29 Mar

Are men really that egotistical?

“If a girl talks to a guy or looks at a guy, he’ll think she’s into him.”

Matt said this to me in regards to two strangers of the opposite sex and I had a hard time believing it, even though, being a man, he has the authority on the inner workings of the male mind.

I started to recount in my head all the times that I’ve stared at or spoken to a guy that I didn’t know and I lost count, mostly on the staring part. I watch people, all people, with the curiosity of an infant and now I’m starting to think it’s a problem.

“No, I don’t believe you. I don’t think all guys are that egotistical.”

“Most of them.”

He proceeded to tell me stories to prove his point that went along the lines of: a man would say “she’s into me” after noticing a woman staring, and that was that.

I didn’t understand this. Why not go talk to this woman who is so unquestionably interested in you? It reinforced my position: these guys were faking their confidence and showing off, or, as the husband likes to put it, swinging dicks.

Matt did tell one story of a guy who actually went to talk to a girl whom he was convinced was interested when she shot a look his way, but he found out she was dating someone/not interested/thinking he was someone else/or whatever.

“I like that,” I said. “More guys should be like that. Girls like that kind of confidence, as long as the prospect is not a total douche-canoe. They want someone with the balls to approach them.”

I was saying this for the sake of my friends who are of the “men must initiate the interaction” school of thought. Maybe more women should be staring at men if a look is all it takes is to get them to come over and strike up a conversation but, let’s be honest, that’s almost never the case. It’s nerve-wracking to have the confidence to start a conversation with someone you don’t know and that you find attractive, I can’t blame men for not wanting to do it.

“So you would be interested in a guy who did that?”

No, not at all. I would just assume that he’s self-absorbed and thinks every woman wants him, and apparently I would be right. But I’ve been told that I’m different than most, so I use my friends as examples of ‘typical women’. Sidebar: I have also been told that guys don’t like girls like me (what? I’m not likeable??) and that I would be the last person to get married (what the hell does that mean?), so you get the idea.

A lot of women would prefer that the man approach though. I always hear the “If he’s interested he’ll come talk to me” argument which is baseless because the man in question could very well be sitting across the room thinking the exact same thing (or, I should say, “She IS interested. She’ll come talk to me.”).

So maybe the egotism is in the man’s benefit, even if he has to fake it. Maybe men really are ingrained to think that every woman who gives them a second glance is interested, just to give them the nerve to approach her.

I, for one, would certainly like to have that kind of confidence.

I still wasn’t entirely convinced of Matt’s argument, but then not two days after our discussion I overheard a young man at the gym say to his buddies:

“She said ‘Hi’ to me, bro. She’s totally into me.”

And I laughed aloud.

28 Mar

Gallo Pinto

So after a week off running my legs are feeling alright and my stamina is through the roof. Today I killed 3.1 miles (5K) in 24 minutes and then I even kept running for another 2 miles to round out 5 miles in just under 42 minutes. It’s been a while since I’ve had such a speedy run!

And speaking of running, here’s an interesting article on mammals and the “Runner’s High”.

Now onto the food:

I’m in love with beans & rice.

I told Matt this weekend that as long as I have beans and rice in the pantry and a bunch of cilantro in the fridge then I don’t need to bother with groceries. He begged to differ and went grocery shopping anyway, coming home with things like meat and eggs. Pssht, who needs ‘em? (Okay so I actually requested these ingredients, but, ya know, I don’t need them per se)

I’m trying to get you excited about beans and rice here, but I don’t think it’s working. No one seems to like them as much as I do. I may very well be the only person who clears her side dish of beans&rice at Mexicantown and then eyes everyone else’s untouched side with jealousy and maybe a bit of empathy for the dish itself.

I really could live off of beans and rice for the rest of my life. The variations are endless. Endless!! But right now gallo pinto is my favourite one.

Gallo Pinto

Gallo pinto is yet another variation of the beans & rice combination that you’ll find in virtually every country in the world. It is a Costa Rican dish that is more of a breakfast food than a dinner. I’ll eat it for both and in the same day.

This isn’t true gallo pinto though. True gallo pinto is made with the liquid reserved from cooking the beans. I used red wine instead, making this variation all kinds of awesome. I don’t even want to try making it without red wine now (it’s just too good with it!).

