Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

My Porn

I was listening to my radio show this morning when I heard the best description for why I love to watch cooking shows.  Cooking shows are my porn.  90% of what I see I will never eat or make myself.  But to see the ingredients come together, listen to the description of the food, and watch people eat it with pleasure gives me unending joy.  The creation inspires me.  Watching people enjoy what they are eating makes me happy.  Watching shows where the chef is making something laden with butter, sugar, gravy, grease, I know I will never make the recipe, but I love to watch the ooey, gooey, greasy, sugary, sinful goodness come together.  

Fortunately, I get the same pleasure in cooking and watching people consume my creation.  Actually, the pleasure is so much more extreme and long lasting when I do it myself than when I watch others.  Probably because I actually get to benefit from it.  I get to create.  I get to judge, and I like to be judged.  I get to pat myself on the back.

I like to pat myself on the back.  Wait a minute...that sounds really bad!  I also don't want help in the kitchen.  Oh boy this sounds really bad.  But I like watching people and the pleasure on their face as they consume my creation.  I am just digging a hole here aren't I?  

Well, everyone has their version of porn.  Admit it!

Time to Take a Break

When I find myself questioning why, it is time to step back.  When I find myself standing in the study for 10 minutes, debating on why I am about to put in a session on the bike trainer, it is time to think.  When I become critical of myself, hard on myself not for the lack of working out, but for what I eat, it is time to take a break.  

I want to train.  I want to work out.  I want to sweat.  I just have to remember why.  The why gets lost sometimes.  Sometimes the why is for the wrong reason.  The why becomes to lose weight, to be able to eat, to be able to say I worked out hard, to prevent guilt, because that is just what I do.

What happens if I stop?  What happens if I give myself a break?  Well, to go to the extreme, which is where my mind almost always goes:
I will gain 50 pounds
I won't fit into my jeans
I will fall back into the downward spiral of binge eating
How will I define myself?
I will never run again
What else will I do with my time?
People will think I failed
I will have failed

Now that all of that is laid out and looks extremely silly, what are the real reasons I train the way I do?  Why do I want to push myself and consume my time?
I love myself hard
I love the feel of accomplishment
I love to sweat
I love the way my body looks.  It is hard, shaped, sexy.
I want to compete.  Compete with myself, with others.  In order to be competitive I have to train.
I want to inspire others.  I want to inspire myself.
Because I have the ability to.  For 26 years I was a couch potato that didn't know there was an athlete inside.  I never want to contain that athlete again.
The time it takes is my time.  Time for myself.  Time to think.  Time to breath.

So now for the more realistic, sensible and honest things that will happen if I give myself a break.
My body will recover
I will have time for MM
I will have time for writing
I will have time for baking
I will have time to breath
I will have time to discover new things
I will have time for friends

Any time I begin to question myself, I also discover something.  I don't know what that is right now other than I am human.  My brain and my body will only be pushed so far before one or both of them puts on the breaks.  Red flags are thrown.  Hopefully I stop to do some discovery before I let the red flags become the evil critical witch that punishes me.  Punishment through injury, depression, binging, isolation, anger.

Last night as I was getting ready for bed, I planned out in my mind my workout for this morning.  It was all possible at that point.  The plan had a reason.  But when I got up late this morning, my initial thought was do the plan or face the consequences.  Those thoughts turned to why?  What would happen if I didn't complete my plan?  What would happen if I did something different or took it easy, or gave myself a break.  So I chucked the plan.  Actually, a part of me forced the chucking.  I could have done my plan, but I don't know my brain would have been any better for it.  So I went to the gym, put on my headphones and listened to my breath while I did yoga.  I felt my breath move through my lungs, into my belly and expand my back.  I felt my breath loosen my muscles and rinse the toxins from my brain.  I took a deep breath as I balanced and focused.  I allowed my breath to slow me down.

When I was done I did something else for my brain.  I came to Starbucks, got some tea, and started to write.  

Monday, November 14, 2011

Homemade Chicken Soup

My idea of a perfect Sunday:
  • No alarm set to wake up
  • Walk the dogs
  • Breakfast with the Sunday paper
  • Bike ride
  • Watch football
  • Cook/bake
  • Eat and spend time with family and friends
  • Write
  • Read
  • Shop
  • Laugh
  • More football
Last Sunday was a near perfect Sunday.  Only two things were missing...reading and shopping.  If it hadn't been for MM being sick I would have been at 99% for the day.  But as it was, him being sick allowed me to cook and nest, so really I can't complain.

Originally MM and I had planned on a date night on Sunday.  No kids, a new movie was out, and we hadn't had sushi in a while.  But after we walked the dogs (after waking up with no alarm), he said his stomach wasn't feeling right.  So...sushi...probably not!  After having breakfast with the paper, I took an easy ride which turned out to be a destination ride for coffee!  Coming back from my ride (and after text messages from MM saying that he was not feeling any better), I got a bit selfish.  Oh goody, now I can cook!  What would I want if I were sick?  More accurately, what do I want that will make me feel better when MM is sick.  Chicken soup!

I have never made chicken soup before.  The idea of cooking soup all day made me feel better...oh wait, I wasn't the one that was sick.  Anyway...

When I got back home from the ride, MM was not so good.  I asked him if the smell of something cooking would make him more nauseous.  I am sensitive like that sometimes.  Pretty sure I would have cooked it anyway!

Well I guess I did get to shop because I went to the grocery store.  Perusing the aisles for flavors and sales is better retail therapy for me.  AND there was a mini food processor on sale that I have been wanting.  Score!!

Back at home MM had the Bronco game on.  Cooking while watching football??  Near Heaven!

The best part of this chicken soup recipe is that it is 99.9% mine.  The only thing I referenced was how much corn starch I should add to thicken the broth.  I knew what it should come out like so I just threw it together.

