Tag Archives: spring break

What I Ate This Spring Break: Vacation Restaurant Edition

So today is the final official day of spring break. Boo Hiss. As much as I hate to say good-bye to my free time, I have to admit that this break was the perfect combination: I went on a mini-vacation with awesome people, cleaned my apartment, and got to see my family. All in all, this has been one of the most well-balanced spring breaks in my personal history.

(I also did quite a bit of cooking and recipe documentation. Among other dishes, I made potato-leek soup, chocolate Guinness cake, and my own take on Chipotle burrito bowls complete with homemade slow-cooked pork barbacoa. Get your appetite ready: this week’s recipe posts are going to make you drool all over your computer.)

In honor of the end of my restful week, I’ve decided not to do anything productive today. You heard me right: instead of fretting over details of the coming week, I am going to lay low and enjoy my last day of freedom. Plus, today is the final day of the Baha’i Fast: tomorrow is Naw Ruz, the Baha’i New Year! Needless to say, it’s a pretty exciting time in my apartment.

I’ll probably spend the majority of the day reading the two books which have claimed my attention this week:

middlesexthe omnivores dilemma

Having free reading time has probably been the absolute best part of this break. I’m usually so bogged down with work and school that I don’t have time to read for pure enjoyment.

However, before I fall into the Reading Rainbow vortex, I really want to share some of the meals I ate while on my Wrightsville Beach vacation earlier this week. Before we get started, be warned: I ate without concern over calories. And while some of my meals were not the healthiest in existence, they were really freaking delicious.
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Let’s start with the Causeway Café, a very popular Wrightsville Beach breakfast haunt. I was quite charmed by the restaurants beach décor- it was all driftwood accents and kitschy souvenir shop goodies. They have a very detailed menu and it’s predominantly breakfast- since breakfast is my favorite meal of the day (I could probably eat breakfast for every meal), I was all too eager to try out one of their famous offerings. And, in spite of my vegetarian tendencies, I really couldn’t help myself- I didn’t hesitate when I decided to order the “Meat Lovers Breakfast”.

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The Meat Lovers Breakfast includes a GIANT sausage link which (I’m pretty sure) was homemade. It also included FOUR strips of bacon, and a slice of ham. Not salty country ham (which I kind of hate), but thick and moist regular ham.

BUT WAIT: That’s not all-

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We can’t forget about the scrambled eggs, grits, and pancake.

The pancake was almost the size of my face (and I have a HUGE face). It was thin (just the way I like ‘em) and had a very nice flavor. In my opinion, pancakes are frequently ruined because they are both too mealy, and they taste like flat slices of bread. This pancake was delicately sweetened, and the texture was nice and fluffy.

Also, I’ve spoken extensively on my grits theories, and I’m constantly frustrated by the ways that restaurants manage to ruin this subtly complex dish. In fact, as a rule, I try to order grits at every breakfast restaurant at which I eat- I think it’s a great restaurant comparison measure (plus I freaking LOVE them.) With all my needs and wants, I frequently expect to be disappointed by the average grits bowl- however, Causeway Café exceeded all of my expectations. Their grits are clearly made by real Southerners who know what the dish should taste like- smooth, creamy, and perfectly seasoned (the best grits should not require additional seasoning- another common mistake.) Also, in my opinion, the best grits should be so creamy that individual nuggets of corn kernel are indistinguishable- this is a trait that can be very difficult to attain. Causeway’s grits were the very definition of creamy- honestly, if I had not already been swimming in food, I probably would have ordered another bowl. They rocked my world.

(The eggs were great, too. I am really picky about my eggs- so picky that a paragraph in a beach wrap-up blog entry is truly not good enough. One of these days I’ll have to get around to writing my egg manifesto. In the meantime, just know that all the eggs I ate on this trip met my ridiculously high expectations.)

On to the next spot: during our last night in New Hanover County, my companions and I decided to go big before we went home and we dined at a French restaurant called Caprice Bistro.

