Friday Link Love June 12, 2015 {Doritos Locos and other edifying subjects}

Some quick links and thoughts on this Friday night.  The first is serious; the rest are light and fluffy.

1. I was touched by Saint* Pope Francis’s recent words about the heroic love of family members who care for sick loved ones.  First I thought–of course– of myself . .. and Pat . . . and how hard it is to care for the girls with their sporadic, cough-variant asthma.  They have so many nights of intermitable coughing during cold and flu season; winter is a cold, cold hell for us.

Then I thought–wow–the pope’s words really really apply to my parents, who are taking care of my aunt as she undergoes cancer treatment.  They, and my uncle, also are caring for my 94-year-old grandmother, who is in a gradual, painful decline and is now bedridden.  We’ve been expecting the end for months now.  My uncle lives with her and takes painstaking care of her full time.  My dad spends many nights over there so my uncle can get some sleep, since my grandmother is restless and needs constant care throughout the night. . . . And this all comes not long after the years my parents cared for my other grandmother; she died in their home three years ago.

They’ve all been on my mind a lot lately.  I’m a thousand miles away and don’t know what I can do.

*So embarrassing.  I have such a hard time catching my own typos.

2. Something else that’s been on my mind is Taco Bell.  Mmm, Baby #3 loves taco bell.  My frequent visits there reminded me of this article, about why food that’s bad for us tastes so good.  [If the link doesn’t work, backdoor your way in by searching Google News for “Taste the Science in Every bite”.]

I’m tasting that science! I’m tasting it in every bite, baby.                                                image credit

The article discussed the Doritos Locos tacos and how popular they are and–let me tell you–that’s no surprise.  They are delicious.  Delicious.  So good.

3. By the way, Girl 1 has taken to being scared to be in her room at night, every night, at any point of the night, starting at bedtime, even with the light on and door open.  I told her tonight about her guardian angel.  We discussed and she pondered for the last hour.  She just now announced she is scared of angels and doesn’t want one in her room.  So much for that.  I told her she could politely ask her angel to leave the room and I’m sure the angel would oblige.

4. My bloggy friend Sarah Isis is such a fashionable pregnant lady, isn’t she?  Next week, I’ll be linking up with her “23 questions” link up, posting my girls’ answers to 23 questions about their mom [me].

~ Ha!  I just realized that the idea is to ask the questions about Daddy and post for father’s day.  Oh well.  I’ll do the one about me for a late mother’s day post and then one where I ask them about Pat in time for Father’s Day. ~

My kids’ answers were quite amusing.  If you’re inclined you should link up too, especially if you’ve already asked your kids the questions (*ahem* Marti Oram, once you’re feeling better).

5. My new bloggy crush is Erica at Thrift Flipper.  She’s paying off her student loans by scouring thrift stores for fashion finds and reselling them on eBay.  I started doing this–on an extremely small scale–about a year ago.  I enjoy cheap retail therapy so much that when I find a great deal, even if my family and I can’t use it, I have to buy it.

My $5-snakeskin-Manolo-Blahnik-find story is one I’ll probably be telling my grandchildren.  Kind of like an old fisherman’s tale. Except they didn’t get away.  Maybe I should have had them stuffed and mounted to hang on the wall.  But then I couldn’t have resold them. For $50.  Anyway . . .

Enter eBay, by which my hobby at least pays for itself and a little more.  So anyway, when I found Erica’s blog I was like, “There’s someone else out there who does this!  And she seems normal!”

6. I had some other links to share with you but I’ve misplaced them now.

7. Have a lovely weekend!  Click over to This Ain’t the Lyceum for more quick takes.

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Ye Olde Weekly Food Poste: Steak N’ Greens

Can I just share with y’all one of my favorite meals of late?

Pan fried steak with mushrooms, onions and collard greens (or kale): it’s paleo/ Perfect Health Diet friendly but also basic, comforting, Southern-inspired home cooking.

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I don’t have exact recipes for you, but this is basically what I do:

For the greens:

Buy a  bag of pre-washed, pre-cut greens and put in a big pot.  It will seem like a lot but they reduce a lot in volume once cooked.  Add enough water or broth that they are almost covered (about 10 cups).  Add some onion and garlic and (ideally) a ham bone or some bacon.  Bring to a boil then simmer until the greens are very tender (an hour or so for collards, more for kale).  Salt to taste.  This will make about 4 generous helpings.

For the steak:

Take two steaks (try cube steak for economical deliciousness) and fry them up in a pan with a little olive oil (more or less depending on whether you have a non-stick pan).   Use medium-low to medium heat.

If you’re using cube steak, you can dredge it in a little flour (rice or almond) with salt and pepper and garlic powder, before you fry it.

After the steak is done, add some sliced onion and mushrooms and enough Worcestershire sauce and red wine to make a little sauce.  Saute until the veggies are tender.