If you’re looking for a traditional gallo pinto recipe, then look away my friend, look away.

Gallo Pinto

Gallo Pinto (Refried Beans and Rice)

Serves 4

Ingredients

2 T olive oil
6 small garlic cloves, minced
1 yellow onion, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 c of cooked rice
2 t cumin
1 can kidney beans
1 c red wine
1 bay leaf
1 T worcestershire sauce
1 t smoked paprika
salt and pepper to taste
Fresh cilantro, chopped
1 lime, optional

Directions

Add the oil and garlic to a large deep pan or saucepan and heat it on medium-heat until the garlic starts sizzling. Add the onion and peppers and sautee until the onions are softened.

Add the rice to the onions and fry for 10 minutes, stirring continuously so the rice doesn’t stick to the pan.

Add the cumin, beans, red wine, bay leaf, worcestershire, and paprika. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the wine is absorbed.

Serve topped with fresh chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lime.

26 Mar

Cultured Weekend

Friday night Matt, Tina, and I met up with some friends to check out the Hunger Games premiere. Normally I’m not one to go to see movies on opening weekend. I hate busy theatres, especially ones that are filled with eager, giggly pre-teens who whistle at the first sight of an attractive actor on screen. Not my cup of tea.

So if there’s a movie I want to see I will contain my curiosity for a few weeks, until the crowds have dies down (or it’s out on DVD). This time around though we managed to score free tickets for a private screening at the Renaissance Centre in Detroit through some friends that we met up with there.

Renaissance Centre

My friend warned us that the theatre there is very small– comparable to Forest Glade Cinemas or The Palace (ie. old, crappy theatres in Windsor that I think are awesome)– but I love small theatres so I wasn’t deterred.

Besides, who can turn down a free movie with free refreshments and popcorn?

HungerGames

I love free shit.

A couple of things that I didn’t like about the movie were Woody Harrelson as Haymitch. I think he exposed his cunning too early on in the story. I guess I mean he could have been a bit more drunk more often. Also the camera work was shaky at times which I found slightly annoying/nauseating.

I liked how they tied in the Game Maker’s perspective and I thought the characters of both Katniss and Peeta were pretty spot-on in terms of the acting. Also I found Katniss’ ignorance of Peeta’s feelings to be much less annoying in the movie than it was in the book.

I’ve read the Hunger Games books and overall I thought that the movie was a really good adaptation. Definitely worth paying money to go see.


Next up was Theatre Alive’s version of the musical Chicago which we saw at the St. Clair Centre in Windsor on Saturday night.

chicago

It was good. Entertaining.

The theatre group did a good job at it, but in general I don’t find the storyline of Chicago very interesting. But at least it’s better than Cats. (Side note: Does anyone get why Cats was so popular? It was a story based on singing and dancing alley cats for Christ’s sake.)

Mostly I was just annoyed by how hot it was in the theatre. I spent the entire time fanning myself with the programme.

A movie and a play is the most arts and entertainment I’ve ever gotten in one weekend. It made for an eventful couple of days but with all the money that we spent it’ll be a while before we go out on the town again.

22 Mar

On Babies

I started writing a post about my thoughts and opinions on children today. In my head it was going to be really sarcastic and superficial but once I started typing it morphed into a candid revelation of emotion that was more honest that I ever intended on being. So now it’s sitting in my draft folder and waiting to be published, though I can’t be certain it will.

Now I’m grasping for something trivial to post about but I’m all out of ideas. So here are some internet memes that basically sum it all up.

(source)

 

(source)

20 Mar

Running Pains and Other Updates

DSCF7432

I’ve been having some shin and calf pain lately when I run. It’s really weird. Besides the occasional muscle soreness, I’ve never had any pain from running before.

Last week on a 3-miler my legs were sore enough for me to make a mental note not to run on the weekend. My mental notes are hardly reliable, so of course when Matt asked me on Saturday morning if I wanted to go for a run with him I forgot immediately. (Running with Matt rarely happens and I always jump at the chance when it does.)

About 5 paces into the our run, I remembered my mental note.

