Saturday, July 27, 2013

When I Get Bored, I Stop Being Bored and Get Awesome Instead

     Today I learned something about myself, and that is that I shouldn't be left to my own devices.  That goes double if I have access to internet and Pinterest.  Earlier while Monkey was watching a movie, I was perusing Pinterest, and I came across this:

     Of course I took advantage of the fact that Monkey was occupied and raced upstairs with yarn, scissors and tape in hand.  The plan was to surprise her and make if fun by asking her to rescue one of her "X-men" from her room.  (She's recently renamed all her toys to either Avengers or X-Men characters.)  Needless to say, I'm winning the Awesome Mom Award this year :-)

     I didn't stop there, though.  You see, last night J had the 0-400 watch (midnight to 4 am), so today he slept until about 1:00 pm.  That gave me plenty of time to have this waiting outside our bedroom door for him :-)

His initial, "WTH?" moment.

Shortly followed by, "Let's get down to business".

If you want to see J's trip through the lasers, here you go:

(Warning: I have an obnoxious laugh, and I provide the background music.)

     Not all of my day was spent being awesome yet unproductive; part of it was spent being awesome and productive.  :-)  I got to try out a new recipe from one of the cookbooks my Grandma sent to me a while back.  This one is called The Best of Country Cooking.  I have liked everything I've sampled from this book, but what I made today was too good not to share.

 Cinnamon Raisin Bread
(Makes two loaves)
For the bread:
1 (1/4 oz) package active dry yeast (or 2 1/2 tsp)
1/4 cup warm water
2 cups warm milk
1/3 cup plus 1/2 cup sugar, divided
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp salt
5 3/4- 6 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups raisins
1 TBS cinnamon
1 TBS water

For the glaze:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 TBS milk

Dissolve yeast in warm water in a mixing bowl.  Add milk, 1/3 cup sugar, oil, salt, and 2 cups flour.  Beat until smooth.  Add raisins and enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.  Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes.  Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top.  Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 1/4 hours.

Punch down dough.  On a lightly floured surface, divide in half.  Roll each into 15"x7" rectangle.  Combine cinnamon and remaining sugar; sprinkle over dough.  Sprinkle with water.  Starting with a short side, roll up tightly, jelly-roll style.  Pinch seams and ends to seal.  Place seam side down in two greased 9"x5"x3" loaf pans.  Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.  Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from pans to wire racks to cool completely.  Combine glaze ingredients; drizzle over loaves.

Enjoy! :-)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

I'm Never Running Again

     I am never running again!  Nope.  That's it.  I'm done.  100% complete.  No mas.  And this is why:  You know those people who tell you once you've faced your fear, you can accomplish anything?  They lied!  Tonight I faced my fear.  I looked him straight in his scaly little face, and I ran in the other direction.  Literally.  I hauled butt and didn't look back.  I'm calling BS to that whole "face your fears" adage.

     So what happened?  Well tonight while I was just running along, pushing Monkey in her stroller, about to complete my third mile when I happened to glance down, and out of the corner of my eye I saw a stick.  Keep in mind I don't have contacts anymore; I lost my last one.  So now I'm sporting glasses, and my peripheral vision is pretty much non-existent.  So all I saw when I glanced down was a stick.  A squiggly stick.  And I thought to myself, "I probably shouldn't run over this stick because Monkey was already complaining about too many bumps earlier".  So I swerved, barely missing the squiggly stick with the front tire of my jogging stroller by about 2 inches, and that's when my "squiggly stick" reared back and hissed at me!  Immediately I took off running at a pace I haven't managed in months, and in my mind all I could think was, "HOLY SHIT!  Holy Shit! That was a snake!  Not a stick!  A snake!  OMG!  We almost died!  I almost died because of a stupid squiggly stick that was really a snake!!!  Holy CRAP!  Is he chasing me?  I'm pretty sure he's chasing me!   OMG! I'm being chase by a squiggly, hissing stick!!!  Is this what adrenaline feels like?  So, right now my adrenal medulla is secreting epinephrine and norepinephrine, and that's what's causing the increased BP and increased heart rate, and this is what it feels like?  This is so cool. "  Then the panicked side came back.  "OMG! You nerd! Stop reviewing what you learned in Anatomy and RUN!!  Knees up.  Knees up! Knees UP!!!  OMG!  Why am I cold?  It's 100+ degrees out here, and I'm cold.  Oh, cool so is this what they mean by you have ice in your veins?  Omg!  If you don't shut up nerd and get your knees up that snake is going to get us!  CURSE YOU DEMON SNAKE!!!"

