Archive for June, 2013


DOMA Decision

equalityI mean this with the most amount of respect possible for those of you who disagree with the supreme court’s ruling today….

Just because it is not what you choose to do, doesn’t make it wrong.

Just because it is not what your god wants, doesn’t make it law.

Just because it is the way it has always been, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t change.

Go love someone!

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whole porkThis is not up for discussion. Pork tenderloin is one of the best dinners in the world and if you disagree with me you’re wrong. We have already established that we are all busy and, yet, concerned about the health of our families. Let me break this thing down for ya…

1. It is HEALTHY! This is one of the leanest cuts of pork out there. If you are concerned about the (very) little fat that is on the tenderloin trim it off. If you grill it, the little bit of fat drips off anyway. (Don’t buy the crappy pre-seasoned varities. They suck and are less healthy than the all natural kind.)

2. It is CHEAP! Depending on where you shop and where you live, it is pretty well priced. I try to wait for it to go on sale and buy multiples. Last week I got it from Peapod and paid $3.99/lb.

3. It is EASY! Either sear it in the pan and finish in the oven or pop it on the grill. Even the ‘fattys’ only take 30 min. total. Throw a real quick dry rub on and you’re done. The ones I made tonight I rubbed with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, red pepper flakes, and brown sugar. Don’t worry about exact measurements. Eye ball it and be done. (If you need further directions let me know, I don’t mind)

cut pork

4. It is DELISH! I love this dinner. In fact, it is one of the only ones where I have to force myself to stop eating. I could easily give myself the meat-sweats. So juicy (cook to 145 and let rest for 10 mins. before you slice), so tender, and so flavorful. Remember, there is not a lot of fat, so not over-cooking is crucial. People usually say they don’t like pork because it is dry. Let me tell you, if it is dry- you cooked it wrong. The next day I usually eat it cold with a little mix of mayo and spicy mustard. You could also pan fry the slices in a little butter or coconut oil. DROOL!

I hope I have changed your mind and therefore your ways.

adirondack chairI had a little ‘AHA’ moment today while I was cleaning my outdoor patio set. The damn table needs to be cleaned a lot. It sits below two trees that are constantly dropping leaves, helicopters, sap, pine needles, etc. on it. Not to mention the damn birds that poop on my damn table. Brent was out front mowing the damn lawn and there was a lot more damn work to do. There’s a lot going on. In the last few weeks I have heard ourselves, our neighbors, our friends, and our family say ‘a home-owners work is never done’. It’s so true. Every time we finish something, there is something else that needs to be started. It’s daunting, it’s depressing….And then it hit me! My inner candysbrain voice chided me, “you know how f-ing lucky you are to have a home, let alone a patio set?!’ My brain sure told me.

The more I thought about it, the worse I felt for being such a whiner. Yes, it’s a lot of work, but we are so blessed to have what we have. We are so lucky to live in a nice home in a great neighborhood. I should be singing my praises while scrubbing my table instead of bitching. Not to mention that before we had this really nice patio set, we had a crappy plastic set that I hated. It was so ugly. How soon we forget right? It’s like you are so desperate for that next upgrade in life, we forget to open our eyes and realize what is sitting on our face.

We have some dear friends that just moved into their new gorgeous home this weekend. Of course, the market today is very different that it was 6 years ago. When I think about what we paid for our house compared to the deal that they likely got, it makes me ill. Don’t get me wrong, I am very happy for our friends and can’t wait to have many a play date in that house, but it is still hard when you start comparing. Why do we do that? Why do we feel the need to compare? There are a lot of people in our lives that are probably jealous of what we have too. I don’t remember where I heard this but I love the saying that we need to stop comparing our ‘behind the scenes’ to everyone else’s ‘highlight reel’. The grass is always fucking greener….(seriously though, the grass is always greener. How does everyone else have such nice lawns and ours is filled with weed and clover?…I digress)

I posted a while ago about filters and framing and how our relationship to everything that happens in our life can be perceived differently based on how we frame or filter. For example, I just got new Adirondack chairs. I have wanted them for a long time. If you have ever shopped around for these chairs you know that you can find them from $50 to $900 dollars and every where in between. The ones I got were much closer to $50 than $900! They need to be stained, and they aren’t as sturdy as I would like. I could focus on this, or I could focus on the fact that they are beautiful and they allow me to sit closely next to my husband who I adore and the fact that they hold my ass up out of the grass. Our brains are funny in that they can be trained. If you make the decision to be happy and to see the good, your brain will start to normally frame your thoughts toward the positive.

Which leads me to my next big diet! I am going on a new and experimental diet. A no-blaming, no-complaining, no-bitching-and-moaning diet. I am responsible for what shows up in my life. I am responsible for my thoughts, actions, re-actions, etc. I have control over how different situations affect me. This is called a shift-move and I am ready to shift. I am going to live in a space of gratitude and wonder and love and appreciation.

