Archive | Trying something new RSS feed for this section

Cheapness has its place, but the kitchen isn’t one of them.

7 Dec

Well, something has finally happened to me that I never thought would happen: I spent a surprisingly large amount of money (for me, anyway) on kitchen accessories.

Around this time every year, the company I work for gives everyone cash gift cards as a holiday gift. This is completely rad, as it’s a fairly decent chunk of money. Until this point, I have always spent the money on random crap for myself like video games, Snuggies (a man’s gotta have a full range of colors, amiright?), or candy corn. One year I went on an 80’s music spending binge. When’s the last time you listened to Walk the Dinosaur by Was (not Was)? It’s aural sex, I promise you.

While my taste in purchases is eclectic when it comes to random holiday gift cards, one thing has always remained constant: I have always purchased inconsequential shit that I immediately regret.

Always, until this weekend, that is.

My special lady friend works in the book industry. A direct correlation to working in the book industry, believe it or not, is being exposed to a lot of books. As such, I usually expect to see a couple new books in our house every few days. Meg especially likes bringing home two genres of books almost exclusively: fantasy books and cookbooks.

Until about 3 weeks ago, I guess both genres could have classified as fantasy in our house.

Anyway, I’d usually quickly thumb through the cookbooks, looking for the token Thai recipes they contained before tossing the tome back on the kitchen table, not to be used except in my uttermost need. Seriously, Frodo could have hidden the Ring of Power in any of our cookbooks and no man would have ever seen it again.

Continue reading

Saved!

29 Nov

Two for two!  Second vegan dinner a success.  Loving “Speed Vegan” thus far.  Tangy sweet and sour sauced tofu with soba noodles and a boatload of green onions.  Freaking delicious.  Last night was Hominy Hash with vegan italian sausage added in.  Not going to lie, I thought the author was being modest when he said the Hash looked like an utter disaster halfway through, but not, it does indeed look like it’s going to be a complete failure two steps from the end.  My first thought after adding in the tomato puree was “Yup.  Complete disaster.  Not lying.”  Second, “Denny will never let me try something weird ever again.”

It may not be squash, but it'll be a show stopper when it happens.

Denny is possibly the most patient husband on the face of the planet.  Aside from being a derby widow, he’s put up with years of crazy habits, such as lifting his arm up and re-setting it on my side when trying to sleep due to my skin being “pulled” the wrong direction if he just slides an arm around me, and trying new foods all the time.  When new friends come over and see our cookbooks, they almost always ask if we’re vegetarian.  No, Megan just has an addiction to cookbooks and variety.  Growing up a meat-eater, non-animal based meals are a fascinating foray for me.  Vegan solutions boggle my mind.

Take cashew cream, for instance.  If you want a serious, dense cream without dairy, this is your prize winner.  You soak cashews overnight to soften them up and then blend them with some water until smooth.  Cashews have no taste of their own, but just deliver fatty, creamy goodness.  I used it to replace milk in mashed potatoes, and then the next morning, to replace water in gravy.  I have yet to try it in my coffee, but I have no doubt it will be delicious.

Another favorite?  Raw Chili Rellenos with mole sauce.  We made this during our marathon training on a regular basis.  Raw green chiles, which can be warmed in a dehydrator, and then cleaned out, stuffed with homemade cashew cheese, and slathered in a homemade mole sauce.  I can’t believe I missed chile season this year.

There have been disasters, for sure.  I thought tonight when I added hemp oil instead of flax oil to the soba noodles that we were done for on that one.  Hemp has such a strong, plant-y flavor.  The smell of it made me again flashback to my previous “Denny will never let me do this again” feeling.  It ended up fine, but I’ll be getting myself flax oil the next time we make it to avoid that overpowering feeling of dead.  At some point I expect to find this in my oven, or some variation.

Until then, onwards!

-Meg

The Morning After

25 Nov

Do I remember what happened this day? Not at all. The day after Thanksgiving kind of pales in spectacle. Painting, with the help of Blitz, failed color schemes, and leftovers. Glorious, glorious leftovers. We’re definitely past the one week mark, which is rad. I think we’re on Day 8 if my calendar is to be believed, and my math.

