Thursday, June 30, 2011

Cheesy Pun

When I was younger, we did not have the boxed macaroni and cheese in the house.  My mother wouldn't allow it, and there were few occasions to which I was "treated" with the neon orange processed noodle dish that so many of my friends knew as macaroni and cheese.
What I knew was wholly different - and made from scratch.
As an adult, I appreciate my mother's ban of the box, although I understand that the homemade stuff isn't quite up to HRH's delicate two-year-old palate the way medium chain triglyceride can.
The sad thing is that I am truly a mac and cheese snob.  Willing to try it at most restaurants who claim to have "homemade" macaroni and cheese, I am generally disappointed (that's putting it mildly) at the gelatinous orange mush that graces my plate.  I've been happy with Cracker Barrel's version; although the pasta is usually a little overcooked (I like mine al dente), the cheese is real cheese and not something synthesized in a lab.
But it's still not as good as mine.
Happily, I have made a few fans of my mac and cheese as I make my way through the world.  One of these is our babysitter, Claire; rarely does she request me to make something else for her when she comes over to watch HRH for the evening, and as she is a starving college student, I am only too happy to oblige.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Dirty Hippie... or Just Cheap?

This afternoon, I posted the following on my personal Facebook page:
"I stopped washing my hair one week ago.  Who wants to sit next to me?"
Now, considering the second sentence in that post, I of course was being a little silly, and most of my friends' snarky remarks appreciated that, like my friend Nick, who is as bald as a cue ball but who nonetheless congratulated me on doing what he did seven years ago.  But I really haven't washed my hair - with shampoo - since last Sunday.
Yes, I have said "poo-poo" to the 'poo.
That's not to say that I am not cleaning my hair.  I'm just not using commercial shampoo or conditioner.  Since I started using oil to clean my face (more on that in a bit), I've become more and more interested in minimizing my overall toilette.
Enter the "no 'poo" movement.  Just type that phrase into a search engine and see what you get.  The internet it full of people who have tossed their last bottle of shampoo into the recycle bin (or found another use for it) and found happier, healthier hair by using more natural treatments.
It's the same concept that I'm using on my face.  While it seems completely counter-intuitive, I've started using nothing but a combination of castor and olive oils to clean my face.  I can honestly say that my face has NEVER looked or felt cleaner.  I've always had oily skin - oily skin that resulted in greasy pockets next to my nose each morning that are so deep they rival the Exxon-Valdez spill in the 1980s.  So it was hard to decide to put MORE oil on my face.  But after only a few days of breakouts as my skin adjusted to this new routine, everything evened out, and I wake up with skin that isn't oily but not dry.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Oh, the Bounty of the Harvest!

I had my first harvest today:
  • four cherry tomatoes
  • two (and the only) jalapeƱos
I know - amazing, right?  Aren't you jealous of the amazing bounty that the Arizona desert offered me?
Thank goodness for our CSA!  Otherwise, we might end up on that Freaky Eaters show on TLC!
Last night we had a belated birthday dinner for my husband  at his mom's.  We had steaks, and there were plenty left over (all of us only ate half a steak), so we devised a plan that incorporated that as well as plenty of fresh veggies.

The red cherry tomatoes and the jalapeƱos were from the garden.
Everything else, save the large tomato, was from our CSA.
The large tomato came from my mother-in-law's garden.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Blueberry Blues

Our poor crisper bins.  After a week-long absence, which meant no veggies being picked up, they were nearly bare; only a few beets and turnips, as well as a (store-bought - shhhhhh!  Don't tell!) onion remained.
Thus, I had to figure out something to make with them for dinner.  I had also thawed the salmon I bought earlier in the week, and I really wanted to do something with a few of the blueberries I had picked up at Sprouts.
Thus, we had a roasted root veggie and onion salad (room temp - not sure if that qualifies as warm or cold) as a bedding for salmon baked in foil and a blueberry vinaigrette.

I'm glad I didn't put the dressing on the salmon;
the flavors didn't go that well together.

Reason to Buy Local/Seasonal #3

I think we have already established that I love French vanilla Coffeemate® in an unhealthy, Fatal Attraction sort of way.
The fact that there is a ton of crap in there combined with the fact that caffeine MAY trigger eczema breakouts has helped my decision to phase out coffee.  I made it through Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.  But this morning, I NEEDED a cup.  Needed it in the same way Tyrone Biggums needs his crack.
But we have no creamer in the house.
I did that on purpose.
But... (there's always a "but," isn't there?)...

