Author Archives: Catherine

Day Zero Reboot (2017-2020 Edition)

I’ve worked on Day Zero projects a couple of times before, but never completed them. Despite that, they helped me anyway by keeping me on track and giving me focus. Because of that, I’ve decided to go ahead and start a new one.

For those not familiar with the original Day Zero Project, here’s how it works:

The Challenge: Complete 101 tasks in 1,001 days
The Criteria: Tasks must be specific (ie. no ambiguity in the wording) with a result that is either measurable or clearly defined. Tasks must also be realistic and stretching (ie. represent some amount of work on your part).

My start date will be today, June 24, 2017. This gives me an end date of Saturday, March 21, 2020, which happens to be my forty-fifth birthday.

Here is the list:

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Depression is Insidious

One of the biggest problems about depressive episodes is that they can be insidious. They can sneak up silently and slowly, staying underneath any surface awareness until they’re well and truly entrenched. Mine are that way a lot; although I have a long list of items that I watch for as signs, I don’t catch them all. This happened recently, and was extremely distressing to not just me but to several of my friends and co-workers.

Fortunately, when it finally manifested itself openly, I hadn’t yet gotten down far enough to be unable to recognize what it was; thus I was able to take (and did take) immediate steps to address it.

There are any number of lists of depressive symptoms out there, and they’re fairly similar:

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First Harvest: Catnip

I’d been noticing over the last week that the catnip plant was starting to get a little out of control, but every time I was home it was either raining or dark. Fortunately, Mother Nature decided to cut us all a break and give us a weekend full of sun. That meant I was out on the stoop first thing Saturday morning with a pair of scissors.

Catnip leaves spread out on the drying racks

I ended up cutting away a lot of woody, leggy stems and throwing them out (along with a spider that had decided the plant was a good anchor for one of its webs). But there were enough nice, tender leaves among the trimmings to allow me to be picky about the ones I was going to dry. And picky I was: you can see here that I only chose intact leaves that were specific sizes, and that I tried to keep similar sizes together.

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Spaghetti Pie

This “signature recipe” (which I sometimes call baked spaghetti) is one that I learned around the age of ten, in an agricultural extension cooking class. I get rave reviews whenever I make it. The trick is to over-spice the mixture slightly before baking it, as the baking process slightly diminishes the spices’ impact.

  • 26 ounce jar of spaghetti sauce (or make your own)
  • 16 ounce box of spaghetti
  • 2 cups sliced mozzarella
  • 1 egg

Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a 13×9-inch baking pan. Prepare spaghetti according to package directions, except remove and drain pasta when still slightly firm. Mix with spaghetti sauce and spice to taste. Break egg into mixture and stir thoroughly. Layer half of spaghetti and sauce in baking pan. Cover completely with sliced mozzarella. Layer remaining half on top and cover it completely with mozzarella as well. Bake 20-30 minutes or until cheese is bubbling on top. Makes 6-8 servings.

My usual variant of this includes adding a pound of browned ground beef into the spaghetti sauce (you can also add bell peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, etc.). I also usually use shredded cheese on top instead of sliced cheese. Here are a couple of other variants that have successfully worked for me:

  • Substituting alfredo sauce for the normal red spaghetti sauce, and adding chopped chicken and green peppers. Be careful here as alfredo sauce already contains parmesan cheese.
  • A “skinny” version using spaghetti squash, skim milk cheese and only the egg white instead of the entire egg. Needs extra spicing over and above the slight over-spicing I recommend for the basic recipe.

I trimmed back the catnip this morning and brought some in for drying. A big drawback of anosmia is I can’t tell if it’s fragrant or not. So I gave a sprig to Emily to use her as a smell tester. She was unimpressed. A little while later I went back into the kitchen to check the dehydrator and she was guarding it as if it were her first born kitten. Plus, the leaves had been nibbled. The little faker!

10-Jun-17