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30 December 2014

Almost the end of the year...

So yeah, a long break totally happened. Again, I always think about things I should write on the blog, but never pull the trigger and actually write them. I really need a robot secretary in the car with me to take down my daily stream of consciousness and turn it into a blog post. It would be peppered with a lot of fuck yous, but whatevs. So I went on one big trip this year. I made it to Italy. I need to pull a couple of blog posts together about it while it's still fresh. I really enjoy doing them just so I can go back and read through what happened. Here's to hoping.

17 April 2014

Squidy Delciousness

I told y'all I'd be back soon with a recipe right? Back soon = 2 weeks. Sorry. Basically this recipe is stolen from Martha. It all starts with my favorite restaurant in Atlanta- Boccalupo. The chef of said restaurant has been my favorite ever since I first tasted his cooking at La Pietra Cucina which has since semi-shuttered (it's been renamed, rebranded, and rechefed as LPC). At La Pietra Chef Bruce Logue had this excellent app on  the menu that was one of my favorites Calamari in Sicilian tomato brodetto with pine nuts and caperberries.  Basically small rings of squid in this amazing thin tomato sauce with sweet bites of raisins, acidic caperberries, and the interesting flavor profile of pine nuts. There were some tiny pearl like pasta in it as well. For about a year in between La Pietra and Boccalupo the Chef wasn't cooking, which means I was deprived of this delicious dish. When he opened his new restaurant it just so happened to be situated less than 1 mile from my house (OH Happy Day!). I was so glad to see the calamari made it back on the menu; first as an entree then as an app. I wish it would be offered up in either sized portion. I typically make it there once a month... its not the cheapest place...and I generally have to get one homemade pasta dish, if not 2, an appetizer (typically the calamari), and a glass of wine (or 2 or 3).  I was trying to cut down my spending lately and it occurred to me that I should try and make the calamari at home.  I went on the internet in search of tomato/squid recipes and stumbled across two that looked similar.  Martha's recipe happened to be the one I tried first and the one that most reminds me of the dish at Boccalupo.  Now that I make this bad boy at home I don't ever get it anymore at the restaurant, but Chef Bruce should worry not because I still have yet to make a promising homemade linguine or pappardelle.

Sauteed Calamari with Tomatoes, Pine Nuts, and Raisins
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup and 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp minced salted anchovies
Large pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
One 32-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 tbsp capers
1 bunch basil leaves
3 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
3 tbsp golden raisins
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds squid, cleaned, tentacles removed and trimmed, and bodies cut into very thin rings
2 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Thinly slice the garlic cloves. Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic,anchovies, and red pepper flakes; cook until garlic has browned. Stir in tomatoes; transfer to oven and roast until slightly thickened, about 20 minutes.

Add capers, basil, pine nuts, and raisins; stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper; place over low heat to keep warm.

Heat a large skillet and add 3 tablespoons olive oil; heat until smoking. Add squid, cook, stirring constantly, until squid rings begin to open up and become firm, about 30 seconds. Season with salt and pepper. Add tomato sauce to skillet, bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Cook until squid is opaque and sauce is hot, 2 to 3 minutes.

Divide calamari evenly among 4 shallow bowls. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with lemon zest and parsley. Serve immediately with toasted bread to sop up the delicious sauce.  

**I buy my squid already cleaned and prepped in the frozen section at whole foods.  You can buy just the body and cut them into rings, but I prefer bodies and tentacles.

02 April 2014

A Minute

Yeah, yeah, yeah it's been a minute or five since I lasted posted. It never gets old does it? Loads have changed since I last spoke with you friend.

