Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A Thousand Pardons

Don’t fret my people. January is almost over. You can tell because when you look out your window at 4:45pm, it’s not dark. Not yet, anyway. Give it about 15 minutes. Ah yes... now it's dark.

I joined a new gym on Saturday. Yes. I did. I finally – after months of saying I might do it – did it. It’s going to be about a $30 per month savings, which I believe is significant. However, I very nearly backed out at the last moment when the dude who was signing me up forced me to endure a side conversation he had with another dude (presumably a trainer).

This is how that went:
Trainer Dude: Hey man, how was your Friday night?

Sign Up Dude: Not bad… not bad. Me and my girl drank a bottle of Grey Goose and played strip poker. I can’t complain.
It’s really impossible for my eyes to go far enough back into my brain to obtain the appropriate level of eye-rolling necessary to convey the idiocy of this exchange. I made a slight gagging motion for good measure, and I wondered what kind of woman would date a guy who goes spilling the beans to his coworkers (in front of customers no less) about their drunken, naked escapades. Poor thing. One can hope that eventually she’ll grow a brain.

As for the membership, I stayed the course – for better or worse.

Of course, joining this particular gym has its perks. Both Meg and MM belong here, which gives me oodles of options when it comes to the comings and the goings. Meg and I have been twice together. Yesterday we started a weight training circuit workout, and today my arms and legs feel like they may fall off.

MM and I worked out for the first time together on Monday, which – for whatever reason – to me, felt like a big deal. However, no one seems to share in this sentiment (including him). Call me crazy, but I guess it felt like I was further closing the gap of apart time by becoming a member at his gym. This isn’t dating. This is the business of daily life.

I asked him about 100 times if he thought it was, “weird” to be working out together. He said no… like 100 times.

And so, I suppose, we keep moving forward.

Friday, January 25, 2008

We've Got Spirit

Last night, MM, Meg, Meg’s Man, and myself (that’s a lot of M’s) went to see Spirit of the Marathon, a documentary that follows six individuals (ranging from elite runners to 12-minute-per-mile slowpokes) who are training for the Chicago Marathon. Here’s what I learned:
  1. People are hilarious. My favorite quote from the movie was from a woman talking about her nearly 70-year-old father (they were training together), "He’s a professional talker who just happens to run marathons." Verbal gold I tell you. She also showed up to one of her long runs and told the production crew, “I wore black because it’s slimming on camera” or something to that effect, which I thought was freaking hysterical because it’s so something I would do/say/think. You can ask Meg... there have been plenty of occasions where I have complained about wearing a fuel belt on the double-digit runs because, “It makes me look fat.”
  2. The marathon may be the greatest sporting event ever. First of all, there is a shot in the movie that pans the entire field of runners at the Chicago Marathon starting line from a bird's eye view. That view of the sea of 40,000 people who have chosen to take on 26.2 is in and of itself enough to inspire and awe. And, of course there's that whole people triumph over an intense physical challenge part. Watching the elite runners put me on the edge of my seat, particularly seeing Deena Kastor narrowly win the 2005 Chicago Marathon. But, marathoning is such an everyperson sport. Any of us can do it, and four of the six runners featured in the documentary proved that people of any age, and varying degrees of athleticism can take on this challenge.
  3. Rest period is over. I’ve been slacking big time. I’m disenchanted with my gym. I’ve been a bit lazy about maintaining my training with TR. The weather outside is scary cold, and unfit for running. But, I’ve made a few executive decisions (because I am president of my own life)… First, I taking another gym up (the gym MM and Meg belong to) on their savvy marketing postcard that is offering me seven days to try them out fo’ free. Second, the weather has crossed its heart and hoped to die that it’s going to be in the forties come Sunday. It’s time to get back outside. "Official" training for the Flying Pig Half Marathon begins February 11 (which in case you’re oblivious like I was, really isn’t that far away).
Oh and P.S. Chicago Marathon registration opens February 1.

Another quick update: Check out B-Kay from 50 Down and Marathon Bound and her take on the documentary.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Come to Jesus

Oh yeah History. Do that thing you do.

Vegan, schmegan. I had no choice but to schedule an important meeting with two very close confidants.

Friends, let me introduce you to Ben and Jerry. Perhaps you've already made their acquaintance?

Oh yes. It was an emergency. It was -- how do you say? -- non-negotiable.

