Wednesday, March 28, 2018

You Know Nothing, Jennifer Fread

Y'all. It is embarrassing how long it's been since I sat down to write. Em.Bar.Ass.Ing. Like, 2015 embarrassing. So let's catch up, shall we? I'm not totally sure what happened in most of 2015, but in 2016 there was this pretty big life change that, if ever a topic deserved addressing here, this was it...

Quick. Go get another test.

Yeah. That's a baby.

Yeah. For real. In April of 2017 (yeah, I know, that was almost a year ago), my Daughter (what?!?!?!) was born. And holy fuck did my world change. I mean, everyone says that, right? What I think is, I changed. My world, really, isn't that different. My circle of close friends is smaller, (want to find out who your real friends are? Have a fucking baby) but better. But what I think is more true, is that I changed. My daughter has brought this clarity that I haven't had...maybe ever. So, real quick, let's get the cliches out of the way:

- Yes, they instantly change everything
- Yes, you really do instantly fall in love harder and easier than you ever did before (more on this later)
- Yes, you check if they're breathing every 10 minutes
- Yes, you watch them sleep for hours
- Yes, you really are that tired all the time
- Yes, you feel your heart now living outside of your body
- Yes, they're worth it
- So worth it

Back to my point. Clarity. Throughout my life I have worn many hats, and been many things. Through each phase and season, I saw myself as what I did, and have always struggled to embrace Who I Am. Whenever a season would end, I would struggle for awhile, because my big label no longer applied. I would search for a new one, a new Thing to do or be. Smart high school kid and athlete. Dean's List college student, honors graduate. Youngest person promoted to management. Trainer. Tae Kwon Do whatever belt. Derby girl. Caretaker. Was I different people throughout these phases? Well, yes and no. Of course you evolve over time, and adjust who you present for your audience, with varying levels of success. I never got the hang of playing the game to get ahead. But I'm getting off track.

On to the biggest cliche yet. One night, my derby wife asked me how I was doing, since anyone who knows me (knew me) would never have thought I'd have children (me included). She asked how I was doing with bonding with the kid and this new, weird as fuck role. And I realized that this was exactly who I was always supposed to be. All my posturing, my attempts to convince myself I didn't want kids, my failed experiments, even my successes had served to sharply highlight this perfect fit.

And you know what, I should have known. While, on paper, I fully embrace my water sign of Cancer, so many times I would act contrary to my nature. Because I thought it was who I wanted to be. At one point a had a huge circle of friends, but it so often felt forced. I played roller derby for three years, but cringe when I become the center of attention. I chased titles and promotions, rather than embracing a job that was a better fit for my personality and skill set. In any of these situations, when I gave in and did what felt natural, all of the resistance fell away. What I'm taking a long damn time to say is that my daughter forced me to embrace the core of who I am, and my nature. Behind the hard shell, I'm a caretaker, a nurturer, the fucking mom of the zodiac. This tiny human, who can do nothing for herself, broke through every wall I'd ever built and every construct I'd ever, uh, well, constructed. She brought out my super gooey center, after a lifetime of being tough and edgy and always at arm's length.

So, when I talk about transitive roles and titles and personas, and this wandering feeling when I was no longer that person....I realized that she also changed that. I'm her mom. I will always be her mom. And I've found this amazing comfort in that, even if I gain and lose a dozen more titles over the course of my life.

She has also forced me to face my shortcomings. I pride myself on being smart, and knowing stuff, and being that person that people go to for advice or for the right answer. Suddenly, I knew nothing about how to do the most important job I've ever had. I'm the queen of having my shit together; being on top of everything, on time, on point. Living with the inability to have a schedule or make plans has forced me to embrace the chaos. My home, my nest, has been thrown into chaos by all the stuff a new baby needs (and it's a lot of stuff). I've always been proud of my achievements, my degrees, my titles, my travels, and all the things I have accomplished. The day she was born I realized that all of those things mean nothing to her. To her, I'm a blank slate, who has done nothing but be her mom. And that won't change for many years, but I hope I've got a great story to share with her. 

