Just a quick comment while I’m thinking about it……. yesterday I went to Dean and Deluca during lunch to look at their cheese selection and pick up a couple of kinds to have for the weekend. For the record they are very friendly and eager to give you samples of whatever you’d like. I was wanting a blue that wasn’t as insane as a Spanish one I sampled last week, and a triple cream I hadn’t tried. The girl at the counter gave me a sample of Roaring 40’s blue and Brillat Savarin. I didn’t think anything of it at first, but the samples she handed me were both on small pieces of bread. I was apprehensive at first, the most I ever eat with my cheese now would be a couple of almonds or olives, but I didn’t want to be rude and went with it. The two bites of bread went down and stayed down just fine, but when I got back to the office to eat my lunch I realized how much room that tiny bit of bread had taken up. It was impossible to have more than a bite or two of my tofu chili without feeling like I was pushing the limit. In a way it was a nice reminder, because some days I feel like can eat more, and there is a constant paranoia about stretching the stomach. Having two extra bites of something I shouldn’t have eaten ruin my lunch was a really good thing to have happen. I do like having cheese about three times a week because an amount that would be a fraction of a cheese plate at a restaurant serves as a really flavorful and simple meal. The rest of the time I’m generally eating tofu, which has come to be a best friend. Sooo…..the two books I’m reading right now are Steven Jenkins “Cheese Primer” and “The Giant Book of Tofu Cooking”…..both great reads and very helpful.
So there you have it, an enthralling tale of bread eating…..
So today was my two month post-surgery trip to the doctor. I’ve been feeling great and doing very well, and today the doctor confirmed it……..all of my labs came in looking good and I’m down a total of fifty pounds since surgery. I really had no idea how much I should have lost by now, so it was good to know that I was “normal” in that regard. My exercise regimen does need some improvement, I’d like to be out walking six days per week and I know I can make the time. Overall I’m very excited to have lost this much this quickly, and to officially be off of all blood pressure medication already. I’d say after another twenty pounds or so I’ll be back into all of my old 2x pants and shirts, BUT most of that is summer stuff so I’ll have to break down and buy some new clothes. Not that I’m complaining, it would just be nice if they had a big and tall rent-a-center.
One thing I did spend some time talking to my doctor about (besides the fact that his assistant has the same name as an old friend of mine who killed two other friends of mine in a nightmare triangle gone bad when I was in high school) was the new importance I’ve placed on “flavor”. Prior to surgery, meaning my entire life, nothing was as important as volume. Flavor, without exception, was secondary. When dining in restaurants, the size of entrees was always the first thing on my mind…..when shopping in grocery stores I would buy lower quality ingredients to allow for higher volume unless I was cooking for someone else or trying out a recipe. Getting full and staying full was always the goal. It seems so weird to experience the beginnings of such a major paradigm shift….it’s something I don’t really have my mind around yet but will elaborate as I feel the urge. Basically, now that I can only have four or five real bites of food, I’m picky about what I want for the first time in my life. Until recently I’ve had no concept of what people meant when they say that….or how people would keep tasty food in the house without steamrolling through all of it…..and how does food stay in the fridge or cabinet long enough to be forgotten about or go bad? So the thing now will be to mentally and emotionally work through the aftermath of all that obsession and compulsion without driving myself nuts.
Not really….I can’t think of anything that will force me to forsake foie gras, veal, shortribs, roasted chicken, pork shoulder….but for RIGHT NOW I’m finding that the texture of some meats will upset my stomach some of the time. Nothing serious, it’s more like feeling full after one bite because the new stomach is still healing. I know there are a lot of privileged white people who will say this is evidence that vegetarianism is the way to go, but instead of siding with the fundamentalists I’ll stick with the rule of moderation.
