I discovered rather a nice warming drink a couple of nights ago, a result of running out of ingredients. In this case it started from having no simply tea.
There was some left-over chai from the previous tenant so I have been drinking that the last few days, and actually liking it. This time however it was late and Dublin's January weather called for something a little more comforting and tasty. It was the the local supermarket's turn to run out: soy milk. But not chocolate soy milk, so in that went. To complement the chai spice I "ran out" i.e. pored the remaining shot or so of Jack Daniels in as well. Delicious!
(Of course, I had another bottle of JD there. Improvizing around a lack of eggs, milk, flour, ... is one thing, but to go dry on Old No. 7...)
Whoa. According to the gym scales here I weigh 84kg / 186lb / 13st 3lb. This is the heaviest I've been in my life, and that was when I was training and eating like a freak at Gold's in California in '01-'02 (and I definitely don't have the body I did then). I haven't really done any aerobic work since my accident last year, and no strength work for a few months. Coupled with the free & decent food in google.ie this weight gain is looking like it has some solid foundations...
The food here in Google Mountain View is exceedingly good. It's mid-range restaurant quality, sometimes better, and there's a strong emphasis on using organic produce. The cartons you can use to take food away are recycled cardboard. I've come away from meal times feeling stuffed, which is very rare as apart from the occasional fried breakfast in London I tend to eat small meals.
So combined with the gym here and free, excellent meals I think I'll train for size & strength and leave the slimming to somewhere where the food's not as good :-) Ireland, for example.
As a random aside, I dropped by a local supplements shop and I was reminded the stuff you can buy in America is pretty amazing: over the counter hormones, powerful stimulants, and a range of "ordinary" supplements that boggles the mind. I stuck to a tub of blended protein and some glutamine (a particularly "good" protein). Leave the endocrine experiments to the freaks...
Random late night food idea that panned out : popcorn with tabasco. Cover the bottom of the pan with oil (try stir-fry oil for an extra smoky nutty twist) and add a tablespoon or so of tabasco. Boil up and add the popcorn. Make as usual. That's it really.
The kick is deceptive: the cayenne pepper has a mild mid kick, a pause, then the whammy. Nice. A little sugar and a few whisky shots didn't seem to go amiss either.
My new juicer arrived today after its holding period at a neighbour's house. It's fantastic!
I assembled it in a matter of seconds (here's how) and proceeded to juice pretty much the entire contents of my fridge. The 509's a masticating (literally "chewing") juicer as you can see by the big screw,
The masticating type are low friction and low heat-producing which apparently preserves the nutrients.
An extrusion of veg pulp oozes out the end in synchrony with the satisfying chewing sound. It's surprisingly quiet. The amount of juice that comes out is not huge, but damn it's rich & tasty. The tubes of pulp look strange, I definitely need to get a pic up. Out of curiosity I boiled some water and cooked up the pulp - making an entirely pleasant pint of brothed veggies.
The whole thing cleaned up quite quickly too. This is the aspect I was most worried about, without equipment that's easy to clean it's hard to muster the continued motivation to actually use it.
And it makes pasta, sausages, and sorbet too...
It's odd how certain events line up. My experiments with polyphasic sleeping which have been so far best demonstrated by a long-time vegan arrived around the same time as my digestive system (and thus consequently my body) started crying out for mercy against an onslaught of pizza, thai take-away, chip kebabs, BBC canteen's Meal Deal, pasty+baked beans+chips, ... If I had that kind of memory I could probably count the times I've eaten more than 50g of vegetables in the last few months on one hand.
I haven't been to a supermarket for nearly a year.
So with a constant low-grade burning in my throat and a peculiar reluctance to eat chicken or other fried stuff, a reluctance I don't ever recall having had, I have switched to a vegan/detox diet. No animal, diary, wheat, gluten. At least for a while. It's far too boring to persist with IMO but I definitely feel better already. There's something about verging on actually being ill that makes boiled veggies, potatoes, and French dressing quite tasty.
During my heel convalescense I was making vegetable broth. Despite a non-hippie's expectation they'd be foul they're far from it (at least in my post-morphine-addled state :)). But they're a pain in the ass to make: all the chopping, blending, simmering, straining, cooling. So with my copious free time I learnt all about juicers last night and picked up one via ebay today. The great thing about juicing is that no two drinks ever need taste the same: just toss in whatever's to hand and see what comes out.
Excellent preparation for a good binge over Christmas. Funny that, popular culture says we should recover, diet, and generally self-flagellate after the Winter Holidays. Why not recover beforehand and use xmas as simply a way to get back to a base level of ill-health? :-) Pay it forward!
Right after I got back from hospital about a week or so ago I called the Vitality Centre up the road about Pilates classes, as someone had suggested Pilates as a light physical activity to do while I'm healing. As it turns out I'm probably still not ready for that but nonetheless had a very enjoyable conversation with one of their osteopaths, Ratna who suggested a daily veggie broth to assist in the "re-mineralisation".
So, how can you mainline minerals into your system by the power of greens alone?
It's quite straightforward. Dice up kilos of green vegetables and bulb of ginger, throw in some turmeric, and stew for 30-40mins. Strain off the vegetable matter, and the resulting juice is your veggie broth. As tweaks, I blend the veggies, and then rinse the bulk while it's still in the strainer to leech off as many goodies as possible.