I think about my own mom, from this perspective. I realize that she had a whole life before me, just as I had before Kahlan was born. Then I realize that, despite a life that I am proud of, the most important things I can do are still ahead of me. What I do from here on is far, FAR more important than anything I did before. Because now, she's watching. Now, I'm responsible for another person. Now, I'm responsible for being the example to another person. She's going to look to me to understand how to approach the world and react to different situations. If I allow someone to walk all over me, that's teaching her that it's OK. If I'm awful to another human, I'm teaching her that behavior. If I don't allow myself (or anyone else) some grace, I'm molding her to be just as unforgiving.

I have to be better than my shortcomings so that she can become someone we're both proud of.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Italian Throwdown

This weekend, in the land of foodie adventures, I decided to take it back to the first reasonably complicated thing I learned to make. That's The Family Redsauce...which I learned in conjunction with The Family Lasagna (see earlier post). Since I have an upcoming knee surgery that will leave me laid the fuck up for a number of weeks, we were brainstorming things that could be made ahead and preserved to eat, over time. One of which is some red sauce that we can freeze, then thaw for like, spaghetti or whatever else. This was Thursday. Sauce was made, pasta was boiled, all was enjoyed.

Then, since this was the first time I was making The Sauce without making The Lasagna, Michael decided to get all fancy pants and make better-er meatball. Not just the regular ones that I usually make, but the fabled tri-meat, super tender, flavor-blasted ones that people talk about but never actually make. Because, you know, reasons. This was Friday.

So he did. And they didn't suck. In fact, they were awesome. Truly. Awesome.

Heh Heh...balls....

So then, inspiration struck to make fresh pasta. Why not? I had a pasta machine (thank you Stoney!) and a thing I'd never made. I started with a full "batch" then cut it into quarters, to make with various sauce interpretations. The first was the redsauce...baller. Then a small-batch Caccio e Pepe. Dude.  DUDE. Then a throwback to my childhood, and simple butter noodles. Then we were too full and feeling too fat so we decided to dry the last run, split all fancy-like into linguine and spaghetti noodles, seen here....

Theeeeeeeen we brought it all together on Saturday. Rather than MY family sauce (that we had mysteriously run out of), Michael decided to make HIS version. So he did, and it was good.

So good....
There are slight variations that make it different than mine, but still completely awesome. I truly can't decide which one I like more....I guess both, for different reasons....

Then I made some more fresh pasta, because of course I'm now a pro...

Pac-man pasta dough!!!
Add some sausage from the local butcher (rather than regular store bought, obvs), and some leftover meatball heaven, and we've got Saturday night's "Best Spaghetti I've Ever Had" dinner.

It's like sex on a plate.

I have to say....fresh pasta is totally superior. Not in the "it's good but not worth it, really" sense...It's Really. Fucking. Better. Really. If you're making it in conjunction with a sauce or anything else, then really, you've got time. And if you then subtract cook time for fresh vs. dried you come out even, but happier. It soaks up and clings to sauce like dried pasta never could. It also has this wonderful springy, light texture that you just don't get with the boxed stuff. Next time I make The Lasagna, I'm totally making my own noodles.

In summary...
1. There are two very amazeballs redsauce recipes in this house. Win!!!
2. The extra work for fresh pasta is absolutely worth it, especially if you're trying to impress...
3. Meatballs are amazing, no matter what.
4. I'm learning to love Italian Sausage in a way that I never previously considered.
5. I need a day and a half on the treadmill to get rid of this carb-load weekend....
6. I regret nothing.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Holy Shit it's 2015

That's fifteen years since I graduated high school. Fifteen years since Y2K. Fifteen years since I thought 30 was really old and a million years away.

In previous years, NYE was spent in various states of being completely hammered. However, this makes two years in a row that I have awoken on New Years Day without a hangover. It's like I'm becoming a responsible adult or something.

Michael has brought in the unique perspective of spending NYE in the manner in which you want the next year to be. So for the past two years we've made stupidly pretentious food, stayed away from the stupid drunks, and had a really nice evening in. I like it.

