Tuesday, January 27, 2009

What would a member say?

Like most people in the USA, we're feeling the bite of the housing melt down. I don't deal well with money. I don't know a thing about it, I don't like it, I'd be much happier if we could just exchange stuff like the cavemen... I know...

For the last few weeks I haven't been sleeping very well. I turn things in my mind all night and try to find solutions to problems I really don't understand. Last night I decided I would sleep in this morning to make up for the lost sleep.

I actually fell asleep pretty quickly, which is a miracle for me, and slept for a long time. Forget about sleeping in though. 4:30am, I'm wide awake staring at the ceiling. "What if we're making a mistake? What if we take the wrong path? What if we lose everything? What if I have to give up my dog?" I was working myself up to a panic so I decided to get up.

I know what I'll do, I'll cook us a big breakfast, that will make us feel better. I started down the stairs thinking eggs, cooked ham (we don't have bacon) toast, the whole thing.

I stopped in the middle of the stairs, what the hell was I thinking? What did we talk about last week at the meetings? How is food going to solve our financial problems? Make us any wiser? How will getting fat help me find a job?

I sat on the stairs, Leo the monster kitten got in my lap, and I started looking back at the last few weeks. I've been doing that a lot, the whole "this will make me feel better", or "I don't give a crap, I deserve it". Not enough to gain weight or anything, but it's a slipping slope, and I'm slipping fast. This is not working, what do I do?

"What would you tell a member?" I always ask myself in such situations. Honestly, I have no idea. I have a few platitude, automatic responses that apparently don't mean all that much cause they aren't helping me. I don't have all the solution, all the wise words. I just don't.

"What would a member say to another member?" Hum, now that's a different question. 4:45am, sitting in the stairs, on the edge of a binge, trying to figure this out, what would a member say to another member? "Get your ass to a gym, and work it out. Then you'll be able to think clearly."

You know, that's probably what my peeps on the message board would say too. I looked downstairs and my net bag with my board and pull buoy was hanging from the closet door. I'm going for a swim!

I swam hard for over 45 minutes. At some point all I could think about was "Pull, pull, pull" I knew I was pushing too hard, but it felt so good. I love swimming, it's like moving meditation. I was able to empty my mind, work out all the negative energy. My arms are hurting, my legs and hips are hurting, I'm worn out, but I feel calm, ready to face the world.

I can't control everything, I can only do my best, but I sure can take care of myself so that I'm ready to hit the ground running when things start moving.

The leader doesn't have all the solutions, but the members sure do!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A New Look!

Well dear readers, here you have it! Willow's Home finally got it's very own look!

I have wanted to give Willow's Lifestyle and Willow's Bento Box a look that is my own ever since I started them, but I needed help.

It took some nagging, but Mister Willow (actually my husband Dan Ross) finally decided today that he would sit down and do it. The spice background and the spice lettering are made from a photo I took and that Dan transformed into lettering and background.

There will be other upgrades and creations as time goes by, but the basis of what I want my blogs to look like is there. Finally!

A great huge loving thank you to Dan for taking the time to do it (and putting up with me in the process ;op).

Let me know what you think in the comments!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Sushi Bowls, Oh my!

Doing some reading, I found out that you can buy very decent precooked unagi frozen at Asian market. My husband and I both LOVE unagi, so I stopped by the little market in Petaluma called "New Asian Market" at the North end of McDowell (by the OSH hardware store).

I bought all sorts of stuff there, I always do, and came home to make sushi rolls.

I put the brown sushi rice (get that at Olivers! in Cotati) in the rice cooker, and started looking at what I had to work with. I had plenty of nori, vegetables and of course a big pack of unagi.

I had two problems though: 1- I was too tired to bother with rolls; 2- in rolls, it's hard to really taste the unagi enough to know if it's a keeper.

Instead I decided to make "sushi bowls". I've made sushi bowls before to treat myself for lunch, but my husband had never seen them so I thought I'd surprise him with it.

I seasoned the rice the same way you would for sushi, 1/3 cup of rice vinegar, 2 tbsp sugar, 1 tbsp miring and about 1-2 tsp salt for 3 cups of uncooked rice. I mixed the whole thing, and then was ready to start with my Sushi Bowls. Here's how I made them:

I measured 1 cup of rice in each bowl (using my measure-rite system from Weight Watchers, I'm such a nerd LOL).

I dumped the rice in there, but then I used my spatula to spread it gently in the bowl.

