cheering things

In these difficult times, here are some things that have cheered me:

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I did a Treat Yo Self Friday the first week after Lent ended and went nuts on a hamburger from my beloved Venable. Then I impulse-purchased chocolate mousse for dessert. A delicious, delicious choice.

My friend Lesli loaned me The Hardest Puzzle In The World

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Everything was a crazy shape. There is no traditional border to make an edifice on which to build. And essentially everything is light blue. Whew. I lost years of my life finishing this puzzle. It distracted me from work rather badly.

Oh here’s something terrific:

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The boyf and I got our exercise and sightseeing on at Occoneeche Speedway in Hillsborough which is a fun little destination.

Then we went to my fave Mexican place in Hillsborough, Restaurant Ixtapa, and I had some killer chicken tinga tostadas.

Between the fun outing to a new place and the Mexican food picnic (albeit seated six feet apart) it almost felt like real life!

Another day we took a lake walk and saw one of my all time greatest loves, sunbathing turtles. (Also an unpictured blue heron).

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Another staff meeting, another sassy coloring book page…

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For a few days one week in April I found myself feeling rotten. Was it The C Word? Probably not. I had a similar period in March. I think at a certain point in allergy season my immune system just gets overwhelmed/exhausted/haywire and I have to just go out of commission and take three hour naps at 5pm and it’s all real weird.

I find Chinese soups- specifically, egg drop and hot and sour- to be soothing to the scratchy/sore allergy-afflicted throat. Imagine my delight when I discovered on Doordash that there was a within-delivery-range restaurant near me that provided Chinese AND Indian food!

I got a small hot and sour soup, a large egg drop soup and a vegetarian sampler with dal and saag paneer and it also involved wee dumplings and basmati and naan and the most spicy tomato chutney.

SOOTHED!

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On a walk I saw these kitties, one of whom had gotten a rather embarrassing summer haircut. That beard. I just can’t.

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From reading Hungry Hungry Hippie I learned about iHerb and got her discount code to use. They have one of my favorite things in the land, Tea That Tastes Like Dessert, for v reasonable prices. Also their walnuts were quite a good deal. I got two bags to meet their free delivery minimum and was reminded how much I enjoy walnuts.

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This stuff. OH MY GOODNESS.

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My sweet friend Marina is a superstar home baker and offered to bring me one of her loaves. She gave me the choice between rye or sourdough and I was all “Hi, I’ve never met a bread I didn’t love.”

She brought me the rye, which she makes with a homemade starter. She said she loves a strongly flavored, caraway flecked rye but since she’s baking for her one and four year olds, she has been making a more mildly flavored one.

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IT WAS SO INCREDIBLE. LOOK AT THOSE BEAUTIFUL SPONGY BUBBLES.

I made ambitious plans to do all kinds of elaborate sandwiches and things with this bread but honest to God all I did was eat it toasted with butter. I singlehandedly demolished the loaf in… 3-4 days?

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Bread, Caesar salad, pepper slices and imitation crab dip. Sure.

I got another outdoor visit from a friend. Instead of bringing a loaf of bread she brought… an angel. A gift from heaven.

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LOOK AT THIS SWEET PRECIOUS BOY’S BOW TIE! My friend Emily was watching this newly-adopted pupper for the weekend before he got passed off to his new family.

He is SO SMALL and so new to the world he’s kind of bad at walking. He loves everything, and at one point picked up the shovel above in his mouth and tried to go scampering away with it.

He was so good for snugs.

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Almost as great as the puppy, something else miraculous happened one day..

My friend Shaylen gave me these homemade chocolate poptarts with chocolate filling and chocolate frosting….

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… and she didn’t even know it was the first day of my period!😂

I took a walk on one of my fave trails by my old place, and went a bit further than usual. And I saw this hawk! On the branch just above and to the left of the red bucket. So cool.

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And I went into the most dizzyingly green little section. It felt a bit enchanted. I loved it!

