I’m telling you about my new word processor, Scrivener, not because I’m being paid to (I’m not) but because it’s an awesome product and I have writer friends with Macs who might be interested in it (you know who you are). It is amazing and cheap at only $40. I’m still using my free 30 day trial (which only counts down on the days you actually use it, and therefore lasts a long time), but I will definitely save up to buy it when that is done. The reason I’m in love with it, is that I can save what would normally be many separate files in Word or Pages, all together. I can then work on one piece at a time or link them all together.
Another great feature is that you can view the synopses of each of those pieces like index cards on a bulletin board, and then move them around like you would in real life. Isn’t that cute?!
I’m totally, totally in love with it. I’d love to hear from other people who have tried it too. If you are at all interested in it, check out this video preview of Scrivener. Do it!
I may have mentioned before that I worry about teenage girls these days, what with half naked women on every billboard, the Pussycat Dolls being marketed to elementary school kids, and Girls Gone Wild commercials every other second on a popular cable channel – one that bleeps out bad words but advertises that young college girls should be naked and gyrating all over each other on camera if they wanna be normal (that would be Comedy Central, in case you weren’t sure). Ugh, I could go on, and on, but what would be the point? The bottom line is it was hard enough when I had to go through it; I can’t even imagine what it’s like to grow up a girl today.
So, to be honest, I obsess about what all this media does to the minds of young girls, to the point that I read stacks of YA (Young Adult) novels with a secret hope that there will be something in them to assuage my concern, some kind of magic advice that will get them through puberty and young adulthood with their inner-selves unscathed.
That in mind, I picked up this book at my local library and enjoyed it cover to cover one evening. It ain’t perfect, but it’s got a lot of good advice in it about overcoming shyness and being in control. My favorite parts are the ones that insist that you won’t want to know, much less, date the popular football star when you’re an adult, and that your first boyfriend is really just for practice.
Your first boyfriend should be like the first pancake, just a tester to see if the griddle is hot enough.
One more pearl:
Don’t whine. Whining’s for those who can’t ask for what they want.
I wish I had learned to ask for what I want at an earlier age – in all areas of life.
P.S. I didn’t even know that Courteney Cox Arquette wrote the foreward to this book, as my copy came from the library and that is where the library puts it’s branch sticker.
As promised, here is the recipe for the roasted beet salad that my husband and I ate a couple of times for lunch last week. The beets were based on Mark Bittlman’s recipe, which he shares in a video: Beet Salad With Garlic Walnut Sauce, and in and article: A Divorce for Beets And Goat Cheese .
Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
2 pounds red beets, about 4 large, trimmed of greens
1/4 cup olive oil
6 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 cup walnuts
2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
Salt and black pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves, for garnish.
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash beets well. While still wet, wrap them individually in foil and place on a cookie sheet or roasting pan. Bake beets, undisturbed, for 60 to 90 minutes, until a thin-bladed knife pierces each with little resistance. (They may cook at different rates; remove each one when it is done.)
2. Meanwhile, put oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. When it is warm, add garlic and cook until fragrant and beginning to soften, about 6 minutes. Add walnuts and continue to cook until they begin to color, about another 4 minutes. Let mixture cool slightly and then put it in a small food processor; process until you have a relatively smooth paste. Add orange juice to taste and sprinkle with salt and lots of pepper.
3. After beets have cooled, peel off skins. Slice beets into wedges or cubes and toss with dressing. Taste and adjust seasoning, garnish with parsley and serve.
Yield: 4 servings.
I followed his recipe (without using measurments) until I got to the orange juice part – I had unwittingly drank the last of our orange juice that morning, so I used a splash of white wine vinegar, and some of that fig flavored basalmic vinegar that I used for my Wheat Berry Waldorf Salad the other day. I just kept adding olive oil and the two vinegars until it tasted right and there seemed to be enough of it to cover the beets. Next time I’ll add the walnuts last though, because it turned out a lot more nut-buttery than I would have liked.
