Thursday, January 31, 2008

My Paella

I've had this huge craving for paella (pronounced "Pie-yay-uh") for weeks, and it was getting worse every time I saw someone cook it on Food Network or when I would order it at a tapas place.  I love the stuff - the seafood, the color, the texture - but I think it can be healthier.  Genuine paella is made with rice, veggies, chorizo and seafood, but rice doesn't have enough fiber for me, and I'm sure it's loaded with fat and oil to keep it so smooth.
So I took it upon myself to make my own, substituting fiber-full couscous for rice and putting in tons of veggies.  Since I didn't have a wide enough pan (or burner) I decided to make it in a 6-quart pot, and this stuff overflowed!  I got about 10 huge servings out of this.  I've been eating it all week, and I'm a little sick of it; if it freezes well, I can enjoy it the next time I get a craving.
Hearty veggies, fiber, seafood?  Who could ask for more?
I'm Making Paella
Makes 10 large (two-ladle) servings
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Medium yellow onion, diced
3 Large garlic cloves
1-2 Cups baby white or red potatoes, quartered
1 Each - Red, Green & Orange bell pepper, diced
2 Links Chicken Sausage - Chorizo Flavored (I like Amy's), cut in half lengthwise and sliced into half-circles.
3 Tbsp Tomato Paste
1 Pinch Saffron (I found a little package - Vigo brand - for $3.69 at my grocery store.)
1 Can (10-14 oz) diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 Quart Chicken Broth/Stock
1-1.5 lbs of raw, peeled & deveined shrimp
1 lb Bay Scallops (These are the tiny ones.  I got them frozen.  You can get big fresh sea scallops, but I think they're too big for me.)
7 oz Crab Claw Meat - optional (This is the "cheapest" meat of the crab.  I found a tub of pre-cooked stuff for $7, and it's awesome.  I make crab salad out of it.  DON'T USE FAKE CRAB LEGS YUCK.)
Mussels - optional (I found frozen mussels in butter sauce - in the shell and everything.  I just microwaved them, removed the meat and added it to the mix.  If you can't find them, don't use them, unless you're brave.)
Salmon or other sturdy fish - optional (Cut them into 1-inch chunks and add them to the simmer.  If you want; I didn't.)
2-3 cups Whole Wheat Couscous
1 cup frozen baby peas
Hot Sauce (Louisiana or Frank's = my favorites)
In a large pot, heat olive oil until it ripples.  Saute onions until they are translucent.  Add chicken chorizo sausage & garlic; cook until sausage is warmed through.  Stir in peppers and potatoes, season with salt and pepper, and cook until peppers are translucent but still crisp.  Stir in tomato paste and saffron; let heat through.  Add canned tomatoes and season with salt and pepper to taste; cook until warmed through.  Stir in chicken broth and simmer until potatoes are fork-tender.  Gently stir in shrimp, scallops and fish (optional), and simmer gently until the seafood is opaque.  
Stir in 2 cups of couscous, cover pot, and remove from heat for 5 minutes.  After five minutes, the couscous should be fully cooked.  If there is still a lot of liquid and the couscous is mushy, add more couscous to soak up that extra liquid; cover to steam the couscous for 5 more minutes. 
Return the pot to the burner and gently stir in crab meat, mussels, and frozen peas, being careful not to break up the fish chunks (if you added fish).  Taste for seasoning; add salt, pepper and hot sauce as desired.
Serve with a light dusting of parmesan and fresh chopped cilantro. 
It's a lot of work - prepping the veggies, tending the pot, etc. - but it probably took me an hour in total.  It helps to play some Motown music and drink a glass of wine in the meantime.  That helps for anything.
So there's that,

I Got All This Paella

I made Paella this past weekend.  Lots of it.  Before I post the recipe, here's the bulk of a paella-centric Seinfeld script:
From Seinfeld:  The Raincoat (I &II)

GEORGE: (grabbing his jacket) Hey oo, I just remembered uh my parents really wanna have you guys over for dinner before you leave town. What about tonight?

(Morty and Helen look at each other)

HELEN: Tonight?

GEORGE: Yea they're making Paella.

HELEN: (looking at Morty) Uh oh I don't think we think we can make it tonight, (turns toward George) we have plans.

JERRY: (watching the whole conversation from his desk) What plans?

HELEN: (turns to Jerry) We have plans.

JERRY: Where'd you get plans?

HELEN: (annoyed) We have plans.

GEORGE: Well um, what about tomorrow night?

HELEN: (turns back toward George) Maybe

GEORGE: Ok uh, I guess I'll tell them that.

MORTY: (to George as he is about to leave) Hey give 'em our best though.

GEORGE: (quietly) Ya.

JERRY: (walking over toward George and the door) I'll call you later.


(George tries to open the door hand slips then he exits; Jerry makes sure the door is closed)

JERRY: So what plans do you have?


JERRY: So how come you're not going over there for dinner?

HELEN: Jerry we don't care much for the Costanzas'.

MORTY: We can't stand them.

JERRY: Really? Since when?

HELEN: Since always. We've never liked them.


HELEN: Well they're so loud, they're always fighting it's uncomfortable, you never notice?

JERRY: No I notice but they're from your age group I didn't know you could detect abnormal behavior among your own kind.

MORTY: Well we do.


[Costanza House]

FRANK: They're not coming?

GEORGE: No, they had plans.

ESTELLE: How could they have plans?

GEORGE: That's what I wanna know.

FRANK: Well what difference does it make? They wouldn't lie to us, they're are dear friends.

ESTELLE: What am I supposed to do with all this Paella?

GEORGE: They said tomorrow, maybe.

FRANK: Maybe?

ESTELLE: Maybe they don't like us.

FRANK: Why wouldn't they like us? (tastes the Paella; disgusted) Again with the pepper? What do you gotta use all the pepper for?

ESTELLE: Ah keep quiet.

FRANK: What are you trying to set my mouth on fire?

GEORGE: I don't know what the reason could be.


[Costanza House)

(George, Estelle and Frank are sitting at the table for breakfast all still in what they slept in)

ESTELLE: You think they're coming tonight?

GEORGE: I dunno they said maybe.

FRANK: Of course they're coming, they're leaving soon. If they don't come tonight they might not see us.

ESTELLE: Well they better come, I got all this Paella.

FRANK: I admire Morty and Helen going to France. We should take a trip, maybe a cruise.

GEORGE: Yes a cruise, a long cruise, just the two of you.

ESTELLE: Georgie what were you doing poking around the attic last night?

GEORGE: I-I wasn't in the attic.

ESTELLE: I heard noise.

GEORGE: Maybe it was a mouse.

FRANK: (jumping to his feet) OK that's it! We're moving!


FRANK: I will not tolerate infestation.

GEORGE: You haven't even seen one.

FRANK: Don't you understand the very thought, the very idea, I'll never be comfortable again.

ESTELLE: All right Frank that's enough.

(Frank sits back down)


[Jerry's Apartment]

(George enters)

GEORGE: Aaaa (looking around for Jerry) aaaa (finds Jerry) Ah ha. They had plans huh? They were busy. They were busy with their (doing a little dance to make the plans seem all that important) big plans!

JERRY: What are you talking about?

GEORGE: Mom and Pop Seinfeld

JERRY: Look I don't know.

GEORGE: All right I happen to know what they did last night, they had dinner with Kramer.