So I was thinking. Back when I was 20 years old and a junior in college, I was dating The Pirate. The Pirate and I had met the year before; I was a sophomore, and he was a 5th year senior. About four or so months into our relationship he graduated and went back to live with his parents in northern Ohio where he decided that spending the summer a pirate ship was the best idea ever. I am so not making this up.

Arrr. Matey.

And so it came to pass. He spent the summer sailing up and down the East Coast, and I spent the summer explaining to my wackjob hippie roommates that I didn’t need to hug them every time we parted ways to go to bed. Anyway, our relationship survived those three months, and he came back to Ohio in September to live with his parents and decide what to do with the rest of his life.

As the fall wore on, he started talking about the possibility of another pirate ship. Only for like seven or eight months instead of three.

Needless to say, I was not a fan of this plan. But, it was easier said than done. The boat he was interested in would have to hire him as part of the crew. And people who spend their lives on pirate ships aren’t exactly reliable and/or easy to pin down. So it wasn’t set in stone that this would actually happen.

Thanksgiving rolled around. I was in Columbus with my family. The Pirate was in northern Ohio with his family, waiting to hear from the ship as to whether or not he would be sailing again. It was Tuesday night, two days before Thanksgiving, and I would be driving up to spend a second Thanksgiving with The Pirate and his family on Friday. The Pirate and I were on the phone and I asked him, point blank, “Did you find out about the pirate ship?”

“No. Not yet.”

“You promise you’ll tell me as soon as you know.”

“Yes.”

On Friday, I drove to The Pirate’s parent’s house for Thanksgiving dinner number two. At dinner, his dad, also a sailor of sorts, makes a very – um – bizarre toast in which he mentioned his son, The Pirate, and “boats in the past and boats in the future.” It was a moment I barely noticed. But I noticed. And then I forgot.

Back in the day, neither wind nor rain nor freezing temperatures nor my boyfriend’s parents would come between me and my Marlboros. After The Pirate's mom and dad retired for the evening, I dragged him outside to keep me company in the November snow so I could smoke a cigarette. That’s when it dawned on me. His dad’s toast. Something… seemed a bit... fishy…

“Did you hear from the boat?”

“Yes.”

“And…?”

“I’m going in February.”

“Oh… when did you find out?”

He seemed a bit sheepish. “Monday.”

“So when I asked you on Tuesday to tell me as soon as you knew, you already knew?”

“Yes. I was afraid that if I told you then you wouldn’t come for Thanksgiving.”

“Huh.”

And that was it. In that moment, our relationship changed. We didn't break up then. He and I stayed together for another year and a half, including the seven months he spent on pirate ship number two. Our relationship was – at times – tumultuous. From then on, I was angry. And I never stopped being angry with him. We tried to get back together when I was 25. But every time things didn’t work, I went back to that moment outside of his parent’s house, smoking a cigarette in the snow, his admission, and my response – no yelling, no tears – of “Huh.”

I don’t know if it was the fact that he was leaving me again. Or that he had blatantly lied to me. I imagine it was a little bit of both.

I should caveat all of this with the simple fact that of all my ex-boyfriends, The Pirate is the only one whom I still think fondly of, and though contact is very rare, he is the only one I care to be in touch with irregularly. I spent more time in a relationship with him than I have with anyone else before or after. He was the one who probably could have been the one. He is, of all of the many exes, the most important. And the truth is, I still like the dude. He and I, we could have easily been friends.

So I was thinking. Defining moments. The best of intentions. Can one really learn from the past? And if so… what’s the lesson?

Ben? Jerry? Thoughts?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Not You. Me.

I’m a moron when it comes to cooking, but I love, love, love cookbooks. So much in fact that when I was a junior in college taking creative non-fiction writing courses, I wrote an essay about reading cookbooks. Seriously. Because I’m deep. Fun fact, huh?

When I follow a recipe, I tend not to deviate; I don’t improvise; I stick to the plan. And I re-read the plan about a bazillion times before and during the cooking process, just to make sure I don’t screw shit up. And sometimes I still screw shit up.

So, when I post a recipe on my blog, and I add extra notes about exactly what I did, rest assured, it’s definitely not you, it’s me.

But seriously my people. If you've got it in ya to try one vegan recipe I post here – even if you think this vegan crap is pure nuttiness – this one is well worth the time and effort. MM said it was the "best" lasagna he had ever had. And yes, I think that was probably an overstatement, but it's definitely the best lasagna I've ever made.

