Thursday, March 11, 2010

Frustration and Food Porn

I can't write the blog post I want to write right now.  I've tried three times this week and it keeps getting out of control.  When I hit 7 paragraphs I realize no one is going to want to read it and that it's too far gone to even edit at this point.  So I will put my blog post about coincidences and how I feel about them on the shelf for another time till I can write concisely how I feel about coincidences.

So my boss has been bugging me to take more time off forever but I keep telling him that there isn't time! He then tells me I have plenty of time in the bank but then I remind him that there just isn't time because there's too much I have to do.  This argument happens most Mondays and Fridays and occasionally on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.  Apparently it was getting to be a problem.  So he told me to take next week off.  It's spring break we're off Thursday and Friday anyways and he told me to make a week out of it.  I argued but in the end gave in and turned in a leave slip for the whole week.

A whole week off?  What on Earth am I supposed to for 9 whole days (two Saturdays and Sundays plus a work week)? In three years I have never taken that much time off- I've probably taken 9 days total off in that time but never together.  I don't know what on Earth I'm going to do but I plan to enjoy it.

Which brings me to food porn!  I love food and I love to cook.  But unfortunately I don't have the time to do it as often as I'd like.  So I try to live vicariously through other people's stories about food, cooking and that amazing thing called "free time".  I think I spelled that right.

For a while I've been a fan of Happy Foody and a lot of my healthier eating habits come from that site.  My Green Smoothie recipes and all the fun stuff about Chia.  My new found love of Almond Milk comes from here and I'm dying to try this recipe.  Sarah, the blogger, writes so passionately about food and how eating is such a whole body experience for her and her family.  It's inspiring.  It makes me want to eat healthier and live greener.  It makes me want to dread my hair.  It makes me want to travel the country in a veggie oil powered RV and car! Until I read Smitten Kitchen...

Smitten Kitchen is food porn at it's best!  Oh the richness, the decadence and the impending heart attacks await!  It's Paula Dean meets New York City and I love it!  I have yet to make anything from her amazing blog but if I baked I'd bake chocolate whiskey and beer cupcakes or if I wanted to channel Martha (Stewart of course do you know another one?) I'd make Martha's Macaroni and Cheese.  I could go on forever.  But each recipe comes with a delightful story about her discovery of the recipe and then her execution.  She isn't perfect and sometimes her recipe fails and she shares that and the blogosphere collectively weeps for the failed caramelized brown butter rice krispie treats that had so much potential.

While I have long given up on the idea that I will ever get to be the amazing housewife/cooking machine that my mother was/is I still dream of finding time at least 3-4 or more realistically 1-2 times a week to cook something amazing and tasty (hopefully sometimes healthy) for my family some day.  Next week maybe I can pretend.  Maybe I'll try Martha's recipe because I'm pretty sure that could feed me all week long depending on how much Bruce eats while I'm sleeping.  The beer cupcakes are screaming to be made and eaten with my sister Haley in her awesome kitchen.  Then that almond milk recipe must be tried and perfected, because I'm tired of buying the way too think and un-drinkable-straight brand they sell at HEB.  I want something thinner.  So on my glorious 9 days of freedom I hope to try some of these recipes and feel that sense of calm that I see these women posses as they talk about food and enjoy the best part- eating as well.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Spring Cleaning and Shopping

Last week was an incredibly stressful and emotionally draining week.  Actually starting the previous Saturday.  I worked like 8 days straight and saw Bruce for like 5 hours that entire weekend.  The week didn't get better- work was sucking and after an extremely uncomfortable conversation with my boss I felt even worse.  The only cure was to shop.

So Tuesday night I went shopping and got a bunch of clothes then Wednesday night I went shopping and go a bunch of stuff and Friday before class I got a bunch of crafty things to make a wreath.  I went shopping between work and school and trying to have a life.  The small shopping trips I had did a lot of damage.  I came home with 5 bags Wednesday night and instead of looking appalled by my shopping loot for once Bruce just looked kind of sympathetic.  Shopping is obviously a more agreeable outlet for stress than drinking.

Once I got all my treasures home it was very obvious that there was no room for new things in my house at this time.  My kitchen didn't want to hold my new awesome Tea gadget, my closet did not want more dresses and my dining room definitely did not want to accommodate all the fake flowers and reef stuff I'd purchased to be crafty.  Cleaning would have to be done and soon.

The week was so busy that I didn't get to it until Sunday.  Sunday I spent the whole day cleaning and organizing.  I made piles, bagged old clothes and shoes and at the end of the day you couldn't tell a lot was done but I still felt a great sense of relief as I saw the bags ready to go to Goodwill.

