Dear Kris with a K _ I am so sorry this never was posted. I don’t know what happened, but I was looking back in my archives for it and it wasn’t there. So I found it _ unpublished. And really, it NEEDS to be known. The story of AMERICA and Neil Diamond and ribs needs to be told. So, here you go, buddy. So sorry for the 8 month delay. I can only hope that since it’s closer to the next AMERICA celebration, Ricardo could be considered for contention in judging (as I’m sticking to the Clean Eats) and all.
I was asked to judge a rib contest. Not like where you line up Angelina Jolie, Demi More and that Olsen twin and guess who’s ribs are the finest. No, I’m talking about tasting delicious meaty (there’s not enough meat on those ladies ribs to eat _ not even doused in barbecue sauce) beef ribs.
I took full liberty of my status in meeting new people at the party with “Am I judging your meats tonight?”
Even better was when we sat down to judge, food was served to me. And I was asked to be honest and judge it. This might be every mother, or cooks of households across America’s wet dream. For once, I am served dinner, and then I get to judge it. When usually, after preparing a solid healthy hearty meal, I get unsolicited detailed judgement. As it turns out of late, Max doesn’t like anything other than cheese roll_ups, and please mom, stop buying those whole wheat tortillas, I can hardly bare it.
But tonight, I sit, among my foodie peers, I am served ribs _ which, I really have to be honest with myself here, I don’t bother to cook ribs. Unless its cooked on the stove or in the oven, Ricardo takes care of cooking all bbq and smoked meats. Still, I can appreciate the time put into these ribs based on Ricardo.
What I really think got me _ other than the meats _ was the freedom and encouragement to discuss food and flavor among other foodies. I mean, Ricardo can only take so many dinners of me and this conversation:
“I like the flavor, and the texture. I think more cilantro, less lime. And this should be paired with pasta, not rice.”
On top of that, we’ve been detoxing our vacationing road tripping ever butt growing bodies with clean eating. OH no, here we go again. Yeah, we’re doing it. So, you can imagine all the other judges (all men) surprise when I’ve been clean eating up to this point, only to put a rib in my mouth and say, “Oh dear God, this is dirty, dirty, dirty!” I thought I said it in my head, but apparently, from the looks of their confused and some what stimulated looks on their faces, perhaps I was a good food loving woman, and yeah, I said it outloud.
The first rib was dry. Apparently the other judges had that rib already, in the buffet for the public. The ribs for the public (read in snotty foodie judge voice) were sitting in a vat of yummy juices and goodness in a crockpot. Excuse, me…isn’t eating the ribs before judging them cheating? I went through and strategically got only the side items and desserts before we judged the ribs.I stuck to the desserts and Diet Coke to cleanse and prepare my palate. I’m committed like that. But I kept my judging of the desserts all to myself (Lemon cream pie with the blue berries and raspberries for American decor wins, hands down. Brownies with frosting runner up)
Anyways, my only reference was the rib samples, and rib #1 had been removed from the vat of juices and goodness and placed into a pan and in the oven to keep warm. So they were dry. They had good flavor though, with just enough kick and heat. A rib, however, should never ever ever have the consistency of turkey jerky. EVER. Rib #2 was better, thicker, and tons of flavor. The others might have mentioned something about being too salty. Whatevs. I, on the other hand, should probably mention that with clean eating, there is no salt. As little sodium as possible. It’s my toughest part of the whole gig. So, by the time I got to this rib, I was in heaven. I love salt. And this rib was good. It seemed like there was a salt rub on it as well as a sauce. A wet rub AND a dry rub!? WHAT, WHAT!? yes. High marks.
And then the last rib was dripping with the most divine and unique combination of flavor. Someone did their research on this judge. It was a citrusy glaze with freshly minced garlic and dear God, what is this moment of divinity? Oh yes, it’s the cilantro…in the barbecue sauce, y’all. SO. GOOD. That bad boy won based on unique flavor, perfect texture of meat, and the fact that I ate it all and asked for another citing, “I’m just not sure and need to eat another to confirm any suspicion.” And I did. I confirmed the hell out of it.
