Sunday, June 18, 2017

Food and Life

All people are emotional eaters to some extent. We eat to celebrate new beginnings, to lament break ups, to get over one of the many hiccups of life. We bring food to families who have lost a loved one and eat together to rejoice in the coming birth of a little one. Dinners with new lovers, brunches with friends to relax on lazy Sundays, and power lunches with the boss to work on that ever increasing network are all par for the course for human beings, social creatures that we are. Even alone, we tie food to emotion. Late night Netflix-and-stress-eat sessions and binging to cure boredom are just as intricately woven into our relationships with food as our social eating. Food has come to represent a kaleidoscope of emotions, of life itself.

It’s no different for me. Candy is usually my go-to when I’m feeling a little down. A gummy bear has never let me down, and taffy is a close friend of mine. But comfort food is something else entirely. To need comfort is to be more than a little down. It’s not just a stressful day with the kids or a bad day on the job or a fight with a partner. To reach for comfort food is a bad week, a bad month, a bad year…it’s wanting to feel alive in a way that the day to day routine tends to dampen. When you reach for food in comfort, you want the combination of flavors on your tongue and the fullness of your belly to take you home, to let you time travel, or maybe to let you remember that life doesn’t have to be all aches and pains. Finding the goodness in the world isn’t ever as simple as eating a crab cake, but fuck if that crab cake doesn’t help remind you that in little moments life can be spectacular.

For me, it’s more than eating, though. To find comfort in food, it has to be something I get in the kitchen and make myself--a recipe of my own perfected over time or even something I’m trying for the first time that brings together just the right combination of textures and flavors. I love to cook, to create, to take an idea I’ve found online, in a show, or in a book and make it mine. Cheesecakes are my go-to dessert specialty, and I fucking excel at it. There’s absolutely no reason for me to even pretend to be modest about it either. Haha. But, those aren’t necessarily what I would consider comfort food. Something savory that is a little on the simple side and definitely has a more than healthy portion of carbs and cheese aligns more closely with what I would call comforting, and the first thing I think of when I hear the phrase or feel the need for something particular to soothe my rough spots is shepherd’s pie.

Typically sheperd’s pie is some kind of veggie mixed with ground beef and mashed potatoes. And when my mom fixed it for my brother and I as kids, it was ground beef, mashed potatoes, and cheese on top. But, of course, like everything else, I do things a little differently. We rarely eat beef around here, but it works with this recipe as does ground turkey or ground chicken if you prefer. The key is to use what you love when it comes to both the meat, the type of potato, and the style of cheese, but the goal is to create an umami bomb in your mouth which is what this recipe does 110%.

What you’ll need:

1 rotisserie chicken preferably garlic butter but any will work as will 2 lbs of ground beef, turkey, or chicken.

1 can cream of mushroom

About a cup and ½ of mushrooms (this can be skipped and still be delicious)

1 can of French onion soup

5 lb bag of red potatoes

1 block of extra sharp cheddar (adding some havarti to this is also so good and colby jack also makes a good sub)

2 cloves of garlic or a heaping teaspoon of minced garlic (what I use)

Onion powder


Worcestershire sauce

Salt and pepper

1 tbsp butter

1 large can or 2 small cans of French style green beans (or any canned or frozen vegetable)

I have picky eaters at my house, but fresh onions and peppers are also a good addition if you don’t have to worry about that.

Milk, cream, or sour cream for mashing potatoes


Preheat oven to 350 F

To prepare, peel your potatoes and add them to a large pot of water. Add 2 chicken bouillon cubes to the water or use half and half broth and water. You can also add extra garlic to the water. Turn the potatoes on high heat and boil until basically falling apart.

Grate the entire block of cheese (or used shredded if that’s easier).

Add your butter to a large pan on medium heat. When pan is coated well, add mushrooms and garlic to sautee.

