Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I Need A Detox

Don't worry, I gave up liquor a long time ago. I can't even handle one lemon-drop martini, but that's another story for another day. No, believe it or not, I need a detox from food. This weekend we had an amazing celebration with lots of family and friends. My in-laws were able to dedicate their vocational training center for disabled adults. This weekend was the culmination of many hours and months of hard work, fervent prayer, and a vision.

We had many family members travel to York from: Ohio, Colorado, Minnesota, and Iowa. It was so great to spend time together celebrating and having a fun time. I knew my mother-in-law would be crazy busy with all of her other responsibilities, so I was very happy to make some food for all of us to enjoy for the weekend. I made very easy things that would be durable enough to wait in the refrigerator until needed. I worked steadily for a day and was honestly pretty embarrassed with the attention it created.

Unfortunately, I must have been eating McDonald's soft-serve ice cream, Wal-Mart red velvet cake, and Martins kettle-cooked potato chips instead of taking pictures. I did take a few of Friday evening when we enjoyed:

loaded mashed potatoes (four words, people: BJ's thick cut bacon)

beef brisket
steamed green beans
caesar salad
balsamic bbq chicken
broccoli-cauliflower salad
ice cream cake

I don't know if I'm unusual, but I notice when I eat food loaded with additives - my skin and hair totally pay the price. I feel sluggish, greasy, and smelly. It's gross. I try to keep healthy choices in our kitchen, not only for my family, but also for my lack of self control.

And, so, after this weekend of eating:

Thursday: baked rigatoni, cheesy garlic bread, mixed greens (with roasted asparagus, goat cheese, and pine nuts), fresh watermelon, and key lime pie

Friday: see above

Saturday: chicken salad sandwiches, potato salad, pasta salad, fresh fruit, leftover brisket, tossed salad, and assorted cookies, ice cream, and cake

Sunday: sausage sandwiches, leftover everything

With the exception of a whole lot of starches, most of these foods are relatively benign. The problem, for me, was all of the other extras [in which I was not in control of the ingredients]. I won't even admit how many helpings of soft serve ice cream, bags of chips, and pieces of cake.

Sunday evening I was already starting to feel a little yucky. I took a two-hour nap and woke up with a craving for fiber and color. I headed to Giant and picked up a few things for a light-ish dinner.

Yes, that's butter on a steak, doesn't that suggest light and detoxifying? Okay, so I started off a little slowly on the whole detox thing.

We also tried this. I happen to really enjoy Kashi products. I would have chosen a different version of their pizza, but I knew I should pick something pretty tame for Rob to get on board with a frozen pizza. The verdict? The crust was a little cardboard-like, but all in all, it wasn't too bad.

Then, there was this. A spinach salad with goat cheese, raspberries, and pine nuts. And, Joshua made this little gravy boat for me, isn't it cute? I made a simple dressing with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and a splash of orange juice.

Fast forward to Monday. Mondays are usually designated "the first day of the rest of my life". Yesterday was certainly no exception.

If you haven't tried this, I totally recommend it. It is really delicious, especially with fresh fruit and skim milk.

We enjoyed spaghetti squash for dinner. I mixed it with turkey sausage, sauteed peppers and onions, roasted tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella. I'm sure you've noticed, I am fanatical about fresh mozzarella. It is extremely buttery and fresh tasting and adds a unique flavor to just about anything.

How about you? Do you struggle with self-control? Do you notice your body rebelling after eating a bunch of bad things? How do you succeed at detoxing?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Berries With Zabaglione

We had this for dessert last night.

I always feel a little guilty bringing home amazing ingredients to cook delicious food - for other people. Often my kids will ask, "is that for us"? Lately, more often than not, I've had to tell them no. I decided to buy a few extra ingredients yesterday and make us a special dinner, too. We had steak with crusty rolls (the amazing ones you get at restaurants, courtesy of BJ's), broccoli, steamed peas, and delicious berries with zabaglione.

Today I prepared food for a Christening Celebration.

Seafood Quiche

Grilled Veggie Sandwiches with Pesto and Fresh Mozzarella

Fresh Fruit (with Ham and Cheese Pretzel Sandwiches in the background)

Caesar Salads in Frico Cups

The family I cooked for is a really nice family from our school. What I found adorable is how excited the kids at the party were [for the food]. I was astounded at their delight with the grilled veggie sandwiches! I think it is so cool when kids have mature tastes. Last week one of my mom's good friends dropped off a batch of watercress soup. I wanted the kids to try it and they loved it. I like to have my kids try different things, sometimes they like them and sometimes they don't. In this case, I asked Joshua how he managed to get his bowl so clean. He licked it. How cool is that? I'm still waiting on the recipe. Hopefully I'll be able to share it soon!

Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Helpless

For whatever reason, I have found myself accomplishing a lot more in the day than over the winter. I do suspect that I have a touch of seasonal mood swings, but I am happily noticing that my productivity is reaching an all-time high. For the past few weeks, I have started my day around 5:30 with a 45 minute run. Maybe it's that kind of start to my day that provides me with the energy I need to stay focused.

In the past, I have tended to struggle with keeping our house orderly (which therefore spun me into a horrendous mood). The difference? I have expected others to help me. Wrongly, I justified my serving my family with the reasoning that I don't work outside the home. Even though that may be true, I realized that I'm not doing anyone any favors by being a servant. I certainly don't mean that I haven't been serving my family, but I refuse anymore to be a slave, and the only one that works to keep the house running smoothly.

