4

Worn-out Wednesday

Just when you think you can’t get more worn out, something happens, and you find out, well, maybe you can.

How am I today, on the final day of finals week and a week before the end of 2015?

Answer: A complete and utter mess. I haven’t slept very well for a few days, and despite going to bed at 1:30 last night, I didn’t get out of bed until 1:30 this afternoon, by which time it was almost dark again because I live just below the Arctic. Once I was awake, it took me several hours to get out of bed, showered, dressed, and some food in me, despite a massive headache and stomachache. Eventually, I got out of the house to grab a baguette, crackers, candy, and soda, and sat at Kung Fu Tea for a few hours. Once I was feeling good enough to drive, I headed out to grocery shop for the first time in probably over a week, so I wouldn’t be constantly eating more meals out.

Since Christmas is coming up tomorrow night and it’s doubtful that if I missed anything at the store tonight I would be able to buy it before the weekend, I decided to take advantage of the opportunity, and since I’ll be doing a lot of cooking for myself over the next few days, bought a few new things to try out, which I will hopefully enjoy. Even though it’s 11:30 at night and I should probably go to bed soon, since I’ve had maybe one and a half meals today, I will try one of the items now and report back on it tomorrow.

20

The Snack That Does Not Smile Back

“Oh, I don’t snack.”

One of the greatest lies ever told.

I’m guilty of telling it, but at least I’m honest about the fact that I’m lying about it.

Snack foods are one of those things that everyone likes, but no one admits to. Kind of like soda, which I wrote about a while back. I’ve grown to like snack foods a little less ever since I’ve lost interest in potato chips, and learned about things like hydrogenated oils and corn syrup and its connection to the crude oil industry, or something like that. Still, I might have some snacks at a party, or if someone else is offering them to me, but I tend to not buy them. Or if I do, I justify. I’m a major, major justifier. Here are some of the statements I’ve used to justify my purchases.

“Popcorn! What a fun and healthy snack!”

“Oh, these Cheez-Its will be great to keep in my office, my students polished off the last box.”

“Oh, Kedem tea biscuits. They’re gross, but I should buy some because Erin likes them. Even though Erin lives in Oregon. But it’s her birthday, so Erin, these are in your honor.”

“Here’s some Twizzlers. I’ve been really good today, I held the elevator door for someone and I deserve it, and by the time I walk back to my car, I’ll have burned a deficit of calories so I’ll need it.”

“Bridge mix? Where have you been? Hiding in the 1970s, huh? Let’s reunite…”

“Goldfish! The snack that smiles back! Wonderful, I could use a smile. Plus, don’t they count as seafood? And seafood is great for you, so in the cart you go, little fishies!”

I also buy some essentials, like bread and bananas and spinach leaves, just so I can feel healthy, and those things usually so straight into the fridge, because they need to cool off a little before I eat them. But I’m hungry now.

And that’s how I ended up pounding Cheez-Its on my couch at 11:30 on a Saturday night.

8

Raw Food and a Raw Deal

So much is going on in the world today, but as for me, I have finally decided to take a tighter hold on my eating habits.

As of 48 hours ago, I have subsisted almost solely on raw food. My only exceptions have been yogurt and peanut butter, because who has time to make those items from scratch unless you live on a farm.

I’ve always been of the opinion that a healthy diet consists of moderation. Protein, carbs, sugars, fats, all in harmony, just never too much of one thing. Carbs are not the enemy; well, not all carbs (hey, maybe that can be the next Facebook/Twitter movement, NotAllCarbs) but the majority – potato chips, white bread, sugar cookies – are just empty calories.

But now, I think it’s become time to purify my system, and maybe this raw food thing is the way to go. So far, my meals have consisted of:

  • Breakfasts: Yogurt and banana (the only fruit with more protein than sugar)
  • Lunches: Egg whites, salmon, tuna and lettuce
  • Snacks: Salad (sigh), chicken soup, post-workout green smoothie
  • Dinners: Chicken, some sort of veggies to pretend to enjoy
  • Drinks: Water, coffee, tea, water with sugar-free lemonade powder

I spent most of my day looking forward to my post-workout smoothie so I could have something sweet in my system. So, as you can see, my life is terribly exciting. Yeah…not so much. In fact, I’m miserable. I feel like I can’t eat anything. How do people live like this for days and months on end? Maybe, just maybe, if I make a list of foods I’m craving here, it’ll help me stop thinking about them all the damn time.

