Monday, April 30, 2012

Restless

I have a food post on hold that I've been meaning to post for a week, but I've had this on my heart for the past few days.  I figured I should speak from my heart first and then the tummy.  It has been a rough few weeks in the Fry household.  Poor Jason has been so patient and understanding with me.  It's that time of year again where I start to regret my decision to put everything off until the last minute.  In fact, I still have other things I should be completing right now, but I just can't get this off my mind so here I am.  This semester has been particularly work intensive.  The good news is I don't have a single final exam, in fact, I barely had any actual tests this semester.  In place, I've had lots and lots of projects and papers.  I've felt so swamped and overwhelmed the past few weeks there have been moments where I just wanted to crawl into a whole and give up on grad school.  Jason has never stopped encouraging and comforting me and I am so grateful.  On top of this I am so grateful for the homily from Mass yesterday.  I'm pretty sure the priest was speaking directly to me, even though we were sitting in the back of St. Ann's giant church.  

The homily centered on how necessary it is we seek out God for our strength.  He is our Good Sheppard.  Too often we (I) look at my prayer time and other faith centered activities as "just another thing on the to do list" but this is so far from the truth.  These moments I devote solely to God are my time to refuel.  Through spending time with Him I am better able to see the path I'm on, understand why I am doing all of this, and gain strength for my journey.  

I've been fixated on Audrey Assad's song "Restless" lately.  I listen to it on repeat as I drive to and from Denton everyday.  The lyrics of the song (adapted from St. Augustine) match so well with the readings and homily from yesterday.  "I'm restless until I rest in you."  This is something I need to constantly remind myself.  I have control issues, and I don't like accepting help even when I'm drowning.  This trait of mine led me to struggle with one particular line in the song: "Cause I know you're more than my salvation, without you I am hopeless."  

Well hold on now Audrey, I am not hopeless.  That's a bit harsh don't you think?  I mean yeah God is great and provides me with grace and strength to get through my day, but without him I am hopeless?  I contemplated this line over and over.  And then on Thursday night in the midst of working on one of my projects I broke down.  I mean full on I'm done with graduate school kind of break down.  I definitely scared my dog and may have made Jason a little worried.  I was genuinely hopeless at this point, and I did not turn to God, I begrudgingly finished the work I was doing and went to bed.  

At the time I definitely did not think about this song.  In fact it was not until Sunday's homily that I started to put it all together.  I had gotten so caught up in finishing all my school work that I had neglected to simply ask God for His help.  The more I rejected His grace and care, the more I felt like I was losing control.  He has offered so much to us, it's hard to grasp it all.  We can get so caught up in the rush of life and "doing" things "for" God we forget "Deus pro nobis"  God is for us.  He has done such great things for us.  My prayers and adoration only further lift me up and provide me with the tools I need to continue on.  

It has been a humbling week, and I am so thankful for this.  I need a humility check right about this time of year.  I need to remember that when I reach my breaking point, maybe I should first examine my prayer and faith life.  I will probably just play this song over and over for the rest of the week as I finish off my last few papers and projects.  In case you're in need of a little reminder of the greatness of God and maybe some beautiful music, here you go:


Saturday, April 7, 2012

Love Story Part III: "Can We Make it Facebook Official?" Send.

I have had quite a few food posts as of late, so I thought on the 3 monthiversary I would finish out my love story series.  Of course there's more to the story after this, but I won't be relaying every detail and moment of our relationship the past 5 years.  It's just not going to happen.  If you missed out on Love Story I or II you can find them here and here .  

Alright so we left off with Jason texting me about how great it was to see me again and then calling me and not wishing me a happy birthday.  As our conversations started to move in the direction of "hey, I think I really like you" I knew I needed to let in the one person who's opinion I respected the most, my wise older sister.  Kimberly and I had a tradition of doing "sister's lunch" at least once a week while we were both at A&M.  This was always my favorite part of the week, and definitely helped me get through my first semester of college without losing my grounding.  

So there we were eating at the Underground. There's a 85% chance I was eating a pasta salad that was super delicious, because I ate that pretty much every time I went to the Underground. We were catching up on the day to day and finally I built up the courage to breech the Jason subject.  "So...there's this guy..."  I think I was most scared about the "he's a longhorn part."  For my family, this was just unheard of!  I think she was genuinely a little surprised.  I'm pretty confident she and my now brother in law Jason had a secret plot to set me up with someone I had gone on a retreat with in mid-November.  But she was very loving and open about the whole situation.  Likely because she knew what it was like to start having feelings for someone you had pretty much only talked to online (see Jason and Kimberly).  I felt so good to know she knew what was going on.  

