On Cooking Ahead

It is no secret that I love cooking. However, the last three months have been extremely hectic, which has meant on daily basis cooking just wasn’t happening. Determined not to start living out of take out containers I started spending time on Sundays, the one relatively calm day, cooking so that the week would have home cooking. Here is what I turn to to cook ahead of time.

1. Steel Cut Oats in the Crock Pot: I love steel cut oats but I don’t think in the entire time I have known of their existence I have ever had time to cook them without a crock pot. This recipe is so easy and makes enough for 2 people for about 2 to 3 days.

2. Egg White Muffins: Another good office breakfast option. I use silicone muffin cupswhich save time in clean up as the egg releases better than from a muffin pan. I usually just use whatever I can find in the fridge for these. I like to throw some spinach because it is unoffensive and helps me eat more veggies. [Fancy recipes for more ideas]

3. Roast Chicken in the Crockpot: In all honesty, my husband is typically the one that cooks the chicken. Mondays we typically do some sort of meat in the crockpot to have it throughout the week and he has taken charge of the task. This is similar to the recipe he uses minus the cayenne. We did use cayenne the first time but it was a bit too sharp for our taste.

4. Salad Prep: I try to eat lots of salad especially for lunch. But the key to actually making salad is to prepping ahead. Like roasting beets and cooking grains to put in the salad ahead of time.

 

 

Sunday Song of the Day: Kill Your Heros – AWOLnation

In the past 3 months I have probably listened to Kill Your Heros about a million times. It all started when I had to deal with some annoying things at work. I would go into the details but they are boring. What it meant was I really needed some fast hard hitting rock and roll.

I started with listening to This Kid’s Not All Right by AWOLnation. Also a song I have listened to a million times. And then I branched out. While I liked some of AWOLnations other songs, these 2 really stuck it for me. This Kid’s Not All Right is dark and mean. It is angry to be sure. I loved it when I was dealing with an annoying things at work. Especially because it throws in a small amount of curse words which you can mouth to yourself while bouncing along to your work.

Kill Your Heros has a similar sound to This Kid’s Not Alright but is lighter and happier rather than dark and angry. You can definitely feel the difference in energy. I love the lyrics so much for Kill Your Heros. I liked one so much I made it my mantra for 2014. “Never let your fears decide your fate.” As I listened I thought about all the times I turned down opportunities or flat our avoided them because I was scared to death. Scared I would fail or scared something bad would happen. And yet many times when I had done something even though I was scared it turned out wonderfully (Prime example: Move to strange city where I don’t know anyone…Los Angeles. Where I have known lived for over 12 years!)

Even if you don’t need encouragement to take risks because you are like Richard Branson, this song is amazing and bouncy. I don’t know how many times in the past few months I have gotten caught by a coworker bouncing in my chair in my office while listening to this song.

Kill Your Hero’s Official Video 

On Technology That Makes My Life Better

I can be a bit of a bit of luddite at times. I feel like sometimes people use technology when in reality something no tech or low tech would do. I despise technology for technology’s sake. But that does not mean I would rather be living in a tent with no electricity or computers (or running water!)

Here is some technology that I feel, has made my life generally better:

