Sad, but edible.
Yes, I am totally blaming Twitter, Facebook, Pintrest, and this here website for burning my bacon. I normally consider myself an amazing multitasker, but when I was trying to retweet the funny stuff, stalk my friends, pin fabulous meals, maintain the blog expectations of my fan, make perfectly crisp bacon, and mediate the ritual Saturday morning battle between the kids on video game time violations - it was the bacon that suffered. As you can imagine, I was in disbelief that I could fall short of handling more than a couple tasks.
Thankfully, I have found scientific reasoning to comfort and rectify me. We all know you can’t argue with science (or your mother-in-law - another scientific fact).
According to an article on Sciencemag.org, multitasking splits our brain and we only have two hemispheres for task management. So, despite what we women constantly appear to prove otherwise, the brain can’t effectively handle more than two things at one time. Some scientists feel that you can add a third task, but it really depends on the task and the part of the brain it uses. Keep in mind, multitasking is being able to switch rapidly between tasks, not performing multiple tasks at the same time.
“...people are remarkably good at eating while doing other things...because the practiced motor skills involved in eating don’t overlap too heavily with those that interpret visual cues, control language, or run other complex processes.”
And we all know that keeping up with our friends on social media, managing children, and making bacon all require complex processes. I can't blame the kids and I certainly can't blame the bacon, so...
I would venture to say that we women have the upper hand in the multitasking arena, but that’s probably a whole other blog post. Or, you could read this article about how women spend 48.3 hours per week multitasking while at home compared to a man’s 38.9. But what’s really interesting is that the article states that men are more likely to be pleased with themselves for multitasking, where women were stressed.
Clearly, what this article is saying is that my husband should cook the bacon.
How many times have you followed a recipe only to be disappointed in the end? It looks nothing like the photo and never mind if it tastes good – it doesn't look like the picture! Isn't that why we like the photos to begin with, to know the end result? I would think it’s just my own personal cooking OCD, but Pintrest demonstrates time and time again disillusioned cooks with their own disappointing culinary adventures.
I’m definitely not excluded from these food tragedies and that's really what they are, tragedies. I was wandering through Pintrest when I came across Peppermint Oreo Pops and I wondered how hard could it be? More often than not with the recipes I seem to be attracted to, I'm required to purchase some exotic ingredient like a West African guinea pepper. And yes, I'm still looking for them.
The photo link was to Lulu the Baker’s web site and I was immediately taken in by her step-by-step instructions accentuated with photos, which assured me that I couldn't fail. And, I didn't!
I did realize later that I missed an essential step because I used my memory of the instructions, which is never a good idea. But, I prevailed in the end, even though I burned the first batch of candy melts. This success includes having an eight and eleven year old helping each step of the way. I know! I still prevailed!
I’ve been trying a new recipe/project practically every night it seems and I have to say that I depend on photos for encouragement. Unfortunately, it doesn’t guarantee everything will taste good…another lesson I learned this week with some cookies I made. They did look like the picture, though. Score!
In the end, I was successful in my quest to try something new and have it turn out almost like the one in the photo. How about you? Any tales to tell of success or fail?
I've reached the final day of my self-inflicted...ahem, imposed low-carb diet. The last few days haven’t been tough at all really, but I have to admit that I didn't stick to the 20 carbs per day limit. There's only so much you can ask of a reluctant dieter.
Sadly, my scale hasn't reflected much change, just about five pounds. However I did say that wasn't the main focus (liar, liar, pants on fire). You have to admit that it helps to see those digital numbers work backwards on your scale. It's purely psychological, which is probably why shows like the Biggest Loser have their weigh-ins. It keeps the "Losers" motivated. The great thing is that my clothes are far more loose, not the slutty kind of "loose," the reason we diet kind.
Actually, both definitions apply, don't they?
One of my thin neighbors suggested I try a low-carb plan where the carbs are reduced during the week and then I enjoy myself a bit more on the weekends. He lost fifty pounds doing it, so it’s really a no-brainer that I should give it a try. I really just want to lose ten pounds, okay fifteen, so what?
There are few things I've missed while on this diet adventure, aside from the satisfaction of a full stomach, that I plan to reinstate now that it's over:
Bread - I'm a simple gal who likes a little toast with my eggs and maybe a sandwich now and then. But, I’m not one of those nutty folks who literally moan when freshly baked bread is placed before them, or the Husband who can’t seem to make it through the grocery store without eating half of a crusty baguette. You should see the strain in his face when the kids ask for a piece. I'm convinced he feels actual physical pain as he hands it to them.
