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Mexican Chicken and Rice

June 26, 2017

Here’s a nice throw-together recipe that makes a TON of food for fairly little money. And, it’s delicious. And super easy to make; you can sit down while it mostly cooks itself.

12-20 servings, I think.


  • 1 whole chicken
  • 2 cups rice
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup paprika
  • 1 tablespoon salt (may need more, to taste, once cooked)
  • optional: thyme, bay, garlic, onion

To serve:

  • corn tortillas
  • lime wedges
  • salt


  1. In a big pot – big enough to fit the whole chicken, with room to spare – place the whole chicken, and cover with water.
  2. Lots of water.
  3. Add rice, paprika, salt, and any of the optional ingredients.
  4. Bring to a simmer and cook until the chicken is totally done, about one hour. The rice will be super cooked…that’s fine.
  5. Take the chicken out and let it cool until you can handle it.
  6. Pick all the meat off the bones, in shreds. Discard the skin.
  7. Add the shredded meat back to the soup.
  8. Serve with tortillas, limes, and salt. (You squeeze the lime onto the tortillas and sprinkle on a little salt, and eat it with the soup.)

I’m dropping weight without trying

June 20, 2017

I’m not actually kidding. There are of course some caveats around this, and I’ll get to them, but it’s the real and un-tricked-out truth that I’m not particularly trying, and I’m losing weight.

How: I’ve gone “whole food vegan”, and I’m not eating anything with added sugar.

Some of you just threw up your hands, or threw something at the computer screen. “That’s not easy! That’s not ‘not trying’, Jen! That’d be impossible for me!” Well maybe si, and maybe no, but I said that I’m not trying. Let’s go over this.

Eating Evolultion


  • As a kid: Burgers, fries, pizza, carrots. I was a picky eater. I didn’t like any other vegetables AT ALL, I only liked three fruits. I ate a lot of cereal.
  • As a teen: My daily lunch was vending machine food, every day: Cheetos, 3 Muskateers, and a Sprite. Friends introduce me (no kidding) to the concepts of “cooking your own spaghetti sauce” (I thought it came in jars only!), “home made lasagne” (I’d never had it), “eating a salad”, and “Chinese food”. Yeah, no kidding.
  • As a college student: I get interested in healthy eating and cooking, so I got some books and tried out some stuff. Whole grains and vegetables become more important.
  • As a young adult: My chef friend (and now husband) expands my tastes significantly, and also teaches me to cook well.
  • Since then: Get slowly better about eating more variety, cutting down (then out) sodas, cutting down on eating out, and trying even more variety of foods.
  • Now: Most of the household went whole foods vegan and started a no-added sugar challenge.

“Without trying”?

Yeah. We watched some documentaries, did some thinking and reading, and decided to go vegan, AND to do a no-sugar-added challenge. 

Amazingly, my youngest son Ben saw the sugar doco (“Fed Up”), heard the challenge – which is I think a 2 week challenge – and declared he was doing a two MONTH no added sugar challenge, because he’s a sugar addict. We are deeply impressed, and doing the challenge with him.

So thing one: nearly the whole household is on board. (Our oldest isn’t taking part, and that’s fine.) all of this is way easier if you have buy-in from your household. 

Thing two: we’ve been cooking most of our food, instead of eating out, for quite a while. We LIKE whole foods. We’re used to it. Which is not to say we don’t get really lazy sometimes. We’ve been eating an awful lot of refried bean tacos over the last few weeks.  But of course, bean tacos are freaking delicious. 

Thing three: This has taken away most of my cravings. I don’t miss meat, or cheese, or sugar. We’ve found good replacements for anything I would miss: bean burgers are amazing and easy, hummus is delicious, and there are a half a ton of good banana based recipes for treats (two ingredient ice cream, cake, etc). I don’t PINE FOR much of anything, like I used to do. 

For the last 22 years, I have tried every reasonable diet I can think of in order to control or drop weight. Nothing has worked well. Now I’m dropping weight at a good pace, and eating really, really well into the bargain. 

The Internet we know is going away

April 27, 2017

Unless we save it.

No, I’m not kidding. I’m not exaggerating. Net Neutrality says that internet providers have to treat everything on the internet equally, instead of blocking or charging more or whatever the hell else big, for-profit companies are absolutely dying to do.

Make three calls

The website Five Calls does an outstanding job of walking you through the process of, in this case, calling to save Net Neutrality, with a script and phone numbers and all. Do it today, do it now.

Call your reps about Net Neutrality.

A good summary

Baby Owl Rescue

April 24, 2017

We found an owl on the front lawn yesterday. Baby. Alive. Didn’t know what to do. We were on our way to Scarborough Renaissance Festival. Then I suddenly went, “Wait…..”
“……don’t they have a bird rescue that does an exhibit at Scarborough every year?”

They do. We gave them the owl. They’ll foster it to an owl until it’s old enough, and then let it go.

And we’re gonna get updates.



Leading the Resistance

January 24, 2017

I’ve decided to become the leader of the Resistance. Or at least, to act like it. And yes, I’m perfectly serious.

I figure that the women’s march is just a start. There are so many troubles facing America right now, and it’s going to be very easy for the momentum we’ve started to fizzle due to a lack of focus, or internal quarrels.

But, if I think of myself as the leader, then I’m at least party responsible for the direction the Resistance takes. As the leader, I can’t lose focus; I can’t let the momentum go; I can’t stop participating.

It’s going to take a lot of work. It’s going to take reading, and talking, and learning. It’s going to take a WHOLE lot of showing up. I’m the perfect candidate to lead: I’m one of the 320+ million people living in the United States.

I’ve already started with  Sign up for the newsletter there, comment here or there, and watch these spaces.

It’s time to lead.