JERRY: Oh they were tired it was a last minute thing.

GEORGE: So what's the deal they don't want to have dinner with my parents?

JERRY: That's right.

GEORGE: Is there something wrong with my parents?

JERRY: Absolutely

GEORGE: Because my parents happen to be two pretty wonderful people.

JERRY: These the people you currently live with?


JERRY: Uh huh

GEORGE: So are they coming tonight or not?

JERRY: Look I really don't know what they're plans are.

GEORGE: Ok, fine. It's going to be very interesting, very interesting if they don't show up tonight. You know my mother made all this Paella.

JERRY: What is that anyway?

GEORGE: It's a Spanish dish. It's a mélange of fish, an meat with rice. Very tasty.

JERRY: I-I'll tell 'em




[Costanza House]

(George, Estelle and Frank all standing in the kitchen)

GEORGE: They were drinking champagne in a buggy!

FRANK: First Kramer, then Elaine?


FRANK: It's a slap in the face.

ESTELLE: (with her arms out in wonder) What did we ever do to them? (George puts his arms out and imitates Estelle as she moves her arms up and down as she speaks) I want to know what we did them!

FRANK: What are they too good for us? A raincoat salesman, I could buy and sell 'em like that.

(Frank leaves the kitchen and moves into the living room)

ESTELLE: The hell with them.

GEORGE: (in the threshold between the living room and the kitchen) The thing that bothers me the most, is the lying.


ESTELLE: You know, I was thinking today. I never liked those Seinfelds anyway, he's an idiot all together. (Knocking at the door) Ah there's Kramer.

(Estelle goes to answer the door)

KRAMER: (from outside) Hello?


KRAMER: (still outside) Helowwwowwow (Estelle opens the door) Hey (kisses Estelle hello) Ha ha, Good evening (George waves)

ESTELLE: Hope you're hungry. (goes into the kitchen)

KRAMER: Ooo Paella

GEORGE: Hey uh let me take you're coat.

KRAMER: (giving George his coat) Oh ya thanks buddy.

FRANK: That shirt, where'd you get that shirt?


FRANK: That's my cabana shirt, you stole my shirt you son of a bitch! (really fast) George you let your friends go up in my attic and steal my clothes? (grabbing at the shirt) Gimme that back



[Rudy's Antique Boutique]

(Kramer and Morty enter with a bunch of raincoats)

KRAMER: Hey, Frank!

FRANK: Oh, I just want to you know I'm retracting our dinner invitation.

MORTY: Well you don't have to retract it because we never went.

FRANK: I'm retracting that it was ever offered.

MORTY: I retract your retraction.

So there's that,

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Missed Opportunity for a Backhand Slap

I just went down to the front desk to pick up a gym pass for my lunchtime workout.  Every time I go, the ladies at the desk know exactly what I'm there for, because I only come for the pass, oh, every fricken day.  On days when they have Tootsie Rolls or Pops in the candy dish, I usually grab one or two of those, too.
There was this older woman there talking to the receptionists, and when they were signing out a pass for me, I said in my best Mae West impersonation, while digging in the candy dish, "I've come for a gym pass and some Tootsies."
Then this woman standing by said, "Well if you're getting a gym pass, you shouldn't be eating the candy."
Fuck you.
So I says to her, I says, "Well, if I burn 500 calories every time I go to the gym, I figure a couple pieces of candy can't hurt."  Snap!  The scorpion begins its dance.
She looked at me as if she didn't know what to say, then the main receptionist gets my back.  "Tootsie Rolls are fat free."  Which the other lady - this, this interloper - finds surprising.  "Oh really....?"
I pocketed my pass and walked away.  Fuck that bitch.
I don't this an oversensitive response?  I get really ticked off at that kind of judgment or "advice."  I swear I wanted to say, "Bitch I do this everyday.  My goddamn doctor says I'm like Michael-fucking-Jordan, so don't worry about my candy/excercise balance."
Or just choke her.
Bleh!  Begone, negative emotions!
Note:  In the time it took me to get back to my desk and dash off this email, I've already crunched down the Tootsie Pop, which I normally savor.  In this case, it really did take 3 licks to get to the center of Tootsie Pop.  This has ruined my treat.
So there's that,

Just to Get You Through

Smile, it's Wednesday.

You're welcome.

So there's that,


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Back to My Roots

I've been phoning in my blog over the past few days, and for that I apologize. Look to the future for my response to Victoria's Secret's recruiter, as well as my Cranky Fat Bitch Emails to Sports Authority, The North Face, and all those sportswear stores that need to market to bigger people.

I went to the nutritionist on Thursday and reviewed my blood labs from November. I'm healthy as a horse! With the exception of a little low thyroid activity, I'm what my doctor described as "Michael Jordan" - low in bad cholesterol, average in good cholesterol (which I can amp up with more excercise, since it's produced by the body), and just a superstar in all arenas. I could retire from basketball, play some baseball, retire again, play basketball, retire, golf, then own a team...if I wanted to. So that's good.

I also went to that Tim Whatley-esque endodontist last night to get started on my root canal. It was pretty funny stuff. The hygienist and I hit it off: when Whatley suggested that I needed a wisdom tooth removed before they could crown my root canal tooth, she slipped me some news under the table as soon as he left the room.

Hygienist: (Eyes widening for emphasis as the man-in-charge leaves) Let me tell you this; your dental plan won't cover a full wisdom teeth extraction and this root canal, and the crown. Where do you live?

Me: Oh hell. Irving Park and Pine Grove.

Hygienist: I know a good oral surgeon near Belmont and Sheffield; he won't jack up the prices and he's just a good guy. I used to work for him.

Me: Wow, that's great. I'd love his number; I was looking at this other guy my dentist recommended.

Hygienist: What's his name?

Me: Something with a Z? Downtown?

Hygienist: Oh, Z----? He's good, too, but it's up to you. I'll give you this other guy's number. I let him remove my kid's teeth.

Me: Okay.

Hygienist: (Leaning in, telling me a secret best kept between friends) And let me tell you this - no one will tell you this, but I will: Have them charge your anesthesia against your medical insurance so you don't eat up all your dental coverage.

Me: Oooh, good idea!

Hygienist: No one will tell you this, but I will.

Add that conversation to the laughs we got out of the lame smooth jazz music in the background and her ex-boyfriend-who's-about-to-get-married still calling her cell phone, and you got two new pals.

The procedure was fine, went VERY quickly - definitely not like Glen Schepers, DDS. And he didn't hold up every medieval tool and describe its job in detail like GS DDS, either.

"I'm going go into the roots of your tooth with this little file and it's going to help me scrape out all that dead tissue. We're gonna clean that up and put some medicine in it, then when you come back in a few weeks, I'll stuff those nerve canals up with rubber cement."

I hear it in my sleep.

Though soon into the drilling, the bit fell out of his drill, which didn't hurt me but freaked him out. He stopped drilling, and I saw him jump. He said "fucking.....[mumble]," and reached into my mouth with a pliers to pull out a thin, inchlong piece of metal. I think he was embarrassed, but I thought it was pretty funny. Did I mention he looks a bit like Alex Trebek?

I couldn't help but think - while all this was happening - about how my tooth is so tiny, but when it's being worked on to this extent, it feels like it's at least an inch in diameter, they do so much detail work on it.

