Blathering on about change

April 11th, 2017 | Posted by Mush in Admissions | Food | Introspection | Whining - (0 Comments)

In which I catalog not terribly relevant stuff!

Realizing that your youth is well and truly over is so fucking weird.

One, you now know that people don’t even know what youth is until they’ve left it. Two, now you’re a grown up, and you’ve finally gotten some wisdom and some work ethic, and now you do chores because you prefer to have a somewhat tidy apartment rather than out of childish resentment, but you can’t help mourning your lost measurements rather than being grateful you’ve lived long enough to even become middle-aged.

I have no idea what to do with this body. It’s fat. It’s low energy. It’s hard to dress because it’s basically square, and it’s even harder to lever up off the floor. I’ve been dieting for months, and after losing an initial 4″ off my waist: nothing. No change whatsoever that isn’t monthly cycle-related. I mean, I feel better, yeah, but I’m still fat.

Also, the diet’s morphed from a sincere LCHF attempt to just plain old calorie restriction, because I wanted to eat some motherfucking beans and bread already, but since I tend to end up gorging once a week my calorie restriction attempt isn’t all that legit. You’re eating a thousand calories a day for six days, then you have a 2,100 calorie day because you can order literally any meal you can think of to be delivered.

Doubtless our bodies evolved for frequent bouts of lack, but our brains engineered themselves into a future completely filled with food.

I mean, where, exactly, is the line between reasonable discipline and self-flagellation. Being on a diet can turn the normally pleasant act of eating into an unsatisfying chore. “Oh, well, I’m hungry, and I have 300 calories left for the day. Looks like I need more protein, but the idea of a cheese and olives and almonds again makes me just not want to eat.”

My hair. I don’t want to be vain and idiotic, but: my hair. It’s so fine, and thinning, it’s brittle and frizzy, and it looks like shit. I don’t want to be attached, I don’t want to resist what is just regular old change, but MY GODDAMNED HAIR. I’m trying not to be negative about what’s happening to my skin with the puffiness and the wrinkles and the sagging and the — based on what my relatives look like — unavoidable jowls, but MY HAIR.

I feel like my boobs are more or less normal, I guess, especially when I have them squished into a sports bra so they’re not getting in the way, until I see myself in the mirror and realize I now have Matron Bosom. What the actual fuck.

I watch a lot of period TV, espcially British period TV, and I feel like I should replace all my clothes with, like, whatever 48-year-old adult women should be wearing, but I have no idea what that is. Used to be a dress and sensible shoes, I guess, or a pantsuit? What do 48-year-old women wear now, leggings and tunics? And what do you even do about Matron Bosom?

I’ve spent the last week in a pair of boxy sweat pants and a tank top, with some long sleeved t-shirt or another. I never leave the building.

All those years I thought I was fat! All those years! Now that I actually am, I want to go back and smack myself upside the head for wasting energy on nonsense.

All those things older women wore and said that I thought were ironic but weren’t. All those things older women wore and said that I thought weren’t ironic but actually were.

I’m in a relationship that feels comfortable and easy, but I never could have been in it before. Part of it working as well as it does is that my body doesn’t want to go out and do stuff all the time, and he’s a homebody. If I were even ten years younger, we’d probably be, if not fighting, at least getting along less well, because instead of doing the dishes I’d be out at a my full-time job or with friends at the bar or at a gig or just somewhere he wasn’t.

These days I just don’t want to go do things very often. Couple times a month rather than couple times a week. I really can’t even imagine him with a woman his own age, to be honest, which is probably why he ended up with my old ass!

We get along so, so well, but as I am now and not as I used to be. When we met, I had a robust social life and a band. I was out all the time (even if I was getting sick of the band and beginning to realize that “going out” wasn’t any fun without the drinking; that it really wasn’t about the people as much as I’d thought).

These days, when I go out, he stays awake until I’m home, and usually texts me things like “???” if I close the bar. I feel conflicted about that; on the one hand, I’m fucking thirteen years older than he is, and I can stay at the VFW until it closes if I goddamned well feel like it. On the other, he actually gives so much of a shit about me that he stays awake and texts me when I’m out alone. And not because he’s a controlling fuck, because he’s not, but because he cares.

