let’s pretend this is a cooking blog

yes, the vicious rumors are true.  i am part of the food porn generation.  i enjoy barraging my social media community with pictures of the tasty things i eat, cook and enjoy.  some people are simply sick of us food-porners, and justifiably so.  over-saturation is common in a world where some will post a picture of the chicken tenders they just microwaved if enough people will click that “like” button. but food porn serves a mighty purpose.

in a universe where millions of recipes are just a google search away, and where healthy eating is constantly being thrust upon us, home chefs are experimenting with age-old flavors and attempting to insert a mindfulness of what we put into our bodies.  i am not going to jump on the gluten-free bandwagon, for that is a rant better saved for another time (spoiler alert:  moderation is key, people.  in everything).  i will, however, be honest in saying that i have played around with various types of flours and sweeteners in order to make baking a less guilty pleasure.  the results have spanned from successful parsnip muffins which wowed even my fellow food snobs, to impenetrable flax seed cookies which i could have used to knock squirrels off of my bird feeders.

let’s get down to the mission at hand:  pizza.  the perfect meal for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or midnight snack. pizzas can be casual or dressed to the nines.  the topping combinations are only limited to your own creative genius. already, you are drooling just thinking about the heavenly union of melting cheese, tangy tomatoes and airy dough. some prefer a wafer-thin crust that crackles with every bite. some like a crust with some chew that they can fold into a pizza-taco.  i am not going to lie to you, friends:  these things can not be mimicked without the empty calories of pure white flour.

i have yet to attempt a crust with the myriad of gluten-free flour options, and i can only assume that some of them are passable as they have been in my many baking adventures.  but i was looking for easy, and there is not a dough out there that fits that description.  through the powers of facebook sharing, i have found a wholesome substitute that is a cinch to prepare and is delicious in its own right. i have seen so many attempts with pureed cauliflower that i have been discouraged from trying those recipes. behold the powers of the super-grain known as quinoa.

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i am not going to bore you with the facts around this flexible little grain.  wikipedia can surely fill you in on its multitude of benefits in a balanced diet.  i will wholeheartedly admit that the reason i gave this recipe a shot is because it involves 4 ingredients, all of which are readily available in my kitchen:

Quinoa Pizza Crust

Makes: One 9-inch pizza crust
Serves: 2

Ingredients:
3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
1/4 cup water, plus more for soaking quinoa
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
cooking spray

http://simmerandboil.cookinglight.com/2015/03/11/how-to-make-quinoa-pizza-crust/

i doubled the recipe because i always plan for leftovers.  i used a mixture of regular and red quinoa, so my crusts turned out more purplish than golden brown.  just a matter of aesthetics.  i also quadrupled the salt (1 teaspoon total in my double batch) because under-seasoning is a crime, and quinoa truly has no flavor on its own outside of a slight nuttiness.

making the batter was a breeze.  soak the quinoa in a large bowl of water overnight.  drain the quinoa and rinse thoroughly.  i recommend a mesh sieve or cheesecloth for this process as the tiny grains will fall right through your colander.  not that i had this problem, i swear.  after rinsing, put the quinoa, water, baking powder and salt into a food processor or blender (goddess bless my ninja), and puree the ever-loving bejeezus out of it until it looks creamy.  it will not form a dough, which is why i called it a batter, duh.

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line two 9 inch pie pans with parchment after spraying them with cooking spray so the parchment sticks.  i was supposed to then spray the parchment with more cooking spray, but i totally forgot to do this and the crusts did not stick at all.  but you might want to follow this step of the recipe, just in case.  then evenly distribute the batter to the two pans and smooth them out to the edges.

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bake the crusts for 15 minutes at 425.  remove the parchment and flip the crusts over into the bare pie pans.  bake another 10 minutes, or until the edges meet your desired level of crispiness.

IMG_3799the toppings are where you get to go crazy.  i made a quick pizza sauce with tomato paste, tons of garlic and herbs from my garden.  one crust i topped simply with fresh mozzarella.  the other i topped with mozzarella, turkey pepperoni and sliced sungold cherry tomatoes from a local farmer’s market.