     Needles to say I didn't stop running until I made it safely back to the sidewalks next to my subdivision.  Even then, my eyes were still darting from side to side, scanning for the demon spawn of Hell.  Being on the sidewalk was little comfort, considering my little run-in didn't happen in the woods or when I was running through the recently torn down subdivision where the grass is unruly and hasn't been cut in a month.  Where did all this encounter take place, you ask?  On the newly paved asphalt sidewalk they created specifically for runners, the one that is near the woods, yes, but they mow it and trim it at least once a week.  That's where Mr. Demon snake decided to hang out.  With half his body on the sidewalk someone had just run past!  So that whole "they're more afraid of you than you are of them?"  Yeah, I'm calling bullshit on that one too!

Dear Reader,
    The Bored Navy Wife is currently suffering from a mental breakdown after our little adventure this evening, so she's going to go lie down now.  In a nice dark room.  Under some covers.  For a week.  In the meantime, I think it's safe to say that you won't have to suffer through another annoying attempt at a "motivational" blog about running for a long time.  You're welcome.

The Demon Snake
aka "The Squiggly Stick"

P.S.  Here's a recipe:

Remember when I went back to the Eubanks Farm in Lucedale?  Well I got some yummy summer crops, and I'd like to share a few of the things I did with them.

First I sliced and pickled the jalapeƱos, using the same recipe I did when I pickled banana peppers.

 Next, using the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving, I made Canned Tomatoes. *I don't have a formal ingredients list for this.  Because I was working in such small batch to save space, I lost count of how much I used.*

Start by gathering your jars (I used pint-sized).  Wash and dry them.  Heat jars and lids and lids in a saucepot of simmering water.  Do not boil lids.  Allow jars and lids to remain in hot water until ready for use, removing one at a time as needed.  (Or to save time and space, run them all through the dishwasher with the steam-dry option.)

Fill water bath canner half-full with hot water.  Elevate rack in canner.  Cover with lid.  Heat water to a simmer.  Keep water hot until used for processing.

Use fresh tomatoes at their peak of quality and flavor.  Use firm tomatoes free of cracks, spots and growths.  Prepare only enough for one canner lad at a time.  Wash tomatoes; drain.

Bring a large pot of water to boil, and have a large bowl of ice water ready.  Add tomatoes to boiling water, and blanch 30-60 seconds, or until skins start to crack.  Remove from boiling water and dip immediately into ice water.

Slip off the skins; trim away any green areas, and cut out core.  Leave tomatoes whole or cute into halves or quarters.

Place tomatoes in a large saucepot, adding just enough water to to cover.  Boil gently 5 minutes.

Begin removing canning jars from hot water (or dishwasher), set jar on towel-lined counter.  Add 1/4 tsp citric acid or 1 TBS lemon juice to each pint jar. (If using quart jars, simply double the amounts).

Carefully pack tomatoes into hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.  Ladle boiling water (leftover from when you boiled the tomatoes) over the tomatoes.  Add 1/2 tsp salt to each pint jar (again, double for quart jars), if desired.

Slide a nonmetallic spatula between tomatoes and jar; press back gently on tomatoes to release trapped air bubbles.  Repeat procedure 2-3 times around inside of jar.

