Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Girl in the Food-Safe Plastic (or Preferably Glass or Pyrex) Bubble

So, after, er... a year (?) of going hog-wild with chemicals, I've decided I need to renew my interest in Failsafe. A little. Nothing outrageous, or that involves me living in a Travolta-bubble, but I definitely need to rethink things a bit. The UVB light works great - I have no complaints. But lately, I've been eating like a regular person and well ... it has to stop. We all know I'm not a regular person. I don't even fall into the 'slightly odd' category. I'm a full-blown food eccentric. I'm also a weirdo in other ways, but that, my friend, is neither here, nor is it there. Or maybe it is there, but it's not for this blog post, boy-o. I've also put on weight in the past year, what with the stress of my parents getting sick and the reintroduction of carbage in my diet. My thunder thighs have suddenly become hurricane thighs.

So step one is giving up coffee, which you probably know I love. I've been a coffee fanatic since age 13 and especially so since my trip to El Salvador, two years ago. Well, that's going to have to stop. Well, it has stopped, in fact. As of 2 weeks ago. Go me! I don't even really miss it, as long as I get enough carbs in my diet. I think my coffee consumption was masking a lot of issues that VLC brought on. But there will be no more masking! Only revealing!

Speaking of low-carb dieting, I'm done with crazy crash diets and calorie-restriction, too. It's done me no favours. My poor poor metabolism is the equivalent to my childhood family car: a 1980 Volkswagen that my father used to call "the little yellow shit-box". How the hell we fit our chubby-assed, stubby, Scottish, four-person-family in that little car, I will never know. Thank God we all have ridiculously short legs. People are very spoiled these days with their monstrous SUVs, etc. Make them drive their kids around in the hot summer, in a cramped two-door with vinyl seats that sear the first layer of skin off the backs of your thighs, I say! But I digress...

Step two! Alcohol. Sure there are Failsafe boozes, but honestly, booze isn't something I do well in moderation. I've never been a one-drink woman. I'm my parents' child in this respect. I'm not an alcoholic, but I come from a long line of alcoholics (on both sides) and honestly, it's not something I should be doing every day. I'm not swearing off it entirely, forever, because that's not terribly realistic. But it will no longer be an everyday thing for me and not even a weekly thing. If I drink one evening a month, then fine.

Step three is the giving up the really obvious food offenders, like coconut and super-chemically veggies. I already don't do fruit, but I've been enjoying a lot of dark leafies and curries, etc. and I've noticed some hives popping up all over. No good. I need to cut down on these, at the very least and keep them to special occasions - not for everyday eating. So helloooo cabbage! I mean I love cabbage and everything, but come on. How much cabbage can a person eat over the course her life? A fucking lot, apparently.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Oh Yeah! My blog!

Wow. Long time no prattle on...

Let's see if I can Coles Notes the last year for you...

My eczema turned into something called perioral dermatitis, which, as it turns out, was largely caused by a medicated cream that my doctor prescribed for me. My case was much much worse than anything I've seen online. All the photos I've looked at have made me think I should send in the photos of myself from when it was at its worst, so people know how very bad it can get. To say it was not pretty would be a vast understatement. My face looked like it had been dragged behind a truck. And painful! Ugh, the word painful doesn't even describe what was going on. So I went on antibiotics (which I stopped taking halfway through the 2 MONTH course) and bought a UVB light. I'm happy to say that the eczema - all of it - went away and has not since returned. I still use my light every few days, which seems to keep my skin in awesome condition. Also, the light seems to have allowed me a much more varied diet. I can be 'mostly' failsafe and get by just fine and am not nearly as strict.

On a crappy note, my parents were both diagnosed with serious illnesses 5 days apart last year, too. So that explains, mostly, why I've been away from this thing. My motivation to write just dropped off in the face of all that stress. It just seemed like an added stress that I didn't need.

