all the bars in indiana pa will feel like roadside memorials

It’s my sorority reunion this weekend, and I’m going.

These days, I’ll do anything to avoid having to go out in public.  I want to stay in.  I do want to wear sweat pants.  I do not want to wear a bra.  I don’t want to socialize, I just want to stay home and read books.  It’s killing my social life, but I don’t care.  I don’t know what this funk I am in is, but truly, I think it’s just that I’m over “it” in general.

I can’t fully define “it.”

In every single picture from my DPhiE days, I’ve got Jill P. and Betsy L on either side of me.  The three of us were basically inseperable in college and neither of them are coming this weekend and that’s lame and I’m bummed out–but everyone else will be there and I’m stoked.  They are the friends I never wanted to let go of but lost contact with due to the natural passage of time.

jill betsy and laurajill and betsy

I was enthusiastic when I agreed to go to my sorority reunion.  I want to see everyone, I am excited!  But it’s this weekend and all I’m feeling is meh.  We’re going to have some sort of Delta Phi Epsilon ceremony and I’ll get to meet the current chapter which is going to be really cool.

I am terrified to go out to the bars with everyone afterwards.  Have you ever gone to a bar and there’s one person there who is far to old to be there, dressed to young, and it’s like they’re having an Irish wake for their youth?  I call this person The Bargoyle.  I’m afraid I’m going to be a Bargoyle.  And I swear to god right now, if anyone mentions going to a frat party, i’m leaving the whole thing immediately and driving home to Pittsburgh.  Unless I’m too drunk.  Then I’m going to the hotel room.

Anyway, why am I nervous about the going out?  Aside from looking old as hell, I’m too old.  Old!

It’s like this…

College was one of the times in my life where I can say I was truly, really happy.  I was pretty brooding and miserable in college, this was mostly a fashion choice.  I had a pretty intense, extended goth phase.  It started the senior year of high school and ended around 2010.  I was super into “being goth” when I pledged the sorority.  People ask how that went over.  Are you kidding?  I was in full hair and make up, heels and dresses the entire time.  They LOVED it.  (also we didn’t judge each other that way.  we were one chill, down to earth, really cool group of women.  not your typical sorority.  this is why we are still friends to this day).

goth phase

here’s a picture of me with Besty during my goth phase.  Full hair, make up, corset like shirt…at like, 4pm on a Tuesday?  not a problem… lol.  This is the night I discovered I love redbull and vodka.

I used to go on walks through the Oak Grove by myself really late at night, feeling like ANYTHING was possible.  My Communications degree was going to lead me directly into my dream field of broadcast journalism and I was going to also write my book.  It was all going to happen because I wanted it to happen because why wouldn’t it happen?

Well.

I miss feeling like there were endless possibilities.  I miss life before my student loan debt.  I miss feeling so sure that the best was yet to come.  I miss not knowing what failure was like.  I don’t miss not knowing what hard work truly was.

I don’t want to be the person I was in college.

But I’d love to FEEL that way again.

A few summers ago my best friend Craig and I had lunch at the Coney.  The front half of the Coney has been remodeled but the back of it is the same as it always was.  They have these “chandeliers” in the back, they’re still there, its all the same.  I walked back there and was like, “everything is the same but I’m so different now,” and I was just so deeply overwhelmed with sadness for some reason.

I didn’t expect to feel that way.

I never thought I’d be nostalgic for when I knew less.

I felt that nagging, distant sadness you get when you see roadside memorials.  They’re not here anymore.  That’s really sad.  This is the spot where they died.  I learned more that lunch than in all of college.  If you’re not happy, you need to work really effing hard to become happy and change it, and you’ll probably fail, a lot, but you might not, but regardless nothing is worse than feeling like you’re in a rut.

Except having the same realization when you’re 70 and no time to fix it.

But how?  How to start and where to start?  Honestly sometimes I think I’d need to salt the earth and burn all the buildings down to start over.  That sounds super dramatic.  I’m thinking more of moving to a different city.

I’m afraid I’m going to feel the same way this weekend.

me jill betsy boob

Here we are …2 years ago?  my hair isn’t black anymore, but here we are:  Me, Betsy, Jill, and my boobs.

I don’t wear this shirt anymore.

a brief summation of my recent dates

Ever have your friends fix you up on a blind date, and at the end you are like, “Is this what my friends think of me?  Is this who they think I would like?” and you consider ending the friendship.

Ever go on a blind date that started out with the date being so crazy you were afraid he might kill you, but then half way through the date, its so boring you start to wonder if death is still on the table because it would surely improve things?

No more blind dates for me.

My RIDICULOUS worst morning ever

It was July 15, 2008.

Keep in mind, I’ve had worse mornings–for example the morning of Dec 27, 2012 where my mother died.  There have been worse, I’m assuming there will BE worse, but this one is by far the most ridiculous morning ever.

I remember the date because July 15 is the birthday of a family friend.  So here’s what happened:

I woke up at 4:00 am with a phone call from a neighbor that my missing cat had been spotted on the Mexican War Streets.  I jump out of bed, grab my cat carrier, and a can of Fancy Fest and sprint (read: walk slightly fast) over to the War Streets.  I couldn’t find the neighbor at first so I start calling her name.  “Judy?  Judy?”  Then I hear this voice, “I’m over here!” and see an older woman laying on her stomach, in the street, next to a parked car and its dark out, that was like, so unsafe.  And she says, “The cat is under here,” and I crouch down next to her and see:  OH MY GOD MY CAT NIGELLA

And she is NOT MOVING.  She didn’t care about my Fancy Fest, and she didn’t care about the neighbors tuna fish.  So I sneak around the car, reach my hand under, and scruff the cat.  Who tried to attack my face.  I lower the cat into the carrier, close the door, and I’m FLOODED with waves of relief.  So grateful.  All my searching:  over.  I can’t hug this woman enough.  I offer her a reward, and she declines.  I start heading over to my house, in tears because I’m so happy.  And then the cat starts yowling… and it didn’t sound like Nigella.  But maybe she was sick because she was out for so long?  All I know is I’m taking her, going into the bathroom with her (to keep her sequestered from my other cats in case she’s got fleas).

So we get to the house, I let her out in the bathroom, and she’s TERRIFIED.  TERRIFIED.  Wedges herself behind the toilet and won’t come out.  I’m secretly THRILLED.  But then I notice my other cats are all hissing and dodging away from the door and won’t go near her.  This is not the reunion I’d hoped for!  In fact, this really sucks, the cat is miserable, isn’t acting herself, and it’s 6:00 at this point, I need to go to work.  I’m still so, so, so happy to have found my cat.

Oh did I mention my ex was staying at the house?  He was still my current boyfriend then.  He’d been staying with me because just a week before I had the WORST UTI ever.  I was so ridiculously sick.  So sick.  Like, trip to the ER sick, where I had to get an IV of antibiotics.  I was in really bad shape.  Ex was nice enough to stay with me bc I still wasn’t feeling 100%, but I felt 100% when he was there.

