Lunch Lately

When you work in politics, things are usually really exciting. Like, have to be in 4 places at once exciting because there’s a hearing going on here, and a vote going on there, and your boss needs his Blackberry charger (let’s be real, that last one is 80% of what my job entails)….

But there are also lulls.

The Legislature goes on recess…like a lot. For instance, right now they’ve been on recess since August 31st. So it’s been quiet times here in my little lobbying world.

In honor of this, I bring you the first installment of:

Things I Google and Wikipedia at Work

  • Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom — What started as a research task for my boss quickly turned into a trip down this handsome man’s entire life story.
  • date of Pearl Harbor (to prove to T-Man that I had the date memorized…….I don’t.)
  • date of Bastille Day (to prove to T-Man that I had the date memorized….I do!)
  • Trader Joe’s carrot cake ingredients… YUM
  • “c accent french”, from that one time when I taught Bev of Bev Cooks how to type a c squiggly thing (I was trying to remember what it was called…’s called a cédille)
  • Marilyn Monroe measurements (because I’m a creep)
  • BMI calculator (because I’m pathetic)

Something I also google at work is recipe ideas. Especially for lunches. Because the easiest time to waste money eating out as a ~young professional~ is at lunchtime, and my goal is to avoid it at all costs. In fact, the only 2 times I’ve been out to lunch since July were to treat my brother to birthday lunch, and to be treated to lunch on my own birthday.

To achieve such a “feat”, I have a few strategies.

Use the Weekend to Prep

Every Sunday, I like to prepare a dish that will last me at least 2 meals. Here is this week’s example:

I’ve made Ashley’s Lemon Dill Pasta Salad before (with an avocado dressing!), but this time I had fresh basil on hand so I made it with that instead of the recommended dill. Loved it!

I munched on a lot of it while I was making it (oops) and then split what was left into two tupperwares for lunch this week. Paired with a handful of wheat thins or a bag of chips, it was the perfect amount of food!

Make Enough Dinner That You’ll Have Leftovers

It’s actually pretty hard to make single serving size versions of a lot of dishes…I don’t think any pot exists that is small enough to make just 1 serving of rice! So instead of sacrificing the success of a dish because I don’t want to waste food or overeat, I make enough that I can eat the rest for lunch the next day.

A few weeks ago, I told you all I made Let it Brie’s Chana Masala with lentils… What I didn’t share was that I actually only used about half the lentils that I boiled for Indi’s recipe. The rest got seasoned with taco seasonings, hot sauce, and green onion, paired with a tortilla, and became lentil tacos for at least 3 days worth of lunch! Oh, I added an avocado too because I’m obsessed.

I ran out of my beloved super low-cal Fiber & Flax corn tortillas, and got Mission’s Multigrain Artisan Style tortillas — also very good, and not too bad on the ingredients! I love tortillas that are thick and seem like they’re handmade.

This is actually what I have packed for lunch today:

My own weirdo interpretation of Frito Pie. I am desperately looking for ways to finish a can of refried beans I opened a few days ago, so instead of the traditional chili, I made a big ol’ batch of refried beans with a ton of veggies and greens and chili seasoning, and am planning on mixin’ it up with a bag of Fritos. Desperate times call for desperate measures, people! Also, please ignore the nail polish and spoon lying in my bed.

Buy Healthy Easy-to-Make Lunches

For when there’s no food prepped from the night before (and I can’t get home to make lunch), I have an “emergency stash” of food at the office.

I’ve already shown pictures of this before, but I swear by it:

I love this soup cup brand and Nile Spice. Both make pretty healthy soup cups and, if you get the flavors that are chock full of fiber, they are considerably filling.

I also buy frozen burritos from Cedarlane and Amy’s Organic because they have good ingredients (especially Amy’s) and they’re usually on sale at Safeway for only $2-$3 a pop!

Soup cups and frozen burritos are usually for days that I work out or go for a jog at lunch, because I’m usually famished when get back to the office around 2pm.

What do YOU bring to the office for lunch?

P.S. A few of my photos finally got approved by Foodgawker! It’s been bringing a lot of traffic to my site, so hooray! Welcome new readers, and stick around, for most of my photos are not taken with my iPhone like they were in this entry 🙂

Check out my gallery here:

my foodgawker gallery

Cooking with (and for) Friends

Since I got somewhat good news about my hand, I’ve been wearing my splint less and finally cooking more. I tested out a few recipes I found online this weekend (and experimented with some of my own) and thought I’d share!

My friend Anna has started a new tradition recently — Sunday night dinner. She cooks out of a Russian cookbook her mom gave her (she’s Russian), and everyone else brings dishes to share too. It’s been a fun way to try out new recipes and stuff myself to capacity every Sunday night. Oh, and other people besides T-Man get to benefit from my cooking for once 😛

We’ve also been talking about even doing some kind of “secret ingredient” challenge where we all have to do new and different things with the same ingredient. How cool, right? My inner Iron Chef nerd was totally nerding out at the idea. On the same ticket, another friend of mine recently told me she does a regular Pasta Night with her girl friends. Everyone brings a different kind of pasta dish (or salad, or bread, etc).

