Saturday, January 31, 2015

Wrapping up January

This post will cover that past two-ish weeks, so hopefully there will be SOMETHING of interest for you in this post. So lets get straight into it:

This first exciting thing to happen in my life since the last time I wrote were these blondies:
(picture and recipe from Alaska From Scratch) Some of you may be laughing about the fact that something like a blondie is so amazing to me. But you seriously do not understand how amazing these were. We used milk and dark chocolate since we didn't have white, which mixed well with the caramel-y consistency that the inside of the blondie took on. So mock all you like, blondie heaven is a real thing.

And then a left-over turned magical moment made its appearance into our lives:
(picture and recipe from The Suburban Soapbox) These Short Rib and Taleggio Grilled Cheeses were fantastically indulgent. So of course (to keep things healthy), we made parsnip baked fries :). Now some of you may be wondering- what's the point of trying to be healthy if you're going to just eat blondies and grilled cheeses afterward? But let me tell you, these are our "unhealthy" meals of the week. All the other so far not posted recipes were healthy, trust me on that. They just weren't delicious enough to make it to the blog. I'd also like to talk to you about Taleggio for a moment. I've never had it before. Its a soft cheese from Italy. Probably closest in comparison to Brie, but definitely has that saltiness that really comes out in authentic Italian food (at least in the Salt Trail region).
I'd like to start a movement. Only Taleggio gets to go into grilled cheeses from now on. Once you try it, you will be on board with me. I'm sure.

Now I'd like to switch gears and talk to you about something completely different. Food that others have cooked (not food cooked by me/ Ben)! Because lets be real, food is super important. BUT ANYWAY- one of the benefits of working from home is that I can catch up with friends over lunch. And I was lucky enough to catch up with a friend over some delicious Korean food! We went to a nearby restaurant in Brighton called Binari and I've fallen in love. The beef bibimbap is phenomenal and a great choice for someone a little nervous to try a new cuisine. I will be bringing Ben here to try Korean for the first time. So if you're in Brighton, go to the super affordable Binari! Right now! You can thank me later.

The day after my delicious bibimbap lunch, we went for afternoon tea at my favorite place for Brighton tea- Talk of Tea. A pot of tea, a smoked salmon and cream cheese sandwich, scones, blueberry and white chocolate cake, and (the most important element) CLOTTED CREAM! I'm OBSESSED with English tea. And all of the goodies that come with it. And, I must say, when we move away from the UK I am going to be DEVASTATED by the lack of access to tea and teatime foods. Especially the clotted cream. I know, I know. I can make clotted cream at home. But the cream in the US is just not the same. There isn't even the same variety of cream, let alone quality. So I'm going to keep moaning because I KNOW I'm going to miss the delicious cream that is currently in my life. Also- scones. They aren't triangles and hard as rocks. They are freaking amazing. And they don't (actually) exist in the US. :( tragedy

Following on from Talk of Tea, the next day we filled out a trifecta of food glory by going to a Burn's Night party. We brought tons of neeps (aka swede aka yellow turnip, depending on what country you are from) and in return were filled with haggis and tatties (aka mashed potatoes). And the dessert selection- woah buddy. Specifically the cranachan, an oatmeal, whiskey, honey, raspberry, and cream trifle-like thing. And its glorious. You've probably been able to figure out that this has a Scottish theme to it, but if are not living in the UK then probably still don't really know what Burn's Night is about. Basically, a famous Scottish poet (and someone the Scots take great pride in) named Robert Burns was born on January 25th. He wrote poems about haggis and lame English people (called them the "pudding race". Fantastic). And so his birthday seems to be a patriotic celebratory day. And I get to reap all of the benefits :)

Then it was back to work. And by work I mean that I had to go into the lab for a week to increase some n numbers and run some controls that I had left out. Writing my thesis really brought to light where my research was lacking. I'm happy to say, I've now finished all the experimenting that needed finishing and I was able to put some good work into Athena Swan (the gender equality committee that I sit on). We were successful in our Bronze award and will be going for Silver in November.
Unsurprisingly, being back at work meant dinners like Rachel Khoo's Ham and Bean slow cooker recipe were necessary. And have I written about how AMAZING ham hocks are?!?!?! They're 2.50 for one hock- which is enough to feed two HUNGRY adults. And they're hella delicious, so WIN. Anyway, this recipe is delicious and easy and definitely should be made when money and time are tight. We also threw together this amazing Carrot Hummus:
(picture and recipe from The Gouda Life) And it made little snack pots for the week. When you have something this healthy and delicious as a snack, it definitely helps to keep you on track.