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return those beauties to the oven for another 10 minutes.

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now i was a dummy and baked the pizzas with fresh basil on top.  rookie move:  the basil burns up in a heartbeat.  learn from my mistake and add the fresh basil after the final round of baking.

all in all, i am chalking this recipe up to a major win.  the crusts were crispy on the edges, but chewy on the inside with a mysterious “yeasty” flavor that perfectly mimicked traditional pizza dough.  they were not grainy at all, or dried out like cardboard, as i expected they would be, so that was a pleasant surprise.  no, you are not going to fool your kids, or your suspicious friends, into thinking that you ordered delivery pizza: there is a lack of air pockets that may disappoint most pizza connoisseurs and the density level is higher than some may prefer, but as far as healthy pizza options go, this recipe is bangin’.

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i am going to experiment further with this recipe by adding other seasonings to the batter.  i was thinking about cumin and turmeric for a mexican pizza.  the topping options are limitless.  perhaps some pesto and goat cheese, or alfredo sauce with shrimp and peppers.  i also want to try this batter in smaller forms so that they can be used for individual hors d’ouvres.  i think the crusts would freeze well, so keeping them on hand for quick meals would be a great idea.  i am constantly struggling with the task of cooking for one, so i plan to make a batch to keep in the freezer for when time is limited.

well, kiddies, i hope you like my newest blog section which i am going to title “let’s pretend…”  i am going to take this blog to new levels:  travel, photography, poetry, literature review.  just like these tasty pizza crusts, the sky’s the limit and i’ve never been afraid of heights.

 

 

 

professional procrastination

so here i sit, with a deliciously coveted sunday off of work. there are a handful of things that i want to do, such as writing a blog post that i got the brainspark for two days ago, and going out for a photography session on this almost 50 degree january day.  there is a crucial list of things i need to do including exhausting-sounding gerunds such as cleaning, purging and organizing.  my favorite thing to do on a day of rest is try out a new, elaborate recipe and hope the outcome is a nectarous end to a luxurious day of, well, rest.

with the limitless possibilities tugging at me and the tv remote always at the ready, this is the discourse that just took place in my head.  this is the monologue that occurs more often than i am proud to admit.  this is the true inner-workings of a procrastinator who is seasoned in her craft.

ok, so it’s 2 o’clock now.  the sunset is at 5:14 so i need to be somewhere photogenic by 4:30 at the latest which means i have to leave the house around 4.  if i shoot for around an hour, that still gives me five hours before i have to pick leanne up from work.  writing a blog post usually takes me a couple of hours so if i put the pork chops in the crock pot when i get home from taking pictures, then i can finish writing before dinner is ready.  but i don’t want the food to get cold before we eat so i should probably write first and then work on dinner. i can throw a load of laundry or two in there.  and the floors could really use a vacuum and mop in their lives.  the bedroom should be vacuumed too.  alright so i will leave at 4 to take pictures, be back home by 6, throw in a load of laundry, bust out the vacuum and the swiffer, then sit my ass down in front of the computer for an hour.  but no facebook and no tv.  i could always leave now to take some shots so that i catch more sunshine.  maybe if i change out of my pajamas i would feel more motivated.  hmm.  but this episode of roseanne just started.  and it’s a really funny one where mark punches out the jukebox at the lobo and dan lies for him to cover his ass.  and of course everyone gets caught.  you can’t hide that shit from roseanne.  ok, so after this episode is over i will stop being a lazy piece of shit and go be productive in the world.  or at least what i consider productive.  because taking pretty pictures isn’t going to clean out my closets. god, i really need to get all those bags of donation crap out of the third bedroom so i can take pictures of the drafting desk i want to sell.  i can do that tomorrow before i go to work.  then i can work on turning that into a library and hang all the local artwork i have acquired.  crap, i need to get up with laura to buy that photo from her.  we’ve been talking about that for months.  i need to shoot her a message.  but i can do that later when i’m not wasting daylight.  ok.  i should probably eat something before i leave the house.  i wonder if i can make a toasted ham and cheese sandwich before this show is over.  eh, if not, what’s one more half hour going to change?

