Navigating the Treacherous Waters of Online Dating (and dating in general)

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Dating.  It sucks.  I hate it and everyone I know hates it too.  I presume that they are grateful that they were lucky enough to meet their ‘one’ early enough in life that they no longer have to deal with this shit.  Obviously, that was not the case for me.

I’ve loved in life and I’ve been hurt in life – badly.  Badly enough that I’m wary of trying it out again.  Badly enough, that a large part of me is convinced that I must have done something quite terrible in a past life, that the gods have deemed it fit to curse me in love for this one.

Still, upon becoming single last year (and after all of the tears and self-doubt washed away), I felt somewhat excited about dating again.  I thought about how fun it could be to meet new men again and be pursued.  After a pretty hefty amount of healing, I was actually looking forward to getting back in the game!  I could not have been more wrong.  Dating still sucks as much as it did before.  No, wait.  I think it actually sucks more now-a-days.  With the advent of online dating, it seems like the romance is all but gone, along with the balls of men and the dignity of women.  When did we stop respecting ourselves?  When did we start hiding behind our computer screens and claw at whatever random text message we can get?

I used to be ok with online dating.  It’s how I met the guy I thought I was going to marry, errr…at least, I thought I’d be with him for a long time and kind of see where it went from there (apparently, nowhere).  My point being, at the time I didn’t have too much of a problem with online dating back when I met him.  I just saw it as another outlet to meet people.  Things were still relaxed back then — you see a profile, you message to meet, you actually meet.  No drama.  Five years later and boy, the game has changed!  Everyone wants to know everything!  Do you want kids?  What’s your income?  What do you do?  What’s your favorite color?  No, they don’t ask that last one, but it’d be a lot funnier if they did!  All of those questions are pretty loaded and I can’t even bring myself to talk about that stuff within the first few months of dating — let alone on a profile prior to a first date!   Of course, to answer is optional, but I think it actually hinders your chances of meeting someone if you don’t.  The less you reveal about yourself, the less likely they can ‘match’ you with someone.  I feel it just adds a lot of pressure and a lot of dishonesty.  I certainly know of a few men who answer “Definitely wants kids” because they believed that it would get more women to consider their profile.

And the way profiles are created now!  Five years back, I could get away with one or two sentences, a decent photo and that was about it.  Now, people write entire essays trying to sell themselves in one go!  I get it, you want to get noticed, you try to impress others and what better way than with photos of things you supposedly climbed and all of the oh-so-tropical places you’ve visited.    If online profiles are anything to go off of, everyone loves to travel, climb and cook.  This, in particular, makes it hard because I actually do all of those things and the most disappointing bit is when I meet a guy for a first date, that ‘love for cooking’ actually just means: ‘one time I made spaghetti and it was pretty edible.’  False advertising, much?  And what *is* with all of the claims about travel?  Just because you’ve had the opportunity and the fortune and the luxury to travel to a lot of places doesn’t make you any better than someone who just happened to get stuck in one place.

Its a sad truth: People lie/exaggerate (immensely!) in their profiles.  I’m probably even guilty of it too, but I feel others do it way more than I do.  I don’t think I even do it intentionally!  As an example, I *d0* like to travel, but that doesn’t mean I get to do it often.  Actually, I think I even took that off my profile because I kept getting men asking me ‘So — where have you been?’ right off the bat.  I suppose they’re just trying to make conversation — but it feels more like an interview when they ask.  I feel like it’s more of a, “I need to assess your travel resume.”

Then, there are the photos.  I can understand if you haven’t changed your photos in a year or so.  I understand; I get lazy too.  Though it’s quite another thing to post photos of yourself from 5 – 10 years back!  I have been on dates where I totally walked past the guy because he doesn’t look anything like his photo anymore.  Then, they act all butt-hurt because of it!  It’s not just guys, I think.  I’ve been on dates where we meet and the first comment they make is, “Oh, you actually look like your photo.”  My initial reaction used to be, “Why wouldn’t I?”  Then, it dawned on me: women lie too.  Yes, I’m sorry, it took me that long to realize it.  While we are on the subject of photo choices for profiles; I’ve come to start distrusting any profiles that have a heavy does of black and white photos.  Let’s face it, everyone looks better in black and white.   It can be misleading.

I’m not saying looks are everything, but physical attraction is key and it’s a certain type of chemistry that you just can’t manufacture.  Also, beauty is in the eye of the beholder so why don’t you just let your true self shine and see who digs it?

