Thursday, July 7, 2011

Finding Forty, Day 400; Recipe for Success

When I was growing up, it seemed my mom had a limited rotation of dinners that she cooked.   You could almost predict which night would be tuna casserole, although she was never quite that structured.   We ate spaghetti and meat sauce (she always mixed the noodles with the meat sauce despite my pleas to leave each separate like at the Italian restaurants), chicken fried steak, salmon croquettes, hamburgers, and tuna casserole.

This isn't a blog about my mom's cooking.  She was actually excellent in the kitchen and I'd bet my life we ate a more varied diet than the above, but the rotation cycle definitely stands out to me now that I'm a mom.

I do the same in my own kitchen on a bi weekly basis.   My staples are tacos, grilled fish, fajitas, sushi, and brinner (breakfast for dinner).   Of course that's not all we eat, but in a pinch, I'm usually good for any of the above.

It occurred to me tonight that life is like the dinner rotation cycle.  Or at least mine is.  There are certain constants that creep into my reality, no matter how many times I plan or try to deviate from them.

Much like the presence of ground beef somehow showcasing a weekly dinner or two, I regularly spend time during the week in a very severe state of self loathing.   Even though I like to try ground turkey or the more exotic grass fed buffalo meat, I always settle on lean beef more times than not.   I don't want to hate on  myself or feel disgusted when I look in the mirror, but inevitably, at least once a day, I give myself a negative self talk that somehow seems to stick.   It grows weary, but is so well known.

Likewise, despite wanting to branch out and try new, exciting, scintillating recipes, I still find myself concocting what I know in the kitchen.   Same goes for my thinking of S.   It is as if I move forward, like a jet taking off an airplane runway, but then air traffic control calls me back in for an emergency landing.  I'm a passenger held hostage fighting feelings of fear and annoyance all at once.

Lately, the S thinking has been getting me down.   I used to think I would die, truly wither up and cease to exist, if he weren't in my life.   Now such thoughts make me laugh and flush with embarrassment all at once.   And yet, the thoughts of never speaking to him again or never seeing him again still pierce my heart and make me choke back tears.

On an intellectual level, I truly understand how wrong he was for me and how I sacrificed more of myself than was ever humanly necessary for him.   But the emotional level still has some sort of hold that, at times, tightens her grip and threatens to choke me silently.

I have no one to talk to about this.

I would never tell A that lingering thoughts persist or have resurfaced.   He is amazing and, in my estimation, trying harder to make us work.   I have crushed him once, twice, there is no way I could live with myself if I crushed him again.

And anyway, S doesn't give a shit about me.  I refuse to make an ass of myself any longer for someone like him.

It doesn't mean the feelings are gone, it just means I act on them in completely different ways now.

Routines.  So ingrained we hardly think about them.   Familiar favorites are nice, homey, welcome.  I doubt I'll ever deviate from the tried and true.   But I will also try new things, in a sincere effort to break free from the once new but eventually mundane habits that never were and never will be healthy.

There's a recipe for success out there and I'm determined to find it.


  1. Maybe you have already found the recipe for success, but like all recipes, you have to put together the ingredients, prepare and cook it before the meal is ready.

    Unless you're making something as simple as instant noodles, it takes time to see results.

  2. Oh, my dear! *hugs*

    I wish I could help you a bit...

    Hm. Actually, if you don't mind, I'll share a simple Cuban recipe with you, and one which uses your staple of ground beef. I unfortunately don't know the exact measurements since I do it "by the nose," but I'll try to estimate the quantities.

    Arroz con Picadillo (Rice with Picadillo Meat)

    Ingredients for Picadillo
    Lean Ground Beef (enough for 3-4 people)
    2 cups of Tomato sauce (not too sweet; ketchup is a no-no)
    1/2 of a large white onion, chopped
    1/2 of a large green bell pepper, cubed
    2/3 of a large red bell pepper, cubed
    2 or 3 cloves of garlic, minced
    1/2 cup of green olives
    Handful of raisins
    2/3 cup of potato, cubed into small bits
    Salt and pepper (unless the tomato sauce is already salty)
    1/2 tbsp of basil
    1/2 tbsp of oregano
    1 tsp of garlic powder
    Cup of red wine (optional)

    Ingredients for rice
    1 cup white or brown rice per 2 people
    1 tsp garlic powder
    salt and pepper to flavor

    Steps for cooking the picadillo

    -Place the potato cubes in a small pot of cold water to make it release the starch

    -Once all the ingredients are chopped, diced, minced, etc., you mix everything, except the potato cubes, together in a large-ish pot.

    -Place pot in the fridge and let it sit there for an hour (or two) to marinate the meat.

    -Once you have marinated the beef, add the potato cubes and cook the beef on medium-low heat for 45 mins to 1 hour, or until the potato cubes are actually edible.

    -Remember to stir the beef occasionally

    -If you see that the beef is drying out during the cooking process, just add some more tomato sauce. The consistency should be chunky but not completely dried out. :-P

    -In the meantime, put water in a large-ish pot with the garlic powder, salt and pepper and bring it to a boil. Add the rice and let it cook until the grains are no longer crunchy (15-20 mins).

    -In the end, serve the picadillo with the rice and eat together. Bon appétit!

    I know that this recipe is not much, nor will it solve your problems, but if I were able to make you some comfort food, this is what I would have shared with you. And, trust me, even though the prep and cooking times are lengthy, it's worth it in the end. :-)

    -Your Cheerleader