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Finally, lest you worry that my cat is stressing at all due to the pandemic…

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Easter n more eats

The week of Greek Easter, I could not experience the usual lovely church services, quality family time, delightful rituals like dyeing eggs red and having brutal battles of egg tapping until one egg defeats them all.

But I could make Greek salad.

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I could live stream the midnight service. Actually they started the service early this year, which means I was finished before midnight (the sermon as usual was the highlight. Done the same at every Orthodox church in the world and so beautiful and perfect). First time ever I got good sleep for Greek Easter!

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I also connected with the fam near and far via video conference. I screenshotted but since several of us were blinking (#classic) I will not share it here.

Easter morning I woke up and instead of Easter eggs I made a rare takeout purchase (I have really been focusing on cooking at home and, go figure, it’s saving me a lot of money haha) and got a tomato, egg and cheese at Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen. Ridiculously huge. Only ate 2/3 in the first go round.

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Another thing I could do to make this weird quarantined occasion feel more like my favorite holiday: I could make my favorite Greek Easter cookie, koulourakia, and make deliveries to several friends to spread cheer!

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I stopped by several households like a little cookie elf and had nice chats with friends through doors and things.

A definite highlight was when my friend’s three year old licked the sliding glass door😂

My last stop of cookie delivery was my friend Lesli’s, where I planned to share cookies with her in her backyard and maybe gab a little outdoors.

Well imagine my surprise to discover that she’d cooked me an (outdoor, socially distanced) GREEK FEAST!

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I am such a lucky girl! My friends are amazing! She made spanikopita, pita with tzaziki, a really excellent orzo veggie feta salad (it was one of those that when it sat overnight it was even more delicious on day 2, and she was nice enough to give me leftovers!), and KEFTEDES! Keftedes are Greek meatballs my grandma used to make all the time but I haven’t had in years. Hers were extra herb-y and garlicky and so freaking amazing.

Other foods..

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The randomness award goes to:

  • Spicy greens salad blend from the farmer’s market with goat cheese and homemade vinaigrette
  • deviled eggs
  • leftover polenta

An exciting creation:

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Warm chickpea bowls with lemon yogurt sauce and fennel salad

I would’ve come up with the roasted chickpeas and cauliflower, maybe, but the combo of warm, spicy chickpeas and cauliflower with cool lemony yogurt and crunchy herbaceous fennel was quite special indeed.

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This mushroom pizza was not especially special but was quite good. Trader Joe’s herb crust.

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A clean-out-the-fridge frittata:

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  • eggs (duh)
  • smoked turkey
  • mushroom
  • green onion
  • cheese of some kind
  • think that’s it?

Workday lunch:

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Avocado toast ‘n baked beans.

Another workday lunch:

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Tuna melt on toast with roasted cauliflower with kalamata vinaigrette that I made with the leftover cauliflower from the bowls.

Batch cooking…

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Tomato, goat cheese caramelized onion quiche made with the basic quiche proportions I learned from Mark Bittman (6 eggs to 2 c milk; or 5 eggs to 1 2/3 c milk if using a smaller pie plate that isn’t deep dish, as I usually do)

Muffins:

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I use this vegan muffin recipe all the time when I have milk/almond milk/etc to use up. Just substitute whatever fruit and/or nut I have for the mixins. This particular time it was bananas and walnuts.

Another unphotogenic work lunch:

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Aforementioned muffin, salad kit from Trader Joe’s, more baked beans.

Another work lunch haha:

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Baked sweet potato, 1/2 a tiny tiny avocado, some baked tofu with a tahini marinade atop (I tend to save random little leftover salad dressing bits from salad kits and use them to marinate tofu, pro tip).

As was the case with many of my work lunches, this didn’t fill me up (and/or, in all honesty, I didn’t feel like going back to work yet and wanted to continue eating) so I also had some trail mix.

A rare pic from the breakfast category:

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I’ve been making overnight oats with kefir and HECK it’s good. Roughly 1/3 c oats mixed with 1 c plain kefir overnight, then add whatever toppings in the morning. Nice and creamy and filling.

Another pizza night:

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1/2 with salsa, avocado, tomatoes and cheddar. The other 1/2 with mushrooms and goat cheese.

