Monthly Archives: September 2007

The Meat Locker…

NOT the name of a local bar that will continue the theme of my last post…….. actually, yesterday I went up to Paradise Meats in Trimble, Missouri with a friend of mine.  The only butchers we have around the Parkville area (unless someone can correct me here) are at the big grocery stores…..Price Chopper, Hy-Vee and  Hen House.  Hen House probably has about the best quality, but you never know if you’ll have someone at the counter who knows a ribeye from a rumproast, so yesterday was a carnivore’s dream.  Paradise Meats is great……fantastic selection and a VERY friendly and helpful lady at the counter whose motto seemed to be “if we don’t have it here we can most likely get it pretty quickly”.  

Until now I was only able to find Wagyu beef online, and of course that is just priced out of the stratosphere once you add on shipping.  There was one butcher out off of 119th in Overland Park that stocked some, but he was such a complete TOOL about his “Kobe” beef (“this is NOT Wagyu, this is KOBE BEEF! BIG DIFFERENCE!”) that we gave him the finger and handed him back to the tanorexic soccer moms who probably still knew more about meat than he did.  Anyway, Paradise Meats has a good selection of Wagyu cuts.  I didn’t want to spend TOO much money during my first trip since it’s only thirty minutes down the road from me, so I got a couple of pounds of Wagyu flatiron.  They also have some really nice Piedmontese beef in stock, so I got one filet.  Oh, also a pack of Wagyu hot dogs for the hell of it. My friend ended up with some pork chops, lamb ribs, and ten pounds of beef bones for stock.  That’s the cool thing about the store…..if you don’t see it just ask.  With notice they can make sure they have stuff like Wagyu shortribs in stock for you, or maybe you have a hankering for a few veal t-bones.  I should note that not everything in the place is foo-foo beef for people crazy enough to pay $20+/lb, one thing that really stuck out is their selection of Heritage Farms pork…..way higher quality and a lower price than what you’ll find in any local stores.  When it comes time for a serious BBQ, I will be back there for ribs and butt.  And if you want buffalo, elk, venison or game………….you know the drill, get your ass to Trimble.  Thirty minutes or not, that’s my new butcher.

We also hit the two major Asian markets in the River Market.  They were pretty packed since it was Saturday, especially Chinatown Market. I picked up some more shortribs to keep in the freezer till it gets cold, and some sesame oil.  This was my first visit to the “new” Asian megamart, and it really is so much brighter and cleaner with wider aisles that I think they must be close to changing the name of the store to “White Loft-Dwellers, Do Not Fear Us!”. 

Anyhooo…..Now to the EATING of the prized beef………  I did the math, and I can pretty much eat Wagyu beef for approximately $5 per meal.  I don’t want to eat red meat every day or anything, but it’s good to know that when I do indulge NOW I can only eat an amount that will never break the bank.  Thinking back to the days of the 20 oz. steaks is pretty hilarious, because yesterday I portioned out that one 8.5 oz. filet into three pieces and have enjoyed two amazing meals so far.  A sprinkle of kosher salt, seared for sixty seconds on each side in a ripping hot cast iron pan, and that’s that.  This is meat that you don’t mind chewing to “baby food consistency” (a post-surgery commandment). 

And tonight my friends is a very special night………. it is the season finale of Bret Michaels Rock of Love AND the season premiere of Dexter.   And the Chiefs are playing at 3pm, so I can do a late-day shopping excursion to a completely empty grocery store.  Things are good……

 BRET MICHAELS ROCK OF LOVE UPDATE!  SPOILER ALERT!

 Oh man, what an emotional rollercoaster ride…..but in the end Mr. Michaels proved to the world that he truly possesses the wisdom of Solomon.  I know that I’ve always said that Six Feet Under is my favorite television program in history, and of course there is Deadwood, The Office, and a few other spectacular programs I care about.  BUT they are all just fiction, created in the minds of writers and they don’t really give us anything to model our lives after.  THAT is what makes “Rock of Love” such an important program……its relevance and importance to our modern society.  It’s real life, unscripted, and we are fortunate to have a peek into the life of Bret Michaels (aka GOD).  I’m sure most of you have been losing a lot of sleep over the past few weeks along with me……going into tonight it was TORTURE……will he pick the 80’s haired burned out stripper and all of her redeeming qualities, or will he go with the young hottie who can pose as his daughter if things don’t work out between them?  Well, tonight when he posed the final question…..I knew what he was up to!  And the stripper took the bait!  Bret my man, you surely lucked out in that situation…..and good call showing her meltdown in the car afterwards with her loud lamentations over having your name tattooed on her neck.  You dodged one very scary and Aquanetted nightmare!  You will always have my support as well as anyone who calls themself a human being, and if she can’t take a joke with the whole tattoo thing after being dumped, then the hell with her.  I can barely wait for the reunion show next week! 

