Category Archives: Uncategorized

Summer Cooking

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Summer time makes me want to eat constantly, consuming as much fresh fruits and vegetables as possible before the season is over and all you have left at your disposal is a whole mess of questionable imported produce.  Which, don’t get me wrong, I love being able to buy Peruvian asparagus in mid-February, but there’s something just a *tad* different in flavor and freshness when the asparagus only had to travel a couple miles to my dinner plate.

So everyday recently I’ve been a veritable vegetable vacuum, hoovering up massive quantities of cherries, peaches and strawberries, corn-on-the-cob, fresh English peas, asparagus, scallions, watermelon, beets, carrots, and tons of other goodies. It certainly makes meal-planning a cooking a cinch. It almost makes summer cooking a little boring: fire up the grill/grill pan, throw some protein on there for a few minutes and then let the fruits and veggies on the plate do most of the work for you. Half the time they don’t even need cooking, just a squeeze of some lemon juice, a drizzle of olive oil and a grind of salt. Dinner served.  Creativity in the summer months is usually limited to “should I use hazelnuts or pine nuts in my pea pesto today? ”

Which has been great given the utter insanity of my schedule this summer, but I’m sort of missing the creative flair that’s needed to pull of a really fresh, healthy, well-rounded winter meal. There’s thought and time involved. The root vegetables that take over our plates in the colder months take a little more care and attention to make them sparkle (especially without using cheese as a crutch). It takes a little more effort to make me excited for a turnip the same way I get all giddy over peas.

I guess what it boils down to is that I enjoy eating more in the Summer and cooking more in the winter.  Roasting, stewing, braising — these things are slower and more soulful. Blanching, sauteing, barbecuing — laid-back and impersonal.

But a few summers ago, bored with the usual suspects for dinner, I created a peanut-noodle dish that brings a little creativity back into the kitchen with it’s no-cook sauce, and choice of mix-in vegetables and noodle type. It’s still a low-heat dish (essential for hot-weather meals), particularly if you use my suggestion of using fresh pasta,  which only takes a measly 2-3 minutes to boil.

Whole wheat pasta and broccolini, topped with homemade peanut sauce, and sliced and sauteed snow peas. YUM.

Whole wheat pasta and broccolini, topped with homemade peanut sauce, and sliced and sauteed snow peas. YUM.

Spicy Peanut Noodles

Serves 2

*2/3 of a pound fresh whole wheat fettuccine (or your favorite pasta/noodle — rice noodles or soba noodles would work well in this dish)

*2 small bunches of broccolini or one small head of broccoli, cut into florets

*a generous cup or more of snow peas, thinly sliced

for Peanut sauce:

*1 clove garlic, minced

*1/4 cup chunky peanut butter (I use Skippy natural)

*a few good squirts of Sriracha (more, if you like things spicy!)

*a splash of rice vinegar (or regular white vinegar/apple cider vinegar)

*a splash of maple syrup

*1/3 cup of soy sauce (I use Coconut Aminos since I’m allergic to soy)

Step 1:  Stir together all of the sauce ingredients except the peanut butter. Once mixed, add in your peanut butter and, using a whisk or fork, blend until peanut butter is incorporated. This may take a little bit of work, but it does come together! Taste a little bit and add a little more of whatever you think it might need (if too salty, add a splash more of vinegar and a splash more of maple syrup; if too sweet, add a little more soy sauce and a little more vinegar; if not peanut-y enough, stir in more peanut butter)

Step 2: Heat up a small pan and add your sliced snow peas with a splash of water. Let saute, 2-3 minutes until bright green and they’re sizzling.

Step 3: Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add pasta and cook according to directions. When there’s only 2-3 minutes left, throw the broccolini in with the pasta to blanch (if using fresh pasta, throw everything in at once).

Step 4: Drain your pasta and vegetables and then throw back into the pot. Pour your sauce in and toss to coat everything. Serve in bowls and top with the sauteed snow peas.

