Sunday, October 24, 2010

Batter Up!

Alex Guarnaschelli said today on her show Alex's Day Off that a cupcake is merely the vessel by which we have the latitude to ingest an obscene amount of frosting, and I'd have to say I'd agree. I've learned several nuggets of wisdom in my life, but Alex's justification for doing naughty things like eating obscene amounts of frosting seemed to speak to my hungry brain. It's not that I've never thought about simply eating cream cheese frosting right out of the mixing bowl - I've done it one finger at a time and giggled as the sugar rush hit my blood - but the way she put it out there makes me feel so much less guilty about doing it. (I said less guilty, not completely guiltless. You're talking to a girl who has no qualms eating dessert before dinner, much less instead of dinner.)

Where's she going with this, you ask? Well, the concept of justification for playing a game to get what you want stuck with me. If I justified eating an inordinate amount of frosting by placing it atop a tiny cupcake confection, and by doing so I could feel less guilty, then could I easily play other games to justify my actions? (Right about now, Nurse Betty's antennae went up because she totally knows where I'm going with this.)

Okay boys and girls, let's meander off the super food expressway and talk luuuuuuuve. No, I'm not in it. Nowhere even close. But, recently I found that the Single Boy was not taking his knight and shining armor role very seriously and started to pull back. I've seen How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days, and I know better than to be the clingy "Oh You're So Perfect Lets Move In Together And Have A Million Babies" girl, so I know it wasn't anything I was doing. Even still, it's hard to stomach someone you really like pulling their efforts back without any notice. I was perfectly fine before I met him, enjoying my life, happy as a clam. And then boom! Imagine someone dangling a chocolate cupcake with chocolate ganache frosting in front of your face, letting you smell it, giving you a nibble, and then swiping it away from you unexpectedly...and eating the entire thing right in front of you. Yeah, I was ready to get all Mike Tyson up in the cupcake heezy and bite someone's ear off, too.

I brought in the big guns - just Nurse Betty - since Mama Bestie is upside down on sleep caring for her precious new baby and could really care less about my man woes. She told me I needed to play "the game". I hate games. They are, like, so kindergarten recess. (You must say this with a valley girl accent, a flick of the hair, and a wrinkle of your nose.) But normal human psychology shows that in any relationship, there's always going to be a give and a take of power. And as soon as one party starts to pull back, the other party usually responds by chasing. Playing "the game" means that you don't react and chase, you simply remain stationary. If the other person realizes that you aren't reacting, they'll react by glomming on.

I was just going to cut and run, and to remain a cat lady for the rest of my life. I had it all mapped out. I could grow chin hair, get fat, and cackle when small children ran from me in terror. I'd wear this long cape made of old potato sacks and wear black shirts and mom jeans and crocs. I'd perm my hair and then straighten it so that it looks horrendous. And then I'd pluck my eyebrows.... oh wait. I'm describing someone else. Potato, potahhhhto I guess. Nurse Betty didn't find this option appealing, and cautioned me against shutting down because of someone else's disjointed actions, although she did like the idea of not ever needing to buy another Halloween costume. I prefer my plan since this means I get to make lots of little cupcake vessels for my cream cheese frosting to happily be ingested without guilt or need for justification. And in a world where the man is simply supposed to be the icing on my cake, I figure that I'd better be making my own damn frosting, since that was the only way I was going to get it.

My idea seemed so much better. I've got a promotion interview coming up this week and then beyond that, work is going to kick up in intensity by a few gadzillion notches. Stupid man behaviors are not in the plan, much less trying to play a game of cat and mouse to keep some man interested, when I'm not sure that it's worth it in the first place if I can't just be myself. And by "myself", I don't mean that I called him eleventy thousand times a day or sent him pictures of what our kids would look like. (I learned that from How To Lose A Guy..., not that common sense didn't play a huge part in that decision. I mean, come on! What girl does that crap?) By "myself", I mean someone who answers a call when the phone rings or - shocker! - is available to help a friend out when they need it. Evidently these are two mortal sins in the dating world.

How is a girl supposed to follow all these rules and games if she's simply trying to stick to the most basic rule of life: The Golden Rule? I've had the stupid games played on me, and let me just say that the karma bus took care of those nimrods. The last thing I want to do is see that bus coming for me. Nonetheless, I tried my hand at "the game", and let me tell you, it worked. Didn't feel very good, but it worked. I can justify lots of things in my life - shoes, clothes, cats (hee hee). But this one isn't sitting very well with me.

