8 8 2021

The thing I love about not having a thing for such a long time is that space that is new for its invention. My mom’s friend invited us to dinner on Friday after a swim and a kayak. We enjoyed an evening on her screened in porch in a peaceful setting, a pink dogwood tree whose petals have been cream colored for several years, along with a creamy sunset that dissolved our faces into impressionist Monets long after dusk. A feeling of being somewhere familiar, among friends, after for so long having been alone, that place is here for everyone to enjoy.

Here are some of my favorite things: skin-on, bone in chicken thighs seasoned with Penzey’s shallot pepper. This seasoning has everything: rosemary, salt, and something indescribable that I will refer to for the moment as the third heat, as proclaimed by Tracy Jordan, the fictional character based loosely on Tracy Morgan played by himself on TV show 30 Rock. In the context of the show, the third heat was a term the actor used to describe himself, the affable and often understood in its celebrity paradigm Tracy Jordan, played by Tracy Morgan, an actor portraying a parody of himself.

There is something about the idea of direct experience and its capacity for understanding through first hand vs. second hand knowledge that touches on the idea of tasting good food. The idea that parody is an allegory for second hand knowledge of something in itself is inauthentic as I was not there the first time it happened to participate actively in its rendering, or maybe I have been there many, many times in the past but it’s suddenly new for me again. How in a sunset when our appearance distorts into nothing as we look at each other after the sky falls, the perception is imperfect. The perception is still imperfect but I see something, and that is a new appreciation for familiar things.

8 1 2021

Welp, this month has a special place in my heart as it’s my birthday month. Though I’m entitled to celebrate the entire month, I don’t limit my gifts to this month. David Sedaris will be appearing at a local theater next month which I have gladly accepted as a late birthday present. Sedaris is one of my favorite authors. When cassette tape players were still in cars, I used to listen to Me Talk Pretty One Day for my 1 hour work commute. There is something lovely about authors who have sonorous voices. It’s not that he could read a phone book and I’d swoon, it is him, his lived experience as read aloud by the author that is a true delight.

Adjacent to my love of good books and birthday months are the occasions I get to eat food with the people in my life. In this picture is asparagus sautéed in two batches: one in rosemary and garlic, and the other in saffron and garlic. I’m not quite sure how to work with saffron, as it came nearly hermetically sealed and I was not sure I tasted its flavor once cooked in with food.

I’m not sure I would refer to it as a spice, and as an herb, I would assume it presents its own flavor without too much unboxing, but the instructions read: for soups, place in boiling water. What is the implication of that very specific guidance? Does its flavoring stay dormant until unlocked by a pre-determined chemical equation? Is saffron then free to be itself, or am I painting saffron in too tight a box, not unlike the tiny, glass tube from whence it came?

That is – a bottle inside a bottle inside which is saffron, that unknowable yet delectable thing. I have had saffron before as prepared in fancy restaurants, and usually it was prepared with scallops sautéed in butter. Although I deeply enjoy its flavor, I was musing the other day on how I would describe the flavor saffron, and I wouldn’t be able to compare it to anything but itself. Saffron is saffron, but isn’t that part of the problem when I couldn’t even taste it in the asparagus?

As pictured from right to left are salad with avocado, tomatoes, cucumbers, and mozzarella balls; fruit salad with passion fruit, mango, blueberries, nectarine, dragon fruit, and kiwi; potato salad with paprika; smoked peppers and onions; smoked meats: kielbasa, cheeseburgers, and Italian sausage.

Not pictured in this photo were chocolate brownies made from protein rich muffin mix, a move I felt was risky as in turning any food instantly into the perfect other food, may not end up to perfect execution unless you tweak the recipe. To quote the one person who sampled the brownies, in a word, dry. I’ll probably work the leftover brownies into a trifle bowl with interspersed layers of chocolate and vanilla sugar-free instant pudding to moisten it up. I’ve found a way to use almond milk whereby you use 1/3 less almond milk or otherwise when whisking in the almond milk, add it spoonful by spoonful until it’s a good consistency.

