I Just Wanna Sit At Home And Bake

Yesterday I made cheese. Twice. No, I didn’t buy cheese, I made cheese. Delicious ricotta from scratch. I went out and bought a cheesecloth and everything. Now, don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t hard, but it definitely wasn’t something I ever pictured myself doing.

That’s how much time I have on my hands. Reduced to making grocery staples to keep myself entertained.

When I started drafting this post, I was still gainfully employed (albeit at an hourly job that had nothing to do with my field of study, but still, I had an income). Three days ago, I quit. I’d originally said I would be staying until the end of next week, but after a particularly rude email from my owner, I edited myself off the schedule and turned in my key. Frankly, I’d planned on quitting this job over two months ago, before Mother’s Day (which is a big holiday for this business), because following Valentine’s Day (the biggest of the holidays), I never wanted to be involved in a holiday in a managerial position ever again. But I stayed, because I was too afraid to lose the money. A few weeks after Mother’s Day, things went from bad to worse. I was given the responsibilities of a store manager, without the pay. Yet those responsibilities were constantly in flux, and unclear (for example, I was shown how to run payroll, fully under the impression I’d be running payroll from now on, opened the program to do payroll for the first time and was locked out because the password had been changed. So apparently, I wasn’t going to be doing payroll..? Was I not trusted enough to run payroll? Would I still be making the schedule, or would that be taken away from me too? Did I have authority to give refunds? Was I still even a manager at all? It was a mess of misunderstanding).

Essentially, I felt disrespected at my job, which I know happens. That’s just life. But I’d been working there for over two years, and had moved up through the (very few) ranks without much drama. Suddenly I’m being personally attacked for bringing up flaws in scheduling, and trying to express the needs of my fellow employees (FYI, business people, don’t hire someone to do one job, then expect them to do that job PLUS another one without some sort of compensation, or at least understanding of her misgivings).

So. I quit. And more than one employee has followed already. I’m afraid it’s just going to be a slippery slope from there.

I have research opportunities in the wings, which will be paid (and academically relevant!), and I don’t have very many expenses right now, aside from gas and groceries. I’m actually not in too bad of a place financially, for now. But emotionally? Mentally? I’m restless, bored, and borderline depressed (which I talked about last time because I want SO BADLY to be back in school). And thus, the cheese-making.

Sometimes when I’m feeling down, I just want to sit at home and bake and play Borderlands until the Significant Other comes home (and then probably play more Borderlands). I think me cooking every night that he’s off is doing not-so-great things for our waistlines. But hey, eating (cooking?) my feelings is ok. Right?

My Little (sorority little sister to whom I am a…”mentor,” for those unfamiliar with the parlance. Those of you reading who are in sororities will note that “mentor” is the simplest – and yet sometimes furthest away from the truth – term for the uninitiated to understand. HAHA PUN!) was able to put my feelings the most eloquently by saying I’m suffering from perceived humiliation. I think all of my friends are judging me and I don’t want to talk to them about quitting my job, because some of them don’t even have crappy hourly jobs right now. I feel selfish for giving up something that was making me money, just because I became dissatisfied with the experience. Did I quit for a good enough reason? Sometimes I think so, but other times I’m not so sure. The Significant Other says he’ll support me no matter what, and I don’t think he’s judging me, but I know he also wants me to get another job. Which, realistically, will only be another crappy hourly job, if I can find one at all. I was actually surprised at how supportive my father was of my decision to quit, since he’s the one always pushing for me to be “comfortable” financially, and this just throws me into a state of instability.

All I know for sure, 100% without a doubt (which is really saying something for me), is that my Little doesn’t judge me (thanks Little). I’m infinitely grateful for having at least one person in my life that my screwy brain doesn’t warp my perception of.

Yesterday I made cheese and mini quiches. Today I’m thinking cookies.

