Kitchen Experiments: Brown Rice Blues

It is a well known fact that cooking isn’t a strong suit. Sometimes I can follow a recipe and have pretty decent results. It never looks as pretty as the picture but the taste usually works out. Other times I can take a perfectly simple recipe and still find a way to mess it up. Usually this happens when I get too confident and start to improvise, like the time I attempted guacamole… Or the time I tried to make egg in a whole using a stack of bread with holes ripped out of the middle instead of using a bagel… Or the other day when I made a large batch of brown rice.

Yup. Brown Rice.

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I know it seems like an impossible feat but don’t be so sure, my friends. I managed to screw up the worlds easiest recipe. Let me share my sad pathetic tale so that you all may learn from my mistake. Lets start with the instructions shall we?

  1. Bring rice and liquid to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, 40-50 minutes.

Two simple instructions. That’s all there is to it. I was making a large batch because I am attempting to eat healthier meals and that means planning ahead. I’m participating in The Fitnessista’s Summer Shape Up Challenge. This is a challenge that Gina holds twice a year for free on her blog. She provides multiple clean eating recipe suggestions and a weekly workout schedule, more on this later. A lot of the recipes call for quinoa as a side or as a salad topping. But I’ll be honest I’m not a huge quinoa fan so I decided to sub in brown rice. It’s not as healthy but I mean its better than white rice, am I right?!

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So anyway, I was making a weeks worth of brown rice for lunches and dinners. I decided I was gonna get fancy and use an equal mixture of vegetable broth and water for my rice. So I put the rice, broth and water in the pot, z17040393O,--Downton-Abbey----fot--ITV-turned up the heat and then made a last section decision to add a little salt to the water because that’s what a chef would do, obviously. Once the pot was boiling I turned down that heat, turned on an episode of Downton Abby and occasionally stirred. After a totally dramatic episode (aren’t they all, seriously I cannot get enough of this show!) the liquid was absorbed and the rice was ready to go! I removed it from the heat, let it cool for a few minutes and then took a big heaping spoonful into my mouth…

…YOWZA that is some very SALTY rice! Way to go me! How did this happen?! I did NOT put that much salt in the water! Then it hit me, the broth was ALSO salted. So by using both my end result was very, very salty. Like ocean level salty.

The good news: The rice is still edible as long as there is something mixed in. Yesterday I had a veggie and rice bowl for lunch with avocado, red pepper, cucumber, spinach and chic peas with a lime balsamic dressing. Once mixed together the saltyness (it’s a word now..) of the rice was hardly noticeable. And today I had salmon and rice with a salad, once again after it was all mixed up, delicious, but I had a couple rice only spoonfuls and they were strong.

In the future I’m just gonna stick with good ol’ water. Lesson learned.

Have you ever messed up a super easy recipe? Share in the comments!

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My failed attempt at being a foodie

There are two types of people in this world: people who have a natural instinct for cooking and people who do not. Sadly, I am the second type of person. I can’t cook. No, that is an understatement. I cannot do anything in the kitchen at all, I am useless. If I’m being kind to myself I would say I make a pretty mean bowl of stove popped popcorn… But that basically sums up my cooking abilities.

Most of the time I don’t really care that I can’t cook. Lucas did some time in culinary school and he is super passionate about food, so I am fairly content to let him make me delicious eats. But every so often I feel a desire to be creative in the kitchen, this most often occurs when I am scrolling through pinterest or reading some of my favourite food blogs (because although I rarely make food, I love to look at it… that’s not totally weird right?!)

So yesterday I was reading a post from one of my favs, Eating Bird Food by Brittany Mullins. This girl is adorable and she comes up with some fantastic healthy recipes. Once I made a roasted broccoli quinoa from a recipe that she posted and it was actually so delicious! Turns out I’m not completely useless if I follow instructions. Anywhoo, Brittany recently posted a breakfast recipe for guacamole on toast with an egg and after reading it I just knew I had to try it! The guac recipe that Brittany posted called for frozen peas and some other fun things that I didn’t have at home so I decided to cut my losses and just make regular plain guacamole for my toast and egg.

