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3 Days Til Imminent Explosion

13 Dec

Today marks the 26th day of this challenge.  We’re eating out on the 30th day to celebrate.  Argue away, we’re done with this sucker upon waking up Saturday morning.

To celebrate?  Denver Biscuit Company with friends.  Can I tell you how excited we are?  I mean, we found Denver Biscuit Company right before we started this and have been thinking about it ever since.   So very excited.  Maybe abnormally excited.

How could you not want this? Do you hate America?

That and Duffeyroll.  We had a close encounter the past two mornings with Duffeyroll.  It took the sound of my cereal hitting the bowl to shatter the dream for Denny that we’d give up the ghost a few days early and get coffee and Sammies(the actual name of their smaller sandwiches, by the way), and delicious Duffeyrolls.

Look at him, Duffeyroll wants us to come visit, for cryin’ out loud.

 

Not to mention my cravings for Pumpkin Spice Lattes getting in the way.  That’s something I need to tuck away in my little heart for a few days.  I think Denny dies a little bit each time I mention getting coffee and then we have coffee at home, or work, which really damages Denny.

This is the true test time.  We’re so close to the end that it’s a “well, we made it 26 days, we’re not keeping up with the blog, who cares?”  Especially when we have cash on hand.  Cash makes it so much easier to not pay attention.  The financial data doesn’t show up on your bank account, staring you in the face, wagging its ugly little finger in shame at you as it adds on extra zeros and commas.

Also adding to the difficulty is the staggering failure that is the cookbook bought two weeks ago.  Those dutch oven meals?  They’re totally lacking in flavor.   A large part of their failure is garlic.  It lacks garlic.  So I’ve been dosing them up with a healthy 5-7 cloves instead of their skimpy 2 cloves called for.  Obviously we’re not talking organic, fresh from the ground, farmer’s market garlic.  If that were the case, I’d actually follow the directions instead of loading up on weak-sauce garlic.

Once we get comfortable with this cookbook, I think we can modify the recipes enough to make them the taste sensations that we enjoy.  The whole dutch oven thing is so new that we’re scared to change a bit.  Sauces would help a lot, and we’ve learned to take the recipes out earlier than called for or else the meats end up totally dry.  But Denny was pretty darned excited about one pot meals, so I think we should try to make this work.  Not to mention, I love using that dutch oven.  I made a kick-ass cheesy potato soup in it on Sunday with odds and ends from the veggie drawer and it was ha-mazing!  Just like Mom’s.

Can we make it until the bitter end?  Stay tuned to find out.  Maybe we’ll write another blog post before it’s all over.

-M

 

Back to the Cooking? I Guess?

5 Dec

So we’re on the downside of this challenge.  It’s Day 18, and we’ve been kicking ass and taking names.  Thank you to our friends who check in with us, make sure we’re behaving, and encourage us by making incredible risotto and chicken while getting drunk with us(and introducing us to grilled romaine!).  We’ve hosted brunches, potlucks, and been invited for dinner.  And I have to say, it’s pretty great.  I really like hanging out in homes rather than restaurants.  I love having our friends visit our house, give us their feedback on the color swatches in our primed kitchen and bathroom, explaining our dog’s neurotic behavior and being introduced to theirs when we visit.  I haven’t even minded the obscene number of dishes we’ve done.

This is the perfect time to be doing this.  Having a few weeks off from derby totally allows us to share time in the kitchen together, which makes it so much easier.  But it makes it easier for me to grasp doing this when I don’t have derby practice, and getting up a little earlier to eat before scrimmages on Sunday.

Denny had more gift cards, and when it’s dumping snow, coffee starts its little manaical chant in the back of both our brains.  We’ve been to coffee shops twice in the past two days, but it’s all been gift card purchases, and both times, we were gleeful on the way there.  I may or may not have felt like Denny was cheating on me due to his response at first sip, but I’ll forgive him if I did.

What I’m starting to take away from this boils down to enjoyment from moderation.

That’s right, America.  Moderation.  That crazy concept that other countries seem to grasp and thrive with.  I will savor going to restaurants on occasion with friends, for food instead of just company, or a quick bite on days that we’re just too busy or something unexpected pops up.  Coffee shops will be the treats they were when I started enjoying coffee, going from the speed driven drink demon that I have been to a coffee-sipping vagrant.

As cheesy as it sounds, I think I’m starting to like, if not love, eating in.

