Thursday, March 29, 2012

Kale Chips

I had read in a couple of different places that baked kale tastes like potato chips. Sounds untrue, right? I like proving people wrong, so I decided to try my hand at baked kale chips.

First you get a bunch of kale and chop it up. You can give it a rough chop because it cooks down significantly. Put the chopped kale in a large bowl and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. I think you kind of have to eyeball the olive oil. I'd start with a tablespoon and see if you need anymore after you are done tossing the kale around a bit. You want every piece to have a bit of oil on it, but you don't want them saturated in oil. For the salt, I used sea salt, which was a mistake. The kale turned out too salty. I'd use a teaspoon and taste a leaf raw. If you can't taste salt, sprinkle the bowl a little more. For the pepper, I used generous amounts of black and cayenne because I like things spicy. As I say, pep to taste.

Once it's all tossed, spread it out on a baking sheet and pop into a 275 degree oven. The kale will cook quickly, so keep your eye on it. I'd also maybe take it out as it cooks down and spread it out so it all cooks evenly.

When it's done, this is how it looks:

I was surprised at how crispy it got. I was worried it would end up being soggy. As for how it tasted...

Kirby was just begging me for a bite.

I'm the weak link, so I threw him a piece. Here he is chewing it. My camera missed the part where he spit it out and ran away.

Surprisingly, the kale chips do taste a lot like potato chips. Although, it was no substitute for chips and I'm pretty sure they would have been awful dipped in Bermuda Onion chip dip. However, it was a decent snack. I think they are better served as a side dish for dinner than as a snack.

A couple of chef's notes. One, don't burn the kale. I usually like things burnt (popcorn, toast, chips, campfire potatoes) so I was thinking that I'd like the burnt kale. The burnt kale pieces, however, become bitter which doesn't taste so great. Two, I think that squeezing fresh lemon would have given the chips a better flavor or even adding some lemon zest. After eating a couple, I started feeling very meh about the whole thing and lemons would give it that added flavor boost.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Me On: Skincare

I was just with some girlfriends and we were talking about skincare. More specifically, we were talking about how our skincare needs are changing now that we are in our 30's. I've been noticing that my skin isn't quite as smooth as it once was and also that the skin around my eyes is showing its age. Ruh-roh. I think I need to look for some eye products before I start looking like an old grandma.

I am really into skincare. I've tried multiple products over the years and these are my favorites:

When I went through puberty, I had horrible skin. I used all of these awful products prescribed to me by a dermatologist and nothing worked. The Retin-A was the worst. It left my skin with this weird, filmy feeling and caused my skin to burn so badly even while wearing the highest level of SPF known to man. A classmate of mine had the most perfect skin, so I asked her what she used and she told me Clinique. I wash my face every night with the soap bar and then detoxify with the toner. I love the feeling that my skin has after I'm done washing it. It feels soft, clean and cool.

During the summer, I use the toner multiply times during the day whenever my skin starts feeling icky and oily.

I use Fresh's Umbrian Clay Face Treatment as needed. Usually that's once a month during the winter and once a week when the weather is humid. This clay mask is the best thing that has ever happened to me. You put this goopy clay on, leave it for 5 minutes and you can see it seeping into your pores. Then I wash it off with warm water and my skin instantly feels rejuvenated. It also clears away blemishes. If I start to feel a blemish forming, I use this mask and it never comes to surface. It's amazing!

The last product that I use is toothpaste. You heard that right, toothpaste. When I was a teenager, I read somewhere that toothpaste will zap a zit overnight. It sounded too good to be true, but it's totally true. Any zit that I feel starting to form, I first dab with extra Clinique toner, then dab a tiny bit of the umbrian clay mask and then glob on toothpaste. When I wake up in the morning the zit is always gone. Only once has the toothpaste failed me and I think it's because I waited too long to apply it.

My routine is really simple, but effective. Now, I need to find some old lady eye cream to add to the mix. Anyone have suggestions?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Random Acts of Douchebaggery

There's a new trend in the fresh herb retail game that is really pissing me off. It's this idea that the herbs should be packaged while still attached to the dirt. I can't understand how this is better than just packaging the herbs without the dirt?

