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Apparently, planning and executing an extravagant dinner party does not mean you get to SKIP making dinners for your family the rest of the week. Shock!

We are having a lot of vegetables this week:

Notes: This is just lettuce with avocado, bell peppers, and corn. I will put black beans on mine for protein and my husband will do chicken “marinated” in taco seasoning.

 

What’s on your menu plan for the week?

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This Saturday is The Dinner Party. I am sure as hell not planning much of a regular menu when I am so pre-occupied with Not Losing It. I am making things as easy on myself as possible, Internet.

So here’s my meager menu:

Dinners for the Week of April 16-21:

  • Today: Mulligatawny Soup
  • Wednesday: Tacos
  • Thursday: Crockpot BBQ Pork with Baked Potato
  • Friday: Out
  • Saturday: DINNER PARTY
  • Sunday: Crap, it’s Easter do I have to do something special? Maybe beef tenderloin.

 

I know YOU aren’t fretting about my dinner party, Internet. What’s on your menu this week?

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Welcome back from spring break! It is now time to meal plan, once again! Fortunately, the time away has (temporarily, I’m sure) reinvigorated me!

Here are some recipes I am actually looking forward to making this week:

Dinners for the Week of April 2 – April 8:

Notes: I will be adding bell peppers to this recipe for veggie appeal. Maybe chickpeas.

Follow up: This was decent. It tasted nothing at all like the kind of butter chicken you get an Indian restaurant, let’s be clear on that. But it was pretty good. And it was pretty easy. I did end up adding bell peppers and chickpeas, which were a good complement to the sauce.

Follow up: This salad is THE BOMB. The dressing is delicious and the pickled onions are SO GOOD. I never knew arugula could be so yummy!

Follow up: This batch of fire fry turned out to be WAY over-seasoned, when I was pretty sure that I had fixed my over-seasoning issues. (What I do is use an entire large container of yogurt, then increase the spices/herbs to 1 tablespoon where the recipe calls for 1 teaspoon.) My husband and I determined that it is the YOGURT that may be at fault. I use the cheapest, lowest-calorie fat-free plain yogurt I can find, which is Dannon. Next time, I am going to get a Greek yogurt instead and see if that helps. (I know that using a full-fat yogurt helps, because I did that accidentally recently and it was DELISH, but I am not really into using full-fat yogurt every time we eat this.)

Notes: Probably doing the yum yum sauce with the tuna is overkill, since it will be marinated already… but I have been wanting to do the sauce for a while, and this seems like a good fit.

Follow up: The yum-yum sauce was good, and I didn’t feel like it was overkill exactly. The marinade for the tuna was pretty mild. My bigger problem was overcooking the tuna. It is NOT EASY to get tuna to that perfect cooked-on-the-outside, -pink-on-the-inside level. Maybe next time I will use a different type of fish.

Follow up: This was very delicious.

  • Out

In addition to buying the ingredients for the above, I will be buying food to replace some of the items that were lost to our extended power outage. It wasn’t as bad as it could have been – it only affected one outlet, which had to be reset when we got home. The outlet happened to be the same one that powers both our wireless internet and our downstairs fridge. The wifi is now rebooted, and now communicating with our security system so our security company can stop calling us (they are on top of things, at least), and the fridge is up and running again. But everything in it was room temperature by the time we came home, so everything perishable had to be thrown out. The saddest things to toss were a) two miniature cakes I made with leftover cake batter from Carla’s last birthday; although my experience with eating the top of my wedding cake after a long stint in the freezer should have been enough to deter me from keeping them quite so long; b) a brand-new box of chicken dinosaurs, which have been Carla’s Entrée of Choice lately; and c) three packages of pork chops I got on sale. UGH. Oh, and a three-pack of butter from Costco. I held onto that a little longer than the rest of the stuff. BUTTER.

Oh well. Aside from the regrettable tossing of what was once perfectly good food, I am also kicking myself for not leaving the freezer unplugged long enough to clean it. Some ancient boxes of popsicles leaked and there are now greenish icebergs in the back of my freezer. Ew.