And so, that was our winner. What I really loved was that these rib guys were so passionate about their meats. No greater combination and really compliment is to put me _ someone who loves to eat great food _ among people who are so passionate about their meats. So, thank you Kris with a K. I’m tearing up just thinking about that beautiful moment.
We topped off the rest of the celebration with Neil Diamond songs, and everyone’s favorite American hobby, blowing up money. Didn’t someone mention a recession? We’re Americans who love America _ we eat meats, we listen to Neil, we blow stuff up. Let the fireworks begin.
Thank you Kris with a K!
That’s how I roll.
Song of the day: Anything Neil Diamond
Yesterday, I felt super guilty for taking four days to get the kids laundry folded for them to take up to their rooms. Their chore is to haul it down to me, I wash it, dry it, fold it. Then I tell them when it’s ready I announce it my weekly success of laundry completion, they haul it upstairs and then put it away. It’s a great system except when life happens and I don’t get around to it all in a timely manner. It always takes just long enough for someone to shout out, “Mom, I don’t have any pants.” And there’s my tangible evidence of failure as a mother.
YESTERDAY they put their laundry up. Today, I walk by and see this.
Guess who is learning to do their laundry this weekend?
That’s how I roll.
Song of the day: Dirty Laundry by Don Henley (repeat theme in this house)
I’ve been collecting all of these thoughts on Clean Eating for the last two months. Here you go. So far, my favorite lesson in this adventure has been the money saved from not going out to eat. Here we have a Clean Eating Muffaletta. I’ll pause for the Clean Muff jokes. Go ahead. I can wait.
This clean eating gig has been interesting. Knowing my commitment to an entire year, I had challenges.
First there was that road trip, and then there was the Julie Cakes. I had no idea JulzHolla nor JulieCakes would tempt me so soon like this. I mean, really y’all _ day three? DAY THREE and you’re putting JulieCakes and me within a 1/2 mile radius? C’mon. But I did it! Had I only been eating clean for a week, I bet I would have snuck a cupcake, and then another. Maybe another for the road. But instead _ I let Lucy have one, and then made her let me smell it. It smells really really good. And so far, I’ve been good. This will be a good year for me to prove to JulieCakes that although her cakes are like the best in the whole world. I’m not just using her for her cakes. Indeed, we can extend our friendship past delicious and supreme cakes and cupcakes. It’s like cake abstinence. We’re going to strengthen our relationship by abstaining. This’ll be fabulous.
We picked a menu out of the magazine, that maybe I was a bit too eager or something. I had no idea I was such a picky eater. I always get a kick out of overweight picky eaters. And now I’m one of them.
I have a very small list of things I really don’t like: soy milk, fish, shrimp (unless it’s fried or dipped in butter). And then I have a list of things I absolutely refuse to eat: lamb, deer meat, goat cheese or milk.
Now I have a couple of others I’d like to add to the mix. It turns out, I’m not a big fan of scrambled eggs. WTF? All of the sudden, I’m against them. I get a little gag going on when I eat them. Remember when you were pregnant and you had that morning sickness gig. It’s like that, except we all know I am NOT pregnant. That’s a problem when they are on the menu 5 out of 6 breakfasts. The irony of the eggs and pregnancy comparisons hasn’t escaped me.
Fish is nasty. The texture of fish, like the scrambled eggs, makes me gag. The taste of fish makes me feel like I’ve already thrown up. But I haven’t.
I had a friend of mine call and say she was in town. She wanted to know if we could meet her for dinner. Uhm, someone doesn’t read this awesome blog and her name rhymes with Pusan. That’s what you get for not reading. Everyone else is avoiding dining with me like the plague. Even JulzHOLLA! is on a call only basis. Today’s call went something like, “Did you say you’ve been chewing on a salad for an hour?”
Indeed, I had. The salads are huge. Lots of chewing going on here.
