Operation: Feeding Frenzy

Classes start soon, and with that comes the knowledge that – however much I like to cook and want to eat nutritious and delicious (and cheap) meals during the semester – feeding myself and Zak tends to fall by the wayside once school starts.  So I’ve spent the last week or so arming myself (and my freezer) with ways to make it easy to chow down without resorting to packaged meals and pizza every night of the school year.  Yes, I take eating seriously, and yes, the semester will be conquered by my tactical assault by means of vitamins and essential nutrients.  Here’s the logistics:

1. Breakfast.  The meal I hate the most.  Being not a morning person, it’s like eating breakfast is an admission of failure – once I start eating, I have officially woken up, and now I have to go do stuff and behave like a civil human being around other human beings who would probably also rather be asleep.  And yet, I’m hungry and will feel even worse if I don’t eat something.  Usually this means I put breakfast off until I’m about to run out the door with a stomach full of nothing but coffee.  And I’d like to eat both a granola bar and a tube of yogurt, but I never do (because I’m incredibly lazy in the morning).  So here’s my solution:

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Dried cherries + dried blueberries + vanilla yogurt covered raisins + regular raisins +  sunflower seeds.  Throw into a bag, shake up, then put the mix into the emptied raisin boxes.  One box = breakfast…and it’s got protein, B vitamins & anti-oxidants, plus a sugar boost.

2. Lunch.  Normally this consists of either Wendy’s dollar menu on campus or, if I’m at the lab, an instant macaroni bowl with queso added to it.  Although queso mac and Wendy’s are definitely still options, there’s this…  So about once every two weeks, I end up making a ginormous batch of something – stew, slow cooker pork roast, roast beef, whatever.  And of course the two of us don’t go through all of it before we’re like, “Okay, I’ve had beef stew three days in a row – Enough already!”  So I throw the whole thing in the freezer and forget it exists until I’m trying to fit groceries into the freezer and can’t.  So about 1/2 the freezer is full of plastic containers that are 1/2 full of leftovers in big blocks that don’t thaw for two days.  So I split up the frozen leftovers into sandwich-size ziplocks, froze them flat (so they thaw quickly) and ended up with about a month’s worth of lunches and more room in the freezer.

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Chicken tomatillo soup, Blue cheese Italian chicken & veggies with rice, Chile, Beef Roast Stew, Tomato chipotle soup, and Pork stew – and that’s not even all the stuff I have in the freezer!

3. Smoothies.  I love them so!  When you don’t have time to get fresh fruits and veggies from the grocery, though, you can run out of things to put in your smoothies pretty quickly – or else you don’t use up your produce quick enough and it all goes bad, which is worse.  So I got the idea (from Pinterest) of making “smoothie packs”:  pick your produce combo, throw it in a sandwich bag, and freeze it.  When you want a smoothie, grab a pack from the freezer, empty it into the blender, add some yogurt and applesauce (or whatever liquid) and you’re good to go.  Yay!  I made about 7 different “flavors” using these fruits & veggies:  strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, peaches, apricots, cantaloupe, watermelon, honeydew, bananas, avocados, spinach, kale, lettuce, broccoli, cucumber, zucchini, and carrots.

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4. Dinner!!!  This calls for serious tactics, since dinner is my favorite meal of the day.  So:

  • 4a. Spent the summer finding recipes that are quick, easy, and don’t use a ton of dishes.  Have become a huge fan of the one-pot wonder meals on Pinterest, where I can literally throw all the ingredients (including the noodles) into a covered pot and have dinner 1/2 and hour later.  There’s chicken Alfredo, pasta primavera, veggie lo mein, creamy Buffalo penne…you name it!  Then there’s savory “cupcake” recipes.  Take almost anything and put it in a muffin tin lined with wonton wrappers and bake it for 20 minutes, and it’s awesome.  Taco cupcakes and shepherd’s pie cupcakes are my personal favorites!
  • 4b. Get a rotisserie chicken.  Pull all the meat off it.  Toss a little chicken broth and/or white wine in with it so it won’t be dry.  Freeze it in small portions.  Now when you want a some chicken on a salad, for a pasta dish, or in a soup, you don’t have to cook the chicken.  Hooray!20140807_155311
  • 4c. Ramen can become a decent meal without taking much longer than it normally takes to make it.  All you have to do is add some good flavoring, crack an egg into the hot broth, and stir.  Normally my “fancy ramen” includes coconut milk, also.  As for the other seasoning I add to fancy ramen, well…I figured I’d just mix up a big batch instead of adding all the ingredients individually. 

