Monday, September 1, 2014


I've been a cooking machine this past week and a half, except for the three nights in a row (!) we went out for dinner. Those three times deserve their own blog post, but I won't bore you, except to say that all three were with different groups of friends. Okay, I'll bore you a little bit.The first night we were supposed to golf in a twilight, but they luckily canceled it at the last minute due to the torrential rains we have had this past week. We seriously need to work on our ark. That dinner was at Maru, the next night was at J Coco, and the third started at Pitch with appetizers and half-price bottles of wine and ended at Lalibela for some Ethiopian food. The company each night was stellar, and the food was fabulous at two of the three restaurants. We chose J Coco because it had been one of our favorites, but after the lackluster food and poor service the other night (not to mention that they charged for blue cheese olives in our martinis!), we will not be in any hurry to return.

But things have been cooking here at Chez Cathy. These are all new recipes, and I'll give you the honest reviews. Four are from Cooking Light magazine and one is from the web. Hang on to your seats, as Mighty Mouse used to say (and we all grabbed our butts when we were little kids), because here we go. (Click on the name of the recipe to be taken to the recipe itself). All of these recipes serve four, so we had some lunch leftovers.

First up is Damn Fine Chicken from Nom Nom Paleo. I love her titles, and I love how her recipes are written. Her cookbook is wonderful as well. The damn fine chicken was, well, okay. She uses chicken thighs and chicken legs in many of her recipes, and after decades of eating boneless, skinless breasts, I just can't with the dark meat. I made the recipe with the chicken legs that were called for, but if I make it again, I'll be boring and go back to the breasts. The recipe said that ten legs served four people, but these legs were so big that two were plenty. I'm not sure how to divide ten by four equally anyway...

sided with a baked potato, carrot and kohlrabi sticks, and my sister-in-law's incredibly delicious pickled green beans

The next four recipes are from Cooking Light, my favorite magazine. I read it each month and dog-ear the pages I'd like to make, but usually just end up ripping them out and filing them. I know everything is available on-line, but I love reading the magazine. And I love that while the recipes are low-fat, they are not non-fat. And they use real food, nothing fake to lower the calorie count. 

Okay, how does Caprese Mac and Cheese sound? Maybe as delicious as it tasted! The basil growing in our garden really came in handy. This took about an hour from start-to-finish, and then about five minutes to eat, as do most of our meals. Most of the time with this came from making and thickening the sauce. We loved this - pretty much the definition of comfort food. The only difference I would make is to use a heavier hand with the red pepper flakes at the end. I thought it needed a teensy bit more bite. And I can't help but think that some pancetta would be delicious in this...

I made the salad that was recommended to go with the mac & cheese, minus the radicchio

The next recipe was a salad I made to go with Iowa Girl Eats' chili lime chicken burgers (which I've written about several times, as it is one of Dwight's favorite meals). It's Greek Style Edamame Salad, and I will be making this again - soon. I didn't have any feta as the recipe calls for; I can only imagine how much better (if that is possible) it would taste. This came together in minutes.

Next we have Crab Cake Sliders with Yogurt Dill Sauce. I apologize for the picture - they tasted much better than they look here. I have never made pickled onions before, but it was so easy:  microwave vinegar and sugar, add the onions, and let sit for 15 minutes. They were sweet and delicious, and complemented the crab cakes and yogurt sauce. And the corn from the farmer's market? YUM!!!

And that leads us to tonight's dinner: Ginger Steak with Sesame Brown Rice. I made the Chili-Basil Slaw that is sided with the meal in the magazine, and holy hell is that ever good. Seriously - make this entire meal. Right now.

Happy cooking!

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014


No, not that kind. But if you live in the Midwest, you undoubtedly pronounce it the same as the real title of this post, "Catch Up". I have taken a few of those Facebook "What part of the country does your speech say you're from" quizzes and I always get a solid "Upper Midwest". Hmm.

