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Re-watching TV

Fact about Jared: he does not prefer to “re-view” media. TV, movies, books — he enjoys them once and then moves on. This does not apply to music. As evidence, I’ll point to the extended period of time in 2009 when I was forced to listen to Paper Planes by M.I.A. once a night, immediately upon returning to our musty studio on South Huntington. That he wanted to re-experience. But rewatch Parks and Recreation? He’ll pass.

You may be shaking your head because this is something you struggle to relate to. I hear you! I heartily defend my many re-watchings of the fine programing that make up this golden age of television. During those viewings I have learned new things, laughed new laughs and cried the same tears, again. Some of this may be due to the oft-inebriated state I was in during my initial viewing, but hey, that’s college. Or as I like to call it “My 20s.”

Now that we are both 30, there has been enough distance between us and, say, That 70’s Show, to have little to no recollection of the series’ events. Also, it’s summertime so there’s not a lot on the TV. Point is, I have finally been able to convince Jared of the value in rewatching a pilot of a long loved show to really study the way it captures the entire series. You see what I did there? I gave a relaxing pastime a value element that made it a kind of work so he could engage with it in a way that agreed with his soul. Marriage is tricky but I’m winning at it.

Although we enjoyed revisiting the first episode of That 70s Show, we declined to view any additional installments. After that we started Frasier for the first time, which I think best illustrates the depths of our desperation for some light evening entertainment. I knew this was the vulnerable time to strike. And Netflix knew it too. As we scroll, scroll, scrolled, Ms. Netflix recommended The Office as a program we might enjoy based on our previous viewing. I flashed Jared my big toothy smile and he, captivated with love for my crazy eyes, relented. We watched the first episode and cackled. I mean REALLY lost our shit. My bowels shook from the giggles and Jared nearly threw up. That day was my favorite day.

This is the first time we’ve watched The Office together and we’re on episode 5. In addition to the intrinsic value that exists in rewatching this treasure, we’ve also learned that working for Michael Scott would not be funny in real life, BJ Novak never ages and everyone wants someone to love them the way Jim loves Pam. Everyone.

jim-pam-office

 

 

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My man LOVES chicken.

While Jared was living alone he developed a passion for chicken and kale. Specifically he would buy a rotisserie chicken from the Whole Foods every Monday and eat it with kale for dinner most nights that week. Side note: did you know that Whole Foods offers a rotisserie chicken punch card? Amazing.

Anyway, first he sautés the kale with garlic and sometimes red wine. He then adds red peppies, jalapeños and chicken into the pan. Once it’s all melded together, he tops it off with olives (and in our pre-Whole30 days, hummus).

It’s tangy, crunchy, tasty and healthy so it made for a perfect quick dinner earlier this week. The next night I made a disaster of a spaghetti squash dish that I won’t even go into because it was such a travesty. It does serve as an adequate segue into dinner last night, which involved the other half of the spaghetti squash.

This variety of squash is one I discovered only recently while residing in Nashville. I have a particularly fond memory of being unable to cut my very first spaghetti squash in half. I was on the verge of panic when my slight but powerful roommate Sam came valiantly to my rescue. “Let me try,” she says as she proceeded to beast one of our knives through it’s thick skin like it wasn’t shit as she casually mused, “I’d cook it cut side down,” she says, “that way it steams itself.” And she dropped the fucking mic.

She would have been ashamed of the monstrosity I created out of the first of the spaghetti squash (and rightfully so) but she would have applauded our commitment to not wasting food when Jared created this:

After yoga last night we were debating whether to eat out or eat in and ultimately reached the conclusion that, with a fridge full of food, there was only one objectively right thing to do. Said Jared, “Who do we think we are? Our fridge is full of fresh food.” Said me, “Yeah, we’re not babies, we can eat what we have.” To that end, I had snacks on snacks in this order:

  1. Veggie chips and guac
  2. Gazpacho
  3. Carrots and hummus
  4. Plantain chips and almond butter
  5. Trail mix

Because I’M NOT A BABY. I’m a big girl who really wants pizza and beer tonight. 🙋🏽🍕🍺

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Deliberate Eating

On the advice of an outside medical professional, we have decided to suspend the restriction of our dietary intake to the inexplicable guidelines as set out by the creators of Whole 30. Translation: I won.

