To Excess


Vegas was awesome and full of excess: miles walked, lobbies pictured, drinks consumed, red meat savored, hot dry weather, gaudy decor, etc.

Today I’m drinking detox tea, wearing a fax mask, and about to do a coconut oil/honey treatment on my hair. When you need a recovery plan you know it was a good trip.

1986 Brings Us Mediterranean Cod and a Blah Veggie

Last night’s meal was Mediterranean Cod with Vegetables as the entree and Artichoke Hearts and Peas in Radicchio Cups from the 1986 version of The New Good Housekeeping Cookbook.

The version of Mediterranean Cod with Vegetables that I cooked had slightly different proportions: 2 small onions, 1 garlic clove, 1 green pepper, 3/4 C breadcrumbs (gluten-free in my case), and 1 large tomato, but otherwise is the same. I forgot the dill weed and wish I r had substituted something else in at the last minute. It was a delicious light meal, that made enough for a full second meal for two people. It just was missing some essential extra kick/flavor.


Rachel’s Rating: 1 spoon

John’s Rating: 2 spoons

For the Artichoke Hearst and Peas in Radicchio Cups, I couldn’t find Radicchio and made the mistake of using a rather bitter green.

Rachel’s Rating: 0 spoons. Never again!

John’s Rating: 1 spoon.

The Rating System

1 spoon = It was a OK.

2 spoons = solid meal

3 spoons = instant classic, immediate add to the remake list

Last Week in January 2014


Two books came into play this week: Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow and David B.’s Epileptic.

  • Flow was my January pick for my book club with John. We alternate months, picking a book and having a dinner date to discuss the book at the end of the month. Next month is our retrospective. Flow was a three (out of five) star book for me over at Goodreads. Although I did not think it was very well-written, the ideas within it have already had an impact on me. (See more in the What I Learned section.)
  • Epileptic is a graphic novel that I picked up a Telegraph a couple weeks ago. It’s a memoir of a younger brother growing up with an older brother with epilepsy in the 60s and 70s in France. Intricate drawings and intense plot. A 5 star book to me.



John and I used our bookclub dinner date as an opportunity to participate in Cville restaurant week at Ten. I very much appreciated that they were able to adjust the restaurant week menu to fit my gluten-free needs.

Not a lot of additional cooking happened this week as I had tons of left overs from the weekend and several lunch dates during the week.


I had two highlights with exercise this week. The first is the Cycle and Barre class at ACAC. I haven’t taken exercise classes since high school and the kind of terrify me because of my fixed mindset. I went into this class not knowing what to expect and came out a convert. An excellent workout lead by a really great instructor (Melissa H, in this case).

The second is that on Friday I ran 6 miles in a hour and it was a dream run. The weather had warmed up so that I could run in long pants and a tshirt, I had the motivation, and my legs had the steam.


One working tip came out of this week: I was gathering feedback from a rather large group for a charter and decide to make a feedback excel sheet. I tracked what the comment was, who made it, and what the resolution was. I liked this for a few reasons: (1) commenters could see that I had gotten their comment and had a plan to respond to it (or that I had missed it!), (2) everyone could see who had actually provided feedback, (3) I had a checklist to run through as I was revising the document.

What I learned

This week, ala Flow, I learned that I like incorporating challenge into my life. Challenge, to me, is a much more motivating concept than “Goal.” A goal seems distant and far off; challenges are immediate and, in addition, playful. My challenge for this week was to attend an exercise class every day. I didn’t actually meet the challenge, but I attended classes 5 out 7 days.

What went well

Exercise! In particular, recognizing that I was nervous about seeming silly or “stupid” when I didn’t know the moves in a class and reminding myself that I am a beginner and that it was OK to not know the moves.

What I can do better

I keep letting food spoil before I can get to it. I’d like to do better about figuring out what my cooking schedule is and buying food to match the schedule.

What puzzles me

The chemistry of my body will always be a puzzle to me. Why I have weeks where everything comes together and why I have weeks where nothing goes right. Both of those states are in my head and things I can manage, but where do they come from and why?

Soup’s On for Sunday Supper

Tonight I made Spicy Pork and Mustard Green Soup from Bon Appetit. After not being able to find all the ingredients in the grocery store I made the following substitutions:

  • medallion cuts of pork  that chopped up instead of ground pork
  • an extra tablespoon of soy sauce* instead of the tsp fish sauce
  • vermicelli rice noodles instead of wide rice noodles
  • Tellicherry black pepper corns instead of 1 tsp Sichaun peppercorns
  • Ground cumin instead of 1/2 tsp cumin seeds

*If you are gluten-free, be sure to look for gluten-free soy sauce.


A word on washing greens: I don’t have a salad spinner and I dislike the leaf by leaf washing method (and think it is ineffectual). To wash greens, I get a large bowl, place the greens in the bowl, fill the bowl with water and a splash of vinegar. I agitate the greens in the water for a few minutes. As I pull them out to rip them up they get shaken and inspected. Use a bowl and not just your kitchen sink as your sink has either bacteria or cleaning agents in it (or both!).


I asked John to help me rate my meals. The rating system we used is 3 spoons.

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Fish for dinner!

Today’s dinner comes primarily from January issue of Bon Appetit.

I want to cook more fish, which has always seemed daunting to me. For my first go around, I stayed tame a picked Salmon which is a very familiar fish to me. I stuck to the recipe on this one.


Prior to going into the oven.

As I side, I made Roaster Fingerlings with Oregano and Feta, which is this recipe but with feta added after roasting (instead of the preserved lemon) and Oregano instead of Rosemary.

As my veggie, I stir-fried green beans with crushed almonds in Sesame oil.

A note on the timing:

I cooked the fingerlings first and then covered them in foil while the salmon cooked. Remember to put the shiny side of the foil facing towards the fingerlings, so the heat is reflected back in. I also set the salmon for the minimum 30 minutes to remind myself to start on the green beans in the last ten minutes the salmon has to cook.




IMG_1466 IMG_1468John and I both agreed that this is a meal we’d make again. I think the only thing I would change is that I would put the chopped jalepenos on  top of the salmon filets in the over; the citrus flavor was really absorbed by the salmon, but the chili got lost in the shuffle.


Washing the Bowl

From Joel ben Izzy’s book The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness:

A student visits a great Zen master, seeking enlightenment. The student knows he must let the master speak first, according to tradition, but the master does not speak. They sit in silence for a long time. Eventually, the master offers him a bowl of rise, and they eat in silence. Finally, the master speaks. “Have you finished eating?” he asks.”Yes,” says the student. “Now wash your bowl.”

Izzy writes, “Sometimes there’s nothing to else to do but wash the dishes. Simple as that. We look for bells and whistles, flash and fanfare, but when you get right down to the truth, sometimes it’s very simple.”

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