Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Plop Down and Get Your Curl On

Guys, I have a confession to make. This may come as a surprise to many of you but... 

I have naturally curly hair. Not just "wavy" curly, but "curly" curly. If I had to describe them, I'd call them "poodle curls." They are like spiral curls, with a little more fluff to them, and volume to boot. Although at birth I received the gift of my father's African-American curl definition, I was also gifted my mother's straight, soft texture. Because of this, people have had a hard time believing any part of my nationality was based out of Africa.

When I was little, my soft spiral curls were a precious commodity - and I was often called "Shirley" by relatives as well as strangers in public settings. As I got older, I had a horrible habit of twirling my hair and twisting in knots that were nearly impossible to pull apart.  As punishment for the damage I did to my hair every month, my mother would ask my hairdresser to keep my hair boy-short. 

This was probably the most humiliating thing that's ever happened to me. Multiple other children would ask me if I was a girl or a boy - which traumatizes me still to this day. 

I hated having short hair, but even more so than that, I hated having curly hair. I hated it because it made me different. If being one of the loudest kids in class wasn't the most off-setting thing about me, I just had to be one of the only curly headed kids, too. Everyone had wavy hair, or straight hair that their moms put into pony tails, pigtails, or braids. 

My hair was just curly.

It really made me feel poorly about myself, and this was a major factor in my young adult self esteem issues. 

It wasn't until seventh grade when I noticed my mom's friend's daughter's usually long wavy blonde locks were poker straight, that I found out there was an alternative to wearing my hair curly. When I asked her how she got her hair so straight, she replied with "I'll show you after dinner."

When we got to her room, she showed me the gadget that would wind up taking hold of my life for the next 23 years - a Revlon hair straightener. Now, hair straighteners today are a lot different than they were in 2002. My first two straighteners still left my hair frizzy and thick, but my hair was much more tame than it had been. I became addicted to straightening my hair, and I went through many phases and many straighteners from seventh grade on.

It wasn't until this past summer that my new hair stylist told me to stop coloring my hair, and to stop flat ironing it, too. As she ran her hands through my fried ends, she shook her head.

"You have beautiful natural curls, why are you still straightening them?"

I really couldn't answer her. I still wasn't sure why I was straightening them. I had grown out of the twirling phase and my hair was much longer than it had been.

I slowly started easing out of straightening my hair, saving the heat for Friday nights out or once during the weekday if I didn't think my curls looked publicly acceptable. I now have a collection of products I cannot live without and large, soft curls.

With this being said, I have been looking up new techniques to get the most out of my locks.

I am a creature of habit and have always washed my hair before bed so that I could straighten it in the morning. Old habits die hard, and I have yet to get accustomed to waking up in the morning to shower. I also sleep like a log that's rolling downhill at 95 mph. This has done nothing special for my hair, in fact, when I wake up in the morning, my hair is dry, crispy and nest-like.

I just discovered plopping. I was hesitant to try it off of the name alone - "plopping" isn't exactly the most romantic sounding word, ya know. But I gave it a go and I can say I'm overly pleased with the results. I woke up this morning, head wrapped in an old shirt, but my curls were soft, round and flowy. I added some of my favorite product - It's a 10 Miracle Oil Plus Kertain and It's a 10 Miracle Leave-In Potion Plus Keratin - and went on my merry way. I didn't even worry about adding heat or moisture to my hair, nor did I feel the need to twist, pull or braid to achieve the curls I wanted today.

This is my hair today (please don't judge my makeup-less face, one of those "I ran out of time to put on mascara because I was too busy taking hair selfies" mornings):

I love you plopping, and look forward to our new life together, especially as my hair begins to finally grow out.

Follow me on Twitter! @AdeleMarieStew

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Fourth of July Picnic: Chopped Mexican Quinoa Salad with Chili Lime Shrimp

Happy FIFTH of July!

Well friends, something really terrible happened to me this past Friday. My year-old Lenovo Yoga laptop hit the pavement with great force. Not only did my screen crack, but I seemed to have broken part of my hard drive. To my great fortune, I found out that a majority of my Facebook friends are IT people, or know a damn good one ~ THANK YOU FACEBOOK FRIENDS. Right now I am waiting for my new hard drive and screen to be delivered.

In the meantime, I'm going to have to work off of any random PC or phone to get my blog posts up.

I'd have to say, my three day fourth of July vacation started off on the wrong foot. Breaking my laptop at 8am on my day off was not ideal. I then went immediately to dog-sitting, to a doctor's appointment for my mother, back to the dogs, on to a meal with my mom, a haircut, getting my laptop checked out by a friend, the dogs, to a family friends house to look at my laptop, THE DOGS, then to the grocery store before 9pm. Needless to say, after putting the groceries away around 10:30pm, I was ready for bed.

I had to have slept roughly 12 hours straight-through, as I don't recall getting up until a knock on the door jolted me awake at quarter to 11am.