As one might expect, Caprice is not known for its inexpensive or healthy dishes. It is, however, known for its delicious eats, and I figured: “JESSAMYN YOU’RE ON VACATION JUST SHUT UP AND EAT!”

Well, Jessamyn’s manic sub-conscious, I can’t argue with that logic.

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I love a good dimly lit restaurant photo, don’t you?

I ordered duck confit, served with sauteed potatoes, petit salad, and balsamic jus. The duck was positively sinful- it fell off the bone and was moist beyond belief. However, for the record (and I know I’m about to be admitted into a special layer of culinary hell), I hate balsamic vinegar. I try to like it- trust me, I try. But the sweet yet oddly nutty and savory flavor is always an unwelcome taste in my mouth. I’m not so unrefined that I don’t understand why balsamic is the chosen accent ingredient for this dish (or, for that matter, in most dishes), but I personally find the flavor to be very unpleasant. By no means did it ruin the dish for me, but it certainly didn’t help.

(I also ordered pomme frites with homemade mayonnaise and I ate them too quickly for a photo to be taken. Surprisingly, I was not very impressed by the fries. They tasted just like any french fries I could get at any restaurant. And, to worsen matters, I’m absolutely certain I’ve eaten better fries at significantly lower brow establishments. The mayo was good, but it was a little too thick for my taste, and dipping the frites in it was very difficult. Again, a very good dish, but it wasn’t a home run.)

After a great trip, and with sadness in our hearts, my posse and I were eventually forced to head home.On the way home from Wrightsville Beach,we decided to console ourselves at a restaurant called Chris’ Cosmic Kitchen.

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First of all, I need to applaud Chris’ Cosmic Kitchen’s proper use of social media- before heading out, my clan checked out yelp to find the best ‘on the road’ brekky option. The Cosmic Kitchen had excellent reviews AND an offer for a free drink simply by mentioning their presence on yelp. Therefore, guess who had a free cup of hot tea with her breakfast? THIS GIRL. By this point in the trip, I was starting to remember my food ideals and I decided to order the egg white Farmer’s omelet, served with rye toast and grits.

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The farmer’s omelet is stuffed with lots of yummy vegetation- peppers, spinach, mushrooms, etc. It was quite tasty. However, the grits did not live up to my aforementioned expectations. They were very thick, which is usually a good thing. However, the thickness could be attributed to the grainy texture of the grits. I could taste and feel every individual corn kernel. For the record- NOT A GOOD THING. They also required a fair amount of additional seasoning (from very unruly salt and pepper shakers). All in all, I was not pleased with these grits- they weren’t bad, and I’ve definitely had worse. But I probably wouldn’t order them again.

Ugh- writing about all this food has got me jonesing for another beach trip. Sad smile

In other news, I’m thinking about starting a mini-herb garden in one of my kitchen windows. Whole Foods has a really exciting selection of organic and local herbs for sale. However, my gardening thumb is definitely not green- it’s more like a muted grey. Do you have any at-home gardening tips?

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Filed under food, restaurant reviews, vacation

The Bathing Suit Blues: A Word On Weight-Loss

(TRIGGER WARNING: There’s a lot of FAT talk in this entry. If you are not comfortable reading about bad self-esteem and weight-loss, please don’t read any further.)

(STOP: By reading below this disclaimer, you are allowing yourself to read a stream of conscious and potentially nonsensical rant. You were warned.)

I’m sure some of you have noticed that I don’t spend a lot of time talking about my weight-loss journey on this blog. This is unusual for a healthy living blogger- typically, if one is aiming to lose weight and they blog, progress photos and pound for pound weight-loss entries are the norm. I respect those who choose this method of chronicling. I admire it. But that’s not the point of my journey.

Yes, I’m on Weight Watchers. I must admit, I am a true convert to the Weight Watchers philosophies- I have definitely consumed my fair share of the Weight Watchers kool-aid. Since starting up again, I’ve steadily lost weight every week. In fact, this week I lost nearly 3 pounds.

