Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sunday is UnFunday

Sunday afternoons are straight up boring. They're like the day before the end of the world: everything closes early, no one wants to do anything, it just blows. All I can think about is what needs to be done next week and how I'm going to accomplish all the nonsense I need to accomplish. One thing that can make Sundays better is the addition of a kick ass breakfast which is what Brian and I had this morning. It's sort of a lightened up version of a traditional English fry-up, minus the mushroom, grilled tomato and black pudding (no thanks). I had a frozen package of British bacon I bought from the English store just sitting in the freezer waiting to be eaten and we finally found the appropriate day to tuck into it. We also had some cheesy scrambled eggs, some turkey sausage patties and toast. Top it off with a cup of coffee and it was a fabulous spread.

Now, British bacon is a lot different from American bacon which they refer to as "streaky bacon" referring to the alternating streaks of fat and meat we're all so familiar with. Now with my biased opinion, I think British bacon is far superior to our American version because you get more bacon for your buck! It's also a lot leaner since it's basically a thinly-sliced pork lion. They're great for bacon sandwiches but if you prefer crunchy bacon it might not be the thing for you since it's better eaten soft.

Sundays also seem to signal the end of late night eating for the next few days. This really should be an all-the-time rule, but Sundays always seem to be a reminder that your eating schedule should return to normalcy; no beers at 12am and mo ice cream for dinner. Saturday night I decided to try out my new fancy Calphalon muffin pan and a vegan cupcake recipe I printed off while bored at work (tell anyone and I'll kill you). I only had whole wheat pastry flour and in my experience, whole wheat tends to suck up moisture like crazy! The cupcakes came out ok though even with the signature whole wheat graininess, it didn't ruin the cupcake experience though. I tried by hand at a vegan "butter cream" frost which turned out way too thin. After a few teaspoons of corn starch and a bit of xantham gum it thickened up enough to stay on top of the cupcake and not melt down the sides, which did happen to two unfortunate test-cakes. The frosting was a bit boring with just the vanilla flavoring so I added some shaved coconut and a bit of lime juice to make my "Lime in the Coconut Vegan Frosting". Brian liked it so much he ate 3, I ate one and a half and felt like I was going into diabetic shock.

Last week, I also made a quick batch of one of my favorite dishes in the whole wide world: pancit! For those of you unfamiliar with it, pancit is a Filipino noodle dish that combines various veggies and meats along with soy sauce. It sounds simple, but I've had such a hard time replicating what I get at my favorite Filipino bakery (Glory's) I thought I'd try something new. Rice noodles are usually soaked in warm water before being incorporated into a dish in order to softer them up. In this batch I just threw the raw noodles into the chicken broth and it really made a world of difference. Instead of soaking up plain water which has NO flavor, it soaked up all the brothy goodness and tasted so much better. It was the best batch I ha ever made and I'm so happy I tried this new method because there aren't any Filipino restaurants near me. The only one's I know of are closer to where I grew up.

My Sunday is about to come to a close and I still have a bunch of work to finish up with. The good news is I finally bought myself some new clothes. I have been very hesitant to buy myself new clothes since I've lost weight because my plan has always been to lose more and I would hate to get rid of things I've just bought. Seeing as how the scale has barely moved since April 2009, it's time for me to buy some stuff that actually fits me since I've still been wearing some of my old fat clothes in order to save up for some new stuff. I'm pretty excited, seeing as how I've worn the same 4-5 outfits for the past almost 2 years and they're really starting to wear out. That's all for now!!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Let's Make A List

Something that I always tend to do when I'm so stressed out I want to run into the mountains and become a hermit or just feeling uninspired /totally disorganized is make lists. It sounds really dumb, but having a list of what needs to be done/what I would like to makes the tasks a bit less daunting. But this list I'm submitting to you today is not so much a "If I don't do this I fail at life" list, but more of a bucket list of stuff that I would like to do in the near future and some time before I die. Feel free to submit your ultimate dream list in the comment box, unless it's stupid (j/k).