Want to join me? Seriously, do you think you could try living in a world where you are 100% responsible for your experience? 100%- no more, no less. Of course this doesn’t mean you won’t slip up now and again. We are human after all. But, can you attempt to change your consciousness to a place appreciation, accountability, wonder, and feeling your feelings without judgment (joy/anger/fear/sadness/sexual desire)? I know that I will struggle. It sounds so simple when you just type it out, but in the real world it is much more challenging. Well, I know that I will try. I know that I will fail occasionally. But, when I fail, I will try not to judge myself too harshly and re-commit. I hope you will come along for the ride.

Now, I am not going to assume I am busier than you because that is super annoying. Let’s just say we are AS busy as all of you are and I get very stressed about how to put a healthy dinner on the table. I know I am not alone in this department. My son is now five and therefore the crazy summer schedule begins. He has t-ball practice tonight and, of course, it is from 5:30 to 6:30. That is smack dab in the middle of normal dinner and bath time. If things weren’t already hectic enough….

So, what to do? I have 30 min. now and less than 30 min. later. *

BISON BURGERS! **

Before practice I have approx. 30 mins. Here is what I do in round one:

Chop onions get them in the pan to caramelize (25 min. in pan with olive oil and worcestershire, salt and pepper). Med-Low heat.
onions
Put pre-chopped baby bella mushrooms in second pan. (20 min. with olive oil, butter, pepper)
mushrooms
Form my Bison patties, season with salt and pepper, return to fridge
patties
Wash and get-ready any other veggies (tonight that includes baby heirloom tomatoes and avocado)
tom and avo

After practice I will have 20-30 mins. to get dinner on the table (technically no one is timing me and demanding their food, but according to the schedule I have set for myself.)

Let patties sit at room temp for 5-10 min.
Slice avocado
Re-heat the onions and mushrooms in their original skillets
Throw patties on the grill (or in pan) to cook. 4-5 min per side (obviously depends on how thick the patties are)
grill
Serve buffet style, with either a side salad or over greens, topped with all the yummy veg!
plate

Bon appetite!

*I know you might be thinking, “holy crap, an hour for dinner on a busy week night!” Well, yes and no. First of all, it is not all hands on time. During my first half hour, I packed a bag for practice, got Will’s glove/hat ready, started this blog, took all the pictures of the food, etc. You could load the dishwasher, start laundry, pack the next day’s lunches, etc. And, second of all, YES. It does take more time to eat this way. Would it have been easier to open a box and microwave or go to McDonalds? Absolutely. But, I had the ingredients in the house, I had the time, and I really believe it matters to eat this way when ever we can. It has- without a doubt- changed my life. It is so worth it. (Oh, and I suck at cleaning. I would much rather cook. So, if I have an extra 30 min. I am going to spend it cooking- not cleaning.)

**I like to choose Bison meat or Grass-fed Beef whenever I can. It is healthier for us because they eat what the animal evolved to eat- GRASS! This makes their meat healthier for us. Lower bad saturated fat and a healthier ratio of omega 3’s to omega 6’s. Also, the animal is healthier and happier. Regular beef/cows are fattened with corn and treated badly and given antibiotics. I have a hard enough time choosing to eat animals, choosing these types of meats makes me feel a little better. A little…

FB Statuses You Never See

LIKEFor some odd reason you never see the following as FB statuses:

1. I’m on the toilet right now reading thru all of your updates. I ‘liked’ that picture of your dog while pooping.

2. I chose to go to Burger King today instead of the gym. I’m either self-sabotaging or coming to grips with my mediocre body.

3. Wow that was some great loving last night! Thanks honey. with (insert tag here)…..

4. My kids really aren’t that cute and are of average intelligence.

5. Man, more drama in my life! Hmmm, I wonder if I am some how contributing to all the drama that seems to follow me around???

6. I’m not that good of a mom. I spend A LOT of time at the bar!

7. I secretly spy on you with (insert tag here). I want to see your boobs with (insert tag here). I actually hate you but remain your ‘friend’ because it is too entertaining to look away with (insert tag here).

8. How many times a week can you masterbate before it gets weird?

dad babyI was starting to think about Father’s Day and what men actually want and some random funny things were popping into my brain. I also noticed a theme: many of my ‘ideas’ were B-words. So, if you are still trying to think of things to get your husband* check out this list. Dad’s love their ‘#1 Dad’ mugs and their light up golf ties, but he might appreciate a couple from the list below too.

*These are for the father of your children, not YOUR father. I’m sure you could have figured that out yourself once you started reading.