SO.  I shower and as I’m leaving for work Ex says, “I feel like if that was your cat, the other cats wouldn’t be acting like this.”  And so I told him, “Nigella is microchipped.  How many long haired, declawed cats, who look like Nigella, are running around on the North Side?  Take her to the Humane Society, and they’ll scan her chip and then we’ll know.”  He agreed to do so and then went back to sleep.

I headed to work, but first needed to stop at Rite Aid to get more antibiotics.  My phone rings but its a number I don’t recognize, so I don’t answer.  I go in, get my stuff, go to leave, and pop my tire.  I don’t know on what.  Scraped it against a curb?  The tire has a gash in it, but I can’t be late for work.  I’m a fool, so I went into Rite Aid and got Fix A Flat and some duct tape bc this was totally going to work.

It didn’t.  And I sit down on the curb, and I’m ready to cry bc now I’m going to be late for work, it had been MY idea to drive the Ex over to my house last night so he didn’t have his car, and now I have to wait for AAA.  So I check my voicemail.

“Kristen, this is the Allegheny County Health Department, can you please call us back at (their number).

OH MY GOD I HAVE AIDS.

OH.MY.GOD.

OH.MY.GOD.

OH.MY.GOD, I HAVE AIDS AND A FLAT TIRE.  A FLAT TIRE.  AND AIDS.  I am going to try to change the tire, scrape my hand, get tetanus, and then die bc I have AIDS.  And I tried to change a tire.  Thank god I have AAA, bc you never know when you’ll need them, which could happen on the same morning you find out you have AIDS.

Who has AIDS?  Pedro from the Real World does…but omg he’s dead.  He died.  OMG.  (Then the hyperventilation started)

This is not a voice mail you want to get.  So I call the guy back, and I’m obviously hysterical already.

“We’re calling bc when you were in the ER at Magee, they took blood samples and you,”

Me: “HAVE AIDS”

Health Departhment (HD) “No–“

Me:  “No AIDS!  OMG THANK YOU!  OH SHIT ‘I’M PREGNANT.’

HD:  “NO–”

Me: “PREGNANT WITH HIV”

HD:  “NO, please listen, you have salmonella poisoning.”

Me:  “Salmonella poisoning?  that wasn’t me.  i thought I had AIDS.”

HD:  “No.  And we wouldn’t just call you like that if  you had AIDS, but it’s salmonella poisoning.”

Me:  “No, it wasn’t me, I just had a UTI.”

HD (losing his patience):  “No, it is absolutely you, you had/have salmonella poisoning, which can present like a UTI, and we are calling because you now need to go back to the hospital or to your doctor for Cipro, bc that is what you need for salmonella poisoning, which you have, bc these are your test results.”

Okay.

HD “Now I’m going to ask you some questions so we can see how you may have contracted salmonella,”

Me:  “I had sketchy Chinese food, like a week ago.”

Health Department:  “Actually for salmonella, the first question we always ask is if you have cats.”

Me:  “I’ll just call my doctors office now for some Cipro.  I’ve got like, 100 cats.”

Cat owners:  NEVER, EVER kiss your cats.  Because they carry salmonella.  And I dont want to get into how they do.  Okay:  They poo, which has salmonella.  Then they groom their paws and their fur.  Then you go and give them a little kiss or snuggle on the side of their head or on their fur…  cat poo bacteria city.  Plus, you look really weird giving your cat a kiss.

So I hang up.  At this point I have like, 2 reasonable texts from my boss that say, “Hey are you okay?  Will you be late?  Just let me know!”  But for the case of this blog I had 12 furious texts from my boss threatening to fire me.

How do I call her back and tell her, “I got a flat tire, and then the Health Department called and I was on the phone, good news is that it isn’t AIDS, but I need to go get Cipro?”  Instead I just took a vacation day.  I wait forever for AAA, they fix my flat.  Life is good because I don’t have AIDS.

I get to my doctors office, and guess what?  I get an IV and some Cipro bc I am dehyrdated.  So that was awesome.

At this point its 1pm and my ex calls me from the Humane Society, and he’s not happy to hear that I don’t have AIDS, instead he’s really upset that I thought I might, but that’s not why he’s calling.

“This isn’t your cat.  It’s chip isn’t your cats number [which they had on file bc that was where i adopted her], and also this cat is a dude.”  FUCK.  WHAT THE HELL.  What do I do?  Turn this cat back out onto the street?  Leave it where I found it?   Post fliers that say, “I found your cat!”

Fortunately the Humane Society had a number with that cat, and it was for a woman who lived on the Mexican War Streets.  So now *I* get to call her and explain what happened, and that my boyfriend will be bringing her cat back over, and that I’m so very sorry.

Neighbor:  Hello?

Me:  Hi, I’m Kristen, you don’t know me but I believe you may have seen fliers for my cat Nigella all over the North Side.

Lady:  No.

Me:  Okay, well, my cat looks exactly like yours and this morning, I mistakenly thought your cat was mine and brought him home, but we had the cat scanned at the Humane Society, and it’s your cat.

Lady:  So you just carried my cat off.  You just took my cat.

Me:  It was an accident, he’s totally okay, we are so sorry, we just need to make sure we have the right address, we will bring him over.

Lady:  I want YOUR INFORMATION bc you stole my cat and don’t touch him leave him at the humane society I want you to leave him alone, I’ll pick him up.

What the hell?  What was I supposed to do.  I apologized more, she had none of it, we hung up.

I let my boyfriend know he was to leave the cat there, but what ended up happening was he had to wait with the cat and the woman showed up and yelled at him and then he left.  But he ended up giving her my carrier.  I opted not to call and ask for the carrier back.  Also, who shows up to pick their cat up without a carrier?  Anyway.

So I get home and tell Ex what has happened all day and he was like, “There’s ALWAYS SOMETHING going on with you . Can you just take me home?  This is like ,the worst day ever and I kind of just want to play video games and relax,” meaning:  woman, you’ve annoyed me with your cat issues, AIDS, car tires, and I just want to go home.

So I drop him off, get home, and discover that in that short expanse of time, someone has broken into my neighbor N’s apartment.  Okay, I’m going to finish the rest of this in a 2nd blog bc I have to do a bunch of work, but at this point in the story we are only to 3pm, adn the day gets much worse.

OMG a *STRANGER* found my blog, actually read it, and shared my camping post! We big time now!

OMG.

There were spirit fingers of excitement over my keyboard this morning!  In case you’re wondering, according to me, there 2  forms of spirit fingers:  1.  stereotypical bad broadway production, in which they accompany a dance and a song that will include the lyrics, “we’re going to dance and sing, do everything!,”  2.  Excitement!

