I’m a couple of weeks behind on blogging about my life, on account of writing a lot about breakfast tacos and then taking a break to paint baseboards and go to a wedding in Laredo. In that time, I started doing Whole 30, made a brunch for a brilliant birthday girl, got to hang out with my mom, and watched my kids dance for hours to the Tejano music stylings of the Tex-Mex Kadillaks. Also there’s a not-dead chicken in a box on the floor in my kitchen.
Let’s talk about the chicken first. Sometime on Friday our white chicken, White Neck (the kids named her. Henry said she might also be called “Marshmallow” or “Fluffy” (editor’s note: she is not fluffy)), flew over the fence and didn’t come back. We found her on Saturday with one of her feet caught between the fence boards, which presumably happened when she tried and failed to fly over the fence, hanging upside down in the rain. She had probably been there for 24 hours. When her head moved I was shocked to see that she was still alive. Andy helped me free her leg from the boards and I just held her in my arms and didn’t know what to do. I took her to the backyard water bowl because I thought she might need water but she wouldn’t drink. Her eyes just rolled back in her head, first one, and then the other, before snapping open again and she was trembling all over. We called Otto, neighbor extraordinaire, who said we should put her in a towel-lined box in the house to warm up, and he lent us his heating pad to put under it. She’s been there since. She’s eating and drinking and just sitting there. She hasn’t been able to stand on her feet yet but she seems a hell of a lot better than when we first found her. I feel like a horribly negligent chicken owner for not going to look for her sooner. I hope she pulls through.
I don’t have a good segue between talking about my maimed chicken and Whole 30, so I’m just gonna jump right in. I spent several months thinking about doing Whole 30 and then talking myself out of it. My parents have been doing it since October with great results, and my mother-in-law too. Maybe I’ll just mostly do it, I thought- try to eat less sugar and carbs and stuff most of the time but be free to eat a cupcake or something if the opportunity arises. Then a couple of married food52 friends started posting the most beautiful photos of their Whole 30 meals, complete with a 30-day dinner plan and a delightful pinterest board to go with it and they just made everything look so good that it felt like a real possibility. And if I’m going to mostly do it, isn’t it worth it just to go the whole way? Then I’ll really know what it feels like to eat nothing but meats and vegetables and fruits and nuts and good fats for a month. Will I become a nimbler, cleverer, less-bloated version of myself? Will my pants be less tight? Will I be desperate for a buttery chocolate chip cookie? Time will tell.
Here’s what we ate this week. Plus last week. Plus some things we didn’t eat.
Tuna Salad with Tomatoes, Kalamata Olives, Red Onion, and Parsley on Wasa Crisps. This was pre-Whole 30. But if you remove the forbidden wasa crisps, the tuna salad part would totally work. I’ve been eating it in lettuce cups for breakfast. It’s pretty great on the wasa crisps though.
Chicken and Cabbage Salad with Sesame Seeds, Scallions, and Almonds. If you omit the (tiny amount of) sugar, this recipe is good for Whole 30 too. And it’s surprisingly delicious for such a ho-hum looking pile of limp shreds. The only problem with it is that it makes a huge huge amount and I was the only one who ate leftovers of it, so I ate it for 5/6 meals for two days (because the cabbage was getting watery and I didn’t want it to go to waste) and I’m kind of still sick of it. But if you’re feeding a crowd and want a gluten-free, dairy-free, delicious thing, it’d be perfect.
A Surprise Birthday Breakfast Tea Party Picnic for Josie! Gluten- and Dairy-Free Waffles with Coconut Whipped Cream and Berries, Chicken Maple Sausages, and Lots of Fruit. The waffles are made GF by subbing Cup4Cup for the AP flour, and DF by subbing full-fat coconut milk from a can with a squeeze of lemon. The coconut whipped cream was made by refrigerating another can of full-fat coconut milk, scooping out the solid fat from the top, and whipping it with powdered sugar and a little vanilla. And please take a minute to appreciate Helen’s fruit platter, which included bunny face-shaped watermelon. That was a big hit.
