Tag Archives: food

Vegan Jackie, Reporting for Duty

1 May

Hello lovelies! It’s the first day of a shiny, new month and that means it’s time for me to fire up another 30 Day Challenge. It’s month 5, and so far I’ve tackled Jillian Michaels, an hour of reading every night (readers’ choice), cutting sugar, and keeping a detailed daily food and exercise journal.

Cutting sugar has by far been my least favorite. I don’t like it when my food is messed with. Particularly my sugar food.

I also like to eat animals. I do. I went vegetarian a long time ago after reading Skinny Bitch (I’m sorry, I wish it were more academic, but we do truth tellin’ here), and I only made it eight months. It was a gradual decline. I started sneaking ham sandwiches when my friends weren’t around and told myself they were a one-time thing and then before I knew it, it was Thanksgiving and I might as well have shoved my head directly up that turkey butt (Exhibit 1).

In all sincerity I’ve become much more cognizant over the years about what I put in my mouth (stop it), partly due to my effort to get fit in my 365 Day Challenge, version 2013, and partly because I became aware of how terrible the food industry is to animals, which I love and adore in an Elmyra Duff fashion. I’ve learned to vote with my money and though it has been a difficult budget adjustment for me, I buy grass fed beef, free range chickens, and try to make environmentally- and ethically-conscious choices.

But now it’s time to go hard. Trying to read more and eat less sugar and work out are good and dandy 30 Day attempts, but I can’t imagine any 30 Day Challenge I would hate more than going vegan and that makes it real juicy. I owe a few readers this challenge as well – some of whom have even offered to help me along the way. 

This strapping young lad is Alex Etling, aka @vegantweeter and the host of the posts at iChewsVegan. I’ll be dropping in on him for some veggie-filled truths this month and he’s been kind enough to offer himself as lifeline during my animal-craving fits of rage. (photo credit: Lauren Morrison Photography)

I’m not even sure what I can eat today. I mean, I know what I can’t eat. I grabbed a banana and a granola bar this morning and I’m going to have to read a lot of vegan food blogs very quickly because for a long time my major food groups were Cheez Its, Pizza, Hoagies, Macaroni and Cheese, and Ice Cream.

Those all sound delicious and they’re all off-limits. This is going to be an actual challenge.

There are lots of reasons that this is both the perfect and the worst time to do this. It’s the next natural step in my increasingly healthy lifestyle adjustments, and it doesn’t hurt that a powerful dose of nutrients and body love will help an upcoming photo shoot and summer season look more appealing… but it’s also a month full of food celebrations thanks to a recent job change, and several business meetings at restaurants that will simultaneously test my willpower and my knowledge of what’s safe to put in my piehole. 

The truth is that there is never a “good” time to start anything. There are always challenges. Change, even if temporary, is not easy. For 30 days in a row, I have to do this regardless of guilt I may feel for not eating something homemade, the waste I might incur by not partaking in unexpected and generous food gifts, and the overwhelming cravings I’ll battle when one of my aforementioned major food groups comes sexily whispering into my ear.

I’ll admit that I’m really clinging to two things for panic relief: there’s a kick-butt veggie stir fry offered at the joint down the street, and I know an ice cream shop that pushes vegan offerings.

The premise of Lollipop Tuesdays, 30 Day Challenges, and 365 Projects is to do something that you aren’t sure you can do, that you don’t necessarily want to do, and from which you might learn a great deal. For me, this definitely fits the bill. The timing is terrible, the excitement is difficult to muster, and the reward might be incredible. If you want to hop on board, you can start with your very next meal and count forward thirty days.

I’ll see you on the other side. 

Vegan Jackie, out. 

 

Some Observations on Water Fasting

29 Jan
true story.

true story.

Zomg it’s a Lollipop Tuesday.

I’ve picked up a few ducklings in the new year, so if you’re unfamiliar with Lollipop Tuesday shenanigans, you can read up on them here.  Or if you’re too lazy (and I suspect like me, you are), I’ll just tell you that in essence, Lollipop Tuesdays are Tuesday posts in which I recount something new that I recently tried and very often end up sucking at, which is why I’ve dubbed the post for a sucker.

Lazy long time subscribers everywhere are going “oooooooh!”

You’re welcome.

