Things That Make Me Smile, 3

G’day eaters!

I think today is when the big heat wave is supposed to hit the southeast, but right now (at 9am) it’s still pretty mild. That’ll change soon, I’m sure, but Leon is on deck for Charlie’s next walk, so I don’t mind…yet.

Anyway, life has been going pretty great lately and I haven’t done one of these posts in a while, so I figured today was high time I spread some love and happiness around.

Right?

Right!

Oh, and if you missed the first two editions, check them out here and here.

  • Soy coffee creamer!

For so long I was suffering from funky soymilk in my coffee because the soymilk I love — Edensoy, because it’s cheap, clean, and higher in protein than most — doesn’t really work well with coffee. So a couple of weeks ago I bit the $2 bullet and bought soy coffee creamer.

It was beyond worth it. And speaking of coffee…

  • My French press.

I went French press rather than drip machine because we already have a ridiculous number of appliances. I was going to buy a Bodum, but then I saw this OXO. Not only was it something like $5 cheaper and smaller (I’m the only coffee drinker), but it has this false bottom-thing.

This goes into the glass and clips on the top, then when it’s time to clean it you can pick up almost every single grind at once. For someone who HATES cleaning up coffee grinds, this is so amazing!

  • Sunflowers.

This bundle was $5 at the farmers market and I couldn’t resist. They’ve lasted almost 2 weeks (this picture is from Day 1) and are just plain lovely. And speaking of sun…

  • L’Oreal Sublime Sun face sunscreen.

After Bliss discontinued my beloved Sun Ban Face sunscreen, I was at a loss for a good, everyday sunscreen. Everything I tried was way too heavy and greasy, especially since most of the time I mix a bit with my daily moisturizer. But then I found this!

It feels a bit too sunscreen-y when you first put it on, but after it sinks in you’ll hardly notice it. My only qualm is that it runs a bit when you sweat a lot, but what sunscreen doesn’t?

  • That I finally got this picture of Charlie.

My dog is weird for many reasons. One of those reasons is how he lies around the house.

Doesn’t it look like he has no arms?

Yeah, they’re behind him. This is one of his favorite ways to lie and it cracks me up to no end every time I see him twisted like a pretzel in the middle of the floor.

Alright eaters, that’s it for today’s edition. I’ll catch up with you on Sunday from Virginia Beach! I’m so excited!

Your turn:

What’s something that has been making you smile lately?

Do any of these things make you smile? Anything make you frown?

Later eaters!

WIAW: Pictures of Peaches

Hi eaters!

I’ve got good news! I finally know what day it is!

Yeah, since Saturday I’ve been thinking a day ahead. I blame the fact that I went out both Thursday and Friday night instead of my usual Thursday and Saturday, so I felt like I’d had my weekend by Saturday night and thus that Sunday was Monday.

Confused?

Yeah, I’ve been obsessively checking my phone and iCal to make sure I’m doing the right things on the right day.

But now I know what day it is — it’s Wednesday!

I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this, but sometimes I track my calories and macros (which are ratios of protein: carbs: fat). I don’t do it often because I don’t have that kind of patience, but I think it’s helpful every now and then to make sure that everything is as balanced as I think it is and that I’m getting the right number of calories.

This week I’ve been tracking calories and macros, so I’ll post the totals at the bottom.

Breakfast:

Scrambled eggs with kale, red onion, and cilantro, and half a peach.

I got a little fancy with my eggs and it made a big difference, so did the dash of nutmeg I added to my peach.

I’m telling you, peaches and nutmeg are an ah-maze-ing combination.

Crossfit:

After a pretty grueling warm up (FYI — any warm up is grueling if it includes both running and knees to elbows), we did a workout called “Linda.”

This was a pyramid workout, which is a circuit where you do everything for 10 reps, then 9, then 8, etc, etc. In the circuit I did deadlifts with 75 lbs, bench presses with 45 lbs, and cleans with 50 lbs. I finished in 26:30, though I really could have/should have pushed harder.

Lunch:

The makings of a salad.

I forgot to take a picture, but imagine that kale massaged and dressed with that carrot-miso dressing and then topped with some steamed cauliflower and almost exactly that much quinoa.

