“Oh my god Becky. Look at her butt!”

Here’s a riddle to start your week out.  What two things are super awesome parts of my life but at the same time are wreaking havoc on my hips and waist line?  Come on, let’s hear your guesses!

Nope.

Uh uh, not that.

Give up?!….

Love & Craft Beer

Yep guys, being in a relationship in which I feel 100% comfortable and satisfied has led to the dreaded “my pants feel a bit too tight” issue.  Though it is a bit disheartening that Matt is somehow losing weight while I find it,  I really can’t blame it all on him.  Ok, I really can’t blame any of it on him.  If I’m really being honest here, it really should just say love OF craft beer.

Love & Craft Beer  Love of Craft Beer

There, fixed.

Craft beer might just be my Achilles heel.  And I truly think that poor Matty got pulled into the blame only because his arrival in my life coincided nicely with me picking up my first IPA.  The growth of our relationship has been paralleled by my growing love for all things craft.  The IPAs found that they were being kept company by stouts and porters.  The next thing you know, things started to get a wee bit crowed as other ales and lagers were added.  And by crowded, I mean the room I have to button my pants.

The point of this post is, one, to call myself out.  I’ve prided myself for years on maintaining the same weight I was at just after high school.  And now that I’ve seen that number topped with 9 pounds (8.7 to be exact), it’s time to stop the insanity.  Two, while I don’t have the excuse of child birth to fall back on, I do need to admit that I’m in my 30s and guess what, the body is just not going to take the abuse it once did without showing it.  And finally, it’s a bit of reality statement for those out there who think that just because someone has a degree in exercise science or worked as a trainer for years, they have it easy or aren’t prone to their own set backs.  I’ve kept my workouts going strong (while slipping a bit more than I did previously because Matty is an enticing snuggler at 5:15 in the morning), but it’s time to get this nutrition thing back in check.  Knowledge doesn’t necessarily equal adherence.  And they don’t provide a special shortcut to willpower with degrees and certifications.

So here is the plan:

  1. No beer during the work week.  Sorry Melissa, the whole “it was a stressful day” racket just isn’t going to cut it as a excuse for your desire to buddy up to a growler bottle that will likely equal you drinking two pint glasses full.
  2. Pacing.  I don’t drink beer for the buzz (odd sounding, I know) and while many of my favorites are high gravity, I don’t tend to get drunk when we go out.  So the normal pacing I would impose upon myself with liquor hasn’t been there.  There hasn’t been any “one drink/one glass of water” strategy going on.  Therefore, a night at the bar can mean 4-5 beers.  If I’m in a dark beer mood for that night, that could equal around 1,375 calories!  Simple math tells us that this isn’t going to do my abs and ass any favors.  So the new rule is one glass of water between beers.  Either this will slow me down or the fact that I need to make 15 bathroom visits will keep me busy.
  3. Curb those portions.  Beer isn’t the only thing that should be blamed here.  We’re foodies.  That means many of our weekend plans revolve around seeking out the best Atlanta has to offer in food.  Newsflash for anyone who thinks Atlanta doesn’t have an insanely amazing restaurant scene, it does.  This city has an abundance of wonderful places at which to dine.  And because the restaurant has been the focus of many of our trips, I feel the need to try way too many things.   Also, living with Bee for an entire year skewed my idea of portions.  He would load his plate up and I would end up walking away with far too much for a girl to be eating in one sitting.  Even when you eat super healthy, the amount still matters.  And I need to start checking in with myself on the difference between “hungry” and “wanting to have a mouth party”.  Two different things.
  4. Accountability.  I’m putting it out there for all to see and therefore I’ll be accountable to someone else besides myself.  Even if that someone is the wide expanse of the internet, it’s out there.  I’m a goal focused gal and merely putting it in writing and showing it to someone else will make this much easier for me.
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Yep, I look like one of those rap guys’ girlfriends.