seriously people.  and it just goes on.  in the time it takes me to rationalize all my actions, i have pilfered away the time i could have actually been doing all the things that i was thinking about doing.  in the end i usually end up just staying on the couch and wallowing in self-hatred.

the hardest part of being a procrastinator by nature is the lack of understanding from non-procrastinators.  do you think i want to be this way?  do you know how much easier life would be if i had unlimited ambition?  i certainly have the time.  my house could be immaculate and organized.  college would have been much less stressful if i could have written my papers sometime previous to the night before they were due.  i probably could have sold some photographs before christmas.  my blog would be famous if i utilized all the free time i have on my hands properly.

this is me, for better or for worse.  i will always be this girl.  my brain chemistry requires a certain reward system.  i can guiltlessly enjoy bad tv marathons as long as i swear to fold laundry on every commercial break.  i can have one more cigarette as long as i load the dishwasher immediately after i stub out the butt (and yes, i’m still working on re-quitting.  it’s much harder this time. that’s a whole different blog post).  even the small things, like answering emails or calling to make a dentist appointment are put off for days, sometimes weeks. i am sure it seems senseless to you eager beavers out there.  you just don’t get us.  it’s a constant cycle of self-bartering and broken promises.

but there is always tomorrow.  that is the cornerstone of living the procrastination life. tomorrow is the bane of and reason for our existence.  with inexplicable rationale, us procrastinators always believe that tomorrow will be there, waiting for us, and that sounds like downright positivity to me.  i will go to bed tonight disappointed that i watched five episodes of roseanne instead of hitting the beach with my camera.  i will get up in the morning and not harp on my shortcomings.  instead, i will start the conversation all over again.  i will revel in the small victories of each day, even though sometimes they are as excruciatingly small as writing a blog about slacking on my blog-writing.

if “ifs” and “buts” were candy and nuts

I hate exercising. I loathe it. In fact, I don’t think there is anything that I dislike more in this world, except for maybe rapists and shitty tippers. There is no logic for my hatred, no horrific experience that has scarred my psyche. Well, there was that one time in my college gym when I watched my roommate lose her fingertip in between two plates of the rowing machine, but I digress.

I have never truly been a sporty person. One season each on recreational basketball and softball teams do not an athlete make. Feel free to ask my father about the week when I tried out for volleyball. He will regale you with tales of hellacious bruises, insurmountable fatigue and ceaseless complaining. Still, in high school I loved popping Bryan Adams’ So Far So Good into my walkman and running around my hilly neighborhood. Some of my favorite activities were playing tennis and basketball at the local playground and wandering forest trails and streams. I biked and walked everywhere in college, took aerobic dance classes and participated in my fair share of Frisbee related activities.

Nowadays, no matter how many times I wake up on the couch to a 4 a.m. P90X infomercial, I can not shake my lethargy. I still love a good bike ride, but usually under the guise of a bar crawl. Warm days often inspire me to pop in the earbuds and take a walk around my neighborhood, but I wouldn’t call my pace energetic. If I manage to drag myself away from the Food Network and let Jillian Michaels scream at me for half an hour, I feel amazing and proud.

But, aye, there’s the rub: that infernal “if” known as motivation.

I love the post-workout euphoria. I feel accomplished and strong. I drink more water and have unexpected energy. I am super productive in general chores and household tasks. The cobwebs in my cranium seem to dissipate. That’s right kiddies, you heard it here first: Those damn scientists really know what they’re talking about. Yet even with all of these benefits, the hardest part is talking myself into taking that first step. Oh, if only I could let you in on one of those conversations. They always take longer than the actual task at hand and usually involve a whole lot of but-I-don’t-wanna’s and just as many be-a-fucking-grown-up-and-do-it’s.

