Tuesday, April 28, 2009

This Recipe Will Change Your Life

Because it is my birthday (told you I'm a ham) and I'm feeling generous, I am going to share the world's greatest recipe with you. I'm not kidding. This is the best meal ever. In the history of the universe. When I eat this meal, I sigh and smile and thankthelordalmighty for every bite I'm taking as I take it.

You know how on your birthday, your Mom cooks you dinner, and you get to pick the meal that your entire family will have to eat? This is the meal I always pick Well, almost always. Sometimes I'm just in the mood for my Dad's homemade hamburgers and potato salad. But aside from the occasional hamburger, I've requested this meal for as long as I can remember. This is also the meal my Mom makes for me when I come home on school vacation, when I've had a crappy day, or when we're celebrating something. If for some reason, I go crazy and kill a bunch of people, this will be the meal I request as my last. If I find out that this meal will kill me, I'll write up my will today, and kiss my loved ones goodbye.

My mom got this recipe when she was in college in the late 70s, from her Persian friends (is it not politically correct to say "Persian" anymore? They were from Iran). She's been making this meal since then, and if you look for it, you'll see a variation of it in almost every Persian cookbook you look through.

We call it Persian Chicken and Rice. And it's the most wonderful thing in the world.

You'll need (for 6-8 people):

  • 1 whole chicken, or 1 lb boned and skinned chicken pieces (this is good with a mix of light and dark meat)
  • 3 cups uncooked long grain rice
  • 1 pt. frozen butter beans (if you're not from around here, you might call them lima beans)
  • Dill Weed (fresh or dried)
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tbs butter
This is what you'll do:
  1. Put your butter beans on to boil. They'll take about 35-45 minutes to cook all the way through, so I usually start the beans and the chicken to boil at the same time (but in separate pots, of course).
  2. Boil the chicken in water (what else would you boil it in?). Salt to taste. Bone and skin chicken. Shred into small bites. Set aside.
  3. Cook rice in water (not broth) according to package directions. Salt to taste until done. Rinse with cool water and drain. Set aside.
  4. In a dutch oven, layer several times the rice, chicken, butter beans, and a generous sprinkling of dill weed. You almost can't have too much dill weed. Dill weed will save your life. (I made that last one up.)
  5. Dot the top of the rice with butter. Cover and steam on low heat until flavors blend, about 30 minutes. (My mom places a clean dish towel between the pot and the lid on this last step. I'm not sure how this works, but it does).
  6. OPTIONAL: For a delicious, cool treat, shred a fresh cucumber into plain yogurt, and sprinkle generously with dill. This makes a great dip or salad dressing, and it's super delicious when you dip a forkful of Persian Chicken and Rice into the Cuke+Yogurt mixture.
  7. Eat, enjoy, and be happy. The leftovers will keep for a few days, but they won't last that long.
*Substitutions: If you'd like to make this dish healthier (it's pretty healthy on its own already), you can substitute brown rice for white and string beans for the butter beans. If you're short on groceries and don't want to go to the store, you can substitute the chicken with ground beef or turkey (by the way, this is a GREAT way to use up Thanksgiving leftovers). I will warn you, though, any of these substituted versions will not be as good as the original. Just sayin'.

Happy Birthday to Me!

Today, I'm celebrating my 24th birthday. Not a particularly exciting birthday, but I'm the kind of person who will ALWAYS be excited about birthdays, no matter how old I get. I'll be in my 60s, still demanding asking politely for cake and a cute present from my immediate family.

But on this birthday, I have to ask? Who the heck am I? For me, this is a good question. Me a year ago, me two years ago--that "me" needed a change. And I'm proud to be making those changes.

When I first got an apartment 3 years ago, my fridge was often empty save condiments and takeout leftovers. Now, it's like this:Full of fresh foods, tons of veggies, and more and more organic foods. In the grocery bag? Rainbow chard and collards picked right out of a friend's garden--those veggies aren't even a week old!!!! Behind the grocery bag is even more veggies.

3 years ago, I had no beauty routine. I never took off my makeup before bed, and to be perfectly honest, I only sporadically brushed my teeth more than once a day (I KNOW! What was I THINKING???). Now? I have a corner of my counter reserved for my beauty routine:
In case you're wondering, I take off my makeup with Pond's cold cream, wash with Cetaphil at night, and Aveeno in the morning (I like the scrub factor in the morning to wake me up), Clinique eye treatment, moisturize with SPF 15, then brush, whiten, and floss, and use Burt's Bees Beeswax lip balm. Not very complicated or time intensive, but it's seriously working wonders on my face. And I'm open to admitting that I really really like feeling pampered.