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I don’t know what made me think of this…

I do most of my best and most disconnected thinking when I’m in my car.  Maybe it was being cut off in traffic by the umpteenth person with a Jesus fish on their bumper…..or better yet, a Jesus fish eating Darwin.  Anyway, I got into this weird religious tangent (which I do pretty often), and all of a sudden the next greatest bumper sticker idea hit me……”If you can be FAT and still be a Christian, then you can be GAY and still be a Christian”.  Pretty wordy, but absolutely theologically sound.  There are a million little semantic issues with it…..and I’m definitely not saying that being gay is like being fat (and I didn’t know there were gay fat men until I met ‘da bears).  It just stems from a lifetime of never understanding how fat preachers can pick and choose what is sin and what isn’t, yet still say they are biblical literalists or “black and white” thinkers.  You have to turn their “a sin is a sin is a sin” mantra against them whenever possible.  Plus they love catchy t-shirts, bumper stickers and all that “I’m going to make a statement even though I’m not any different than you” flair, so what better way to make people really uncomfortable than with a smarmy catch-phrase.  Plus, it’s just totally solid……how many evangelicals will die from obesity related heart attacks and strokes while living in the fear that every gay person (not that they’ve ever actually met one) is out to convert their children with all them queer tv shows and kill them all with a big dose of AIDS.   And this is coming from a fat straight guy……so you can take my words to the bank.  I should have thought of this stuff back when I was still a minister.  I would have been the darlin’ of the Assemblies of God.  Those guys are strangely concerned with the gays………

 I’ve been working from home for the past couple of weeks, and today was my first day back in the office.  I had a doctor appointment out that way this morning (total loss of 42 pounds in the past month!), so I thought I’d see how I handled the workplace.  Overall things went okay, I had a ton of energy in the morning but really faded after about 2pm.  I’m sure it will take a while to get all of my energy back, and I know the best thing to do is start taking the dog for walks ever day.  Repetition is the key.   Packing breakfast and lunch for work was a lot of fun because it’s just so damn easy now. 

Speaking of lunch……I want to take this opportunity to give a shout out to my favorite low calorie, non-carbonated drinks up to this point (I like plain water just fine, but when you have to get 64 ounces of water into an egg-sized stomach every day, variety is mandatory).  Of course all of the Crystal Lite flavors are some fine workhorses, but I managed to find these bottles of “Fruit Refreshers” at Price Chopper.  They are basically heavily flavored non-carbonated waters in flavors like Pomegranate, Cranberry, Strawberry Lemonade, Cherry Limeade and Mango Tropical.  They are fantastic, and a special bonus is that they are sweetened with sucralose instead of aspartame….which I really do want to stay away from as much as possible.  The Diet Lipton green tea and white teas have been a lifesaver….though they do have a little bit of caffeine.  Not nearly as much as coffee, but enough for me to avoid them at night.  Great, light flavors and they come in big 1.5 liter bottles that make it easier to count my daily intake.  I think there is some mental benefit too….if I can finish one bottle during the day at work, then I just have to finish one 16 ounce bottle of water at night.  Anyway, that is today’s excitement.  Now to investigate prices on custom bumper stickers…….

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Doll House Dining

I was loading up the dishwasher this morning and suddenly realized…….my dinnerware and cookware could fit in a goddamn doll house.  That’s not a bad thing, it’s just a very bizzare switch to be able to use saucers and the smallest of all my saucepans for every meal.  Yesterday I picked up a pork roast at the store.  It’s small enough to fit easily in one hand, and I’ll be able to cook it in my 2 quart Le Creuset oven.  So I’ll cook it in a tiny pot, and it will make enough food for god knows how many meals that will all fit on my tiny dinnerware.  That’s a big change from the 8-9 lb. pork butts, whole briskets, chickens and turkey breasts I’ve been used to cooking in my big roasting pan and larger LC pot. 