This year, I begged for his famous (to me) escargot with whateverthefuckIwanttotakeabathinit sauce. You guys, this stuff is good. Dare I call a food sexy? Maybe. So yeah....we had that, and some gorgeous filets. The next day we did black eyed peas and cornbread and greens...something my midwestern husband has never heard of. So of course instead of "yeah we should do this for tradition whatever...." it became "OMG WHAT YOU HAVE TO EAT THIS"....even though I've never been a big fan of any of it except cornbread.

Remnants of sexy sauce...two words...truffle oil.

So, right....resolutions and shit...Except I don't really buy into resolutions being a thing. I do believe in goals for a given year. So here we go.

1. Eat real food: We've got a rockin' new stove/oven and have committed to not eating outside the house for a few months. It's good to get back into cooking more at home and eating real, whole food. I'm still in my journey of fixing my relationship with food, and as long as we stock the house with not crap food, this will be a huge step.

2. Heal my leg: I had knee surgery in October, and due to the (non?) efforts of a less than stellar Physical Therapy staff, my quad has atrophied to the point of being embarrassing. I've started doing bodyweight squats, wall squats, and general strengthening stuffs. I had been lifting, but everything just died with the surgery. What sucks is that I know I need to have another surgery, and I really don't know whether to get it all over with or put it off for awhile....

3. Be a better friend: I'm well aware that in the last year-ish, I haven't seen many of you or hung out with the frequency to which we had become accustomed. This will get better. I know part of it is us being all up ins our own world, but a lot of my circle has gone through a similar thing. Turns out, a lot of us have gotten into this groove where we totally just love being at home and not getting schwasted all the time. It's not a bad thing. We just need to find different ways of hanging out. Right?

4. No (OK, let's be serious, very few) hangovers. Drinking like a crazy person has become less and less appealing in the last few months. Let's see what happens.

5. Not get any more pets. Or  maybe just one more kitten.....

6. Pay off a metric fuckload of debt. Seriously...I might say this every year. But it's really important because...

7. Find a hobby with which I can make some money, and maybe escape working for other people. Maybe it means cutting back on spending. But I'm determined to rescue my sanity this year. Seriously.

8. Level Up.

Happy New Year everyone. I hope this year brings all kinds of awesome for you. You're worth it, and you can totally make it happen.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Speaking of Welcome to the Family...

Since last September, we have added quite a bit to this household. We should probably calm the fuck down. Also, I realize many of you who pay any attention to Facebook at all know of this and are already sick of it. So feel free to disregard or LOOK AT ALL THE ADORABLE.

First, we have Hannibal Cthulu. This fancy mister was a stray from the mean streets of Commerce, TX. My teammate found him but cannot abide cats, and I'd been kicking the idea around of getting one anyway. So I took this as, obviously, a sign from The Universe and Bast that we should give him a loving place to live. So we did.

Then, because Michael missed having feathered things around, we got this little dude. We honestly have several nicknames for him (?) because we haven't officially had him DNA tested and we might be the jerks calling the chick a dude and will have a lot to apologize for later. So for now, our chirping thing...

And then, because my husband loves me more than he should, he indulged my inner bratchild and got me a kitten for my birthday. See, I love Hannibal, he's fan-fucking tastic. But he was two when we got him, and well set in his fancy pants ways when we got him. I realized that I had missed out on the kitten time and was kind of sad about it. So what was supposed to be a trip to get litter became New Kitten Day. Ladies and Gentlemen, Dexter Maximus.

And because I can't stop taking pictures of all of their faces....


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Welcome to The Family

Except not really. I'm not actually telling you how I make this.

Mother's day is coming up, and gods love her, all my mom ever wants to do for days dedicated to her is come over and watch me cook lasagna. Oh, and then eat it. Obvs.

So, in honor of the upcoming day in the kitchen, I give you....holy from when I made it last Mother's Day. These photos were taken for the express reason of creating this post. I'm so bad at this....


The basis of this, and any respectable Italian dish is olive oil and garlic. You can discuss the best method of garlic delivery. Some smash, some grate, some chop, some roast then what you feel. But do it a lot. I personally have doubled the "recipe" measure of garlic in this and most everything else I make.

