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Friday, August 9, 2013

Cranberry-Walnut Chicken Wraps and Baseball Really Does Make Everything Better

I refuse to get on my elliptical machine unless I have something good to watch while I torture myself  exercise.  It is just so gosh-darn boring any other way.

When I couldn't get my ipad to stream a video earlier this week, I went to plan B. Plan B is to read a book while riding my recumbent bike, since reading while standing on the elliptical--a stationary-yet-moving piece of equipment--requires more coordination than I possess.  I love, love, love to read so I was excited to have an excuse not to get on the elliptical (I usually force myself to use the elliptical instead of the bike because I get a much better--read SWEATY--workout).   Sitting and peddling on a bike while enjoying a good story is not such a great workout, but it is so much more enjoyable.

There was a minor problem, however.
This is the book that I have been reading lately.

And by lately, I mean approximately for the last month.  Or even longer, if you go back about 7 years to the last time I tried to read Life of Pi.  And now I digress.

I'm not a quitter.  I hate to start something and not finish it.  I can only remember giving up on one other book, ever.  It was around 25 years ago, Mr. Terrific bought me Stephen King's It, because It was over 1000 pages long.  I read books quickly, and if I'm reading a really good book I start wishing that the book were longer.  Mr. Terrific thought he was doing me a favor by buying me a really long book.

Except I didn't like the book.  After about 600 pages, I decided that I had read enough about children being terrorized by a clown.

Which is more than I can tell you about Life of Pi. The last time I attempted to read this book,  I read over 100 pages and I can not tell you what I read.  I gave up, even though it was on the best seller list, even though a friend of mine (whose opinion I totally respect and trust) told me it was a fabulous book.  I mean, 100 pages was a serious effort, right?  And for me to not even be able to remember what I read--I feel bad saying this--I felt like I was just wasting my time, and all because I was being stubborn and didn't want to quit.

But quit I did, I was happy to stop reading it and never gave it another thought...until the movie that was based on the book won a few Oscars at this year's academy awards.  I didn't see the movie, but I started thinking to myself, hmmmm...maybe I should give that book another go.

So about a month ago, I started reading Life of Pi AGAIN.  And since the only time of day that I can really find time to read is when I get into bed--and since I am on the verge of total exhaustion at that late hour--if there is nothing to spark my interest (read: if something is boring), I fall asleep really quickly.

I don't have a lot to show for the last month or so that I have been attempting to read this book.  Every night,  my eyes immediately just start rolling around inside of my head, anywhere from one word to a few paragraphs into it, which leaves me stuck on page 23.  That's right.  23 pages, in an entire month.  I would usually expect to read 3 or 4 books in a month.  But I'm stuck.  And I do mean stuck.

This is the page that I have been stuck on for the last week or so.  I get into bed, open the book to the page that I have dog-eared (don't judge me) to mark my place, and I ponder why pi=3.14159265 (I can't help it, my math-geekiness always expands it and yes I am jealous of everyone who has memorized more of these randomly-distributed digits than I have), visions of circles and their ratios of circumference to diameter cloud my thinking and then I realize that this tiny little equation is the only thing I have read in this book that I can relate to!!! 

 And then I close the book and turn out the light and lie there thinking that reading before bed is no fun.

Okay, back to the non-streaming ipad and working out on the bike instead of the elliptical...

So the last thing I want to read while working out is Life of Pi, especially when I could be reading something I enjoy.  I decided I would just go ahead and read something else while I exercised.

This is where Baseball Makes Everything Better comes in.

The Bird.  If you are a baseball fan, and you grew up in the '70's, surely you remember him?  I unabashedly admit that I really, really love the game of baseball and I always have...and I bought this book because even though I have always been a die-hard Red Sox fan there is no way that any baseball fan who ever saw Mark Fidrych pitch could not help but like him, and I certainly liked him.  He was so much fun to watch, and he played like he was having a blast: talking to himself, running around to congratulate his teammates, getting down on his hands and knees to smooth the dirt on the pitcher's mound.  