Okay, so this summer has been beyond busy. I thought the past two summers when we have had a wedding each year would have won, but this year beat them both. We traveled a bit: Chicago for a funeral, Michigan for the 4th, Chicago again for Emmy's and Aly's Rock'n'Roll Half Marathon, a fun weekend getaway to Iowa City (yes, really, Iowa City - who knew?!), and then Dwight had a weekend in North Dakota for his annual poker trip.

Dwight and Brody were each running their first race on July 4th in the G-Rap
if only that little boy could get a little more love...
at the Bean. we spent all day walking around downtown, when Emmy and Aly had a half-marathon to run the next day. they now know better for next time!

One of our long weekends was hosting friends for our annual member-guest tournament at Oak Hills for the 20th year in a row. And the guys won their flight - check out those trophies. Wine may or may not have been drunk out of them... And the green jackets are from when they won the whole tourney back in 2000. As they say every year, no matter how they finish, at least they have the green jackets.

they never have to plan their outfits

We had family come home! All the kids, plus Dwight's mom and sister made for a full house. It was crowded, busy, noisy, cluttered, and utterly wonderful. Seeing great-grandma meet Brody was pretty special.

With all the travel and all the company, plus work - more on that later - this past weekend was the first time in eight weekends that we didn't have one thing on the calendar. It was absolutely wonderful. We went to the farmer's market downtown, had lunch out, afternoon cocktails - just major relaxing. But as full as our schedule has been, the old fitness routine has fallen by the wayside. It really helps me to have a race to be training for, I guess, since this is the email I got from Jawbone this week:

seriously, it's a gift

After running pretty hard to catch that wagon I fell off of some weeks ago (actually, I don't think I've caught it yet, but it is definitely in my sights), here are today's meals:

sargento light string cheese wrapped in deli ham, cukes, grape tomatoes
afternoon snack

damn fine chicken from Nom Nom Paleo (really, that's the name!), baked potato, carrot and kohlrabi sticks, and my sister-in-laws's incredible pickled green beans

So about that job... I love what I do, but I had an epiphany when I wanted to go to Chicago for the girls' marathon. Most of the kids (except Tim), my grandbaby, and my sisters were going to be there, and there was a possibility I might not get to go because of work. It ended up being no problem, and to be honest, I have never NOT gotten time off that I needed, but there have been plenty of times that I just haven't asked. I haven't golfed hardly at all the past two summers, and while I do miss the golf, I really miss my girlfriends. My bike is collecting cobwebs, I could go on and on. I realize I am in a nice position in that we don't need my salary, so to be fair to Evereve (formerly Hot Mama), I turned in my resignation a few weeks ago, effective September 25. I wanted to give them enough time to find someone good, and enough time for me to train that person. So if you're in Omaha and want to be an inventory specialist, or know someone who does, I can hook you up!

New beginnings...
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Saturday, June 28, 2014

portable hoarding

I saw a quote that purses are just pretty bags that allow us to be portable hoarders, and thought, "not me". After all, I was the woman who, several years ago after a bike accident that wrecked my shoulder, was unable to carry a large purse so pared it down to the essentials: I got a cute small bag that fit a really small aluminum wallet (driver's license, credit cards, some cash), my keys, phone, and a lipstick. 

Over the years that little bag grew into a bigger one, and while I really like my usual one, I decided to change purses last night. This of course meant changing over my stuff, and that's when I discovered that I could be on Let's Make a Deal. I have turned into a portable hoarder:

omg. i had to stand pretty far back to get all this in the shot

granola bars X 3 - all different kinds. Srsly.

the altoids tin holds a bunch of floss picks

emery boards X 3
lipsticks X 8 (HUH???)
hand lotion
nail clippers

moist towelettes
Shout wipes 
lint roller sheets
notebook (for inspiration!)
pens X 3