Snack:

365 low fat, plain yogurt with a peach, chia seeds, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

My lunch felt protein-lite, so I had a snack not too long after.

Dinner:

While I was in class, Leon was cooking up a big bowl of steak niscoise, per a recipe from Fitness magazine. I absolutely LOVED this dinner.

Steak niscoise.

I loved the butter lettuce, the cold potatoes, the extra mustard we added to the dressing. And the (local, grass-fed) flat iron steak (from Whole Foods) was so dang tasty.

I’m actually eating the leftovers now as I write this.

Things you didn’t see:

A small spoonful of pb. A few small handfuls of carob chips.

So plugged all of that into the My Plate section of Livestrong and here’s what I came up with:

Obviously, I’m pretty dang happy with the balance of my macros. My protein could be a little higher than my fat, but considering almost none of this was too intentional, I’m jazzed.

I’m less jazzed about my calories, though. From wearing my heart rate monitor, I know I burned just over 500 calories from Crossfit alone. Then when you add in the more than a hour I spent walking Charlie, and I realize that I need to up my calories a wee bit.

Now that doesn’t mean I’m going to start pounding cake like I bought stock, but it does mean that I might need to work in another pb spoon or avocado slice here or there.

What do you think, eaters:

Do you track your food?

Or do you trust your body to tell you what it needs?

Later eaters!

PS — PleasepleasePLEASE don’t compare yourself to me. What you need for your body and your energy levels is apples to oranges compared to what I need. I’m not saying my balance of macros is best for you, nor am I saying you’re unhealthy if you eat less or more calories than I am. I’m simply saying that for some people, myself included, occasionally checking in with those things via a food tracker is helpful. If it’s not helpful, I hope you at least enjoyed the pictures of peaches.

Soy-Ginger Halibut

G’day eaters!

It’s been a long day, Charlie has thrown up no less than 7 times, and I still have to muster the energy to go out for a few drinks with my friends. So I’m going to cut to the chase.

I know I’ve talked a lot about life now that I’m cohabiting with a man and all adjustments that are required, but it’s a big part of my life, so you get to hear more about it.

One of the little things that I never thought would be an issue is dinner. Not just that I now have to think about Leon when planning dinner, but also that I rarely make it by myself.

Sure, a lot of people would probably be thrilled to have someone around to help them make dinner every night. And while it is nice, it’s also a little bit of a letdown on those nights when I really feel like playing in the kitchen.

Oh, and it takes away a lot of opportunities for blog topics. I mean, you don’t want a recipe like “put ½ c dry quinoa, 1 c water, and a few tbsp of that weird Chinese hot sauce and cook according to package instructions.”

Yeah, that and some vegetables are usually what I contribute to dinner each night.

Not exactly a must-read post, right?

But last night, Leon was working late and then came home exhausted, which meant that I actually got to make a whole meal.

A whole meal that included cooking fish, no less.

And I’m happy to say, it was a raging success.

Soy-Ginger Halibut

2 Halibut filets, about 8oz each

2 T soy sauce

3 T rice vinegar

1 T hoisen sauce

½ T minced ginger

1 radish, thinly sliced

~6 thin cucumber slices

oil

Mix everything except the fish and the oil in a wide bowl and then place in the fish. Marinate for at least an hour, flipped the filets at regular intervals.

Heat a pan (that can be lidded/covered in some way) to medium heat and drizzle with oil. Place each filet in the pan skin-side up and cook for 2-3 minutes, until a nice, slight char occurs. Flip the filets to skin-side down, reduce the heat to medium-low (about 3.5/10), pour on the marinade (including the radishes and cucumbers), and cover.

Cook on this temperature for 7-10, depending on the thickness of your filets. Once the fish flakes easily, it’s done.

I served this fish with the quinoa “recipe” I posted above and a kale salad dressed in the carrot-misodressing I made so long ago.

All together now.

And all in all, this meal was a huge success.

The fish was cooked nearly perfectly. The quinoa was fluffy and just spicy enough thanks to some mystery hot sauce my friend brought back from Tibet. And the salad fulfilled all my sweet tangy miso cravings.

Oh, and Leon did the dishes afterwards.

Yup, I’d say this dinner was definitely a success.

What do you think eaters:

Do you make dinner for yourself or split the duties with someone?

