Monday, July 2, 2012

Randoms loves.

1. Hanover Tomatoes.

I walk into Kroger, see the front table of the produce section full of these beauties, and just want to take a flying leap and roll around in them. Totally normal right? There are few things as beautiful as a seasonal, freshly cut Hanover tomato, all dark red and juicy. You eat off season tomatoes all year and come to the false conclusion that they all taste similar. And then you eat the real deal, and it's just like you're eating a tomato for the first time the way God and nature intended. Especially when combined with cucumbers, feta, fresh basil, salt and pepper, olive oil, and red wine vinegar. I ate this salad at least twice a week growing up, and it's still one of my most favoritest things in the world.

2. Homemade chicken nuggets

For as healthy as I try to eat in my daily life, there is a secret, fat kid sized place in my heart for chicken nuggets. They are probably my ultimate comfort food. McDonald's chicken nuggets have single handedly kept me from starvation (maybe a slight exaggeration) when I'm too sick to eat anything else. Whether hungover or sick with the stomach flu (like I was a little more than a week ago), there is one thing that I can eat when I can literally not even fathom the idea of eating anything else. And that is a chicken nugget.

However these are not the healthiest of foods and so I eat them rarely, sometimes as little as once or twice a year. Until a few nights ago. When I stumbled on a recipe for baked chicken nuggets. You basically take chicken breasts or tenders, cut them off, dunk them in olive oil, salt, and pepper, then dunk them in a bowl full of panko bread crumbs (I like the Kroger Italian seasoning flavor) and some grated parmesans. You spray a cooking sheet with a little more olive oil, bake for 8-12 minutes on one side, flip the little guys over and bake for 5 more minutes.

And I was so, so skeptical. Because how could something not fried, not coated in cornmeal or flour, not made with vegetable oil, not from the sacred golden arches, taste like my beloved nugget. But oh, oh the moment I dunked one of these friends in ketchup and shoved it in my mouth, oh that beautiful moment. The heavens parted. Angels sang. I wept silently as I shoved more into my face. But really, so good and improbably healthy (if you're counting calories just be careful with how much olive oil and grated parm you use). This may be a game-changer.

3) Olympic trials

I have been almost embarrassingly over-invested in the Olympic trials this year, to the point where there were multiple tornado warnings in the area and NBC12 interrupted the swim trials to rightfully warn people of this, and I shook my fist and yelled through my screen at Andrew Friedman for taking away my stories.

Obviously my interest has nothing at all to do with the way these boys look in their swim trunks.

Nope, not even a factor.

Now that we've cleared that up, ahem. But really I love the Summer Olympics. I'm like Kenneth the Paige level Olympics geekdom. I love the pageantry. I love the over-the-top dramatic NBC announcers and am endlessly fascinated by the question of why they need to stand so, so close to each other. I love the stories, all the comebacks and new kids on the block and underdogs. I love the Phelps/Lochte dynamic. I think 17-year old Missy Franklin is a peach.

But most of all I am just a big softie when it comes to the looks on the athletes' faces when they find out they're going to the Olympics, representing their nation and fulfilling a lifetime dream. It gets me every single time. Last night at the end of the female gymnastics trials, right after the selection committee announced the five chosen gymnasts, they all came out of the doors to the packed auditorium and every single one of those girls was weeping, with joy, with pride, with patriotism, all of these emotions so often covered up with layers of irony or cynicism in this world, but which in that moment were just laid open and naked and bare. And you can't help but feel that, even as a spectator. I love the Olympics because it's an event that is sincere and authentic and earnest and so, so hopeful. And as viewers, as fans, we're all allowed to believe in it and feel those rare, beautiful things too.

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