Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Raw Chicken Dare: Tales of a Quartered Chicken

It’s time for another installment of The Raw Chicken Dare inspired by Elizabeth at Flourish in Progress. (And if you aren’t reading her blog, you must go now. Don’t worry; I’ll wait here patiently for you).

Last raw chicken post, I included the backstory of my fear and left off with mastering the boneless, skinless chicken breasts that I split and trimmed all by myself. See, here’s the picture.

I'm no butcher, that's for sure.

Next step was to move on to a whole quartered chicken. I am just not yet ready to cook a whole bird and totally not ready to butcher it myself. So I thought this would be good practice.

Sunday, I went to the market. I approached the butcher counter and took a number. As my number became closer to being called, my heart was racing a bit faster and the ink on my list was starting to fade a bit due to my sweaty palms. An intoxicating cocktail of adrenaline and fear began coursing through my veins. I imagine this is what it must feel like standing at the open door of an airplane with a parachute pack on just before jumping. As the butcher (a former student, which totally threw me off a since I was having this super vulnerable moment in front of someone I used to teach) handed me my bag of chicken, I felt a tinge of victory for even making it this far.

When I got home, I put it in the fridge for the next day.

In my mind, I planned this perfect moment to accomplish the next step of my goal: The Babes would be quietly watching TV while I had some time alone in the kitchen to oh-so-carefully prepare this chicken.

This was not the case.

Here is what my kitchen table (which is only feet away from the raw chicken) looked like:

Total Art Project Chaos!

Marie was working on a project, and not a low-maintenance-here’s-come-crayons-and-stickers-have-fun-project. I had to be involved and then Thomas had to have a project. They both needed my help, and before I knew it, that chicken needed to get in the oven if we wanted to eat before bath time.

I had planned to just place the bird into the pan without rinsing it, but it was slimy and *swallows uncomfortably* bloody. Ick.

So I rinsed the chicken off and bits of carcass and blood swirled around the drain. So ick.

But I couldn’t really focus on the ick factor because I had one Babe asking me to start his stickers and wanting to play with Elmer’s white glue while another Babe needed me to cut her paper to size for her Disney scrapbook that she wanted to bring in for show-and-tell on Friday. (Did I mention this chaos was just feet away from my raw chicken zone and that I prefer to work alone in the kitchen when dealing with raw meat of any kind?)

I managed to rinse the chicken and put it in the oven. It looked rather gross: its rubbery skin with random hairs on it from feathers.

This looks like a glamor shot of raw chicken.
Not at all how I remember it.

I disinfected the sink thoroughly, yet not obsessively. I didn’t have time. The Totally Art Project Chaos demanded my attention, and I needed to prepare the rest of dinner which included some roasted yellow Yukon potatoes, steamed broccoli, and sautéed Swiss chard.

An hour later, I took the chicken out, checked the temperature (180 degrees), and let it rest.

Looks delish!

I put in on the table

I’m not a food stylist, but I think that looks like it could belong
on the pages of Whole Living magazine, if you ask me.

Harrington said that this was arguably the best chicken he had ever tasted. I knew he must have been telling the truth because he did not put hot sauce nor BBQ sauce to dip the simply seasoned chicken.


In fact, I am not sure if I ever want to go back to the boneless, skinless breasts again. There is something too magical and satisfying about eating food and having it taste so delicious and simple . . . how it was intended to taste before the era of processed foods.

And speaking of success and goals, I would also like to mention that this is post 199. I can’t believe that I am one post away from 200! I’m pretty excited about that.  I have a fun announcement about how I plan to celebrate this milestone, so stay tuned for that!

Are you working on any personal goals? Have you accomplished one that you are proud of? I’d love to hear all about it!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

What Do You Think Thursday with Skinny Scoop – Thoughts on Release and Exercise

Good news! I am officially done with my pity party! It turns out that the strange and extremely intense pain on my side was scar tissue. My angel of a physical therapist did some scar release massage. There was a pop, and then this relaxing sensation throughout my side and hip socket.