The following is an accurate account of the internal dialogue I had with myself while cooking this morning:

Oh my gosh! I have 20 minutes before I need to leave the house! I have time to make breakfast today. I should make the guac on toast with an egg thing! Alright google, how do you make guacamole??

Mash an avocado. Easy, okay.

Sprinkle some salt, awesome I love salt.

1 table spoon of lime juice. oops… that’s more than 1 table spoon, whatever I’m sure its fine.

Minced onion. Well I hate onion and I have no idea what minced means so lets skip that…

Hot chiles, also minced. What is this mincing? Regardless, I don’t have hot chilies. Skip!

Cilantro. Disgusting. Skip!

Ground black peper. Finally, something I can add.

Tomatoes. Pulp and seeds removed and chopped… I like the pulp and seeds so I’ll keep that stuff in. Chop chop.

Wow that egg looks perfect, way to go alex. You rock, you kitchen goddess. Guac on toast, egg on top of that! mmmm here we go!

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You all know whats going to happen next. You read the title of this post. It was disgusting! Just horrid! Absolutely awful. Obviously my recipe variations did not translate into magnificent food, instead it was a slimy, bitter, salty mess. At this point I have 3 minutes to eat and get out the door, so I hastily scraped my guac into the garbage and ate my egg on plain toast. For the record the egg actually was perfect. Next time I promise to follow the recipe and I probably wont attempt to be creative in the kitchen at 7:00 am ever again.

Have you ever had a foodie failure? Share in the comments!

Growing Up is Hard: The Backpack

This morning I was sitting on the train and after easily storing my backpack beneath my seat I was enjoying some morning people watching… As one does at 8 am on a Wednesday. Usually when I people watch (which is more often than I’d care to admit), I like to imagine what type of job people are going to based on their clothing. As it is currently the dead of winter and everyone is wearing coats and hats, this game is not quite as fun but I still find myself watching. Today, I watched a woman fight her way through the crowd with a very large faux leather purse, an even larger tote bag and a lunch box. That’s right, 3 bags! She was knocking into people, she couldn’t walk in a straight line and when she finally found a seat she struggled to sit with all three of those big bags on her lap. And I found myself thinking, “Wwwwhhhhyyyy? No purse is not worth that struggle! What do you even have in there, woman?!”

I would be willing to bet money that what she has in all those bags is still less or equal to what I carry in my easy to store backpack. Today for example my backpack contains the following:

  • iPad Mini
  • 600 page novel (currently book marked on page 447)
  • 3 granola bars
  • My glasses
  • A pair of black heels and a pair of black flatsgraphics-dora-the-explorer-162890
  • My makeup case, my Naked eye shadow pallet and a hair brush
  • Water bottle
  • Two 420 mL containers of hearty chicken soup
  • Lip gloss, lip balm, hand lotion, nail polish and a nail buffing block
  • My wallet

That, my friends, is a lot of stuff. But it all fits comfortably inside my handy dandy backpack, most days you will also find running shoes and gym clothing in there as well. So basically this is how I feel when I’m wearing my backpack.

While I love how I feel in my backpack, I don’t love how I look. My backpack is old, worn out, faded and dirty. I’ve had this thing since my second year of university and it has served me well. But I’m not a student anymore, I may not feel like a grown up yet but I do have a grown up job, so I guess I need to start acting and dressing like a big girl. The backpack makes me look young, I am well aware of this fact. In the mornings there is a group of high school kids who take the same bus as me and I have the same bag as at least half of them. It is marginally embarrassing…

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The problem is that I’m not willing to give up my backpack without a suitable replacement. Obviously I carry a lot of stuff with me on a daily basis. I would cut back but lets be real, on a good day I’m out of the house for at least 12 hours so I need a lot of things and the last thing I want to do is spend 12 hours looking like this. Literally nobody wants that.

