I Cooked: Easy Paella

I’d certainly heard of paella before I moved to Nevada, but I don’t know that I’d ever actually seen it in real life before I got out here. The Basque population out here is big into paella, but since it’s traditionally meat-y, I’ve never been able to try it. I found this paella-esque recipe (it’s not real paella, obviously, but it’s the same kind of idea) at The Hungry Nutmeg, which is a place you can find lots of delicious vegetarian and vegan recipes, if that’s something you’re looking for. After how well this turned out, I’m going to have to try some more of her recipes!

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2 bell peppers, sliced
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 14oz. can of artichoke hearts, quartered and drained
1 cup of canned whole peeled tomatoes, squished with your hands
2 links of your favorite meat-free chorizo, crumbled or sliced or whatever makes you happy
2 cups of white rice
4 cups of water
1 packet of Goya Sazón con Azafrán
1 lime, quartered
1 tablespoon of butter
Extra virgin olive oil

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In a large pot boil the 4 cups of water, Sazón con Azafrán, and tablespoon of butter. Once boiling, add the rice. Stir and let boil for 1 minute. Then turn the temperature to low , cover, and let simmer for 20 minutes until soft. Remove from heat once cooked.

In a large skillet over medium, sauté the onion and peppers until soft. Transfer onions and peppers to rice.

In the same skillet cook the tomatoes and artichokes until warm throughout. Transfer to the rice.

In the same skillet cook the chorizo until golden brown. Transfer to the rice.

Toss the raw minced garlic into the rice mixture. The heat from the other vegetables will steam the garlic.

Mix the rice vegetables together. Season with pepper.

Pre-heat your broiler.

Pour the rice mixture into a large baking dish and broil for a few minutes until the top of the paella is slightly crispy. Remove from the oven and serve with the wedges of lime.

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I actually thought this was going to be a lot harder to make than it turned out to be. There was some dicing, but not anything overwhelming, and it was easy to time everything by getting all the chopping done while the rice was cooking up. And not only did it come out really tasty (Drew and I both had seconds), there was A LOT of it. We’ll have enough to dine on leftovers several times, or this dish could be made to serve a larger group. I omitted a few things from the original recipe, some intentional because I don’t like them (olives, peas), some unintentional because I forgot to get them (a second onion, 2 strands of saffron), but it still came out yummy, so it’s definitely adjustable for taste!

I Ate: Osteria Laguna Restaurant

Since Anna’s wedding was in the evening on Saturday, I had the whole morning and afternoon to do whatever I wanted. After wandering around and shopping for a while, I decided that what I wanted to do was eat. A quick Yelp! search later, I found where I was headed: Osteria Laguna.

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You all know at this point that Italian food is one of my very favorite things in the world, so that’s what I decided I needed to have. As this was around 1 in the afternoon, it was still considered “brunch time”. Yay! I got the ravioli di ricotta al pomodoro (spinach ravioli with ricotta cheese filling in tomato sauce), and since it was brunch, it came with a glass of champagne! I am never one to turn down champagne in my life. I’m trying to find a way to work that into a Pinterest-worthy saying: Always choose champagne. When in doubt, choose champagne. Champers uber alles. Whatever, it’ll come to me. We were talking about food.

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It was a hearty serving for a brunch portion, but I’d worked up an appetite shopping and ate almost the entire thing. It was good, but not amazing…definitely worth it, and I’d order it again if I found myself back there, but I’ve had better ravioli. The service was good…the waiter was prompt but never hovered, which is something I appreciate especially when dining alone. Even though there’s nothing wrong with eating da sola, a hovering waiter when doing so always makes me feel like they feel sorry for me not having anyone to eat with.

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Osteria Laguna is located at 209 East 42nd Street, Manhattan, NY, in the Midtown area. It’s Italian food, serving brunch through dinner. When I was in there, it was pretty sparsely populated and in the afternoon, so I felt perfectly comfortable dressed casually, but would probably want to be in something at least a little dressy for dinner (like, slacks or a simple dress). Brunch price was very reasonable…I paid just about $20 for my ravioli and champagne. I’d totally come back here for brunch again.