I was so scared that I did an exercise wrong or some internal organ was damaged. I don’t know what was worse: the physical pain of the tangled up scar tissue or how hard I beat myself up for possibly doing something wrong.

My physical therapist assured me I did nothing wrong. She must have sensed how depressed I was because she looked me in the eye and said it twice.

Why am I so hard on myself? Why is it so hard for me to release the notion that everything is my fault?

In yoga, my teacher says that we store a lot of tension in our hips joints. I think there might be something to that. Maybe with the release massage, I can start to release this inner-tension and begin to be kinder to myself.

In the meantime, I plan on celebrating by going to Zumba on Tuesday!

I hope that I am strong enough to get back into my former regular routine that, after much trial and error, helped me feel balanced and healthy, both physically and mentally.

What kind of exercises make you feel better both in your mind and body?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

My Unbirthday Post

I love birthdays. I especially love my birthday. I love hanging out with my family. I love cake and ice cream. And I love opening presents. I also love the feeling that I have another whole year of learning behind me that I hope has made me a bit wiser.

This birthday was not the best birthday I have ever had. In fact, I can’t remember feeling worse on any other birthday. Ever.

It’s nothing that anyone did or did not do. In fact, I had tons of Facebook wishes. I was surrounded by good company. I checked out the new model home of my favorite builder. I drank champagne and had my mom’s cassata cake.

And a giant pain in my side.

I haven’t really talked about it too much here, but I have been going to physical therapy for over two months now. I have had this strange tingling in my feet, and after a lot of super sleuthing, it is due to a weak core and overcompensating back muscles. My physical therapist told me no Zumba and no yoga.

In the beginning I had a positive attitude. When someone says take a few weeks off from exercise, it’s not the worst thing . . . until I started to feel the mental effects of not exercising.

I feel that I get sad more often. I feel grumpier. And I feel pudgy. *sigh*

I was excited that I finally cracked the code on the combo that makes me feel balanced.

I was starting to feel hopeful because I had recently reincorporated yoga and more challenging exercises into my fitness/physical therapy routine. I had set a date to go back to Zumba at the end of the month.

Now, with this crazy pain in my side, I feel derailed. Despondent. Depressed.

Yesterday, instead of reveling in my birthday, I had to go to the doctor and get an ultrasound to determine if some internal organ is the offender of this major pain. And as a side note, I have done that whole drink-40-ounces-of-water-ultrasound test at least three times and never had I had the feeling that I was going to throw up while my back was cramping up. (The tech said I drank too much water, and my kidneys were in overload. Nice). Tomorrow I go to physical therapy to see what my therapist says.

I just want to be able to take care of me, my kids, and my daily business.

Enough already.

I am grumpy. Well, if I am being honest, it’s more like angry. And frustrated. Not to mention *outraged* that this happened on the one day I feel totally awesome celebrating me.

I am going to demand a redo. I hope my Mom is up to making that cake again.

How do you deal with personal setbacks?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

What Do you Think Thursday with Skinny Scoop: My Fall Favorites

I love this time of year! LOVE it! What’s there not to love? It’s beautiful, the crisp air is a welcome change from the stifling humidity, and fall activities are so much fun and a lot less stressful than the looming Christmas holiday. Not to mention my birthday is in fall, and anytime my Mom makes her cassata cake is a good season indeed.

And now I present to you, my Skinny Scoop list of My Favorite Fall Things:

What are your favorite things about fall?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

We Are The Dunphys

I was mad. MAD. As. Hell. I was ready to write a scathing post to vent all my frustrations.

Over what? Something small and taken for granted: the sump pump switch.

And Harrington’s initial reaction of shock.

