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Showing posts from January, 2009

Day 31 - The End of the First Month

We're one month into our little experiment, and so far we've learned

* Strangely, being allowed small bits of chocolate cake on a regular basis in no way makes up for the lack of Diet Pepsi

* No matter how much we both miss diet soda, we've each only had it as a "cheat" once. Our cheats are usually reserved for white chocolate martinis

* Many people are concerned about their health, but not generally concerned enough to change their diet.

* When planning for this year, we didn't think about dining at other people's houses. We're still debating whether to just assume these are a "cheat" or exempt them from our strange little experiment.

* Once you read the ingredients list on lowfat cottage cheese, you wouldn't want to eat it anyway

* We only get one body, and yet we really haven't paid very close attention to what we were putting into our bodies until now. Sure, I've always tried to eat "healthy," but never stopped t…

Day 28 - Swedish Meatball-ish Casserole

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I have decided that I can cook from a recipe once in a while, but last night wasn't one of them.

Earlier in the day, I had taken out a small package of hamburger from the freezer. At the beginning of the month, I stocked up on several types of allowable meats--salmon, shrimp, pork chops, roasts (beef and pork), steaks, chicken breasts, ground beef, hot & mild Italian sausages, one ham (which took the most time as so many are injected with all sorts of unrecognizable things), and a small amount of Basque chorizo sausage. (Obviously, this would not be possible if we didn't have a chest freezer in the garage.) It looked a bit like we had joined the Adkins diet craze, and it did really skew the grocery tally for this month, but if one isn't going to eat processed foods, one is going to have to cook, and one can't cook without ingredients on hand.

So, I had purchased a 5.76 pound package of ground beef for $17.24 ($2.99/pound) at Costco. I divided it up into 8-0z. p…

Another Fun Memory

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This is from my birthday last year--a group of friends went with us to our favorite restaurant--Taj Mahal in Boise. If you haven't yet been there, the butter chicken is fabulous.

Andy is already working on big plans for my 40th birthday, but that won't be for another couple years, so we'll have to wait and see what he has planned.....

Day 27 - Have You Ever Thought Very Much About Tortillas?

So, we buy flour tortillas and keep them in the freezer to use for tacos or Mexican lasagna or fajitas. Do they have any flavor of their own? Not really. Do they really have any nutritional value? No. Do they have calories? You betcha. What do they actually contain? I have no idea--we buy the whole wheat ones thinking they must be healthier, and the list of ingredients is 13 lines long--10 of which might be written in a foreign language for all I know. That's a lot of unknown substances for something we're eating as only because it holds other food. Now it's possible that the regular ones contain only flour, water, and lard--which would technically qualify, but that grosses me out. So, in order to have fajitas last night, Andy made "tortillas" out of the sponge from the five minute bread book. In all honesty, they were really more like pitas than anything else as yeast tends to rise--except when maybe you want it to--but they still worked. I don'…

A Fun Little Memory

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Day 26 - We're Going Out For Pizza Wednesday!!!

We'll be having nasty, greasy, artery-clogging pizza on Wednesday, so that means we need to each have an available "cheat" by then. Otherwise, I'd be drinking a Diet Pepsi right now. I made ugly green sandwiches again, well, sort of again, because they are along the same lines as the previous ugly green sandwich, but I can't remember exactly what I did before. This one is good, and still looks like someone put Oscar the Grouch in a food processor, but it's different. And it would be better with a Diet Pepsi. MUCH better.

Almost a month into the experiment, we're finding it's best to not use up the second and final "cheat" of the week too soon, as it's fun to have an end-of-the-week white chocolate martini on Friday or Saturday night. So, if Wednesday is the first "cheat," there will still be martinis on Saturday. If it's the last "cheat," no martini.

This is what occupies the mind in the 4th week of our experi…

Back Into High Social Gear

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Every December, I have about 10 Christmas parties to go to, lunches, brunches, a few holiday birthdays, and just general holiday cheer, and by December 31, I'm exhausted. (I don't even remember the last time I agreed to go to a New Year's Eve party.) So every year for about 2-3 weeks in January, I don't see anyone. No one is invited over, I don't go anywhere--it's just Recovery Time.

