Sartre Would Zumba…or Think About Doing Zumba.

Trigger Warning:This post is a bit on a feminist tear…and it’s a bit heavy, but I promise, I’ll try to make at least one inappropriate joke.

I had an interesting conversation yesterday with one of my very good friends in academia. Do we as women wear our strengths as a mantle or as our armor? Can it somehow function as both?

We were discussing our various endeavors of the current term, and preparations we’re making for the next term, as well as a great deal about our growing families. We talked about papers we’re writing, conferences we’re planning on attending, grants we’re going after, etc.  About that time, we were approached by a male don, a ranking member of the faculty, and well-respected academic. Immediately, she and I erected our guards, ceased in our discussion of grants, and went about the manner of most female academics in remaining sort of “closed off” from our masculine counterparts.

The moment he left our company, I looked at her and said: “Why in the fuck do we do that?” Confused, she sort of just looked at me, tilt-headed as a puppy, and said: “Pardon?” I went on: “Why is it that as soon as a male member of the faculty approaches, we so drastically change the direction of our conversation? I understand not discussing grants, as male grant applicants are still much more likely to receive said grant, so we don’t want to share that information, but we sort of become more scholarly in their presence, more haughty, more academic.” 

We went on to hypothesize that women, regardless of profession, but ESPECIALLY in male-driven fields such as academia; wherein the male to female ratio is still shocking; that we tend to err on the side of the Beauvoirian philosophy of:

“The point is not for women simply to take power out of men’s hands, since that wouldn’t change anything about the world. It’s a question precisely of destroying that notion of power.”

Because men think that so much of what women discuss and do is frivolity, we tend to become “more” of whatever it is we are when we are in the presence of men, reserving alternative conversations for when we are in purely feminine company. It gives the idea of equal footing amongst the sexes a veil of verisimilitude, when we have full understanding that it’s quite the opposite.

Alas, my greatest desire for myself, my daughter, and every other woman is the ability to not only swath ourselves in the pride of a well-earned reputation in our field, taking our successes with all-due grace and yet, not with so much humility as to be forgotten. All too often women are encouraged to and taught by other women to shrug off compliments and accolades. I want women to be able to be just as proud of their amazing family, their children, etc as they are their professional accomplishments and as their male counterparts would likely be.

I’m a girl. I’m a woman. I get pedicures (not all women do, but I love them.) I’m raising an amazing family. I love the man. I love cooking, and working out, and my little blog. I’m bawdy and ballsy, and I can make just as many dirty jokes as the men without it becoming sexual harassment. I also know when it is, and when it isn’t appropriate. (hint* in academia, with the exception of most conferences…at the podium…it’s almost always appropriate…I’ll tell a story about my first interview with the dean at a later date. He’s AMAZING and filthy.)

I am no less intelligent or less of an academic because I read books that may or may not describe a man’s anatomy with the specificity of a photoshop help page. (Although, with some exception, if you’ve seen or imagined one….though, I did just read a book where the dude PIERCED IT!!! Seriously, why? WHY? Because you like your ladies to shudder and recoil when you undress? Seems like a real Shia LeBoeffy thing to do if you ask me.)

I’m pretty sure I can quote Sartre in Zumba class. If my education is my mantle, and my manner is my armor, then levity is my flight.

You know what else I can do? Add gifs at the bottom of a serious post, and then post a recipe for cake-batter meringues. BECAUSE….

And when I start blathering on relentlessly….

Enough of all of that….I need sugar.

Meringues. Cake Batter Ones. *kosher for Passover. Because, Sprinkles.

cake batter meringues cake batter meringues

Cake-Batter Meringues

Cake-Batter Meringues

Ingredients

  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp potato starch or cream of tartar
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp rum extract
  • 1/4 cup colored sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 200F
  2. beat egg whites, extract, and cream of tartar into medium peaks
  3. stir in sugars slowly
  4. spoon into piping bag
  5. pipe into rounds 1.5" across and 2" apart
  6. bake for 2 hours or 2.5 hours or until meringue is dry the way through.
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Mr Pink Hates Legos

Let’s talk about smart, shall we?