20 Things I Learned In My 20s: You Have The Right To Say No, But Don’t Be Afraid To Say Yes

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Most kids, I understand, go through a phase when they’re small where they discover the word “no” and get really excited about saying no to everything. I will refrain from making a joke about Congressional Republicans here even though I really want to, because there’s plenty of eye-rolling to be directed at both parties in DC. Anyways, even though small children like to say no, it seems like it gets harder and harder as you grow up to say it. No, I don’t agree with your backstabbing comments about someone totally harmless, friend-who-is-more-popular-than-me. No, I don’t want to apply to your college alma mater, Dad. No, I don’t actually feel like going to a frat party where I don’t know more than 2 people, person-that-lives-in-my-dorm. No, I don’t think I’d enjoy doing that for a living, person-offering-me-a-job. No, I don’t think it’s my job to handle all of the household chores, boyfriend. And then somehow there you find yourself, with friends you don’t actually like, doing things you’re not really interested in, with a relationship that doesn’t make you happy.

I’m emphasizing for dramatic purpose, of course, but not really THAT wildly. There can be a lot of social pressure, especially as a lady, to not say no, to not be “difficult”, to not rock the boat. Little compromises, like just sucking it up and taking out the trash this one time because it really needs to be done, and then the next time, turn into months of taking out the trash even though you’d agreed that was going to be something the other one did. Letting lots of small things slide means that eventually you think about it and that friend hasn’t been treating you very well for a long time now.

When I even think about saying no, I get nervous. Is the other person going to be mad at me? What if they don’t understand? What if they decide that I’m too selfish to want to spend time with anymore? But you have to listen to yourself, and figuring out that I do have the right to say no and that the world isn’t going to end is something that took a long time to come together, but it’s one of the most valuable things I’ve picked up in the past decade. If someone doesn’t understand that you need to take time for yourself every so often, that person isn’t a very good one to have in your life.

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On the flip side, it can also be hard to say yes, especially to something outside your comfort zone. When I think about fun experiences I’ve had in my life, my weekend trip to New Orleans is right up there. It’s something I wouldn’t usually do. What about school? What about responsibilities? Deciding to just be young, enjoy the freedom of my 20s and just go with it, was absolutely the right choice. On a similar note, moving to Nevada with just 10 days notice was something I was really nervous to do. But, with help from my friends, I said yes to an opportunity that presented itself, and I’m still reaping the benefits. Without no, you give and give and give of yourself and people will take and take and take until you don’t have anything left for yourself. But without yes, you’ll never figure out if it actually is better in your comfort zone, or if that thing you’ve been thinking about doing but haven’t mustered up the courage to do yet might actually be way better. Both “no” and “yes” are powerful tools…figuring out when and how to use each of them in turn has directed the course of my 20s.

I Baked: Ice Box Peanut Butter Squares

I’ll be honest: I’ve never been a huge Thanksgiving food person. I mean, I like mashed potatoes and green bean casserole as much as anyone, but I don’t actively look forward to the Thanksgiving meal or anything like that. Maybe it’s a vegetarian thing? So when Drew and I were invited over to join his parents at one of their friends’ houses, I decided I would contribute a desert for my dish to pass. This was one I’d actually torn out of the Penzey’s spice catalog a while back as something to make for Drew, because it involves peanut butter and that is his favorite thing in the universe (maybe including me). But I figured it would be a good Thanksgiving desert because, well, who doesn’t enjoy peanut butter and chocolate together? Well, actually me, because there was an unfortunate childhood incident involving overconsumption of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (they had previously been a great favorite), but pretty much everyone else, right?

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1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup butter
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
2.5 cups powdered sugar
1.5 cups graham cracker crumbs
12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
.5 cup diced nuts
nonstick cooking spray

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Lightly spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray. In a large saucepan on very low, melt the peanut butter and butter. Stir to combine. Add the vanilla, powdered sugar, and graham cracker crumbs and mix well. Press the mixture into the pan and spread until smooth.

Melt the chocolate chips in a small saucepan over low heat. Pour the chocolate over the peanut butter mixture, smoothing to spread evenly. Sprinkle the nuts over the top.

Refrigerate for 30-45 minutes. Remove and score into approximately 1-inch squares. Place back into the fridge. Once the bars are completely set (about one more hour), cut the bars all the way through.

