Food Friday, again?! Add a dash of fitness to taste.

I struggled with which one to write today, so, I figured both would suffice.

I’ll start with food, because most of the time it’s food that’s the main issue with needing to diet and lose weight. Fitness, though is a way of life. Anyway, let’s take a dive, and I’ll give you a recipe of my own that’s super simple and easy to enjoy, and follow it up with a bit of fitness updates.

When you think of a hot summer day, you probably think of a couple different things when it comes to food: Barbecue, salad, chicken wings, and if you’re me and my family, seafood. The seafood part ties into beach vacations, I think, but this isn’t a Throwback Thursday post! The seafood that I’m going to cover with this post is a super simple Shrimp Boil, on the eye of your stove. You’ll love the taste, and your house will smell good for a couple of days.

15269627851_01f0e06814_z.jpg

I got so wrapped up in my cooking, that I can’t claim the above photo. It belongs to Alby Headrick on Flickr, but it perfectly captured a shrimp boil. So, let’s get started. You’ll need the following to duplicate my recipe:

  • 2lbs shrimp (I buy whatever’s on sale at the time, usually deveined because my family prefers it that way.)
  • 3lbs petite red potatoes, halved.
  • 5 ears of fresh corn, shucked and halved.
  • 1 whole onion, cut into large wedges or halved. Remove skin.
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup of sea salt
  • 2lbs Conecuh Sausage — it’s an Alabama delicacy, but if you can’t find it, a good Andouille Sausage will suffice.
  • Old Bay or Zatarains – I  currently use this concentrated crab boil, because I have someone with seed sensitivity. I prefer the full-fledged seasoning packet/Old Bay, far and above.

I heavily salt my water with Sea Salt first and foremost, because if you know anyone who cooks these down at the coast, they’ll use fresh seawater. I try my best to imitate that, four hours away from the coast. After the water is salted, bring it to a boil.

  • Add halved red potatoes, onion, and garlic, to salted water, bring back to boil. Let cook for 8-10 minutes.
  • Add ears of corn to pot, bring back to boil. Let cook for 8-10 minutes.
  • Add sausage to pot, bring back to boil. Cook for 8-10 minutes.
  • Add recommended measurement of seasoning – I usually use 2-3oz of the concentrate at this point.
  • Immediately add in shrimp and cook for 3 minutes (it is not necessary to return to a boil). Remove from heat, and let sit for 10 minutes.
  • Drain.
  • For the best effect, eat all in one day, and dump the drained food onto spread out newspapers.

 

All in all, you’ll need probably an hour of your time to get everything together, get it cooked and get it all finished up. Then, after you sit around and enjoy your deliciously boiled shrimp and starch, you’ll probably want to let it settle… and maybe hit the gym. Or not, you could just pretend you’re down at the coast. I’ve been in a Gulf Coast state of mind for several days now…

 

So, about that dash of fitness: I think everyone struggles with staying regimented when they’re a foodie. By that, I mean, that I can guarantee you I will never have abs like most fitness models/bodybuilders/etc, because I enjoy food so much. If I could travel the world, I would set up my trips in such a way that I could eat the best foods along the way. But that being said, fitness requires dedication of some form, and some things have to be set aside. You’d be amazed what progress you can make by dropping sugary drinks, like soda, and not indulging in a dessert after your dinner. Just by limiting those things and hitting the gym for roughly an hour each day (not yesterday, I had to help a buddy move some things) I’m already down twenty pounds since I really started this journey. I’ve had relapses, and I’ve not been perfect, but just a bit of effort can really yield good results!

Stay strong, eat well, and move around! And don’t deprive yourself of life’s little joys, like food. You’ll thank yourself later.

 

 

Sri Lanka

Throwback Thursday: 2004 Edition

Everyone revisits the music of their childhood at some point.

Every two months, it seems, I have someone that brings a memory of a song to the front of my mind that I used to listen to back in the early 2000’s. Mind you, I chose 2004 because that particular year just jumps out in my memory. First of all, it was the year that my relationship with my highschool sweetheart really started developing (spoiler alert: I married her a few years later.) Second, I got my driver’s license that year, so I was cruising all over the place in my 5-speed Honda Civic. Third, TRL was at the peak of its best years, in my humble opinion. And fourth, and more depressingly, my father passed away in November of that year.

As I write this, I’m listening to the hits of 2004, and it’s an explosion of memories. I remember riding around and listening to these songs, and I remember seeing the videos on TRL in the mornings. (Here’s the playlist I found: click here.) It’s pretty good so far.

