Thursday, 29 November 2012

Carnival!

I wish.  I know the weather isn't the greatest for it, but they really should have more "holiday" (i.e. between Thanksgiving and Christmas) carnivals.  That would be amazing.  Talk about ways to de-stress... Nothing like throwing darts at targets you'll never hit!

Anyway, the point of this was to share another recipe! It actually turned out, and I'm amazed.  Well, truth be told, the meat was dry... I'm not entirely sure why other than maybe because I had to defrost it a bit in the microwave.  One would think meat would be the easiest part....


Honestly, you could do this without the beef patties.  I've just eaten nothing but fruit and nuts all day, and I feel a bit like a squirrel, so I wanted meat.  Otherwise the squash is entirely vegan.  Unfortunately.... I don't really measure things (I'm pretty sure I mentioned this before), but I paid a bit more attention to what I threw in there today, so here goes:

1 carnival squash
1 peeled Granny Smith apple
1/4 Sweet onion
Coconut oil
a handful of pecans
1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon (stole this from a recipe I got the idea from, so it's the only thing I measured :P)
two small spoons (I used my regular kitchen spoons) full of real maple syrup
a few fennel seeds
a pinch of ground coriander
a pinch of ground cumin
some dried (unsweetened) coconut flakes

Oven on 375F.

And now you know the random things I have in my kitchen when I'm otherwise out of food.... (I still have a random acorn squash and butternut squash sitting on my kitchen table waiting for me to get bored and make them)  If you have the fennel, coriander, and cumin, you're half way to having the spices for soup curry... which is freaking amazing, and one day I will have the ingredients at the same time as I have the wherewithal to make the soup and I'll put up the recipe.  It's delicious.

Anyway, back to the squash.  It's a winter squash, and it's way harder to cut than acorn squash.  Apparently, you don't eat the skin either.  Learn something new every day.  The squash itself was pretty sweet.  Cut it in half - I suppose it doesn't matter either way since you end up having to scoop out the insides with a spoon anyway - and clean out the pulp.  Set the halves on a cookie sheet cut side up and coat the flesh with coconut oil.  I sprinkled a little ground coriander and ground cumin here and put two or three fennel seeds in each.  Stick in oven for 15 minutes.

While I was waiting for this to be done, I peeled and cut up my Granny Smith apple and onion.  I used the sweet onion rather than the cooking one partly because the cooking ones I currently have are really potent right now, and partly because the sweet onions are just yummier.  Anyway, toss those in a small mixing bowl with some chopped up pecans (about enough to fit in your palm whole).  Add the 1/4 tbsp of cinnamin, a spoonful of coconut oil (or two... I might have added another spoonful), and two spoonfuls of maple syrup.  I'm going to cry when I run out of my maple syrup.  It's the stuff my boss bottled.  I'm going to have to drive up to TC again to get more from him next summer... it tastes nothing like the store bought thick icky sweet stuff.  It's sweet, but it's basically a liquid.  If you don't have good maple syrup for this, maybe use a smaller amount of honey and more coconut oil.  For one, it'll be too thick and too sweet, and for two, the Aunt Jemima type stuff you can get is really just full of crap you don't need.  I mean seriously, if you have to make something gluten free that comes off of a tree naturally.... o.O  Really?  Not to mention it's generally got high fructose corn syrup in it.... and it's already a syrup you can boil down to make sugar naturally.... that's just not right.  Don't believe me? Go read the labels.  So seriously, if you don't have good syrup, you could probably skip it altogether and just use more coconut oil to keep the fruit moist.

So anyway, toss all that in a mixing bowl, stir it up, and when the time goes off, scoop it into the open halves.  I had some extra that I stuck in a casserole bowl and baked on a separate rack.  The fruit baked down as it dried out, so when I pulled the halves out I was able to fill it back up with the extra from the casserole dish.  Twenty minutes later, poof, done.

If you're really curious, I mixed the ground beef with some ground coriander, ground cumin, red pepper flakes, a spoonful of minced garlic, and some paprika.  If they hadn't been so dry, the meatballs probably would have been pretty good.  I also used the same mixing bowl, so they probably got a little bit of the coconut oil and maple syrup on them.  But yeah, dry meat was fail.  The squash was delicious though, and really filling.  My roommate ate half (and threw the last meatball away... totally would have eaten that!) and was stuffed.  I'm satisfied, but like I said, I've eaten like a squirrel all day. The only bad thing about the squash was that it's a little hard to dig the flesh out to eat.... especially when the skin is hot and slippery with coconut oil (I didn't cover the skin with it, but somehow it got there...).

