Monthly Archives: February 2012

All About It: Because I Say So

If I had to give one illustration to show how I’ve been feeling lately, it would be this:  for the past couple of weeks, off and on, I’ve been binge-snacking on unsalted bread.  Seriously.  True story.  Sad, sad true story.  That pretty much sums it up, too: my life has been feeling dull, plain, and pathetically out of control.  But today was different.  Today I felt the wise words of my acquaintance Carolina coming on: “Fuck it!”

Carolina is an architect from Sao Paulo, Brazil, whom I met in a hostel in Paris back in 2008.  We went out to a wine bar and ate decadent desserts and drank a bottle of Syrah and talked politics while Moby played in the background. Carolina was pretty great, but the greatest thing about her was that every time she did something wrong or embarrassing she would simply say “Fuck it!” and move on.  It’s a really lovely sentiment, if you think about it; who cares if you bump the table or spill your creme anglaise?  Can’t take it back, might as well get over it.

My point is, in a roundabout way the Gospel of Fuck It has reinvigorated my appreciation of…well…me.  Less worry, more loving things and doing things simply because I want to.  I’m taking back control, dammit.  First I pulled weeds, now I’m planting flowers.

So, in that vein, here’s my (really really belated) All About It post:


1. Washi tape

I know I’m not a trendsetter in the Japanese washi tape craze, but I’m jumping on the bandwagon now and I’m kind of obsessed.  I just bought some here and I especially like this post for making Japanese washi tape magnets.

2. Doppelganger myths

This goes along with my love of the book The Muse Asylum by David Czuchlewski and, yes, a little bit with How I Met Your Mother.  In most cultures the doppelganger is a bad omen or an incarnation of death.  I’m fascinated by the idea of a person’s double, and all the layers of similarities in actions, memories and thoughts that different cultures attribute to these double-walkers.  It’s a really interesting idea of identity and individuality…and how spooky would it be to see your own doppelganger??

3. Thai food

Nothing revolutionary here, I just can’t get enough curry or rice noodles.  This could get problematic.

4. Edie Sedgwick

Okay, I guess this started when my coworker wanted to start planning my birthday party (yes, five months in advance) and I suggested a pop art/Factory theme.  I don’t really know that much about the scene, but I’ve since become fascinated with Edie Sedgwick…which is weird because I totally don’t get into that celebrity watching stuff, and she was basically the Paris Hilton of her day.  I like to romanticize the trendsetting, art world, fuck-all aspects of those black and white photos, but then I’m also struck with the harsh color world of reality and the fact that she lived a tortured and probably unhappy life.  Still, the idealized carefree girl is still refreshing to me right now.

5. Gang documentaries

This isn’t really a new thing for me, but Frontline put out a really good one on Valentine’s Day (yes, this is how I spent that day…along with my boo, some Thai food and some really good beer.  Win!).  Crips and Bloods: Made in America is another good one.  I realize it’s kind of a morbid fascination with something so far removed from my own life (except for the kids I sometimes work with – sad), but I think it’s a good perspective and definitely makes me reconsider my own judgments.

So there you have it.  No pictures yet since I’m about to be late to capoeira, but I’ll try to post some later.  These things are awesome…because I say they are.

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Pulling Weeds

Starting tomorrow I’m pulling weeds in my life.  You know, the things and people that choke out all the good stuff in your life and leech sunlight and new opportunities from you.  I’m seeing less of toxic friends and cutting out bad habits (sadly, I’ve fallen back into a samsara cycle – but tomorrow it’s getting the boot for good!).  I’m moving froward in my professional life and hopefully kicking my old work environment to the curb in the near(ish) future.  I’m letting go of needless worry and giving people more compliments.  I’m still going to watch bad TV online.  Don’t judge.

See, things have been really good lately.  I am so in love (again, don’t judge.  Trust me I know how cheesy it is), I’m doing meaningful volunteer work that feeds my soul and I’m exploring new things all the time.  Unfortunately I’ve also been depriving myself of sleep in the name of all that awesomeness and falling into a lot of old, negative ways.  Even this blog has gotten a little stale…it’s okay, I know the writing is hurried and the pictures are sub-par.  But recognizing those things is the first step toward change, and I certainly don’t want to lose sight of the amazing things for all the petty not-so-amazing things.  So I’m pulling those weeds.  I’m going to re-focus on my health, show people more love than negativity and stop spending much energy on anything that doesn’t contribute to happiness.  And I’m doing it right NOW.  See you on the other side!

 

Oh, P.S.  I’ve stopped the clean eating for now.  I know it seems counterintuitive to stop eating clean when I just said I was going to re-focus on my health, but after trying it for several weeks I realized it was having the opposite effect that I wanted; it was making me think MORE about food and in turn sparking more cravings and more massive fails.  The idea was go get back in touch with my body and what I want, and it pumped too much thought and too little feel into the process.  I might try it again in the future, but for now, it’ll go on a shelf.  It’s kind of a weed.

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Mujaddara Paella?

