Tag Archives: food

Pressure Cooker For Sale


Elite

I’m selling my pressure cooker.  Ya wanna buy it?  6-quart Elite something something something – $40.  I paid $80.

I suppose you want to know WHY I am selling it.  It’s hard to admit, but I’m a pressure cooker drop out.  Except I really can’t blame the pressure cooker – it worked fine and cooked everything exactly the way it was supposed to…I think.

And there is the crux of the matter.  I am not really sure how food is supposed to look or taste when it comes out of the cooker.  I watched a few million infomercials and they just dumped all the ingredients in and assured the audience that even an idiot can make fabulous meals with it.  I must be some special kind of idiot then.

My first attempt was chicken tenderloins, and I threw in a can of cream of mushroom soup and some cut up potatoes and some butter and seasoning.  I couldn’t get it to pressurize so I added more water, JUST LIKE IT SAID TO DO IN THE TROUBLESHOOTING GUIDE.  Still wouldn’t build up pressure.  Added more water.  Do you see where this is going?  Finally, I figured out I had to push down on the top to get a good seal and I finally had pressure.  Yay!

Only by now, I no longer had chicken with potatoes and cream of mushroom soup.  I had chicken and potatoes in opaque water with tiny gross black thingies in it and some weird ass film over everything.  And the potatoes were mushy.  And the chicken looked diseased.  Family reaction?  “Oh my God….”

Although it was not visually appealing, it didn’t taste horrible.  Like, no vomiting ensued after placing a forkful in our mouths.  So, even though Dave begged me to return it, I decided to watch a few more infomercials, and give it another chance.

The 2nd attempt involved spoon steaks.  Usually, I buy the ones that are marinated in the burgundy pepper stuff and even though I know it’s probably full of chemicals, they are quite delicious.  Unfortunately, my brain was on vacation when I was at the store because I returned home with plain, non-chemical infused spoon steaks.  Boring.

But I knew from watching the last infomercial that if I just browned them on the sauté feature and added some organic chicken broth, I would have a miracle dinner in less than 15 minutes.  Liars.  But the presentation was MUCH better than the last time.  Family reaction?  “You don’t have to make this again.”

Despite my family shoving the pressure cooker back in the box, taping the receipt to the top, and sticking it in my car, I decided I just hadn’t hit on the right dish yet.  I unpacked it and snuck it back in the cupboard at midnight, and did some major pressure cooking shopping the next day.

I bought a lemon pepper pork roast.  I bought pork chops.  I bought a stuffed pork roast.  Pork was obviously on sale.  I brought my precious dinner ideas home and nestled them in the freezer until the next Sunday dinner.  This time, it was going to be perfect.

Sunday came and I decided on the lemon pepper roast.  It sounded so delicious!  I made sure it was thoroughly thawed (say that three times fast) and browned it just like I did the spoon steaks.  I added 1 cup of chicken broth, just like the spoon steaks.  I figured after all, the spoon steaks would have been much better if I had used the marinated ones, so this pork roast was going to be fantastic.

When it was finished, I pulled out the roast and set it on a plate.  It looked…grey.  It didn’t look crispy, even though I browned it.  It didn’t look like “the other white meat” like it does when I cook it on the grill or in the slow cooker.  Hmmmmm.

I cut into it, and it was definitely tender.  Still grey, though.  My daughter saw my hesitation (never let your children sense your fear in the kitchen.  One funny look from you and they won’t eat broccoli for five years), and wrinkled her nose at it.  “Is that even done?” she asked.

“Sure.  Sure it’s done,” I said.  I poked at it.  It was a little pink in the center.  Grey and pink.  Not good food colors.  I cut towards the end, pretty sure those pieces would be done at least.  I took a bite.  I smiled.  I chewed.  I smiled bravely while I chewed, and then my eyes watered and my brain screamed “FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY SPIT IT OUT!”  I swallowed.

“It’s bad, isn’t it,” said Dave.

“No…it’s not..baaaaad,” I drawled.

Dave took a bite and, to his credit, actually swallowed it.  “Kinda rubbery, dontcha think?” he said.  My daughter was in the process of taking her first bite when she heard his verdict and immediately beelined it for the kitchen sink where she made her opinion known with gagging.

Not only was it rubbery (although a tender rubbery.  Like, not hard to chew but still rubbery.  Very odd sensation.) but it didn’t taste like lemon pepper or pork or a combination of lemon pepper and pork or even just lemon or just pepper or just pork.  It tasted like chemicals, only not in a good way.  More like in a “I’m eating rubberized Lysol” way.

