Monday, March 29, 2010

Spring babies

For some reason, I associate Sunday dinner with roasted stuff. I should have been out grilling again though since it looks like we may be getting rain for most of the coming week.

Roast plus spring adds up to just one thing in my mind -- lamb. I roasted a rack of lamb with garlic and herbs. Rosemary, thyme and Italian parsley if you must know the herbs. In another pan I roasted new red potatoes, baby artichokes and a few baby French carrots. Besides olive oil, some of the lamb drippings were tossed with the veggies as they cooked. To finish it off, a mint pesto because I always want some form of mint with lamb. It started off as a blend of mint leaves, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and red pepper flakes. After blending, I decided that it didn't have enough acid so I added some rice wine vinegar as well.

Boris watched the preparation of the meal quite intently. Per usual, he got none. We did get to greet one of the newer residents of the neighborhood while things were roasting though. Apparently my deck seat is quite the draw for the neighborhood kittens. The kitten got nothing as well. And don't worry. Two cats is my limit.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Feeling the burn

Over the last couple of weeks, I have stopped using my Wii. I know, I know. The thing is the weather has gotten better and I started walking at lunchtime -- generally one to one and a half miles. I've been getting bored with this though. On Friday I increased it to two miles but still eh. I've been feeling like I should be running -- or doing a longer distance. That's how I found myself up and out yesterday morning. The plan was to walk the neighborhood -- 4.3 miles in total. But don't mistake me for Zombie Mom. I said "walk" not "run." I could have finished it in less time than the hour and a half or so that I was out but I had to pause along the way to take some photos for y'all. OK. And for the first half these were a lovely excuse to rest as the grade rarely leveled out.

As expected there were some large homes along the way. Many had gates. Some were set so far back from the street that they were barely visible. Just what one would expect in a a hilly neighborhood that also has a country club.

The neighborhood is not really into sidewalks. There are several stretches of road that look like this. Fortunately there is not much car traffic. At times the shoulder was non-existent and there were blind curves. At these points I did what I normally would not do -- walked with my back to traffic. Walking into it was just a bit too nerve-wracking.

I finally reached a point at which I could see my goal -- the street at the top. And then I thought, "What the hell am I doing?" But I kept going.

And then there were poppies! OK. So California poppies are not true poppies but still. Poppies!

Upon reaching the top -- Skyline Boulevard, in case you're interested -- I paused to look back. In the haze sits San Francisco.

The intersection brought back memories because I spent quite a bit of time in this area when growing up. At age 12 or 13 I attended a slumber party for the other K. I've known her since I was four although we drifted apart a few years ago. K, her other friends and I went for a hike down this trail -- and stumbled upon a police crime scene. Just a stolen car that someone had attempted to burn. But they let us watch as they collected evidence. And we managed to talk one of the police officers to give us a ride back to the house. We all sat in the car trying to look somber as the officer went to K's front door and asked her mom if we belonged to her. Oh the laughter.

Enough memories. Time to head back down the hill.

More signs of spring.

Months ago I showed you views of the old Naval facility. Here is is from another vantage point.

And seeing this sign made me think of a conversation I had this past week with Boy Toy.

Private road. Another site that has always fascinated me. Whenever I see one of those signs, I think they're trying to tell me to come right on in. It's almost like a dare. Even better when it has the words "Patrolled by armed patrol" added to it. Not on this one though. Pooh.

I took one final look back as I neared home. Skyline Boulevard sits at the top of the photo.

Over the last month or so, my weight has been pretty constant. And I've been kicking myself over it at times. But getting home after my walk, I realized something. I may not have really been losing weight but my body has been reshaping itself over the last month. Duh. How many times have I asked a friend who was disappointed because she hadn't lost any weight, "Well, what about your measurements? You do know that muscle weighs more than fat?" My yoga pants that were uncomfortable back in November now have extra room in them. I am actually tying the drawstring once more. And people at work have been making comments like, "You're going to waste away soon." But they have never seen me at my smallest. I'm still not where I want to be but I'm getting pretty close.

And today I am still achy. Who knew that one's butt could hurt so much? But then I remembered my physiology classes. The pain is caused by a build-up of lactic acid in the muscles. What's the quickest way to get rid of it? More exercise. So now I'm back out the door to conquer the hill once more. I want to see what kind of time I don't stop along the way to take photos. But I will stop occasionally to admire the flowers.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The lessons continue

After grilling the ribs earlier this week, I had a chat with one of the guys at work. He told me that I should have soaked the wood chips in the drip pan and then kept the wood-infused water in the pan for cooking. Hmmmm. Seems like another grilling session was in order.