And finally, a most virtuous lunch:

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I was CRAVING KALE SALAD, can you imagine such a thing?! So I made a quick vinaigrette with maple syrup, dijon, olive oil and apple cider vinegar, then massaged that into some kale, then added some apple slices and cheddar. Plus more apple slices with (*swoon*) the first of a new container of almond butter on top.

cooking and entertaining

Worry not, I am not chronicling my violation of my state and local stay at home orders in this post… I am simply posting things I cooked in February/early March😬

First, some Thai noodles…

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This recipe from Cooking Lightboasted a MUCH higher veggie content than your typical noodle dish. Shiitake mushrooms and baby bok choy are a deeply inspired combination.

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The finished dish was good… which is good cause I ate it for several days haha.

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One evening I had the boyf over (again, pre quarantine). He is off the sauce and is thus experimenting with various non alcoholic beverages such as this hops seltzer. I don’t get it even a little bit (beer, blecch. Hoppy beer, extra bitter blecch). But he liked it.

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I cooked us homemade pizzas, a salad, and my all time favorite steamed artichokes. Plus we made spritzers with unsweetened cranberry juice and fizzy water, v refreshing. And then N brought some kind of ridiculous rocky road brownie we split for dessert.

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Another meal I cooked for him- salmon with some kind of herb/panko topping (not too exciting and I also cant find the recipe I used), roasted potatoes, and salad with arugula, goat cheese and strawberries. V springtimey meal!

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I took this picture to demonstrate to my patients that I do often honest-to-God use MyPlate to plan my meals, so it is honest-to-God is a useful tool!

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V colorful and good and healthy. Mm.

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I combined those leftover potatoes with fried eggs, arugula, and Trader Joe’s pepita salsa. V ugly, v delicious!

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The boy cooked for me and holy cow he went a little nuts.

He made us turkey burgers that contained feta, lots of herbs, onion, etc… and then on the side had All The Toppings In The World… and CURLY FRIES AAAGH! This was a fabulous meal.

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A few yummy things I made by myself…

Braised Belgian endive. This was a signature dish of my grandma’s and every time I make it I think of her! Mine is never as delicious.

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“Fish tacos” the lazy way- tortillas with Trader Joe’s frozen mahi mahi burger sauteed in a bit of oil, plus avocado and pepita salsa. And a random salad kit.

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More random salad kit plus something yummy I threw together involving Israeli couscous…

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I love Israeli couscous but it’s basically impossible to find a whole grain version so I find you can up the health factor and lower the simple carbs by mixing it with cauliflower rice, which is a similar shape and texture. Plus tons of fresh herbs, plus goat cheese. This was actually really good, and I veeeeeery rarely am inclined to say such a thing about cauliflower rice based dishes.

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Another day I made bread and soup. The bread was Cooking Light’s brown soda bread, an old favorite. The soup involved canned fire roasted tomatoes, canned kidney beans, chopped butternut squash, homemade veggie broth, and lots of smoked paprika and rosemary plus some onion and garlic. So so good.

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And finally, the last meal I hosted before quarantine! Brunch with my friend Lesli!

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I made tempeh bacon, scrambled eggs, and hazelnut and date scones, plus coffee and a fruit bowl. My friend Lesli brought fruit salad with fresh mint (! swoon!) and a yogurt topping.

Such a great meal. Someday I will get to make yummy collaborative meals with pals again.

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pre-quarantine life

Looking at these pics I took throughout February and early March is just wild…

On an especially lovely and temperate day, I got after work drinks and snacks with a work friend! Remember sitting outside on patios with sangria and guac?!

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I went to a friend’s child’s birthday party! Remember birthday parties?!

Also, can we get over the delight of a six-year-old requesting a demagorgon birthday cake? 😂 To be clear this family is not screening wildly inappropriate TV for young children… apparently Stranger Things is just the talk of the first grade class. One of the other kids thought the Demagorgon was a “pretty flower.” SO CUTE.