So now, we have an entire lemon pepper pork roast bagged up in the freezer until we decide what to do with it.  I can’t throw it away because of all the starving children in China and Dave won’t let me pawn it off on our son (“Really, honey.  I think you have given him enough fodder for the therapist.”) so it will just sit in the freezer until one day Dave throws it away when I’m not looking.

Meanwhile, I have a pressure cooker for sale.  Only used three times!

Sue

PS.  I am fully aware that my experiences have more to do with the cook and not so much the cooker, so no need to point that out.

PPS.  If you DO point it out, expect some rubber pork roast on your porch.

PPSS.  This is why I eat cake.  Cake would never do this to me.

 

 

 

 

It’s All About That Cake


The first time Dave and I went to Costco, we saw it. The holy grail of cakes. It was huge, even by Costco standards – a Devil’s Tower of dark chocolate shavings over creamy chocolate frosting, covering what we assumed and fervently hoped was rich chocolate cake layered with additional chocolate frosting. It was called the All American Chocolate Cake. And by golly, it was our patriotic duty to buy it.

Except…it was, as I referenced earlier, gigantic. We bent over it for a better look, mesmerized, our breath fogging the plastic dome. Wondering. Dreaming. Drooling. It was just so BIG. Glorious, yes, but who was going to eat all that cake?

Granted, we don’t normally ask that question in our house. We know who is going to eat all that cake. But just because a person CAN do something doesn’t mean they SHOULD do something. I would not normally apply this rule to cake, but in this case, even I had to make an exception.

After about 5 minutes, Dave lifted the cake. “Holy hell,” he muttered. He set it down and it was my turn. Holy hell is right. It felt like it weighed about 10 pounds. We needed a family event to justify that bad boy, patriotic duty or no.

Reluctantly, we walked away. We went and grabbed our 50 pack of toilet paper (because, as you know, we are full of shit), a 20 pack of paper towels, a 100 pound bag of potato chips, an electric fireplace, a sofa, a 10 pack of 5’ x 7’ rugs, a 20 gallon jug of olives, a 500 piece set of pots and pans, a couple of lawn chairs, and a kayak. Then we circled back to the cake.

“I don’t think we can do it,” said Dave.

“Really? I think we can.”

“Can’t.”

“Can.”

“Nobody in our house needs to eat this much cake.”

“FINE!”

About once a month, we return to Costco and re-evaluate the All American Chocolate Cake. We lift it, gaze at it’s chocolatey beauty, and say things like: “Maybe we should just buy it.” “No, that thing is huge. It will take us a week to eat it.” “Yeah, maybe you’re right.” “Wow, it really is heavy. Here, feel how heavy this is.” “Wow – yes it weighs a ton.” “You’re drooling.” “Oops – sorry.” “So, are we walking away?” “Yes.” “For sure?” “Yes – for sure.”

Over the next year, we waited patiently for an All American Chocolate Cake worthy family event. Not Easter. Not Memorial Weekend. Not the 4th. Not Labor Day. Not Thanksgiving. Not Christmas. Not when Cousin Eddy had the plate removed from his head. Not when the raptors had babies in Grandpa Hammond’s sock drawer. Not the Festival of Shirtless Jackman.

Enter November 13th, 2015. My long-lost sister would be home from Arizona, and this was the night we were planning our main get together before sending her off again. We would have 12 people there, and one of those people was my brother, who has the cake capacity of 2 sumo wrestlers. It was the perfect storm.

I was pretty excited walking into Costco and grabbing that 10 pounds of chocolatey heaven and setting it in my cart. I floated to the check out and gleefully rubbed my hands together before setting it on the belt. Finally, it was mine.

The checkout guy acted like he had never seen the All American Chocolate Cake before. “Wow, this is a big cake! It looks delicious! Did you ever have it before? It’s so BIG! Who is going to eat all that cake? Do you need any help? I love cake! Wow, I wish I could taste it. It looks so good! Are you sure you don’t need any help getting your things to the car?” Suddenly I wanted to stab that cotton-headed ninny-muggins in the hand with a fork and hiss at him to get away from My Precious, dammit.

By some miracle, the cake made it all the way to my house and then all the way to my mom’s the next day, without the top “accidentally” popping off and “Gee, as long as it’s open maybe I should test it to be sure it’s not poisoned” happening.

But then, at my mom’s – disaster struck. My brother-in-law Pete was not coming. My brother-in-law Greg was not coming. And my brother had to work and so he was not coming. I was short 3 brothers and 2 sumo wrestlers in the cake eating department. No problem, I told myself. We’re professionals. We can handle this cake.

