but warm and perfectly cooked. The smell makes you mouth water the minute you enter the house. And if you go peak in the oven door, you can see the perfection at work.

The homemade mashed potatoes with real cream and butter sit on the counter having just been finished and the green beans (substitute peas, carrots, or corn as necessary) are warming in the microwave. The plates are paper and the cutlery is plastic but it’s all waiting for you. There is a bag of fresh rolls sitting in the middle of the island table with a dish of butter and one of margarine to spread as you like.

We would all gather around the table and say our blessing for food and family, health and happiness and then it was time to go serve yourself. Get a plate and fill it up. Two pieces of meatloaf, each no more than a 2×2 square. A big dollup of mashed potatoes and vegetables so mom didn’t yell at you.

Get a cup of milk or water. Grab a roll and split it open with your fingers, letting the crumbs fall onto the plate. Slather on some butter and close it back up. Fork in one hand, roll in the other, it’s time to begin the meal.

The mashed potatoes slide off my fork into my mouth with ease and smoothness. The green beans crunch in the perfect pitch. And lastly, the meatloaf is salty and filling. Not overly salty mind you but the perfect amount. It has a little tart bitter type taste from the tomato paste and a nice after taste of onion. It isn’t dry or super thick. It’s a mouthful of perfection.

I sigh with happiness and plow my way through the meal. I continue to munch on the roll in between bites, scooping little bits of mashed potatoes onto it as I do. I reach for and butter a second roll and use the end of it to slop up any leftovers on my plate.

I slug down my water and sit back on the stool with a contented smile. My grandmother looks at me and laughs. She knows how happy her meatloaf makes me.

And she continues to make it when I visit now. Even a grown-up can use comfort good every once in awhile.

Money, Money Everywhere and Not Enough to Spend

Money. Power. Politics.

Three words that control our country. In a capitalist economy run by some of the wealthiest elite in the world, what kind of balance of power does that create?

Living in close proximity to D.C., I have learned several facts:

  • No one in DC is actually from DC
  • Cops are everywhere
  • And so are politicians
  • People here suffer from taxation without representation
  • Even our capitol is not exempt from poverty

Money makes the world go ’round, that idea has been around for a very long time and it’s just as true now as it was when it was first stated. Only now, this country is seeing an ever-increasing gap between the rich and the poor. Costs are going up, but wages are not. Private sector wages have increased by approximately 10% in the last five years, but federal minimum wage hasn’t increased once. And now all the “representatives of the people” are sitting in their high and mighty chairs and preaching about how those living on minimum wages don’t need more money.

Former Governor Ted Strickland of Ohio recently participated in the Live the Wage challenge, taking just $77 to live on for one week. And as he so eloquently states, he failed. He ran out of money on Thursday. In his self-written article in Politico magazine, Strickland discusses what he was eating and how he managed his transportation during this brief experiment. And he goes on to say one of the most resounding statements I have heard from a politician in a long time.

“Washington is in a bubble that keeps our representatives away from the experiences of those they actually represent. We need to understand the challenges faced by Americans who are being left behind in our economy.”

Strickland definitely hit the nail on the head. Those who are supposed to be representing our states with their people in mind are often missing the point of what it means to truly represent someone. They are not acting with our best interests at heart and most have probably never gone hungry a day in their lives or had to walk because they couldn’t afford to ride the metro or get a cab.

So let’s try an experiment, shall we? Anyone who reads this, and the embedded articles about who is really earning minimum wage, I want you to open up your email or grab a pen and paper and write your thoughts on this issue to your state representative or congressman and ask them to participate in the Live the Wage challenge. I don’t care if you are a Democrat, a Republican, an Independent, or didn’t even vote, write it down and send it out. We deserve to be heard, to have a voice, to affect change in our futures.

We can’t afford to live in a “trickle-down economy” anymore. It isn’t working. Our workers are also our consumers. And the sooner that all the businesses who like making money figure that out, the better off everyone will be.

Mystery Ending

(From the Daily Post) Now, the “challenge” part of this challenge: every day for the next four days, open your draft and add to/edit what you’ve already written to fold in something new. Here’s your progression:

  • Day One: start your post.
  • Day Two: add a quote from a conversation you had with someone today (an email, instant message, or text conversation is fine, too).
  • Day Three: add something related to what your childhood self wanted to be when you grew up, or a dream you have for your future.
  • Day Four: add a reference to something currently in your refrigerator.
  • Day Five: add something inspired by a song you heard today. If you didn’t hear any music, use something you read (and turn on the radio!).

 

In a society that consistently pushes us to be better than the person next to us and define that gap a little more clearly, have we lost what it truly means to be great? When we celebrate participation and don’t keep score at sporting events, haven’t we really started to praise mediocrity? There are students who overwhelm themselves trying to be everything at once and others who simply can’t be bothered to try. Some schools hand out A’s like they are candy simply because having a C is now seen as not average but less in some way. Coursework has gotten easier in some ways and more difficult in others. And those who want to learn are often throw into a system that can’t properly cultivate that thirst for knowledge.

For example, I had a conversation today with a young woman who didn’t know what an amended tax return is, and I should probably mention that this student also happens to be a finance major at a prestigious business school. If our youth are so unprepared to meet the world that they don’t even know how to file their taxes, let alone amend them if need be, then what has all of that schooling really been preparing them for? Schools aren’t teaching lessons on how to be an adult and act in the real world but rather they are being sheltered from what they really need to know in order to survive. Something as simple as creating a budget or filing your taxes should be a class taught to our students rather than drones of meaningless facts and equations that they will probably never use again.

I had a variety of careers that I wanted as a kid, most notably, I wanted to be a doctor. But of course for me, I had a specific type in mind. I don’t remember which book gave me the idea, perhaps it was “Toxin” by Robin Cook, but I decided I wanted to be a cardiac-thoracic surgeon. That is until I heard the sound of a bone snap for the first time. Then that dream died. Now, I want to be a novelist. Well a writer, at least. Plus I want my writing to mean something, to influence people, specifically I want to inspire young women to embrace who they want to be. I want them to celebrate what they can accomplish in their lives and never have to give up on that dream.

And one of the most important parts of being a writer is obviously the snacks. And the tea but that’s a topic for another time. In the quest to make a difference, you have to treat your body well and to that end, I went to Trader Joe’s today. Boy, have I missed that store. I brought my 10 year old cousin with me and introduced her to the magical world of organic and all-natural. And we bought chicken pot-sticker dumplings. And damn are they good. Definitely worth keeping in my fridge, or rather in this case, my freezer.

As it is now Sunday, I can’t remember any song that I heard on the radio on Friday. But fortunately, I am reading a fascinating book by David Sedaris. His views on family and holidays are highly entertaining. “Holidays on Ice” is hysterical yet odd at times. I read a story called “Dinah – The Christmas Whore” and I had to try so hard not to snicker loudly late at night. No idea how this story might tie into the earlier ideas on society and mediocrity but I’m sure there is a lesson to be learned in there. I am very much enjoying Sedaris’ take on life, his humor, although sometimes dark, has the ability to make you think about life in different ways.

I’ve also decided that I’m not going to bother to go back and reread or edit any of my thoughts from the previous days. I’m simply going to post this and let the world see it for what it is. Love it or hate it, it is what it is: the product of whatever I was thinking and feeling on a given day. So have at it.

Better’n

PB

Because life without peanut butter is no life at all…

Try this amazing, healthier option from Trader Joe’s. It takes better than regular peanut butter (and as a diehard Jif fan, I can honestly say that) and it is lower in calories, fat, and ingredients!