There are people in this world whose laughter coaxes the sun up at dawn each morning, whose passion propels the Earth along its steady rotation. They are the people whose smiles spread to those around them; they reach out and touch the darkest corners in a room, the darkest corners in another human being. They are the ones who inspire you to be better, greater, bigger than the person you were 10 minutes before meeting them, because they are better, greater, bigger than anyone else you know. There are people in this world who find happiness as natural as breathing, who cannot help but let their own joy spill out over the brim of their existence in all of their pursuits.
I am not one of those people.
My personal gravity draws me not toward joy, but toward achievement. I am a cog in a machine, a competent and driven individual whose character has long been defined by an unshakeable work ethic. I feel myself, at all times, pulled into a vortex of shoulds and ought tos, responsibilities and chores on a never-ending to-do list. There is an unmistakable satisfaction that comes with the pressed line I etch across a task upon completion, a check mark as thin as the line my lips form in concentration as I work, and work, and work. I have the uncanny talent of magically transforming all that I love into a task — in life, there are goals, and strategies to reach them, and when I’m particularly non-vigilant, little else.
I lose myself in my work, and by that, I mean a quite literal meaning of the word lost, in which the moment I surface I am gasping for air and disoriented, wondering where I am and how I got there to begin with. When I eventually find myself, I am not where I set out traveling or intended to be. I am often turned around and much closer to the very thing I was trying to move away from, than I am to the place I had every aspiration of reaching.
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I can’t tell which I’m more excited for: the Oscars, aka a chance to ogle pretty/sometimes questionable gowns and applaud movies I have not yet seen but probably may possibly get around to watching… eventually… OR the hundredth snowpacalypse of the year. Oh no, wait, I know exactly which of those 2 things I am more excited for (hint: it does not involve mittens, salt-stained boots, or my Elmer Fudd hat). no matter, there are lots of other things I am also excited for – namely, the many wonderful links that I’m sharing today!
This Week on Floptimism:
Sunday, February 23rd: Sunday Food Prep #2
Tuesday, February 25th: The Real Milky Bun: Strawberry Ice Creignets
Thursday, February 27th: Thirty Minute Thursday: Rio Grande Spice Rub Fillets
Most Popular Post: Thirty Minute Thursday: Peppered Parmesan Popcorn
Most Tweeted Post: Thirty Minute Thursday: Chicken Cacciatore Ravioli Stew
Most Popular Post on Facebook: you have the power.
What I’ve Pinned This Week:
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With the exception of my foray into desserts on Tuesday, things around here have been a little…meaty. This is particularly the case with my Thirty Minute Thursdays, as I’ve found that the majority of Rachael Ray’s recipes do involve meat, and the various fruit and vegetable sides and desserts are all more suited to the produce available in Summer. I’ll bend and buy a bell pepper in February, but I put my foot down with ingredients like fresh tomatoes and peaches. After all, I want my food to taste good. We will all have to wait patiently for those, and while we’re waiting, it appears as though I have…more meat.
Red meat, as you can probably tell from the Floptimism archives, is a rare treat for us. I made the choice to eat exclusively 100% grass-fed beef a while back. The goal is to eventually make this transition with all animal proteins (well, pasture-raised, at least), including dairy, but it’s been difficult enough finding a good place to get high quality produce since moving to New York, much less pastured ground turkey and cheese from grass-fed cows. So for right now, the beef is the only thing I’m truly stubborn about, and honestly, it keeps our red meat consumption in check. And so I decided, after several months of branching out on our own, I would treat L to a nice steak dinner.
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Dreamy, fresh-churned strawberry ice cream fills the nooks and crannies of a fluffy, yeast-raised doughnut, and a layer of classic powdered sugar blankets it all.