Before mushrooms are done add onion powder, rosemary, Worcestershire, salt and pepper to taste. Begin pulling chicken from bones and adding to the mushrooms. Add your green beans Sautee until mushrooms are done, the green beans are getting soft, and flavors are mixed well. If you’re using ground beef, turkey, or chicken you will need to strain the grease from the meat. With rotisserie chicken, this isn’t necessary. (if you are using fresh onions and peppers you would add them in this step)

Add the entire can of cream of mushroom (fat free can be used without affecting the flavor). Add French onion soup to taste (I add the whole thing) and turn heat down to low.

Mash your potatoes. I aways use butter and milk like my mom did, but this is a personal preference. Do whatever works for you. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Coat the bottom of a large clear glass pan with the chicken and vegetable mixture. Add a layer of potatoes on top of this.

Put the pan in the oven and heat until your potatoes are getting stiff. You don’t want them browning just yet, but close. It takes not quite 10 minutes in my oven, but I’m terrible about remembering to preheat and my oven is wonky. Everyone’s is different right?

Add your cheese and put it back in the oven until melted and enjoy.


This is part of Sunday Confessions hosted by the gorgeous More Than Cheese and Beer. Sunday Confessions is a weekly blog challenge. We get a simple prompt and each post our take on it on Sunday (or during the week if need be). There's no need to sign up early. Just join in the fun by linking up below! Thanks for reading. Oh and this week our prompt was Comfort Food. 

Friday, June 16, 2017

First Date Jitters

Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

My words are: cats, candy, turkey, aquarium, rose, coins. 

They were submitted by:

Short fiction! Though it's not out of the realm of possibility. I just wanted to write something sweet instead of the dark fiction I tend to go for. Got to flex those creative wings.


I stand in front of the aquarium, more nervous than I think I have ever been in my entire life, waiting for Jean. My anxiousness manifests as pacing and knuckle popping. Occasionally, I realize how intense I must look and force myself to still, reaching my hand in my pocket to rub the two coins together I brought. They’re ordinary, these coins, but not at the same time. I mean, I could spend them. But I also spent hours and hours and more hours perfecting a few coin tricks with them from a book I found at the thrift shop 2 blocks from my apartment.

Yeah, yeah…I’m the kind of girl (woman?) who thinks a few coin tricks are more romantic than a rose or a bouquet of wild flowers. Flowers die, but magic is eternal or some shit. Plus, it’s effort, right?

That’s what I’ve been telling myself over these hours spent practicing until I have calluses in a few places anyway.

I also brought pull n peel cherry Twizzlers as a backup in my bag. At the very least, I know this girl loves candy, and she did mention once these are her favorite. If I can’t impress her with my amateur magic hour (I don’t even have a top hat for fuck’s sake), then I can at least win her over with a sugar rush and attention to detail.

And, yes, I have daydreamed about eating a string of Twizzler Lady-and-the-Tramp style with her. Because I am, admittedly, a little bit of a creep. That touch of creepiness isn’t why I’m so nervous, though. I’m not THAT big a creep. Truthfully, there is a part of me that thinks she will, of course, be disappointed with who I am really versus who I am online or in text or on the phone. I’m better in writing, I think. At least at first.

We met on a dating site. I was mostly there as a joke. I’m fresh out of a long term relationship with a guy that was better off my friend than my partner, and even though the split was amicable, it was hard. And it’s difficult to face this change. I didn’t want to be with another man, not now, and I’m so far out of practice flirting with women I feel like some sort of alien wearing a human suit whenever I attempt to approach them. Plus, we all know how those things go—dating sites--especially when you list that you’re interested in men and women. At some point you feel like adding a neon ticker across your profile that reads “NO I DON’T WANT TO BE PART OF YOUR THREESOME EVEN IF YOU INSIST YOUR GIRLFRIEND IS REALLY INTERESTED IN ONE.” We both know she’s not, and more than likely, you’re just testing the waters to see what kind of bite you get.