Enjoy!

Cowboy boots & Confidence

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Over the past month, it’s become pretty clear to me how much of my self-confidence is tied up in running. I didn’t start running to gain self-confidence, but as an escape from a day-to-day existence that I wasn’t happy with. But, running offered me a way to be in my physical body without worrying about its shape or weight or how it acted and appeared in space with other eyes viewing it. It became this strong, confident vessel that moved me over dozens of miles a week. I started to look up when I walked down the street.  I stopped craving, stopped needing, external (male) validation of my looks to feel attractive. I started to love my body all on my own — the muscular bits, the skinny bits and the round bits alike. When I realized how much running helped me, well, be more me, it sort of stuck and became a more serious hobby. I ran a half marathon. Then, I ran a couple more. Then, a full marathon.

Last summer, I injured my right ankle and had to cancel plans to run the Philly Marathon this past November. I got angry, then pretty seriously depressed for several months. It was only after a month or so of training for the Vermont City Marathon that I snapped out of my funk.  As I’ve written about previously on here, however, Vermont City ended with me in the medical tent instead of a victorious leap over the finish line. I hit the physical therapy and the cross training right away. I’m running whatever distance I can cover without pain, and taking days off in between these efforts to ensure I heal. I’m doing my best to stay positive and love what I can get in, however small.

But I can feel the insecurity and hateful self-talk creeping back in just a little, and that scares me. I don’t want to be back in that depressive place I’ve been so many times before. But I catch myself thinking “No one wants to read what you have to say,” when I think about posting here. I’m not feeling as motivated at work. I’m tired a lot. I giggle like a shy teenage girl instead of engaging people in conversations about things on which I have an opinion or something interesting to say. But what has really been noticeable this past month is how I’m self-conscious about my body all the time.  I’m worried about my hair. I feel awkward and fat in social settings. I’m hiding behind layers of clothing. I’m obsessing over the 3 freakin’ pounds I’ve gained (as if that’s anything). I just feel clumsy and oafish and like I take up too much room.

The other day, at the physical therapists office, I was looking down at the floor or my feet so much, he actually called me out on it more than once. But when all I can think about is how I’m a huge klutz and I feel too heavy and unattractive and then there’s a man standing there watching my stomach to ensure it’s properly engaged while I move through exercises, it’s all I can do to not end up rocking myself in the corner while swearing off food forever. So I look down. I don’t stand up straight. I retreat inside myself and become quiet, self-conscious. All things that decidedly do nothing for my form or my ability to hold a remotely intelligent or substantial conversation.

I know in my brain that I the things I catch myself thinking and feeling aren’t the remotest bit true,  that those feelings are all a little bit insane, but, yet, I still catch myself feeling them.  So, I’ve decided to kind of force myself out of it. I’m trying to act how I want to feel and I think, then, the positive feelings will follow. I’m writing about my nuttiness and insecurity here, whether or not you want to read about it.  I’m cooking myself fabulous and healthful meals. I’m being kind to others. I’m being kind to myself. Relishing the little moments. Allowing my voice to be heard. I’m standing up straight, head and eyes forward, shoulders back. Insecure, sad Rachel can stay in her corner, but this chick? This chick is struttin’ her stuff. Kickin’ butt and takin’ names. In cowboy boots. Because what screams kick-ass and confidence more than a pair of cowboy boots?

yeehaw!

yeehaw!

cowboyboots2

confident! happy!

Act how you want to feel and then the feelings will follow? Worth a shot!

Where do you derive your self-confidence? Do you have feel ridiculously, irrationally insecure?

What A Week!

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Boy, am I glad this week is nearly through! And I was only at work for 3 days of it!  I am enthusiastically awaiting the weekend and this upcoming week, which, thankfully, will be class-free. Michigan was a blast (more on that in a later post), but scrambling to get everything done to go away and then, subsequently, scrambling to get everything back on track after vacation has been a little crazy. And I even did quite a bit of work/school work while away, too.

