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Posts tagged ‘Food’

My Afternoon Snack

Last year, when I was a broke philanthropist instead of a broke waitress, I spent a year leading youth on volunteer projects for various nonprofits. This was an absolute blast. My job was basically to be cheerful, make sure the work got done, and that no one was bleeding. Or to administer proper care when someone did bleed. The previous leaders said they never had to break out the first aid kid. Me? Almost all of my summer projects involved a boy who said he was a Parkour champion in Australia. It was only halfway through the summer when I could predict he was about to do something and successfully stop it. I wasn’t there he dived into a creek and broke his arm but I was around when he did somehow cut his foot open in a kiddie wadding pool.

This kid does not matter to my story but he was at the volunteer project I’m about to talk about, and I will probably be telling stories about him until I die. I mean not everyone is an Olympic swimmer who owns several snow leopards, is related to all my favorite actors, and won a donut eating contest at the Irish Festival the same night I was there, even though I didn’t see the contest, but everyone knows that the Irish are synonymous with donuts.

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It was the volunteer project I drew the short straw on. I was at an animal shelter with a majority of youth who were 11, and two teenagers that acted like they were. Our main duties were separating newspaper pages into two columns, removing staples from said pages, and stuffing envelopes. This is not a normal project, but we make an exception for this agency because the kids get to play with cats for thirty minutes at the end and operate a big shredder. The shredder is for the papers, not the cats. Secretly, I still thought the perks weren’t enough to make the project interesting, and the kids not secretly and very loudly agreed with this.

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It was right after lunch and playing games when we were on the second half of sorting papers. This was the period when cat time was so close but still not upon us, and they were still silly from their break and dreading more newspaper work. At junctures like these the job of the team leader is annoy kids to death with peppiness, conversations, and riddles while they complete their mind numbing tasks. I was surprised how much kids love riddles, and how bad they were at them, but they weren’t having my distractions that day.

We worked in a cramped office with four other people and the kids were trying to find anything more interesting than newspaper pages to occupy their time. One child’s eyes lit up, or at least lost their glassy, bored look, when he spotted a box of desserts on the table. He asked our volunteer coordinator for one of the cookies he discovered. We were at an animal shelter, the cookies were little grainy yellow circles, and the box they were in had bones drawn on it. She offered him one and when all the other kids started shouting “eww!” he cottoned onto what they were. The volunteer coordinator snacked on one and asked if anyone else wanted one. The kids thought this was the grossest thing they’d ever heard. I know because they said so loudly and a lot for a very long time.

The treats came from a special dog bakery, a really cute store that my poor dogs will never experience because holy crap it is expensive, called Three Dog Bakery. I have no idea if they are national or not. Many of treats are made with ingredients that humans normally eat. The only difference is that the flavoring is not what we’re used to because the dogs don’t need it. So she explained that while they will taste different, it was just like eating any other cookie but the sugar and a few other ingredients were missing.

 

The kids still thought this was the grossest thing they ever heard. The dog treats were perfectly edible for humans, one kid originally wanted one, but no one would touch them even though they were all offered. Having them labeled as a dog treat was too repellant, and they could not wrap their mind around the fact that humans were welcome to eat them. They were “dog treats” and they couldn’t see them as anything else, even the kids that were curious weren’t going to admit that to the others and be labeled a dog biscuit eater for the rest of the summer.

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When she turned and asked if I wanted one, I immediately nodded and popped one into my mouth. If it is a cookie and I am allowed to eat it, then I will eat it. I don’t even understand how there is another option. They were gross though. I need sugar. All the kids stared slack jawed at me and waited for me to sprout a tail and start barking or something. For the record, the weirdest thing anyone ate that summer was a live roly poly.

I suppose my point is that, when I walked into my aunts living room today eating a cookie shaped like a sheep, I was not all that horrified when I was informed that it was a dog treat. When I bit into it, it was kind of dense. However, it was also adorable and it had frosting and what looked like coconut shavings. I was told to help myself to anything in the fridge. It was in the fridge.

I did end up giving most of it to my dog. I chipped my tooth a month ago (and massively freaked out over it) so once I learned it wasn’t just a hard cookie and was meant for dog teeth, I shared. I did scrape most of the frosting off it though. He wouldn’t have appreciated it and I definitely did.

I tried to explain my summer story to my family, and that humans could eat these treats, but it was very hard to hear me over the laughter. See, that’s a true family. They got over being grossed out extremely quickly so they could get to the mocking. My mom started barking at me. My eighty two year old aunt joined in. My mom asked “How could you do that… No Nicole, how could e-w-e do that?” I wondered why they were keeping dog cookies in the fridge. My mom retorted with, “You weren’t even drunk!” They. Could. Not. Stop. Laughing. Even when my mother would say something incomprehensible, she would just recover with, “well at least I’m not a dog biscuit eater”. They kept saying woof woof. I turned to my mom and said we should probably leave and pretended to get up.  My mom shook her head. I sighed and relaxed back into the couch. “Good girl”, she said.