1. Live in England again even if it's just for a few months.
2. Complete no fewer than TWO half-marathons in 2011
3. Stop liking chips again (thanks a lot Cape Cod chips)
4. Complete the Coast to Coast Walk made famous by A. Wainwright
5. Do as many of Wainwright's Walks as possible
6. Travel around Europe and blog about it.
7. Surf in Hawaii
8. Have a wall of cookbooks
9. Having a kitchen big enough to have a cookbook wall...
10. Having a cute, old house that isn't too big (but big enough for a cookbook wall!)
11. Grow my own veggies to the point where I don't have to buy produce for at least one season
12. Stay at the Scarlett Hotel in Cornwall, UK
13. Finally go to New York City (< late on the "everyone has done this already" train)
14. Go to a writers convention.
15. Finish my degree!
16. Complete a triathlon.
17. Go backpacking, A LOT.
18. See some fjords in Norway.
19. See some fjords in New Zealand.
20. Go to a major music festival.
21. Photobomb as much as possible
22. Learn to not hate children.
23. Have my own pet.
24. Spray someone with a hose to get off of my lawn.
25. Have a wardrobe I'm actually proud of.
26. Send my Dad to Antarctica (Not for punishment, he wants to go there).
27. Own a "mid-life crisis" car.
28. Go to a nerd convention (to feel cool of course...).
29. Eat real Chinese food.
30. Tour the Bulmers brewery.
31. Swim in water where I can see to the bottom.
32. Have a cool thatched farmhouse in England with a working farm.

That is my list so far and I'm positive that things will be added to this as time goes by. Go ahead and make your own because now that I've slapped it on the internet I feel obligated to check off some of these tasks. That's all for now!!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The State of Food (at my house)

School has started, that is my excuse for not updating (oops), but I have been taking pictures! Every time I start a new semester, my diet suffers from it greatly. Pizza starts to show up a lot more. So do random spoonfuls of straight peanut butter and pre-class candy bars. Brian and I both agreed last night over an unneeded Dairy Queen Blizzard that we have been eating like, well, college students minus the cheese curls and 4am ice cream sandwiches. It also seems to happen when I come home from being on vacation. Before going to England at Christmas 2008 I was on a roll with cleaning up my diet, but 4 bags of fish and chips and countless ciders later it really just got thrown out the window and since we've been back twice since then, it's taken a bit longer to recover than I'd like. I know I shouldn't spend my life worrying about everything I put in my mouth (that's what she said), but I really do need to get back to where I was before that Christmas trip. A day or two before school started I had a serious fat-attack and made something I haven't made since high school: crepes! I was watching Amelie and just got the urge to make something French. I made them with whole wheat flour and topped them with nutella and So Delicious Coconut Milk Green Tea Ice Cream. Needless to say they were amazing and Brian was pissed that he didn't get any.

Not all of our meals have been bad since school has started. Over Labor Day weekend Brian and I set out on our first backpacking trip at Fridley Gap in the Shenandoah mountains. The hike was 10.5 miles up and down three mountains. The weather was beautiful, but the hike was tough. We brought 4 litres of water each on top of a 40oz. bottle per person and food, clothes etc. Brian's pack weighed about 40 lbs and mine was a little over 30. There were some steep bits and for most of the time were surrounded by a cloud of bugs. My first attempt at cooking with limited, unrefrigerated food options turned out ok. We had prepackaged Uncle Ben's brown rice with a chana masala packet and some chicken chicken breast. Because we were far away from a water source everything came out kind of crunchy, but it was edible. Breakfast was just some instant oatmeal and we ate a lot of chocolate and beef jerky along the trail on the way back to the car. After running out of water on the last mile and a half seeing the car was the greatest thing ever. We rewarded ourselves with slurpees and a giant burger later that night.

