stuff i love: food i make edition

Hey guys!  We’re in a deep freeze that just won’t quit here in DSM.  That means when the sun goes down I’m at home, in my pajamas, looking for something to eat for dinner.  I recently realized that I’ve been eating out a lot.  When I’m not eating out, I’m eating something “made” for me by the frozen food gods.  The result is lethargy, weight gain and poor sleep that lead to me doing silly things like cleanses in an attempt to feel more balanced.

I come from a long line of cooks.  I used to cook all.the.time (I think I may have mentioned that before).  My mom cooks dinner every night, my sister cooks dinner most nights, my dad is always cooking… I know it’s in me to do it, I just can’t muster up the energy after a long day.  On days like today, after I’ve overdone it on the weekend and I want to feel better, I take to my tiny kitchen (and my even tinier stove) to make my favorite go-to meal.  I’m not sure what else to call it but the meat bowl.  I could fancy it up and call it a taco-less salad but let’s just call it what it is—we’re all grown ups here: it’s a meat bowl.

The easiest part of this meal for me is that I get veggies and protein and I get to exercise a bit of my creativity.  I’ve done this before with ground bison and ground pork and you just change the seasoning and the vegetables.

Step 1: Brown minced garlic and onion, add mushrooms and sauté till soft.

Step 1: Sauté minced garlic and onion, add mushrooms and sauté till soft.

Step 2: Move mushroom mixture to a bowl (unless you have a large skillet—I do not). Brown ground meat of choice. Prep lettuce base and fresh herb seasoning.

Step 2: Move mushroom mixture to a bowl (unless you have a large skillet—I do not). Brown ground meat of choice. Prep lettuce base and fresh herb seasoning.

Step 3: Everything back in the skillet to mix with the fresh herb (basil, in this case).

Step 3: Everything back in the skillet to mix with the fresh herb (basil, in this case).

Step 4: I like to top it with fresh tomatoes and half an avocado. There's also this delicious artichoke pesto from Trader Joe's which tastes good on pretty much everything.

Step 4: I like to top it with fresh tomatoes and half an avocado. There’s also this delicious artichoke pesto from Trader Joe’s which tastes good on pretty much everything.

Voila. Lettuce base, meat mix on top, veggies = dinner.

Voila. Lettuce base, meat mix on top, veggies = dinner.

I’m hoping this year I can cook a little more and continue my effort in being a healthier me.  I recently heard an interview with Michael Pollan where he advocates not-so-much a particular diet (I realize he’s not encouraging the Paleo lifestyle here) but that we cook for ourselves.  He says: “the food industry has done a great job of convincing eaters that corporations can cook better than we can. The problem is, it’s not true. And the food that others cook is nearly always less healthful than that which we cook ourselves.”  Be a healthier me by cooking?  Now that is an idea I can get behind.

 

 

 

Advertisements

things dad says

The following are some real things my dad has said since coming to Des Moines:

“It’s so tiny!” (regarding my apartment)

“I’m going to put her in my suitcase and take her home.” (regarding Lily the cat)

“I can see why you love it here.” (regarding DSM)

“So on Paleo you can’t have cereal?” (same question twice regarding the Paleo diet)

“Everybody is good looking.” (overheard during a phone conversation regarding people in DSM)

“So apparently tall boots are in?” (that one’s pretty clear)

nocturnal habits of cats

Guys, it has seriously been so hot outside.  My sister thought I was joking when I told her we’ve been battling a heatwave.  I’m for reals.

See, it's hot.

See, it’s hot.

I may have mentioned (via different social media outlets, certainly and by word of mouth) that I don’t have central air in my apartment.  Apparently, when one wants an apartment that’s full of character and charm, central air is one of the sacrifices one must make and we’re currently experiencing one late, hot summer.  I have one window unit and it’s in the living room area.  I’ve optimistically pointed a fan toward my bed in my bedroom and left the window open.  Unfortunately, it’s still too hot to sleep in my bed so I’ve been sleeping on the couch.  Really though, it’s more like a loveseat because even my 5’4″ frame is too long and my feet hang off.  It’s been a bit of a learning—my sleeping on the loveseat.  Mostly, though, I’ve picked up on the nocturnal habits of my two cats.  Mild mannered and sweet by day, they turn into jerks at night.  Thinking about that, I realized that I’ve never introduced you all to my cats.  I started this blog with one cat and agonized about a second.  I’ve spared you all this entry for some time now… I can spare you no longer.

Before I become that girl of “cat lady” fame, let me tell you that I actually really love dogs.  My coworkers can tell you—I Google pictures of Corgis, Frenchies and sighthounds all day long.  Cats are just easier to take care of than dogs (especially in aforementioned oven-like apartments of character).