I had a little blurb on my profile about being a cat and dog person meaning I am probably the most loyal asshole you could ever meet, and that’s how we bonded—lots of shared stories about the dumb shit our cats have done. Then it was sharing pics of our pets via text, late night conversations about politics and movies. I never had one of those moments where I had to ask her “you haven’t seen THAT?!?!” which, for me, is usually the way 90% of my crushes go, and, if I’m being wholly honest, the way quite a bit of them ended too.

Nick Hornby had it right—it is, at least early on, more about what you like than what you’re like.

But I like what she likes and what she’s like which is 2 for 2, and I am definitely pretty smitten.

She’s late, but I expected that. Both of us are chronically late for nearly everything, but I couldn’t stand being in the house any longer, and actually made it here on time. I know who I’m looking for. We exchanged a lot of photos of ourselves, seen each other’s social media stuff. But I still feel her before I notice her in the crowd of people walking my way. Something gripped me and made me look her way, catching her eyes.

My heart leaps to my throat, and for a moment I’m sure I will run, but then she smiles.

I melt. Completely.

She makes her way over to me with a small backpack in tow.

“I packed a picnic if you want to walk a few blocks to that new park after we’re done here, “ she says. “I made a turkey and cheese on wheat with a little mustard and fuck the mayo for you.”

She’s perfect.


Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

Baking In A Tornado

Spatulas on Parade

The Blogging 911

On the Border

The Bergham Chronicles

Simply Shannon

Southern Belle Charm

Part-time Working Hockey Mom

Friday, June 9, 2017

Oh What A Day

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 11 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

My “Secret Subject” is:

Inspired by Seinfeld's "Festivus", create your own holiday. How would you celebrate it and get others to join in?

It was submitted by:


I have a friend who is pretty religious. He’s Muslim. I’m not. Actually, I’m not religious at all. I hesitate to use “atheist,” but that hesitation is mostly because of the fuckery associated with the label more so than it not actually applying to my fundamental beliefs. This friend knows this about me and has taken great pains to try to change it. I don’t seek out the debate, but I find myself always trying to defend why I believe what I do, and what is most irritating is that I often end up feeling like this person doesn’t buy that I have ever learned a thing about religion or that I even believe what I say I do. To him, it seems that this belief system I have is more akin to me being a rebellious teenager raging at her daddy and yelling “I hate you!” every time she doesn’t get her way. I’m not resentful over the life I’ve had because it hasn’t been easy, and I’m not the kind of person who makes unfounded decisions based on emotion alone. He, the friend, knows that about me when it comes to anything else, but in this context, about a creator, he just can’t wrap his head around my lack of religion. I despise not being heard. I don’t mind explaining how I arrived at this point and what I do believe, but if I tell you this is who I am, don’t tell me you know me better than I know myself.

BUT, I get it in a way. I do. He loves me, and he doesn’t want my soul to suffer for eternity due to what he believes is a rash decision I made because I was abused as a kid. His intention is good, but that really doesn’t change how frustrating and fucking annoying it is to constantly have to defend my ability to be systematic and rational. It doesn’t change the fact that I would much rather people accept me as I am unless I somehow demonstrate that I want or need to change. And it doesn’t change the fact that I somehow have to prove I have thoroughly researched religion in order to be understood by someone (or many someones throughout my life) who was handed their belief system from birth and never questioned it.

I don’t care what someone believes as long as they’re a good person and are true to the core values of the religion. I’ve had friends of all beliefs, and I never try to force Richard Dawkins down their throat. What I want is the same respect.

I think a lot of misconception about other people’s beliefs, religion or otherwise, hinges on this idea people have that if someone is different than them, they’re an idiot, that they don't know what they're talking about and weren't taught better. Don’t get me wrong—I fully and perfectly understand that many beliefs are rooted firmly in ignorance and hatred, and I don’t mean those. But a lot of the time differences in beliefs don’t necessarily equate to differences in VALUES nor does it mean that anyone is an idiot in need of enlightenment.

