The First Real Dinner I Cooked!

Tonight, I made history in my kitchen.

I made a meal that was healthy, delicious, and filling. Just for myself!

A zoodle caprese with chicken and fresh mozzarella and Parmesan. I had gathered some of the ingredients last weekend but hadn’t found time to make it yet. Tonight I went and got the chicken and some sparkling grape juice, and said a prayer.

And ya know, it was relaxing. I put on some Prince.

I put on my cute new apron! I assembled the ingredients, the bowls and plates and pans I would need– washed and prepared everything. And just followed the directions. I’ve never cooked meat beyond sloppy joes prior.

But tonight the chicken turned out wonderful.

I used to feel so intimidated by cooking, I couldn’t even try. But lately I’ve been feeling brave and excited to search for new recipes, shop for ingredients, and prepare some simple meals for myself.

It helped that I bought a cookbook specifically for runners, and everything is healthy. I started with that and now I’m garnering ideas from Pinterest!

I took pictures and sent them to my parents and my friends by text. They were so encouraging and said it looked wonderful and asked what I made.

Diane called me and had the best reaction: “Don’t get too fancy, now!”

She was impressed and it made me laugh. She was joking because she doesn’t cook really herself. She makes sure my Dad is fed but mostly microvwaves, uses the crockpot, and just does basic things. She’s domestic herself but in a different way: she likes to clean, organize, decorate their home. Water the plans and feed the animals in the backyard.

I used to always think that I’d learn to cook when I was in a relationship, to please and attract a man. But now I’ve decided to cook for myself– because *I want to be healthy and well-fed.

I’m so tired of crap fast food. And though I’ve only made a few simple meals, all of them have been edible! ­čÖé

It feels good to provide for myself in this way. To connect with that domestic femininity I’ve always envied in other women and wanted to cultivate in myself.

It’s happening. One meal at a time. Thank you, Lord.

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When I Let Go

Last Friday, I came home from work to find a passive-aggressive note.

Taped to my door from another tenant in my building, un-signed.

I had to ask around to find out who penned it. When did, I knocked on the person’s door– which was left unanswered.

To clear my head, I went for a run. By the end, I had sweated out my  resentment.

I was no longer even mad!

All week, I saw that tenant coming and going– but always when I was going somewhere. It wasn’t worth being late or putting myself in a bad mood to confront it.

So I just accepted it, and let it go.

I realized that I had no obligation to react at all.

I was friendly, but did not engage beyond a brief greeting an a wave.

Today, I returned home from work very tired after a challenging day.

I sat down to finish Season Three of “Orange is the New Black,” my current obsession. Chapman is getting more evil by the episode!

Less than 45 minutes later, there was a knock at my door.

“Who’s there?” I queried. The tenant answered their name.

I took a quick minute first, then opened the door.

And they were carrying a peace offering: dinner. Covered in foil to keep it warm.

More specifically– mac n’ cheese, beans, a hot dog and chicken.

I smiled. I thanked them.

“Are you going to stop leaving me notes now, unsigned?”

They nodded, smiled, backed away toward their own apartment.

“Enjoy,” they said.

“If you’re upset, just come and talk to me,” I said. “I’m sorry. We good?”

Another head nod. A smile.

We said goodbye.

Peace had snuck up on me.

And the mac n’ cheese was brilliant.

 

Grilled Cheese Guru

That’s my new nickname, bestowed one the phone by one of my besties tonight, Leslie.

To celebrate the END of my Lenten obligations, I got some Colby-Jack and enacted one of my favorite rituals.

GRILLED CHEESE!

The best is that she was singing it to the tune of “Jukebox Hero.”

“GRILLED cheese GURuuuuuu…”

I laughed at the timing, because before she moved out of state my friend and I spent a lot of time watching movies and hanging out at our apartments whilst making grilled cheese. It’s our thing.

At work I was thinking what meal I should choose to break my fast–and decided simple was best. Something familiar I could do at home.

And here we were, catching up on the phone just three weeks to her wedding!! She is so giddy, it’s adorable listening to her.

It was a lovely, up-beat conversation and almost as good as actually spending time together.

In a great mood tonight, feeling quite blessed.

Honey-Lemon Water and Cooking for Me… Yum!

This week has been great!!

I tried a new grocery store that has better foods– and shopped with a plan. Just a few choice ingredients for a planned meal, and a few things I thought would be good otherwise.

I started a new routine for myself in the morning: hot water with honey and lemon. I read that HONEY-LEMON WATER has benefits that it’s got oodles of health benefits, but what sold me is that it’s a healthier replacement for coffee.

I’m pretty much over coffee. I’ve been drinking it for years– black. I’ve been transitioning slowly to teas. But I like the idea of a healthier(cheaper!) and practical alternative. This woman drank hot honey-lemon water it for a year every morning and she said it woke her up faster, she stopped getting sick, and her skin was glowing! When I tried it yesterday morning, I was EXCITED to wake up and make this honey-lemon water! It helped me get out of bed faster– knowing I had something yummy to concoct and sample. I was shocked that indeed, I was woken up in minutes.

With coffee, it takes me awhile. I have to wait for it to cool down, since I don’t like it too hot. Then there’s that bitter aftertaste. I seem to be able to drink hot water faster, for some reason. It also sustained my energy throughout the day, and I slept better last night. It keeps me fuller too!

I also got some basic pasta along with a few spices. Some salted cashews. Some milk chocolate “discs,” to replace my Raisinets (they’re expensive!). Tonight I cooked the pasta, just winging it. I also made some asparagus, and put lemon on both. Loved it!

