Dinner this week – 3/18/24

March 18th, 2024 — 2:26pm

Chopped Italian Salad - salami and pepperoni, mozzarella, pepperoncini, red onion, chopped romaine lettuce, chickpeas, bell pepper, black olives, cherry tomatoes, vinaigrette.

Paleo Fish Tacos – I’ll make the slaw but will serve on Carbonaught tortillas. GF for me, regular for Josh.

Chicken Salad wraps – cold rotisserie chicken, apples, celery, red onion, bell pepper, and pecans. Mix half regular mayo, and half Truff mayo to taste. Add lots of pepper.

Eggroll in a bowl

Brisket! With Franklin BBQ beans, coleslaw and southern-style green beans. Best! (Brisket and beans from the Franklin BBQ book.) Coleslaw dressing – half mayo, half sour cream or dairy-free plain yogurt (I use Culina), apple cider vinegar, celery seeds, a little bit of sugar, salt and pepper.

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Dinner this week – 3/4/24

March 4th, 2024 — 11:38am

White bean soup with ham and collard greens that I didn’t make last week

-this recipe exists in my head and I’ll try to write it up. It’s loosely based on this one, but I use dried beans and ham steak and make it in the instant pot.

Korean Beef Bowls
-we eat this with cauliflower rice and store-bought kimchee.

Carne Asada
-I have some pre-seasoned meat in the freezer. We’ll eat this with low carb tortillas, avocado and possibly some pinto beans I have frozen from a previous meal.

Greek Meatball Bowls
-I make Tzatziki dairy free with Culina plain coconut milk and it’s so good. I can’t get enough of it.

Chicken Shawarma
-I buy the NY Shuk Shawarma seasoning from Sprouts. Along with the red onions and parsley I’ll also chop up cherry tomatoes and cucumbers and toss them with a little preserved lemon paste, also from NY Shuk. It’s so good.

Always in the freezer for when we really don’t want to cook:
Low carb pizza crusts from Carbonat, low carb, gf chicken strips to eat with a salad

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Dinner this week – 2/26/24

February 26th, 2024 — 1:49pm

The theme these days is what is super easy to make. Also, I’m trying to free up some space in the freezer so all of these are meals I can accomplish without going to the store. 

Salad with chicken and goat cheese 
-rotisserie chicken, goat cheese, apple slices, pecans, red onion, greens, some kind of homemade vinaigrette

Thai Basil Beef 
-subbing in ground beef because I’m lazy.

Mini Meatballs and pasta
-bless me for making a double batch of meatballs back in December and freezing half of it. We’ve been eating this pasta because it’s the best tasting low carb pasta I’ve found.

White bean soup with ham and collard greens
-this recipe exists in my head and I’ll try to write it up. It’s loosely based on this one, but I use dried beans and ham steak and make it in the instant pot.

Tacos
-standard ground beef tacos. Will use carbonaut tortillas to keep it low carb.

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2022 and 2023 years in review

February 8th, 2024 — 7:53am

This is my eighteenth and nineteenth annual year in review. To read past reviews click here.

If I were to describe these past two years in one word or phrase it would be life and death.

I’ve struggled to write this over the past month, trying to remember everything that happened and trying to see it all through a beautiful lens. The truth is that 2023 was the hardest parenting year of my life and on top of that we did two rounds of layoffs at work and two people we loved died.  Most of this happened in January so I never had the space to sit down and write about 2022. In reality, I don’t know how to write about it all even now because I don’t know yet how to make sense of it all. So instead I’m going to write about the shining moments, both good and bad, that describe it as best I can.