And so allow me to regale you with my most recent foray into the unknown: fasting.

I’ve always been curious about fasting.  It’s mentioned in church from time to time, I occasionally read about it in health-related articles online, and I specifically remember visiting my grandmother when I was young and discovering a book on fasting on her bookshelf, much to my surprise.

My grandmother is against everything except Jesus and  gardening, so finding a book on what I presumed would be a controversial subject was surprising to me.

My run-ins with the subject have been intermittent but longstanding and so on January 1st of this year, I decided to commit to a 7-day water fast. My reasons were more spiritual than health-related. I’d been chewing on the idea for quite some time and realized that the majority of my struggles are tied to a lack of self-control. I bite my nails, I blab out whatever I feel like saying whenever I feel like saying it, I have a tendency to rage and cuss while driving, I can eat an entire pack of Oreos in ten minutes without batting an eye…the list goes on to my deep humiliation.  I figured I had quite a bit to learn from the practice of abstaining.

So abstain I did.

Let me tell ya: if you want to see how much food you mindlessly put in your mouth, actively attempt to abstain from eating for a few days. I can’t even count the number of times I caught myself shoving little bits of nibbles in my face pouch over several days. While I was cooking dinner, while I was cleaning out the fridge, while I was unpacking groceries… that’s a lot of mindless gobbling. You know what else I noticed? That without food or drink, there is little to no reason to get together to see people you know. Or at least, people I know. It felt like every day someone was asking me to go get a drink, to come over for coffee, to go out to dinner – I swear to the Good Witch Glenda that Dave accidentally asked me out to dinner and ice cream every single night that week. 

Since I didn’t really know what to do in social situations in which I could not busy myself with food, I just turned everyone down – which worked out pretty well for me since I kind of hate social situations to begin with. By the fifth day, it wasn’t really doable to go out anyway since every time I stood up I got dizzy. I admit that since everything I read said to be careful to watch for your “fainting point”, I nibbled a bite-sized piece of bread at that point and it was the most delicious thing I’ve ever put in my mouth in the history of putting things in my mouth.

Aside from dizziness, hunger pangs, and difficulty mustering the energy to get through an entire load of dishes, side effects included crankiness, lusting for taste, and constructing elaborate lunches and dinners for Dave.  In fact, he thoroughly enjoyed my fasting week.  It’s his theory that because I was food deprived and in a perpetual lust-state over the simplest of sustenance, I loaded his meals with uber deliciousness.

He’s right; I did. I stuffed his lunch sandwiches with all sorts of freakalicious things. I bought random gourmet concoctions at the supermarket.  I pinned a record number of recipes on Pinterest.  And I frequently asked Dave to breathe the hot stench of whatever he was masticating into my nostrils so that I could get off on the smell.

The first time he didn’t hear me, the second time he thought I was joking, and the third time (subject: movie theater hot dog, location: showing of The Hobbit) he whipped out his serious voice and told me I was grossing him out.

Now, I’m sure there will be a crowd of folk who fly off the handle about the dangers of fasting and whatnot. Everyone is certainly entitled to their opinions, but I’d like to note that I was carefully monitoring my health throughout and was sure to arm myself with as much information as possible so that I was well-prepared.  As I see it, the most dangerous thing about fasting is that it feels bloody fantastic to see how quickly you lose weight. I lost a little over ten pounds in seven days and remember at one point thinking that I could understand a little better the mentality behind anorexia.  Please, please note that I’m not saying I “understand” anorexia and that I fully acknowledge that folks who suffer from it are not fasting and are not well. I’m just saying that there was certainly a temptation once I’d become accustomed to the hunger pangs and the look of my body in the mirror to consider how this was the most effective dieting technique I could possibly imagine – and that was a little scary for me.

Naturally, you gain it all back afterward. Or at least most of it.  I followed suggested guidelines by very slowly incorporating new foods back into my diet over the course of five days.  Though I did this more for the spiritual benefits than the health, there were still some health-related perks to be mined from short-term starvation. For example, since before the fast I was accustomed to splooging the contents of Hershey chocolate syrup bottles directly into my mouth, these seven days were a great way to re-calibrate my taste buds.  Bananas actually taste sweet again.  I can savory the subtleties in flavor and nuances in dishes.  Healthy food is actually pretty darn delicious when you’re actually hungry, and after realizing how scrumptious bites can be if they’re truly savored and appreciated, I’ve upped the ante on my healthy diet for the past several weeks and have thoroughly enjoyed it.  I’ve also slowed my eating way down, most likely as a result of needing to chew every single bite post-fast until it reached a safe liquid consistency. At first I was kind of grossed out by that, but then the fat girl in me realized that the longer the food is in my mouth, the longer I can savor the beauty of its delicious tastes. 