Right now, I have an embroidered pillowcase on my pillow. Last night as we were preparing to go to bed, he turned it over for me so the smooth side was up. He does shit like that every single day. Like I said before, relationships aren’t hard work at all when you’re not with an asshole.

Amma’s summer tour schedule has been announced and I’m obsessed with my job’s time off board. It currently ends June 30, and they should have posted the first week of July yesterday but didn’t. I want July 4 & 5 so we can go to the D.C. programs again, but might not get them if I don’t request the 4th the second it’s posted. Other option is Boston the 1st & 2nd, but it’s farther so the airfare would probably be more. I haven’t been to the Boston programs since Reni and I drove the East coast part of the tour probably fifteen years ago. Old me probably wouldn’t even consider driving the tour because it’s so exhausting. (I mean, if Mother herself told me to get on the tour bus, I would, but like that’s ever gonna happen.)

The best part of being shaped like a sailing frigate is that I still wake up with zits! Somebody once told me they’d go away when I grew up, but they never did!

The day before yesterday, it was 70F. Last night, it snowed. LOL Minnesota.

In which there’s a picture of food, because isn’t that what the internet’s for?

Look! It’s the spinach frittata from The Lowry.

Spinach Frittata

It was delivered, of course, because we never go out, especially not for brunch.

The love of my life is basically impossible to roist out of his home for trivial things like eating out or interacting with humanity. He’s great at errand-running, and typically does the grocery shopping, even, but I can only nag him into going out for brunch a couple of times per year.

Anyway, it’s a spinach and basil chiffonade frittata with brie and oven-roasted tomato, Parmesan, and herbs; sided with hashbrowns, rye toast, and a cup of Hollandaise.

The Hollandaise, shockingly, was real (and not the instant, lemon-flavored gravy you often get). The frittata was rubbery and overcooked, but the toppings were brilliant! Super-crispy browns, too!

This and a couple cups of coffee with heavy cream is all I’ll eat today, because whenever I have a high-carb day I keep my calorie intake really low.

Potatoes! Toast! Carb indulgence!

Dip

March 16th, 2017 | Posted by Mush in Food | Soapbox | Whining - (0 Comments)

In which I don’t understand.

Why do store-bought dips suck?

I bought a huge container of artichoke-jalapeno dip last weekend, and while it isn’t exactly inedible, it’s really not good.

You can safely buy salsa — well, many of them, at least — and those sort of 70’s-style chip dips (like French onion or whatever), and a few bean or cheese dips, from, like, Tostitos.

But guacamole? Awful. Creamy spinach or artichoke dips? Bad. I’ve never bought a hummus that wasn’t mediocre at best, and bitter at worst.

Which is so weird, because it seems like pre-made dips would be really easy to get right. Especially hummus! Or spinach and/or artichoke dip, or guacamole!

In which I’m dieting.

Tired (again) of being fat and miserable. Dieting (again) in an effort to be less fat and less miserable.

As a vegetarian, I find it very difficult to do really low-carb, so I’m doing a combination of “as few carbs as possible” and calorie restriction.

Eating a lot of eggs, tofu, Boca burgers, olives, and nuts.

Diet jello or Crystal Light when I’m desperate for a “treat.”

CURRENT STATUS: Desperate for a bowl of fettuccine Alfredo. Or mac ‘n’ cheese. Seriously. WANT. So, so bad.

I’m in my third week. I’ve lost a few inches off my waist, have more energy, and feel better overall. My nighttime teeth-grinding and snoring seem to be reducing. I’m meditating daily and ticking off the boxes on my housewifery list with much less struggle. My laundry is done. My mood is much improved (although being off the phones at work while I’m on the 90-day chat pilot also helps).

But I’m still fat. My current hip measurement is forty-three inches, which is insane for a person with a 30″ inseam.

Being fat is miserable. Fatigue, bloating, back pain, low energy, and a pervasive feeling of dis-ease and discomfort.

But beans are a huge part of my usual diet, and I’m missing them. (I had half a cup of refried beans yesterday, but they’re high in carbs, and so are rationed. I miss them.)