Vegan Lasagna
from The Candle Café Cookbook

Herbed Tofu “Ricotta”
1 pound firm tofu, rinsed
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

Grilled Zucchini and Eggplant
6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
--> I used minced from a jar.
pinch of sea salt
pinch of black pepper
2 medium zucchini, sliced length-wise into 1/4-inch thick slices
1 large eggplant, sliced lengthwise into 1/4-inch thick slices

Sauteed Mushrooms and Onions
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic
--> Again, I used the minced from the jar.
1 cup finely chopped onions
1 cup finely chopped mushrooms
sea salt
12 pieces semolina or artichoke lasagna
--> I used the regular stuff since I don’t often – er, ever – make lasagna. I thought it safer to go with the tried and true white pasta in this particular case.
1 cup marinara sauce
--> Candle Café has a recipe for marinara sauce, which uses about 12 gallons of olive oil. I thought this lasagna had enough oil in it already, and I felt that making the sauce was a bit over the top for an already ambitious endeavor. I used Trader Joe’s Fat Free Organic Spaghetti Sauce with Mushrooms.

Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. Combine the tofu, basil, thyme, oregano, salt, and pepper in a food processor and process until smooth. Add a bit of water if the mixture seems too dry. I added about 1 tbsp of water. Refrigerate until ready to use. This part is totally easy.
  3. For the zucchini and eggplant -- Prepare a charcoal, gas, or stovetop grill.
    1. OK. I lied. I did improvise a bit here. I don’t have a grill, unless you count my mini-Foreman and frankly, I didn’t feel like busting that out. I totally skipped this and instead sauteed the eggplant and zucchini.
  4. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper and set aside. Lightly brush the zucchini and eggplant with the olive oil mixture and grill the veggies, about 4-5 minutes each side.
    1. Like I said, I didn’t grill them, I (well, MM) tossed them in a frying pan. It worked all the same.
  5. In a large sauté pan, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil. Add the garlic, onions, and mushrooms and cook over medium heat until just softened about 4-5 minutes. Set aside.
  6. In a large pot, bring 2 quarts of water to a boil. Add sea salt to taste and the remaining tbsp of olive oil. Add lasagna noodles and cook at a rolling boil until just tender, about 8-10 minutes. Remove and cool, then rince the noodles with cold water. Drain and set aside.
    1. Next time I made this, I will start the water for the pasta a bit sooner. I have one of those mega-heavy-duty stainless steel pots, and it takes for-freaking-ever for water to actually come to a boil. We wasted loads of time, with everything else being prepared, waiting to cook the pasta. Also, do not forget the olive oil here. It keeps the pasta from sticking together. You probably already knew that… but it was news to me a few months ago.
  7. To assemble the lasagna, spoon a bit of the marina sauce over the bottom of a 9x13-inch pan and arrange a row of 4 noodles in the pan. Top with a layer of the grilled zucchini and eggplant, then a layer of the mushrooms and onions, then spoon a layer of the tofu ricotta over it. Spoon the marina sauce over the ricotta and repeat the laying once more (I totally ran out of the mushrooms and onions). Top with a layer of noodles and marinara sauce and bake for 45 minutes or until bubbly.
That’s it my people. Try it. For reals.

MM and I actually managed to put together a pretty nice dinner – completely vegan. We also made a spinach salad with toasted pine nuts, sautéed mushrooms, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil (sort of an adaptation of another recipe from Candle Café Cookbook). I bought a demi-baguette from Trader Joe’s, which is the perfect size for two people, and we tried the bread with vegan “butter” for the first time.

This stuff is fatty, but good. And, it’s natural, no trans-fat, no animal by-products, and none of God knows what else they are putting into margarine.

And this was exciting… I finally figured out where Whole Foods hides the organic, sulfite-free wine. Turns out, it’s right next to all the other wines.

Our Daily Red only cost only $7.99, so I wasn’t exactly expecting much, but again, I was very pleased. Good stuff.

I suppose the only thing that was missing from this dinner was a vegan dessert. I suppose I’ll have to give something a try one of these days. But, in the meantime, I’ve been eating:

And they are oh so good.

Gone Single

Last night, I stepped out solo. By “stepped out” I mean, I froze my friggin’ eyeballs off to get to the neighborhood bar. Then another bar. Then another bar. At the end of the night, as we stood outside attempting to hail a taxi, leaving the house in the first place seemed like the worst idea ever.