I used to eat so fast I’d nip a finger here or there so this was a pretty relevatory moment for me.

It also turns out that getting a chance to see how much better I looked with ten less pounds of fat on me helped me visualize myself as, well, not so fat.  That’s been a pretty great motivator in my newfound Fat Ass 365 Project wherein I imagine myself as a healthier, less jiggly version of myself that won’t suddenly disappear when I wake up and eat breakfast the next day.

Speaking of which, I need to go get my Jillian Michaels on. Two more days left of 30 Day Shred Level 2. And when I’m done I get to eat some food!

Giddy up, porky. 

Blue Ribbon Macaroni and Cheese

28 Feb

 

Did you think Lollipop Tuesdays had died?

They haven’t.  If you’re confused about why Lollipop Tuesdays aren’t every Tuesday anymore (or for that matter, why I don’t post every day), or you don’t even know what a Lollipop Tuesday is, you should probably check out the handy dandy “What’s Lollipop Tuesday?” header at the top of this page.  Now relax and strap in.  Because this week I entered a recipe contest.

As a homegrown mountain gal from Central Pennsyltucky, I felt like even though I’d never entered a cooking contest before, I could at least avoid embarrassing myself.  After all, when you’re raised in the roots cooking is just one part of a three-part formula for the perfect wife that some crazy hermit made up decades ago and is still being widely circulated in small towns with forks in roads: cooking, cleaning, baby-raisin’.  Hunting is optional.  I only ever really took to the cooking.

It also just so happened that the recipe contest was for Macaroni and Cheese, which was convenient since I just had my own Jackie Blog hunt for the Best Macaroni and Cheese in the Universe in December.  So I threw together my favorite parts of my favorite recipes and came up with a Jackie Blog concoction of cheesy awesomey goodness.

I wasn’t really sure what the rules were.  I went online and registered but I didn’t really get anything saying it was received and no one ever sent me criteria.  I didn’t even know what the prizes were.  I just knew that I had to cook up a vat of smokin’ hot mac and smack and take it to the venue by 1pm.  So I designated Dave my Transportation Manager, who threw me and my casserole in the car at 12:40pm and dropped us off while he parked.  With only 5 minutes until the entry deadline, I willed the elevator down with my mind, scurried into the judging room and plopped my casserole down: Entry #11.   It was precisely 1:00pm.

We then proceeded to wait ten full minutes for any late arrivals.    My tale of down-to-the-wire shenanigans weren’t quite as epic as I’d hoped.

Finally, it was time to begin.  We met the judges: 2 owners of 2 prominent food businesses in the city and 1 genuine lover of pasta smothered in cheese.  We also heard the judging criteria: appearance, taste, and-I-have-no-idea-what-else-because-I-was-stuck-on-appearance.

Appearance.

How could I have watched Iron Chef so many times and not have anticipated this as a determining factor?  I should have had a custom-built shelf above my dish that had three beautifully-prepared plates with perfect Macaroni and Cheese portions specifically for the judges.  They should have had firecrackers shooting out of them and have some sort of beautiful font displaying the name of my creation.

But I didn’t.  In fact, I didn’t even remember to bring a serving spoon.   And as my eyes stretched down the rows of the competitors, I saw beautiful thermal Pampered Chef totes, shiny and new casserole dishes that had fancy lids, and classic foil holders with wired burners beneath them.

I had my mother’s hand-me-down casserole dish that she let me borrow once when I was in college and I never returned.

At first I was nervous.  I didn’t consider appearance at all.  And what were the judges supposed to do without a serving spoon: paw it out of the cheesy vat with their bare mits?  Yes.  I decided yes they would.  In fact, I decided that casseroles should only be served in secondhand stolen dishes and reminded myself that I was there to write a blog post, not to impress judges.