Tofu is so boring. OMFG. I fry it in ghee with spices, and put it in broth or eat it with sriracha mayo for dip, but it’s so boring.

Fried tofu

One gets bored of eggs. And you can only eat a single can of tuna per week if you don’t want to over-mercury yourself… so getting enough protein is hard when you’re a lacto-ovo pescatarian-who-is-really-mostly-vegetarian.

But seriously: a huge plate of creamy, gooey noooooodles, with garlic French bread?! And a lovely, light salad? Am I right?!

Or a broccoli-cheddar pot pie with lots of gravy, or a baguette with brie!

Gah!

Oh, well. No refined carbs for me. I guess it’s more omelets.

Feta omelet

Current status

February 5th, 2017 | Posted by Mush in Admissions | Domestic Goddess | Food - (0 Comments)

In which it’s Superb Owl Sunday, and I’m not even sure who’s playing!

It’s 1:24 in the afternoon and I’ve already downed this:

Bloody Mary

(It’s a brilliant bloody mary with lots of pickle juice.)

And this:

Tostada

(A mostly-homemade bean tostada of excellent excellence.)

Life is a wonderful — and delicious and tipsy — thing!

Force it through a sieve!

December 9th, 2016 | Posted by Mush in Admissions | Food | Recipes - (2 Comments)

In which I’m astonished at the texture!

I like to read recipes. I have liked to do so since they were in actual books rather than on the internet.

I especially like to read old recipes. The oldest through the newest, to see what’s changed and what’s the same. Ancient recipes, medieval recipes, 20’s recipes, 70’s recipes. War time recipes, Southern recipes, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean and Indian and Ethiopian, I like to read recipes.

Well, even in the first version of The Joy of Cooking I ever owned, which was an 80’s version, they sometimes directed you to “force it,” whatever it was, “through a sieve.”

In fact, a surprising number of older recipes direct the cook to force “it,” the soup or sauce or whatever, through a sieve, before adjusting the seasonings and serving.

I have never in my life forced anything through a sieve, because I assumed that modern blenders obviated the need.

I WAS INCORRECT AS FUCK.

Here’s the scenario:

Yesterday, I made broccoli cheddar soup in the electric pressure cooker. I used a bag of cheap, frozen broccoli, because it’s been so long since I’ve bought cheap, frozen broccoli that I’d forgotten why nobody ever buys cheap, frozen broccoli: the bags are always half-filled with stems rather than florets, and the stems are woody as fuck. Every. Single. Time.

Once cooking was done I opened the Instant Pot, removed the liner, and carried it over to the counter, where I proceeded to blend the soup with the immersion blender. Super excited to nom down a bowl of homemade soup! Ladled some into a bowl, toasted up some whole wheat homemade sourdough, and sat down at the table.

Delicious!

Except, um, a little fiber of stem. Kind of unpleasant, but not a big deal–

And another. And another.

And another!

Aaaaand basically this soup is inedible, because after every spoonful you’re taking bits of what basically amount to centimeter-long hairs out of your mouth.

UGH!

Later that evening, I blended it again, well past what your typical broccoli cheddar is like, far into cream soup territory.

Tasted it again.

Same fucking thing: tiny little hair-like fibers in every mouthful!

So there was only one thing left, before throwing out the whole pot: force it through a sieve.

sieve

Turns out something that thick will not go through a sieve on its own, hence the word “force.” Turns out you use the back of a big spoon (I used a small ladle) to push it through. Doesn’t take too long, once you find the right spoon.

And then, OH. MY. GOD. The texture! Not only is that stupid stem fiber gone, but they are not fucking kidding about this forcing-it-through-a-sieve bullshit. What comes out is silky smooth and luxurious and amazing.

How have I never done this before?!

Moral: If it says force it through a sieve, then fucking force it through a sieve.

Even if you’ve used modern blending equipment. Just do it. It’s so worth it!

In which there are a variety of reversible, seasonally appropriate motherfucking handmade placemats!!!

When your mom is psychic:

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You buy a table and you think, damn, some placemats sure would be great.

