Tuesday, October 04, 2011
Time for me to catch up on my weekend! I think in my last blog, I covered a lot of my Friday food-making. Well, I woke up on Saturday and had this awesome chicken broth ready to go. Everything I read says discard the veggies but save the meat for soups and stews, and I dunno, something about meat that has been soaking forever being eaten on its own... Maybe it was the part where it was all the undesirable stuff I couldn't get off the chicken bones. Extra fat, gristle, skin, that kind of stuff.
On Friday, my cat gave me an idea. She kept eyeing the plate of chicken I had cut up, but she wouldn't take any of my offerings. So I left for a minute to use the bathroom, and when I came back, I found her face-first in the plate of raw chicken as if it were a whole buffet just waiting for her. Then she looked up at me, shocked, with raw chicken hanging out of her mouth and went running.
So I picked off all the remaining meat and skin and fat from the broth bones, used my Magic Bullet to grind it up into a meat-paste, and gave it to the kitties. My one fat cat wouldn't recognize real food if it bit him in the butt (he actually once chose to chew on the fake plastic bamboo plant we used to have as opposed to the fresh plant we bought for his chewing pleasure...), but my little she-cat took a few sniffs and within seconds was licking up all the juices, so much so that fat-cat started wondering what he was missing out on. They seem to enjoy the chicken, so we mix small portions of it with their dry food.
It's getting to the point now where my little she-cat comes to the kitchen any time I'm in it, because the odds are getting better that she's going to have a treat come her way.
Let's see, as I said, other than that stuff, Saturday was full of food and football. On Sunday, I went to my morning yoga class and then, since it was a beautiful day, decided that we should try to experience some fall color. It's not really fall here yet, but it's late enough in the year and you can feel fall looming enough that I'm way beyond mentally prepared for it to arrive. So we decided to go old-school, grabbed an atlas, and I tried to navigate us to a state park. We spent a long time being not lost, but going in swirls and zig-zags in the area where the park was supposed to be, but without ever finding it. Of course, it was only an atlas, and what I really needed was the atlas to get us to the right area and then a detailed state map so that I could see all the roads in the town, as opposed to U.S. highways and state routes only. We got to the town where the state park was, and after some meandering, we finally just looked it up on the GPS to get us there. We got there a half hour before it closed! And it was super-small. Dighton Rock State Park was dedicated to, well, a rock. But the rock had some kind of cave-drawings on it. Unfortunately, since it was so close to closing, the building that housed the big rock and protected it from the elements was closed. So we had an adventure day, got a little bit of super-fresh middle-of-nowhere air, and then headed back home. It reminded me that we should do that again, hopefully earlier in the day and involving picnic food.
I heated up the chicken for dinner -- it was delicious! But it really was like Asian barbecue chicken, so while the eggplant side dish was good, it wasn't "the perfect side dish." Here's the eggplant recipe:
1 tbsp. oil (recipe suggests sesame, I used refined coconut)
1 tbsp. diced onion
2 cloves garlic
2 cups diced eggplant (the recipe says peeled, but I left the peel on)
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. vinegar (recipe suggests rice, I used red wine)
1 tsp. sesame seeds
Red pepper flakes
Since I didn't have sesame oil, I heated up the oil and added the onion as recommended, but I also added the sesame seeds in the hopes of imparting a slight sesame flavor to the oil. Then just add the eggplant and garlic and get it all covered in the oil, then add the soy sauce, vinegar, and red pepper flakes and let it cook until the eggplant is softened.
It was so good that with the chicken I felt like I was eating nothing but main courses. So on Monday, I made the eggplant by itself and served it over steamed spaghetti squash. It was a simple, delicious, and surprisingly vegan! If I wanted to add some protein, I would add some pork or some scrambled egg, but I would not serve it as a side dish.
Nope, today when I reheated the rest of the chicken, we had it with some red potato fries that I baked up. Much better side dish!
Yesterday, I had the day off, but hubby went in to sub. I went for a run in the morning, then started cleaning up the apartment. We're at that weird point now where almost everything has a place, so the few things that are left are really frustrating. But I made some big-time progress, so that makes me happy.
I was also supposed to have liberty yesterday, but I had a gig at 6:30pm. That's not so bad for a liberty day, but I think everyone in the quintet was a little frustrated, especially since we only got afternoon liberty today because of an all-hands meeting. I even had watch this morning, and for some reason I was super-tired. The guy who was supposed to have watch after me didn't have to do it because I was told to secure the watch for the day before I went home. I really can't stand the guy who was supposed to relieve me, and given that he hadn't stood watch in, oh, six weeks, between being tired and cranky and whatnot, I almost cried when I found out he didn't have to stand watch. So I came home and took a nap before my workout, and I'm still going to get to bed early!