1. Blackhawks- Okay, this may only work for men in Chicago but your husband would really appreciate a BH win on Saturday night. Not sure if you can make that happen, but think happy thoughts.

2. Bed- he wants to sleep in. Let him sleep until he can’t sleep anymore. Don’t wake him up by letting the kids spill cheerios on his lap. If you are going to wake him up early, I think we all know what needs to be involved…

3. Bacon- Preferably his breakfast will include bacon. Save the cholesterol lecture for another day.

4. Babies, but not too much- Of course he wants to see his babies, but not non-stop all day. He probably wants to spend some time away, or maybe just go to the bathroom by himself.

5. Balls- Let’s face it, men like to play with balls. Get your mind out of the gutter, I am referring to sports. Whether your husband likes golf or bowling or basketball or tennis- let him go play with his balls.

6. Beer- **FACT** Dad can start drinking at whatever time he sees fit on father’s day. If he wants to combine #6 Beer with #3 Bacon, he is allowed to on this one holy day.

7. BBQ- Give your man some steak or some pork shoulder or some bratwursts or some burgers! Meat-over-fire-good!

8. Baggo- I chose Baggo because it starts with a B but you can play whatever your husband likes: horseshoes, washers, beer pong (hey, another B)…

9. BJ’s- Yeah, okay, your mind is in the right place this time.

100This is my 100th blog post since starting Candys brain blog last year. (Bells…Whistles….Yahoos) I can’t believe it but 100 times now I have shared what is floating around my noggin. Thank you for reading. Thank you for your kind words. Thanks for sharing my posts. Thanks thanks thanks!

When I realized that my next post was going to be the big 1-0-0 I started to stress a little. I had no idea what I should write about. I guess it doesn’t really need to be meaningful or profound (Why start now?! Ba da bum). Still, I felt extra pressure to reflect on what I am doing and why I am doing it.

In the beginning, the reason I called this ‘candys brain blog’ was because I wanted to write about all of the things in my brain. Against the advice of every book, blog, article, and expert, etc. I did not want to specialize. I didn’t want to pick one topic. For example, I didn’t want to just write about being a mom. There is so much more to me than that. I love writing about food, but I also like books, and personal growth, and life lessons, and being funny, and a bit of a feminist, and…. You get the point.

But, what IS the point? Why do I do this? It is time consuming, no one pays me, I am already very busy. What is in it for me?

Well, it turns out this is my ‘zone’. When I am writing these little posts, time disappears. Life disappears.

Kids: “Look mommy, I’m playing with matches!”

Me while writing: “That’s nice sweetie…”

It is how I relax.

But that is obviously only half of it because- why would I share it with all of you then? If it is just for me, why do I care if you’re reading it? If I really sit and think about it, it is because I am happy and I want all of you to be happy too! Really, I am happy and I want to share those happy thoughts, ideas, recipes, laughs, advice, rants, etc. with you in hopes that you will feel some of it as well. I desperately want to make you laugh, and help you find health, and teach you something new, and to motivate you to make a change, and show you that you’re not alone!

I hope I have written something over the past year that has made you think, “at least someone else is as crazy/clueless/opinionated/whatever as I am”.

I hope I have written something over the past year that has made you laugh on a day that you didn’t feel like laughing.

I hope that I have written something over the past year that has changed the way you feel about yourself.

I hope that I have written something over the past year that makes you realize that you are not the only one who is apparently ‘weird shaped’ or ‘bi-polar’ or ‘feels bad about their boobs’ or ‘needs help deciding what to feed their family’.

Not sure what the next step of this journey is. Maybe I’ll find a way to do this as ‘my job’, or maybe nothing will change. Either way, I am going to keep writing and I certainly hope that you keep reading. XOXO

cookedA few weeks ago on my facebook page I declared this year the summer of grilling! I am currently reading cooked by Michael Pollan (as usual- highly recommend) and he begins his story with cooking with FIRE! Not only do I drool down my chin while reading this book, I have a new found inspiration for experimenting on the grill. I don’t have any fancy equipment, but I do have a gas Weber and a new metal box to hold wood chips for smoking. I also have a charcoal Weber that we almost never use. I know that it would be much cooler if I had a smoker and more equipment, but I don’t so I will work with what I have. The good news for you is that you can follow along at home with only the simple-ist equipment yourself. I have big plans of pork shoulder and baby back ribs and steaks and whole chickens and …… drool……

Sunday night I did Beer Can Chicken and it was amazing! (I kind of wanted to say Amaze-balls but when I do I get threatened with violence from those around me- especially Brent). Probably the juiciest, most delicious whole chicken I have ever cooked. I still need to work on the ‘rub’ so I will post about this in the future.