I bought this book a few months ago, and I gave it to Mr. Terrific because I thought he would enjoy reading it, but I am the one who is enjoying it.  I'm enjoying it so much that I have decided I will not ever waste one more second on any book that I'm not enjoying...and I'm probably going to have to remind myself to come back and read this blogpost if I ever get it in my head again that I really should give Life of Pi another try! 

Today's Playlist
  • "They Can't Take That Away From Me"...Frank Sinatra
  • "Come Go With Me"...The Del-Vikings
  • "Brown-Eyed Girl"...Van Morrison
  • "Volare"...Dean Martin
  • "Beyond The Sea"...Kevin Spacey
  • "Sway"...Michael Buble'

Cranberry-Walnut Chicken Wraps (serves 4-6)
  • chopped chicken from 1 store-bought rotisserie chicken (about 3 cups)
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1 cup diced celery (one large rib)
  • 1 cup dried cranberries (like Craisins)
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon (or 2 teaspoons dried)
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 4-6 flour tortilla wraps
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach
Gather your ingredients.

Do the prep work.  Chop the chicken and chives, dice the celery, and place these ingredients in a large bowl.

Add the walnuts.

Add the cranberries, and the tarragon.  I hope you have fresh tarragon.  I had to use dried tarragon because there is a tarragon-loving critter that has been raiding my herb garden.

Sprinkle in the rice vinegar.

 Add the mayonnaise.  I try not to use more mayo than needed.  Just enough to hold the chicken salad together is fine.  I got the idea to make this salad earlier this summer, when I was waiting at the deli and I saw a chicken-walnut-cranberry salad in the display case.

The chicken-walnut-cranberry part sounded good to me; the solid-white gloppy-mayo appearance, not so much. Is gloppy a word?  I use it a lot!  When I want to describe a glob of something drippy and sloppy, I say gloppy.

Couldn't help myself, had to google the word "gloppy."  Here is what I found, courtesy of The Free Dictionary:

A soft soggy mixture, as of food: cafeterias serving nondescript glop. 2. Something, such as a piece of writing, that is judged to be worthless.

 HAHA!  I was certainly thinking it describes soggy food, but maybe some would think it an appropriate word to describe my writing!!  As in, "I'm never going to read Fran's blog again, what a bunch of glop."

Okay, back to our recipe.

 Gingerly stir all of the ingredients together.

To assemble the wraps:

Place a loose handful of spinach leaves on a tortilla.

Place approximately 1 cup of the chicken mixture on top of the spinach.

 Here is where I wish I had an extra set of hands.  Two hands to demonstrate how to roll the wrap, and another to take pictures.  Instead I will just hold and shoot.

Grab the right and left sides of the tortilla, and fold toward the middle.

Then grab the edge of the tortilla closest to you, and roll it away from yourself, taking care to keep the side edges folded in so that the filling doesn't ooze out.
 Continue rolling away from yourself until the wrap is completely rolled up with all filling safely ensconced.

en·sconce  (n-skns)
tr.v. en·sconceden·sconc·ingen·sconc·es
1. To settle (oneself) securely or comfortably: She ensconced herself in an armchair.
2. To place or conceal in a secure place.

Again, from The Free Dictionary . After I typed the word "ensconced" I started having second thoughts.  Perhaps the word did not mean what I thought it meant?  So I checked it out.  The definition confirms that it's the proper verb.  I would say that the chicken salad most definitely is securely and comfortably settled within the tortilla.

For the moment, at least.

Cut your wraps in half, if desired, and serve.



  1. Hey Fran, Yum, looks really good, and I'm not even much of a chicken salad fan. Hubby is though, and he would love this.

    Good for you for even trying to Read Life of Pi, I don't even want to see the movie, lol.

    I think you're a very clever write, you always make me chuckle out loud. Happy Summer!

    :) Pam

  2. The wraps look great! The last time I gave up on a book was in school, when I don't think I finished a book sophomore year for my British Lit class. it was torture! Thank goodness for Spark Notes. I did watch Life of Pi the movie and loved it.


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