Yesterday and today I have been in my head of constant memories. I guess it is because of the weather and the spring is resembling more of summer and it seems my brain was somehow able to consume and store more summer memories than spring ones or fall. 182. That was an important number for me and my childhood friends. It was ingrained into our very existence, it was our world and our safety. Our adventures and our growth. It embraced me as well as nurtured me into a being of calm, hyper, happy and sad. Memories. The memory of hearing of death and cancer for the first time when my close friend lost her grandmother at a shocking young age, and seeing her 20 something year old mom crying to my mother in her kitchen. It was hard to understand at 7 or 8 what was happening and to not understand death only brought more confusion and questions. I remember the urgency of putting on my shoes, but never fast enough with the emotions that came with playing outside with my childhood friends, Jen and Chris. It was pure adrenaline. Then to run up the hill a mere 2 houses away which felt like years to get there. It was exciting. It was fun. The lemonade stands, with the occasional popcorn stand, the dressing in clown costumes and doing cartwheels as the cars drove by, screaming with determination, pleading with strangers to pull over and buy the bestest beverage in the world. The countless nights of scrubbing pitch and sap off our hands and feet. The innumerable amounts of band-aids our moms would go through for skinned knees and elbows, or the painful sprained ankles from falling out of trees, falling off bikes, falling off homemade ramps, or falling off the blow up water bed mattresses their dad randomly would bring home from job sites. The neighborhood parties, barbecues, and pizza nights, slip and slides, water fights, and filling burning barrels with water and remembering myself panicking I could get blood poisoning with all the rust in them. The summer never seemed to end, and probably could have continued for years more if not for transfers, divorce, death, construction, destruction, development and change. The memories are my reminders of the delicacies of the neighborhood, the childhood, and now the parenthood in which I see a repeat in nature as well as with nurture. I understand as I watch my own kids screaming as they scramble to find their own shoes and race outside into the heated sunlight, a canvas waiting, to birth new memories in this new place in time. I feel it, too. The urgency to live. The urgency to play. The urgency to be.
I have had no time whatsoever to make granola. This morning, because I am all out, I added chopped dried cranberries, a hand full of toasted pumpkin seeds, and a few chopped roasted and salted pecans to my flax flakes. It did the trick for now, but later today I will have the granola made. Last night we went to a cool little cajun restaurant in the city. We picked up sister Jojo and then Michelle. Michelle and I have been friends for over 15 years, which is crazy, because I sometimes feel as though I am still15, again, just sometimes, not always! 1 asked me the other day when she will be 21 and I told her in 16 years. Oh 21, it put a smile on my face, not because it was such a good year, in fact, I was miserably depressed then, but 21 seems so young…then I did the math of how old I will be in 16 years and I was hit with panic. I am getting old. Flashbacks to the dermatologist entered my mind, the cares of twenties, the worries of thirties, now forties? Perhaps mature seems a more fitted word, but it seems with every year comes new responsibilities. Maybe this is my issue. I sometimes feel so overly responsible as it is, to have more responsibilities placed on me, can I handle it? Well, I am not going to let it consume me. I am going to stay focused on the year I am now instead of the year I am not.
Here are a couple of shots from last night. Michelle had a hot Caribbean Chicken dish, I had jambalaya, Sean had a beef dish, and Jojo had ribs.
Being that yesterday was Mexican Wednesday, we had Taco Salads. Some call Wednesdays, the hump day, however, for me it was the grump day. I was so grumpy and it didn’t help that Sean had to work later than normal and we had a freak snow fall that I had to drive in to take 1 to dance. Even though I took my drivers test in a blizzard, when I was 16, I didn’t care then. I care now. I don’t like snow! I had my heart on going for a run, to keep up on this weight loss journey, but I have to be flexible, because life happens and things can get in the way. For our Connections group last night, I made an old university favorite of mine. I remember when Ren liked Tim. I remember when Tim liked Ren. When all this liking would be going on, I would be in Ren’s parents’ kitchen stuffing my face with the most awesome appetizer in the world, hoping no one would notice the ever decreasing feta cheese spread. To this day, I make this appetizer often. I am forever grateful to Tim for sharing it with me. I prepare it with the fondest memories of my university life friends pouring over in my mind of the countless wine and cheese fondues, over eating of fine decadent foods, and deep conversations of not only life’s mysteries, but of God’s too.
Beef Taco Salads
The great thing about Taco salads, is that they can be made in a whole variety of different ways and always taste great. Most times I use chicken, but in this case, I used ground beef. When I have jalapenos, believe me, my salad is covered in them, but unfortunately, I had none in my cupboard.
