Frozen burritos

For the past few days, the state of my kitchen has been…mostly disgusting. But between working Thursday night, partying Friday night, and then working my tail off Saturday night to the point of exhaustion, I just couldn’t manage to do dishes. Every time I thought about the dishes, I just wanted a nap. I wanted anything except for doing dishes. I posted on Facebook:

“Sometimes I…I just wish there was a clean dishes fairy. Like, if I leave all of them under my bed and promise to sleep all afternoon, will they get washed? If I leave forty bucks under my pillow, will the dishes fairy come? Looking at my kitchen has now exhausted me and I need a nap.”

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Unfortunately…no fairies or elves showed up. Not one. Instead, over a foot of snow arrived, starting during my late, late Saturday night shift. I worked so hard during my shift that, after only a few hours, I was doubling my painkillers. I could barely walk or stand, but I had to keep going. It was busy and the money just kept rolling in. Beyond that, some voyeurs showed up from the party I’d attended the night before. I’m never shy about letting people know what I do, but I surely don’t tell them where I work. I felt like, because of those voyeurs, I had to try even harder. What if my friends heard I was a terrible dancer? The night went on, and I was in more and more pain. Being an athlete for a living is no cakewalk…and for as much as people think the money is “easy,” the permanent injuries throughout my entire body can surely tell you that it is anything but “easy.” Fast, maybe. But never, ever easy.

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By the end of the night, some drunks came in, demanding dances with me and berating me for telling them that I just couldn’t do it. I physically, absolutely, couldn’t make my weak, powerless, exhausted body zapped of sleep and nutrients take one more step in stilettos. Not only was I sore to start the night, but I knew there was no way I was cleaning the kitchen at five in the morning to make whatever the hell I could think up with such a cloudy, starved brain. Plus, I still had to shovel my driveway, and my neighbors’ while it was snowing and sleeting heavily. And then over and over and over again, I lifted hundreds of pounds of watery, wet, slushy, frozen snow gunk until our driveways were clear, just for a minute as the snow kept coming.

I’ve been trying so hard and sticking to the spirit of this cooking thing, but after work, I hit the grocery store with the intention of buying a bunch of prepackaged garbage food to microwave and wolf down. And you know what? I did. I found a package of way, way overpriced and questionable grocery store sushi, corn chips, frozen gluten-free burritos, goat cheese, and three rolls of 100% recycled paper towels. I barely ate much, and fell asleep quickly. A second burrito served as an okay breakfast at 3pm today, just until I could start cleaning up the mess.

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Cleaning the kitchen has so far taken me almost two hours, and I’m still not done. I’m boxing up two sets of dishes to give away, and trying so hard not to see the real convenience of paper plates. I’ve even cooked again, making a mess of several pans, plates, and utensils that I’d just cleaned. The dishes will never end. On December 31st, when someone asks me how the year went without restaurants, I’ll just have to say: “I don’t know. I couldn’t quit doing dishes long enough to eat.”

Miniature frittatas

After last night’s party, I really, really needed some protein and water in my life. My poor liver hates me and needs a vacation. I woke up just four hours after going to sleep to get to the barn in time to meet the horse chiropractor. My off-the-track Thoroughbred’s shoulders and hip are out…again. I knew I couldn’t let him suffer, even if I totally didn’t want to go stand in the 30-degree weather at the barn after a long night of drinking and dancing. I slept as long as I could, skipped breakfast, and took off.

When I got home, I didn’t feel like cooking one bit. Beyond that, nearly every single dish I own is dirty and stacked precariously on pretty much every surface in the kitchen. Why can’t there be a dishes fairy that comes while I sleep? I feel like I spend my life doing dishes, now. I have a new appreciation for the lowest-paid guy in the kitchen, now. That shit sucks. And at least he gets a sprayer and a heated mechanical dishwasher. I’m too feral for this eating-in thing, sometimes.

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Guess what wasn’t dirty? My muffin pan! It made my breakfast decision easy. I’d seen the idea online “somewhere at some point” and figured it couldn’t be too hard to just wing it. It’s like scrambled eggs in a muffin tin, right? This was such an easy creation, I can’t believe I haven’t lazily made it before. It took me 5 minutes to prep and 20 minutes to bake.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Since I live alone, I only made three of these and the recipe reflects that.