  1. Jawbone Headset: I live in Los Angeles, so I am in my car A LOT. While I enjoy listening to music or sifting through my thoughts during my various drives, it is so nice to also use the time in a productive way. The jawbone allows me to comply with the law (must use hands free) and be heard. I talk to my mom the most in my drives around town and before the jawbone she was constantly having difficulty hearing me and vice versa. And it is far more comfortable than the lame headset that comes with an iPhone that start to feel like you are being stabbed in the ear.
  2. Kindle Paperwhite: I didn’t even KNOW I needed or wanted this but my husband knows me better than I know myself and got this for me as a gift. It’s not as popular as the “you can do a million other things than read” kindles but I already have an iPad. I like the paperwhite because it is backlit so those nights when my toddler is refusing to go to sleep, I can sit in the dark of his room waiting him out and getting some reading in. Yet even with the light, it is not as tiring on your eyes as a computer/tablet. It’s much more like a book, in my luddite opinion and I resisted having an e-reader. I have read so much more since I got my Kindle. The only danger is I can so easily buy books. It can be too easy for someone who loves books and reading .
  3. Evernote: The Evernote app has changed my life. I have been a list maker for…a long long time. I don’t remember a time before I made lists. The problem is if you make a paper list or a list on your desktop you might be someplace and NOT have your list. I have Evernote on all my electronics (work computer, home computer, iPad, iPhone.) and my lists sync between ALL of them. So now I am never without my lists.
  4. Crockpot: I don’t think it even matters what brand crockpot I have, we recently upgraded only because we could (with credit card points) but really a good ceramic crockpot isn’t expensive or hard to find. A crockpot is like having your own cook. You just dump a bunch of stuff in and when you get home from work, there is deviousness waiting for you. When I was a kid, I teased my mom about her crockpot use. Who knows why? But now, I totally get it. I love my crockpot!

5 Things of Interest – The Suffering with a Cold Edition

These are some necessities for me when I am sick:

1. Traditional Medicinals Throat Coat Tea: When I have a cold as of late, it seems to like to hang out in my throat, making me sound like Fran Drescher. This tea tastes good and helps ease sore and dry throats.

2. Cute and Comfy Lounge wear: As silly as it may seem, I like to have some cute lounge wear when I’m sick. Nothing worse than feeling bad and feeling ugly too. My in-laws got me a luxurious pair of pj pants from Anthropolgie that are perfect for still feeling stylish while I hack up a lung.

3. Chicken and rice soup: Skip the noodles please. The noodles in chicken noodle soup are rarely good and after being bogged down in broth they are not improved. I recently made awesome chicken and wild rice soup. 1) dice half a yellow onion and a garlic clove or two, cook in some olive oil until tender 2) aid veggies, I like carrots and celery diced in the food processor, cook for a little bit. 3) add chicken and some chicken stock. I just bought a pre-made rotisserie chicken and stripped it and store bought stock. If you feel ambitious you could make your own. 4) Add some water and let simmer for a while so all the flavors mix.

4. Ricola: Again, my colds tend to reside in my chest/throat. Ricola isn’t super sweet or chemically tasting. Although I prefer the lemon and honey flavor.

5. Netflix: I don’t get to enjoy as much movie and tv as I once did before my son was born but if he is off at daycare or asleep, netflix is my go to for some bad tv or movie to take my mind off my suffering.

On Thirteen Years

I don’t usually like to mark anniversaries of sad events, especially deaths because it is better to celebrate a person’s life than remember their exit. But today, on my way home from work I had a sudden need to listen to Pearl Jam’s Release. Since my marriage into the Jamily, this song has been one that really touched me and reminded me of my dad’s passing. As Eddie started toward the crescendo of the song, my thoughts went to the date. Was it December 4th? Yes, it had to be because I dated a letter today with the 4th. And as Eddie’s voice ached with “Oh dear dad/Can you see me now/I am myself/Like you somehow.” I ugly cried in my car because I realized it had been 13 years since my father left this world.

I don’t really recall December 4, 2000 well. It started sometime in the middle of the night when the hospital called to tell us my father had passed away. I did not want to go into his room and “say good bye” because I had a belief that if I saw my father’s body, it would erase all my memories of his life. I don’t believe I cried that night. We returned home in the early morning hours and my uncle who had been staying with us instructed us all to try and get some sleep. Honestly, most of the following days are a blur with brief snippets of remembrance of consoling hugs, gentle reminders to “eat something” and comments about how loved my father was.

I only remember the date now as a marker. My life changed after December 4, 2000. There is the life I had when my father was alive and there is the life that has happened since my father passed. After December 4, 2000, I moved to Los Angeles. I graduated from law school. I married my husband. I had my son, who is named after my dad. I would have loved to see how my dad would have been as a grandparent. I imagine he would have handled my son much as he talked to me as child, which was the same amount of respect he spoke to adults. Taking seriously my son’s concerns even if they involve concerns about volcanos in the middle of Los Angeles.

