Month: September 2014

Week One: Plantai-kin’ it Easy

Hey folks!

Okay, so I made plantains in four different ways this week!

Way one: Mashed plantains!

SO GOOD. They were a little bit sweet, a little bit savory. It’s certainly a new taste, but it was awesome in addition to roasted chicken and veggies. I don’t know how much of the recipe you want, so for now I’ll just say that I boiled partially ripe plantains in water with garlic and onions, then simmered with milk and spices, and then mashed ’em all up when they were soft. Sister was iffy, sister’s boyfriend liked them!

(Here is where a picture would go if WordPress wasn’t having problems uploading pictures. Imagine there are pictures for all of these! I will try to get them up soon)

Way two: Dessert plantains!

Pretty awesome. I was craving something sweet, so I took my plantain with the most black and least yellow (AKA most ripe) and sliced it thinly on a mandolin. Then I fried the slices in coconut oil, sprinkled them with cinnamon, and served with some chocolate sauce. They weren’t incredibly sweet (I’m trying to limit my sugar intake) but they were tasty and I can imagine dusted with powdered sugar they’d be pure heaven. My friend Kelci liked them! At least I think she did…

Way three: Curry-spiced plantains!

These were a tasty lunchtime snack! I sliced two relatively un-ripe plantains thinly lengthwise and sauteed them in coconut oil with some onions. I then added some fresh garlic and curry powder. They got super soft on the inside but had a nice caramelized , crunchy outside and the curry flavor goes better with plantains than I expected.

Way four: Roasted plantains with cheese.

For this super easy recipe I took an unripe plantain, sliced it down the middle about a 1/4 inch deep (with the peel still on) and stuck it  in the oven for about thirty minutes. I then ripped the peel off ( I would say “took,” but it definitely made a ripping sound) and put some of my fancy applewood smoked cheddar I got from West Side Market and put it in to broil for a few minutes. Oh. My. Goodness. Without any spices, this was one of the most flavorful things I’ve eaten in a long time. The plantain got all soft and sweet, with a little bit of a sweet potato sweet/savory flavor, and the cheese was SO GOOD in it. Wow. I will definitely make this again.

There you have it, folks! Four different ways to eat plantains! I still have about half of my supply left, so I’m open to suggestions! I am really enjoying finding ways to make them a savory side dish, because my sister can’t eat potatoes without getting sick (Google “nightshade intolerance” if you’re really interested). Using plantains, I can hopefully show her (or just make her) plantains acting like potatoes! Maybe this week I will try a “french fry” type plantain. The possibilities are endless!

Let me know if you’d like me to post any of my recipes on here!

See ya later, alligators!

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21 Day (Plantain) Fix

Hey Folks! Lots of stuff happening over here in the Greater Cleveland Area. Too much for one post, so I’m going to keep this one pretty centered on the weird title.

The 21 Day Fix is a workout program offered by Beachbody, a corporation built on helping people live healthy lives. The program consists of a 21-day workout and meal plan. The meal plan is pretty cool, it has something to do with your weight and how much protein, carbs, veggies, etc. you need in a day and they give you cute convenient containers that portion out your stuff. I didn’t follow the meal plan per se but I did make sure I was making healthy choices while my sister followed the meal plan rather strictly. I did actually commit to working out with my sister each day of the Fix. There are 7 different workouts that all offer something a little different so you work different muscle groups each day and don’t get bored with the same routine. They’re 30 minutes long and Autumn Calabrese, the creator/host-lady of 21 Day Fix, is pretty awesome and motivational.

I’m telling you this because this is the first time in my life I have committed to a workout routine, or even just slightly regular health guidelines, and stuck with it. I missed two workouts due to not being home for one of them and being lazy for another. Other than those, I did it! And I lost 11 inches! What! Fitness is cool! I’m now starting a 60-day program my sister created combining LesMills Combat, PiYo, and 21 Day Fix routines. I’m excited. Fitness adventures!

So, that covers the 21 Day Fix part of the title, “but what is this plantain business? ” you may be asking. Well, my sister and I went to the West Side Market (love!) on Saturday and when you go an hour before closing, the vendors try really hard to make you some awesome deals. I was going to buy four or five plantains at 79 cents each, but was offered a 10 pound box for five dollars. I love plantains. I love a challenge. Why not? Thus, I have ended up with 21 plantains of varying ripeness. I am a pretty good cook, but I’ve never done much with plantains, so I saw an opportunity. I’m going to try at least seven different recipes for plantains over the next couple of weeks. I may try more but my goal is seven. Right now I’m looking into plantain dumplings, plantain soup, and plain ole’ fried plantains.

My delicious Nicaraguan breakfast of gallo pinto, fried eggs, and sweet plantains.

My delicious Nicaraguan breakfast of gallo pinto, fried eggs, and sweet plantains.

This morning I took my most ripe one, sliced it on a mandolin (about 1/4” thickness) and fried them lightly in coconut oil. The effect was close to the fried sweet plantains I had while in Nicaragua and they were absolutely delicious. But I’m not going to count them as one of my seven recipes because I knew how to make ’em already.

Well, that’s about it right now. I have some big news about my recent big-girl decisions to relay sometime this week!