Dice desired vegetables and/or fungi. I used about two lady-sized handfuls total of onion, yellow pepper, and portobella mushroom. That’s two handfuls including all three ingredients, not two of each ingredient. Eyeball it. While I sauteed those in some olive oil (mushrooms last, remember — they cook fast), I whisked together three eggs, three tablespoons or so of almond milk (your milk of choice goes here), salt, pepper, a pinch of garlic powder, and about a half cup or more of shredded cheese in a separate bowl. When the veggies were soft, I stirred them into the eggs/cheese, too.

I filled each of my muffin cups (no paper liners) to about two-thirds full, and I used one of those gigantic muffin tins. I let them bake for 20 minutes total, but started checking after about 15 minutes to make sure they weren’t overdone. No one likes crappy eggs, and this was my very last clean cooking pan. When the knife came out clean, they were done.

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On the side: cottage cheese and tomato slices; frittata topped with cilantro. Every once in awhile, I have a meal that just “feels” fresh, light, filling, tasty, and good for me, and today, that was this meal. I could feel my stomach just sucking the nutrients out of my food, gulping and gasping for more vitamins and minerals. Now that I’ve eaten, it’s time for a nap!

Buffalo bagel

This one was something I just dreamt up at the last second before heading out the door to work on Thursday. It kept me full and satisfied for something like eight hours. It was so simple: gluten-free bagel, cream cheese, feta, green onions, raw spiralized yellow sweet pepper, and the second of the special bison ribeyes I’d cooked a few days prior. The spiralizer is a new gadget I’ve never used before and still don’t know how to use. The instructions are mostly in Swedish, and I’ve never seen anyone use a spiralizer. I think I’ll just have to experiment and see what goes through it and what doesn’t.

I’m pleased with my creativity and the flavor was just fucking awesome on this one, but I ate it just as fast as I made it — in the five minutes it took me to figure out from the foreign language directions how to put the spiralizer together, wind the pepper through it, and reheat the ribeye in a skillet to keep the nice rare/medium rare temperature.

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Bison ribeye sandwich

If there’s anything that should make me feel like a grown-up, it’s paying for and cooking $13/lb bison ribeyes in the house I just bought, in the kitchen I’m remodeling. And yet, I mostly don’t feel like an adult. When does that part of adulthood happen, where we all feel like we’re actually grown up now? Ever? When we get wrinkles?

I thawed the meat, but forgot that the blood drips out of paper-wrapped cuts of meat and wound up with runny blood all over my fridge. Fortunately, it only touched things in jars and didn’t ruin any other food. As I moved the bloody mess from the fridge to the pan, I giggled a little when I dripped blood on the floor, the stovetop, and my dog. I felt like Dexter.

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This was too easy to make. I just cooked the ribeye to my favorite beef temperature — rare, and as raw as is safe — and pulled it from the heat. I sauteed some sliced baby portobella mushrooms in butter, toasted the bread, added greens, and topped it with a new chipotle mayonnaise I found at the grocery store.

That particular mayonnaise wasn’t a great combination with such an awesome, rich, flavorful cut of meat because it was overpowering, but I’ll surely save it to dress up the occasional boring turkey sandwich.

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Breakfast in bed

I’m just not a morning person. When my alarm goes off, I hit the snooze, roll over, and repeat every nine minutes for an hour or so. I pry my eyes open, catch up on whatever phone notifications came through while I slept from texts, calls, Facebook, and emails while I bury my nose in my younger dog’s neck. She’s almost three years old, but smells like a puppy every single time she wakes up. After dog snuggles and finding out what people thought of their mornings, I climb out of bed and lumber my way to the back door to let the dogs out, get smacked in the face by some degree of chilly winter air, and attempt to remain upright while the sheets sing sirens’ songs.

