Wednesday, July 11, 2007

OCD: My Funny Little Lifestyle Choice

When I was a child, I had a fever. No wait, that’s Pink Floyd. Let me start again.

When I was a child, I would watch my mother meticulously plan each week’s menu, and then develop her entire shopping list around the menu’s necessary ingredients. Her weekly meal-planning usually included sensible family-pleasers like tacos, spaghetti, chili, and fish sticks and fries, but occasionally Shit-on-a-Shingle would rear it’s ugly ham-studded head, or once in awhile Sweet and Sour Pork would crash the dance, the bane of my youthful existence.

This past spring, in an effort to improve my diet and become more organized, I adopted my mother’s weekly menu development strategy. Unfortunately, I was unable to sustain this military level of meal-planning precision, and suspended the practice after a few weeks. But lucky for you, I just found an old menu from this era on the desktop of my computer. It is from the week of March 19, 2007. Let’s begin, shall we?

Menu, week of March 19, 2007

Monday: Spanish rice & beans with black bean & mango salad (chips & sour cream)

Oh, ampersand, will you marry me?...I love you almost as much as I love ellipses & parentheses (& that’s no lie!) …Chips & sour cream is in parentheses because while they are not the star players of this dish, they nonetheless serve an important supporting role in this cast of disturbingly detailed characters. OCD? Frequently, and often!

Tuesday: Omelettes with cheese, chicken for J, diced red pepper, green & red onion, broccoli … Side: hash browns, salsa, hot sauce

Don’t you think it’s magnanimous of me to allow J to eat chicken instead of his usual isolated soy protein and MDF meat substitute? I’m rather impressed with myself. And striking a mighty blow for control freaks everywhere, I even had the foresight to identify which specific condiments to place on the table. Next time I’ll make sure to include salt and pepper, because deviations from the menu carry a stiff and brutal penalty that even Russian prison guards speak of only in hushed, fearful voices.

(Author comment: the omelettes turned out like rubbery, parched tortillas cooked by Satan himself on a grill that can vaporize water three continents away, but the hash browns, doused in ketchup and S & P, were edible.)

Wednesday: Italian rice-a-roni with garbanzos…side of broccoli & steamed carrots

Dear Readers, I’d like to introduce you to my impression of an Institutionalized Meal Fit for a Child with an Undeveloped Palate. We have our fiber-rich protein, our starch-from-a-box, and our vegetables--steamed for vitaminy goodness and chock-full of necessary bodybuilding nutrients. Add a glass of milk and what else do you need to enjoy this fully complete and balanced meal, other than a tongue with damaged taste buds?

Thursday: Pasta with pesto, artichoke hearts, peas, teeny red marinated red pepper strips, & pine nuts; side of leftover scones, garlic toast/bagel/bun, Cabbage

Ah, the scones rear their crusty little heads again! What I particularly enjoy about this day’s menu is my specification for “teeny red marinated red pepper strips” (red is listed twice, in case I missed it the first time). Also, there is an opportunity for improv! Granted, the choice offered (toast/bagel/bun) bounces among three carbohydrate-rich members of the Bread Group, but still! Rigid me of the parsimonious sphincter is offering a choice! I marked this event on the calendar.

Cabbage, with a capital C. So cheap. So stinky. So obviously leftover from my St. Patrick’s theme meal it’s a crying shame.

Friday or Saturday: Fettuccini alfredo, peas, garlic “toast”

Toast is in quotation marks because clearly, by “toast” I mean “clown car.” Also, it’s the end of the week. I am no longer even able to commit to a day on which we will sup our alfredo, peas, and garlic “toast.” I have even built room into my plan for what will surely be my disinclination to cook one more day after such a whirlwind of culinary feats. Do you smell the faintest whiff of fecal matter? You should, because this is anal to the tenth power.

Easy dinner/lunch: Pizza or veggie burgers with corn

Look, an EASY dinner/lunch! It’s dunch. It’s linner. Also, another real-live choice! Pizza OR veggie burgers. For two adults who regularly eat like toddlers being raised on a commune in upstate New York. Now, with corn!

There. Wasn’t that delicious?

Moving on, here are some summertime lessons recently learned:

For the men: When standing next to a low table buttering hot corn on the cob, perhaps it’s not the best idea to be wearing only loose-fitting boxers and a T-shirt.

For the ladies: If there is a dead earwig in the bottom of the toilet bowl and you are of a squeamish persuasion, flush before doing your business. Nothing gives you the Heebie-Jeebies like a cold drop of earwig water splashing up on your buns.

And finally, an update on the monarch wrangling: I now have a full baseball team of caterpillars munching away on milkweed in my bathtub. Nine of them. Nine caterpillars!!! Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom has commandeered the tub. Their little jeeps are leaving black tire tracks all over the porcelain, but thankfully, I have Advanage miracle cleaning fluid to remove them.

You wouldn’t believe how much those little caterpillar dudes can poop. Yesterday I was outside rescuing a few more from a predatory wasp eager to make them an easy meal. Last night, I wept for the mangy, paralyzed squirrel that crawled beneath our front porch to die. When will it end, this urge of mine to save all wildlife? I guess that’s what you might expect from a girl who pecked the back of her own neck with an index finger to fertilize the chicken eggs she was perching on. (Sorry. You'll have to scroll down one entry for this story. My technology skills...they are lacking.)

PS: photos of the bebeh butterflies to come. They like to hide beneath the leaves (making photography somewhat challenging); plus, they’re so small right now that every time you jostle the leaves some of them dive off, suspended by a microfilament of bebeh monarch string. But I shall try again as the cuties grow. You’ll just have to take my word for it that 4 of them are in the 95th percentile for height and weight among 72 hour-olds.