Meanwhile, I was also baking sliced whole wheat pitas with olive oil, salt, and garlic powder. These turned out great. They are nice served warm and chewy, or baked until crisp, like the ones you buy at the store.
To assemble the salad, I mixed up a regular vinaigrette in a cup, with a fork (this contains about 2 parts olive oil to 1 part vinegar, in this case white wine vinegar, salt and pepper or cayenne), and tossed it with the chopped romaine lettuce. Then I added a layer each of kidney beans and beet salad. It may sound like a lot of work for a salad, but I kept the beets in a tupperware and we ate it for lunch several times. I must say, I was pretty proud of myself for throwing this together while my husband was napping, and then for having it ready to assemble the next day when he unexpectedly came home for lunch! Go Jess!
This picture is an illustration of the kind of week it has been. Tim is post-call today and is napping; Casey is always napping; I’m trying to get something productive done today, but can’t seem to get out of my pajamas.
Today is the kind of day where you feel dirty even though you’ve actually managed to shower. Actually, it’s been a real effort to shower lately. While usually, I crawl out of my skin if I don’t manage to shower by 10 AM, lately, I’ve been disinterested in the whole process. But, I did manage to shower today, and I still feel gross! My hair feels limp and yucky. I’m too fat for all of my clothes and can’t stand wearing the one pair of jeans which actually fit me because they need to be washed. I feel frumpy and dumpy – I guess this is a call to start integrating exercise and healthy eating into my life.
As for integrating productivity into the rest of today, I’ll spend it making plans for the rest of my week – see, I have the luxury of a spring break since I’m a teacher, but somehow it’s Tuesday already, and I’ve done almost nothing I’d hoped to do. I’d like to blame it on the weather and the flat tire I got last week, but I’m sure it’s really just laziness. (I haven’t even managed to post the recipe for the beet salad I wrote about last week, and all I really need to do is post a link to the New York Times page which it’s on.)
At the moment, I’m taking a break from washing dishes (while those in the tiny dish drainer are drying), watching Disney’s The Rescuers, and trying to interest myself in making lists. I’ve never been a good list-maker – just like I’ve never been a good diary-writer – but I think the reason I never get anything done is because I do nothing for a long time (days, weeks), and then want to do everything I’m not doing all at once. Like now: I simultaneously want to learn to cook, clean my house, finish my lesson plans early, exercise, eat more healthfully, and lose weight. Plus, my husband and I want to start a container garden this year. So, what I end up doing is picking up fifty books from the library on all of these subjects and then perusing them until I’ve lost all motivation to do any of these things (since you may not believe me about the quantity of books, I’ll try to post an actual picture of all the books I have out from the library tomorrow – if I can get off my butt).
Alrighty then! I shall spend the rest of the evening making lists and dividing goals into doable steps. We’ll see how it goes!
(P.S. My husband is not very happy that I posted these pics. But my snoozing lads are soooo cute!)
Today is shaping up to be a very good day despite the fact that we had a spring snow storm yesterday, and the day before I got another flat tire!
Digression: This is the third flat tire in about two months! It started the week after my crazy neighbor yelled at me early one morning for parking in front of his house. The entire street is mostly empty; this is not one of those neighborhoods in which you have to search for parking everyday. But he “didn’t understand why we would be so inconsiderate as to park in front of his house and trample on his lawn.” (You know that strip of lawn between the sidewalk and the curb? We are so inconsiderate!) That particular morning, although there had been snow on the ground for several days, it being winter still, his gardener was about to arrive and would have no where to park his truck. What!? Apparently, this was some special gardening/watering service. Yet, what were they going to water in the winter!? “And besides,” he continued to yell, “when his friends come to visit, they don’t know where to park (because apparently they can’t figure out that the opposite side of the street is completely empty).”