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This day, I couldn’t even get up slowly. It was a Tuesday, and I’d worked the night before until 3am and wolfed down my dinner at 4:30am. I slept in a not-so-classy pair of booty shorts so I wouldn’t be caught naked while the delivery guys knocked on the door. This day, I was finally having my new washer and dryer delivered, which happen to live in my kitchen and be another peg for the remodel. I set my alarm for 9am, the earliest they could deliver, and drifted in and out of sleep until 10:40am, when they finally arrived. They did their thing and I tried to stay out of the way, but the whole process was over in less than 20 minutes and painless. I threw a $30 tip their way and mentioned they should get some lunch or weed or something for their efforts. They were surprised, but I think with the stray stilettos all over the floor, they shouldn’t have been!

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So, I’d worked up this appetite while Facebooking and watching other people lift things — funny how that happens, huh? — and I needed some protein and felt like a nice, light breakfast. I just wanted to be warm and underneath the covers. I settled on making “adventurous eggs” with added garlic powder, black pepper, and cayenne, plus raspberries, a mild and local Farmer’s cheese, and gluten-free bread in my new toaster with some preserves I was gifted for Christmas.

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This jam was about a hundred times better than I thought it would be. I totally recommend hitting up their website for a jar yourself — it’s worth the extra cost, and I can’t imagine going back to Smuckers bullshit after this jar.

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This wasn’t any feat of cooking prowess by far. It’s just some scrambled eggs and toast and fruit and cheese. But underneath, there was a measure of emotional self-care that I have a difficult time doing for myself. There isn’t anyone around to have breakfast in bed with, to make it for, and certainly, I won’t have anyone for a long time to make it for me or care for me in this intimate way. I can do it myself, sure, but having the emotional guts to do things for myself when others won’t is both incredibly lonely and a sure sign that I can — and always will — take care of myself without the need for a spider-killing, jar-lid-loosening, furniture-moving, reaching-things-up-high man.

Yellow curry dinner and pumpkin soup

I’d never attempted a curry before, but this surprisingly didn’t turn out too badly. I was scatterbrained and needed to eat before work without a lot of time to cook. And since I haven’t had Indian food in over a year and I’m trying to branch out a little in my cooking before making any repeats, I thought I’d just wing it. I read several recipes on the interwebz before deciding there wasn’t much use in following one exactly. This curry was just a pleasant hodgepodge of what I had on hand and what I had time to make.

I started with a package of chicken breast tenders cooking in a few tablespoons of olive oil, and flipped them halfway through cooking. I added about 6oz chicken bone broth (packaged), 16oz coconut milk, garlic powder, salt, white pepper, 1/8 cup white sugar, 1 tablespoon lime juice and lemon juice, and two spoonfuls of yellow curry powder (tumeric and cinnamon, mostly). I heated it all over medium-high heat, simmering, until the chicken was definitely done and the sauce thickened and reduced a little. The sauce was pleasantly and surprisingly sweet, and I topped the whole thing with cilantro. I wasn’t expecting it to be very good at all, and it wasn’t like anything I’d ever eaten at a Thai or Indian place, but hell, it was good. And it was good enough to reheat twice for additional leftovers.

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Pumpkin soup is what I make when I really don’t want to be an adult anymore and just want to eat dessert for dinner. See, it looks fancy, and tastes amazing, but at its heart is mostly pie filling. If you wanted, it wouldn’t be too far-fetched to top it with whipped cream instead of (or in addition to) walnuts. This stuff keeps very well, reheats like a champ, and is the sneakiest way ever to have dessert for dinner.

For pumpkin soup, heat all of these ingredients over medium-low heat until warm enough to serve. If immediately refridgerating, no need to heat and simply reheat later in the microwave or on the stove.

  • 1 can (15oz) pureed pumpkin
  • fill that empty pumpkin can halfway with your choice of milk (I use unflavored almond milk for cooking in my house, but certainly heavy cream, cow’s milk, oat milk, hemp milk, etc would all be fine — make this vegan if you wish!)
  • add 1/3 can or about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of coconut milk — the higher quality, the better
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/8 cup white sugar or agave
  • pinch of salt
  • nutmeg and cinnamon to taste: add slowly, stir well, probably half as much nutmeg as cinnamon
  • top with candied walnuts, available in the salad section of the grocery

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