Ventolin inhaler
bag-o-drugs:  aspirin, Aleve, Advil (pretty much have the pain relief covered), Imodium, pepto bismol, Tums - 3 partially used rolls (digestive upsets anyone?), Dramamine, bandaids, throat lozenges

fan left over from Erin's and Tim's outdoor August wedding 
hearing aid case with extra batteries

ESSENTIALS (although I might argue that ALL of the above are essential)
phone (that I used to take the picture)

I'd like to say that I went back to my little Coach bag with the bare essentials, but I'd be lying. I did organize things - the purse I changed to has more pockets! And I did whittle the essential lipsticks down to two plus a lip gloss. I figured I really didn't need the lint roller sheets or the moist towelettes, and I put the granola bars back in the pantry, but sure as shit - I'm going to be needing that stuff.

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home sweet home

I am a firm believer in shopping in my hometown. If I'm on vacation, I will avoid chain stores if we have them in Omaha, preferring that my tax dollars support the local economy. Unless, of course, it (that top, those jeans, those shoes, etc.) is just so cute and I just have to have it right now. Which happens. Pretty often, actually, but you get the idea.

A friend at work and I were talking about running, and she told me about this little store in Omaha, Red Dirt Running, which has been open for about two years. She has a friend who runs a ton of races, and totally swears by this store. The last time Erin was home, she showed me her raggedy old running shoes and I took her to this shop. Poor Erin had been getting stability shoes (as recommended by the shoe guy at Scheels), and was really hoping to get something cuter. We walked in, and the first thing they had Erin do was stand on some pad that showed which parts of her feet were in contact with the ground, and also the pressure distribution. Then they put her in some shoes and had her run on a treadmill for about 15 seconds, never looking at her running form the entire time. She got off the treadmill, and they played the video of her from about the knees down (from the back), showing her stride, which part of her foot hit first (mid foot), etc. Apparently she has a very efficient stride. Then they made their recommendation, which was basically a neutral shoe - so she had her choice of cute ones! She tried on several pairs and bought the ones that felt the best, which just so happened to be on sale. (I never have that luck). After we left, she compared the price she paid with the same shoes on-line, and it was pretty much the same or even less than what she found. And the best part? In her words, the staff at the store was "non-judgey". They talked about the fact that she had just done Lincoln, was training for Des Moines - runner stuff.

I felt the same when I bought my new running shoes at the same store last week. Erin had such a good experience that I thought I'd give them a try as well. Maybe because I'm such a non-runner, but I kinda feel like an impostor around real athletes, despite having completed three half-marathons. No one has ever said, surely you're not a runner, but really, you don't look at me and think "endurance athlete". I've mentioned this before, but you think "Bet she likes dessert".

the napkin at Amy's and Dennis' the other week - seems appropriate here

I was treated like a runner at that store. I did the standing-on-the-pad test, which reminded me of the time I bought a new saddle for my bike. The cute 19-year-old kid at the bike shop asked me if I'd ever been fitted for a bike seat, and I said no, but it sounds awkward. (I basically had to sit on this memory foam pad for a few minutes, then he measured the distance between my sit bones to fit me properly. Not at all gynecological.) Wow, talk about off-topic. Anyway, then I did the treadmill, looked at my stride, and found out my heel strikes first. Dammit. I thought I had fixed that. And I also found out I pronate on my right foot, which I knew. I had been wearing inserts which I thought helped the pronation. Apparently I was wrong. Inserts help raise the arch, not prevent the rolling. So while Erin had been buying the stability shoes, I was the one who had needed them all along. Visions of my grandma's ground-grippers flashed through my head, but this is what I ended up with:

pretty cute! and bright!

So I had been wearing the wrong type of shoe, the wrong size, and didn't need those inserts. It really does pay to go to a dedicated running store instead of the shoe section at a sporting goods store. And because I'm wearing the proper shoes now, my right knee doesn't hurt nearly as bad and my toes don't hurt at all, despite going down a half size. Granted, that might be the difference between Asics and Adidas, but I'm hoping that the black toenails that I always thought were a badge of honor might be a thing of the past.