I've been experimenting with warm salads since we've been back from the UK. I'm always trying to find ways to incorporate more vegetables in our meals and putting things on a "bed" of something usually helps a lot. I created this warm salad with kale sauteed in olive oil, lemon juice and red pepper flakes. I topped it off with some leftover salmon and declared it my super-food warm salad.
It was very tasty and stayed with me for a long time. I've also been making a lot of Larb (or Laab) since it's so easy and so delicious. It's a Thai chicken salad made with ground chicken and fresh herbs and shallots and it is a-m-a-z-i-n-g. I made it for my mfa back to school party and there was almost nothing left of it once it was time to go. I like that I can make a lot of it and keep it in the fridge for a quick meal that is really light, but still satisfying.

As for right now, I'm simply vegetating. It's nice to just not do anything of importance for a little while, though during the school year I feel guilty having "free time". I feel as though I'm not passionate enough about my program because I wish to have a life outside of school, but then I realize that letting it become your life isn't healthy and I don't feel so bad about watching Stargate SG-1 and taking a 2 hour nap (jealous?). That is all for this post and I hope to update this a bit more always. Until next time, have good eats!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Back to Everything

Next week I'll officially be back to my old (boring) life. I start my second year of my graduate program and I get back to a better work schedule. I came to the conclusion that work really does slowly suck the life out of you if you're not doing something that is personally fulfilled and stimulating especially if you're not given time off to do the things that keep you sane. When I worked at an animal hospital there were three days that it wasn't open: Christmas, Thanksgiving and the 4th of July. Other than that you get 10 days out of the entire year to unwind and explore the things that really make you happy. After coming back from a 2 week vacation in England (where Brian had to use all of his vacation days) I realized how people back in the states have really lost the plot when it comes to holidays, whether it be and employers are legally obligated to provide workers with 4 weeks paid vacation; that's not even mentioning the time allotted for workers in mainland Europe. SIX WEEKS! Here in America that would just be called irresponsible or being a teacher, but I really don't think it's fair that we're given such a small amount of time to just chill after busting our asses all year to be the most productive nation on the planet. Even when I go on vacation I feel guilty when I just sit around and do nothing, like I'm wasting my time relaxing when I could be going nonstop to see as much as possible! I think everyone needs to take a chill pill and I know we'd all be better for it since stress just turns people into horrible monster people. Well that's my rant on vacation. What do you guys think of the state of relaxation we have here in the states? Do you think it's sufficient or should we be given a bit more time to have some fun outside of the workplace.

I'm a bad blogger, I took no pictures of the food I ate in England, but in my defense, I was VERY hungry whenever I ate and we sort of ate at places and times when I wouldn't have my camera. When on speaks of English food, you can almost hear the groans and "ewws" just at its mention. Having grown up with English food I'm not afraid to say that I like it...a lot. I grew up having Sunday roasts, fish and chips, cornish pasties, roasted chicken flavored potato chips and wine gums. There are some things about English food that are gross. Number 1: black pudding, which I tried for the first time ever this past holiday. Honestly, it just tasted like sausage, but I was just grossed out by the concept of congealed blood and fat. Number 2: boiling everything within an inch of its life which is a common practice over there, but to be fair we do it a lot here in the states. English people eat a lot of the same things that we do, just with more meat and brown sauce (kinda like steak sauce). And then there is the indian food, which is the best indian food I've ever had. And NO ONE can say that fish and chips is gross, unless you really have a hatred for fish. Brian makes comments about how disgusting fish is every time I make it at home but he will practically inhale a large portion of fish and chips. Why? BECAUSE IT'S EFFING DELICIOUS. The English love chocolate and tea and no trip to anywhere, whether it be 30 degrees or 100 degrees would be complete without an ice cream. How bad can that be?