 

What are you having for dinner this week?

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Well, it is FRIDAY. Spring break looms! I am looking forward to READING. Here’s some randomosity for you.

We replaced our water heater. Our old one was small-ish – you couldn’t have two people take back-to-back showers and expect for the second person to have hot water – and in the past couple of months, it had begun knocking every time you even washed a spoon. The water heater’s death knell, if you will. It was nearly 10 years old anyway, and supposedly water heaters only last 7 to 10 years. So it was an anticipated replacement, and we were glad to upgrade to a larger tank and happy to end our game of Will It Leak chicken. Our plumbing company is excellent, and I have never had a bad experience. But when the plumber wheeled the new tank in, he pointed out that it had a dent in it. “Ding,” he called it, which seems so flimsy and insignificant a thing. But to me, it looked like a DENT.

Water tank 1

Ding or dent?

He assured me that it was cosmetic only and reminded me that their warranty covers parts and labor should it turn out to be NON cosmetic, which is less reassuring a comment than perhaps he thought it might be. And he would chop a few hundred bucks off the cost, he said. He would be happy to swap it out for a new one, he said, but there was no guarantee the next one would be ding free; these things get bumped and banged around on trucks and he sees dings ALL the time! Some even worse than ours! And he wouldn’t be able to tell if the new one had a ding in it until he took it out of the box. Plus, he didn’t have another one on his truck, so he’d have to leave and go back to the shop. But it was really up to me. Then he looked at me expectantly. I said, okay, go ahead and install it. But inside, I was yelling, no! Don’t give me a dented water heater!

Listen. When I buy a thing, I want it to be Pristine. Maybe a scratch in a refrigerator door or a ding dent in a water heater has no impact on the functioning of said appliance. I don’t care. Part of the reason for getting a new thing is that it is new. No one has put their grubby ketchup-covered hands all over it or rammed it with a broom handle or knocked a ladder into it. My oven has a permanent stain around one of the burners and some scratches from being careless when removing the cast iron grates when cleaning it. The door handle of my freezer is kind of wobbly because the shortest member of our family insists on leaning on it despite repeated requests to the contrary. Our kitchen table is stippled with the wounds of a fork being jabbed into it repeatedly, not to mention some ballpoint pen marks that refuse any attempt to remove them. These things happen. Normal wear and tear. But when a thing is NEW, part of the fun – nay, part of the very thing I am PAYING FOR – is the fresh, clean, lack of marks-and-scrapes-and-dingsdents.

When we got our dining room table and chairs and our barstools from Crate & Barrel many years ago, ALL of them had issues. A couple of the barstools were wobbly – which the delivery person tried to blame on my uneven floors (which are not uneven, thank you) and some of the very expensive, all-wood dining chairs had scratches in them. I made the person take them back and get us new ones. (I think it took more than one re-delivery to get non-scratched dining chairs, OMG.)

I always worry that I am being overly picky. The people who are trying to get you to accept the scratched/dingeddented items certainly make it out like I am being wholly unreasonable – it’s just a little scratch! You can still sit perfectly well in a chair with a deep vertical gouge in one of the legs! And maybe I am being unreasonable, I don’t know.

Whatever. The dinged dented water heater leaked so the plumber had to get a new one anyway.

Water tank 2

El Dento before it was hooked up and began to leak and was then summarily removed.

I have a Shrimp PSA for you, Internet.You may be aware that shrimp have a “vein” on their backs, yes? And that you should remove it before eating? (It’s not a vein; it’s the shrimp’s digestive tract or something equally gross.) Well, when I buy shrimp, I try to get it shelled and de-veined so I don’t have to deal with disemboweling the things before I cook them. (Or deal with looking at their creepy bug eyes and legs and exoskeleton.) (Why do I eat these things?) Well, the other day, I was prepping the shrimp for the shrimp scampi meal I love to eat, and I noticed that there was a long, dark stripe on the underside of the shrimp. Maybe the de-veiner missed one, I thought. No, ALL of the shrimp had it. I painstakingly removed one gruesome string after another. Ew. I looked at the bag the shrimp come in. It said clearly that they are DE-VEINED. Well! I was going to for sure call the company and complain.