But now, things seem to be easing up, slightly and the parentals seem to be doing OK and I'm going to try to update when I can with yummy surprises!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Update: SAD light!

I *heart* my new SAD light. I got this one. It is the bomb, guys. It makes me feel SOOOOO GOOD. Immediately afterwards and all throughout the day afterward. And not in a manic, coo-coo-pajamas kind of way, but in a content, groovy, smiling-even-though-I'm-stuck-in-rush-hour-traffic kind of way.

I still have eczema. BUT! I think I know why. Emma was kind enough to give me a little tutorial on the FailsafeNT group about eczema and apparently the bacteria that causes it loooooves fat. And what have I been religiously smearing all over my face for weeks and weeks, thinking that it would help? Fat. Emu oil, to be specific. Yeah, so as soon as my skin dries out a bit, I think things will improve. Actually it's already seeming less inflamed already after one day of fatlessness.


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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Duck-Fried Chicken (Like Chicken Fried Steak, only with duck instead of chicken and chicken instead of steak. Wait... what?)

For this, you'll need a really big, high-sided cast-iron or stainless steel fry pan. And a spatter screen, unless you enjoy getting hit with flying globs of searing hot fat. In which case, go to town without the spatter screen. Hell, do it naked if you really love the hurt.

Melt 1 to 2 lbs of duck or goose fat or lard in the pan over medium heat. The amount depends on the size of your pan. You want 1-1/2 inches of hot liquid fat in there. You can re-use the fat several times - just strain through a fine strainer, after it's cooled to room temperature, into a non-plastic container for the next time.

Get the fat as hot as it can get on just above medium heat. Not quite medium-high. That will mean leaving it to melt and pre-heat for a good 15 minutes. Carefully slide unseasoned skin-on, bone-in chicken pieces into the fat. Don't drop them in because you're scared of the hot fat - you will just cause a big splash and burn yourself! Just slide them in, nice and easy-like. Don't overcrowd the pan, either - leave a little cushion of space around each piece. Put your spatter screen over the pan and let it bubble and fry for about 10 -15 minutes until light golden on the bottom. Flip each piece over (use long tongs and be careful, damnit!). Replace the spatter screen and cook for another 10 to 15 until light golden and crispy all over. Remove the chicken to a plate lined with paper toweling. Sprinkle with salt, if desired. Let cool at least 5 minutes (10 is better) before eating, as it holds on to the heat like crazy and you might burn your mouth, otherwise.

*Note: without a flour coating, the chicken will never get as dark golden as it would with traditional fried chicken, but it will be just as crispy. A light amber colour is sufficient. You will get a really really crunchy crispy skin and a juicy interior. Use thighs or legs or wings - they are so much better than breasts. I must insist on this point! This is my favourite fried chicken and so much nicer and less greasy tasting than flour-coated fried chicken.


Thursday, October 18, 2007

Seasoning a cast-iron pan

I've seen many sites out there for how to season a cast-iron pan and most of them are wrong. If you ever see any recommendations to season a pan with vegetable oil of any kind, then you'll know that whoever is writing it has no idea what they're talking about. Vegetable oil leaves a sticky black coating on your pans that is almost impossible to get off and totally interferes with the natural 'seasoning' or non-stick layer that you're trying so hard to build.

Here's a good site that has it right. They are selling things on that site and I have no affiliation with them and have no idea if their products are good or complete garbage. But they, at the very least, seem to know how to take care of cast-iron cookware.

Hmm, if the vegetable oil is leaving a sticky black coating on your pans, imagine what it's doing inside your body... :o Food for thought!


Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Exercise? Do Not Want!

OK, I've never been one for exercise. I've always enjoyed dancing and I went through a period of a couple of years when I got really really into indoor rock climbing (I still love climbing, but it's highly expensive and inconvenient, as the gym is an hour from my new abode). But I've never been a big work-out-at-the-gym, cardio-lover. One might even say that I hate it. A lot. And one would be correct.