Since coming home I've missed the little traditions and idiosyncrasies of the UK. At home there isn't tea time where everyone just takes a minute to enjoy a cup of tea and a digestive biscuit. There are no pubs where you can go for a drink, a meal or just to talk with friends. My other qualm is that there is no Bulmers cider, which should be illegal. Cider in the uk is more popular than beer in some place and for good reason, it's awesome! Brands like woodchuck and woodpecker sold here in the states are also good, but hands down the best cider in the world is Bulmers and I'll take that to my grave. Magners which is produced by the Irish arm of Bulmers is available in the US but it just tastes different which we found out after finding a 6 pack at our local british store. This is a pity but what can you do? I did find some mead at Bamburgh castle though and have yet to try it. It's so pretty and the bottle is so cool I'll probably keep it as a ghetto vase once we drink it.

I did miss the assortment of fruits in veggies I have in my "home diet" while in the UK. It would have been fine if I was doing the shopping and the cooking, but after a while you miss the foods you eat regularly at home. Since coming home Brian and I have been practically vegetarian with the except of a chicken curry or taco here and there. Curries are great because you can put in as many veggies as you want to and once you add the seasonings it's ALWAYS delicious, it's practically idiot proof. I made a pretty good one the other night and it turned out pretty sweet.

As for now, I don't have much on my plate since I start school. Brian and I are going to go backpacking labor day weekend so we'll see how that goes foodwise. I've always wanted to go backpacking as I love to be outside (unless its windy) and it's a good excuse to get some exercise that won't feel like a boring workout. We did some hiking in England and hiked Hadrian's Wall for 7 miles which was hard and amazing at the same time. I don't know where our travels will take us next summer, but I hope we do some more small trips while schools in so we can just get away from the stress for a little while. That is all for now, until next time have good eats!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Eff This Heat

I like how the weather forecast for my area is accurate that I can really plan my week: expect temperatures in the mid to high 90s with a chance of thunderstorms every day. Today we actually had a storm that lasted about 15 minutes and then went straight back to being sunny and muggy again. About three hours later we had another rain squall that lasted another 15 minutes and then disappeared. The combination of heat and the threat of thunderstorms has made it impossible to plan anything that involves being outside so I'm getting a little stir crazy. I don't want to waste my vacation inside and I hate the treadmill! Luckily, I'll be heading to the UK in two weeks to visit my family for a much-needed 2 week long English vacation complete with ice cream, cider, and lots and lots of fish and chips.

The food front here has been pretty typical. I'm really trying to get as much of our food eaten as I possibly can before we go out of town. I got rid of some cans in the pantry and some of the tomatoes my parents neighbors have been bestowing on them by the pound by making a nice homemade chili. It was really good and I put every vegetable in it that I figured would agree with it, but it's so hot out that chili isn't really the most appetizing meal on 90+ degree days. The cornbread didn't disappoint since I added my secret ingredient: creamed corn! It was sooooo good I nearly ate it all by myself.

I also experimented with a new recipe my friend and co-worker Kimmy discovered at Trader Joe's. They conveniently displayed mozzarella cheese sticks next to the pizza dough and proposed the idea of stuffed-crust pizza. Kimmy tried it and liked it, so I decided to give it a whirl. It was awesome. I tried to counteract the fat-assedness by making it an all veggie pizza but after eating......4 slices.....I felt like I was impregnated with a food baby that did not really go away until 10am the next day. WAAAAAYY too much cheese for me in one dish. I may have felt like I ate 6 pounds of cement mix, but the pizza was awesome. The veggies were crunchy as well as the crust and it really was a success.

