Tag Archives: new year

Good Riddance January, You’re A Bitch.

Whew. That last month was a killer. I felt like I was drowning in the chirpy kind of new years optimism that makes me hate people. There was way too much talk about how 2016 was going to somehow make up for the fact that last year sucked ass for a lot of us or instantly transform us into healthier, happier versions of ourselves. I don’t know how many times over the month I heard (or read on Facebook) “2016 is going to be amazing! This is MY YEAR!” or “I’ve been to the gym every day this month and I feel so great!” or “I’ve given up sugar and I’m never going back!” I want to punch these people in the mouth. Because here’s the thing. January. It’s the worst. If you want to be part of the club then it’s all diet and exercise and fiscal responsibility. I’m sorry, but that is stuff to be endured, not stuff to be celebrated.

The first half of the month I felt too crappy to be in the club. I was in a “screw it, who cares, I’m going to eat this whole bag of candy and this block of cheese, and wash it down with a couple glasses of wine while I mope around feeling sorry for myself” frame of mind. It just so happens that two of my favorite people have birthdays early in the month which ensured that there was enough cake and party atmosphere to keep me from going down the tubes completely. Even when your birthday is in January you get cake. And when there is cake around, I eat it. It was a dismal, yet delicious couple of weeks.

Legion of cupcakes.

Legion of cupcakes.

 

It was very important to Fe that his cake say 'Happy Birthday DEAR Felix' and have balloons on it. Not one of my prettier cakes but it was for a three year old so I let myself off the hook.

It was very important to Fe that his cake say ‘Happy Birthday DEAR Felix’ and have balloons on it. Not one of my prettier cakes but he’s three years old so I let myself off the hook.

Then, half way through the month I miraculously felt better. Better enough in fact to decide I was going to pull myself together and join the January club. For the last three weeks I’ve been “eating light” and “working out” and “cutting back on all the foods that make life worth living”. I’m drinking enough water to cause a minor drought and force feeding my family quinoa. Our meals suddenly look like this:

Beet and quinoa salad with chicken breast, goat cheese and balsamic dressing.

Beet and quinoa salad with chicken breast, goat cheese and balsamic dressing.

It’s not fun, but it hasn’t been so bad. I go between feeling virtuous, deprived, and discouraged. I think that if everyone else in your house is eating potato chips and you are choosing not to, you should instantly lose three pounds. Ditto if you have raw oatmeal (which, crazy as it sounds, I actually kind of like) or sugar snap peas for breakfast. Honestly, I’m glad to be cleaning up my act a bit because I know it’s essential to detox from time to time, but my physical self doesn’t feel that different. A little stronger, maybe, from all the squats I’ve been doing, in a better frame of mind, perhaps, but there is no amazing transformation for me because of eliminating sugar or quadrupling my intake of leafy greens.

My poor husband is anxiously awaiting my fall back into culinary hedonism (don’t worry Honey, it’s coming). He has been working physically hard, outside, in the nastiest Pacific Northwest weather and all he wants to eat is meat. Or meat on bread. Or meat on pasta. And what counts as meat? Not chicken breast, I can tell you that. He tries to be supportive, since I am cooking dinner every night after all, but when he hears the words ‘squash tacos’ or ‘lentils’ or ‘kale salad’ in the same sentence as ‘dinner’ it’s hard for him to hide his disappointment. So there have been compromises all around.

I was ever so glad to turn the page on the calendar and leave January behind. There will be no more ‘Happy New Year!’ wishes, no more humble brags about resolutions, no more pinning hopes on 2016 to solve our problems. Now we are all just here, healthy or not, happy or not, having an easy time or a difficult one. The pressure is off and that feels just right.

I’m going to leave you with my un-recipe for French Lentil Soup with Sausage and Kale. It’s very much a compromise meal, healthy, but still satisfying for those who aren’t putting limits on their diet. As you may have gathered by now, I don’t cook from or write recipes very often so these are rough guidelines. Feel free to make it your own, but don’t skip the mustard seeds, they take the soup from blah to gourmet-ish.