I think the craziest thing is how eventful that year was, really, and just how much of that year I remember in vivid detail. I remember during the summer, honing my ability driving that Civic by driving it up and down the drive way. That car was amazing, and I still have it, I just need to get her running again… but it had a pretty good sound system in it, too, of course, so I could listen to rap at obscenely loud volumes. I still like loud music sometimes, but it’s much more rare than it used to be. I also listen to drastically fewer rap artists… but I do like some. We can touch on that later.

It was just a pretty good year for me, there until the end. Some of the memories I can’t really share, but the people I shared them with can reminisce just by reading this. The day I got my license, I ran off to my now-wife’s house, and they let me check her and her siblings out of school, and run off to only God-knows-where. I didn’t get a job until a little bit later, but I remember scraping together change to buy gas to make it places. I think we even pawned some video games at one point, so we could go grab some other stuff. It was a wild and different time, at least from these rose-colored glasses.

I was fortunate enough to have parents that took really good care of me. At the time, I had no idea how hard of a time my parents had, and wouldn’t understand until I was much older. In hindsight, I don’t know how much it would have changed things, but I’m sure it would have.

You know, it’s interesting how we view the world when we do it in reverse. Hindsight is 20/20, they say, and I believe it. I could probably ramble on about this particular year for… hours… a thousand more words. But it would absolutely be rambling.

The music of this year kind of puts the lid on it, though. I can remember every song on the list above, and it all has a memory tied to it. Some are tears, some are passion, but most are laughs. If you had told me then that I would have married my then 15 year old girlfriend, I would have agreed. If my eldest son told me in six years that he would marry his girlfriend, I might laugh at him. I guess that jaded-ness comes with age. Hm. Food for thought.

As a final piece, I can say one thing for certain. It was the last year I would see several people as the way they were before. And, I’ll leave this off all on a quote (but make sure you go back and listen to that playlist and reminisce with me!):

Time is like a river. You cannot touch the same water twice, because the flow that has passed will never pass again. Enjoy every moment of your life.

 

Writing Prompt Wednesday

Found this one on Reddit first thing this morning.
Capture

New Orleans had been the site of more than one natural disaster, but the last disaster of this scale was Hurricane Katrina. Naturally, the city was built below sea level by several feet, and flooding was always a concern, but this time it really took the cake. Another Hurricane, named Michael, slammed into New Orleans at a raging class five, and then it sat there for days. Natural flooding came because the storm dumped fourteen inches of rain in a wide swath of damage, but that all focused inward as the levees failed, and water poured into the city at an unprecedented rate. Yet, somehow, in the midst of all this chaos, the sand-bagged Waffle House right on Canal Street still had power and still had patrons.

Very few people waded through the water on this, the third day of the storm continuing to pound the city with what seemed like relentless force. Most had followed the warnings and evacuated the city, even still, after the horrible turn out last time, others sheltered in place in the Superdome. Those who did walk, spotted this Waffle House as a beacon in the destruction — a place to get dry, get a bite, and move on.

Brandon LeRoux had lived in New Orleans his whole life, and he remembered getting ready to leave the city as the storm was hitting, but now he realized he had gotten side tracked, or found some bravery. His parents were in the Superdome, as a matter of fact. He pushed the door of the Waffle House open and wandered inside, wafting in the comforting fragrance of waffles, freshly cooking on the iron, bacon sizzling on the grill, and the smell of fresh brewed coffee. Brandon was soaking wet, but so were the other exhausted faces in the establishment — except for the staff. The staff were all clean and well-kempt, dry, and apparently in complete control of their emotions.

This newest visitor found his way to a table and sat down, squelching in his seat. Within seconds, his waitress arrived at his table. She smiled at him, “What can I get you before you go, hun?”

Brandon hadn’t had a chance to look at the menu, but he knew just by the smell. “Well, first, sorry for soaking your seat.” He chuckled. “I’ll have a coffee — the A/C is blasting in here! — a waffle, and four pieces of bacon, please.” He tried to smile back at her, but a forlorn feeling overcame in as he made eye contact with another patron, and left him unable to complete the simple task.

“No worries,” she said, smiling and gesturing to the seat, “looks like it’s dry already, anyhow. My name’s ‘Keran’ if you need anything.”