So yeah, there's another Primal recipe for you.  I was going to go to the gym tonight.... but the cooking and eating took longer than expected and I want to be in bed by midnight so... tomorrow it is?  If I can swing it.  So much work to do, so little time to get it all done.  Let me know if you make the squash though and what you think.  It took about an hour total, but you don't have to really prepare much before, and the last twenty minutes are really just waiting for it to be done so, yay clean up time.

And now time for me to dive back into translating Heike.  The characters are more amusing as I get them into English (or even modern Japanese), so I'm definitely at a more enjoyable point in this project.  So yeah... back to that.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Personal Primal Challenge - Last Post

Ok, well, I'm not surprised I got distracted for the last few days.  Suffice it to say, eating, I was generally really good.... soda, not so much.  But I'm not letting myself be disappointed with me, cause that would only add to stress, so let's look back at my goals.

My goals for this month: 
- Some activity of some kind for at least an hour every day 
- No more headaches!!! 
- Normalized sleep schedule/pattern (as much as this is possible) 
- No more spinal cracking whenever I shift or take a deep breath 
- No more back pain 
- Stress under control 
- Losing a few more pounds and fitting into more of my clothes would be a nice bonus 
- Also, being able to do 1 or 2 pull-ups would be freaking awesome

Well, activity level was pretty low, but I did get in quite a few good walks.  Going to the gym is, not helpfully, the one thing too many right now, so I'm letting it be until I get a little more together.

My headaches have been cut down SO much.  I isolated the worst of it down to my glasses.  The pair I have that works best are scratched at the top, but it's the bottom I generally look through, and the other pair I was using (because this pair is scratched) are too narrow so I was constantly looking through a blurry black bit of plastic.  Other things that caused headaches (other than stress) were La Choy Soy Sauce (not all soy sauce does this) and bread.  Today my headache is very mild and not too constant.

Normalizing my sleep is taking effort, but I woke up today without an alarm, feeling pretty rested, at about 6:30, which was surprising.  I didn't actually get up.... it was cold and I wanted more sleep (that would have made about 6 hours)... but progress is being made.  Candles are helping.

Back pain has gone down a little - I'm making more of an effort to get up and at least pace a bit when it first starts bugging me, but I'll bet actually exercising and building strength in those muscles would help...  Sleep, at least, isn't as painful.  Spine still cracking now and again though.

My stress is not under control, but it's better than it was (by a lightyear or more) when Soushi was sick... That sucked... I'm still feeling behind in school and stressed about finances, but I had some talks with professors I needed to talk to, have some things arranged for next term, and have an interview at a temp agency on Friday, so all I need to do now is get my work done that's due in the next few days and stop worrying about the future, cause God's got it and I can't do anything about it anyway.  That didn't stop me from spending an hour procrastinating on my paper so I could apply for and contact the temp agency... Sadly, if I really want to sit down and work, the best way to get myself to do it is with a can (or three) of soda... I don't know what it is, but coffee and tea (one cup of each today, and I only got a tiny fraction done of what I could have/wanted to) just don't cut it.

As of yesterday I was 138, which is four pounds down from what I started at.  Woohoo! :) Clothes are about the same, but at least they're not too small on me again.

I.... haven't gotten to try pull-ups that much... goes with the gym thing.  Can't do them at home = not doing them at all.  We'll get there though!

Not a wasted four weeks, at any rate.

Update of another kind, my roommate's 19 year old cat isn't doing too well.  She's pretty upset about it, so please keep her in your thoughts and prayers.  There's nothing specifically wrong with George except she's 19 and just deteriorating.  She fell or something on Friday and broke a blood vessel in her eye, which is kinda what started this.  She was pretty active today though, came up to me and started purring, walked on top of me and tripped over Loki to get to Emily.... Still, it's pretty obvious she's not going to last much longer.... Pets are just supposed to stay healthy and live forever. :(

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Personal Primal Challenge - Days 19-22

Right, I'm supposed to be doing this.  Er... School has taken this opportunity to get crazy, just when I got a lead at a temp agency too.  @__@  I've been mostly good, same old... A few sodas, a small pizza on Monday, a pizza today, other than that...

I'm not very good at regular updates apparently.  I can say I'm learning a ton this week.  I need to get my butt to the gym and move around more though.  I spent six hours in front of my computer yesterday typing out a document I have to translate.  I didn't realize my back hurt until after hour five when I looked up and it was magically 1AM...  I had meant to go to bed at 10.  Oops.  My experiment was going pretty decently until last night.... Restart once I get caught back up on my work?