Anyway, so a woman named Valarie liked my camping post and wanted to share them.  I am so excited.  Finally, someone who hasn’t heard all my stories in real life bc they aren’t friends with me and hasn’t been forced to read my blog is reading my blog!  So now that there is “public interest,” I’ve decided to list my favorite camping products, tips, and secrets.

They’re not really tips or secrets, as previously posted my secret camping weapon is Craigory, and you can’t have him, I won’t share.

But here’s what I will share:

You can cook all sorts of fancy food, but all people really want to eat while camping are smores, mountain pies, hamburgers, and hot dogs.  So relax.  Don’t make a cinnamon roll in a hollowed out orange.  Just bring a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch and milk, for breakfast!

This was bullshit:

orange roll

No, no we don’t gotta cook like that!  I’ll post recipes below!

Who doesn’t like campfire foods???  I *LOVE* the idea of cooking out on a campfire, on a crisp evening, surrounded by my friends who are wrapped in blankets, drinking out of mugs, laughing, and someone is playing a guitar… but real life is never like the Subaru commercial I have just described.

This is real life, and in real life we all know that people only drink out of mugs while camping to disguise their booze from the park rangers.

What really happens starts earlier in the day, around 3pm, when my friend Craig and I are in Giant Eagle arguing.  Here are some actual arguments Craig and I have actually had:

Craig:  “You don’t need butter, we’re using cooking spray.”  Me:  “The god damn butter is .70, and I’m doing the cooking.”

Craig:  “You don’t need two packs of chicken sausage, bc we’re only camping for one day.”  Me: “What if we make friends and they want chicken sausage?”  Craig:  “Did you just try to hide the chicken sausage in the cart?  I’m standing right here.”  Me:  “Oh look!  A diversion!”

Craig:  “Do you need cheese curls AND cheetoes?”  Me:  “You can go fuck yourself, Craig.”

I’d like to pretend these were jokes and not conversations we have verbatim, every time we shop for camp.  Anyway.

jupe fetch

Camping Issue 1:  Its easier to make burgers and dogs bc chopping veggies takes forever.

Tip 1:  If you have the extra money, in the veggie section there will be packets of pre cut veggies for shish kabobs.  It’s cheaper to buy these than the actual veggies, and they are pre cut.  And perfecly portioned for 2 people to camp.

This is especially important if you are making the Salmon Recipe, which you should make, and to which I haven’t figured out how to link to on this blog, so I will paste it at the end of this post.  Really, you’ll likely be bringing onions or tomatoes camping with you if you are making hamburgers.

I make those campfire potatoes which involve lots of cutting…a 1 lb bag of Yukon gold potatoes and 1 whole white onion.  Who wants to be chopping vegetables in the dark?  Not me.  And then you’ve got all sorts of scraps you dont want to leave out to attract critters, and a cutting board and a knife to wash and that takes effort and if you’re like me, you’re a lazy camper.

I HATE CUTTING VEGETABLES WHILE CAMPING!

Product I’d Give My Friends as a Gift:  (a chopping system!)

I cannot more highly recommend thIS product for camping.  Boy is this an ugly link:

http://www.qvc.com/Genius-Salad-Chopper-19-Cup-6-pc-Food-Prep-System.product.K37204.html?sc=K37204-SRCH&cm_sp=VIEWPOSITION-_-3-_-K37204&catentryImage=http://images.qvc.com/is/image/k/04/k37204.001?$uslarge$

slicer

It’s got a mandolin slicer, and two cutting inserts to cut cubes or sticks.  Plus, the bowl has a lid that you can use for storage.  You don’t need to bring a cutting board camping again.  This this is effing awesome.  Also, it won’t take up too much space bc you can put stuff inside the cavity of the bowl while packing.  For the salmon, I slice the red peppers, green peppers, and onions on the mandolin and cube the potatoes with the slicing insert.  30 min of prep work is now done in minutes.  I’m not kidding.  I don’t get any money from QVC, or anyone else from that matter.  I don’t have any money so when I buy something I really need for it to be awesome, and this baby is worth every penny.  I used it every day, not just when camping.  I love it.  You can cube potatoes in the dark and not worry about cutting your finger off!  (I would know, I’ve tried to cube potatoes from memory before.)

Product Recommendation II:

Those grills that come with most campsites are just nasty.  You could contract hepatitis, tetanus, and lead poisoning ALL AT THE SAME TIME from cooking your food on those!  (according to me).  So you have to bring a wire rack and cover it with a ton of foil first and ain’t nobody got time for that!  Okay, it doesn’t take that much time but its a pain in the ass.  I bought this grill at Cabela’s and it cant be beat for its usefulness and this cheap price!

I aspire to this.  It’s $131.99 on cabelas.com.  First of all look at that perfect fire ring.  You are NEVER going to find rocks that perfect to build a fire ring.  This grill is perfect for when you want your mussels/clams to cook at the same time as your filet kabobs.  😦  I’m just bitter bc I cant afford it.  But also I know what would really happen is that the ground would be too hard to stake this grill or something.  Or the grill would tip while cooking and all the food would be ruined.  Something would go awry:

fancy grill

When you’ve got 5 star taste and a 1 star budget, but you also don’t want to get tetanus from your dinner, I recommend this grill.  Also good for lazy people, you don’t have to push anything into the ground.  It’s $39.99 on Cabela’s.

grill

This picture…did someone start a fire in dry grass but then decide, “It’s cool, I’ll just line 5 rocks up in front and totally not a big deal!”  Then they got throat punched by Smokey Bear.

Seriously though, this grill lays flat so it takes up no room in your car and it will fit in your trunk.  Now, its meant for cooking over coals, but we never have coals bc I’m always too hungry to wait for there to be coals so I like to cook over a bonfire.  Literally.  Throw that burger in the flame!  It’ll be fine, I’ll just throw some foil down!  I joke that I like all my camp food “served Joan of Arc style.”  We are Catholic.  And horrible.

What we do, the grill over the fire, one end weighted down over the top of the actual camp grill, so that the length of the grill extends over the campfire, and we just cook right on top of it.  It’s awesome.  If the flames get to high, we have room to move the food back.

If the grill gets to grody, well at least I know it’s my own nastiness and that makes it more tolerable.  Spray the grill with cooking oil before you cook and its easily cleaned by wiping it down, and then take a hose to it when you get home.  You’ll use this grill forever!

Its legs are short, maybe only a foot high bc it’s intended for coal cooking, but you can easily raise this with some bricks or something.