Wipe rim and threads of jar with a clean, damp cloth.  Remove lid from the hot water (or dishwasher).  Place lid on jar, and screw the band down evenly, just until resistance is met.  "Fingertip tight".

Set all the full jars onto the elevated rack in the water bath canner.  Lower the rack in canner.  Water level must cover the lids on the jars by 1-2 inches.  Add boiling water if necessary.  Put lid on canner.  Bring water to boil.  Process pint jars for 40 minutes (quart jars for 45 minutes).

When time's up turn off heat, remove lid.  Let canner cool 5 minutes, then remove jars and place on a dry towel to cool, about 1-2 inches apart.  Let cool 12-24 hours.  Check seal by pressing on the cent of each lid and listening for the "pop".  If not sealed properly reprocess the can.  Store jars in a cool, dry place.

After that, I made Tomato Sauce, again using the Ball Blue Book.

To make 14 pints or 7 quarts, you'll need:
45 lbs tomatoes
Ball Citric Acid or lemon juice

Wash tomatoes; drain.  Remove core and blossom ends.  Cut into quarters; simmer 20 minutes in a large sauce pot, stirring occasionally.  Puree tomatoes in a food processor.  Strain puree to remove seeds and peels.  Cook pulp in a large, uncovered sauce pot over medium-high heat until sauce thickens, stirring to prevent sticking.

 Reduce volume by 1/2.  Add 1/4 tsp citric acid or 1 TBS lemon juice to each pint jar (double for quart jars).  Ladle hot sauce into hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.  Adjust two-piece lids. Process pints 35 minutes in water bath (quarts 40 minutes).


And because Monkey has been on a Lilo and Stitch kick lately, I couldn't help but think of this clip tonight.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Run to Eat, Eat to Run

     This morning I woke up sore again from the brutal beating I've been putting my body through lately.  I started the Insanity program a few weeks ago when it got too hot to run.  I've been enjoying Insanity, but I have been missing my runs.  Running is an excellent way to clear my mind and meditate on anything that's bothering me.  It also gives me time to simply reflect on anything and everything that comes to mind.  The thing is, though, I have to convince myself to get out there.  The heat has been a good excuse to not go, but at the cost of my mind becoming cluttered and chaotic since it wasn't being "cleaned out" on a regular basis.

    The other night, J had taken Monkey to the store with him while I stayed behind to finish up my grocery list and do a few chores around the house.  I had just finished and decided to check the mailbox.  Inside I found a note from my sister, encouraging me to not give up running.  She had also included a 10K bumper sticker for my car to celebrate making it through the Couch to 10K program.  I grinned from ear to ear when I saw that sticker.  It reminded me of how far I've come.  It got me excited, and it made me want to go farther.  I found myself racing around the house, grabbing my tennis shoes, throwing on some jogging shorts, and racing out the door for my first run in 6 weeks.  And you know what?  I beat my last mile time by a minute and a half.  I felt amazing, and I felt my form improving.  I have Insanity to thank for that.  Shaun T, the insane man in the video screaming at you to "dig deeper", emphasizes using your core to workout.  The few weeks of doing his workouts have taught me how everything should come from the core.  You lift your knees with the core, instead of just throwing them around.  You keep your balance with your core.  You keep your body in line with your core.  The thing is, I never truly found my core before I did these workouts.  Now that I know what it means though, I can't imagine how I made it this far in running without knowing how to use my core.  It makes running so much easier, and it helps you achieve that good runner's form much more naturally.