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And what an emotional roller-coaster of a week in the news, too, huh? From the incredible show Wendy Davis gave in the Texas State Legislature to fight an anti-abortion bill and speak out for women everywhere, to the joyous overturning of DOMA, to the certainly-not-joyous overturning of the Voting Rights Bill, to immigration reform, my head and my heart are all over the place.   I don’t really want to get all political on here, but I do just want to say: I hope the children that my generation beget can looks back  and say to their parents, “I can’t believe people would ever consider being so hurtful, negative and controlling based on the color of someone’s skin, their country of birth, how other people express love, or how someone chooses to handle their body.”  We still have a lot of work to do, folks.

In other news, I’m taking this weekend to do some serious Rachel-oriented things and to get the household back in order.

– Finish How To Be A Women for the inaugural meeting of my book club (2 members strong!) next week. Pick a new book. Try to recruit some more members.

– Paint my  nails

– Grocery shop, meal plan and cook. Vacation + busy schedule =lots of meals out flanked by gummy bears, cookies and ice cream.

– Write some blog posts! I know ya’ll have missed me. I have some recipes to share, some thoughts on marriage and weddings in light of my brother’s recent engagement to his girlfriend, and some creative writing pieces I’ve been itching to get down on paper (into the cloud?).

– Exercise! I feel so lazy recently. I’m itching to try something new (dance class?) or revisit something I love but haven’t done in awhile (rock climbing?). Also, when will Boston get one of these studios? http://rowstudios.com/   It’s like a spin class on a row machine! Sign. me. up.

-Call some friends whom I haven’t spoken with in awhile

-Watch Game of Thrones season 3!

-Read some more food/nutrition-related articles. Perhaps formulate a blog post here, too. (These have been on my radar this week, if you’d like some reading material: Why The Atlantic’s Defense of Junk Food Fails and Bullied with Food)

 

What’s been going on with all of you folks??

Also: Happy First Anniversary to one of my favorite couples, Brian and Jodi!

 

 

 

Vermont City Marathon

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The weekend started off a little rough, but once we made it up to Burlington, Vermont on Friday evening I started to relax a little bit. The hotel we were staying at was brand new and really beautiful (despite a few bugs they were still trying to work out) and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves on Friday evening despite the wet weather. I even made a new friend!

Sad, at first, because of the rainy forecast.

Sad, at first, because of the rainy forecast.

Why is there a tree in this bench?

Why is there a tree in this bench?

Are you interested in being my buddy?

Are you interested in being my buddy?

Buddies!

Buddies!

We went to bed relatively early Friday evening (after I checked the weather forecast for Sunday and the race start time for the one billionth time, as per my typical pre-race nuttiness) and I awoke Saturday morning refreshed and ready for a day of eating well and marathon-sanctioned laziness. Yes! But after eating breakfast and heading outside to go to the expo for number pick-up, I started to panic a little bit about the seriously wintery weather. Even though I had trained in worse, and it would have been quite a bit more miserable to run in unseasonably hot weather than unseasonably wet and cold weather, logic and confidence did not take over until later in the day after a frantic email to my coach for a quick pep-talk.

The expo was fairly decent and number pickup was a breeze. There were a lot of local running and sporting goods companies which is always great to see and the volunteers were all super friendly. I also won a t-shirt from City Sports and got my name called out over the loud speaker (seriously, I might as well have broken the finish line tape for how excited I was — I never win anything!). A made me a cute sign to cheer me on, even though we both knew it wouldn’t survive past dropping me off at the start line, and I got to eat some Cabot cheese! Anyone who’s seen my car knows that I love at least two things: running long distances and eating Cabot cheese!

In any case, the rest of the day was spent eating lunch at American Flatbread, lounging in the hotel room, and eating a light dinner at a little Italian restaurant before heading to bed for a solid night’s sleep.