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I really REALLY miss doing coffee shop work dates with a pal. So much easier to slog through spreadsheets with company and the occasional gabbing interlude. Also, can we talk about Cup A Joe having a Star Wars themed special menu?!

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More coffee shops! I miss coffee shops! (Though I confess quarantine life has made me realize how much of my discretionary income goes to coffee and baked goods and generous tipping at such establishments… it’s… a lot.)

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BRUNCH! Being a basic white girl, of course I miss brunch. I took the boyf to my fave place, Monuts. He got the biscuits n gravy. I got the Turkish Eggs, with creamy yogurt and spicy zhoug sauce and dreamy foccacia… ugh they are just incredible!

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MY GODDAUGHTER! Holy heck I miss visiting with my cousin’s family. My cousin in her cute dangly earrings. This squishy wee one year old…

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Let’s take a moment to admire this incredible first birthday cake.

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Don’t worry, there were also cupcakes and macarons in abundance.

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Please note the unicorn motif.

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Chase, my cousin’s three-year-old, is very passionate about the color pink right now and picked out a great unicorn sweater to wear to his little sister’s party. Since all children’s birthday parties have to be Impossibly Loud, every child got a noisemaker and they all went nuts. Here Chase is being deeply adorable with his grandfather.

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Another thing I miss… dinner dates with the gals! First sushi…

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… then what has become mandatory post-sushi dessert at Dulce.

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I got an alfajor (my new passion- dulce de leche filling, mm), and a passion fruit macaron (there are not enough passion fruit flavored things!)

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Remember Fun Weekend Adventures?! I and various friends of mine make an annual pilgrimage to Celebrity Dairy for Open Barn, their event in which they invite the public in to see their baby goats (!!!)

I love seeing goats and alpacas hanging out companionably

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And snuggling with playful baby goats!

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And watching them snuggle each other!

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This was my last sit down restaurant meal til God knows when. I met up with my friend Shaylen at B side and we went ham on cocktails and appetizers.

Shishito peppers with smoky yogurt sauce (yesssss)

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And bread and veggies with dreamy cheese fondue.

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I took these last few pictures as spring was just beginning. I thought, “Gee, it’s so nice being outside again!” Well it’s a good thing I like it, since it’s basically the only place I’ve been able to visit since then haha.

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things that have helped me through quarantine life

  1. Leslie Jordan’s Instagram
  2. Daily exercise- a combination of outdoor walks (alone or with others six feet away from me), yoga (Down Dog app is free for students and health care workers right now; other good options include Yoga with Adriene on Youtube), and cardio/strengthy things (Daily Burn is currently free for a month, or I like some Fit Sugar stuff on Youtube).
    Scenes from NC trail walks…
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  3. Some Good News
  4. Having a well stocked fridge and cooking and eating what I feel like in the moment, even if it’s just whole wheat double chocolate banana muffins rather than something more balanced haha. I’ve definitely been baking more, since there is something deeply comforting about the smell of baking bread permeating through your home.
    I’m reducing my grocery shopping trips to once every ~1.5 weeks, which is pretty remarkable since I’m usually more of a 3-5 days a week girl haha.
    Here I am looking like a huge dork in my homemade face mask (made following the CDC directions). Muchas gracias to my mom who sent me a proper one.
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  5. Regular happy hour dates with my best gal pals. (Pro tip: Facebook Messenger has been most reliable for us. I’ve found Facetime is inconsistent in group chats- you aren’t always able to see everyone. House Party is a fun app if you want to play games with people- they have pictionary and trivia and off-brand Apples to Apples).
  6. Regular Facetime dates with the boyf. He made homemade from-scratch Caesar salad dressing whilst Facetiming me and it was really freaking cute. Like being at afancy restaurant where your fancy salad is made tableside.
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    Another time he and I did Facetime yoga together. We are (lovable, I hope) dorks!
  7. Loving on my kitty. She seems to’ve had some allergy issues and as a result was compulsively scratching behind her ear. As a result, I looked aorund the house to see what I might have that would help, and started rubbing her ears with coconut oil. Well, she LOVES it, both the massage and the coconut oil residue left behind that she licks off. What a weirdo. Here she is eating my bedroom curtain.
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  8. Other animal sightings
    First, an owl that visited in my backyard for like twenty minutes one afternoon!
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    Next, a baby bunny I saw on a walk that was seriously a perfect sphere. So fluffy and sweet.
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    I am trying not to think about the whole circle of life and how for my owl friend to live, cute fluffy things have to die. Oy
  9. Baked goods exchanges! Next weekend being Greek Orthodox Easter, and me being away from my family for literally the first time in my life on that wonderful holiday (*sob*), I’ve already planned to make a batch of my favorite Easter cookies, koulourakia, and make no-contact deliveries of them to my loved ones.
    This has been inspired by the lovely exchange I’ve had going with my friends Kyle and Shaylen, who live near me and who’ve been inviting me along on cute walks with their cute dogs.
    First I gave them thai noodles and they gave me orange cakes. Then I gave them oat scones and they gave me coffee cake. I keep getting cake! Lucky me!
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  10. Finally, if anyone important in your life has a birthday or special event coming up, and you want to do something special for them, heads up… People LOVE having a project to work on right now! They are trapped in their homes and are seeking connection to those they care about! And creative outlets!
    With that in mind, I recruited a number of family friends and relatives to make a truly epic birthday tribute to my mom. I won’t mention how old she turned on April 8th but frankly you will be able to tell from the song choice. Have a watch, and enjoy.