And a few years ago, I wouldn't have even thought of working out. And while I still have lots of work to do, I consider myself much more of an active person than I was. I'm at the place now where I'm not afraid to try new things. The old me wouldn't have ventured more than walking around her neighboorhood. Since then I've tried yoga, weight training, C25K, ellipticals and classes at the gym, strength training, and good old DVDs. And there's so much more I want to try.

And what's more? The person I am today recognizes that I don't have to view my life in terms of failures or sucessesses. I'm allowed to let things slide. So what if I'm not at my goal weight yet? So what if I never finished C25K? Those things don't mean I failed. I recognize that my ultimate goal is health, not beauty (despite what my counter FULL of products says), and happiness, not size 6 jeans.

So yes, I'm celebrating my birthday today. For me, it marks so much more than just another reason to eat cake.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

I'm Still Alive

Hey everyone,
Just letting you guys know that I am still alive. Blogging will probably be sparse over the next few weeks--it's the end of term, and you know what that means: writing papers, grading papers, grading tests, writing more papers, putting together a syllabus.

I'd much rather be here with you.

Thanks for all your helpful advice and encouragement on my last few posts--I need it more than ever when I'm stressed like this. But take heart! I am beginning to restore balance in my life--I'm not letting myself eat out, I'm making lists and taking things one step at a time, and trying to follow all of your wise words!

I'll be back soon; stick around!


Monday, April 20, 2009

One Step at a Time

Things I'm Doing Well:

  • Avoiding eating out and cooking almost all of my meals
  • Skincare. Taking off makeup and moisturizing is a good thing, yo.
  • I'm about halfway done with my syllabus for the summer. My kids are going to have a kickass time reading war literature and writing their little fannies off.
  • Keeping expectations high about my summer class.
  • Being sociable more--made a few new friends and am actually gonna be brave and go to the beach with them this summer.
  • Packing lunches for long days at school. My Bento is awesome.
  • Listening to happy music.
  • Keeping up with most of my homework.
  • Putting off those bigger projects that can really wait until I have more time.
  • Growing my own vegetables and herbs. My plants are getting huge. Post soon.
  • Looking at things that make me happy. Like these awesome pictures of Dustin and I.
Things to Do Better In:
  • Faulkner class.
  • Getting papers back to students.
  • Sleep schedule (please ignore the post time on this).
  • Playing with kittencats more. They've been bored since Dustin's visit ended.
  • Exercise. You miss it, you really do.
I like that my "I'm awesome" list is longer than my other list.

Monday, April 13, 2009

I Have a Problem.

I started this blog last January. I weighed 214 pounds.

Today, 16 months later, I weigh 202 pounds.

If you were to graph my weight (how convenient!), it would look like this:

Obviously, I have some work to do. My trend seems to be that I a) lose about 10 pounds in a month or so, b) gain about 5 back in a week, c) maintain/gain really slowly for several weeks, then d) repeat step 'a.'

I would really like to stay with step A for longer than a month. Avoiding steps B and C would be nice too. Let's just jump from A to D.

Anyone have any helpful tips to make that happen for me? (HA!)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Upon Which I Am Offered Romantic Advice...by a Video Game

Dustin and I will celebrate our 2 year anniversary on Thursday, and as a present to ourselves, we bought a Wii. I know, pretty sweet present. And even better, my birthday is 2 1/2 weeks later. Dustin got me a Wii Fit. And while that game is no substitute for an intensive workout (Jillian, I'm coming back to you, I swear), it's pretty damn good at getting me off my ass when I'd otherwise sit around and blog all day. It's fun, it's interactive, and it even offers insight to our relationship:Apparently, I don't care about Dustin's fitness very much. I'm sorry, Dubby, I really do love you. I'm just spending so much time playing with our Wii.

Thursday, April 2, 2009


A few ays ago, I ordered myself a Laptop Lunchbox, or the American version of the Japanese Bento. Mine looks something like this:
I first heard about these things about a year ago, but never wanted to pony up the money to buy one (what's pictured above costs $23, but I had a 10% coupon code).

Mine came today, and I'm pretty sure I have the coolest lunchbox ever. I've been really bad about being too lazy to put together a lunch to carry to school with me, and I've gotten into the habit of skipping breakfasts again. Combine these things, and I'm starving by the time I get home, so I eat anything (and usually a lot of it).

I have to hike around campus a lot, so my big zippered lunch bag just wasn't cutting it (carrying a backpack, purse, and giant lunchbox is just so not chic). My bento can be thrown in my bag--all liquids are packed up tight in sealed containers--and not take up much space at all.

Meet my lunch for tomorrow:

Strawberries, Chocolate syrup, Quaker Oatmeal Squares Cereal, and leftover grilled chicken. I think I'm set on the delicious lunch front.