The good and bad part of regionally and seasonally available foods are its availability when in season and its proximity to your direct experience. Corn on the cob and cherries and passion fruit are in season, but unfortunately when the season wanes or the stock is in short supply, these foods become more and more rare, until they simply do not exist. A day before the weekend, I went to my local grocery store, where a week before they had a passion fruit, I did not see any on the shelves. A kind produce person asked me what I was looking for and she checked stock in the back, but came up empty handed. I thanked her for checking and moved on, but did end up going to a different grocery store the next day to see if they had any passion fruit, and they didn’t either. I may need to wait until next season until it comes around again. Until then, there are always new and different foods to try.

7 18 2021

The start to my weekend I hosted a get together with a friend and my bf’s older brother at someone else’s place, a revamped mill building with high ceilings and exposed beams. It was a dream to be in a beautiful new place and enjoy dinner with people I love.

B and I ordered Thai food and I tried Tom ka soup for the first time: lemongrass, basil, chicken in a coconut broth. By the time Sunday evening came, the soup was gone; I’ll definitely make it part of future meals.

I’ve been working within the idea of eating foods low in caloric density: spinach, lettuce, cauliflower, broccoli. This is not too different than the vegetables I’d choose when eating keto, though for the past three weeks I’ve moved from 70% fat, 15% protein, 15% carb model and back to a more traditional way of eating: 45–65% of daily calories from carbs, 20–35% from fats, and 10–35% from protein.

I’m feeling hopeful that I’ll be able to continue losing weight. So far the ideas that the Noom program have taught me include calorie logging, which helps me to identify how much I eat and food patterns so I know the foods I can allocate my calories for and which foods to replace with healthier alternatives. For example, my favorite new breakfast is 2 scrambled eggs with grated summer squash salsa, and sliced grape tomatoes. For a while, I had been having scrambled eggs with cheese. Even though I’m eating carbs, I’m replacing a lot of the heavy dairy for plant-based alternatives. I went from heavy cream (100 calories/2Tbsp) to half and half (40 calories/2 Tbsp) or Califia farms Better Half (15 calories/2 Tbsp), made with coconut and almond milk. I picked up a non-dairy whipped cream made from coconut cream.

Aside from just replacing foods with others, I have learned the idea of losing the labels, which means nothing is good or bad, as a function of its nutrition or your relationship with it, but rather it is a delicious food that you love and can enjoy for future use in moderation. For me that food is Cool Ranch Doritos. I enjoy getting the biggest bag you can buy. There is something about that food that is pure magic, if magic were an insatiable hunger that requires I lick my fingers clean and save none for next time. I’d lean my head back to inhale the last of the crumbs. For that reason, I haven’t had any in the house for over ten years, but the plan is to incorporate that food back into rotation – not every day, but every now and then. It’s a bit daunting but I’m looking forward to a time when I can eat without emptying a bag in an afternoon. And maybe I’ll get a smaller size.

Today I had my first apple, not ever, but since being off keto, so first apple in over a year.

Fuji apple and Colby jack cheese

07 03 2021

The day before a food event where I’m traveling the next day, I’ll start preparing dishes to bring, that way my last minute to do’s and forgotten things won’t require the host’s oven or detract from their kitchen space. This morning I picked up some groceries, as I hadn’t gotten to shop for a couple weeks and have been working off existing food. As I assess what I had on my grocery list, I’m not keto anymore, not in the method of prescribing to the high fat to lower carb / protein ratio.

I feel like I’d been doing lazy keto as a sort of way to impart carbs and plant fiber back into my diet, and also I am experiencing weight loss by calorie/meal tracking through Noom. I’ll still continue to eat no/low sugar and use keto flour when baking and eat fewer processed carbs as a general guideline, as those principles were key in preventing spikes in my blood sugar that led to an unending habit of mindless snacking to keep up with the hunger pang caused by that sugar crash. I feel more in control of eating at this moment in time, and I’m excited to get to eat a wider variety of foods.

