My Childhood (From What I Know) – Part IV: The Sisters

My sisters cannot be any more different from each other. My mom used to always say, the eldest (let’s call her Pam) thinks only with her heart. The middle (let’s call her Keri) thinks only with her brain. And I, the youngest, am lucky to be balanced with both. I must say, I’ve always appreciated that. But while my heart and brain communicate well with each other, my heart is usually the one that ones (there’s my laila 1 and laila A dilemma again).

My sisters are both significantly older than me, 13 and 10 years. So undoubtedly, they’ve lived a large portion of their lives without me, and only in snippets of information have I learned of the devastating experiences they have had. Yes, I feel I have had many of my own. But I cannot imagine what it would have been like to live in that household in the middle of the Iranian Revolution. From being chased down the street because they dared look at a member of the “secret police” sideways or because a ring of hair accidentally showed itself from underneath their head scarves. They were children and it must have been unbearably scary. They have memories of meeting neighbors in the basements of our buildings in the middle of the night, as the bomb sirens wailed overhead. When I was in high school, there was a few radio rap songs that came out with an air raid siren in the background. I turned it up on the radio one day. My mom got extremely upset and started crying. Pam just clamped both hands on her ears and started yelling at my mom to make me shut it off. I didn’t know why. Now I do. I feel bad.

Also unbearably scary, was my mother apparently. My older sister practically raised us. And Keri, although she’s quite private about the past, recently told me about an incident that happened shortly after we had fled Iran, and were staying in a hotel in Switzerland. My mother had a friend coming to visit, and she looked over the railing next to the hotel elevator to see Keri on the floor she needed to get to. Keri, being no more than 7 or 8 hit the elevator buttons, thinking she was helping. But it made the elevator take longer. When my mother finally got down to the floor, she reached out of the elevator, grabbed Keri by her hair, pulled her in and slammed her head against the elevator wall so hard, my sister remembers seeing stars. She came down with a crash and then was abruptly kicked by my mother’s fat, heavy leg. Of course, a great deal of yelling ensued. She then left her in the elevator, with orders to go straight back to our room, and walked out to the lobby to go get her friend. Keri was the mischievous one in the family – always getting into things she shouldn’t have, and as fearless as a little boy. But no amount of mischief deserves a beating. And I don’t know if it’s worse or better that it was in public.

Needless to say, they clearly went through a lot.

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on turning 30

I turn 30 in November. I’m not upset about it, so don’t expect a woe-is-me post.

(Though, this blog contains an unfortunate number of those, if you’re into that sort of thing.)

I really don’t feel that grown up. Perhaps because I’m not making as much money as I thought I would be at this point in my life, or I’m not in the position of power that I’d like, or that we don’t have kids and a mortgage. Perhaps it’s because I had to grow up so fast, that I ignored my teens and went gung-ho into the twenties trying to prove myself professionally.

Crap, this IS starting out like a woe-is-me post. Okay, let me see if I can turn this boo-hoo ship around, folks.

I started subconsciously building this list around the beginning of the year. Call it a coping mechanism for the aging, but it’s got me thinking about the myriad of things that I’ve either started implementing, learned, or should probably have down pat before the Fall. This creeping sense of confidence is growing. I finally know what I want and what I don’t. And it seems to have morphed into the following.

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a list to answer “what the hell should i make for dinner?!”

Hubby comes home around 9 most nights, and because I like to eat dinner together, we often do not finish dinner until 930 or so. I’ve had zero exercising desire, and I really needed something to counteract the laziness that was manifesting as rolls around my midsection. And I figured it couldn’t hurt to cut out some calories and sugars at the end of the night.

Note – I have always been against super extreme low carb diets. Not for everyone, but definitely for me. I just feel like a grump when I can’t eat a piece of bread or some earthy brown rice with my meal. Maybe that’s just served as a good excuse all this time : )

My lack of blogging over the last couple months and my growing list of low carb dinners have unfortunately NOT resulted in lots of fun pictures. Sorry team.

But! Ohhh, but but but!

I have a list of ideas for you instead. I have totally trolled websites for just a simple list of inspiring combinations in the past. I don’t necessarily need recipes. Sometimes it’s just nice to be reminded that a handful of ingredients go really well together, and to then be pushed out of the nest to figure out how.

A few things to note – by low carb, I mean simply the absence of starchy foods and simple carbs. In most cases, I’ve just doubled up the vegetable serving. What I thought I was doing was getting rid of simple carbs. Ironically, in doing this, I realized that we actually ate a lot of complex carbs (whole wheat pasta, brown rice) which are good, and stayed away from a lot of the emptier carbs. But what kept us going was that we didn’t feel so heavy after our meals.

Also, I’ll add to this list periodically. I warn you, I’ve been writing every dish down, whether good or bad. It’s up to you to make it work. Let me know if anything inspires you!

May the forks be with you.

– salt & pepper blade steak with swiss chard (or other hearty, leafy green)
i kept the seasoning on the steaks simple and cooked them in a pan.
here’s one of my favorite ways to cook the greens; ironically, i’ve never used this recipe for kale: Basic Sauteed Kale.

– open faced turkey burger on portobello “bun”
you can buy pre-made turkey burgers, or make your own with ground turkey, onions, and seasoning, just like beef.
grilling large portobello mushrooms can create an awesome texture. use one or two, according to preference.
top with whatever you have, like arugula, roasted peppers, cheese (or make a fancy goat cheese sauce)…

– portobello meatball subs
okay so i tried using these like bread again. it was more of a circular sub? but who cares because it was effing delicious. i bought turkey meatballs from trader joes. they are fabulous. get some. i warmed them up, then put them in a saucepan with warm basil and roasted tomato marinara. grilled the shrooms, threw a few meatballs on top and a little shredded cheese. it was great!

– cauliflower mash with some kind of curry or indian vegetable stew (and if you’re with me, ground turkey)

hi, i’m califlower mash. your life is about to change.

i seriously, seriously, doubted cauliflower mash. i don’t like cauliflower. they make you fart. well they make me fart. it doesn’t matter anyway though because this cauliflower mash one me over. it’s too easy to not do again. cut them up, boil them until soft, then mash and add the same ingredients as you do in your favorite mash potatoes. yes i put milk. no, not as much as you would with potatoes i guess. wing it!

– turkey lasagna with zucchini noodles and spinach
cut zucchini lengthwise in 1/4″ slices. roast them until soft. (i just realized, you could probably boil them, too.) i took the cooked zucchini, layered the bottom of a pasta bowl with them, put a layer of raw spinach (they’ll wilt with the heat), a layer of ground turkey mix (already cooked ground turkey with pasta sauce, garlic, salt, pepper, whatever you like to put in there), topped with ricotta cheese, mozzerella, aaaand repeat. just use your favorite lasagna recipe, and replace the noodles with zucchini and a layer of spinach. easy.

Continue reading “a list to answer “what the hell should i make for dinner?!””