I am the Queen of Justification perched high upon her very own Shit-Mountain of Procrastination. I’m always too tired, too busy, have too many other things to do. I ate healthily today, so a workout would simply be redundant. I have to work a double tomorrow and I don’t want to be sore. The carpet is too dirty for crunches. All of my socks are in the wash. Neptune is in the sixth house. You get the picture.

Amidst the chaos of this busy life I allegedly lead, I still manage to spend a disturbing amount of hours on Facebook. I force myself to participate in some unnecessary retail therapy at least once a week. I somehow squeeze at least 2 major Fireball fueled benders into each month, peppered with dozens of trivial forays into the land of “just for one.” If you can find an episode of Law & Order that I haven’t seen, in all of its incarnations, then I owe you a unicorn. Nope, not a free moment to spare.

Three months ago, I made plans to join friends in Jamaica for wedding/ birthday shenanigans at the end of April. I wrapped myself in the determination of a girl whose bikini season would start prematurely this year. I dusted off my kettle bells, cleaned the junk food out of the cabinets and stocked up on green tea pills. A few unseasonably warm afternoons helped to ease my lazy ass off of the sofa.

I don’t know if you guys have noticed, but April is here. I can count the amount of times I have exercised on one weak little hand. Even the threat of being half naked on a beautiful beach surrounded by dreadlocked strangers and fruity frozen drinks could not kick my enthusiasm into gear. So here I sit, a desperate woman wearing a waist-trimmer belt, wondering how sore she will wake up tomorrow after a 20 minute ab workout.

Sometimes I like to let my feminism be my excuse, which does wonders for my moral compass. I mean, who is to say that my body is not perfect the way that it is? Why should I let this patriarchal society’s praise for heroin chic dictate my actions? My beer gut is gorgeous! My cellulite is my own and no one can take that from me! I refuse to compete with an unrealistic ideal of beauty just to satisfy the brainwashed masses! And plus, if I can still manage to get laid, then what’s the big deal?

Oh, who am I trying to fool? I am a lazy piece of shit.

I spend more time researching miracle cures on the internet than I do worrying about my own health and well-being. Just last night, in fact, I wasted several hours reading about these “Ultimate Body Applicator Wraps” that are supposed to magically melt the inches off of any body part within 72 hours. Seriously. Don’t bother checking out the website as it is simultaneously encouraging and disheartening. (Who has the intelligence to create something that produces such amazing before and after photos but doesn’t have the wherewithal to make a cohesive website with functional links?) Needless to say, these wonder wraps are currently in my amazon.com shopping cart and I still haven’t convinced myself to take them out.

Let’s talk about the list of herbal weight loss pills I have taken over the years: green tea, raspberry ketones, green coffee bean, African mango, white kidney bean, hoodia, kelp, cinnamon, raw kombucha, brown seaweed. All of these are actually good for you in one way or another and I am sure they really do help your body become leaner. You know, if you actually exercise while you are taking them.

And then there is all the money I have spent on equipment. I have previously owned a Pilates machine, several stationary bikes and an elliptical. Yoga mats and blocks, kettle bells, hand/wrist and ankle weights, a weighted hula hoop (yes, it does bruise your hips after the first ten minutes), resistance bands, jump ropes, stability balls and upwards of 20 workout DVDs. A few years back, I locked in a promotional $20 a month gym membership rate. After visiting the gym at least three times a week for two months, I just started calling it my “fat tax” and went back to the couch for the next ten months.

Ugh. That’s all I’ve got. I’m incorrigible. Even after publicly confessing this to the twenty of you that are reading, I will still probably weasel my way out of breaking a sweat tomorrow. I have found peace in the fact that this is the body I am taking to Jamaica, and everywhere else. But you know what? When I get there, I am still going to strut my negligent, pasty self out onto the beach in a cute bikini, sexy cabana boys be damned. I abhorrently refuse to return from my one vacation this year with a fucking one-piece tan line.