A few more food scenes from quarantine life…

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Lunch involved yogurt, homemade no-knead bread, and arugula salad (farmer’s market arugula; ours is still running and they’ve put in lots of smart social distancing precautions) with cheese and homemade vinaigrette.

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Chocolate craving satisfied with ramekin chocolate fudge cake. I halved the two-person recipe (lol) and it was quite rich and formidable so still lasted me two servings.

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Lazy fish tacos- Southwest salad kit plus corn tortillas with Trader Joe’s frozen fish sticks (haha!) and pepita salsa.

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Lazy huevos rancheros… corn tortillas with eggs fried on top, pepita salsa, avocado, cheese.

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Two toasts, one with smoked herring (Lola got the leftover oil from that can and she was stoked!) and one with avocado. Grapefruit on the side.

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So perfect I had the same thing the next day, except with a side salad (bitter greens from the farmer’s market) instead of the grapefruit. Note both days I probably noshed afterwards on something like trail mix, as is my habit.

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In gourmet-er ventures, roasted tomatoes on yogurt from Ottolenghi Simple, with homemade bread on the side.

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Shrimp, avocado, and grapefruit salad (used green onion instead of shallot and dill instead of tarragon)

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Another from Ottolenghi simple, pasta with chickpeas and zaatar. YES!

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cute february things

Hello again from Coronaland. It’s sad and weird here. Maybe sometime I”ll reflect on it. But for now let’s go in a time machine to when things were normal (in the US…shoutout to those in Wuhan who’ve been living this craziness since December).

February! Month of Valentine’s Day. Month of my one year anniversary (aww) with bae.

My boyf planned a day for us (hi, I’m Ileana and my love language is acts of service so this was freaking perfect). We spent the day in Greensboro!

Our first stop was AMAZING.

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We pull into town to visit a museum, but as we pull up I go “OH MY GOD THERE’S A CAT CAFE NEXT DOOR?!” and N goes “I mean yes I did Google Street View so I knew this come on in we are going to see some cats.”

This was exceptionally sweet and awesome of him, as my sweet man is *allergic* to cats. He literally did not participate in any of the petting, playing, and snuggling I did, just quietly observed and sipped coffee and was nice.

The kitties were amazing. The people working at the cat cafe were exactly as weird as one would expect people who work at a cat cafe to be.

After a few minutes there, we went to our true Greensboro destination, this awesome locale.

A thrift shop turned art museum.

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With a rotating series of artists who come in, use the space and the supplies in it, and leave behind their fascinating installations. Like this tipi.

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Materials are ample. Look at just the fabric wall!