Last week, I stood proudly on a soapbox made of determined goals to embrace the present, to root myself firmly in the reality of a winter that has not yet run its course. My shoulder turned, cold, on the many recipes whose under-, over-, and everything-tones screamed of warmer weather that will surely settle in, eventually, but not just yet. Not even a three day stretch of sunny reprieve could fool me; and it’s true, the temperature has dropped back down to the mid-20 range that guarantees my nose will turn to Rudolph’s in the time it takes for me to walk from my heated car to my insulated office. I swore to you there would be no strawberries.
That was before a California donut shop stole my idea and infected the internet with its food porn photographs of what it calls Milky Buns and I call utter dejection. My opportunity to be a world-famous propagator of gluttony and capitalize on an over-the-top food craze has been shattered, denied, and I am left in the dust of the cyber buzz, clutching a picture of my own stuffed doughnuts and whispering, but I made it first.
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Although two weeks of Sunday silence is not the best indication of this, I have actually been really into this Sunday Food Prep concept. I did try it once last week without sharing with you, mostly because it was meant to be this epic weekend-long endeavor of cooking dried beans and then making dinner for three nights all in one day…and then I forgot to soak the beans, so I couldn’t prep all the dinners, so I really just wound up with this:
Overcooked beans and lasagna. Not much of a Sunday food prep, right?
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There is the slightest chance that I am a long-standing resident of La La Land, and it has resulted in a faux-pas that I have been called out on (graciously), and that I am now calling myself out on in order to attempt to make things right. To all of the bloggers whose content I have shared on my Weekend Wrap-Ups in the past, I owe you an apology. Specifically, this apology is meant for all of the bloggers whose breathtaking photographs I have used to enhance the visual appeal of my Weekend Wrap-Ups. Although I never took credit for the images, I also never gave any of you the opportunity to say that you would rather your images not be included. To be certain, I never chose an image from a website that prominently displayed a disclaimer that they did not want their images used elsewhere, and I would have removed any content in the blink of an eye if anyone had approached me with any concern. But retrospective actions to correct what should never haven taken place at all is not how I want to run this blog. This Weekend Wrap-Up series is meant to respect, pay hommage to, and spotlight all of the amazing talents of others, and I have, unknowingly, violated them instead.
Clearly, the format of Weekend Wrap-Ups needs to change. I may feature an image now and again, if a blogger makes it clear that they’re ok with their images being used with credit, but more likely than not they will begin to resemble the similar posts that other bloggers create — How Sweet It Is’ Currently Crushing On, Two Peas and Their Pod’s This and That, Brown Eyed Baker’s Weekend Dish.
Just a head’s up as to why things look a little bit different around here!
This Week on Floptimism:
Monday, February 17th: Cranberry Pork Tenderloin
Thursday, February 20th: Thirty Minute Thursday: Chicken Cacciatore Ravioli Stew
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More things I love about winters that never seem to end: ice dancing, especially when done to epic musicals I also love (Les Mis) and philosophy masquerading as French children’s stories (Le Petit Prince); being able to spend a (socially acceptable) Saturday night curled up on the couch in my
pajamas sweatpants; no air conditioning!; and stew, piping hot bowls of comfort that can’t decide if they are soup or casserole. If not for winter, there would be much less stew in my life, and this, you see, would be borderline tragic. (No? Too melodramatic? Eh.)
The weather is creeping up into the 50′s this week, but don’t worry, Mother Nature can’t fool me. I’m onto her. She does this every year from late February to early April, this hot-and-cold, give-and-take game in which she sends a warm front in to make us drowsy with the promise of wild crocuses and strawberries that aren’t bruised on the outside and stark white on the inside. And just as we send our winter coats to the cleaners and pack away our ear-muffs for another 10 months, she hits us with a half foot of snow, just to see if we’re still paying attention. It may be warm today, but we’re still talking stew here at Floptimism, so that when Mother Nature decides she wants to have a little fun with us next week, you’re ready — armed with this comforting recipe to keep you warm, even if you packed all of your winter clothes away.