The greens provide organic sodium, potassium, and calcium while the ginger and turmeric help healing and, frankly, the taste.
She suggested brocolli, spinach, coriander. I've since tried cabbage, carrot, beans, potatoes, and who knows what else. Doesn't seem to matter, so long as there's some ginger in there to liven it up and counter the stewed veg aftertaste, which isn't even so bad.
I don't know whether my assessment was pre-skewed by knowing just how amazingly healthy this stuff is, or whether it is genuinely tasty but I've since drunk gallons of it and really enjoy it. It's light enough to be a substitute for water, and pleasant enough as a drink in its own right. And it's a whole lot easier than chewing through three kilos of vegetables a day...
Let's fact it, boys, who wants to consume any vegetables? :-)
One of the effects of being almost totally immobile 24h/day is your appetite shrinks to a diddly snack of its previous feast self. What also happens is the quality of the appetite shifts too. Regular physical activity seems to create a raw, animal need for food, and a concomitant satisfaction when it's sated. Every meal is a truly enjoyable experience. In fact, it's one of the really great side-effects of heavy exercise is that connection to a serious growling hunger.
Whereas without the exercise my appetite feels almost intellectual, a scrawning whining thing that makes weak mentions of its vague caloric insufficiency every so often but when actually presented with sustenance it seems neither grateful nor particularly excited. Lack of exertion has robbed me of a pleasure of being alive.
It's not the quality of hospital food - I'd say it's pretty decent, solid English fare, and they give the patients plenty of choice. No, the problem is physiological.
For example, right now, I am "hungry". Yet there's been a plate of roast chicken, sautéed potatoes, veg, and a pear sitting here next to be my bed cooling off for the last hour. My desire to eat is less than the effort required to simply shift the laptop off my legs and start the mechanics of consumption. Amazing, considering normally my hunger has been known (in admittedly extreme cases) to pull food out of bins rather than wait another 20mins before getting home.
To think that people who are totally sedentary live without the regular enjoyment of satisfying a proper hunger. Gah! Poor bastards.
Anyway, the meals here keeps me more than filled; it's generally an exercise in persistence, a sense of self-responsibility about nourishment, and strong aversion to waste that makes me even finish it.
So, no more grapes, thanks :-)
Come to think of it ... Green & Black's chocolate's fine though, hee hee
The midnight munchies.. Huge tub of plain yogurt in the fridge... Looking promising... No jam, and the honey's set so hard my birthday would come around again before any poured out... Denied! (Cos I'm not eating natural yogurt, dammit.)
Cupboard also yielding some peanut butter. Time to experiment. Mine a generous tablespoon of honey ore into a bowl, and an equal sized dollop of peanut butter. Microwave for 20s. Honey's runny, and bubbling beautifully. Mix it up well and blend by hand into half a tub of yogurt (200ml or so for you technicians).
Honey takes the edge off the yogurt's natural sourness without being overpoweringly sugary, while the peanut butter does just what it says on the tin. Delicious!
Oh my god. The angels in my mouth are singing!
This midnight snack turned into the kind of culinary creation that if deployed could heal centuries-long national conflicts, bring about unbridled happiness to humanity, and maybe even prevent the Republicans stitching up the election again.
It started out innocently enough...
Some left over mini-baguette from a lovely lunch with Rossi, lightly toasted and generously buttered1, layered with thinly sliced Irish cheddar, a polite but robust splash of Hellman's Extra Light Mayo, and a suitably prudent smattering of Belevin Chili Paste (salsa piccante!). An open sandwich, of course, you pleb. Finalized for consumption by 10s in the microwave: just enough to warm and soften the cheese, bring the bread back to heat, but not so much as to bring about hotspots or release excessive starch moisture, bubble or otherwise desecrate the holy turf of this marvellous creation. In all seriousness, the microwave is the secret weapon of home sandwich making.
Out-standing. The rights to this one have already been bought for millions.
But all that was merely a warm-up, a tip of the hat, a casual chink, a toast, if you will, for what was to follow.
With the hubris of imagining it possible to improve on Beethoven's Fifth, the olive bread was sliced and dropped by my trembling but certain hand into the toaster.
Out came the Creamy Stilton whose age predates the fridge itself, a wedge I'm reliably informed by one of the neighborhood elders that was once a piece of cheese from decades past. So, nothing but the best. A single Babybel cheese, sliced, was the only worthy complement. Thus, the multi-national holy "tre formaggi" was complete. I swear I could hear a chorus of Welsh choirboys in the middle distance.
The mayo was re-invited to the party. It gladly accepted and effortlessly mingled with the crowd with all the grace and panache one could reasonably expect from a product with only 6% fat, a light purple presentation design, and a penchant for 50s lounge jazz (what?? -Ed).
The chili condiment too was willing, providing the bite and balance to the creation's spectrum with its refined piquancy.
With all the likelihood of Elton John behaving at a celebrity gathering, out sprang the Sainsbury's Wholenut peanut butter. Gasps from the audience; surely this is the work of a sandwich savant? No, merely a brave and cocksure experimenter. The second half of the sandwich was respectfully anointed in Gale's Pure (set) Honey. Sixteen seconds in the nukilla oven and ....
Well, let's just say look outside, can you see a steady comet in the sky, and detect a distinct whiff of frankincense?