And just to make it a family affair, Dwight also got some new running shoes, so we have three testimonials. If you are in need of running shoes, please try this store!

I tried another new-to-me store after hearing about it from some friends. What really got me to Natural Grocers was Mary Lu telling me that kombucha was a dollar less than Whole Foods. Srsly. 

Kombucha (or as I saw it referred to as "someone jizzed in my tea") is an expensive habit at $3.65 a bottle, so if I can save a buck a time, sign me up. I had been seeing ads for Natural Grocers in the paper, in a circular by the comics on Sunday. To be honest, the ad made it look a little like a second-hand shop, kinda like the cut-out bin at a the record store. (I know, dating myself). I was so pleasantly surprised when I walked in and found a real little grocery store with all organic produce, grass-fed beef, and name-brand products - and for less than Whole Paycheck. I know it's not a local store, but it is just so less corporate than WF. And a whole lot less crowded. (I just checked locations, and it looks like Missouri is as far east as the chain is located. If you live in the western half of the US, though, you may be in luck!)

And while I'm on the Buy Local topic, our favorite little Ethiopian restaurant in town likes us back:

This was the note from our waitress the last time we were at Lalibela (4422 Cass). Chelsie always chats with us, and the cook/owner makes sure our dinner is okay. They think it's cool because we drive "all the way" from west Omaha - like it's a deal. Well, it is about a 25-minute drive, but the food is so worth it. She made a point to tell us last time that they have people come from Lincoln because they love the food! (And check out that total! They don't have a liquor license any more, otherwise there would be beer on that tab, trust me.) Mmmm... now I'm hungry for Ethiopian food....

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Friday, June 27, 2014


Occasionally Dwight will be reading the paper and find something that looks good and will rip out the recipe for me. (One time he told me he doesn't know why he does this, since I never make anything he suggests. I had to laugh since I have recipes that I've ripped out of magazines that date back 30 YEARS that I have never made). Anyway, one he found last week called for lamb, which I have never bought in my life. To humor him, I told him to just put it on my desk, fully intending to file it with all the others. But then I was at the farmer's market last Saturday at Village Pointe, and there was a lamb guy there! I chatted with him a bit, and he said all the lamb comes from their family farm (which totally made me think I'd be eating someone's 4-H project). I told him I had never bought lamb, and haven't really eaten it all that much. He said most people who don't like lamb have only had mutton, including lamb in middle-eastern restaurants - it's just highly spiced mutton. So I trusted him and bought a pound of ground lamb for $9. Not inexpensive, so I really hoped I would like the recipe.

So I made the lamb burgers last night, and I have to say that the meal was pretty darn yummy. Except I still felt like I was eating Snowball.

 Here's the recipe, though, in case you want some deliciousness:

Grilled Middle Eastern Lamb Burgers With Garlic Sauce, from the Omaha World Herald
Serves 4

1 medium zucchini, 10-12 ounces
kosher salt
1.5 T EVOO
1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
1.5 tsp minced garlic, divided
2 tsp grated lemon zest, divided
ground black pepper
1 pound lean ground lamb
1 T finely chopped fresh oregano
olive oil cooking spray
4 pita bread halves
grated carrots and chopped cucumbers, to serve

Use a food processor or box grater to coarsely grate the zucchini. Transfer the grated zucchini to a strainer. Toss with 1/2 tsp salt and let it drain over the sink for 15 minutes. When it is done draining, working with a small handful at a time, squeeze out the zucchini to get rid of as much liquid as possible.

While the zucchini is draining, in a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 6 minutes or until golden brown. Add the squeezed zucchini and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl and let it cool to room temp.

Heat a grill to medium. (I just used the same skillet).

Meanwhile, to make the sauce, combine the yogurt, 1/2 tsp of the garlic, 1 tsp of the lemon zest, and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside. (I also squeezed in some lemon juice, and added an entire chopped cucumber to the sauce, rather than serve the cuke separately. I like tzatziki.)

