I officially do nothing but cook, work out, and do homework, the last of which takes up eighty percent of my time. Part of it is the fact that I’m a perfectionist to the point of being a bit ridiculous, so perhaps if I cared less I could have an easier life. But really, who wants that?
Two weekends ago I went on a cooking rampage and made mint ice cream, pizza, and bread all in one day. I had to write out a schedule for myself but in the end I succeeded, without too much stress. In hindsight, I really can’t complain about being so busy when half the time I’m the one making myself do extra. But, in the words of my mom, I just HAD to make it all!
Last weekend Jonji and I took a break from endless hours of studying and homework to go to the Dynamic Duo competition in Long Beach, where I was sadly disappointed to see no sign of Dr. Dre—maybe I’d have better luck in Inglewood. Anyway, when I say we went to the competition, I mean Jonji went to compete and I went to spectate. I was quite happy to be in the cheering section once I saw that one of the workouts included sandy dumbbells on the beach—talk about the worst combination ever. All was going well until the overhead squat, when Jonji’s elbow decided to pop out a little bit. Not the most pleasant experience, I’m sure. After that he decided to call it a day, so we stayed a bit longer to watch fellow Depot members compete and then left. Luckily the injury wasn’t too bad, and he’s already feeling much better—I keep telling him at least it’s nothing like his ankle! Speaking of Jonji, if you haven’t heard from him in a couple weeks, that’s because he has been sans phone for a little while. An unfortunate series of events led to him coming home without a phone and having no idea how it had happened. Not the best way to end a weekend.
This week was another blur, with homework assignments hitting me over the head left and right. I do have one outlet that does not involve one of the three main components of my life, and that is our cat. I’ve been putting her on a rigorous training schedule every night with a little mouse toy that she loves, and we have seen some impressive improvements over the last couple of weeks. Now she can complete the flying-jump-attack move, the lying-down-and-bat-it move, and the run-in-circles-until-dizzy move. Her training has been so good for her that she actually hunted a large spider several nights ago. We were getting ready for bed when we heard a series of thumps, and I came out into the living room to see Arielle hopping away and a flattened spider on the floor. Best cat ever! Jonji now calls her my sidekick. Although I was ready to demote her last night, when she decided to start galloping through each room in our apartment and meowing incessantly at us at 4 AM. She owes me some dead spiders.
I’ve realized that sweat is going to have to be my friend if I’m to stay sane down here. As my car has yet to repel Darth Vader from the air vents, the air conditioning has had to remain off. Therefore, I get a nice healthy dose of chokingly-hot air when I get into my car, which the wind has a lot of trouble budging even when I’m on the road. You’d think I would just dress in shorts, flip-flops, and a tank top and stop complaining, but you’re missing one of the key ingredients in this recipe for sweaty disaster—Otis is trying to compete with the temperatures in Antarctica. And I think they’re winning. I get to school, wild eyed and frizzy-haired with heat, only to feel my toes going numb a half an hour later as I sit in the computer lab. There are no winners in this situation.
While I’m on the subject of sweating, Depot has been programming a lot of burpees lately. This means I’ve gotten better at them, but I’ve also started getting into fights with my own hair again. Not only does my hair get in my mouth as I work out, it also gets stuck to my face so I can barely see, and then when I finally shove it out of the way it gets stuck to my back so that my neck becomes temporarily immovable. A hard life, I live (insert Yoda voice).
I have been making this dish at least once a week—it’s extremely easy and relatively cheap. It’s also a great one to make when having guests over, because it looks nice and tastes absolutely delicious.
Pot Roast with Glazed Carrots and Mashed Potatoes
3 lbs chuck roast
butter and olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
3 medium carrots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
1 cup red wine
1 cup chicken stock (recipe here) or water
5 sage leaves
5 sprigs parsley
4 sprigs thyme
10 whole black peppercorns
salt and pepper
2 bunches medium carrots
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp chicken broth or water
1 recipe mashed potatoes, recipe here
Preheat oven to 300°F.
Season the meat with salt and pepper on all sides. Heat a large dutch oven over medium-high heat and add a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Brown the meat on all sides, about 15 minutes total. Place meat on a plate and set aside.
With the dutch oven over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Once the butter has completely melted, add the chopped onion, celery, carrots, garlic, 1/2 tsp salt and some black pepper. Stir occasionally, until the vegetables are slightly colored, about 5 minutes. Pour in the wine, turn up to medium-high heat, and let cook for another 5 minutes. Add the broth and simmer for 5 more minutes. Place the meat plus any of its juices back into the pot, and arrange the sage, parsley, thyme, and peppercorns around it. Cover the top of the pot with aluminum foil, then cover with the lid.
Braise in the oven for three hours.
Start the carrots 30 minutes before the meat is supposed to come out of the oven. Chop off the tops and the tips of the carrots and peel. Cut the carrots into 2–3 inch sections and then slice those lengthwise into halves or quarters. They should be about 1/4 inch wide.
Heat 2 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon of oil in a large cast-iron pan. Once the butter has melted, add the carrots and stir to coat them in the butter and oil. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until some carrots are browned, about 6 minutes or so. Pour in 3 tablespoons chicken broth or water into the pan, cover with a lid, and turn the heat down to low. Cook like this for 5 more minutes. Remove the lid and turn the heat up to medium-high and cook until the broth or water is almost entirely evaporated. At this step, prick a carrot with a fork to make sure they’re still a little firm—you don’t want them to be too mushy. Taste for seasoning.
Cut the meat up (or shred it), keeping it in the broth, and serve over mashed potatoes. Top with the carrots. Also great with sautéed greens. Enjoy!