I think I am most sad that we never got to have a chance to know each other as adults. I was only 21 when he passed away; too young to see him as anything but my dad. Too young for him to see me as a grown woman. In the last 13 years my relationship with my mom has grown and matured. We talk about parenthood now and the issues with getting anything done with a toddler under foot. I would love to compare parenthood tales with my dad and get his thoughts on my work life as an attorney. It is his fault after all that I went to law school (“What’s the worst that can happen?” he said).

Though today I feel sadness. I also feel my dad watching over me and it was him tugging at me to listen to Release (even though I am pretty sure my dad didn’t know who Pearl Jam was) letting me know he is there if I need to talk to him. “Meet me on the other side

Love you, Dad.

5 Things of Interest

Eat: Pumpkin S’more Doughnut Muffin – I am not big into baking. I love cooking but baking just requires too much attention to detail (i.e. actually measuring stuff). Will someone come make these for me? They look so amazing! 

Want: Homemade Gin Kit - Is this even legal? I am not sure but it certainly looks interesting. Sometimes I think I should start a blog called “Mmmm Gin!”

Think: Dark & Disturbing World of Thomas the Train - If you are a parent of a small child, you have probably been forced to watch at least one episode of Thomas & Friends. This show is torture for me and my husband which of course means our son is obsessed with it. In fact, we had created a game for ourselves in which we would try and guess how many seconds into an episode it would be before someone was “cross” about something. Someone is always cross on that show. This article discussed the darker aspects of the cartoon which only adults seem to see. If you are reading this and thinking “who thinks about cartoons this much?” you probably don’t have kids. 

Look: Adventure is Calling – My husband has renewed his interest in astronomy and found this excellent time lapse video of the Arizona sky. It *almost* makes me want to go camping. I said ALMOST.

Laugh: People with No Kids - This is so funny IF you have kids. It’s funny because it’s true.

Sunday Song: Do I Wanna Know? – Arctic Monkeys

First, I need to give a shout out to ALT 98.7. I know there are all kinds of talk about “music discovery” products nowadays but for me the main way I find new music is the old fashioned way, on the radio. Thankfully, its not like the old days where if you heard a song on the radio you then had to wait patiently for it to come back on and then hold your cassette tape next to the radio. For me, ALT 98.7 is the place I find new jams. It doesn’t replace my favorite radio station from my hometown CD102.5 but it scratches the itch. I know that is not the hip station for new music but I am just being honest here. Other stations that known in LA as tastemakers do not tend to play music I love. I preference is for great beats, loud and fast. Folk versions of AC/DC don’t usually make me want to turn the radio up. This doesn’t mean I think ALT 98.7 doesn’t get some things wrong (STOP PLAYING IMAGINE DRAGONS!) but I find a lot of great new songs on there that I probably wouldn’t “discovery” via some app.

On to the song! This song starts with a huge bass drum thump and a downtempo bass guitar that has a bit of distortion to it. I am in love with rock that sounds like real music and hasn’t been smoothed out too much. Real rock should be a little messy, in my opinion. The song never gets very fast but it builds with a chorus that is loud with lots of voice.

Its not so much a song about getting back together with someone as it is that sick feeling we have all had after a break up where we’re still hooked on the person and we can’t shake it. Trying to go back  over and over to the person, whether we should. The sound has that kind of drank too much, late night sound. The feeling when last call comes and goes and you find yourself calling your ex even though you know you shouldn’t.

These lyrics scream drunk dialing to me:

Ever thought of calling when you’ve had a few?
‘Cause I always do
Maybe I’m too busy being yours to fall for somebody new
Now I’ve thought it through

Official Video for Do I Wanna Know?