It’s such a loaded word, smart. When you’re little, it’s the word your loving parents throw at you like candy every time you do something remotely clever, like sitting up alone or avoiding bodily harm by dodging legos on the floor as though they’re land mines. –Which, they fucking are. To everyone who says “blah blah blah, when I have kids I’m never going to yell!” Sure. Until you step on a lego while barefoot, and then you will rival Mr Pink for number of expletives exploding from your mouth like so much ash from Vesuvius.

Moving on! Smart. My WHOLE DAMNED CHILDHOOD I was smart, not pretty. I was good to cheat from on all of your reading tests, and I began to RESENT SMART. I wanted to be popular and pretty and all of those things that my odd personality quirks and chubby childhood prevented me from being. I remember trying to gain friends in fourth and fifth grade by writing my weekly “writer” on topics like why “Beavis and Butthead” shouldn’t be banned, and why gay people should be permitted to serve in the military openly. I did this, at a school, in the nineties, in the midwest, in a school with a strong Christian influence. I had no foresight as to how this would go over. I lacked the social skills necessary to see these papers wouldn’t culminate in the culling of new friends, but instead add to my already precarious tally of unadvisable social decisions.

Much of the way through my middle and high school years, this was the way of things. By then, I’d moved into very strict, very religious parochial schools. This proved to exacerbate my insecurities by punishing my uniqueness and personal views by an onslaught of brainwashing and bullying. I was never able to camouflage my personality and opinions enough to fit inside their cookie-cutter image of what I should be like, and that never ends well for anyone. I was an opinionated, emo nerd, with a deep love of theatre, movies and books, and the ones I read so rarely were considered acceptable. Again, when I was alone, birthday after birthday, I began to resent “smart.” I hated “unique.” and I detested “nerd.”

It wasn’t until I reached my twenties, and found myself surrounded by the types of people with whom I was always meant to be surrounded, that I embraced my nerd. I was living in Brooklyn and made friends with all manner of academic, theatre geek, chem lab assistant, writer, and artist.  All of us smart, most of us unique, definitely emo, and complete nerds. We all failed social finishing school.The lot of us as likely to ignore outings in favor for staying at home. We know this is ok, because we are all like this. Pajamas FTW.

We all grew up resenting “smart.” Yet, somehow, “smart,” and later, “nerd” became less synonymous  with insecurity, and completely synonymous with “community.” It’s the community that birthed nerd culture, and will continue to thrive long after it’s lost its cache. We are a passionate lot responsible for comic books, epic works of literature, sweeping orchestrations, and nuclear fission. We may not many of us be able to throw a ball 20 meters, (though, some of us can) and we may not know enough about fashion to be on-trend, but who needs trends when you have a closet full of comic book and band tee shirts? (ok, so they’re not always appropriate, but they CAN.BE.BEDAZZLED.)

The exposure to this community is a reason the internet is wonderful. Why blogging is wonderful. Why it is that Twitter, *when not used for bullying or showing penis pictures* is wonderful. Do you have any idea how many bloggers are gigantic nerds? How many have advanced degrees in science or obscure Nordic literature? somany. justsomany. At least within my circle of blogging friends. Even in the health and fitness/wellness community of bloggers, the amount of them who have obtained their RD or who frequently cite evolutionary changes as harbingers of what’s to come? Incredible.

Thank fuck for all of you. Seriously.