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These were a big hit! I did try one and it was tasty. Obviously, Drew loved them. They were also quickly and enthusiastically consumed both at Thanksgiving and the post-Thanksgiving potluck. And the hardest part about making them, honestly, was cutting them apart. Scoring them after about an hour was key. Other than that, melt the stuff that needs melting, mix the stuff that needs mixing, combine, and put in the fridge for a couple hours. Boom. Done. These are highly recommended, especially for your peanut butter loving friends!

I Saw: November 2014

This month was much more back to normal for me…8 movies! Yay for Thanksgiving weekend!

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The Hunger Games: Catching Fire: 9/10

Adapting a beloved book series to film can be a challenge…sometimes it’s done very well (Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings) and sometimes not (The Hobbit, The Golden Compass). The Hunger Games, thus far, falls into the former rather than the latter camp. A lot of that can be attributed to great casting, lead by Jennifer Lawrence, but the rest of the actors are just as well-suited for their roles. For me, this series and this installment in particular succeeds because it shows rather than tells…we don’t need it beaten into our heads that Katniss is falling in love with Peeta, we can see it in the way she goes to pieces when something happens to him. Not having the script constantly tell you what it’s doing, especially in a film marketed to the masses, is a breath of fresh air.

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They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?: 4/10

This rating is maybe a little unfair because it’s not a bad movie in terms of film quality, but I didn’t like it, so there we are. It’s incredibly, relentlessly depressing. Set in the 1930s, it follows several desperate people who sign up for a dance marathon in the hopes of winning the $1500 prize. Of course, though, the contest is rigged: the MC (Gig Young in a deservedly Oscar-winning turn) actively interferes with the contestants, there are humiliating derbies when the action falls, and the winner doesn’t even get to take home almost any of the pot (“expenses” are deducted…for the winner only, of course). The movie focuses on Gloria, yet another “hard” role for Jane Fonda, but a well-played one. The more I see of her in her prime, the more I enjoy her screen presence while realizing she doesn’t have much range.

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A Single Man: 8/10

As one might expect from a movie directed by Tom Ford, this movie is stunning to look at. The art direction is incredible. But what makes it a good movie, more than just a lovely one, are the performances. Colin Firth as George, still reeling months after the unexpected death of his partner of 16 years (Matthew Goode, who creates in just a few flashback scenes with Firth the sense of a warm, loving, lived-in relationship), puts on a masterclass of how to perform big emotions (grief, despair, etc) in a very small but still enormously impactful way. A lot of actors chew the scenery to show off their “craft”, want you to watching them ACTING!, but Colin Firth knows better. Julianne Moore makes the most of her small role George’s divorced best friend, and Nicholas Hoult is luminous as the college student who becomes the beacon of light and hope for George in some of his lowest moments. With lesser actors, this would have been gratingly stylized, but the emotional truth that the cast brings elevates it.

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Topkapi: 3/10

I don’t enjoy “caper” movies, generally speaking. I didn’t hate the first movie in the Ocean’s Eleven remake series, but I have no desire to see the rest of them. It’s just never been a genre that speaks to me…I find that they either take themselves far too seriously or not seriously enough. This one falls into the latter camp, lots of broad comedy. There are some genuinely tense sequences…I’m thinking especially of the robbery itself, which must have inspired Mission Impossible. But the rest of it is whatever. Peter Ustinov’s Oscar-winning performance in the comic relief role is just okay, honestly. It’s nice when a comedy role gets the shiny award, because a lot of them go unrecognized, but this was not one of the better ones I’ve seen.

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Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work: 7/10

Until she passed away earlier this year, I only ever knew of Joan Rivers as the plastic surgery nightmare who accosted celebrities on red carpets. When obits started coming out, I learned more about her background in stand-up, but still had no real sense of it or her. This documentary makes me wish I would have gotten the chance to see her live before she died. What a sharp, bawdy lady! Seeing the person behind the plastic surgery mask also made it obvious why the plastic surgery mask exists: as a woman in an industry so focused on youth and beauty, you have to do it to stay relevant. A nip here, a tuck there, a snip in some other place all adds up over time until you’re 75 and don’t even look quite real anymore. I also found her refreshingly pragmatic. She enjoys luxury and understands how hard she has to work to make the money to live the way she wants to and doesn’t complain about it. She hustles hard to make sure she can keep working. If nothing else, you have to respect her nonstop drive.