Please comment with one of your favorite recipes, with or without plantains. I love to share food ideas!

Stuck

Hey folks,

Listen, if you’ve been following me for a while, you know I’ve done some cool things in my life since starting this blog. I’ve found interesting things to do. And that’s awesome fodder for blogging- writing about awesome life things that are just happening around me.

I don’t know who said it to me, so I apologize for not being able to correctly attribute this quote, but about a week before I came back from Nicaragua, someone said “life is going to suck for a while compared to what you’ve been doing.”

I didn’t think much about that before coming home. Surely Cleveland would not be as beautiful as Jinotega. I also wouldn’t be surrounded by 48 beautiful souls that did nothing but learn and grow and be awesome. I knew those things. But those facts, even combined with the above advice, did not prepare me for just how boring I am when I’m not doing anything interesting.

I have been trying really hard to keep myself productive. I’m still looking for future travel opportunities, I’m thinking about saving up to take the GRE so grad school can become a possibility. But I’m stuck. Both physically and mentally I am stuck. For the first time in a long time. In college, I always had something to do and taking time off of anything was really satisfying. I was surrounded by like-minded people who were learning so much and we were sharing so much life and experience and knowledge with one-another. Then this summer I was surrounded by people doing what I was doing and loving every second of it.

I guess it is just so strange now to have to live in the “real world” and learn how to be a “grown up.” I have to start making loan payments soon. I make less money than I did in school. I feel like I’ve gone back ten steps when I’m supposed to be going forward. I am so stuck that I’m trying to think of where I can go to next, which just leads me to again realizing that for once I don’t have any other options and I have to stick to my current path. I am so grateful for My Sister & Co. for putting me up and helping me out but man, the guilt that racks up after posing such an inconvenience for so long. I know I need to be thinking more positively, but I can’t get over my culture shock from college student to graduate just yet.

So basically, this is me telling you all how lost I am. I need help! Or friends in Cleveland!

Recent college grads: How have you assimilated into the “real world?”
Anyone: How do you keep life positive even if you don’t like what’s going on?

Sometimes I’m Lazy

This post is also known as “What I’ve Been Doing for the Last Three Weeks.” 

Hey folks! Sorry about my hiatus; things picked up quick after coming back and I have had a lot of obligations. But here I am! 

I’m going to start out with a confession: I have tried to write a post 6 times in the two weeks since my return to the States and have hated them all. So I’m going to make myself finish this one and post it before I do anything else! Ha! In your face, procrastination! Anyway, I got back to the states on August 23, after a full day of travel and sobbing because I didn’t want to leave. I was in my mommy’s arms hugging the life out of her on August 24th, after a night in Columbus since my plane got in late. That evening, I was moving into my sister’s house. So there’s that. 

I spent my first week looking for jobs in Cleveland and just about everywhere else. I spent all of my graduation gift-money (as well as my car fund) to get to Nicaragua, so I’ve had quite the lack of, well, everything. I applied extensively to AmeriCorps opportunities around the country. I even got called back from one and have had a successful first interview! I spent my second week in the States dialing my job search back and actually taking some time to process my summer and what my future could be. I’ve played a lot of Skyrim and read a lot of history books this last week. Old habits die hard, I guess. 

I guess what has gotten me pretty stressed out is the change of pace I immediately felt when I first arrived. As soon as my plane landed I began to think about my to-do list of people I needed to see and things I needed to get done. It was a big change from my time living in the moment this summer. Everything in America is so big; we drove from the Columbus airport to my mom’s house and that took almost the same amount of time it takes to drive coast-to-coast in Nicaragua. And everyone just lives life in a blur. I had such a sad culture shock realizing that I wasn’t going to be surrounded by people who just wanted to enjoy their day. I’m still coping with that difference. 

My sister’s cohabitant (I guess we’re all cohabitants here! But I’m not dating them. That would be weird) told me I should take a month off before looking for work or trying really hard to do, well, anything. I like his advice, but I don’t like to be lazy. My laziness doesn’t happen because I want to do nothing, it’s that I sometimes just don’t particularly want to do certain things. Like sitting down and committing to a blog post, if you get what I mean. I wanted so hard to not be lazy that I seriously applied to at least 60 jobs my first week here. Sixty! I then felt really overwhelmed with call-backs and looking for places to live in the different areas in which I had been applying. So after my mom and I got back from a beautiful weekend near the Finger Lakes (which I will write about soon), I put in one application with an AmeriCorps opportunity in Portland, Oregon and I put one application in with a restaurant just down the street from the cohabitation as well as a few other places that won’t really matter in future posts. And I sat back, waited for the interviews, and played some more Skyrim. 

I went to Tiffin this weekend for the very first time since leaving the country and since graduating. It was weird, but it was so amazing to see many of the people with whom I’ve connected in my years at the Berg. Today I had an interview and actually got a job! So that’s cool. 

What I’m really trying to say is: Let yourself be a little lazy. Take some time to reflect on your life and stop jumping from one task or obligation to the next because that will burn you out super quickly. I’m also saying that Skyrim is awesome, but I’m always trying to say that. 

Any questions about what I’ve been doing since coming back? Leave a comment and I’ll let you know the deets!