So you get to the part where you start talking with a person online.  There are so many men out there who apparently would much rather email forever and ever or send endless amounts of texts, but never actually pluck up the courage to say, “Let’s meet.”  Sure, I can bring it up too (and I have), but it’s astonishing to me how many men I actually have to prod a little bit to get them to agree to meeting.  It’s not that I desperately love going out on dates — I just, personally, would rather meet someone face to face than exchange dozens of emails.  Words are nothing, I feel, from the safety of a computer.  Sure, they can say all of these nice things and claim that are so into all of these awesome things that I’m into as well, but until I actually meet them – I’m wary.  Call me paranoid, but I’ve been on enough dates to be know to be cautious.  Sweethearts, 9 times out of 10, it’s all talk.

I used to think the delay in meeting was because they were shy (although, there are some shy guys out there), but now I assume that it’s really just because they are talking to other women and sadly, I do not rank high enough for them to meet just yet.  HOWEVER, if the others don’t work out, then I’m next in line.  I suppose that’s my biggest gripe with online dating.  Because so many people are accessible to you, it’s really hard to *not* talk/date multiple people at once.  I’ve tried the multiple dates thing — it’s not my style.  I can’t even carry on more than one or two email conversations at once.  Even that already feels like too much and it also feels really unauthentic.  How can I really give Mr. Friday Date Night a chance if I have Mr. Thursday Date Night on my mind?

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I have a penchant for dating foreigners.  Sorry, I live in San Francisco — it’s a melting pot and those foreign accents with their stories of their home countries can be alluring.   I bring it up because it’s been mentioned that they also have problems with this whole massive-multiple-dates thing.  Which leaves me to wonder: is this an American cultural thing?  Online dating does seem to be far more prevalent here in the States.

It’s a murky business and I think I may have to take a break from it all.  I suspect my dating prospects will decrease significantly if I try to meeting someone in the ‘real world’, but at least what I see is what I’ll get and hopefully, a little bit of the romantic adventure and mystery of meeting someone new will return.  OR, I’ll just meet a lot of sleaze-os in real life which can be just as difficult to deal with.

Until then, I guess I’ll just keep doing my own thing and keep on secretly hoping that Andrea Pirlo will magically leave his current girlfriend and come waltzing into my life and I can let the charm bomb explode all over him.

 

World Cup 2014, Brazil

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And the day many of us have dreaded since the opening game on June 12th, World Cup 2014 has come to an end.  Germany defeated Argentina to win its fourth World Cup and brought home the kind of pride and joy it has not had since 1990.  I’m not even German, and still, it was a proud day today.

A lot of people have their gripes about FIFA and the World Cup — and team sporting events in general, but today it was a day that the World Cup is supposed to be.  It brought together people of all cultures to watch and cheer for something that we have no direct ties to.  As a friend I met recently (because of the Games, no less!) put it, “…The World Cup joins the entire world together for a few weeks every year. For example I watched the final in the U.S with Germans and Argentinians in a Hawaiian restaurant eating French fries and drinking Irish beer.”  How can you argue with that?  We’ve all cheered together, we’ve all cried together and we’ve all argued together at some point during the games.

Watching these games this year made me think back to my own days of athletic competition.  It reminded me of what it felt like to really work hard for something.  It reminded me of a time when I wanted something so bad, that I could taste it.  It reminded me of what it felt like to work so hard and do my very, very best and sometimes, my best just wasn’t good enough.  I’ve cried the same tears that Argentinians cried today, and every other team that was knocked out leading up to this final.  And yet, I’ve also felt the same, immense pride that the German players felt today when all of that hard work and perseverance just happens to pay off.  I’ve felt the same joy when a little bit of luck just happens to be on your side that day.

Some people just say it’s all a simple game.  Some hate sports with a passion — I don’t blame them, but I don’t think it’s the sport they hate.  It’s the (often-times) idiotic fans.  Still, I don’t think there’s any other feeling in the world that compares to winning a ‘simple game’.  We all go through life, achieving promotions and awards and other incredibly significant milestones.  Yet, in my eyes, it’s not the same as winning that 1st place for  something so simple as a sport.  It’s something that tests your physicality, your mentality and your emotions in ways that nothing else can.  You have a team that you have to work together for a greater good.  It’s a good feeling; it’s a great feeling.

Congratulations Germany on the win.  I have no idea what I’m going to do for the next four years.  There will certainly be some serious World Cup withdrawal.

White Peaches Caprese Salad

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And Pinterest strikes again!  I found a gorgeous photo online of a peach-caprese salad.  Peaches are so great for a summer meal and you can never go wrong with cheese and basil.  I saw the photo and again thought, “How hard can it be?”  Not that hard, this time around!  I took a few liberties with my version of the dish.