Good news though - I have an appointment with the coordinator for the Museum Studies certificate on Monday to get more information on the program.  I also have managed to email two of the professors I needed to and start talking with them about things for next semester... cause there are no classes relavant to my research being offered.... I really, really only want to take 4, maybe 5 credits next term anyway though.  Seven is kicking my butt, and I really need to be able to have time to work.  This not having any money thing is getting old.  I love what I'm doing, but already this week I've clocked at least twenty five hours of study/class since Monday.  I'm expecting tonight to be another late night too... which is great in that I'm learning a ton and I'm really excited about what I'm doing, but there's no chance I'm getting up at 6 AM tomorrow to substitute teach until 3 when my class starts at 4 and I'll end up at my desk again probably until after midnight tomorrow.  Ah, grad school... and I expected to be able to work at least three days a week... Ha!

While on the subject of gyms (at least my brain is) I need to find my card.  I'll just have to make time to go tomorrow after class.  My spine is unhappy.  I figured out the headaches a bit though - eyestrain. The glasses I got over the summer that were working so great got scratched right after I moved in August, so I've been wearing my backup pair which I'm either looking around or through the really thick rims.  Put my scratched glasses on, and aside from having an annoying scratch near the top of my vision, headaches WAY down.  Not gone, but at least they're not quite so bad this week.

And break time over.  Back to Heike.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Personal Primal Challenge - Day 18

My room is a plethora of smells (read: yankee candles I borrowed from my mom)!  And my computer screen is orange (sorry Matt!).  Actually, even with this (F.lux), I probably should just give up the computer this late, but I wanted to update and I'm looking for a way to get my articles on my ebook reader because my iPad is just too hard on my eyes with the constant reading. I love the software and being able to annotate directly on the file (and not having to print the file, keep it stored somewhere, lug it around, kill trees, all that), but my eyes are just so tired I'm getting nothing done.  So, experiment!  Which means I need to find the cable for my ebook reader.... err...

Anyway, before I run off to do that, I was really good today!  I maybe at three too many bananas.... but only because two of them had to be eaten today or they would cease to be at that perfectly speckled yellow phase and go bad.  That was breakfast, well, one of the four was, along with some black berries.  Lunch was sautéed broccoli and mini bella mushrooms in sesame sauce with a spoonful of garlic and salt and pepper (and some cheese...).  Two more bananas were had at some point, along with a bunch of pepperonis because I wanted meat and that was what was in the fridge.  Dinner was leftover soup, super yummy sharp cheddar cheese, a few slices of pear, a beer, and another banana.  Actually I had too much cheese because I only ate a few spoonfuls of the soup before I got full.

And that was that.  I really didn't eat much today apparently... Tomorrow will likely be a cooking day though, as well as a, hopefully, more productive school work day.  I did get a lot of stuff done that needed doing, laundry and groceries being among them, and admittedly I did get a chunk of my reading done, but I wanted it all done by today so I could focus on my translations and Classical Japanese tomorrow.

So tonight I am trying to wind down by candle light, and the program I just put on my (read: Matt's) computer, F.lux, is supposed to take away the blue light that screws with circadian rhythms, so here's hoping my little cheating won't mess up my experiment too horribly.  I think my roommate thinks I'm nuts though.  *shrug*  Sleep is one of those necessaries.  I slept horribly last night, too.  I drifted off a bit for maybe two hours before the door opening woke me up, then I just couldn't get back to sleep until probably 1 ish.  I'm hoping for better results tonight.  I may end up making a cup of chamomile tea when I'm closer to being ready for bed.

Random though, I wonder what our electricity bill will be next month. ;P  I'll be amused to see if it goes down at all.  It should.  I think I'm the biggest lights-on offender.

That's all for now.  Off to find that cable and hopefully get my files working on my ebook reader.  Poor thing's been neglected since school started anyway.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Personal Primal Challenge - Day 17

Bacon and veggies for breakfast; a sandwich (minus the bread), salad, and fruit, courtesy of CJS, for lunch; leftovers for dinner.  I cheated with a cookie (2, actually) at lunch.... I don't think I can blame that for my current headache as it started a good hour and a half after I ate the last cookie.

I slept really well last night!  I don't know if it was the candle-lit wind-down, the glass of wine, the book (The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett), or the position (stretched out on my back).  More than likely it was a combination of all of the above.  Half of me would like to skip the hour long wind-down, but I was able to get up at 8 and not be too cranky, despite my loud neighbors being what woke me up... so that's a plus.  No short cuts to being healthy, I guess.  Hopefully I can figure out a routine that makes sleeping easier.  Sleep really shouldn't be so difficult, but it's always been for me.