Sunday, I got up at 5:30 to give myself plenty of time to drink coffee, eat some breakfast, and get into a good head space for the race. My legs were feeling fresh and light, my digestive system was cooperative, and, armed with my heavy duty trash bag to keep me warm and dry before the start of the race, A and I made the 5 minute trek to the starting area so I could check my bag and line up with the 4:00 pace group a few minutes before the gun went off at 8:03am. I had the usual pre-race jitters back in the hotel room and initially upon arriving to the start area, but once I was lined up with the other runners, I surprised myself with how calm and confident I felt. I was ready and I knew I could both finish and finish around the time I was shooting for while still feeling alright at the end. The gun went off, I ripped my trash bag off, and crossed the start line.

Once I got going, I hardly even noticed the rain, which, despite my Saturday weather-induced panic attack, I had know would be the case. I was happy to have picked up a last minute pair of gloves and ear covering headband at the expo the day before, but otherwise, my light capris and two light layers of Team Wicked Bonkproof long sleeves proved to be the perfect combo for the temperature and weather. I hovered in the 8:50-9:10 pace range for the first 10 miles and felt relaxed and easy. The course was beautiful, with it’s spring green rolling hills and epic views of a choppy, angry Lake Champlain. I didn’t mind the mud or the puddles or the few ill-placed water stops that made all of us stop short because the other runners and volunteers were so friendly. At each mile marker, I’d reflect on something that I had really enjoyed about the last mile and that helped keep me staying positive and moving forward when things got a little harder  when we started hitting some of the harder hills in the 13-17 mile range. Those zapped me a bit, energy-wise, and my pace slowed down, but I was still on target and knew that if I had a few conservative miles where I needed to take it a little slower, I’d have more energy in the tank for the last 10k and I could push again, when it was going to be flat/downhill, the crowd support would increase again, and I’d have the wind at my back.

And, just as I had wanted to, I started to speed up again after the 20 mile mark. I was certainly feeling tired, but knew with only 6 miles to go, that I’d make it. But then my left glute started feeling a little tighter than I appreciated. I stopped to walk through a couple water stops to give it a break, and that helped for a mile or two and didn’t slow me down much. Around mile 23, the outside of my left knee started talking to me, too, but pretty quietly at first. At mile 23 in a marathon, though, everything is sort of talking to you a little bit, so I made a mental note about it, but kept going, stopping at the water stops to stretch my glute, which seemed to be getting tighter as I went on. I started getting discouraged since my pace had dropped pretty rapidly, but thought as long as I kept stopping to walk and stretch a little at the water stops and as needed, I’d still make it. I wouldn’t come in sub-4, but I might still PR by a couple minutes.

Around mile 24, I had to stop and stretch out my glute and then when I got going again about 20 seconds later, my knee started talking again, but even louder. I run-limped past another woman who had stopped on the side, complaining of the same issue and a medic on a bike who was passing by gave us a stretch to do. I tried it and it made it feel better, so I started going again. I made it about 1/10th of a mile before I had to stop again. I stretched and then walked until it felt like it loosened up and then tried running again. I only made it a few strides before it hurt so much I had to stop again. I pulled off to the side of the bike path we were running along and stretched again. When I started to walk after stretching, I only managed to hobble forward two steps before my knee hurt so bad I crumpled and started to cry. I don’t think any pain has made me cry since I was a little girl, but this did it.  Several other runners stopped to try to help me, but I told them to keep going. I kept trying to hobble forward, determined to make it to the finish line, only 1/2 mile away at this point. The pain kept intensifying.

A very nice runner or spectator (I’m not sure what he was) came to my rescue and said he’d help me hobble to the finish and this time I agreed to the help. We made it a few minutes, stopping every couple feet when I couldn’t move, before medical volunteers saw us and made me stop. They hobbled with me for a little bit, but then told me that they had to call a golf cart to take me to the medical tent, and that they didn’t want me to finish. I called and left a voicemail for A from one of their cell phones. Stubborn, I made them keep walking with me while we waited about 15 minutes or so for the golf cart to arrive. I thought, maybe I could get to the finish before they’d come to get me, but with having to stop every couple steps, this didn’t work, and I was shoved into the golf cart and transported off the course.

