Archive for September, 2007

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Weekend Wrap-Up: It’s okay to ask for help

September 30, 2007

So once again I missed my Friday Fruits and Veggies post.  But I have a good excuse.  I was asleep by 6:00 last night.  Then up at 10 p.m. and back in bed at 1 a.m.  I didn’t roll out of bed today until about 10:30.

It’s been a rough week.  Work has been very busy and Mr. D and I single-handedly planned and executed a Young Democrats event on Thursday night.

This event, which had been talked about and conceptualized for about two months, literally came together in less than two weeks.  With some (read: minimal) help from the Board President and other members, we created and mailed about 1100 post card invites, learned “constant contact” and sent email invites to current members with its email marketing application, spruced up the website and myspace page to advertise the event, shopped for and prepared all the food and drink for about 70 guests, set-up and broke-down the day of the event…I am totally shocked it went off (seemingly) without a hitch. 

In the midst of putting together 100 antipasti skewers for the event (this is after I’d spent 3 hours shopping, turned 4 baguettes into crostini, made two different crostini toppings, prepped the goodies for the skewers and downed a half a bottle of wine) I thought, “I haven’t had dinner in three goddamn days!”

For real!  I told Mr. D on Wednesday that I felt like poo and that I was pissed that planning this event was making me sick.  I am not the kind of person who can go without significant sleep and regular meals.  I get dehydrated and bitchy and am reminded that I have hypothyroidism – something I hate being reminded of. 

I am still recouping two days out – getting back to regular eating and sleeping and water consumption – but ultimately I think it was worth it.  I mean, come on, this is the first time in my life, aside from when I was in school, that I’ve spent more hours in my day on something other than work and personal stuff like watching TV and having sex.  Along with feeling like shit I also feel a great sense of accomplishment. 

I had never done anything like this before, ostensibly planning a fairly upscale event (I would later learn that the venue was super posh) from start to finish for upwards of 50 people.  I had no idea how to work within a budget, how much food to buy, how much wine people would drink, whether the venue hostess would supply anything, should I get approval from the Board President or just GO!  Shit, I didn’t even see the venue until two days prior.  And jeebus was I sweating bullets when the woman who showed me the space said it would be a good idea to check with the concierge to make sure the room was booked and the $500 deposit paid.  Wait a minute.  Concierge???  Five Hundred Dollar Deposit!!!  We’re a bunch of Young Democrats for chrissake!!

Thankfully it all worked out and I learned big lessons in time management and delegation/control.  Hopefully I can take what I’ve learned and apply it to other events and, more importantly, to my own personal life.  I’ve mentioned here that I have a hard time saying “no” and honestly, even more difficult is saying “can you help me”.

I am fiercely independent. I get it from both sides.  My mother and my grandmother were/are very independent financially, mentally and emotionally and my father was extremely private, almost secretive when it came to his personal life.  I am slowly starting to realize that this personality trait isn’t a help, it’s a hindrance.  In planning this event in particular I would have been much better off if I had taken the offers of assistance I was given and reached out to those who didn’t explicitly offer help but who I knew would have helped but were simply waiting to be asked.

So my take-away is: Ask For Help If You Need It.  Let people in and don’t be ashamed or feel guilty if you can’t do it all on your own.  If a task is making you sick you need help but if you ask and people say “no”, so be it.  Life goes on.

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what hunter said…

September 24, 2007

what hunter said

this has been another edition of what hunter said.

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slacker

September 24, 2007

yeah.  i’m a slacker.  i missed my Friday Fruits and Veggies post on friday, i said earlier i would write about thursday’s dinner, and i’ve taken on the beer challenge at my local which i totally have to blog about but alas…haven’t.

sorry.  i’ll be back on the horse this week.  i promise.

like anyone reads this shit anyway.