Then my mom put out snacks. And dinner was really really good. And everyone was getting just a tiny bit full. Still no problem. When the going gets tough, the Conard’s eat cake.

My entire family loves cake – it’s not just me. My mom and my sister Celeste are probably the only two who really have any sort of “cake limit” and will usually only eat a skinny slice (this would be considered a “normal slice” to the majority of the human race) and the rest of us belly up to the cake bar for a big corner piece, preferably with a giant frosting flower, or if it’s a round cake – a 2” slice with an ice cream chaser.

I cut into the cake, and removed what I thought was a very generous piece, only to see the cake literally meld itself back together. Okay, it didn’t really do that, but wow – it barely made a difference. So I kept hacking away – everyone getting a slice of cake the size of Texas including my mom and sister, plus a scoop of ice cream. We still had 2/3’s of the cake left.

The cake was delicious, and we all ate to bursting. But here’s the kicker. When it came time to divvy up the leftovers, nobody wanted to take any cake home. Not even me. Every bite of that cake was going to add 10 immovable pounds to our hips and Lord only knew what it would do to our thighs. I mean, it was a Costco cake – it did everything big and our genetically thunderous thighs did not need any help in that department.

Dave and I brought it home, our poor, sad, unwanted All American Chocolate Cake. We did our best to give it an honorary burial-by-eating, but in the end, we weren’t up to the challenge. It lived the rest of it’s life on the counter, slowly drying to death until we finally buried it in the trash.

It was a good cake. A chocolatey cake. It was heavenly and delicious and I failed it. Apparently even I have a cake limit. It was a crushing blow to my cake confidence and a sad end to our All American Chocolate Cake dream. A sad end indeed.

It took me a week of grieving before I was able to step foot in Costco again. I walked thru the bakery section and couldn’t bear to see the new All American Chocolate Cakes just waiting for a family to love them. I turned away and my eyes fell upon…

A Costco Pumpkin Pie. And it was huge.

Pietistically yours,
Sue

PS – Can you name all of the movies I referenced in my post? It wasn’t intentional at first but I seem to love movie references as much as I love puns.

PPS.  The pie was just as delicious as the cake.

PPSS.  Mmmmmmmm….pie….cake…pie….cake…pie…cake….

Clean Your Plate. #CFFC


I’m way behind on my blog and wanted to do a quick little blurb so you all know I’m alive and kicking.  Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge (#CFFC) this week is about our Sense of Taste so I figured it was the perfect venue for something short and sweet (see what I did there?  Now that’s talent.)  Grab a quick couple of food photos, pop them in my blog and viola.

Do you have any idea how many food photos I have?  Neither did I.  Holy cheese on a cracker.  Apparently I like to eat.  And before I like to eat, I like to photograph it.  And then eat some.  And then photograph it again.  And then photograph the empty plate.  No starving children in China at my house, that’s for sure.

It took me forever to whittle down my food photo collection to a few that are actually in focus and have some sort of visual aesthetic.  So not only do I take a lot of pictures of my food, I am so excited to eat it I can’t seem to take a decent photo. Even so, I still had over 20 photos to consider.  Man, do I like food or what?

I finally decided to go with tasty regional treats – food items that fairly scream “WISCONSIN!”

First up:  Booyah.  And not the “BOO-YAH!” yelled as an exclamation.  Booyah as in Chicken Soup That We Don’t Call Chicken Soup Because It’s Really Called Booyah.

Most booyah is made with chicken, potatoes, carrots, and cabbage, along with other random vegetables like onions, green beans, celery, etc. and then maybe some beef stock or something – hard to say seeing as most recipes are family secrets handed down from generation to generation.  It all gets chucked in a ginormous iron kettle and cooked outside over an open fire, and served Burn The Top Of Your Mouth Off Lava Hot.

Summer church picnics, local festivals and family gatherings are where you will find booyah, often sold as a fund-raiser so bring your empty plastic ice cream buckets and be sure to buy some to take home.  It’s best eaten with a cold beer in one hand and a handful of saltine crackers in the other and perhaps a piece of homemade bread on the side slathered with real butter.  Follow that with some Belgian pie or raspberry torte and a hot cup of joe.  Or another beer.

Belgian Heritage Center Booyah

Booyah! Served at the Belgian Heritage Center in Namur, WI.

Speaking of beer…..that just happens to be my next photo.