Chicken Soup
Serves 6-8
1 Whole chicken skin on bone in with giblets.  Cut chicken into quarters.
About 1 gallon of water (adjust as needed once all ingredients are in the pot)
4 whole carrots
4 celery stalks
1 large yellow onion
2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/3 cup corn starch
1/4 cup water
Tortellini (your choice of filling, and how much you want.  I used about 16 ounces of a mini tortellini filled with Parmesan).

In a large stock pot add water.  Place quartered chicken and giblets in the water.  Turn burner on high.  Add salt.

Scrub carrots and celery well.  I leave the skin on the carrots.  One less step and they look more rustic.  Trim the ends off the carrots and slice into 3-4" pieces.  Leave leafy tops on celery but remove the ends that tend to collect dirt that seems impossible to remove!  Slice celery into 3-4" pieces.  Peel onion, remove ends and slice into quarters.  Put carrots, celery and onion into pot with chicken.  Add whole sprigs of rosemary and thyme, onion and garlic powders to the pot.  If needed add more water so everything is just covered.
Bring pot to a boil then reduce heat to a low boil.  Cook until chicken is done and easily falls off the bone.  About 2-3 hours.
The longer that smell can linger in the house the better!

When the chicken is done strain the stock into another pot and return to the burner on medium.

Here is where the fun begins and hands get dirty!  Set chicken pieces aside to cool.  Slice carrots, onions and celery into bite size soup pieces and put into a large bowl.  Remove tough stems from rosemary and thyme and discard.
If you can keep yourself from eating the giblets, slice them up and add to the vegetables.  Knowing MM and kids would be disgusted if they knew that I had added them in (even though they never would have known) and knowing they would never appreciate such a delicacy, I just ate them myself.  Yum!

Once chicken is cool enough to handle, remove it from the bone.  Discard the bones.  Get them way away from the curious hounds!  This is where I get really messy because it is easier to remove it with my hands than try to stay clean and use a fork or whatever.  Slice or shred the chicken into soup appropriate sizes.  Add chicken to the vegetables.
I like a thick broth.  If you prefer a more soupy broth, then you can skip this step.  Add 1/3 cup cornstarch to 1/4 cup water.  Stir with a whisk or fork until well combined.  Add to broth.  Whisk vigorously until well combined.

Add the sliced vegetables and chicken into the broth.  Bring broth back to a low boil.  

Add tortellini and simmer until tortellini is done.

I am a dunker.  I require ketchup to dunk my fries, milk to dunk my cookies, and bread to dunk in my soup.  MM however requires only oyster crackers for his soup.  One of these days he will learn the right way to eat!

Slice some french bread into nice thick slices.  Melt 1 Tablespoon butter with 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder and salt.  Brush melted garlic butter onto bread.  Place bread under broiler until just toasted.

If you haven't already passed out from anticipation, the wait is finally over and you can savor your incredible soup with the appropriate dunking object.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Easiest Biscuits Ever

Along with copious amounts of mashed potatoes, a pot roast dinner also requires bread.  So, once again from www.thepioneerwoman.com (Ree Drummond is truly a genius!) I found another recipe that I am in love with!  Anyone that can use canned biscuits in a recipe (and admit it), and have it turn out to die for, is all right by me!  In the original recipe blue cheese was used instead of goat cheese.  But knowing that MM's kids might not appreciate blue cheese, and not knowing how strong the flavor would be (I didn't want anything to overpower the pot roast!) I opted for goat cheese.  Next time I make these I will use blue cheese.  They will never know!

The Easiest Biscuits Ever
Serves 10-12
2 cans  canned flaky biscuits
2 sticks butter
4 oz goat cheese (or blue cheese)

Heat oven to 350F.
Place butter on a baking sheet.  Crumble cheese and put on top of butter.  Place baking sheet in the oven until butter is melted.  Remove baking sheet from the oven.  Using a fork mix the cheese and the butter together.
While butter is melting, remove biscuits from the cans and cut each biscuit into quarters.  Get ready to get your hands messy!  Place quartered biscuits in the melted butter and cheese mixture.  Using your hands toss the biscuits in the butter and cheese until each biscuit is coated evenly.  Spread the biscuits evenly across the pan.  Place pan in the preheated oven and bake for 8-10 minutes.  Keep an eye on the biscuits so they don't burn.  Just before they are ready to come out, remove the pan from the oven.  Using a pastry brush, brush the biscuits with any of the buttery cheesey goodness that is in the bottom of the pan.  Place the pan back in the oven until the biscuits are just crisp and brown.
Here is where self restraint is really important.  I highly recommend testing out one of the biscuits to make sure that they are appropriate to be serving to your dinner party.  Do not however eat all of the wonderfully buttery cheesey blobs of cooked dough!

Mashed Potatoes

Pot Roast without potatoes is like ice cream without nuts!  It just isn't right for me.  So along with the Sunday Pot Roast Dinner there had to be copious amounts of mashed potatoes.

I adapted this recipe from www.thepioneerwoman.com.

Mashed Potatoes
Serves 10-12
7 pounds Yukon Gold Potatoes
1 cup butter
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon Lawry's Seasoned Salt
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Peel and cut potatoes into 2" pieces.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the potatoes.  Boil for 30-35 minutes until potatoes are cooked through and easily pierced with a fork.
Drain the potatoes into a colander reserving 1-2 cups of the cooking water.  Place the potatoes back into the pot.  Mash potatoes in pot on the stove over low heat.  If potatoes stick to the bottom of the pan add a small amount of the cooking water to the potatoes as you are mashing them.  
Turn off the stove and add butter, milk, seasoning salt, salt and pepper.  Mash away!