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There are few scenes more breathtaking than the understated, muted panorama of a forest of trees painted heavy with ice and snow after a particularly treacherous storm. My drive to work begins with such a view, and though my foot is cautious on the pedal and my hands secured firmly on the wheel as I traverse the questionable roadways, my focus drifts in scattered moments to these blanched branches lying low against the banks. It is the one peaceful reprieve after a substantial snowfall that I never remember until I witness again — and so I never look forward to it, but always find myself smiling and more relaxed when I round that one bend of road and take in the line of trees that flank my either side.
I find it all too easy to propel my thoughts into the warm future of humidity and summer rain, welcome breezes instead of scathing gusts, fresh-picked blueberries, ice cream that doesn’t leave an inner chill, bathing suits and the smell of sunscreen clinging to my pores. I find myself responding wittily to other’s comments of being ready for Spring, with my own quips of being ready to skip straight to Summer. Mountains of snow have encroached upon the sidewalks, the parking spaces, exit ramps, more snow than anyone knows what to do with, and power lines down and heat compromised and everyone squeezing their eyes shut and praying for the Spring equinox.
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Have you ever wondered what society would be like if the only colorful foods were ones that were naturally vibrant? Would our food choices be different if the deep red of a perfectly ripe tomato, the jarring green of a just-barely steamed broccoli floret, the purply blue stains on your fingers left behind by blueberry pie — if the fruits and vegetables we so often take for granted were the only colors to paint the canvas of our dinnerware? What if commercial pickles were grey instead of green, and Jell-o was plain-Jane tan? What if Cheetos were albino and didn’t leave orange dust on your fingers when you ate them?
I think about this all the time. And now, an old friend from high school has given me something new to ponder: what would it be like to see billboards advertising — not frighteningly orange cheetos or glow-in-the-dark Jell-O, but beautiful fresh produce, bursting with color, and nutrition, and life? Her brother and some of his peers are working on a campaign based around their college town of New Haven, CT (they just happen to go to Yale, NBD…) to do just that, but they could use a little support. So here I am, plugging them, because their posters are just so darn cheeky, they make me smile:
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I seem to have misplaced my blogging mojo. Apparently the only meal I’m ever excited to tell you about these days is breakfast. So far in 2014, I have had plenty of Weekend Wrap-Ups, a plethora of Thirty Minute Thursdays, and even a handful of miscellaneous, non-recipe posts; pretty much everything else has been a breakfast recipe of some kind. We went from oh-my-gosh-amazing Peanut Butter “Cookie Dough” Overnight Oats to warm and comforting Gingered Pear Parfaits to literally life-changing (ok, maybe that’s not actually the correct use of the word “literally”) Cranberry-Persimmon Breakfast Quinoa. And still the only recipes on my ever-growing must-blog-about-this! list that I’m even remotely interested in telling you about…are breakfast recipes.
Cranberry Persimmon Breakfast Quinoa
I want nothing more than to wax poetic about Apple Streusel Oatmeal and Banana Streusel Parfaits, sweet enough for dessert yet wholesome enough for far-too-early wake-up calls. I want to push the boundaries of French Toast as you know it, with crispy French Toast Kashi Waffles, decadent French Toast Oatmeal, and savory Open Faced French Toast Sandwiches. I want to tell you about these Jammin Pancake Cones that fall somewhat short of Pinterest Perfection yet have captured my heart anyway.
But I won’t tell you about any of those recipes today. At first, it was because I felt pressured to prove to you that my cooking repertoire extends beyond the first meal of the day. It’s actually the reason why I haven’t posted anything since Saturday — along the same lines as the saying, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all,” I more or less decided that if I couldn’t write about breakfast, I wouldn’t write about anything at all. (I am, as you can see, a very logical human being.) When I realized that was a bit silly and arbitrary, I considered changing everything, giving up my Thirty Minute Thursday post for the week, and choosing one of those breakfast recipes to share — to heck with anyone who disproved or judged.
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