So last night I got home from work, lit the coals, soaked the wood, and seasoned the chicken. Toward the end I added asparagus to the grill.

Add some brown rice and a complete meal. I don't know about you but I am truly loving that Spring has arrived.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Perhaps the drive was worth it

Last night my mother arrived back into town. Thing is that last night I also needed to attend an association meeting at the same time as her flight's arrival. The solution was that her friends who live in Pacifica offered to pick her up. I could then at my leisure head to their house to get her.

I think we will do this arrangement all the time now. Upon arriving at their home, I was greeted with a grilled crab and tomato sandwich from Nick's. I love these sandwiches and only have them when I see these folks -- because Pacifica is so far away. I mean there's a bridge involved and all.

Silly me had already eaten dinner though. So tonight I will be dining upon this loveliness. I can't wait for dinner.

Monday, March 22, 2010

I'll prove her wrong

My mom called when I was on my way home from work. I was still talking to her once I arrived home and since I always use a headset when driving, I was able to continue doing what I had planned to do. At one point I told her that I was lighting some charcoal. She said that it was entirely too late -- it was 5:30 -- to start grilling for tonight's dinner. I guess it is if you're used to having dinner at 5:30. I tend to eat a bit later. And I had had my lovely Trader Joe's frozen sole meal for lunch that is all of 190 calories so that I could have this calorie splurge.

I don't know about y'all but while I'm tending the grill, I need a cool beverage. I'm just bummed that my cute little mermaid that I picked up at dinner in Moss Landing is now broken.

I decided that this year I am ready for the next step in the Chilebrown/Dr. Biggles school of grilling. Once the coals were hot, I spread them and dropped in the drip pan so that I could do the whole indirect heat thing. And then I dropped some soaked apple wood chips on top of the coals. I can so taste the difference made by adding wood. The wood thing is new to me but I am now completely converted.

And of course once I get the grill started for some meat, I start thinking about what else I can throw on there. This time it was artichokes. I steam them a bit on the stove before they hit the grill.

OK. I'll admit it. I have some Sally tendencies. Because I was cooking for just myself, I did not need to put the sauce on the ribs. I mean they had a dry rub on them that I had applied yesterday. My feeling is that meat with a good rub does not need sauce. Even though I had made a pretty good sauce last night. (Maddie, the Jack is in the barbecue sauce.) And while I usually use hummus as a dip for artichokes, in my opinion grilled 'chokes just scream for homemade aioli.

Only thing is that I have a lot of sauce in the fridge. What to grill next? Because yes, it is grilling season as far as I'm concerned.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Baby steps

Spring has finally arrived and suddenly I feel inspired to cook once more. That is, I was until I took the above photo. Lately whenever I have cooked something, it is tasty but monochromatic. So boring.

But if that's what you're into, then this is the dish for you. Great Northern beans cooked in chicken broth and drained. Then tossed with a mirepoix that has been seasoned with grated lemon zest and thyme. Atop the beans, sits a grilled tuna steak. Just salt and pepper on the tuna. And finally a sun-dried tomato cream sauce.

I'm hoping that as spring progresses, I will finally have a variety of colors on my plate.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Watchtowers of the west

First things first. Happy birthday, Zombie Mom. I'm not sure if this post would exist at this time if not for you.

Over the last few weeks I have had a number of conversations with Zombie Mom about my dad's situation amongst other things. I remember telling her that my dad's only coping mechanism is drinking. She asked what mine are and I never answered.

My fallback is usually music. I put on my headphones and let myself get lost. I get to go through all the memories associated with a song. Or if it is a song without the associations, I imagine what I think they should be. But music is often about someone else's creativity.

This past week I wrote back and forth on Facebook with a woman who has been my friend since we were 12 -- a woman with whom I do not need to explain my history because she was there for most of it all. She like Zombie Mom is a Pisces. And it hit me that for so many of us water folks being creative is necessary for a sense of balance. My friend reminded me of all the sewing I used to do. And I do have ideas but right now they just feel so ambitious. That's why I started knitting again in the fall. I wanted something smaller, more manageable. I have yet to finish those projects though. And I really needed to finish something.

