Tag Archives: peanut butter

A little hermitage never hurt anyone

10 Oct



I inhaled the entire ‘Gilmore Girls’ series once it hit Netflix. There is a scene from the season 2 episode “There’s the Rub,” in which Rory’s boyfriend, Dean, wants to hang out Friday night, but Rory wants to be alone. “Actually, I was thinking of pulling kind of a hermit thing tonight,” she tells him. He doesn’t get it, so she tries to explain: “I almost never get the house all to myself and I thought with my mom gone, I can finally do my laundry exactly the way I like it…and watch TV and eat the Indian food that I love but my mom hates the smell of and go to bed early.”

I think Rory is onto something. I think being a hermit now and then is likely beneficial. Yet every time a day or evening alone is on the agenda, I get anxious. I have card-making, Halloween costume, and protein-amped cooking ambitions that, if realized, would require many hours at home, by myself, cozy in a fuzzy white bathrobe and potentially neglecting to shower. But instead, fear of being alone launches furious planning of human interactions. You know, the whole FoMO vibe sets in, and I can’t accept that my personality leans toward the ‘homebody’ variety.

I’m not saying you should avoid people. Friendship is absolutely critical to survival, and is not to be neglected. But sometimes people are busy, and you simply cannot engineer social gatherings. Other times you are over-exhausted, or are avoiding housework, or want to start a project, or enjoy a hobby. These are times when you shouldn’t feel guilty for deciding to take a homebody day.

img_0167I was inspired by the monastic lifestyle and impact after my latest read, Thomas Cahill’s “How the Irish Saved Civilization.” The monks maintained a quiet, relatively secluded existence, and yet they were culture builders. Most importantly, when the Roman Empire finally crumbled in the 5th century AD and Europe’s Greco-Roman heritage faced extinction at the hands of invading barbarians, the Irish monks preserved and copied ancient texts. In his piece What We Owe The Monks, Thomas E. Woods Jr. attributes agricultural developments throughout Europe, such as the corn industry in Sweden, cheese making in Parma, and salmon fisheries in Ireland, to said monks. During the Medieval Era, the Cistercian monks made remarkable strides in technological advancement. Committed to living “remote from the habitation of man,” their monasteries essentially became independently run factories. They used the newly invented waterwheel to power wheat milling, flour sieving, and olive crushing, and also to provide running water for cooking, washing, bathing, and sewage disposal.

That was an extreme example, I know! Being a monk was actually quite a rigorous practice, and probably did not involve many days spent comfortably at home. But, when we sit at home now and then, sans social media, we are experiencing the modern day equivalent of being “remote from the habitation of man.” And if and when we can find contentment in being quiet, in being disconnected, in building our own lives and thinking our own thoughts, are we not more at peace?

If you’ve at all bought into my anti-FoMO pep talk here, I think you’ll enjoy a leisurely Saturday morning sipping coffee and preparing these protein pancakes. We’re talking  30 grams of protein!!



15 g Optimum Nutrition double rich chocolate chocolate whey protein powder (or whatever brand of chocolate protein powder you have)

1/3 cup rolled oats img_1352

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1 Tbs. cocoa powder

1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt

1/2 banana, mashed

1 egg white

1/2 tsp. vanilla

1/4 cup 1% milk

Dash of Splenda (or to taste)


2 Tbs. powdered peanut butter (I use ‘PB2 with premium chocolate’)


In a medium sized bowl, combine the dry ingredients (protein powder, oats, baking powder, salt, cocoa powder). Add in yogurt, banana, egg white, vanilla, milk. Sweeten with Splenda, tasting until desired amount of sweetness is reached. Heat and apply cooking spray to a shallow, flat-bottomed pan (skillet, frying pan, whatever you have available). Spoon the batter into the pan, forming smaller pancakes to make flipping easier.

Meanwhile, combine powdered peanut butter with 1-2 Tbs. water. Spoon over cooked pancakes, and zap combination in microwave for 30 sec-1 min. If you’re craving a slightly more decadent taste, drizzle those protein-juiced lovelies with honey. Enjoy!