At first, I thought it was because the herbs would keep longer being attached to the dirt. Which, let's be honest, this is probably the theory behind this asinine concept. What happens in reality, however, is either the attached dirt is so wet that it causes extreme condensation in the greenhouse like plastic container and then the herbs mold because they are too wet, or the dirt is so dry that it just crumbles all over the place and gets into the herbs.

Whether the dirt is wet or dry, it ends up all over your counter no matter how careful you are. Which is my real reason for douching the assholes that thought of this. When I am cooking, the last thing that I want is a dirty counter or cutting board. Every single time I have used these herbs I try to be so careful not to get the dirt out of the container, but to no avail.

I believe these herb manufacturers are evil. Not only are they charging us $5 for a small amount of something that is actually super easy and cheap to grow on your own, but now they are dirtying up our kitchens. I will not stand for this. Herb people, you are hereby RAD'd.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The One Where I Feel Fat

Friends, about a year and a half ago, I had a big problem. I became allergic to a medicine that I was taking, and my entire body puffed up like a blow fish. It was awful. In order to combat the reaction, I was given a variety of medications including Prednisone, which is a steroid. I'd never been on a steroid medicine before and holy hell was it awful. When you are on steroids, you have to eat all of the time. And you aren't hungry for fruits and vegetables. You are hungry for meat, cheese, doughnuts, meat, meat and meat.

The picture above was on my 4th or 5th day of the steroids and you can see the puffiness and bloatedness in my face. My poor baby brother had to experience some of my roid rage. We were going to the Twins playoff game that day and my dad decided to park about 4 miles from the stadium. It was hot, I was walking for what seemed like forever and I hadn't eaten anything in a few hours. Chaos ensued. I threw a temper tantrum at my brother telling him that I needed to eat immediately and I couldn't walk another minute before I ate something. The only thing that I wanted was a hot dog, so I'm pretty sure I tried to convince him to run to Target Field and get me a hot dog and then run back and find me and give it to me. When we finally made it to the stadium, I ran to the hot dog stand. It was weird.

Anyhow, the Prednisone made me gain weight and I've never been able to shed it off. It's frustrating. I've never had a problem with weight and have never, ever dieted before. I know, boo-effing-hoo. But, now it's been a year and a half and my Prednisone bloat is still upon me and I feel humiliated that I don't know how to get rid of it. I go for long walks, no change. I cut out red meats, no change. I limit the amount of times I go out to eat, no change. I stop eating snacks during the day, no change. I try using My Fitness Pal, no change.

I really want to get rid of these lingering 5-10 pounds. Any suggestions on a diet that won't make me crazy? Because when I'm hungry I get cray-cray. Also, this problem makes me terrified of getting pregnant. Because if I can't get rid of my roid weight, how the hell will I get rid of baby weight?

Friday, March 9, 2012

Beauty and the Beast - Live On Stage

One of the problems with Disney's Hollywood Studios is how difficult it is to plan your day. There's quite a few stage shows that only play at certain times, so you have to catch them when you can. Sometimes it means you are running from one end of the park to the other and back again. Also, the park is not laid out as clearly as the other parks and it's easy to get lost. In fact, before my last trip to Disney, I was researching food places in Hollywood Studios and heard about this restaurant that I had never in my many trips to the parks even seen. So, the other bad thing about Hollywood Studios is that you tend to miss a lot.

Anyhow, the Beauty and the Beast stage show is not my favorite. It's not terrible, but it's basically just a shortened version of the Disney movie and there's nothing that makes me say "We need to see that." So, we usually miss it because the times don't match up in our day.

If you've seen the movie, you know the basic plot of what happens. Beautiful girl is trapped by hideous beast, but learns to love him and breaks the spell! The costumes are very pretty and they keep a good sense of magic about the story. Plus they have all the traditional songs and some good dancing.