For my proteins I was already eating beans and blackeyed peas, but over the weekend I added tofu to my repertoire. I was wondering about the best way to prepare it for the first run, and happened to catch a tofu episode of Good Eats. I cut some extra firm tofu into about five pieces, pressed it to get out some moisture, marinated it in worchestershire and a little garlic powder, dipped it in flour and egg, then quickly pan fried it. I’ll definitely keep experimenting with different preparations that will impart plenty of flavor, but so far I’m really liking the cost, versatility and “digestability”. This weekend I might try to use it in a batch of green chili.
The other easier-to-digest joy I’ve discovered really lends itself to my crazy foodie nature……..cheese! I’ve always loved cheese, but it has always been an incidental addition to my diet…..either used in a recipe, something to impress a date, or included in a tasting menu. A few days ago a lightbulb went on in my head as I was thinking about getting enough protein into my diet. I was passing by the meager cheese selection at the grocery store, looking at the mozzarella balls that were on sale, when I spied some wedges of Maytag blue. Protein…check. Tons of flavor…..check. Satisfying in small amounts…..check. Fun to research and experiment like wine would be if I could drink it…….CHECK! Since I can only eat small amounts (ever try eating three straight ounces of Maytag?) anyway this is something I can’t go broke on, and it will be fun to visit various cheese counters across town. I’ll try to get down to the Better Cheddar this weekend and have them help me put a tasting plan together.
Back to class this week, so lots of homework to complete beforehand…..
I don’t really have much to share for the past week or so. It seems like there are things I can tolerate eating one day and not the next…specifically turkey breast and hard boiled eggs. I’m trying just about everything in the store; fresh, canned, frozen, every preparation of protein you can think of. Now that I’m back in the office most of the time and HAVE to remember breakfast and lunch, I generally have some Dannon Light and Fit yogurt in the a.m., and then a small can of Vienna Sausages for lunch. I know, Vienna Sausages (aka baby food) are pretty lame, unappealing and unimaginative…..BUT it’s an easy thing to always have on hand, and they never upset my stomach because they are basically mush. Peanut butter is something else I keep available, and so are canned black eyed peas. During the week I keep it basic and boring, just so I don’t give myself an excuse to skip a meal if I don’t really feel like cooking. The weekends are a different story…..then I try to get a little more imaginative with my cooking. This weekend will be all about tofu.
Anyway, on to the real point of this post……like I said, I’m trying just about every type of protein that sounds halfway appealing, because for the first time in my life I’m a picky eater (more on THAT as I have time). I honestly have to be “in the mood” for something now, so I keep plenty of items in the freezer and cupboard. Over the weekend I opened up some canned chicken breast that I had gotten for free, and when I tasted it I was really shocked at how bad it was……..even though it was packed in some kind of chicken-y liquid, the texture and flavor was totally dry. I figured I could make chicken salad out of it and make it at least edible enough for one quick meal. Hindsight being 20/20, my huge mistake was adding real, full fat mayo to the salad. I didn’t think that small amount would make any difference, but about five minutes after eating a little of it I started sweat a little and get really flushed. Then the heaviness and nausea came in like an avalanche. I had a mild case of this a while back, but this time it was pretty bad. It was one of those awful feelings like you have when you wake up with a ferocious hangover…..there is no way to escape it, so you are just miserable until it is done with you. Even though it was still pretty early in the evening, I went to lay down and try to sleep it off. After lying in bed miserable for about ten or fifteen minutes, it started to subside. I am assuming this is what they refer to as “dumping syndrome” and that the high fat content of the chicken salad is what set it off. I don’t eat a lot of fatty meats, but even when I do I’ve never experienced that kind of sickness. I’m guessing that the soft, pure fat delivery system of mayo hits the digestive tract a lot quicker than the high fat proteins….and the “dumping” begins. I won’t be testing that theory with bacon or mortadella anytime soon. I would really like to avoid feeling that type of nausea again if at all possible. Seriously, think of the last time you got sick off of a lethal amount of super-sweet alcohol like Yukon Jack or Schnapps……that wave of misery is the closest thing I can think of for a comparison.
So there you go……tofu and bean sprouts this weekend. Of course I have to test the waters with something dangerous, and I think this time around it will be chile paste or something with a little heat to it.