Letter to a Younger NV

I recently read the blog post from 5 Second Rule on writing a letter to her 16-year-old self .  She gave herself words of wisdom based around food, primarily.    What a great concept.

We all can look in the rearview mirror of life with 20/20 vision, but unfortunately it doesn’t work that way as we look forward.  The best bet is to learn from our past and move forward with a vision of a lifestyle we want to create.  (No, I won’t be going into the reasons why we should have a “To Do” list….only because I don’t have enough self-discipline to create one for myself!)

Rather than focus on food alone, I want to write a letter to my college-self, knowing what I know now.  Some thoughts:

Dear College NV,

  • Don’t worry about being unfocused and less than happy with school – a degree is what will matter most, it’s your passion for what you do that will drive your future.
  • Just because it’s granola, doesn’t mean it’s healthy… or low-calorie.
  • While it may look cool that you can drink a guy under the table now, you’ll get far greater satisfaction lifting more weight at the gym than some of the dweebie guys walking around thinking they’re hot shit.
  • As much as it pains you today, learn to love to study – you’ll miss the blocks of time where you can sit and absorb information when you’re in the real world
  • Start telling Dad you love him.  Even though he doesn’t say it back, he’ll show it to you a thousand other ways and he’s proud of you.  BELIEVE THAT.
  • Read more.
  • Learn how not to procrastinate – make a list and start chopping away at it.  It’ll give you less time to wonder “What if…?”
  • Appreciate the time you spend with your brothers – your relationship will morph and change over the eyars.
  • Practice patience.
  • Don’t waste your time with petty drama and gossip.  While it may be fun to listen to, you’ve got more important things to worry about.
  • Explore the world when you can, however you can!   I know you’re not made of money, but simply take time to learn about other cultures, new neighborhoods, and different languages.
  • Learn what it means to love yourself before you try loving someone else.  Don’t expect the other person to fill in your gaps in self-esteem.
  • Give Mom a hug.  She’s the best friend you’ll have.
  • Don’t just dream – wake up and make them come true.

Love & hugs,

NV in 2011

The Foodie’s Alphabet

Thanks to Janetha at the meals & moves blog for this great post.  I had to copy it because it was fun to read and even more fun to complete! 

A is for Apple, what’s your favorite variety?

Gala….sweet, crisp, never tart!

B: is for Bread, regardless of nutrition, calories, or whole grains what is your favorite type to have a nice big piece of?

Vince’s Spaghetti Garlic Bread.  If you live in theSouthBayand haven’t tried this decadent delight, you have no idea what you’re missing.  Best if dipped in a vat of their meat sauce. 

C: is for Cereal what is your favorite kind currently (just one!) Currently

I guess the most recent cereal I’ve had is Kashi Go Lean….140 calories, 13 grams of protein, plenty of fiber….what more does a fitness-minded girl need?

YUM YUM YUM <slurp, crunch> YUM!

D: is for Doughnuts, you might not currently be eating them but what kind do you fancy?

A cake donut with frosting and SPRINKLES!!  Rainbow sprinkles, if you reallywannaknow!

Mmmm…Doooouuugghhhnuuuttsssssss!

E: is for Eggs, how would you like yours prepared?

Scrambled, well-done.  Though, at my last job, they served them a little underdone and they were so creamy good with salt & pepper.  I think they must’ve added crème fraiche or cream to the eggs. 

F: is for Fat Free, what is your favorite fat free product?

Faux eggs baby – EGG BEATERS!!

 

G: is for Groceries, where do you purchase yours at?

Ralphs (I’m mayor of Ralphs 87 on Foursquare – that takes effort!) and Costco.  Though, if I hear that a certain chain is having a sale on Diet Mt. Dew, I’m there!

                                                Yeah Baby!!                                       

H: is for Hot Beverages, what is your favorite hot drink?

If I wasn’t counting calories, thick hot chocolate – almost like a warm pudding.  I had the most amazing hot chocolate when I was in France, I can still taste it 10 years later!

 ……who else is drooling??  Oh, just me?   Damn.

I: is for Ice Cream, pick a favorite flavor and add a fun topping.

Just one??  Really?  Umm…Cookies & Cream with thick hot fudge!  (Can you tell I like my chocolate thick, warm and creamy?  That’s what she said…)    

OHHH BABY!!  Give it to me!!