Last week this year's Recovery Time ended with a bang--a friend came over for dinner on Thursday--and we had each saved up a "cheat" so we could serve white chocolate martinis, Saturday night we went to the Boise Philharmonic for their "The Passion of Joan of Arc" concert, and last night some friends had us over for dinner--which quite sportingly was made without processed foods :). Today I have some invitations to answer, a few to return, and we're back into high gear.

Choosing to take a year off after losing my job at the end of September has definit…

January - 3 Years Ago

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Three years ago this month, Andy asked me to marry him.
Maybe by our tenth wedding anniversary, the obsessed ex wife will quit reading my blog.

Day 23 - We Have Vegetable Stock!

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Today I finally got 14 cups of vegetable stock made, so at least I'll be ready for the next Soup Night. It's easy to forget how much salt is in canned broth until one makes a stock with no salt whatsoever. I've never made vegetable stock before, so we'll see how we like it. This was the starting blockso I'm guessing it will be pretty darn good. And might repel vampires.

Hm, wonder if it would work on obsessed ex wives.........?

Day 21 - Do You Ever Fantasize About Pizza?

As FABULOUS as the pork roast is, and in spite of the fact that we will be having the leftovers for dinner tonight, I have been fantasizing all afternoon about pizza. Not the healthy, allowable pizza we can actually make, but the thick crust, canned sauce, artery-clogging processed-meat-laden kind that's covered in processed cheese food or whatever most restaurants use. I realize it would probably completely shock my system by now, but good heavens, I'd love some right now!

To be fair, I have found allowable Italian sausage, but as unhealthy as it is, I love pepperoni AND sausage pizza. Besides my serious doubts that pepperoni in any form would make it through our rules (not even probably number 1: no unrecognizable ingredients), I just don't think I'm prepared to seriously explore what goes into pepperoni in the first place. Sort of a "better off not knowing" sort of thing. So, it will be leftovers tonight.

I'm trying to use a variety of foods, and es…

Day 20 - To Celebrate We Brought Out the Heavy Artillery

There were so many things to celebrate today:

* The first black man becoming President of the United States (and I use the term "black" instead of "African-American" because I can be called "white"--really pasty white actually, but that's another story. I cannot be called a Nordic-American or mutt-American, so I don't think that's a fair or equal label)

* The end of George Junior's "we're going to do what we want and to hell with the people who didn't vote for us and the rest of the world" attitude

* We elected a president who didn't use scare tactics to win ("evil-doers," "axis of evil"). We elected a president who is willing to admit the problems and still provide a message of hope

* There were people watching the inauguration who would have experienced the Jim Crow laws and the bigotry in America's past and who lived to see today.

* We have a president who doesn't owe either political …

Thought For the Day

What is causing the most excitement, the first black president of the Unites States or the official end of Bush Junior's presidency?

Day 19 - Living On The Edge

So last night we got really crazy and had cookies & cream martinis (sort of a cross between chocolate martinis & white chocolate martinis), which leaves us only one cheat each the rest of the week. It's a bit scary to do that early on, but we were feeling wild.

Last night I fixed a chicken/vegetable/rice dish using every fresh vegetable we had, Balti spice from Penzeys, and jasmine rice because I just didn't think ahead enough to bother with brown rice. It turned out really well, and we had the leftovers tonight. I will say, we're certainly eating healthier than we ever have--even if we did split a piece of chocolate cake with our afternoon coffee. Unless it's a fruit or vegetable, there's nothing we can just grab and eat without thinking, which saves us both from lots of extra calories.

We continue to enjoy the sourdough oatmeal bread each morning for breakfast--Andy topping it with the homemade spiced blueberry jam (nutmeg, honey, and blueberries--it&#…

Day 18 - Sweet Sunday!

Sunday is already my favorite day in our experiments, because our week starts over on Sunday, and I have two "cheats" ahead of me. What will it be? Diet soda? White chocolate martini? Pretzels? The possibilities make me positively giddy!