I don’t want my weight to start dictating my progress. In the words of the great French philosophers Daft Punk, I want to be Harder, Better, Faster, and Stronger. Being Harder, Better, Faster, and Stronger does not always mean being thinner. Yes, I want to lose weight so I can move faster. So I can run better. So I will be stronger than I’ve ever thought I could be.

But I like my body. I think I’m hot. I think (nay, KNOW) other people think I’m hot. Yes, I have days where I can’t reach this conclusion (just like any other person in the world). But I’m afraid of the media. I’m afraid of models. I’m afraid of what they do to the minds of everyday people who look beautiful just the way are.

Why am I thinking about this now? Well, it’s finally spring break and I’m absolutely thrilled to be away from school for a few days. I have the opportunity to head to the beach for a short vacation, and I’m now contemplating the idea of wearing my bathing suit.

I don’t have a problem wearing a bathing suit. I’ll wear it all day long. The trouble is, I haven’t purchased a new bathing suit in over five years. This may seem especially odd for a girl who loves shopping and practically lives in Forever 21. My old bathing suits are too large- I grew out of them quite some time ago. They are stretched out, and in desperate need of a trade-in. So why haven’t I bought a new suit?

Because of this:

black polka dot monokini

This may just look like a scant piece of nylon to you, but this swimsuit has become my kryptonite.

You see, when I began my first Weight Watchers journey, I told myself I would be wearing a swimsuit similar to this one once I was within 20 pounds of my goal weight. I had extraordinary willpower. I could do it. I made the swimsuit photo my desktop background, I pasted it on my door, and I prepared my body for the time when it would be “ready” to wear this suit. And in the mean time, I refused to buy a new swimsuit. Why buy a bathing suit I’d be too small to wear by the end of my journey? This was my dream suit. And I was going to wear my dream bathing suit.

Since that initial proclamation (a little over two years ago), my vision of the world has shifted. My understanding of the concept of Fat has morphed dramatically from where it was at the beginning of 2009. I’ve shifted my goals to non-scale victories only, achievable through physical perseverance and mental training. However, somehow my vision of myself and the bathing suit has not changed at all. For all my self-confidence, I still feel too Fat to wear this bathing suit. To be honest, I don’t know what amount of shame is more mortifying- my shame over actually feeling too Fat, or the shame I imagine I will feel upon donning this suit before reaching my goal?

Recently, this conundrum was put in even sharper focus. I have been lucky enough to begin a friendship with someone whose weight-loss journey is unbelievably inspirational to me. This person has battled the odds of losing weight while in college- she has achieved an astounding weight-loss (through weight watchers) in a fairly short period of time. Her current weight is significantly less than my goal weight, and I think she looks wonderful (for the record, she looked fly as hell BEFORE she lost weight, but that’ s neither here nor there Smile). Basically, this person is my personal weight-loss hero.

However, she is still ten pounds heavier than her goal weight. And, in her mind, those ten pounds make all the difference. Recently, we discussed how those ten pounds have kept her from purchasing a bikini. Yes, she’s always wanted to wear one. But she’s felt that a bikini was out of her reach until she reaches her goal weight. Do you know what I did when she told me about her internal struggle?

I judged her.

I judged her because she didn’t have the ‘wear anything, do anything’ resolve I’ve acquired. I rolled my eyes at her body issues.

I am such a hypocrite. Here I am, rolling my eyes at her body issues because of my own fat positivity, and I can’t bring myself to buy a new ONE PIECE BATHING SUIT.

I’d love to say that I had an epiphany at that moment. I’d love to say that I immediately went out in search of a polka dot monokini to wear at my first swimming opportunity.

I didn’t. Even at this moment as I live, breathe, and type, I can not convince myself to wear this swimsuit. It’s not all about weight- part of me just wants to complete my goal and reward myself properly. But there’s a substantial part of me that’s embarrassed to wear this bathing suit at my current weight.

To be honest, I’m actually overcome by my self-disappointment. I don’t have a resolution to this problem, but I think it helps to actually admit that I’m not as bulletproof as I may appear. In spite of my best efforts, I must show solidarity with every person who fears a certain clothing item- whether its jeans, bras, or any other dreaded piece of cloth.