AND THEN YOUR MOM SENDS YOU A BOX OF THEM RIGHT OUT OF THE BLUE, AND THERE’S, LIKE, DIFFERENT ONES FOR MAJOR HOLIDAYS AND SEASONS AND STUFF, AND SHE MADE THEM HERSELF, AND NOW YOU’RE LIKE FUCK SEPTEMBER, IT NEEDS TO BE OCTOBER ALREADY SO I CAN USE THE HALLOWEEN ONES!

Place mats

They’re like little blankets for your table, really.

In which I wax enthusiastic about a very old product!

Even with shipping, I got a frying pan, a sauce pan, and two lids for $25. Which is a really decent price, considering you could easily pay almost that for a lidded 6″ non-stick that you’d have to throw out and replace in two years.

Well, I just bought these

Behold the P-81-B, which is the 1-pint covered sauce pan on the left, and the P-83-B, the 6-1/2 inch covered skillet you see on the right! The “P” series ran from 1958 to 1972, so these pans are 44 years old at the very youngest, and they could easily be older than I am by a decade.

These things are awesome! They heat up just as fast as cheap non-stick pans, and while they’re not non-stick per se, you can fry eggs and hamburgers in them with a little bit of butter and nothing sticks!

They’re also a pure and angelic white, so they look antiseptic as fuck. They scrub clean with remarkable ease.

Making dinner

They’re small and they have lids. I find that I’m cooking in them over much lower flame than I would with bigger pans, and of course lids keep the heat in too. Today I’ve fried a couple of eggs and a hamburger over very low flame in not much time at all. So they’re unexpectedly fuel-economical. Who knew!

And while you can’t buy either of these particular pieces new anymore, Corning Ware still offers some of the casseroles in this pattern. (I totally want them, and no doubt they’re worth every penny of the retail price, but if I do buy them I’ll probably buy them used because I’m cheap. You can almost see why so many companies went for planned obsolescence rather than quality when you contemplate that Corning Ware’s 50-year-old pieces are viably competing with their brand-new products.)

I love their sizes; great for cooking for one or two. (Not to mention great for not cooking far too much food every time you step up to the stove.) I’m not really sure why pan sizes have grown and grown when family sizes are smaller; I do know that when I was learning to cook I always made far too much food because the pots and pans were so big.

Knowing that the sauce pan holds exactly enough soup for two small bowlsful makes me happy.

I’m pretty sure there are a couple of these in my g’ma’s kitchen, but I didn’t cook with them much (beyond occasionally using one to put something in the toaster oven). I always used the small non-stick to fry or scramble eggs rather than the Corning Ware frying pan; habit, I suppose. Plus they look like they should stick, after years of using Teflon-coated pans, but they don’t.

I think between these and a decent cast iron pan or two, a person could easily give up cheap, disposable non-stick pans entirely! (I can’t speak for high-dollar non-stick cookware, because I’ve never had any.)

I love these pans!

In which there’s a recipe.

I’ve been eating these all week.

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They’re really just bean tostadas, but you should make some anyway because they’re fantastic.

This is a strange but delicious guacamole. Make some. (Click on the pic for the recipe.)

Cottage Cheese Guacamole

Now put it in the fridge to chill.

Put some grated cheese — I used a Mexican three-cheese blend — on a fried corn tortilla/tostada shell.

IMG_20160623_174836

Nuke until melted. I do mine for 33 seconds.

IMG_20160623_175058

Top with, in this order: bubbling-hot refried beans (black, ideally, but I had regular refried pinto beans on hand), diced onions, salsa or hot sauce, shredded lettuce, a dollop of the cottage cheese guacamole, and diced tomatoes.

Eat your tostadas.

IMG_20160623_175305

Here’s a salsa recipe, if you want one. (Click on the pic for the recipe.)

Salsa Roja Recipe

Five Inches

December 21st, 2015 | Posted by Mush in Food | Health - (5 Comments)

In which I went on a half-assed diet the Monday after Thanksgiving because I was fucking miserable in my own body.

On Thanksgiving day I did not measure my waist, but I’d measured it awhile before so I knew it was 40 inches.