Another healthy food appearance that was well worth noting was this Pork Larb Salad:
(picture and recipe from Fake Food Free) You need this in your life. The flavors are amazing and kept me going back for more. Which was perfectly fine since, at the end of the day, this is a salad.

Like cheap and healthy and easy? This slow cooked Ham and Lentil soup hit the spot for us:
(picture and recipe from Mmm.. Is For Mommy). Its recipes like this and the previous Ham and Beans recipe that I think of when people moan about not having time or money to feed their family real food. There is absolutely no excuse with recipes like this. Beans and lentils are SO cheap. And so are vegetables like carrots and celery and onions. Ham hocks are SO cheap. And when its as easy as throwing everything in a slow cooker and turning it on while you're at work, I just have no sympathy for the moaners eating their nasty McDonalds while I'm here nomming on delicious soup.

Ben and I were able to do some Rock Climbing and Bouldering this past week! Ben had gotten me a pass for Christmas. We learned how to rock climb (tying ourselves into the harness, belaying, etc) and for the first time in my life, I went bouldering. I LOVE bouldering and really really want to take it up as a hobby. Such fantastic fun, would highly recommend :)!

Another fun (and food-based, duh) adventure of this week involved some work friends and the dirty burgers and fab cocktails of MeatLiquor. This place is great as well. I was able to get green chilli in my burger, which is a California staple but England rarity. So I was WELL chuffed to tear into that beauty. I also had four some cocktails with my dinner. And the cocktails here are probably the best in Brighton. I would highly recommend MeatLiquor! The food is good, not the best in the city, but good, dirty food. But its really the cocktails that make it truly spectacular. Go!

And that's it for now! I'm leaving on a jet plane soon, so will have more to chat about later on!

One last, more serious thought to leave you with:
The State of the Union
If you are an American, you should watch this. I really believe its important to be informed about choices like this. Too many people listen to others opinions, take them as facts, and they follow on with misinformation. And this can be dangerous (i.e. measles, a virus which was eradicated, is now back because of the anti-vaccination movement). So get yourself informed. Then decide how that influences your beliefs and how you think your country should be run. I don't really care what your political or personal beliefs are. But at least be properly informed. And then go vote! Because its important. <----- end plug


Monday, January 19, 2015

The end of the "cleanse"

This post will sound a lot like last week's post, since nothing drastic has really occurred in my life (and according to friends who have gone through the thesis writing process, this is to become the norm).

But I thought I'd write another little random post about my life as I'm waiting for my Cabbage and Caraway Crustless Quiche to cook (alliteration ftw!) The first week of our Bon Appetit cleanse was very strict to Bon Appetit's menu planning. However, out of Ben and my desire to decrease our grocery spending down to normal levels and Ben's desire to eat more of our "usual" food, I edited the second week of the cleanse by supplementing some recipes with ones I've tried and tested- being extra mindful of portion control. And it was a success! I lost 2 lbs. But more importantly, I lost 1/2 inch in most of my body measurements. So two weeks of decent exercise and a really clean diet was worth it! My goal now is to try to adopt a 90/10 eating pattern into my normal life diet. The idea is that 90% of your weekly meals are healthy, while the other 10% is whatever you want. I've done this before and it is really easy and helps me to feel healthier. But it ended when I lost all my will power and just started eating junk whenever I randomly decided... I'm trying to not have that happen again! And I think stricter menu-planning will help with that (and I love menu planning anyway, so I'm all over that!) Here are the week's best recipes:

Roast pork tenderloin with apple and mushroom sautee
Picture and recipe from Bon Appetit