Did I mention that it’s like –5 degrees in Chicago right this very second? This kind of number deserves some good ol’ fashioned cursing. Let me impress upon you how cold it is: It is mother f-ing negative (that’s a minus sign) five fucking degrees outside. Right now. Literally. This isn’t some figurative “feels like” number. This is the real deal. It FEELS like we live right smack in the middle of an ice cube, but it’s ACTUALLY –5 degrees.

But that’s what I love about Chicagoans (the born and breed and the transplanted). Ain’t nothing gonna stop us from getting to the bar.

But I digress.

So, I -- being the gracious and wonderful girlfriend that I sometimes pretend to be -- gave MM the night off so he could get some homework done, and – you know – not leave his warm house (unlike his girlfriend, the idiot).

I'm lovely.

I went out by myself, which means I came home by myself. I do a lot of shameful, self-indulgent things when I’m alone. When I came home at midnight (I know – I’m wild) last night, I easily reclaimed one of my most beloved post-drinking behaviors… sitting on the couch watching Tivo-ed reruns of The Entourage and Sex and the City while eating my face off.

I'm also classy.

Which bring me to…
This.The remains of the lasagna MM and I made on Friday night. Did I mention it’s vegan? That’s right, no cheese.

And it’s friggin’ amazing. A-MAH-ZING.

So amazing, in fact, that I sat on the couch last night, with the entire casserole dish in my lap and mindlessly crammed cold vegan lasagna into my face.

Nothing but class my friends.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Gone, But Not Forgotten

Yes Keni, it is true. I managed to not say if I actually liked the tofu orange sesame thingy whatever that I made on Wednesday night. Maybe I did that because I was tired and trying to blog out as fast as possible before my eyes gave up the battle to stay open (yes, I was blogging from my bed). Or maybe it’s because… well, I wasn’t quite sure what I thought.

I made up my mind today.

On Wednesday, when I made the tofu and promptly ate it for dinner, it was… good. Not omgilovethis... but... fine. Today though, I brought the leftovers for lunch.

Now, I don’t know if tofu dishes are the type of meals that taste better a day later – like a casserole or lasagna – but it did. Now, logic tells me (and logic doesn’t say too much to me, so when it does, I tend to listen) that tofu is probably one of them there foods. Tofu, after all, tends to take on the taste of whatever it is cooked with. (It’s driving me nuts that I ended that sentence with a preposition, but to my dismay, I can’t seem to edit it in a way that puts the preposition in an appropriate place. I think my brain is fried. Suggestions are welcome.) Today, the flavor – of the orange and the sesame – were much more pronounced and, therefore, the dish was way tastier.

The verdict. Me likes! And -- bonus! -- it's an excellent lunch option—filling and well-portioned.

That’s all for now folks. Stay tuned as I attempt to make a vegan lasagna recipe from The Candle Café Cookbook. MM will be my back up in that adventure. Sister Sarah (makes her sound like a nun, doesn't it?) told me that she had to hide the leftovers from her boyfriend (a nun with a boyfriend!?!?!) so that she could take the rest as lunch. Sounds promising, right?

Of course, we all saw what happened to my rice... so here's to hoping...

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Slacker Fabulous

Running in the winter is hard. These days, I’m lucky if I struggle through 30 minutes – either on the treadmill or on pavement. But, regardless, here is the plan for 2008:

Shamrock Shuffle 8K – March 30
Cincinnati Flying Pig Half Marathon – May 4
Soldier Field 10-miler – May 24
Chicago Distance Classic Half Marathon – August 10
Chicago Marathon – October 12

Half marathon training for the Cincinnati race begins February 11, and I will be following Hal Higdon’s Intermediate Half Marathon Training Program if you're curious.

That’s the scoop!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

In the Land of 10,000 Dirty Dishes

@, you read my mind. This morning I said, "Lou, you really need to get your 2008 race schedule on your blog." And then I said, "Lou, are you kidding? You have way too much work to do today to be screwing around posting blogs and whatnot."

So anyway, a running update is in order. I realize that. But if we're not running... we're -- all together now -- eating. (You totally thought I was going to say drinking, didn't you?) So we'll start there.

On Tuesday night, MM and I had dinner at my perennial fav, Heartland Cafe, where I abandoned my usual, the Stuffed Quesadilla, for something sans cheese. I tried the BBQ Seitan sandwich. Seitan (pronounced say-tahn, not say-tin), or "wheat meat" (which is fun to say because it sounds a little dirty). Say it. Wheat Meat. Oh yeah. Say it slow. And do that thing... with your eyes.