And now? citing the evolutionary changes that has started to increase our resistance to gluten, and the driving need to be environmentally friendly by not eating animal products all the damn time…

Gluten and Grain Free Vegan Almond Crackers

Gluten and Grain Free Vegan Almond Crackers Gluten and Grain Free Vegan Almond Crackers

Gluten and Grain Free Vegan Almond Crackers

by Cat Bowen

Keywords: bake snack side bread breakfast appetizer vegan gluten-free kosher paleo

Ingredients

  • 1 cup almond meal (grind almonds to a coarse meal texture in food pro)
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 6 tbsp water
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp garam marsala (I like spicier blends)
  • pinch salt
  • pinch pepper

Instructions

preheat oven to 350F

combine chia and water and set aside for ten minutes

combine chia mixture and all other ingredients

stir until combined

on a silpat-lined cookie sheet, spread mixture to 1/8″-1/10″ inch thickness

This is easiest to do by covering it with a sheet of plastic wrap and using a rolling pin

bake 15 minutes, cut into crackers with pizza cutter, bake five more minutes, flip, bake 5-10 more minutes, or until edges turn brown.

cool completely and store in airtight container.

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Fatty McFatfat

Rant Ahead.

The notion of butter, the idea of it, has begun to fall in one of two camps: one-elevated above all other fats. Worshipped for its flavor, its simplicity, its purported benefits to mind and body. The second camp, it’s viewed as heretical to imbibe. Why eat something that is a condensed animal fat when so many alternatives exist? Why eat butter when its caloric content is matched only by its drag on the environment.

I find that I fall into my own, imaginary, third category. (much like when Michael Schneider asked me to be his girlfriend in 4th grade with a “check yes or no” box lineup, and I drew my own damn box that read “maybe next year.”)

Sometimes I whole-heartedly agree with the former camp. It’s delicious. It’s simple. All of the recent literature points to it being far superior than the crap we’ve been peddling for the past 20 years. –I’m looking at you, yellow tub! I totally believe you’re not butter. Fecking liar.

Sometimes, I am unabashedly anti-butter. Why use it so often? Why does EVERYTHING need to be butter flavored? You can’t turn around in a grocer without seeing something labeled “buttery” or “butter-flavored” or “with real butter.” I am fairly certain there’s butter-flavored condoms and edible underwear somewhere in the West Village. I mean, we’ve all seen “Last Tango in Paris.” People have elevated the flavor of butter to a nigh ecclesiastical status in the hierarchy of foods. However I may feel about this, I know for a fact that I sometimes place coconut oil on the same dais where most people place butter. Let’s imagine that dais as being held aloft by scantily-clad men with broad shoulders, narrow hips, and smooth, tanned skin, shall we? We shall.

That being said, animal products are a MASSIVE drain on the earth’s resources, and I try to limit my intake of these products because I want to leave my children to a better earth than the one I inherited from my parents. For every pound of beef we eat, 2400 gallons of water are used. That’s insane. Not to mention the fact that most beef on the market is not particularly kind to the animal, full of hormones and chemicals, and comes from a factory that underpays its workers and knowingly and flagrantly abuses the lax FDA inspections. It’s like how students behave if a teacher leaves the classroom. In the beginning, you fear the teacher coming back soon to catch you doing something you shouldn’t be doing, but as they’re gone longer and longer, kids start making out near the microscopes and sharing the top-ten secrets for awesome bong architecture. The FDA doesn’t have enough inspectors to eradicate this problem, and we’re left holding the bong when the cops come to call. And there simply isn’t enough humane, environmentally-friendlier meat for us all to eat as much as we currently consume.

I still love butter. I will never completely remove butter and cheese from my diet. I simply choose to make better purchasing choices, and I will.not.buy. margarines and low-fat butters that take even more water to create than regular, all-natural butter.

Let it also be known that I wasn’t making out or constructing bongs, but reading books tucked into my backpack that were banned from my school. Madame Bovary, It,  and Annie on My Mind were just some of the books that my school deemed inappropriate enough to ban. Because clowns are definitely not more terrifying than Spanish teachers. *might be a personal problem. 

I’ve recently completely given up low-fat and non-fat dairy. I’ve just read ohsomanytoomany studies that say that the calorie save you get from eating low and non-fat dairy is so negligible compared to the full-feeling and benefits of the dairy fat. Basically, the fat is good for you and leaves you fuller, longer, and less-prone to overeating during the remainder of your day. 