When you’re in your 20’s and just starting a career and really living on your own for the first time like my friends and I are, I think we’re all inclined to just whip up a frozen dinner or salad or get take-out every night when we get off work before we go to hang out with our friends — usually at bars over a drink or two. Why not use homemade meals as a way to hang out? It saves you money, is healthier, and you’ll actually be able to have a conversation, rather than yelling over the background music at the bar!

The first 2 of these 4 dishes were brought to Sunday Dinner last week (and joined Anna’s avocado fries and cheesy potatoes, Kristen’s salad, and Jeff’s beer and pasta salads….the meals are always super random FYI). The rest were just for fun!

Jalapeno-Lime Hummus by me

This was totally a throw-whatever-you-have-in-the-food-processor kinda thing. But it turned out great! I’m definitely going to make it again and take notes this time, plus make some tweaks to make sure it’s perfect before I share the recipe. 🙂

Sriracha Caramel Corn from Baker by Nature

Holy crap, right? This one was a bit of a challenge, as not only had I never made caramel before (not very hard, BTW!) but also, our microwave is busted so I had to pop the corn on the stove, which I had never done.

After one unsuccessful try…

I added more oil, decreased the heat, didn’t touch the pot, and wound up with:

A perfect batch!

Next was the caramel.

It actually wasn’t as hard as I thought it’d be, but it took a lot of whisking. The tricky thing about caramel is that it burns really easily.

The finished product (um, ignore the mess). I mixed in hazelnuts — SO good! The sriracha isn’t evident when you first taste the caramel corn, but it’s got a pretty strong sriracha-y aftertaste. I added the full 2 tablespoons of sriracha, but it was a bit overwhelming to most people, so if I make it again I will definitely tone it down!

Chana Masala (with lentils) from Let It Brie

Have I told you guys about Indi’s blog and YouTube channel? Letitbrie is a YouTube cooking show. I wish I had known what an amazing chef and baker Indi was when I lived below her in college, because we would have been hanging out MUCH more often. Anyway, I advise you to check out her site, and especially her recipe for Chana Masala. I made it with lentils (which I think technically means it is Daal Masala?), but it was incredible. Luckily, my roommate had all the necessary spices (see above).

I made a huge pan of it, and it was enough for me to eat for dinner, then in two lunches! For lunch I ate it up in a tortilla…I know I know, totally a not-authentic typical white person thing to do, haha. Long story short, it was delicious.

Breakfast Tostada…for dinner by me

Tortilla loaded with potatoes sauteed with onions, red & green bell peppers, as well as salsa, pepper jack, and a fried egg & green onions on top. Holy crap. I made too many potatoes so T-Man got the leftovers, but in his I started with a layer of homemade tortilla chips, then all the same things plus a chopped up jalapeno sausage.  Holy crap times 2.

I am so glad it’s the weekend! It was a crazy week at my office. No bosses in today, so I’m going to set aside my work and crack this monstrous thing open:

Yup that’s right. First I geek out Iron Chef-style, now I show you that I’m reading a Julia Child biography. Food nerd fo lyfe. While we’re at it, I’m gonna admit to you all that I am one of the suckers who bought a new iPhone 5 at midnight last night and now I won’t get it until October 4th because they’re back-ordered. Womp womp. Nerd Katie OUT!

Is the travel bug hereditary?

Guilty as charged.

Yes, I am a white person that loves to travel.  I didn’t stop chipping in commentary about my year abroad in France for…well…come to think of it, I still talk about it whenever I get the chance.  If you include all of the separate countries in the United Kingdom (click here for an enlightening video on what that is actually defined to be), and quasi-countries such as Monaco and the Cayman Islands, my countries-visited count is up to 17.  I’d venture to guess that this total is higher than that of the average 22 year old American.  Approximately 40 million Americans – only about 13.3% of the population – traveled outside of the country in 2010 (an very rough estimate that I hastily concluded from looking at the Office of Travel & Tourism Industries website).

It was recently brought to my attention why this might be that I have a tendency to want to travel.  Continue reading

Becoming an “Adult”

This week, I worked on becoming that better job seeker that I described in my “New Year, New Job Search” post.  I made 20+ phone calls on Wednesday, an accomplishment for anyone, but especially for me, a girl with a phobia of cold calling.  Today, I finally started passing out resumes face-to-face at the State Capitol.

But what I’ve been thinking about all the while is which parts of me are to be left behind as I move closer to becoming a person with a capital C Career.

This morning, I put on my business casual and printed out my resumes and cover letters.  I put on my big girl boots and made polite small talk with the receptionists I left resumes with and the various state employees that pointed me in the right direction along the way.  I played the part, but I realized that I still basically looked like this while driving to and from the Capitol:

My head, someone else’s body. Thank you once again to Photoshop for assisting me with this re-enactment.

Continue reading