As Jason and I continued our online chat sessions, we eventually started to talk about wanting to see each other again, but alas our semesters were ending and we would both be going home.  I would be Dallas bound, and he was Houston bound.  So in one of the strangest propositions I've ever made to a guy I suggested he come and stay with my family at the beginning of Christmas break.  He was a little taken aback by this..."ummm really?  Because that would be weird."  "no, no not for my family.  Kimberly and her boyfriend did it.  My parents are totally cool with it."   After a little more of this back and forth he agreed.  

So I went home to Dallas and waited anxiously for the weekend.  Oh, but first I had to tell my parents that this guy I had met twice would be coming to stay with us for a weekend.  Oh also he's a longhorn.  I was pretty nervous about this.  I remember my dad standing in the kitchen as I asked him.  He gave me this odd look.  And I said...he's also a longhorn.  To my surprise my dad's face lit up and all he said was "oh good, he's in college!"  And we were set!  Jason would arrive on Saturday night and I was so excited.

Yes, that's right.  Another conversation with Ellie  :)  I know you want to hear about the poking in the eye story now.  But you shall not.  
 Saturday night finally arrived.  I can still remember feeling like a 15 year old girl going back and forth between my bed room and the living room looking out the big windows to see if he was there yet.  I had butterflies in my tummy and it was nearly impossible to sit still.  When he arrived I went and sat down on the couch so that when he rung the door bell it would take an appropriate amount of time for me to go answer the door so it wasn't obvious I was stalking the window.  Jason had a conversation with my dad, who was quite nice to him, and then we went on our way to North Park to see Pursuit of Happiness.  Our very first date!!  

This date was very important.  While at the movie I had an "omg this is the guy for me" moment.  I absolutely cannot stand the awkward progression of two people on a first date who aren't sure if they want to hold hands or not.  The "oops did my elbow accidentally touch yours?" "oh our pinkies just grazed" "heyy my pinkie is on top of your pinkie.."  No thank you.  Well, as I leaned toward Jason after we sat down at the theater, I prepared myself to endure this horrible game.  To my utter delight, Jason took my hand and held it.  No game, no drama.  He wanted to hold my hand so he did it.  Yes this is my kind of guy! 

The movie was great and we returned to my house and retreated to our separate rooms.  The next day he took me to Jason's Deli, because well, his name is Jason.  Later that night he joined me, my family, and my church choir to go Christmas Caroling.  Now, for me this was an annual event in my life.  It is one of my very favorite times of the year and I LOVE singing Christmas Carols.  I was surprised to learn that this was not a regular occurrence for Jason.  Wait, so you mean you don't know every word to every Christmas Carol ever?  huh.  Jason was such a good sport during all of this.  He hummed along when he could and never stopped smiling.  We decided to leave a little early and head back to the house to watch a movie.  As we were leaving my dad gave Jason a hug.  Years later he told me this was one of his moments.  It really amazed him to feel so welcome so quickly.  He knew I came from good stock.  

So we went back to the house and put in Call of the Wild.  Romantic, I know.  So we're sitting there and I scooch in to be a little closer to him, with his arm all up around my shoulder.  And then, our first kiss.  Right there sitting on my momma's couch.  It was so sweet and perfect.  I must have blushed because I remember not being able to go in for another kiss because I was smiling too much.  How/why Jason liked me is a mystery, I was/am such a little nerd.  My parents came home and that was that.  Jason left the next morning.

I would love to hear Jason's side of this story (hint hint guest blog Jason?).  I can only imagine how he felt coming to some girls house to not only meet her parents but stay at their house for a couple of days.  What I do know now is he had an exam later that same Monday he left from Dallas...turns out it didn't go too well.  I had no idea he had an exam later that day or else I would not have okay'd this trip.  I'm glad I didn't know because we would have missed out on so many awesome moments.  

A couple days later, around midnight as the day was turning from the 21st to 22nd Jason was in a car on the way to Michigan to spend Christmas with his family.  We had been texting pretty much all night.  After a pause in our conversation I get this text "Hey so Jake doesn't believe that we've been talking.  Can we make it facebook official?"  And that my friend is how Jason officially asked me out.  I was actually super unsure about this request.  I was so excited I wanted to immidiately change my facebook relationship status, until I realized I didn't know what he wanted to make official.  Were we in a closed relationship?  An open relaitionship?  Were we complicated?  I didn't know.  I remember asking Kimberly what I should do and she wasn't sure either.  I waited him out and he changed the status himself.  Closed relationship!  Oh wow I could have floated down the stairs to tell Kimberly!  It's amazing how silly he made me feel.  But it was official, we were official.  

About a week later I went down to meet his family, fell in love with them, and the rest is history.  