Therefore, today’s recipe has both butter and whole milk. It’s also HEALTHY and GLUTEN FREE. Most gratins call for a roux. I use a corn-starch slurry. I also use stock to increase the flavor of the entire dish. This dish will make you wonder why you hated brussels sprouts as a kid. The answer is simple: she probably didn’t make them like this.

Gluten-Free Brussels Sprouts Gratin with Stilton

Gluten-Free Brussels Sprouts Gratin with Stilton Gluten-Free Brussels Sprouts Gratin with Stilton Gluten-Free Brussels Sprouts Gratin with Stilton

Brussels Sprouts Gratin with Stilton

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Keywords: bake appetizer side entree

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • 1.5 lb brussels sprouts, cored and thinly sliced
  • 4 scallions, sliced in 1/4″ slices, ends removed
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup stock of your choice
  • 1/3 additional cup whole milk
  • 2 tbsp corn starch
  • few grates of fresh nutmeg
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup stilton, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup crushed potato chips (optional…may used baked chips or pretzels or bread crumbs….etc)

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350F

in an oven-proof skillet melt butter on medium-high

add sprouts and scallions

saute until they start to become soft

add garlic, saute one more minute, shut off

in another saucepan heat milk, nutmeg, and stock together, add 1/2 tsp salt(ish-to taste) and pepper

in a cup, combine additional milk and cornstarch and stir until corn starch dissolves

stir into milk-stock mixture and stir until it begins to thicken

stir into sprouts, top with chips and stilton

bake for 15 minutes

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There’s So Much In This World We Can Learn

Today marks eleven years since we lost one of the most loving and inspirational voices of our time: Mr Rogers. I remember watching episode after episode of “Mr Rogers’ Neighborhood” while eating my rice and milk. (rice, milk, and honey was one of my favorite breakfasts.) I loved his lessons about confidence, peace, and love. I was fascinated by his love of books, as it was so similar to my own, and his vast collection of awesome zip-up cardigans.

He truly made you believe you were capable of anything you put your mind to, and he made it fun to learn. He let you know that learning was something to be done everyday, and that it made you better. He even talked about EXERCISE. Way before it was cool. He talked about how important it is to move your body every day. He had breakdancers and ballerinas and gym teachers on his show kids that loving the vessel you’re given is as important as what you do with it! This was back before Cookie Monster ever saw a vegetable! Living by example!!!

mr rogersUnfortunately, we no longer have his genius and love and peaceful personality in our everyday lives. Fortunately, PBS has turned one of his most-beloved characters into a cartoon that shares his spirit of learning and love. “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.” My kids are obsessed. My Peanut knows how to find it on Netflix, and always insists on its being played. She likes to watch it while she’s  having her snack. I hoped his love of hoodies would encourage her to maybe not watch it in the nude. So far, no such luck. All snacks and netflixing are still done while naked.

As most of you know, I’m a member of the Netflix Stream Team, wherein I blog about my Netflix experience every month. Every month they give us ideas about what they suggest our theme should be. A recent theme being: “watch while you workout.” Well, I do, occasionally, “Watch While I Workout,” but more likely, my kids are watching while I workout! My daughter is INCREDIBLY shy, and my son has Sensory Perception Disorder, so a lot of the time, the gym childcare just isn’t an option because of crowding, etc..However, if I let them have my tablet in childcare, (in an otterbox because I’m not dumb) they can watch Netflix streaming in a safe environment, while I workout. I just turn on Netflix Kids, and I know they won’t be inadvertently watching “Shaun of the Dead” again. –This happened. I fell asleep on the sofa, and woke to my son watching “Shaun of the Dead” on HBO On-Demand. Parenting Fail. 