 

Soy Chorizo Quesadillas

That’s precisely what I’m eating right now. Trader Joe’s has this amazing soy chorizo that’s not really spicy, but has a great flavor and the proper amount of greasiness to keep my dastardly lovehandles happy. Fake meat doesn’t really appeal to me (something I’ll address in a bit), but this stuff is damn good. That, plus organic Mexi-blend cheese (also from Trader Joe’s) and processed-as-shit Food Lion flour tortillas, and my lunch is just a big ‘ole confused mess of trying and failing to be healthy.

It’s been two solid weeks in which I have consumed no meat. It would have been longer than that, but I ate a bite of hamburger at my friend’s house when he made it for me, forgetting the recent vegetarian shift. I didn’t want to be rude after all, but then I started feeling sick, so I gave up on it. I’ve been eating black bean burgers to get rid of my gooey cheeseburger cravings, avoiding Qdoba and Chipotle like the plague, and not even glancing at (and therefore pining over) delicious, non-nutritious boneless buffalo wings. If there’s one thing I miss the most, it’s boneless Thursdays at Buffalo Wild Wings

Speaking of chicken, and regarding fake meat, I recently attended a Senior Etiquette Dinner hosted by the career center at my school. We were served a five-course meal, consisting of soup, pasta, entrée, salad, and dessert, and were taught how to properly eat each of these foods. It was definitely fun and worth the $10 I paid to go, even if the food was cold and the portions were ridiculously tiny. Anyway, they had a vegetarian option for the entrée, which was parmesan-crusted chicken with a tomato basil sauce and green beans. The other vegetarian at the table and I were hoping that our course would be something awesome, like eggplant parm, or something similar. Alas, we were served vegan chicken cutlets, as thin, tough, and tasty as cardboard. I was not a fan, and likely will not be eating fake chicken again anytime soon.

Another fun story of vegetarian excursions, last night at the bars, my tipsy sisters demanded cheese fries with bacon, but I was able to convince them to get it on the side. Did I feel like a burden? Yes. Did they give two shits about bacon on the side? Nope.

As many times as I’m told by friends that it’s really no big deal if I need something on the side, I still kind of feel like an inconvenience. It’s really unfortunate that our society has turned an intimately personal choice, such as what kind of food we eat, into something people (like me) feel guilty for. This stereotype of the demanding, over-bearing, holier-than-thou vegetarian/vegan is perpetuated as much by anti-meat organizations, such as PETA, as it is by critics. I’m not a big fan of PETA, never really have been. I feel that they present themselves in a way that ostracizes and demonizes their audience, which I don’t think is at all effective. PETA provides great educational materials, but some of their campaigns are too over-the-top to have real impact. It’s like the “This is your brain, this is your brain on drugs” PSA with the frying egg (or this even more intense one). It’s just too outlandish to be taken seriously.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m absolutely not against PETA, I just think some of their marketing tactics don’t work and actually have a very negative impact on their image as a legitimate organization with a serious and important cause.

Whatever, as long as PETA’s strategies keep producing images like the one on the left, I’m game. (Yes they are both fake).

Even though it’s a fake.

Also fake =(

Pescatarianism Is Still Cheating

 

Today I ate sushi. I ate sushi last Friday as well. Cheap, refrigerated, slightly mushy sushi you get at a grocery store, but sushi nonetheless. Sushi is one of the most delectable edible creations on the face of the planet. Have you ever had good, fresh sushi? Or how about a delicious, still steaming, tempura roll? I’m making myself hungry just thinking about it.

The last few weeks since deciding to try the vegetarian path have not been as successful as I’d hoped. It started with trying to finish the meat that I’d already bought, then after that I went a good week without any meat. But also without much of anything else. Those days, which included the first full week of classes, I ate some fruit for breakfast (which is a healthy first step), usually no lunch, and maybe a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for dinner. If I lifted weights one day, I’d come home from the gym and eat a big ‘ole spoon of peanut butter to get some protein.

Yeah, I’m not exactly the healthiest eater to begin with. Which was supposedly the whole point of becoming vegetarian: To have more control over what I was ingesting. Yeah, that’s not exactly working yet.