  1. Oh, Jess Riley, it was so brief, our affair. Ok, my stalking you. Fine, call it what you will. Plus, I'm not really into the girl-girl thing, but you understand my point. It must end here though, as this level of organization, however short-lived, makes my brain bleed. I am proud of myself when I take something out to defrost for dinner before lunch. I don't know though; I'm just not ready to give up on us. I won't quit you, Jess Riley, I won't!

  2. Hahaha. I love this post. I think I'm going to follow your lead in my post today.

  3. My wife does this. Each Sunday she sits down and plans out a menu for the week. Then she calls out ingredients as I see if we have them or need them, and then we make a trip to the store to buy the rest. Sunday night, Monday, and Tuesday go pretty well, and then things start to break down. Thursday is usually leftover night, but of course there was a meal planned for that night so we resolve to cook it the next day. With Friday comes the laziness of the weekend and we usually end up eating sushi, so another meal goes uncooked. Saturday is a free for all, no planned meals, but still lots of leftovers to eat.

    This is why we've had bok choy in our fridge, waiting to be used in a meal, for three weeks.

  4. Next time I’ll make sure to include salt and pepper, because deviations from the menu carry a stiff and brutal penalty that even Russian prison guards speak of only in hushed, fearful voices.

    So damn funny.

  5. Anonymous12:19 PM

    If I snorted when I laughed, reading your blog in public (as I am doing right now) would be really embarassing.

    Everything on your menu sounded really yummy to me until you lost me at worm poop.

  6. I thought that Advanage stuff only removed magic marker from towels. Does it say it removes caterpillar tire tracks from bathtubs too? Cause they really should put that on the package if it doesn't.

  7. Anonymous2:00 PM

    You know, I was thinking the side of Cabbage a bit arbitrary until I read the part about St. Patty's Day.

  8. Your pasta with pesto etc. sounded YUMMY.

    I used to do this, too...plan a menu, shop all on one day, get it done. But the pain in the ass that is trying to think of interesting things to eat every damn week got the best of me, so I rarely plan. Which means I end up at the grocery store almost every damn day. Sigh. This week, my husband made the menu, god love him. Here it is:

    Sunday: Steak Fajitas
    Monday: Pizza (restaurant!)
    Tuesday: Linguine and Clams
    Wednesday: Lamb Curry with daal
    Thursday: Cornish Game Hen, wild rice, and yellow wax beans
    Friday: Dinner at a yummy restaurant near us that has AWESOME heirloom tomatoes with homemade mozarella cheese.

    I love him. He rocks. We'll see what happens next week. ;)

    I love are a saint for saving them. Be careful daughter tried to save a bee a few weeks ago that was being teased by some other kids, and she got stung. I think she was more upset by the idea that it was going to die now, and she had somehow caused it, than by the actual pain...

  9. Baaahhh!!!!! Too funny!

    I tried exactly this level of food management one week in order to organize and simplify my life, and it caused so much stress that I almost got divorced.

    BTW, I love your adventures in animal husbandry. Can I recommend the book Rainbow's End to you? It's a biography of a girl growing up next to a game preserve in (then)Rhodesia. It's a great read, and I think she even mentions putting her soaped arm inside a cow's cervix. That's two steps after caterpillar raising.

  10. apparently, when I am laughing as I read this, my bum shakes...

    This reported by my daughter moments ago.

    I was also wondering if "toast" leaves it open to any bread substance which is then toasted. You could have been just giving yourself a bunch of flexibility...

  11. Garlic "toast" rather than garlic "bread," the latter would be simpler. ;o)

    As for butterflies...they're inspiring!

  12. The menu sounds dee-lish to me. Wanna know my version of rice and beans until about, um, two months ago? Rice-a-roni rice pilaf and Bush's maple flavored baked beans. Aw yeah. That's good eatin'.

  13. Only you could make menu planning (!!) funny. We keep saying "we have to start doing that..." but never do. I could learn a lot from you. About food and about ampersands, it seems.

  14. A deep murky pool, that's what you are, Jess.
    Ampersands, caterpillar frass, a disgusting amount of organization...I'm lost in it all.

  15. Hey, you made a sincere effort. I planned weekly meals like you described ONCE in my life and I quit after one week. Only you can turn it into a comedy food show!

  16. Toast is in quotation marks because clearly, by “toast” I mean “clown car.”

    lol! love that line!

    interesting meal choices, jess.... LOL

  17. Meal planning...I'm lucky if I remember to thaw something (meat-oriented, of course - sorry Jess) with a vague idea as to what I plan to ask Kyle to do with it.

    Remind me not to complain about kids' toys in my bathtub. I'll take that over caterpillars anyday.

  18. Anonymous10:26 AM

    Your love for the ampersand is so attractive. I shall have to work it into my own blog writing & reap the fame & fortune that I know it shall bring.

    You've also got me craving artichoke hearts!

  19. This is the funniest thing I've read in a very very very long time.

    Wow - I'm wheezing! Wheee! Woohoo!

  20. Sweet & Sour Pork makes me want to vomit violently. Or at least makes me want to scream, "I WANT TO SPEAK TO THE MANAGER RIGHT NOW!!"

  21. My Mom's grossest of the gross was "Goulash", which basically meant everything that was left in the fridge, thrown into some tomato sauce with some ground beef. GAG.

    I meal plan occasionally. I like it when I can make myself do it, but sadly, I wing it all too often.

    Your first line made me laugh. Reminded me of Mandy Patinkin..."Let me explain, no wait, there is too much, let me sum up."

  22. "toast"

    I'm laughing out loud, tears in my eyes, drawing stares from the children... You've outdone yourself this time!

  23. Yum - sounds very tasty & healthful & balanced & satisfying.