As a mother of a child with special needs, I can’t tell you how comforting it is to see my son on the childcare monitor, happily sitting and behaving perfectly in the childcare center. I’m not going to lie, it has made him quite popular in the gym. Also, I should be 100% honest: I may or may not watch “Arrow” streaming on the ‘flix (as none of the cool kids call it) on my phone to get through static exercise, because….

Don’t act like you don’t want to get sweaty with him. Just don’t lie to yourself or me like that. (stream time, around 42 minutes. PERFECT for a run or the elliptical, just don’t slip in a puddle of your own drool, that’d be embarrassing.)

I would bake him cake. He could show me how good his aim really is. ;)

banana peanut butter cup bread banana peanut butter cup bread

 

Banana Peanut Butter Cup Bread

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients (1 loaf)

  • 2 over ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter (the kind with 2 ingredients)
  • 2 eggs or chia eggs
  • 6 oz plain greek yogurt (or soy yogurt. NOT coconut milk yogurt)
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup DARK cocoa powder
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Instructions

preheat oven to 350F and grease a 9″ loaf pan

with a mixer, beat bananas into a paste

add other wet ingredients (the order makes no nevermind as you’re working with bananas and yogurt)

sift in dry

mix on minute

pour into loaf pan

bake approximately 45 minutes or until skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.

eat the heck out of it.

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While I’m compensated for these posts, they’re entirely truthful, and I do drool for “Arrow.” Then again, who wouldn’t?

I’d Rather Make Out With Sherlock than a Chihuahua

There truly aren’t enough pictures of dogs in wigs on the internet. Granted, there are entire tumblrs dedicated to the coiffeured canines, (I know if you add “ed” to a French word it’s not the past tense. I’m making shit up.) but still.

Back to my point. I also need more babies in wigs pictures. I have no idea why I find them so outrageously hysterical, but I do. I mean, it’s not Elaine Stritch dropping the F bomb on morning television while dressed as a very fancy Yetti disguising itself as Jackie O, but what is?

When I’m that age, I really want to be as cool as she is. She.is.bitchin. Fuck authenticity and “being who you are” posts. I’m tired of them. I’ve written a few myself. Screw me, I want to be that lady. So many blogs are trying to tell me how to be the best version of myself I can be, instead of being really helpful, by teaching me how to be Elaine Stritch.

Moving on: Meditation–do you do it?

Here’s a sentence never ever meant to be on a humor-food-I-workout-or-I-succumb-to-insanity blog:

While I was in my 10th Century Latin Liturgy class, studying the Visigothic Minuscule, I thought of the perfect way to partition my time. (I know, right? Because time management means so much when one is comparing types of script in illuminated manuscripts!)

Here’s my non-class/no auditions or jobs/perfect day off breakdown:

  • 4hrs of reading–scholarly and for pleasure. This is low compared to some of my classmates. I swear, science is easier for my brain, but Comp Lit sings inside me.
  • 4hrs kidskidskidskids (reading to them, playing, cleaning with them, watching them play while I listen to audiobooks and watch Sherlock–kids require a lot of cleansing and even more Benedict Cumberbatch)
  • 1.5hrs workout
  • 1hr food prep/kitchen cleaning
  • at LEAST one hour with just me and ze man. activities not listed here. (backgammon should be involved…and…more exercise.)
  • 2 hours writing
  • 30 minutes personal stuff (shower/makeup/teeth)
  • 30 minutes hair. (I have a mane of unruly curls)
  • 1.5 hr tv (pref with the man, but inevitably some Kathy Lee and Hoda)
  • 8 hours of SLEEP

I like lists. I like time management.  I feel like my particular breed of crazy requires closely-watched time management. I also feel like a rigid schedule goes very against my type-B personality. Fortunately, the man is reasonably type-Aish, and can corral my navel-gazing and shiny things distractions. (though, I’ve told him time and time again..pun intended…that gazing into HIS navel only takes up more of my time, and should be reserved for birthdays and anniversaries) I’m going to hell and my parents are horrified, btw. 