The biggest, and by far the worst, is that Bella is now in doggy heaven. Just thinking about it makes me tear up. In some ways I'm lucky that she lived with my parents this last little bit.  It sucked that I didn't get to see her on the daily, but it has made the mourning process a whole lot easier.  After all I mourned her absence from my daily life for a long time after she left. I experienced all those moments of coming home and not being greeted by my best friend. However, I did get to go over to mom and dads and get the most loving welcome ever. The end came because she basically lost use of her back end...she could no longer stand or walk. My parents called me on Valentine's Day and told me this  It didn't make for a good day. I went over the next morning to hang out with her and assess the situation. I helped her get around by wrapping a towel around her back end.  She was so miserable trying to move like that and hadn't eaten in 2 days. It was time; I knew it, as did she. Of course my vet was out of town (of course) so I made an appointment with another vet I knew. I stopped on the way and got Bella a steak and egg biscuit. She wolfed it down, which made me quite happy. As we continued on my car died on the side of a highway. I proceeded to call my dad to come pick us up and take us on, and then I had a meltdown in my car. Being trapped on the way to do something you don't want to do, but know you have to is the worst! We made it to the vet and I spent some time cuddling my girl in the car. Despite it being a chilly day I decided I would rather the vet come out to the car then for me to bring Bella inside... she just gets too stressed out in the vet and I didn't want her to experience that. The vet came out and I stayed with Bella the whole time. It was hard as hell, but at the same time I am glad I was with her. To be with her in that moment helped me heal quicker I think. I also think your pet deserves for you to be there. It is a scary moment and the last thing you should ever do is leave them alone in that kind of situation  I don't care how hard it is for is obviously harder for them. At least be there with them to see them on through. They need your comfort.

Here is one of the last pictures I took of the best dog I will ever have:

And here is my mini eulogy to her:
My best friend Bella past away. She was 12 years old. It hurts so much. She was the most loyal companion dog. She loved me over anything else and would always keep one eye on me to make sure I didn't go anywhere. She loved to rub her head against people in order for her eyes to be rubbed. She always slept in a tiny ball near the foot of my bed. She got a long well with all the foster dogs and cats who came in my house, but was also quick to put them in their place if they messed with her food or her while she was laying on her bed. She loved to go on walks, hikes, or for a ride in the car. She was my perpetual companion starting my senior year of college. She would sit in the car for hours perfectly content to wait on me. She rarely needed a leash because she would always stick on my side. She would go shopping with me and most shops would allow her to sit patiently in the changing room while I tried on different outfits. She had her faults- she'd bark at strange men and sometimes unstrange men, when I first adopted her she had horrible separation anxiety and clawed up my flooring, once she got old she got anxiety in my house due to pecans falling on the skylights. Even with the faults I can never imagine loving another dog as much as I love her. She was my buddy.

The next shitty thing that happened is my car. I had to go get it towed once we left the vet and then see it over to the mechanics. Turns out that my car was unfixable, unless I wanted to spend a couple of thousand on a new engine for an old car. I decided that was a bad idea and got a new one. Hello car payment.  The one positive is that if their is a doggy heaven the Bella is riding dirty with her head out the window and a look of pure contentment on her face. Here it is:

Now for the positives.  

I finished my whole30 and kicked ass. So much ass in fact that 11 lbs dropped off of it and other areas surrounding it. I have since put 5 lbs back on, but who's counting (me, I'm counting...Holy fuck, why do I keep stuffing my face with bread, pasta, and desserts!). I wound up winning the challenge and netted $250.  However that money is tiny drop in the bucket compared to the cost of that shiny new vehicle, but let's keep things positive.

Tommy and Moose have been doing pretty well. Moose has occasional upset stomach fits for no reason- sometimes in the crate which is no fun for me.  Here is a recent picture of the Moosinator.

That's all for now. Hopefully ( and I say hopefully with a large grain of salt) I will be back with some recipes soon.  I have the pictures, I just need to put the recipe together,  

08 January 2014

Mediterranean Chicken Salad for Whole30

I'm on my 4th, err...5th day of whole30. (And I just learned 2 spaces between a period and the first letter of a sentence is wrong. FUCK!who knew? Apparently not I because my mind is blown. I'm also pretty sure you can't start sentences with AND nor can you put parentheses around regular sentences, but then again I am so not grammatically correct. If you have read anything I have written I will apologize to you now for what is considered a poor public school education... or perhaps it was all those drugs I took during my public school education). Aside aside I'm feeling pretty good. The second day migraine and third day headache (which I didn't tell y'all about) have worn away and other than not particularly enjoying meals all things are pretty good. I made it to the 7 pm workout Monday (woo hoo) and then did a quick 12 hour turnaround and went to the 7am workout on Tuesday. Hard as heck... as is only typing one space between sentences. Right now, afternoon on Wednesday, I'm feeling good. Kind of hungry, but good. I haven't had caffeine since last Friday and no sweets since then either. I've been trying to finish my large batch of tuna and egg salad (2 hard boiled eggs, 2 cans of tuna, half an onion, and homemade mayo). It's pretty good on endive lettuce leaves, but even better stuffed inside those mini sweet peppers you can purchase by the bag.

