Posted in !Family Shindigs, !Gaming, !General Musings, !Memories, !My Sweetie, !NomnomFood

Birthdays Then And Birthdays Now

Soooo, yesterday was my birthday. I am officially 30. Lets hope I remember this the next time someone asks me. Random Fun Fact: in my 20s, someone asked me my age. For a reason I still don’t understand, I said 18. And when people ask me my mom’s age, I’ve been know to say 37. Why? I dunno. I know her birth year (super easy to remember, for SOME reason), I know enough math(*cough-calculator-cough*) to know she’s not 37, yet, somehow, pfft, crazy comes out.

I’ve been lucky enough to have some good birthdays, some with just close friends, others with big groups and/or just family. It doesn’t hurt that just having my birthday fall on one of my days off has me jumping for joy (which this year, it did, WOOHOO!) And yes, if my birthday falls on a weekday, there’s a 99.9% chance I’m working that day. And since it’s also the day of my birth, so I like to congratulate mom on that, too 😀

Actually, it’s a funny story, a story I really like telling because it makes me giggle and smile how an entire life can be dependent on a single moment (and yet another reason why I love Doctor Who. No one is unimportant and everything can be turned around in a single moment.) And since I got my mum’s blessing to tell this one, YAY, story mode is ON.

Once upon a time, my mom was dating this undeserving asshat that would donate part of his DNA mapping to a creation that would, much later, be called Ana. But mom was prepared, she used birth control, until my mom’s doctor told her she had been taking them for so long, that she could be considered infertile by now. So mom stopped, doctor’s recommendation and all, and well, HIIIIIIIIIIIIIII.

Haaai

My mom told me how, when she saw the doctor next and came with the news, his face just went into disbelief mode. Then he uttered the only words a man probably could muster when his brain goes from PhD to “what the fuckery is this?”

“Girl, you’re one of those who gets pregnant with a look!”

It’s still one of my favorite stories to hear from my mom. It makes me laugh every time, evilly, even, ’cause it’s me! I’m the funny!

Then the day of my birth is another funny because mom felt me coming as soon as they put her on the hospital bed (in the waiting room, I think she was going to be taken to a room, at that point, but slowness?) The doctor didn’t believe she was ready to deliver yet (yo, doc, remember that time you said she was infertile? *cue giggling*) but mom warned him, she told him plain and simple, I was coming. He took a look under the hood, so to speak, and had to recall how much he had wanted to be a catcher as a kid (that’s a wild guess), ’cause he caught me before I slipped off to the floor.

Mine was a hilariously quick delivery. I just needed the hand to catch me and boom, I was done.

Not-So-Random Fun Fact: Many many years later, on one of my visits home, I went with mom and Onyx (her then black kitten. He’s huuuuge now) to the vet. The vet’s last name was familiar to mom…and eureka, he had the last name of the doctor who delivered me! HAHAHAHAHA. I begged mom to ask him if they were related. I had to know. The universe wanted me to know. I must obey the universe — through mom, though. If I made my mouth ask anything, awkward and rude would come out, because that’s how my brain uses words. I can’t use backspace with my mouth. And when she told him, poor vet, he smiled awkwardly and looked genuinely embarrassed because, not only was he related to my mom’s old Gynecologist, but that was his dad! We didn’t mind, though, we did let him know, it was a good oops.

With all the oops that happen throughout life in general, we’re just lucky we got thrown a good one.

And for my birthdays, it really are the simple things that make me happiest. Not waking up to an alarm on my birthday is, as already mentioned, a great one. Another one would happen back home, of course.

On our birthdays, we’d get to ask mom to cook whatever we wanted. My particular favorites were (still are), sancocho, beefsteak with white beans and rice, arroz con pollo and mom’s lasagna. And I call it mom’s lasagna because it is so not an Italian lasagna. It has cream cheese and a loooot of ground beef (more than cheese). But I love cream cheese (See cheesecake love). Really, to me, just having food = jooooooooy.

It’s also just nice to get to hear a happy birthday, it’s smile-inducing, to be remembered and to know people took the time. Though if I could forgive my father for forgetting (every. year.) that my birthday is in July (and not June), then really, I wouldn’t mind someone else forgetting. It happens. But still, it’s nice to get to hear it.

Sometimes it’s nice to not have to cook and go out to eat in the name of my birthday, UNLESS there’s something I reaaaally want to cook but am afraid to cook because the recipe is asking me to do things that my brain thinks is going to spell disaster. If I cook on my birthday, it’s a gift to encourage bravery. A “YOU CAN DO THIS”. Otherwise, pfft, nope, no cooking. I will be fed and I will demonstrate my gratitude in the form of nomnoms. That’s as far as I’ll go.

This year? I chose to brave a new recipe. A stuffed beef roll (stuffed with spinach, cheese and ham) wrapped in bacon. And yes, I had to ask my sweetie for help because I cannot roll a burrito to save my life, what possessed me into thinking I could roll a beef roll? I tried, though. It looked like a kindergarten project. But the attempt was made! And luckily, my sweetie saved it.