Anyway Pusan and company wanted to go out to eat. But really, it was just too soon. So, I offered to make them dinner. I failed to mention our Clean Eats endeavor. But went with a clean menu anyway with:
Roasted Winter Vegetables
and my personal fave: Chocolate Banana Freezer Pie
I would have won her and her beau over had I not been super eager just to see her. I tried to will an early arrival by having dinner fixed early. I forgot to add in to the equation that Pusan is typically late _ well, let’s just say super laid back. And so I’d cooked the steak early, and keeping it warm dried it out. I also forgot the vanilla in the pie. I think that made the difference. There’s always next time…if they come back.
As with any food lifestyle change, we are figuring this all out. What I loathe is all the cleaning. I love cooking in my kitchen. But I’m the first to acknowledge that I’ll use every pot and pan and bowl and utensil in the process. Which leads to 2_3 loads of dishes every day. It’s time consuming, but I don’t mind that.
What I love about our clean eats is first of all, we just feel great. We’re never hungry and we’re never full. After our Texas tour of all things yummy and dirty_dirty _ I felt like I needed a nap _ for a week or so. Ricardo and I both have energy during the day, we sleep well at night, and we just feel good. I also love the fact that we’re all eating together just about every night of the week. I was in a conversation with some pals the other day and one woman mentioned that they have one designated family dinner a week. And sometimes, they can’t make that one. One? Let’s be real here, about once a week, as Max and Lucy’s schedule gets a little hairy, Ricardo have to divide and conquer, and we end up feeding the kids dinner before we taxi them off to their activities. Then when we get home, Ricardo and I have dinner together. But since eating out is not an option, all of us eating together has been fun. And necessary. I’m currently in a panic over dinner etiquette and it has nothing to do with which one is the salad fork and more like, “Please cut your steak instead of shoving the whole thing in your mouth.” Or “Broccoli kind of sprays when you talk with your mouth full, honey.” Or the fact that I had to make one of our newly published MomOnTheRocks Rules to be “Chew your food.” It’s a family rule. Know it. Love it.
My favorite surprise this far is our budget. I’d venture to say we are spending about $300 a week on groceries. Some of you are gasping at my frivolous bulk buying of broccoli and spinach and low sodium turkey breast, I’m sure. However, what we’re not spending money on is going out to eat. I don’t care how much you budget for eating out, it’s ALWAYS underestimated. So, that we’re not eating out at all _ well, before you gasp at my frivolous groceryness _ I guarantee you that you’re spending more on your meals than me. $300 a week divided by 5 meals (Breakfast, morning snack, Lunch, Afternoon snack, dinner) 7 days a week, that’s roughly $8.57 per meal for a family of four.
Sometimes the veggies go bad, especially if they are organic. I worry that I’m being wasteful. But then Ricardo reminds me of when we’re out to eat and one of the kids balks on their choice for a meal. It’s not what they thought it would be and they don’t like it. So, they don’t eat it. And then one of us eats it so as to, you know, not be wasteful and get all that we can out of the restaurant bill. The spinach that goes bad is $5 (it’s a 1 pound gig, y’all). The meal that one of them refuses averages out to be $8. I got some use out of the spinach before it went bad. I can’t say I got as much out of the restaurant.
What I’m saying is, more time and energy is put into preparing meals and emptying and loading the dishwasher. More money on groceries. Money saved on not going out to eat. We’re eating around the table all the time. We’re learning a lot about the food we eat. I don’t feel sharper (Or is it more sharp?) yet. But I don’t feel too full and talk myself out of my workouts either.
The only thing I really miss are the JulieCakes. But they smell divine.
1 cup frozen blueberries
2 cups fresh spinach (just do it.)
1 scoop vanilla protein
some water to get it to blend (about 1-2 cups)
Ice if you want, but the blueberries chill it just fine for us
Blend. Warning _ it looks like sludge. Tastes delish. Just try it. If you do, leave a comment and let me know what you think. It’s pretty much my salad every other day. We love it.
That’s how I roll.