Following a confusing episode this weekend it was determined that, from a health perspective, a diet devoid of grains is not ideal for persons as physically active as we are.

(No shit).

In light of this brand new revelation that I definitely haven’t been saying all along, we are going to amend this month’s challenge to avoiding alcohol, dairy and added sugars but to include the whole grains that have been widely accepted as an important part of a healthy, balanced diet since the beginning of time.

This doesn’t feel like a failure to me, mostly because I had absolutely nothing personally invested in this, but also because I have expanded my cooking repertoire vastly this week and am looking forward to continuing that. In one week, we’ve learned how to pickle vegetables, pan sear salmon, make semi decent Asian food without soy sauce and, most importantly, we learned that I was right.

Now, as promised – snacks.

First, deviled eggs:

Look at the variety!! The base is the same: equal parts mayo and mustard with onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, salt and pepper. Then some have capers, others chopped pepperoncinis and still others chopped olives. All topped with paprika, just like my mama taught me.

I brought these deviled eggs to a friend’s game night but they did not go over well, because the game night was at night and deviled eggs are no companion of red wine. Noted.

And now, chicken salad. What can I say about this substance that will adequately illustrate the depth of my love for it? For me, discovering chicken salad was like discovering The West Wing following the last presidential election. It’s everything I never knew I always needed. And now I can make it myself.

If nothing else comes of this month of deliberate eating (as I’m now calling it) I will never again over pay for sub par chicken salad when I can make it exactly how I like it at home. And store it in a Fage Yogurt container, just like my mother in law taught me.

*Praise hands*

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Whole wheekend

It’s a new thing I’m trying — pronouncing all my W’s as if they have H’s behind them. We’ll see how it goes. I’m not married to it.

Anyhoo. This weekend was a grand success. I made two dinners that were hearty and delicious. The secret? Potatoes. I hardly ever eat them in my real life but they do the job in this twilight zone I’ve submitted to.

First, a mustard crusted salmon with an L. Served it with ranch roasted potatoes and brussies. The potatoes came from this recipe. I drizzled with homemade ranch (literally just mayo, mustard, lemon juice, garlic powder, onion powder, dill and chives). The brussies are just halved and thrown in the oven with some garlic at the same temp as the potatoes (400) until tender.

Salmon:

Rub with mustard balsamic sauce listed below.

Turn heat to med-high, add olive oil to cast iron skillet

When oil is smoking, add the salmon, skin side up.

Cook 4-5m

Don’t move salmon, Put entire skillet in 425 degree oven for 6-8m

Keep a close eye. Ours was ready in 6m. This was by far my favorite salmon I’ve ever cooked and the best meal of our Whole 30 adventure. It was the first time I’ve felt full. Both physically and emotionally. Moving on…

Last night I made this balsamic chicken with the leftover brussies and potatoes. I added kale and mushrooms, topped it with a lil avocado, some olives and voila:

This was super easy. First, we brined the chicken in water and salt for 20m, then cooked it in a 450 degree oven for 20m. So tender. The mushroom and kale were added to some garlic and shallot in a pan over medium. Throw in some balsamic vinegar and then the chicken. Toss it in the hot pan with the sauce (listed below) and serve.

Mustard-Balsamic sauce:

1 tbsp stone ground mustard

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Onion powder

Garlic powder

Thyme

Chives

Salt and Peppie

This second dish was also a lesson in meal planning and not wasting food, which are two things we work extremely hard to incorporate both because the efficiency of it really gets me going (LOVE EFFICIENCY) and also because not wasting food is objectively the right thing to do.

For week 2, I’ll be focusing more on lunch prep because I was quite hungry a lot this first week. An apple and almond butter just isn’t getting the job done without other carbs. I’m thinking chicken salad and deviled eggs. Stay tuned.

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Whole 30

Or as I like to call it, wholly bullshit. Any diet that allows bacon and mayonnaise but prohibits whole grains and greek yogurt is a not rooted in any principles of healthy eating. With that said, as part of his never ending quest for self-denial, my partner has recruited me as accountability buddy and culinary architect for his next personal Everest: the Whole 30 Challenge.