Now typically a good sleep-in session is the least of worries, but on the day of the fourth - the day I had already committed to soaking up the sun's rays in the pool by 1pm, I wasn't overly thrilled. I STILL HAD A VERY DETAILED RECIPE TO PREPARE.

So after glaring at my phone's clock, I threw on my slippers, put on some coffee and began to prepare my recipe for the day.

I have been practicing a strictly pescatarian diet as of late - although the 45345 pieces of salami I munched on yesterday can detest to this - so I wanted to make something I knew I would be okay eating. I have a dairy allergy and figured that everyone and their mother puts cheese on everything (I used to too, until I wound up needing to get steroids injected in my arm after eating cheesy vegetables one time), and I wanted to make this holiday as emergency room free as possible for me.

I found a recipe on Pinterest the night before (on my phone, no less) for a "Chopped Mexican Quinoa Salad with Chili Lime Shrimp" that looked to die for, and I thought to myself, "Why not give it a go?"

First,  I followed a recipe from the same blog (The Cafe Sucre Farine) to make the perfect quinoa. Have you ever had quinoa where maybe ONE tiny piece out of a million baby grains was not thoroughly cooked? When this happens, it feels like you're biting into a piece of sand - it's the worst feeling. This occurs more often than not for me, so I was a bit hesitant to try a new method of cooking it.

I used the Ancient Harvest brand quinoa and followed Chris and Scott's directions verbatim. Guys, I'm not sure if it was the placebo effect of trying something new, but this quinoa was to die for! It was cooked to perfection, with a hint of the vegetable broth I mixed in.

While my quinoa was setting, I thawed out my shrimp and got a chili honey lime marinade prepped for them.

I grabbed three unhusked ears of corn and used that viral "cooking and shucking" microwave method to get them ready. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, this video explains it best. It helps if the corn you buy is really sweet. There are a lot of flavors that go into this recipe, and sweet corn really just adds its own to the mix.

The only thing I didn't have for this recipe were scallions, but I did have both white and red onions. I ended up splitting half of each colored onion into the recipe - and I think I wouldn't have had it any other way. I LOVE red onion, probably more than any normal person should, so I think mixing it into the recipe was a very smart decision on my part.

This concoction was a hit to all who tried it (well, all those who love seafood) and I definitely think it's worth sharing. Take a look below to follow this recipe and create your own Chopped Mexican Quinoa Salad with Chili Lime Shrimp.

Super delicious, super healthy and bursting with fresh, south of the border flavor, this entree salad is sure to please! Skip the shrimp and you have a perfect side for parties, picnics and potlucks!
Recipe type: Salad, Main
Cuisine: Mexican
Serves: Serves 6
  • 3 cups cooked quinoa, I use this method for preparing perfect quinoa (3 cups is half of the recipe.)
  • For the dressing:
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • For the corn:
  • 3 medium ears fresh corn, unhusked
  • For the shrimp:
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower, canola or other mild-flavored oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano, finely chopped
  • 1 ½ pounds raw, peeled and deveined shimp
  • For the salad:
  • 2 medium zucchini, diced in ¼ inch pieces*
  • 1 medium white onion, diced in ¼ inch pieces*
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, diced in ¼ inch pieces*
  • 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup roughly chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed (optional)
  1. For the dressing, combine all ingredients in a medium-size glass jar. Cover tightly and shake until well combined. (If dressing is made ahead and refrigerated, oil may solidify slightly. If this happens just let it sit at room temperature for 10-15 minutes and it will liquify. You can also warm it in the microwave for 15 seconds to liquify.)
  2. Prepare corn by placing the three ears in the microwave, unhusked. Cook on high power for 12 minutes. Remove from microwave with a clean kitchen towel or oven mitt to a cutting board. Holding the corn with the towel or oven mitt, cut off 2 inches at the bottom of each ear. Hold corn at the silk end and push the corn out of the husk. The corn comes out perfectly cooked and free of silk! Here's a video demonstration of the technique.
  3. Cut corn from ears. Set aside. (I like to leave some of the corn in bigger pieces.)
  4. About 30 minutes before grilling, combine all marinade ingredients in a zippered bag. Gently squeeze bag and tilt back and forth to combine ingredients. Add shrimp and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Remove from refrigerator and drain well, discarding marinade.
  5. Prepare a medium-high (about 450˚F) gas or charcoal grill fire.
  6. Clean and oil grill surfaces. Sprinkle shrimp lightly with salt and pepper. Grill the shrimp on the first side for about 3 minutes, or until they begin to curl up, turn pink and look charred here and there on the surface facing the grill. Flip shrimp to other side and grill for another 2-3 minutes or until done. Don't overcook or shrimp will be tough and dry.
  7. For the salad, combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl and stir gently to combine. Drizzle lightly with dressing and stir again. Top with shrimp. Pass extra dressing at the table.