When the zucchini mixture has cooled, add the lamb, oregano, the remaining 1 tsp of lemon zest, the remaining 1 tsp of garlic, 1/4 tsp of salt, and 1/4 tsp of pepper. Mix well, then shape into 4 patties, each about 1/2 inch think. Spray the burgers lightly with cooking spray, then grill  until medium-rare, 3-4 minutes per side.

Serve each burger in a pita half, topped with the garlic sauce, carrots, and cucumber.

ta-da! served with baby carrots and roasted brussels sprouts drizzled with balsamic vinegar 

Recipe notes:
- as mentioned, I just cooked the burgers in the skillet on the stovetop, not on the grill
- as also mentioned, I added a chopped up cucumber to the sauce instead of serving it separately
- I was fully intending to shred the carrot into nice strips, but someone (Dwight) had eaten all the full-size carrots instead of the baby ones. I wasn't going to shred those little guys, and in the process, my fingers
- we had the burgers on pitas, but they really didn't need a bun of any kind. If you really want one, a sandwich thin would work just fine
- crumbled feta would be nice to sprinkle on top

After a nice 2-mile walk this morning right before the latest bout of drenching rain, I made a real breakfast: bacon, eggs, toast with butter, and grapes. And cran-orange juice. And coffee. I know it looks like a big farmer breakfast, but it kept me full until after work. And hey, we're Nebraskans.

Yesterday's breakfast was a bit healthier: MaryLu's protein waffles, berries, and coffee. It also kept me full for hours. Hmmm... Maybe lots of protein is the key....

Still trying to figure it all out,

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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

showing up. again.

We were in Chicago this past weekend for a funeral. The world lost one of the good ones. Pete was six years younger than I am, but I don't know anyone who crammed more joy and living into those way-too-short 53 years. As happens when faced with mortality, it caused some reflection on my part.

I completed a half-marathon one month ago (recap here), and today I started Week 1, Day 1 of Couch-to-5K (C25K). While my race time was a PR, I feel I kinda half-assed the training. I did the usual relax-for-a-few-days after the race, and then started right back in with the "running" (walking). Since I'm not training for a race right now, though, things have been a bit casual. Hence the start of a new regimen. And I gotta tell you, today's workout was tough. Not natural childbirth tough, but almost as sweaty.

I haven't been feeling the best lately, not because I'm sick or anything, but because I don't think I've been taking very good care of me. So back to the personal reflection I mentioned in the first paragraph. I figured out what I needed to feel my best, and I actually wrote them down. And as part of the Showing Up in the title, here they are:

health goals (if you look by the "L" in goals, you'll see a big old sweat drop from my workout)
These are all pretty self-explanatory, with maybe the exception of meditation. As someone who is familiar on a first-name basis with anxiety and depression, I feel the healthiest when I meditate, if only for 5-10 minutes. I do it in my sanctuary, as Dwight calls it, which is actually Alex's old bedroom. I took down the dinosaur posters, painted it a deep brown, took out the bed, got a couch, filled the bookshelves with knitting and calligraphy books, moved a desk in, and have all my treasures, not the least of which are pictures of my family. If I'm in there, incense is burning, and I really feel a sense of ease when I enter that room. Meditation, along with #4, will help my mental state.

I know I've talked about water intake before. I don't know how much I have to talk about it to actually consume enough - I think this might be it!

C25K will help with my 10,000 steps. I was so excited when the kids gave me my Jawbone for Mother's Day, but it is not all that easy to get 10,000 steps in each day. For example, it's 7 pm now, and I have 7,802 steps in. I worked out, went to work (which is not a sitting down job), worked in the garden when I got home, and I still need 2200 steps. If you think you're getting all those steps in, unless you're walking or running about five miles, I bet you're not.