Matt is a pretty fast runner, so luckily we were keeping the pace slower than normal otherwise I might have been limping back to the house. I spent the rest of Saturday icing my shins and calves, hoping for the best, and wondering how the pain happened in the first. I haven’t even been running all that much, maybe 10 or 12 miles a week. Could it be my circuit training?

In any case, I plan to not run at all this week. Instead I’m going spend my cardio days in spinning class at the gym, and maybe take an extra yoga class if I can find the time. It’s been a while since I’ve taken spinning and it will be nice to do a group exercise class again for a change of pace.

In other news, my sugar-free Lent has been going alright. I have had a few candies here and there and once I ate some strawberry yoghurt without even thinking about it, but otherwise I’ve been eating a lot of fruit and dates to satisfy my sweet tooth. My favourite sweet snack has been a frozen banana blended with cocoa powder in the food processor until it gets to an ice cream consistency. It’s almost as good as ice cream.

On the guitar-playing front, I recently picked up an electronic tuner so my music sounds tolerable, and a capo so I can sing along with the right pitch. It’s made a huge difference and now I’ve moved on from playing just Wonderwall.

I’m learning Turn the Page by Bob Seger and Hurt by Johnny Cash. My fingertips are starting to get callused but not so much that I can play for longer than about 40 minutes without  them hurting too much. At which point I just give up, eat my chocolate banana ice cream, and call it a night.

16 Mar

Black Women are Heavier and Happier

(source)
“F.A.T. means fabulous and thick, full and tasty, fluffy and tender.” – Mo’nique

There was an article last month from the Washington Post which amazed me. In it the writer discusses a poll that indicated black women are heavier and happier with their bodies than white women.

First, I should mention that I was a bit deterred by the inevitable attention drawn to the fear that these happy black women are “on the slippery slope toward higher rates of obesity”. This point, in a way, equates having a negative body image with having a healthy BMI– as if hating your body fat will somehow make you healthier; if this were true I would have been the fittest teenage girl in my high school.

Another contention with the article was the Washington-area personal trainer quoted as saying “Every white woman who wants to work out and train wants to be petite, petite, no curves, no hips, no butt, nothing, just toned.” Dude, please make less broad-sweeping statements.

Last time I checked, I was a white woman. And last time I checked my 42″ derrière in the mirror (which was exactly 15 minutes ago, btw) I thought it was awesome and I may or may not have nodded in approval. And I can’t be the only one, right?

*crickets*

Moving on.

I did however think the main message of the article was powerful.

“[Black women] report having appreciably higher levels of self-esteem. Although 41 percent of average-sized or thin white women report having high self-esteem, that figure was 66 percent among black women considered by government standards to be overweight or obese.”

I’ll pause while you read that again.

So while normal-sized white chicks are flipping through fashion mags while hating themselves for not being quite thin enough, their full-figured black counterparts are loving life and their bodies.

The article is a clear example of how beauty standards are defined by culture.

Since the portrayal of black women in the mainstream media has historically been suppressed, they don’t have a media image with which to identify in the way that white women do. Their definition of beauty has been established in their own communities instead and they clearly have been better off for it. Their definition of beauty isn’t based on the number of the scale, but on things like style, carriage, and confidence.

In reading through the quotes from the women interviewed I was impressed by their clear sense of self. Their beauty wasn’t defined by some standard image but instead by their adherence to the identity they carved for themselves. This is something I aspire to.

In the white world, this it’s virtually revolutionary. Think about it: A plus-sized black woman who defines herself as beautiful is just that, a beautiful women, while in white culture she would be a woman taking a stand.

I’ll leave you with this quote from plus-sized personal trainer Michelle Gibson: “I can never be mad at this thin person. I say, ‘You’re sexy, you’ve got it going on. But don’t think for one minute that I don’t feel the same about myself.’ ”

I’d like to take a page from her book.

15 Mar

Grenadian Oil Down Recipe

So how about that weather today? It would have been a nice day for, say, June but I don’t think I’m ready for 23 degree weather in March quite yet. It feels like the tropics.

. . . and speaking of the tropics (cheesy segue). . .

It’s time for another Eating the Alphabet recipe link-up where each month we make a recipe featuring a fruit, vegetable, legume, or whole grain from a different set of letters of the alphabet.