Now, for anyone reading this who says, big deal, you’ve gained a measly 9 pounds, well it is a big deal to me!   And my thoughts are that if we wait until we’re buying a new size or feeling completely out of control, we’ve waited too long.  I recognize it’s an issue and will be saying so long to these pounds.  A closet full of designer jeans and my sanity are at stake!

Let’s end on something that is much more fun and is a calorie free source of enjoyment in my life, music!

Songs that pushed me through this morning’s workout:

Queens Of The Stone Age – Song For The Dead

Pearl Jam – Even Flow

Gorillaz – 19-2000

Hot Chip – Ends Of The Earth

Stay positive & love your life!

-Melissa

Today:

Listening to:  Queens Of The Stone Age – My God Is The Sun  Can’t get enough of this new album.

Eating:  Brussel sprouts and a veggie burger.

Drinking:  H2O

Reading:  The Book of Murder by Guillermo Martinez

Random fact:  I find it a bit ironic that I’m posting this the week after my Happy IPA Day post.  Ok, I guess that really isn’t ironic; it’s just a sad, sudsy coincidence.

Perfectly Light Tomato Sauce

The garden has had its share of challenges this year.  We’ve gotten too much rain and thus my squash plants are struggling.  I had some green worm issues with the brussel sprouts and collards.  But my tomatoes are kicking ass!  We’ve had a constant flow of tomatoes over the last month.  It’s so nice not to have to get these from the store and they taste so much better!  The only challenge it to keep using them so they aren’t going to waste.  I’ve made a zillion salad variations.  I’ve eaten them with salt and pepper.  I’ve chopped and diced them and added them to so many recipes.   We been eating salsa out the wazoo (Matt is magical when it comes to making salsa).  I was even able to get a nice batch of Tomato Jelly a few weeks ago.  But when we went home for 4th of July and returned with a huge bag of tomatoes from his folk’s garden, I knew I had to come up with something else.

So Monday night I cooked a fresh tomato sauce to freeze.  It turned out super yummy!  I’m currently enjoying some over black rice and field peas for lunch.

My sauce is very light, because I don’t like to use tomato paste.  That creates something too similar to a marinara like you’d get in the grocery store which just isn’t my personal favorite.  This turns out much thinner with a color and flavor most similar to a vodka sauce (without the dairy).

As tends to happen when I cook, I made it up as I went along.  I played it by taste preference and therefore don’t have the exact measurements (no measuring cups or spoons were used).  Below is an estimate of what I did that can be used as a guide to make your own creation.

You’ll need:

Tomatoes- I used approx. 12 pounds of several varieties- heirloom, small roma, and Cherokee purple.

Minced garlic-  4 tbsp (less if you’re not a garlic freak like me!)

Fresh oregano- 3-4 tbsp leaves

Fresh basil- 3-4 tbsp leaves

Bell Peppers- 3

Onions- 2 (I used Vidalia.)

Olive Oil (optional)- 4 tbsp (I like the consistency and flavor this brings.  But if you’re cutting calories, this can be skipped.)

Red pepper flakes- 1 dash

Salt & Pepper to taste

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Step 1: Get rid of those pesky skins!

Score the bottoms of the tomatoes.  Scald for 1 minute in boiling water.  Remove and place in ice water.  Peel away tomato skins.

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Step 2:  Prep everything

Roughly chop skinned tomatoes and add to a large pot.

Dice onions and peppers.

Mince garlic

Separate your herb leaves and muddle (I used a mortar and pestle)

Step 3:  Cook!

Combine your tomatoes, herbs, 3 tbsp olive oil and 2/3 of the garlic in a large pot. Bring to a low boil and then simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Add a dash of red pepper flakes.

Saute the peppers, onion, and remaining garlic in a large non-stick pan with a splash of olive oil over medium high heat until lightly caramelized.

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Step 4:  Blend!

Empty your tomato mixture into a blender or food processor and mix just until it is smooth (no tomato chunks).  Add your pepper and onion mixture and pulse quickly 2-3 times.  Some chunks of onion and pepper should remain.