Tip:  DON’T SPEND YOUR MONEY ON THOSE NON STICK GRILL SHEETS THEY’RE SELLING NOW

grill sheet

There’s nothing these can do for you that you can’t do using a few sheets of tin foil pressed flat and cooking spray.  I know, bc we tested it out.  First, if these grill sheets go over an open flame they will melt and so they aren’t great for camping.  Foil will protect your food.  I had great faith in the almighty non stick grill sheet.  The only difference using sprayed aluminum foil and the non stick grill sheet was that when I was done, I had one more thing to wash/haul out of camp with me.  Save your money.  I ended up just throwing these sheets away.

Essential Gear for Comfort, According to me, who does no set up, no work, and lays around the campsite while Craig does all the work:

1.  Tarps tarps tarps…  Always put a tarp under your tent to keep it clean and to keep you dry!  Just make sure the tarp NEVER extends out from under your tent, not even a little bit.  Why?  If it rains and your tarp is sticking out from under your tent, water will go right under the tent and seep through the floor and you’ll be moist and uncomfortable.  You know how nasty it is just to say the word moist?  Moist.  Ew.  That’s how you’ll feel.

2.  AIR MATTRESS:  I don’t care what Craig says, a 1″ foam sleeping pad won’t work for me.  Buying the airmattress was life changing.

3.  A plastic picnic table cloth:  For some reason, this just makes everything feel a lot cleaner, and look a lot nicer!  Also…

4.  Dryer sheets, for under the table cloth:  I don’t know why this works, but dryer sheets under your table cloth WILL help keep bees away!

5.  Citronella Candles:  Craig bitches EVERY TIME about how we don’t need them bc we will be wearing bug spray.  But guess what?  We ALWAYS use them.  They’re good for light at night, obviously they keep bugs away, but also drizzling some melted wax over the kindling really helps get the fire started.

6.  A plastic hanging shoe organizer, a plastic shower ring, and a belt:  Not for pants or foot wear!

Step one:  Loop the belt through the shower ring

Step two:  Find a tree, and fasten your belt around the tree

Step three:  hang the shoe organizer from the belt, using the shower ring

Step four:  Use the shoe organizer to organize your plastic utensils, napkins, condiments, etc.  It’s really helpful!

7.  Glow sticks in a jar of water will work as a make shit flashlight

8.  Bring ALL the BABY WIPES AND HAND SANITIZER you can pack!  You’ll find yourself using them constantly!

9.  Bring more tin foil than you think you’ll need.  You’ll use it, at camp or at home.

10.  If you’re bringing wine to camp, get a box of The Naked Grape organic wine.  First, boxes won’t break.  Second, there’s no sulfites in it, so you wont get a wine headache the next morning.  Nothing is worse than camping with a head ache.

Okay are are:

THE RECIPES

The first night we camp, its become tradition for me to make maple bourbon salmon over carmelized red peppers on the campfire aka:

SALMON ALA THIS GIRL IS MARRIAGE MATERIAL

Tips:
CUT YOUR VEGGIES THE NIGHT BEFORE YOU LEAVE, OR BUY SHISHKABOB KITS THAT HAVE CUT VEGGIES. Cutting veggies in the dark on a cutting board is really annoying.

You need:

MARINATED SALMON
– you can actually buy marinated salmon at Giant Eagle, and it is quite good. You can actually call ahead and ask them to marinade some for you and they will, for free.

SALMON MARINADE RECIPE (to make your own)
-4T low sodium soy sauce
-1T garlic powder
-1T black pepper (and some salt)
-2T honey
-1T olive oil
-1t (teaspoon) ginger powder

Mix together, pour over salmon in baggies. Just throw the baggie in the cooler and let it sit for at least 2 hours.

The veggies, rough chopped. use any you like, but be mindful mushrooms will get very soft:

1 red or white onion
1 red pepper
1 zucchini
Lemons (as many as you like to taste)

Do a very rough chop of these veggies. You will lay the salmon on top of these, and the veggies actually steam the salmon.

So you’ve got your marinated salmon and your veggies ready. Now you will assemble your foil packet. I don’t have pictures, but this is easy you wont need them:

Fold 3 sheets of foil up into a packet. COAT the bottom of your packet with butter. I use a cold stick of butter like a glue stick. Use ALOT of it, and then add salt and pepper to the butter.

Arrange your veggies on top of that

Place the salmon on top of the veggies, and put a lemon wedge n the salmon. Keeps it from sticking if you flip the packet.

Fold the packet closed, but leave a slight slip, don’t fold the edges over for a complete seal.

Wrap 2 additional sheets of foil over the packet. Don’t press everything down so it is completely sealed.

Put the packets directly in the fire. Experience has taught me to fold a little tin foil handle on the one side of the packet so I can easily remove them from the fire.

The real skill is knowing when the salmon is done. It usually takes about 40 minutes. Just keep checking it. it will be amazing, and clean up is easy.

THE BEST CAMPFIRE POTATOES SCOTT HAS EVER HAD

I made these potatoes the last time we went camping and my friend Scott said they were the best potatoes he has ever had.  Again, I don’t have pictures, but I will take some this weekend and post them.  These are so very easy, and are a good side for burgers or hot dogs!

You need:

Foil, you’ll make a packet again.

1 lb Yukon gold potatoes (it does matter, get gold or Yukon gold potatoes), chopped

BUTTER.  You’re camping.  You’ll hike the calories off.

1 chopped white onion, or a ton of onion powder

4 or more cloves of minced garlic, or a ton of garlic powder

Salt & Pepper

1 whole beer.  I used Blue Moon.  It was a noble sacrifice for the greater good.

Directions:

Make a foil packet.  I used 4 layers of foil, bc you’ll flip the packet over.

COAT the bottom of the packet in butter.  Don’t be a bitch, COAT IT!  You’re camping,  Hike those calories off!

Salt and pepper the butter.

Put the potatoes in the foil packet along w the garlic and onions, powdered or fresh.

Dump the beer in.  You’ll think its too much liquid.  Dump the entire thing in.  No sipping.  The potatoes are going to absorb all the liquid

(pause to complain about wasting a beer)

Fold the packet shut.  ALL THE WAY SHUT.

Put it in the fire.  The beer will steam the potatoes and brew some sort of magic deliciousness.  Trust me.  It took about 50 min to steam the potatoes.  After about 30 min you’ll want to check on them about every 5-10.

You’re welcome.

camp home

That time the entire North Side tried to help me out….

I haven’t blogged in awhile because truly I haven’t had anything interesting to blog about.

All that I’ve been up to is job hunting.  I’ve never had issues with anxiety before, but I have them now.  I don’t know what to do about them, the best I can do is hope that the elevated heart rate and sweating of the palms will somehow also help increase my metabolism and I lose a pound or two.  It would only be fair.

I find the anxiety is the worst at night.  It’s as if my brain lies dormant all day and then as soon as I lay down my brain is all “LET’S THINK OF EVERY SINGLE THING THAT HAS EVER GONE WRONG IN THE HISTORY OF YOUR LIFE.  We’ll have work quick, I’ll start racing, because we’ve only got 8 hours to cover everything!”  At first the insomnia was difficult, but now I’m just used to it and coffee has made me its bitch.