1 pound of ground sirloin beef
3 cups Arugula
1/4 cup Red onion, chopped
1/2 cup red, orange, or yellow pepper, chopped
taco seasoning of choice, I like Trader Joe’s, (sometimes I make my own by adding 2tsp chili powder, 1/2tsp sea salt, 1tsp ground cumin, and 1/2 tsp onion powder)
1 tbsp butter
1/2 cup organic roasted corn (or organic corn kernels)
1-2 cups grated Monterey Jack and Sharp cheddar cheese
Taco chips (I use Food Should Taste Good Tortilla Chips)
How To Play:
In a skillet cook beef until no longer pink. Add seasoning and a bit of water if it looks too dry. While beef is heating, in a small sauce pan, melt butter and add corn, heat thoroughly. Prepare salad bowls by adding arugula topped with fresh peppers and onions. Add cooked seasoned beef. Pour favorite salsa over the beef. Sprinkle with corn and cheeses. On one side of the salad bowl add a spoonful of guacamole and sour cream, while the other side has a wall of taco chips. You can really make it any way you want, it is just the way I like to present it, all that really matters is that it tastes good.
Feta Cheese and Herb Appetizer
1 Block of Feta Cheese (just over a cup)
2-3 Garlic cloves, minced
Fresh ground pepper
1/4 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp fresh rosemary, minced
2 tbsp Olive oil
How To Play:
Heat oven at 350 degrees. Place feta cheese in tinfoil inside a baking dish. You can have the minced garlic placed on top or inserted into the feta, either way is fine, then dust feta with ground pepper. Sprinkle over with basil, oregano, and rosemary, then pour olive oil over top. Close the tinfoil tightly over the seasoned feta and bake for about 20-25 minutes until really soft. Serve warm with crackers or prepared baguette.
To Prepare Baguette:
Cut baguette thinly on an angle. Place onto a baking sheet. Brush each piece generously with olive oil and heat in the oven for 5 minutes at 350 degrees.
Last night I was a party mama, however at the end of the evening I looked like a partied out grandma. My two girlfriends and I ventured out to the city to visit my sister. She had been living in my basement for the last 10 months with her cat in the Valley, but the commute to work was killing her. We thought it would be fun to go see her new place in Kits and go out for dinner. I really wanted to go to spin class, so we decided to leave later in the evening. We didn’t arrive until after 8pm and after a small time of chit chat, we agreed to go to the Eatery for dinner. So, if you have never been, it has amazing sushi and the fanciest rolls. The decor kind of frightened me, especially the sticky table and the crushed pack of cigarrettes I had to flick off my chair, but other than the intensely loud music and the scarey paper mache unicorn hanging from the ceiling, the food was absolutely awesome. By the end of the night we all said our good byes with ringing in our ears and our make-up all smudged from our ever shrinking eyes, and laughed at the fact that we obviously aren’t capable of staying up past 10pm. I didn’t get home until after 1am. I fed 3 and then fell into a deep sleep only to be awoken by 2 needing to go pee at 5:30am. This day has been tiring. A good day, but I feel like I pulled an all nighter. A quick dinner though to breeze through with bagged eyes though is this. Chicken Teriyaki and Bok Choy sprinkled with Gomashio. I’m not a huge rice fan, unless it is in sushi, but you can have rice on the side if you like. A yummy rice is Trader Joe’s Rice Medley.
Teriyaki Chicken and Bok Choy sprinkled with Gomashio
2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breast
3 cups Baby Bok Choy
2 tsp Gomashio
For the Teriyaki Marinade:
1 tbsp fresh chopped ginger root
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup of soy sauce
3 tbsp of brown sugar
1.5 tbsp of sherry
1/4 cup of grapeseed oil (or preferred oil)
For Gomashio (Inspired by The Kind Diet):
1 Tsp of fine Sea Salt
6 Tbsp of Sesame seeds
How To Play:
Mix all marinade ingredients in a small bowl, stir well, pour over 2-3 uncooked boneless, skinless, chicken breast. Cover and refrigerate. Marinate chicken for at least 2 hours or if you are incredibly organized, have it already marinated from the night before and ready to go… Once you are ready to begin cooking, pour the marinaded chicken with all the juices in a medium skillet and cook until the chicken is no longer pink (I typically cut up the chicken at this time in the skillet, because I don’t like touching raw chicken). At the same time, begin cooking the rice according to its package. Once the chicken is done, cover it with a lid and keep on a low temperature. Steam the bok choy to your preferred like. I prefer crisp bok choy, not overcooked, so I steam it without a lid for about 6 minutes and test it with fork.
Sprinkle with Gomashio.
To Make Gomashio:
Heat the tsp of sea salt in a small dry skillet over medium heat. Stir until the salt becomes really dry and slightly brown. Pour the roasted salt into a mortar and pestle and grind to a fine powder. Rinse 6 tbsp of sesame seeds in a fine mesh strainer. Place the seeds in the same dry skillet, and toast over medium heat until the seeds have a nutty aroma, puff up a little, and crush easily between your fingers. Add sesame seeds to the portar and and grind until the seeds are 80% crushed. Transfer the gomashio to a glass jar with a tight lid, and store at room temperature for no longer than 2 weeks.