Maybe I need to just remember what Alex said...the cupcake is merely the vessel. So, if I look at the game as the vessel by which I get my frosting, I have my justification. If you need me, I'll be having a chat with Betty Crocker and my cupcake pan. Batter up!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Ima Be Me

It's 1:30 am, and despite needing to be up in just a few hours to catch a flight out for a business trip, my body has decided that it is wakie wakie time. I thought I was getting a sore throat, which inevitably leads to a cold, and to prevent this whole mess, I took Nyquil. I refuse to get sick. Yes, I know it has Tylenol in it, and yes, I know I'm allergic. But I figured the side effects outweighed the possibility of sitting in a conference room wishing I were dead. And yet, sadly, now I'm wide awake blogging about being wide awake. And for some reason, The Black Eyed Peas started playing in my head.

Ima be, Ima be, Ima be me-e-e.

Oh hush. You don't see me mocking you because Right Said Fred talks to you in your dreams and taunts you to sing "I'm Too Sexy" in your fedora.

It's odd how certain songs pop into your head when you need a pep talk from a higher power. Today has been no different. Have you ever noticed that when you start or try anything new, deprecating, self-destructive, self-doubt starts to crop up? Confidence has always been a problem for me. Deep inside, I still see an awkward, clumsy girl with a crooked front tooth and a double chin. I'm usually able to keep that girl away, tucked nicely away in Pandora's box, but given time and a little bit of added anxiety - and apparently a couple swigs of Nyquil - and she comes out. Ima be me, and convincing myself I'm good enough has always been a problem. So here's where it ends. Time for a self-imposed Single Girl pep talk. Here goes. No laughing.

Ima be the girl who doesn't eat vegetables. I can't stand leafy greens, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, and a whole range of other veggies. And I'm not the least bit sorry. I am who I am and I'm not going to change that.

Ima be clumsy. I've always been this way, and if tripping over thin air were an Olympic sport, I'd be a three-time gold medalist. You can suck it, Kerri Strug. It doesn't mean that I won't try new activities, it just means that I might not be good at them. I am who I am and I'm working on this.

Ima be artistic, and not necessarily sporty. Yes, Sir Kicks My Ass and Laughs About It says I'm tough and capable of a lot more than what I give myself credit for, but deep down inside self-doubt interferes with that ability. I am a creator rather than a conquerer. I am who I am and I create art through cooking, photography, gardening, and being a loving mother.

Ima be the Single Girl who owns three cats and lives in an apartment, blogging, scrapbooking, cooking, and gardening. This does not make me a cliche. This does not make me pathetic. This makes If you have a problem with it, kiss off. I am who I am and I'm happy with my life.

Ima be the one who has fluctuating weight. As much as I fantasize about food, it isn't the problem. Working out and staying active is my problem. The problem is that if I don't purposefully make time to get to the gym then I simply find excuses not to go. I know I shouldn't let myself get that way because it's my health that will eventually pay the price, but living is so much more important than working out sometimes. I'd rather live, experience, and interact than go work out. I am who I am and although I just made it back into my skinny jeans, I still see a fat girl in the mirror.

I am who I am.

I am who I am.

I am me.

I am good enough.

I am high on Nyquil.....

Friday, October 8, 2010

Loafing Around

Let's just preface this post with a small fact:

I make the bombdiggity of meatloafs. (Holla!)

Yes, I can just hear The Single Girl's sister out there chiming in that it's not really my recipe, but our mother's, but since I'm the one who's writing this post, I could give a tiny rat's ass. And as for the rest of you that turn your nose up at the thought of a loaf-shaped piece of meat, let me once again strap on your leash and take you for a walk down this fabulously juicy road of meatloaf heaven.

Don't worry - I'll stop for water breaks.

Meatloaf is, for all intents and purposes, a loaf of ground beef with any number of ingredients that your Mom had a knack for sneaking in. I've heard of bell pepper, tomatoes, onion soup, tomato soup, and even (gag me with a blunt and/or sharp object!) a hard boiled egg being added. For the record, my meatloaf (that's right, Sis, I said MY!) has nothing strange whatsoever. If anything, you could take these same ingredients and make the most awesome hamburgers - or hamingers as Princess 2 calls them - and die right there in your dining room chair having just ingested a heavenly piece of meat. Who knew that some eggs, crackers, ketchup, and spices could turn a dull, lifeless block of meat into something fabulous?