Yeah, yeah – Wisconsin cliché’ but at least I didn’t photograph it with a brat (“brat” – pronounced “braht” -meaning delicious regional sausage that you set on fire with your grill while praying you don’t burn down the neighborhood and then eat it’s charred goodness on a bun with onions, mustard, ketchup and sometimes sauerkraut depending on your ethnicity).  But only because I didn’t have a photo of one.  I must eat all my brats before I think to photograph them.  This also happens a lot with cake.

Wisconsin is the land of sky blue waters and a LOT of beer, but New Glarus Spotted Cow is the best beer in all the land.  IN ALL THE LAND I TELL YOU.  Do not argue with me on this, beer heathen.

It’s also only available in Wisconsin, so if you want it, you gotta come here to get it.  It will be worth the trip.  I promise.

New Glarus Spotted Cow

Ice cold Spotted Cow on a hot sunny beach.

And for my final entry:  Friday Night Perch Fry.  Because A) we are as regionally Catholic as they come and B) the Great Lakes and Green Bay have a strong commercial fishing industry, with much of the catch being yellow perch.  Which are delicious deep-fried in batter and bathed in tubs of tartar sauce so you don’t actually know you are eating fish because fish are gross.  I do like perch except when they get ‘fishy’ and you never know if you are going to get fishy perch so I usually just get fried cod instead or better yet a steak.  In fact I think my photo is actually cod, not perch.  But who cares.  My point is that we eat a lot of fish on Friday’s, and perch is super popular and most people eat it except me because I’m a weirdo.  And fish are gross.

Friday Fish Fry

Friday night fish fry at Gibraltar Grill in Door County, WI

And that’s a wrap, people.  Oh wait – here’s a collage of cake just because you can never have enough cake.  The two people in the one photo are my parents.  You can tell the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.  Nobody in our family will get kidnapped.

Caketastically yours,

Sue

The more you weigh, the harder you are to kidnap! Stay safe! Eat cake!

The more you weigh, the harder you are to kidnap! Stay safe! Eat cake!

PS.  My apologies on my short blurb getting sorta long, so I guess I should have explained that I meant “short” by Sue Standards.  Cuz ya know, I always gotta write a book.

PPSS.  Don’t forget to check out the other entries at Cee’s Photography!cffc

 

Oh Running, How Do I Hate Thee?


What I look like runningI have never been a natural runner. When I was in 7th grade, and in a public school for the first time, I found out that gym class involved actual exercise, like running, gymnastics, rope climbing, and sit ups. I loved being in a larger school, with more options for friends and fewer options for crabby nuns, but if I could have gone back to parochial school for any reason, it would have been gym class.

By 8th grade, however, I had my eyes set on attaining the Presidential Award for fitness. I no longer remember my reasoning – I think it was peer pressure – positive for once. So, Mom and Dad – I didn’t just skip out of school or drink beer underage or smoke cigarettes at the corner with Donna (which you might not know about. Mom – sometimes I stole your Pall Malls. Coming clean here….) – I actually exercised under the influence of my friends. You probably don’t know that, seeing as you were too busy driving around town trying to find me when I was skipping out. (To my nieces and nephews and children: I only skipped out ONCE. ONE TIME. And that single time, guess who found me? GRANDPA CONARD. Yeah. You know he is hardly ever angry but man, you don’t want to meet him in his yellow Country Squire when your supposed to be in school.)

The sight of this coming towards me will remain forever etched in my brain.

The sight of this coming towards me will remain forever etched in my brain.

 

If you wanted to qualify for the “Presidential”, you had to be able to run a mile in under 15 minutes. I practiced all spring. I ate salads instead of macaroni and cheese (a huge sacrifice, I’ll have you know). I asked my dad to measure the distance to the end of the road, and then when he told me it was a tenth of a mile, and that I would have to run back and forth 5 times, I wanted to die. I would never make it. But dammit, I was going to try.

On the day of the test, I remember running on the crushed black gravel of the school track, the hot sun beating down, and my vigilant gym teacher with her mocking stop watch, calling out my time with each pass. I got a side stitch and I had to walk a few times, but I persevered and ended my final lap under the 15 minute mark. I have no idea how much time I had to spare, but I don’t think it was much. I just remember that I did it, and even though I was the last kid on the track, I was pretty darn full of myself. My gym teacher just rolled her eyes, because seriously – running a 15 minute mile when you are 13 years old was pretty lame. But from the perspective of old school Catholic gym class involving scooter boards, it was a pretty big accomplishment for me.

presidential

 

 

I decided to never endure that hell again (giving up macaroni and cheese), and didn’t willingly run again until I was 43, once again influenced by peer pressure. Incidentally, I also gave up macaroni and cheese AGAIN. WTH.

