Tuesday, June 30, 2009


I have no idea what to make for dinner tonight. I had a restaurant-quality prosciutto, cheese & pesto sandwich on onion focaccia at Lindsey's for lunch. I'm re-creating one of my favorite sandwiches of all time for Christy tomorrow: roasted vegetable and goat cheese on toasty white bread. Puck's on Peachtree used to serve it, until they took it off the menu, so I can't claim that one on my own. I made an all-time favorite last night: fettucini with alfredo sauce (homemade, of course; it's SO easy), peas, and grilled chicken. There is a list of things I *can* make on my fridge for tonight, but nothing's popping out as sounding stellar, for some reason.

Interestingly, this dilemma is a reminder of just how blessed I am. Mom mentioned how happy she was for me that I was able to purchase pretty much whatever I wanted at the grocery store without having to worry about it. She's right. It's a pretty amazing thing, especially considering that I come from a long line of hard-working people who scrimped, saved, and could still barely afford to put any sort of food on the table. I did a lot of research on the people of Limestone County, Alabama in the 1930s, and it turns out that my grandaddy's stories about "eating gravy and biscuits for breakfast, and then biscuits and gravy for dinner" weren't exaggerations. Did you know that in the south, during the Great Depression, some children resorted to eating dirt? Alabama soil is rich in iron. It contained more minerals than they were getting in any other meals, which consisted primarily of water and flour. See Barker's unpublished master's thesis stored at the RBD Library in Auburn for more on that matter. It'll probably bring you to tears, or at least make you shake your head in disbelief that we're really only two generations removed from those living conditions.

Granted, everyone in the family is in pretty good shape now, but I have heard lots of stories from my grandparents and parents about growing up poor, and I have a handful of my own to share. For some reason though, when I was little, it never occurred to me that we maybe didn't have as much money as other people that we knew; there were always pop-tarts in the cabinet for breakfast, peanut butter sandwiches for lunch, Sun-Drops in the fridge, and something good for dinner, so I had no reason to question the financial status of my parents (my today self is cringing thinking about the eating habits of my 20-year-ago self, but that's another and more complicated issue). However, I remember my mom and dad talking about how in the early years of their marriage, they brought a calculator to the grocery store, adding the prices of things that went in the cart as they went along, to make sure they could afford groceries for that week. Somehow, we always had plenty to eat, and as I recall, we ate better than a lot of other people I know. Turns out, there are a lot of amazing dishes you can whip up when you and all your generous neighbors have gardens, and when you have a resourceful mom-chef. That resourcefulness has come in handy living on a graduate student stipend. And, as I learned this week when planning a budget with my husband, your past experiences with money can be pretty powerful. Let's just say we have vastly different perspectives on money that balance each other out - not necessarily different spending habits, but different ways of interpreting the meaning of money, what we spend it on, and how we save it.

Anyway. Just my thought for today, and I'm not sure it makes any difference to any of you out there. I give you these ramblings to say that, I really can't complain about not being able to decide what to make for dinner tonight. It's a blessing that I have multiple options for dinner. I forget that sometimes. I feel like we start to take our blessings for granted if we don't write them down or share them with others occasionally. So there you go. Simple as it is, my hope today is that all of you out there are able to also make whatever you want for dinner. And if you know someone who isn't as blessed, maybe make a little extra and invite them over to eat with you, or send them a plate to eat later, like Grandmother used to do (and still does) whenever she cooks for us.