I guess last night was the exception to the doll house rule….I cooked some shortribs that I’ve had in the freezer since last week’s trip to the Chinatown Market.  They all came in one 2 lb. chunk (about five bones total), so I used my 5qt LC.  Remembering my negative experience with eating a tiny amount of pesto, I didn’t spice the thing up like I normally would.  I diced 2 small onions and a few garlic cloves, a can of chopped tomatoes, baby carrots, then braised the browned ribs on top of that…using some beef broth and mushroom broth as the liquid.  I put a small amount of salt in as well, no pepper.  It made up a tasty batch of ribs, with two pounds coming out to about 12-14 ounces of meat after removing the bones and excess fat.  That’s about four meals total, possibly more since I’ll be including a few of the carrots with each serving.  I was hesitant at first, thinking either the texture or richness might have a negative effect, but I didn’t have any issues at all.  I really love shortribs, so there was some minor anxiety over only being able to eat a few bites for dinner, but after waiting about five minutes I knew I’d had enough to eat and the anxiety dissipated. 

The only recurring digestive problem I’m having usually happens earlier in the day when I’m having my first meal.  Everything except cottage cheese goes down rough and I feel like I need to burp for about a half hour, even if I only have a few bites….for some reason the thinly sliced deli meat is the worst culprit.  I don’t know what that’s all about, but it goes away after about thirty minutes and I don’t have any problems with my other two meals. 

Lastly, I made a great discovery yesterday…..bottled Lipton diet green tea.  No calories, and I think there is any caffeine…at least it’s not listed in the ingredients.  That’s some great stuff, and it comes in 1.5 liter bottles, so it makes getting the daily 64 ounces a lot easier to track. 

Almost forgot…I didn’t ever like Sonic for too much, but I did love their different drinks.  I stopped by the other night for a diet cherry slush, thinking it would be totally diet.  WRONG!   I realized very quickly that the plain slush portion of the drink has a ton of sugar in it, and the diet cherry syrup is the only diet thing about it.  In order to avoid any adverse reaction to the sugar, I left it alone thinking I could have a diet cherry limeade since it’s really a diet drink.  WRONG!  I can’t have carbonated beverages right now…..duh, what a stupid thing to forget.  I was pretty bummed out, so I took out the ice and let it sit until most of the carbonation was gone, added some premixed Crystal Light fruit punch I had in the fridge and it was pretty good.  So now I need to think of drinks I CAN have when I’m out and about……

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Go Chiefs!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…..the greatest thing about the worst team in football history is the way they manage to empty out the grocery stores on Sunday afternoons.  I had no idea the home opener was yesterday, so I was actually dreading going to the store for my pesto supplies.  Needless to say I was shocked to find the parking lot only half full when I arrived.  Once inside I heard the game blaring on the sound system and thought “SWEET!  Chiefs season has arrived!  I can shop on the weekends again!”.  When I say that the only good thing about the Chiefs, and football in general, is the three hour gaping hole it creates in retail, I really mean it.  The thought of actually sitting through a football game makes me want to blow my brains out. 

Anyway, as luck would have it, it was a wonderful Sunday afternoon to round up everything I needed to make a huge batch of pesto.  I have this really small capacity food processor, so I had to do it in four batches but I did end up with over two quarts of fresh pesto, very heavy on the garlic.  I just divided it into small containers and put it in the freezer.  There was no way I was going to eat any of it, I’m pretty sure that much garlic and oil would put me back in the hospital…….and on THAT note I’ll finally get to the point here…….I did take a VERY small taste of each batch just to make sure the pesto was coming out okay.  It wasn’t a huge mistake, but it was still a mistake. 

I don’t want to get too graphic describing the repercussions of eating too much spice after surgery, but it was a good lesson that may help someone avoid the same problem in the future.  I seriously couldn’t have eaten more than a teaspoon of pesto in the hour it took me to process all of the batches, but it still bought me ten hours of belching garlic.  Also, one thing they taught me prior to surgery is that the new stomach pouch is very irritable for a while and it is common to experience “foaming” in the stomach that can back up like indigestion.  I had not experienced this before yesterday, but I’m assuming the garlic I consumed is what set it off (or maybe it was my cursing of the Chiefs, in which case it was definitely worth it).  I wasn’t really in pain, but my stomach filled up so much that I wasn’t able to eat comfortably until late in the evening.  It’s amazing that such a tiny amount of spiciness could set off this physical reaction……I’m sure there is someone out there who was crazy enough to try something like pizza a few weeks after surgery, and THAT is a story I’d like to hear.  Anyway, the lesson learned here is you really have to watch every single thing you consume, no matter how small of an amount. 

