Indian Lemon Cumin Chicken Dinner (Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

by Rebecca A. Watson on October 30, 2014

in food, health, recipes

Sante and I’d invited a friend over for dinner a few weeks ago, where I cooked this dish. She mentioned that chicken is one of the most acceptable to eat meats in every culture. It’s true: Chicken will reign over all other consumed meats sooner rather than later.

Recently I read that the closest living relative to the Tyrannosaurus Rex is the chicken. How’s that for karma?

chickens 1


This meal, lemon cumin chicken, is probably one of our favorites. Of course, it’s also gluten-free and dairy free naturally, which I dig. Not that I mind making substitutions, but there’s something nice about eating something just the way it’s meant to be prepared.

You can ask your butcher to cut up your chicken into small pieces (9 or so). We often will just buy chicken legs though, since we’re dark meat fans.

Indian Lemon Cumin Chicken Dinner

Serves 4-6
Time: 60 minutes

3 Tbls Olive Oil
1.5 tsp Cumin Seeds
1/2 inch Ginger, finely ground or grated
3 Garlic Cloves, minced or crushed
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1/2 tsp Curry Powder
2 Serrano Peppers, chopped
1.5 Lemons, juiced
Whole Chicken cut into small pieces — or — 6 chicken legs
1/2 tsp Garam Masala
Handful fresh cilantro, chopped

3 cups brown rice
6 cups water

Vegetable for a side … broccoli, salad or green beans are a favorite of ours


1. Turn some good music on. Feel the beat move through your body. Make sure you have something nice to drink and begin!

2. Add oil into a large pan and heat over medium heat. Add cumin seeds, ginger and garlic. Cook for one minute and add salt. Cook two minutes more until golden brown.

3. Add turmeric, curry powder and peppers. Be stoked you’re eating a super food. That’s what they’re calling turmeric these days. Cook for one minute.

4. Add lemon juice and then chicken. Saute chicken until the pink turns golden brown. If needed add a tablespoon or so of water and turn down the heat to low-medium. Cover the pan and let cook until done, roughly 45 minutes. Stir occasionally if the chicken sticks to the pan.

5. In the meantime, make the rice. If you don’t know how, here’s an easy tutorial.  Get the veggies ready as well.

6. Once the chicken is cooked, add garam masala and cilantro. Cook 5 more minutes and serve. guten Appetit!

Sante and I gobbled this up last night and again for lunch today before I remembered I was supposed to take photos. Whoops! So it looks sort of like this:


To be replaced with my picture soon … if I can stand to smell it without grabbing my knife and fork ;)

Did you like this recipe? Don’t forget to check out my recipe page for several delicious gluten-free, dairy-free treats, dinners and snacks! 

Photo by Richard Parker


**Trigger warning: This post talks a bit about child abuse. Nothing in great detail, but if you’re sensitive I wanted to give you a heads up.**

Last week when I wasn’t feeling well, I decided to watch Mortified Nation, a documentary recommended to me by a good friend. It’s on Netflix right now. I highly recommend it.

The premise is that people read their journals from when they were teenagers. On stage. In front of a bunch of people. And it’s brilliant. Here’s the trailer.

After I watched it I thought, What a perfect idea for my Monday Morning Pages! I’ll dig out some of my old notebooks from high school, find something embarrassing and funny, and then video me reading it!

old journals

There they are, in all of their ’90s glory.

But something happened when I went back to read them. Now, understand that I’ve poured through these dozens of times. It’s obvious that while I was writing them I was in serious denial of the abuse and subsequent depression I was dealing with. And in the past I’ve used them to show myself, See! You aren’t nuts. Your life WAS really messed up.

I think this was the first time I went in knowing that, accepting that, about my life. This time, I was looking for the lighter moments. It’s something my therapist has asked me to focus on as well, so it was fulfilling multiple purposes.

I read through a few weeks, found a few gems (“I left the Internet on this morning. Shit, now the phone’s gonna be busy all day. I’m in so much trouble.”) and headed off to do a little cooking. I noticed my hands were shaking. I was really short of breath. In a detached way I noticed I was having a panic attack.

I got through it with a little help from Sante and had a spectacular day exploring some castle ruins and hiking along a river with a good friend. But it got my attention. And then I read this in my meditation book this morning:

diving into yourself

The thing that really stuck with me was the line about the terrible, frightening journey. As I read through my journals from the last few years, I can tell I’ve been doing that. Dealing with my own stuff as it comes up.

In 2012 I went back to my hometown when my grandma was sick, which meant being close to my abusers for the first time since I started this journey of healing:

I just wish I didn’t have to deal with it. Yes it’d be nice if everyone got along and that you’d grown up in a loving environment but you didn’t, so deal with the hand you’ve got.

It’s just embarrassing that I still want a relationship with this woman?!? You had a very inappropriate relationship when you were younger, which primed you to be addicted to her your whole life. So that’s what it is — that’s how you must treat it.