The best part about this root canal? Vicodin, baby! I got ten pills, and I'mma save what I don't use for pre-menstrual syndrome cramps. Boo yah!

So there's that,


Monday, January 28, 2008

For Real...

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: <>
Date: Jan 28, 2008 8:09 AM

the worst feeling is to sit down in the bathroom and the seat still be warm. :::::::chunk's vomiting sounds::::::::

Justin Thompson
Marketing Communications Consultant, Care Solutions

This e-mail message is intended only for the use of the individual or entity to which the transmission is addressed. Any interception may be a violation of law. If you are not the intended recipient, any dissemination, distribution or copying of this e-mail is strictly prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient, please contact the sender by reply e-mail and destroy all copies of the document.

Do you know Chunk's vomiting sounds? Hoo-ahhh, Hoo-ahhh, HOO-AAAH!

So there's that,


Friday, January 25, 2008

Just a Good Idea

Found this on, which I already told you I love.  I thought it could help us all sometime.
You're welcome.
So there's that,

This American Life

I used to listen to This American Life on NPR every Friday when I was commuting by car.  It's a fantastic radio show that takes a topic and shows widely varying sides of it.
You can stream whole episodes of the show at
I just listened to the show that aired on 12/21/07 titled Home Alone.  It began with a heartbreaking story of an elderly Los Angeles woman who died alone and how her funeral arrangements were made and her possessions dealt with.  I cried a little - how sad is it to die alone?

30-second Promo
Full Episode
$0.95 Download
Buy CD
  Email to a Friend
346: Home Alone

A 79-year-old woman, Mary Ann, dies in Los Angeles. She's lived alone for decades. No one knows her—or her next of kin. There's a body to be buried, a house full of stuff to get rid of. It so happens there's a county bureaucracy for just this type of problem. In this show, we follow around the person charged with figuring out what to do with the remains of Mary Ann's life. This and other stories about what happens when people are left alone. 


Yvonne has lived by herself for 12 years, ever since her last child moved out. She eats dinner by herself, takes care of the house on her own, and usually spends most holidays alone. She explains why she's perfectly happy this way—and has no desire to live with anyone else. (4 minutes)

Act I. Plot Without a Story.

Mary Ann was an elderly woman living by herself in Los Angeles County. She wasn't married, didn't have children, wasn't in touch with any of her family. When she became sick and went to the hospital, the only contact she had was Sue, the woman who delivered her prescriptions from the pharmacy. Then, Mary Ann died. There was a body to be buried, a house full of stuff to get rid of—but no family or friends to deal with it all. Luckily, there was Emily, an investigator for the Los Angeles Public Administrator's Office. It's her job to take care of the remains of lives like Mary Ann's. Eric Klinenberg reports the story. He's a sociologist, whose most recent book is, Fighting for Air: The Battle to Control America's Media. (15 minutes)

Song: "Tenuous Gears," Micalavera

Act Two. Boy Interrupted.

Growing up, Clevins Browne moved all over New York with his mother, in different apartments and homeless shelters. But that all changed when he was 12, and they got an apartment in a public housing complex in Brooklyn. Then, when he had just turned 15, his mom collapsed in pain while they were watching TV at home. Clevins called 911, and then hid in the closet, so he wouldn't be taken away by child services. He stayed in the apartment by himself—with no money, hardly any food—until his mother came home from the hospital: five months later. Clevins talked to This American Life producer Sarah Koenig, about how he survived. (22 minutes)

Song: "Space Kay," Daniel Lanois

Act Three. The Man Who Came to Dinner.

When she was in kindergarten, Jennifer, along with her brother and mother, was held hostage by an armed gunman for four days. Their father was a drug dealer and had disappeared with a bunch of cocaine that belonged to someone else. The gunman had been sent to hold the family hostage until he returned the drugs. But the gangsters didn't count on Jennifer's mother being so tough—frightening enough, in fact, to almost make the guy leave. And not only that: her mother was so composed, that Jennifer and her brother never even knew they were being held hostage. (13 1/2 minutes)

Song: "Hope There's Someone," Antony and the Johnsons

I know I have a big, amazing family, but momma needs a mate.
So there's that,

Thursday, January 24, 2008

I'm Not Josie Grossie Anymore!

I'll admit it: I love chick flicks.

And I'm not just talking about socially-acceptable chick flicks like Pretty Woman, Sixteen Candles and Dirty Dancing - I'm talking about any movie geared toward female adults, teens, tweens and children. Seriously? If Drew Barrymore or Julia Stiles or even Hillary Duff are in an overly-pink movie, I will watch it. If not in the theater, then in the comfort and judgment-free shelter of my studio apartment.

Bee Tee Dubs (as in BTW or By The Way), I don't even like Dirty Dancing. I saw it for the first time when I was 18, and I thought it was a piece of crap. But if it's on TV, I'll watch it. AND I don't even like Julia Stiles or Hillary Duff, but I'm drawn to their films.

Is there something wrong with me? Why do I know the plotline of the Lizzie McGuire Movie?

(Lizzie and Gordo go on a class trip to Italy, where she meets a guy who happens to be an Italian pop superstar who uses her uncanny resemblance to his old duo partner to catapult him back into fame.)

Why do I have a favorite line from Never Been Kissed?

(I got hot weiners!)

Why do I cry at the end of A Cinderella Story?

(Because Austin Ames runs off the field at the last minute of the most crucial football game of his high school career to kiss Sam Montgomery aka "Diner Girl" before she could leave. Then it starts raining. The drought is more ways than one!)

Why do I always pop in the VHS cassette of Ever After every time I come home to Indiana, even though I know it's syrupy and awful?

(Because I know how it ends, and I can fall asleep to what I know.)

Why do I know the "Brr, It's Cold in Here" cheer from Bring It On?

(Because the movie is actually really funny, and I've committed bits of the entire movie to memory. "Prepare for total annihilation...")

Why do I have a crush on the guy who played Prince Edvard in The Prince and Me?

(Because he's fucking hot. HAWT. And Julia Stiles doesn't deserve to be associated with him.)

I know Save the Last Dance is a gross exploitation of MTV's idea of black culture, so why do I continue to watch it?

(Because I secretly want to be able to dance like that.)

What could I possibly gain from seeing every J. Lo movie?

(Oh, I don't know, maybe how to fight my abusive husband like she did in Enough; or maybe that I should slow down and realize love - however inconceivable - is within reach, like she did in The Wedding Planner; or maybe that if you believe in yourself and make key alliances, any woman - even a hotel housekeeper from Queens - can land a dashing politician and change the world.)


I do draw some lines. Yeah, I don't like Julia Stiles (Pumpkinface) and I think Hillary Duff fucked up her looks something fierce since her Lizzie McGuire Days:

Wholesome v. Horseface

But I will not bring myself to submit to a battery of Sandra Bullock movies. With the exception of Miss Congeniality - I mean, who hasn't seen that? I'm talking Hope Floats and The Lake House. Though I have seen Ya-Ya Sisterhood and Two Weeks Notice. Fuck.

Who am I kidding?! I can't keep myself from chick flicks. I'm trying to think of CF stars that I can't watch (Natalie Portman, Keira Knightley), but I've seen some of their movies...and enjoyed them. Except Keira. I liked Bend It Like Beckham, but I appreciated her Indian co-star more and I'll never understand why Keira is so much more famous. I haven't seen her other movies - even the Pirates Trilogy, and I don't want to. I guess.