Would you rather cook or do the dishes?

Later eaters!

Summer Suspended

Hiya eaters!

Today has been a pretty great day! I had an awesome doctor visit, which made up for the bad one a few weeks ago, I got a lot done, and I dead lifting 110 lbs! I could have gone up to my body weight, but my Crossfit trainer didn’t want me to over do it.

Side note — I’ve been vaguely mentioning doctors for a couple of weeks now. Do you care? Are you curious? Or do you want me to shut up and give you food porn? I could go either way so it’s up to you, eaters.

But on the heels of this amazing day, I have some bad news.

You’re really going to hate me for saying this, but I must.

Gulp

One day, in a few months, summer is going to end.

Yes eaters, I know it’s sad, but we all have to face the facts. One day the farmers markets won’t be bursting with bright berries and perfectly firm squash. One day the sun will set earlier. One day giant cold, crispy salads won’t seem as appealing.

And when that day comes, I’ll be ready with dinner.

Suspended Summer Bowl

3 (Cajun seasoned) chicken sausage links, sliced into rounds

1 can diced tomatoes (preferably no salt)

1 T tomato pasta

1 bay leaf

1 t dried/ground thyme

~2 c frozen okra

2 kale leaves, roughly chopped

½ c polenta

2 c liquid*

oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

Hot sauce, optional

*Vegetable stock, water, chicken stock, or any other liquid will do. Heck, I bet you could even make this with beer**.

**I totally just thought of the beer thing as I was writing this and now really want to try it. If you do, pleasepleasePLEASE let me know how it went.

These sausages were so good for packaged sausages.

In a pot, bring the liquid to a simmer and slowly pour in the polenta while whisking. Continue whisking for about 5 minutes, and then every minute or so until it has reached its desired consistency.

Add a small drizzle of oil to a pan over medium heat and then put in the sausage slices. Toss the sausage to coat. Continue tossing every minute or so until the slices have begun to brown.

At this point reduce the heat to medium-low and add the tomatoes, tomato paste, and herbs. Stir everything until the tomatoes have come up to temperature, and then add the okra. Stir the okra into the tomato mixture, add the kale, and then let it all cook over medium low heat until the okra has come up to temperature and the sauce is no longer watery.

Remove the bay leaf and serve atop of hearty hill of polenta.

So why do I call this summer suspended?

Dinner is served.

Because the tomatoes are sweet and vibrant and juicy, and the slime of the okra is masked by the creamy polenta.

Because if you’re the type of house-personwho likes to preserve their own food for the winter (or even if you’re not), you could be eating this warm, filling meal full of fresh from the garden summer flavors even on days when the sun sets at 5:30 and summer memories are more fleeting than your tan lines.

Can we once again admire these plates? I'm in love. Thanks again, Leon's parents!

So while eating canned and frozen vegetables felt a bit out of place when I made this last week, I know one day sooner than I’d like it’ll more than have its place at the dinner table.

What do you think, eaters:

What flavors of summer do you wish you could save for later?

What memories of summer do you wish you could save for later?

G’night eaters!

Birthday Weekend

Hellooooo eaters!

I feel like it’s been forever since I’ve blogged even though it hasn’t. I guess that’s because so much has happened since we last spoke.

As I mentioned, it was my birthday on Thursday and believe me when I say that this year’s celebrations were beyond amazing.

Thursday started off with a 6am Crossfit class.

Yes eaters, I really chose to wake up at 5:15am on my birthday to go workout in an un-air conditioned cinder block box.

The workout was fun (I loveloveLOVE tabatas) and one of my fellow Crossfit ladies even busted out 21 squats during the last interval in honor of my birthday.

Later in the day Leon took me out to lunch at m’favorite barbecue restaurant.

This is right off of I-40, near Kernersville, for all you NC folks.

Words cannot describe how much I love BBQ. And Prissy Polly’s is some of the best I’ve ever had.

I mean, come on, when a BBQ restaurant has a stack of Bibles at the front door you know it’s going to be good.

Of course, I took my BBQ lunch very seriously.

His and hers.

I swapped a rub for a bit of Leon’s pulled pork sandwich. And I’m happy to say that everything except for a few bites of mac n’cheese, a hush puppy, and half a rib were eaten.