I'm like five.

Then tonight, cooking for one, I decided it was time to tackle tofu. I had already picked out a recipe from Eat, Drink and Be Vegan, Orange Sesame Tofu with Coconut Lime Basmati Rice. I so fancy. You're impressed. I can tell.

As luck and lack of skill would have it, I burnt the shit out of the rice. See Exhibit A.
Exhibit A. In case you are confused, no, these are not hash browns. This is rice.

So I regrouped, tossed some brown rice into the rice cooker, which is almost nearly foolproof, and set out to meet Meg for a run. When I returned, I put my already been marinatin' in the fridge Orange Sesame Tofu in the oven. Twenty minutes later:
Exhibit B. It's pretty because I put green onions on top of it. The recipe told me to.

Mission. Accomplished. Raise the banner. Stage the photo opp.

Also, just FYI. I don't think me a fabulous photographer, but my camera is particularly f-ed up ever since I went to Europe and fell while walking down some slippery stone steps in Nice, smashing my camera on the down. I apologize for the blurriness, but there ain't nothing I can do about it. Unless, you'd like to send me money to buy a new digital camera. Then I can do something about it. Think about it.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

One Second

I am -- eh hem -- in a freaking cab right this very second typing on my laptop, about to publish a b to the l-o-g. I know, those of you with BlackBerries and other fancy schmancy do-it-all electronics are sooooo not impressed.

On another note, I'm back in Chicago. Stuck in morning rush hour traffic on the Dan Ryan (or is it the Kennedy? This is what happens when you don't drive... you don't know what highway you're on). I'm typing on my laptop in case you were wondering. I would probably be way more displeased about the snail's pace at which this here cab is moving if I wasn't connected to the Webernets.

Did I mention that it's 14 degrees outside?

Sweet home Chicago.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Throw Back

Dudes. This… is awesome.

I feel like, in my own way, I have stuck it to the man (the “man” in this case is the Godforsaken Chicago O’Hare International Airport) by BYO-ing my internet. No more paying $9.95 for your stinking wireless, O’Hare. I’m already – how do you say? – connected, thankyouverymuch.

First things first… My vegan experiment is over... in theory. The timing of the experiment’s conclusion was meant to coincide with my departure to Philly for a five-day-long work trip (boo!).

Oddly, I don’t know exactly how to proceed. Despite the finale, the idea that I am eating vegan stopped me from buying a bagel with cream cheese this morning – my usual kickoff to a “balls out” business trip food free for all. Instead, I bought two bananas.

The truth is, I’m feeling a bit stuck. I like eating this way, though – full disclosure – one of my old habits (the one spelled h-u-m-m-u-s) snuck up on me when I can down with a slight cold and had no desire to cook. Lazy and hungry, I immediately resorted to excessive consumption of the hummus paired with (what else?) pita bread. Hummus might as well be heroin in my world.

Regardless, giving up meat was a non-issue. Dairy was missed far less than I expected, but the idea that I would be living – forever, in theory – without sushi, now that, my friends, is where me and veganism part ways. Yes, I’d miss the occasional cheese plate, and pint o’ Ben and J’s, but even that sacrifice, at this moment, seems to pale in comparison to a spectacular piece of raw salmon (ask me again when I’m PMSing). I suppose the compromise I’ve come to in my head is this: vegan at home, and as much as possible, vegetarian otherwise with the exception of sushi. This, of course, makes me… nothing if not slightly OCD. If this style of training hinders my training, then we shall have to revisit.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Regularly Scheduled

Sometimes I like to pretend I am the news or something and have to present both sides of an issue. Today’s issue (same as yesterday) is veganism.

There is a post today about the book Skinny Bitch on Feministing. It’s not a glowing review (obvi) since you know, the book is called Skinny Bitch and that’s not very nice now is it, but she makes that interesting point that eating vegan is for some an extreme way – read: eating disorder (her words, not mine) – to lose weight under the “guise of a political identity.”

Not everyone (not anyone?) thinks the way I’m eating is all sunshine and rainbows. TR thinks I’m being ridiculous and assured me there would be no way I could “be an endurance athlete and a vegan.” Nearly everyone asks me how I’m getting protein. Plenty of people ask me how I’ve managed to give up cheese (cheese seems to be the BIG one).