I started out in my crappy yellow Kohl’s Asics, my floppy cotton shorts and t-shirts and started running. I gradually built up to a mile, then two miles, then three. I distinctly remember the jubilation I felt when I got home after making 3 miles. Never in a million childhoods did I ever think I could run that far. This was the turning point for me. If I could do this, I could do anything. Runners High, here I come.

In truth, I hate running, and always have. It does not come easy for me – I’m like a plodding, ancient, plow horse, prone to hip bursitis, plantar fasciitis, Piriformis syndrome, sore boobs, hemorrhoids and if that wasn’t bad enough: stress induced incontinence (SUI).

Yes, that’s really a ‘thing’. Many women can attest to the occasional sneaky leak produced after sneezing or coughing, but it can also come with exercise, such as running and jumping. I discovered this ‘thing’ on my very first run (age 43, not 13 – just to be clear), midway thru my neighborhood. I slunk home, hiding behind bushes and pulling my t-shirt down as far as possible. Needless to say, I no longer run without my protection, and I don’t mean a Smith and Wesson, although shooting my bladder doesn’t always seem like such a bad idea.

What I loved was being DONE running. The feeling of accomplishment, the endorphins, the victory, the conquest of each mile added, the drive to beat my last distance or time, filled my veins like heroin. I was off and running (get it? AH-Hahahahahahaaaa! I kill me!).

With my friend Shari after completing the New Year's Day Polar Bear Run.  I took 3rd in my division - mainly because only three of us showed up.   But I'll take it!

With my friend Shari after completing the New Year’s Day Polar Bear Run. I took 3rd in my division – mainly because only three of us showed up. But I’ll take it!

About 4 years ago, my clean food plan took a dive – sugar and flour and, specifically, my beloved cake, began to show up sporadically, and then frequently, and it became harder to run because my weight was going up (ironically, I still don’t eat mac and cheese). I started biking about 2 years ago, and fell in love with a sport that took me all over the countryside without injury (except when I fell in my clips – ow). My running distance dwindled, until last winter, when I was running about, well, zero miles a week. I didn’t miss it. At least, I didn’t miss it based on all the reasons I hated running to begin with.

The past 6 months have been rough for me, emotionally, spiritually, and physically – moving, losing two family members, hormones, a long cold winter, and stress. Lots and lots of stress. My body is protesting the extra weight and sugar filled diet – it’s harder to move, I’m tired all the time, and I have frequent headaches and body aches. You know, I don’t really even care about the number on the scale, or about how I look – I haven’t quit exercising and I still bike, lift, and do some cross fit. But I do care that it’s getting harder to get up in the morning. Harder to motivate myself. Harder to get off the couch.

So, I’m running again. A sane person might ask me why – thank goodness I don’t know too many of them. But for those of you who are – it’s because of the mental discipline and accountability that running brings to the table. When I’m looking at food choices, I have to decide if I want to haul that around on my two-mile run. A successful run starts in my head. If I walk around thinking about how much I hate it, my run is going to suck. But if I concentrate instead on beating my last time or running a little farther, always throwing my mind forward to the finish – it’s motivating and euphoric.

These are both tools I need to cultivate again in my daily life. By concentrating on bringing it into my physical world thru running, it will spill over into my emotional and spiritual world as well, helping me to cope with life’s curve balls in a much healthier and positive way. That’s the plan anyway. I’ll keep you posted.

Currently, I am running about 2.2 miles at a crack. I started with a 50/10 sequence of running 50 seconds, walking 10. I’m up to running my first 14 minutes, and then finishing at 50/10. I have found the 50/10 pace is pretty easy for me to keep up now, but my pride wants me to run without stopping. That dang pride! Always nagging me! But there is something disciplined about running according to a beep in my ear – obeying a plan instead of endangering my health, so I think the 50/10 or some form of split is here to stay. Again, I’ll keep you posted! I

Sue

PS – What do you do to handle stress or stay motivated in a healthy lifestyle?  I would love to hear from you!!

Exploding Oatmeal and Other Hazards


quakerYesterday, my oatmeal exploded in the microwave at work.  I make oatmeal every day and I have to keep an eagle eye on it because Mr. Quaker Oats sometimes gets a bad attitude.  Well, there were other people in the lunch room hogging using the space in front of the microwaves to make their coffee, so I was trying to be courteous and give them some room.  Next thing I know, I see my oatmeal spilling over the top of my bowl.  I leapt forward and grabbed the door, almost bashing my co-worker Lois in the head as I yanked it open, and then stared sadly at the mess.