Catch-up (not Katsup)

3 Dec

Playing catch up so this is short and sweet.  Denny makes great waffles.  I don’t even like that type of breakfast and it was good.   We’ve been cooking enough during the week that weekends, when we hit ultimate lazy levels, we’re able to just scrounge off those.  I also freaked out around 9 needing to get out of the house, but alas, were unable to find comrades, and so we went out to the store, bought cookies from the freezer section and watched OSS: 117, Cairo: Nest of Spies .  The French solution to James Bond, and highly recommended if you like Naked Gun flicks.

Work to eat: 0, Be Lazy as All Hell: 1

Score!

-Meg

Denver, Your Grocery Stores Suck

1 Dec
Fan-fuckin’-tastic

Lemon Garlic Fava Beans with Crimini Mushrooms.  Eat it.  Here’s the link so it’s so easy you could keel over from, well, ease.

http://www.theppk.com/2011/04/lemon-garlic-fava-beans-mushrooms/

This is seriously some of the most delicious shit we’ve eaten all week.  Everything was really meaty, without any meat at all, and one helping was super filling.  We used a quinoa rice blend instead of straight wild rice.  I also don’t recommend a Foreman grill for tempeh, but that’s what we have to work with after forgetting, shame of shames, our grill in Durango.  I had a friend recommend Isa Chandra’s recipes, so when I stumbled onto the Post Punk Kitchen site, and noticed her name on the recipes, figured it was worth a shot.  And so glad we did, despite having to go to two grocery stores for the ingredients simply because tempeh is apparently a specialty item.

I went to a grocery store I knew had tempeh, and figured, hey, they have weird shit, so they likely have everything I need, right?  Nope.  Got my tempeh, but could I find crimini mushrooms?  No.  I couldn’t even find regular old white button mushrooms, so back over to King Soopers I went.

Denver, your grocery stores suck.   I grew up here, and my parents took care of the cooking, so I never noticed growing up, but criminy.  Rinky-dink Durango can kick your ass any day over quality and availability of ingredients, unless you’re Korean.  Then you’re screwed, like my favorite derby villain, Kim Jen ‘Illin, who has to coerce some poor soul into carrying ox tail in a cooler for her down to Durango whenever they visit Denver and can hit up the Asian supermarkets.  I thought it was outrageous once when I had to visit 3 grocery stores in Durango for lemongrass, but really, Denver?  I need to go to a specialty store for tempeh?   I hate to say it, but when my pocketbook can afford it, Whole Foods is the way to go, period.  Bulk items, good produce, and those pesky non-meat things that are usually buried in the egg section of King Soopers, laying flat, and near expiration.

I particularly enjoyed that when I did manage to find some vegetarian sausage for the biscuits and gravy last weekend, it had egg whites in it.  All of it.  The store had one brand of vegetarian meats, which uses egg whites, hence negating my entire trip to the store to get sausage our vegan friend could eat the next morning.  Thanks, King Soopers.  Thanks.

This particular friend and I agree on this point of grocery store failure here in the Denver area.  She’s from Michigan.  MICHIGAN, people, and her grocery stores were still better there.  Denver is supposed to be a diverse city, right?  I call to end the segregation of foods!  Bring in the vegan sausage, the strange cuts of meat for the Koreans, the kaffir lime leaves! Let’s make our grocery stores a better place, one food at a time.

-M

Sunday, Sunday

27 Nov

Wah wah.  Lops is off skates for a couple weeks.  Suspected meniscus tear.  At least this happened during November so I can heal up in December and jump back in when January comes around.  Regardless of the meniscus.

I told myself I could handle a week without derby, that I didn’t need to go to scrimmage to NSO.  Keeping PJs on until the last minute didn’t help. I ended up grabbing a leftover biscuit from yesterday and running out the door with coffee in hand and NSOing.  Punches had to keep me in line as a box timer, due to my forgetting I was not on the red team and yelling that they needed more people at one point.  Oops.  But it was good to see the faces, and I’ll be back at least one day a weekend to help the NSOs, because they’re rad and I get to see my people.

Just FYI, one biscuit is not enough for the Hummingbird.  So we made some ironically vegan cheese-laden ham sandwich melts when I got home and salads on the side.

I had big plans to take care of oil changes, buying a dog poop scoop, make a 3 day meal plan,yada yada yada.  Instead Denny played video games and I read for 5 hours straight.  But he got inspired at some point when the sun went down to make homemade mac and cheese, which was delicious.  How can anything with Velveeta turn out poorly?  Don’t answer. I can imagine.