I just need to get this off my chest. Is this abnormal for a 26-year-old woman? Maybe I'm a lot like Britney Spears in Crossroads: I'm not a girl, but not yet a woman.

Until then, I'll have a new generation of movies from Miley Cyrus and Dakota Fanning to help me figure it all out.

So there's that,


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Can You Imagine?

I still get holdover emails from my job search last summer, and while I don't normally consider them before I delete them, I thought this one was particularly interesting.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: EcareerSite  - Victoria Secret - Sales Associate <>
Date: 22 Jan 2008 12:06:59 -0500
Subject: Victoria Secret is hiring a Sales Associate.

Dear LAURA ,

I found your resume on the Web recently and think you'd be a great candidate for a job we currently have available. Your credentials in administration are what make you an ideal candidate for this position. Below is an outline of the position. We'd like to invite you to apply today.

Victoria Secret
Sales Associate

To access a more detailed description or to submit your application, please click on the link below. If your browser does not support the link, just copy and paste it into your address bar.

Once your application is processed, a member of our HR team will contact to you to schedule an interview. Please allow about 48 hours to be contacted. We're looking forward to speaking with you soon.

David Chapman
Sr. Recruiter, HR Division

Can you imagine?  How could I sell undergarments for a company that doesn't even carry my bra size?  I should give them a piece of my mind.
Keep ya posted.
So there's that,


Even though it's fricken freezing outside, I decided to wear a skirt and tights to work. Change it up.

Instead of whipping out my largest-size-offered Lane Bryant tights, I decided to try on the pack of largest-size-offered Just My Size tights that had been hiding unopened in my closet since my last rant on pantyhose in November. To quote my "Most Uncomfortable" list:

  1. Holes in the Inside-Thigh of Your Pantyhose. If I step out in a skirt and hose for work, this little bitch of an annoyance always blights me by the day's end. I feel cute, slim and sexy in hose - my legs are deceptively smoothed and even-toned - I am a goddess in fresh hose. But when my thigh fat busts through the sausage casings by lunch time, I'm begging to take them off by 2 pm. The ripped nylon look might work for fetishists, but when it chokes the herniated fat bulging through, I'll have to wear Desitin all week to heal it. To leave work without them on would be like some awful walk of shame - my skirt wouldn't look right, my legs would be stubbled, and I'd have that general look of being violated between my legs. And a note to Just My Size: Make taller 4x hose. Not all fat people are short, and I'm pretty sure the reason they rip is because the crotch hits about 6 inches below my actual crevasse. Fuck you.
Pretty harsh.

Way-il, this morning I decided to slip on the JMS black microfiber tights I got on sale at Walgreens, and let me tell ya - my findings were positive. They fit! Crotch hit crotch, the control-top band goes above my bellybutton, and they even bunch a little at my ankles! I have a hunch that my thigh fat will stay in-bounds through lunch time and beyond.

Emboldened by my non-scale victory, I thought I would weigh in this morning before I mow down on a scooped-out bagel (It's Bagel Day!). So I hopped on the scale in our cafeteria, and lo and behold, I lost 2 pounds! Boo yah!

I was somewhat discouraged, but then I remembered the eating I did over the weekend. I went to an Italian grocery on Saturday and had a small but calorie-laden grilled sandwich of prosciutto, mozzarella & basil. And that night I made some bean and cheese burritos to soothe my mouth, where 2 cavities were filled earlier in the day. And on Friday night I enjoyed tapas with friends.


Tapas is a type of dining in which small plates of food are shared among a table. Imagine a big appetizer sesh. It can be pretty diet-friendly in regards to portions, but I have a tendency to overnibble when I'm not thinking about it. I had bread and olive oil, olives, tomato & pancetta bruschetta, pork tenderloin with white beans, chicken with butternut squash and Israeli couscous (my weakness), and innocent grilled shrimp in mole sauce. I had small servings of each, but I'm sure what I ate cumulatively could fill an entire dinner plate. And I had a raspberry mojito. It adds up.

Now I know how to handle myself this weekend, when I'll be attending a birthday party on Friday (Happy 31st, Scott!) and a going away party on Saturday (Vanessa made a Second City cast!). Better choices, Laura.

I'll let that discouragement subside into pride, and use a small loss as an impetus to plan ahead. I've also decided to set my first realistic goal - lose 20 pounds by March 11.

So there's that,


More Dubois County Phenomena

I had to put these responses front and center on the blog because they were so funny...and true!

5 Comments - Show Original Post Collapse comments

Auntbeav said...

You speak of your hair as "them", as in "I need to get them cut". (Now FYI I don't do this anymore because I had a teacher in my senior year of H.S. who said he would give us an automatic "F" if we referred to our hair as "them".

January 22, 2008 10:28 AM

mkieper said...

Or if you have heard from an elder relative the words "Ain't So?"

January 22, 2008 10:44 AM

Laura said...

I picked up "Do what now?" from a friend who lived in Schnellville. As in:

"Hey Laura, you got a pen?"

me: "Do what now?"

January 22, 2008 11:19 AM

Laura said...

"Well" has 2 syllables. As in:

Person: "Come on, you know she's not sorry for taking it."

Dubois Countyan (or Meyer woman): "Way-il, she did cry when she apologized."

Subway Sandwich Artist: "Sorry ma'am, we're out of white bread right now."

DC: "Way-il shit."

January 22, 2008 11:23 AM

manda said...

You know you're from DC when you can drive to Jasper or Ferdinand and pass at least someone on the road you know.

January 22, 2008 8:50 PM

So there's that,

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Bill's Turkey Wrap

I forgot to mention I made up another little number this weekend - my version of my uncle Bill's turkey wrap that he makes for road trips back to Indiana.  Besides getting to spend a few unadulterated hours with Bill and Paula, these wraps are my favorite part of the trip.  We eat 'em with Cape Cod chips & Diet IBC Root Beer.  They always pack chunked up dark chocolate to nibble on later.
I set up a little creation station on sunday and made up five of these for the week.  I deviated a bit from Bill's version by using herb-roasted turkey breast (or whatever sparks your interest at the deli), a higher fiber tortilla as opposed to his usual spinach, and I think he uses lettuce.  Wrap 'em tightly in plastic and pile up in the fridge for a quick grab-and-go.  I'm eating one right now - it's awesome warmed in the microwave for 45 seconds.  
Bill's Turkey Wraps
Serves 5 
5 High Fiber whole wheat tortillas (or your favorite); I use La Tortilla Factory 10" tortillas - 80 cals, 14g fiber!
3/4 lb medium sliced turkey breast (your favorite from the deli counter)
4-5 oz chunk of Jarlsberg Lite Swiss cheese (or pre-sliced Swiss), sliced into thin strips
1 each red, green & yellow bell pepper, sliced into thin strips (you can buy these pre-sliced to save time; it was actually cheaper for me to use pre-sliced.)
Grey Poupon Dijon Mustard (or your favorite mustard/spread.  Dijonnaise is awesome, too!)
Spread the tortilla with some mustard to taste.  Top the mustard with 2 slices of turkey, so that there is one layer of turkey covering the center of the tortilla.  Line up a pile of cheese and pepper strips down the center.  Roll tortilla and wrap tightly with cling wrap.
These treats are high in fiber and protein and should keep you full for awhile.  The vitamin C in those peppers isn't too bad for you either.  Oh, and I freakin love Jarlsberg Lite - I think it has 50-60 calories and 3 g of fat per ounce.  Good calorie bargain there.  And you should replace all your mustard (unless it's horseradish mustard) with Grey Poupon.  It's so spicy, rich and delicious that I often serve it alongside chicken breast and beef.