For every fat girl who rocks a bikini regardless of society norms, I applaud you. YOU are my superhero. But as much as I want to be, I’m not there yet.

And as much as I hate to admit it, even confident, fat-positive girls get the bathing suit blues.

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Filed under body issues, fat, Uncategorized, Weight Watchers

Feminist Coming Out Day, and the BEST Curried Lentil Soup Recipe

So I’ve been absent. Horribly absent. But I have an excuse, I SWEAR! Ok, it’s just the ‘I-was-too-busy-to-blog-wah-wah’ excuse you’ve heard already. However, on the bright side, today was the last day of winter term classes- just a few more assignments, and it’ll be SPRING BREAK LIVIN’ Y’ALL.

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Ok, that’s definitely not what my break is going to look like. It’s going to look a little more like a constant date with this:

cleaning products

Seriously, my apartment is begging for a deep clean.

In the mean time, in honor of International Women’s Day and Feminist Coming Out Day, I need to write a letter to the two people who birthed this woman. If you get grossed out by excessive sentimentality, feel free to skip ahead.

Dear Tangela and Jesse,

It would be impossible for me to give thanks for everything you’ve done that’s made my life possible. However, at the age of 23, I realize there’s one thing for which I am most grateful, and for which I must attempt to give thanks:

Thank you for not limiting my definition of happiness.

You allowed me to be myself, and in doing so left the world at my disposal for interpretation. I have never felt as though there is only one version of happiness- I never felt that if I didn’t get married, have children, or pursue a specific career that I would be less than what you wanted me to be.

This freedom of interpretation has allowed me to have several painless awakenings over the year- not the least of which include my sexual neutrality, fat positivity, and (at times) radical feminism.

You did what every parent should do, but what seems to be extraordinarily difficult. Your ability to forgo your own versions of happiness in favor of my own personal exploration means more to me than words can ever say.

Love,

Jessamyn

ANYWAY,

last week I made the most DELICIOUS curried lentil soup. Because I’ve been living under a rock since last Friday, this recipe (and the corresponding photographs) have been living in the Jessamyn archives. Let them be liberated!

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Curried Lentil Soup

Yield: 8 servings (time to bust out the tupperware, y’all)

Ingredients:

1 cup dry lentils, rinsed
1 onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, or 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
8 cups Chicken or Vegetable Broth
1/2 cup dry couscous
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

8 oz mushrooms

Combine lentils, onion, celery, mushrooms, garlic, cumin, and broth in a large pot. Bring to a simmer, then cover loosely and cook until lentils are tender, about 50 minutes.
Stir in couscous, , curry powder, and black pepper. Continue cooking until couscous is tender, about 10 minutes. Add salt to taste.

This recipe is hella simple. However, the secret to perfect lentils (whether they are in a soup or served plain), is a three step process:

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1. Carefully look them through for rocks, dirt clumps, mishapen dark beans, or any other non-tasty items.

2. Rinse your lentils.

3. SOAK SOAK SOAK. For at least 15 minutes, but you can let them sit for hours. My favorite thing to do is look them over, rinse, and let them soak in a bowl full of water for an entire day before cooking. The lentils will absorb lots of water, and they will be super soft and creamy as a result. Trust me, if you want to have perfect lentils, you will not skip this step.

Seriously: NOMNOMNOMNOMNOM.

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BY THE WAY:

Um, guess what I found at The Dollar Tree?

frozen berries

Yeah, that’s right: frozen berries. They had a variety: strawberries, peaches, blueberries, etc. I got peaches and blueberries. I was really just shocked by the refrigerated and frozen food sections in the DOLLAR STORE, but that’s probably just me and my bourgeois attitude. Apparently this is old news- however, I was still really excited.

Also, how is it that The Dollar Tree has extensive online shopping options, and Michaels Arts and Crafts barely has a store locator? I am just filled with questions today….

Happy Feminist Coming Out Day, Y’all!

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