February was Artichokes and Buttercup Squash with Buttercup Squash Pasta

March is C and D, and I chose a tuber that I’ve never worked with before:

Cassava

Cassava

Cassava is also known as yucca, but you may know it better as tapioca. It’s were tapioca starch comes from, so if you’ve had tapioca pudding then you’ve had cassava.

It tastes a bit like potato and the two can often be used interchangeably.

Cassava is, of course, a good source of starch. It is also high in fibre, and rich in calcium and vitamin C, but deficient in most other vitamins and minerals.

Cassava

Cassava grows in tropical climates and it is one reliable food source! It grows particularly well in poor soils, even without fertilization, and it is drought resistant.

Cassava is a staple food in Africa but is also served widely in Asia and the West Indies. It can prepared in a variety of ways from savoury to sweet. For this recipe we’re going savoury and we’re going to the Caribbean: Grenada.

The Recipe

Grenadian Oil Down

Oil Down is the national dish of Grenada and is usually made at a big party on the beach, or so I’ve read. I made this in my kitchen, so it’s not quite as fun, but it still tastes awesome.

Oil Down is a coconut stew that’s usually made with meat, but this version is also vegan, so, bonus points!

I’ve made this recipe before using parsnips as a substitute for what turned out to be a rotten cassava. It tastes much better with cassava than parsnips, in my opinion, since cassava has a much more subdued flavour.

Matt was a huge fan of this recipe and kept saying how much he liked it. I love when that happens (especially if the dish is a vegan one, hehe). He especially loved the dumplings.

If you like coconut and if you like dumplings (okay, who doesn’t like dumplings?) then you’ll probably like this recipe. Give it a try.

Grenadian Oil Down

Grenadian Oil Down

from Global Table Adventure

Stew:

3 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 T vegetable oil
1 large cassava
1 Tbsp curry powder
1 jalapeno pepper, diced
2 cans coconut milk
2 cups water
2 cups chopped rapini (or spinach)
salt & pepper

Dumplings:

1 c all purpose flour
1/4 c masa harina
1/2 t salt
warm water, as needed

Directions:

Heat oil over medium heat in a large pot. Add the onions, carrots, and celery and saute until softened.

Meanwhile, peel the cassava and cut it in half lengthwise. It has a tough, fibrous core (like a pineapple) that you don’t want so cut each half in half again, lengthwise, so you can cut out the centre. Then chop the cassava into 1″ pieces.

Cassava

Add the curry powder and diced hot pepper to the pot. Stir and let cook for about a minute.

Add in the coconut milk, yucca, and water.

Bring the stew to a boil then reduce the heat to allow it to simmer, uncovered, for thirty minutes.

Meanwhile make the dumplings:

Caribbean DUmplings

Stir the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Add a little warm water at a time, kneading lightly until a soft dough forms comes together into a ball.

Roll bits of dough between your palms, to make about 20 dumplings that are tapered and about 2″ in diameter.

Now, back to the oil-down. After the 30 minutes are up, stir in the rapini.

Then stir the dumplings in and cook for 15 to 30 minutes more until the stew gets thick and the dumplings are cooked.

Serve with rice.


Eating Alphabet JPG

14 Mar

3 Day Circuit Workout

So I’ve learned to play Wonderwall on the guitar from start to finish without any many screw-ups. And I can sing along! This guitar learning thing is going famously.

In weight training news:

BeastMode

I finished up my most recent 8 week strength building routine. I made a few modifications in the last 4 weeks like supersetting arm exercises and increasing rest time to 2:00-3:00 squats, bench presses, and deadlifts.

I’m really happy with how much strength I’ve gained in the last 8 weeks. One guy at the gym told me that he wouldn’t want to mess with me after seeing me deadlift what was probably his body weight. Sweet.

Some of the increased I made in the last 8 weeks are:

-back squat by 30lbs (145lb to 175lb)
-bench press by 20lb (105lb to 125lb)
-leg press by 180lb (360lb to 540lb)
-chin-ups from hang (up to 2 from none)
-hammer curls by 5lb (25lb to 30lb)

Also I can now do 35 consecutive push-ups, that’s 1/3 of the way to my beast mode goal of 100.

I started a new workout 3 Day Circuit Workout for full body that I’ll be doing for the next 6 weeks. This one is heavy on the cardio/muscular endurance. I will alternate training days with cardio days (usually 3 to 5 mile runs).