Look, I don’t mean to brag here, but this dish is a winner.  It started out as mujaddara – a spiced Middle Eastern dish of lentils, rice and onions.  But you know me, and I can’t settle for only grains and protein for dinner.  I have to add as many veggies as I can.  As it happens, I’ve also been hankering for some paella lately (also Spanish rice, which I plan on making with cauliflower – stay tuned!) – not traditional paella, since I don’t eat meat or seafood, but the idea of a paella.  You know, rice and veggies and spices.   The obvious solution is to combine the two, and I must say, it is mighty delicious.  And, as always, healthy!

Mujaddara Paella

  • 3/4 cup lentils (I like red)
  • 1/3 cup basmati or long-grain rice
  • 1 small tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 1 portobello mushroom cap, sliced
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3-1/2 cup frozen peas
  • about 3 ounces baby spinach
  • olive oil
  • 1/4-1/3 cup red wine
  • pinch of dried sage and thyme
  • chili powder, paprika and red chili flakes
  • salt and pepper

First, soak your rice in water while you get the lentils and veggies going.  Put your lentils on the stove with 1 and 1/2 cups water and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until the water is evaporated and the lentils are tender, about 15-20 minutes.  Turn off the heat, stir in the tomato and let stand, covered, until the other items are done.

Although you should technically soak your rice for about 30 minutes, I usually get impatient and only soak it for about 10 minutes before cooking it.  Like the lentils, stir with 2/3 to 1 cup water and cover, bring to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer.  The rice might take a little longer to cook, about 25-30 minutes, until it’s truly tender.  Stir it (and the lentils!) often so nothing sticks to the bottom of your pan and burns.

While your lentils and rice are going, start sauteeing your onions in olive oil.  When they begin to soften and turn translucent, add your garlic and mushrooms.  Wipe the caps with a paper towel to clean and scrape out the gills of the portobello.

Sautee on medium-low heat until the mushrooms start to cook, then add about 1/4 cup of water and 1/4 to 1/3 cup red wine (I just drizzle it in the pot till it looks right – i.e. not a lot of excess wine in the pan), plus a little more olive oil if needed.  Also add some salt, pepper, sage and thyme to taste (just a pinch of the last two, and a healthy sprinkling of the first two).  Stir frequently until the mushrooms really become tender and start to shrink.

At this point, add in your baby spinach and peas, and stir until the spinach begins to wilt.  Take off the heat and add to the lentils, along with a dash of chili powder, a smidge of red pepper flakes if you like heat, and a generous amount of paprika.  Stir together with more salt and pepper, and add the rice whenever it’s ready.  Taste to adjust the seasonings, but remember the flavors will marry more as leftovers.  Then…serve!  Whole grains, protein (in the rice, peas and lentils) and of course vegetables.  My kind of meal and oh so good.  Another one-pot (okay, three-pot) wonder!

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Spinach Cheese Cakes

This is a lazy post.  Not because I’ve been lazy – quite the opposite, actually.  I’ve been extremely busy – in the best possible way! – hence no recent posts.  I’ve been completely obsessed with capoeira, which takes up 2-3 of my weeknights, and of course I’m still volunteering in therapeutic horseback riding…but now I’m up to five hours every Sunday.  It doesn’t feel like a chore though, since they’re both things that feed my soul.  All my remaining free time is taken up with my awesome friends and fantastic boyfriend.  And sometimes laundry.  Sometimes.  So yeah, life is good…but busy!

Anyway.  This recipe is pretty easy, so long as you have a real food processor like a real person and don’t have to hand-chop spinach before attempting to really annihilate it with an immersion blender.  Side note: using an immersion blender on a huge bowl of spinach will look, feel and sound like you’re doing yard work.  But other than that it’s an easy recipe.  I like having a little stash to eat with tomato soup and crusty bread, or you can make them for party apps.  I bet they’d also freeze well for those SUPER lazy days!  The best part is you pack almost a pound of spinach and a ton of protein into indulgent-feeling food.

Spinach Cheese Cakes (adapted from Eating Well)

  • 12 ounces (2 bunches) spinach, or you can add in/substitute some kale or other greens
  • heaping 1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese (low-sodium, if you can!)
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 eggs
  • salt and pepper to taste

Like I said, you start this recipe by chopping the spinach and other leafy greens in a food processor, or, if you’re me, you painstakingly hand-chop the leaves before attempting to finish this off with a hand blender.  I bet you could just hand-chop these though if you don’t have any sort of automatic implement.

So this becomes this:

Then pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees and spray a nonstick muffin tin.  In a small bowl, lightly beat your two eggs together.  Then, in your big bowl o’ spinach, add the rest of your ingredients: the cheeses, egg, garlic and spices.

Stir together the ingredients, then fill your muffin tins as full as you can get them (at least level to the top).  Depending on how much spinach you used, you’ll get between 8 and 12 cakes (I got 11, but I threw in some leftover kale on top of the 12 ounces of spinach).

That one lil’ empty cup looks lonely.  Bake the cakes until set, about 20 minutes.  They’ll bake waaay down and the edges will just barely start to brown.  Remove from the tin and let cool.  They were a little wet when I took them out, I’l assuming because a.) my spinach was still a little moist from washing and/or b.) I didn’t attempt to drain it.  I just stored them in a large tupperware between paper towels to soak up the extra moisture.  Serve warm with any meal that needs a boost of veggies and protein, or eat them as a healthy (50-calorie-each) snack!

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