40 inches! My waist! That’s fucking insane! I’m 5’4″; not even my hips should be 40 inches. But there it was, obesity, as a result of a completely unregulated diet.

tape measure

As you probably know, I fell in love with a boy a few years ago and moved two thousand miles to be with him. He’s awesome and I’m totally glad I did, but, well. He’s male. And he’s 13 years younger than me. He eats whatever the fuck he wants when he wants it, just like I did at his age, and I fell back into the habit of pizza and potatoes and bread and Basmati, because that’s how he eats and it’s nice to eat together.

But I’m not 35! I can’t eat white bread and white rice and pasta and potatoes! (Well, I can, obviously, but not without getting totally fucking fat. Which is what happened. Under the skin of my back is basically a slab of solid fat, from neck to ass. It’s terrible how much fat I’ve packed on this little frame.)

So the Monday after turkey day I went back on the diet I was on 3 years ago when I got so slender: basically, modified vegetarian Atkins. Which means I’m not eating white stuff or refined stuff for the time being, and I’m using an app to track my food intake with the goal of keeping my daily net carbohydrate intake to about 40 grams.

In three weeks, I’ve lost five inches off my waist. Five inches! In three weeks! (I have no idea what I weigh, because we don’t have a scale, but seriously, who gives a fuck what they weigh.)

I feel so much better! Being so fat makes me utterly miserable. My feet and hands swell up and I’m forever exhausted and disinterested and lazy. I had an experience on Thankgsiving weekend when, after getting up from having sat at my desk for a few hours, I found my legs from thighs on down to be so swollen and water-logged that they felt like sausages, and the skin on the bottom of my feet felt like it would split. It was awful.

Not to mention how terrible the hangovers are when your metabolism’s all fucked up. Basically totally incapacitating.

It’s also amazing at how immediately the body responds when you stop feeding it pasta, white rice, potatoes, and white bread at every turn. And no trips to the gym required!

It’s still a diet, in the sense that one must abstain from nomming certain things that taste good (I’m looking at you, Mesa Pizza’s peerless portabello bleu pesto), but it’s so much easier than low-fat calorie-counting. For snacks, I have olives and cheese cubes and walnuts instead of potato chips. Breakfast is eggs with veggies and cheese, or a plate of foule with a hard boiled egg and olive oil. Dinner’s a tuna melt on Jesus bread, or bean & cheese nachos (the number of chips being dependent on my carb count for the day). Heavy cream in one’s coffee is delicious. Very dark chocolate is allowed. Butter on anything you like.

In place of hash browns, I sautée cabbage in butter with salt & pepper. There’s an edible cauliflower “dough” one can use for garlic-cheese “bread” sticks. There’s spaghetti squash as a pasta substitute. You’re never hungry, but you pretty much have to eat at home because restaurant food is — with the exception of, say, burrito or sub sandwich bowls — universally rife with refined carbohydrates.

So, in a couple months I hope to have my waist down to under 30″, and my physical misery vanquished, and my health much improved. (Well, as improved as it can be for a sedentary hedonist, at any rate!)

Being fat sucks. Whenever I get fat, I develop an amazed respect for those persons who are truly grossly obese and still go to work every damned day, and get their laundry done, and raise children. Everything’s so difficult when you’re always tired, always hungry, and too big for comfort. Not to be terribly crass, but when my waist was 40″ around I could barely wipe my own ass: I have no idea how even bigger people manage. My toenails are still dragon talons as I’m waiting for another inch or two to go away before I tend to them; sitting folded in half for even the few minutes it takes to trim and clean one’s toenails is disturbingly uncomfortable when you’re too fat to bend over your own gut.

Furthermore, I feel terrible that a lot of really big people are big because they’re poorer and have to buy the cheaper food, most of which is nothing but low-fat refined carbohydrates, like boxed mac ‘n’ cheese, TV dinners, ramen bowls, and drinks, and also that the government is still endorsing the low-fat diet theory publicly even though it’s been thoroughly debunked by over forty years of study.

At any rate, I got fucking huge, which often happens in new relationships, and it was fun while it lasted, but I’m off white bread and potatoes and I’ll be back to normal by spring. Smooches!