As if we weren’t basic enough, we will now be spending the next month living an existence devoid of sugar, grains, dairy and alcohol. What I think I’ll miss most is my personality, as I’m sure to become someone who talks about how much better I feel now that I’m off sugar. The truth is, I’ve never really been on sugar and I already eat healthier than most people I know, but if it makes his heart sing, I’ll spend a month cooking fun new recipes and pretending I don’t miss beer. What’s better is I can blog about it, thus ensuring everyone I know is subject to the nonsensical ramblings of someone who hasn’t eaten cheese for weeks. You’re welcome in advance.

Because this journey doesn’t begin until tomorrow, I did what any reasonable 30 year old woman would do — I ate cookies and pizza for breakfast and a cheese plate for lunch. Then I took to Pinterest for inspiration and created a 30 day menu. I will post the results here for as many days as it takes for me to hate life, after which I will likely not bother. The best part of doing this now is that afterward, we’ll never have to talk about it again. I expect to experience nothing earth shattering and for it to be basically fine. So, stay tuned — it should be an aggressively mediocre month.

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Be Humble

If you care, don’t let them know. Don’t give yourself away.

I do let them know. It’s a compulsion. My inability to keep thoughts to myself is likely one of the more regrettable aspects of my personality. I long to be an enigmatic figure but I bring shame to my stoic waspy roots by being overly forthcoming in almost every aspect of my life. I make jokes where none are expected. I comment freely when no one has asked. I spend more time self-evaluating than anybody ought to be able to and still manage to reach the conclusion that my life is pretty great.

Part of it comes from the unreasonably high self-esteem I get to walk around with, because it is categorically easier to go through life as an educated white person with adequate resources and the unconditional support of loved ones. I know that everyone struggles and downward social comparisons are offensive, but they are also helpful if your goal is to not be a dick.

Truth: my life is easier than most people’s lives. Truth: I worked hard to be where I am. Truth: I did so with an incredible amount of love and support in a system designed for me to succeed and that ain’t nothing. For these truths, I choose to be grateful rather than to be proud. I am grateful that I have people in my life telling me I’m doing a good job. It is because of them that I believe it. Pride is a vice; it does not lead to freedom. At worst it leads to resentment of others who fail to reflect your elevated vision of yourself back to you. At best it leads to unmitigated self-absorption, and the universe knows my generation does not need more of that.

Gratitude is a virtue that begets humility and hard-work. Because I have been given many advantages, I choose to heed Kendrick and sit down, be humble. I have been provided with circumstances that have encouraged me to work hard and flourish. I am in a position to contribute positively to my community. For this, I am grateful. I am seated and striving for humility.

 

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Last Will and Testament

Hear me out.

I’m not dying. I mean, not anymore than the rest of you. But for those poor souls who end up at my funeral, first of all, congratulations — you’ve outlived me, which means one of three things:

You’re a vegetarian.

I met an untimely death at the hands of Nashville drivers (most probable).

Or sushi and yoga were bad for us all along.

I only hope we did not all die in some apocalyptic everyone-at-once sort of manner. Because then you will have been robbed of the absurd irreverence that promises to be my funeral. And what a shame that would be. Please find herein my expressed wishes for festivities marking the occasion.

First and foremost, I wish to be taxidermied. Then I would like you to hire my least favorite people to carry me around the party, Weekend at Bernie’s style. There will be bonus points awarded to those who come up with the most classic scenes to act out with my stuffed corpse. Pics or it didn’t happen.

Other games to include funeral cliche Bingo. Look out for phrases like “long hard struggle,” “she’s in a better place,” and “blah blah God blah blah.” The middle square will read: “she was one badass bitch” because you don’t deserve points for something you’ll hear said that often.

Next, karaoke: dead lady’s choice, meaning songs I choose and expect to be performed in the following order:

1. Both sides now

2. Remix to ignition

3. Hallelujah

4. MmmBop

5. The Boy is Mine

6. One Request from the Audience

7. Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (entire album)

8. Sister Christian

9. Adam’s Song

10. Whatever you like

11. White America (to sum up my life)

The most important thing I want for my funeral is joy. I know I’ll reflect on these grueling grad school days with a smirk because I’ve had harder days I look back on with a grin. I’m grateful to be here and happy to be alive. If someone decides to mark the occasion when I’m not with anything other than what’s listed above, you set ’em straight, and do it with a smile.

And if you think life and death ought to be treated with more seriousness than I’ve given them here today, it’s my pleasure to agree to disagree. #likemotherlikedaughter

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