Lest I forget

January 20, 2017

It’s about 90 minutes away from the inauguration. Eight years ago, I watched with good friends and cried tears of joy as the first black American president was sworn in. This year, I and many of my friends and colleagues are fighting depression and anxiety, insomnia and fear. We are plotting courses to fight for civil rights. We are traveling to march in protest. We are worried about tyranny, and the survival of the nation.

I hope that in another eight years, this will all seem like a brief, bad dream. I hope we won’t have to fight as hard as we’re gearing up to. I do hope so.

Also: Thank you, Mr. President, for eight years of no scandals, eight years of steady leadership. You didn’t do everything I wanted you to, but I was never afraid with you at the helm. Good luck, sir.

Week 1: Low-cook eating

January 3, 2017

So I got to talking with a friend this week about food, and something I’ve been thinking of for some time: the idea of low-cook meal planning for busy folk (or those too intimidated by the shop-and-cook-and-clean process). So here’s a plan for week 1 you can use – and modify at will – to get a week’s worth of good at-h0me food in you.

Principles of Low-cook Eating

I’ve come from a picky background into a full-fledged, cook-at-home foodie, thanks in large part to my husband. You can find his cooking blog here, at the Midnight Chef.

But I grew up with a single mom who did indeed know how to cook (well, so she says), but did NOT have the time and energy to devote to shopping, cleaning, cooking, convincing her kids to eat the food, and then cleaning up again.  In the spirit of this, I present these principals:

  • Methods: We will do no cook, microwave cook, low cook, and prep ahead.
  • Prep ahead rocks: it lets you batch your cooking ahead of time, so there’s food ready during the busy part of the week.
  • Repeating meals is a good thing: It’s good for diets, it’s good for reducing your workload.
  • Cook as much as you want to! Cooking is good and beautiful; I’m offering this series as a starting point for you, not as a limiter.
  • Recipes: Anything in the plan that might need a “recipe” will have a marker after it that says, (below). And then we’ll have the recipe in the “prep ahead” section.
  • Cost vs time: You’ll need to make choices. Quicker options (like precut, washed lettuce) are usually more expensive. It just depends on your situation.

Week 1 Plan

Breakfasts: Yogurt with any or all of: granola, nuts, dried fruits, honey. Or, make up a batch of oats (below). SO GOOD.

Lunches: How about a week of salads (below)? (Swap for your favorite sandwich and a piece of fruit if you don’t like salads.)

Dinners: Ground beef (and/or ground turkey) is our friend this week (below):

  • Day 1: Burgers! (Heat the meat with cheese on, place on bun. Microwave some peas, too.)
  • Day 2: Spaghetti with ground beef.
  • Day 3: Box soup with ground beef in.
  • Day 4: Mexican cornbread. OR, repeat day 1, 2, or 3.
  • Day 5: Leftovers or sandwiches or frozen pizza! Your pick.

Prep Ahead

The day before your week starts, do your shopping (list below) and food prep! Future You will thank you.

This week we’re prepping oats, salads, beef, and Mexican cornbread. (Skip that last one and repeat another meal if you’re not feeling enthused).

Oats – 10 minutes + 4 hours wait time

Steel cut oats are SO EASY. Do this:

  1. Boil 4 cups of water.
  2. Dump in 1 cup of steel cut oats.
  3. Turn off the heat, put on the lid. Leave it 4 hours or overnight; eat all week long.

Salads – 10-20 minutes

Wash and dry your lettuce, and throw in what you like: a bit of cheese, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, bits of raw cruciferous veg.

Ground Beef – 10 minutes + bake time

We’re going to cook up all the ground beef for the week:

  1. Put all the ground beef in a bowl, and add about 1/2 teaspoon and 1/2-1 teaspoon black pepper per pound of beef. (So, 3# beef = 1.5 t salt and maybe 2-3 t pepper).
  2. Mix it up, split up into roughly 1/4 pound patties.
  3. Fry them all in a pan OR bake them at 350F until they’re barely done. (I check by cutting into one. When they’re still a little pink inside, take them off the heat!)

You can freeze the patties, or just put them all in the fridge when cool.

Mexican Cornbread – 20 minutes + bake and cool time

Once the beef is done, you can cook this and freeze the whole thing for Thursday or Friday.

Of course you’re welcome to make cornbread from scratch, but if you’re a tad busy, get yourself a cornbread mix. I will not judge you.

  1. Mix up your cornbread according to directions/recipe.
  2. Add 3/4 – 1 cup of shredded cheese.
  3. Add 1-2 burger patties, crumbled.
  4. Mix in some chili powder and cumin (1 teaspoon each), or 2 teaspoons taco seasoning. Or skip this…it’ll still be good.
  5. Bake according to directions.
  6. Cool for 1-2 hours and freeze.

That’s a total of about an hour prep time, plus some time for things in the oven, on a Sunday. Not bad!

Shopping List

  • Plain yogurt AND/OR steel cut oats
  • Whatever you want to put in your yogurt/oats.
  • Lettuce – I’m a big fan of romaine. (Alternately: bread and sandwich fixings)
  • Whatever you like in your salad: nuts? Cheese?
  • Salad dressing.
  • Fruit for snacks. I’m a fan of apples and bananas. You?
  • Containers for your salad lunches. Like these.
  • Burger buns/bread
  • Cheese for burgers
  • Frozen peas
  • Spaghetti and sauce
  • Ground beef – enough for everyone, for 4 dinners
  • Box soups – Good brands include Dr. McDougall’s, Amy’s Organic, and Imagine, but try some varieties out.
  • Cornbread fixings or mix.
  • Sharp cheddar cheese.
  • Spices for the cornbread, if you need/want them.
  • Emergency frozen pizza. You’re gonna want it one night, it stays good forever, and it’s cheaper/healthier than ordering Domino’s.