Taylor and I are not picky eaters. Some people fully accept the fact that they don’t like a certain type of food – like an old coworker of Taylor’s that refused to eat vegetables. Which, I don’t know how as an adult you can completely swear off an entire food group. But not liking a food is annoying to me because it limits what I can eat when I am at a restaurant or someone’s house. One food that has always been a problem for both of us is olives. Since we eat mostly vegetarian it is an even bigger issue when we go out to eat because a lot of restaurants’ solution to vegetarians seems to be something with olives.
One day, Taylor and I were lamenting the fact that we didn’t like olives (I know, quite the first world problem). I told him how I used to hate bell peppers growing up. At some point in college I decided I was going to make myself like them because they were in everything. Before I could begin to do that I had to accept a fact that I think people tend to forget: a food is not going to change the way it tastes to you. I think when people don’t like a food, they will taste it again and again hoping for a different result. Well, you won’t get one. An anchovy is always going to taste like an anchovy. It isn’t going to magically start tasting like cotton candy one day. So learning to like a food is about accepting the way it tastes and getting used to that flavor. If you only try it once a month you aren’t ever going to like it. How can you get used to something that you only try once every 30 days? So, back to my college story. I bought a red bell pepper and cut it up into slices. Every couple of day, I would grab a few slices. Before I ate one I would say to myself, “this is what a bell pepper tastes like”. I know it sounds absolutely ridiculous but within a couple of weeks I didn’t hate bell peppers anymore.
We decided to try this method with olives. About a month and a half ago at the grocery store we went to the olive bar and picked out 6 olives. That afternoon, we each ate three as we said, “this is what an olive tastes like”, while we made disgusted faces at each other. Every week we did the same thing and now we actually look forward to picking out those 6 olives. We’ll have to think if there is another food we want to tackle next. I have never been a big fan of dill but I’m not sure trying to eat an herb by itself will help me.
On Friday afternoon, my coworker walked up and asked what Taylor and I were doing on Saturday. As you know, we have very busy social lives so I mumbled something about how we were thinking of putting up a curtain in our room. He handed me two tickets and a parking pass to the preseason Cowboys versus Rams game. So the curtain will have to wait. Within a month of us first moving here, I was able to go to a preseason game with one of my coworkers but this was a first for Taylor. The seats were up pretty high but that didn’t matter with the giant TV in front of us.
If you have a fear of heights or just a general fear of plummeting to your death while walking down a flight of stairs, these are not the seats for you. The vastness of the stadium provided for ample people-watching, something that I am incapable of stopping myself from doing. I tend to watch people and then make comments to Taylor assuming he knows exactly who I’m talking about which never works out.
Me: Oh man, that drunk lady almost dumped her whole beer on that kid.
Taylor: What? Who?
Me: That lady 5 rows in front of us and 20 seats over. Come on, pay attention!
He is so patient with me.
The other night Taylor and I were standing in the bathroom, getting ready for bed. Taylor was in the middle of a sentence but I stopped him, saying, “I am sorry to interrupt you but can you please look at what our cat is doing?”
As Taylor snuck around her to get the camera, she maintained eye contact with one of us the entire time. It was cute and creepy.
Taylor and I just renewed our lease at our apartment for another year. While the idea of staying in the same place for a third year may not be that exciting, this is the longest either of us have stayed in one home since we left for college. And that is exciting because it gets very old having to move your crap every year to a new place.
We have tried to be aware of how much stuff we’re accumulating because it becomes very easy when you stay in one place to not assess what you are actually using. As a result, Taylor and I have made multiple trips to Goodwill to drop things off. While some people donate stuff to be nice, we are just doing it because it’s one step above throwing it in the garbage, which is wasteful. We have learned that once you start to make a pile of stuff to donate, it becomes very easy to find more things. Our rule of thumb is “have we used this in the last 6 months?” If the answer is no, we put it in the pile to donate. If the answer is no but it is something we are really hesitant about, we leave it. I’d rather donate it later and feel more comfortable about it then regret giving it away without fully thinking about it. You don’t want to be that guy frantically looking through the Goodwill store for his Pokemon card collection.
Another way we have tried to re-energize the place is by rearranging our living room and guest bedroom furniture. Now, I am not like my mom who rearranges furniture every week without any notification. My childhood felt like a Stephen King novel – I would walk into a room and the couch would be up against the wall but when I came back 10 minutes later it would be in the middle of the room with a new slipcover. While we would much rather move to a new place, donating stuff and rearranging furniture to make it seem “new” again is a lot less of a pain.
The local Dallas magazine, called D Magazine, hosts a contest each year for the “10 Most Beautiful Women in Dallas”. Each week, for four weeks, they post pictures and bios for 5 Dallas women. The voted top three from each week culminate into 12 women being voted for the 10 spots. The rules are “Contestants must be 21 years of age or older and residents of North Texas. And, obviously, easy on the eyes.” Oh D Magazine, you’re so witty. I’m going to mostly skip over the feminist rant I could do about the fact that this contest even exists. The women are initially selected through nominations by the public and the editors. The winners get nothing except the pride of saying they were voted one of the most beautiful women of Dallas. A real resume builder.