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The Great Muppet Caper: 6/10

There is no such thing as a bad Muppet movie, okay? Just good ones and less good ones. This one falls into the latter camp, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not funny and charming and enjoyable to watch, just that it doesn’t have a very cohesive plot. It’s a Muppet movie. You should know by now if this is your deal (if it’s not, that’s cool, you do you, but I don’t think we’d be friends in real life. If you’ve somehow never seen one, watch the original, then the new one…not the newest new one, but the first new one), then any of the other ones. They’re all fun.

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Hoosiers: 5/10

Finding out that the team behind this movie was also the team behind Rudy was not a surprise. Both are the kind of heartwarming, underdog sports stories that you start watching knowing exactly where they’re going to end, and just going along for the ride. Gene Hackman, who has never been an especial favorite of mine (he’s a good actor, but he always gives off a jackassy vibe that I don’t like), is actually very well cast: that jackassy vibe fits with the character of the volatile basketball coach. Dennis Hopper, another actor I don’t really like, plays against type as a sad, drunken washed-up former player who becomes an assistant coach. The games are staged excitingly enough, lots of montages set to holy 80s syth music Batman. The “love story” feels completely tacked on and should have been dropped.

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Infernal Affairs: 8/10

Did you like The Departed? This is pretty much the same movie, but the original version from Hong Kong. While I really like The Departed, it’s so very similar that I can’t really understand why an American remake was made, except to save American audiences the trouble of having to read subtitles for the Cantonese. The movies are even flawed in the same way: the romantic relationships, which seem like they are meant to be an important part of the movie, feel perfunctory, secondary to the relationships of the male leads with other men. Also, a failure to really sell the moral conflict of the undercover-gangster-turned-cop in a way that makes them at all sympathetic. That being said, both movies are awesome: tense, exciting, densely plotted. Infernal Affairs has a more Michael Mann feel to its artistic direction: a cool color palette, lots of cityscapes. It’s always worth seeing the original.

Birchbox: November 2014

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Besides the duplicate (for which I received 100 extra Birchbox points, worth $10 in the Birchbox store, as an apology from the company, which was awesome of them), this was actually a great box for me and may be one of my favorites ever!

 

Mirenesse iCurl Secret Weapon 24 Hour Mascara: This I really liked! It didn’t flake at all (all day!), it stayed on even when I got a little sniffly (I’m a crier, so any mascara of mine has to be cry-proof), it made my lashes look longer and darker…I may buy a replacement of this one when I run out of it.

MAKE Dual-Phase Eye Makeup Remover: This was a duplicate…I got a sample of this before, several months ago. Since I wear very little eye makeup, I’d barely used the sample the first time. I used it on the mascara, though, actually.

Not Soap, Radio Body Wash: I liked the lemon-y scent of this, but didn’t love it…I just prefer a sweet-smelling body wash. But this lathered really nicely and I’ll use it until it’s done. I’m usually pretty cheap with body wash, so I doubt I’ll go away from my usual supermarket stuff.

Harvey Prince Hello Shampoo: While I like the scent of this, this is yet another one of these low-lather shampoos that do nothing for my hair. Pass.

Harvey Prince Hello Conditioner: This works pretty well, and smells great, but it’s nothing special. I’ll use up the sample and that’ll be it.

Chuao Chocolatier ChocoPod in Firecracker: This was fun, actually! Which is a weird thing to say about food, I admit. Since this had chipotle in it and that is a spicy thing, I split this with Drew because I couldn’t eat it all myself. Not only does it have the spicy kick, but it has something like pop rocks inside of it…it starts popping in your mouth and takes a bit to settle down. Which made it fun to eat. Not really something I’d want on the regular, though.

I Cooked: Potato and Chickpea Masala

This recipe obviously appealed to me straight out the gate: potatoes, chickpeas, and Indian spicing? Yes, yes, and yes. And it was a solid choice for the Sunday-after-Thanksgiving meal, when we were sick to death of pumpkin-spiced and breading on everything. This is healthy, fragrant, and tastes nothing like anything from Thanksgiving (yes, there are potatoes, but they are covered in Indian spices rather than mashed). If you’re interested in more mostly but not always vegetarian recipes, you should check out Law and Lentils…she’s got some great-looking stuff!