Still, I was nervous.  I know this because when the first judge approached my dish and began to fish out a taste of the pasta with her pathetic plastic spoon, I winced as she lost the battle to the broiled parmesan and bread crumb finish, which was settled happily on the top of my concoction.  I grabbed Dave’s arm and clenched it hard as a huge piece of parmesan hung on her spoon and she had to contort her tongue to lap it into her hungry mouth.  I analyzed every nod, every dart of the eyes, every stroke of the pencil on paper.

I had lost.  I surely had  lost.

Dave laughed as my sanity slowly unraveled before him and tried to distract me with Bejeweled on his iPad.  I was sure to pause the game each time a judge approached my dish.   When the judges were finished testing, the audience was allowed to serve themselves buffet style.  I watched to see who took bites of mine and was disappointed when I saw much of my dish remained by the time I reached it.  I returned to my seat and saw a flyer that had been placed in my absence: it was an advertisement for a catering company.

…I was competing against catering companies?

I had talked myself into a deep, dark loss when one fellow jumped up and B-lined to my dish to get himself a hefty helping of seconds.  I was so happy I almost squealed like a freshly born piglet.  I had my victory: someone wanted seconds.  I told myself perhaps I would jest for third place.  That’s when the judges returned and announced there was a tie for first and second and they needed to retaste the top dishes to determine the tie-breaker.   The host of the event promptly walked over and grabbed my mother’s hand-me-down dish.

I freaked.

I freaked so hard that I had little tiny tears in my eyes.  I tried to hold back the excitement from my body but I only bottled it up and shot it out of my eyes like laser beams at poor supportive Dave, who feared me a serial killer and tried to coax the crazy out of my pupils.  It was me versus the Pampered Chef Super Awesome Casserole Tote.  I was so thrilled to have third place locked up.

After what felt like hours of the judges lobbing around more cheesy goodness in their mouths, a winner had finally been determined.

It was me.

I was so surprised to be announced first place that I let out a sort of strange yip in front of everyone and tried to tone it down for a casual walk up to the front to claim my winnings: a gift card and a certificate, deeming my recipe officially award-winning.  The judges looked pleased with the cheesiness I bestowed upon them and the audience all got in line to finish up what was left of casserole #11.

I waited for everyone to get their fill, truly amazed that I had just shown up for a Lollipop Tuesday and taken the top prize from a room full of hopefuls.  I felt like an imposter.  If only they knew it was all for a post.

On the way out of the venue, I called my mom to thank her for raising me right and Dave got a hot dog at the stand outside.  The fella inside asked who won and I said I did.   He asked me what the story was behind it and I explained Lollipop Tuesdays to him and that I run a blog but it’s nowhere close to a food blog.  He seemed pleasantly surprised and for indulging me and acting like he would tune in to read, I tipped him a dollar on the hot dog.

Sometimes you have to pay for publicity.

That night I sat around basking in the phrase “Award Winning”.   I referred to myself as an award-winning cook and my macaroni and cheese as a first-place dish.  And just then I remembered telling my coworkers I was entering a recipe contest that weekend and being laughed at by someone.  They made a joke about Kraft mac and cheese and said I was too young to cook well. I told her she didn’t know the power of being raised in the sticks.

And just then, I took out  my phone to send a proper foot-in-mouth-inducing text.

“Boo yah.”

Signed, First Place Chef. 

Before you ask, here’s the recipe.  Thanks to thesinglecell, who provided most of the recipe for thejackieblog recipe contest:
 
1/2 lb pasta of your choice, cooked and drained
2 tablespoons butter, divided
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons dry mustard
5 oz. sharp cheddar, shredded
3 oz. Raclette, cubed
1/4c. Parmesan, grated (plus some for sprinkling)
1 3/4c. heavy cream
3/4c. milk
Paprika for sprinkling
Cinnamon for sprinkling
1 cup white bread crumbs cut into 1/2 in. squares
 
Preheat oven to 375. Spray a 9×9″ pan (preferably a hand-me-down) with cooking spray. Pour al dente, drained pasta into 9×9″ pan. Melt 1tbs butter and pour over bread crumbs.  Set aside.  Blend flour, mustard and salt together in a small bowl. In a saucepan over medium-low heat, melt 1tbs butter. Add flour, salt and mustard and stir until blended. Add milk and cream, stirring or whisking until dry ingredients are dissolved and liquid is hot, but not boiling. Add Raclette, stirring/whisking occasionally until cheese melts. Repeat for cheddar and Parmesan, stirring/whisking often so the cheese doesn’t stick to the bottom and burn.  Sprinkle in cinnamon.
 