Tonight I made really great bratwurst. It really does make a difference when you buy it fresh from the butcher vs. the grocery store. I know brats aren’t very complicated, but I remember feeling over-whelmed the first time I made them on my own. I had tasted them at a million picnics over the years but didn’t know why some of them were amazing/juicy/flavorful and others were dry/bland/burnt. Here is how I do it:

5 Large Brats
2 beers (any kind)
3-4 cups water
2 bay leaves
1 tblsp. black pepper corns
1 tsp. (approx.) red pepper flakes
3 smashed cloves garlic
onion, garlic powder, sea salt
1/2 Vidalia/Yellow onion (for pot)
1/2 Vidalia/yellow onion diced for topping
gardeneria peppers (if you like spice)
Pickles (if you like less spicey)
diced tomatoes (for topping)
Spicy mustard
olive oil

brat spice

Start by dumping the beer and water into a big stock pot on stove, add bay leaves, pepper corns, red pepper, garlic, seasonings, and 1/2 onion along with the brats. Mix everything together and slowly bring to a boil.

Once you bring to boil, reduce to simmer for approx. 20 mins.

Meanwhile, preheat grill. You are going to want the grill med-high when you throw the brats on.

brat pot

After the brats are done simmering, I remove from liquid and place on foil lined cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper.

Grill 3-5 mins. each side until its at the crisp-ness you like (I like crispy!)

Serve with the toppings! As usual, I know this would be really good with a big ol’ brat bun…. but I do not serve them with bread. I serve with the onion, peppers, tomatoes, and spicy mustard. I also serve whatever yummy veggies I have that week. Enjoy!

finished brat

will dinnerThis blog has been in my brain for a while now and I am finally putting my thoughts down and together. It all started a couple months ago when my family was going to go out for dinner. It was not a fancy restaurant, but it wasn’t a chuck-e-cheese either. My 4.5 year old son and my 1.5 year old daughter were coming with us and three other adults. I don’t know about you but there is always a little anxiety about how they are going to behave. Right before we left, my husband said, “Should we bring the Kindle for Will?” I was surprised by my reaction but I said, “NO. Absolutely not! We are not going to be that family that doesn’t talk to each other because we are all staring at a screen!”

I said I was surprised by my reaction because I never really thought about it before that moment. Of course we have all seen that group of people out: no one is talking, everyone has their cell phone or tablet or game boy (or whatever kids use these days). But I had never thought about what I was going to do as a parent to prevent that with my own children. The more this idea sat in my brain, the more I felt compelled to write about it.

So, I will ask the question again: Do your kids now HOW to be bored? Do your kids know how to BEHAVE when they are bored? Dinner at a restaurant with a bunch of grown ups is not fun for most kids. They have to sit still, use inside voices, have polite conversation, eat different tasting food, etc. This is dreadful for the average 4 year old. Is it easier to give them a tablet and have them play angry birds for an hour? Of course it is! Does that teach them anything? Absolutely not.

ellie box

As a parent I believe it is our job to make sure our kids are capable of entertaining themselves, speaking clearly to other grown ups, sitting for five minutes without some kind of electronic entertainment. If every time they are on a road trip they can watch movies in the back of mommy’s seat they will never play the alphabet game with their sister. If every time they are sitting in a waiting room they are playing with a cell phone they will never play I Spy with mom. If every time they are bored at home they play on the computer they will never go on a treasure hunt in the back yard or play pirates with their brother. If every 5 mins. mommy has an activity planned they will never learn to have fun with only a box. If every time they are at a restaurant they have a tablet to stick their nose in they will never learn the importance of small talk and table manners and the joy of sharing a meal with the people that they love.

will treasure

I am grateful that my grandma used to tell me to sit up straight, and say ‘yes’ not ‘yeah’, and to put my napkin in my lap. I LOVE that my husband takes off his hat when he sits down at the dinner table. I love that my family still all gets together to share meals. And, I love that when we do, we don’t watch TV.

Kids are naturally resilient and creative and have amazing imaginations. As parents we don’t need to do much other than occasionally say NO. Say no to the TV. Say no to the computer. Say no to the constant requests for ‘mommy’s full attention’. It is okay to tell your kids to ‘just go play’. It is not mommy’s job to constantly think of things for your kids to do. Every day doesn’t have to be planned and structured with mom as the entertainment. They will naturally figure out what to do. Sure they might fight you a little. It might be frustrating at first, but worth the trouble! Besides, they have their whole adult life of no creativity or pretending to look forward to!

Let’s all take a pledge: I hereby promise to have at least 5 dinners per week without any electronic entertainment! I will unplug (at least partly) on the weekends, and encourage free play (for kids and parents!). I will teach my kids that even though they are bored, they still HAVE TO BEHAVE. I will be firm with my children when they misbehave in public (or at home).

I will teach my kids that ‘mommy will not have that shit!’