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Stuffed animal “cocoons”

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You are free to roam the first floor self-guided, but if you want to see the upper floors you have to take an official tour. We had a bit of time before that started, so we went to N’s favorite place nearby, Yum Yums. Greensboro natives seem a bit obsessed with it (my coworker was recently rhapsodizing about their hot dogs and ice cream) and N got into it when his sister went to college in Greensboro and he’d go visit here.

So. Admire their radioactive looking hot dog.

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The best thing I can say about it was… it cost $1.95.

And my boyfriend looks cute and happy in its presence.

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Otherwise, I have nothing good to say haha.

The upper floors of the museum felt more museum-y, with little rooms and spaces turned into installations.

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This cyclone made entirely out of baby dolls was one of the more disturbing things I’ve ever beheld.

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Our final stop in Greensboro was my suggestion, a spot my coworker had visited for her birthday and had enthusiastically recommended.

Well holy goodness, I ENTHUSIASTICALLY SECOND THAT ENTHUSIASTIC RECOMMENDATION. Maxie B’s is worth your time.

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I have never smelled such smells. I have never seen such a colossal selection of cakes, and all available by the slice. I have never seen such enormous, delicious, dense samples (ugh samples, remember those?!)

Picking a type of cake to try was agony (especially since, in all honestly, we had really filled up on the samples and were having to get everything to go).

But in the end I got caramel pecan cake (*swoon*), N got apple spice cake and coconut cream pie (*swoon swoon swoon*!), and we got a variety of cookies, including one of these just because the name was so great.

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Eaten that night, it was all AMAZING. And who is not to say that I did not have leftover cake for breakfast some? (N took home all the cookies and ate them all between the hours of 1 and 2 am. If you’re going to have insomnia, you might as well have some Maxie B’s stash to console you).

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But our day of adventures was not done! Because it was the UNC-Duke game! (College basketball, remember when that was a thing?!)

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We did our usual thing of getting a table at the wings place. N got wings and wing accessories and I (with the full permission of the staff at the wings place) went across the street to Mediterranean deli and got a sampler platter. Artichoke parmesan dip, baba ghanoush, and chickpeas and spinach. Plus pita and olives. Yes pls.

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The game was a nail biter so N needed to lean on me for emotional support. Alas, the Tar Heels did not prevail. Honestly it didn’t look like we were going to do particularly well in the tournament so maybe a year to regroup isn’t all bad news.

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We still were not quite done with the celebrating, due to it being both anniversary week AND Valentine’s Day.

N had his kiddo’s on actual VDay so our celebration took place the night before.

I made:

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I was rather anxious about getting the steak cooked right as I don’t own a grill pan and my meat thermometer had a dead battery (oops!) But I think I did well 🙂

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Steak salad was one of the first things N ever cooked for me (his cast iron pan got so enthusiastically hot that the smoke that occurred from cooking that steak poured through his whole house and we had to evacuate for awhile. Let the record state, the steak was still excellent).

As for Valentine’s Day itself, I went and got cupcakes with my coworkers. Galentines!

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pandemicland

Hello from pandemic land! 😫

I am struck at how quickly vocabulary words and phrases enter the lexicon. COVID19. Social isolation. Flatten the curve. It’s reminds me of the world after 9/11, when Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden became terms used on a daily basis.

This is going to be rather text heavy I think so here is a nice picture of a deviled egg I enjoyed on March 12th, the day when things were starting to go nuts but I didn’t realize how bad it would be (that was approximately March 14th). The boy and I went to a restaurant and sure we hand sanitized after touching the beeper, and got our meal to go, but when I ate this hard boiled egg the thing that was being discussed was the NCAA tournament being canceled. Bummer to have big events banned, but the world wasn’t ending or anything.

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And then everything went nuts!

I don’t pretend that I have anything particularly useful to contribute in this pandemic (though for all means if any of you have any registered dietitian content you want, ask away).

But, looking back on this Blog That No One Reads is something I do fairly often, because it’s like a journal of my life. The edible parts anyway. And the way some people hear a song and are immediately taken back to a moment, I look at a meal and remember it and it has the same transporting effect haha. If and when this pandemic is over, we will all (God willing, still living) look back on it.