I did a quick commissary run after the gym, then decided to see if Shaw's had any random specials, and on my way over there saw a humongous rainbow! So that made my day a little bit brighter! As did the freshly-packed smoked herring I found and the chicken sausages I got for $2.00 off because they were near their expiration date. So win there, too.
Now I hit a week without a day off. While other people might be having three-day weekends this weekend, I have parades. I have a gig tomorrow, a gig on Thursday, two gigs on Friday, a gig on Saturday, a parade in Boston on Sunday (so that will be an easy 12-hour day), and then a parade in Newport on Monday (another long day). Thank goodness for Tuesday and Wednesday off next week!
But that's just the life. Our all-hands was a presentation on stress control, and he was "real Navy." He was curious, though, what kinds of stuff would stress out a Navy musician, and the one guy said it all. You never know, even just a week out, what your schedule is going to be. You can't have a regularly scheduled home life because it is constantly changing, and that can be pretty stressful. Indeed. Weekends mean nothing to me anymore, except occasionally my husband trying to find ways to alleviate boredom.
Well, that's that for now. I'm sure I'll have more stories soon!
Saturday, October 01, 2011
For the first time in a long time, hubby and I stayed in, had a few too many drinks, and ate way too much junk food. Maybe it was a celebration of staying in a small deficit all month?
I already have my recovery plan, so other than the headache from too much food and the re-affirmation that I don't eat like this frequently for a reason, I'm not too worried. You can't out-train a bad diet, but you CAN out-diet a bad day! However, it did result in a halftime nap that took me through the middle of the fourth quarter of the OSU football game.
I expected this year to be bad with the loss of Jim Tressel, but wow. I finally get a Saturday off, I sit down to watch Buckeye football, and that's what I got?
I would like to thank the NCAA for, after years of never exercising any control of really upholding any regulations, making a sweep and crippling some very big football programs. It kind of reminds me of Napster, way back in the day, and how the record companies decided to crack down by randomly suing individuals who used Napster. You know, after Napster was a household commodity. Or the baseball commission about steroids, long after everyone already knew that everyone was using steroids.
Waiting until a problem has blown up out of control is not the time to make sweeping, excessive changes.
Wow, that could apply to just about everything in life.
Yesterday, I had the day off except for a NAPS football game in the evening. We were originally supposed to have just AM liberty and work in the afternoon, but I guess someone decided it was silly for us to work from 1-3pm, go home, and then muster back for the game at 6:30pm. They were right. So I had all of Friday off.
I went to the gym at 8am and PT'd with my trainer. We did back and biceps. What's nice about working with her is that she is brutally honest about what weight I can handle. In an effort to prove that I'm not a pansy and can lift real weights, I've been sacrificing form in the past. Now I'm working with these pansy little weights and feeling the burn all over the place. So I did that and then, since it was a gorgeous day outside, went for a 30 minute run. I averaged a 9-minute-mile pace, which is on par with what I was running when I went for longer runs in Virginia Beach. That made me a lot more confident about my PRT.
Yeah, tried doing a mock PRT on the bike and a mock PRT on the elliptical the other day. There's no way. I will be the only person NOT doing my PRT on a machine. It's going to be me and the outdoor track, because if I'm just counting six laps and seeing the world go by, I can push myself. On a machine, I'm literally counting down the seconds, and I feel the pain more brutally. Yuck.
When I was done, I hopped in the car and immediately ate two protein muffins. They're super-dense and have a semi-funky texture, and next time I won't make them in muffin paper because they stuck so bad, but all-in-all, they work for a recovery-shake-on-the-go. I bought pumpkin pie spice at the commissary for next time because I think they'll taste even better that way!
When I got home, I got to cooking, because that's what you do on sunny days when hubby is at work, right? I cut up the whole chicken and made marinade from Epicurious that actually used mostly ingredients I had on hand. It's really easy:
2 tbsp. oil (I used olive oil)
1/2 cup scallions
1/4 cup fresh chopped ginger
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
2/3 cup soy sauce
1 cup apricot preserves (I used St. Dalfour Orange Marmalade)
Heat the oil in a small pot and saute the scallions and ginger until browning and softened. Then add the red wine vinegar and let it boil down to about half (which only takes a few minutes). Then add the soy sauce, preserves, and a touch of salt and pepper to taste (but okay, really, who needs to add salt when you have soy sauce?) Let the whole thing simmer for 15 minutes, then puree in a blender (my Magic Bullet was the perfect size for this). Once it cools to room temperature, pour it over 4 1/2 lbs. of chicken and let it marinate for 8-24 hours.
