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Nope, last week — and this week so far — has just been terrible. The other day, I ate a handful of peanut M&Ms at 5pm, a couple of waffles with chocolate-hazelnut spread at 7, some chips at 9:30, and pizza at 10:30. Not good. No bento to speak of, only a couple of days I had protein shakes and got off to a good start. I have, though, been carrying around Mojo Bars in my bag, and eating up to two a day, just to get some calories into me.

Today, I have so far managed breakfast, cookies, and lunch at dinnertime. I might get in another snack before bed, but then again, I might not.

There have been a number of reasons for it. I read some really triggering things — people defending Weight Watchers, and others talking in depth about bad experiences with dieting, and some straight-up fat-hate trolls — and I wrote things that were kind of triggering for me, too — like about my experiences with a loved one who’s been in Overeaters Anonymous for twenty years. I had some difficult personal conversations, too, which led me off into reading and researching about some FA-connected topics, and doing too much of that at once leaves me feeling sick and disturbed and unhappy and like I shouldn’t be eating. And that’s when I end up eating more junk than usual, and subsisting mostly on cookies, M&Ms, and chips for days on end. Also, I’ve been having trouble sleeping, and lots of allergies, both of which do bad things to my appetite.

Which, of course, means that really, it’s time to just set it aside, like pushing an intrusive thought out of my head while meditating, and work on doing better tomorrow. But there’s essentially fuck-all in the house, and money is tight for another couple of days, so probably that won’t actually happen. Friday there will be money again, and I’ll see about stocking the house over the weekend.

I did manage to successfully cook an actual complete meal last week, with leftovers, some of which actually got eaten. In lieu of a proper recipe, I’m going to babble about that.

We managed to find some actually pretty good Jamaican jerk sauce at Cost Plus World Market. Now, I love Jamaican food. One of my first food service jobs was at a Jamaican lunch counter, and they did some really tasty jerk. But that was in Florida, and out here everyone (or everyone who runs a restaurant, anyway) apparently thinks that jerk is a dry seasoning that’s sweet and not particularly spicy, that you sprinkle lightly over porkchops or something before grilling them. This is not so, and it makes me kind of crazy. Jerk can be a dry spice or a sauce, but more importantly, it is a cooking method. Proper jerk meat is slow-smoked for hours, and the flavor fully penetrates the meat. It originated with escaped slaves, who would dig pits, line them with banana leaves, set green pimiento (which is the allspice bush, not pimento) wood to smoldering, put in large chunks of meat rubbed with spice mixes or sauces — heavy on hot peppers (Scotch bonnet is what’s usually used today) and allspice, which acted as antimicrobials — covered it all up with more banana leaves and brush and things, and left them for the rest of the night and all the next day, and then came back and pulled them out and ate them. It kept the food and fire nicely hidden and safe, so it couldn’t give away their position, and the smoke and spices made the meat keep longer. And, like most food made by people who have to eat anything they can get their hands on, it became absolutely fucking delicious.

Now, I don’t have a jerk sauce recipe I’m really happy with. I keep trying different things, but it can be hard to get some of the ingredients out here, especially those chiles. Even my favorite produce stand tries to tell me that Scotch bonnets are just habaneros (hint: they’re not; they were bred from habaneros, but are a distinct varietal, and are significantly hotter). And, of course, if I managed to make a really good jerk sauce, I’d have to build a smoker to do it justice, and if I was going to do that, I should really invite people over (because there are people who are waiting for this invitation, because I have had basically this conversation with them) and go whole-hog and do a whole bunch of stuff, but I can’t invite people over unless the house is in a lot better shape, and and and and and I retreat into yak shaving. So just finding a jar of sauce I could take home and not feel too bad about just dumping over some chicken thighs and crockpotting them all day (with a little smoked salt to get that smoky flavor) was really fucking awesome.

And then I was wandering around an art supply store, and on the way back I walked past a little foodie boutique store, and they were selling Rancho Gordo beans, which are extremely tasty, and this is coming from someone who generally does not like beans. So then, of course, I had to make beans and rice. And if I was making side dishes, I needed a vegetable, so I picked up some lacinato kale, which isn’t especially Jamaican, but I like it, and I could cook it simply and it would be very tasty with everything else.

We came home to a kitchen that smelled wonderful from that crock pot, and I exclaimed “Look out, I’m cookin’ without recipes!” and pulled the soaked beans out of the fridge, and just went for it. The beans I just cooked with broth and some aromatics, and the rice was just pilafed with onions and turmeric for color, but the kale you might find interesting, because I know you’re really here for the recipes. So I guess there’s sort of a recipe after all.

I started by warming up three or four glugs* of olive oil on a medium flame in my big saucier (any sufficiently large skillet or wok will do), sliced three large cloves of garlic very thinly, and threw the slices into the oil to gild and flavor the oil. Then I removed the ribs from the kale and shredded it into pieces the size of your average potato chip, maybe a couple-three inches on a side. When that was done and the garlic was golden brown and delicious, I turned the heat up to about three-quarters of full burn, dumped the greens in, and threw in a couple of big pinches of salt. Tossed it all around, got the kale nice and coated with oil and bright green (but still with some crunch to it), turned off the heat, and served immediately (because I damn well made sure everything else was ready to put on a plate before I touched the kale). Ta-da! Kale that is ever so much better than the terrifying grey-brown slimy stringy bitter stuff my mother used to serve.

*Hold the bottle of oil above your pan. Tilt it about 135 degrees. It will make the noise “glug”. Count the number of times it does that. A simple and intuitive, if not terribly precise, measurement.

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