J: is for Jams or Jellies, do you eat them, and if so what kind and flavor?

I don’t eat them, but I remember my Grandma used to make her own jams and jellies and serve them with homemade white bread at every meal.  I adored her strawberry jam – especially on a piece of her fresh & fluffy white bread, smeared by my Mom (Mom does such a good job getting the jam to every corner and edge!).

K: is for Kashi, name your favorite Kashi product?

See “C” for cereal….Go Lean or Go Home! 

L: is for Lunch, what was yours today?

Liquid lunch…Chocolate Shakeology.

M: is for microwave, what is your favorite microwave meal/snack?

Hmmm….I don’t microwave much (my heating pads get microwaved more than anything!).  Hmmm…I do like SmartOnes frozen meals.

N: is for nutrients, do you likes carbs, fats, or proteins best?

Well, the baker in me says “CARBS AND FAT”!   …but I do love a good juicy burger, eggs, and peanut butter (PB is an acceptable protein, isn’t it?)

 

O: is for oil, what kind do you like to use?

Canola to bake, walnut or olive on my salads, Castrol for my car.

 

P: is for protein, how do you get yours?

Have I mentioned how I like eggs?  Eggs, fish, chicken, oh yeah, and PEANUT BUTTERRRRRR!

Q: is for Quaker, how do you like your oats?

Warm, with cinnamon and sweet & low.  Or, cold with chocolate protein powder. 

R: is for roasting, what is your favorite thing to roast? 

Fake Food = Marshmallows….Real Food = Sweet Potatoes 

Put real and fake food together and you have a winning combination!

S: is for sandwich, what’s your favorite kind?

Peanut Butter & Grape Jelly on TOAST!

T: is for travel, how do you handle eating while traveling?

I freak out about getting in enough exercise to be able to accommodate the extra calories I’m going to be consuming.  Last business trip I went on, I tried to pack protein powder to take with me.  It leaked – thankfully I had it in a bag inside of a bag, but it turned out to be a mess.

 U: is for unique, what is one of your weirdest food combos?

I’m probably considered weird that I don’t like my food to “mix”.  I keep my foods separated and would be very happy with the cafeteria-style plates at home! 

V: is for vitamins, what kind do you take?

Daily Multi-Vitamin, Calcium, CLA and Fish Oil (when I can remember it!)

W: is for wasabi, yay or nay?

YAY!! 

X: is for XRAY. if we xrayed your belly right now, what food would we see?

A cookie monster.

 

Y: is for youth, what food reminds you of your childhood?

Lucky Charms cereal, Peanut Butter & Saltine Crackers, Graham Crackers and Frosting

Z: is for zucchini, how do you prepare it?

I love Zucchini Bread…..but I probably most commonly prepare it roasted in the oven or on a grill. 

YOUR TURN!

What are your initials?

Take the two to three letters from your initials and find the corresponding questions, then answer them. Share your answers!

50/50 success

This weekend, we were celebrating the graduation of two of my friends – Jeff and Tina – from college.  Both are super-smart, have amazing non-bookwormish personalities, and are beyond thoughtful.

Trying to find any excuse that I could to bake, I asked Jeff,  “What flavors do you and Tina like?   You know….if I were to bake something for your shindig…”  Jeff said that he didn’t really need anything, but he liked strawberry.  He said that Tina rather loves coconut, but she tries to watch what she eats (what girl doesn’t?  Okay, what girl – other than Paula Deen and Nigella Lawson (love them to pieces!!)- doesn’t?)   So, I decided to make meringue cookies in those flavors.

After having successfully made a Coconut Macaroon Cheesecake for my mom’s birthday last weekend, I thought this should be easy to do.

First, the Strawberry Meringue…

I decided to take frozen strawberry juice and mix it in t!o a basic meringue recipe (egg whites, cream of tartar, sugar).  BIG MISTAKE!  I should have known that adding straight juice to something that should remain light and fluffy was a bad idea.   But, like everything in life – you learn from it and move on.   Before tossing, I had to sample my creation to make sure they could not be salvaged.    The taste and texture of the meringues were “okay” – kind of like a strawberry marshmallow….almost like something from Lucky Charms.  The look though – good grief!  Meringues start to brown as they slowly bake in the oven.  Pink meringue (due to the strawberry juice) plus brown = yuck!  In the words of Heidi Klum from Project Runway, “You’re out!”