Helen and the kids and I showed up in Josie’s front yard and Christy snuck out of the house to help us set up this picnic breakfast while Josie’s sister Ella distracted her with dolls inside. We used fancy plates and Christy’s fancy teapot and set up a lovely little spot under a tree, which Helen and Christy decorated with pom poms and lanterns. Josie was so surprised and happy- it was thrilling to watch her face light up. A few words on Josie- this kid is incredible. She’s a gifted artist. And I mean that. A prodigy. She has developed this line of clay people that are tall and lanky and delightfully unique, she paints, she makes richly-detailed miniature villages for her dolls. She is passionate and driven in her craft and it is a remarkable thing to behold in a newly-11 year old girl. On top of that she is sweet and caring and always willing to entertain my kids, a trait I admire above all others. She is authentically and unapologetically herself, which is so rare and so wonderful. We love her so much and we were so happy to get to be a small part of her birthday celebration. And a big thank you to Helen for capturing the moment and sharing these photos with me!
Blue Earth Farm at the Buda Farmer’s Market. We’ve been going to this market just about every week to see Joanna and buy some of that perfect chicken and also eat Casa Alde and buy things from the other vendors. There’s a lady who sells witchy stuff like smudge sticks and “good witch” incense that I lit when doing a binding spell on Donald Trump a few weeks ago. There’s a nice big man who sells fudge and Mexican Chocolate Brownies that are almost worth giving up on Whole 30 for. There’s a beef guy who sells grass-fed ground beef for $6.50 a pound! There’s a vegetable stall that sells gorgeous salad greens and leeks and onions and jams and pepper flakes. It’s a really fun time! They’re having a big party next week to kick off the spring season and there will be music and all of these cool vendors and other stuff too. Come down to Buda and buy some chicken and eat a great breakfast taco. If you go to the Texas Night Sky Festival after that too then we can spend the whole day together!
I just love everything about the boys’ wedding looks. George looks like he should be on a yacht somewhere and Henry looks like a teenage heartthrob. George has been doing the peace sign in just about every picture since he saw his very cool cousin Jack do it in Portland over Christmas.
Getting through the ceremony proved to be a bit of a challenge for my two heathen children. George was particularly taken with those little benches you kneel on and wouldn’t leave the damn things alone. Henry sat pretty quietly, but would lay down on the pew and scoot his body along the smooth wood whenever the ceremony called for the audience (congregation?) to stand, and then he’d end up positioned right under one of our butts when it was time to sit back down. I’m happy to say that neither of them ruined the wedding ceremony!
And then they danced and danced forever at the reception. They loved the lights and the super loud music. They loved the slippery dance floor. We were served a breaded chicken cutlet with gravy, mashed potatoes, steamed vegetables and bread for dinner. Henry doesn’t like chicken, or potatoes, or vegetables really, so he shouted to me over the music (we were right by the huge speakers), “Looks like the only thing I can eat is bread and gravy!” And he proceeded to swipe his bread over the gravy on his chicken cutlet over and over again. Grandma Mary and Aunt Annette gave up their bread and gravy for the cause.
Look at my mom! She’s the best. Henry, who is very particular about who he engages with, spent every minute around her holding her hand. I loved that. She and Helen and Phinnie went with us to our Friday swim class and mom lavished the kids with praise for their great swimming. And then, yes, we went back to the Texas Honey Ham company. Fresh off my month of breakfast tacos and I still couldn’t turn down the chance to eat them again here- they do really nice things with ham over there. It was so great to see you, mama ❤
We also ate at Proof, which is super close to Andy’s parents house in Buda and looks like a liquor store (and is one!) but is also a gorgeous deli with fantastic sandwiches and fancy salads. Buda is really coming up in the world!