And, I’d like to believe putting my thoughts and words out on this corner of the internet provides a moment of unconventional human connection, which is what’s the name of the game these days.

Pandemic experiences:

My cat is cute and stoked to have me around (this picture not withstanding)

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The animals of This Cat is Chonky (a private but very-much-worth-joining Facebook group) have lifted my spirits enormously. Ditto my Instagram feed which is HIGHLY HIGHLY cat centric.

Ditto bird’s rights activist.

birdsrightsactivist (@ProBirdRights)  Twitter

My cousin also gave me a rude coloring book for Christmas a few years back 😂 I’ve been doodling with crayons during stressful conference calls. (My lunch was homemade date hazelnut scone + green pepper slices with buffalo hummus+ yogurt)

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I was also doing puzzles like a fiend for a few days there. I recommend it for being very tactile and distracting. BUT you must be careful how you position yourself because I definitely threw out my neck at one point.

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I’ve also been VERY consistent about daily exercise for mental health. Blessedly I live in a home that’s walking distance to a trail and boy oh boy if I ever house hunt again that feature will be non negotiable. Being able to walk every day, maybe chatting with family, maybe listening to a podcast, maybe just thinking, has been huge. I’ve also utilized Youtube, like everyone else, to do some yoga and things.

But, all the cute things above notwithstanding, shit is serious.

On the one hand, social media is the way we can connect with others new when those in-person connections are missing. On the other hand, the nastiness and vitriol is so much more devastating to me than it already was (and it was. It was.)

I cannot fathom a world in which:

  • People believe a disease is a liberal conspiracy
  • People believe people of a given ethnicity can be blamed for a pandemic
  • People think that other people’s lives are disposable, certainly less important than the economy, and that we should just stop quarantining and social distancing
  • People think that stopping quarantining and social distancing will magically revive the economy at no cost, and will not result in the spread of the pandemic

I also think that if I had one big dramatic genie-like wish, it would be that everyone in the world immediately had an understanding of the scientific method.

Yeah, be a person of faith. Yeah, it’s okay to believe in “gut sense” when making some personal individual decisions that don’t affect others.

But WHEN WE DEAL WITH PANDEMICS PUBLIC HEALTH IS WHAT WE HAVE. SCIENCE IS WHAT WE HAVE. SAY YOUR PRAYERS AND THEN LISTEN TO THE &#*@%@)!#%& SCIENTISTS!

Public health starts with surveillance. It starts with having an eye on each and every corner of the world, because we are a globalized society and a germ can span the entire planet in a matter of days. When things pop up in other parts of the world, we PAY ATTENTION.

Then, when we start seeing indicators, we overreact! That is the goal! In one year, we want to look back at Spring 2020 and say “We did such a good job overreacting! The effort we put in was super extra, and as a result the outcome was boring!”

Now, we’ve reached the point of no return where the outcome will not be boring. People have died and are going to die in frighteningly large numbers. Providers of care in hospitals are going to have to make horrible, gut wrenching decisions that will probably traumatize them.

But guys, please. PLEASE. Do the next right thing. Stay the eff home.

I have a master’s in public health in a rather specialized nutrition corner so I’m not here to give any epidemiology lesson, but if you’re interested in being pointed in the direction of some of the best scientific content, just holler and I’ll send a link or two your way.

Finally, as someone who spends my whole professional life working with low-income, chronically ill, often low-literacy people… My patients are going to die.

I’m always struck by my privilege but… I have paid sick leave. I have my own car to leave the home and run errands if I need to. I have job security. I have a safe house with no abusers in it. I have money for groceries. I have a kitchen I can cook in. I have health insurance.

Please please if you are questioning the steps that are being taken right now to try and protect people, try to imagine yourself in the situation where you did not have one of the things above. Okay, how about any of the things above. We are all in this together. I’ve always believed it, and I hope the people who don’t are starting to recognize that denial of humanity’s interdependence doesn’t work.

Anyway, a few more scenes from pandemic-land.