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Aw man, I love it.

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The end.

No-Plan Monday: Dairy-Free, Sugar-Free Smoothie

My Perfect Health Diet + no-dairy month went pretty well: as of May 1 I was down 4 pounds and feeling good.  Four pounds is not so impressive, perhaps, until you take into account the fact that I cheat.  I cheat a lot.  Even if you discount the two bowls boxes of mac and cheese I ate (made them for the girls, who hardly touched them), and that bag of chocolate truffles Pat and I (mainly I) devoured in one day.  (After all, dark chocolate is good for you, even according to the PHD.)

Even discounting those instances as complete aberrations explainable only by hypothesizing that an alien was inhabiting my body . . . even then: I cheat a lot.

And then this past weekend on our mini-getaway, I threw dietary restrictions to the wind, entirely.

Aaaaaand as of today I’m back up four pounds.  (Four pounds in five days?  That must be water weight, right?)

So, basically:

 

But I’m trying  to make this not all about my dieting woes (ha! too late!), so hows’ about a healthy recipe?

I’ve been drinking a lot of almond milk smoothies lately, often for dinner.  (We eat our main meal at lunch.)  It’s hardly a groundbreaking recipe, but I’m happy with it: no added sugar, quick, yummy, nutritious.

This week I have no oven (until I clean it), no stove (long story), and no menu plan, so I’ll be making a lot of these.  Let me know if you try it!

Almond Milk Smoothie (no dairy, no added sugar)

  • 1/2 c. unsweetened, vanilla almond milk

    Smoothie og kaffe

    Not my photo, but my smoothies look pretty much like the glass on the left.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • 1/2 c. frozen fruit (I like cherries or blueberries)
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 T. almond butter
  • Small dash of salt (careful!)
  • A few drops of vanilla

Directions: Blend!

You could add some spinach leaves if you’re feeling especially virtuous.  I haven’t tried it yet.

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Have a good week!  I’m off to clean the oven, maybe.

 

Menu Plan Monday: Musings of the Dairyless

I’ve been without dairy for over two weeks now.

At first I was all like:

But now I’ve actually lost a pound or two.  A friend of mine was gluten-free and dairy-free for several months for various reasons.  She was quite thin, and I remember thinking, “She’s given up gluten and dairy: of course she’s skinny!  There’s nothing she can eat!”  And now I’m in the same boat (albeit by choice).  So yeah . . .

I doubt any weight I lose is due to my giving up dairy, exactly, and more a matter of my having fewer food options.  For snacks I’ve got nothin’ but fruit and nuts, nuts and fruit, as far as the eye can see.

Also, I’ve learned to drink my coffee black (gasp!).  I never thought it would happen.  It tastes a bit better when I brew it with some cinnamon shaken in with the coffee grinds (thank you Sharon, for the tip).  And I think that my caffeine addiction is just stronger than I gave it credit for.

True. Dat.

Cutting out a whole food group is a pretty drastic way to lose weight.  I don’t know whether I’ll keep it up when (if???) I get down to my goal weight.  I experienced weird stomachaches and headaches recently, and those are gone now.  So maybe I was slightly sensitive to milk?  I don’t know.  We’ll see.

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I’m  linking up with Org Junkie for Menu Plan Monday.  About the menu plan though: Girl 2 is sick and screams if I don’t hold her constantly.  I don’t know what I’ll cook, if at all.  Fortunately we have enough leftovers and odds and ends to keep body and soul together.    But here are some ideas I have for later in the week:

Butternut squash, quinoa, and chicken stew with Kalamata olives. I love this recipe from Cookin’ Canuck so much. I make it with frozen, cubed squash and frozen, diced onion to make it easier.

And next time I’m at the store I plan to get some rice papers, to make Asian-style leftover rolls, like my little sister did:

Classy leftovers from Romancing Reilly

Have a great week!

A Few (Five) of My Favorite Things

Today I’m joining Hallie’s fun new link-up over at Moxie Wife and sharing five of my favorite things:

  • Dorothy Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey mystery series.  Not just mystery but romance and loads and loads of character development.  An Anglophile’s dream.  Lord Peter’s way of speaking is a bit grating in the first book.  The rest of the series is worth it though.  Love these.

Not as risque as the cover implies.

  • Husband shoveling not just our driveway but our elderly neighbors’ as well.  And our little girl playing in the snow.  

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  • Shadowbox-style picture frames from Target.  A great way to display photos in a way that lets you swap them out from time to time.  Easier than framing. 

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  • My friend Annie’s stationery line, Nice Girls Ink, and her calligraphy business, Pretty Mail Calligraphy.  No affiliate link here, she doesn’t even know I have a blog.  I just love her stuff.

Pretty Mail Calligraphy

  • Almond butter from Kettle.  No additives, just almonds and salt.  We are trying to stay away from peanut butter, and this is such a delicious alternative.  Mmm.  I’ve been eating it by the spoon.