My first thought was not, “Ew- what a mess” or “Wow, I hope I didn’t kill Lois” but was, “Rats. Now I have less food to eat.”  My second thought was, “I wonder if I can salvage any of the stuff that spilled over” followed by my third thought of, “Gross, Sue.  You might eat a random M&M off the floor but you will not stoop to eating boiled over oatmeal off the bottom of the work microwave”.  For the record, I had to repeat this to myself twice, and thankfully Lois was still in the lunchroom or I may have succumbed to thought #2.  Haha!  Just kidding!  That would be so disgusting!  I would never do that!  (No, really, I might have.  Lois unknowingly saved me, even after I tried to kill her with the microwave door.)

I hate having my food routine disturbed.  It just leaves the door open for those irrational rationalizations, where my brain tries to justify eating 10 cookies to make up for the disruption.   “You poor dear!  You didn’t get a full 1/3 cup of oatmeal today.  Have a pan of brownies.”  I know what you are all thinking.  You are all thinking I should overcook my oatmeal everyday and replace it with cookies because oatmeal is like eating wall paste and good Lord if your going to eat something as bad for you as wall paste you might as well eat cookies.  And if I’m going to eat cookies, bring on the chocolate cake, because even Bill Cosby knows chocolate cake is full of nutrition!

Perhaps you are wondering if I grew up as a starving child in China (“There are starving children in China that go hungry every day!  Eat your wall paste!”) but no.  I grew up in a middle class home and never went to bed hungry – not even as a punishment.  My mom was a wizard in the kitchen and could make a pound of hamburger stretch for all 7 of us, including my Dad and my brother.  No, I’m just a food addict.  No meth or crack for this girl!  But whoa!  Is that a bakery?  I think I’ll stop in and mainline a chocolate donut.

Because I am a food addict, I need to have a strict food plan of no sugar or wheat, and I need to follow it.  I have fallen off the wagon these last three years, and really have no desire to get back on it, even though I know the sugar and flour just keep feeding the beast.  Before this, I went four years without it passing my lips.  I lost 80 pounds.  Gained confidence and moved up in my company.  Ran my first half marathon. Hit the upper 90’s in my health assessment at work.  Felt absolutely fantastic, physically and emotionally.  Except when I felt deprived – like at birthdays when others were celebrating with cake or at Christmas when I passed the cookie tray without taking one of my mom’s cut-outs (my favorite), or on vacation with the Daver or at Easter when I passed the rows and rows and ROWS of unbelievably delicious Robin Eggs and other confections (why do we celebrate religious holidays with so much chocolate?  A fattening mystery…).

So where am I now?  I am somewhere trying to find the balance.  I want to have my cake and eat it too (pun totally intended) but I don’t want to give up my health doing it.  I have gained back some weight, but not all.  I have held on to certain food habits – like lots of fruits and veggies, whole grains, and lean proteins – and most certainly my exercise habits have stayed.  I don’t run as much – I would like to have fully functioning knees and hips when I am 80 – but I do bike, swim, inline skate, kayak, walk, hike, snowshoe, and hang out in the gym doing burpees and jump squats and dive bombers (oh my!).  Since regressing back to sugar, I have done another half marathon, ridden 2500 miles on my bike, taken another position in my company, and performed 10 billion burpees.  Yes, you heard me.  10. BILLION. BURPEES.

DrEvil

And you know what?  I think I’m okay with where I am.  Yes, I still struggle.  Yes, I still have food issues.  But at the end of the day, I would rather eat a celebratory piece of birthday cake on my dad’s 82nd birthday.  I would rather go out with the Daver and have pizza and a couple of beers while we talk and laugh about our week.  I would rather bike 100 miles with Kay, eating strawberry shortcake at the rest stops.  Or have dessert with the girls at the end of our night out.  Or eat a cannoli at Mike’s Pastry in Boston even if it means getting blisters because I am stupidly wearing brand new shoes.  Or eating Garrett’s cheesy popcorn while watching my niece run in the Chicago Marathon.  And you know why?  Because life is meant to be lived, and sometimes living involves eating delicious foods that have no nutritional value.

birthday-cake-hd-wallpaper

Some people are blessed with high metabolisms or the ability to eat a single brownie, but I am not one of them.  I am a big-boobed, 49-year-old woman, with stretch marks and jiggle, that loves a good laugh and cake with frosting and sprinkles.  But I just have to believe there is a balance and come hell or high water, I’m going to find it.  And when I do, I will share it with the world.  Meanwhile, I’ll be in the gym –  doing burpees.

