Fight Club

 

It’s been a strange week for me.

I’ve felt inspired, depressed, incredibly sad, extremely encouraged, humbled by others’ kindness and generosity, humbled by my own failures, been very close to insanity, and yesterday I forgot to eat lunch.

I don’t forget to eat food. Like JLaw says, “Eating is one of my favorite parts of the day.” I pretty much plan my entire day around when I can eat, what I can eat, and how much I can eat.

place-setting-1-1544745-640x480In a meeting at work last week, my boss said, “Let’s take a short break.” I responded with, “How long of a break? Please tell me how much food can I eat before I have to be back here.” Yes, I said that out loud. My brain doesn’t function well hungry.

Hence, the surprise at missing a meal yesterday.

But if my emotions are swinging wildly and I’m experiencing stress, I get distracted from my usual self. I feel differently, think differently, and act differently. (This is the source of the feelings of insanity, which I’m sure I’ll write about another time.) I even forget to eat lunch.

So, in case you are also in a season of emotional turbulence and/or stress, I thought I would share two brief concepts to keep in mind that can help you maintain your equilibrium and sanity during this time. Because we all want you to stay sane. For your sake and ours.

ONE: LISTEN TO YOUR BODY

If you’re hungry, eat. Take the time to actually make a meal, or pay for one.

If your eyes keep shutting without your permission, take a nap.

boxing-gloves-1431175-639x425If you feel pent up aggression and/or anxiety inside, find a physical activity to burn that off.

If your brain stops processing information, let it rest for a while.

You’ll function much better once you have taken care of your body. It’s worth taking that 20 minutes or $20 to be a real human the rest of the day. Life is about quality over quantity, remember?

TWO: LISTEN TO YOUR BODY (even when it’s silent)

Sometimes our thoughts and emotions so strongly overpower our bodies that we can no longer hear things like, “I’m hungry,” or, “I need to sleep.” If that’s the case for you, consider scheduling things in until you return to normal.

If you keep forgetting to eat, set an alarm to remind you. You don’t have to stuff yourself if you’re not hungry. Just make sure you have the proper nutrients.

Take 20 minutes to exercise, even if it’s just walking around the block, to remind your body it’s not just a ball of feelings and chaos.

Plan out short brain breaks, and consider listening to music, even if you’re so focused you might not notice it very much. Bring the outside world back into your mind.

 

Remember, my friends, you will not be in this season forever. Things change.

But please keep going, keep fighting, keep taking care of yourself in the meantime.

 

Ha. And you thought I was going to talk about Fight Club.

Advertisements

Beef Bourguignwrong

I’ve been feeling more and more guilty of late for not working on my writing – not necessarily for not writing on here (I have no delusions about a vast group of people checking their email every day just in case Ashleyne posted something new to read) but just writing in general. I am of the firm belief that if you call yourself a writer, you must write.

And so, earlier today I was contemplating this fact and said to myself, “Self, certainly there are things about which you can write. What’s something that happens consistently in your life that you could document?” I went through several options, and considering I’m fairly certain that none of you care to hear a play-by-play of my CrossFit experience (GO, team WOD Did I Get Myself Into!!) the only other thing I do consistently besides sleep (again, not very interesting, despite how often I actually talk about it) is eat.

So, among the other random things I write about, let’s talk about food.

First of all, anyone who has known me for a while knows that I can be a bit of a blonde in the kitchen. And that I hate recipes. And I’m bad at math. And I tend to forget that I have something in the oven or on the stove or that maybe my then-five-year-old niece shouldn’t be solely in charge of reading all the ingredients in zucchini bread.

But I am a halfway decent cook and I like to experiment, so I figure my track record just keeps things interesting.

Without further ado, today’s culinary adventure:

Something with a big slab of beef 

The beef was on sale down at the Kroger, so I bought it. I have no idea what cut it was, and I threw away the package already and I’m not going through our trash, not even for you guys. It looked like something I could put into a crockpot.

Never having made beef bourguignon, I thought I’d try to make an Ashleyne rendition. We are eating mostly paleo at the 6021, which limits my options slightly.

I sliced up the beef (slightly larger than 4cm cubes – in fact, I didn’t measure at all) and sautéed it in olive oil at high heat. I don’t have a huge pan, so it took me three rounds. I didn’t worry about cooking it through, just searing it a nice, crisp brown on both sides.