Sunday Song: Shake It Out – Florence + The Machine

Sometimes I hear a song and I only get about half the lyrics. And from that partial understanding, I assume the rest. I thought this was a more empowerment song based on the chorus, especially the line “It’s hard to dance with the devil on our back, so shake him off.” To me that is a great image for when I am feeling dragged down with worry and stress. I think of all that stress and such as the devil and I should just shake it off and rise above. This is how I heard the song. Another lyric that lead me to this was “It’s always darkest before the dawn.” Which to me says “hang in there, its going to get better.” Combine this with the kind of fast pace of the song and the way it rises with a loud voice. It seems triumphant. It seems to say “You’re going to be okay. Just shake it off!”

In reading the lyrics, I am not sure that is really want the intention of the song is. It seems to be a tale of love gone wrong. That won’t stop me from belting out the parts I remember in the car after a bad day at work. Because this is the perfect kind of song for that. Its loud and it repeats. When you are trying to beat out a bad day, there is nothing better than a chorus that repeats the heck out of itself so even if you didn’t know the lyrics before you will by the end of of the first chorus.

The video is pretty odd. It reminded me for Annie Lennox and apparently I am not alone in that as the comparison is noted in the wikipedia article about the song.

Official Video for Shake It Out

On My Latest Obsession, Coconuts

The past two months or so I have become a bit obsessed with coconut. It’s gotten so bad when I saw something coconut at the grocery recently and wanted to buy it, my husband looked at me with a serious and slightly concerned look and asked “Are you sure you aren’t pregnant?” (I’m not! Don’t start a bump watch!)

I thought it was time to catalog some of the amazing and not so amazing things I have tried that contain coconut.

1. Watermelon Cake with Coconut Whipped Cream Frosting: I am not a huge watermelon fan as the texture always seems slightly gritty to me. However, at the time we were having a heat wave so a no-bake, cold cake sounded ideal, plus coconut whipped cream. The coconut whipped cream made this for me. Honestly, I could probably eat foam peanuts with coconut whipped cream slathered on them.

2. Nature’s Path Coconut Chia Granola: You see? It’s got chia so it’s good for me. In case you were asking yourself, “Chia? Like Chia Pet?” Yep! Apparently, it’s not just good for growing fake pets but good for you (and good at getting stuck between your teeth). This granola is addictive. I have had plenty of days when I have eaten this for breakfast AND an afternoon snack.

3. Fearless Chocolate Exploding Coconuts: Fearless Chocolate gives grants to do good, which is awesome. And the actual chocolate is tasty. Disappointingly, the coconut in this was not very strong. I was hoping for coconuts exploding in my mouth, instead it was more like someone whispering the word “coconut “while I ate chocolate. C’est la vie.

4. So Delicious Coconut Milk Beverage: Since actual coconut milk is super thick (see recipe above for making coconut whipped cream) so for drinkable coconut milk, you have to get something designated “beverage.” It is a tasty drink, cold. My first taste was a small glass cold with an Uncle Eddie’s Trail Mix Cookie. I started to consider making a resolution that I only eat vegan desserts. It was that tasty (plus I thought it would be a good weight reducing strategy since it would limit my dessert options a little.) Then I either pulled the worse shot of espresso (totally possible) or I made a huge mistake in steaming coconut milk. I thought it would be an ideal latte milk but my latte tasted like I licked the outside of a coconut. I couldn’t even finish it.

So there you go. It really doesn’t seem that bad in black and white. Except this list doesn’t include the Whole Food doughnuts and cookies I have bought out of the pastry case because they were coconut something or rather. Then you’d probably be giving me the side-eye too. But when I was pregnant with my son my only craving was sparkling water so, I think we’re safe.

5 Things of Interest

Eat: Swedish Egg Coffee -  Not sure I have any reason to use an egg to make coffee but it is pretty innovative.

Want: Brocade Wall File – Why do office supplies and organization have to be ugly? They don’t!

Think: The Perfect Nap – Sleep is more important than a lot of us give us credit.

Look: Peacock Print – Love this print, it looks like it should a concert poster

Laugh:Back to School Pinterest Bitches – My child is not yet in school but I laughed all the way through this because I realized a while back I am decidedly not a Pinterest mom.