   Since that night, I've adopted a new goal.  My sister and I have been talking about doing a Half Marathon for a while now, but I guess I never really thought about it.  The other night, after that awesome run, I came up with a plan.  My husband has this book, the Navy Seal's Guide to Fitness and Nutrition, and it happened to be next to the bed when I was looking up training programs for a Half.  Inside I found a program that helps you get to running 40 miles a week in nine weeks.  From there you go on to another program to help you run a half marathon in 12 weeks.  I did the math on my calendar and found that if I start this week, I will finish just in time for the Woman's Half Marathon in Baton Rouge this year.  Here's the first program if you're interested in trying it:

Weeks 1 & 2:
Monday:          4 mile run
Tuesday:         Cross Train (I'm going to keep doing Insanity)
Wednesday:    5 mile run
Thursday:       3 mile run
Friday:           Cross Train
Saturday:        3 mile run
Sunday:          5 mile run
Total: 20 miles per week

Weeks 3 & 4:
Monday:        5 mile run
Tuesday:        Cross Train
Wednesday:   5 mile run
Thursday:      5 mile run
Friday:           Cross Train
Saturday:       5 mile run
Sunday:         5 mile run
Total: 25 miles per week

Weeks 5 & 6:
Monday:       5 mile run
Tuesday:       Cross Train
Wednesday:  6 mile run
Thursday:      6 mile run
Friday:          Cross Train
Saturday:       6 mile run
Sunday:         6 mile run
Total: 29 miles per week

Weeks 7 & 8:
Monday:       7 mile run
Tuesday:       Cross Train
Wednesday:  7 mile run
Thursday:      8 mile run
Friday:           Cross Train
Saturday:       5 mile run
Sunday:         8 mile run
Total:  35 miles per week

Week 9:
Monday:        6 mile run
Tuesday:        Cross Train
Wednesday:   8 mile run
Thursday:       8 mile run
Friday:           Cross Train
Saturday:        8 mile run
Sunday:          10 mile run
Total:  40 miles per week

    Okay, so I'm tired just typing all that.  It is a bit overwhelming to think about doing two 8 mile runs back to back, or an 8 mile run followed by a 10 mile run, but I have to remember that there was once a time when repeatedly running 30 seconds then walking 1 minute for a total of 30 minutes was overwhelming.  Baby steps.  That's what got me this far.

    Yesterday I read an awesome comic all about running.  It was hilarious, and y'all should really check it out.  I completely identified with the author, especially when he talks about how he runs so he can eat.  (I'm typing this as I'm devouring a slice of Green Tomato Bread).  Reading it I got a sense of, "Yay! I'm not the only one."  And I loved his "Blerch", the being that basically follows you around, trying to convince you to go home and eat cake instead of run.  My own Blerch is very loud, and rather manipulative.

    At any rate, I've learned a lot from running, not just physically, but mentally as well.  I've learned to face things that are hard.  I've learned endurance.  I've learned patience.  I've learned how good it feels to reach impossible goals.  I've even learned that no goal is truly impossible.

   For those of you who simply come here for the food (I don't blame you), thank you for putting up with my ramblings on running.  I do have an amazing meal I want to share with y'all.  It comes from one of my Paula Deen magazines (Yes; I still love her!).  This meal was quick and simple, but looked and tasted amazing!

Pork Cutlets with Rosemary Dijon Sauce, Balsamic-Roasted Potatoes, and Steamed Asparagus 
Pork Cutlets with Rosemary Dijon Sauce
1 1/2 lb pork tenderloin, trimmed
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 TBS vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 TBS Dijon mustard
1 TBS fresh minced rosemary

Cut pork into 1" slices.  Place pork between two sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap, and flatten to 1/2" thick with a meat mallet .  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  In large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Cook pork, in batches if necessary, 3-4 minutes per side or until browned.  Remove from skillet and set aside.  Add cream, mustard, and rosemary to skillet.  Scrape brown bits from bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.  Bring mixture to a boil; reduce heat and simmer.  Add pork back to skillet, turning to coat with sauce.  Cook for 5-6 minutes or until sauce is thickened.  Serve immediately.

Balsamic-Roasted Potatoes
2 lbs red potatoes, cut into 1" pieces
1/2 onion, quartered
2 TBS olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 TBS balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 450, and line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.  In a large bowl, toss potatoes and onion with olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Spread on baking sheet in a single layer.  .  Bake for 20 minutes.  Drizzle with vinegar.  Bake an additional 4 minutes.
*I started these first and cooked the pork while these were in the oven.