This was certainly not the race nor the weekend I had imagined for myself, and I am so incredibly frustrated and upset that I ended up injured after several months of solid training, of really listening to my body when it needed an extra rest day or some easy miles, after struggling with my ankle injury that still likes to flare up every once in awhile and is a constant effort to mediate, after missing my fall marathon. As stupid as it sounds, I’ve cried a couple times over it. But now I’ve got to work to channel this setback into some positive move-forward energy.

Other than the injury, I can truly say that I feel pretty darn good for having run a fast (for me) almost-marathon yesterday. That is a huge indication of my fitness level, and, if I’m smart about rehabbing, I will come back bigger, faster and stronger. I will kick some smaller race distance ass this summer, I will do some much-needed track work, I will strength train, I will train through the heat and then through the beautiful fall, and the harsh winter months again, I will run Boston, and then, I will be back next year, Vermont City Marathon, because you haven’t seen the last of this runner yet.

Thankful

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It’s Thursday!  What’s topping your “thankful for” list this week?

I’m feeling particularly thankful for having a rigorous Orgo professor last semester so I’m not entirely lost in my “oh my goodness we have so much to cram into 6 weeks of class” biochem lecture this summer.

 

Over 1000 pages of fun in 6 weeks! Whoo!

Over 1000 pages of fun in 6 weeks! Whoo!

I’m also pretty pumped about the sports massage I got last night AND my new iPad mini, both of which make me incredibly thankful for my life circumstances  and being able to enjoy such purchases.

Waiting

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I definitely want to continue the story I started last Wednesday. I’ve had bits and pieces rolling around in my consciousness for years, so it might come out piecemeal and in spurts, but I do intend to play with it more. I often find myself dreaming up elaborate scenes and story lines in my head or actually composing paragraphs while I’m out on longer runs, but then when I sit down later to write it all down, it’s gone, or not nearly as interesting as I remember it being before I tried to capture it on paper.  But I’m going to try to get it all out anyway.

 

BUT, that being said, this week is light on the running and heavy on the intense and difficult summer class so I’m going to give you a piece of writing that’s a hilarious blast from the past. Well, hilarious to me, to see how angst-y and unsettled I was in high school. I stumbled across this in kind of a roundabout way earlier this week as I was cleaning up my Gmail inbox and organizing all my old, personal mail. I came across something that referenced my old LiveJournal (did any of you have these back in the day?! What’s up early Facebook/blog hybrid!) and so I, of course, had to go through it and read some of junk I posted my last two years of high school and first two and a half years of college. What I mostly gleaned from it was that I was obsessed with the idea of being in love, was generally depressed and/or angry, and really loved to write poetry. So, without further ado, I present you this gem, that neatly sums up pretty much my entire LiveJournal minus the annoying quizzes and surveys I posted:

This dark place where we dwell, waiting,
is just a mirror image of my dream
poised precariously at the edge.
Euphoric catastrophe living, seething,
moving along the cracks scarring my reflection.

this one – my life line—petite.
thin curves hard to follow,
turning sharply and indistinctly
piercing my existence imperceptibly.
I can trace the elusive path quickly
but only to a point
and then it breaks again; blurs, fades…

Ah, my love line.
I refuse to see it all,
frightened by its fickle contours
and deceptively delicate linear track
that I hope extends eternally
defying life’s limits
disproving gallant gravity
doubting all scientific logic
because “love knows no boundaries”

no boundaries but those binding me,
chaining me in my personal hell
as I watch my own reflection loving
learning, dancing, playing, talking, growing.
while my body sits on the sidelines
my destiny played out by an image,
the disturbing imposter eating my body
and forever deconstructing me

I write my name in smoke
and watch each letter disappear.
I smash my reflection to the floor,
showering myself in a sprinkle of iridescent shards,

Reintegrating my body and my image.
And only seven years bad luck for the effort,
in a lifetime of sadness,
in a lovetime of uncertainty.
Waiting.