French Lentil Soup with Sausage and Kale

1 pound sweet Italian Sausage (bulk, or removed from the casings)

1 large onion, diced

6 stalks of celery, diced

6 carrots, peeled and diced

2 cups French lentils

2 quarts chicken stock, vegetable broth or water

1 bunch Lacinato kale (this is the flatter, dark green kale sometimes called black or dinosaur kale, my favorite by far)

1 Tablespoon brown mustard seeds

Fresh or dried thyme

1-3 Tablespoons sherry vinegar, or red wine vinegar if you don’t have sherry

Salt and pepper

Brown the sausage in a large soup pot, breaking it up as it cooks. When it is most of the way cooked, add the onion and celery. Cook until the veggies are tender. Add the lentils, carrots, stock and mustard seeds, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the lentils are soft, at least an hour, adding more stock or water as needed and stirring occasionally. Add the thyme and kale and cook for another 20 minutes or so (it’s soup, the timing is not critical). If your sausage was particularly fatty, there may be oil that collects on the top as it cooks. Skim it off or leave it in as you see fit. The soup will taste a little one dimensional at this point but a couple tablespoons of sherry vinegar and some salt will transform it. Just make sure to add the vinegar a little at a time and taste as you go, too much will not be yummy.

This soup freezes well. You could be super organized and freeze it in individual portions for future lunches.

Serve with bread and cheese or salad or nothing at all.

Not the best picture as I was eating this soup and then decided to photograph it. You get the idea though.

Not the best picture as I was eating this soup and then decided to photograph it. You get the idea though.

How’s this for honesty?

Where have I been? I said I’d be back after Christmas, and here it is, almost a month later and I have written nothing. What the hell?

So let’s address that. I wanted to write a New Year’s post, with my wishes and hopes and inspirations for 2016, but I couldn’t make it happen. Inspiration was not on the list of things I was feeling. The things I was feeling were depression, exhaustion, lack of knowing where my life is headed, a serious dose of martyrdom over the fact that I am the support staff to so many people, and the thought that this little writing experiment is a total waste of time. The more I snoop around the internet, the more it feels like everyone has a blog. And seventy five percent of everyone is writing about food or parenting. There is so much to read out there and a lot of it is very good. It’s daunting and had me feeling like I should just give up on this and go be useful in some way. I was hemming and hawing and moping and crying about it. I didn’t want to write another post about struggling with my dark side because, come on, no one wants to read that. But I also didn’t want to try and write some chipper thing about the food I’ve been cooking and the funny things the kids say when I wasn’t feeling the least bit chipper. It didn’t seem honest. And, lo and behold, a piece of the puzzle came together for me. That is what I want this blog to be at its core. Honest. I still don’t know what exactly Baby Loves Butter is about and I feel some pressure to get that figured out, but I do know that I don’t want to write anything that isn’t coming from a really truthful place in myself. I don’t want to give this up, I want to learn how to be better at it, and I want to turn it into something besides a hobby someday. (Whew, that last sentence was kind of tough. All the alarms are going off in my head, “DON’T SAY THAT! DON’T ADMIT IT! YOU’RE DOOMED TO FAIL AND NOW EVERYONE WILL KNOW!”) There is so much of life when we have to fake it, just to be part of polite society, and I think we all long for a safe place to admit what is really going on inside ourselves even when it’s scary or ugly or insecure. When one person has the guts to be real it makes it easier for the rest of us to do the same. So I’m going to work on being real.

I’m feeling much better this week. I have some perspective and don’t feel as though I’m doomed to the role of pit crew for eternity. Maybe for a while, but not forever. And I want to get back to this blog. Part of me thinks I should lay down some rules for myself like that I need to post every two weeks, or I need to spend x number of hours a week working on it but I don’t think that is really going to serve me, it will just make me feel bad if I can’t stick to it. So my goal is to write regularly, and to write from my heart, and to not be too hard on myself when life gets in the way.

More coming soon.