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2 White Potatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 Onion, diced
1 Bell Pepper, diced
2 cloves Garlic, minced
2 T. Olive Oil
2 c. (ish) Cherry Tomatoes, chopped
1 can Chickpeas
1/3 cup vegetable broth
1 t. each: Chili Powder, Garam Masala, Curry powder, Ground Ginger, Cumin, Paprika
Healthy squirt citrus juice (lemon or lime)

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Boil a pot of water and cook potatoes for 5-6 minutes until tender; drain and set aside. Heat olive oil in large pot over med-low heat. Cook onion and pepper til soft. Add garlic and spices, cooking for a few minutes. Add tomatoes and increase heat to medium. Cook for a few minutes, then add potato, chickpeas and citrus juice. Add vegetable broth. Cook 5-10 more minutes til chickpeas are heated through and liquid is reduced to satisfaction. Serve and enjoy!

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This was a slice and dice prep heavy recipe (not my particular favorite kind of recipe, especially the slicing of potatoes because I desperately need better knives but can’t make that investment in the buying-presents-for-everyone-else season, which is lovely but not conducive to having money to buy things for yourself), but once all the prep was done, it was easy and quick to cook. And delicious to eat, and demonstrating again why Indian is one of my favorite foods: it was flavorful and spicy, but not hot. I subbed in lime juice for the originally-called for lemon and it tasted delicious to me, so whatever you have on hand will work for that. I also added in the veggie broth rather than the leftover liquid from the chickpeas, because I didn’t want to have to deal with reserving the liquid from draining the chickpeas and figured it would sub in nicely. Perfect for a cool fall night!

I Stayed: Hotel Boutique Grand Central

When I was looking at hotels to stay at when I came to New York for Anna’s wedding, I knew I wanted to stay in Manhattan, relatively close to the wedding site. Looking for at least a quasi-affordable option, I ended up booking my two nights at Hotel Boutique Grand Central. I got in around 6 and settled in. The room was small, because this is Manhattan, but it was nice. Unlike the hostel I stayed in the week before, this had all the usual hotel pluses: soft fluffy towels, bath and shower stuff, even a full-size hairdryer in the room. There was a closet with several hangers, a flat-screen TV…but the best part was a little desk with a chair that made it easy to lounge around and use the internet. The wi-fi was free and pretty fast. There were lots of plugs and places to charge electronics, and even an iPod dock to hook up to. The bed and pillows were very comfy. One thing that I thought was really neat was the water situation: there are the standard issue cups in the room, but there was also this little station by the elevator where they kept clean, empty plastic water bottles and you could fill them with cold, purified water! Since my room was pretty close to the elevator, I took frequent advantage of this.

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I will say that I wasn’t thrilled with the was they charged my card/billed: my total charge for the room for two nights ended up being $510. But when I checked in, $590 was pre-authorized to my card, and then they automatically pre-authorized an ADDITIONAL $90 “for expenses” like room service, phone calls, etc. I get pre-authorizing some nominal amount for that, but $90 seemed awfully high, especially when they had already charged my card $80 in excess of my actual room charges. Now, when I checked out, it all got sorted: the two pre-authorizations were taken off my card and the true charge of $510 went through without a problem. But I didn’t see the need to over-authorize for the base room charge as well as an automatic pre-authorization for other expenses. The way the elevator worked, having to flash your card in front of a sensor to use it, was also kind of annoying because it didn’t seem to always read my card correctly and would shoot me up to the 27th floor (the lounge level) instead of my actual floor.

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The entrance to Hotel Boutique Grand Central is at 447 Lexington Ave, Manhattan, NY in the Midtown East area. I specify where the entrance is because this hotel and the Club Quarters near Grand Central are the same building, just each has its own entrance. The entrance for Club Quarters is around the corner on 45th. This is like two blocks from Grand Central Station, which is super convenient. Anyways, I thought the price was reasonable for a Friday/Saturday in Manhattan in May. I certainly felt like I got my money’s worth, and actually recommended this hotel to my own mother. Just make sure you have some extra room on your credit card.