Remy

My first cat, Remy came from a litter of kittens my dad’s street cat delivered.  Remy had several brothers and sisters and when I picked her out initially, she was supposed to be a boy.  When she was finally ready to be away from her mom, my dad made the two hour trek north with a little baby Remy riding shotgun for me.  After some serious clean up and early traumatization by flea baths and oil dips, we settled into a routine.  However, it wasn’t until I packed up all our stuff and made Remy my co-pilot for our 10 hour drive to Des Moines that we really became friends.  I agonized about the decision to get another cat (for all the obvious reasons) but I could tell that she was lonely…

Baby Remy

Baby Remy

 

Remy and the (late) jingle bird

Remy and the (late) jingle bird

 

Remy. Enjoys: doing whatever she wants whenever she wants, sleeping in the window, eating, sitting on my chest at 5 a.m. and generally being wide awake when I want to sleep.

Lily

… so I decided to start looking around at the Des Moines Animal Rescue League for a possible friend for Remy.  I looked a lot, you guys.  A lot.  When I found Lily online I saw something in her face.  She looked perfect for us (even though she was a hairy beast).  Thankfully, I had Gina (one of my amazing co-worker friends) to help support me when it came down to finally going to check her out (I may have said “we’re just looking.  I’m not getting a cat today.”)  I have such a heart for animals that I’d love to have a farm and adopt them all.  Long story short, I went back and picked her up that same day.  Bringing her into our home was really difficult.  After some time passed, I was afraid there would never be peace; I worried they’d never get along.  I definitely over-celebrated every hiss-less sniff.  It took a while, but Remy and Lily eventually became best friends.  She is the perfect fit and I’m so thankful for her sweet disposition and willingness to be Remy’s playmate.

 

Lily

Lily

 

Like a boss.

Like a boss.

 

Lily. Enjoys: sleeping upside down, kicking her legs out behind her while relaxing, drinking out of any sink, playing in the bathtub, and generally laying/playing/chilling where she doesn't belong.

Lily. Enjoys: sleeping upside down, kicking her legs out behind her while relaxing, drinking out of any sink, playing in the bathtub, and generally laying/playing/chilling where she doesn’t belong.

 

Truth is, at night, these two are jerks.  They knock my sunglasses off the entertainment center, knock my actual glasses off the coffee table, play with my jewelry *on* my jewelry tree, eat any applicable Apple cords, fight, walk on me and cause destruction.  I hope there’s a break in the weather soon so I can enjoy the comfort of my bed and maybe get a little restful sleep.

 

They look all sweet and cute. But they're not.

They look all sweet and cute. But they’re not.

 

 

changes

Breakfast2 FrenchPress

RedPepper

Charcuterie

 

 

 

 

 

 

I did it!  I made it 30 days on the Whole30.  I remember right after I started I marked 30 days out on my calendar at work and I thought to myself ‘there’s no way I can make it to the end of March – that’s so far away.’  Now here I am, done with 30 days, feeling good and ready to continue some of the better life choices I’ve been making.

A lot of things have been going on in my life and when I think about that, I consider that I started the Whole30 at just the right time.  While most everything in my personal life has been choppy waters lately, I managed to maintain total control over what I ate and how what I put in my body made me feel.  I planned, I prepared, I chopped, washed and cooked; I ate leftovers and veggies and meat in new ways; I ate less out of convenience and was happily inconvenienced to make everything homemade.

All in all, I’d recommend this to anyone.  I’ll definitely plan on doing it again and continuing to implement the Paleo way of eating (allowing room for occasional indulgences).  I’ve felt centered and energized.  It’s kind of been my anchor of sorts.  Moving to DSM, while exciting, has also been a bit different than I’d anticipated.  I’m writing this post from my brand new couch in my very first apartment.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had apartments before but I’ve always had roommates.  I’d scamper about those former living spaces, trying to stay out of the way and go unnoticed so I didn’t cause annoyance; essentially for the last 10 years or so I’ve been living in a space the size of a bedroom.  That would explain my lack of adult furniture and kitchen essentials.  I’ve carefully picked out each piece I’ve acquired thus far (with some helpful consulting here and there); each piece has purpose in this new space I’m building.  It’s helping me carve out who I am.  I’m discovering what makes me happy and (yes, family) I’m learning some responsibility for myself too.

I’m sure we’ll chat more about my new space.  Let me end on some super exciting news: MY SISTER IS COMING!  Next Tuesday she’ll arrive here in Des Moines!  She’ll spend the week with me shopping and being a tourist.  I’m so excited to show her around the city.  There will absolutely be some pics to come!  The photos above (not in an organized fashion in ANY way despite my trying) are of a few of the Whole30 meals lovingly prepared in the last 30 days.