Potatoes - Ya gotta have the hash-browns at breakfast! Not everyday, mind you, just on the weekends and perhaps Monday through Friday - but only those days, otherwise it's really too much.
Tortillas - Some might say this falls in the bread category, but any tortilla connoisseur knows better. These circular vessels of cuisine are essential to my well-being and I will once again proclaim that almost anything tastes good in a tortilla. I’m not sure what there is to exclude, but the “almost” is for the ones who always have to think of something. You know who you are.
Italian Turkey Meatballs with Roasted Veggies
So begins my next food adventure. Although I'm looking forward to returning some much needed carb-fuel to my menu, I do still plan to use many of the recipes I've received and researched to make low-carb options easier. I love to try new things when I cook, so why not?
And, I guess if you absolutely have to label it, it would technically be a "diet" as I'm still holding out on my body's deluded thirst for carbs. But, I'll just call it something else...like, George Clooney. It will go something like this:
"Hey, are you on a diet?"
"No, I'm on George Clooney."
See what I just did?
So, yeah...I’m still on this low-carb diet thing. It’s been said the second week is always easier, but I’ll have to get back to you on that as I’m not buying it. I will, however, share that the Diet Devil did visit during my first weekend and presented the opportunity for a diet sin. This is my confession...
It all started when the Husband and I found ourselves on that rare occasion without children. My extremely fantastic mother-in-law wanted to take them to lunch and shopping for the day. She gives the wee-ones an opportunity to buy presents for their parents, compliments of grandma. Mom and dad are free for the day and score loot, it's a win-win.
Those of you with kids know that if we are fortunate to spend the WHOLE day without our offspring, we relish every single minute. Yes, we love them and can’t live without them...yada, yada - but we don’t have sitters or a nanny. That’s right, they go with us everywhere - always. And, keep in mind this is completely different from when they're in school all day, that doesn't count. If I had to describe the feeling, it’s almost as if you’ve been launched into a portal to the time before you had children, armed with the knowledge that one day it will all be gone. Enjoy your freedom childless-ones...enjoy your freedom.
The first thing we did as we drove away smiling was run down the list of where we were going to have lunch. I feigned shock as I kind of intended to stay on the diet. We all know restaurants don't cater to the low-carb dieter, unless you're one of the Sally Albright types (you know who you are). The Husband scoffed and reminded me of our golden opportunity to go to a place the kids would hate to eat, or to a place the kids would be envious.
We chose envy.
I'm pretty sure that the Diet Devil had taken the form of my husband because his choices were:
There may have been more, but my mind was whirling. It could have been the low blood-sugar. We didn’t decide right away as it was a bit overwhelming (remember we don’t get out much and had been dieting for a week), besides we had recently had breakfast, eggs, yet again. We opted to do some shopping for the Christmas presents as we were way behind, however, we eventually got to the point where a decision had to be made.
It was literally a magical moment when we looked at each other and said aloud, in perfect harmony, our choice. It was as if we were one when the word "Fuddruckers" sang through the air. We didn’t choose it because the kids would be most angry at about our choice, that was just a bonus. I will admit that I felt the diet guilt setting in as I perused the menu, even thinking I might skip the wedge fries that I would douse with processed cheese with the simple press of a button. I'm kidding, of course.
It may surprise you to learn that we, the Husband and I, always split the ⅔ pound burger and fries when we go to Fuddruckers. We decided to stick to that plan, with the only hesitation being whether we should chose the one pounder instead. Hey, the bun would be 40 carbs either way! Yes, I looked it up. Diet Devil wasn’t going to completely overtake me.
And then, there it was, my half of a medium-rare delicious burger with only a little bit of cheese (I was thwarted at the free processed cheese machine, it was running low). The burger was still amazing. The bun was so very soft, buttery and sinfully delicious. I am proud to say I only had 2.5 wedge fries. Who says I don’t have self-control?
All in all, I only went 10 carbs over my, again, self-imposed 20 carb-per-day, two-week diet. But, I knocked out almost all the kid’s gifts. See how that balances out? The odd thing is that I left Fuddruckers completely satisfied and without feeling like I ate too much. See what being good all week gets ya?
My punishment? Gaining a pound back from the five I lost. I totally mislead you to believe I don’t pay attention to the pounds I lose, only inches. I lied. Sorry.