Several years ago when Nurse Betty was going through her divorce, she spent most every night at my kitchen table talking herself in circles about how wretched her ex was. I would call her around 4 pm each night to let her know what was on the menu and invite her over for dinner. One night, I called to let her know I was making meatloaf, and that she was more than welcome to come over. She was immediately hesitant because meatloaf has such a bad rap. (Also because her mom makes something called Scotch Eggs - see hard boiled egg reference above. The Single Girl shudders at the thought.) I assured her this was something she definitely had to try, and that if she didn't like it, I'd gladly make her something else. She came over and took one look at the bubbly, carmelized loaf and dug in.

Two slices later she was hooked.

Meatloaf is now one of the foods that we use in my house to provide comfort and warmth. Paired with baby red potatoes and some fresh green beans, this meal is hearty and is dripping with love. Both Princess and Princess 2 request this meal on a weekly basis, and although try as she might to follow the letter of the recipe, Nurse Betty feels that her meatloaf can never measure up. I have a feeling that this has to do with the pan that I cook mine in.

Don't get ahead of me, now. It's my story. Stay with me.

I said stay!

This pan is old, well used, and only used to cook meatloaf. It's Pyrex, and not a rectangle loaf pan, but oval. And I've learned that in order to avoid scrubbing it for two days straight after meatloaf night, I need to wipe down the inside edges with a paper towel before cooking and then put the empty pan in the fridge overnight after cooking. Somehow the refrigerator moistens up all the carmelized liquid and allows quick, easy cleaning the next day. It's my baby and I treasure it.

It's even got a name: Meatloaf Pan.

Original, I know. That's how I roll.

And here's where the suspenseful music starts. Ba dum.... Ba dum.... Ba dum....

I said don't get ahead of me.

This last Monday was meatloaf night. It's been a tradition through the years that once the youngest child is old enough and strong enough, they become the official meatloaf squisher. So, when Princess came of age - 5 years old - I taught her how to squish the meatloaf. She's done it ever since and relishes the privilege.

As usual on Monday night, I added all the ingredients to the pan and Princess squished the loaf while I talked on the phone to my mom. I was in the other room talking to her when I heard CRASH! BREAK! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! coming from the kitchen.

"Uh oh, gotta go", I yelled to my mom and went running into the kitchen, only to find an uncooked meatloaf and my precious glass pan splayed all over my clean kitchen floor. And Princess was in tears. The pan had slipped out of her hands as she was putting it into the oven to cook.

"I've ruined dinner! I've wasted money! The meatloaf pan is broken! What are we gonna do now?!?", she wailed. I tried to comfort her as much as I could and shuffle her out of the shards of glass mixed with raw ketchup-cracker-egg-meat.

Glass was everywhere. My precious pan! What was I going to do without that pan?

It took 30 minutes and a canister of Clorox wipes to clean up the shards of meat glass. In the end, we ate scrambled eggs and toast, enjoyed a peaceful evening together, and laughed about the pile of meatloaf on the kitchen floor. I've yet to find another pan that will suit my meatloaf recipe, and the search continues. Until then, boys and girls, I leave you with the recipe for "This Will Change Your Life Meatloaf", also known as "Bombdiggity Meatloaf" and "OMFG This Meatloaf Rocks The Kasbah".

The Single Girl's Mother's Meatloaf
1 1/2 lbs 80% Lean Ground Beef
About 1/3 c Ketchup (or more, if you like your loaf juicy)
2 eggs
About 15 (or so) Saltine or Ritz Crackers (any buttery, salty cracker will do)
Garlic Salt (ummm....about a tsp?)
Salt (who the heck knows...enough to make it salty?)
Pepper (see above)
2 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce (optional for wusses)

Mix all together in loaf pan with hands, since they are the best tools that God ever gave you. Form into loaf and wipe down inside of pan where meat mixture has smeared the pan. Put into preheated oven at 400 degrees for approximately 30-45 minutes. (I'm not entirely sure of the exact time, since I base this entire recipe on "a dash of this, a dash of that" haphazardness.)

Simply look for three characteristics of the meatloaf which tell you that the sucker is done:

First, there should be a dark carmelization and crust on the top of the loaf. (I don't mean charred.)

Second, you should see that the loaf is bubbling away in its own juices. It's not gross, really. I swear.

Third, if you're still not sure, pull your meat out (Ha! You knew I was going to go there.) and slice into the center. If you still see pink like a raw hamburger, it's not done. Put it back in the oven and go sit your happy ass back down. If it isn't pink, then it's done.