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total eclipse of the blahs

September 21, 2007

fair warning, it gets a bit graphic in this one… 

i’ve been feeling kinda blah today.

actually most of this week.

i guess it started on sunday with the fear that i wasn’t going to have my period, like, for the next nine months. you know what i’m talking about, ladies – that roller-coaster-esque belly drop you get when you suddenly realize you’re a few days past the magical day twenty eight.

so i start counting each and every act of dirty, nasty, cum-inside-me-baby! sex i’ve had in the last thirty days. i sat for a moment, staring at the ceiling imagining each and every swimming sperm. “did i have ovulation cramps this month? was that before or after that time we screwed, like, right when i got home from work, before i could even make it up the stairs, and he bent me over and dropped his load in like a good boy**?”

it’s not that i don’t want to get pregnant or anything. i do. mr. d and i talk about it often and plan on trying, really trying, in the very near future but it is still a scary prospect.  right now we’re just playin’ chicken. 

thankfully “my friend” came to hang out first thing monday morning. what a fucking bitch. it’s not that i have body-hate issues or anything. i don’t. i love being a young woman and if bleeding like a freshly butchered pig once a month is what it takes to continue being one then, shit, i guess i’ll shut up and bleed. it’s just that it hurts really badly and i get cranky and tired and gassy and hungry and it’s like i’m a totally different person. thank goddess for those ThermaCare wraps or i’d have to take to bed for four days out of the month. seriously.

tuesday brought a new client to the office. i can’t really talk about the details but i can say that it involves a rather twisted sexual assault. the story has really kicked me in the gut. our client, the victim, could easily be me or one of my friends. this woman is handling the whole situation with incredible strength and grace and that makes me feel like a total jerk for crying about it in the bathroom.

i’ve also been working on organizing an event for the local young democrats club. the event is a week from today and still we’ve not managed to mail the 1100 post card invites we had printed. it’s like the bad news bears of political organizing. and it’s sucking the life out of me.

i’m trying not to be so bummed. i mean, it’s thursday, right? tonight i’m going to have a delicious dinner with mr. d (tune in tomorrow for more). and guess what? the weekend starts in, like, 24 hours!

this week could have been worse. i could have been tazed. i could have been sexually assaulted. i could be iraqi…or this guy.

**might be a dramatization, or might not.

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Will Blog for Pie

September 18, 2007

I mentioned in last week’s Friday Fruits and Veggies post that I might make an apple pie if the mood struck. Well, one mention to Mr. D that I was remotely contemplating even the idea of apple pie and there was no way around it. The whole weekend went a little something like this:

Mr D: So, when are you going to make that apple pie?

Me: Um, I dunno.

Mr. D: Hey honey, didn’t you say something about pie, because I’m pretty sure you said something about pie but I don’t see a pie.

Me: D, I’ll get to it later, okay.

Mr. D: When you make that pie is there going to be enough for my mom ’cause i told her you were going to make one and she was, like, really excited and hey, when’s that pie going to be ready?

Me: Gaw!

Domestic goddess and sheer genius that I am, not only did I make that damn pie, I went totally recipe free. I’ve been watching the women folk of my family make pies my entire life, especially apple pie. Once you get the basics down it’s a piece of cake…or pie as the case may be.

Now, one would figure that apples would be the first thing to think about when thinking about making an apple pie. One would be just plain wrong.  Crust is the first step to a successful apple pie (or any pie for that matter). I’d hate to get all my fillings together to only find that I forgot to defrost the crust.

Okay, okay, calm down. I hear the collective racket out there and I stand firm. I don’t make own crust and neither did my mother!! I swear by Pillsbury refrigerated dough. Make sure to bring it to room temperature, put it in your vessel, pie plate or whathaveyou, and then chill it in the fridge. You want the crust to go in the oven cold so the butter will melt and release steam creating those delicious flaky layers.

Think about how many apples you have and that will determine the size of your vessel and how much crust you’ll need.  I only had one pie crust, typically you’d need two, one top and one bottom, for a traditional apple pie.  I used three half-cup ramekins.   I got three bottom crusts for the three ramekins and made strips of dough for a lattice style top all from one pie crust.