One more update has to do with “feeling full” that I discussed earlier.  Unlike the pre-surgery stomach, “full” is something you do NOT want to feel now.  I’ve only felt it a couple of times so far, but it’s not a good feeling.  Now that I’m eating regularly it is becoming a lot easier to feel satisfied with such a small amount of food. I just eat a lot slower than usual and take a little break every few bites.  Three ounces is generally enough to be satisfied, and the mental triggers to get me obsessing on eating more are much less frequent.  Overall I feel really good about the progress I’m making, the only thing that is bothering me at this point is how easily I get tired when I’m out and about. 

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“Real” Cooking….

Until yesterday I hadn’t really put much effort into cooking anything since I came home.   I think scrambled eggs and sauteed scallops and fish represented the pinnacle of what was happening in the kitchen.  One obvious benefit of gastric bypass surgery is being able to satisfy your hunger with a very small amount of food, so naturally my goal has been to begin experimenting with “perfect bites” once I felt up to it.   Yesterday was finally the day…..during a trip to the Chinatown Market in KCMO’s River Market I picked up some really beautiful head-on 10-count shrimp.  Since the hot weather has let up quite a bit, I thought that grilling these big boys would be the best way to go.  First I rinsed them, split them down the back and deveined them……THEN I put a small chunk of herbed butter in the cuts and put them all back in the fridge so the butter could firm up.  They took to the grill just fine, with some minor flare-ups as the butter melted.  I could only eat about three of them for dinner, but that’s cool because I’ll probably get two more meals out of them.  Great smokey, herbal flavors, but not overpowering due to the size of the shrimp.  I don’t know when I’ll be ready for any red meat, but the market had such a great price on shortribs that I bought some to put in the freezer. 

My basil plants have become really overgrown in the past couple of months.  The same thing happened last year, and I waited too long to process them and the first frost basically destroyed what could have been a couple of quarts of pesto.  Not wanting to make the same mistake this year, I got out there this morning and picked about 20 cups of leaves.  I’ll get to the store later to buy the rest of the ingredients and whip up several batches of good pesto tonight or tomorrow morning.  Fresh pesto is always a hit with the family, and I think it was Alton Brown who got me started on freezing it in ice cube trays. 

Back to watching some HowardTV, a huge guilty pleasure of mine, and then off to the park to walk the Forrest Gump of cocker spaniels…… 

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Killing Time Before Top Chef…..

Today was my first day back to work.  I’ll be working from home part-time through next week.  I know, I know, I should have just taken the full four weeks off of work that my doctor approved, but I’d kick myself if I didn’t rush back as soon as possible to go buns-up for corporate wastemongers.  Totally different subject, but judging by today’s corporate culture this country is absolutely fucked.  That’s another rant for another day, but the inefficiency it takes to do everything “on the cheap” has to hit critical mass at some point.

As far as the new lifestyle goes, those damn people in the bariatric program were right AGAIN.  “Be careful when introducing new foods…”…. yeah yeah, whatever…..it’s not like I’ve been shoving 3oz hunks of breakfast sausage into my gaping maw, all I did was try rotisserie style turkey breast yesterday.  Apparently, as they stated a hundred times during my pre-op education, the new stomach pouch and entrance into the intestine are very sensitive.  The difference in texture (and I’m assuming this is the issue, it’s the one variable that has changed) between thinly sliced deli turkey breast and roasted turkey breast was like going from silk to sandpaper as far as my new gut was concerned.  Compound that with the slight acidity of my diluted Crystal Lite raspberry lemonade and I worked up some annoying irritation.  No biggie, I’m going to switch back to plain water and my softer proteins for a few days….lesson learned.  I guess this means hot wings and ABT’s will have to wait a little while longer….

