Friday, March 16, 2012

A Life Derailed

Ravings: I have started to write this post at least a half dozen times, but couldn’t really face it. Life, however, doesn’t wait for you to catch your breath so I’m just going to plow ahead and hope it all comes out in coherent sentences.

Jason has been laid off.

There I said it. Well typed it, which I think is actually harder. Speaking the words puts them out there, but they can float away into thin air and be ignored. When you put them down in writing (and then publish them on the web), they never really go away, which somehow makes it more real. But it is real, and we have to face it.

When he showed up at my office last week looking like an abandoned puppy, I didn’t even have to hear the words. I could read them on his face. And I’ll admit I panicked. A million thoughts flood your brain in that moment. “How will we pay our bills? Now we can’t move out of this crappy neighborhood. Jason’s going to get depressed again.” And all the thoughts that piggyback on those thoughts. It could easily spiral into a very dark place, but then I see look on his face and I know in this moment he needs me to be strong, to tell him it will be ok, that we will be fine.

And we will be ok. We are a lot better off than a lot of people in these situations. We’ve planned for financial crisis, and we can survive, but it doesn’t take away the psychological impact of going to work one morning and being told you no longer have a job. And it doesn’t mean that we don’t have to sacrifice. A lot!

Cravings: I just read an article this morning that said that the average American throws away 33 pounds of food each month, which translates to $40 per month or $480 each year. I don’t think we are anywhere near that, but given the need to make every dollar count now, I am going to start paying closer attention to what we throw away.

Since it's been a few days, I have a few recipes to share with you. I realized I'm am becoming much more dependent on existing recipes than on creating my own. Hopefully I can get some creativity back soon! I found this recipe for barbacoa when I was researching how to recreate the Chipotle version. I think it's actually better!

Beef Barbacoa (adapted from Food People Want)

1/3 cup cider vinegar
3 tablespoons lime juice
3-4 canned chipotle chiles

4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
3 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons table sea salt
2 tablespoons safflower oil
4 pounds boneless chuck roast, excess fat removed
3/4 cup chicken broth, plus more as needed
3 bay leaves
The original recipe is done in the oven after cutting up the roast. I threw it all in the crockpot and cooked it for about 12 hours on medium. Then pulled the meat apart with a fork and reduced the sauce a bit on the stovetop. I served it with homemade tortillas, spinach, tomatoes, green onions and Greek Yogurt.
Homemade tortillas (adapted from 100 Days of Real Food)
2 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup oil (I used half olive oil and half coconut oil)
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup warm water (heat in the microwave for 1 min)

The original recipe is made using a mixer with a dough hook, which I don't own, so I just used a bowl, a spoon and my hands to mix the dough. I rolled them all out at once and then cooked then in a hot skillet sprayed with coconut oil, however this didn't work as well as I hoped, so I recommend rolling them out as you cook them. Cook them on high for 45 seconds to a minute on each side.

Pumpkin Pie Pudding (adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie's Chocolate Frosting Shots)

1 can coconut milk (poured into a bowl and left for a few hours)
1/2 can pumpkin puree (I froze the rest)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsps pumpkin pie spice
1 Tbsp brown sugar
Chocolate chunks/chips to top
Sugar cone bowl to serve (you can also just serve in a bowl, but I had these in the pantry)

The coconut milk should get thick and have some liquid at the bottom of the bowl. I poured liquid off and used it in a smoothy the next morning, but you can leave it. The pudding won't be quite as thick if you leave the liquid in it though. Add the rest of the ingredients through the brown sugar and mix on high until it thicken and looks like mousse. Fill the sugar cone bowl and top with chocolate chunks.

Roasted Veggies with Lentils and Flounder

Assorted Veggies for roasting. I used:
1 red onion, chopped
4 small beets, peeled and chopped
1 package mushrooms, sliced
1 jar roasted red peppers, chopped
1 bunch asparagus, chopped
2 cups lentils
6 cups water
1 flounder filet, split in half
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp oil (I used safflower oil)
Balsamic vinegar
Balsamic glaze

Begin roasting onions and beets first in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes. Then add the rest of the veggies and roast for another 15 minutes. Boil lentils in water until soft. Right before ready to serve, pan fry flounder in the butter and oil. To serve top lentils with a bit of balsamic vinegar, pile on veggies and top with the flounder. Drizzle on some balsamic glaze. Enjoy!

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