On The Run

I am not a natural runner. I’m not good at it. I wasn’t designed to be. I have short legs. I’m pigeon toed, significantly worse on my right foot, which trips me even when I’m just walking sometimes. When I was a kid, I had asthma. I never once successfully ran the mile in gym class growing up: just one of the million tiny humiliations to which gym class exposed me. I’m just not a runner, you know? I gravitated towards dance…not the ballet/jazz kind, where grace (and turnout) is something you’re supposed to have, but things like hip-hop, belly dance, Bollywood dance, where rhythm and attitude could help cover my lack of grace.

And then, two years ago, one of the girls in my Bollywood dance class and I were walking out of the Y and she was telling me she’d started running. I congratulated her and made a joke about how bad I am at running. She told me that she had a similar tale of gym class woe to tell, but she’d started doing Couch to 5K and it was really working for her. I batted that idea around for a while, and trying to fill my evening with more exercise to help combat the stress I felt at the law office, I decided to try it out. It didn’t look so hard. The first week of the workout has you running no more than one minute at a time. Surely I could do that. And I did. And I did week two. And three. I remember at week 5, when I was going for two miles but had to stop after about a mile and a quarter because I was so dehydrated in the muggy Ann Arbor summer (seriously, it was terrible), I felt really disappointed until I realized I’d just run a mile. More than a mile. Without stopping. I’d never done that before. My body had done something I’d never thought it could do.

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I kept with the program and ran my first-ever 5K on Independence Day in downtown Ann Arbor. It wasn’t a great race…I had to stop and walk a few times for a bit (it was already over 80 degrees with over 90% humidity at 830 in the morning), but I ran most of it and I finished. Crossing that finish line was a proud moment. I kept it up and had already signed up for my next race, actually, when I took the campaign job in Reno. With the kind of schedule I had to keep (especially considering how much walking I was doing at work), I couldn’t keep it up. My running fell by the wayside. I made a few attempts to kick it back up during session when I was interning, but between the cold and the long hours I kept, it didn’t work out. And then there was a big fire in the summer of 2013 that so destroyed air quality for a month that it wasn’t safe to go running. I found myself not running again. I got back on it in the spring of 2014, though, and was actually about to run my second-ever official 5K when my gallbladder failed spectacularly. Womp womp.

But on November 16th, I finally ran my second 5K race: the first running of the Run with the Girls 5K in Reno. The opposite of my first 5K experience, it was 9 am on a Sunday in mid-November, so it was really cold instead of too hot. Which, freezing muscles aren’t the happiest ones. My time wasn’t inspiring: about 34 minutes, three minutes slower than my first one! But this just gives me a benchmark to beat in my next race, and there will be a next one. Hopefully sooner than two and a half years from now.

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I Cooked: General Tso’s Tofu

I don’t remember ever really caring for General Tso’s Chicken back when I ate meat. I actually avoided most meat at Chinese places because I didn’t like the grease factor. But when I found this recipe for General Tso’s Tofu and looked at the ingredient list for the sauce and thought it looked like it might be pretty good, actually, so I decided I might as well try it.

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SAUCE
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1/3 cup vegetable broth
1 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch

1 big extra or super firm tofu block
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
6 green onions, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
Oil
Rice or quinoa

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Cut the tofu into cubes. In a bowl dust the tofu with 2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch. Set aside.

In a skillet, heat some oil. Fry the tofu until lightly golden. Remove the tofu and set aside on paper towels (to absorb the excess oil). Frying the tofu will make the outside harder so it will not be super mushy once in the sauce. During that step combine all the sauce ingredients in a bowl and mix.

In the same skillet, add some oil then fry the green onions, fresh ginger, and garlic 1 minute. Add the sauce and bring to a boil, then add the tofu cubes. Cook until every cubes is covered with the sauce and everything is hot.

Serve over rice or quinoa, if you want (I used quinoa)

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And it was really yummy! The sauce was tangy with just a little hint of sweetness, and when you combine the protein in the tofu with the protein in the quinoa, this was a VERY filling meal. It was also fairly quick and easy to prepare. If you like a spice kick in your food, the original recipe calls for sriracha in the sauce, which I omitted because I do not like a spice kick in my food. The sauce is still flavorful no matter what, though, so whatever your preference is this will be good. So if you’re looking for a meatless version of General Tso’s Chicken, or even just a satisfying dinner, I’d definitely recommend trying this one out!