See, about six months ago, our neighbors had a lake in their fully finished basement due to a broken sump pump switch. That day, Harrington vowed to put in a backup sump pump. Meanwhile, I stood my ground that anything worth having that had to go on the basement storage room floor was worth the money of a plastic container. Harrington was grumpy about the money and space those plastic containers took up, but I have a fear of a broken sump pump, a fear that resides so deep within my psyche due to an unfortunate accident that occurred circa 1986 on one ill-fated Mother’s Day. I don’t remember specifics, just feelings. And those strong feelings drove me to store our precious possessions in plastic, not old diaper boxes.

But I digress.

Fast forward six months, and It happened: our sump pump switch broke. We caught it in time so only our storage room and half of the living space carpet was wet. There was no drywall damage. Thankfully, the junk carpet in the storage area saved us by soaking up most of that disaster.

I knew Harrington had some feelings of remorse when he said, and I quote, “The best thing you could have done was put all of our things in plastic boxes.”

Great. Nice. But I was still mad. I just don’t think a marriage should withstand a seven day trip to Disney World *and* a broken sump pump switch in a two week period.

So as I said, I was ready to write this uplifting post until I read this by Angie for A Whole Lot Of Nothing. Read it, because if you are in a bad mood and only seeing the glass half empty, this post will shift your perspective in a positive way.

After I read it, I was thankful since it could have been much worse. I also began to see the humor in the situation.

Remember that episode of Modern Family when Claire told Phil he needed to mount the bookshelf to the wall in case of an earthquake? And Phil didn’t do it? And it almost landed on Luke?

I laughed and laughed at that episode. This is one of my favorite scenes.

I found it so very funny because I am Claire and Harrington is Phil. Somehow part of the humor was lost as I was wading around the basement storage room in my rain boots (an item that I bought as Harrington said he didn’t need rain boots since he avoids puddles, but then retracted that statement and said how useful they were in that moment).

But as I remembered that clip, I also realized that my situation can’t be that unique if they wrote a sitcom episode about it.

So I am thankful that Phil, I mean Harrington, worked hard to fix the basement. Within 24 hours, he and my Dad had removed the storage room carpet, all the water soaked up from the carpet with anti-mold powder sprinkled like fairy dust throughout the basement (courtesy of our favorite carpet cleaners at Shoreline), and had multi dehumidifiers and fans running around the clock.

Our basement could have been a lot worse.

I also think there are worse couples to be like than the Dunphys. I personally think they are cute and adorable together. But then again, I might be a little biased.

Have you ever had a home repair nightmare that you would like to share? Were you the Claire or the Phil?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

What Do You Think Thursday with Skinny Scoop: What’s Your Favorite Kind of Vacation?

If you can believe it, I am still recovering from our Disney World Adventure. Now that some of the dust has settles a bit, I am able to look back and reflect a bit.

One of the biggest lessons I learned was that we are still learning how to travel as a family of four. I look back and think that my parents had it down to a science. My Dad would get breakfast, and my Mom would get my brother and I dressed. My Mom would make the reservations for dinner while my Dad made sure we stayed out of trouble. But probably by the time I have any real solid memories, they had been traveling with us for quite a while.

I view this Disney World Adventure as a sort of team building exercise. Some things worked and some things did not. For the things that did not work, Harrington and I discussed during a long debriefing session.

In addition to the lessons I learned while traveling together as a family of four, I did learn a few things that I hope will make our next Disney Adventure a bit smoother:

1. Rent the stroller. Believe me, it’s easier than trying to lug in the monorails and busses. Also, you don’t have to worry if it gets wet or if you misplace it (which is easier than one might think).

2. Do not wait until you are at the park to make an appointment at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique at Cinderella’s Castle location. I had one already at Downtown Disney, but was unsuccessful in changing it to the Castle location. Which brings me to my next point . . .

3. Don’t underestimate the time it takes to travel between parks. The property is situation within something like fifty miles. It took forever to get anywhere other than the Magic Kingdom since it was the first stop off the monorail from our Hotel. It took at least twenty minutes to get anywhere else . . . if the transportation was running on time.