I'm not sure why I'm not very into this one. I think the best way to schedule it is to grab a "show schedule" when you first arrive at Hollywood Studios and prioritize your. You need to see "Lights, Motors, Action" and they typically only do that one a few times a day. I think that Indiana Jones is also good (although if you have younger kids, they might be more interested in Beauty and the Beast), so plan on going to that one. Then there is the new American Idol Experience that is also so-so. There's also a parade that is fun for younger kids and Fantasmic (which they don't do every night) which is an awesome fireworks show. It's actually a seated show and while it's a huge amphitheater, to get the best seats, you have to arrive early. My point in all of this is that Hollywood Studios is a park where you really do have to plan your day out and it's best to do that at the beginning of the day so you know when all of the shows are playing.

This show is just mediocre, but if you have young kids who love the movie, they will definitely love the stage show. 2/5 or 4/10 stars.

I don't know why, but Lumiere always cracks me up. This topiary is so dorky.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Book Thief

The Book Thief was like a really good friend that you haven't seen for ages. When you get back together, you just talk and talk and talk and feel so good inside because so much has happened. But, then when someone asks you "How is so-and-so?" you can't even begin to tell them because there is so much and it's tiring and your mind feels like exploding.

The Book Thief has a lot of subplots. The heroine, Liesel, is living with a foster family that took her in when her real family's lives were in danger. Homegirl has this weird habit of stealing books even though she can't read. However, Liesel's foster father comforts her when she has nightmares about what has happened to her real family by teaching her to read. Literacy saves lives.

The foster family has another secret...they are hiding a Jewish man in their basement. The family is terrified that their secret will be discovered, but they develop a strong friendship with the man and their moral compass triumphs over their fear. Liesel and the man become very good friends, which, if I had one gripe with the book it would be that the relationship between Liesel and Max was a little bit off. Off in the sense that I was uncomfortable that a young girl was spending so much time alone in a basement with an adult male who was not related to her.

Other story lines involve Liesel and her childhood crush, Liesel stealing books from the mayor's home, Liesel getting involved in a band of misfits, and a bombing that destroys a village. Let's just say the book ends with a boom.

The story is so gripping because the entire time you know that tragedy is just one step away from poor Liesel. After all, the narrator of the story is Death. Yet, there's more happy than sad in the story and even the tragedy is somewhat uplifting because of the way that people lead their lives.

4/5 or 8/10 stars.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Spring Things

Spring is just around the corner! Yay! Here are things I'm looking forward to:

  • Movies. The Hunger Games on 3/23, The Wrath of the Titans on 3/30, The Pirates: Band of Misfits on 4/27 (can anyone say asexual claymation?) and The Avengers on 5/4 are ones I'm really looking forward to. I will post more about The Avengers closer to the premiere date as I actually saw some of the filming in Cleveland, OH.

  • Pirates. The Science Museum of Minnesota has a pirates exhibition going on. I'm hoping to see it soon. I have mad love for the SMM and this exhibit looks really different and neat. Hopefully it's not a dud.

  • MN Landscape Arboretum and Como Zoo Conservatory. I am so anxious for daffodils and tulips to start popping up. I've never made it out to the Arboretum for their spring gardens, but hopefully this will be the year. The conservatory also has a gorgeous display every year.

  • Hammock. For my birthday last year, Mike got me a hammock. It's the most luxurious and relaxing thing. I can't wait to put it back in the yard and lay in it while reading.

  • Florida. My mom and I are going back to Disneyworld this spring. I'm so, so, so excited. I need to get some new material, so we will be trying out a couple of new restaurants and also going on a behind the scenes animal trek in Animal Kingdom. Can't wait.

  • History. The Minnesota History Center is exhibiting an early version of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights as well as an original edition of the Minnesota constitution. I feel like this is the perfect activity for a rainy spring day.

  • Baseball. I'm not a huge baseball fan, but I don't hate it either. I really love ballpark hot dogs, though, and I've been craving one lately. I'm hoping to get out to Target Field early this year.

  • Things I'm Not Doing, But Wish I Was. Florence and the Machine is coming to the Twin Cities and I really, really wanted to go. Like, really bad. But, when tickets went on sale to the general public, there were literally 5 seats available and none of them were sitting next to each other. I've looked on stubhub, but they are so expensive. Sorry Flo, not this time.