I had everything on hand except scallions and ginger, so that was a cheap commissary pick-up. It made such an amazingly delicious marinade! We cooked up the chicken today, but since we drank a little too much, I didn't feel like wasting it on a bad-food-day, so it is now sitting in the refrigerator waiting to be eaten for dinner tomorrow. As is the eggplant.
Well, since I chopped up the chicken into pieces parts, I was left with this carcass and some giblets. What to do, what to do. So I quick Google-searched "slow cooker chicken broth) and lo-and-behold, there's a recipe that calls for a chicken carcass, some carrots, some celery, some onion, and some dried basil, plus six cups of water. I happen to have all of those things hanging around the kitchen, so chicken stock it was. That took about 5 seconds to get going, and now I have six bags, each with one cup of broth, in the freezer.
When I was done with that, it was on to making my 32-oz. jar of sauerkraut. That took about an hour. I remembered to pick up caraway seed at the commissary, so now, with the dried cranberries, salt, and caraway seed, I'll have real Lithuanian-style kraut! It is now sitting in the stairwell, bubbling away and smelling delicious. I didn't even really have enough salt for the recommended proportions, but from what I've read, salt is unnecessary. It guarantees that nothing bad will grow in your kraut, and it will make the kraut crunchier, but it's not actually necessary to get the cabbage fermenting. As long as the cabbage is submerged in its own juices, it will properly ferment. Mine is properly fermenting away, as the sauerkraut-y smell in the stairwell indicates.
When I was done with all that (phew!) I had to clean, of course. Ugh, the worst part of making lots of food is the clean-up. Then I finally got to take a shower! Then hubby and I decided to go down to the local coffee shop and grab a cup and a treat. His was a pumpkin muffin and mine was Taza Chocolate Mexicana. It's stone-ground, so it was a little gritty, but it was nothing but cacao beans and sugar, so it was very tasty!
Hubby went to go play racquetball and I walked down to the consignment shop to see if they had anything new. I tried on a pair of jeans by J. Brand -- the same company that made my amazing corduroys, and I don't know if the jeans were mislabeled or what, but they were ENORMOUS. They were supposed to be wide-leg, and they did that beautifully, but I also had a good spare two inches in the waist. Yikes! I also tried a pair of pale 7 For All Mankind jeans, just to see if I could figure out what all the hype was about. I did not figure out what all the hype was. I also tried on a yellow dress by Lily Pulitzer that caught my eye when my mom and I went. It was awesome! Totally a honeymoon-in-Sanibel dress. So much so that I dragged hubby down to the store today to take a look. He agreed that it was awesome, and if it's still there in a few weeks when it drops to half-price, we might get it. The owner thinks it'll be there because it's a tiny size and difficult for most girls to fit into -- they've got curves somewhere that are busting out of the dress. It's been sitting there for months, slowly dropping in price, and in just three weeks it'll be down to half. If it's still there, I might be swiping it up!
Anyway, then I got home, made dinner, and went to the NAPS game. Well, the opposing team got lost in Connecticut. It's not a very big state, so I'm not sure how they managed that, but... So we ended up back at the band hall, where I mopped and swept for the all-hands meeting on Tuesday morning. Then, after an hour of waiting, the senior chief decided to have us go to the field, play 20 minutes of stand tunes, and then leave. The opposing team was still lost.
I had to miss hubby's first concert with the jazz band, which was too bad. But once I got home, I went ahead and finally dyed my hair. I went super-dark! The color I picked was Dark Warm Brown, which looked beautiful on the swatch, but it had hints of red in it, and with as much red as I already had in my hair and this brand's tendency to run two shades darker than it says, what I ended up with looked a little more like Black Cherry. Uhhhhh...
So I really like the dark, but I wasn't fond of all the red. That's what I was trying to get away from! So this morning, I grabbed a quick box of just medium ash brown temporary color to tone down the reds. It worked, but now my hair is more of a plum-super-dark-brown. I'll shampoo it like mad these next couple of days to tone down the freshness of the dye job, and then I think next time I'm just going to have my stylist fix my hair color! I'm over being red, and while going from red to blonde was super-hard, I didn't expect going from red to dark brunette to be super-hard either! Ugh!