Turns out that shrimp (I learned after Googling, fortunately not after yelling at some poor shrimp customer service rep) have TWO “veins.” One is the digestive tract and the other is the circulatory system. A de-veined shrimp has been relieved of the former; the latter remains. Apparently you can eat the circulatory stuff just fine. But… EW.

So now I am weighing my preference for shrimp over chicken against my preference for not removing a creature’s circulatory system. I really don’t like being reminded AT ALL that the shrimp I am about to devour was once a living creature. It’s bad enough that I have to remove their tails; I do not want to do anything else. But now YOU can make the decision BEFORE shelling out $20 for a bag of veiny shrimp.

Do you think other omnivores and carnivores feel this sort of squeamishness about their prey? I mean, not cats. Cats are sadists (and I say that with love, because cats are my all-time favorite animal). What other explanation is there for a) toying with a mouse until it is nearly dead with fear and b) leaving the bones and fur of one’s meal on the threshold between one’s human’s bedroom and the hall in the spot most ideal for being stepped on by said human and c) gleefully presenting one’s human with the innards of a mouse as a gift?

Do you think bears are happiest when they are eating berries, and, although they recognize that creatures are probably higher-yield in terms of nutrition, get all yicked out when they have to catch a writhing salmon in their bare teeth? Do you think owls squeeze their eyes shut as they swoop down to grab a mouse for dinner and say, “Eeeesh, I really wish this thing didn’t have whiskers”? Do you think lions are all, “If only my zebra came de-hooved!”? I, for one, want my meat to be as far removed from Living Thing as it possibly can be. Ground beef does a great job at looking Not Alive. Same with a fillet of, say, tilapia. Anything with bones gets a little too close for comfort. Down this road vegetarianism lies, I know, but I really am not capable of giving up tacos.

I have a new favorite kitchen gadget! My husband got me this amazing can strainer, which I LOVE. I make lots of things with canned black beans and chickpeas and kidney beans, and it is such a pain to get out a big unwieldy strainer to strain and rinse one or even two cans of beans. The strainers take up so much room in the dishwasher, and their handles get in the way of other dishes and it’s just so annoying. And then I have to do the weird dance of rushing the rinsed beans over to the pot on the stove, dripping water all over the counter and the floor. So when I received this can strainer as a birthday gift a few weeks ago, I was DELIGHTED. And it works very well! It’s small, so I can just put it on the top rack of the dishwasher, and it takes up very little room. My only complaint – and it’s really more of an observation – is that it seems to take longer to rinse the beans than it does with the strainer; they are more crammed together in the smaller confines of the can than in the roomier strainer. But otherwise, it’s wonderful. Plus, it’s cheap: the one I have is selling on Amazon for under $4. Or there is a stainless steel option that’s under $8.

Can strainer

Photo from amazon.com

There is a particular kind of lentil soup I am obsessed with. It comes from my local Lebanese restaurant, and it’s light and lemony and soooooo good. It is also $5 a bowl, which is reasonable as a treat but not on a day-to-day basis. So I have tried to make it at home and continue to fail.

This recipe is quite good – Lemony Lentil Soup from Gimme Some Oven – but the restaurant version doesn’t have any carrots in it. So, seeing as I really detest cooked carrots anyway, this is not going to cut it as a substitute.  This Middle Eastern Lentil Soup from BBCGoodFood is closer, and I really like the bright note that the turmeric adds, but it’s still not right. There is definitely no turmeric in the restaurant soup. Cumin, maybe… but even that I’m not sure of.  I don’t know what else to try, to get it closer to the restaurant soup. Any ideas? Based off of… nothing, since you aren’t eating the same soup I am? Still – I am hoping you will know exactly which spice will make it taste right. And I am willing to experiment. Lentil soup is GOOD.