I think I’ve been pretty honest about my intentions with this experiment. Really, more than anything I was curious to see how my body would react. The book’s political aspects are compelling, particularly in regards to the government organizations that are supposed to be protecting us, not poisoning us, but like I said before, you won’t find me joining the AFL any time soon. I have no intention of making a political statement by eating this way.

But… maybe I have skimmed a bit in regards to the other end of the spectrum. The extreme weight loss part. Yeah. That part.

First of all, I am in no way starving myself. In fact, I don’t feel as though I’m eating all that different. I’m being conscious of what I put in my mouth; I’m preparing my own food; and I’m making healthy choices. I don’t eat meat regularly anyway, and I haven’t missed dairy all that much. But, the truth is, yes I do want to loss weight, and I’ve been frustrated for awhile. I see nothing wrong in trying something new.

I know. I sound defensive. I don’t mean to… it’s just that, on one hand, I am a strong believer that we should celebrate ourselves and not let societal pressures dictate that we need to be 5’10 and 102 pounds with ginormous boobs and blonde hair down to the middle of our backs, else we are not worthy of love or whatever. I am, however, also a believer that I need to do what is best for me and losing a few pounds (let’s say 15 or so) would make me feel much more comfortable and confident (not to mention, a faster runner). Fifteen pounds will not make me “skinny.” It will not make me underweight. It will not make me taller. It will not make my legs longer. It will not instantly solve all my problems. But, it’s what I want. And, so far, eating this way has been an effective means to an end not only because I have cut out animal products, but also because I am eating exponentially healthier than I was over the holidays.

So there. Conscious consider yourself cleared.

Monday, January 07, 2008

That Doesn't Suck

Back in college, I copied (by hand mind you) a hummus recipe from one of the Moosewood Restaurant cookbooks. Moosewood is one of those hippie, worker-owned vegetarian places reminiscent of Heartland Café in Rogers Park or Casa Nueva in Athens, Ohio. Another slice of liberal commie heaven. It's in Ithaca, New York. I've never been, but who knows… maybe someday. A girl can dream, right?

When I copied the recipe, it was the summer of 2000 (the summer before my senior year of college) and I was living in Athens, Ohio taking a few courses so I could lighten my load for the remaining three quarters of college. I was living in this awesome house, which was exactly one mile from the center of campus. At least, “we” thought it was awesome. Our parents thought we were living in a condemnable hellhole.

I was sharing the house with two auxiliary roommates for the summer before my real roommates came back to school, a woman and a man, two graduating seniors who each needed a few more credit hours to get their diplomas. She was an artist who had this breathy voice that sounded… well, like she was high. He was an English major who talked with his mouth full. Inexplicably, these two ended up getting busy all summer long. And, it was totally hush-hush because she had a boyfriend far, far away, but I – being the uber-sleuth that I am – figured it out before it even started happening. And, being that I had no particular loyalty to either of them, told everyone that I knew.

It was total drama-rama, and it kept my brain occupied (this is, of course, pre-YouTube, Pre-myspace, and pre-blog phenomenon) through the hot Athens summer.

One day, the woman half of this dynamic duo that didn’t last made this awesome hummus. That’s right – the one from the Moosewood Cookbook. I immediately copied it down, but my subsequent attempts at making the hummus fell short… the beans never seemed blend right, everything was chunky and poorly mixed. I gave up for all intensive purposes, but after having hummus at a local Mediterranean restaurant with MM on Saturday, I reminisced about the recipe and decided to give it another shot. I knew – against all odds – exactly where I had put it, wrote grocery list, got a ride from MM to Whole Foods, and approximately an hour and a half and $60 some odd dollars in groceries later, I was tossing cans of garbanzo beans into my shitty, good-for-nada, sorry-excuse-for-a food processor.

And, per usual, the hummus turned out chunky and gross. That’s when I decided to “improvise” in an attempt to save the hummus. Here’s what I think I did:

3 or so cloves of garlic, chopped
2 green onions, chopped
Handful of parsley, chopped
1 can of garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
2 Tbsp tahini (maybe 2 and a half)
1-2 Tbsp water, drizzled into food processor
Juice of ½ of a lemon (maybe a bit more)
Sea salt, to taste (1/2 tsp maybe)
1 tsp cumin

Directions: Put the garlic, green onions, and parsley in the food processor first and let ‘er rip until everything looks like it’s chopped into itty bitty pieces. Next put in the tahini, beans, and lemon juice. Turn on the food processor and drizzle in the water while it’s going… this will make the hummus creamy (the water, apparently, is the thing I’ve been missing. Adding the water changed everything). Add the salt and cumin, and let it go ‘round in the food processor a bit more until it looks like hummus not some clumpy bean crap you have no desire to eat. Finally, chill it. I tasted the hummus before putting it in the freezer for a few minutes (I was hungry, dude, I needed it to chill fast-like) and I was like, “Oh no Lord… this hummus has not been saved.” But then, I took it out of the freezer (after about five minutes) and was like, “Oh yes Jesus, praise the hummus.”