Last night I was awake until 2 am and this time the topic of my late night stress session left me heart broken, sad, and feeling guilty.  I couldn’t stop thinking about the time I lost my cat, Nigella.

This blog isn’t about my cat though, its really a love letter to my neighbors on the North Side because I cannot believe the outpouring of love and kindness and help I received.  It’s something I will never forget.

This is Nigella.  We named her for Nigella Lawson, because I liked her show “Nigella Bites,” and Nigella the cat definetly bit.

bean4

She was effing adorable.  My ex Christopher and I adopted her from the Humane Society.  It was a whim we adopted her.  There was a family there with all these kids, grubby fingers sticking in her cage…that cat was visibly distressed.  The family went outside to ‘talk about’ adopting her and both Chris and I were like, “We are taking that cat!  She does NOT like that family.”  So like assholes we adopted her right out from under them.

Being wrong was never so right.  As you can see, Nigella was meant for a life of leisure, quiet, and comfort.

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She was a sweet heart with a rotten streak.  If you held her, she’s start growling, and then as soon as you’d put her down she would go and “attack” (swat at) one of my other cats, as if she was getting rid of her aggression.  She took no shit from anyone, esp not Midori.  There was one day I came home from work and Midori was FRANTIC, and I found Nigella like this:

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That’s a hunk of Midori’s fur in her mouth.  It was Nigella’s trophy. Don’t feel bad, Midori has a lot of fur and I promise she deserved it.

bean 1

One day (May 22, 2008) I woke up and realized Nigella was missing.  The day before the landlord had sent workers over to the apartment.  I thought all the cats were inside, but that night Midori had spent a lot of time yowling in the kitchen and I ignored it.  Now I think Nigella had been outside, locked out, and meowing to get in.

When I realized Nigella was just gone, I was frantic.  I thought she’d be in the yard, but she wasn’t.  I thought she’d be in the alley behind the house, but she wasn’t. She was just gone.  She was declawed.  She had a collar with rhinestone studs and a Hello Kitty charm along w her name tag–but she slipped it off like it was her job.  My declawed cat was loose on the N Side w no collar, without claws she couldn’t defend herself or catch food…fuck.  We lived on the North Side, full of all sorts of cars to run her over, fenced in yards for her to hide in, stray dogs, and feral cats. It was a horrible feeling.  From the get go, I was devastated.

What kept me up last night was wondering if she felt like I just didn’t want her anymore, like I locked her out and abandoned her.  Do cats have that level of emotion?  it’s highly unlikely, but this is something I feel really guilty about.

I made “Lost Cat” fliers of her using the picture above with her on the red carpet.

“Lost Cat.  Her name is Nigella, and I am devastated.  Long black fur, gold eyes, declawed, very sweet, missing from 946 Beech Avenue, 412-583-0097.  Call any time.  We are heart broken.”

I posted fliers EVERYWHERE.  So many fliers that a police officer stopped by my house to tell me that it could be considered littering to have so many fliers posted.  I burst into tears and he told me not to worry, that he’d take a flier to the station with him and show it to his officers and that they would keep an eye out for a black cat when they did their patrols at night.

I also asked if they would take my name and number and make a note that i was going to be walking through the neighborhood at night with a flashlight looking for my cat, in case they thought I was a prowler.

Guess what?  They actually DID.  I got two calls from the police station that they had seen my cat in the War Streets.  Also, several times while I was out looking for her I had police officers stop and ask me how it was going and also to remind me to be careful.

I thought when I posted the fliers that I was going to get all kinds of calls from people telling me they saw my cat.  That didn’t happen.  I think I got maybe 3 phone calls with sightings.  What I did get were calls from complete strangers, my North Side neighbors telling me how sorry they were that I lost the cat, and that they had seen me so many times walking around looking for her and hoped I found her.  I also received DOZENS of cards in the mail that said, “Thinking of you!  Hope you find your cat!”  Strangers stopped by the house to let me know that they were praying for/thinking of me and promised to keep an eye out.

I lived on Beech Avenue and several of my neighbors actually put food and water bowls out in their yards for her.  They didn’t have to do that.  But they did.

I cannot believe how kind people can be for no reason other than they just wanted to be.

About 2 weeks after I lost Nigella I had a woman call me who lived over in Manchester and she said that she had seen my posters, and that there were a lot of feral cats that looked similar to Nigella and that a black and white photocopy of a black cat was kind of hard to make out, and could I email her a color picture of Nigella.  I did.  When I drove home that evening there was a full color, enlarged, laminated “Lost Cat” poster for Nigella.  I burst into tears.  I didn’t know it yet, but I was going to spend a lot of time moved to tears.

She had paid money and had color posters printed and laminated.  They were all through the neighborhood.

When I say I looked for her…I DID.  I tried so ridiculously hard to find her.  I think back on it now and realize that I am very lucky and that I am very stupid because I spent a lot of time walking through back allies on the North Side alone after dark looking for my cat.  I didn’t run into any criminals–BY THE GRACE OF GOD– but you know who I did run into?

An army, I’m not kidding, a freaking ARMY of crazy cat ladies.  Lots of them.  And they’re all from different groups and they even have their own “turfs” and they color code their live traps so other cat ladies know not to mess with them.  These ladies are NOT to be messed with.  They are on missions and you cannot eff up their plans.

One night I was in the parking lot behind the Greek church, shining my flashlight under bushes and this parked car suddenly lights up and I’m all, “Oh fuck!” and this woman drives up to me and goes, “Excuse me, are you looking for something?”  I carried fliers with me, so I gave her one.  And she goes, “Well your cat should have been wearing a collar.  Listen, I rescue the cats here so you don’t need to look.”  I will never forget that.  I ended up laughing in her face and she was like, “No, you can’t be taking cats from a rescue area,” and I was like, “Lady, I’m not taking cats, I’m looking for *MY* cat.”

Actually she was helpful, she got out of her car and loaned me a live trap.  I’m not going to say which group she was with, but she’s actually the one who told me the cat rescues have specific areas of the N Side that they “work.”  What the fuck.  This is an organized Army of Cat Lovers.  No half assed operation here!

She actually scolded me for not contacting all of the cat rescue organizations because, “We’re the ones out in the streets with the cats.”  Um, okay.

She had my contact information and said she would, “Put things in motion to take care of this for me.”  I remember thinking I’d never disliked someone I liked so much.  The next morning, I got this email:  “Kristen, I have forwarded your email to every cat rescue organization in Pittsburgh.  We will keep an eye out for her.  It is good that she is microchipped as she will be scanned upon rescue for identification, but now you know why you must keep a collar on your pets.”

I posted on Craigslist, and every Yahoo North Side Neighborhood Group.