Pour cheese sauce over pasta; add bread crumbs and sprinkle with Parmesan and paprika and bake at 375 for 25 minutes. Then broil until top is golden.
 
Eat with bare hands.

The Best Macaroni and Cheese in the World

30 Dec

“The time has come”, the walrus said, “to talk of many things: of shoes-and ships-and sealing wax–of cabbages–and kings–“

and the best macaroni and cheese in the world.

It took me a few months, several pounds of macaroni, and a lot of money in cheese, but I have finally found a macaroni so wonderfully delicious that I shall deem it the best macaroni and cheese in the entire world.  

Technically, it’s the best macaroni and cheese recipe that was submitted to my Great Macaroni and Cheese Adventure post and it’s completely subjective to Dave’s and my taste.  But since we can only make conclusions from the evidence presented to us thus far in life and because I have not found a better recipe in my entire life, I can confidently conclude that there is no better dish to be served in the realm of the patriotic and cheesy than what I’m about to share with you:

Congratulations to thesinglecell, who submitted a recipe for a yummylicious pasta and cheese combination and is soon to be the proud owner of a $25 Visa Gift Card for the tip.  

There’s something Raclette does when it makes sweet, hot, oven love to heavy cream, Parmesan and sharp Cheddar that makes a gooey cheesiness so delicious you’ll swear it’s made of kitten sparkles and rainbow dust.  

This is not a picture of the macaroni I made. This is just random food porn. I'm not a food blogger; I'm just a girl in search of a dream of delicious cheesy pasta. Also, Wylio.com didn't have much to offer in the way of kitten sparkles and rainbow dust pics.

So if you’ve got an hour to kill, some money to donate toward the good cause of cheese production, and a good whisking hand, make an attempt at thesinglecell’s submission below.  I dare you to tell me rainbow dust isn’t delicious.

1/2 lb pasta of your choice, cooked and drained
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons dry mustard
5 oz. sharp cheddar, shredded
3 oz. Raclette, cubed (a white, semi-soft cow’s milk cheese… a good grocery store with a cheese bar may be your best bet)
1/4c. Parmesan, grated
1 3/4c. heavy cream
3/4c. milk
Paprika for sprinkling
 
Preheat oven to 375. Spray a 9×9″ pan with cooking spray. Pour cooked, drained pasta into 9×9″ pan.
 
Blend flour, mustard and salt together in a small bowl.
 
In a saucepan over medium-low heat, melt butter. Add flour, salt and mustard and stir until blended.
Add milk and cream, stirring or whisking until dry ingredients are dissolved and liquid is hot, but not boiling (after you pour in the milk/cream, you can increase your heat to medium if you need to).
 
Add Raclette, stirring/whisking occasionally until cheese melts. Repeat for cheddar and parmesan, stirring/whisking often so the cheese doesn’t stick to the bottom and burn.
 
Pour cheese sauce over pasta; sprinkle with paprika and bake at 375 for 25 minutes. Then broil until top is golden.
 
And, um, for extra incredibleness? Fry 3-4 slices of bacon first, drain them, and then crumble them into the pasta before you put the cheese sauce in.
 
Bon appetit!

So congratulations again to thesinglecell and congratulations to all of you as well.  Because even if you didn’t win a $25 Visa Gift Card like she did, you still won a darn good recipe.  

One more post to go, ya’ll.  See you tomorrow for my 365 Project/postaday2011 sign-off. 

Thanksgiving Pseudo-Haikus

24 Nov

In celebration

of this joyous holiday

I wrote bad haikus

 

Face your food.

I.  “Stuffed”

Losing self-respect

I’m sure the pie is awesome

I just can’t do this.

 

II. “Baby food”

New babies this year

So hard to resist the urge

to feed them turkey

 

III. “Saran Wrap”

Take your vitamins

They help with memory loss

and save me store trips

 

Happy thanksgiving, all. 