It does let me wear brighter makeup colors, though, and when I tried it with my classic red lipstick, hubby thought it was very model-esque. So dark hair = win. Dark hair with a gothic black cherry shine? Fail.
The problem with taking a huge alcohol-and-carbs nap is that now I'm not tired, but I still want to wake up bright and early tomorrow. Fail. But yoga and sweating out this poison will be a not-fail.
Funny observation, I was doing so well with portion control until I switched my diet to higher carbs and lower fat, and then I hit a really rough week. I'm not beating myself up over it, but I've definitely learned something. Too many carbs for me triggers over-eating. I get a "taste" for them.
Oh, one more quick note. The commissary was selling MaraNatha raw almond butter in tiny jars that made them similar in price to the almond butter I got at Target. Both of them contain nothing but almonds. I've had Blue Diamond almond butter before, and that's better than Target. But I have never had almond butter that was so delicious as MaraNatha's almond butter was. That stuff is like crack, except that it is SOOOOOOO good that you can't help but put it away because something so delicious cannot be gorged on.
Hmmm, there's another anti-binge tip. Make stuff that is sooooooo good that you wouldn't want to gorge on it because you really do want to save it for another day. Honestly, that trick does work for me. Hence why my chicken didn't get eaten today. It's too good to be wasted on a bad-food-day.
And with that, it's time to work on getting to sleep...
Thursday, September 29, 2011
Today, hubby and I decided to check out the small farmer's market up in Middletown. The produce not only looked awesome, the prices were competitive. $2 for a spaghetti squash that looked healthy? Not only price-wise, but quality-wise, it was a steal! I walked away with two tiny globe eggplants that looked a lot more appetizing than the big ones in the grocery stores -- which I already think look awfully tasty -- plus a savoy cabbage that was definitely cheaper than the commissary, a head of green leaf lettuce, and a head of broccoli. Mmmm...
So, vegan recipes to the rescue! What am I going to do with such delectable eggplant? Well, I found a recipe for Asian sauteed eggplant and will use it as a side dish for my fryer chicken. Not exactly an expertly-prepared menu, but it should work. I'll marinate the chicken in a lemongrass sauce that I got at TJMaxx... yeah, one of the random-find-type-things.
I have enough salad to last a lifetime, so lots of leafy greens. And I plan on steaming this broccoli the proper way this time and maybe serving it up with the mahi-mahi in the freezer. Mmmmm.
Yep, I can't get over these munchie cravings. I just feel like I always want to eat. This is not good.
So tomorrow, for breakfast, I'll start making these hopefully-yummy pumpkin custards. It'll be a little more carbs than I'd normally go for in the morning, but if I eat them right after I work out, I think my body will just use it up in the best way. And they should taste delicious in that "This tastes like fall" kind of way.
Well, that's a quick update, because now I have to run off to rehearsal. I'm subbing for a community band. Hopefully it will be fun!
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Today I felt completely carbed-out, or maybe it was fibered-out. Either way, it was not comfortable. My tummy is definitely bloated, so I'm ready to kick this diet and get back to my normal eating. I have two days of salads with edamame left and one day of oatmeal and turkey-with-beans chili. Then, back to normal! I'm looking forward to making an awesome mahi-mahi this weekend and not worrying about the fat content!
I had some dried arame (seaweed) in my pantry that I've been re-hydrating according to the package directions and adding to my salads. It makes me happy, in a weird way. That and the San-J Tamari gluten-free soy sauce I'm using. That stuff tastes GOOOOD and reminds me of sushi. The old "lite" soy sauce that I threw away today tasted like fake garbage compared to this.
I can't remember if I've discussed this already, but I'm finally learning for real how sensitive my skin really is. After eating very little dairy for weeks, my skin is clearing up beautifully. It's almost better than ever! But a few weeks ago, I decided to give my face a scrubbing with Neutrogena's Stress Control scrub, since it has all these gentle ingredients in it. I had some success with it in the past, but holy cow, my skin was breaking out the next day! Back to good ol' Cetaphil, and everything calmed down and healed up. The other day, though, I pulled out my Neutrogena microdermabrasion wand thingy and gave my face a good scrub-down with that, and my skin LOVED it! It was all polished and smooth, and any redness and inflammation went down overnight and left my skin looking awesome the next day. So scrubs=bad, but vibrating face gizmos=good. I also noticed that my skin doesn't like a lot of stuff on it -- just some sunblock as a moisturizer in the day and a retinol cream and moisturizer at bed, and that's it. Of course, none of that worked when I was eating dairy because my skin was constantly inflamed, and I only now realize what that looked like compared to what my skin CAN look like. Wow.