As she walked away he looked down at his seat, and felt his clothes. He was still damp, but the seat was, indeed, dry. He inhaled and exhaled deeply and let his mind wander. He was at home when the storm hit; like others, he had hoped that the storm would avert its path last minute, and he would be fine. Then, when the storm made land-fall and the roughest parts of the storm were beating down the coastline, he left his home. Suddenly, though, he found himself having difficulty recalling where he had been for the last day or so, and how he ended up on Canal Street and within sight of this Waffle House. He just couldn’t come up with a conclusion. He shook it off and attributed it to hunger. Another thing caught Brandon’s eye, however, and he watched as his waitress led another patron out the back door. She had done the same thing when he first walked in, and only now did he recall it.

He chocked it up the stress of the storm, until he bumped the cup of coffee that he didn’t remember her bringing back to his table. Brandon sunk his head in his hands and rubbed his temples. “Good Lord, what is wrong with me?” When he looked up again, the cook was sitting across from him and was sliding his plate of food across to him. “Yikes, man, you’re quiet!” He brought the plate closer, and began pouring syrup on it. “Thank you.”

The cook smiled at him, “No problem, pal.” He said leaning back in the seat, his name tag read Ezrael. “Name’s Ezra, how you doin’?”

Brandon stifled a chuckle, “I’ve been better.” He took a bite and gave an audible sound of enjoyment, and chased it with coffee. “This may be the best food I’ve ever eaten.”

“So, I’ve been told.” Ezra said, leaning forward on his elbows. “This one’s on us, since you don’t have your wallet. You take care of yourself, okay, Brandon?” He stood up and tapped his hand on the table. “No need to thank anyone, just let Keran help you out.” He smiled and nodded one more time, and returned to his grill.

Brandon reached down and patted his left back pocket, he didn’t have his wallet, but he’d never forgotten it before. Did he tell anyone that he didn’t have it when he came in? How did the cook know his name? Did he hit his head on something before he came here? He had so many questions, he had to stop and gather himself. “Alright,” he muttered out loud. “I left home, the flooding had already started, and bad. Then, the levee broke…” he took another bite, and talked with a full mouth, “then I remember…”

Keran showed up with the coffee pot and poured in just enough to warm up the black liquid. “Then you got swept away, hun.”

“That’s right, I–” he suddenly realized. “Am I dead?”

Keran nodded slowly, and sat down with him. Another patron came in, looking as bewildered as he must have looked before, and found a place to sit down just like he did. “She is, too. Everyone here, is.”

Brandon took what he realized was his last bite of food, and looked at Keran. “I didn’t think I would be, but I’m ready.”

“Everyone is, once they make it here. That’s what spirits do.” Keran said, nicely. She stood up and lead Brandon toward the back door. The door led through the back of the restaurant and past the manager’s office, with its mirrored tint on the window, overlooking the floor. As they walked, Keran slowly transformed into a robed man, who led Brandon outside. There, beyond the railing, Canal Street had been transformed into a literal canal, and sitting in the water was a small ferry. Brandon was the only soul loaded on board, as it always would be, and now his ferryman, Charon, would take him away. Brandon wasn’t scared, though, he was at peace.

Video Game Tuesday: Minecraft

I bet I know a game you’ve never heard of: Minecraft.

Yeah, right.

“How could you be posting about Minecraft, it’s been around for ten years! Don’t you have something better to post about?!”

I mean, newer? Yes. Better? Maybe. Something else? No.

Let’s be honest here, I’ve been playing Minecraft since it was in early alpha release. My buddy (and streamer) ScoutSierra got me into it in early 2010. It was a totally different game back then — I mean, totally. Not better or worse, it’s just evolved a lot since then. I’ve always enjoyed the game. I like builders, but I like the adventuring aspect of the game as well. It really captures that sandbox feeling like no other game does, and maybe that’s just because the game itself kind of defined sandboxes.

The coolest thing about Minecraft to me, at this point, is that it’s the one game my entire family plays together. My oldest child started playing Minecraft in 2012, I guess. I distinctly remember him playing on my iPad while rolling around in his stroller at PlayOnCon in Birmingham, Alabama. That would be my first real memory of him playing. Of course since then — and up to now — he’s become more proficient at the game than I could ever be. Honestly, I never thought I would be that dad whose child surpasses him. Even going so far as to learn commands, and extensive redstone contraptions that would blow your mind. And maybe it just blows my mind, I don’t know. But he retains all the information, and now, on the Realm we all play on together, when I need a gamerule changed to be more efficient or less efficient, I just ask him.

Going backward, again, though. I remember playing long hours into the night with my wife, and ScoutSierra, back when it was barely more that just a few blocks and giant dirt houses. I feel like I sound like my grandmother, God rest her, “Our first house had dirt floors.” You gain a lot of life wisdom when your floors are dirt, and I guess I have Old Man Syndrome when it comes to Minecraft. “Get off my grass blocks, you kids!”