Today I wanted to give you a recipe for Mediterranean Chicken Salad. I grilled up four chicken breasts last night and this is what I will be eating for the next few meals. The chicken was so good that I even enjoyed a bite of it alone. I'm not sure if I could have stomached the whole thing by itself, but one bite didn't get stuck in my literal craw. Here's a horrid picture to make you not so hungry for it. It really is good though.

Mediterranean Chicken Salad
1 lb skinless boneless chicken breast

For the marinade:
2 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice  (1 lemons amount of juice)
1 tsp dried oregano
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
Salt and ground black pepper to taste

For the salad:
1 cucumber, peeled and cubed
1 pkg small grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 of a bell pepper, diced
2 tbsp red onion, diced
1/4 cup black olives
1 1/2 tsp red wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp olive oil
1/8 tsp dried oregano
salt and black pepper to taste
4 cups shredded lettuce

Marinate the chicken  2-3 hours or overnight. Combine the first 10 salad ingredients (cucumbers through salt and black pepper, not the lettuce) and set aside in the refrigerator to let the flavors set.
Cook the chicken on a hot grill until chicken is cooked through. I cooked my chicken on a panini press because it was 15 degrees outside. Once cooked take a heaping amount of lettuce and top with tomato-cucumber salad and grilled chicken. Store the 3 prepped items separately until you are ready to eat.  

06 January 2014

Whole30 time

Welcome again!  Look at me posting so close to another post.  I should start strutting around, I'm so proud of myself. Something I didn't mention in the last post is how I am doing a 28 day detox with my boot camp group Fitwit.  I thought it would be good to do something that would hold myself accountable for my eating and working out.  Also it will make me actually go to all workouts scheduled.  I don't love the diet we are doing, but it was their only option so I'm stuck with it.

The Whole30 is a limited version of the paleo diet.  Mostly paleo-eating people I know have added a limited amount of dairy, gluten, and other items in since eating on this diet can be hard and limiting yourself at first allows you to see what items in your diet might be affecting you.  Basically the whole30 is meat, vegetables, a bit of fruit and nuts, and some fats (olive oil, coconut oil, ghee, and avocados). No sugar, no gluten, no grains, no legumes, no... While we are on topic let me tell you about my eating habits.  I don't eat any red meat, only poultry and seafood. I tend to eat lots of noodle dish and tortilla dishes because I don't like chicken by itself.  It grosses me out a bit.  I'm fine when it's mixed in, but a plain chicken breast makes me nauseous.  While there is a not-so-recommended whole 30 for vegetarians it is limited and I would really like to try the mostly meat and seafood version.  I might throw in some lentils and beans towards the end if the meat thing gets too hard.

I started the diet right after measurements were taken on Saturday.  Oh yeah, the attractive Fitwit trainers weigh you, take all your measurements, and then check your body fat composition.  Not Fun At ALL. Saturday evening I made a turkey breast in the slow cooker and a roasted a bunch of root vegetables (recipe below). I ate this for breakfast on Sunday; I'm odd, I know. I feel like a drank plenty of water Sunday before I went out to see the Wolf of Wall Street. *Side note- crazy amounts of nudity in it.  It also has the most amount of F words in any non- documentary film, but of course I didn't notice that since my vocabulary incorporates F bombs on the daily.*  During the movie a headache moved in and it was tough going for the rest of the day.  I got home from the movie in starvation mode and cooked up some eggs with avocados and tomatoes mixed in.  I then had to lay down because medium-sized headache turned in to a massive migraine.  I got up after a nap for a quick turkey and root veg dinner that I had to choke down because meat makes me nauseous and migraines make it that much worse.  Sleeping last night was tough.  I would sleep for a while, then wake up with my pounding headache and the feeling that  I needed to get sick.  I never did, but the feeling is awful.  I'm not sure what brought about this horrid headache.  Migraines are a rare occurrence for me.  I tend to only drink coffee during the work week so I don't think it could be the coffee.  I'm thinking it might be the lack of sugar for 2 days.  I tend to have something sweet on the daily, but I omitted this Saturday and Sunday.  Could that be the cause?  Either way I hope it doesn't happen again because it is hard enough to choke down some meat without feeling like crap.