4. If you didn’t make a reservation for the Disney Princess Lunch, but realized that on the second to last day, you had yet to meet any of these lovely ladies, do not fear (like I did, with such a panic I thought I was going to go into cardiac arrest). Just go on down to Epcot around 11ish and see each princess in her own land at the Showcase Pavilion. For example, we saw Mulan in China and Jasmine in Morocco.

5. Guess what? It’s hellishly hot in Florida in September. Like 95 – 100 degrees hot with 417 percent humidity hot. Consider yourself warned.

6. Budget at least $10 in your budget for water. I brought our water bottles and was thinking I was so clever for planning ahead. But the water on the Disney property is not magical at all. It tastes horrible.

7. Food options are limited for kids. There are Uncrustables (with a half a cup of jelly) or chicken nuggets. Maybe you could find some grilled chicken at the Animal Kingdom, but my kids would not eat it. They ate a lot of protein bars and M & M’s. Not good, I know.

8. Use an app to help you plan out your day. I used Disney World Lines by It told me how busy each park was going to be, the wait times for each ride, and the wait time for the Fast Passes. LOVED it!

9. Take advantage of the Magical Express. It was so nice not to have to worry about driving to and from the airport. Loved this option.

10. Try and plan some downtime for yourself. I wish that I was more creative in finding at just ten minutes of quiet.

Visiting an amusement park of Disney proportions is unlike any other experience. It’s the antithesis to a beach vacation. Although this kind of adventure takes work and planning (and them some more planning), it’s totally worth it. . . . in moderation, of course. I think I am much more a beach vacation kind of person.

Which leads me to my poll question . . .

Be sure to click on it and answer!

And if you are up to it, I would love to hear about your vacation memories. I would really enjoy hearing your adventures: the good, the bad, and the stressful.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Raw Chicken Dare

If you know me, either in real life or here on my blog, you know that I fear raw chicken. I’ve talked about it briefly here and here. The terror of the raw, slimy, salmonella-growing flesh has been known to paralyze me in ways that I am shameful to admit.

Like the time I refused to cook chicken and only used the precooked chicken strips found in the refrigerator section of Costco. And by “time,” I mean the two years.

Embarrassing, I know.

I figured if I am really going to do this and not fall of the wagon into a bag of Costco precooked chicken strips, maybe I should write about it. And then I remembered my friend Elizabeth at Flourish in Progress and the gang she was starting. She started a project about not shopping for an entire year and blogged about the whole thing. If you are not reading her blog, I suggest you click on over and start immediately because She. Is. Awesome. Seriously, awesome.

Anyway, her gang is about getting over a fear or a personal obstacle. So I am going to start a little project, and by little I mean getting over one of the biggest fears I have and documenting it so I can’t quit. And I think my gang name should be Raw Chicken. If that doesn’t sound like a scary badass kind of gang name, then I don’t know what is, right?

So here is an update: after our Disney adventure, we were in need of some serious nourishment. We needed chicken of the non-nugget variety, whole wheat pasta, and a green vegetable STAT! So I approached the butcher counter and looked at the nice, trimmed up chicken breasts that were a fortune or the ones that were in a pile that needed to be trimmed but were on special. My eyes darted between my two choices and my thoughts raced: we need chicken. We just spent a ton of money at Disney. I don’t want to trim them. I must trim them if we are going to start recouping any cost from our trip.

In a magical moment, my need for nutrition and to save money preceded my fear of raw chicken.

So I bought a separate cutting board and got to work.

I separated the breasts.

I trimmed them.

I cut them in half to make them thinner.*

I baked them to perfection.

When I went to the store this week to get chicken, it didn’t even make my heart race. I am on the road to recovery, Friends!

I *will* have cleaned and cooked a whole chicken by December 2011.

I am curious . . .what kind of goals are you working towards?

*I had the best picture of this, but due to technical difficulties, they will have to be in a future post.