Cutting out meat is so hard when you don’t have much experience with cooking beans, lentils, healthy vegetables, and the other staples of a vegetarian diet. Quinoa is really wayyy more expensive than it needs to be, as are other meat replacements (veggie burgers and the like – I’d love to make quesadillas with soy chorizo, but can I afford it? Nope). Whole grains are not cheap, no matter what baked good they’re going into, and don’t even get me started with fruits and vegetables! Which brings me to my next point, which is one of the oft purported reasons behind the obesity epidemic in America. Those of lower socioeconomic status are not in the financial position to buy raw fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and instead are forced to buy over-processed foods with very little nutritional benefit. Many people (such as the 47% that Romney keeps talking about as “victims” looking for handouts) aren’t able to purchase healthy food, because it’s just too expensive. Also, don’t get me started on Romney. Just don’t. I might just cut a bitch.

I think I’m getting off track here. The point is, I’m not being very good at being a vegetarian, and I bring up sushi because even though I’m having trouble being a vegetarian, I feel that I’d be doing myself a disservice by reducing my meat intake to only fish (so I could eat said delicious sushi without guilt).

This isn’t meant to be any kind of comment against individual pescatarians! I just personally don’t think it makes much sense. If you don’t eat meat because of moral reasons, why would you eat fish? Because they’re stupider? Or they don’t have as many feelings, or pain receptors? I don’t know guys, have you ever seen a fish flop around and suffocate in open air? Not fun.

If you don’t eat meat for health reasons, again, why would you eat fish? The mercury levels found in fish, especially ones like tuna, are particularly high, and even if they don’t go over the “safe” levels determined by the FDA, I’m not so sure I want ANY mercury in my system if I can prevent it. Not to mention the top floors of the FDA is full of corrupt businessmen who would kill their mothers to make another dime.

I guess my real point is, I’ve been a total fail whale (pun totally intended) when it comes to really consciously restricting my meat intake, but at the same time, I’m not tempted to take the cop-out and cut out everything but fish, no matter how much I love my sushi.

I’m not a very patient person, so when it comes to my vegetarianism, I get really disappointed in myself when I decide to going against my decision and eat meat. It’s very disheartening, to say the least.

 

Step By Step Vegetarian

So, I read Skinny Bitch, finally. Damn those ladies know how to make you feel like a fatass. Long story short, this former model (with a Masters in holistic nutrition) and former model agent are promoting a vegan diet, largely on the grounds of improved health and vitality. Yes they talk about the ethical treatment of animals. But more importantly, they talk about why eating meat and dairy are just plain bad for you.

It’s not as much about the ethical issues, it’s more about all the shitty chemicals that the U.S. government allows us to ingest on a daily basis (fuck the USDA, just sayin’). When I was in high school I had to read Silent Spring, and the only thing that I gathered (or at least distinctly remembered) was the concept of biomagnification, whereby chemical pesticides increase in concentration as they travel through the food chain. Now, I don’t know another single thing about biology, but the concept totally makes sense to me. If a cow eats contaminated corn and then we eat the cow’s meat, the pesticide stays in the meat, traveling through our bodies and damaging our cells, organs, and neurons.

I’m not going to keep going on about all of that, but let’s just say that I’m gonna try this whole eating healthier thing. And by healthier I mean no meat. I’m not ready for the no dairy yet. Besides, that big of a jump from omnivore to vegan would be a bit of a shock to my system. And by “a bit” I mean “completely disastrous.” As soon as I clear out all the meat I’ve already bought (1lb ground beef, 3 cans of tuna, 1/2 pack of deli turkey), I will do my best to dedicate myself to being a vegetarian.

So why post about this? I don’t know… I haven’t had anything better to write about lately? I’m going to chronicle this whole (likely) slightly painful and stressful transition. So step one? I plan on writing about all the stupid meaty cravings I have. You ready? ‘Cause this might get boring. It might get silly. It might get a little self-serving and ridiculous. Wanna hear my plan? Make the whole thing as honest as possible, just for you, my lovely readers. Real talk. Because let’s be frank, trying to become a vegetarian and convincing people you’re not a pretentious jerk is going to be a feat of hilarity, if nothing else.

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