I also have to say, my homemade sauerkraut is AWESOME! So good. It tastes completely authentic. Duh, really, but it's that good. I had to eat some straight out of the jar today, and hubby joined in. It's time for me to see if I can find any nitrate-free sausages at Shaw's so we can have a sausage-and-sauerkraut night. I already have two heads of cabbage for my next batch. Yum, yum, yum!
And now, it's time to get to bed. I really don't do well on anything less than 8 hours of sleep, and even that's being generous. I'm falling into a coffee habit again, and it's simply from lack of sleep.
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
WE DID IT!!!
Three-and-a-half years after the fact, hubby and I scheduled our honeymoon! It turns out that with his substitute teaching gig and the enormous amount of time I have off at Christmas, we were able to find time.
Actually, the idea hit me randomly over the weekend, and the conversation went something like:
"Hey hon, I just want to throw this out there. It's just a random thought I had, and I won't be disappointed if you say no because of money or whatever, and you'll have to talk to your mom, but I was thinking that I have a lot of time off at Christmas and we're not going to spend the whole two weeks at your mom's place, so I thought it might be fun if we could look into seeing if it would be possible for us to consider going to Sanibel during that time. I know it's peak season and all, but it could be fun."
"Okay, sure. We have the money, so if there's availability, I don't see why not."
Wow, that was easy. So we went home and I had him look up the place we had our eye on. It's a tiny little efficiency right before the bridge between Sanibel and Captiva Islands. Sure enough, it's still available. So he crunches some numbers, and we can afford it, including taxes, travel costs, and eating out, and still have some funds left over. So he calls his mom, and she doesn't care if we leave the day after Christmas, and his sister would prefer going up before Christmas and thinks we'd really be better off having vacation after visiting his mom anyway.
So then he says to me, "Shall I book it?"
Wait, in one day we've decided that we're going to book our honeymoon? So are we sure this is the place we want? Are we sure the days are okay? Are we sure we want to spend that much? Do we want to be in Sanibel during peak season?
Dumb questions, really, because we already knew the answer was yes. So we booked it. Right now, it looks like we will be there from the 26th of December through the 31st, but if what I just heard is true and we won't be going back to work until the week after, we will call and ask our stay to be extended one day, and we will stay for the New Year.
Now that I'm sure it will be okay, I'm so unbelievably excited.
WE'RE GOING ON OUR HONEYMOON!!!
I have three months and a really good reason to watch my celebrating over the holidays now. I can't wait to tell my trainer on Friday, because I want to step up my training and get some real results going. I might bump up the cardio with extra outdoor running to burn some body fat, but at the same time, I know I'm not going to build muscle if I do too much, so we'll see. I'll probably bump up the cardio.
The diet is going a little better now that I'm a few days into it and eating some more interesting meals. My salad with canned salmon, mandarin oranges, water chestnuts, carrots, arame (seaweed), and spinach, topped with a drizzle of olive oil and wheat-free soy sauce is really hitting the spot. And for breakfast, I've gone back to my happy steel-cut oats-n-eggs. I made a big CrockPot of turkey chili with properly soaked black beans, and it was good, too. This might be do-able now that I have more meals that I enjoy.
My husband and I went out to Shaw's yesterday. The ghetto supermarket. The one I would never step into because the signs are skazzy compared to Stop-n-Shop.
If I don't shop at the commissary, I will shop at Shaw's. Their produce was awesome and reasonable, their fresh seafood selection was the best I've seen, and I could get Wholly Guacamole for $1.50 cheaper than Stop-n-Shop.
For organic stuff, though, the pretentious A Market on Bellevue still takes the cake. They seem pretentious because they only sell expensive, super-high-quality organic novelty foods and local produce, but their super-high-quality novelty foods are cheaper than at any other supermarket.
But there were lots of meats and things on manager's special at Shaw's because they were about to reach their expiration date, and that's how I shopped in Texas: manager's specials on good meat. So there we go.
We also returned the tables and chairs that we borrowed from the Navy and took three bags of clothing to a donation spot, so we gained a lot of space that way. Then, since we are finally whittling out a practice space, we were able to clear out four boxes of music for our filing cabinet. That bought us more space. We are so close to being moved in that it's painful!
Man oh man, I might have to go on a jog this afternoon. We're going on a honeymoon! Yay!
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