Saturday, April 30, 2011

dinner, 4/29/11.

Decided I'd make a nice dinner since the husband had been out of town and I figured he was sick of eating in restaurants. I "like" "Food & Wine" magazine on Facebook, and the dinner suggestions they post are always great, so I went with Spaghetti with Escarole & Bacon and Mushroom Salad with Mint.

The only variations I made were that I (EGADS) microwaved the bacon for time's sake because it was 10:00 at night. Also, I used my preserved lemons in the salad instead of fresh lemon zest. YUM. The salad was awesome. I thought the mint would stand out more but really it gave the earthy mushrooms a subtle freshness and was great with the salty, preserved lemon. The pasta was great. I love, love, love Bionaturae pasta. The organic spaghetti cooked perfectly. For dried pasta, it's definitely my favorite product, and really hard to mess up and overcook.

We each had a glass of a Sicilian grillo that we bought a few weeks ago, and it was not right for this meal. Too mineral and seemingly acidic, but still tasty. Grillo is an odd grape, usually used in marsala and blends. It's gaining popularity as a standalone wine. I like it, but not with this.

Then we collapsed. I slept like a baby. This makes six days in a row I've eaten bacon. Relax, I only used four slices in the entire pasta dish. Hmm, wonder how I can get my bacon in today?

Thursday, April 28, 2011


I've had about enough lately of people telling me where to go, what to do, where to stand, smile now, etc. So, I figured I might as well go to Bikram today and let someone yell at me some more! It was one of those horrible, hot days where the air feels like it's coming from hell and just breathing makes you sweat. For the first time in 10 classes, I had to sit down during the standing series. And I almost fell asleep during savasana.

Taking a week off... I felt it. On top of it being a ridiculously hot session, my limbs and joints lost some of their flexibility. I hung in there, though. There was a new girl, her first day, and she stayed in the room and did great. I found myself giving her advice, and I surprised myself a little. I told her to come back the next day, especially after such a hot class, and she would get a lot out of it. And it's true. Today, I was tired. My balance is always bad when I'm feeling weak, so I fell out of a lot of postures. I had to sit down twice, and I had less flexibility than before. But, I will be going back again because the next time will be better. I hope!


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

dinner, 4/27/11.

Haven't done a dinner post in a while. I'm pretty happy with what I pulled together for myself tonight. Sorry the picture isn't great. It's from my phone because I didn't want to get out the camera and freak out the dog while he is sick (he hates cameras).

Chickpea Stew

1/2 T. olive oil
1/2 onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 t. cumin
1/2 t. coriander
1/2 jalapeno, minced (optional)
Salt & pepper
1 can chickpeas, drained
Broth or water (enough to cover chickpeas in your pot)
1 14.5 ounce can crushed tomatoes (I used Muir Glen Fire-Roasted crushed tomatoes)
Squeeze of lemon, maybe one tablespoon

Saute onion and garlic in olive oil until softening. Add spices, jalapeno, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in chickpeas and add water or broth. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Using a potato masher, mash the chickpeas to desired consistency. I like it chunky. Add tomatoes, cover, and simmer another 10-20 minutes on low. Stir in lemon juice at the end. Serve with cilantro, green onion, jalapeno, etc. I like mine with HOT SAUCE of course!

I also had an arugula salad with some lemon and olive oil and bleu cheese. Boring. But very tasty!


I'm wiped out. Why, you ask? Well, being in a crazy, three-day Indian wedding festival (I don't know how else to describe it), hanging out with my besties, flying halfway across the country and back, barely sleeping, and arriving to a very sick dog has taken all of my pep.

Did I mention the part about the sick dog? And that I haven't slept since Monday night because he was up, moving around and stretching, trying to get comfortable with a tummy ache? Also the fact that I picked him up from his boarding facility yesterday morning COVERED IN POOP, have given him two baths, and spent nearly $200 at the vet to get him some antibiotics. I'm a bit grouchy and exhausted.

