Of Pain and Pig (Or How to Make Wilted Kale with Bacon, Onions, and Apple)

My chiropractor has my number. He seriously calls me out on all of my bullshit, which I must admit I sort of appreciate even though it annoys me a little. When I go for an appointment, he realigns my spine and points out some absurdity in my life that I’m attempting to gloss over.

For example… he once overheard a conversation I was having with his receptionist about my health insurance coverage for emergency room visits and said, “The only way this one is going to the hospital is if she has a baby coming out of her.”

Gross, Dr. Greg. Graphic and gross… but probably totally true.

See, I have a tendency to bulldoze my way through things, deliberately blind to the damage if it’s inconvenient to acknowledge in the moment. This has been somewhat helpful in my career but perhaps less so in my personal life.

As a producer, I often operate on the premise that it is better to apologize than to ask for permission. When time is of the essence, you can’t wait around for fearful people to hem and haw. You just have to get the shot. When money is on the line and politics have to be considered, this can be a risky mode of operation, so it’s a delicate balance.

Also…

For better or for worse, I have a high pain threshold and this can mean not taking very good care of myself if there’s something “more important” to tend to like some actress’ meltdown or a cut that has to go out by 2 am.

Since I’m not actively producing anything right now, I’m taking a little more time to notice when I need something, and many people have played a role in this, my chiropractor included.

So, anyway, this is all to say it was rather huge for me to realize (without anyone else’s help) that I needed to go to the doctor for my sore throat yesterday.

I’d had enough of the sensation of swallowing broken glass and capitulated to the pain. The doctor thought my disease warranted a Z-pack, so I guess it’s good I went to see him.

As I live in a rather colorful area of Hollywood, the clientele in his office was, shall we say…. interesting?

There was a woman (I think?) in a nearby room who was letting out these horrid, high-pitched, reptilian-like screams every few minutes while I waited to see the doctor.

When I was finally leaving the office, prescription in hand, she screamed again. The three nurses stationed in the hallway all looked at me as if to say, “Don’t look at me. I’m not going in there.”

“It sounds like you have a velociraptor caged in there,” I said. They looked at me rather blankly, not getting the reference.

“It’s like Jurassic Park up in here,” I clarified.

And as if on cue, the human dinosaur screamed its reptilian scream again.

They all started laughing, and as I walked away, I heard them slapping their legs and repeating, “Jurassic Park,” through hyena-like cackles.

My work there was done.

And now my work here is done, so I will leave you with a recipe for wilted kale with bacon, onion, and apples.

Why?

Because bacon and Reeses Pieces Easter eggs are the only things I can taste right now… and at least one of those things has some redeeming nutritious value.

Fruit, Veggies, and Pig!

Fruit, Veggies, Vitamins… and Pig!

Kale with Bacon, Onion, and Apples

4 Slices of Bacon
1/2 Small Onion, Sliced
1 Large Apple, Gala or Pink Lady, Sliced
6 C Kale, Chopped
2 T Apple Cider Vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste

Cook bacon in a skillet. Remove bacon and set aside. Remove all but 2 T of bacon grease from the skillet. Add the chopped onion to bacon grease. Cook until soft, about 6-8 minutes.

Add the kale and allow to wilt, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Transfer to a bowl before adding the 2 T of apple cider vinegar. (The residual heat from the skillet will evaporate the vinegar otherwise.)

Season with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Add crumbled bacon and apple slices…

And Devour like a velociraptor.

David Lynch, Lindsey Stirling, and Cola Carnitas (Or How to Make Slow Cooker Cola Carnitas)

Guys! Exciting things are happening!

First of all, I’m almost done with season 4 of Game of Thrones, and I got HBO back yesterday — just in time for the April 12 premiere of season 5.

So this is all terribly exciting in a nerdy kind of way….

Also? I saw Blue Velvet for free at the Arclight Theater in Hollywood last night. The movie is beyond super messed up, and I wrote my honors thesis on it when I was a wee one in undergrad. (Another nerdy thing.) Seeing it again all these years later I was like, “Wow. I should not have watched that movie when I was 12. No wonder I had to write 75 pages about it in college. I was probably trying to heal my adolescent trauma through academia.”

David Lynch?

Is not for kids.

Who knew?

ANYWAY…

In other news, I finished yet another pass of my script last night before watching Dennis Hopper torment Isabella Rossellini and Kyle MacLachlan for two hours. I can’t REALLY say the fourth draft is done because I know I have messy bits that I still need to tie together, but it’s CLOSE to being a fourth draft. This makes me SMILE.