Lentil Soup

My attempt to make the Middle Eastern Lentil Soup with a few add-ons. Good but not right. Also, the restaurant tops its soup with crunchy little pita wontons. And that makes ALL the difference. So yummy! But I could not get my hands on any pita wontons the day I made this soup.

Well, that’s all the randomosity I have for you today, Internet! What’s going on in your neck of the woods?

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I am not even going to preamble, today, Internet. Here are some meals I scraped together. But I refuse to enjoy ANY PART of the dinner process this week. I REFUSE.

Dinners for the Week of March 19 – March 26

 

Then, next week, we are going on Spring Break which is good because it means I don’t have to plan any meals… but bad because it means that I have to live with someone else making meals for me, which is stressful in its own way. I know. I am impossible.

What’s on your menu this week, Internet?

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I have some bones to pick with blog commenting lately.

First of all, I think that it has become VERY HARD to comment on blogs. I am not talking about the difficulty of painstakingly typing out a comment on one’s phone, using clumsy fingers that constantly choose X instead of C. Nor am I talking about the attention difficulty, wherein you read a post on your phone and mean to leave a comment, but then your attention is diverted elsewhere by a stray child or a Luke Perry retrospective and you forget about the blog and then days pass and then you feel ridiculous joining a conversation that has long since left you behind.

Instead, I am talking about how blogs themselves seem to care Not One Whit about whether you can leave a comment or not.

BLOGS, not bloggers. The bloggers, I am sure, or perhaps I am projecting too much of my own neediness onto others, are wondering what is the POINT of putting their carefully crafted thoughts out into the universe when no one seems to read or care? The bloggers, as far as I can tell, are blameless.

It’s the BLOGS.

Let’s begin with a caveat: I acknowledge that it’s (highly) possible NO ONE wants my long-winded and overly frenetic comments on their blog. (Have you ever read an old comment you left on someone’s blog and wanted to melt into the floor with embarrassment? No. That’s because YOU are an excellent commenter. Me, not so much.) I also acknowledge that people may not even want or need comments on their blogs. The act of writing is probably MORE THAN ENOUGH for many people. And yet in the cases I will describe below, the blog comments are turned ON. Therefore I am going to assume that these bloggers want comments. Or at least are open to receiving them.

The first thing I have noticed is that CAPTCHAs have become increasingly difficult. It made me really frustrated, at first. But then I read this great article at The Verge about why they are so hard to complete these days. (TL;DR: Computers are getting too good at completing them, so they need to be increasingly difficult for human users to solve in order to thwart the machines.) That helped me feel less growly toward the CAPTCHAs, sure, but still, it’s a labor of love, nowadays, to leave a comment on a blog. Because first you have to type up your inane thoughtful response. And then you have to input your name and email address and URL. And THEN you have to solve a series of object identification questions that require superhuman vision and discernment. “Choose all images of a bicycle.” “Choose all boxes that have a traffic light.” Or, my least favorite, “Choose all images of a storefront.” (What counts as a storefront, pray tell? Does it just mean “any building with an awning”? I never get that one right. Good luck, machines.) And sometimes, even if you get it all right, you have to do ANOTHER test, just to be really, doubly, extra sure you’re human.

CAPTCHA

Does the POLE count as part of the traffic light? Or are we supposed to click on only the lights themselves? These are some of the highly important questions I find myself asking.

Fine. I get that this is just a necessary evil in today’s fruitless exercise in delaying the Machines Will Take Over Eventually No Matter What reality.

But that’s not the only issue I’m having.

Even WORSE, some blogs just… eat my comments. I will type out a comment, fill in the Name/URL fields, and hit “done” or “reply,” and the blog seems to react to that in some way, reloading or redirecting me back to the top of the post — but doing SOMETHING that indicates I have input a command and the blog has received a command. But then my comment never shows up. No “comment is awaiting moderation,” just nothing. The blog has straight-out rejected my words. There is a blogger I have been reading FOREVER whose blog does this, and it makes me so mad. She writes interesting, thought-provoking things! I want to respond! Sometimes I have questions! Her blog does not care.