However, recently, as I mentioned before, I went to El Salvador and attempted to climb a volcano. The other people on the tour were all older than me, all smokers and all French-Canadian. I was positive that these factors combined, along with the fact that I even had climbing experience, would give me the ultimate edge and I would get to the top of the mountain first and have the pleasure of laughing and pointing as they struggled their way up to the top, coughing and sputtering as they went.

Not only did I not reach the summit first, but my friendly climbing partners got to the top, had a leisurely smoke and a chat, en Français, and watched as I panted and clawed my way up to the top (not joking). It was humiliating. And a big fat wake-up call. I'm young! (Sort of.) I'm 29 for Christ's sake. I'm able-bodied, aren't I? A little bit of a thunder-thigh situation going on, but nothing ridiculous and certainly nothing resembling obesity. I don't smoke. I even eat a healthy diet. I should damn well be able to climb a volcano if those Frenchies* can! Well, I barely made it up the stupid thing and probably looked like a complete a-hole in the process.

So, about 6 weeks ago, I started doing resistance training. Just on my own, in my spare room, with some dumb bells and a resistance band. And I'm really noticing a difference. My legs are far more toned, my ab strength has gone up tremendously and I can actually do squats and lunges and be able to walk the next day now.

I don't know if I'm in volcano-conquering shape, yet - but I'm getting there!

*Please note that I actually really like French-Canadians and any animosity you might detect in this post is purely rooted in jealousy.

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

El Salvador Effing Rules

This was seriously the greatest trip of my life. I climbed a volcano! Me. Lazy Annabelle. It nearly killed me. I may post more on this later, but right now I'm still a bit traumatized by the whole situation. I'm so glad I'm turning 30 soon and I can soon stop feeling like I need to do stuff like that. Until I'm 39 and it all starts up again. It may also happen at 34 - I'll be sure to let you know. I told bf that if I ever suggest anything like that again, he has full permission to bitch slap me.

Either way, it was an incredible experience. And I have a brand new renewed addiction to coffee, as Salvadorian coffee is arguably the finest in the world - most certainly the finest I've ever had. So much for my all-meat challenge. I bought 5 bags of beans, 2 of which I have given away. The remaining three are all for me! Me, me me! And any lucky son of a bitch who happens to come by my place for coffee.

I also made my first trip to Whole Foods here in Toronto yesterday and found a really gorgeous organic 35% cream with no additives and a label that states 0 g carb (which I know is not true, but I'm willing to blindly go along with). This morning I had Salvadorian coffee with organic 35% cream and nearly had an orgasm. Seriously. A couple of Kegel exercises and by next week, we should be talking business.

I also bought four kinds of raw milk cheese, which are full of glutamates and amines and sinfully yummy. Fuck it - I'm eating them!

I also bought some sheep's milk yogurt, which is 6% fat and possibly the densest creamiest substance I've tasted since my first spoonful of mascarpone so many years ago. And it's so uberdelicious. Maybe even better than cow's milk Balkan yogurt. Or at least as good.

I also found goat butter. Yes. Goat butter. I have yet to try it. I'm scared - I won't lie. How does one eat goat butter? On toast? I don't do toast. Maybe with eggs. I'm have to open the fridge and stare at it in fear a few times before I make a decision.

They also had all the Baretta farms organic meat, but the mark-up on it was so prohibitively expensive that... well... it prohibited me from buying it. Even as a test. I will have to order it myself, direct, and just go for it, one day. It may be a risk, but I'm willing to bet it's not all that risky and that I'll love it. I wish I had a big deep freezer. I wish I had room for a big deep freezer. I wish I had a deep freezer full of deeply frozen organic nitrite-free bacon.

One day soon.

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Saturday, February 24, 2007

Better... sort of.