So there's that,

You Know You're From Dubois County

I got this smashing list from my brother-in-law, Scott. I considered sharing it with coworkers (to explain why I was laughing so hard), but I figured they wouldn't get it.

You know you're from Dubois County, Indiana when . . .

Holland and Ireland remind you of milk and fried chicken instead of wooden clogs and leprechauns.

You can recite at least some of the Dubois County Tire radio jingle. (Big or small, we service all...Dubois County Tire de de dah, de de DAH!)

Or how 'bout Hoosier Business Machines? (In Jasper, our middle name means business - Hoosier Business Machines!)

If your last name of Uebelhor is pronounced You-Bell-Oar then you are probably from Jasper...If pronounced Ebel-Hair then you are from Ferdinand or Huntingburg.

Your wedding had or will have at least 6 kegs at the reception. (And you served a fried chicken buffet. Though you better use Catering by Meyer from here on out.)

You see more classmantes at the Strassenfest than you do at your class reunion.

If you have ever watched a sectional basketball game at memorial gym.

Been stopped by a train in Huntingburg.

You don't know where the intersection of IN-64 and IN-162 is located but know exactly where the Bretzville Junction is. (About a mile up the road from my house!)

If you can properly pronounce Luebbehusen, Mehringer, Goepfrich, Knies, Mathies, Thewes, etc.

The term "Kraut" isn't necessarily offensive. (Especially when used as "Super Kraut")

TP-ing is an annual October right of passage.

You consider the Schnitzelbank a fancy restaurant.

You get pulled over on a Friday or Saturday night because your license plate light is out, but never any other night of the week.

You are on a first name basis with every bartender in your hometown or county for some of us. (Or the bartender knows your voice because your mom makes you call all the time looking for your dad.)

When you read The Herald you personally know at least one person in the record section every day. (That's where the arrests and accidents are listed.)

So there's that,


Monday, January 21, 2008

No-Cook Cheesy Pasta Sauce

I made this number last night.  You only need four major ingredients besides salt, pepper, water, butter & olive oil.
Whole Wheat Pasta with Goat Cheese, Mushrooms and Roasted Asparagus
Serves 8
1 lb whole wheat corkscrew pasta (I don't recommend "stringy" pasta; chunky & textured works best)
1 lb fresh asparagus
5 oz goat cheese (it's normally sold in 5 oz packages)
4 oz fresh Green Giant mixed gourmet mushrooms, or button mushrooms, roughly chopped (the gourmet mix was on sale yesterday)
Olive Oil
1 Tbsp butter (optional)
Salt & Pepper
Red pepper flakes (optional)
Heat oven 450 degrees.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
On a rimmed baking sheet, toss trimmed asparagus with a touch of olive oil and salt and pepper.  If you have them on hand, add some red pepper flakes for heat.  Roast the asparagus in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until tender, tossing once during cooking.
Add a drop of olive oil to a skillet.  Add the mushrooms and sautee over medium heat until caramel colored.  If your pan is too dry, add a touch of water or chicken stock.  Season with salt and pepper after the mushrooms are cooked.  Salted mushrooms won't brown properly.
Crumble the goat cheese into a bowl.  Add a few bits (1 Tbsp total) of cold butter (optional).
Remove asparagus and chop into 1-2 inch pieces.
Boil pasta in salted water until tender.  When pasta is cooked, add a ladle of the salty pasta water to the cheese and butter.  Whisk until smooth.  Reserve a cup of pasta water and set aside.  Drain the pasta and return to the pot.  Add the cheese sauce, mushrooms & asparagus, and toss to combine.  If the sauce is too thick, add a little more of the reserved pasta water to fully coat the mix.
Season with salt and pepper (and red pepper flake) to taste.  Serve and enjoy!
Note:  The cooking water from pasta is awesome for sauces - it's full of starch and salt which adds thickness and flavor.  Goat cheese is smooth, milky, tangy and lower in fat and calories than most cheeses.  It's good shit.
So there's that,

A Bowl Full of Sandwich

Momma's got the day off thanks to the government holiday.  So I used the opportunity to create a smashing new breakfast.
When I have a free morning, I like to depart from my weekday cold cereal regimen.  I often do this in the form of creative egg scrambles, baked eggs, and steel-cut oatmeal.
I know I raved a lot about steel-cut oats a while back when I posted the Apple Pumpkin Oatmeal recipe, so I'll spare you all the fiber and texture talk.  What I will talk about here is its versatility.  You can mix anything with bland old oatmeal to make it special, so here's what I did today.
Peanut Butter, Banana & Jelly Oatmeal 
Serves One
3/4 c water
3/4 c skim milk
1 stick or a few dashes cinnamon
1/4 c steel cut oats
1-2 drops vanilla (optional)
2 packets Splenda (or to taste)
1 Tbsp natural (or your favorite) peanut butter
1 banana, sliced
1-2 Tbsp Smuckers Sugar Free Red Raspberry Preserves (or your favorite)
1/4 c frozen raspberries, optional
In a small pot, bring water, milk & cinnamon to a boil.  Stir in oats and simmer on low heat, uncovered, for 30-45 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed to your desired consistency.   
Stir in vanilla, Splenda and peanut butter until well-combined.  Add banana slices and optional raspberries and stir to combine.  If oats are thick, add a little more skim milk to thin it out.  Sweeten with Splenda to taste.  Pour into a bowl, then top with a dollop of preserves, as much as you like.
Notes on ingredients:
Water, Milk, Cinnamon & Vanilla - I always use this combination when I make oats without all the add-ins.  It just makes it more of a treat.  Sometimes I'll replace the water with the chai tea mix that's sold in little cartons like chicken stock.  I love that stuff.
 Natural Peanut Butter - It might sound a little high-falutin' to use natural peanut butter over Jif or Skippy, etc., but I like it better for multiple reasons.  It tastes like you're eating real mashed peanuts and not a whipped spread.  The ingredient list reads:  "Peanuts, Contains 1% or less of salt."  According to its website, Jif's label says: 
No thanks.  And the biggest reason for buying natural peanut butter?  I can drain the oil from it.  Yup.  If you look at a natural peanut butter in the store, you'll see about 3/4 of an inch of oil sitting on top of the butter.  When I get home, I pour it all off, disposing of hundreds of calories per jar.  Very smart...
Raspberries / Smuckers Sugar Free Red Raspberry Preserves - I love this stuff.  I'm not a fan of grape anything ('cept for wine), and while I love strawberries, I go for raspberry preserves when given the option.  It feels a little more prestigious.  Plus, have you seen how much a half pint of raspberries costs?  That's pricey stuff.  So I get my raspberry flavor in the form of sugar free preserves and fresh-frozen berries.
So there's that,

Friday, January 18, 2008

And Have You Seen This?

The song I wrote for the FatCo show:

So there's that,


Duct Tape

I got a late start at work today, but I wanted to put something on the blog - if only to keep the promise to myself that I would write 5 days a week.

