What have you been up to?

Today was a productive day! This morning I sent a bunch of emails for work while I sipped the delicious coffee E makes me every morning. Then, spent several hours researching a new project that hopefully will be successful enough to talk about here soon 🙂 Ate a very plant-based brunch ( Buttercup squash roasted and mashed with lard and chipotle spices, shredded red cabbage, bacon and frozen artichoke hearts heated in the bacon grease (soooo good!), with a spoonful of lardons to make the whole thing that much tastier.

This afternoon I went climbing with E, with a smidge of running to warm up before working on technique on four solid routes. I’m already getting sore! It feels good to get back into our exercise routine after so much (fun and exciting) interruption in August and September. This was followed by a highly successful grocery shopping trip –does anyone else ever buy metric tons of food and then have to do multiple victorious trips from the car to your home to get it all in? Yeah, today was one of those. BOY do we have some eating to do — I already dug into the jicama, and I’m eyeing those jumbo costco artichokes next for an appetizer. The rest of the evening is dedicated to scheming with E on our projects, and some high quality, kitten-accompanied relaxing.

Yes, kittens! Did I forget to introduce our newest fosters? meet Kira and Luna!

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They’re not the Sparrows, but I sure do ❤ these gorgeous little munchkins.

A comment inspired by our grocery trip: This time of year, I’m really grateful we’re Paleo bc Halloween candy and tempting and not recognizing it’s food.

I’m inspired to make a comment by the truly ridiculous marketing of Halloween sugar products we saw in two of the three grocery stores we went to today (yes, we go to three. Trader Joe’s wins!) I am so grateful to have found Paleo with E. I have as much of a sweet tooth as anyone else, but finding this subculture of science-based food choices that emphasizes quality ingredients and the discovery of what you personally tolerate to is so empowering, especially during a time when a stupid American tradition (yes, stupid. seriously, why is this a thing) shoves tempting food-like poisons at you for weeks at a time. I’m so glad that I no longer recognize those candies as food, and it wouldn’t even occur to me to eat one even if someone handed it to me. Taking it off the table completely means that it doesn’t take any willpower to avoid it (corn chips, now that’s another story….MMM.), and life is so much easier. I can focus on things that are worth the money and foods that will actually bring me joy, good tastes (without weird chemical aftertastes, I’m looking at you, former favorite thing ever Reese’s cups), and brings me closer to good health rather than farther from it.

To be clear, we definitely eat treats — just not treats made with chemicals, high-fructore corn syrup, weird preservatives, or industrial-byproducts.

This thought I had ties in closely with my thoughts on the Whole 30 we’re doing, but I’ll save those ideas for another post.

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Bartholomew says Happy Bartolomé day!

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Brunch today!

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Late breakfast at home today! Red cabbage/carrots shredded (my new favorite thing), romanesco, parsnip mash, lardons, and cracklins. We don’t currently have any quick protein prepared (not really feeling like eggs lately!) and I’m not in the mood for sardines. I figure that there are plenty of times when I eat lots of meat and not enough vegetables, so it’s probably fine to balance that out with the occasional low-on-meat meal. Besides, the lardons and cracklins are SUPER filling. We finally found a method of making the cracklins that we love! It turned out puffy, fluffy, easy to chew pork skin, plus TONS of extra lard + lardons off the skin.

We’ve decided to do a Whole30 (or longer) for at least the month of October (we started a few days early though). This only means a few small changes from our normal routine: none of our regular eating out (rice and corn are off limits for this month, as are the gluten-free english muffin breakfast sandwiches at our new favorite coffee spot). Also, no honey or maple syrup as part of an after-dinner treat (baklava innards was last month’s new trick!)

I’m actually cheating just a tiny bit, because the dressing for my shredded cabbage up there is apple cider vinegar, honey, and lime juice. I am SO excited to have finally found a way of eating a brassica plant that I love (shout-out to Cave Girl Eats for the awesome recipe in one of her emails) , and the trade-off of a bit of honey for the ability/willingness to eat red cabbage, even during an otherwise-treat-free-month, is totally worth it. Also, I had already made it before we decided to clean it up during October, and throwing food away is no bueno 🙂

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A few other things we’ve been doing around here to work on getting more nutrition in regularly is to get more liver and more gelatin in. I have two tricks I’ve been using for gelatin, which I might post about later. Aside from trying new ways of cooking liver regularly (liver in burgers! PâtĂ©! Liver and onions! I hate them all.), I decided that it’s important enough to cheat. We’re going to keep trying to find a manageable way to actually eat the stuff, but in the meantime, I purchased desiccated liver powder and some empty gelatin capsules, and made some home-made liver pills! Definitely not ideal, but they’re affordable, easy (and kind of fun) to make, and they go down SUPER easy.