I think this is going to be a very hectic spring. I'm hoping to enjoy it to the fullest!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

In And Out

One thing that I like to do while traveling is visit fad fast food places that aren't available in the Sota. It's weird because I almost never eat fast food at home, but am always finding places out of town that I'm dying to try.

This fall, on our Grand Canyon/Vegas vacation, I found out that we would be driving through a city in Arizona that had an In-N-Out Burger. I was so excited. In-N-Out Burger is pretty heavily hyped and I had even heard that it was the "best fast food place." I asked my SoCal friend if In-N-Out was worth the hype and she said "Absolutely, you will love it."

Is it crazy that I did not love it? First of all, the line situation drove me nuts. When we walked into the restaurant, there was no formal line, just a bunch of people standing around staring at the menu on the wall like assholes. I asked a couple of people if they were in line and they said yes, so I got behind them. Then an old couple came in and was like "I can't see the menu from back here", so they stepped in front of me and then when the cashier asked who was next, they just walked up to her LIKE THEY OWNED THE PLACE. I was livid. I do not take breeches of line queues lightly and it always makes me mad when cashiers know that people are cutting and do nothing about it.

Okay, but this really doesn't have anything to do with the food. The menu is very simple: hamburger, cheeseburger, double-double, french fries, soda. Both Mike and I got the cheeseburger and a basket of fries. The fries were awesome, but fried potatoes are often awesome. I was really excited about the burger until I realized that the "special sauce" contained chopped pickles.

Can we talk about pickles for a minute. I hate pickles. Hate, hate, HATE them. I can't explain in writing how strongly I feel in my hate for pickles. If I wanted pickles on my burger, I would've asked for pickles. The fine people at In-N-Out, however, have given me no choice. I am having pickles on my burger. I tried to scrape as much of the special sauce off as I could, but it was mixed into the lettuce and the pickle flavor had seeped into the bun. Gross. My burger was ruined.

The other thing that struck me about In-N-Out was how much it was not better than any other fast food restaurant. The fries were decent, but probably not better than McDonald's and the burger was...just a burger. The only different thing about it was the special sauce, which was filled with pickles. Pickles do not a special sauce make.

If you are finding yourself on the west coast, don't bother with this chain. Unless of course you're one of those "pickle eaters."

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Odd Facts

Here are 10 odd facts about me.

10. I will not eat any fruit that has a sticker on it. I have no explanation for it, but it's been that way since I've been young. There's something about the sticker that really grosses me out.

9. I have severe photographer's remorse. I love taking pictures and documenting everything. I love other people who take photos of everything. I, however, am completely embarrassed whenever I am taking photos or other people ask to take photos of me or with me. So, usually I won't do it and then regret it later. There are several events/trips in my life where looking back on the pictures I'm sad that I don't have a photo of me and another person.

8. I hand wrote all of my notes in law school. Almost everyone else was using a laptop to write their notes. I told everyone that I couldn't have a laptop in class because I'd get too distracted by the internets (which is probably true), but the real reason was that I loved creating outlines of notes in a notebook and wouldn't give it up for the world.

7. I often wikipedia the endings of books before I'm done reading them. I'm a slow reader, but very impatient. I can't stand the suspense of not knowing what will happen to a certain character, so I usually wikipedia the book to find out how it ends before I'm done reading it.

6. I have OCD about finishing things. I have to finish something before I move onto the next thing. For instance, I cannot fill up my gas tank until the gas light goes on. Or I cannot start a new thing of lotion until my current one is completely gone.

5. To me, coffee smells like baby vomit.

4. I love cooking, but it usually stresses me out so much that I scream obscenities in the kitchen when I'm doing it.

3. I am allergic to multiple kinds of medications. Multiple. I fear for my future.

2. I love being in pajamas. When I come home from work and have nothing else going on that evening, I put my pajamas on right away. It feels like heaven. I, however, do not believe in wearing pajama pants outside of the house.

1. I have gotten contacts 3 different times and never been able to get them in on a consistent basis. Twice they have gotten stuck in my eyes. Once I had to go to the ER to have them extracted. Last week, I purchased my fourth pair. I will not get married in glasses. Please wish me luck.