A 4-rib plate with fried okra, medicore mac n'cheese, and amazing hush puppies. With a bowl of BBQ sauce in the background.

Later in the day Leon surprised me with a couple of presents — a Wusthof pairing knife to match my Wusthof chef’s knife, and a bottle of Hendrick’s gin (the best gin ever, especially with cucumber).

That night a few friends came over to bake some cupcakes before going out to a few bars in my neighborhood.

Stripes.

And while all of that was fun, the real party was Friday night.

Did you know I’ve never really had a birthday party? Sure, I had a few when I was a kid, but even those didn’t last long since most of my friends were away for the summer during my birthday.

So this year I wanted to have an actual birthday party.

And by college standards, an “actual birthday party” means a keg; a keg of PBR, more specifically.

There aren’t many pictures because my camera battery died quickly, but there were multiple beer bongs.

My best friend, Peach, just back from Tibet.

And a 14-second keg stand.

And more than my share of embarrassing dancing.

Debauchery and raucous living.

And so many amazing friends.

I woke up the next morning more than a little hungover, but very very happy. I am so incredibly lucky to have the friends and the boyfriend and the life that I have.

So while the theme song of last year was “Beast Mode” by B.O.B., this year’s theme song is:

“Give up the money. Don’t chase the honeys. Flies will always circle the pot. Bloom where you’re planted. Don’t take for granted. And cherish the one you got.”

What do you think, eaters:

If you’ve ever done a keg stand, what’s your record?

And what’s something you need to remember not to take for granted?

Later eaters!

Magic Radishes

G’day eaters!

I know I should probably talk about my birthday, but it’s barely 8:30am as I’m writing this, so not much has happened yet. I’ll save the birthday post for Sunday.

Instead, today I want to talk about magic. More specifically, magic in the kitchen.

That feeling of magic when cooking, that slight bit of a sixth sense that tells you what ingredient to add when, that feeling of effortless, bubbly, uncontainable joy that comes from somehow doing everything right despite not really knowing what you’re doing, that slight touch of mania is what I strive for every time I belly up to the stove.

Unfortunately, that magic is growing fewer and further between.

Somewhere in the daily grind of cooking dinner and slightly repetitive scrambled eggs and hand washing dishes and rushed lunches, that magic has dwindled.

I almost feel like, with every day of responsibilities and “adulthood,” I’m leaving Neverland and the ability to just believe my food into existence.

I still enjoy cooking, but now I enjoy it in a way that you enjoy something you’re good at.

That’s not enough for me anymore. And it took a trip to the farmers market last weekend to wake me up and make me realize just how far from the magic I’d gotten.

While there I picked up a couple bunches of radishes with the intention of making roasted radishes a la Running to The Kitchen. When I got my bounty home I did a little Googling to see if and how I could use the radish greens.

Through that mostly aimless internet stumbling I came across recipes for more than just the greens. I can across mountains of recipes for cooked radishes.

Odd looking little gems, aren't they?

Now, obviously I knew that you could cook radishes. I was planning on it. But yet until I saw these recipes I still had my mother’s voice in my head, from two summers ago after I got home from Paris, where Stepmother and Papa ate endless raw radish and butter sandwiches, saying that cooked radishes would be bad; that you couldn’t cook radishes.

Once I saw these recipes — recipes for things called “ruby radishes” and “sweet radish stir fry” — it was like the floodgates opened. The dampening weight of my mother’s “no” and the strain of daily nourishment was lifted and I could feel the magic rising.

It was riding that amazing way of pure, uninhibited magic that lead me to mix butter and vinegar and honey; that lead me to open the jar of capers that’s followed me from home to dorm to apartment to dorm to home; that lead me to drizzle olive oil on slices of fresh baguette with a wild abandon that made it seem like I knew what I was doing. It was that magical feeling that made my knife fly and my mind clear.

And in the heavy-breathing, tingling afterglow of that magic we ate.

Braised Radish Crostinis

4 whole radishes

2 T butter

1 T apple cider vinegar

1 ½ t honey

1 T capers with liquid

8-10 slices baguette

~1/4 c goat cheese

salt and pepper, to taste

olive oil

Chop the greens from the radishes and set aside. After removing the top and tail from each radish, thinly slice it. Then give the greens a rough chop.