Do any of you have any tips on getting in more nutrient-dense foods? Holla!

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Media round-up from the last couple weeks

An interesting new take on advertising from Chipotle. I like the effort the put into it, and the fact that they assume their customers consume thoughtfully. I know America is often generalized as a nation of wallet-holders with no taste who will purchase and ingest anything wrapped in cellophane. But I don’t live in that America. Also, I ate at Chipotle last month for the first time ever, and it was a total life-saver. And 99%  healthy (Meat, vegetables, some white rice! I don’t like that they cook everything in soy oil, but whatcha gonna do.). Also, I usually despise everything Willy Wonka, but how about that song, huh? Kind of great.

A short, fast-paced summary of the US’s current economic and healthcare conversation. A tl;dr for half the problems in this country right now.

Generational commentary: Here, and here. As a member of either Generation Y or the millenials (are they now the same thing? Shouldn’t we wait five minutes to draw these lines so we don’t have to change them depending on the sweeping generalizations we’d like to make this week?), I find the sheer quantity of self-righteous “young people are useless” op-ed pieces fascinating. Why are these even being published? I do enjoy the comments (er, facts?) presented in the second article. Among my numerous and enthusiastic other opinions on these ideas, it’s irritating that instead of trying to solve problems, some folks seem to enjoy pointing at other groups and publicly pontificating  on how much they suck. Who does that help?

What do you guys think? Feel free to leave comments or opinions!

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Sunday cook-day!

Today we made (coffee, obviously), sweet potato/turnip hash, balls-o-meat (the word meatball is just weird),  and now I’m aiming for Couve a Mineira! Giving the trusty cast-iron pan a work out today for sure. Fingers crossed this one comes out well because I have NO idea what I’m doing.

I find collard greens to be a little bit intimidating.

I find collard greens to be a little bit intimidating.

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Jaden

One of my favorite life-long hobbies has been reading far too deeply into pop music. I LOVE radio. As soon as I got my first cd player (I grew up listening mostly to tapes. how weird is that), mp3 player, access to the internet (KaZaA, anyone?), I immersed myself in hip-hop, rap, and pop. Aside from Dave Matthews Band and the soft rock my family usually listened to, the first two songs I remember playing on repeat for days was Angel by Shaggy and Clint Eastwood by the Gorillaz. Yup: girl got taste.

I still listen to the radio constantly while I’m driving and when I’m in the shower. I have all my favorite stations carefully ordered, and the I Heart Radio app is prominent on my portable devices. Whenever E and I drive anywhere, I’m in charge of the music.

One of the few things I actually enjoy about the Philadelphia area is that Will Smith is also from there. I LOVE Will Smith. I love his music and his movies and his wife and his adorable kids. Love love love.

There’s a big stink all over social media/media with nothing else to talk about regarding something Jaden Smith tweeted the other day about education not being valuable.

“If Everybody In The World Dropped Out Of School We Would Have A Much More Intelligent Society.”

I have a few things to say about this:

1) Why do you care what a 15-year old kid thinks? Of course he doesn’t want to go to school. No 15 year old kid really wants to be in school for 8 hours a day. Is this news? I remember how much fun school was. It sucked. I loved textbooks, and it still sucked. Especially when you’re in this kid’s position, making huge amounts of money, actively involved in music and cinema business endeavors, doing talk shows and concerts. How much is he really getting out of traditional schooling that will help him in his current chosen career? Debateable.

2) Social media these days puts HUGE amounts of pressure on celebrities, especially young ones, to be in the limelight all the time. To act constantly, to brand yourself, to never say or do anything too stupid. So Justin Bieber peed somewhere he shouldn’t have. So Jaden Smith tweeted something stupid. I bet you’ve done dumber things in your life. I certainly have. Thank goodness the entire internet wasn’t there to remark on it, right?