I hope that my youngest picks up a controller, or a mouse and keyboard preferably, and plays Minecraft, too. His older brother will probably be too old to focus on playing with him, but we’ll see. I don’t plan on making them play with each other, unless they just want to.

Going back to a more Minecraft… The game itself is actually celebrating its ten-year anniversary, so if you started playing at the beginning, you’ve been playing for ten years. The game has evolved so much since the beginning. Look for yourself (courtesy of minecraft.net. And please forgive my shoddy editing, my good program wouldn’t load this morning.):

Untitled

If you’ve never tried Minecraft, it’s a great game to play on its own, with great throwbacks to the gaming days of old, and features that make it a modern competitive game. It’s really enjoyable for kids of all ages, from 4 years old to 104 years old. Go buy it for yourself, or your kids.

But, I find it unbelievable that you may have never tried it.

 

Featured image courtesy of Minecraft.net. Thanks for 10 awesome years!

 

Movie Monday: I Am Mother

Yesterday was Father’s Day, what a weird juxtaposition.

Anyway, that’s right, I gave Netflix’s newest movie a shot: I Am Mother. I was apprehensive going into the movie, because I’m not the biggest fan of Hilary Swank, and I’m not really sure why. Maybe her acting. But, either way, it’s not a big enough issue to keep me from enjoying the movie. Here’s the trailer, up front, and we’ll do some discussing afterward.

I’ll avoid spoilers, like last time, except I will be including a spoiler-y section at the end.

So, the movie centers around a shelter of some sorts, created by humans in the event of a disaster scenario that leaves the planet uninhabitable and dangerous. It follows Mother, a sentient/semi-sentient droid (robot) that is in place to raise humans, though we only see her raising one: Daughter. That’s right, basic names, with no real identities, in a safe place, with no definable future or past.

Anyway, not very far into the story we’re introduced to Hilary Swank’s character, who — as seen in the trailer — obviously introduces some tension into the story. And boy, does it. What it gives us is a decision of the devil we know and the devil we don’t. Lesser of two evils. That sort of thing. It’s a really interesting dynamic, and it was a really engaging watch… actually, I found myself discussing the plot with my wife for a couple of hours after the movie, and even thinking about it again and again as the day went on.

I’ll not divulge too much of the movie, as to sway your opinion one way or the other, obviously, because even the viewers are left with a choice of determining what is right and what is wrong.

Spoilers below this point…  Highlight the text to expose the spoilers.

Early on we’re introduced to a very loving Mother, who shows us that she cares for Daughter, in the way that she sings to her… er… she plays a singing voice to her. She educates her, plays with her, does art with her, and of course, makes sure she’s fed and well-nourished. She even pinpoints early on, how important it is to have good test scores and making sure that she reaches the threshold. She’s also spent years telling Daughter that there is a contagion on the outside that keeps Daughter safely inside.Then we’re introduced to the tension-maker, Hilary Swank, whose character is injured on the outside. She was shot. At one point, Mother tells Daughter that the bullet that injured their new guest was of human make. This, of course, is a lie. Daughter discovers this to be true, and begins determining a way to escape — after finding out that Mother had “aborted” the other test subjects like herself, WHEN THEY DIDN’T PASS THEIR TEST SCORES! LIKE, WHAT! Daughter even finds a remaining human jaw bone in the incinerator. Like, dude. At the very same time, though, Mother did know best.

Daughter and their guest escapes, at the behest of the guest, who told them they would be returning to the mines to meet the other humans. After travelling for what was described as “not more than a day”, it becomes evident that their guest was lying too, and the entire rest of humanity seems to be dead. Daughter determines herself to go back to save her brother, who was finishing growing in a false womb, and to put down Mother. She’s greeted at the door by a bunch of droids, who threaten to kill her. She tells them she wants to speak to Mother, and they stand down. Then, it’s revealed that Mother is really the single sentient entity that runs all of the other droids. Her one AI consciousness is responsible for every other droid on the planet. She also helps Daughter come to a conclusion as to what to do with her life, going so far as to relinquish her life to entrust that daughter can raise the return of humanity — or so we’re led to believe.

The final scene of the movie is a droid entering the shipping container home of Hilary Swank’s character, and Mother closing the door. She eludes to the fact that her survival was intentional, and only to be used as a conduit for the droids to help Daughter succeed. Then, cut to credits.