Regardless, a relatively uneventful day.  However, on Saturday night, I did get a taste of what would happen should I throw this whole challenge to the wind on a whim.  We went out to El Diablo with Sans Sheriff and had a few drinks, and on his recommendation, ordered a Mitchelada.  Denny was nearest to the bar so I asked him to order for me.  The look on his face was priceless.

Just add a little stubble and it looked something like this.

It read something along the lines of “I can’t believe you just let me down like this.  One night out and you’re throwing our challenge baby out the window.  What the fuck is wrong with you?”  I, knowing I’d just ordered a bloody beer, was incredibly confused as to why I was getting the worst shame face I’d ever seen in my 7 years with Denny.  I had to ask him why to clear up the little hurt cloud forming above his head.  Adorable.

I think it’s safe to say I’ll be sticking to this challenge until the end.

-Meg

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

Day 2: Lead Us Not Into Temptation

18 Nov

Do not, I repeat, do not, buy coconut milk creamer with hazelnut flavoring. While it magically transported Denny to Hawaii with every sip of his coffee, surf guitar free of charge, it resulted in a wasted cup of coffee and numb mouth for me. Weird weird flavor. I really like coconut, and don’t mind coconut milk, but something about this went horribly wrong for me and the combo of hazelnut and liquid coconut was gag worthy. I ended up going to the grocery store on the way to work, picking up snacks to avoid yesterday’s Dorito and Nutty Buddy binge from repeating, and getting Starbucks Via so I could have iced coffee at work.

Starbucks Via: Undetermined, but leaning towards “I’ll drink this out of sheer desperation because my office is a boiler room and hot coffee would be a death wish.” Coffee should not look like a cinnamon sugar mix that you might put on toast. Or leave a layer of sugar a millimeter thick on the bottom of your mug. I’m not a Starbucks fan to begin with, but it’s tricky in my work area to find anything non-chain and this was the only pre-made coffee drink available. On the corner of Tower and Colfax, it’s strip mall central. I’ll be picking up some iced coffee drinks in cans next Safeway run.

Also, snack run was, as Borat might say, great success. It kept me out of the Doritos and Nutty Buddy’s and into the Goldfish crackers and Milanos. That’s better, right? I do love my Little Debbie desserts though. Little Debbie, forever, Wetmore. Hostess can suck it. That’s right, I said it. And you have to wait until this is posted to see, read, and argue.

Lunches: leftover seitan and rice. Super tangy and delicious after marinating all night. I’m all, yeah! We can do this! We rock at this!

And then 3pm hit at the office. I’ve been building a friendship with a gal who works for another part of the company, seems totally rad, and wanted to go do something with after work. Bar time. Happy Hour. Bar food. We agreed to meet at 5:30 at a bar near the Tech Center after I grabbed Denny.

Proceed to 5pm, Denny sitting down in the car, and me informing him we’re headed straight to the bar. He put on saucer eyes and asked if that was a good idea. No, of course not. We’re both starving, per usual, right after work. We’re pros at this. This is part of our eating out problem. We’re both so hungry after getting out of the office, and my hour long car ride that we head straight to take out to avoid the wrath of Hangry, Road-Raged Megalops, who is probably your worst nightmare if you’ve never met her. And I’d already looked at the menu for the bar we were going to. Not recommended, just FYI. You start making deals with the devil to be able to eat out.

This is where problems are going to rear their ugly little heads. We are hectic, unplanned outing types. We end up staying out longer than we think, drinking, carousing, whatever, and need a quick bite to keep our stomachs in line. There’s a bout tomorrow night and I’ll be at the warehouse from 3pm-9pm. With a food truck in the parking lot and baked goods for sale. In order to avoid it, we’ll have to make something banging that sways us away from that food truck. PBJ sandwiches aren’t going to cut it.

So we were glad for our readers feedback. There was a Vitamin Cottage/Natural Grocers on the corner by the bar. Prepped food. Done. We ate two giant Udi’s sandwiches. Yes, it cost about as much as going to Subway, but it kept us from eating at the bar, which would have cost way more, and it was our once a week, reader approved act of desperation. Totally unimpressive food, but maybe that’s a good thing to keep us from using it more often.

And the drinking commenced, guilt free, uber fail avoided.