Friday, June 26, 2009

A Day in the Life

6:58 am: I hear Dave's alarm. I think, "I should get up too; Lindsey said she's leaving her house at 7 a.m." Roll over, go back to sleep.
7:00: I hear my alarm. I think, "I should get up; Lindsey's leaving her house at 7 a.m." Roll over.
7:02: Text from Lindsey: "I'll be there in 35 minutes." Force myself out of bed.
7:08: Go ahead and put on my running clothes; would hate for Lindsey to see me in the 1990 Georgia Tech Homecoming t-shirt I ordinarily sleep in.
7:10: Coffee is going, counting out the number of Frosted Mini Wheat bales (25) I would eat for breakfast.
7:15: Cereal down, coffee in process. Tear up watching the coverage of Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett.
7:35: Pack Dave's lunch and send him off to work. I'm a good wife.
7:40: Lindsey arrives. We realize that (a) we haven't been running much and (b) there is a big 10K coming up and (c) the Peachtree Race magazine we both got last week reminded us that we should be running 25 miles a week in preparation for the July 4 run. Ha! Got a good laugh out of that one.
8:02: Arrive at Kennesaw Mountain for "long" run.
8:17: My route got de-railed. There's a big hole in Kennesaw Avenue right now. Detour, and get confused about how far we've gone, as neither of us wore a watch today. Go us.
9:00: We make it back to the car, looking like we've run 10 miles but really only did about 5. Stretch, drink water, hop in car.
9:15: I make strawberry, yogurt, honey & granola snacks for us. Must replace lost calories.
9:20: We jump in the pool. Feels like bathwater, but there are no kids around. It's quiet, and peaceful. Refreshing.
11:20: I decided I was hungry (surprise, surprise), so trek back to the house for lunch. Made the LBDelicious Summer Sandwich Special: honey wheat bread, light spread of mayo, avocado slices, hummus, ham, turkey, and spinach with a Diet Coke. Mmmm.
11:30: Daily Show & Colbert Report. God bless you, DVR.
12:05 pm: Can't take any more Giada; she made ravioli with wonton wrappers AGAIN. We talk about how nasty they turn out that way. Come on, G. Oh well. Back to the pool.
1:00: Can't be sure, but I think this is when I started to sunburn.
2:45: Lindsey leaves. I feel validated having someone else be lazy with me all day.
3:00: Shower. Totally necessary.
3:15: Review the wedding pictures my mom and kick-ass photographer, Danielle, took of our wedding. Also decide it's snack time: angel food cake drizzled/smeared with Nutella.
4:15: Husband calls; on his way home from work, early!
4:17: Get on Facebook and hide the status updates of a few hundred people. Felt liberated.
4:35: Decide I should probably dry my hair and try to look somewhat presentable for husband. Also figure it would not be a bad idea to wash dishes, take out trash, and tidy up. See? Good wife.
5:15: Hubby is home! Catch up on our days. I continue to file my Big Girl Papers, like benefit and insurance stuff.
6:30: Try a new sushi restaurant, Sushi Zen, in Marietta. Delish. Gorged myself on edamame, a salad, a spicy tuna roll and philadelphia roll.
7:25: Walk to the Kroger next door for random groceries.
8:00: Chloe gets outside time; Dave gets a beer, I make a sweet tea vodka cocktail and we enjoy the evening outside, watching Chloe chase things.
9:00: Kitchen time. on a mission to make something important. Will blog about it later. Dave plays World of Warcraft.
9:35: Clean up the kitchen time.
10:00: Computer time, or as we say in our house, "nerdin' time." Really tired from the events of the day, oddly.
10:50: Time for bed.
day's highlight: not working on anything school related.

I love summer.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Turk-ish Grilled Chicken with Mediterranean Salad

I realize that this blog post, being the first one I write since the wedding and honeymoon, should probably offer some sort of summary or transition to the next chapter of my life, in which I star as a housewife in the suburbs. So: wedding was the most perfect weekend of my life, and coming from a wedding cynic, that should give you some indication of how strongly I felt about the ceremony. My friends reminded me why they are so effing awesome (they came in from places like Seattle, DC, Clemson, Birmingham, Athens, and Lexington; they ran the Big Day 5K with me, they humored me when I decided to play the "name that state capital!" game, they drank a lot, they danced, they made new friends, they made me bedazzled wedding veils, and they've even uploaded their pics to Facebook already), my family was supportive and happy and joined in the fun, I had good hair and makeup, everyone cried when we said our self-written vows, and by the end of the night, I was eating my own wedding cake with little plastic spoons, taking big bites straight off what was left of the 12" base portion (thank you, Gabriel's Bakery!). Honeymoon was as amazing as 10 days in Hawaii can be. We saw where they film LOST. We ate shrimp off the back of a truck that Josh Holloway recommended. We swam with manta rays. We hiked up Diamondhead. We flew over Kilauea. We did not sunburn. We snorkeled. We drank fruity drinks. We literally drove around Oahu and the Big Island. And by the time Friday rolled around, we were ready to come home.