I have discovered a great dearth of friend time this week, partly due to the holidays, partly due to being informed I likely have a small tear in my left knee’s meniscus and hence taking two weeks off derby, and what I am starting to wonder, partly due to this challenge?

Everyone keeps asking us how it’s going. It’s going great, but we miss you. Come over for dinner, keep inviting us to join you guys, we’ll just have drinks. I didn’t think of myself as a social butterfly until derby, and now without seeing my people 3 times a week, it’s awfully lonely. Denny and I make a great team, for sure. I’d be utterly bonkers already if not for him, but having a group of friends around is also part of what makes up our relationship.

There’s a book that inspired this challenge, called The Art of Eating In, by Cathy Erway. She actually pulled this crazy shit off for a year. While I totally admire that, I need a much more realistic goal to ever get anywhere. I have a feeling that a lot of what she found replacing her eating out, such a supper clubs, weekend trips to local farms where the group cooked meals together, etc, only comes with longer challenges. I haven’t read the book yet. It’s been sitting on my shelf mocking me whenever I order delivery for the past year or so. But my guess is that she had this limbo period as well. Luckily I’m tearing my way through The Child Thief by Brom, so I can still read this other book before the end of this sucker and maybe see if my theory is correct.

-M

Hello, Glovebox

23 Nov

I was incredibly jealous of Denny this morning as he sauntered off to work where they were serving him breakfast because he’s so damned rad at his job. Lame. At least I’ll get to rub it in his face when my boss brings cupcakes from her local bakery. I had some Kashi style grape nuts with chocolate almond milk. If I don’t get breakfast from my job, at least I got chocolate.

Lunches were leftover fried chicken from last night. I’ve only ever attempted my mom’s fried chicken once before. I would say I’m learning. This time was way better than last time.

Everything was copacetic when I left work to head to a chiropractors appointment. Found out I may have a slight tear in my meniscus in my left knee. Not so copacetic. That a bump from a hematoma on my ass in June will likely have calcified and be solid forever. Not so copacetic. It’s the one part of my body that I used to feel like crap about and then was starting to come around to. Vain, vain little creature.

The glovebox is the new fridge. For crazy people.

Going to IKEA with Denny to buy a new bed and frame with cold, hard cash in hand? Fucking awesome. We didn’t plan well(see previous post) and ended up tying the bed to the car with about 10 pieces of twine from the stash IKEA gives out at the loading zone. Also add in me sitting in the back seat since we’d laid the front seat down to fit the frame, and, concerned that the twine would be cut by closing the door on it after a test run, had all the windows down and twine running through them. I would like to note that without Denny’s awesome knot skills, we would have been fucked royally.

It took almost everything I had, and then Denny helping back me up, to not say screw it to this challenge for one night. I had eaten my lunch at 12:30, my gas tank was running empty starting at 4:00, and it was now 7:00 All I wanted was to pull into the nearest restaurant and grab an appetizer, fries, anything to fill the void. I need food constantly. Denny calls me the Hummingbird because of how fast I metabolize my food and need more. My solution is going to be throwing snacks in the glovebox. I did this for a while in Durango until I got sick of my particular snacks. Time to bring it back, for sure.

After a 45 min drive from IKEA home, heat blasting, windows down, and both of us praying for light traffic on backroads, we jumped through the car windows and immediately chowed down on snacks at home. I don’t think I even let the dog out before opening a bag of potato chips leftover from another snack attack. After we got everything inside, Denny started putting the bed together and I headed to the store for Thanksgiving groceries and a frozen pizza.

Lesson learned: There must be snacks in the glovebox at all times.

-M

When Incentives Collide

21 Nov

The heat went out while we slept our little lives away on Sunday night. When we got up at 6:30 on Monday morning, the temperature was 50 degrees. Awesome. Thank god for the little bit of leftover quinoa bake from Saturday. It was a welcome relief to eat something warm instead of a bowl of cold cereal. I felt transported back to our cabin from four years ago when we’d dive into the down comforter like a hell hound was on our heels.

We(read: Denny) got the pilot light fired up on the heater, to no avail. The landlord said it took some time to kick back on if the pilot light went off. It had warmed up to a balmy 55 degrees by 6:15pm. My bright idea was to warm the house up with baking. The warm oven could radiate heat while making some delicious banana bread or cookies, brownies, any variety of sinful baked goodness.