Then D&D happened (…this is the one where I play a rogue with great charisma and double proficiency on deception, but shitty dex and stealth. I welcome her on my birthday. WELCOME THE FUNNY.)

…for a moment, though, I thought I got us killed on my birthday. It was an interesting episode of “lets try to do the thing and GETALMOSTDEAD.” The thing about our little group on this wonderful Sunday session is that, our group, is lacking a healer. We have two wizards, one warlock and one rogue (me), all starting at level one. No one has healing. Siiiigh.

The village we’re in is being raided, we’re in the keep, and there’s a pissed off dragon about for a reason my character still doesn’t know. And we get asked to go check the tunnels. We get pretty hurt after dealing with a swarm of rats (*facepalm*). Then we accidentally break a key in the lock (well, not “we”. T’was the warlock. My reasoning when asked why *I* didn’t open it: I didn’t have the key! *double-facepalm*) and then we get a surprise attack from the raiders.

Let me tell ya, it was lovely, because we hadn’t been able to rest from the previous session, where spells were spent trying to get to the keep -_- I think the warlock was the first to go unconscious? Then the gnome wizard. At that point, we had one cultist (or cobalt, it’s a toss-up) standing between us and the tunnel (that we had unwisely stepped off of). I managed to get him to drop, and then used my next action to drag the gnome with me to the tunnel (and yes, I made that roll, phew) and I thought, okay, good, we’re safe, the half-elf wizard has some hit points left, I have two, aaaand then I lose those two when I get a dagger to the back (and drop dramatically on top of the gnome wizard, whose player asks if I make damage on him because I dropped on him. My immediate reaction to that was, “ARE YOU CALLING MY CHARACTER FAT?!” I might’ve said me, but the point remained. Good grief. Bahahahaha.)

Good news: we did not die. Half-elf wizard hung in there but he had to call for help to get us dragged back. After a short rest, we’ll have to deal with whatever triggered the alarm -_- all the fun. But we didn’t die! (…and those 3 sets of character sheets I printed – ’cause I thought we were dying – are going to just sit and wait for next time.) This is what happens when my boyfriend DMs a game. It’s horrible, because he rolls amazingly well, lots of nat 20s, which as a player, woohoo! As a DM, we’re all in the predicament of going in every day wondering, “well, how do I want to die today?” (And yes, the right answer would be: IN A BLAZE OF GLOOOORY.)

And honestly, it was fun. That’s the best thing I can get out of a birthday. Good food (because yes, the beef log came out amazing, and the cauliflower and broccoli, mixed with garlic butter, was also nomnom), good company, wacky fun and being in a relaxed state. It has no price for me. Simple means a lot.

Posted in !Lessons, !Memories, !My Sweetie, !NomnomFood

What I Really Enjoy About Cooking

Some would say I like to cook – I prefer to say that I like to feed people, though there once came a time where I didn’t think I actually could.

Growing up, I had the good fortune of having a mother who could not only cook, but who would cook almost every day. And considering she’s the mother of three, and would often come home exhausted, the cooking every day thing? Awesome, yummy things? Something I will forever appreciate.

Give me a moment, trying to rummage through the junkyard called my memory: sancocho, mofongo, camarones al ajillo, steak, breaded chicken, homemade meatballs, lasagna, arroz con pollo, sopa de gandules, tuna fish stew, pepper steak, fried chicken, fried pork chop, tostones, baked potato (loaded), burritos, and so many other things I’m not going to try to list ’cause the point is made. Mom wouldn’t just stick with quick and easy, she would often try to find something different, and of course there’d be veggies and salad involved (…I may or may not have eaten most of the cucumber that got cut up before it even hit a plate. Maybe.)

However, to learn to cook like my mom, you’d have to watch, because she follows no logical recipe, no measurements – she’s a witch (hahaha, I call her this a lot for so many things, I realize, but she’s just that awesome). She cooks to taste, and it always works o.o every. time. I remember helping sometimes. I especially enjoyed making meatballs and breading things, for reasons only my brain can make sense of (…want to try? Making meatballs is soothing because you’re making a shape, geometry, the only class I’ve ever enjoyed that involved math. Breading things requires steps: flour, scrambled egg mixture, breading, flour, egg, breading, patterns are soothing. My brain, in a nutshell. Or not?)

But the thing is, I couldn’t do that. It just didn’t make sense to me that you could just mix things and they’d taste good. Recipes confused me as a kid. I still remember the time I called a friend so he’d tell me how to make chicken stew (when my parents weren’t home, because I was embarrassed as heck to be seen cooking) and it turned out watery as all heck. It was horrifying (I ate it, though. Because food) and it made me feel like I should just not try to cook.

It was so bad, an ex offered to give me his recipe for stewed beans. And when someone assumed I could cook just because I was a girl, it would be considerably annoying, because the truth was I couldn’t, or rather, wouldn’t. My mom would often try to tell me, “No one gets everything right the first time. It’s okay to mess up. You learn from it.”