Click here for a PDF version with working links.

Tonight I ran 5.2 miles which is the most that I have run since the marathon. I felt great, had a decent pace going, I only walked once, and I finished in 47:00. All in all, a good run!

12 Mar

flour girl: Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread (2)

I spoke to my sister on the phone yesterday and told her that I made Irish soda bread that afternoon. I thought that she didn’t like soda bread, but she said that she was “pretty sure she did”. Pretty sure? That wasn’t very convincing, so I didn’t believe her.

Tonight at dinner Matt grabbed some panini out of the freezer. Didn’t he want my soda bread? I asked him. “Umm yeah, I don’t like soda bread.” Well, I knew someone didn’t like soda bread.

In any case, Matt said that this was the best soda bread he’s had, even though he didn’t like it. And didn’t want to eat it. Not exactly a raving review, but I’ll take it I suppose.

So, I’m talking about baking soda, yet again, but this time about it’s leavening properties.

Most breads rise because of yeast, which is an organic leavener, but some, like cornbread or Irish soda bread use baking soda for leavening. As an alkali, baking soda reacts with the acidic components of the dough to release carbon dioxide; this reaction makes the dough rise.

Normally Irish Soda Bread includes buttermilk, but since I didn’t have any on hand I subbed in some plain yoghurt instead. Yoghurt, like buttermilk, is acidic so it reacts with the baking soda to help the bread rise.

Irish Soda Bread

What I really like about this recipe is the inclusion of oats. I absolutely love the taste of oats and any time I can include it in my multigrain breads or crackers or cookies I will.

This bread is really good for breakfast with a smear of butter.

Irish Soda Bread

Ingredients

250g all purpose flour (~2 cups)
250g whole wheat flour (~2 cups)
100g oats (~1 cup)
1 t baking soda
1 t salt
25g butter, cut in pieces (~2 Tbsp)
1 c milk
1 c plain yoghurt

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400F and spray a lined baking sheet with pan spray.

Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl, then rub in the butter with your fingers.

Mix in the milk and yogurt mix by hand, being gentle as you handle it (you don’t want to over knead it). Turn it onto a floured surfaced and shape it into a flat, round loaf about 1-1/2″ thick.

Transfer to the baking sheet and score a deep cross in the top. Bake for 30-35 minutes until browned and the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped.

Let cool on a rack before serving.

This post was submitted to Yeastspotting
12 Mar

Date of the Month Club: March

Time for another Date Night.

March Date NightMarch Date Night

March’s card turned out to be a bowling date, so we headed to Bowlero, slightly earlier than the high school “rock ‘n bowl” crowd (side note: man, I loved rock ‘n bowl as a teenager), for a couple of games.

March Date Night

I’ve always been a crappy bowler. In my worst game ever I bowled a whopping 5.

I have also always been a bad loser, so combining the two meant that as a kid I was a bit of an asshole to bowl with and I wasn’t a huge fan of the sport.

I started to grow out of that when I would rock ‘n bowl with my friends as a teenager, and I found my ineptitude more comical than anything.

DSCF8946

It’s been about 4 or 5 years since the last time I bowled, so it was fun to go out and play again and I think it made a good date night.

March Date Night

The first game started out ok. I managed to get into the groove of bowling again and got a couple of spares. I ended up with a respectable (for me, anyway) 76 points. Matt got 96.

In our second game I hit the highest score I’ve ever had: 111.

March Date Night
(I’m the first S, Matt is the second S for ‘Stinky’)

 

March Date Night

We finished the night off with some coffees at Starbucks and discussed what character each of us would be portrayed as if we were on a reality TV show. I figured Matt would be played off as slightly arrogant but funny and likeable. Matt said I could go both ways, and the producers would either see me as a competitive bitch or a total sweetheart. That sounds about accurate.


Date of the Month Club

Check out other posts in the Date of the Month club, where Matt and I go on one special date every month of 2012:

January – Bookstore Scavanger Hunt
February – Board Game Night
March – Bowling
April – Detroit Walking Tour
May – Colasanti’s
June – Picnic
July – Next Restaurant
August – Detroit Tigers Baseball Game
September – Detroit Institute of Arts
October – Wine Tasting