Friday, September 27, 2013

Unrecipe: Mexican Parmesan

I have a lot of unrecipes running around in my head; you know, those recipes that are so simple that they don't really require being written down.  For me, they're usually the things I make most often.  Simple, hearty, everyday food.  It's only when I'm feeling creative that I pull out the recipe box.

One of the unrecipes I like to use when I have the ingredients on hand is a simple Parmesan.  Usually I do chicken Parm, but it's also delicious with other meats.  Pork chops, hamburger, steak, whatever.  And I do a version that's way simpler than any recipe you may have seen for it, too, but consequently, it's a lot lower in carbs. It consists of some kind of meat, marinara sauce, mozzarella, and Parmesan.  It might not sound like much, but it's quite good.

Well, I decided I would make it tonight, and use some cube steaks from the quarter cow we bought this spring.  Except, after I'd gotten the steaks done and went to get out the marinara, I noticed that the jar I had opened had gone moldy.  That happens with us a lot these days because we use it so infrequently.  Since the meat was already cooked, I had to do something.  Thankfully, I'm a master at improvising.  Also, I had no Parmesan on hand, so this ended up being a lot more simple than I even planned it on being.  But it was delicious!

(Sorry, no picture today!)

Mexican Parmesan 
Cook two servings of meat in a skillet with butter.  You can use chicken breasts, pork chops, hamburgers, steaks, whatever you want as long as it's quick and easy to cook in a skillet.  Once the meat is cooked through, pour a cup of salsa over it and let it simmer for about three minutes.  Sprinkle the mozzarella on top, and cover with a lid.  Continue to simmer for several minutes, until cheese has melted.  Carefully spoon out meat and cheese and salsa and enjoy! 

Chad really enjoyed this mean, and since it was so easy and yummy, I'll be making it again.  Plus, salsa has a lot fewer carbs and a lot more veggies in it than marinara. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Success and Failure

On Friday, I wrote a post saying that I was going to try not eating sugar and wheat for one day, and then if that worked, do it again the next day.  Well, unfortunately it didn't end up happening on Friday.  I can't even remember what I ate that was bad for me, but I know I ate it.  However, Saturday and Sunday were great!  I ate really good food and didn't have any sugar or wheat.  And I was feeling really good, too.  Eating clean really makes me feel so good physically.

But, Monday came and I was bad again.  I finally called up my mom and asked if we could go out and have coffee, since we hadn't really talked for a week.  I know everyone who commented on my drama filled posts about how badly my family treated me has said that I should just divorce my family, and I will admit that I wish I could.  But it's not easy for me.  I'm not dependent on them anymore; I'm an adult and I can stand on my own two feet.  The problem is that they're dependent on me.  I'm my mom's support system.  I'm her financial adviser, her marriage counselor, her sounding board, her crafting expert, her shoulder to cry on, her landlady (yes, we own the house she lives in), and the only sane sensible person she has in her life to keep her grounded.  It makes me want to cry to think of her going through the stuff she goes through alone.  So I can't divorce my family for the simple fact that I'm my mother's mother. 

Anyway, we talked.  Not a whole lot about the birthday incident, but normal everyday talking.  It was nice, comforting.  I had a breve latte, but couldn't resist the muffin in the case.  Ugh!  The funny thing is that the low carb muffins I had made over the weekend were way better than the carby one I ate at the coffee shop.  But I'm trying not to worry too much about it.  I got right back on the wagon and ate well the rest of the day. 

I'm going to have a hard time staying on the wagon the next few days though.  Chad's birthday is Saturday, except we're celebrating it tomorrow because I have a family reunion to go to on Saturday.  Chad's request for his birthday dessert was a giant chocolate cookie, and I know I'm going to be eating some of it.  I also know I'm probably going to indulge at the family reunion, since my family includes some amazing country chefs. 

September is such a hard month for me to stay healthy.  I had this problem last year, too.  There's just so much going on in September for us.  Three birthdays, our anniversary, and a family reunion, all nicely spaced out so we're eating bad things all through the month.  I can't wait til October comes.  The only time we're tempted to eat bad things is on Halloween, and then that's only one day. 

I think another thing keeping me from eating well is my mental state.  I'm sure some of you have noticed that I haven't been posting very much, and that's because I've been really pulled away from the world emotionally these last couple of weeks.  It's like I'm living in my head, and I just eat whatever I'm craving.  Sometimes I eat bad things hoping it'll make me feel better.  But what I really need is to jump back into life.  Get back into blogging, start reading my favorite low carb/paleo blogs, going for long walks, working on my garden, and not letting myself mope around so much.  I always go through a bout of the blues in the winter, but it's only fall! 