Well, I'm feeling much better today. I'm in a good mood and my bloating from the MSG incident has gone away and I'm back down to the weight I was before it happened. Unfortunately, my partner is in a horrible mood and has been jumping down my throat all day. Makes it sort of difficult to enjoy getting through this rough reaction! Man, if it isn't me, it's him! If only I could convince him to go Failsafe. But he loves his junk food. He's so addicted and knows it's bad for him but would never consider going 'clean' of it all. Getting him to go Failsafe would be about as easy as getting him to agree to having his toenails pulled out with pliers.

I think I'll just lay low and avoid him!

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Friday, February 23, 2007

Rice is nice

Hmmm... after my mini-meltdown last night, I discovered I had some plain long-grain white rice in the cupboard that didn't have any odour, stale or otherwise. I had 45 g dry weight of it with 3 gently fried eggs and 1/2 oz. butter for dinner. Not only was it totally yummy and vaguely reminded me of eating Korean food, but I somehow managed to not be hungry afterward. Unheard of!!

I made twice as much rice (it's very difficult to properly cook 45 g rice by itself - it turns out better if you make a bigger batch) and the leftovers are in my fridge. I intend to eat the rest tonight in the same fashion, but I'm now wondering if rice will develop amines overnight in the fridge. It does have protein... I remember in chef school hearing in one of my lectures that old rice is a very common cause of foodbourne illness, although no one ever knows that. People usually blame it on the meat that they're eating with the rice. Hmmm. Well, I'll eat the rice in the fridge, but I'll monitor my reactions carefully. And I'll also try to pick up some sushi rice on my way home tonight, which is less reactive than long grain to many Failsafers.

I'm not eating any meat right now, either. Just eggs. There is a Chinese market close to my house that sells meat that always smells very fresh that I may trial later on, but I'd like to reach baseline before I start mucking around with that.

*Update - January 08: The rice started giving me rebound hunger about 2 days in.

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Stupid effing MSG

So MSG is so harmless, eh? This, unfortunately, is the current new belief in the health-o-sphere, thanks to a recent NY Times article and an accompanying timely post from Dr. Michael Eades. Emma blogged about it here. Yes, I suppose it's perfectly reasonable to add it to every stinking food on the shelves. I challenge you to go to the supermarket and find 3 packages on the shelf that don't contain some form of MSG. Remember it comes in a number of disguises. I suppose it's totally reasonable that they now add it in the most unsuspected places, like in vitamins (which you don't even really have to 'taste') and even effing baby formula. Yet another reason to nurse your children, ladies.

It's too bad, I typically agree with most things Eades has to say and find him to be quite humorous and generally a fun and informative read. But that post was just downright dangerous. I really hope it doesn't lead to an onslaught of stupid idiots 'testing' their friends allergies and intolerances by slipping things into their food! One really has to think about what one says.

I've been on a roller coaster of an MSG reaction for over 24 hours now, due to a work-related incident where I was forced to taste several packaged foods, all loaded with the stuff. They were all low in carbs, so that wasn't a concern for me. My calorie intake was no greater yesterday than it usually is. But today, I weigh 2 pounds heavier than I did yesterday. I'm also groggy, headachey, bloated and downright pissed off. And that's after the worst of it has worn off. The worst part is that I just discovered that the sour cream that my Mum was nice enough to bring over while I was recovering (with which I'd been enriching my Balkan yogurt) contains 'modified corn starch'. I hadn't read the ingredients because I just didn't want to bother with the possibility that it wasn't OK and since it was a nice gesture for her to bring food with her. Doing big shoppings isn't easy right now with my incision still being a bit sore. Now I feel like I can't accept food from anyone, or I have to secretly get rid of it after they leave.

Emma brought to my attention that glutamates stimulate an insulin reaction, just like amines and salicylates. That explains why I wasn't losing any weight during my recovery, despite only eating 1400 calories a day (which would typically be a good weight-loss amount for me). It's the bloody sour cream I've been eating. The amines in the yogurt probably weren't helping. What the hell am I supposed to eat now? I'm going to be living on poached eggs and butter! Sushi rice sounds good. I might have some Korean rice lying around in the cupboard, but it's probably stale.