It was good. It was actually really, pretty good. Try it.

In Dispute of Perfection

Oddly enough, as I was typing up the previous post, a message from someone at 5280, a Denver magazine, appeared in my inbox:
Hi Lou- saw your Anti-Gym post while I was doing some Anti-Gym research and thought this might be of interest....
This Man Thinks You're Fat

It’s kind of interesting. The journalist, despite all evidence to contrary, seems to be hell-bent (integrity or some such nonsense) on not calling out Michael Karolchyk, the feeble mind behind the Anti-Gym and all its disgusting misogyny, for being the world’s biggest fuck. His own mother calls him a liar. Not that the article is… flattering, but still. A spade is a spade, my friend. We need not empathize with this man and his plight of douchebagery. Yes. Life is hard. And long. And probably lonely and pointless if you're Michael Karolchyk.

With people like Michael who preach perfection as skinny with long legs and huge breasts, it’s no wonder we can’t drown out all the noise and accept and love our bodies. Perfection is not something to aspire to. Perfection is a disease.

Will we ever be OK?

Age of Un-Innocence

A link from Feministing:

Love Your Fat Self

This is a fairly intense passage from the book Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters: The Frightening New Normalcy of Hating Your Body by Courtney E. Martin about weight and prejudice. It’s a sobering reality that some of us are probably able to simultaneously identify while still judging others. I know I'm not innocent.

Anyway, read it. It’s good. It pretty much convinced me that the book is worth reading.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Homecoming

I am hearting my blog right now because I feel as though I have returned to my roots. Food and fitness. If you’ll remember – because I just know that each and every one of you has started from page numeral uno in the archives (June 2, 2006 thank you very much) and read, without interruption, through the trials and tribulations that are distinctly… Lou – I began my blog writing about running and eating bagels and hummus and other pointless dribble.

God. It feels like coming home. This vegan madness. It’s just so good.

First of all, I’m cooking again. Tonight I “whipped up” some hummus*, a process that involved my crap ass, good-for-nada, sorry-excuse-for-a food processor, which resulted in a few mishaps. It’s nothing but chickpeas and tahini and you throw it in the freaking food processor and viola! Hummus. But not so for yours truly. I struggled, a story which I will not subject you to, but amazingly, with a little improvisation – a “technique” I tend to stay far, far away from in the kitchen – I managed to make some pretty darn good hummus if-I-do-say-so-myself. MM helped by coating mini pitas with olive oil and tossing them in the frying pan for a few minutes. Yum.

I haven’t cooked this much since… yeah. Never? Truth be told, I have a pretty shitty memory.

Second, I am feeling so much better. Now I’m not going to trumpet the vegan “lifestyle” as the obvious reason for my all-around better-ness. Rather I’m guessing it’s a combination of factors, first and foremost being that I am no longer sustaining life on a diet that rivaled freebasing high fructose corn syrup on the scale of “healthy.” But that was just December. Also, eating vegan has finally gotten me to up my intake of fruits and veggies. I’m eating at least five servings a day, maybe more… And if that isn’t enough to make you gag, I’ve swapped my beloved coffee for green tea in the morning (though I refuse to let my caffeine go just yet).

I should be canonized. Or knighted.

All in all, this style of eating has worked well for me. Of course, this week I’m trying my first tofu recipe. So all of this may change. And, it is…after all… only Sunday.

*If I'm feeling up to it later this week, I'll post what I think I did to make my hummus not suck. Unfortunately, I'm leaving town on Friday and have a ton to do before then, so don't get to attached to the idea that you'll be making hummus that doesn't suck by the end of the week.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

The Bandwagon Plays On

I know. This whole vegan nuttiness is totally riveting.