And in 2013, after I’d gotten far enough away from my abusers (Europe is far enough, right?) that I could finally confront them (via mail) without fear:

I felt a lot less trepidation at the idea of dealing this abuse. Now I just need help from the Universe to release the depression but also to accept my healing as it is.

Part of me wants to know every intimate detail of the abuse [my memories are in pieces] so I can feel justified in my anger and the way I’ve left [my abusers] hanging. So I can have righteous pain and anger.

But another part of me (maybe the denial part of me) thinks there is no need to know it all and that whatever I know is good enough. I must accept what I can and can not know.

The key phrase in all of this, though, is as it comes up. I’ve come to a peace with my abusers and my past within myself. But since then I haven’t gone digging around in my past.

That panic attack I think came from the fact that it was the first time I looked at my life as a child without my guard up. I didn’t have my usual defenses. I went in there inspired — believing that no matter how bad, everyone’s life has humor in it. And that’s true. Mine definitely did.

But it was also really, really sad. Really hard for that little girl. And I think that was one of the best things I could do, because it gave me a compassion and understanding I’d never had before.

What a big step. I think that’s part of the space, peace and divine sort of nothing my meditation was talking about. If not part of it, it’s on the way to it, that’s for sure.

So while I’m not going to be vlogging from my high school journals any time soon, I do feel like the Mortified Monday idea helped me in a huge way. So cheers to that!

Wondering what this Monday Morning Pages thing is all about? Read how it started. Or check out all the archives.


5 Lessons I Learned From Waiting Tables

by Rebecca A. Watson on October 23, 2014

in happiness, life, Minneapolis, newspapers, work

A warning before I begin. This post contains some NSFW-language.

And by not safe for work, I mean what people in the restaurant industry call “real jobs,” because damn straight this language is fine for slinging beers, at least in the breakroom while you’re wolfing down cold, dead food, or while you’re in the dishroom having a minor freak out. (Or wait, was that just me?)

Once upon a time (for about seven years) I waited tables. As anyone in the service industry can tell you, it’s a tough place to work, and it’s even tougher to leave. Hours suck. Money’s good. Hard on your body. So many fun people. No health benefits. Killer deals on drinks. The list of pros and cons go on and on.

rock bottom mpls industry night

This was the crew I ran with.

After waking up from a server nightmare the other night (yes, after more than five years out of the industry I still have them), I started thinking back to all the lessons I learned, either while I was working or at the bar afterward. Because, yes, some of us restaurant folks tend toward the functional-alcoholic at times.

1. You are not your job. I know. How very Fight Club of me. But seriously, I worked with some of the most talented and brilliant people, from songstresses to teachers to astrophysicist PhDs, but they all had passions for other things. Waiting tables allowed them to pursue those passions.

It seems like I have to learn this lesson over and over. I tend to take my jobs personally, which can be great it it’s the perfect job. But let’s be real: There isn’t really any such thing. Someone will always have an opinion about what I do, including me.

Sure, I got annoyed at the people who asked me what I “Really Did,” but mostly I couldn’t escape my own criticism. I thought that waiting tables reflected on my laziness, not wanting to find something in my field.

Then when I did, I was embarrassed to be paid in blood money by a newspaper that made its profits processing and publishing mortgage foreclosures. (2008 was a very good year.) And then I wasn’t making what I was worth at an otherwise amazing job.


C’mon. I got *paid* to act silly.

And then I was a tiny cog in a giant wheel I know for a fact still won’t change even if it’s stuck in a rut.

My point is that if you can find some way to make money that you don’t hate, don’t hate on it or on yourself. It doesn’t define who you are. And if you’re lucky enough to have a job that’s also your passion (like my sweet Sante) thank your frickin’ lucky stars every day.

2. You can tell a lot by the way people act around “the help.” Yeah yeah I know. We’ve all heard it before. Don’t date someone who treats the server like crap. Duh. But I’m not just talking about the people treating waitresses like shit.

I’m talking about the way people act around anyone they consider to be serving them. Folks who turn their nose up at those cleaning the bathrooms, anyone who brushes off the secretary in the front office or mean girls in high school pulling pranks on the less-popular kids. These people suck. I don’t spend any more time with them than I absolutely have to.

That brings us to the people sitting in the booth with those shitty people. Why are they spending time with these assholes? Either they condone the behavior OR they don’t have the balls to stand up to them and tell them how terrible they’re being. Either way, lame.

dont hold back

I am not impressed.

This may sound like I lack compassion. That’s not true. I feel sorry for all those people. They are a very unhappy, unevolved bunch. But that doesn’t mean I’m gonna hang out with them or even say boo at them.

3. You are the sum of the experiences and people around you. Piggybacking off my last point, I’m certain now that the people I surround myself with are the people shaping my life. I do not exist in a vacuum.

I had this theory about bars and restaurants around town when I was serving: the harder the clientele partied, the more the staff would match. Meaning that the server who recommended that $200 bottle of wine likely has a similarly stocked wine cellar at home. And the waitress that brought you a round of Jägerbombs probably just did a line of cocaine.