I do plan on writing more, even if it's just these long rambly personal posts.  If I keep at it, maybe I can get back into the rhythm I had going before, and I can start feeling normal again.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Chasing Down the Wagon

It's been a crazy ride since I left for vacation in late August.  It feels like my life hasn't really gotten back to normal since then!  Along with my daily routine being disrupted, my healthy eating habits have taken a back seat as well, and I can really feel it affecting me.

I haven't given up my low carb diet exactly.  It's like I'm eating the way I used to, only with junk food thrown in.  So I'll have eggs and bacon in the morning, but I might add in cheesecake sometime mid morning, or after a healthy dinner of taco salad, I'll go out and have ice cream. 

To be honest, since having the bad experience with my family on my birthday, I haven't really felt right.  I've been mopey and depressed, and I can't justify eating properly because I'm so down in the dumps.  I think to myself, if life sucks so hard, why bother eating well?  Of course I know that eating badly also makes me depressed, so it's a vicious cycle. 

So today I decided enough is enough.  No more junky foods.  I had a cup of caffeinated coffee (a rarity for me) to help get me perked up so I won't be tempted to make myself feel better with sugar, and my goal is to eat no sugar or wheat just for today.  If I can get through today, then I can get through tomorrow, and then the day after.  But it starts with one day. 

I don't like living in a dark funk like this.  I mean, I used to be this way all the time, depressed, lonely, feeling like there was no reason to treat myself right.  When I started eating low carb last year, I came out of that funk and I really haven't been that depressed until recently.  I hate this feeling of being useless and hopeless, and I want to get out of it as soon as possible, and I know I can't do that until I start eating right and giving my body the care it deserves. 

So I have to chase down that wagon, but I'm going to get back on it. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Pitfalls of Real Life

My birthday was on Sunday.  I turned 29.  I usually am really depressed on my birthday, either because things went badly or because I start thinking about all the things I could have done over the last year but didn't get around to.  So this year, I decided I was going to try to have a good, happy birthday.  This is the last year I'll be in my 20s, after all, so I really wanted it to be a good one.

The weekend started really well.  Chad and I went to our local coffee shop, where the owner gave me my breve latte for free and Chad bought me a beautiful handmade beaded crochet bracelet I've been fawning over for months. 

Then we went out to eat with Chad's folks, and then they invited us back to their place to split a bottle of wine.  Afterwards, we went home and chilled out until Chad's good friends came over to visit (who are nerdy and smart and share the same sense of humor as Chad, so it's like having three Chads, which is fun).  We went out to eat at a hibachi restaurant, which was a new experience for me.  It was fun and extremely hilarious at moments.  We went out to a new bar after that, and then back home to talk nerdy stuff.

The next day, my birthday, Chad and I went out hiking at an awesome place called Jake's Rocks, which is a set of trails along a hilltop that has a lot of huge boulders and rocky outcrops, with two really nice lookouts that look over the reservoir and dam below.  We ate lunch in the woods, and then went home to shower.  By birthday was supposed to end in a happy family gathering.  My mom had made me a chocolate cheesecake and we were going to gather at her house.

Things didn't really go well, though.  There was drama.  I'm always trying to hold everything together, and I tried then too.  But when, after my mom yelled at me for trying to help her with the dishes, my sister got mad and stormed out, and my mom and dad got into a bitter fight, I couldn't hold it together anymore and I ran out of the house sobbing.  It was just too much for me to handle.  I just feel like I'm always doing so much for everyone else.  I would hope, that for just one day, they would try to do something nice for me too.  But, as usual, I was the last person on their minds. 

Mom and dad did say they were sorry, and we tried to get back to the party, but I was deeply hurt.  Since then, I've been doing nothing but moping around and working on sewing projects, trying to bury my hurt feelings.  I know I should try to stop wallowing in self pity, but I don't want to forgive them yet.  The moment I forgive them, they're going to turn right around and hurt me again, or take advantage of my soft heart.  I honestly don't want anything to do with them.  Not any of them.  I'm not even sure if I want anything to do with people in general. 

For my own sake, though, I needed to write this all down.  Trying to bury my hurt only makes it worse.  I hope no one minds me rambling.  I just needed to write it down.  Really, I just needed to tell someone, even just the internet at large. 