Thanks, Hallie, for hosting this fun link up!!

A Beginner’s Guide To Good Enough Fish

**Update: Be sure to see Parts 2 and 3 of this “series” for better fish recipes.

As a busy blogger with multiple interests and talents, it can be hard to respond to the multitudinous questions and comments I receive from my loyal readers (i.e., sometimes my family members email me and it takes me a day or two to reply).  BUT when I received a comment last week from a devoted follower, whose name begins with SH and rhymes with “Erin,” and who may or may not be my sister-in-law, well, I couldn’t help but respond to her plea:

I currently have 0 fish dishes in my arsenal. I am a little afraid of fish and all the things that could go wrong. So if you feel like posting a beginner’s guide to fish (or seafood in general), I would FULLY support it!

I am at your service, Gentle Reader!  Here it is:

A Beginner’s Guide to Good Enough Fish

(If you want an intermediate or advanced guide to really good fish, you’ll have to go elsewhere, ‘cause I’m not there yet!)

So, for the first installment we’ll cook tilapia.

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The best way to defrost is to stick the fillets in a bowl of warm water:

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These fillets are so thin that they defrost in 15 minutes or so.

If you’re really in a hurry, stick ‘em in the microwave.  For just this one filet, I used the weight defrost option for four ounces, but that wasn’t enough.  So I put it in and entered four ounces again.  If you don’t have the weight defrost option, I think this is equal to putting it on 50% power for 3 minutes or so.

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Just keep checking it until the middle is no longer frozen solid but the edges are cooked as little as possible.

Mmm, appetizing.

Mmm, appetizing.

Don’t worry too much though, we’re only going for good enough!

IMPORTANT: Cover the fish in the microwave!  I forgot this important, important rule and spent precious time cleaning the microwave of smelly fish particles.  Yuck.

COVER THE FISH IN THE MICROWAVE!

COVER THE FISH IN THE MICROWAVE!

Once the fish is defrosted, dot it with butter and pour in a little lemon juice.  If you don’t eat dairy, you could use olive oil or coconut oil, I think.  Sprinkle some salt and seasoning of your choice.  Here  I’ve used lemon pepper but I don’t recommend using this much of it.  It tasted good but smelled bad.  Try using dill and/or garlic powder.  Or Mrs. Dash.

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Stick them back in the ‘crowave for 5 minutes at full power, then check them.

Remember, COVER THE FISH IN THE MICROWAVE!

If they’re still a little translucent and shiny looking, stick them in for another minute.  I think I cooked these for 6 minutes total.

The result:

Good enough fish

Good enough fish

Fish that is good enough to eat!  In under 30 minutes, including defrosting time!   Thanks to 10 Minute Meals for introducing me to this method of cooking fish.

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Next week, slightly more involved, but even better tasting salmon.

I’m linking up with OrgJunkie today for Menu Plan Monday.  Girl 1 and I are coming down with colds (again! why meeeeeeeeee???) so who know how much I’ll cook, but here’s my menu plan for this week.

  • BreakfastsPaleo pancakes , whole milk yogurt with fruit
  • Lunches: Leftovers, cold-cut “sandwiches” wrapped in lettuce**
  • Snacks: pistachios, fruit, rice cakes with cream cheese
  • Dinners:
    • Monday: Pot roast with carrots and potatoes
    • Tuesday: Shrimp over rice noodles with salad
    • (Ash) Wednesday: Baked salmon with rice and veggies
    • Thursday: Chicken stir-fry
    • FridaySalmon patties from Everyday Paleo
    • Saturday: Coconut pancakes and eggs
    • Sunday: ???

** I buy the nitrate-free cold cuts when I can.  I know that processed meat is bad for you, so I’ll try to find a substitute eventually.  For now, we don’t eat cold cuts more than twice a week or so.

Have a delicious week!

Warning: Picky Children May Be Hazardous To Your Vehicle’s Health

I worked hard to instill good eating habits in my firstborn.  I breastfed for 18 months. Sugar did not pass her lips until after her first year.  She drank only milk (organic) and water, no juice.  I was sure baby food would spoil her palate so I gave her only table food.  And for the first two years, she was a great eater.  My heart swelled in warm waves of parental hubris as she gobbled broccoli like it was candy.

Then, in the blink of an eye, everything changed.  She now likes (a) peanut butter and chocolate sandwiches (unsweetened peanut butter, 100% whole wheat bread, and a smear of hot fudge topping), (b) apples, (c) milk, and (d) junk food.

I can’t find the quote, but Dr. Dobson writes that you should serve your child whatever you’re making and not make a big deal if she turns her nose up at it.   Just keep offering it to her when she asks for food.  Once she’s hungry enough, she’ll eat it.