Trader Joe’s kinda killed it!

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I arrived and initially was a little thrown by the line of people stretching past the door, each individual or couple separated by six feet.

But, I got to the front of the line and was immediately greeted by a cheerful staff member who had a cartful of cartons of wipes. They informed me that there was a maximum of 40 people allowed inside the store at once, so I’d get a cart and go in when a returning shopper returned theirs. I got in and there was plenty of food and breathing room.

As I was being rung up I mentioned to my cashier how smart they were being and he said that doing the line outside wasn’t the corporate policy but their management at their store had just decided to do it. It was such a good idea to protect all of them and all of us and it actually made me feel comforted.

Also this sign:

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Seriously, a central law of humanity should just be Don’t Be a Dick. Always true, especially true now.

Probably the next time I post I’ll go back to talking mainly about food. I’ll talk a little bit about food and pandemics now:

I feel for people who have issues with their relationship with food. Being trapped at home, having to make complicated decisions about what to buy in bulk, limiting little trips for going out what you crave, limiting your ability to break bread with others or have others cook for you, or you cook for them… it’s hard! Anyone who is at home fighting the urge to binge and/or restrict and/or cause yourself harm in another way in the arena of food, I am sorry and I hope you feel better soon.

I myself have a history of weird drama with food and generally feel recovered, joyful and good (<< this is a blessing more enormous than I can convey with words). However, I spent a few days feeling a bit unmoored when my boyfriend very casually and not at all meanly said “You’re looking kinda skinny lately!” to me. And I realized I had been having fewer meals out to eat, fewer elaborate coffee house concoctions, etc., and maybe I was down a few lbs. And then I felt a little nutty for a few days and was like “Let’s keep riding this train and eat less! Yes, yes, skinniness can be mine! There’s no temptation!”

Blessedly, I was able to say to myself “Restriction is always followed by bingeing! Always!” And I was able to remind myself how good it feels to listen to my body. To honor my hunger and eat, and to honor my satisfaction and pursue non eating pursuits. I don’t want to give that up for anything.

Meanwhile, in my professional life, I am frenetically coordinating with anyone I can think of to try to get my patients some food. Many don’t have cars and rely on public transportation and/or rides from friend. Many were already food insecure and are now dealing with food pantries, Meals on Wheels, and congregate meals temporarily shutting down or changing their accessibility. Many are scared to leave the house and be in a public food distribution- or even a grocery store- because they have COPD. Or asthma. Or cancer. Or HIV. I’m sincerely hoping I’ll be able to help connect people with some solutions because it’s a crazy time.

Anyway, I just got into heavy so I want to end this post with a little more lightness.

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I decided to be perhaps a bit selfish and extend my quarantine to include my boyfriend. I take social isolation very seriously and the only interactions I have had with others have been more than six feet away. But if the only touch I was allowed for the foreseeable future (two months? More?) was that of my cat, I think I would have died of loneliness.

So, I’ve seen N. He and I are both in good health and have not had symptoms (well, I’ve had symptoms of the pollen explosion that is North Carolina in March, but no coughing, fever or shortness of breath). We’re not seeing anyone else, and when we’re out together in public we keep a 6 foot bubble around us.

But gosh I am grateful for it. He’s a good one.

He’s just begun a week together with his kiddos, and is now one of the parents experiencing the absolute lunacy of full time teleworking whilst full time parenting/ home schooling. I imagine he is quite tired, though he’s already sent me a series of pictures of scooter adventures that look pretty great.

Before we parted, we made one of those fun self-sufficient DIY meals that has been one of the genuinely unexpected pleasures of quarantine life: pizza made with homemade dough!

One pie was topped with avoiding-food-waste-herb-pesto (made from some slightly battered but no less delicious parsley and cilantro), avoiding-food-waste-roasted-tomatoes (their wrinkliness disappeared in a hot pan), cheese and caramelized onions. The other had tomato sauce, more caramelized onions, hot peppers, bit of regular pizza cheese and bit of feta.

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Dee-lish.

Anyone who’s reading… how are you? For real. Let’s talk.