So I’ve tried a variety of different options and none of them have won me over. Maybe I’m too picky, but maybe those bags just suck.

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The Tote Bag

Adorable but fits virtually nothing… also hello shoulder pain

Folding-Travel-Bag-Foldable-font-b-Duffel-b-font-Tote-font-b-Carry-b-font-SackThe Duffle Bag

Seriously, look at the size of that thing. That is not even slightly practical.

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The Purse

Nothing fits in a purse. Nothing. Not my books, not my shoes, not my lunch. Therefore the purse is dead to me.

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The Briefcase

My dad carries a briefcase and therefore I do not. Nuff said.

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The Backpack

How awesome does this girl look with her backpack?! Her stuff fits, she is comfortable and she looks great. I rest my case. The backpack is and always will be the way to go. Now I just need to find a backpack that says “mature but fun” and “youthful adult”. Wish me luck!

What bag do you carry? Share in the comments!

The Story of the Most Embarrassing Wednesday.

I feel like I’ve been lied to, misled and deceived. You spend your whole life believing something to be true only to find out that it isn’t. How is one supposed to go on in this world wracked with uncertainty?!

Okay, okay, I’m being a tad over dramatic… Alright, more than a tad. But I stand by that first statement: I feel like I’ve been lied to. The fitness blogs, the magazines, the personal trainers, they all lied. “Working out is good for you! It is the best thing you can do for your body!” Lies, all lies. I know what you’re all thinking “Alex, what are you grumbling on about? Working out IS good for you.” Well to that I say, you weren’t the one in the hospital yesterday were you! Yup, that’s right. I spent the majority of my Wednesday in the emergency room all thanks to exercise.

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Let me share my warning tale. On Tuesday night I went to the gym. I had recently read an article about how the rowing machine is a super-duper full body workout. So I set myself down, put on some bass heavy jams and nailed out 20 minutes of hard core rowing. I felt great afterwards. I could really feel it in my abs and my shoulders but it was that good kind of pain that makes you feel like you’re really making a difference to your body. After that I did a short 15 minute run. No big, right? WRONG. Apparently, I pulled or sprained my diaphragm muscle.

92936-004-8881E781For those of you who are not aware the diaphragm is a thin muscle that sits below the lungs at the bottom of the rib cage. In non-medical terms, when you inhale it moves down and out of the way so that the lungs can expand and when you exhale it moves upwards to help push the air out. If you’ve ever sung in a choir or played an instrument you may have heard your teacher tell you to drop your diaphragm when inhaling.

So basically my super awesome workout strained my diaphragm muscle. The muscle isn’t damaged badly enough for it to effect my normal airflow but heavy or intense breathing is an issue. I discovered this on Wednesday morning while walking to work. I was having a hell of a time inhaling, the pain in between my rib cage was so real. I attributed it to the cold air and kept on trekking (a bad idea). Once I got to my office I expected the pain to subside, it didn’t. My 20 minutes of brisk walking had caused my poor diaphragm to spasm. Naturally, I had no idea what was happening. I’m not entirely sure when this happened but I soon found myself laying on my office floor, clutching my rib cage and writhing around in pain.

At this point I had resolved that I needed to go home. The plan was to stay on the floor until the pain let up and then I was going to tell my boss that I was going to take the rest of the day as a sick day. Unfortunately, she found me before I was able to get off the floor and she insisted on sending me to the hospital. At this point I was in a lot of pain and I was exceptionally embarrassed. I tried to protest but she quickly helped me into her car and drove me to the ER. Once there my pain had gone down significantly but I figured I might as well see what was going on. After waiting around for an hour I was told to put on one of those horrid hospital gowns, then I was poked and prodded until it was determined that my diaphragm muscle was pulled. Then I was sent home for the day with doctor recommendations to take it easy for the next few days.

Final verdict: The pros have not been lying, working out is good for you. But when trying a new workout, don’t push yourself to hard and listen to your body.