Yesterday (which was Sunday), I was out of my mind bored. I had cleaned the whole apartment Thursday and Friday and had nothing to do. Brian was enjoying a new video game and it was way too hot to even take a short walk. Instead I went to the grocery store and picked out everything we needed for an awesome dinner which included and big juicy steak for Brian covered in mushrooms with garlic french beans, an herb salad and rosemary olive oil bread. I had the same thing except substitute the steak for a fillet of Alaskan Salmon. It had been sooo long since I'd had a really good piece of fish. I always seem to overcook it and Brian isn't much of a fish fan. I'd seen a recipe on PBS the day before where the guest chef pan seared the salmon fillet for a few minutes and then slow cooked it in the over at 300 degrees for a few minutes. Oh my god, I'll never make salmon another way again. It was easily the best fish I'd ever made and since I got a giant slab-o-salmon I made another fillet tonight on top of a bed of kale with an ear of corn. Another awesome food fact I learned was that cooking corn in the microwave with the husks on (1 1/2 minutes per side on high) makes the easiest and most tender corn EVAR! I didn't even butter it because it was sooo good!

Right now I'm just counting down the days until I'm off to the motherland. I've got a cute new carry-on that Brian lovingly got for me and I'm ready to see all of my family! I'm sure a lot of people think I'm really weird for wanting to be around my family so much, but being an only child with almost NO family living close to you it got really lonely sometimes. It was pretty much my parents and my cats...that's it, so I really enjoy seeing everyone when I go to England to visit. I'll definitely be updating while I'm there with all of my delicious findings. Until next time, have some good eats!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Oooooohhh Dear

I know I haven't update in a quarter part never, but if it helps at all I've really been making the most out of my summer vacation, as much as I can at least. I only work three full days out of the week (I made that super clear to everyone at work) so that I can get as much relaxing, working out, getting the apartment fixed up, reading and writing done as I possible can (in that order actually). I nearly had a crazy attack during my first year of grad school and this summer I really just wanted to do things on my time and get the things accomplished that I wanted to. I'll admit that the writing thing has been pushed aside by all of the other things I find popping up during my time off, but I've got some ideas brewing in my head about more than a few poems that will hopefully spew themselves out soon. I've also been hard at work at cooking! I've been diligently searching through cookbooks and magazines to find new recipes that are easy to eat and that are enjoyable for The Brian. Tomorrow night is homemade stuffed crust veggie pizza with a Field Roast Italian style veggie sausage. I'm pretty excited about folding the string cheeses into my pizza dough and seeing how it comes out. One thing I've really made a lot of this summer is cornbread. I freaking love cornbread and pretty much an bread on the face of the earth. I've discovered that cornbread is made even better when you half the listed ingredients (I used boxed kinds) and substitute in a whole can of creamed corn < EFFING AWESOME. You'll probably projectile vomit in delight only to make room for more delicious cornbread. I've actually been on a real bread kick making frequent trips to The Teet (Harris Teeter) for their rosemary olive oil bread and, Fresh Market for their ciabatta loaves and.....wait for it.....WHOLE FOODS! Yes my ass finally got to go to a Whole Foods 2 hours away in Richmond, Virginia. It was magical, a food bar lovers delight. Unfortunately my mom and I ate at the Cheesecake Factory before going and had NO idea we could get something cheaper at Whole Foods' awesome cold/hot/salad bars. I was blown away and violently angry that Hampton Roads doesn't have a Whole Foods. I basically flipped a truck and punted a child in a burst of passionate anger. Their bread was, as the kids call is "off the chain" and all I want is more MOAR!! I also enjoyed their vegan candy bar selection and their health and beauty sections and it really puts target to shame (I'm sorry Target).

I've also spent my fair share of time at the beach. I got EVERY Friday no matter what (except rain, der!) and I always frequent my favorite frozen yogurt establishment, The Skinny Dip. They're putting one at the end of my street sometime at the end of the summer and I'm so afraid I'll be featured on Discovery Health as "World's Fattest Bitch Ever: For Real". Luckily Skinny Dip's flavors are only like 120 calories for 4oz. so it'll take a lot of frozen yogurt. The beach and ice cream are pretty much my two favorite inanimate objects that can't speak so I really enjoy that the two are within close proximity of each other.