Here’s what my perfect day would look like:

readingkidsupreadingteethbrushingshowersemioptionalifbookisgoodmorekidswafflesgoldengirlsbenedictreadingwritingrunwhileaudiobookingreadweightwhilelisteningtoskrillxorshowtuneswinewritingkidsfoodwinereadteanakedreadbed.

all without spaces. just like my brain. Yes, my brain really does look and feel that disorganized and confused. That’s what ADHD does. Especially at the level from which I suffer. Fortunately, when I can compartmentalize, it’s a bit more manageable. Hence the lists.

My shrink (not to be confused with my psychopharmacologist whom I shall refer to henceforth as “Dr DrugMe”) tells me to meditate. He’s ALWAYS telling me to meditate. He knows I have SEVERE ADHD. He says just the act of trying to meditate will help. I hatehatehate doing things or trying things where I continually fail. It’s not even like I can use the excuse about the definition of insanity, because, HELLO!! Already crazy! Every time I *try* to meditate I hear Yoda in my head:”There is only do, or do not, there is no ‘try.’”

So I wiggle, I bounce, and I cannot focus on a damned thing. Not ANYTHING other than “well this is just about the dumbest ever.” I can focus while running. I can think while in motion. I cannot.cannot.cannot. sit still. I have had a few successful bits of guided meditation, but sometimes feel like I’m being hypnotized. I don’t want to bark like a dog or make out with my hand on-stage. If I wasn’t vulnerable to the power of suggestion, I’d never have started smoking at age 13 (or quit at 21) and I’d probably still be a virgin. At least until I read my first bodice-ripper. Because, duh. Ok, so maybe that’s not the intention of guided meditation, but my overactive imagination is pretty much sure that the spandex-clad yogi wants me to join his cult. We’d all wear white, and be in a heterogenous polygamous house and only eat raw foods and doritos. Our white clothes would have orange patches.

And he tells me to keep trying. I’ve watched the meditation videos from calmest hyper person I know, Bex. And nothing. Still can’t sit still. I tried something unconventional. I’ve taken to listening to her smooth meditations while running. I get it’s not the way she designed it, but as long as I’m on a straightaway or on a treadmill/elliptical, I’m good. The Navajo (my personal zen Buddha) was on the res for a while and I was without his calming influence. I was without someone to center my runs. Not anymore! Though, I wish I could combine Bex’s instructions (no pretending to be a chihuahua that I know of) and the lilting and somber tones of the Navajo’s musical cadence and chanting.

Someone get on that. (I’m looking for a remix, Bex and Navajo!!)

So I told my shrink this, and he says it’s fine! Good, even. I then swore a blue streak and told him thanks for nothing! He laughed at me and told me he’d talk to me again next week. Here’s my tip for all of my fellow crazy mother truckers: sometimes it’s the spirit of the idea more than the letter of its instruction. Finding a balance inside a disordered mind is an art. We just happen to be more Picasso and less Renoir.

Now to the food. Because cooking is meditative if you do it right, and food heals.

Whole Roasted Cauliflower Satay-Style

(thai it, you’ll like it. Unless you’re Jenn. She hates sesame.and puppies.and kittens that play piano.or just sesame.)

whole roasted cauliflower whole roasted cauliflower whole roasted cauliflower

 

 

 

Whole Roasted Cauliflower-Satay Style

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Keywords: roast appetizer side snack vegan

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • one large head of cauliflower (I used purple for color)
  • 2 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • juice of one half of one large lime
  • 3 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup pb
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp sriracha sauce (less or more as desired)
  • 1/2 tsp ground, toasted, sichuan peppercorn (you can do without, but it’s so good)
  • 2 tbsp boiling water

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375F

combine water and peanut butter (all natural is easiest, but not required)

stir

combine all other ingredients, save cauliflower in a bowl

smear cauliflower with a third of the mix

place on cookie sheet

bake 10 minutes, smear another third on

bake 10 more minutes, smear final third on it

bake five more minutes

slice and serve. (even good served cold)

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