My first day of Whole 30. I had a hard boiled egg and a banana for breakfast and then I went to Trader Joes and bought everything they had and came home and made myself this for lunch. It’s like a pan bagnat without the baguette. I made ramen with a porky broth and broccoli and soft-boiled eggs for dinner, with real noodles for the kids and Andy and sweet potato noodles for me. The sweet potato noodles were only mildly successful, but I felt good about my first day. Although I did lay in bed that night and absentmindedly think about how it would feel to bite into a dark chocolate chip cookie with a soft middle and a crisp buttery edge.
Day 2. I ate the rest of that tuna salad for breakfast with a hard-boiled egg and a little apple with almond butter. My normal breakfast is a quesadilla, or hummus and tortilla chips. I feel like I want to eat a lot more for breakfast on the Whole 30, maybe because it takes more to make me feel full when I’m not eating bread-y things, or maybe because I know I’m supposed to make it to lunch without snacking.
Dinner on Day 2- chorizo tacos for Andy and the boys, chorizo-stuffed roasted baby sweet potatoes for me, plus a salad with cashew tamari dressing (with fish sauce instead of tamari because you’re not supposed to have soy in any form on Whole 30). The sweet potato and chorizo were so wonderful together I didn’t feel at all deprived to not have the tortillas. And Henry wanted to try it and proceeded to eat several bites, so maybe he’d be willing to eat this sometime too? I felt hungry again at night and ate a little ramekin of salted cashews and almonds and golden raisins. Having big bags of these nuts on hand, plus clementines and little apples and bananas and hard-boiled eggs has made it easy to shove something in my face when I’m feeling hungry. If I didn’t have them, it would be really tempting to eat some of the chocolate-covered dried cherries on the kids’ snack shelf instead.
Day 3- Crispy Chorizo with Oven-Roasted Potatoes and Kale. I made two pounds of chorizo and roasted a big tray of potatoes and it’s been easy and delicious to toss them in a pan with a couple handfuls of pre-washed and chopped kale from Trader Joes for a quick lunch or breakfast. The kale gets a little crispy and the potatoes help fill you up and everything tastes like smoked paprika and pork fat and it’s just good.
Day 4- Herbed Faux-tisserie Chicken. Rubbing crushed fennel seeds on your chicken and then slow roasting it at 300 degrees for 3 hours is a good idea. The house smells amazing and you’ll have great leftover chicken to use all week, especially if you roast one of Blue Earth Farm’s six-pound chickens like I did!
Faux-tisserie Chicken, Charred Potato Onion Cake, Kale Salad with Apples and Almonds. That potato cake thing is from The Food Lab cookbook and uses an excessive amount of butter (which I replaced with ghee) and olive oil. It’s good but it’s so rich you can practically feel yourself developing gout while you eat it.
Day 4- Cobb Salad. Maybe I’ll make it to the end of this thing and be able to be satisfied with a simple green salad. For now, I need all the delicious things on it.
Before I started, I suspected that I might be less in touch with my body and how I’m feeling than other friends who have gone on this diet, and I think that might be true. So far, I have not noticed that I feel more tired, or bloated, or sickly during the first few days on it. I feel the same, except maybe a little bit hungrier. It does feel nice to get to look back at food pictures from the week and to see so many different colors and textures instead of the same photos of meat- or cheese-stuffed tortillas all the time. I don’t feel like I’m depriving myself, which is something I worried a lot about beforehand. I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve eaten so far, and when I’ve wanted something sweet, a clementine or a dried apricot or some nuts and golden raisins has felt just fine. It has felt a little jarring to not absentmindedly eat whatever my kids leave on their plates- the end of a quesadilla or a few pieces of popcorn- or to not be able to test if their noodles are done by eating one, but kind of nice too, to be forced to stop and think about what I’m putting in my mouth.
Is next week gonna be harder? Or are the first few days the hardest? I should probably look this up. Happy eating, friends!