You don’t need to be a model to know those colors should not go together!   Bleh!  You eat with your eyes first – there was no way I could serve this. 

The coconut merignues turned out pretty well – not perfect.  I probably added too much coconut and weighed down the cookies….or made too large of a batch.  I’ll need more practice.

I didn’t want to show up at dinner and not have anything for Jeff, so I looked in my fridge and cabinets and saw that I had all the ingredients for Nestle’s Chocolate Chip cookies.  Well, I was missing the AP flour.  As I learned in my baking class, bread flour can substitute, but will give a “chewier texture” because of the higher gluten content.  That’s all I had in my pantry, so that’s what I went with. 

Growing up, I loved to bake Chocolate Chip Cookies – the Nestle back-of-the-bag recipe.  I know the recipe better than I know how to spell most of the words on this list.    I whipped out my KitchenAid and proceeded to make the cookies with what I had on hand.  I had made my insanely delish Nutella brownies about a month or so ago and wrapped up the hard edges in plastic wrap and placed in my fridge.  I decided to chop up the extra pieces and place them in my cookie mix, in lieu of half of the chocolate chips.  

The result? 

A fudgey, chewy success!

So, I was 50/50 in my kitchen play this Saturday.  Meringue = fail (more practice needed, clearly!).  CCC’s = winner! 

What is the weirdest excuse you’ve made for yourself to bake?

Who is Sweet eNVy?

With this being my third “official” blog post, it’s kinda like the infamous “third date”….where you kinda know whether or not you want to take it to “the next level”. 

Before we move forward, I thought it’d be best to share a little more about myself.  That way, you can decide whether to love me or leave me!   (I’m hoping it’s more of the former!!)

Blog Name:  “Sweet Envy”….My initials are “NV” (Nicole V.).  I like how my initials are a bunch of straight lines, up an down.  Even my middle initial “M” is all up & down movements!  I usually sign off on my e-mails with a simple “NV” – short and sweet.   A couple years ago, one of my co-workers started calling me by my initials, “Hey NV!  Can you come look at this?  “How are you doin’ today NV?”  etc. etc.  Its one of those nicknames I really do like.  Having a massive sweet tooth and an affinitity for baking, “Sweet Envy” was what I went with when signing on to WordPress.   

Nicknames:  I didn’t grow up with many, but you can call me Nicole, NV, Nic….just don’t call me “Nicky”.  You don’t want to see what happened to the last guy who did.

I wish him the best for a speedy recovery.

What am I into: 

  • Baking – Uh, yeah, Obvi!
  • Food – Talking about it, stuffing my face with it, looking at it, smelling it….you get the drift!
  • Restaurants – I’m known as the “Menu Maven” because I have a compulsion to read a menu online before going anywhere!  Must.  Know.  Food!
  • Fitness – I teach a weightlifting class on Sunday mornings at my local gym and I’m also a certified Turbo Kickboxing and Body Pump instructor (though, teaching those two classes always gives me a serious case of the butterflies!)

I just ran in my first marathon – the Palos Verdes Marathon – a little over a week ago.  It was awesome to run through the neighborhoods and on the streets of where I grew up.  I surprised myself with how well I did!  I finished in 3:45 minutes – just 5 minutes short of qualifying for the world famous Boston Marathon.   One day I’ll get there! 

  • Family – I love my family to pieces.  I’m sure I’ll post about them a lot more in the future – individually and as the whole fun-loving, anal-retentive, German/Polak bunch we are!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gentlemen – I truly appreciate men who act responsibly and treat women with respect and like ladies.  However, girly men – gentlemen who cowar and lack a backbone – I’d like to avoid.

Reading – I do enjoy reading…I just don’t do it as often as I’d like.  I enjoy a good “Murder Mystery” novel.   I’ve been reading a lot of James Patterson books recently.  The chapters are usually no more than six pages each, making the storylines go by rather quickly!  (Perfect for the self-diagnosed A.D.D. reader that I am!)   I also love reading about health and nutrition – whether it be a study published by the Surgeon General’s office or an article in Women’s Health Magazine or the nutrition label on a box of cereal, I’ll read it.