Damn Diet Devil.
I find myself once again at the brink of my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving. I look forward to it immensely every year, never wondering what might be served. The table will always house my favorite things: roasted turkey, cornbread dressing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, gravy and cranberry sauce straight from the can. Yes, I said from a can! Anything else on the table is superfluous as far as I’m concerned. Oh wait…the rolls, I can’t forget the rolls AND they have to be that cheap $.99 kind. Why? Tradition, of course! By tradition I mean that the first batch of rolls is to be burnt because we ritually fail to remember they’re in the oven. So, getting the cheap kind makes the crime of wasted bread easier.
Families getting together and relishing the many flavors customarily at our table year after year is what Thanksgiving is all about, right? Grandma’s dressing, mom’s freshly mashed potatoes flooded with butter and sour cream, and a rich gravy that cannot be made without the essence of the turkey that just roasted, ever. My contribution is baked sweet-potatoes, the last acceptable addition to our unvarying feast. It was over a decade ago when I ambitiously tried a new recipe, having since made it my own. I'll admit that I attempted making them different last year, however I knew immediately that I had made a mistake after the first bite. Thanksgiving…shot! Kidding, I saved it when I made my traditional one the next day for leftovers, thus allowing to world to spin properly again.
This isn’t to say that a family member won’t make a delightful cranberry relish or even a friend sharing their famous broccoli-cheese casserole. Not only are they delicious (usually), but welcomed. All I’m saying is that my plate must be filled with the foods I’m thankful for – or else. Kidding…actually no, I'm not.
I'm very flexible when it comes to daily meals, really. On any given day you’ll find me trying to put a spin on chicken, fish or even ground beef. By the way, ever notice how limiting ground beef is? What do we got? Meat loaf, hamburgers, spaghetti or tacos – that’s about it. Nevertheless, I’m always online at Food Network, using the All Recipes app on my phone or fishing through many a cookbook, desperate to try something new. I’m pleased to say that I’ve created some pretty amazing things that have surprisingly expanded the very limited palate of my kids. That, my friends, is what it’s all about, pleasing the family. Unless you’re talking about Thanksgiving, then it’s all about me.
Bridgette and me.
But…this Thanksgiving will be different because we’re spending it with my dear friend and her amazing mother. Although I am genuinely thrilled at the idea, I did fear the initial discussion of the menu as this is her home. Far be it from me to be an ungrateful guest. Yet, I knew my alter-ego, the Thanksgiving Day Bully, would surface...and it did, yet very graciously. Can you believe my canned cranberry sauce was ridiculed?
I’m delighted to say that our Thanksgiving menu has been decided without jeopardizing a friendship. I’ll get my cranberries jellied as I like and she’ll make a fabulous cranberry soufflé that will no doubt make the finest of chefs green with envy. The important thing is that we are maintaining our individual traditions while creating new ones. That's something to be thankful for.
This is just a bit of advice for those of you who like to cook for your friends. We all have our favorite dishes, some of which are family recipes that go back generations. However, we tend to forget just how much taste buds vary until you are confronted with “this taste so interesting.” What?
Wanting to impress my friends last Saturday on our pot-luck ladies-night sleepover, I thought I would make Pastelón– it’s a delicious Puerto Rican lasagna that The Husband’s grandmother used to make. We really are a combination of cultures in our family with Mexican, Puerto Rican and Cuban ethnicities influencing almost every aspect of our daily lives. It seemed only natural to go with what I know.
The dish calls for a layer of sweet plantains, followed by picadillo (a Spanish ground beef hash is the best description), and then a layer of French-cut green beans. It’s topped with another layer of sweet plantains followed by pouring well-beaten eggs over it to seal the deal before baking. It seems some Pastelón recipes use cheese (yum) instead of green beans, but I wanted to keep it real, for family’s sake. Every step I took was done with care and naturally several taste tests as any good chef will tell you are essential to ensure the utmost quality. This was good stuff!
Now just the mere mention of its name impressed them, at first. But, I don’t blame the ladies for not gushing all over the dish as I recall not doing the same the first time I tried it. So what’s the take away? Keep it simple when you’re outnumbered by non-Hispanic friends? No. Maybe. All I’m saying is that when you want to impress the friends with your culinary skills and you aren’t too sure what their pallet can handle - go with Mexican.
Note: I did not use any of the recipes found on the links, but would gladly share mine. Just let me know.
My photo adventures in Florida