I got a lot of responses from my craigslist posting.

This couple from Penn Hills called me and told me that they had found my cat.  I was like, “How would she be in Penn Hills from the North Side?” but the woman was CERTAIN this was Nigella, apparently the cat had responded to its name, and they were going to drive her over.

About an hour later this car comes down the street, and when they got to my house both passengers got out of the car and they looked really winded.  “Dude, that is not your fucking cat this was a stupid idea,” the guy said.  I noticed he had shreds on his forearm.  “She was fine and then the cat went crazy in the car.”  I didn’t mention Nigella was declawed.  They opened the back door of the car and after a few minutes this cat that was a dead ringer for Nigella got out and sauntered down the street.  It was a feral cat.

My fliers said, “Call any time,” and I meant it.  I got several calls from Judy who lives in the War Streets who would see my cat during her 5am jog.  One morning she called all excited and said, “Come over to Monterey right now!  I’ve got the cat cornered and I’ll keep her here.”  So I did my own 5am jog over to Monterey Street and Judy was literally laying on the sidewalk holding a can of tuna fish under a parked car.  For a stranger.

There was a woman named Sue Kerr who lives in Manchester, we haven’t met only spoke on the phone, but I know she went out on her own several times to look for Nigella too, and allowed me access to her secured back yard to leave a live trap.  I did trap a long haired black cat that looked like Nigella, but it wasn’t her.

I trapped so many cats I think the cat rescue groups envied me.  I swear there were certain cats on the N Side that saw me coming with the trap, knew there would be food in it, and just waited.  : /  Almost all of them had clipped ears so there was no reason to turn them to the rescue groups, they were ferals who had been spayed/neutered.

Nigella went missing in May.  I was so completely desperate to find her I hired a pet psychic at the end of August.  I wasn’t going to stop looking for her.  I couldn’t.  I needed to know that I did EVERYTHING, absolutely everything I could to find her. It was $100.  According to the psychic, Nigella felt her growth was stifled at our house and that she misses me but she had been taken in by a new family and that they were ‘loving on her,’ and if it was meant to be she would return.  I told the psychic to tell Nigella that her spiritual journey was OVER and that her ass was to return home.  She never came home.

At this point I was getting extremely desperate.  I posted fliers offering a reward, and some that said if someone had taken her in the might even be able to keep her i just needed to know she was okay.  Like I said, i was really desperate.

A few weeks after that, the first weeks of September, my door bell rang.  It was the little girl that lived up the street, and her friend.  She was holding a black kitten.  And she said, “I know how sad you are about your cat, so you can have my kitten.”

Okay i just started crying typing this.  I really think this was the sweetest thing that has ever happened to me.  Of course I couldn’t take her kitten, but I was so moved.

I never found Nigella.

In July, I had heard reports that there was a small black cat the park and I searched, trapped out there, but never saw a black cat.  I had a guy call me to tell me a black cat had been run over by the park but that it probably wasn’t Nigella because “I used a spoon to check and that cat had claws.”  I don’t even want to know why a spoon was used.  I realized later Nigella did have claws on her back paws.  I think it was her.  Deep down, I really think it was her.  But I’ll never know.

I do know that I think only in Pittsburgh would an entire neighborhood really rally and try to help someone the way they helped me.  I’ll be forever grateful.

The other night I dropped my friend off, and he lives on Sherman Avenue.  I’ll admit, I did do several tours of the neighborhood just looking.  Just in case.

I really miss Nigella.

tricky love

I’ve wanted to write about this for a long time but for some reason Ive been afraid to write these sentiments down, so I’m just going to kind of go for it.  So this may be all over the place and rife with errors.

Tricky Love

Mom is dead.  Its an acute awareness, more second pulse than thoughts, a mantra I feel rather than think, over and over and over and over.   Mom is dead.  It has been 593 days.  Every single day it becomes more true.  Every single day she is farther away.  Sometimes, it feels like it has been minutes, other times it feels like Mom has always been dead.  This is how life is now.  Mom is dead, and I am never not aware of this.

608 days ago, on Dec 8, 2012, my facebook status read, “Every single time I look at the clock, it’s 11:11, 2:22, 5:55 etc.  My coworker says that this is a sign angels are trying to get ahold of me, which I think its crap.  I think its just that a pattern is more memorable.”

I think about this status a lot, and I like the idea that angels were trying to contact me ahead of time.  I crave some divine, magical, mystical event comes out of my mother’s death.  If anyone could make contact from the beyond, it would be my mother.  I’m desperate for some sign, some special dream, but there’s been nothing.  My mother is silence, a painful still.  Mom is dead.

On Dec 12, I was at dinner with my friend Craig and I got a text message from my father that said, “Mom’s surgery went okay!”  I’ll put it out there now:  Mom and I did not talk every day.  We weren’t actively close.  When I got that text message, I didn’t even know my mother was having surgery.  I called my father back and he told me that she’d had her left knee replaced, but everything was fine, and she was in pain but recovering well.

I called a few days later to see how she was doing, but my call went to voicemail.  Through a volley of text messages I told her I hoped she felt better, and I learned her recovery was painful and that she was going to need me to get the cookie tray for Christmas.

I actually spend that Christmas alone, because I was sick.  My 80 yr old grandmothers health was a house of cards and to not give her that one final illness, I stayed home.  At first it seemed like a good idea, but then I got really lonely.  I tried to read a book, but I couldn’t concentrate, so I drank wine.  I spent Dec 26 in bed with a headache from the wine, reading.  My parents called to see how I was doing, but in my sorry state I didn’t answer the phone, but instead sent a chipper text message about how I hoped they had fun on Xmas and that we’d get together soon.

That night my friend Tina came over and we ordered a bunch of Chinese food and watched movies.  It wasn’t ideal, but it was a pretty laid back, mundane Christmas.

Everything about those days is nostalgic.  They were boring, mundane days that if given the chance I’d time travel to.  No one has ever wanted anything as much as I want to go back in time and go over to the house.  I once wished for time travel with such intensity I broke out in hives.

I went to sleep around 11:09 on Dec 26.  I know this bc the last text I sent was to Tina, and it said, “Your washcloth is here!”  I woke up around 12:30 am because my phone was exploding.  Urgent text messages, from my father, brother in law, sister, and my aunt, all saying, “Call me!”  I thought, “Oh shit, Grandma’s dead.”

My father was calm when he answered the phone and he said, “It’s your mother,” and I thought, “Did she fall?   And I said, “Oh god I thought grandma died,” and she said, “We’re at the hospital your mother had a reaction and Mom…Mom…Mom’s dead.”  In that moment I didn’t feel anything.  I wasn’t immediately upset, obviously it didn’t register because I thought, “this is ridiculous.  Why is Mom dead?  This doesn’t make any sense.”