Then I moved the beef to the crockpot and sautéed an onion in the beef pan. Once that was soft, I added some red cooking wine, a large amount of Dijon mustard (Pardon me, do you have any Grey Poupon?), salt, pepper, garlic,and parsley. Actually, now that I mention it, I’m pretty sure I didn’t put any salt in. Whatever. Then I added roughly 10oz of beef broth, and let that all simmer for a while.

Once I got tired of waiting, I threw all that in the crockpot, and then I dumbed a bag of frozen brussels sprouts into the pan and sautéed them, then added them to the crockpot, at which point I also added a bag of mixed veggies (cauliflower, zucchini, broccoli and carrots, or some such blend) to the crockpot. I threw in 2 bay leaves, stirred it all up, and put it on high for 6 hours.

Total active prep time was about an hour, but I was also writing this blog and eating lunch: Holly’s chicken and noodle soup with turmeric mashed potatoes. If you haven’t yet discovered the magnificence that is adding mashed potatoes to your soup, I’ll reveal that to you another day.

One of my favorite things about crockpot meals is that you can clean up all your dishes after you do the prep and only have one dish to wash after dinner! Of course, a large crockpot is third on the list of worst kitchen items to wash – behind the food processor and the blender but just before the mixer. Still, I take the little victories where I can.

The Results:
Kim: “It was delicious.” She did state that she was “absolutely famished” before she ate, though, and also admitted to eating a large amount of pretzels dipped in homemade raspberry/lemon icing (I did say mostly paleo) right before she tried it. So who knows.
Liz: “The flavor is good.” This is a common response from Liz when I cook something with beef. She’s not as fond of the consistency as the rest of us are.
Holly: Absent.
Me: I agree with Liz. The flavor was excellent. But I cooked the vegetables way too long. If I tried again, I would try to have mushrooms on hand (no guarantees on these sorts of things) and only add the vegetables to the crockpot an hour or so before it finished. They all turned to mush and became indistinguishable. Personally, I like to know whether I’m eating broccoli or a brussels sprout, even if they end up all tasting like beef broth.

And it needed more wine.

I’d give it a 6 out of 10. I’ll aim for a higher score next time there’s beef on sale.

Here it is:Beef B

And, although I’m not in the habit of taking selfies when I’m home alone letting my crazy run rampant, I thought you might appreciate knowing what I looked like when I was cooking this:

Ashleyne and Tongs

Now you know.

The Death Factor (Because the “Kill Factor” was already taken)

I have the hardest time in the egg aisle.

See, I’ve always been bad at math. Calculating cents per egg, factoring in size and color and freshness date, to decide which dozen will go home with me and live in my fridge and die in my frying pan has been a challenge since becoming a post-dorm room adult.

But then, in the last year or so, I’ve added in the “death factor.”

I call it that because I started working for a suburban family, cooking meals for the kids and shuttling them to color guard and sleepovers. (Most people call this “nannying.” I think of it more like a butler/chauffeur/tutor/chef. This allows me to shrug off any actual parenting responsibilities. “It’s not in my job description.”) The mother of this family is an organic, free-range, gluten-free, naturally-sweetened woman. And she runs the household as such.

For instance, one day I was going to make tacos for dinner. She offered to stop at the grocery store and pick up anything I needed while she was out running errands. I asked for taco seasoning. She asked where that would be in the store. I said the taco aisle. A while later she returned, but I found no seasoning hiding between the fresh dog food and the wheat-grass.

“I’m sorry,” She said. “I looked and looked, but I couldn’t find anything without MSG. They put chemicals in everything. It’s absolutely awful.” The way she said it sounded like she was describing the Grinch stealing Christmas or some disgusting celebrity behavior from the back of the Enquirer.

She looked me in the eyes, urging me to listen. “That stuff will kill you.”

Great.

Now, I knew that already. I read food blogs, I’ve researched diets, and I have a grandmother that could tell you more in five minutes about healthy eating than you’d learn in an entire year of watching Dr. Oz.

But somehow, having this mother-figure look at me, pleading for me to reconsider wasting my life on taco seasoning, the death factor branded into my brain.

The unnatural, tightly-caged chickens produce eggs that can kill me. But how do you factor that in when you have $3 left in your grocery money and the dozen eggs that will let you live past the age of 25 will cost you $3.99?

I don’t know the answer. I’m just sharing my struggle. My struggle with the egg aisle. And the death factor. But I have to say I almost always choose non-death eggs.

Maybe it’s just me, but I find it very hard to justify dying young because of an egg.  And I really like eggs.