It’s early January 2023. We find out right after Christmas that Eden is pregnant. We’re still reeling from that shock and we have to do some really painful layoffs at work.  At the same time, my family is here to say goodbye to my grandmother who is in the last days of her 95-year life. This feels especially raw, we lost my aunt to cancer the year before. I’m running myself ragged planning and cooking meals for everyone. In my enneagram two-ness it feels important to make sure everyone is fed, a way to show my love. A way that I’ll later realize is how I buy love.  In her last days, my grandmother is in rare form, wittier than usual, funnier than usual, and without filter. I hate that my core memory of her last days is of being hurt by the things she said to her grandchildren. Intellectually I know that these words came from a place of love, but emotionally it’ll always stand as a beacon, a reminder that her religion kept a wedge between her and me. Everyone leaves and I am exhausted and a little bit shellshocked. Carrie calls and says she’s jumping on an airplane. She needs to come lay eyes on me, even if just for 48 hours, to make sure that I’m ok. I feel so loved and seen and cared for, feeling a little bit saved by one of my oldest and dearest friends who knew I needed someone to come give me a hug.

It’s September 2022. I’ve got it in my head that Hardy needs a dog friend, an idea I can’t let go of. I’m still not sure how this happened, but we started out wanting to foster a Coonhound and came home with a Weimaraner/Great Dane/American Staffordshire Terrier mix with high energy, separation anxiety, and a good dose of dog shelter-induced trauma. He turns our life upside down and we question continuously if we’re the best fit for him. We also fall in love with him. We spend a Europe-trip’s amount of money on dog training and embark upon a new way of life, helping Hardy be a better-behaved dog too. We learn that it’s never a good idea to buy a dog for your dog. We still love him. We still aren’t sure if we’re the best fit.

It’s a Thursday night. Brian is dying and there’s not much time left. One of his final wishes is to drink some really good whiskey, something the cancer in his liver hasn’t allowed him to do for a long time. We buy the best bottle we can afford and toast him over Thai food. We all cry talking about what he’s been through and how much we love him, how much so many people love him. It’s the last time we’ll ever see him. I’m so glad that I hugged him when I walked in. Josh will always regret that he didn’t. Brian battled stage four cancer for almost three years and died at the unfair age of 45. He was such a good man. We’ve lost so much.

It’s January 2022. Dexter has been sick and has slowed way down. He needs too big of a surgery and we don’t feel it’s fair to an old dog body to put him through that. Honor loves Dexter the most and has been sleeping with him every night for years. He’s the one who makes the decision that it’s time. I’m so glad that I don’t have to force this upon him. The vet has strict covid rules still in place so we all can’t go inside to be with Dexter as he passes, only one person at a time. Honor chooses to go. He’s only 18. I hate that he has to go through this. We bury Dexter wrapped in his favorite blanket next to the garden. We Facetime Eden for our little burial service. This is the first big event that she hasn’t been home for.

It’s December 2022. We drive to Aspen and eat at our favorite Italian restaurant. I always get the seafood risotto. It’s so good. Aspen is glittery and the kind of cold that takes your breath away. I am utterly delighted. We walk the streets and then stand in line at the Belly Up. We see Marcus Mumford perform in a room so small he wraps up his set with a couple of unamplified songs, just his voice and a guitar. It’s beyond magical. I cry. It feels like church but without the guilt. He skips the charade of the encore. We drive home in the snow, the only car on the road, high on the beauty and magic of the night. It was perhaps my most favorite thing that happened in 2022.

It’s May 2023. Josh and I have been doing a round of therapy together.  Something clicks for Josh about his childhood experience that makes things make sense for him in a way it never has before. All of the pieces get reordered and it changes our marriage forever. I grieve the time we’ve spent with things being harder than they need to be. But maybe it all happened as it’s supposed to. Loving someone long-term means forgiving a thousand times. Laughing and crying thousands and thousands of times, constantly evolving together or waiting while the other one catches up. Loving each other long-term can be so brutal, so beautiful. It feels like such a worthwhile endeavor.

It’s June 2023. Eden is in the hospital for a week with early labor, pumped full of all manner of medication. I thought the babies would come early, but not this early. Contractions finally stop and she goes home and we also drive back home. She is back in the hospital before we even made it through our five-hour journey. We’re packing, ready to leave again at a moment’s notice. We decide we’ll take our new (to us) Airstream with us so we have somewhere to stay while we’re there. It’s Monday morning and she’s calling to tell us her blood pressure spiked and she’s having a C-Section. We’re on the road when the babies are born. I am terrified for Eden’s life. The babies are 29 weeks. We’re grandparents, Birdie and Pops.  Eden suffers not only a difficult pregnancy but leaving her babies behind in the hospital. They do remarkably well in the NICU and come home 60 days later. She’s such a good mother, displaying a grit that makes us both amazed and proud. The babies continue to thrive. We love them.