Then it came to me -- the task that incorporates two of my great loves -- research and creativity. Once upon a time I used to make incenses and oil blends. Although they take minimal effort -- well, except for deciding what to blend -- there is the great satisfaction in creating something that has purpose. As I was low on supplies, I drove into Berkeley to visit Lhasa Karnak. And while I am happy with owning my own place, the outing reminded me how much I miss living in Berkeley. I reminded myself that where I am now is merely a stop along the way and not the final destination. One day.

The larger bottle contains a blend that I used to make for my aunt that I call All Things in Balance. It is not only a blend of four scents that represent the elements but of qualities that I believe that one wants when things are out of control -- peace, strength, happiness and protection. I use distilled water as the carrier for this blend as it is meant to be an aromatherapy type blend. The smaller bottle contains another blend of oils in a carrier of jojoba oil. This one is meant to be applied to the skin and I blend these based on the individual.

I feel inspired. I dream of making more incense, candles. I dream of rediscovering my deck of cards because I miss the woman who walked into a pub one evening and sat reading cards for the endless line of people while telling them that it was OK as long as my pint glass stayed full. I miss doing natal charts and hearing the wonder in someone's voice as they read through my writing and saw the talents that they had tried to hide from others as well as themselves. I miss finding order in the chaos.

And so Zombie Mom, I would like to say thank you for making me think of all of this for the first time in a number of years.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Other people's food

As you know, I have been rather uninspired as of late when it comes to food. I think it comes from my battle with my body to lose those last few pounds. I realize now that part of the problem is that my body is trying to tell me that I am within the range of what's considered "normal." Yeah, maybe for someone else but not for me. So I go back and forth between giving up and falling back into the old habit -- just don't eat. I mean that literally on the not eating thing. But this is me trying to be healthy so I'll plod on as there are dresses that I love dearly hanging in my closet and I am almost there.

I had thought about doing a post earlier this week after seeing Cookiecrumb's hot dog post. I went with a bockwurst with sauerkraut and Russian hot mustard. But new was there to add? So I wrote nothing.

And then yesterday, Fluffycat told me about her meal from El Pollo Loco. For the second time this week I was excited about food. As I left work, I called Taqueria Guadalajara -- one of the best taquerias in San Leandro -- to place my order.

Roasted chicken, corn tortillas, refried beans, salsa, guacamole. And all for a mere $13. Boris was definitely excited over the prospect of it all but he got none.

And tonight I am really looking forward to dinner for the first time in weeks.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Making lists

It seems strange but in no time at all it will be the one year anniversary of my moving into my home. I guess it seems strange because there are still a few boxes scattered around -- much to Fluffycat's surprise -- and I have hung absolutely nothing on the walls. As the days have been lengthening, I am finding renewed energy to deal with the last of the boxes. The walls may take a bit longer since I have definite ideas of what I would like to hang. Thing is that not all of these pieces are currently in my possession. One day. Such a cyclical thing. Spring approaches and suddenly I want everything in place.

There hasn't been much going on around here foodwise because let's face it. Food for the goal of weight loss has overall been rather boring. When it isn't boring, it's repetitive -- which I guess can be boring in its own way. So I spend loads of time thinking of things other meals these days.

Like my tiny garden. The first batch of lemons on the dwarf Meyer were about a half inch in length. I kid you not. This next batch is more like two inches are so. Makes me wonder what the next ones that are starting off now will be like. Things are pretty full out on the deck these days but I still toy with getting another dwarf tree. Or perhaps roses. And I have found myself going over the list at Richter's to see if there is anything I may want to order what I will order for delivery in April. (The tree is from Four Winds.)

I have also been pulling out old reference books and notebooks with hopes to getting back into the full swing of things. Funny but as I become more settled, the more I feel the need to return to my spiritual beliefs and rituals. Which of course will lead to all kinds of craft projects as well.

Basically I guess I'm telling y'all that I'm still here. I'm just organizing and doing some minor regrouping so that by Spring I will definitely be on the path of creating more stuff.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Cold storage

This weekend was a pretty lazy one as far as food was concerned. Fortunately there was that week in November, shortly after I realized that it was time to do something about the weight I had gained, in which I had done a great deal of cooking. I remember feeling frustrated at that time over how I was going to conceivably stay within my net calories but then I took a deep breath and started going through recipes.

One recipe was this. I made the pot back in November and immediately packed it away into the freezer in individually sized containers to be eaten at a later date. Yesterday I decided that it was finally time to start.

And I'm definitely looking forward to this week. I also found containers of Tuscan beef stew with polenta, cioppino, and vegetable-lentil soup. Yep, this week is already looking pretty good.