Anyway, it was an awesome, fun, crazy, bittersweet, eye-opening-in-some-ways weekend. And, I got my first henna designs:

Should have taken a picture of it after it darkened, and now it's fading rapidly. Darn. It's pretty cool, but I've been self-conscious about it when outside of the wedding party. I got to wear a sari and a bindi, eat tons of food I've never tried before, and meet and see some awesome people. Plus, I got some:

Garrett Popcorn. Chicago mix. This stuff is the business. I remember the first time I had it. My mom was staying with me in Chicago, and I came home from work to find her on the couch, watching TV, gobbling popcorn and drinking champagne. (This explains so much about why I am who I am.) She said she had just been walking by a Garrett's store, saw the line, and thought she'd try it. The lady in front of her informed her she "got to get the mix." So with great trepidation she did, and we scarfed it like maniacs. Who knew that slightly soggy cheese popcorn and sweet, crunchy caramel corn could make such an awesome pair? 

These tiny bags were in our in-room gift bags, and oh my gosh, I've been rationing it. And not sharing. The hubs gets NONE. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Here we have the elusive poutapotamus. This species becomes clingy, pouty, and avoids eye-contact when concerned. He only comes out when he sees my suitcase with things in it... Sorry, little dog. You're going to have to go play your face off for a few days.


Since I began practicing Bikram, I've gotten a lot of reactions from different people. Some are impressed that I can stand the heat. Others, mostly yoga instructors, say it's cultish and they disagree with the methodology. One friend even said "ewww, that's like exercising in a petri dish!" Sure, it's the same 26 poses repeated each class. Yes, it's 105 degrees, and it smells like feet, and butt, and armpit, and sweat. You bet your bottom dollar that I look like I just walked in a rainstorm when it's finished. But I like it.

So maybe I don't completely buy into the doctrine/cultish aspect of it, but I like knowing what comes next in the series, and I like feeling like I've worked hard in the heat. Even the inconvenience of requiring that I shower immediately after each class hasn't bothered me yet. But I think the thing I have picked up on and enjoyed the most is that you don't have to do things PERFECTLY, you just have to give it your maximum effort. I'm a perfectionist, and this is definitely an area of my life where I am not perfect now and may not ever be. I hate that! I like steep learning curves, and knowing and doing everything quickly. Not gonna happen with this yoga. Yet I continue to go and improve and enjoy it.

In my everyday life, outside of that 120 minutes of yoga time door-to-door, I'm applying another a valuable lesson. It may sound contradictory or hypocritical, considering I've just said that I'm a perfectionist, but a lot of things in life have allowed me to just coast. Skate by on the bare minimum and get away with "doing well." I would say mostly personal things... not really work, but my own accomplishments or tasks or hobbies. Often, no matter how simple the task or how little it mattered, I have had guilt when I didn't give that 100 percent I knew I was capable of. It feels like cheating, and I'm not a cheater.

Especially with Bikram, with my health, I'm learning how good it feels to not cheat myself. Not cut corners, but also not beat myself up when I know I've done my best, and all I can do is hope it's either good enough or I will learn from any mistakes. Heck, I'm paying to be there! I might as well get my money's worth, right? Some recent developments in life are requiring that I not beat myself up too much about things and instead learn from them. Do what I do best and not make the same mistake twice. I just hope I can lighten up on myself a little bit and accept that I don't have to be perfect all of the time. We shall see...

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

are you sure it wasn't brews then bridges?

I've run across dozens of bridges in my running career. Footpaths over Lake Shore Drive, bridges over the Chicago River, even icy crossings constructed from two-by-fours and love. Never have I fallen. Until Sunday. I went down hard, thinking "MY FACE!" the whole time. Ugh.

Now, I haven't been doing much running in the past several months. After our failed attempt to train for a marathon in one of the hottest summers on record in Chicago (luckily derailed by moving three time zones away), I was pretty sick of running. I took a break. For half a year. Yes, I grew a little beer belly. I did hike, and walk, and run on occasion, just not more than three or four miles at a time. I bought some little weights and did OnDemand workouts. Then we got the brilliant idea to sign up for the Bridge to Brews 10K, and we didn't train for it. Needless to say I was pretty nervous about running, but I've been yoga-ing, so my core strength felt good. And my aches and pains earned by a few years on the pavement seemed eased. I figured I could at least finish, even if it wouldn't be pretty. Plus, we paid good money!