It’s the end of summer 2022. We travel to Denver for a two-day concert with friends at Red Rocks. We laugh and eat good food and love having VIP access. We wander through the Red Rocks museum, finding the shows listed on the walls that we’ve been to before. I find my first concert ever, DC Talk.  It’s October and we drive to Denver again for another concert. We’re seeing Metric, Josh’s favorite band. He has the best time he’s had all year, taking beautiful pictures, immersed in the music. It’s my 42nd birthday and we’re at the Hollywood Bowl to see the Lumineers. Ten years before, on my birthday, we’d watched them at Red Rocks with the Colorado Symphony and Orchestra. Because of that, it’s even more magical.

It’s spring of 2023. I’ve been at Proximity for five years. I’m the COO, the second in charge. I’m good at my job. We’re in DC meeting with a company that will white-label our product. The future looks bright and hopeful. I’m sitting in a meeting and get called “young lady”. I go to a 1:1 meeting in another room and the man I’m meeting with tells me, “Don’t worry, I know you’re married.” At that moment I reach my limit of being the only woman sitting at the boardroom table, being ignored, talked down to, leered at, and, in general, undervalued. It’s been a long time coming.  I’m very valued by the rest of our (male) C-Suite, but I can no longer work for an all-male board. I stop wanting to be in the tech industry where the patriarchy rules and I’ll never win by being myself. I want so badly to work with women. It’s October and we have to do layoffs again. I choose myself to be the first to go. I earn more than half our family income and I’ve worked so hard to build so much of this company, it has built so much of me. It doesn’t matter. It’s time. It’s time for what’s next.

It’s early 2023. Honor is on a gap year and decides he wants to pursue the literary arts. He gets a job working at the library. He isn’t qualified for the job but he gets it anyway and blows everyone away. More than once I hear from library board members about how much Honor has impacted the organization. Everyone is sad when he leaves to go to college. It’s August 2023. He’s packing up everything he owns and we drive him to Denver. He’s starting school, making a life, being braver than I ever was. It’s harder than any of us expect and he soldiers on for several months but decides to come home for a bit to reset. Life is harder for these kids who came of age during the pandemic.

It’s summer of 2022. Carrie arrives in her camper with her two boys. They post up next to the house for a month. We have the BEST time, even though Josh and I finally get covid. We sit for hours and hours by the pool, the boys swim, we catch up. We grill oysters with shallot butter and they are amazing. It’s reminiscent of when Carrie and Seth lived with me after I got divorced.  Gosh, we miss living in close-knit community. It’s the best summer we’ve had in a long time.

We travel. Each year we visit our regular Airbnb in Santa Monica, walking to our regular coffee shop each morning for breakfast, sitting on the beach at least once a day. We go to NYC on the train after our DC trip, it’s so close we can’t pass it up. We eat dinner from a halal cart in Central Park, we wander Brooklyn, and ride the ferry past the Statue of Liberty. We drive to the PNW and visit friends and family. There are horrible wildfires and I feel terrible the whole time. We switch up our plans and stay on the coast an extra night, loving our Airbnb with its own private beach and clean air. I am continuously dazzled by the Pacific Ocean whenever we’re that far north. We drive to the front range more times than I can count. We spend a week pretending we live in Denver, having the best time, eating the best food, soaking up the culture, feeling surrounded by people like us. We see the babies as much as we can. They are so darling.