So far, most of my issues are with blogspot blogs. But wordpress is not immune, oh no! I struggle with a particularly mysterious issue with wordpress blogs, where it asks me to sign in to wordpress… but even when I do, nothing happens. It just tells me, in a very condescending way I might add, that I am being asked to log in because I am NOT logged in. Even when I AM logged in. I can log in fifty times and the site never recognizes that I am, in fact, LOGGED IN. And eventually I give up and my comment never posts.

CAPTCHA 2

I AM logged in. I PROMISE.

SIGH.

I don’t want this to become a General Wistful Moan about blog commenting being so different from the halcyon days of yore. No. “Blogging” is a different thing than it was back then, but people DO comment, and I am fine with the way it is. But I do get really frustrated — for myself, as a Person Who Likes to Comment, and for bloggers who (I am projecting again) want to build an online community or desire feedback or simply hope that their writing is making an impact.  It’s hard enough, as a blogger, to compete with Twitter and Instagram and readers’ limited attention spans. These completely unnecessary barriers to commenting are not helping. And I feel so impotent to do anything about it besides whine on my blog!

Anyway, I hope you know that if you ever want to comment here, and you CAN’T, you can always email me at lifeofadoctorswife [at] gmail and I will gladly respond.

In the meantime, I guess I should figure out a way to befriend our computer overlords. Maybe THEY can fix these problems.

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It is heartening – well, maybe not heartening so much as making me feel like I’m not the only one who finds meal planning to be excruciating lately – to read that other bloggers are having the same Meal Planning Dread that I am. The ENDLESSNESS of it all is really getting to me right now. Even throwing up my hands and saying, “let’s get take out!” more often than usual is having less of a bolstering effect than it should; because I am well aware that this is just one meal I don’t have to plan/make and tomorrow there will be another one, waiting for me, and then a limitless parade of meals after that until the sweet release of death.

At this point, even the idea of slotting in a bunch of Meals I Love isn’t helping. And when not even spaghetti with meat sauce can cure a problem, you know it’s serious.

Anyway, here are some joyless options for the coming week.

Dinners for the Week of March 13-March 19, 2019

Note: Yes, I am aware this recipe is for chicken. Yes, I am using pork chops instead. Yes, I am still avoiding chicken. Yes, my husband recently said in a cheery voice normally reserved for our five-year-old, “I think it’s time you started eating chicken again!” Yes, I treated him to a little lecture about not policing other people’s food preferences. No, I’m not sure what I’ll end up doing with the quinoa; maybe I’ll mix the veggies into it. Although plain, unembellished quinoa seems like a fitting metaphor for how I’m feeling about meal planning lately.

Note: Not one thing about this meal is remotely exciting. I mean, it tastes good. And it’s really easy. But I am Not Feeling It In The Least.

Note: This is good, but not a meal really designed for calorie counters, just FYI. I plugged it into MyFitnessPal and — even HALVING the recipe — it comes out to something like 700 calories a serving. That’s using light, unsweetened coconut milk! And not including the avocado! Why must so many delicious — and arguably HEALTHY — foods be so antithetical to weight loss? WHY? Ahem. I am making it anyway. In the past, I have recommended to myself to cut the fish sauce in half for the marinade and only use 1/3 of the suggested amount for the dressing. But that’s because I don’t like fish sauce and even being in the same city block as an open bottle of fish sauce is enough to make my nose wrinkle.

Note: I make a double serving of this, and round it out with TONS of veggies. Bell peppers, broccoli, onions, zucchini — the ratio of veg-to-meat is at least 4-to-1.

Note: This is, as per the “firecracker” designation, spicy. So any accompaniments must be nice and bland, to offset all the spice.

  • Taco Pizza

Note: I spread a lightly-baked pizza crust with refried beans, then top with taco meat and cheese, then bake until the cheese is melty. Then I top with onions, lettuce, and tons of hot sauce; my husband adds tomatoes and sour cream to his half, and omits the onions.

  • Out

 

What are you eating lately, Internet?

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