While the rice was cooking, I steamed thin carrot sticks and edamame (Trader Joes)I had leftover. I added a little mirin to the water to give the vegetable some taste. I added cucumber sticks after I was done steaming.

I spread the vegetable on the rice trying to spread the colors.

I added nori strips mainly for color, but also because I like the "fishy" taste of nori.

See? That in itself could be a very nice vegetarian Sushi Bowl wouldn't it?

But I had something else to add: Unagi! I bought it cooked but frozen, cut the pack in 2 and put one part back in the freezer for another time. I put this half in the oven for 15-20 minutes at 350 F to thaw it out.

I put it on the rack so that it wouldn't get "soggy" at the bottom. I HATE soggy fish, eeeewww.

I put the unagi on the cutting board and cut it in pieces.

I am very neurotic about both portions being the same. I grew up with 2 brothers and to this day I expect my husband to say "You got more than me!!!". He would never I'm sure, but...

So I cut it in half lengthwise, and then made the pieces the other way. That way each gets half.

I placed each piece in the bowls and tried to spread them in a pretty manner. I was getting hungry though, so it got less "fuffy" as I went.

Here's what it ended up looking like. Cute huh? It was just delicious! Honestly, it was also easy. I have a Zojirushi fuzzy logic rice cooker, so it's pretty much "put the rice the water and forget it". The unagi was precooked, and the rest is just cutting and steaming veggies!

If you clean your rice cooker right away, the rest is nothing really.

I had leftover rice, so I made onigiri that I broiled and frozen for bento use later on. Here they are:

So that's today's adventure, it was easy, it was interesting and it was just delicious! I love when it works!

Be good n stuff!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A good start to 2009

Happy New Year!

If I have one "motto" for 2009, I think it will be "Keep it simple but effective". I'm tired of trying to do everything all at once and ending up doing nothing. Ever feel that way?

So, no big challenges, no grand plan to reinvent the wheel. We have a new plan at Weight Watchers and I'm approaching it as a new member. I'm reading the plan, following the plan as written without any attempt to "better the plan".

I've also started a major decluttering of the house. It's the second time we do it, and this time it's for real. We plan on moving this year, so I'm pairing down what I own to the minimum. It's so refreshing to let go of stuff and just go back to the essential! I love it!

I'm also simplified my cooking a lot. I got to the point where cooking meant 2-3 hours in the kitchen, to the point where I wasn't enjoying cooking anymore.

I've been trying now to cook once for at least 2 days of food. This started with a need to save money, and now honestly, it makes my life much easier.

Here's a few sample of my "cook now eat a few meals":

Barley Pilaf:

Thursday night we had a vegetarian attack. I made a Spicy Barley Pilaf that I served with roasted asparagus and zucchini slices.

The following day we ate the leftover barley with sandwiches.

I know, barley with bread, carbs galore, but see? that's what I mean by keeping it simple. I wanted bread and barley, I had bread and barley. Counted it, end of the story.

Last summer I would have felt the need to cook something complicated because you just can't have bread with barley. Guess what? I did, and I survived!

Caribbean Drumsticks
and Vegetable Rice:

Saturday we had a lot to do so early in the morning I prepared everything to make Caribbean Drumsticks in the crock pot. I went to Costco and put the chicken to cook when I came back.

It cooked all day smelling just heavenly.

When we started getting hungry, I threw chopped onion, carrots, celery and red bell pepper in the chopper attachment of my immersion blender. Minced all that and sauteed it a few minutes in a pan.

In the meantime, I microwaved Trader Joes frozen brown rice. Once the vegetables were softened (2-3 minutes of cooking) I added the rice, a little bit of broth, salt and pepper.

Dinner! With about 10 minutes (or less) of preparation.

I had leftovers of both the chicken and the rice. I also saved the cooking juice from the chicken. With that and the jalapeno chicken sausages I bought today at Trader Joes I was planning on making a soup later this week, but my husband had a great idea:

I sauteed 2 sliced sausages in my pan, added the cooking juices from the chicken last night, the rest of the chicken and 1/3 cup of edamame. I cooked that covered for about 2 minutes, added the rice, mixing well, a little broth, covered again and cooked for another 2 minutes.

I served that with green salad and baby carrots:

The chicken and rice mixture was pretty spicy, so the simple cold vegetables were a good "neutral" to eat with it.

We still have half left for lunch tomorrow. So with 1 crock pot recipe, we have 3 meals!

So simple and uncomplicated is the rule, and so far we're enjoying it!!

Be good n stuff!