The hardest part is definitely parting with clothes.  I come from a long line of hoarders and I can talk myself into keeping anything...anything.  I just know that one day my clunky-sequined-Doc Martin-combat-boots are going to come back into style- I know it!  Or the dress my mother made me in high school may one day fit again and the adorable retro style Mary Jane's that have a heel broken will one day be fixed!  Then there was my 2001 ISA National Honors Society T-shirt.  Sure it has paint on it, but one day I'm going to start exercising and I'm gonna need grungy shirts to wear.  Sigh. I got rid of 15 t-shirts and kept 9.

I've heard about making quilts and blankets from old shirts before.  My sister made a quilt out of her old optometry shirts and I  have had a bag of about 20 TLU shirts sitting by my door for a while for her to do the same with mine.  But t-shirts from high school covered in paint I will close my eyes and add them to the bags.

Then I decided to hit my purses.

But I love my purses.  Sure I only carry the same purse for about 3 months and then move on, but one day I may really want to have that yellow leather banana republic purse Robynne gave me in high school.  Sure I didn't take care of it and the leather kinda dried out but I'm sure someone can fix it.  So now I have a laundry basket full of purses overflowing to my floor and hopefully tonight I can go through and get rid of 10 of the 36.  I think that's a reasonable number.  

The point is I made the effort and I think I made great progress.  You can see the floor of my bedroom and the floor of my closets.  I really am giving a lot of stuff to Goodwill, only I hope they don't go through it in front of me cause I don't think I want to see the looks on their faces when they see that I donated a red and black corset that Haley gave me years ago that I never used.  

Thursday, March 4, 2010

My Morning Cup

I can't remember the first time I tried coffee.  I remember always drinking the coffee creamers out of their little cups when we'd go to restaurants.  My earliest memories of coffee are all my dad's coffee cups.  I remember my dad having tons and tons of coffee cups, on the weekends I can remember him at the kitchen table in his robe with a coffee cup and the newspaper.  I also remember mom having her coffee too but it was normally taken standing in the kitchen.  I started drinking coffee sporadically when I was about 8 or 10 and then consistently when I was in high school.  Mmmmm Starbucks.  Then sometime during my last year in college I stopped drinking coffee and switched to tea.

8 or 10 years old? Okay I might have been a bit young but again it was really infrequent.  When I was around those ages I remember going out with Deirdre to Mama's Cafe and sitting at the bar counter drinking coffee and eating cheesecake.  We'd sit there for hours it seemed talking and drinking coffee.  Now lord knows what as an 8 or 10 year old we had to talk about but I do remember the tradition continuing through my middle school years so hopefully I contributed more to the conversation those times.  

In high school I was a musical theatre major at the North East School of the Arts and a student at the International School of the Americas.  Both of these schools were into coffee.  After school we'd go to Starbucks, before school we'd go to Starbucks, and when we skipped school we'd go to Starbucks.  Don't worry when we skipped school we'd usually run into the Principal of ISA and she'd remind us to bring our dance teacher a Starbucks when we went back.  Needless to say the rules for the Magnet School Kids were a little relaxed. Back when I was in high school anything Starbucks I loved- I loved the White Chocolate Mocha or the Java Chip Frappachino and non-coffee items like the very sadly retired Tazoberry and Cream, truly the most delicious whipped fruit cream thing ever! also the Chai Latte which Angela always said "it tastes like Christmas" and it really does.  We had tons of those reusable cups and were always going to Starbucks.

In college the nearest Starbucks was in San Marcos! 45 minutes away, or back in San Antonio 30-35 minutes away.  So my affair with Starbucks was on hold for a while.  They served Starbucks brand coffee in Lucky's but it was never the same.  My first year I had an illegal coffee pot and my roommate loved it when I made coffee cause she just liked the smell.  Over Christmas break I guess I forgot to take out the filter and we came by to the grossest unplanned science experiment ever and threw out the entire machine.  After that I decided I'd either buy my coffee on campus, use instant or switch to tea.

When I moved into the on campus apartments I had switched almost entirely to tea.  I was obsessed with making my own Chai, I loved cold chai with vanilla creamer and tons of ice!  It was delicious and since our campus was super warm 8 months of the year the perfect drink to take everywhere.  Sometime during my last year a Starbucks opened in New Braunfels, slightly closer but I no longer needed their sweet temptations.

So where does that leave me today.  In my apartment now I've never had a coffee maker, I just didn't need one, I'm cool with instant if I need it and tea is so much easier.  After all I have my awesome yellow Le Cruset tea pot that I love to use.