 

Do you have any angst-ridden,  high school writings or journals that you’ve held onto?

Solitude

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I’m standing on Nickerson Field surrounded by graduates, reminiscing about my own college experience — my regrets, my accomplishments, how far I’ve come since then — when the band starts to play and everyone on the field starts singing along. I’m happy, of course, at this joyous celebration, but I’m also overwhelmed by such a wave of emotion that I almost start to cry. This happens to me a lot, I reflect, grimacing my face to hold back tears. At sports games, at races, at concerts and parades, movies, comedy shows. I wonder if it happens to anyone else?  It’s like a million different stories, hopes, disappointments, broken hearts, successes wash over me all at once and all I can do is drown in the tidal wave of intensity.  I feel so interconnected with humanity and it’s such a beautiful and magical feeling to be channeling all of that at once. I’m all alone in the crowd, but I’m a part of every single soul there. And so I cry.

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Today I had one of those days (probably some female hormone thing) where simple tasks like putting pots away made me suddenly want to cry. Everything made me flustered and cranky. I was tired. I didn’t go running. I spent the whole day feeling lonely and isolated, sad and unloved, even though I know none of that is actually true. Today was one of those days where it was hard to focus and hard to appreciate all the little things I normally love. I have a day or two like this a month, and I know it will pass, but usually I indulge myself a bit, let myself wallow in it while that sadness lingers. I listen to depressing music, read old emails that make me feel bad about myself, or think of all the reasons my life isn’t what I want it to be. But today I decided to focus on those moments when I feel so interconnected to the world, like at graduation. I forced myself to laugh and make a joke when I felt more like getting annoyed or angry. I spent some time organizing my personal email, following up with people when I felt like shutting down, and forced myself to write here when I didn’t feel like I had anything worthwhile to say. I reread emails that made me feel good and thought about compliments that people had paid me. And you know what? Even though I did let myself listen to some music that made me sad (it’s not my fault the Lana del Ray song “Young and Beautiful” from The Great Gatsby is so darn addictive!), I am closing the day feeling peaceful and at ease instead cranky and miserable.

So it made me think that maybe happiness is a daily choice and not some grand, distant state we all should be striving towards for the future. Maybe it’s here and now, everyday, if we only let ourselves feel it.

How was your day today? Do you ever have moments where you feel like crying when you shouldn’t?

 

 

 

Move it! May 13 – May 17

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Last week was the middle week of my marathon taper, so of course I spent the majority of it feeling fat, slow and like every stair, sneeze and food item was out to get me. I ran short, easy runs, walked a lot, didn’t take on anything new and focused on eating good, healthy foods and drinking lots of water, so all in all, I’d say it was a success.

Monday, Aaron and I went for a walk after work.

Tuesday, for some stress relief before my exam, I ran 5 easy miles with some surges.

Wednesday was an awesome stadium workout at Harvard with November Project and I’m happy to report no soreness at all after this week’s workout!

Thursday I decided to sit outside and drink wine after work instead of working out.

Friday I ran a little shy of 6 easy miles on hills, again with November Project.

Saturday I ran 10 beautiful and easy miles with my brother-in-law. I can only hope I feel this good during my marathon (especially at, say, mile 23)!

This was part of my Saturday run!

This was part of my Saturday run!

This week will be another week of light running.  I won’t be doing any stadium stairs or crazy hills or anything like that and I’ll probably burn more calories lifting a water bottle to my face and obsessively checking the Sunday forecast than I will running, but that’s what this week is supposed to be all about.  I have a sports massage scheduled for Wednesday evening to get my legs super ready and that’s probably what I’m looking forward to the most out of this week, fitness-wise, aside from the race.