I am beyond thankful to be able to stay home full-time with our children. I am grateful to my husband that he works so hard to support us so comfortably. I love him, but let me tell you, my friends - he is helpless. I hope you don't think I'm being unkind, I'm just being honest. I'd like to think that if he wasn't so overwhelmed with work that I could train him to be helpful around the house. Naturally, though, he does not see what needs to be done, cannot cook anything (!), and has cleaned a bathroom one time in his life. Seriously.

Now, please let me say that I love my mother-in-law. She is honestly one of the most gracious people I know. She did a great job raising four kids (one with severe special needs), but maybe she erred on the side of doing too much. I'm not sure that he was ever expected to help with general household work (mowing the lawn notwithstanding).

Does anyone else struggle to find the balance in serving your family but also expecting them to help? I have found myself starting with some small things, but I'm encouraged. I now expect my kids to clear their own plates and load them in the dishwasher. We've also started tackling the housecleaning on Saturdays. They clean their rooms while I clean the house. I do have to put aside my preferences a little on the room cleaning. They certainly don't do things the way I do, but I have to accept a little more clutter and a little less perfection. Lastly, they have started to put away their own laundry. They each have a laundry basket in their room and when it's filled I wash their clothing and return their folded, clean clothes [which they then put away].

I have discovered that not only are they capable and somewhat willing, but that they seem to take pride in their work. They tend to keep their rooms cleaner for longer. I certainly have more to teach them, but at least we're getting started. I would love to hear your ideas for training your kids to be self-sufficient. Please share! With summer quickly approaching, I'd love to keep making progress.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

I'm Back...Kinda

I hate making a liar out of myself. One of the hard things about chronicling my thoughts and very boring life is the fact that my written words are immortalized. Okay, I realize that this is pretty dramatic, but do you remember when I said I wanted to houseclean my house before the end of school? Do you remember when I told you I hate the word "busy", as in the context of, "I'm so busy"? Well, I lied on both accounts. I've been "busy". And, I'm not done housecleaning my house yet. I'm sure none of your lives have been disrupted at all by my lack of posting, but I feel a twinge of guilt every time I open my mozilla icon and see that same picture of chocolate pudding pie.

So, here goes - I've been kinda busy these last few weeks. I did tackle some projects around the house. We decided to move some furniture around, giving the girls our dresser, giving their dressers away and inheriting a dresser from my mom's house [for our bedroom]. I also cleaned our bedrooms rather thoroughly and generally de-cluttered the house. I have thrown away bags and bags of things we don't use anymore. As an aside, there are few things in life I love more than throwing things away. With each bag of garbage my mind clears [a little more]. Honestly. I cannot think clearly with clutter.

Here are the results for the girls' room

Here is Josh's room

How do you like this vignette of an 11-yr old's room? Ammunition, football, and the American flag!

I've also been busy cooking [for other people]. I have prepared food for two brunches, a graduation reception, and will be preparing food for a Christening tomorrow. Next week we'll have family visiting and I am planning to prepare food for the four days they will be here. I have thoroughly enjoyed all of my work, but some projects were much more relaxed than others.

Here are some pictures from one of the brunches I prepared for:

Yesterday I cooked at my mother-in-law's house for their graduation reception. I fed approximately 180 people. I thought I was going to have a heart attack.

I usually don't feel stressed in cooking for other people because I methodically plan each and every minute of the preparation and serving. I think (okay, I know) that I completely underestimated how many people that actually is. And how much food 180 people can actually eat. The food was disappearing at alarming rates. Really. I'd say all in all the day was a success, but I wasn't prepared for the emotional response I'd have to the panic I felt. I was sure we were going to not have enough food. At the end, we had some leftovers and my overall impression was one of accomplishment - but I'm just not used to being so frantic. And, I realize that I need to accept help. To think I can successfully feed so many people in such a short time with little help is delusional. I cook because I enjoy it and to keep the joy in my work is to realize that I need help. And the worst part? I was too frantic to take pictures.

I'm sorry I don't have pictures, but here is what I made:

for 150-

bacon-wrapped scallops
broccoli and cheddar mini quiches
asparagus and red pepper mini quiches
chicken salad croissant sandwiches
roast beef sandwiches with horseradish mayo, cheddar, and spinach
veggie tray
spinach and artichoke dip
fruit tray
cheese and cracker tray
mini key lime pies
sugar cakes
cowboy cookies
molasses cookies
coconut macaroons
chocolate mint brownies

additional food for 30:

grilled soy-lime ginger shrimp
crab-stuffed mushrooms
pasta salad

Lastly, I planted a garden! I have been thinking about having a garden for quite a long time. For some reason, I find a sustainable lifestyle so romantic. I picture Rob and I spending our retirement on a farm in rural Iowa and simply working the land. I sincerely hope that at the end of this growing season I still want to do that.


Fig Tree


My Herb Pot (Chives, lavender, basil and parsley to appear...hopefully)

Mint and Tomato Plants

Our official garden: carrots, green beans, beets, sugar snaps


I also planted lettuce and swiss chard, but I have yet to see evidence of it. I think our local bunnies have discovered the tender leaves sprouting up in our "main garden" so I made a fence with chicken wire and posts. I keep having visions of Peter Rabbit and Mr McGregor. I'll keep you posted with the results of our plants and if I can successfully keep the bunnies away!