For better or worse, I’ve been getting back in touch with my lunchbox collection.  A few visitors have all commented on its 70’s awesomeness recently, and that has inspired me to scan eBay every night to see what’s for sale.  I’m really surprised how the prices have risen in the five or so years since I’ve shopped for them.  The average price used to be around twenty five dollars for the 70’s basics (Welcome Back Kotter, Emergency, etc.), but most of the boxes I don’t own and still want (Family Affair, Flying Nun, Land of the Lost, Sigmund and the Sea Monsters…the list goes on forever) are going for fifty dollars and up now.   I don’t have the expendable income to boost my collection with the important boxes right now, but I DID score a Hair Bear Bunch lunchbox tonight for fifteen dollars shipped.   Some bastard outbid me on a Buck Rogers box at the last minute, but they are a dime a dozen…..unlike Flipper and The Munsters, which don’t come up that often for under $100.

Well, it’s almost time for Top Chef.  What in the hell was with the rerun of the Season 1 and Season 2 challenge last week?  With Tre gone, I think it’s going to be reality programming high drama for the rest of this season.  I really don’t care who wins now, but I do wish Howie would go back to his spot under a bridge waiting for goats. 

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Feeling “Full”

As I stated earlier, I’ve been a little concerned over my inability to feel “full”, or to figure out what it’s supposed to feel like.  I generally measure out approximately 3 ounces of protein for every meal, and can eat that pretty easily.  For the sake of science, last night I measured out a little over 4 ounces of cooked turbot for dinner.  I definitely think I know what “full” feels like now…it hits very suddenly, is triggered by just one extra bite, and isn’t a great feeling.  I definitely did not finish all of the turbot, I think I ate a little over 3 1/2 ounces before the fullness hit. 

I’ve been wanting to talk to the dietician for the past several days, just to make sure I’m not doing anything wrong.  On egg day, I finished my egg and thought I could eat more…while most people say they could only eat a few bites before they were full.  I was concerned I was doing something wrong or already eating way too much because most of the literature tells me that a couple of tablespoons should fill me up.  Within an hour or so of eating a meal, I start feeling like I’m hungry again or could eat more.  BUT the tough thing to figure out is whether that’s real hunger or it’s just a mental trigger since I’ve spent a lifetime acting on every impulse to eat more food.  Today when I called the dietician she put my mind at ease.  Eating three ounces of protein isn’t “too much”, and “feeling full” is NOT the goal…because unlike fullness before surgery it’s no longer a pleasant experience.  Most of my problem right now simply has to do with re-training my brain after eating incorrectly for the past 38 years.  Anyway, it was good to figure out a boundary on my own and then hear from a professional that the amount I’m eating is very normal this close to my surgery date.  In addition to re-training my eating habits, I’m going to have to learn to fill up my time with more activities.  I’ve been a slacker while I’ve been healing, but now that I can drive moderate distances and walk more comfortably, I just have to get out more.  School will be starting again in about six weeks, so that will definitely fill up some time, but I probably need to get back into my voice lessons and opera, and figure out some new things to pass the time that don’t involve food, drink, being sedentary, etc.

On a COMPLETELY different note…yesterday I discovered what could possibly be the most important television program in history.   If you haven’t watched Bret Michaels “Rock of Love” on VH1, I cannot recommend it highly enough.  It really is the lowest form, and therefore the greatest, reality programming to date.  I was hoping to get out and do something yesterday afternoon, but alas, VH1 was running an all-day marathon.  I knew it existed but hadn’t really watched it before yesterday, so it was all new to me….and THAT is the way to watch reality TV…all in one big chunk.  That way you don’t die from suspense from week to week.  Anyway, this show is amazing.  From what I can tell the premise is to find a full-time whore for aging Poison frontman Bret Michaels to violate in semi-monogamous fashion for the forseeable future.  I think I missed the first episode, so when I dropped in they were down to twelve contestants.  Oh and these girls are pure class…there’s at least one aging stripper, a star-banging cocktail waitress with amazingly huge implants, an over the hill redneck party girl, a young Czech who doesn’t even know who Bret is, a token black girl, and a host of other blondes in their early twenties.  They spend each episode drinking, fighting, and competing for dates with Bret (competitions are very rock-centric, kicking the boozy whorishness up a notch with each episode!).  I’m serious, this is the most awesome trainwreck I’ve seen since I can’t remember when (and I have been off my pain meds for almost a week, so this isn’t like my Spongebob obsession when I had my kidney stone), and the formulaic reality tv editing keeps you guessing….oh WHO will Bret give those backstage passes to this week and ask “will you continue to stay in this house and rock my world”?  Absolute genius.  Even better than a weekend of stepped on smack and a non-stop screening of Berlin Alexanderplatz. 

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