List of foods I miss:

  1. Sushi. (I wonder if I could get away with nigri or sashimi and still be on the wagon)
  2. Chocolate-covered almonds/bridge mix.
  3. Twizzlers.
  4. Frappuccino.
  5. Caramel Macchiato.
  6. Diet Coke.
  7. Cookies.
  8. Popcorn.
  9. Pretzels.
  10. Muffins.

I guess that’s not too bad or long of a list.

Here’s to Day 3, I guess.

But I don’t have the rawest deal of the day.

After Donald Trump’s crazy rant about Mexicans being drug lords and rapists, he’s been losing traction. First, Univision canceled the airing of Miss USA and Miss Universe, which, by the way, is two weeks away. Then, individuals started dropping like flies: judges including former Miss Universe Zuleyka Rivera, the entertainment, the Spanish-language commentators, and Farouk Systems (the hair and makeup stylists). Today, NBC officially announced that they are dropping Miss USA from its airing schedule. So, basically, 51 women who have already traveled varying distances to the pageant (well, I guess Miss Louisiana didn’t have to go too far, given that it’s in Baton Rouge this year) will either a) not get to participate in something they’ve been preparing for for the better part of a year, or b) be denied the privilege of having their non-present family members watching them getting crowned. Either way, it’s most likely that these poor ladies wasted thousands of dollars on travel, gowns, and other preparation-type-things.

Prepare for some epic backlash. Meanwhile, I will prepare some vegetables.

 

16

There’s An App For That

Not once, but twice this week, from two different people, have I heard the phrase “half price apps.” 

I assumed they meant apps, as in those things you download and play on your phone, but then I realized what they were talking about, which was…appetizers.

I’m not a huge appetizer person. Most of the time I can’t eat whatever is in them, or they just sound…well, unappetizing, which is kind of antithetical to the point of the word. The only appetizers that I take seriously are tuna tataki and bruschetta; pretty much everything else seems to be just “here, pay us more money for less food.”

Tina, don’t bother. They’re just overcooked, overpriced, and overly fattening.

 

But when did they become known as apps? That’s what I’d like to know. Is this new terminology, or is it just our cult. of shortening thgs? (C wat I dd thr?)

4

Tiny Edible Penguins for Humans Big and Small

This semester, I’m on the education team for our Theatre for Young Audiences (TYA) production, which happens to be about penguins. As e-team members, we will not be performing in the shows but making programs (paper and online), educational materials for classrooms, lobby displays, school assemblies, and other things that I am probably forgetting to mention here. At Wednesday’s rehearsal, the creative food artist in me had an epiphany: there must be some recipe that we can include in the material for the children to do. I had this image of tiny penguins made from olives and cream cheese. Because I always look for any excuse to do work/not do work, I decided to stay up until 2 in the morning making culinary masterpieces for class today, and I call them Baby Penguin Canapes. I have not written the childrens’ version yet, but here’s the adult version of what will surely become a culinary classic.

That’s So Jacob Presents:

That’s So Nom: Treats and Eats from Jacob’s Completely Amateur Kitchen

Episode 3: Baby Penguin Canapes

Step 1: Look at recipes online and then realize that you can probably figure it out yourself.

Step 2: Grab a fellow blogger and head to Target to buy ingredients. I chose Princess Ciarawho happens to be in my dance class. Together, go to Target, buy carrots, olives, and cream cheese. Intersperse with bits of gossip.

Step 3: Come home and realize you probably should have bought regular carrots but these baby carrots will have to do.

Step 4: Chop carrots into little circles.

Step 5: Very carefully, cut a tiny wedge from the carrot circle. Put that aside for now; that will become the beak. The Pac-Man shaped piece will be the feet.

Step 6: Make a ball of cream cheese about the size of a large olive. Put it on the carrot feet.

Step 7: Wash an olive, then cut it long ways.

Step 8: Slap the sides of the olive on the cream cheese ball, gingerly. As in, with ginger. Seriously, that’s a weird phrase. Who came up with that? The olives will be the wings.

Step 9: Wash a second olive and make a small slit in it short ways.