In a pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Once the butter is melted add the vinegar and honey. Add the radishes and toss to coat. Continue tossing every minute or so until the radishes are just barely tender and the liquid is pink. Add the capers and their liquid.

Sprinkle the greens evenly over the top of the radishes and cover the pan and let it cook for about 10 minutes, until the greens are steamed and a bright green color.

Turn on your oven’s broiled. Drizzle each slice of baguette with a little oil and a bit of salt and pepper. Put the bread on a pan and put it under the broiled for about 3 minutes, until one side of golden brown. Flip and cook until the other side of golden.

Spread a bit of goat cheese on each slice of toasted bread.

When the radishes are done spoon them and any remaining liquid onto each crostini and serve.

Please admire our dining room. And our new, matching plates,which were a gift (via a very nice gift card) from Leon's parents.

We ate these along side a green salad and some quick pickled cucumbers and radishes.

And every single bite was perfect.

I could try to explain the flavors to you. Or how the warm radishes mixed with the crunchy bread and creamy goat cheese.

I could use a lot of words and try to paint a picture on your tongue.

But none of that would suffice. Just know, it was pure magic.

Later eaters!

WIAW: Stressed and Snackless

Hiya eaters!

My computer is still going strong, so I’m back with another actual post. I’m sure the novelty of that will wear off soon, but until then…woohoo techno-band-aids!

Now, let’s get down to business:

Yesterday was a trying day in a lot of ways. On Monday, not only did I get the bad news about my computer, but due to some “bank errors” my bank took close to $1000 out of my account. This caused me to overdraft. I thought this also meant that all of my utilities checks bounced.

Oh, and it meant I was broke.

So I got to wake up on Tuesday morning and deal with it. Doesn’t that sound like fun?!

It wasn’t. And by the time I was off the phone I was hangry.

Breakfast:

Marinated tofu and kale scrambled with eggs, blueberries.

I’ve been rethinking carbs lately. Carbs in and of themselves are not bad. It’s the type of carb that gets in you in trouble. So while I’m certainly not jumping on Crossfit’s Paleo/Zone-no grain bandwagon, I am trying to reduce the processed carbs.

That’s my long-winded way of explaining why I’m eating more fruit and less bread in the morning.

You’re welcome.

Crossfit:

I went to Crossfit yesterday knowing that depending on the workout I would either feel really great about myself, or I would feel more drained and defeated than I already did.

It was a little bit of both. More the former, though.

Snack:

Chocolate pb energy chunk from Whole Foods.

Obviously, I needed to shower after Crossfit, but I’d also been meaning to clean the bathroom for a week. So I ate a snack and refused to let myself shower until I had cleaned the bathroom.

Lunch:

Kale chips and leftover Moo Shoo vegetables.

I love leftovers! And this was double duty leftovers because not only was the Chinese a leftover, but the kale was a leftover in the sense that it was bought for something else (eggs!) and really needed to be eaten.

Snack:

I ate another energy chunk.

Class:

Or as I like to call it, “Kara trying not to fall asleep for 2 hours twice a week.”

Dinner:

M’best friend, Peach, just got back from the wildest, most awesome semester in Tibet and she’s visiting for a week. So of course we all had to gather for the traditional Taco Tuesday feast.

One (unfortunately flavorless) chorizo taco, and one carnitas taco.

I call it a feast because between the 5 of us we finished two baskets of chips, a bowl of queso, and two bowls of salsa.

Hungry hungry hippos college girls.

And that about wraps it up. The day got better as it went along, but I can tell from my lack of snacks (read: lack of appetite) that I was still feeling the stress of the morning’s bank troubles.

But today is already a MUCH better day. And tomorrow’ my birthday, so I know that will be a good day.

Upward and onward, eaters!

Your turn:

Do you eat more or less when you’re stressed?

How do you feel about carbs and grains?

Later eaters!

Charlie’s Birthday!

Oh hello m’dear dear eaters!

It feels so good to be writing to you in my usual fashion.

By “usual fashion,” I mean in complete, happy sentences on Word instead of angry blerbs directly on WordPress.