It’s spring of 2023. One thing that is so clear to me is how much I value beauty and what a valuable pursuit beauty is. It isn’t something frivolous but something that brings meaning and delight to the world. I know that what I’m supposed to do is make beautiful things and make things beautiful. We continue to renovate our house: finish up the kitchen remodel, update our bathroom, tile our fireplace, redo both hallways, make the kids’ rooms into well-appointed guest rooms, build new pool fences, build a cabana and continue to make our property an oasis. We buy a 1976 Airstream with great plans to make it perfect. I grow loads of flowers. Nothing makes me feel more delight than believing I’ve had some small part in making something so utterly magical, so utterly beautiful as flowers. We start a complete overhaul of my 1/4 acre garden, scraping the whole thing, making a blank slate to build what’s next. It will be amazing.

It’s Christmas 2023. Eden and the babies are coming. Honor is home. I’ve been not working for a couple of months so I have fully transformed into an Elf. I’ve loved every minute of it, wrapping presents, baking an obscene amount of cookies, handmaking gifts, diving deep into all of the tiny details. I feel creativity seeping back into my veins. I can’t wait for the babies to be here, to spend hours on the couch snuggling them, memorizing their nearly identical faces. I am so proud of Eden, she’s working so very hard to care for them. They’re thriving. I love having the kids back together, they are completely silly around each other and it’s endlessly entertaining. I can’t wait. Josh will have a minor foot surgery after Christmas and we will spend the rest of the year lying around. It will be lovely.

None of it’s perfect, but it’s a rich life we’ve built and are continuing to build. The kids are starting to build their own too, doing it their own way, finding their own path. Sometimes it feels like it’s happening so fast, other times it feels like life is so long. It’s so hard sometimes but it’s also so, so beautiful.  I’m thankful for all of it. And it’s all happening the only way it could.

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A few low-carb recipes we’ve been loving lately

March 4th, 2023 — 1:27pm

Five weeks ago my functional medicine doctor put me on a candida diet to help combat a moderate yeast overgrowth in my gut. I love my functional medicine doc because everything she does is science-based and backed up with lab results. I’ve gone to so many “natural” type providers that take a guess at what’s wrong or wave something over me to give me a diagnosis, all to no avail. I’ve also gone to conventional physicians who have literally told me about my health, “I don’t know what to tell you.” So I’m grateful to take a more natural approach and have it backed by science. And it makes me feel better.

Currently I’m taking a large handful of supplements and eating only uncured meats, eggs, non-starchy veggies and nuts and seeds. I’m not craving sugar or carbs, which is very unusual for me, I haven’t woken up with a migraine other than one hormone based one and my stomach doesn’t hurt!

Here are a few things we’ve been eating. 

• My number one favorite thing right now is this chicken shawarma. We ordered the spices called for in the recipe and it’s SO freaking good. Instead of pita, I eat an unbun tortilla.
Greek chicken burgers. We made these into meatballs and served with a side of tomatoes, red onions and cucumber chopped up. The dairy free tzatziki is really good with Culina plain coconut milk  yogurt.
Noodle free pad Thai. This is loaded with veggies and would be even better if you sub the coconut aminos for tamari and add chopped peanuts on top instead of almonds.
Thai basil chicken. I do coconut cauliflower rice with it: sautéed up the rice with a little oil and then add coconut milk to taste. For a whole bag of cauliflower rice, I use about half a can of coconut milk.
Keto seed crackers. These are really high in fat, but SO good.
Chicken with spinach and artichoke sauce. Serve it with mashed cauliflower.
Carla’s salmon cakes. I always keep the ingredients for these on hand.

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Carla’s salmon cakes

February 4th, 2023 — 1:30pm

ACS_0931-
1 can of good-quality salmon, drained
1 TBS Coconut flour
1 TBS Almond Flour
1 Egg
Generous squirt of Braggs liquid Aminos

Mix together until combined. Divide into four patties and fry in olive or avocado oil until firm and golden on both sides.

I like to serve them on top of a big salad.