#6: eat real food. You know those five pounds of winter weight? Still here. And I don't care about the weight per se, you are so much more than a number on the scale, yada yada yada. I just don't feel good. I feel better when I weigh a bit less, and it certainly is easier to run then. While Emily did really well on the Whole30, I don't want to go to that extreme. I'm going to cut down on processed food. If I want cookies, I can have them, but only if I make them myself out of real ingredients. Now if only those crackers that I bough at Costco yesterday will stop calling to me from the pantry.

This is part two of the New and Improved Cathy, things to do just for me:

I know there are more, but I'm keeping this on the bulletin board by my desk and will add to them as time goes on. Except for #2 (which I'd like to have done by their anniversary in August), the items are not ones I can really check off. They are just ongoing projects that I love to do and usually end up on Facebook instead of doing them.

Here's to a healthy life!
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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

first-world problems

So I'm sitting on the porch on a beautiful May evening writing this on my (new-to-me) laptop. That's right, I have my very own laptop - the last person in my family to own one. (Also the last person in my family to be vaccinated for Hepatitis B, so I guess no sharing dirty needles for me. But I digress). Dwight had not one but two MacBook Pros, one that he loves and uses all the time, and a secondhand one that he was using for movies - all the ones we had taped from years and years and years of old movies on TV. He's editing them all to remove commercials and making them so we can play them on our Apple TV. I know - it's all magic to me too. So guess which computer I got? Yup, the second-hand one. But seriously, what do I really need? It's fine for blogging on the front porch and syncing my phone.

We actually had to get me one because since I upgraded the iOS on my phone, it wouldn't sync with the version of iTunes that we had on our desktop Mac. So rather than upgrade iTunes, which Dwight for some reason did not want to do (he told me why but I wasn't really listening), we had to get me a computer. That's right - so I could sync my phone. #firstworldproblem. Sometimes I wonder about that guy, but not for long. After all, I got a computer!!! It was tough for a few weeks being unable to switch up my playlists on my phone, but I'm back in business. So send any good running tunes my way!

And speaking of technology, we have a few other firsts. I swear that we are the last family in America, but for Christmas, Dwight gave me - are you ready for this - a cordless phone!!! Really. We were attached to the wall by a 10-foot cord whenever we used our land line. And yes, we still have a land line. I didn't even know how to use a cordless phone - if I was at someone's house and the phone rang, I couldn't answer it because I didn't know what to do. When I started at Hot Mama, I needed a lesson on how to use the phone. I'm sure my poor manager was wondering about this Luddite that was her new inventory specialist. I was okay with the computer, but the phone?!?!?

Now don't be jealous, but we got ourselves a refrigerator with an icemaker last week. That's right, no more twisting cubes out of the trays for us. Movin' on up, I tell you. Actually, the reason we had to get a new fridge after only six years is because our GE Profile-stainless french doors-bottom freezer-everything-I-wanted broke.

look closely at the freezer temp. not even close to zero. and the fridge was gasping for breath

While of course the 25-year-old POS sitting in our garage is working just fine. We went with a Samsung that has the same features (plus the aforementioned icemaker!) and actually has a bit more space. Because, you know, two people need so much fridge space. #firstworldproblem

We sound like we live in the Stone Age, but we don't really. We have had a home computer (what they were called!) since 1985, and we got one of the first CD players. I remember going to work and telling people we had gotten one, and when one of the guys asked what it was, I said "Well, it's something to play music on. The CD is like a little record album, and I'm pretty sure it involves a laser". My kids don't call me TechnoCathy for nothin'.

And how about the laser disc player? You remember those. Oh, you don't? Didn't think so. They were going to be the next big thing after VCRs - until DVDs came along. Oops. Missed on that one. Having to get up in the middle of the movie and turn the disc over was a pain. #firstworldproblem. But our kids could help their teachers work the classroom laser disc players since they were the only ones who knew what one was. Sorry, guys. But is has given you ammunition to use for years to come.

Just another day in the 'burbs. TTFN
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