Because of the migraine I skipped my 6 am workout.  I am going to the 7 pm one since my goal is hitting 100% of the workouts this month.  I semi-tried to meal plan for the week and am going to make tuna salad on endive leaves (I've already made olive oil mayo for this), Mediterranean chicken salad, and lots of egg and turkey bacon muffins.  I made a big thing of cauliflower hummus (too lemony) and have lots of different vegetables to snack on.

Welp, I'll be posting more about how I'm feeling and what I'm eating during the next month.  I'll try and post a recipe or 2 of the better things I've eaten during my whole30 time. I also have a whole30 pinterest board that you can check out HERE.  The recipes I'll be making will generally come from this.

Paleo Root Vegetable Winter Mix
1 bag of brussels sprouts, cut in half
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 cubes
1 apple, cut into 1/2 cubes
1 beet, peeled and cubed
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
1/3 cup toasted pecans, diced
Preheat the oven to 425 and line 2 baking sheets with aluminum foil. Add the vegetables in a large bowl and mix in the salt, cinnamon, and oil.  Lay out on the 2 large baking sheets and cook for 20 to 30 minutes.  *you might want to cut your beet pieces a bit smaller than everything else because they will take a bit longer to cook through.  After the vegetables are tender enough to your liking then remove from oven and toss with toasted pecans. Voila!

02 January 2014

Hip Hop Happy New Years

Yeah, yeah, yeah it's been awhile.  I wanted to wish all one of my readers a Happy New Years.  I hope you ate your greens (for money), black eyed peas (for luck), and pig (for progress (I think)).  I ate two of the three.  Bet you can't guess which one I skipped?  Actually I think I might have eaten the 3rd too since I went over to a friend for a gumbo party and he snuck in about 7 different species of animal in to the pot. There were the typical seafood; shrimp and oysters.  Some freshwater food by way of crawfish.  Andouille sausage made an appearance which is normal.  On the abnormal side of things were some random pieces of bacon, ham, and beef (who knows what cut). I picked out the sausage and beef, but I'm thinking a bit of the small chopped bacon might have made it's way through my no red meat filter.  Oh well, at least I'll progress this new year instead of staying stagnant like 2013.

Looking back over 2013 makes me feel like I was stuck in a rut.  I did do a bit of traveling (Maui, DC, Okefenokee), but nothing outside my comfort zone.  This year I really want to try and step out of my comfort zone.  I want to accomplish something.  This leads me to the whole I am going to try and do a picture a day for 2014. I have tried this damn project three times (2009, 2010, and 2011);  All were failures.  I could only shoot self portraits in 2008 and 2009 and that was tough.  My narcissism only runs so deep.  I got tired of coming up with different ways to pose or not pose and what body part picture I should take that day.  You can see my feeble attempts HERE.  In 2011 I went with Project 365 (see HERE) which just has you taking one picture a day of any subject matter.  It was easier, but I still stalled out around August.  I didn't take a ton of pictures with my cell at that time and the ones I did looked terrible.  Editing photos from my Nikon became old.  I just sort of pooped out with the "difficulty" of it.  Weak fucking excuses, I know. This time around I'm going to allow myself to shoot with my iPhone and my brand spanking new D7000 (and bad ass 2.8 zoom).  If I get tired of editing my Nikon photos I'll just switch over to my iPhone for awhile.  I am bound and determined to do this.  Ultimately I would like more shots to come from my Nikon because I would like to become a better photographer, not just a person who uses editing software (especially on the IPhone) as a crutch.  Hopefully this project will make me plan additional spur of the moment trips places that I wouldn't normally go.

This year I will definitely be hitting up the beach and DC (to visit my homies).  I already have plans to go on a service trip to Cumberland Island, on a canoeing/camping trip down the Flint River, and to a beer festival in Tupelo, Mississippi.  I would like to go to Asheville for a weekend and also to Canada for some Canadian Rocky Mountain hiking. Finally I want to eek out a trip to the West Coast. Other than a trip to San Fran in high school I've never been to the West Coast.  I think it's about time to make that change.

So gals and guys Cheers to the New Years!  May it be filled with a whole lot of luck, money, and progress...and pictures...and memories.

***To view Project 365 2014 click HERE.