Do you know what else makes me smile?

Carnitas.

True story.

I made cola carnitas in the slow cooker for my cousin Maddie on Tuesday, and it was so delicious we almost died.

More pig. Duh.

More pig. Duh.

I did a whole taco spread with gluten free chips, corn tortillas, cotija cheese, salsa verde, and black bean dip. We talked about boys, I gave her half of the clothes in my closet, and we laughed our heads off while we stuffed our faces with piggy goodness.

It was beyond.

If you want to make some cola carnitas yourself, here’s the recipe.

Slow Cooker Cola Carnitas

4 Pound Pork Shoulder
1 Medium Onion, sliced
4 Garlic Cloves, Peeled
2, 12 oz Bottles of Mexican Coca Cola*
1 7 oz Can of Chipotle Chiles in Adobo Sauce**

Put all of the ingredients in the slow cooker on low and allow the pork shoulder to simmer all day. If you’re in a rush, you can put it on high for about 4 or 5 hours.

Once the pork is cooked thoroughly, take it out of the slow cooker, remove the fat, and shred the pork with a fork. I discard the other ingredients, but you could use the onions if you’d like. They’re really tender and sweet.

After you eat the carnitas, try not to dance like a lunatic like my family does when we have Mexican food.

My family is super fun.

We are mentally ill for Mexican food.

(We are also super fun.)

And because I’m into spreading fun, here’s a song I’m way into right now. It’s Lindsey Stirling, and the video has a whole M.C. Escher thing going.

❤ I LOVE Lindsey Stirling. And M.C. Escher. ❤

*Mexican Coca Cola is made with cane sugar instead of corn syrup. I’ve never tried it with traditional cola, but I’m sure it would be fine if you can’t find Mexican Coke.

**Sometimes I only use half the can if I want it less spicy.

OK, I’m done rambling now. I’m off to USC to handle some bizznass.

Friday I’m in Love (Or Three Things I’m Into)

It’s FRIDAY!!!!

And I’m in LOVE. ❤ ❤ ❤

But not in the way you think I mean. I’m in love with my life, and I want to tell you about a few things that are making me happy right now because I’m all about spreading love and happiness. ❤

MY FAVORITE GLUTEN FREE CRACKERS:

They’re the Sea Salt Brown Rice Crackers by Food Should Taste Good, but a better name might be Crack in a Box.

The government should require a warning label for these things.

I mean…

Monica loves them so much, I think she might fight me for them.

Monica loves them so much, she snuggles with the box. 

They used to carry them at Costco, and I got ADDICTED. They stopped stocking them last year, and I nearly had to go to therapy.

I recently found them at the high end market on my street for 6x the price I paid at Costco. I only let myself buy them as a special treat because I’m not trying to be homeless because I’m addicted to amaranth and rice crackers.

Today felt like the right day to splurge, so I bought a box.

You probably should too, but please don’t blame me if you end up living in your car because of your addiction.

WALKING THE DOG WHILE LISTENING TO SCREENWRITING PODCASTS: 

I’m ALL about maximizing efficiency, so I get excited when I can do two things at once. Yesterday, I found a way to do THREE things at once, which was so fabulous it was almost like having an orgasm.

See, I figured out how to work out, tire out my enormous dog, AND solve some script problems all at once.

The solution?

Walking the dog while listening to screenwriting podcasts.

Genius, right?

I decided to make it an extra relaxing time for us, so we even lay in the park for a while as I listened to smart and famey writers talk about writing.

See?

Aren't you glad I showed you my armpit?

Aren’t you glad I showed you my armpit?

Nature + Learning = ❤

Plus a humming bird joined us for a while.

It was awesome.

That's not dirt. It's a bird.

That’s not dirt. It’s a bad photo of a little bird. I promise.

Time with my dog + birds + learning = ❤ ❤ ❤

If you’re into this sort of movie madness, you can check out Scriptnotes here.

And last but not least….

WRITING TO YOUTUBE MIX TAPES:

I started doing it this week, and it’s uh-mazing. Most of the mix tapes run about an hour, so you get uninterrupted beats without having to deal with ads.

True story.

I put one of my favorites below. This one happens to be all Kygo tracks, but I’m not mad about it. It includes remixes of Ed Sheeran’s “I See Fire,” Dolly Parton’s “Jolene,” and Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing.”

Plus Owly, the genius who created it, even lists the tracks on the playlist so you don’t have to interrupt your writing flow to shazaam a song when you like it.

OK, I’m off to implement some of the screenwriting tips from yesterday before going to dinner with my adorable aunt and cousin.