Steamed Asparagus
1 lb asparagus, trimmed
1/4 cup water
3 TBS butter
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp salt

Place asparagus and water in a microwave-safe dish.  Cover with plastic wrap.  Microwave on high for 3 minutes or until tender-crisp.  Drain well; transfer to serving platter.  In a small sauce pan, melt butter over medium.  Add garlic and cook, stirring frequently for 3 minutes.  Stir in salt.  Drizzle butter mixture over asparagus.
*I did this part in the last 4 minutes that the potatoes were cooking so they'd still be nice and warm to serve.

I hope y'all enjoy!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Call Me Old-Fashioned

     I'm a slacker.  I'll admit it.  I'm supposed to be sitting in my Nutrition class right now, but I forgot about my online Chemistry homework that was due at 3:00 this afternoon.  I just finished that (and went ahead and did the next assignment for good measure), but now I have time to kill.  I could get ahead on my English reading, but as I've mentioned already, I'm a slacker.  It's still summer.  That's my excuse anyway.

     You know, last night I met a couple that have been married for all of a month, and I caught myself several times looking at them, shaking my head, and thinking to myself, "Geez, they're so cute!"  J and I will be celebrating our 5th anniversary this year, and although there are veterans of much longer marriages than ours that read this, I can't help but feel that the best is yet to come.  The past five years have been work.  They've changed both of us.  They've challenged me to go above and beyond what I thought my limits were.  Through trial and error we have both grown into the people we are today from the kids we were when we started out.  We've come a long way.
     I'm sure at this point a few of you veterans are already shaking your heads, thinking, "Awe!  How cute!  She thinks she knows something." Maybe y'all are right. Maybe I have yet to realize just how much marriage can tear you down and build you up again, but I think I'm beginning to have a clue.  And you know what I've discovered?  It's worth the trouble. 

     I remember watching "Coal Miner's Daughter" as a teenager, and I remember thinking to myself, "Why does she let him treat her like that?"  But when I watched it again as an adult, and I realized she loved her husband through his faults.  I also realized she wasn't perfect either.  There is something to be said about the marriages of days gone by.  The ones that stuck it out, even through the worst of circumstances.  The ones that inspired songs like "Stand By Your Man".  Those marriages aren't to be shrugged off and excused by saying "those were different times" or people were old-fashioned with "out dated ideals".  No; those marriages should be honored as an example.  Those "old-fashioned ideals" teach us that just because something is broken doesn't mean it can't be fixed.  It doesn't mean it isn't worth fixing.  

    A few weeks back, I finally had enough okra from my little garden to roast as a side for dinner.  That was the best tasting okra I've ever had.  You see, I've raised those okra plants from seeds that I planted back in February.  That's four months of waiting for just a few okra.  I have had to transplant these stalks 3 times so that they would finally have the right amount of space to grow.  Through trial and error, I've learned the proper amount of water they require (which is more that I imagined).  I've even learned the hard way how much sun they really need.  I guess my point is, I could have quit.  I could have never started.  I could have said that it wasn't worth the hassle.  There were times when I was sick of my little garden! (Mostly when I had to go buy even more pots because I didn't have the foresight to give my plants enough space to grow.)  But I didn't give up.  Now I'm rather proud of my little plants.  I have been complimented on my garden several times.  People see the work I've put in, but more importantly I see it too.  I've been able to reap what I've sown.  So why not apply the same logic to marriage?