Yesterday went fairly according to “plan” – whatever that is. Lunch was Popeye Pasta leftovers, though no matter how hard I try, eating an appropriately portioned amount of pasta (1 cup cooked) for lunch never leaves me satisfied. I've decided it’s time to give up the pasta-for-lunch dream.

TR called out of the blue and strong-armed me into working out with him last night, so at 5pm, I headed to his gym for a session. He admonished my newest diet/lifestyle experiment and told me that he didn’t know one vegetarian who was in good health, and that three ounces (just three!) of red meat a day (none of that turkey crap) would do me wonders. Wonders! But, he reckoned, he went through a phase when he tried different types of diet nonsense, and I’d probably just have to go through it myself to really understand that eating vegan is akin to dying a slow, painful, malnourished death in the gutter with the other commie hippie atheists.

Too far?

I shrugged my shoulders in a gesture of “whatever,” and sidestepped the obvious question (Why are you doing this, anyway? ) with a solid, “Idunno.” Ah yes… that’s the spirit!

We soldier on. Why? Idunno.

It’s true. I don’t really have a problem with meat. An ethical one anyway. Animals are nice and all that crap, but I’m not an animal person. I don’t want them to die horrible deaths in disgusting slaughter houses and factory farms, but you won’t find me joining the ALF anytime soon.

However, after days of being spoon feed liberal propaganda disguised as entertainment (education?), I feeling rather – let’s say – distrustful of the FDA, the USDA, the EPA, and various other government agencies, as well as lobbyists, not to mention the Executive Office (duh), and all of those other branches. I mean, really... Where is my country, dude? Damn you Michael Moore! Anyway, it’s a long story, but if you’re curious, read Skinny Bitch, then watch Sicko, Jesus Camp, and An Inconvenient Truth in a row, and you’ll understand where I’m at. I can’t help it. I’m an impressionable youth. And these people are pandering to my already liberally biased viewpoints. I never had a chance, people!

Which is completely beside the point.

Back to the vegan thing… no, Keni, I can’t eat goat cheese. It's very sad. For that matter, I can't eat any kind of cheese, or eggs, butter, cream, milk, milk chocolate, meat, fish, or any other product that comes from an animal. And, in theory, I’m not supposed to wear or use any products that comes from an animal – up to and including leather. Of course, I’m not about to change my wardrobe for this. In addition, I’m working hard to cut out sugar (replaced, of course, with natural sweeteners) and in general, processed foods – as much as humanly possible.

Right now, I’m totally ODing on these.

The All American Veggie Burger. I had two for dinner. Yes. Two. Go ahead, judge me. And another for lunch today. Yum.

Amy’s has long been a favorite of mine. The brand is entirely vegetarian (plus they don’t use eggs), and if you’re interested in knowing which of the products are vegan-friendly, you can pretend you have an allergy to diary. Also, if you’re also a fan of Amy’s, and losing weight is one of your New Year’s resolutions, you might be interested in this

Alright… cool. Tonight I’m making Vegetable Fried Rice from The Complete Vegan Cookbook. Stay tuned to see if I totally fuck it up.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Are We There Yet?

She’s ALIVE!

Yes, Yes. A bit of a sabbatical from ze blog, but I am back and happy to report that the 2007 holiday season is over with a capital O-V-E-R.

Thank God. I can finally stop drinking to ward off social anxiety, and commence to hibernating for the remainder of the Chicago winter.

But wait!

There’s more.

Boredom has led me – once again – to read yet another “diet” book (it’s like I have a disease). Oh yes. At first I made fun of my sister when, while gmail chatting, she “announced” to me that she is considering becoming a vegan, the diet of choice for hippie atheist commies trying expose the vast right-wing conspiracy and give animals the right to vote.

A what?!?!?!

You must be joking.

She wasn’t.

But why?!?!?!

Because she read this.

And she brought it with her to Ohio for Christmas. So I read it. (I know you know where this is going.)

Rory and Kim, the "bitches" who wrote the book, make a lot of valid points about – you know – what we’re really eating when we eat meat and dairy and, in general, processed foods. I’m not really up for summarizing the book for all ya’ll, but it’s short, sweet, and kinda funny, so if you’re interested, I wouldn’t discourage you from giving it a read.

With nothing better to do with our time, Sarah and I decided we would give veganism a shot for a couple of days – 10 for me, to be exact. I started yesterday, in effect forcing my new lifestyle choice onto MM, to whom I had promised dinner.

It went over well. I’ll blog the recipes from Day 1 later tonight.