Thursday, May 16, 2013
As someone who cooks, it's nice when I try out a recipe for a second time and finally get it really, really right.
That's what happened a couple of weeks ago when I took my second stab at Chicken & Dumplings. The first time I made it, the chicken soup-like part of the dish turned out fine. But, I failed my dumplings. Instead of puffing up into nicely poached biscuits, they fell apart in the stew.
So, this time, I changed some things and finally got it right!
Chicken & Dumplings (adapted from Mad Hungry by Lucinda Scala Quinn)
1 Cornish Hen
1 Onion, roughly chopped
Several Large Carrots, roughly chopped
1 bag Frozen Corn
2-4 Yukon Gold Potatoes, cut in fourths
2 Bay Leaves
Parsley (I almost never measure seasoning. Start with a teaspoon for each and add more later if you need to.)
1 Cup All Purpose Flour
2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Coarse Salt
Dill or Parsley
Put your chicken, onion, carrots, bay leaves, parsley, sage, salt and pepper into a large pot with a tight fitting lid, add enough water to cover everything and bring to a boil on high heat.
Reduce to a simmer, partially cover (or cover completely if the lid is vented) and simmer for 50 minutes. Take out the chicken and use a couple of forks to take off the skin and shred the meat as the broth and veggies continue to simmer. Add the corn and potatoes to the pot. Fish out your bay leaves. Add the meat back to the pot, taste to see if the soup needs more seasoning and add as necessary. Keep everything simmering.
In a small bowl, combine dry ingredients, including seasoning and mix well. Add milk until mixture is moist but still thick. Drop the dough by spoon fulls onto the simmering broth around the pot. Cover and simmer until dumplings have cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes.
Once you get everything into bowls, you can spice things up with some hot sauce and/or add some Parmesan or other grated/shredded cheese. Enjoy!
Thursday, May 09, 2013
After falling my ass down our basement stairs last Friday and spending some time at our friendly neighborhood urgent care, I was sore, traumatized and tired. I needed a treat. And, thanks to my fairly new job we had enough cash to go out to lunch at a place that didn't reek of fryer grease and stale buns: Milagro Modern Mexican.
The food was so good that after one meal there, it's already become our new favorite Mexican restaurant.
We had a good portion of their thick, non-greasy complimentary chips and smoky/sweet salsa, and then dug into our appetizer: Carne Asada Fries.
Oh! The toasty carne asada. The seasoned fries. The well-distributed cheese so that every bite has some. The mounds of guac, sour cream and pico. Perfect and very difficult to stop eating.
HUBS feels the need to order chili whenever he has the opportunity, so we got a cup of their Statesmen Chili to share. I simply am not exaggerating when I say that this was THE BEST RESTAURANT CHILI WE'VE EVER HAD. Upon finishing one bite I declared that the next time we're there I'll be ordering a full sized bowl of it for my ownself, and if he wants some he'll have to get his own. I mean, my God, they put chunks of steak in it!
My main course was the Tacos al Pastor, featuring chile marinated pork and grilled pineapple in a soft shell. When it first came to the table I thought the tacos were a bit small, but they turned out to be the right size considering how much pre-food I'd already eaten. Plus, they really mounded up the side orders of Cilantro Rice Pilaf and Jicama Slaw (not shown). It was all so good I die a little thinking about the fact that it's not in front of me RIGHT NOW.
HUBS fell for the Cochinita Pibil Street Tacos. Yucatan style pulled pork, orange habanero salsa and hibiscus pickled onion. What is that, even? Doesn't matter if it's good! I was so full I didn't try his tacos, but I did try his side of Charro Beans. If you've had Southern style beans, these were basically that...but smokier and somehow more Mexican. Amazing!
I really can't rave about the food - all reasonably priced, by the way - enough. If I could eat there every day without feeling bad about not cooking any of my own food, I WOULD TOTALLY DO IT.
What cool places have you eaten at lately?
Tuesday, May 07, 2013
Julia's been there. We've ALL been there.
Sometimes life is pretty good. You like your job, you make good money, you have fun with your friends and stay healthy and happy.
But, you know, every now and then (or maybe more frequently than that) you feel fortunes turning against you. Everything seems off, wrong or downright bad and sad and hard to get through.
You know it when it happens.
You can tell it's coming.
You've hit what I like to call The Suck Cluster.
Unfortunately, I'm in one of these right now, and really? I've been in it since 2009. Sure, I've got a job that's going well now, so some of the pressure is off. But life has felt like a long bout of one-step-forward-two-steps-back for years.
Most recently? HUBS and I realized that our house is falling apart around us (rotten bathroom floor, rotten sill plate, flooding basement, screwed up kitchen...) and can no longer wait to be fixed. I'm having some mental issues that are affecting normal...marital functioning. My mom called me crying last week because her aunt (who she'd gotten very close to since my grandmother passed) is dying. And, on Friday, I fell down my basement stairs and needed x-rays and a few days of recovery to feel just somewhat back to normal.
Yeah, welcome to my Suck Cluster.
As with most things in life, what really matters is how you handle stuff when your own personal Suck Cluster comes calling. Here are some things that can help you navigate the tough times.
Surviving The Suck Cluster
1) Rest: You might be sad or depressed a lot from feeling the weight of the world on your shoulders. The best thing to do? NOTHING. Sleep later, nap when you need to, lay around and read, watch a funny movie...Do whatever you need to in order to relieve the pressure. If you're a control freak or simply like making plans and getting things done it'll probably be hard but you'll need to reign those tendencies in a bit to get through without wearing yourself out.
2) Do A Little Something: Whatever the issue (dying relative, illness, injury, house foundation that's rotting away under your feet...) you'll need to get something done or decided on a regular basis so you feel like you're taking care of things. For me that means seeing my therapist every two or three weeks, taking my meds, checking up on my mom and slowly re-tiling my new bathroom floor, among other things.