Of course, there are the cookbooks, the food and fitness blogs that I’m addicted to.  A few months ago, I had forgotten to bring one of my normal magazines when going to the gym.  All I had to read was Nigella Lawson’s How to be a Domestic Goddess cookbook in my car.  Desperate for something to keep my mind busy while on the elliptical, I brought in the cookbook by the seductress of cuisine herself.  With photographs so sultry it would make anyone salivate, I got some delightfully odd comments by those on the machines around me, trying to workout while having me read a cookbook and stare at pictures of Roast Chicken and Dumplings or Pudding.  “Isn’t that counterintuitive?” one guy asked me.  “Yes, but if you love food like I do, you’ll ingest it any time, any where, any how!”

 I’m also at a good, yet strange, point in my life where I want to make some changes – personally & professionally.  Recently, someone who I was very close to tore me down in an e-mail, essentially saying how he thought everything I was doing was fake and self-serving (likely because he wasn’t getting the full benefit of what I was doing – maybe he realized I had a life outside of him that I enjoyed?). 

Anyway, that’s neither here nor there, but have any of you ever had someone just tear you to pieces and say that what you’re currently doing and love to do is sh!t?   Isn’t the best revenge to prove them wrong?  It’s far better than any rebuttal I could ever come up with (and sometimes my rebuttals are pretty witty, if I do say so myself!  <wink>)  . 

So, here’s to living an eNVious life – today and in the future.

 

How do you define a life of envy?  Is envy good?

Why do I bake?

I love to bake – hopefully you’ll continue reading this blog (and hopefully I’ll be faithful in writing in it) and get to see how much my heart sings when I’m in the kitchen.

Baking is more to me than mixing together flour, sugar, butter, and eggs.    It’s the process of baking that enamors me.  I love to read cookbooks and online food blogs and eat with my eyes before I enter the kitchen.  I look at baking as an opportunity.  Not just to create something delicious, but as an opportunity for me to unwind and focus on what’s in front of me.

Time that I spend baking is probably the only time where my mind isn’t bothered by much else going on in the world.  I don’t need any other stimulation to entertain or energize me – no TV, no radio, no Blackberry, no nothing.  Sure, sharing the kitchen and having a good conversation is nice too, but it’s not  necessary. 

I bake because I get to give it away.  Nothing makes me happier than to know that someone is enjoying a treat I’ve made – if it’s perked up their day, satisfied a gnarly sweet tooth, pushed them through an afternoon slump, or ended a meal with a sigh.  Knowing that something that I’ve created has made someone happy makes ME happier tenfold!  (I’m sure I’ll have posts in the future about the unquenchable need to people-please!)

I bake because I’m often one with a sweet tooth and baking allows me to taste – or sometimes gorge! – on something I’m craving.   Licking the beaters?  Count me in!!   Not enough dough to make a respectable cookie?  A shame!  <pops into mouth>. 

I have my reasons to bake…what are yours?

Do you have a reason to do dishes?  If you do, come over to my place – let’s talk!  You’ll be my BFF in no time!

Crumbs

I love crumbs, and I hate crumbs.

I love to take the crumbs off of any serving platter and just get a taste of whatever decadence was being served.  It’s my way of justifying “just having a taste” without being really bad and committing to a forkful.  I’ve been known, too, to create crumbs of my own – picking off the edges of a brownie or inching my finger along split top of banana bread, turning a San Andreas crevasse from a mere crack.

And, you know, when you bake a cake and there is that little layer of gooey cake residue that sticks to the pan after you flip it onto your cooling rack?  Well, okay, that’s not really crumbs, that’s  cake goo, but if you wipe your finger along the pan, it’s so rich with cake batter and non-stick spray goodness, I’ll put it in the “crumb” category. 

I hate crumbs too.  Crumbs, while still tasty and unique, don’t give you a full taste of the entire dish.  If you have the “crumbs” of a cheesecake, you’re likely just getting the buttery graham crust, but you’re missing the essence of the cheesecake – the moist cream cheese sweetened with sugar and liqueur, enhanced with egg yolk, and sometimes infused with chocolate or berries.  You miss what it’s all about.  

Sometimes telling yourself having “just the crumbs” is good enough.  After awhile of only getting to enjoy the crumbs, you start to wonder about the whole pie – especially when you’ve had a taste of the whole pie, it’s hard to go back to “just the crumbs”.

Moving forward, I’m going to enjoy the crumbs – but only after I’ve cut myself a slice!

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