Thursday, January 08, 2009

Bunny Food

I made grilled chicken salads for dinner last night. Those were one of the main things I ate back in 2004 when I lost 50 pounds. I gained it back over the next four years, but I'm going to try to get healthy again. Salads are easy to make, and pretty healthy if you do it right. We make them in very big bowls, so we get several servings of fresh fruits and vegetables, some lean protein, and a bit of calcium from low-fat cheese. I like crumbled feta or gorgonzola -- they have strong flavors, so a little goes a long way. We always make our salads with romaine and/or spinach since I hate bitter lettuces or any of the various icky weeds you find in "mixed greens." Leafy greens have iron, which I need, and they're filling, which I also need. Marinating and grilling a bunch of chicken at once is easy and it saves time and propane, but I have to be careful that I don't do it too much. I usually don't want to eat the same exact thing more than two nights in a row. Salads give you a lot of flexibility to add different ingredients, which helps, but I still get burned out. I think I'll keep them to once or twice a week this time.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Monday and Tuesday TV

Most of shows are still on their winter hiatus, so it's been pretty light so far this week. Gossip Girl and Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives (yay, Monday Night Food Porn) were our only new shows Monday night. GG demonstrated one of the things I like most about it in the first few minutes of this episode. Chuck Bass, recently having been orphaned, didn't just decide to dull the pain by getting wasted at home in New York, even though I'm sure drugs and alcohol are available in NYC -- no, he headed straight to a Bangkok opium den. Who does that? Chuck Bass, that's who. His grief is so overwhelming that he needed to go all the way to Thailand to smoke opium with hookers! I guess he's not sold on the whole "buy American" thing. I love how even though everything is outrageous bordering on nonsensical, many of the characters are drawn well enough that the audience can connect with them emotionally. Blair and Chuck would be outright villains on any other show, but they're my favorites. I can relate to Blair's emotional makeup way too easily (and Leighton Meester does abang-up job every week), and Chuck is just delightful. It's so wrong.

The one thing I can't figure out about GG is how the writers want us to feel about the Humphreys, especially Rufus and Dan. They're so awful most of the time. It's tough to get behind either of the epic on-again, off-again romances they're supposed to be involved in when you just want Lily and Serena to run far, far away from those creeps. During the holidays, the History Channel was running a Band of Brothers marathon and I watched some of it. There's a real cognitive dissonance watching Matthew Settle playing bad-ass supersoldier Spiers in that now that I'm so used to him as Rufus.

Last night's 90210: The New Class is still unwatched on the TiVo; I'm sure we'll get around to it eventually. I'm only marginally interested in it, but I understand they brought in some new writers and it's supposed to get better soon. Jeremy never had watched 90210: Original Flavor back in the day, and SoapNet runs two episodes a day. The first season rolled around towards the end of last summer, so we started TiVoing it. We're about halfway through Season 7 now. That's a LOT of 90210 to watch in a few months, but it's been more enjoyable than either of us expected. The nostalgia factor is high: every questionable fashion trend and hairstyle from my high school and college years; topical references stuff like the Whitewater investigation; tons of forgotten '90s singers like Donna Lewis playing their one hit at the Peach Pit After Dark. Yes, lots of it is stupid and ridiculous, but the members of the cast who stuck around for years and years make it worthwhile. They all seem like people who really have known each other forever and get along and horse around and have fun. I'll be glad not to spend 10 hours a week on it anymore when the series run concludes sometime in march, but it's been fun to watch.

Books: TWoP and Seagalogy

Like most people in the Houston/Galveston area, Jeremy and I spent a good chunk of last September without electricity following Hurricane Ike. We usually spend most of our free time at home watching DVDs or something on the TiVo, so when this option was taken away from us we were at a loss. Once the sun went down, we were like birds in a cage with a blanket thrown over it. Since we never were quite ready to go to sleep at 9pm, we decided to read to each other by flashlight since it generally was too hot to do anything but sit still. What did we decide to read? Books about movies and TV, of course.

We took turns reading. My pick was Television Without Pity: 752 Things We Love to hate about TV. It was written by Tara Ariano and Sarah Bunting, founders of Television Without Pity, or TWoP, as people who spend a lot of time goofing off on the clock already know. The book is pretty funny, even though I disagree with a number of their opinions on certain TV shows (The O.C. was awesome, and Richad Belzer rocked on Homicide. There, I said it.) and am mostly mystified by the entries about various reality shows since I've never watched them. Fortunately, the book is funny regardless. If you watched much TV between 1980 and 2005, you probably can get something out of it. Its greatest strength in the post-Ike period was that it's easy to read aloud in small increments using only a flashlight. It's also good for daylight car trips.

Jeremy's selection was Seagalogy: A Study of the Ass-Kicking Films of Steven Seagal by Vern, a writer for Ain't It Cool News. Prior to reading this book, I never had watched an entire Seagal movie, although I had ridiculed brief clips from them if we ran across them on cable. Once we got our electricity back, I watched about half a dozen of them in short order. The book was a real surprise because while it's very funny and spends plenty of time discussing the weirdness and frequent shortcomings of the Seagal canon, it's not bashing the movies. It's definitely lighthearted, but the author takes the subject seriously. Vern is especially interested in how Seagal usually tries to work some left-leaning philosophies into his films, which is the polar opposite of most '80s and '90s action films. You will believe that an ultraviolent action movie can preach Buddhism and nonviolence! Well, almost. But Seagal's movies do tend to have messages involving nonviolence, questioning government authority, environmentalism, animal rights, and so on. The fact that these messages generally are delivered in the clumsiest, most ham-fisted way possible is the source of some of the book's humor, as well as some of the unintentional entertainment factor in the films, but the point is thet Seagal tries. He really does seem to want to make the world a better place, one broken bad-guy wrist at a time. I enjoyed the book a lot even though I hadn't watched any of the the movies; everything made sense, and I think the book will be a pleasant surprise for anyone who enjoys reading analyses of pop culture.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Still alive

I have neglected this blog for a long time, but it's a new year and I'm thinking of starting up again. Get ready for a bunch of posts about TV and/or movies I've watched and food I have cooked and/or eaten.

I took some time during my holiday vacation to reorganize my some of my kitchen cabinets and my pantry. We have a lot of cabinet space, but it's easy to bury stuff way in the back. This especially was a problem in the pantry, but I added some little wire shelves to the big ones to help use more vertical space and make the items more visible.

I got an AeroGarden (not sure that link is for the exact model I have, but close enough) and a Topsy Turvy tomato planter for Christmas. I have a spot on the front porch where I can hang the Topsy Turvy that should get enough sun. I've heard they work pretty well, and we use plenty of grape/cherry tomatoes, so I hope we get a bumper crop. The AeroGarden will be an interesting experiment. It's going to live on the breakfast nook table and hopefully provide us with lots of fresh herbs. This gives me an excuse to try out new recipes using whatever herbs I grow. I think I got the Italian herbs seed pack, so this may be the year I start making my own tomato sauce instead of just buying jars of spaghetti sauce. I'm supposed to be eating healthy and organic whenever possible to help combat my various health issues, so go AeroGarden. Or go as soon as I set it up, probably this weekend. If I get really industrious I'll take pictures and you, the hapless reader, can watch a totally legal hydroponic herb garden grow.

Or maybe my next post will be sometime in mid-2011. We'll see!