So, while the crust is gettin’ cold, it’s time to prep the apples. Most skilled bakers will tell you to use something firm like a granny smith or macintosh. Personally, I don’t discriminate. To me the apples are simply a conduit for spicy sugary goodness. Peel, core and slice your apples and add them to a bowl with some lemon juice to keep them from turning brown. If you don’t have lemon juice, a little diluted vinegar will work fine.

Next, add the sugar, I like turbinado, and spices like cinnamon, clove, allspice, nutmeg. To start I’d go with a 1/4 cup of sugar and a 1/2 teaspoon each of the spices for four to six small apples. Now is the time to stir up the apples and give them a taste. If it’s too spicy, add some more sugar or even some honey. Try some fresh ginger or vanilla if you’re feelin’ groovy. At this point you should also add a pinch of salt to bring up all the flavors and a bit of flour to thicken the sauce.

In the time it takes you to pre heat the oven, I typically bake pies at 350`, the sugar will have worked its magic on the fruit leaving you a nice syrup in the bottom on the bowl.

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Once the oven in pre heated, fill your vessel(s), piling the apples as high as they can go as they will cook down. Top with more crust and throw the deliciousness in the oven.

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Oh, and those little creamy white bits poking out of the crust are pieces of butter.  It’s a good idea to put a few cold pieces in just before baking to add flavor and moisture.  At this point, the extra calories won’t matter.  

My mini-pies were in for about 45 minutes. I would go for about 60 on a standard 8 or 9 inch pie plate. I set the timer in 15 minute intervals so I can control the browning, laying foil over top as needed. Once they start to bubble you’re good to go.

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Spicy, sugary, appley, and dee-lish if I do say so myself. And something we all should try, with our without a recipe card.

So go hound your mom, grandmother or uncle for the keys to the food your family loves. Shock the hell out of them at the next holiday meal. These dishes are our memories. We should enjoy the hell out of them while we have the time and the taste buds.

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Beer

September 15, 2007

After a great dinner at one of my favorite restaurants , a great Hefewizen at out local and a detour at the Short Stop for smokes, I couldn’t resist taking home a mixed-pack of the two of the best beers known to man.

Two Hearted Ale – A Bell’s brewery masterpiece. I have no idea where Comstock, Michigan is, but Dog Gamn!! they make a good IPA.  This is one of my favorite styles of beer.  Two Hearted has a light to medium pour with a super hoppy, almost skunky smell.  It’s an India Pale Ale, and packs the punch required to back it up.  Crisp and floral, but slightly bitter on my palate with a great spit factor (makes you wanna spit after about two bottles..this is a good thing). Dee-lish!

Oberon Summer Ale – Another Bell’s creation that may just fall short for those of us expecting a huge Hefewizen punch.  I drank mine straight out the bottle.  Perhaps a mistake ’cause the citrus just isn’t hitting me.  All I’m getting is sweet and fizz which is fine at this point in the evening but leaves me wanting.  I’ve had this beer before and really liked it. Tonight it should have been my first, before the IPA .  My taste buds are ruined but it’s good nonetheless.

So?  What are you guys drinking tonight?

cross posted here

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Friday Fruits and Veggies

September 14, 2007

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It’s Friday Fruits and Veggies Time, Friday Fruits and Veggies Time, Friday Fruits and Veggies with a baseball bat.

My co-op basket this week includes:

Bok Choy
Daikon Radish w/tops
Sweet Candy Onions
Mung Beans
Green Peppers
Ginger
Bananas
Apples Gold Supreme

Yummy! I’ve been cutting back on my sugar and white carb intake and only treating myself when I have a huge craving, so depending on the number of apples, I may make a pie. I’m also envisioning a great stir-fry with the bok choy, daikon, onion, mung beans, peppers and ginger. I also found a simple daikon, carrot and cucumber salad; julienne the veggies, toss with salt and pepper and honey mustard dressing.

Cutting the sugar and white carbs is not easy. I’ve had really good intentions lately but the execution is seriously lacking. It sucks because I remember how good I felt when I went on the South Beach Diet back in 2004. With my new living situation, I just can’t seem to get back there.