Thursday night I dug out my sourdough starter from the fridge and set two "sponges" out to ferment overnight. Sourdough is a very interesting cooking experiment. It's thought to have developed in Egypt purely by accident--some airborne yeast settling into some flour--and is assumed to be the first leavened bread. It was quite popular among prospectors during the Alaskan gold rush--prospectors were often referred to as "sourdoughs." It lives in the fridge and I feed it regularly. It does not require walks, but it has to be somewhere warm to become active.

Friday morning I returned a cup of starter from each "sponge" back to the "mother sponge," and we enjoyed sourdough pancakes for breakfas…

A Little Winter's Day Wishful Thinking.....

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Day 16 - Updates

* Today started with sourdough pancakes and now we have homemade sourdough oatmeal bread. Life is good!

* Theo is doing much better than the therapist expected and I am hopefully going to be able to photograph the kitty water aerobics on Monday

* It is possible to miss nonstick cooking spray

* Even when you're pretty sure you'll be getting a refund, doing taxes is still depressing.

* If a cat has been wearing a cast on his leg for 6 weeks and you suddenly remove it, the next few weeks will be a constant struggle to keep him from reinjuring the leg.

* After the high-gear socializing of December, a few quiet weeks in January can be very relaxing.

* While diet soda probably isn't truly addictive, on day 16 it certainly feels like it is.

* Sitters for injured pets may well be a career opportunity, but not for anyone in this house.

* Not all experiments with cooking pumpkin are going to be edible.

* New Year's Resolutions require equal parts of optimism & delusion

* …

Day 15

Today for lunch I made the world's worst soup. Not just bad soup--the worst ever. I can't even begin to describe it--nor to explain how a bunch of cooked vegetables can mutate into such a toxic substance, and frankly, even if I could remember what I put it in I wouldn't repeat it here for fear of lawsuits and/or reprisals.

Thank heavens there was chocolate cake......

Day 14 - A Craving

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So far, I think we're doing well. Sure, I have dreams about Diet Pepsi, but less often. The excitement of trying the "fruits" of my canning efforts certainly helps--not to mention the fact that I'm saving up my last cheat for this week to perhaps get a soda on Saturday.....

We're still doing a lot of cooking--especially as there are few other options. It does certainly help to have a freezer full of options. After a LONG search at the store, I found an allowable Italian sausage, so last night Andy decided to make pizza. It was a chance to open a can of my pizza sauce, so I was all for it.

Did you know that even small to medium-sized pizzas use more than a cup of sauce? I didn't. We're not exactly sure what the pizza sauce tasted like as I'd only dug out a half-pint jar. We'll try again later with two jars, and if we like it I'll be canning pint jars full this summer.

Andy is still learning to cook, so his experiments are far weirder than …

Honeymoon Part 3

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One cannot visit the Yacatan without seeing the Mayan ruins, so we drove over to Chichen Itza to stay at the Mayaland Hotel & Bungalows for what turned in to two nights. We had been advised to drive over the night before so we could see the ruins bright and early the next morning before the heat & tourist busses arrived, which was wonderful advice. The hotel is right beside the ruins, and in fact, this observatory:could be seen from the bar's patio, where they had the most fabulous pina coladas I've ever had. (Could be the atmosphere as well, but darn, they were good!)
When you arrive, you must notify the front desk and have them come and get you, as cars are strictly verboten. I have no idea how much land the hotel actually takes up, but it is simply lovely.

The first night we stayed in one of the rooms in the main building, where we had a great jungle view:and we first got to use the sarongs a friend had given us for an engagement gift:(Note: If you are going to va…

LONG overdue - Honeymoon Part Two

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OK, so we have been married a year and a half and our honeymoon was over two years ago now (and yet the crazy exwife is STILL obsessed enough to read my blog....geez, catch a clue & get a life!), but I had never yet posted the rest of the pictures, so here is part two from our honeymoon in Cancun.

Some friends (our realtor & his wife, actually--see part one) gave us their time share to use, which was lovely and right on the water:
But Cancun itself is loud, touristy, and mostly for 21 year olds who think a good time is killing off bunches of brain cells. We did a little gratuitous touristy stuff,
then rented a car and headed for Chichen Itza, where we will pick up in Part Three. (sorry, kitty-watching duty calls.....)