And then my head exploded.  I think I hung up on my father.  I sat in bed and just stared at the wall and was a non believer in everything.  NO WAY did Mom just die, because I would know.  I would just know.  I’d be able to feel it.  I actually sent text messages to my 3 closest friends that say, “Holy shit, my mother died,” because I needed to tell someone to make it real.  It didn’t help.

My mother had died of a pulmonary embolism.

My brother in law picked me up and we went to my parents house, and at around 3am the whole family had gathered and we all just sat in the living room red eyed, silent, and lost.  For me, it became real when we were called about organ donation at 4am.  At some point I went into the kitchen to get a glass of water and noticed a clear plastic bag marked “Patient Belongings” sitting on the chair.  All of Mom’s clothes and jewelry were in it, and I thought, “Why did they have to take all her clothes off?  Why couldn’t they leave them on her?”  For some reason, that was the most upsetting thing to see.

The funeral was exhausting.  People said, “this is so surreal,” and they were right.  It wasn’t real.  I thought I’d fall apart when I saw Mom in the casket for the first time.  I didn’t feel anything.  My one cousin asked me if I was sedated and I told her I was, just because that would make sense of how zoned out I looked.  Mom actually looked beautiful in her casket. There she was, and there she wasn’t. 

There were so many people who came to the funeral home.  Everyone loved my mother, she was a force of nature, she had so many friends.  People said the most amazing things about her, and I wish to tell everyone I know I seemed disinterested.  I was having an out of body experience.  I was so lost.  Some people said ridiculous things too.  My one cousin told my sister and I she could totally relate to our loss, because she’d just lost her toy Pomeranian, Fritz.

So many kind words, but I only wanted to sit down on the couch and stare at her in the casket.  People kept forming receiving lines.  My sister stood towards the entrance, I was in the middle, and my father was up at the casket.  I felt like we were hosting a party.  We developed talking points.  “Completely unexpected,”  “Such a loss.”  “Its difficult, but we’ll pull through together,”  I couldn’t tell you a single person I met at the funeral home.  I was a zombie.  None of this was real until a week after the funeral, when I had to go to work.  Life was going to start moving forward, without my mother, and this was unacceptable.

Nothing was real.  I went to her grave and it just felt like the lonliest place on earth.  I looked for signs of her in everything…had that crow been in our yard for three days in a row now?  For several days in a row that January it was 27 degrees, and Mom was born on the 27th, was that a sign?  There was nothing there.  I was so lost.  I was so confused.

Some people are graceful, gracious in their grief.  I was not.  I was a zombie, and weeks turned into months.  Cocktails were medicinal but left me prone to sudden bursts of tears.  That following March (3 months, 62 days after) one of my closest friends told me I had to snap out of my funk because people were going to start thinking I had mental problems.  They know who they are, and though I’ve moved on, a giant “fuck you” for that sentiment.  My tears were late to the party!  Everyone said, “If you need anything, let me know.”  I wanted to ask for a grisgris or a voodoo doll or something, unless the dead could be resurrected there wasn’t anything I needed, other than time and patience, and wine.  Lots of wine. There are no rules, no instructions on how to deal with the loss of a parent and things were TRICKY.  When you find yourself laughing again, you feel guilty.  When you’re crying at a party, you lie and say its from Jagermeister so people don’t think you’ll be having melt downs. It’s really hard, and its really exhausting.  Sleep helps.  Reading helps.  But nothing really helps like time.

Through that entire loss, I was mostly dry eyed.  I felt a dull, burning ache in my stomach, I cried for my fathers pain, I cried for my sisters pain, but the problem was this:  my relationship with my mother was so complicated.

My relationship with my mother is an extremely valuable classic car that sits in a yard, growing grass winding through the interior because no one could find the parts to fix it.  We fought hard, and we fought dirty.  When we fought, we weren’t parent and child, we were too people throwing horrible words as hard as we could.  We said things to each other I don’t think either of us would ever have said to anyone else.  I don’t want to go into the details.  They’re insignificant.

Fact:  I loved my mother.  I had love for my mother.  After being weaponized so many times our love for each other had become a THING to give and to take, not a verb to feel and to know and to understand.

So constant was our fighting, it became part of my identity.  I’m Kristen.  I fight a lot with my mom.  We had unfinished business.  We needed to have a few more conversations.  How could she be gone before we had our resolution and fixed everything?   It’s not fair.  This was new and uncharted territory.  No rules, only a million ways I could do something wrong and just make her loss that much worse on myself.  how could we be done, so quickly?

How do you mourn a parent when your relationship had become so broken?  I thought I’d have more time to fix it.  I wasn’t ready for this yet.

I had a few friends confide in me that they had difficult relationships with their parents, and that though I kept telling everyone to “Call your mother!” how do you reach out when things are difficult.  I think you have to try.  Just try.  Just say, “things suck, and I wish they didn’t.”  I think it might open things up.  I also know that if my mother were still alive, that statement would make me roll my eyes.

The answer to, “I just want to have a great relationship with my mother/father/etc!” is sometimes, “but I don’t,” and then you have to let yourself stop fighting.

While my mother and I didn’t go to dinner or shop together or call each other every night, I’m so very proud of my mother.  She was a rock star, professionally, successful through her own hard work and whip smart.

I’m surprised I find myself craving her lectures.  I know what she’d say.  I feel like she’s become the voice in my head, and I do feel like I listen a little more than I ever have before.  It’s a whole new world, one that is a little less familiar and safe when you lose a parent.

I was angry when I lost my mother.  Not angry at anyone in particular, just angry.  It took me a long time to think about all the good things that we did together.  Somehow, in all that anger even while Mom was alive, I’d forgotten about all of it.  Hundreds of small acts of contrition cant erase how much I regret that now.  If you have a parent you are having issues with my advice is this:  let it go.  What are you going to win?  Your arguments, even if they were valid, can be null, if you just let them go.  Its really hard to do, but not doing it will consume you.

Its my tricky love.  I didn’t know how to mourn her for the longest time, after awhile the answer finds you, you have no choice.  I focus on the love that I knew was there, but didn’t always feel.  The answer is to focus on the respect that was always there and still is.  Its there.

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Oh look! Another mommy blog! And other things that cause eye rolls.

I am over mommy blogs.

Most of them are terrible.  Over the top saccharine, self important, every single post about how they just can’t spend enough time with their children, every thing a celebration:

 “Today Asscher/Hutchison/Stonebrook/Kensington threw a rock at my head.  Little scamp.  His experiments with propulsion fill me with a sense of pride.  One day, I will support whatever choice he makes, but I am overcome with knowing that he will go into physics and contribute to society.  Until then, I can only love him, and support him, as his mother.”

-or-

I love it when Esme/Blakesley/Isabellison works on her art.  Her great passion makes it impossible for her to contain her expression to paper.  She spreads her joy through the house, on the walls, on the furniture, her spirit is so strong and her creativity reminds me of me, as a child.  I hope she never changes.”