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I had to do mine in two batches due to blender size limitations.

Step 5: Store!

Let your sauce cool and then bag in zip lock bags sized to accommodate your cooking needs.

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Hope you enjoy this sauce!  Let me know what you think!

Stay positive & love your life!

-Melissa

Today:

Listening to:  Krooked Treez – Ocean View (LA Version)

Eating:  This sauce over rice and field peas with a boca burger.

Drinking:  H2O

Random fact:  Matt makes a most excellent cooking buddy!  He was very involved in the cooking project above.

A Suburban Garden: Tomatoes and Squash and Cukes….Oh My!

Last spring I started the project of turning my weed infested side yard into a small vegetable garden.  Most of my yard is shady owing to the fact that I have a million trees.  This is the only area of my yard that receives full sun and is not spoken for by a tree, a bush, or some other landscape effort.  I wanted to take what was my least favorite portion of my yard and turn it into a place I actually want to visit.  Enter lots of hard work:

We started by ripping up the insane amount of weeds and growth that had taken over the area.  What a mess!

Then the ground needed to be leveled and cultivated.  For this, I ended up renting a tiller or as Bee called it a “ground chopping tool”.

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Here is the most macho picture Bee has taken in his entire life.  Look at him just chopping that ground!

We then bought three kits to build raised beds and ten big bags of soil.  After a lot of work, sweat, and Bee squealing about bugs getting on him, we had this:

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Such farmers.

A short while later I had my first harvest:

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It looks pretty meager, but I was very excited!

By the end of the season, that little garden had produced an insane amount of veggies.  I ate so much squash I was sick of it.  I canned some delicious Tomato Jelly (sounds odd if you’ve never tried it, but it’s amazingly yummy) and some tomatoes, peppers, and onions for sauce use later.  I gave away more peppers than I could count.  The experience was so rewarding that I couldn’t wait to plant this year’s garden.

Lessons I learned to carry over to suburban garden 2.0:

  1. Don’t plant so many peppers.  I think I had 5+ plants last year.  That’s a lot of peppers for one person!
  2. Space out the plants a bit more/don’t plant so much.  The garden got unruly last year!  Stuff was everywhere.
  3. Beans are a waste of time in a garden this small.  I wasted so much space on beans and got enough for roughly one and a half meals.
  4. Tomato plants get crazy and take up far more room and need far more bracing that you anticipate.

This year planting took all of an hour.  Matt joined me for the task this year and was relived to not have to till anything.  We weeded, added some additional soil, and put down a bit of fertilizer.

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We’ve had a ton of rain over the last two months and the garden is loving life.  I swear that the squash and cucumbers grow 6 inches+ post shower.  They’re like mutants!  Here’s our first harvest (aside from the lettuce we’ve been enjoying for months):

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These squash were two inches long two days before this picture.

When the tomatoes start to ripen, we’re going to have to be ready to act quickly!  There must be no less than 100 green tomatoes out there just bidding their time.  Salsa, marinara, and jelly are planned.  We’re also going to be pickling some cucumbers…our first attempt at this.  If anyone has a great pickle recipe, send it my way!

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Matty better be glad I think he’s the best thing since sliced bread, because I’m totally eligible to sign-up for for farmersonly.com now!

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Squash peeking through.

Planted in this year’s garden:  squash, cucumbers, jalepenos, yellow bell peppers, sweet peppers, butter lettuce, brussel sprouts, collard greens, 4 varieties of tomatoes, onions, and radishes.

I will post recipes as we continue to harvest, cook, and can!  All you gardeners out there, please feel free to share your secrets!

Stay positive & love your life!

-Melissa

Today:

Listening to:  The Smashing Pumpkins – Here Is No Why

Eating:  Brussel Sprouts, green beans, and black rice.

Drinking:  H2O

Random fact:  I always wanted braces as a kid even though I had no need for them.