Saturday, August 21, 2010

Keep Cool, Stay Calm

On a Lunch Break

Wow, it feels really good to be home now.  It’s been a long week.

Work has turned into a pressure cooker, and I’m trying to keep my cool and stay focused.  I think I did okay this week, but I only did it by leaning heavily on my family and Matt, all of whom came through for me like shining stars.  It’s always tough when you feel like your performance is being examined under a microscope; little mistakes start to look like enormous errors, and you start worrying about things that normally you’d be able to brush off without breaking a sweat.  With all of this extra stress, I’m finding it more important than ever that I take good care of myself: eat nutritious food, get enough sleep, try not to worry too much.  That last part is always the hardest for me.

One thing I’ve been doing this week which has been really lovely is taking a real lunch break, away from the lab and my computer.  Usually I just sit at my desk and read blogs while I eat, but I think it’s more of a break if I actually leave my work space.  You would think that in August, it’s not a good idea to eat lunch outside if you live in Texas, but I’ve found a little shady spot that is just perfect for a noontime break.  It’s nice to sit outside in the shade, where it’s not too hot and you can feel the breeze on your bare skin.  I eat my salad and people-watch or just stare off into the middle distance, not thinking about anything.  I try to take a few deep breaths and remind myself that it’s just a job—the most important thing is that I do my best.  If I’ve done that, then there is nothing more I could have done.

The kitchen has been a comfortable refuge this week, though I admit that my cooking ambitions are low.  With the leftover dressing from last week, I made a delicious lentil salad with fresh tomatoes and yellow bell peppers and some leftover caramelized onions.  It was refreshing and filling and so easy—just some light chopping and mixing because I’d cooked the lentils earlier in the week and then tossed them in the fridge for safe keeping.  I’m also experimenting a bit from my new raw foods cookbook, Ani’s Raw Food Essentials, and finding some great stuff in there, like her raw foods “cake” which I, being very naughty, topped with hot fudge sauce.  Oh my.  I know hot fudge sauce isn’t exactly the healthiest dessert, but sometimes you just gotta go for what you are craving.  I wanted something warm, sweet, and rich to put over my cake made of cashews and dates, and fudge sauce hit the spot.  I have no regrets.

I’m looking forward to dinner tonight, which I think will be a remix of recipes that I’ve shared with you before: leftover Moroccan Carrot and Tomato Soup, freshly baked cornbread, and some sort of salad or slaw with cabbage, like Nicole’s Mexican Coleslaw.  Tomorrow, I’m thinking about picking up ingredients for another Nicole-approved recipe, this time for a vegetarian adaptation of this Steak & Potato Salad with Horseradish Dressing, substituting black beans for the steak.  So many of Nicole’s suggestions have given me wonderful meals, and I’ve been craving a potato salad for some unknown reason.  Potatoes just sound good to me right now, and with corn and green beans and a kicky, creamy dressing?  Yes, please—I’ll grab my plate!

It is so nice to sit here and write about food and recipes and delicious things to make and eat.  I hope it’s as nice for you to read as it is for me to write.  Happy Saturdays to you all—may you stay cool and calm and well-fed in these dog days of summer.


Shannon said...

such elegant words and a positive outlook for the ebb and flow that is science/research. i wish i could do that ;) you're making my mouth water with all that talk of raw cake and hot fudge sauce!!

Rosiecat said...

Ha! I'm trying, Shannon! I fear I might be making it look easier than it is for me. But for better or worse, this is what I'm doing now, so I'm trying to make the best of it.

I'm excited about sharing the recipes for (mostly) raw cake and fudge sauce--I ate that combination for dessert every night last week ;-) It's too good, I'm afraid!