A Soup Night "Whoops"

So for the monthly open house known as Soup Night, I always make two soups--usually one vegetarian and one not but occasionally they are both vegetarian. Yesterday I made a turkey mushroom soup (one of my favorites) and a curried carrot with apple soup. Until I can make up my own stock, we have found an allowable chicken stock at Costco (where else?). That worked fine for the turkey mushroom soup, but I RAN OUT before the carrot soup was finished & wasn't going to have time for a Costco run before the party.

OK, for anyone who hasn't invented stupid rules for a year of their life, one would just use one of those little cubes and a hot cup of water. If one has invented stupid rules, those little cubes are off limits. Without the stupid rules, one could also use the 3 cans of fat free chicken broth in the pantry.

Then it hit me--it's only Andy and I who can't eat these things. Nothing says our guests can't. So, in went the forbidden broth and while everyone …

Day 11

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I'm not sure why this has become an "experimental cooking" project for me. After all, we have cookbooks and recipes. In fact, we have an insane number of cookbooks and recipes, this
being only part of them. Perhaps it's the attempt to follow a budget, or the lack of time to sift through recipes, or maybe it's just a desire to learn more about cooking. My experiments frighten Theo but I plunge boldly on.

Now, if you're wondering why all our food is green lately, I can explain in three words: Costco fresh spinach. Whether it is true or a little brainwashing from Popeye cartoons, I believe spinach is extremely good for us, and have no scruples about adding it to darn near everything. Tonight's fare:
Pork chops in ugly green sauce. I seared the pork chops in a pan while in a food processor I mixed garlic, onions, raw almonds, spinach, some dried vegetables, salt, a little Tuscan seasoning, whole wheat flour, and water, then I added the ugly sauce to the…

Day 10 - The End of The First Full Week

Yesterday after lunch we both used up our second "cheat" of the week and we each had a diet soda. Aside from water, I don't think there's a naturally occurring item in diet soda and it felt remarkably sinful. And tasted wonderful--there really is nothing quite as sweet as forbidden fruit....er, uh, chemicals.

This far into our experiment, it has become obvious that we ate processed foods for their convenience. Soup? Open a can. Sandwich? Buy the bread and the sliced turkey injected with a strange jelly-like substance. Pasta? Buy the pasta and often the sauce. So, unless I want to spend an entire year in our kitchen--a perfectly lovely room and everything but not where I want to spend every day--I was going to need some allowable convenience foods, otherwise known as leftovers.

Since the cooking & entertaining marathon known as "Christmas," I had pretty steadfastly refused to do any grocery shopping, but this week I was finally driven to go to the …

Kitty Water Aerobics Are Working!

Okay, I was doubtful. Not so much that water is very therapeutic and that the buoyancy of water makes it great for injuries, but I just didn't see how they were going to convince a cat to walk on a treadmill in a water tank, but he did it. Not only that, but he walked on his injured leg AND they usually don't get dogs to walk on the first try. What a little champ!

Even better, Theo has regained some motion in his ankle already and he is really good about trying to use his leg, so therapy is going to work. I'll admit, I was not exactly prepared for how well the therapy might work. Wednesday he spent almost the entire day curled up in our bedroom. Today he keeps receiving "kitty timeouts" in our bedroom for attempts to jump, run, pounce, and pretty much everything else he's not allowed to do yet. While he's building up the bone and the muscle, they said it's still pretty fragile, but Theo wasn't in the room for that conversation. I came home …

Day 7 - A Little Nausea Does Solve The Whole Processed Foods Problem

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OK, for the record, I am a total and complete wimp when it comes to blood, injuries, hospitals, doctors--anything in the "something isn't working correctly" category. I once had to flee a large luncheon (climbing over several older men in the process) because the speaker was discussing eye diseases and even brought slides to show. I stop people from describing their surgeries in detail because I will either throw up or pass out, and both are a real conversation stopper.

