Thursday, August 23, 2012

food for your blah

when you're down and out it's difficult to think clearly and make good, positive, productive decisions. i was reminded of a time like this the other day when i walked david past a mcdonald's and he said - ooo. perhaps it was a coincidence, he may have seen a dog or a squirrel or any number of other, ooo-inspiring things, but maybe not.

you see, when that big storm hit in early july leaving millions in the dc area without power, we were among them. and damn, it was hot. and damn, i was miserable. and damn, that misery was compounded by the already miserable state i was in (see the only one if you don't know what i'm talking about).

and so i wasn't thinking clearly and i made some desperate decisions and among them was to go to mcdonald's a couple times a day (yep) for food and hot (yep, even in a heat wave) coffee, and ice water (delivered in a thimble) for david. this ended when my mom arrived and whisked david and me off on a stay-cool-cation. but we were several days in by then. so when we passed by the mcdonald's and i heard the excited - ooo - coming from the stroller, my first thought was, ah crap.

and while i really do enjoy fast food from time to time, i know it's blah food. and if you eat it when you're blah it will make you more blah.

so the other day, as david and i continued our walk, i began to question myself: why did i go there so much? why didn't i think of something else? and the answer is that i simply didn't know what else to do. and if i was new and limited in resources today like i was then, but better in spirit, as i am now, i can't say what i would do differently. i suspect i would come up with something. but maybe not.

it's not fair of the me now to be super critical of the me then.

i was in a Dark Place. and here's something i wrote from there.

How to survive the heat-wave of the century w/no power:
1) Drive around in your car a lot. Sure, it's no good for global warming, but it gives you a chance to charge your phone, get the news, cool off, & support that good ol' McDonalds*. 
2) Hopefully you hadn't bothered to deflate your air mattress from the last time you had company. You'll need it! Move into your basement, you know, the one you dub "guest room." Ever stayed in a "guest room" that totally sucked? Here's your chance to give your own a try. Yes, it's 2 flights of stairs from the bathroom, but chances are, you've sweat it all out anyhow. 
3) Make sad, desperate postings on FB. The positive support you receive will validate your misery & that will cheer you up a little bit.
4) Be a little self-righteous. FU radio host & all your crappy advice! Go to a movie? With a 1 year old? Go to the pool? It's not even open! Stay w/a friend? We just moved here. AKA don't have any. Bask in the glory of knowing you would never give such shitty advice. You are better than that idiot & while it doesn't cool you off, it gives you something else to think/complain about.

poor angry helen. the saddest part is that i didn't even have enough paper to finish my thoughts. hence the * that never was explained.

and so,

in the spirit of overcoming blah, i want to share a couple of my recent favorite recipes with you. i'm not a food blogger, but i swear these are really good...

jesse's creamy black-eyed peas 

you will need:
1/2 bag dried black-eyed peas, soaked over night according to the package, drained and rinsed
can of cream of mushroom soup
2 T italian seasoning (or combo of dried parsley, oregano, thyme, and rosemary; go heavy on the parsley)
1/2 t cayenne pepper
1/2 onion, chopped
6 dashed of worchestershire sauce
enough stock (chicken, vegetable, whatever) to ensure beans are covered by a 1/2 inch or so

combine, bring to simmer, cook 45 min to 1 hour

serve this over buttered brown rice with a salad. you will be happy. (this can be made vegan by subbing vegan cream of mushroom, vegetable stock, vegan worchestershire sauce, and butter substitute in the rice. easy-peasy.)

helen's best dessert-for-breakfast breakfast

this is a three part breakfast treat consisting of who bread from, whipped cream, and blueberry compote. it sounds more complicated than it is. make your bread ahead of time, snack on it, and then use the left overs for this recipe.

you will need:
a couple thick slices of who bread, toasted, day old is just fine. (this can be made vegan by using a butter substitute and any vegan sweetener for the honey. i used pure cane syrup. it didn't disappoint.)

whipped cream, make your own. it's easy:
1/2 pint heavy whipping cream
1 T powdered sugar
splash of vanilla extract

pour the cream in a large bowl with the beaters from a handheld mixer and stick it in the freezer for 5 minutes. add sugar and vanilla and beat on high speed until thick peaks form. done. (feel free to adjust the sugar. i like my whipped cream on the not-too-sweet side, but it's your choice, go crazy. if you want to make vegan whipped cream, google it and you will get several recipes all using coconut milk. enjoy.)

blueberry compote
1/2 c blueberries, frozen is fine
1/4 c water
2-3 T sugar

combine. cook in sauce pan over medium heat. the berries will break, the sauce will get bubbly. it's done when the consistency becomes thick and syrupy.

layer your treat from the bottom up: bread, compote, whipped cream. enjoy for breakfast if you want to start your day with a smile.


*mcdonald's stopped offering the $1 any sized coffee and would only allow you to buy a small. i thought then, and still agree, that that was price gouging. they had enough cups. they had enough coffee. and they told me i needed to be understanding. if ever i wanted to make a scene. i have been meaning to write a letter to someone about this, but it hasn't happened. my indignation has enabled me to stay away since then, however.


  1. Don't forget that we were raised on Micky D's. Remember that Rock n' Roll themed one with Elvis? I know it's not the best food, but dammit if you have 6 kids or no electricity, you have to be resourceful. Sometimes, shitty food is the best food to get you through a temporary dark place. Or any long road trip...

  2. haha! i do remember the elvis mcdonald's. i thought it was so cool. and you are right, sometimes that's just the best thing you can do in the moment (and personally, i adore a mcdonald's double cheese burger and hot fudge sundae every now and again... except now i won't go there because of the coffee incident, damn).

    now, do you remember the summer of burger king two-fors? oh god. it was awful. two dollars got you two burgers and two small fries. they tasted like they had been cooked, frozen, thawed, refrozen, and then thawed to room temperature with no seasonings or cheese. we ate those two-fors all summer long, at least in my memory. i get the practicality of it: six kids on the salaries of teachers isn't easy. but seriously, they were horrible.