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Quinoa-Summer Squash Salad, With Some Fava Beans. And a Nice... ummmm... Glass of Water

Now that I am keeping a food diary, I am suddenly REALLY conscious of what I eat (including the amazingly rich and oh-so-delicious milkshake from Udder Delights that served as "dinner" this evening).  While I'm trying to be good (key word: trying), I'm not always that successful.  I snack.  A LOT.
So I tried to make up for it yesterday evening for dinner.
I had one, poor, lonely summer squash that stayed unsquishy while we were in Michigan, and I thought to my self, self, what can I do with this bad boy?  I'm not completely sure what I typed into the search engine box other than summer squash - I think it MAY have been almonds, after a search for trout almondine that was remotely healthy and easy - but I found this recipe for a pearl barley salad that I immediately knew I could make with a few modifications.  We didn't have any pearl barley, but we do have plenty of quinoa.  We always have frozen edamame in the freezer that I could use instead of the fava beans (I've never even SEEN a fava bean).  We didn't have green onions or red onions, but we did have green red onions and an onion.  I can make a vinaigrette with vinegar and mustard instead of the citrus juice (which we, of course, DO have, but I didn't want to thaw it just for this).  So I bookmarked it and went on my merry way.
Then, there I was.  In the produce section of Sprouts Farmer's Market, just checking out what was there.  Fava beans.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

I've Got an Itch to Scratch - I Need Assistance

If you have ever scratched an itch and felt that immediate and almost intense wave of relief, you'll understand the willpower that it takes to NOT scratch that itch.
I have an itch that I cannot scratch.  Not that it is in that one spot on my back, just out of reach; quite the contrary.  But I have eczema, and even though a person should really never scratch an itch (yeah, who listens to that advice anyway?), this is a particularly "no-no, don't scratch" type of itching.
This is not to say I haven't found myself scratching, likely with a look similar to how Zooey looks when I scratch her in just the right spot on her chest.  But I always feel badly afterwards - I know that scratching can and will make my breakout worse and can add bacteria to the equation.
I finally caved and went to the dermatologist... and was completely and utterly unimpressed.  I was in the room for about five minutes, during which time the PA gave me a prescription for a steroid cream as well as requirements for me to start buying a specific body wash and cream.  And even to use the wash on my face - which is NOT affected.  Diet, allergies, etc., were not even brought up, nor was testing to make sure I even HAVE eczema opposed to something disgusting that they will eventually name after me.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

All Quiet on the Western Front

We've been in Michigan since Saturday for a high school graduation. Since I didn't bring my regular computer, I haven't loaded any pics. But we have been enjoying some local food.
If you are a fan of local brews, get yourself to Arcadia Ales in Battle Creek. They have great seasonal beers like their summer Whitsun, and their wood-fired pizzas are darn tasty as well (although I ordered a sandwich so that HRH could have the chips that came with it).
Scott also made sure to stock up on Oberon Ale, a summer beer from Bell's Brewery in Kalamzoo. We can finally get it in Arizona, but for the longest time, it was only found in Michigan, so we always looked forward to summer, when the restaurants and pubs in the area put Oberon on tap.
I'll have more when we get back, but in the meantime, HRH is busy being spoiled by her Papa and Yaya and taking up the entire bed, so neither Scott (who made a lovely pork verde again today) nor I have been sleeping all that well. Wish us sweet dreams for the next few days!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Money for Nothing??? Let's Find Out!

Today's post was written by my friend Christie over at Beck Family Blessings.  She invited me to participate in an exciting experiment with her, and I gladly accepted.  Over the next three (or more) months, she'll be chiming in to give the 411 on what's going on on their side of the experiment (which will be the more interesting side, if you ask me).

Are you one of those people who not only reads labels, but looks at price tags? Does it make you sick that if you want the healthier version, the organic option, the meat that was respected and taken care of before it died, you have to pay MORE?! FOR LESS?!! (I used to wonder if people who ate healthy were skinnier and because they ate smaller quantities, but now I figure they just must be rich.)
This was an important factor when my husband, Brian, and I started having the conversation about improving our diet. We have read enough literature and seen enough documentaries to know that our food is filled with chemicals, that everything is made out of corn, and that farmers are pumping our poultry full of unnecessary hormones. But, how do we continue to eat what we like and be healthy at the same time? I mean, I like fresh fruits and vegetables and homemade bread, but every once in a while I just have a craving for some Cheetos®, or some Hershey's® chocolate, or a big greasy slice of pizza...and I don't want to feel guilty for eating it! And I think, like many who want to improve their family's eating habits ask, we also want to know, is this going to cause my grocery bill to go up?