We’re going to listen to country music while eating our favorite burritos.

It’s going to be beyond.

XOXO

❤ ❤ ❤

All Roads Lead to Bacon (Or Balsamic Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Onions)

You know that scene in Dirty Dancing when Dr. Houseman tells Johnny he knows he’s not the one who got Penny pregnant?

He’s all, “When I’m wrong, I say I’m wrong.”

(The moment is at 4:28, in case you’re interested — or in case you just wanna watch pretty people dirty dance.)

ANYWAY, when I’M wrong, I say I’m wrong too.

So, here’s one of the ways I’ve been wrong lately: I think I may have been too hard on the Spicy Calabrian Pork Ribs.

They’ve been sitting in my fridge since I made them on Monday and I’ve been snacking on them all week. I’m liking them more now than I did initially. I think maybe the marinade needs to be made a few days in advance so the flavors have time to marry. I might try this experiment another time. (If I do, I’ll totally get back to you.)

The other experiment I want to try?

Involves the maple chile glaze from this pork chop recipe. I think I want to put THAT on pork ribs as well. This brings me to another thought….

It’s possible my pig obsession is getting out of control.

I keep telling myself at least it’s not as bad as this guy’s:

I mean I haven't declared my love on my car yet….

I mean I haven’t declared my love on my car yet….

But I probably would wear one of these to work out.

If you're as nuts as I am about bacon, you can buy these shirts here.

If you suffer from the same affliction, you can buy these shirts here.

An intervention may be necessary.

Even if things ARE a little out of control, I’m not ready to stop the obsession yet, so let’s just keep oinking, K?

Yesterday I promised you the recipe for Balsamic Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Onions, so here it is.

Spence the Spinosaurus is trying to control himself around this goodness.

They were a huge hit with Spence the Spinosaurus.

I had some bacon leftover after I made the dish, so I decided to candy it with spices and maple syrup. (Recipe here.) Then I cranked up the Kygo, and danced in my kitchen while I waited for my candied bacon to cook because that’s what lunatics people do.

Just try to listen to this track and not do a little dirty dancing of your own.

I dare you.

I double bacon candy dare you.

Prosciutto, Mint, and Melon Appetizers (Or A Baby Shower Brunch Idea!)

Yesterday, I was playing around with prosciutto to see if perhaps I might want to do a proscuitto, melon, and mint appetizer for my friend’s baby shower on Saturday.

There's melon in there somewhere.

There’s melon in there somewhere.

I was wrapping mint leaves and the cured meat around balls of cantaloup, when I received word that the shower was off.

Yup, you guessed it… another baby shower canceled due to the early arrival of another baby boy!

Finnie is a big brother now! Yay!!!

Declan is happy and healthy, and so is his mommy, and while I’m disappointed we won’t be stuffing our faces with pork products in his honor this weekend, I’m looking forward to holding him instead really soon!

Also?

I’ll never forget his birthday because he now shares one with my baby who turned four yesterday. ❤

SO not the same thing as a human baby. I know.

SO not the same thing, but I love him with all my heart. And that counts for something, right?

XOXO

Happy Birthday, Bubba! (Or Paleo Cilantro Chicken for the Birthday Boy!)

Today is my dog’s fourth birthday. And while I’m tempted to get out my glittery markers to make him a hat, I think he’d prefer kisses and a fistful of meat instead.

What's this I'm hearing about a hat?

What’s this I’m hearing about a hat?

Last night I made a super delicious chicken dish, and I saved some chicken scraps for him. Maybe we’ll sing “Happy Birthday” and make it a proper celebration with candles and everything. (I need help. Clearly.)

Or maybe we’ll just go for a hike and snuggle on the couch together.

I hate snuggling. Just give me chicken.

I hate snuggling. Just give me chicken.

If you want to know why he’s so fixated on the chicken, here’s why:

It's somewhere under that pile of pears, cilantro, and celery. I swear.

It’s somewhere under that pile of pears, cilantro, and celery. I swear.

I found the recipe in this great gallery of 22 Paleo-friendly recipes from Bon Appetit.

I’ll be honest, though, I didn’t really follow it closely when it came to the ratio of lime juice, cilantro, celery, or pears. I just piled it all on. (I look at savory recipes like speed limits — polite suggestions for minimizing mayhem and mishaps.)

So basically my version just goes like this.