Now before everybody gets all freaked out about me going on a “diet”, let me say that I was a very reluctant participant at the start. Reason number one, I think that in our culture there is way too much emphasis on dieting for the sole purpose of complying with an American standard of beauty created and reinforced by the Patriarchy. Number two, I don’t think many diets are designed with overall health in mind. Perhaps because the emphasis isn’t on health but beauty, as described in reason number one.

But South Beach was very convincing. My Grammie, a type two diabetic, was encouraged by her doctor to read the South Beach book and try the diet. She did. Not only was she able to control her blood sugar like a champ, she lost a much needed 10-20 lbs. of Grade “A” Prime Heart Attack Fat from around her middle. My boyfriend-at-the-time and I were stunned. This is a woman who ate with abandon; she is a true Yankee who puts mayonnaise and butter on everything including fruit salad, and has never in her life refused dessert. She offered us her copy of the book and the rest is history.

If you’re unfamiliar with the South Beach concept it’s pretty simple on the surface – eat more “good” protein, eat more “good” carbs, and for chris’sake, move more. The first two weeks is almost exclusively lean protein and vegetable based and you are encouraged to eat a few times a day. You can have up to 90 calories of “sweet” per day but no fruit no booze and limited caffeine. The third week you start introducing more whole grains and low sugar fruits; maybe a serving of each per day. I followed the book version of the diet pretty religiously only cheating when it really couldn’t be helped – you haven’t eaten in a few hours, you show up for a meeting after work, meeting host has ordered pizza, it’s the closetst thing to dinner you’ll see for the next three hours, you eat it.

The overall results were pretty staggering. I lost about 20lbs and boyfriend-at-the-time lost almost 40 within the first six months or so. I felt great physically. The diet really detoxified my system and I got to a point where I couldn’t eat too much sugar or bread or pasta or fruit juice. My blood sugar would skyrocket and I would pass out within 25 minutes of eating the offending item.

I eventually modified my South Beach diet to exclude all chemical sugar substitutes (something the diet relies too heavily upon, I think) and to include natural sugars like raw organic cane juice, stevia, agave, etc. I also started drinking beer again which was difficult because too much and my body would go into glycemic shock. I was careful to choose only high quality micro brews and to only drink one or two. If I wanted to party I stuck with red wine and boyfriend-at-the-time used this no-beer period to explore the finer points of scotch whiskey. I avoided high fructose corn syrup like the plague and became an obsessive label reader.

The choices available to me opened dramatically when Whole Foods came to town. I eventually realized that I wasn’t on “The South Beach Diet” anymore; I was just eating healthier. I started reading about food additives, the high levels of hormones and antibiotics in meat and dairy, unsanitary and inhumane farming practices, how the corn industry has ruined small farming and our health. I took a greater interest in what I was putting into my body and made it a priority in my life.

After boyfriend-at-the-time and I split up I was able to keep up the good eating without issue. With Mr. D it’s not been so easy. Before I was living by myself and able to control all of the food that came into my house, plus I was spending all of my own money. Now I have Mr. D’s preferences to take into account – what kind of things he likes to eat and how much he is willing to spend on particular items. It’s difficult, even for me, to justify spending $6.99 per pound on free range, no antibiotic, no hormone chicken breast. How am I supposed to get Mr. D to agree to spend that much? I know he cares about the fact that “there’s shit in the meat” but I guess he’s just not motivated, for whatever reason, to make a huge life style issue out of it.

Maybe my goal for this week will be to sit down with him and have it out. Explain my position and see if I can get him to come over to the dark side, even just a little. I mean, eating that crappy chicken that costs $1.99 per pound can not only make YOU sick (think cancer from the hormones and germ resistance from the antibiotics), it makes the earth sick (think ground water pollution, soil degradation, destruction of biodiversity). When you buy chicken at $6.99 a pound there is value added – as an individual you’ll spend less on health care and as a society we’ll pay less for environmental care. Plus, $6.99 a pound chicken actually tastes like chicken! Imagine!!