So here's a cut-and-pasted script of a monologue/scene from last year's FatCo show, Fat in Flight. It's based on an essay I wrote, and I almost didn't submit the idea to the group. Turned out to be the big tearjerker in our Chicago and Washington DC shows.

See our TimeOut Chicago Critic's Pick Review:

Some of it was edited to make it more funny or "a little less heavy," so it's not the full story. I'll post that another time.

Duct Tape
Laura Meyer

One of my favorite movies growing up was Grease, and I always saw myself as the misunderstood goody-goody outcast Sandy. Except I’m not blonde. And I’m not a cheerleader. And I wouldn’t let these sausage legs be caught dead in a skirt. There was always one moment that got to me: Her complete makeover at the top of "You're the One That I Want."

She walks up to Danny and says, "Tell me about it...stud." His eyes roll up her body, and I was always perplexed by the spandex stretched perfectly across her flat stomach. I’d never seen anything like it. I had no idea that was what women's bodies were supposed to be like. It was like my first vision of a real naked woman.

I was a fat girl. Every summer, about 100 good students at my school got hand-selected to go on an educational trip. For five days I would get to travel to Atlanta, Georgia, where I would be free of my living room and my television, and I would actually get to hang out with the kids from town.

I wanted Sandy’s body, but since I didn’t have the time to trim down before the big trip, I had to improvise using the only tool I knew: Duct Tape.

(Girls enter and set up bus scene. Laura takes duct tape and begins to wrap it around her stomach. As she does so:)

There are problems. My fat spills out at the top and bulges from the bottom. You see: (she indicates her body) that’s not a natural line. Plus, the more I move, the more it peels away from the poles. Try taking a 15 hour bus ride in this.

(Laura sidles into her seat next to WEIRD FAT GIRL SUE.)

WFG SUE: What kind of snack did you pack?

LAURA: (unenthusiastically) My dad took me to the gas station and got me this Landcaster Sub and some Gatorade.

WFG SUE: That’s all you got? It’s a long drive.

LAURA: I can get stuff along the way if I want.

WFG SUE: It costs more. You should have come prepared. I got cookies and cheese sticks and all kinds of stuff but my mom won’t let me share them. (Awkward Pause) Will you be my friend on this trip?

(To audience again) Normally I try to steer clear of my own in situations like this: One fat girl is bad enough, but I don’t want people to think I’m on some kind of team. But what could I do? I was in the window seat.

LAURA: Sure.

WFG SUE: Cool. Maybe I’ll let you have some of my Snackwells, but don’t tell anyone.

LAURA: (Noticing Vicki, who’s super gorgeous and popular.) Hey Vicki, what are you doing?

VICKI: Putting my contacts in.

LAURA: Oh wow. That’s a pretty Caboodle.

(Vicki ignores her and Jon enters. He stands confidently in the center aisle.)

(To audience) That’s Jon Weyer. He’s really tall and skinny and tan and really good at math, but not in that nerdy way. It just comes to him. I’ve loved him since 6th grade when he asked me to be his partner for an in class writing project. He laughed at my jokes while I pretended to know about baseball. I hoped he would notice my new look


(Jon looks at Laura, then at Vicki and sits next to Vicki. The following Tableaux occur to the music “We’re on the Road to Nowhere”)

Tableau 1: Laura deals with Tape, WFG Sue eats, Jon and Vicki canoodle.
Tableau 2: Laura eats with WFGS as she watches Jon with his head in Vicki’s lap.
Tableau 3: WFGS shoves her tongue through bologna at Laura, whose head is in her hands, while Jon and Vicki go at it.

After sitting on the bus and making a few pit stops, the duct tape hurts, bad. It’s hot out, and I’m sweaty. The tape rolls away from my skin and gives off this wretched piney-sweaty smell. I have to sneak duct tape and scissors into the restroom so I can reapply. This is not a discreet procedure.

(Three chairs set up as bathroom stalls, Laura in the middle. She tries to quietly peel duct tape from the roll, but it takes too long, so she unwraps it in great lengths, making that sound. The girls in the nearest stalls comment on the sounds and ask for a courtesy flush, etc. When all is done, she starts to undo a maxi pad.)

VICKI: Laura’s on the rag!

WFG SUE: No that’s a Twinkie…did you steal my Twinkie, bitch?

(To audience) We finally got to the hotel.

(Jon enters with Vicki on his arm.)

JON: We’re going swimming. Wanna come?

LAURA: Um, no thanks.

(To Audience) Who am I kidding? Jon Weyer doesn’t like me like that, and he never will. I can’t swim with it in the hotel pool, and I wouldn’t want to. My waist may look slim, but my legs are hideously dimpled and scarred; I can’t cover those in duct tape. My breasts are big and unshapely, and my hips are still wide enough to fill canyons.

But I still kept doing this until….

MOM: I mean it, I will hide every bit of duct tape in this house! Don’t you ever do this to yourself again! Now let’s go get some Phen/Fen.

(Laura starts to peel off tape through the rest.)

(To audience) I don’t know what was worse: balancing a schedule of five pills daily while hiding it from my normal friends or unpeeling a cast of tape from my body in the middle of the day, when the welts have started to bleed and I am forced to acknowledge the flaws of my body. After all this, I think I’ll stand with my hands crossed over my waist for the rest of my life.

So there's that,


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Some Good Ideas

This isn't my complete list of good ideas, but I just wanted to put them out there before I forgot them.

  • Have all your purchases gift-wrapped.

I left my favorite scarf at a bar this weekend (black & grey argyle- wah), just in time for the big cold snap this week. So last night I begrudgingly shopped for a new scarf after work on Michigan Ave, so I could be prepared for the wind chills in the negative double digits.

If I haven't said it before, I hate shopping on Mich Ave. I only do it if I really need something and I can't wait for the weekend to do extensive price comparing. Plus, it's close to my office.

Anyway, after being unimpressed with the nearest store's (Orvis) "sale" ($50 after 30% markdown? B'guh?), I went across the street to Eddie Bauer where they had a fine array of scarves on sale. Because I don't like unexpected spending when it comes to stuff I really need (a good hat, a new cell phone after dropping mine in the tub, toilet paper), I have to put a silver lining on it.

So when I'm in some wannabe chi chi store like this, I make them go the extra mile and gift-wrap my purchases for free. When I order stuff online, I have it gift-wrapped too. That way, the universe is working a little more in my favor, and I don't feel so bad about splurging. I even have them include a gift receipt so I don't look conspicuous. Ha!

The result: This morning I carefully untied a green satin bow from a big, square red box and ruffled through delicate tissue paper to uncover my new blue down scarf and sleek black gloves. It was like Christmas in...about 3 weeks after Christmas.

  • Add "Sent from my iPhone" to the bottom of your emails.

Wanna look like the coolest person of 2007? Put this little sentence at the end of everything you send, and you'll have all the glory without wasting all the money.

And you won't look like one of those assholes who plays with his little status symbol in public.

  • If I ever get a dog, I'm going to name it Khan.

I fully believe dogs are vehicles for ironic names that show off their owners' creativity. I want to use this little Star Trek II reference so I can yell like James T. Kirk when I'm looking for him...or when he's done his business at bad times in bad places. "KHAAAAAAAAAAAN!

So there's that,


Sent from my iPhone

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Bagel Day Revisited

I had a blueberry bagel with strawberry cream cheese as usual on Office Bagel Day last week, and I lost 9 pounds in the meantime. So I figured I could continue the trend today. After all, one bagel and schmear per week can't kill me.