CALORIES: 370 (340 without honey; 295 without peanut butter or honey)



Homeward Heartstrings

16 Aug

pgh bridge

I am in-between. I quit my job as a process engineer and skipped out of Jackson, MS, in mid-June. I am now stationed at my parents’ house in Pittsburgh, PA, until I move to College Park, MD, to start a Master’s Program in Food Science at the University of Maryland. Living at home has been wonderful. No rent or bills, a sprawling bedroom, free food. Shopping at ALDI and cooking side by side with my mom, using a combination of her Pinterest finds and my Martha Stewart ones; rigorous, and sometimes explosive due to my poor sportsmanship, tennis matches with my brother; giggling and being straight-up weird with my sister (case in point: she strongly believes touching my right boob cures me of a bad mood); playing beautiful violin-piano arrangements with their author and my dad (or El Maestro, as I’m now fond of calling him in response to his, ‘That was good, but you’re a little flat on the C sharp and the notes need to be played more crisply in measure three.’) And then there’s the two little dogs, family dinners rarely excluding dessert, endless watermelon, insideJane Austen quote_home jokes, Netflix series-watching (waiting for season three of Peaky Blinders with bated breath), and just an extravagant amount of togetherness. So yes, I’m pretty happy, but I’m pretty sad too, because I can’t help but be homesick come August 22. On the one hand, I’m anxious for school to start. But on the other, I am too emotionally attached to four people and two dogs to truly want to leave them, ever. I feel burdened by how transient, and how transitional, life can be. The physical aspects of moving, though taxing, are easily forgotten once settled into the new home. But the emotional aspects, specifically being away from people we care about, linger on.

Why is home so important? The answer to this question likely varies from person to person, but I hope some can relate to mine. It’s because home is where I am loved most. Since my family has always lived in Pittsburgh, there is a certain tangible steadfastness attached to my sense of home. Yet the true comfort of being home, which would continue should my parents move to New Delhi tomorrow, is in the relationships I have with my family. They know me best, tease me the most, challenge my insecurities, point out my foibles, and affirm their unwavering faith in me. Jane Austen wrote, ‘There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort,’ and I heartily agree.


Oto (left) and Bailey on a diagonal.

In Maryland, I won’t be able to change the setting on my panicked mom’s newly acquired Facebook from ‘Romanian’ (yet presumed to be Spanish) to Icelandic, then finally English. I won’t find two eight-pound fur balls clattering to greet me every morning. I won’t be able to lie on my sister’s bed, and within three minutes be talked into sporting a temporary ‘Hello Kitty’ tattoo on my right arm. I won’t have my brother strongly suggesting I read more classic ancient literature, and likewise take more measures to achieve a Greek God physique. And I won’t get to watch my dad playing with dogs Oto and Bailey, lying on the foyer rug to tickle them.

Is the anticipated nostalgia I’m feeling all bad? Will it prevent me from embracing adventures that lie ahead? I think not, if handled appropriately. In The Odyssey, Odysseus used memories of his son and wife, and of his kingdom, to motivate himself to endure the return trip from the Trojan War. My journey through graduate school will not be quite so epic, but certainly knowing how loved and supported I am by family will help to spur me on. Besides, how long can I really wallow over how loved I am, and how lovely my beloved are?

The following recipe for Thai butter sauce is a true tweak, and a Dolan household treasure. Unable to find a sufficient replacement recipe after losing a Williams Sonoma one, my sister and I have been concocting our own version of this sauce for years. It’s like quirky soul food, and therefore an apt metaphor for my family. We pair it with grilled chicken, rice, and a green vegetable, i.e. broccoli or sugar snap peas.



(Servings: ~10)


-1/2 white onion, finely choppedIMG_0630

-Handful cilantro, finely chopped

-1 Tbs. brown sugar

-1 Tbs. fish sauce

-2 Tbs. soy sauce

-1 Tbs. lime juice

-1 tsp. ginger

-1 tsp. curry powder

-1 tsp. Penzey satay sauce (Pittsburgh store; if not available, omit)

-1 tsp. chili powder

-1/2 tsp. cumin

-1/2 cup peanut butter

-1 can lite coconut milk


Combine chopped onion and 1/3 the can of coconut milk in a skillet. Turn on the heat to medium-low and let sit for several minutes, to cook the onions. Add remainder of milk, then subsequently add the rest of the ingredients minus the cilantro, stirring to combine. Remove from heat once thoroughly mixed. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.

CALORIES per 1/4 cup serving: 106