The Best Diet Plan Ever

6 Nov

This plan replaces my former plan, which was staring at pictures of the morbidly obese.

I’ve found the best diet trick ever.

Really, like, the best.   I shouldn’t even tell you about it because it’s out-of-control effective and I could market it for millions and live off the money from your soon-to-be-skinny behinds for the rest of my life.

But you read my blog, and I believe that from time to time that should be rewarding for you in some way (speaking of which, yes, I’m still cooking macaroni and cheese from The Great Macaroni and Cheese Adventure; winner is to be announced after my belly is full of about 5 more pounds of pasta).  

I’ve been doing this thing called “watch absolutely disgusting food documentaries”.  For some strange reason I’ve become obsessed with learning more about the state of the food in our country and I’m allowing myself to be subjected to revealing, inside looks at the state of food made in a country based on capitalism, and let me tell ya: it’s totally gross.

Like, totally gross.

Anything that can make me put the cheeseburger I’m cooking as I watch the documentary back in the fridge when I’m done is a powerful potion indeed.

So it goes like this: just eat what you already eat, and do what you already do.  But every few days, sit down and give your undivided attention to a food documentary like Food, Inc. or Fast Food Nation or Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead.   Settle in and watch where your food comes from and it will stick with you when you reach for your next meal.  Or when you consider what you had earlier that day.

At least, it’s totally working for me.  Unintentionally, but I’ll take it.  I really was just curious to watch and learn but in the past two weeks, I am finding it incredibly difficult to eat things that I know are super gross now that their super grossness has been revealed to me.

I could probably package this into some sort of viewing plan that best suits itself to the slow, terrifying realization that your food is disgusting and killing you. It’s the perfect plan for America: you can do everything the same, except you have to watch movies.  I could market it so easily; people love weight loss plans that don’t require them to do anything.  Doing that and adding more movie-watching time has got to be an enormous stroke of genius that will have me stockpiling gold bars for my wit.

Or I hope so anyway; I only have about 60 more days for this blog to pay off and that’s not shaping up to be a solid retirement plan anytime soon.

The Great Macaroni and Cheese Adventure

9 Oct

Okay listen.  I need your help.

I am trying desperately to find the most fantastic recipe for macaroni and cheese possible.

Possible.  Do you understand?

I keep trying recipe after recipe and each casserole dish is a big batch of sorrow.  I’m starting to doubt my ability as a homemaker and as an American.  After all, vats of bubbling cheese and white, nutritionless pasta is what we rock.  And we rock it hard.   So where has my patriotism gone?

How can I make this happen?  I keep scouring the Internet for recipes and trying them.  I take them from sites with really fantastic food porn.

You know what I’m talking about – food porn.  Blown up images of things melting or bubbling or flaking just perfectly.   It’s sexy.  It’s almost raunchy.  And you’re huddled in a quiet corner as you fantasize about the possibilities that a cinnamon the size of your head could bring to your life.  Or if stuffing a cookie with your favorite candy bar really does make it taste twice as good.

Mmmm Food Porn.

Why should you help me find the most amazing macaroni and cheese recipe ever? You should do it because a truly good macaroni and cheese is a kind of delicious that everyone should share.  You should do it because I’ll blog about the one that truly rocks my world and I’ll take fantastic food porn pictures of it and link to your site or your cause or a picture of your dog – whatever you have that may make use of linking.

You should do it because I’ll give you a $25 Visa Gift Card.

No really – I will.  That’s how badly I want a good mac and cheese recipe.  And you know I’m good for my word.  Remember my grand TheJackieBlog t-shirt raffle?  Those folks got their shirts.  Here’s proof.   Doesn’t the idea of $25 American dollars make you want to scour the Internet and your recipe books for the best of the best? 

So give me everything you’ve got – macaroni tips, macaroni recipes, macaroni sites – I’ll take it all.  And I’ll labor over every word and ingredient until I am a Macaroni and Cheese Master.  I’ll cook it all  up like a mad scientist and when I’m done I’ll share with everyone the best recipe of all and I’ll give a $25 Visa Gift Card to the one who submitted the winning recipe.  Tell your friends. 

But only the ones who can cook. 

The Pie Plot Thickens

14 Sep

My apartment has been overrun by pie.