But that's the kind of curious thinking that has led me down dangerous paths in the past.

  • "It's okay if I have a just a piece of coconut cake from Whole Foods. Once a week, at most."

  • "A seafood and crab sub won't be too bad for me, if I just do it once...a week."

  • "I don't eat Snickers that often; it will be a treat to have a whole bar. And the peanuts have protein and 'good' fat."

  • "If I happen to eat this whole box of (frozen) Fruit Roll-Ups/Strawberry Gushers, I'd only be eating 500-600 calories. I can skimp the rest of the day."

  • "An order of Shrimp Pad Thai ( once a week can't hurt, especially if I pair it with a cucumber salad."

  • "This entire supreme Tombstone pizza won't kill me if it's all I eat today. I'm hungover; I need the salt and protein. I'll eat a salad later on to get my veggies."

It's a slippery slope, as you can see. I have had all these feelings in the span of one week before, several times over. Imagine two slices of coconut cake, or a whole 5" cake if they don't have it in slices (how do you think I spent my December 30?); imagine 3 days of seafood and crabbing, even though I promise myself to get turkey every time; imagine a Snickers or other peanutty candy every other day; imagine both a box of Fruit Roll-Ups and a box of Gushers in one night, over several trips to the freezer for "just one more." The pizza, on the other hand, I can only do that for one day a week, tops. Not a big fan of pizza, unless I make it myself or it's a frozen one when I'm hungover.

By the by, contrary to how I justified my various trips to Taco Bell and White Castle after Wednesday night karaoke at the Jeff Street Lounge in college, your body doesn't need salt, grease and fried stuff after a night of drinking; it needs water. I heard that the effects of a hangover - headache, nausea, dry mouth - are all because you're dehydrated; drink Gatorade and lots of water to restore function. Tip for ya - one that I learned too late.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand. I decided that maybe I should take steps to make my celebrated Bagel Day have less of a caloric impact on my body, while keeping mindful of the slippery slope I'm used to. I did after all decide to "make better choices" this year, so why not apply that to the bagel?

As for the type of bagel, I won't give up the master blueberry. I've loved them forever. I know it's not a true "bagel man's bagel," but it's a happy holdover from my youth, reminding me of the visits to Chicago and Bill and Paula's house, when Bill would get fresh bagels every morning while walking his dog, Happy. My young palate was never interested in the onions and the sesames, but did I love those blueberries. They were like fruity muffins in a healthier form. Pair that with strawberry or pineapple cream cheese, and it was an exotic treat.

Since then, thanks to my old coffeehouse job at Benjamin's in Franklin and close working proximity to Bronx Bagel in Jasper, I fell in love with the savory everything bagel with homemade veggie cream cheese. Right now, Eppy's Deli next door to my office has the best Everything/Veggie combo of all time, but I can't think of that now because I'm talking blueberries. And I don't want to start craving Eppy's, even though I've already begun.

So I'm sticking with blueberry at the office because they don't even have everythings, and I feel like an occasional sweet treat will do me right. And I won't budge on strawberry cream cheese. How am I going to make this bagel "a better choice?" And when am I going to finish this entry?

A-ha! I decided on a course of food trickery. After slicing the bagel in half, I took a spoon and scooped out much of the extra dough, leaving hollow wells in my bagel halves. I toasted them til crispy and smeared them with 2 Tbsp of whipped cream cheese. The best part is I thought I would overdo it on cheese because there was more space to fill, but I actually used less than normal; since the cheese had to cover more surface area, it seemed like I was using more. On a regular bagel, I would be tempted to pile on the cheese to mimic the ads on Philadelphia cream cheese commercials. It's tough to explain my long-time imitations of commercials (maybe that's another blog), but it makes sense to me.

Think of the empty calories I saved!

So there's that,


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

What a Crock!

I went to the store to pick up more tomatoes and spinach tonight, and I browsed my new favorite display in Whole Foods: Le Creuset Cookware.
I've been eyeballing Le Creusets for a few years now, and I've been curious about them since seeing them on The Frugal Gourmet as a kid. As an adult, I think they're too expensive to even
think about buying all the pieces I want at once.

I want them in Caribbean Blue:
And Cherry Red:

But then I got a lightbulb: why don't I reward my progress in making good choices by buying up all my dream cookware one piece at a time?
So last night, I bought a new chef's knife to replace my old, nicked one. I decided to make my Le Creuset purchases online to get the best bargains, of course. I've already seen some great options on JC Penney's site, which surprised me.

What will I buy when I'm full up on knives and enamel-coated iron cookware? There's always the ever-collectible dishes of Fiesta Ware:
So there's that,


Weighing In

I wanted to weigh myself on Friday, but I couldn't get up the nerve. I was going to go out that night with some ladies from work, and I didn't want a bad weigh in to be an excuse to binge on nachos and gin in a rash display of "what's-the-point?" depression. If I had a good weigh in, I would also use it as an excuse to indulge. "What's a little plate of nachos and some tall gins and tonics going to hurt? You earned it!"

That has been my love-hate relationship with weigh-ins. It's that thinking that makes me want to die for a few hours before every Weight Watcher meeting I've ever attended, and every appointment at the nutritionist or the doctor. Blurg. It's not a good feeling.

(Sidenote: I did get nachos on Friday. And two tall gins and tonics. Then later a vodka and soda, and some of an ice cream sundae. But I only had salad and cereal that day, so it balanced out. And I didn't go out for drunken fried treats afterward like I've been known to do. I did, however, wander around the convenience store looking for snackies, but after a 1/2 hour of reading labels, I just settled on a pack of Chaser pills.)

Just a half hour ago, I realized I didn't eat my breakfast yet, and I could feel a poop coming on. I'm being honest here. I thought, "What if I pooped, then weighed myself before eating?" It's the perfect weigh-in situation - out with the old, weigh in, in with the new. The moment between taking a dump and eating a meal is the fulcrum of two widely varying outcomes.

Does that make sense? It does to me and that's all that matters.

So I weighed in for the first time since December 20th, when I was at my worst weight in a while. And what was the outcome, after the weeks of Christmas parties, New Year's, resolutions, and a nacho-enhanced girls night out? On an arbitrary day like Tuesday? Not a nice round day like Monday or Friday or Saturday? I'll tell ya.

I lost 9 pounds! NINE POUNDS, BITCH!

And really, I've only been committed to "making better choices" since January 2. That's how I've decided to look at tackling my weight loss journey, as a pathway of better choices.

I was talking to Dad last night, telling him about the food I've been making and about the different choices I've made, and that's when I realized how awesome it all sounded. The more I talk about what I'm doing, the prouder I am. We talked about making better choices at restaurants and in convenience stores - his weakness as a nomadic worker. He complained about his weight and said he should get back on the Airdyne (our excercise bike), but he's too pissed off about work to do anything when he gets home. I suggested he channel his aggression into the Airdyne and just start small, 20-30 minutes every other day. The truth is, he likes eating healthier, but he just doesn't have the time or energy to put into it.