I've also invested in a new toaster oven! Brian and I had been toasting toast in our normal oven since we moved in last November so we decided to be green and actually get one. We've been making lots of waffles and Brian has a new favorite way of preparing food. His new most commonly used phrase is "can I cook this in here" (points to toaster oven hopefully). Frozen waffles are pretty much the shit because I can put all sorts of crap on them like all the delicious summer fruits we have available. I usually have blubes, raspberries and some almond butter with mine along with some Earth Balance or my fancy french butter.

On the exercise front, it's been sporadic and I haven't really settled on one form of exercise. I go from running outside, to elliptical at the gym, to p90x, to hot yoga, to yoga videos with a little Jillian Michaels thrown in. I'm kind of irritated with my workout ADD and I wish I could stick with just one program enough to see results. I have a tendency to half-ass everything and I know I'm doing the same thing with my workouts. I went for a run this morning but made the mistake of cutting my toenails the night before so now they all feel as if they've been jammed into my toe flesh and my ankles feel really tight. Ugh, I'm such an old person. Anywho, I'm glad I've gotten to throw in an update and now that I've done it I feel better about adding more. I'll let you all know how the pizza turns out! Have good eats!!

Monday, May 24, 2010

I'm On My Internetz, Updating My Blogz

Hello all, time for another update. The food front has been pretty boring to be completely honest with you. With the exception of the awesome tuna steak sandwich I had at AW Shucks last night I haven't been experimenting much as of late. I've tended to fall back on "convenience food" even though I still try and prepare it as healthily as I possible can. Like last week we had tacos and when I make them I ALWAYS use turkey instead of ground beef> Brian likes turkey tacos so that's always a plus. I decided to get adventurous and try the Smart Grounds vegetable crumbles in my tacos since Brian's not too keen on fake meat (or "feat" as he calls it). They were super good, the texture was a little like room temperature cookie dough which was a little different but I think everything tastes awesome when it's covered in taco seasoning, it's pretty much a fail safe. I threw on some avocado, salsa, romaine and Tapatio and ate it before the X-Files theme even came on. I had a turkey taco the next day for lunch and it was just as good the second time around. I also tried out a new recipe for homemade protein bars which turned out really good. My recipe was based on a similar recipe I found on another blog called Love Veggies and Yoga and this woman makes THE BEST vegan deserts. I've also tried her "cookie dough balls" and they are freaking incredible. This is what I used in my version of Averie's No Bake Vegan Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Coconut Oil Protein Bars:

1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 mashed banana
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/3 cup sliced almonds (I crushed mine into smaller pieces by hand while incorporating them into the mixture)
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 tbsp flax seeds
1/2 cup raisins (or other dried fruit)
2-4 scoops of protein powder (I used Sun Warrior Raw Vegan vanilla protein but you can use whatever)

*optional: if you want to add some more fiber throw in 2 tbsp of chia seeds. I didn't have any handy but if I dd they'd for sure be in there too.

Throw all this in a big bowl and mix until everything is well incorporated. Play around with the amounts because sometimes the mix can come out too dry or too moist. I usually ad more oats or more peanut butter if either of those things happen. Line a baking pan with plastic wrap and spread the mixture and flatten out to your desired thickness. Put the mixture in the freezer and let set for about an hour. I took mine out and waited 15 mins in order to cut them into bars more easily and wrapped them in plastic wrap. because of the banana I would keep these in the fridge. They're so effing delicious and I recommend you try them if you're fond of bars. They taste WAY better than a power bar or something store bought and have a crap-ton of protein from the protein powder, almonds, and peanut butter. YUM. I think I ate mine in like three bites. That recipes should yield about 10 decent sized bars. Well, I hope you try out this awesome recipe and visit Love Veggies and Yoga for more awesome vegan deserts. Tomorrow is an all-day work day so no workout for me, but Wednesday it's back to hot yoga after a week of a pretty pathetic practice. Until next times, have good eats!