Okay these mommy blogs are really fun to make fun of.  Email exchange between my friend and I:

From: Friend, Anon
Sent: Thursday, July 31, 2014 3:07 PM
To: Getanother, Cat
Subject: Stupid Mommy Blog Post

 

One of her first blog posts was so badly written that I was rolling my eyes so hard that they almost fell out of my head.  It was like “I hold my baby close to my chest in the darkness and rock this to sleep.  THIS.  This is why I became a mother.”  Whaaatttttt the hell.

 

From: Getanother, Cat  
Sent: Thursday, July 31, 2014 3:09 PM
To: Friend, Anon
Subject: RE: reading

 

My version of that mommy blog post is:  I hold my whiskey bottle close to my chest in the darkness, and then take a huge ass swig.  This.  This is how I make it through life.

 

 

I cannot be the only one rolling my eyes.  Seriously.  I think being a mom is really hard, and I’m not a mom, but I once babysat my friends baby, and here is what happened:  I showered, did my hair, applied make up, and I went to the house.  The baby was sleeping when I arrived.

After an hour and a half, the baby woke up and I gave him a bottle.  So now, at the 2 hr mark, I look in the mirror, and for absolutely no reason, I’m completely disheveled and look like I havent showered in weeks. Why is there even time to blog?  Watching a baby is really hard!

I feel like if I had a baby, I would love the child, but I just wouldn’t be that in to the baby.  Or its artistic spirit and experimentation with propulsion.

Its all lies.  Why not write about what its really like.  Just from babysitting, I know I could relate to posts like:  “Holy crap, I let the baby nap at 5pm and now he shall not sleep for a decade!”  or “That sinking feeling when you are all ‘oh look, an ombre yellow onesie that’s so cute! and then you remember you dressed the baby that morning, and that it is in fact NOT an ombre yellow onesie,” or “I really thought 3 different pairs of pants would be enough, but then I had to spend $35 at the Galleria after he blew the 3rd pair out, and while I was paying the baby got away from me and ran out of the store.”  That’s real.

And why do all the mommy blog emotional moments come, “In the darkness of the nursery.”  I’m over it.  Oh, that, and all the super flattering selfies these mommy blogs feature, so we can see how tired the mom is.  We are all tired.  We all know you took at least 30 other pictures before you got that nice one.  Be real.

I just feel like its all crap.  Its not real life.  You want your blog post to go viral and then somehow you are the next Pioneer Woman.  I’m guilty of that a little bit too.  Although, I really do cook as much as I post.

Since I’ve just stated that my blog is about real life, brace yourselves for posts about cats, vodka, beer, under wire bras, and my life long struggle with pantyhose.

 

 

Roasted Pepper Fajitas – damn it feels good to be vegan (once a week)

For some reason, I am finding it more and more difficult to ignore where the meat, chicken, and fish I love so much come from. I dont know what started it, perhaps it was that facebook algorithm that kept showing me sad pictures and stories about animals, or maybe it was my own compassion, but over the next 6 months I am going to be phasing animals out of my diet.

I’m going “Flexitarian.” This means I’ll be an ovo/lacto vegetarian, occasionally I might have to cave and have some sushi, and I’ll try to be vegan when possible. I really dont think I could ever commit to veganism, but then on the other hand I do see how veganism is the logical next step after you are a vegetarian for awhile.

The animals (and dont get me started on the environment) aside, I’m enduring some pretty awful thryoid and metabolic issues right now. Some kind of change has to be made. I’m active, and I dont even really eat that much. I am clearly doing SOMETHING wrong, and as I’ve never really seen a fat vegetarian, I’m going to try it out.

Save the animals, and also, I want a better ass. It’s a noble pursuit.

The problem with going vegetarian is that I dont really know how to do it. I was a vegetarian all through college, but back then I ate at the IUP cafeteria which had vegetarian options. I get veggie cook books, but I don’t have xanthum gum or quinoa regularly stocked in the pantry (yet). This is where my Hello Fresh box subscription has become very useful. I’ve been getting the vegetarian box to #1 learn some vegetarian recipes and #2 avoid having to go to the grocery store.

So last night, I made the Roasted Pepper fajitas recipe, and I just dont understand how so few simple ingredients can taste so outrageously good! Here’s the recipe. I made it vegan. I get Tofutti Sour Cream at the regular Giant Eagle, its not even a Market Distict, and it tastes better than regular sour cream.

Here’s the recipe. You need:

1 Red bell pepper
1 Yellow Bell Pepper
1 Red Onion
1 Lime
2t Cumin
1t chili powder, if you like a little heat
1 handful of cilantro (unless you hate it, then skip it)
1 can of pinto beans. (I had 1/2 a can of black beans to use, so I did 1/2 can pinto, 1/2 black beans. Would be good w kidney beans too)
4 oz vegan (or regular) sour cream. I like tofutti
4 tortilla shells
Some olive oil
salt & pepper
Splash of water

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First steps:
Preheat oven to 400
Coarsely slice the red and yellow pepper
Finely dice up the red onion
Take the leaves off the cilantro but keep the stems (seperate from the leaves)
Coarse chop the cilantro leaves and stems
Rinse & drain the beans
Zest the lime into a bowl. If you dont have a zester, do what I do, and use a grater

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Cooking:
Line a baking sheet with foil
Spray the foil with cooking spray
Toss the red and yellow peppers with 1t olive oil, salt & pepper, just to coat
Arrange the peppers on the cooking sheet, and roast at 400 degrees until the edges are browned and the peppers are soft (20 min)

While the peppers roast…

Warm 1t of olive oil in a pan
Add in the onions, and let them cook for 5 min then…
Add in the beans, cilantro stems, cumin, 1/8 cup of water, chili powder, and salt & pepper
Stir to mix everything, then cover the pan and let it cook for 15 min, stirring occasionally. Sometimes my beans start to dry out, other times they don’t. You can add a few teaspoons of additional water if you notice your beans are drying out.

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While the stuff in the pan is cooking…

Add 4oz of sour cream to the bowl with the lime zest, and then add 1/2 a teaspoon of lime juice. Add salt and pepper to taste. It will taste GOOD.

Toss the tortillas in the microwave w a damp paper towel for about 30 sec.

now here is my favorite part:

When the stuff in the pan is done, MASH THE BEANS WITH A FORK
you’re making refried beans
for some reason I find this very therapeutic

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READY TO EAT:

Spread the refried beans on the tortilla shell
Layer the roasted peppers on top of the beans
Add a dollop (or a huge glob, as I did) of the sour cream
Add in cilantro
Fold tortilla
EAT

Best served w a side of beer.

You *can* add cheese to this, but bc of the sour cream you wont miss it, and why not try being vegan for a day. Or at least just one meal.