The idea of fiber acting as a rolled up ball of bubble gum and the pieces of lint and dust bunnies on a floor as cholesterol, that fiber bubble gum is able to stick itself to the cholesterol as it rolls across the floor and remove LDL / HDL from my system, which I’m excited to get to work on. As a result of the high fats in my diet over the past year, my most recent blood work revealed higher than normal cholesterol, which is another bigger reason why I’m moving away from a higher fat diet.

For this weekend’s feast, I made pickles. My best friend gave me the recipe and I find that adding different herbs is a fun experiment. This time I used rosemary sprigs with:

2 Tbsp Swerve granulated white sugar

grated ginger

rice vinegar w sesame seeds

pickling cucumbers

water

I let them set a day in advance and eat them within 3 days.

6 28 2021

So, at the end of today I accepted a free 14 day trial for the weight loss app Noom. It will be interesting to see how my food choices will change as a result, and so far the customizations have been easy to program. What I foresee as the biggest opportunities are the courses, which range from several days to 16 weeks to complete. Although I’ve been out of school for a while, I’m looking forward to the continuing education aspect of the program.

Here is what I ate the past few days:

Monday

7:00am

watermelon, string cheese

10:30am

black beans, cheese, onion, sour cream, peanut butter Oreo ice cream w melted peanut butter on top

12:00pm

string cheese, popcorn w olive oil and Swerve

3:00pm

popcorn w olive oil and Swerve

6:30pm

hot dog, dumpling, asparagus

Tuesday

8:00am

2 poached eggs w ranch and tomatoes, slice buttered rye toast, 1/2 cup coffee w heavy cream and Swerve

12:00pm

string cheese, popcorn w olive oil and Swerve

6:00pm

two chicken wings w ranch, 1 dumpling w soy sauce, Enchanted keto ice cream bar

Wednesday

8:30am

three scrambled eggs w cheese, 1 slice rye toast w butter, 1/2 cup coffee w heavy cream and Swerve

12:30pm

iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, ranch, keto cold cereal: chopped pecans, hemp hearts, granola, unsweetened almond milk

5:00pm

iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, black beans, white onion, ranch, shredded cheese

6 21 2021

There’s a few things in life that make things worth it:

food with people you love

A few weekends ago my family got together for a cook out and there were tons of amazing foods. We had home cooked comfort foods: grilled chicken, potato salad, and macaroons, just to name a few. But my favorite was one that my step mom made: keto broccoli salad. She used 1 cup mayo, 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar, and 3 Tbsp Truvia sugar substitute as the base. Although she used cranberries, so it wasn’t completely keto, she used pecans, broccoli, and it went so well together.

Another surprising dish she made was keto mashed cauliflower, with a ton of butter, crushed red pepper flakes, and light cajun seasoning. This was surprising because the person who was interested in the “real” potato salad also liked the mashed cauliflower, and they weren’t expecting to like it so much.

6 6 2021

In these hotter days, I find myself craving less meat and more fresh flavors. So I find that the little garnishes: alfalfa sprouts, cold tomatoes, and ranch dressing are some of the flavors I complement with my beans and eggs. This fresh flavor that I wish I could package and consume mindlessly comes in the form of Cool Ranch Doritos, which, in Iceland, is actually Cool American Flavor, and the reddit page for its discussion is wonderful. In a parallel universe on a different timeline, I would eat chips all day dusted with magic, but in this world it’s the garnishes and salad dressings that suffice. Here is what I ate the past few days:

Sunday

10:00am cheese scrambled eggs w basil and green onions, mug coffee w heavy cream and Swerve

2:30pm turkey, lettuce, mayo, ranch, and provolone sandwich on wheat bread, Breyer’s low carb chocolate ice cream pop, diet Pepsi