(I’m always worried that if I compose directly on WP my internet will crap out and I’ll lose everything, so Word feels safer. Don’t tell me if it’s not.)

Yes, the fact that I’m writing in my usual fashion means that the band-aids super Genuis, Mike, helped me figure out have worked.

So now we can finally get back to regularly scheduled programming, which in this case is…Charlie’s birthday!

M’sweet baby puppy, Charlie, (yes, that is what I really call him) turned 1 on Saturday. And that was a pretty huge deal for me. Not only did it mean that we’d had him for a little over a month, but it also meant that he had survived his really hard first year of life. (Leon and I suspect he was beaten, and he was definitely a stray.)

So of course, in true “I really love to give presents and make people happy” fashion, I went a little overboard.

First, I let him get in bed with Leon and I on Saturday morning. When he woke us up I could tell he didn’t need to go out, but that he did want to cuddle. Since we don’t have a couch to cuddle on, I broke Leon and my one real rule about the dog and let him on the bed.

It was cute.

The party continued at breakfast when I melted a little bit of (homemade?) lard onto his food.

Do you not have a jar of lard your rendered yourself in your fridge?

It may not be the best thing for his health, but he’s a growing puppy.

It was that mentality that lead to me not baking him some pumpkin, carrot, carob pupcakes, but instead buying him a whole cake from Canine Café in Charlotte.

What can I say, I’m kind of a sucker for those things. And it was the last one with blue icing when I went in on Friday.

At first, he didn’t know what to think about it.

There was lots of licking. Lots and lots of licking.

But once I cut it in half, he absolutely went to town.

He picked half of it up in his mouth and a few bites later it was gone.

The second half went the same way.

And then he licked the plate clean…

And then he licked it into the bushes.

Once the cake was demolished, it was present time.

First, I got him an engraved tag for his collar (from the machine at PetSmart).  Not only does it match his collar, but it has his name and my phone number. Between that and the microchip from the shelter, he should never get lost.

But the real exciting gift was his antler!

This is a dog that LOVES to chew and will chew anything and everything he can. So in an effort to keep him away from our shoes, I picked him up a deer antler*.

This thing is rock hard and at first he didn’t know what to do with it.

But he figured it out quickly and that thing has barely left his mouth since Saturday.

And for the rest of the day Charlie got extra walks, rounds of tug-o-war, and a little more bed time.

Obviously, Charlie did not realize it was his birthday, so he was probably pretty confused as to all the treats and attention. But I still think it was important to celebrate. And I would have felt like a horrible pet owner had I ignored it.

What do you think, eaters:

Do you celebrate your pets’ birthdays?

Do you give them a “cake” or do you just eat cake in their honor?

G’night eaters!

*According to the package, the antler came from a naturally shed deer antler, meaning that no deer were harmed in the making of Charlie’s birthday.

Guest Post

Hi eaters!

My computer still isn’t fixed.

I went to the Genius bar. Mike, the most awesome of all the Geniuses, and I talked strategy for a while. We came up with a game plan. That game plan involves me doing lots of technical band-aids until I can get a new computer in a month.

I never said it was a cheap game plan.

And Leon’s computer is still not working properly in terms of my camera memory card. It’ll upload some pictures (which I’d thought were long deleted) and not others. Those others happen to be of non-re-createable moments. And the things I was going to blog about.

Luckily, though, this post is not just a long-winded, whiny excuse.

Oh no!

I wrote a guest post for Aubrey (I Talk To Food) for while she’s traipsing around France. And that guest post is up.

So…go check out my post on I Talk To Food all about how my life got flip-turned upside down my house got Pinterest-ed.

(Two points if you can name where that line came from.)

Alright, see ya…soon?

Dang

Hi eaters.

The saga of my computer continues. Currently I’m neither able to import photos or save Word documents. Doesn’t that sound like fun?

Yeah…

I have a Genuis bar appointment tomorrow and I’m not bringing my computer home until it’s completely fixed or I have a new one. So I’ll be blogging from Leon’s computer the next couple of days (once we get a couple of kinks worked out there). But today, I’ve got nothing for you.

Your turn, eaters:

Tell me something good to cheer me up.

Is it possible for camera memory cards to become corrupted? How often should those be replaced?

G’night eaters!