For those of you just tuning in, I’m at war with Dave.  A few Tuesdays ago, I made a genuine attempt to craft an apple pie from naught but the loins of the earth and tragically failed.  I ended up with a miserable lump of doughy fruit that promptly got ignored like a red-headed stepchild and thrown in the garbage.

It was a hard day.

I came home the following evening to the warm, enraging smell of an apple pie in the oven.  Dave was one-upping me.  He saw my pie and raised me a better pie.  A tasty one.  Actually, an incredibly delicious one.

It was a brief war, as I had no tolerance for his flippant pie baking and decided that if he wanted to be the head pastry chef, he could go right ahead and be such.  After all, there’s nothing that makes my blood boil quite like rolling out pie dough.  And it’d be nice to ask him to whip up a pie for special occasions, host gifts, and celebrations of all kinds.

Expecting it to be a quickly satiated passion, I left Dave to his own devices – but he was not so swiftly stifled.

First there was an apple peeler.  Then official lard (as opposed to shortening) for the crust.  There’s just an enormous tub of lard sitting in my fridge at all times.  Do you know that today he looked up what the best kind of lard was and concluded it was lard made from kidney fat?!  Absolutely revolting.  And apples by the bundle.  They’re everywhere.  I have nightmares of hallways of Granny Smith apples rolling at me like a tidal wave.  I run and run, but I can’t ever get far enough from their reach.

Dave is making pies so often that he’s moved everything off the kitchen counter and asked if the flour can just stay there over night because “he’s just going to get it out and do the same thing tomorrow”.  

He says cutting apples is meditative.

So I mean, here it is.  This is it.  Dave is clearly my cash cow.   I think it’s time I really buck up and admit this is the moneymaker.  We’ll put a nice zen spin on it since it all centers his chi so fantastically well.  I’ll have a little cartoon of him drawn all goofy and seated in meditation with a little pastry chef hat balancing on his head.  We’ll call them Zen Pies and we’ll make millions.

Or maybe just a few hundred at some Farmers Markets.  

But I imagine my chi will be slightly more centered with an apartment that reeks of pastries and a wallet with a little more wiggle room.

This, boys and girls, is my million dollar thousand dollar idea. ♣

Notice the orchid and fall decorations – both featured in posts of their own. Proof, ladies and gentlemen, that I am a real human being with real posts and a real struggling orchid.

An Appeal to Foodmakers Everywhere

29 Aug

I’ve recently made a disturbing observation about myself: every morning the only reason I get out of bed is Golden Grahams.

Yeah, I eat Golden Grahams.

Listen:it’s a delicious cereal.  They’re not at all nutritious, I know.  But when I’m comfortable and warm and sucking the luscious nectar of sleep each morning, the force that pulls me from my sheets is not the promise of a paycheck, the throbbing annoyance of an alarm clock, or the urge to be productive.

It’s those beautiful, sugar-coated honey-flavored cardboard squares.

I can’t help it; it appears my entire life is driven by food.  In the morning, I wake up for cereal.  At work, I fantasize about what I’ll eat for lunch.  At the end of the day, I think about how awesome dinner is going to be.   Last night after a 12-hour shoot, I got super excited about a pepperoni roll that I got at a farmer’s market on Friday and intentionally wrapped in foil and put in the freezer in order to prepare for such an occasion. 

I’ve only just recently recognized this trend and so I have only just recently realized how this is probably not the best way to live my life.  Food is my only motivator.  Food is literally the reason I get out of bed in the morning.  I fixate on it, I daydream about it, and I am only really in ecstasy when I’m in the process of chewing. 

Think about that.  

It’s a wonder I’m not a thousand pounds.  One thousand.  You know, I saw a lady the other day who had to turn sideways to fit into the door of an establishment.  

It was a food establishment.

When I realized that my entire life is spent looking forward to the next time I can eat something incredibly delicious, I thought of this woman and her door dilemma.  Every day she has to deal with the fact that she can’t fit through a door, go on an airplane, fit in a theater seat…heck, she probably has to turn sideways to scoot down small grocery store aisles.  But it’s okay because in between those inconveniences, she’s chewing in ecstasy. And listen – I want to make it clear that I’m not making fun of her.  I’m not.  Because I understand how delicious food is and no matter how times I get into my skinny jeans, a burger will bring me right back to square one every time.  And there’s no guarantee that I won’t eventually be as large as the woman I recall, who struggles to complete routine tasks.