Now here's the important part: don't eat it right away after pulling it out of the oven. Let those juices redistribute back into the loaf, which they will do magically. Give it 10 minutes or so to undergo this process. When the 10 minutes are up, slice into that bad boy. We eat our loaf with a gallon of ketchup for dipping.

Trust me, it's stupid-good.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

You Need To See A Doctor

Oh Nurse Betty! How you zing me with your poignant one-liners. Yes, boys and girls, the wry Hallmark card writer is back at it again. If you remember back a few posts, Nurse Betty and I were having a tiff over some comment she made, and to diffuse the situation, she said "I'm sorry you're pissed". It was so blunt, so off the cuff simple that it made me laugh myself into hysterics. And today she was back at it again.

For the past two weeks or so, I've been wound up tighter than an eight day clock. Stress has been building and building in me until it finally metastasized in full blown insomnia, lack of appetite, nausea, hot flashes, and racing heart. In short, The Single Girl has been a hot mess. But yay! I lost 5 pounds! Oh, quit discounting my weight loss and rejoice in it with me, you big hater. 5 pounds is 5 pounds!

I let life and all its struggles get to me and let my faith fly out the window. Bad move, apparently.

Stress from work, from family, from Princess' dwindling grades at school, from money, and from love - all crashing down at once - can really wreak havoc. And you'd be so proud of me. I didn't resort to eating one gosh forsaken donut to soothe myself. But through all this, Nurse Betty has been telling me that I need to get myself checked out. I've been shushing her, waving it off because I know it will pass. She disagreed, considering that last night I was finally able to get some sleep - 11 hours worth - and that after my hair appointment I tacked on another 2.5.

She seems to think I'm over-anxious. What makes you think that? Huh? Huh? Huh? What, Nurse Betty? What makes you say that? Did I miss your point? Did ya have one? Did you say it and I missed it because I was talking too much and asking too many questions and oh look what a happy white cloud that is in the sky and why are you not listening to me now when I'm talking to you and carrying on about the cloud that you can clearly see over there in the sky but are choosing not to look and won't give me your point even though I asked you for one which I think is totally bitchy and rude and obnoxious but these are all the things I love about you but not "love" that way because I like boys and not girls and why are you laughing at me now and I'm not happy because you are ignoring the fact that I haven't stopped for a breath in two minutes and are now turning blue?

And here's where she dropped the Nurse Betty-ism. "You need to see a doctor", she tells me over text. Rude, much? Yeah, I agree, but I died laughing. That's like telling someone they need medical intervention of one form or another, and most people automatically jump to the conclusion that this "doctor" has a whole closet of lovely white coats that allow you to constantly hug yourself. He he ha ha ho the funny farm we go. I'm almost certain she wasn't referring to this sort of doctor.


... Hmph.


Let's just do some recapping and see. Was it me who decided to eat a wax birthday candle? No....that was her. Was it me who thought it would be cute to put lily buds up my nostrils when I posed for a picture? Nope, nope. Her again. And was it me who showed a friend's husband her boobs to get her third drink? Nuh uh...that was lovely Nurse Betty. So, I'm pretty sure she meant that I need to see a regular medical doctor, and not one who will decorate my house in pretty padded white walls. Glad we got that cleared up. Although, upon further review of things, we should probably have Nurse Betty checked out.

All this stress and nervous knots in the tummy hasn't been bad, though. Some of it has been delicious buttery popcorn dipped in nacho cheese delicious. I'm talking decadent chocolate cake with a glass of ice cold milk delicious. No wait...even better! I'm talking rainbow sprinkled donuts delicious. Now you're feeling me, right? You see, boys and girls, The Single Girl has met a Single Boy.

Before you start getting carried away, let's just remind ourselves that new relationships are fragile and easily susceptible to malevolent forces, and this newly blossoming relationship is no different. Does he have a way of melting me to drippy butter each time he looks at me and smiles? Yes. Does he have a wit and sarcasm only tantamount to mine? Fo shizzle. And has he been through the love wringer just as I have? You betcha. Right now we are both trying to see where this goes. We've gotten this off the ground but are still trying to see how we like navigating through the air. In the meantime, I'm just enjoying the ride.

Stay tuned, my pretties. All this stress may just cause me to add a few pretty white jackets to my wardrobe. Can you still eat donuts in the mental ward?