Except Trump. Trump is definitely a fucking idiot.

Perhaps a national holiday giving people time off work to explore a belief system other than their own would help so many of us. Atheists already host an Ask an Atheist day which is a good step maybe, but the Internet affords a kind of free-for-all anonymity that ends up ruining every.fucking.thing. Workshops with panels of volunteers who want to talk about their beliefs, speeches, banquets, dinners, bake sales…there are so many ways this could happen that would open up the narrow culture most people tend to have.

Personally, I would be find with Get Your Head Out of Your Ass Day, but I highly doubt that would fly with the general public, and Coexistence Day is a little too flower-child to pass either Ask Me About My Religion day might work, and I’d be fine with it even without a religion.

And if that plan were to fall through, we can always attempt my real dream—Halloween for adults who dress up and trick or treat in friends’ neighborhoods asking for booze and a little weed depending on where you live. Sounds much better than the sad 10% candy tax I get off Evan’s haul each year.


Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts. Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

Baking In A Tornado

Spatulas on Parade

The Blogging 911

The Lieber Family Blog

The Bergham Chronicles

Bookworm in the Kitchen

Simply Shannon

Southern Belle Charm

Never Ever Give Up Hope

Part-time Working Hockey Mom


Sunday, June 4, 2017

Taking It Back

I’m definitely what society at large would consider plus sized considering I fluctuate between a 12 and 16 depending on how well I’m doing at the time cutting calories down to nothing and doing some kind of exercise in between. It’s been that way since high school. It’s who I am, and it’s been a long, hard-fought war with accepting myself as is and with the fact that I’m never going to be thin. I have this shape and this body, and as long as I work actively to be healthy, I’m okay with it (most days…okay some days). I try, anyway.

But what the fuck is plus-sized anyway?

I’m fine with the terminology, I guess. It helps some people on their journey just like reclaiming the moniker “fat” has helped others while still different folks prefer to say they have fat and are not fat. I just don’t get what we’re actually trying to say with that particular phrase “plus-sized.”

Is it a normal body plus some extra?

An acceptable body plus some pounds?

Plus some extra fabric for our clothes?

Is our fat our plus one on our invites and R.S.V.P.’s?

Plus what exactly?

“Plus sized” has never exactly come with a positive connotation since fat people, women especially, are constantly shamed about even a few extra pounds by men whose egos are overinflated and whose constant struggle in life is calling women sluts who won’t give them what they think they are owed. The more people fight for the right to be respected no matter how much they weigh, a right to take up space and exist without being shamed for something that’s often out of their control, I can’t help wondering what exactly we’re adding on here when we say “plus.”

I. Am. Not. A. Human. Plus. My. Extra. Weight.

I am just a human being with all the complexities that comes with it including a little extra weight over society’s standard definition of “normal.”

I don’t bleed adipose cells.

I don’t have high blood pressure or high cholesterol, and it’s no one’s business if I did.

I’m an offense because I exist.

I deserve a space in this world.

So I might just reframe plus sized. I’m a human being plus some extra love, plus extra kindness, plus extra awareness.

I am woman plus fire.

I am feminist plus magic.

I am me plus a raging hard-on to topple the patriarchy.

I am everything your mama warned you about plus a caring, loving mother myself.

I am flawed in so many ways plus a little side of perfection.

I am enough plus a handful of sass and a nice ass. Rhymed intentionally.

I am the universe in one curvy, soft body—star stuff plus wit, sarcasm, and coffee.

Yes, I have fat, but I am not nor will I ever be a human plus your punching bag, verbal or otherwise.

Sit. The. Fuck. Down.



This was my 3rd time back with Sunday Confessions, a blog challenge hosted by More Than Cheese and Beer. The links to the other submissions can be found below. Feel free to join in--the link is open all week. Our prompt is "plus."