Hopefully this time next week you’ll be reading a full account of how I CRUSHED it out there!

What’d you do last week to stay fit? Any goals for this week?

 

 

You DO Win Friends with Salad!

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I think Homer and Bart are wrong! At least if you bother to make your own salad dressing.

My regular lunch-time salad at work. This week's dressing was a spicy mustard vinaigrette.

My regular lunch-time salad at work. This week’s dressing was a spicy mustard vinaigrette.

 

Store-bought salad dressing is probably one of my least favorite things. Most of them don’t taste very good and they are usually way too full of preservatives, soy, sodium, sugar and other not-so-great ingredients, turning your well-intentioned salad into something little better than something from the chip-and-cookie aisle.   Whatever store-bought dressing you’ve been indulging in, I promise you can make a homemade equivalent that tastes better and is better for you.

The good news is that it’s super easy and fast to make your own dressing in a variety of flavors with just some basic oils, vinegars and spices you likely have in your pantry anyway. This last week along I made a deliciously sweet fig balsamic vinaigrette, a cool and creamy chive and basil dressing and a tangy  spicy mustard vinaigrette.

The formula for a basic balsamic vinaigrette is pretty easy, and then you can grow from there.

For a balsamic vinaigrette, just combine:

*about 1/4 cup of your balsamic vinegar

*a squeeze of a dijon mustard (trust me on this one. It takes the bite out of your vinegar without leaving the dressing tasting remotely mustardy)

*a generous amount of olive oil, drizzling while whisking to combine everything. You’ll know when to stop when you reach the consistency you’d like in your dressing.

 

Right away this formula is easily changed up by using lemon juice as the acid instead of vinegar for a light, lemony dressing. Or use a flavored vinegar for something a little different. Add some garlic or herbs to give it some earthiness and depth. Mustard vinaigrette is just a lot more dijon with a splash of clear vinegar before you add your oil.

If you decide to stray away from the vinaigrettes and decide to try something creamy or cheesy that’s really just one additional ingredient:

*1/4 cup of Greek yogurt or sour cream for a creamy dressing; 1/4 cup of the crumbled cheese of choice for a cheese-based dressing (blue, feta)

*a splash of a clear vinegar (white wine, apple cider, champagne, etc) or lemon juice  (if using a cheese, you’ll mash the cheese into the acid until it forms a liquid-y  paste)

*a tiny squeeze of dijon

* a generous amount of olive oil (sometimes you may want to add some buttermilk, regular milk, etc at this step, too, if you want an ultra-luxurious ranch or something)

*any herbs or spices that give you the flavor you want

 

See?  Simple! It literally takes about 2 minutes to whisk together a dressing, and, if you want to just up the amounts, you can store them for up to several weeks in the fridge, especially any that aren’t dairy-based.   So the next time your reach for the Hidden Valley, try making your own first — I think you’ll enjoy the results!

 

What’s your favorite store-bought dressing? Leave it in the comments and I’ll try to recreate it at home!

 

 

Thankful

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In keeping with some of my summer goals and trying to be more mindful and appreciative of the day-to-day, I thought it might be nice, at least for a couple months, to indulge in a weekly “gratitude” post.  I envision this as just one sentence, photograph or a short list explaining the things I’m thankful for or particularly joyful about in any given week, and to focus small instead of on big concepts like “family and friends”. And I’d love to hear from others what they’re feeling thankful or happy about, too! Let’s spread the joy!

 

This week, a list, as I am feeling an abundance of gratitude:

*to be a part of the beautiful and resilient city of Boston (brought to light by attending Boston Bites Back as well as hearing this news from the BAA)

*tremendously reliable and genuinely kind neighbors who have taken out our dog twice, met with a plumber and signed for a wine shipment for us just this week.

*finally getting a shirt sprayed with “November Project”

*pictures of me putting my face in silly paintings:

sillinesssilliness3 silliness2

What little things are you thankful for this week?