So, as I wrote previously, after that incident, I had a flat tire on my way to work which was so bad that I had to buy new tires. Then my husband got a flat tire, but was able to add air and the tire was okay. Then I got another one! and am crossing my fingers that I don’t need to buy new tires. Argh! Either our psycho neighbor is harassing us, or there are neighborhood hooligans vandalizing us, or, as my other neighbor suggested, “maybe it’s just a string of unfortunate circumstances.” Translation: The universe is out to get us.
Back to today: It has been a good day! Tim got to come home between clinics to work-out and eat lunch, and I made a gorgeous and tasty salad in continuation of my Mark Bittman inspired cooking streak.
Here is a preview of the salad (I’ll post the recipe and all that tomorrow):
My husband and I don’t exactly need incentives to eat kale (one of the world’s healthiest foods). We eat it at least once a week, often more. But I do need incentives to cook, and as you know, my husband has gotten me interested in The New York Times Dining & Wine and Fitness & Nutrition recipes. So yesterday, when he texted that he had to work late, but still hoped to work-out, and hinted that we should eat “pasta & kale,” I knew he was referring to the Times recipe that he had pointed out to me last week.
I wanted my photo to look more like the above newspaper photo, but my husband commandeered the spoon and stirred it up (thus melting all the little cheese cubes) before I could grab my camera. But anyway, here is our version of the Buckwheat Pasta With Kale from The New York Times Recipes for Health. It is simple – whole wheat pasta with kale, leeks, fresh sage, and gruyere – and it was really, really good.
The actual Italian buckwheat pasta is really hard to find, so I chose this imported, organic, wheat pasta:
The recipe suggested substituting soba noodles or whole wheat fettuccine noodles, but I decided that this Italian whole wheat linguine would be less mushy and wheaty. Ooh, it was a good choice. I found them at our favorite grocery, Sunflower Farmer’s Market.
Finally, here is the recipe from The New York Times:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (or omit butter and use 2 tablespoons olive oil)
2 large leeks, white and light green parts only, cut in half lengthwise, then sliced and cleaned
4 fresh sage leaves, cut in thin slivers
Salt, preferably kosher salt, to taste
3/4 pound kale, stemmed, washed thoroughly, and cut crosswise in strips
Freshly ground pepper
2 ounces Parmesan, grated (1/2 cup)
2 ounces fontina or Gruyère cheese, cut in 1/4 inch dice
3/4 pound buckwheat pasta (pizzoccheri or soba) or whole wheat fettuccine
1. Begin heating a large pot of water. Meanwhile, heat the butter and oil in a large, heavy nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Add the leeks and sage, and cook, stirring often, until the leeks begin to soften, about three minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, and continue to cook, stirring often, until the leeks are tender, about five minutes. Remove from the heat.
2. When the water comes to a boil, add a generous spoonful of salt and the kale. Boil for four minutes, until tender but still bright. Using a slotted spoon or a skimmer, transfer to the pan with the leeks and stir together. Keep warm over low heat.
3. Bring the water back to a boil, and add the pasta. Cook al dente (soba will cook quickly, usually in under five minutes, while pizzoccheri and whole wheat fettuccine will take longer). When the pasta is al dente, add 1/2 cup of the cooking water to the pan with the kale and leeks, then drain the pasta and toss in the pan or in a warm pasta bowl with the leeks, kale and the cheeses. Serve at once.
Yield: Serves four to six
Advance preparation: You can make the dish through step 2 several hours ahead. Remove from the heat, then reheat when you cook the pasta.
Still not sure what kale is all about? Our favorite variety of Kale is Lacinato, or Dinosaur, Kale. You can read more about it at these sites:
My biggest Internet discovery this week is the website Polyvore, a “free, easy-to-use web-based application for mixing and matching images from anywhere on the web.” People create sets, or collages, made from images on the web and share them with other Polyvores. They also create groups and befriend other members with similar aesthetic interests.
Enjoy! And, go ahead, make your own!