I've been stress eating the last couple of days.  I took home a quarter of a cheesecake, and although Chad did have a small piece yesterday, I managed to eat the rest of it in two days.  I don't like feeling out of control like that, but I know I'm only going to gain back control when I face my emotions. 

But part of me just wants to keep moping.  If it wasn't for Chad's kindness these last few days, my faith in humanity probably would have suffered.  But he's been right there for me.  He even brought me breakfast in bed yesterday, and did all the dishes the night before.  I don't know where I'd be without him.

Maybe I won't force myself to get over it right away.  Maybe I need some time to mope first.  But I do want to get over it soon, so I can get back to living my full, happy life. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Vacation, Pears, and Real Life

Hey guys!  I'm sorry I've been so quiet lately.  When Gwen from over at Sky n Surf asked if I was alright and said she missed me, it made me realize that I should probably stop being lazy and write something.  (Thanks, Gwen!)

Life has been kind of crazy.  Well first, for a week at the end of August, Chad and I went on vacation.  It was really nice to get away.  We rented a little cabin in the woods in PA and just relaxed.  We did some hiking, took some scenic drives, went to a few gift shops, stopped in at a winery, had a campfire every night (with s'mores!), and did a whole lot of just sitting around relaxing.  The weather didn't cooperate the whole time, but the cabin was cozy and we brought some good books with us.  It was a very nice, relaxing vacation.  And now here's some pictures.

Red Spotted Purple butterfly (can't decide why they call it that, but there you have it)
Some sort of cute tree frog.
Chad climbing up his favorite boulder.

Chad next to a little creek at the bottom of a huge hill we climbed.
Me next to the same creek!

Old nonworking fountain.

Pretty wooded trail.

Sunbeam in a part of the forest called the Forest Cathedral.

The trees in this forest are some of the oldest stands of trees in the eastern US.  They've been untouched for 400 years.

The trail was quite hilly.  We climbed up 1000+ feet and then had to come back down.

At the bottom was a pretty creek with at least a dozen bridges over it.

And here's the creek.

Here's the winery we went to.  It was very nice. 

The fires were always nice.  Relaxing, quite, warm, and it was fun to build them.

Inky cap mushrooms, so called because they start melting into black goo after a couple days.


Some sort of shelf fungus.

THE hugest millipede I've ever seen.  It was as thick as my pinky and twice as long.
As relaxing as the vacation was, though, things went crazy once we got home.  Just like an hour or two after we got home, my mom's car broke down and we had to go pick her up and help her get it taken care of.  Right before we left for vacation, I picked two pear trees (one in my neighbor's yard, and one in Chad's mom's yard), which yielded almost two bushels of pears.  If you're not familiar with how big a bushel is, imagine a 5 gallon bucket.  A bushel is just about two of those.  So I had a ton of pears (and it took several hours to pick them, but that was the easy part).  Since pears don't ripen on the tree and only ripen once picked, I like to pick them before we go on vacation so that when we get back, they're almost ripe and ready to process. 

Well, I've never had so many pears before.  It was an amazing year for pears, and this is the first year I've picked my neighbor's yard.  So for literally a whole week, I did just about nothing but work on pears.  Peeled, cored, cut up, cooked, canned.  I made canned pear halves in extra light syrup, pear sauce, pear jelly, pear preserves, pear salsa, and pear conserve.  I ended up with something like 24 quarts of canned pears, and like 10 pounds of pear trimmings in my compost pile.

Happy pear.

Two bushels of pears turned into 24 quarts of canned goods.  Also, my MIL made me that quilt!
So after the week of pear hell, I seriously haven't wanted to do anything at all.  Sleep mostly, video games, some reading, and when I'm up to it, doing the cleaning that never got done.  After a week of recuperating, I'm feeling much better. 

I've been having trouble getting back into the swing of the low carb way of life.  Chad and I didn't go overboard on our vacation.  We tended to eat very smart low carb meals, but we did splurge like every day.  There was always s'mores at night around the fire, and there was ice cream a couple of times.  It's especially going to be difficult getting back into the sugar free lifestyle because September is our month of celebration.  We've already had one birthday party (my 5 year old nephew), and my birthday is Sunday.  Then there's our anniversary, and then Chad's birthday.  And my niece is about ready to have her baby, so there will probably be another birthday in September soon.  Ugh.

So I think I caught you all up on just about everything going on in my life lately.  I hope I can get back into the swing of writing regularly.  I'd hate to lose you guys :)