Celery, Cilantro, and Pear Chicken with Lime

4 celery stalks, sliced
2 Asian pears, thinly sliced
A heaping pile of cilantro leaves
Juice from 1 fresh lime
2 chicken breasts
Olive oil

Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Don’t bother pounding them. I think it yields a negligible benefit, frankly. Cook the chicken breasts in a cast iron skillet with a little bit of olive oil — in the stove at 350 or on the burner — whatever your preferred method. (I’d give you cooking times but my stove is whack so it wouldn’t be useful. Just don’t overcook them. Chicken seriously sucks when it’s dry.)

Meanwhile, slice the pear and celery. Squeeze lime juice over the sliced stuff, throw in cilantro, and season with salt and pepper to taste. (This limey salad can be made the night before if you’d like. It’s almost better the next day, actually.)

Remove chicken from heat, cover in fruity, veggie lime mixture. Devour.

And maybe save some of the chicken scraps for your birthday boy.

You owe me more than scraps for this, woman.

You owe me more than scraps for this, woman.

Already Getting My Happy Bunny On! (Or Fresh Pea Soup for Easter… Maybe)

Wanna know something?

Caspari paper products make me happy — particularly their holiday themed hankies. When I noticed that they had Easter options at the grocery store today, I got giddy… and bought some.

Duh.

Bunnies! I die.

It’s going to be like carrying Peter Rabbit in my purse for the next month!

YAY!!!

Wanna know something else?

I prefer Easter to Christmas.

There. I said it. That probably sounds whacked, but whatever. I don’t care.

It all started in 2002….

It was my first Easter in Los Angeles, and my first Easter away from home. I didn’t have actual biological family to celebrate with, so my roommate and I decided to throw a family dinner for our friends.

We both gave stuff up for Lent and couldn’t wait to let loose when it was over. She gave up chocolate, but I swear I suffered more because I gave up alcohol AND went to Vegas with her for St. Patrick’s Day. I’m not even kidding. It was my first time EVER in Vegas, and I didn’t have a drop of anything — not even communion wine — even though St. Paddy’s fell on a Sunday that year.

For 24 hours I watched all of America chain smoke, binge drink, and gamble away their 401Ks — sober. On a stool. I felt like an anthropologist studying monkeys that were flinging poo at the zoo. If I’m being honest with you, I think the hardest part of the trip may have been surviving the sheets at the Stratosphere stone. cold. sober.

Anyway… I digress.

Family dinners! That’s where I was. We decided to throw one for our friends because we were away from our own families, and that dinner marked the beginning of a beautiful tradition celebrating the friends who have become family. It’s a tradition I love. Deeply.

BTW.. and just for the record… I know the season is not entirely about the end of my suffering because nothing I give up could ever come close to the sacrifice that we celebrate this time of year, so I really look at it as a celebration of my amazing friendships and a chance for new beginnings for all of us. ❤

Since I’m trying to keep my philosophizing to a minimum on this blog, you can find more of my thoughts on Easter/religion/life/death/sex/and/basically everything in between on my other blog here.

Back to Easter dinner…

Over the years the menu and the venue has has gone through many iterations, but the one thing that has remained constant is that I make a lot of food as a way of saying, “I super like you. Want me to show you how much by force-feeding you pig products?”

This year my friend Nicole and I are talking about doing a traditional spread with a spiral ham, my fennel scalloped potatoes, and her darling lamb-shaped butter! It’s all still TBD, but it’s never too early to get excited about eating PIG!

Since ham can be salty and heavy, I want to have some light, fresh dishes to accompany it. I recently made a fresh pea soup with mint, and I’ve been thinking it might be a fun, fresh addition to the menu this year.

A confession…

I don’t love peas by themselves, but for some reason I SUPER LOVE them in this soup.

See?

Mmm, minty peas!

Mmm, minty fresh peas!

Here’s the recipe, just in case you want to get into it….

Minty Pea Soup

3 T unsalted butter (it’s also good with 3 T coconut oil)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 16-oz packages of frozen peas
4-6 C of chicken broth
1/2 C of mint
Salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter. Cook onions until tender but do not allow them to brown. (About 6-8 minutes.) Add 2 C of broth. Bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer. Add peas. Cook until soft, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Add mint and puree with remaining broth. Add broth by 1/2 C to achieve desired consistency. (I recommend an immersion blender for this.)

Salt and pepper to taste. Can be served hot or cold. I add extra mint for garnish.

It’s based on this Bon Appetit recipe from Epicurious, which is also very good. My version is more Paleo-friendly.

OK, I’m off to finish my script. My long lost Melissa is back in LA, and I owe her my fourth draft. It’s kinda sorta done. I just need to read through it a few times to do some polishing for her.

YAY!!!