And I can't blame him; it takes a lot of energy. If this blog isn't evidence enough, I think about food all the time; not so much what I'm going to eat next, but how I'm going tackle certain options. If a coworker asks me out to lunch, what am I going to eat at Panera or Chipotle or Subway or The Little-Sandwich-Shop-of-Joy-and-Reubens? What am I going to get on a date at a tapas place? If the suggested restaurant is a chain, I research the nutritionals on its web site. And that's always an eye-opener. Wanna get scared into eating at home? Read the nutritional information for your favorite foods at Olive Garden, Applebee's, Ruby Tuesdays, or your favorite fast food chain.

I pack my lunch every night now, so I can't wake up late in the morning and shrug it off. I think about everything in my fridge and pantry and plan an exciting dinner, so I'm all worked up about cooking when I get home.

When I feel like having a McDonald's day or night, I make a Boca Burger on a Whole Wheat bun and bake some frozen fries. Saturday I made a Gardenburger Black Bean Chipotle Burger and topped it with my homemade salsa, which I also used for dipping fries. These fake-outs are tasty! I've had "burgers" 4 times in the past 2 weeks!

Last night I cooked up a 4 oz. piece of salmon that I froze two weeks ago. I cooked up some frozen green beans in Thai sauce from Trader Joe's that were in the back of my freezer for months. I was too afraid they'd taste like curry, so I never had the nerve to cook them. I cooked up the whole bag, and ate half of them with the salmon and an orange sliced into wedges. It was soooo good!

This treat is my new favorite trick: Put some unsweetened frozen fruit - peaches, pineapple, berries, what have you - in a tall glass and pour Fresca or Diet Sprite over them. It makes the best little cocktail ever. My personal fave is pineapple and Fresca, but last night I did peaches and Fresca, and it was awesome. When you're done drinking it, then you eat the fruit. I came up with this one last month when I had warm Fresca and no ice. By the way, does anybody else have a hard time refilling their ice trays when they're empty? I do. Hate it. I guess I just don't like sloshing the water all over my freezer.

Anyway, I guess I'm at a good point in my life where I can explore this stuff. As for Dad, how does a 53-year-old man with 35+ years of adult decision-making start to make changes? Especially when he lives with Mom, whose consumption habits are an amalgam of steak, potatoes, Virginia Slims and Lord Calvert Canadian?

Don't get me wrong, Dad's independent and makes his own meals most of the time. He's a great cook with a healthy eye, but it's pretty difficult to make your own choices when the person you live with stocks the pantry 80% of the time, and you end up eating things "just so they don't spoil."

Which is why I'm proud to announce that Dad is going to visit me at the end of February. He's coming up on Friday the 29th and leaving Monday, March 3rd. I promised him a "spa weekend" where I would cook all kinds of good meals for him, show him how to do some new recipes (Sauerkraut with Chicken Brats, anyone?), and I haven't told him yet, but he's getting a pedicure.

I told Mom and Dad once about the pedicures I treat myself to every few months, Mom scoffed, but Dad was curious. "What do they do?" They wash and massage your feet and calves, shave away dead skin and buff your nails. I've seen guys have it done. "Well, a guy doesn't give them, does he?" A tiny Asian man gave me my last one, yes, but they're mostly women. "Well, I wouldn't mind having that done with a woman, but I won't let a guy do that to me. Heheheh."

So it's settled. Dad's getting a pedicure and a spa food weekend. He deserves it. After all, it'll be the first time he's come to Chicago alone, that doesn't involve moving me into a new residence.

So there's that,


Monday, January 14, 2008

Roasty Toasty

I modified a recipe I saw on Everyday Italian with Giada "too-fucking-attractive-to-cook-all-that-fat-and-carbs" De Laurentiis.  Hers originally called for eggplant, tomatoes and garlic in the sauce, but I had to amp mine up.  And I used whole wheat pasta - something that bitch rarely does.
This was a good way to get some rarely used vegetables into my routine.  And it's easy.
Rigatoni with Roasted Eggplant Sauce
1 lb Whole Wheat Rigatoni (or other chunky pasta - WW rigatoni and penne are always easy to find)
1 medium eggplant or 3 baby eggplants (I used the babies because the mommas didn't look so fresh.)
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 pint whole button mushrooms
1 or 2 red bell peppers
3 cloves garlic
3 Tbsp olive oil
1-2 tsp red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
fresh basil
lemon juice
parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 425F.
None of the following cuts have to be perfect.  Cut the eggplant into 1" chunks.  Wipe clean the mushrooms and slice them in half.  Remove the seeds and stem of the pepper(s) and slice into large (1") chunks.  In a large bowl, combine the chopped veggies and the whole cherry tomatoes and garlic cloves.  Toss with about 2 Tbsp of olive oil, a few big pinches of salt and pepper and the red pepper flakes, until all pieces are coated.  Place the veggies in a single layer on a rimmed cookie sheet.  Roast in the 425F oven for 30-40 minutes or until the eggplant and mushrooms are browned.  Check every 15 minutes to make sure they're doing all right.
When veggies are close to being fully roasted, bring a large pot of water to boil.  Cook the pasta according to package directions.  If you time this just right, you can finish the sauce while the pasta is cooking. 
Add the roasted veggies to a blender or food processor.  You will have to work in batches, so your appliance doesn't go crazy.  Just puree a quarter of your veggies, then add a quarter more, and so on.  When it's all pureed, add another Tbsp of olive oil, 1/4 cup of the pasta water, the juice of 1 lemon, some salt and pepper to taste, basil and some parmesan cheese (optional).  Blend to combine.
Drain your pasta and return it to the pot.  Pour your sauce over the hot pasta and stir over low heat until it's combined and warmed through.  This shouldn't take long.
I topped my little serving with a dollop of goat cheese.  Seriously?  If you haven't had goat cheese in your life, make it a goal.  It's supremely low in fat, tangy and creamy.  It adds a nice little kick and richness to tomatoey or brothy sauces when I'm not in the mood for a runny sauce.  It's good in green bean casserole, too.  It's one of my fridge staples along with parmesan cheese, dijon mustard, chicken broth, bagged spinach, tomatoes and Almond Breeze:
So there's that,

Like Butter

I just got back from my first work-sponsored yoga class. Oh. My. God.

I'd never done this stuff before - outside of hippie theatre warm-ups, the Curves stretch regimen, and anger management therapy - so I was a little sloppier than the others. But only when it came to the moves. Everybody else had the class before, so they knew the poses. I had to constantly look up to see if I was doing it right, so I wasn't focusing on breathing like I should have been.

But still, I was surprisingly super flexible. I could stand and touch my fingers to the floor without bending my knees, which I could never do in P.E. classes. I got a little huffy on "downward facing dog" (pictured on right), but I managed sustaining it. Hopefully after a few weeks of this, I'll be even more bendy. Plus, the instructor didn't even have to correct me, having walked past me a couple of times during the class and correcting others. Fat Girl is superior!

Bonus!: My back has been bothering me for the last few weeks - mainly because I tend to hunch over in my desk chair to see the screen...and to hide my internet habit. This weekend I was feeling tension in my lower back just lounging around the apartment. And this morning I noticed my back got tingly after sitting in the same position for too long on the 1/2 hour bus ride. I've been contemplating purchasing a shoulder band to draw my shoulders back so as they're not behind my ears.

But right now, my spine feels like butter. Buttah. And my shoulders are relaxed as I write this. I don't think they've been this far apart from my ears for months!

I'll let you know how this goes. I have another class tomorrow with a different instructor who is, reportedly, a "ball-buster." I look forward to the challenge.

So there's that,