3) Talk: If you keep the suckiness bottled up inside it'll fester, I honestly believe that. This is what friends, therapists, spouses, parents and journals (no, those don't involve talking, but they work all the same) are for. Get all the crap that's happening and your feelings about it out so you can get on with your life. Ruminating does no one any good; it will stop numbers 1 & 2 in their tracks so that you simply can't make progress or relax. The last thing you need added to your Suck Cluster is a panic attack or worry-related sleep deprivation.
4) Release: Prepare yourself. There is no anger like the anger of a Suck Cluster. With every disappointment and bad thing that comes your way in quick succession, you WILL feel like the universe is piling on for no good reason. You're being punished. You've been forsaken. Whatever sentiment the anger is related to, you need to get that aggressive energy out before you explode all over someone who doesn't deserve it. Exercise, watch violent movies, cheer audibly as terrorists die...figure out what works and do it as often as possible.
5) Remember: If you're online a lot, and most of us are now, it can seem like you're the only one having any problems. Well, you're not. Never have been and never will be. Simply keeping that in mind can help with number 4.
YOU'RE NOT BEING PUNISHED OR TARGETED, YOU'RE JUST ALIVE. AND, WHEN YOU'RE ALIVE SHIT HAPPENS. SOMETIMES, ALL AT ONCE.
You'll deal. Because you can. Because you have to. Because, even if you don't know it, you WANT to.
What do you do when everything seems to go wrong at once?
Thursday, May 02, 2013
This isn't a thank you, just some sad news about a young dude.
We have had a lot of stuff going on over here. We've have to go down the home repair rabbit hole to fix our toilet and the rotten floor underneath. The roof needed some work, our basement is going to have to be torn up and we've found out that most of our kitchen is fucked.
I've been having a lot of days where I feel like I'm on the verge of a panic attack for hours and hours at a time, so I really need to think about what I'm thankful for in April. Can I come up with at least five things? Let's see...
1) Thanks to brand new cat mothers for coming back to our yard and getting their newborn so HUBS and I didn't have to try taking care of it.
2) Thanks to getting paid so I can help buy groceries and pay for home repairs.
3) Thanks to motivation for helping me finally get my sister-in-law's article written.
4) Thanks to the universe for making sure we looked into the toilet issue before it fell into the basement with someone sitting on it.
5) Thanks to donuts.
6) Thanks to chocolate.
7) Thanks to work I can do at any time of day or night.
8) Thanks to soap operas for making sure I know that life could be much worse without anyone actually having to suffer and me feeling guilty for being glad I don't have someone else's problems.
9) Thanks to the piles of magazines around my home for helping me see that I subscribe to way too many of them.
10) Thanks to my local libraries for helping me read, listen to music and watch cable TV and movies without having to spend any money.
Look at that. I made it all the way to ten!
What good stuff happened to you in April?
Monday, April 29, 2013
Well, this was a good day. I did everything on my to-do list, plus some extra stuff. I finally wrote the article my sister-in-law asked me to write for her event, scheduled the carpenter and plumber for our bathroom work, fixed my hair (I know that sounds like nothing, but it's an ORDEAL) and called the roofer about doing some warranty repairs. Plus! I cooked chicken and dumplings for dinner and watched an additional hour of daytime TV.
I AM SOOOO ON A ROLL!
Help me celebrate!
Friday, April 26, 2013
I just wrote three articles back to back and now, I'm wiped. So, let's get to the good stuff!
1) Three guys got kicked out of Saudi Arabia for being too good looking. Yes, that happened.
2) A cat dressed as a shark riding a Roomba chasing a duckling. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE PEOPLE WHO HAVE TOO MUCH TIME ON THEIR HANDS!!
3) My cat is a dick, but, aren't they all?
4) It's the little things that matter when you're already having a shitty day.
5) English. Taught by bunnies.
Have a great weekend!
Thursday, April 25, 2013
This photo has nothing to do with my post. Don't judge, it's almost the weekend and I'm gettin' antsy!
I love my new job. It tends, though, to be research and email heavy. This means that if I don't watch it while I'm working I'll basically fall into a meditative-like trance that numbs my mind.
What's been my savior the past few weeks? Podcasts!
I've been hearing about these things for years, but had never listened to one. But then, back in January, I found Girl on Guy, a podcast from comedian and talk show host Aisha Tyler.
I was immediately addicted.
There are literally tons of podcasts out there, but here are the ones keeping me sane as I research my days away.
1) Girl on Guy: Funny, profane, insightful discussions with Tyler and a host of actors, comedians, chefs and other public figures.
2) The Mental Illness Happy Hour: Oh. My. God. Anyone dealing with any kid of mental issue (depression, panic disorders, sexual dysfunction, schizophrenia...) or dealing with someone else who has mental issues WILL FIND SOMEONE ON THIS PODCAST WHO HAS SIMILAR PROBLEMS. I think this podcast is really important for people who feel fucked up, alone and unsolvable.
3) By the Way: One of the best parts of this podcast is listening to host Jeff Garlin's insane laugh as he talks to famous friends. The episode with Conan O'Brien is a hit.
I have to say, one of the best parts about these conversations is hearing how accomplished people (many of whom had horrible backgrounds or are living with psychological troubles) got to where they are and hearing about their creative process.
Here's another list of the podcasts I'm hoping to get into soon.
2) Star Talk Radio Show (what can I say, I'm an astronomy/physics geek)
3) Channel Surfing (I'm also a TV geek)
4) WTF with Marc Maron
Give some of these links a try when you have a tedious task to complete or even when nothing good is on TV. You won't be disappointed.