Song of the Day: Good Feeling by Flo Rida
So, I’m at the gym the other day getting back into shape…again. Because that’s my workout: getting back into shape. And I’m in one of my favorite spin classes. It’s a good workout and all. Yada Yada Yada. But I go for the new tunes. The playlist is always fun, new, inspiring, and loud enough that I can’t hear my heavy breathing. And I think the others are happy they can’t hear me gasping for air either. You are welcome other more dedicated spinners.
That, and this class is going on while Max and Lucy are in swim team, so we’re all getting our workouts on.
I was the annoying one in spin class who showed up late, and I had a couple of gulps left in my awesome coffee mug. So, I stood there and finished the delicious goodness before I hopped on the bike. I was that girl. Which is only slightly less insulting to the rest of the already sweaty brood than the one who reads her kindle in spin class or the one who listens to her own music. You know who you are. And if you don’t everyone else does, because I’d heard about the infamous kindle lady for weeks before I accidentally got the bike next to her. I didn’t think it would be that annoying. But it was.
Anyways, back to my slightly less annoying than those people antics. I got on the bike and started spinning and loving that music from the deejay _ woops, I mean the ass_kicking spin instructor with equally intensive music mix as the workout she was unleashing on my butt.
A cool song comes on, and I ask who it is. She tells me. I write it down. We go up hill another 7 miles, another song I like but am unfamiliar with and so again, I get my nifty notebook and ask again, “Who sings this?” Now, I realize I have to shout pretty loud because a) the music is loud and 2) I’m in the back row.
As a six footer, I’m conditioned to sit in the back row. Except in church. In church we like to sit in the front. I don’t really know why, but it might have to do with the fact that people have to accept us for the giants we are at church. To date, no one has asked us to move. But in spin class, I sit in the back because uh, well, my butt is big, and in spin pants, it’s an extra padded big ass. On top of all that ass bouncing around, I’m too cheap to get new spin pants probably until they split. If you spin or cycle, you know what I mean…they uh, they wear out, like a swimsuit. It’s not THAT bad, except remember, I’m getting back into shape again. So the lycra is getting it’s own workout. And so, you are welcome more dedicated spinners, I have spared you yet again, and I make a point to sit on the back row.
I ask who sings this. It was the Killers, for the record. Which I and my ass find to be a very poignant moment. I write it down. And then two people over, a fellow spin pal says to me, “Hey, do you have a smart phone?”
I answer yes and brace my Killers ass for her to say something like, “Well, good thing cuz you’re dumb.”
But she doesn’t. Between gasps, she explains there’s an app just for me that I should get. Now, she could have been trying to get me to shut the hell up and spin. But I would like to think that she was looking out for my best interest and being helpful. And so, by the end of the day, I had this new app that y’all probably already have, it’s called SHAZAM!
Uh, you can hold it up to any song, and it’ll tell you who sings it and will hook up to your itunes and you can download it right there. Just like that! It also has some feature that keeps a running list of all the songs you’ve inquired about. Which would be good for someone like me because apparently, this whole suggestion was sparked by the fact that I’ve asked about the same song before. Woopsie.
So, I get that I’m a little bit of a splinter in the side of spinners who unite to work their hardest while I ask “Who’s this singing?” and then have the audacity to slow down to write it down. I suppose now, I’ll just take notes that come to mind, and then when I’m inclined to ask “Who’s singing this?” I’ll just wave my SHAZAM app in the air.
And so, spin is good for me, my butt, and now my itunes.
That’s how I roll.
Song of the Day: Read My Mind by the Killers (Because I wrote it down)
I know that Yallison will appreciate what I had to endure to get to her. I worked in O’Hare Airport on a layover. As I finished, I glanced over and found this. You’re welcome Yallison. I love you and I’d endure ten of these just to get to you anyday.
My Yallison lost her father a few weeks ago in a car accident. I am deeply saddened by the news and yet my heart is warmed with support and love from my friends pour out for her. On top of that, when I pushed my way through her gigantic family to get to her, I was welcomed by her family graciously in such a sorrowful loss for all of them. Long ago, I scrapbooked (yeah, it’s a verb….google it) and in one of my scrapbooky quote resource books (yep, they have those) I found a quote, that just well very may be my next tattoo:
“We are friends of our friends’ friends.”