     If I could go back in time and talk to newly wed me, I think I'd tell her to stop wasting time with selfishness and pride, and just love J.  That's all we can ever really do.  And if I could talk to newly wed J, well, maybe it's a good thing there is no time travel ;-)  

    Keeping with my theme of marriage, tonight I want to share one of J's favorite things I've made for him.  
Paula Deen's "Real Deal" Gumbo
     Gumbo, like a good marriage, takes patience and time to get it just the way you like it, but once you get it to that point, people will be begging to know your secret. :-)

So here's what y'all need:

1 TBS vegetable oil
1 cup chopped okra, fresh or frozen then thawed
3 TBS butter
3 TBS all-purpose flour
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
1 TBS chopped garlic
4 cups chicken broth
3/4 lb andouille or other smoked sausage, sliced
1 tsp Tony's (or other Cajun seasoning)
Salt and black pepper
1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 cups cooked rice, for serving
Hot sauce, for serving

*In a small skillet, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the okra and cook, stirring frequently, until no longer slimy, about 3 minutes.  Set aside.

In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.  Whisk in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until it is a light chocolate color, about 5 minutes.  (This is the roux, and my dog's namesake for all my Yankee friends.)  ;-)

Add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic and cook for 2 minutes.  Add the broth, sausage, okra,  and Cajun seasoning and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  

Add the shrimp and simmer until they are pink and cooked through.  Serve over rice.  Add hot sauce as desired.  

*According to Paula Deen, cooking the okra separately before adding it to the gumbo takes away some of the sliminess that turns some people off of okra. I'm making myself hungry.


Monday, July 8, 2013

Happy Birthday to Me

     I've never been one for making New Year's resolutions.  To me they've always seemed cliche and impersonal.  Just because I bought a new calendar, I'm supposed to make some life changing goal?  I tried a few times, but it never took.  They were always cheesy, and I'd forget in a week.

     As a teenager I began a new tradition of making one big change every year on my birthday.  These were petty things then, new piercings when I was 16, a new tattoo at 18.  My thought process then was that I was changing, growing older and (hopefully) wiser, so the outward appearance should reflect the inward change.  I never thought of this as my own personal "new year" with my very own "new year's resolution" until recently, but that's how it has evolved.

     Last year I made another goal.  Instead of another hole in my ear or the loss of several inches of hair, I decided to get healthy.  This past year I have struggled over countless obstacles that threatened to bring me down and keep be there so that I would never achieve my goal.  I have lost many battles along the way, but today I'm proud to say that the war is over, and I have won.

     This is after one year of hard work:

     Needless to say, I definitely feel better.  I have more energy.  I get out more, and when I do, I have less worries about what I'm wearing or how I look or if I need to sit up straighter so that my belly roll isn't as obvious.  I'm not perfect.  I'll never be a size 0, and I don't want to be.  I like the way I am now.  For once in my life, I feel happy in my skin, and that's an empowering feeling.

    That being said, this year's goal has yet to be announced.  I'm thinking...ABS! lol  Seriously, though, this year my goal is less about my body and more about my mind.  My goal this year is to get into a Nursing program and get 4.0s each semester.  Oh, and run a 1/2 marathon with my sister in the winter.  Here's hoping. :-)

    Now since y'all have been forced to look at pictures of me in a bikini, let me give y'all something else to drool over (just joking).

Rotelle and Shrimp with Yogurt Dill Dressing

2 TBS butter
2 cloves garlic
1 lb medium shrimp, peeled
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
1/4 cup mayonnaise (optional)
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
3 TBS chopped fresh dill
3 scallions including green tops, chopped
1/4 tsp paprika
3/4 lb rotelle

In a medium frying pan, melt the butter over moderate heat.  Stir in the garlic and then the shrimp, 1/4 tsp of salt, and the pepper.  Cook, stirring, until the shrimp are just done, about 4 minutes.  Remove from the pan and set aside to cool.  In a large bowl, combine the yogurt, the mayo, the jalapeƱo, cucumber, dill, scallions, paprika, and the remaining 1 1/4 teaspoons salt.  In a large pot of boiling water, cook the pasta until just done, about 12 minutes.  Drain the pasta, rinse with cold water, and drain thoroughly.  Toss with the yogurt sauce and the shrimp and garlic.