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Refrigerator Rolls

November 13th, 2022 — 10:30am

1 cup room temperature butter, cut into pieces
1 cup sugar
1 cup boiling water
2 tsp salt
1 cup cold water
2 eggs beaten
2 Tbs yeast or 2 packages
3 cups white flour
3 cups whole wheat flour

1. In an extra-large bowl, pour boiling water over butter, sugar and salt. Set aside.
2. Let yeast stand in the cold water for 5 minutes and then stir. Add to first mixture.
3. Add beaten eggs. Add flour gradually. Mix well. Cover and place in refrigerator at least 4 hours or overnight.
4. Grease muffin tins. Roll 3 small balls of dough for each muffin cup, like a clover shape. Cover with clean tea towel and let rise for 3 hours.
5. Preheat oven to 375. Bake rolls for 12 to 15 minutes.

Makes approx 3 dozen.

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Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

November 13th, 2022 — 10:26am

IMG_07042 cups fresh rhubarb, chopped
2 cups sliced strawberries
1 1/3 c sugar
1/3 c flour
zest of half an orange
2 Tbs butter
heavy cream and additional sugar for the crust1 recipe for a double pie crust (This is my favorite gluten-free pie crust recipe.)

Mix flour and sugar and fold carefully into strawberries, rhubarb and zest. Add to a pie crust and dot with butter. Top with pie crust ensuring there are vent holes or create a lattice crust.

Brush the top of the pie crust with cream and sprinkle generously with sugar. Bake at 425º 40-50 minutes or until crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly. Cover the crust with foil as needed to keep from burning. (I never cover the crust with foil when I first put it in the oven to ensure that it doesn’t get smashed while the dough is still tender.)

Notes: I never brush my crust with an egg wash. I don’t like the glossy effect of an egg wash and I think it tastes much better with cream.

If you’re using frozen rhubarb, you’ll want to thaw and squeeze out some of the excess liquid before adding it to your filling.

 

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Josh’s Very Famous Mac and Cheese

November 13th, 2022 — 10:13am

It’s important to not purchase pre-shredded cheese for this dish because it is coated with something to keep it from sticking and it won’t melt as well! The Sodium Citrate can be ordered online and keeps the cheese from being stringy.
Prep Time: 20 min | Cook Time: 1 hour 15 min | Difficulty: Easy | Servings: 12

Ingredients:
1 lb Monterey Jack
1 lb White Cheddar
1 lb Mozzarella
1 lb Elbow Macaroni
22 g Sodium Citrate
1 tbsp Dijon Mustard
2 1/4 cup Milk

Directions:
Shred all cheese and mix together, separate a third of the cheese for later.
Heat milk and sodium citrate in a small pot to a simmer.
Add two-thirds of the cheese and Dijon and blend until smooth with an immersion blender.
Separately, boil (salted) water and cook macaroni to al dente.
When pasta is done, drain and rinse with cold water. Mix cheese sauce and macaroni together and spread in a buttered casserole dish.
Top with remaining shredded cheese.
When ready to cook, bake uncovered at 400° until the top is golden brown and bubbly, about 1 hour.

Can be prepared several days ahead of time and refrigerated to be baked when ready. If you’re cooking in a glass casserole dish, make sure to let the dish come to room temperature before placing it in a hot oven.

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Maple Orange Sweet Potatoes with Pear and Sage

November 13th, 2022 — 10:00am

maple orange sweet potatoes with sage and pear

Quantities are a little iffy with this recipe so just follow your heart. I prefer my sweet potatoes to be more savory so I generally add less maple syrup. I generally start these 1-2 hours before I serve dinner and then keep them warm on low until I’m ready to serve.

6-8 Sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks

Juice and Zest of 1 orange

1-2 Tbs of fresh sage, finely chopped

1-2 bosc pears, cored and cut into chunks

2-4 Tbs Maple Syrup

1/2-1 stick of butter

salt

fresh coarsely ground pepper

In a large pot, cover the sweet potatoes with water and gently boil them until they are almost tender. Drain off the majority of the water leaving enough to continue cooking them without burning. Add in the orange zest and juice, sage, pears, maple syrup and butter. Season with salt and a generous amount of pepper. Continue simmering until potatoes are tender and the pears have cooked down a bit. Keep warm on low until ready to serve.

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