Lemongrass Chicken with black rice and bok choy
Picture and recipe from Bon Appetit

Banana Almond Smoothie
Picture and recipe from Bon Appetit

Of course, along with the cleanse, I continued my exercising. And to those out there who lift, I'd like to float a question out to you all. My sets have a rotating 8x4 barbell complex. Workout A includes deadlift, high pull, push press, split squat. Workout B includes high pull, front squat, push press, back squat, good morning. Now, Workout A is totally doable and I can get through the set. However, about halfway through Workout B I'm DYING. Totally exhausted, even when I drop the weight down very low. Why is Workout A so manageable when B isn't???

And now back to non-fitness talk, if I managed to keep you with me! Oh wait... that's actually it, really. Besides the end of the cleanse, I was thesis writing last week and having dreams about eating tortellini and oatmeal cream pies. True story. As a celebration for NOT CHEATING ON MY DIET EVEN ONCE (!!!!!) we made David's Veggie Lasagna and pesto/cheddar cauliflower bread sticks. Plus, I had my Grand Cru Rodenbach and was in Belgium beer heaven. Nom. Nom. Nom.

Hopefully this coming week will offer more to write about than this past week.

Until then!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Starting off 2015 on the right foot


I hope you are all impressed that this post isn't coming 5 months later. I sure am.

Anyway. Its only been a week since my last post. Which means there hasn't been anything too thrilling going on besides the usual day to day stuff. But its been awhile since I've actually written a post that isn't based around any travels, so I thought I might give it a go.

First off, Ben and I have been on a cleanse. I've mostly approached this as a 1) necessity to cut out wheat so that I can give my nose a break 2) increase my water intake by having better portion control (aka drink when I'm actually thirsty, instead of eating). They really aren't the typical reasons why people "cleanse". But let's not kid ourselves, a 2 week cleanse isn't going to detox your body. Your body will do that naturally (hurray for kidneys and livers!). Once I saw that Bon Appetit was running a diet, I thought it would be a good idea to work on my self-control in regards to food (the previously noted two points are just bonuses). And I've got to say, I'm really proud that I've stuck to the diet so far. I also learned that medjool dates are just about the most delicious things ever! Here are some of the best recipes from January so far:

Picture and recipe from Paleo Leap
Picture and recipe from Buzzfeed
And then the cleanse began
Picture and recipe from Bon Appetit
Picture and recipe from Bon Appetit
Picture and recipe from Bon Appetit
 Picture and recipe from Bon Appetit
Picture and recipe from Bon Appetit
Picture and recipe from Bon Appetit
Picture and recipe from Bon Appetit

Its been a delicious start to the year. Its also been a sweaty start to the year. With gym, long walks, and running. I've started adding some barbell complexes into my lifting routine and its amazing! But its also intense, which isn't surprising... Hopefully I can keep up with my routine (instead of falling out of routine and then taking forever to get back into it....).

Finally, I finished reading The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson and started reading A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan. I love Girl with the Dragon Tattoo... until the last two chapters or so. They needed those pages to wrap up the entire story line, but I seriously think they should have wrapped up those bits earlier and saved the main surprise until the end. I don't want to finish the main story, only to be bored by two more chapters about bits of the story that I no longer care about. Am I alone here with thinking this?

Besides that, I've been plugging along with writing my thesis. Haven't gone insane from it yet, so I'd say its going well.

Until next time!

P.S. Je suis Charlie.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

The rest of 2014; a picture montage

As per usual, I've been terrible at updating my blog. So to get up-to-date (as its now 2015!!!!) I will give a picture montage of the rest of 2014.

Dublin, Limerick, Cliffs of Moher, The Burren, Carrick-A-Rede, Giant's Causeway:

Vienna, Schloss Schonbrunn:

Ben and Lenzie get engaged!

Norfolk and Cambridge:

Washington D.C., Arlington National Cemetery:


Christmas pub quiz (in costume):

Burning of the Clocks, Brighton:

New Year's Eve Great Gatsby party:
Happy 2015 everyone!!!!!