It’s clear that I can’t just stop eating good food.  That never works.  I’ve abstained from deliciousness for exactly three weeks but no longer.  And a mere three days of delicious indulgence can counteract three weeks of healthy eating.  Sad, but true.  

I am Sisyphus, and a fatness is my rock.

So this is my appeal to foodmakers everywhere:  

Please stop making food so delectable.  I know I like it and I beg for it all the time, but you’ve gotta believe me: I want to be able to still fit through doors when I grow up.  Like, regular doors.  Not supersized American doors that will no doubt have to be considered in new architecture plans  because we’re all super fatty fats. So please make healthy food.  Let’s just get rid of all the bad stuff.  If I have no delicious options, I will eventually have no option but to eat boring, healthy food – which will eventually result in my skinniness. 

And don’t pretend that delicious food that is also healthy exists.  It’s not true.  It’s not.

So let’s just do a mass exodus of all yumminess so that next summer I can finally go swimming.  I missed out again this year because it appears that the only swimwear that covers my problem areas is a scuba suit and it’s really just too tight to be flattering.

Okay, so thanks for the consideration.  I really appreciate it.

Puppies and Sprinkles,

Soon-to-be-skinny Jackie 

 

 

The Great Pie War

27 Aug

Dave’s playing dirty.

If you follow my Lollipop Tuesday series, are a daily reader, or even if you just go click this right here, you’ll recall a story of a girl who, not too long ago, attempted recreate David’s grandmother’s homemade apple pie from only the loins of the earth for the blogosphere’s general amusement.

In a word, I failed.

The end product, though it looked like a pie, left much to be desired.  Like good taste, for example.  Or an apple filling that didn’t also have the apple skins.  Or a dough that was smooth, ever so gently crisp, and smooth with beautiful little slits in the center.

Mine had none of those things.  But it had a lot of heart.  It’s unfortunate that heart only counts in college sports, inspirational movies, and Captain Planet.

So Dave took one tiny little bite of my lackluster pie and decided it was so awful that he wasn’t going to eat any more.  Well, he didn’t put it exactly that way.  He’s much too wonderful to just come right out with it. Rather, I asked him if I left it out would he eat it, he said no, probably not, and I filled in the gaps.

I threw it in the trash and decided that I would blog and admit defeat, blame it on a generational misunderstanding of the concept of ‘recipes’, and I resolved to make a better pie someday.  Just one, so I could make one if I had to.

Sometimes people need pies.

But I need not bother.  For today, I walked into my home after work to the slightly spiced, warm air of apple pie wafting through hall.  My stomach jumped to my throat as I realized what was happening.  I looked to Dave to find a half smirk revealing his underhandedness.  I ran to the oven, threw open the door, and revealed THIS:

Look at it. Just LOOK at it.

That golden crust that isn’t overfloured and hasn’t been pinched together in desperation.  If you crack that sucker open you’ll find an apple filling so soft and sweet it makes you feel soft and sweet.   It’s well done, it’s delicious.

And a blatant declaration of war.

At first I was pretty upset.  Who watches someone try something new and then a mere 3 days later does it perfectly themselves to display their superiority?  Warmongers, that’s who.  But just as I was gearing up for an epic pie war, it occurred to me that there is another way to look at this situation.  Think about it:  if my overwhelming suck at something prompts Dave to do it and do it better, then I can start failing at all sorts of things!   Why do I need to learn how to make a pie if he can make a lovely one?   Our skill set is unified in nature – I do things he’s not good at, and he does things I’m not good at.  It’s a pretty awesome system and since he so willingly added “making pie” to his list, I can call on him for the pastry in a variety of pie-requiring events.  Family reunions, support for those in mourning, selling a house, and holidays of all varieties.  

Apple pie is incredibly versatile in its application.

I’m trying to think of other things I’d like Dave to do for us.  Now that I know his process, all I have to do is indicate a  few areas of weakness and he can pick up the slack! I can suck at lots of things: cleaning the oven, roasting a turkey, doing the laundry, wiping windows, cleaning out the car, scrubbing the tub – golly, there are loads of things I’m about to not do well.

Perhaps it’s war after all. 

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