You can’t change people.
It’s one of the life lessons I need to relearn in every new relationship. For the most part, I agree that we have to “accept our loved ones for who they are.” But there are certain things I think you can tinker with without having to rewire the motherboard.
Punctuality, card writing, and general expression of emotion were among the areas I sought to improve after the honeymoon period ended with Charlie. I’ve been astounded and at times brought to tears by the progress on all these fronts, specifically when #2 and #3 have collided. But perhaps the biggest leaps and bounds I’ve seen have been on the food front.
I know that might seem obvious; how could Charlie not at least eat slightly better with someone waiting at home for him with a bowl of kale. But Charlie’s eating habits did not improve via osmosis alone. If fact, rather than my raising him up, for the first part of our relationship, I feared that he would drag me down.
For me, the best part of any honeymoon period is not in the bedroom, but at the table. One of the things that attracted me to Charlie in the first place was his taste in food and wine, and his tendency to overbuy both. In those first few months of tasting our way through the world together I found myself drinking a lot more during the week and eating a lot more bacon on weekends. We were living the life of the fat and happy. Only, I eventually realized that this life—complete with five hamburgers a week—was the only one Charlie knew how to live.
The Wellness Project popped the honeymoon balloon fairly quickly on the eating front, and my month without caffeine, alcohol and sugar did a lot to recover lost healthy ground from my months of Charlie-induced hedonism.
After the whole year-long experiment, I feel a lot more comfortable with the middle ground I’ve carved out for myself, and a lot less likely to be swayed by Charlie into too much excess. But during my research period, which included sifting through a lot of extreme, alarmist health propaganda—it was hard to witness Charlie’s eating habits and not worry about the untimely death that could result from them.
While, I harp on Charlie’s animal intake, his meat sweats pale in comparison to Serena’s other half, Logan. I will also note that this means Logan has become Charlie’s new hero from afar.
Concerned about the long-term side effects of her roommate’s nutritional idiocy, Serena started The Dude Diet, a column on her blog about recipes for lightened up comfort food that a non-subscriber to Men’s Health Magazine might actually want to eat. As of last week, that column is now officially it’s very own beautiful book (!!!), ready to save your significant others from themselves, and your sheets and mank tops from the likes of meat sweats and moobs.
The “diet” is mostly common sense: a salad should not contain anything fried; cool it on the cheese; eat more vegetables, etc. etc. But the knowledge is conveyed in the most convincing, digestible medium possible—humor.
Serena is one of the funniest crazy blog ladies around, and I was a human laughing tears emoji while reading through the book. If you do gift it to a tragically food-inept fellow in your life, you can rest assured that the message will be a lot easier to swallow than the health food propaganda I spewed at Charlie for a year. And if you just want to get it for yourself to reform those dudes at home through osmosis, then you’ll find a lot to relate to and laugh at in these pages.
Most of my dog-ears were in the Game Day Eats and Take-Out Favorites chapters (among many others), but after I consulted my dude, I decided her at-home rotisserie chicken recipe would have to be the first at bat.
One healthy eating area that Charlie’s made amazing progress on this year is red meat. His resolution in 2016 was to only have it once a week, and thanks to a provision that said if he broke that resolution, he would be forced to come to Thanksgiving with my family, his record has been nearly perfect (nothing personal, Lapines! He loves you!). As a result, rotisserie chicken has become a new major food group in our household. Charlie picks one up from the bougie market down the street at least once a week, and usually plows through the whole thing by himself in one sitting.
I didn’t think I could seduce him with another chicken, but Serena’s Magic Faux-Tisserie version won Charlie’s heart and stomach. The smoked paprika and chili powder in the seasoning rub made the skin a crack-like combo of sticky, smoky spices. And the meat itself could not have been moister, thanks to the three-hour trip to the oven on low heat.
We usually slather our rotisserie chicken in Sir Kensington’s special sauce, which I know the author would find unforgivable (not all of us hold such affection for the white stuff). But luckily, her chicken was so flavorful it didn’t need anything. Serve it with some spinach mashed potatoes, collard greens or kale salad (if your dude is into that sort of thing). And if not, there are plenty of sexy sides in The Dude Diet to fill out your plate.
From one healthy, dude-friendly hedonist, to another,
Magic Faux-Tisserie Chicken
- One 3 1/2 to 4 pound whole chicken
- 5 whole garlic cloves, smashed
- 1/2 lemon, quartered
- 2 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons light brown sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- Kitchen twine
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
- Remove the giblets from the cavity of your chicken, then rinse the chicken thoroughly with water, and dry it well with paper towels. Stuff the cavity with the garlic and lemon quarters.
- In a small bowl, combine the paprika, salt, brown sugar, chili powder, black pepper, garlic powder, and cumin. Carefully run your fingers under the skin on the breast of your bird. Rub the breast underneath the skin with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and 1 teaspoon of the spice mixture. Rub the remaining 2 tablespoons olive on the chicken's skin, and season the bird all over with the remaining spice mixture. When you're finished with the spicing, tie the legs together with kitchen twine and place the bird breast side up in an oven proof skillet or roasting pan (I used a baking sheet).
- Roast the chicken for 2 hours 45 minutes to 3 hours (depending on the size of your bird), basting at the 1 1/2 and 2 1/2 hour marks (no need for a baster- just spoon any juices in the pan over the bird) or until the meat is very tender and the skin is dark brown. (Don't panic if the skin has blackened in some spots. That's a good thing.)
- Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before carving and serving.