First off, the peaches in the original photo on Pinterest were cut and laid out with the rest — no tampering or altering of a great summer fruit.  I chose to pan-sear the peach slices in butter.  Yes,  butter.  You know it tasted oh-so good!  Instead of using your typical yellow peaches, I opted for white peaches – I just prefer them, but I’m sure it would have been just as good with yellow peaches.    Slice the peaches about a half-inch to a whole inch thick.  When you cook them in the pan, it will help as they will be sturdier and easier to handle.  Make sure to fry the peach slices no longer than approximately 30 seconds for each side.  The first batch I had over cooked in butter, and so, had come out a bit mushy.

Slice the mozzarella, gather some fresh basil leaves and bam!  Peach-Caprese Salad.  Drizzling balsamic vinegar on top is optional.

Not bad of a dish for a sunny, laughter-filled picnic with my favorite Zumba ladies in Golden Gate Park.  And it only took me all of 30 minutes to prepare.  Enjoy!

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Pinterest Potatoes

Close enough, no?

Close enough, no?

Some time ago, I found a photo of the most delicious looking baked potato on themetapicture.com (click for original photo).  I figured, how hard can it be?  Well — my potatoes came out NOTHING like it.  I bet the Pinterest photo is actually really delicious, but I thought my potato came out pretty tasty as well.  And as you can see, I don’t think the photo is necessarily cringe-worthy like so many other ‘Nailed it’ attempts!

Basically, I sliced one large, golden yukon potato and stuffed the slices with even thinner slices of butter, cheese and sea salt.  I baked the potato in the oven for about half an hour at 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  I would probably suggest actually “pre-baking” the potato a little bit first, then slicing it, adding the fixtures, and then baking again for maybe an additional 15 – 20 minutes.  My initial potato came out a bit raw.

I used shredded Emmentaler cheese, so you may get a more gooey potato if you use a different cheese.  Some may choose to drizzle the potato in olive oil, but I totally embraced the butter and you don’t really need the oil after that.  I embraced the butter.  EMBRACE the BUTTER.

 

Night of the Red Onion

Simple ingredients make for an amazing flavor.

Simple ingredients make for an amazing flavor.

What can I say?  I’m a lover of onions.  The thought of a sweet, caramelized onion jam is like a special kind of heaven to me!  This has been one of the simpler jams I’ve made, so far.   The final product was equal parts salty and sweet.  It is absolutely perfect when piled atop a smear of brie cheese and french baguette.  For something so easy to make, it is certainly a great appetizer to showcase at fancy, schmancy parties.

Don’t hate on the look of it!  I’m not going to lie, it looks like a big, reddish-brown pile of mush, but it is definitely tasty!  The recipe called for 1 cup red wine — I may have upped that to 1.5, almost 2 cups of red wine.  It burns off, anyway!  My only suggestion is to really invest in a good wine for cooking.  The flavor will truly marinate into the onions and you may as well pick something worthwhile.

Another tip – my good friend, Joice Karyadi, actually helped with the preparation of this jam.  Yes, I made her slice the onions because I end up crying so badly that I’m as blind as Daredevil on a foggy day.  However, Joice’s mom had taught her well.  Apparently, if you keep a small bowl of salt right next to you,  it blocks whatever it is that onions do to make your eyes perspire more than a steamy Zumba class in July.  Talk about old-mommy tricks in the kitchen!  Thank goodness for women who actually know what they are doing in the kitchen.  It seems like such a small thing, but this seriously blew me away.

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Enjoy the jam!

Recipe found here.

Red Onion Jam

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsps olive oil
  • 2 lbs purple onions (halved and thinly sliced)
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 tbsps balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt (can add more for taste)
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper (can add more for taste)

To Do

  1. Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat until shimmering.  Add onions and cook until softened and translucent (about 8 minutes), stirring occasionally.
  2. Add wine, sugar, thyme, vinegar, and salt.  Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to low.  Allow to simmer until liquid thickens and becomes syrupy (about 1 hour), stirring occasionally.  Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Transfer onion jam to a bowl and let cool.
  4. Transfer portions of jam to sterilized jam jars and seal in a canning pot for approximately 7 minutes.

**I filled four 5.5 4 oz. jam jars.**

Fattiness in a Pie Plate

A hearty quiche to warm your heart!

A hearty quiche to warm your heart!

I love quiche.  I really do.  They are so easy to make and you can pretty much put everything and anything in ’em.  This dish was inspired by something by Emeril Lagasse, but I made some hefty changes to make it much more un-healthy.  First off, the original recipe called for about 6 ounces bacon.  Do you know how much bacon that is?  I do — I measured it.  And it’s SO not enough for this meat-eating gal!  I used a whole pack instead.  Make what you will of that.  This could just as easily be a vegetarian dish as well, but like I said: I luuuurrrvvveee meat.