Step 10: Remember that tiny piece of carrot that may or may not have fallen on the floor or in the sink? Wedge it into the second olive and make it look like a beak.

Step 11: Put the second olive on top of the cream cheese ball, and hold for a few seconds until it stays.

Step 12: You’ve made a penguin. Celebrate!

Step 13: Realize that you need to transfer the penguin to a Tupperware. Put in refrigerator and hope that people appreciate it when you bring it to them the next day. (Spoiler alert: they went surprisingly well!)

Makes about 8 penguins, or until you feel you’ve lost control of your sanity.

Helpful Advice: Keep the olives washed and dried because you will get cream cheese everywhere. Keep the counter clean and dry or else the penguins will slide dangerously close to the edge. Stabilize with a toothpick, or if you’re feeling fancy, a cocktail umbrella.

And…double yay for another six-continent day! No new countries, but warm welcomes to North America (Canada, USA, Antigua and Barbuda, and Mexico), South America (Chile), Europe (UK, Germany, France, Spain, Czech Republic, and Norway), Africa (Mayotte), Asia (UAE, Singapore, India, and Philippines) and Oceania (Australia and Guam).

 

8

Sugar Crazy

Hello, my name is That’s So Jacob.

And the reason you haven’t been seeing me around is because of SUGAR.

Yes, sugar.

It started on Sunday with the fudge cake, and continued with the care package my parents sent of Twizzlers (lasted all of three hours), Berger cookies (gone within a day, but thankfully shared with others) and not one but TWO huge packets of chocolate and vanilla wafers. Then there were the surprise donuts, and of course, some lattes thrown in for good measure.

Things I need to do:

1. Peel myself off the ceiling.

2. Eat something nutritious.

3. Settle down enough to do some homework.

4. Email probably a bajillion or so people I’ve been meaning to contact.

5. Make myself go to the gym…every day…for the rest of my life. (in my defense, though, I did go Monday and Tuesday, but yesterday I got too busy and today I ended up dancing until I was a sweaty hot mess).

GAH.

1

Honey Cake on a Whim for Rosh Hashanah

I woke up this morning, and I was like, holy crap, it’s Rosh Hashanah.

Well, not now, but later tonight.

And I haven’t done anything for it.

Then I went to class, and when I got home, it hit me: I should totally bake something. Last year, I baked a honigkuchen (honey cake) so I thought I’d bake it on a whim, and thereby establish it as a traditional honigkuchen (ooh aah). I found my old recipe, and with about two hours to go until class, I decided to give it a try.

That’s So Jacob’s Kitchen Presents

That’s So Nom

Episode 2: Between-Class On-A-Whim Honey Cake for Rosh Hashanah

Step 1: Gather ingredients.

Step 2: Realize you don’t have all the correct ingredients midway through preparation, so run out to the corner store to buy the remainder for rip-off prices. Be pleasantly surprised when the store actually has normal prices for things – $5 for applesauce, cinnamon, baking soda, and brown sugar? SWEET.

Step 3: Return home and complete the cooking to the sounds of the Ronnie Spector station on Pandora.

Step 4: Put in oven, for twenty-five minutes.

Step 5: Start your reading for class, occasionally checking on the cake.

Step 6: When the timer beeps, check the cake. If it’s still a watery mess in a tin, close oven door and set timer for another 10 minutes.

Step 7: Repeat step six about 5 times because it doesn’t seem to be baking.

Step 8: If on or about the sixth time you check on it it’s still warmed-up ingredient soup in a tin, call mother and freak out at her. Then put on bottom rack in oven for about 10 more minutes, for the last. fucking. time.

Step 9: Remove hot cake from oven, finally cooked, but realize that the batter has overflowed the pan and it looks like somebody pooped in your oven.

Step 10: Laugh uncontrollably at the fake poop in the oven, then take picture of it and send it to your sister in Washington. Consider leaving the poop outside your neighbor’s door as a prank, but eat it instead because it’s actually not poop but delicious honey cake.

Step 11: Put cake in bag and wrestle with the Cling Wrap (the official baking tool of SATAN) to attempt to cover the hot cake in it to stay hot, but ultimately only pull off a few tiny pieces.

Step 12: Realize that you’re going to be late for class unless you leave RIGHT NOW so wrap that burning hot cake in a bag, tuck it under your arm, and run down State Street like it’s the Superbowl.