What are your food downfalls?  How do you handle feeling food deprived?  Have you found balance in your own food plan and if so, what worked for you?  I love hearing from you and I love your feedback!  Please share in the comments below or on my FB page!

PS – I actually love oatmeal and seriously do eat it every day at work, with two – three hard-boiled eggs.  I like it best with almond milk and blueberries or apples and cinnamon.  Mmmmm!

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For additional reading on body image acceptance, check out these blogs:

August McLaughlin’s Blog

Katrina Anne Willis

Sue

Riding the Door, Less is More


As I sit down to type this, the air outside is a brisk 53 degrees, and it will be in the low forties by the time I walk out the door for work tomorrow.  Cooler air and shorter days herald the coming of fall, and I am feeling kinda bummed that I don’t have many more days of cycling left.  In fact, I had my last major bike event a couple of weeks ago riding in the  Door County Century.

Murphy Park Door County Century

Door County Century. First rest stop at Murphy Park. Gorgeous morning! Couldn’t ask for better weather.

The Door County Century celebrated its 35th anniversary this year, and is one of the most popular century rides in Wisconsin.  For good reason – they are well-organized, the routes wind thru some of the most beautiful countryside in Northeast Wisconsin, and the rest stops are well stocked with yummy delicious go-go fuel.  And you know me – it’s all about the food.

For those of you who are not crazy cyclists, a century is a 100 mile bike ride.  Most organized centuries are recreational and offer shorter routes in addition to the full 100 mile route.  This year, the DCC also had options of 28, 50, and 70.  Last year Kay and I did the full century.  It was really a lot of fun, but it was also very hilly and the final 30 miles were pretty tough.  “Pretty tough” meaning we were DYING and every time we saw another hill coming up we thought we were going to have a nervous breakdown.

Neither one of us felt like we had ridden enough this year to tackle those upper peninsula miles where the highest elevations await the unwary, so we opted for 70 this year.  Yes, we wimped out.  Totally.  But we are all good with that, because 70 was the Golden Ticket.

First of all, look at this map.  Check out those elevations between the yellow stars on the elevation map (in the boxed in area of the physical map) – all residing in the 100 mile route.  That’s a whole lotta pain right there.  A Polygon of Pain.

DCC1

Whereas the 70 mile route is all rainbows and unicorns, pretzels and cheese, donuts and muffins, pickles and cheesecurds…   The only thing we had to give up was strawberry shortcake at the Sister Bay rest stop.  That was almost a deal breaker until we realized we would actually finish this year before the beer ran out.  Although ironically, we didn’t even use our beer tickets, because we knew we had to drive home yet.  See?  I, too, can be a responsible adult.

Cave Point Door County Century

Cave Point Door County Century

I think my favorite part of this years ride was the Cave Point rest stop.  The sky was the bluest of blues and the grass was the greenest of greens.  Warm sun, a light breeze, the waves crashing below on the rocks, ham sandwiches…did I mention that I ride for food?  Kay and I stretched out in the sun for a while, but we were starting to feel a little nappish so figured we better get going.  It was truly hard to leave.

The next 15 miles roll thru lush forest and farm land, with enough variety to help wear off that ham sandwich and granola bar you just ate.  You can keep a fairly decent pace here, but oddly there is a rest stop only 6 miles from the finish.  You may be tempted to pass this one by, but you will miss cheesecurds and pickles if you do.  Oh yeah, there’s some lighthouse or something that’s supposed to have historical value or whatever.  Blah, blah, blah.  I never made it past the curd table.  And I know some of you are wondering about the pickles.  Like, why are there pickles at a rest stop, which is kind of what I thought too, but man – when your body is sodium deprived – that will be the best pickle you have ever eaten.

Wether you ride the 100, 70 or 50, the last 5 miles of this ride last an eternity, and you will really appreciate those cheese curds and pickles from that last stop.  It doesn’t help that there is one last beastly hill in the home stretch.  Seriously, who plans a route where they stick a giant hill in the last mile?  Kinda makes you want to smack someone with your water bottle, but then your turning the corner into the fair grounds and you can hear the music and smell the garlic bread, and you know there is a piece of Door County cherry pie with your name on it.  And beer.  Which you may or may not drink, depending on your responsibility ratio.  I know, you can’t all be me – such perfection is truly hard to maintain.  I struggle but I do it for you little people.