Life is good right now. An almost-there dissertation and a summer with no work have left me with "free time," something that will probably get old but for now I'm reveling in. My favorite hobby at the moment is going grocery shopping, and coming home and making a list of everything we could possibly eat that week based on the ingredients I got and our pantry staples. The list stays on our fridge, and it reminds me of what's for dinner. How domestic is that? I hesitate to use recipes; instead, I try my hardest to make up dishes that sound delicious, are semi-healthy, and able to be made based on what's in the pantry and fridge.

So last night, I took a cue from Good Things Catered and made:

Turk-ish Grilled Chicken
(-ish because I've never been to Turkey nor am I that familiar with Turkish food, but it sounded about right)
3 very large chicken breasts, butterflied (anyone else remember when they used to come 4 to a pack and were smaller? now, that they're only 3 per pack, I half them into appropriate portion sizes, and quicker cooking)
1 cup plain lowfat yogurt
juice of about half a lemon
about equal amounts of: ginger, minced garlic, chili powder, allspice, cumin, cinnamon, paprika, salt

Combine the marinade in a ziploc bag sitting in a bowl, Add chicken pieces, close bag, knead to marinate. Leave bag in bowl in refrigerator for 4 -24 hours. Preheat grill. Remove chicken from marinade, grill until cooked through. Be advised: this chicken liked to stick to the grill, so oil up the grill grates as best you can.

And as a side dish, I created:

Mediterranean Salad

1/2 cucumber, seeded and diced
1/2 can artichoke hearts, diced, rinsed (if you're getting them out of a can)
handful of diced tomatoes (I used quartered cherry tomatoes)
some parsley
handful of kalamata olives, diced

Toss vegetables in a bowl and coat with this dressing:

couple tablespoons red wine vinegar
juice of half a lemon
about 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper
dried oregano

Marinate and serve cold.

I have been snacking on that salad since yesterday. It's great for summer, as it's totally refreshing and healthy. And, if you have a garden, it's a great way to make use of some of what you're growing.

And for lunch? Leftovers?

Mediterranean Chicken Wrap

Take a flour tortilla, heat up in the microwave. Top with shredded leftover chicken, leftover salad, and spinach leaves. Eat & enjoy.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Aloha from Hawaii

SO many fabulous updates to give my 2 readers, but in due time. Right now, let me share with you the most important part of our honeymoon: where have we eaten?

1. Atlantis Seafood & Steak. Delicious ahi poke (raw tuna with some stuff on it) and lau lau, which was scallops, shrimp, and salmon sauteed with spinach.

2. Honolulu Coffee Company, conveniently located next to our hotel, the Moana Surfrider (amazing). Best waffle ever, topped with strawberries, fresh macademia nuts (it makes a difference!) and my new favorite jarred syrup, Coconut Syrup, aka crack in a bottle. Also, the acai bowls are deliciously satisfying after a run. Frozen acai berry with granola and banana. Mmmm.

3. Sushi Doraku. Had the caterpillar roll: tuna with crab, topped with avocado and spicy aioli. Rusans what?

4. Giovanni's Shrimp Truck. Josh Holloway recommended it in this little travel magazine we picked up. Holy Lord that was some amazing shrimp scampi. And the pineapple coconut smoothie? To die for. I'd fly back to Hawaii just to visit Giovanni's again.

5. YardHouse Burgers. You know how sometimes you just need a cheeseburger? We got one last night: a Hawaiian, with pepper jack cheese, pineapples, and some sort of teriyaki sauce. The best burger and fries ever.

6. Fresh Catch. Tasty. Dave loved his salmon & tuna poke.

7. Subway. It was either this or peanut butter sandwiches tonight.

I'm sitting on the back porch of our hotel, all of a sudden feeling extremely fat. We have split all but two of our entrees, so that has helped our waistlines and our budget, a little. Right now, I'm watching people at the beach bar get hammered off really expensive drinks, people eating a really expensive dinner off to our left, Dave reading his Kindle to my right, and a beautiful sunset ahead of me. I heart Hawaii.