Okay one more clip of a conversation with Ellie to wrap this one up.  

Until next time, 
The Vrly Fries      

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Spring Break (and beyond) Cook Off


Okay, now, let's talk food.  For the first time since getting married I actually feel like a wife this week.  I mean there have been bits and pieces of feeling "wifey" but this week I've gotten to devote myself a little more to those things which usually get pushed aside so I can do school work. Mostly, I'm getting to make a home made meal each night this week!  This weekend I gathered some recipes and went grocery shopping on Sunday.  I love getting to buy fresh products and ingredients rather than Lean Cuisines and canned soup.  On the line up for the week: 
Monday: Jalapeno Pesto Pasta
Tuesday: Turkey Chili
Wednesday: Bottom Sirloin Roast
Thursday: Crock pot stuffed peppers

Jalapeno Pesto Pasta
I adapted this recipe from a youtube video for a healthier (lower fat/higher protein) pesto recipe.  It can be found here .  The biggest difference between this recipe and typical pesto recipes is this one cuts the amount of olive oil used by more than half and has no parmesan cheese.  Instead, the recipe uses white northern beans. In addition to these ingredients I tossed in two whole jalapenos in the blender.  I also made chicken strips to add to the pasta.  I marinated the chicken in light italian dressing, oregano, and garlic.  After this I dumped the bag into a skillet and cooked the chicken on low heat until done.  After everything was made I added the pesto and the chicken to whole wheat penne pasta. 
Chicken in marinade


Must use fresh basil!


White beans rinsed and drained


Cooking the chicken with a sliced jalapeno


Blended pesto


Sliced tomato 


Chicken done!


Combine the ingredients and enjoy! 
Result:  I really liked this dish and I think Jason also enjoyed it.  It really surprised me how the beans gave the pesto the creaminess you would usually expect from the cheese and extra olive oil.  The dish also worked well as leftovers (I had it for lunch the next day).  Next time I think I'll also add garlic in the blender when I'm making the pesto.  

Turkey Chili
Tuesday I made my first try at making chili.  Jason loves  chili, so I was feeling the pressure to produce.  My family has a recipe that we have labeled "Aunt Kelly's Chili."  It once won first prize in a boy scout chili cook-off.  I had asked my mom for this recipe a few months ago but never got around to giving it a go.  While at Zest Fest we picked up a "chili mix" which came with a little recipe booklet.  I decided to mash up some of these recipes with my family recipe.  Essentially, I used all the spices from Aunt Kelly's Chili and some of the add-ins of the vegetarian chili recipe I got from Zest Fest.  I also decided to switch out ground beef for ground turkey.  
All the ingredients.  Brown ground turkey first. 
Chopped  1 large white onion
Throw all ingredients (except beans) into pot and cover over medium low heat for 35 minutes
Add in the beans and heat for additional 10 minutes.  Serve. 
 Results:  We loved this!  We did end up adding some scorpion sauce to make it a little spicier.  We also had Jalapeno Beer Bread from the Czech Bakery in West, TX on the side.  This was Jason's idea, and it was the perfect addition to the Chili.  Jason will be taking some of the leftovers to work on Wednesday and report back on how it tastes reheated.  

Wednesday: Sirloin Roast 
Okay, I ended up forgetting some important prep parts of this recipe and thus it has been delayed.  I still have a very delicious roast sitting in our freezer that I cannot wait to use!

Thursday: ...
Okay Thursday was supposed to be the stuffed peppers, but then I remembered we were supposed to go to my mom's for dinner.  We ended up having a southwestern dish there as well so it worked out.  

Two weeks later and:
Stuffed Peppers!
I completely forgot to take pictures of making this dish.  Thanks to Jason's foresight he took a picture with his cell phone camera a sent it to me, so I did at least get the above picture.  This was a fairly simple dish.  First, I cut the tops off the bell peppers and pulled out the seeds.  Next in a large mixing bowl I combined ground turkey, brown rice, red onion, oregano, parsley, basil, chili powder, and garlic.  Then I stuffed the peppers!  Next I put them all into the crock pot and poured hot Pace Picante salsa over each of them as well as about 3/4 cup water.  Turn the crock pot on low and let cook until Jason got home.  Sigh.  I love that crock pot  :) 

Result:  Both Jason and I really enjoyed this.  They were probably a little overdone, but still very flavorful.  I think next time I will make one or two vegetarian or seafood stuffed peppers.  The ground turkey was tasty, but I can see myself enjoying something a little lighter.  

Final note,  I started writing my wedding blog post.  It won't be up for a little while as I'm still waiting on pictures, but when it does arrive there will probably be about 10 separate posts for it.  Get excited!  Or nauseated :)  

Until next time
The VrlyFries