With my additions, the recipe ended up filling up 2 ready-made 9 inch pie plates, so I would suggest making this for you and your friends or else you’ll be eating it for the rest of the week.  Heaven forbid, you get sick of quiche!  The onions, I also ended up cooking longer than suggested by Mr. Lagasse, but only because I prefer a more slightly caramelized (burned?) onion.  I love onions.  I love bacon.  And I love mushrooms.  This dish was pretty perfect for me.  I hope it will be delicious for you as well.  Happy eating!

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Recipe found here

Onion-SHROOM-Bacon Quiche

Ingredients

  • 2 frozen ready-made 9″ pie plates
  • 1 pack thick cut bacon, chopped
  • 4 cups thinly sliced onion
  • 10 oz. sliced mushrooms
  • ground Thyme
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • salt
  • ground black peper
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 10 large eggs
  • 2 packs shredded cheese (I used the 5 0z pack of emmentaler/Swiss mix from Lucerne)

To Do

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a saute pan, over medium heat, cook bacon.  Drain slices on paper towel.  You might want to save some of the bacon fat to cook the rest of the ingredients in.  Sounds fatty, I know, but it tastes good.  Once cooled, chop into quarter inch pieces.
  3. Add the onions to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally until the onions are wilted and lightly caramelized (about 8 minutes).
  4. Add the mushrooms, thyme and garlic to the pan and season with salt and pepper.  Cook everything together until most of the moisture has cooked out of the mushrooms (about another 8 to 10 minutes).
  5. Remove pan from heat and allow the onion/mushroom mixture to cool (about 10 minutes).
  6. In a medium bowl, combine 1/2 cup heavy cream and 5 of the eggs.  Stir in one pack of the shredded cheese.  Stir in about half of your chopped bacon and then stir half of the onion/mushroom mixture.  Pour this into one of the pre-made 9″ pie plates.  Repeat this step for the second pie plate.
  7. Bake both pie plates on a cookie sheet for about 35 minutes, but start checking at around 20 minutes.

Original recipe found here.

Flirting with the Devil

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This jam adventure took a turn for the hawt n’ spicy!  OK, not so spicy, but it came out delicious regardless and may be my favorite jam so far.  Who would have thought that strawberries and habanero peppers could taste so good together?

Originally, I was going to call this jam ‘Hotter than Hades’, but it felt like such a lie when the actual jam came out not that spicy.  Don’t get me wrong, the habaneros give a nice kick to the jam and the heat kind of creeps up on you after a few spoonfuls.  This recipe probably could have been a lot spicier (which wouldn’t have been such a bad thing), had I kept some of the seeds and veins of the peppers in the mix.  So, if you would like to kick this recipe up a notch, I suggest doing just that.  Or you could lessen the amount of sugar.  Your call.

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Don't the colors look great together!?

Don’t the colors look great together!?

A small word of warning: wear gloves or something protective as you chop the habanero peppers.  This jam session was shared with two wonderful friends of mine and one took the fall for us, by chopping the habaneros.  Our pride got to us.  We thought we could take it.  Not so — a mere half hour after having chopped the peppers with her bare hands, she started to feel a slight tingling sensation.  We thought, “Oh, not so bad.”  Ten minutes later, it had become a stinging, burning feeling.  The feeling would remain for the next 24 hours.

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In the end, it’s a delicious mix of sweet n’ spicy.  We made a nice batch of cheesy biscuits to go with it and it tasted great.  Also, goes great on top of slices of gruyere cheese.  Eat well!

My version of the recipe can be found here

Flirting with the Devil Jam

Ingredients

  • 5 cups chopped strawberries
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp. cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped Habaneros (seeded and deveined if you so desire)
  • 1/2 Tbsp. butter (optional — used as an anti-foaming agent)
  • 7 cups white, granulated sugar
  • 1 pack liquid pectin

To Do

  1. Put your testing spoon in the freezer.  You’ll use this for testing the jam later.
  2. Place all but the sugar in a large, non-reactive pot and bring to a strong, rolling boil (about 10 minutes).  Be sure to stir occasionally, to avoid burning or sticking to the bottom of your pot.
  3. Add the sugar and return to a boil.  Allow to boil down until it comes to your desire gelatinous consistency.  Remember that spoon I had you put in the freezer?  Go get it.  Test your jam by taking a dollop onto the frozen spoon and allow it to come to room temperature.  Check to see if the jam is the right kind of ‘gooey-ness’ that you desire.  If it’s still too runny for your taste, let it boil further and add a little more pectin (I ended up using about a pack and a half).
  4. Once it is at the right kind of jammy texture for you, you can start to ladle into your freshly sterilized jars.  Seal them in your canning pot for about 7 minutes.  Invert the jars for about 2 minutes.  If you don’t do this, you run the risk of having all of the strawberry pieces pile at the bottom before it can cool.

YIELD: 9 quarter pint jars
Original recipe found here