I don't know if you were aware of this, but Chicago is flatter than a pancake. I grew up in flipping KANSAS and I think Chicago is flat. Not one damn hill. Portland, on the other hand, is the city of hills (actually roses, but I say hills). Knowing the change in elevation would be a struggle for me, I started off slowly and sent the hubs to run ahead at his own pace. He looked really unhappy when a 9-year-old zipped by us, so I sent him on his way. Approximately 45 seconds after he left me, crossing the Fremont Bridge, and I planted my left foot on a grate, caught my right toe on a bolt, and went straight down.

The good news: I only got stepped on once, nothing was broken, and I landed on my butt before my hands! The bad news: My PRIDE was injured, and if I had not fallen, I would have finished in my best per-mile race pace ever (sub-9:30... fast for this slowpoke). Oh, and at yoga yesterday, a girl recognized me as "the girl who fell on the bridge, we wondered if you finished!" Yes, yes I did. Just call me tougher than I look but still whiny. And really angry about that time! Dare I sign up for another race.... ?

Friday, April 15, 2011

two lips.

Just this week, I noticed the leaves were budding on the trees. The cherry blossoms and daffodils have been in bloom for a while now, but I'm ready for the spring green of new foliage.

I bought some local tulips on sale at the store the other day, and they are the brightest, girliest pink I've ever seen in a flower. Love them. I put them in my (only) vase and set them on the table where I have my favorite Heath Ceramics bowl. If you haven't checked out Heath, do it now! They are an awesome mid-century ceramics company. I went to the factory when I was in Sausalito, California, a few years ago. Fabulous place, amazing wares. I love the pale green on this piece.

Now we just need the sun to show up, right Portland??

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

bringing wide back.

The skinny jean look has been in for what seems like forever. It took me a while to get on board with leggings, peg legs, jeggings, etc. Suddenly, one day, I couldn't imagine my life without a pair of unpants and a tunic. I forsook my boot-cut jeans and tailored trousers for pants tucked into boots and shapeless, bum-covering sweaters. It was as comfy as wearing yoga pants, only I was appropriate for public consumption!

Then, slowly in the past couple of months, I started noticing more flares on the fashion and style blogs I frequent. Even bellbottoms seemed to be making a comeback! And one day, I put my favorite pair of boot-cut jeans back on with my new Frye boots. It was like a fog was lifted. I didn't HAVE to give up my figure-flattering jeans completely! Just a few weeks ago, I came across my newest, most coveted obsession: The EmersonMade. Original Bluebells.

Oh boy, these are awesome. Portland is the land of jorts and Tom's shoes, and these seem to be the polar opposite. But I'm OK with that. Hipsters be damned, I am ready for some wide-leg jeans and four inch heels. Welcome back to my life, tailoring. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

the story of the shopping cart.

I came home yesterday and there was a shopping cart sitting in front of our neighbors' driveway. Not directly in front, but off to the side. I didn't think much of it other than "huh, wonder how that got there?" A couple of hours later, I was making the bed in our guest room, which looks out onto the street, and I saw our neighbor get out of his car, glower at our front door, and kick the shopping cart into our driveway.

Seriously. Can you say passive-aggressive neighborhood? And I haven't even told you the story of the neighbors across the street and their note... maybe another day...

Tuesday is garbage/recycling day, so when I finished making up the bed, I went outside to put the bins on the curb for early-morning pick up. I grabbed the cart and hauled it up onto the sidewalk so at least it would be out of the street, GLARING at the neighbors' front door the entire time. Then, I fretted. What the heck am I going to do with a shopping cart? I know the neighbor made it MY problem, but it's not my style to just pass the buck and do that to someone else. So, I was awake half the night, somewhere between anger and confusion, thinking about an abandoned Safeway shopping cart. Full of grocery bags. What was in those bags? Body parts? Drugs? My imagination ran wild.

I woke up this morning and it was still there. Staring at me, half on the curb, half in the gutter. I had called the store to see if they would come get it, but I got a "not our problem" response. It took all of my energy not to run next door and ask them to help me put it in their truck and get rid of it. It certainly wasn't going to fit in my Jetta! But I resisted and took the dog to play some fetch and clear my mind.

The happy ending, if you want to call it that, is that as I rounded the corner on my way back from the park, I saw a man walking off, pushing the cart in front of him! I lingered at the corner, letting him take his time. I've never been so grateful for recycling day and the folks who pick the bottles out for the 5 cent return. Hopefully, it will help him collect lots of cans and bottles and he'll get some decent cash.