So 6 or so months ago Posadas and I were in North Star and went into Teavana.  A glorious tea shop with beautiful tea sets and the yummiest custom mixed teas to chose from.  Neither of us purchased anything that day but we both knew that one day we would.  In my quest to become ever healthier I've been looking for something to drink in the morning non-coffee and for when I don't want to go to the trouble of pulling out the blender for a Green Smoothie.  I make Chai Tea a lot but since I'm also moving to a no-milk lifestyle as well I learned that Chai Tea and Almond Milk are not my favorite combination and I don't like drinking Chai straight cause it makes me jittery.

I read yesterday about Yerba Mate a good coffee substitute tea that doesn't need much else to make it yummy.  So I went to Teavana last night hoping to get a cool tea gadget and a tea blend to call my own.  They gave me a White Chai Yerba Mate blend that was delicious without milk or sugar.  Can you say score? I got 1/2 a pound and a cool tea gadget that is a steeper/strainer all in one.  You add the tea leaves to the cup type think add hot water and let steep.  When you're ready to drink you take your mug and put the steeper/strainer on top of it and the deliciousness flows into your cup.  This morning I tried it myself and was pleasantly surprised it didn't suck and also that it woke me up.  I found it relaxing and comforting, all the things I need from my morning tea.

I still love Starbucks and go a couple times a month but it's no longer a religious habit.  My first year working at SAC after college I went every morning for about a year till I did the math and realized I spent approximately $260 a month on Starbucks.  So now if I can just spent like $20-30 a month on tea I think that is much better.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Chocolate Guacamole Does Not Sound Appetizing

Thanks Blake! No one wants to try my Chocolate Avocado Pudding anymore.  I just call it Chocolate Pudding now because everyone else is too disgusted when I say there's avocado in it, but I promise it's delicious.

A few weeks ago I was at Deirdre's (my birthmom) house getting my hair dyed.  This is usually a great time for us to catch up and talk and I actually get to see my siblings cause they don't tend to frequent the Thursday Night Music Club where I almost always get to see Deirdre.  My little sister is a 16 year old vegan and she has been for years now.  She used to be mostly vegetarian but now I'm pretty sure she's completely vegan.  At first I was appalled cause I love meat and I just never thought you could get all the great flavors without the savory-ness of meat.  But over the years I've warmed to the vegetarian lifestyle and a lot of the dishes.  I try to eat two vegetarian meals a day then try to only eat one meal with meat a day and I try to always have that one meat be chicken.

This year I've been trying lots of awesome healthier vegan, vegetarian and raw foods like my Green Smoothies which rock, vegan chili, Chia Seeds and just general healthier stuff. So far it's going great.  I've definitely lost some weight but I also feel a lot better.  I feel healthier and I have more energy.  Those Chia seeds and Green Smoothies really make me feel like I have more energy so yay.

So anyways my little sister came into the kitchen while my hair was setting in it's color and started adding some avocado to the blender.  To this Deirdre asked if she was making her chocolate pudding thing.  My sister Grace then went on to explain what it is.

Chocolate Avocado Pudding
1 Avocado
2-3 tablespoons Cocoa powder (depending how chocolate-y you want it)
Agave Nectar to taste
A splash of vanilla

Whipped together in a food processor

She then let me try some of the concoction and it was great! It tasted just like chocolate pudding and you couldn't even tell there was avocado in it. Grace told me that she suggested letting the mixture sit overnight to get more of the pudding texture out of it. I was super excited and put that little recipe in my head for later use.  We talked a little about chia seeds and my sis Grace is apparently a fan of the gel and then just adds stuff to it- I like to doctor it up from the start- see previous post on Chia :)

So weeks went by and I noticed some avocado in my fridge about to be too mushy and so I bought some agave nectar and cocoa and decided to try it.  After I gathered my ingredients I realized I didn't have a food processor.  I almost gave up and waited till I could buy one but then I just bit the bullet and started mashing with a fork.  Luckily the avocados were soft enough and mashing wasn't too bad, I added the rest of the ingredients and tested it.  It tasted great! It was a little thick but it had all the potential of an awesome chocolate pudding.  Because I had some in the fridge I added about a 1/4 a cup of vanilla almond milk and it got much smoother and even looked like pudding.

I put it in the fridge to set and started dreaming about eating it with bananas the next morning for breakfast.  A few hours later Bruce came home and I wanted to put him to the test.  I run up to him with a spoonful of pudding and said "honey I made homemade chocolate pudding wanna try it?" and shoved the spoon in his mouth.  He said it tasted great and then I told him what was in it.  He seemed surprised but not as disgusted as I was expecting.  So it passed the Bruce test yay!

The next day I took it to work with a banana and everyone in the office seemed more than disgusted by the idea.  I posted it on Facebook and again got a pretty grossed out reaction.  So for now it looks like there are only a few fans of the Chocolate Avocado Pudding...but it is really good.  You know you want to try it.