Step 13: Arrive in class at exactly 4:00 (phew). Plop cake down in bag, on the table but not yet visible. Proceed to torture yourself and your classmates with the delicious smell of honey, and realize that you are now sweaty, have brown stains on your khakis, and smell like a combination of delicious cake and the garlic sauce you made to go on your salmon last night. Hope no one else notices the garlic emanating from you. Practice saying “honigkuchen” in your head several times.

Step 14: At class’s conclusion, reveal the lovingly-baked honigkuchen to a chorus of delight and confusion. Pretend that you just dashed it off casually while reading Chinese and Japanese performance theory texts as if you are Little Suzy Grad Student. Cut off in hunks and serve on napkins. Serves six hungry and curious East Asian studies graduate students and two confused but relieved East Asian studies professors.

Your results, as always, may vary.

Shana tova, y’all.

10

What’s For Lunch?

So, I probably should have been doing work/reading/exercising/doing something moderately productive, so of course I was on the Internet, but look at what I found. Written in 1916 by a teacher named Nellie Wing Farnsworth in Valley City, North Dakota, it is an instruction book on everyone’s favorite subject in school…lunch.

It’s a quick fifty-two page read, but it’s terribly fascinating. Miss Farnsworth (being a teacher in those days, you can bet she wasn’t married) is delightfully candid in explaining the value of nutrition, as well as a suggested supply list for turning the rural school into a veritable early-twentieth-century Wolfgang Puck, all for the low price of $11.50. She includes information on etiquette and setting the table, but even more unusually, instructions on how to pass food, and tips on encouraging appropriate lunchtime table conversation. The appendix is an incredibly detailed list of foods and their individual nutritional values, as well as providing twenty easy recipes for surefire child-friendly lunch options that are easy to make either at home or in school. Farnsworth’s views are remarkably progressive; she proposes that boys help cook and clean because city boys do that (sure…) and because it will turn them into upstanding gentlemen who know how to sit straight at a table and have the motivation to wash dishes. I am so glad my mother didn’t make me read this as a child. Overall, Farnsworth seems like a wily one; her writing style is remarkably crisp and fresh, and her idea to backhandedly get mothers to supply the school with eating utensils by putting them on hold at the store and inviting them to a meal at school and then donating the supplies that they bought at the store? Genius.

Nellie Wing Farnsworth, you are a winner and a visionary.

Let’s do lunch.

3

Pushing the Envelope

Today, I went to a Vietnamese restaurant for lunch. I hadn’t been there before. The food, though overpriced, was good, but my waitress?

Pushiest waitress ever.

She shows me to a table, and gives me about eight seconds before asking me what I want. It takes me a little while to look over the menu, so eventually she gets the picture and leaves me alone for a few minutes. She comes back and takes my order, and the food is there before I know it. I’m kind of taking my time; the place advertises free WiFi, so I’m having fun on Facebook and taking a bite every minute or so, in no rush.

After a little while (not sure how long), the waitress comes over and asks if I want a box.

WTF?

I have like half my meal left, and since there are about five other occupied tables in this twenty-table restaurant, you’ve been basically watching me take my time in eating. So I politely tell her that I’m working on it still, but if she needs to get me out, I can pick it up. She says no, go ahead.

But a few minutes later, she’s back again, offering a box. I guess I can’t say she isn’t persistent.

Before she comes back a third time, I dump the remainder of the rice onto my tofu plate and eat a little quicker, so at least when she arrives with the check, I have an empty dish to give her, like giving a toy to a toddler to distract them.

I finish pretty quickly, pay, and up and leave without saying much.

Okay, I would’ve understood if there were a line or something, but the place was practically 3/4 empty, and nowhere near closing time. So what’s the rush, Mary Lou?

 

4

Foolproof Food For Every Mood

These past few weeks, I’ve been trying to lose weight for the Phoenix/San Juan/Baltimore trip. I should be working more on packing my apartment and doing research, but this post will not be about that. I’ve been spending most of my days (when I’m not in bed) exercising and focusing on eating healthier. This week hasn’t been the greatest for my exercise, but as far as my dieting goes, I don’t think I’m doing that badly. I’m not focusing on being strict as far as time; I’ve been eating when I’m hungry, and stopping when I’m full. I’ve been avoiding any type of “zombie food,” like chips or pretzels, things that you eat subconsciously when watching TV or on the computer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My problem, though, is picking foods that are tasty, satisfying, and healthy. It seems like everything has something in it that’s bad for you, but here are some things that I’ve been consuming over the past few weeks that have kept me sane and helped me lose weight. Also, disclaimer, I know nothing about nutrition so this might all be wrong, but just go with it.