When I realized this, I started trying to spend time with people that encouraged me to be a better person, who didn’t belly up to the bar every night. Nothing against the regulars at the brewery I used to work or the cool cats who serve them — I just wanted to see a future where beer wasn’t in my hand in one way or another every. single. day.

Since then I’ve made a lot of big changes in my life, and while I’d like to pat myself on the back and take all the credit, I’m pretty sure the people around me had a LOT to do with it.

julie n jojjo

Love my girls.

4. Your body can do amazing things. Respect it. Seventeen-hour double shift? Yep. Double shift with only a few minutes to scarf down an old burger and run outside for a cigarette? Sure, why not? It can do it hung over even. And it will still withstand a few more shots of booze before it finally shuts down and makes you sleep.

It can also run six miles in the rain. It can dance for hours without stopping. It can ride a bike to another country. It can fly.

There are so many things I love my body for. It’s taken me around this world and through some pretty amazing experiences. And for all the abuse I’ve put it through, it’s barely complained.

For this, I do my best to nourish it well and not overdo it with the chocolate. But I don’t make any promises. After all, cake does have some vitamins in it, right? And happiness is nourishment too, I believe.

5. Learn to ask for help. I remember one summer me and a few other waiters from Minneapolis drove to Milwaukee and waited tables at a sister store for a long weekend. It was the Harley Davidson 100 year anniversary and the city had pulled out all the stops, of course.

This meant that the giant restaurant, patio and bar would be filled from 11 a.m. to 4 a.m. with hungry and thirsty bikers from all over the world. My name is Rebecca and I’ll be your server.

That weekend was when I realized my limits. I can’t work on a new computer system, learn new table numbers, understand an entirely new menu of beer and navigate a kitchen area that made NO SENSE without some help.

 Yes, please bring menus to table 41. And appetizer plates to tables 22 and 23. I haven’t even greet table 24. HELP! 

And people did help me. When I asked. And the relief, the release of pressure from my shoulders and jaw, was physically noticeable. And so was the increase in money I made at the end of the night.

While I still have a moment of pride now and then, most of the time I remember that asking for help makes things easier for everyone around me. If you knew me in my waitressing days, you are nodding your head in agreement. For those of you who didn’t know me then, here’s a likeness.

Thank goodness for asking for help, for so many reasons, including the fact that I don’t get like that anymore. Plus getting somebody else to pitch in means you get something different, and often better, than what you’d have if you’d just done it yourself.

Waiting tables taught me a lot about a lot. These are just a few of the lessons I took away that still stick with me years later.


MMP: Calling in Sick

October 21, 2014

I’ve given in. I am sick. Thank goodness Netflix has finally made it to Germany. I’m no good at this sitting around. But I’m giving it a try. So, in lieu of my normal long rambly post with journal entries woven in, I’m going to post this meditation I read yesterday morning. It’s really stuck […]

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Weekend Reads for 17th of October 2014

October 17, 2014

I’ve started noticing that I have a lot of stuff I like to read and share. And I write a lot in other places that I’d like to share as well. So, I thought I’d try hooking you up with some weekend (or weekday, depending on when you pop over here) reading. Me, Online Elsewhere 3 […]

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Change-Obsessed Much?

October 17, 2014

“Would you say you’re a little change-obsessed?” I didn’t hesitate in answering Ashley. “Yes. I’m totally addicted to change.” “Well, I’d suggest an intervention but that would be another change. So, I guess consider this your intervention?” We laughed as we walked through downtown Freiburg, window shopping while sipping on our drinks. Her: Carrot pineapple […]

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Post-Vacation Captain’s Log

October 13, 2014

I’m baaaaaack! Obviously I did a very good job of staying away from the computer, as evidenced by my lack of posts for the last few weeks. Yes, I did work a bit and kept in touch with sober pen pals, but for the most part I was far away from the Internet. Vacation success. […]

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How Spotify Woke Up My Soul

September 25, 2014

When Sante and I moved to Germany, we opted not to sell our stereo and buy a new one. The reason we’d have to do this, you see, is that not all electronics are capable of handling Europe’s voltage/wattage combo. This is why my sister’s hairdryer turned a bright red and started smoking when she […]

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MMP: Making Our Own Harmonies

September 22, 2014

When I was in Minnesota, a friend and I had several conversations about how words are one thing, but actions are another. There were a few people I ran into who were still spouting the same stuff, five years later, but hadn’t made much of an effort in their actions. It made me sad. There was […]

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It’s Time to Do Nothing

September 19, 2014

This past month has been, well, intense to say the least. This weekend is gonna be a lot of nothing. I encourage you to do nothing. Except maybe watch this But seriously, mellow out this weekend. It’s in the stars (or more aptly, the moon) to be chill. Yoga. Tea. Movies. Knit. Avoid addictive activities. Give […]

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