3) I’m a student. I learn. That’s part of who I am, and that’s what I’ve done most of my life so far. I have a real job right now, but I plan to enroll in a graduate program in the few years, and then it’ll be back to hittin’ the books. In my downtime while I’m working, I’ve studied for and passed the F.E., taught myself how to program in Python (and a little bit of HTML and CSS as well), and I’m constantly reading books and listening to podcasts, much of them related to nuances in nutrition, medicine, and public health. However, I think Jaden makes a great point: at some point, you have to stop learning and start doing. You can spend your whole life reading about something , or listening to people talk about something, but at some point you have dig in and do it. I’m glad that I didn’t rush right from undergrad into a graduate program, because taking a break and doing has given me important perspective and experience.

This tweet ties in with a whole nother (I love how silly this phrase is when you type it out) rant that E and I go off on together pretty frequently about flaws in the current education system in America, and what steps one could take, on a small (personal) or large (policy-wise) scale to remedy it. I think getting kids involved in valuable roles in society as early as possible would be hugely beneficial to everyone.

So, maybe Jaden actually meant, School Is Dumb And Learning Isn’t Important. Or maybe he meant that experience can be more valuable than sitting in a room full of people being told what to do. If you’re not sure, why not just give the kid the benefit of the doubt?

(The tweet discussed above was soon followed by: “Everybody Get Off Your Phones And Go Do What You Actually Wanna Do.” For what that’s worth.)

For your derping pleasure, please enjoy the rest of the Hermione buzzfeed  as well as this  gif.  You’re welcome.

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Dinner and Breakfast

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My dinner last night: meatballs, cooked baby carrots, red cabbage with lardons, and leftover banana pancakes from this weekend.

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E’s birthday(!) breakfast this morning: Moka-pot coffee with coconut milk, duck eggs with basil, lardons, and banana pancakes.

Happy birthday, babe!

 

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Lili!

Once the Sparrow litter was all shipped out to new homes, our apartment seemed much too quiet. The kittens took up a huge amount of time and energy. A lot of this effort was part of a steep learning curve, and we’re waaaay better prepared now to take on a litter than we were in June. But at the same time, having four or five tiny furry toddlers rampaging around the apartment, eating, pooping, scratching, and being irritatingly, distractingly, painfully cute is probably going to take time away from other projects no matter what.

Buuuuut, having a cat around is really nice. And there are SO many that the shelter always needs more help.

In a fit of rational compromise, E and I ended up with Lili, a big 11 year old tortoiseshell ladycat.

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As you can see, she is gorgeous. And, um, substantial. She’s an owner surrender, and had been at the shelter for some time and was not doing well — she was clearly very sad in the cage, and she had picked up some of the communicable diseases that shelters always circulate. I didn’t realize that she was on 4 different meds when I picked her up, and I was super intimidated at first. I finally figured out how to medicate small kittens and deal with their small kitten issues, but I’ve never done eye meds, or pilled a cat, or really handled a full grown cat much before at all.

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One of her meds (ironically?) was for anerexia, because she stopped eating at the shelter. If cats don’t eat for too long, they can develop a potentially fatal condition called hepatic lipidosis, which just means that their livers are basically working too hard to convert body fat into energy, and it becomes toxic (fortunately, humans are put together differently, so intermittent fasting for us can be beneficial and/or convenient, and is unlikely to kill us).

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Another fun fact about Lili is that she’s front declawed.  Previously, I knew that declawing was a bad idea, but until recently I didnt realize just how terrible it is. If you took all the fingers on your hands and chopped the tips of them off at your first knuckle, that would be roughly equivalent to declawing a cat. Ouch, right? Watching this big mama express cat-like behaviors while being declawed is so heartbreaking sometimes. She tries to knead her front paws when she’s happy, and occasionally she’ll approach a surface (like the scratching post, the end of a mattress, or the edge of the couch) and paw at it, back and forth, like she’s stretching and sharpening her claws, even though she doesn’t have any to sharpen. I would so much rather her have claws and learn to do that on a scratching post, even if there was some trial and error involved. My convenience isn’t worth taking away such an important part of her cathood. Folks, don’t declaw!

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She’s been here for about a week, and she’s been medicated and groomed and we’ve got her eating happily now. Medicating her eyes quickly turned out to be pretty straightforward (thanks, YouTube!) and the pills got tons easier when I ran out and picked up a pill pusher. Lili already has a rescue organization interested in taking her, so if she doesn’t get adopted by the end of the month, as long as she’s in healthy condition, she’ll be going to a happy home.

So far, Birthday Month has been all that and a bag of chips! But more on that later. The (bawlmor, murlin) weather was gorgeous this weekend, folks; I hope you spent some time outside.

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