1. Protein shakes.

As everyone knows, it’s all about the protein. And the protein shake is the way to get it in the morning, after a workout, or at night. I’ve been having one with breakfast, and after a workout. Beware: some of them are very sugary and some contain animal products. My brand of choice is the Whole Foods 365 brand: organic and not too sugary.

2. Eggs.

The other main protein source, the ever-popular egg. My breakfast usually consists of four boiled egg whites, although I have been known to make a mean omelette. There is good stuff in the yolk as well, but also some fat and cholesterol, which is bad considering my personal family history.

3. Coffee.

The jury’s always out on coffee, but sixteen ounces of black iced coffee, sometimes with a half-packet of sugar, ups the caffeine without a lot of the fat of milk and/or syrups.

4. Tuna fish.

Tuna fish was a whole food group in my house growing up, so I have no problem eating it in any form, raw, cooked, or from a can. I don’t add anything but black pepper. I stopped putting mayonnaise in awhile back, and I recently had some mayo on a tuna sandwich at a restaurant and found that it had a bit of a sour taste that I didn’t notice before, so I don’t think I’ll be adding it back in. Also, it quantifies eating bread, because who can say no to tuna on rye? Especially if that rye has RAISINS in it. Thank you, Angelic Bakehouse.

5. Tilapia.

Cooking fish is really not as hard as everyone thinks. I just shove it in the oven for about fifteen and it comes out flaky and delicious. Woodman’s sells huge bags of frozen tilapia, so that’s basically what’s in my freezer, aside from…

6. Chicken.

I usually tell the world that I’m a vegetarian or pescetarian, mostly because I don’t want to have to explain kashrut every day of my life. And when I do talk about chicken to a friend who thinks I’m a vegetarian but doesn’t know about kosher, I just say that “I don’t trust restaurants,” or “I only like chicken the way I make it.” Both are somewhat true; restaurants are overpriced, and I’ve never disliked any chicken I’ve made. Metcalfe’s has bags of frozen Empire chicken, $16 a bag but worth it for the kosher symbol.

7. Iced tea.

Diet Lipton citrus green and mixed berry are my new roommates. They’re too awesome to pay rent, so I just let them loaf.

8. Sparkling water.

First, there was water. BUT THEN THEY MADE IT SPARKLY AND FRUITY WITHOUT ADDING SUGAR.

9. Nuts and baby carrots.

I’ll admit, the only snacky food that I do partake in are almonds and baby carrots. Seriously, just turn on the TV and stuff your face with a half a bag of carrots and some almonds. Your body will thank you.

10. Peanut butter/almond butter and jam sandwiches.

Oh PB&J, how I do love thee. Sugar free jam is the way to go, and chocolate almond butter is like eating Nutella, only not.

11. Salads.

Yay for eating salads! Boo for making them at home though, I usually go out and have huge salads at restaurants because I am lazy and veggies go bad too quickly.

12. Indulgences.

I do indulge, like everyone else, from time to time. But when I do, it’s on foods/drinks that have some nutritional value, albeit very little, but not horrible in moderation. My food indulgences: biscotti (one piece and I’m done), cheese (as a topping for salads/eggs only), and Chipotle (sofritas salads for the win). My drink indulgences: diet soda (usually just one can/cup at a restaurant), Caffe D’Vita (a little sugar, but not a whole lot), and lattes with skim milk and sugar-free syrup (usually a weekend treat).

My diet could probably use a few more vegetables, but overall, I’m not depriving myself of nutrients and eating healthy portions. And yes, I do crave Twizzlers, cookies, cake, pizza, pasta, Starbucks, but not enough to cave and get them.

Here’s to getting in shape for the summer.

Oh, and welcome to my newest visitors from Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman. Apparently I’m big on the Arabian Peninsula; now if only the Yemenites would come and say hello.