Or, you know, run away. This was a perfect night to get the hell out of dodge and into a wonderful eating out situation. If not for having to admit it to our friends in this blog, we might have. I ended up making a tilapia black bean skillet with kale, as fast as I could, and washing dishes in near boiling water in order to keep my hands flexible enough to handle a fork. I think we’re hitting an excellent turning point, actually. We’ve gained some momentum from a few days of keeping ourselves in check, so it’s easier to keep rolling.

We did use one of our loopholes in the rules, and to be brutally, and shamefacedly honest, I did some self-bargaining Monday night. We still hadn’t turned in our keys from our old place 7 miles away, down a stupidly busy and traffic-light swamped road. The dudes have a new tenant moving in who didn’t want outstanding keys floating around in the hands of freaks such as myself, so we had to come up with an incentive to drag our asses over there. Denny and I suck at leaving the house once we’ve gotten home. Luckily, Denny had a $5 Starbucks gift card that he had from his office. So the trip across town turned into “Let’s take a really extended drive to a Starbucks and use that gift card.”

Not breaking the rules: Using a gift card to buy coffee.

Breaking the rules: Megan throwing it to the wind at the last second and getting a small sugar-laden Pumpkin Spice Latte instead of decaf with hazelnut syrup.

Result of breaking the rules: $2.35 spent on coffee.

Justification of breaking the rules in my sick little head as it made it’s split second change of mind: 2/3 of that coffee was paid for by someone else’s gift card, right? It was just the leftover. Denny can’t get a coffee without me. I need one too, and it needs to be awesome, or I’ll die!!!

It was liberating.

Yikes. This spiral of delirious addiction is why we can’t have one meal out a week. So much for using an incentive to get our asses across town without screwing up other goals.

I hate rules.

-M

“Can you please act like a human boy? For one minute?”

19 Nov

I am not normal when it comes to cooking and eating food. I am a freak of nature, and I fully admit to that.

You know what I like? Not making food all friggin’ day. Planning meals is completely ridiculous. Why would one spend all of their waking time trying to figure out what they are going to eat next? Just grab a menu at a restaurant, and you get like 20 choices, and that’s it. That is a perfect system. What’s not a perfect system is trying to bolt together some semblance of a meal using 2 tortillas, a can of black-eyed peas and a prayer.

I am honestly starting to question my resolve in this 30 day eating-in challenge, and we’re four three fucking days into this ugly little monster. There are a couple reasons for my wavering determination. The first one is simply a difference between my wife and I. Meg likes food that tastes good. She enjoys smelling our spices, looking for that one special herb that will give our meal “that special something” that will elevate it from normal fare to something resembling nirvana, or a least a good taste bud orgy. She likes fresh ingredients, equal proportions of proteins to starches, and plenty of variety.

You know what I like? Something that will keep my heart beating for a few more hours. I could honestly eat the exact same thing at every meal if it had 5 or less ingredients and I could make it in gigantic quantities.

That’s not to say that I don’t like food that tastes good. I just don’t enjoy spending three hours in the grocery store looking for freshly ground bat penises or whatever. I will eat whatever is in front of me, and I won’t complain. Quick example: when I was in the Army, I opened my ham slice Meal-Ready-to-Eat (MRE) a little too quickly, and the gelatin-covered chunk of processed protein went squirting out of the pack, directly into a pile of dirt.

I swear to god, it stood up on it’s own, sticking out of the muck. It created a crater at my feet, right between my jungle boots.

I pulled it out of the dirt, and IMMEDIATELY crammed it straight into my pie-hole. I tasted Ecuadorian shit-covered mud for the rest of the day.

I tell you this story to highlight how difficult the last few days have been for me. I have to force myself to try to experiment with spices and shit, because otherwise I know Meg will get bored with my crappy chicken burritos and we’ll both quit.

Let me say this again: I have made my crappy chicken burritos twice in four days. I consider this a huge improvement compared to how I normally operate.

Every day that I cook I freeze up, staring into the corner of the room with eyes the size of dinner plates, while I ask myself the following questions (rated by importance):

Continue reading