Then, you make The Sauce. This is the awesome all day sauce that is great for any number of redsauce dishes. Once you finish this step, which, you know, takes 6hrs, you can make spaghetti, tortellini, ziti, etc etc etc. But the magic of all the things is found here. I firmly believe the quality of the dish begins and ends with 1. the best ingredients you can afford and 2. your sauce.

Oh, and you guys, so much cheese. It's hiding everywhere. We have....romano, parm, ricotta, and mozzarella.

Which, you know, you should shred by hand. That ensures you slice off a piece of your finger so a little of you is in every dish.

 Meatballs. For reasons.

So you've made your sauce, and mixed your cheeses, and made your meatballs, and it's all shiny and ready for the magic. Pile that shit together. Let your dog eat whatever falls to the floor.

Oven. Magic.

Eat. Try not to eat it all. Also try not to be drunk by the time you get to this step. Because nothing says "crack open a bottle of Sangiovese" like making lasagna.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Checking In

So, true to form, I didn't start lifting again after my oh so sincere resolution. I did, however, start watching what I put in my face (ugh, mostly, there was an ice cream accident) and dropped 3lbs. So, yay?

Started (re-started? continued?) lifting today, which inspires me for this post. I can't tell yet how sore I'll be - which probably means it won't be that bad. Last time I was kind of hurting 30mins after.

So here are my numbers - I know they're not impressive and they include a 20% de-load due to the, ahem, couple month break we took. The overhead press is the bane of my existence and I had failed, de-loaded, and reduced weight increase before we started. But today I lifted about 10lbs more than my first time when I thought my arms would fall off. I'm a derby girl. Upper body strength isn't something we naturally do.

Squat - 95lbs
Bench - 60lbs
Barbell Row - 60lbs
Overhead Press - 52.5lbs
Deadlift - 130lbs (raaaaaaaaaawr)

Today will be a double post. One for fitness and health, and one for one of my favorite fat kid things. You gotta have balance...

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Getting my Shit Together

I can count at least a dozen times every year where I swear I'm going to start eating better, being more active, the usual lose weight meow meow whatever. In the past year I managed to get to the smallest I've been in many years. Seen here.

Oh hey you guys. I got married! To my first love. And it's goddamn perfect.


I also retired from roller derby (DK4L), and made a lot of crazy changes. Lots of upheaval, but all totally worth it. Totally. You guys. Totally.

So there's a bit of a disconnect in making this a kind of food blog and a healthier life blog. But you know, it's my little corner of the world and it can be about whatever I want. Sometimes food, sometimes struggles, a little success, and whatever feels important at the moment.

Upcoming topics will include:
A visual guide to The Family Recipe (without giving you the recipe).
Weight training (I can throw heavy things around!)
Updates on home projects (let's talk about our awesome garden)
The expanding family (er, menagerie)

And more!

For now - I've decided that if I put this out to The Universe, it will become real and you guys (seriously please) will hold me somewhat accountable and not let me open that 2nd (4th) bottle of wine, eat my body weight in tortilla chips, or make a meal out of a pint of ice cream. For those of you who are my buddies on MyFitnessPal, you'll be able to see what I eat. To my FitBit buddies, I'm definitely trying to walk around more, but fuck having a desk job you guys.

So here are the things that always ruin me.
1. Emotional Eating
2. Ice Cream
3. Pizza
4. Cheese
5. Alcohol

There's more, but you know....fixing most of those will fix a lot. I took "before" pictures for the first time ever today, and I kind of wanted to cry. A lot. I was bigger this time last year, but that's little consolation to how I feel right now. We started lifting in February, and I was getting strong, and (allegedly) great things were happening in the overall re-shape of my body. Then there was a Friday where we said "fuck it" and went to a bar instead. Fast forward three (or four?) weeks and I hadn't set foot back into the weight room. I resolved, no seriously, I need to get back at it. Lifted once, was so sore that I allowed myself to not lift two days later...and that was two weeks ago. So you see - maybe reason #1 up there should be my laziness.

So, tonight I made tilapia with a pretty rad dill sauce. And it was awesome. And under like, 400 calories for the big ass plate of food. This is doable, I just have to reprogram my brain. You know, right after I finish this beer.