Well, the first time we tried that, Girl 1 went all day eating nothing after breakfast.  It just about broke my heart.  The real kicker was when she woke us up at 3 a.m. whining for a snack, which woke up the baby. Dr. Dobson didn’t tell me that would happen.

The good doctor also didn’t warn me that my hungry child would be less like this:

Sad Puppy

Sad Puppy (Photo credit: one.juniper)

and more like this:

English: an angry bear

I don’t know what NBHS stands for (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Forget trying to run any errands or go out anywhere with a hungry toddler.

Scratch that idea.

More recently I tried to limit our battles to just one meal per day. We have a few moderately healthy breakfast options that Girl 1 usually will accept; I cook one main meal per day, and our other meal usually is leftovers or something thrown together.  I figured I would make her a PB&C sandwich for the non-main meal but hold my ground for the main meal.

Story of Girl 1’s life, except that she only apologizes under duress.

The problem here is that Pat comes home for lunch but works kind of late into the evening.  It works best for our schedules if our mid-day meal is our main one.  If Girl 1 turns up her nose at the mid-day meal (and she almost always does), then I am in for a looooong afternoon of her bad behavior and whining for snacks.  If I give her an afternoon snack too soon, then I’m basically making her a second lunch, which is what I’m trying to avoid.  Plus we can’t go anywhere unless I prepare a snack for her first, again, defeating the point.

If I cook our main meal in the evening, on the other hand, I have a different dilemma.  Pat usually gets home at 6:30 but the girls are hungry for dinner at 5.  I go through the pointless exercise of preparing a meal in time for Girl 1 to turn her nose up at it at 5 pm and whine and pester me for the rest of the evening.  I try to keep dinner warm or re-heat it for Pat and me to eat when he gets home at 6:30.  At this point Girl 1 is really grumpy from being hungry and tired.  Pat and I postpone our dinners to get the whiny rascal into bed first.  Then we don’t eat until 7:30 or so, at which point we are hungry and grumpy and tired.

And she still wakes up hungry at 3 a.m.

On some days, like Friday, we have hybrid situations. Girl 1 woke up hungry at 7:30 a.m. and asked for cereal.  I served it to her but she only ate a few spoonfuls before asking for something else.  I insisted she finish her cereal first; later I also offered her the paleo pancakes I was making for myself.  Neither was acceptable to her, however, and an hour-long cycle of violent tantrums and time-outs ensued.  She eventually ate a small pancake and I later served her a snack, which got us through until 11 a.m.

At 11 a.m. she was really hungry and I hadn’t yet made lunch, which would be our main meal.  I made her a P B&C and she wolfed it down.  I refused to make her a second one, though, because I was in the middle of making fish and rice for Pat and me.  Of course, Girl 1 turned up her nose at the fish and rice.  I then made the mistake of taking the girls to the grocery store after lunch, thinking the 11 a.m. sandwich would be enough to tide Girl 1 over.

We got as far as the second set of doors to the grocery store before Girl 1 threw a tantrum, complete with hair-pulling and kicking. We turned around and marched back through the parking lot.  I pushed Girl 2 in the cart with one hand and dragged all 40 pounds of Girl 1 with the other.  I then struggled to stuff the writhing and kicking Girl 1 in the van while keeping the cart and Girl 2 from rolling away.  The cart did roll along the side of the van far enough to leave this little memento of our outing:

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I find myself caring less and less whether Girl 1 grows up to be a picky eater.  But . . . I really can’t be her short order chef for each and every meal.  As it is, I prepare each meal (a) for Pat and me, and (b) for the baby (she is blissfully omnivorous but still can’t eat everything we do, and when she can it needs to be ground up, etc).  If I prepare a third meal for Girl 1 too, that’s 9 meals a day (not to mention snacks)!

Sometimes I wonder if a food sensitivity that is affecting her behavior.  I just get overwhelmed when I think of doing an elimination diet.  She’s so picky now, what am I going to do if I eliminate her PB&Cs?  We won’t be able to leave the house . . . ever.  Plus we eliminated gluten and dairy for several weeks over a year ago and I didn’t notice any changes.   I haven’t noticed any signs of food sensitivity, other than a rash around her mouth when she eats certain fruits (fruits we don’t eat regularly).  Her behavior did get markedly worse after her post-mass doughnut on Sunday, but her last meal was over two hours prior and she refused the meal I made when we got home.  So her blood sugar was probably doing crazy things.

Basically, I am at a loss.  I really don’t want to be too hard on the spirited, sweet little girl who just happens to have the tough luck of being my eldest child.  This is probably something that just wouldn’t be an issue if we had a larger family.  Also I know this may well be a stage that will seem really short in retrospect.  But I’m in the now, and the now is hard.

I generally shy away from the giving and taking of parenting advice, but I’m desperate   If anyone out there is still reading and you have any suggestions, please share!