These are the days that I miss Chicago and its direct (OK, actively aggressive) tone. I am so not cut out for this friendly neighborhood business.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

dinner(s), 4/7 & 4/8/11.

Thursday night, I just didn't feel like cooking, so we went to Podnah's down the street. They just relocated to our neighborhood, and everyone raves about the barbecue. We had a salad (mmm, bleu cheese dressing) and a half-rack of ribs with some brisket and sides. It was pretty good. Of course, nothing is as good as my beloved Oklahoma Joe's. The ribs were decent, and the sauces were nice, the sides were sides. Prices were good, too. My only real complaint was that the brisket was so poorly cut that it looked like someone else had eaten it first. It was totally mangled!

Friday, we decided to go for a walk and have an in night and make dinner. It was just lovely out. Sunny and 60 and beautiful, so we set the patio chairs up in the back garden and Dave made up a little cheese plate. We went to a great wine tasting last weekend and decided to open one of the bottles we had picked up, fought over the pickled artichokes, and had a nice, decompressing moment.

Just because I am unemployed doesn't mean my week was a piece of cake! I earned my share of that delicious, creamy lump of cheese on that platter. 

Dinner was spice-rubbed, grilled pork tenderloin, coconut rice with cilantro (I think I ate most of it!), and spicy asparagus. Big winner, and the hubs grilled the pork perfectly! This is all making us sound like major carnivores. Hey, we ate vegetarian Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday! Sometimes, you just have to use what you already have around.

For the record, last night we had a frozen pizza. Kirkland cheese, to be exact. Not really post-worthy (but meat free)!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

dinner, 4/6/11.

Trying to get through whatever is in the fridge this week, so we had grilled chicken breast marinated in some lemon juice, honey, Stuarto's garlic olive oil (from my dad!), salt, and pepper. We threw some julienned preserved lemon on top.

Since it IS spring, according to the calendar, I've been craving light foods like pasta salad. Instead of pasta, I used some quinoa and all of the nearly gone veggies in the drawer. Today that was mini bell peppers, green onions, some broccoli slaw and basil. I tossed it in lemon juice and olive oil, Lawry's seasoned salt, and fresh pepper. It was a workable, pretty healthy meal. Of course, there is hot sauce on the quinoa. YUM.

I am not a food photographer. I plan on taking some photography classes one of these days. This was the best I could do!

food rules.

One of the huge blogging cliches: Posting about food. I know. But I love food and enjoy cooking. Not everything is a success, but usually I can put a meal on the table that is decent, ideally not too expensive, healthy, and probably won't make you sick. Neither the hubs nor I is picky. It's one of my favorite, favorite things about my husband: He will try almost anything once, and he is adventurous with food. I'm the same way, so it stays pretty easy around here, save for the occasional battle of man-wants-meat vs. girl-wants-veggies. Generally, and luckily, the only challenges are...

No white stuff - includes mayo, yogurt, sour cream, overly stinky cheeses, etc.
No veggie products that pretend to be meat - there was an incident with some vegan pepperoni, and he has never recovered

No bananas
No maple syrup - no seriously, I can barely sit at a table when someone is eating pancakes

So, I broke one of the rules last night and used mayo in a recipe. If it's cooked, it gets past him undetected. And it was a hit!  Grilled eggplant sandwiches have been in the rotation for a while, but I decided to mix it up and go with "oven-fried" eggplant cutlets served it on toasted ciabatta rolls with fresh mozzarella, basil, tomato, and balsamic onions. Calorie-wise, it might be a little more than using just olive oil, but we didn't have anything besides a simple arugula salad on the side. Dessert was an epic fail, though... apparently the white food category includes creme caramel... "I like the caramel, but it's too eggy!" Sigh. A waste of a water bath and worry over burned sugar!

So, I am going to try and make a habit of (remembering to photograph and) posting dinner menus for doable weeknight meals, and maybe fancy weekend meals. I have a hard time remembering successes, so it would be great to record them for my own use! I'll try and post recipes if/when I use them. If I make something up, maybe I'll type out the recipe. Last night's dinner...

Oven-fried eggplant cutlets
Balsamic onions