Anything else I can think of to talk about here today would consist of a rant or a complaint, so I'm just going to give the world the bird and call it a night.  It's a few hours early, but it's Friday... I can't go to the bar with Jen (cause it'd take 14 hours and a few thousand dollars to get there), and I can't think of anything else to do that doesn't involve my eyes.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Personal Primal Challenge - Day 16

Back on track today, at least as far as food goes.  I got about 7 or so hours of sleep, but it was pretty bad sleep... I proceeded to take a nap on the table at the library before class on account of said bad sleep.. it wasn't very comfortable.

Anywho, recap on the day -
"Breakfast" (technically, though it was about 11:30 by the time I sat down to eat it) was stir fry - ground beef, green pepper, onion, carrot, and zucchini in sesame oil with some worcestershire sauce, garlic, sesame seeds, and red pepper flakes.  It was, to my utter surprise, sweet.  It was also surprisingly thick, like gravy textured.

Iced tea and water got me through the day at school, and then I ate a handful of dark chocolate chips before I went about making dinner.

I'm quite pleased with how dinner turned out!



Now, I'm fully aware that Butternut Squash Soup is not supposed to be chunky.  I've never eaten a butternut squash before, and I only briefly skimmed over a few recipes online before I got bored of sitting... so this is my own concoction.

1 butternut squash
1/2 cooking onion
2 carrots
6 strips of bacon
1 spoonful of garlic
1 pinch of fennel seeds
1 pinch of coriander powder
1 pinch of cumin seeds
1 pinch of paprika
1 apple
chicken bullion or chicken broth (I boiled the bullion with the garlic... no I have no clue how much water I used)

So I don't measure things... kinda like I don't read directions... But it was super yummy (albeit a little sweet)!  I cooked the bacon first and pulled it out, cooked the chopped squash in the grease (actually I had to add some more from the cup in the fridge, about two spoonfuls).  If I do it again, I'll remember to mash up the squash and the apple (I used a red delicious since that's what I had) before adding the carrot or the broth (less water next time), and I might skip the fennel seed.  Apparently, although I know it from making soup curry, fennel seed makes things sweeter... This was borderline too sweet for me - I kinda wanted to sprinkle some chili powder in it.

At any rate, food was good today.  I'm full and, headache check - only a light headache right now in my temples, though my back is incredibly unhappy today.

I'm thinking about ways to lower my stress, and I think I need better sleep at a more regular time. No more studying until 2 AM.  I want to get up earlier, like I was over the summer.  So, in Michigan, the sun sets pretty early and the sky isn't always blue.  Winter sucks like that sometimes, but if humans can alter their rhythms to survive nocturnally (been there, done that), then there have to be a few things I can do to extend/increase my "daylight" hours to give me a fuller day while still shutting down for night time at a decent hour.  I'm going to try candles, and getting off my computer (this will be one of the last things I do tonight).

I've also been skimping on the "play time."  Actually I've been skimping on "me time" altogether.  So I need to figure out when/how I can do that every day, or at least every other day.... just for a little bit, so I can turn school off.  It's so different being a worker and being a student.  When you work, sure, you think about your job, your students, what you did, what you can do better on your off hours, but they're still "off hours."  You walk out of the building and that's it.  You're done for the day (generally).  Now, I'm only in class about seven hours a week, I study in the library probably about the same amount, but then I come home and I study at my desk, I read on the couch, I do homework at the kitchen table, it just doesn't end.  And I have no end of homework and studying - which is great, this isn't a complaint - but then come night time when I want to sleep, it just doesn't happen.  I'm tired and stressed so what work I have and can do takes that much longer to finish, which stresses me out more, and it's just not a cycle I want to live in for the next five years (yeah, okay, it'll probably be longer, but I can dream!).

Step 1 - identify the problem - complete!
Step 2 - consider solutions - in progress

And now for something completely different.
Soushi is doing good!  He's running around, being cuddly, eating, drinking, being normal... dare I hope whatever it was has passed?  Do I get to keep my kitty?? :D  Lots of thanking and hoping from this end.

And because it is November 1st, I'm obligated to say.... I will not be doing NaNoWriMo this year.  I considered it... crazy as my life is, I did actually consider it, and then I decided that it just wasn't worth it.  My stories are still very much in my head, but they'll just have to stay there a little longer.  Maybe over Christmas break?

I think I may take myself hiking this weekend.  There are a few state parks not too horribly far.  It'd be nice to get outside and moving around.  I will resist the urge to bring one (or more) of the books off the pile on my desk. -_-

Speaking of books, I have some reading to do for tomorrow before it's computers off time.  That's all for now.