All kidding aside: If you enjoy organized rides, put the Door County Century on your bucket list.  It’s offering of beauty, challenge, camaraderie, and of course great food, make this ride worth your time and cash.  Hope to see you there next year!

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Learning To Move The Bean Bowl


I bought green and wax beans the other day at the farmers market.  They call them wax beans because they are yellow and look waxy I guess.  The term ‘wax’ in reference to food grosses me out, so I prefer green and yellow.  Or better yet, green and gold (Go Pack Go! Yes, I just went there, and yes, I used my entire first paragraph to set up the Packers reference.  This is what happens when you live in the land of cheese).

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I love getting fresh produce from the farmers market but it does require extra work to clean it and make it ready for consumption.  It’s not like buying a bag of Steamers and popping it in the microwave (although I do love Steamers – what an awesome invention).   Fresh food needs to be cleaned and cut and trimmed and peeled.  Kind of a pain, all this eating healthy business.  Some veggies are more of a pain than others but beans are fairly easy in the veggie cleaning line up – just wash and snap off the tops.

My process is to wash them in a colander, spread them on a clean towel, grab a few, snap off the tops and then toss the cleaned bean in a bowl and the top in a pile to the side for the garbage.  Easy peezy, lemon squeezy, right?  Well, I was cleaning my beans after I got home, and I kept accidentally throwing the beans in the garbage pile and the tops in the bean bowl.  What the heck?  After about the 10th time, I realized I had my work area set up wrong.

Green and Gold beans!

Green and Gold beans!

My natural tendency was to grab the beans with my left hand and snap off the tops with my right, so the bean bowl should have been to my left and the garbage pile to the right, and I had it reversed.  This would have taken about 5 seconds to rectify and ended the awkward cross reaching, plus the time-consuming need to stop what I was doing and fish the tops out of the bean bowl.  Not to mention that I was using extra energy just concentrating on my process that could have been used to create a plan for world peace and a new energy resource (HAHA.  Okay, I would have created my grocery list and a plan to clean the bathrooms but still, a better use of my time).  Instead, I stubbornly continued to clean my beans counter intuitively, swearing under my breath every time the tops ended up in the bean bowl.

After going thru 3/4 of my beans, I finally set my ego aside and fixed my workstation.  I finished the rest of my beans lickety split (I like to say that word.  Lickety split.  Or is it lickety spit? Hmmmm….).  I wasted a lot of time and effort fighting my body, but was too prideful to admit my set up was wrong and I was too lazy to expend the energy to change it, even though I used way more energy trying to fight it.  Apparently this thing on my neck really is just a helmet holder.

Door County Century

Helmet holder, but at least I get strawberry shortcake!

Life is like that, isn’t it?  The thought of making a change, even one that will make my life easier, seems like too much trouble and effort, so I keep on trying to control the wrong things.  I read once that a person won’t make a change until the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.  Pain yes, but pride too.  My ego tells me my process is right and if I could just control myself, all would be well.  This is especially true in my eating habits and in my relationship with God.

I will never be able to eat normal portions if I don’t have a handle on why I am eating in the first place, and I will never be able to grow in my relationship with God if I continue to try to commune with Him according to rules and obligation.  It’s hard to change what I have always done, and the process of making that change seems overwhelming.  But like moving my bean bowl, the initial energy needed to make a change is greater, but is less overall because of the energy saved on the other side of the change.  The sooner the change, the more energy saved.  With all those energy savings, I could qualify for an Energy Star.

Thus starts my quest to move the bean bowls in my life that are causing me to stumble and seeking God for change and direction.  I don’t think it will be easy, but I believe with His help, all things are possible.  One of the biggest changes I see coming is my commitment to writing.  In fact, the very idea is giving me anxiety at this very moment.  But, you know how sometimes you crave something, like maybe a bowl of ice cream or a donut, and you decide not to have it because it’s fattening or whatever, so you eat everything else in your cupboard instead, and then end up eating the ice cream or donut anyway?  That’s what this is like.  I feel like I have spent years eating around my desire to write, thinking I would never be able to make a living at it or be good enough.  Instead I have tried to find satisfaction or direction in other areas, and while I have been successful, I am still wandering around my house opening up cupboards.

I’m scared.  I’m scared of failing, of not being good enough, of dying poor and penniless living out of a cardboard box with nothing but my thermos à la Steve Martin in The Jerk.  But I think I am more scared of not trying it.  Of never knowing.

Steve Martin

I’m picking out a thermos, for you!

How about you?  What are the “bean bowls” in your life that need moving?  I love hearing from you!

Sue