So, taking care of a cat who looks like this:
and trying to help him break down the scar tissue enough to be able to move his ankle out of this positionis keeping me pretty thoroughly nauseous--the upside of which is that I don't care what we fix for meals as I might not be able to get them down anyway. Not that we've been eating only questionable food so far--we've actually had steak twice and I've fixed pollo en feo mole verde (which translates loosely as "chicken in ugly green sa…

Theo's Cast Came Off Today!!!

On purpose this time--he wasn't pulling another Houdini. The bones have healed, but there's a lot of scar tissue around the joint so right now he can't bend his ankle. You realize what that means, of course..........


Kitty Water Aerobics



His first session is on Thursday. They have promised to allow me to film this. I don't know, could our lives get any weirder?

Day 5 - I Have Just Created The World's Ugliest Sandwich

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This is what I served for lunch today:
Yep, it was that color of green. Don't worry--I won't be opening a restaurant anytime in the near future.

It STARTED as an attempt to make a sandwich spread using some of the tomatoes I dried last summer. I rehydrated them and put them in the food processor with a few cloves of garlic. Now, when it's going to be cooked one can get away with using more garlic than is strictly called for. When it isn't going to be cooked "a few cloves" of garlic can clear one's sinuses for at least a week. So, I decided to add a few things to the garlic mixture to sort of even it out. Olives, spinach, carrots (which was a bad idea as they never really got thoroughly shredded and were just odd crunchy bites), onions, parsley....I think there were a few other items, but you get the idea. It was still overpowering, so I thawed out some turkey left over from Christmas dinner, and rather than try to guess whether or not the spread woul…

Two "Cheats" A Week

As last night was the end of the first week of the Year of No Processed Foods--albeit a short week--we celebrated with premixed pina coladas. As we've already had hot cereal 3 out of 4 mornings this year already, our "cheats" might actually be more like bribery. Not that hot cereal isn't good for us--it's 10 different grains roughly ground--but it always unnerves me when I see what happens to it if the bowls aren't rinsed out immediately. The spackle-like substance it turns into always makes me wonder about my insides. Does it do that in there? Am I spackling my small intestine?

Today's lunch is another experiment--garbanzo beans cooked in pumpkin puree, canned tomatoes, and allowable chicken stock with brown rice and diced green chiles. Obviously, I am totally making it up as I go, but when you start your day eating spackle, the culinary bar is set very, very low.......

I Just Had To Share This One

I get a lot of people visiting this blog looking for ways to cope with hostile or malicious ex wives--as well as some strange, unrelated searches that my blog happens to stumble into (i.e., Canadian Female Impersonators), but I had a hit today from the following search words:

is it appropriate to buy the wife and ex wife the same gift?

I can't believe there is someone foolish enough to even ask that question. So, short answer: NO. Long answer: as someone dealing with an ex wife who is still SO obsessed about her ex husband that she not only follows my blog two YEARS after Andy & I got married and more than 5 YEARS after their divorce, she's crazy enough to send printouts from my blog to our attorney to document how crazy and obsessed she is, I cannot imagine a single instance when it would be even vaguely appropriate to give your ex wife a gift, much less the same one you are giving your current wife. As our crazy ex would do well to finally realize, when marriages end,…

THE CAST COMES OFF ON TUESDAY!!!

If you think time is passing too quickly, try living with a cat in a cast for 6 weeks.

The Year of No Processed Foods - Day One

Forget December 21st--today is the longest day of the year. Today we are 365 days away from packaged and processed foods. I shall dream of Diet Pepsi tonight.

For breakfast we had toast (with real butter) and coffee. Lunch had to be a bit creative as I have been on a bit of a kitchen strike since the 3 Christmas soirees we hosted--which includes no trips to the grocery store. Andy had made rye bread in the bread machine overnight, so I split a chicken breast, cooked it with some onion, then broke out some of my green tomato chutney and a tiny bit of extra sharp cheddar cheese, and piled everything on toasted rye bread. For a desperation scrounge, it was a really good sandwich if I do say so myself. Which worked out well as I did not have a back-up plan as I usually try to do when I'm experimenting wildly. I briefly flirted with the idea of trying to incorporate some pumpkin puree in there somewhere, but thought better of it. We'll save that sort of thing when it's b…