But you know that word that starts with the letter S? Yeah, I think you have it. Stubborn. I was too stubborn and would not accept not getting it right the first time (oh, little me. If only you knew all the times you didn’t get it right and boop, we’re still here!)

Once I moved out on my own, I was lucky enough to rent a room in a house that had a pretty stellar kitchen. It also helped that my roommates didn’t know me, didn’t talk to me and just assumed I knew what I was doing, so I didn’t have as much pressure as I had put on myself in days past. At that point, I didn’t have a choice. I didn’t have the glorious cook that is my mother to avoid the responsibility of feeding myself.

I had two choices: Eat something other than ramen or tuna fish or sandwiches (or lipton soup or ravioli) OR I could just brave disaster and cook. I may or may not have called my mom to get recipes for yummy foods (…the only one I managed to get in writing was the tuna fish stew, and the seasoning part is still “to taste”) and, after a while, I started getting better at it?

First time I made a turkey, it was aweeesooooome. And yet, the next time I’d try to roast a chicken, it was a disaster (…probably ’cause I set it to broil rather than the actual temperature setting it needed). But at least I’ve never set fire to a kitchen?

Though I still remember the first time – and I mean the very first time – I dared to cook anything. It involved fried eggs (yolk broke, white was oily as all heck), fries (oily, undercooked) and ham (burnt. In the microwave) but in my defense, it was the first time (I may have been in elementary school?) and I probably should’ve asked my mom for tips buuuut as it had been a Mother’s Day morning surprise, asking wasn’t part of the plan >.< I wish waiting for the oil to heat up before attempting to cook said things would've been part of the plan but pfft, I had no clue back then.

Now I know (somewhat)better.

It's funny, though, during my cooking ventures, I'd just do things I remembered my mom doing (scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes, steak, tuna fish stew, basic things that couldn't be easily screwed up) and I would avoid baking anything. I went a year doing nothing but no-bake cheesecakes, I think? (…no regrets. Nutella Cheesecake is still my favorite cheesecake. And once I replaced the Nutella with Reese's Peanut Butter? ALL. THE. YES.)

I think the first cake I ever decided to bake was a Cream Cheese Pie (…I blame Cupcake Wars for that. Before watching an episode, I didn't even know there was such a thing as Cream Cheese anything *.* other than cheesecake, naturally) and then a Red Velvet Cheesecake (…I may or may not have a thing for cheesecakes). Since then, I've added a Dulce the Leche cheesecake (much, much too sweet to my liking), a mini peanut butter cheesecake cupcake(yum!), peanut butter chocolate cups(yuuum), cookie dough chocolate cups(sensing a trend: yum), fudgy chocolate cake from scratch and, oh, cream puffs! Coconut cream puffs, regular cream puffs, Oreo cream puffs.

And I did screw up brownies one time (…do not attempt to mix anything half asleep. Fractions will laugh at you. What should be 1/3 of water will be cup 1 1/3 of water and then you have brownie mix soup. No bueno) but it's all part of the learning process. The boyfriend helps a lot because somehow I lack the ability of spreading any cake mixture without looking like the right side has 80% more than the other side does X.X and I truly loathe fractions (…somewhere in the back of my head, I can hear my math teacher laughing at me after I had muttered something about fractions having no other purpose except for torture—and I was half right).

But after all the messes, calls for help, clean ups and oops, what I enjoy the most isn't the cooking (…well, maybe a little bit. Especially the licking the bowl bit), but feeding people. Especially when they actually like it and I haven't poisoned them.

I think the primary reason would be that feeling I'd get from eating my mom's food. The friends that would come over to our house would taste my mom's cooking and ask for seconds because mom's food is amazing, it's tasty, it's warm, it's thoughtful. How thoughtful? If she knows you won't eat something, because either you don't like it or you are dieting, she'll try to accommodate you. I was a horrifyingly picky eater as a kid, so I know the full scope of that feeling really well.

And if I can give someone that feeling, it makes me happy, silly as it may sound, simple as it may be. To be able to make someone feel joy for eating my food, even if it's from a recipe I found online or if it only tastes half as good as my mom's cooking, it's a nice feeling. A feeling I think everyone should have and sometimes I wish I would've started sooner. Ha! Now that I'm older, I finally understand what my mother said when I'd ask her how her food was so good (because, yeah, you know I asked). She'd say experience. She'd been cooking her whole life. Nearly every day, to help my grandma.

Back then, I didn't think "experience" as an answer made sense. Because in that equation, I didn't consider how many times she probably got it wrong, before she got it right, because by the time I had that first bite, it was already right. But me? I make accidental chicken water soup. But, again, I've gotten better. I follow recipes, for the most part, but because my sweetie is brave and will eat whatever I put in front of him (often at a risk), I sometimes will go freelance and put things together.

Sometimes I get it right, sometimes I surprise myself, though sometimes I go overboard with the vinegar because I forget I'm the only one who really likes the taste of vinegar (apparently, too much vinegar isn't good?) But the fact that I haven't burnt the kitchen down (which I nicknamed the Lab) is still a notable victory.