4:30pm watermelon, hot chicken cauliflower pizza w ranch, diet pepsi

Monday 5:30am three scrambled eggs w cheddar

10:30am 1/2 turkey sub w mayo, ranch, lettuce, and provolone, keto cereal w unsweetened almond milk

3:00pm blueberry donut

Tuesday 6:30am egg, sausage, and cheddar on one slice tomato basil bread

10:00am black beans, ranch, and grape tomatoes, cold keto cereal w unsweetened almond milk

1:00pm peanut butter bar

Wednesday 5:30am scrambled eggs w grape tomatoes and ranch

10:00am black beans, ranch, and grape tomatoes, cold keto cereal w unsweetened almond milk

1:00pm peanut butter bar

Thursday 5:30am scrambled eggs w grape tomatoes and ranch

10:00am black beans, ranch, and grape tomatoes, cold keto cereal w unsweetened almond milk

5:00pm lobster roll w mayo, lettuce, on grilled buttered hot dog roll

Friday 5:30am scrambled eggs, ranch, and grape tomatoes

10:00am black beans, ranch, and grape tomatoes

1:00pm peanut butter bar

5:00pm two wings w ranch, gluten free supreme pizza, brownie

6 5 2021

Here is what I picked up today at the grocery store:

watermelon, Purely Elizabeth’s crunchy granola, avocado oil, extra virgin olive oil, King Arthur’s keto wheat flour, mushrooms, green peppers, lettuce, white onion, green pea shoots, asparagus, breakfast sausage, chicken thighs, turkey breast, eggs, heavy cream, cheddar, black beans, bacon, green beans

The one thing I’ave been reading lately is an idea about how it’s better to eat fruit than drink soda. Since I have an obsession with Diet Dr. Pepper and Dr. Pepper Zero, I figured why not start eating watermelon instead of drinking soda? I know it’s not keto, but I’ve been working on not eating any toast/processed breads for breakfast, which would allow me to have some carbs in the form of fruit later on in my day.

Another idea I’ve been thinking about is the idea that to reduce cholesterol you can eat fiber, and that fiber sops up/sticks to the cholesterol and removes it from your system. So I’ve been so enjoying keto cereal: purely Elizabeth’s crunchy granola, hemp hearts, chia, and unsweetened almond milk. The flavors I eat are the ones with the lowest net carbs:

5 31 2021

Our dishwasher was not working at all last week, so I ordered breakfast from a local cafe every day. Now that our dishwasher is fixed, I will probably be cutting out peanut butter power smoothies and any croissant sandwiches from my list of acceptable foods, but it’s always nice to get to indulge. Highlights from this week were these keto Enlightened keto ice cream bars, covered in dark chocolate.

One of my immediate goals has been to add fiber to my diet in order to lower my cholesterol. A filling delight I added for the first time since being on keto is black beans. I also picked up some lupine beans and might use it in a veggie salad or something at the next family get together. Here is what I ate the past few days:

Tuesday 6:30am cheeseburger patty, three stalks grilled asparagus, 1 dill pickle spear, mug coffee w Swerve and heavy cream

12:30pm tuna salad, alfalfa sprouts, Cole slaw

7:00pm slice of rye toast w melted cheddar, keto ice cream pop, keto chocolate peanut butter cookie w whipped cream

Wednesday 6:00am sausage, egg, and cheese on croissant, peanut butter power

12:00pm two boiled hot dogs wrapped in toasted low carb cheesy mayo tortillas, keto ice cream bar

7:00pm chicken quesadilla, black beans and nacho cheese from Taco Bell, diet Dr. Pepper

Thursday 6:00am sausage, egg, and cheese on croissant, peanut butter power

12:00pm two low carb cheesy tortillas w black beans and ranch

6:00pm cheeseburger patty w black beans and ranch

Friday 6:00am sausage, egg, and cheese on croissant, peanut butter power

12:00pm leftover chicken quesadilla

5:30pm cauliflower crust hot chicken pizza, 2 mozzarella sticks w marinara, brownies and chocolate chip cookie w whipped cream