So what five women do we have to vote on this week? All of them are skinny, conventionally attractive (a phrase Taylor and I like to use), and have long flowing hair. Man, look at that diversity. No one is wearing glasses. No one is even a little overweight. No one has shorter hair. It probably makes little girls feel good to see that beauty is being defined by so little in appearance. You could say that ethnically speaking, they tried to be diverse: 3 white people and 2 Asians. The jobs are lacking in diversity too: a model, a fashion blogger, health-care consultant, bartender, and a freelance writer. I do not have a problem with any of these jobs – I just want to know where the science, technology, engineering and mathematics women are. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe next week will be 5 engineers. But let’s try and be a little bit more diverse on the job front here for the selection process. That way, maybe I could have avoided these situations below:
- “So are you an English major?” (random guy at Georgia Tech)
- “I would have thought YOU were the teacher.” (Starbucks guy when I told him what Taylor and I do for a living)
- “Wow, you don’t look like an engineer!”
The last one I have gotten multiple multiple multiple multiple times. I realize some people intend this as a compliment but it is actually incredibly insulting. I’m sure some people may not particularly like the fact that I am offended by someone thinking I am some form of a liberal arts major. I want to clarify that I have no problem with liberal arts majors and what they do (Hi sister and brother!). The problem I have is that people are still making assumptions about our occupations based on how we look. Yes, my field of work did used to be predominantly male. But my engineering grad school classes had more women then men in them. My grad school advisor was female. My current supervisor is female. My supervisor’s supervisor is female. My supervisor’s supervisor’s supervisor is female. People do what they want because of what they are passionate about in life and not because of how they look. Except maybe models. And Hooters girls.
So a post that I intended to just be a discussion on a stupid contest really took a turn there, didn’t it?
Since Taylor and I only eat meat once a week – if at all – we have to get our necessary protein from eggs, beans, and edamame. A lot of recipes I make for dinner don’t even have a protein in them (or use meat) so I throw in a can of beans. I started to get sick of buying the same cans of beans over and over: chickpeas, black beans, and navy beans. Also they were sometimes out of the store brand so I was forced to buy a more expensive can. So I decided that I would buy dried beans, cook them all at once, and freeze them into can-sized portions. We have been doing this for 4 months now and it has been going great. About once every three weeks, I buy 2 cups of dried chickpeas, dried black beans, or dried navy beans (whatever I am running out of). 2 cups of dried beans equates to about 4 cans of cooked beans. So at any time I could potentially have 4 cans of chickpeas, black beans, and navy beans in my freezer. Here are my steps to cooking and freezing beans.
- Rinse the 2 cups of beans thoroughly.
- Soak for at least 8 hours in a bowl filled with water. You will want the beans to be covered with a lot of water – they will soak it up. I even soak them for 24 hours sometimes because I forget about them. Soaking the beans will allow them to cook faster and there are rumors it will reduce how much they make you pass gas. Because I know that is your biggest concern.
- After soaking, drain and rinse the beans. Throw them into a large pot with plenty of water.
- Bring the beans to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Scrape any foam off of the water as they cook. Depending on the type of bean it will take around 1 to 1.5 hours for them to cook. I usually do this after dinner on a weeknight when we are hanging out around the house.
- Drain and rinse the beans. Spread out onto a cookie sheet to cool – I typically do this overnight because I am impatient.
- Once cooled split the 2 cups of cooked beans into 4 containers and stick in the freezer. I use Libbey 16-Ounce Bowls because they are just a little larger than the volume of a can.
I have found the easiest way to defrost them is to put them into a bowl of hot water. This defrosts them quickly (less than 5 minutes) without heating them up in case you want to use them in a room temperature dish. Cooked dried beans have a much more satisfying and fresh taste than out of the can.
So what’s the cost benefit?
- 4 cans organic black beans – $6.95
- 2 cups dried organic black beans – $1.68
And on a more vegetarian-esque note, if you had to buy meat as your protein for four meals instead of using the cooked 2 cups of black beans it would be an even larger cost difference.
Our house is near White Rock Lake where Taylor likes to run on Saturday mornings and we also enjoy riding our bikes. To have a 9 mile loop around a lake in the middle of the city of Dallas is pretty great. The lake – like all but one in Texas – is man-made and has a spillway that feeds into a tiny river. Birds, including herons and egrets, like to stand on the spillway and get misted by the fast moving water. You can’t walk out to it because I suppose it’s dangerous but D magazine found a picture of some high school girls in the 1950s enjoying the cool waters of the spillway.
Ah to be young.