I’ve always been so afraid of cooking. Then this week a friend explained that cooking and baking are different– baking needs to be very precise and measured. But with cooking, you can throw ingredients together and experiment.

I’ve always thought of cooking as so COMPLICATED! But it really isn’t. Actually, I think I may have a knack for it! Tonight I just improvised with the lemon and it turned out great. I have a very small kitchen with small counter space. But I’m tired of eating out all the time– and mostly fast food.

I see now that cooking is an act of nourishing yourself in a concrete way. It’s self-care. I understand how people might find cooking relaxing. And eventually, it something social that you can share with those you deem worthy.

I’ve always been so cerebral– always reading, thinking, writing, trying to figure everything out.

Focusing on a meal, or even just a cup of hot water, gets me out of my head a bit. It makes me happy.

Today I’ve had three cups of hot water– two with just honey after the morning cup with lemon also. I feel that I’ll be able to sleep well.

It’s wonderful. I feel happy and confident and open to what’s next!

One little meal at a time.

Cheese Relapse: Back on the Lent Wagon

So I didn’t last 24 hours with my Lent promise to forego cheese!

I had left-over mac n’ cheese in my fridge, which I had made Fat Tuesday as my last indulgence.

I couldn’t stop rationalizing.

“It’s only cheese POWDER, does it even count as real cheese?”

I could have offered it someone in my building. Or my parents, who still send me home with food when I visit.

But wouldn’t it be sort of rude to offer someone a half-eaten meal?

I could have thrown it away! I have no problem throwing away other leftovers I don’t feel like eating.

Thus, I did the only ethical thing: I finished it.

Ha! I called a friend who reassured me, “Jesus wanted you to have it!” Bless her humor.

The next night, my father called and invited me over to their house for pizza.

Ahh! When I made this decision I hadn’t realized I’d be giving up PIZZA!

But I was proud to stand firm in my rejection this time.

He wanted to know, “Why give up cheese?” It’s practical. It’s protein!

And that’s EXACTLY why I chose it– because I eat it so often. Because it IS impractical.

He accepted my answer and I thanked him for the invitation.

Last night after work, I went out to eat and ordered a strawberry salad — MINUS the bleu cheese crumbles.

Proud! It’s getting easier to stick to my plan.

I see this as an opportunity to also abandon my usual comfort foods and try new things.

The neat thing about Lent is that it forces you to become hyper-aware of behaviors you otherwise wouldn’t even notice, had no you not vowed to monitor them.

What are you struggling to remain vigilant about avoiding this Lent? Any good (simple!) cheese-negative recipes I should try? I’d love your advice!

Happy Lenting.

Self-Defense, Week Seven: Tranquility and Self-Preservation

I’m feeling calm.

This week, we worked on fighting off someone for a few minutes. We had drills.

And even when I struggled to break free, I didn’t panic. My instructor and my classmates encouraged me– watched what I was doing and gently corrected me. My voice got stronger, and I used it.

I always got away. It didn’t matter the size of the person I was fighting, or how aggressive they were.

I used the moves I learned and improvised a few of my own, too. And this time my instructor didn’t criticize me from deviating from the curriculum. He seemed impressed.

I learned a have a strong instinct for self-preservation. My best weapon is my intuition and my brain.

I’m good at avoiding trouble, and that’s not being weak.

On my way to class, I encountered my across-the-hall neighbor on the back porch. I told him where I was going and he jokingly offered to fight me. He had his hands up, defensively.

I stood my ground and said, “Dude, I’m not fighting you.”

Sometimes the strongest thing you can do is walk away from a fight.

Boy in a Batman Vest: A Surprise Dinner Guest

God reassured me today in a moment when I was feeling vulnerable.

Right after my self-defense class, I went to dinner and ordered soup and grilled cheese. I was going to read my class workbook and go over what I’d learned. I was sitting in a booth.

And I was happily interrupted.

The table to my right had a family with two small children. The boy had a black Batman vest with a hoodie– the yellow and black logo on the upper right hand side. He came over to my table shyly, and introduced himself.

I’ll change their names.

The boy was Mark. I told him he could sit with me if he wanted. His mother apologized at first, but I assured her I enjoyed the company. She said it was fine, and there were a couple other adults at her table. He was so proud of his wicked Batman vest– especially the hood! Then his sister came over, Missie. I didn’t ask their ages. She was quieter, but sweet.

Mark picked up my key chain, which has a silver Mary and Jesus on it. He was fascinated by the swiveling pieces and liked the pictures inside. I don’t consider it my job to talk about that with a child, especially when I have no idea what their religious background, if any, might be. But I merely said that it was a lady, Mary, and her son, Jesus. He asked me about the buttons on the key faab– what do they do?

Then he wanted to draw a picture on the place mats. He showed me what he had drawn of his family. Then I told him I’d draw his Batman symbol, and he was happy about that. Missie was drawing too, she was the younger of them. Mark came over and sat by me and watched me draw.

It reminded me of when I was a little girl, and my Dad would draw bats for me. I drew them just the way he did!

He was thrilled with the Batman logo, and then I drew a regular bat. He made a drawing of me– I loved it. But I asked him, “Where’s my hair? It looks like I’m bald!” So he drew some spikes on there for me. I asked if he would write my name on it for me– he did. I showed him how, in capital letters. He worked very hard on writing the letters and I was impressed.

I drew a little portrait of Missie, she recognized herself. “That’s me!”

The mother and her family was ready to go, and I thanked the mother for letting her kiddos hang out with me. The kids said goodbye, and I finished eating my dinner.

When God is with you, you’re never alone. And children really do make the best company sometimes!