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    Contents: Soy sauce, lime juice, chili paste, sesame oil, rice vinegar.

  • 4d. Take a cue from Europe once a week!  A plate of bread, good cheeses, fruit, and some form of sliced sausage (smoked sausage, hard salami, etc.) is a damn good meal, and only requires you to pick the stuff to put on the plate.  And by good cheese, I’m not talking about a few slices each of Swiss and American cheese.  I’m talking about the good shit you get from the deli area of the grocery.  I’m talking about Manchego, aged white cheddar, goat cheese with sundried tomatoes and herbs, etc.  A little sample size of a few is all you need; you don’t have to break the bank with a huge block of $15 cheese!
  • 4e.  When my brain is in school mode, it’s not always easy to think about what’s for dinner.  So I made two lists to put on the fridge:  15 Minute Meals and 30 Minute Meals.  Everything else can wait for the weekend!
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Weird Stuff I’ve Learned at School – #1

1.  There are carnivorous snails in the world (although I didn’t know they were also hermaphroditic until I found this article just now).  There are some species of carnivorous snails that annoy the crap out of archaeologists because they nibble on bone and leave weird marks all over it, sometimes obliterating important features or prior postmortem trauma.  http://www.nbcnews.com/id/43260441/ns/technology_and_science-science/t/return-giant-carnivorous-snails/#.UXKgk8riv00

2.  The incendiary pigs of Rome (which ought to be a death metal album title), a.k.a. war pigs (which Black Sabbath has dibs on already) – the Romans, in battle against the Persian army, couldn’t figure out a good way to go up against war elephants until they discovered that pig squeals freaked the elephants out.  So the logical Roman approach was to cover pigs with flammable liquids, set them  on fire, and release them onto the battlefield.  Elephants freak, chaos ensues, Romans win battles.  Personally, I feel bad for the piggies, but if I had to face down a pissed off elephant with a bunch of angry dudes on its back, I might find myself in a morally grey area, too.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_pig

3.  In order to become a coroner in Kentucky, you have to swear or affirm that you have never fought in a duel.  Sometimes, I love this state.

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As an aside, I’m restructuring the blog – I will still write about the process of writing and update about my own writing sometimes, but I’m going to branch out with my subject matter, because (a) I’m going to start repeating myself if I haven’t already, (b) I plan on having a pretty interesting life from now on, so I’ll have good things to update about, and (c) I’ll update more often that way.  Well, and (d) my publisher thinks it’s a good idea.  Haha!

Write Like You’re Getting Paid to Do It

New topic for Sara D vs. Reality…whining about writing for a grade.

So I’m trying to put together a speech for one of my classes.  I am not having luck with my topic research.  What I’m trying to do is a speech on the politics of literature, specifically dealing with the historical persecution of authors, with a focus on how and why a government decides a work is subversive.  It isn’t going well.  I can find lots of specific examples, but almost nothing in the way of an overarching, comprehensive look at the subject.  And for a 15-minute speech, I’m not going to be able to turn 500 examples into my own overarching, comprehensive study, because that would be a freaking thesis project, not a 15-minute speech.  I am frustrated.

Mostly I’m frustrated because I was excited about this topic, and now I’ll probably have to change the focus of my speech so I can use the TONS of stuff I’ve found on censorship and book burning and so on.  Same general topic, just not the angle I was going for.  I suppose the moral of the story is that, whether you’re writing fiction or non-fiction, prose or speech, sometimes what you set out to write just doesn’t work, and you have to be flexible about it.  Even if you have to pout about it for a day or two before getting back to work.  And maybe it’s a good idea, if you’re not writing for school, to pretend that you are.  Yes.  Pretend you have a professor and your grade depends on getting over yourself and writing it anyway, and your financial aid for next year depends on your grade, and if you don’t follow through your GPA will suffer and no one will give you any money for school.  Pretend those things whenever you want to sulk about your writing.  It does wonders for lighting a fire under a writer’s ass.