As I prepared to make my way to Yallison, my friends called me, brought over cards to take to her, and JulieCakeLady made them a JulieCake. Well, it was such short notice, she sent me the cake she’d made for her own birthday cake, swearing she’d make herself another one. CHOCOLATE TWINKIE CAKE, y’all.
Yallison’s parents have always been a welcoming example to me. They let me hang out at their house all through high school. And when they moved back to Michigan, I still found them and they still let me visit when Yallison got married. We continued to come back for family vacations together at their lake house several times, this time, welcoming Ricardo, Max and Lucy. Mr. Pete will be missed by my entire family. Our hearts ache for Mr. Pete’s family.
My first reaction was to get to Yallison as fast as possible to just crawl in bed with her. It was my sincere yearning to get to her and crawl in bed with her.
“Baby, you ok?”
“I just want to get in bed with her.”
“Uh, what? Wait. With who?”
“Yallison. I just want to get to her and crawl into bed with her.”
“Strangely, I get that. But make sure you’re feet are warmer than those ice cubes you’ve got going on right now.” And he booked me a flight.
I took every precaution, packing snacks that would be allowed on the airplane. I proactively walked the entire O’Hare airport and found my best option: Some kind of brown rice and mango and turkey bowl thing at some organic tea shop. I had that for lunch. My quest for continuing this clean eating was still well mastered plan. I packed as much snack as I could. I scoped out any fresh fruit I could find in the airport. And I knew when I got to Yallison’s parent’s house, her mom stocks their kitchen with healthy eats. I’d be fine. Then I got to Yallison’s parent’s lake house. And it was over. You know what happens when someone passes away? People bring you food. Delicious, homemade, not_even_going_to_ask_if_it’s_clean_because_you’re_feeding_me_with_love_all_while_your_heart_hurts comfort food. How dare I ask for some celery stalks and where’s the almond butter and hummus at this house?
So, I jumped the Clean Eating ship 5 weeks in _ not out of convenience or craving _ but out of complete humbleness in this moment of being welcomed in this terrible situation.That, and Carrie might have set a precedence of “Who’s the wacky girl with the insulting eating preferences?” years ago.
A long long time ago, when Yallison was getting married, we all emerged on this very lake house. Carrie, at the time was dating a body builder and eating two things exclusively: microwaved chicken breast OR eggs. That’s it. Seriously. And that was during a happy gathering.
So, I wasn’t about to be THAT girl. You can’t top Carrie on that one. And I was here to be helpful, not needy. Everyone had lovingly brought over droves of food. But I was NOT about to inconvenience anyone with a blog commitment to clean eating. I wasn’t going to rummage through her pantry and show ungratefulness to the neighbors who by the way, REMEMBER ME, and foo_foo on their beautiful extension of love through food. No way. If ever there was a reason to fall off the clean eating wagon _ it’s now. So I did.
Which turns out is a good thing because guess who might have gotten through security with that JulieCake? Yeah, that’s right. ME. My initial intent was to not eat the cake. Just bring it to them. And I mean really, what greater selflessness than to bring a cake through airport security, and two different airports than to bring it and not plan on eating a lick of it? But then, if I’m going to eat this not clean eats for dinner, well, you know, it’s only fair to eat the not clean but again made with love JulieCake, right? I resolved to go with the flow, be helpful and allow myself a piece of cake or two, and get back to my clean eats when I got back to the airport to go home. I hope I can remember where that organic tea place was again.
Yallison did make me wait a little longer to eat that cake though. I am pretty sure she was waiting for the guests to leave so that she didn’t have to share. She has had a JulieCake before. So, you know, in her time of need, she’s not about to share that wholesome goodness with her family. They can have hugs. She gets the cake.
And so, Yallison and I never did cuddle in bed. We did however do the next best thing, and that is just for one moment with a slice of cake, I hope for just those few moments she was able to be comforted.
That’s how I roll.
Song of the day: Alright by Darius Rucker