A Good Hair Day

I didn’t brush my hair today. My perfectly logical explanation is that I couldn’t find a brush. Because I am the kind of person that frequently misplaces their hairbrush, which doesn’t even seem like it should be possible, but I always take mine in the car or in my purse. Our house is sparse and uncluttered because of the showings and I still managed to lose it. Though considering how good my hair looks today it might have to stay gone. This is the second day my brush has been missing and I swear my hair looked great both days. And that’s probably only 20% or 30% wishful thinking. I only did the fingers through the hair quick comb and yet it seems to be much less frizzy and unkempt than usual.

In addition to the hair, I feel like I’ve had a pretty good day. I was productive and I had a free meal at Subway with my mom. My veggie sandwich happened to be on the low fat list of subs (I’m ignoring the amount of cheese and mayo I added), I’ve been able to get some writing done, I worked out, and I studied Spanish for a little while. The only thing I can hope for is that this continues until tomorrow. It seems like every good day I have is followed by a day that I wear sweatpants and don’t leave the couch.

I suppose all of this is my way of saying I am glad to have some Mary Oliver in my life.

Reckless Poem- Mary Oliver

Today again I am hardly myself.
It happens over and over.
It is heaven-sent.

It flows through me
like the blue wave.
Green leaves – you may believe this or not –
have once or twice
emerged from the tips of my fingers

somewhere
deep in the woods,
in the reckless seizure of spring.

Though, of course, I also know that other song,
the sweet passion of one-ness.

Just yesterday I watched an ant crossing a path, through the
tumbled pine needles she toiled.
And I thought: she will never live another life but this one.
And I thought: if she lives her life with all her strength
is she not wonderful and wise?
And I continued this up the miraculous pyramid of everything
until I came to myself.

And still, even in these northern woods, on these hills of sand,
I have flown from the other window of myself
to become white heron, blue whale,
red fox, hedgehog.
Oh, sometimes already my body has felt like the body of a flower!
Sometimes already my heart is a red parrot, perched
among strange, dark trees, flapping and screaming.

Artist

When I was around five we moved into a little circle drive. I know we lived in the same area but I barely remember our house before this one. I remember being friends with the girl who lived behind us, but I can’t remember any of our other neighbors. Our cul-de-sac has about 12 houses in it, I could count the actual number but it is dark outside and I am lazy. Ours was the third house to be built so we’ve seen almost everyone move in. This way it was easier to get to know our small circle of neighbors. Most of the neighbors had children that I grew up with, but many of them moved once their children grew. Now, I only know the neighbors that have been around as long as we have. I don’t see the neighborhood as much as I used to when I was running around outside. I wave whenever a car passes me but I never know if I’m waving to a neighbor or someone who’s just using our circle drive to turn around in.

My favorite neighbor is one I never speak to. He actually lives in the duplexes across the street from us. We’ve known him for a few years but I can’t remember how it started. He’s an elderly African American gentleman who sits on a bench outside his house when the weather is nice. We live off a busy street and as far as I can tell he just sits there enjoying the weather, observing the traffic, and talking to joggers who pass by. One day we started waving to him. I think my mom started it while I was in the car and then I waved to him too. I’ve barely spoken to him since I saw him across the street but I always enjoy seeing him outside. We know his name is Artist, he has a big family, a nice wife, and various health problems. He can’t putter around in his yard as much as he used to but he still likes to sit outside when he can. Today was the first day I saw him outside this Spring and I hope to see him more.

My mom and I tried to restart our habit of drinking margaritas outside at Chipotle when the weather is nice but due to a “city ordinance” we can longer drink on patio. It’s shocking but in this battle of the outdoors vs. tequila, I think sitting outside is going to win. What are you doing now that Spring is here?

 

A cul-de-sac sign in Dublin, Ireland.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cooking Again

When I first became a vegetarian, I received a vegan cookbook to use. I was determined to make every recipe and start cooking more. I think I made about three things. And I added cheese to every recipe, but otherwise I tried to stick to the instructions.

This was a challenge anyway because I am not a good cook. The first problem I encountered was the book. It was nice. And by that I mean it was fancy and expensive. I needed sea salt, fresh herbs like basil and thyme, vegan butter, and okay maybe I substituted a lot more than cheese. I used whatever I could find in the house and I thought it would be alright when I was making wraps once. I made the wrap by scratch and I used regular salt instead of sea salt. In the exact same measurement. It was so salty I couldn’t even pretend to enjoy it for more than too bites. I think it was a little chewy too because it took my dog a whole minute to eat it. He sat there determinedly chomping on the wrap but it didn’t look like he particularly enjoyed it either.

Now, I’m cooking again. This time I started easy.

Pre-bought dough and cut up fake hot dogs

Finished!

I don’t always use meat substitutes but these fake pigs in a blanket were pretty good. My mom was grossed out by the idea of fake hot dogs but even she had more than one. The dog didn’t get anything this time though.

 

Are you a good cook? What is your best dish?

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