I guess the depression part of the MSG reaction is kicking in...

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Monday, January 08, 2007

Sweet, sweet chocolatey Christmas

Yes, I ate crap over the holidays. Not such a huge deal, you would think, but now it I am trapped in a cycle of bad eating that I can't seem to completely get out of. YES AGAIN!

I've attempted on numerous occasions to get back onto my regimen (and even started working out again with a HIT routine, which is a huge step for me), but I keep caving in to cravings. The weird part is that I'm not caving in all the way - I'm just having small cheats. But the cheats are big enough to keep my weight way up and to keep me eating far too many calories. I gained 10 lbs over 1 week of bad eating and have only lost 2 of those pounds so far after over a week of attempted dieting.

You want to know the culprit? Chocolate. See, this is how I know that carbs are not the only issue with weight gain for me - food intolerance is also a big factor. I have only had an excess of maybe 15 or 20 grams of carbs in the last few days, but they have all been dark chocolate carbs and I am so utterly bloated, angry and fat that words cannot possibly describe it.

Chocolate is absolutely evil and I am in one of those phases where I feel like I can't possibly live without it. I need to detox badly. I have to go cold turkey. It's seriously like heroin. And I can't believe I let myself get caught up in eating it again!! I could kick myself. Now it'll take me a week just to get it out of my system and start eating and feeling like a normal human again.

Boy could I go for a dark chocolate Toblerone right about now...

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Friday, December 08, 2006


Ok, so I had my doctor's appointment today. And you'll never believe where this effing lump came from. So, so weird. I'm glad my doctor is smart because she figured it out in, like, two seconds.

The very first thing she asked me was if I had had a sore throat or cold lately. No, I haven't. bit of a pause... Is your scalp itchy, by any chance? Um... actually yes - horribly itchy, scabby and painful lately. Let me take a look... she looks... Yes, you have a scalp infection. Problems in the scalp often manifest as a swelling of the nodes.

What the shit? I would never have guessed that I had a big ass lump on my node because I have dandruff!

I've always had a condition called seborrheic dermatitis. My old doctor told me that it was common in redheads. I never thought much of it and lumped it with all my other skin sensitivities, which I now have attributed to food chemical intolerance. I occasionally treated the dermatitis with medicated shampoos, but would often get lazy with it and just end up using whatever shampoo or conditioner was on sale, only to have the flaky itchy scalp return. When I went Failsafe, it went away. Of course.

Well now I've got a script for a bloody steroid cream that I'm supposed to smear all over my scalp! Needless to say, I'd rather not use it and I think a strict return to Failsafe (which, as you know, I had recently had a bit of a vacation from) should cure me completely. This makes total sense - this is the result of all that crap I've been ingesting lately. Even since 'getting back on track', I've had to go to a couple of holiday office parties where I ended up not being 100% responsible with diet. They were small cheats, but cheats nonetheless and have kept me from properly detoxing. We'll see what a couple of weeks of strict diet does.

So curious how so many things end up relating back to chemical sensitivities. This is just more of a reason to stay on track. I should have known - my skin's been horrible lately. Pimples, rashes, hives, itchiness galore. I was calmly ignoring it all, figuring it would all go away once I got through Christmas and had a chance to get back on track. Looks like I won't be waiting until Christmas is over - I won't be having any holiday indiscretions this year. Or, at least, not if I don't want to have a giant goiteresque lump sticking out the side of my neck.

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Thursday, September 21, 2006

Weight Expectations

I'm going to do you all a favour and spare you the obligatory post on Intermittent Fasting - the trend that seems to be sweeping through low-carb bloggery like a tidal wave. Everywhere you look, people are dropping meals. It's happening left, right and centre. Not that I disagree with it - fasting is how I lost the majority of my weight and I still practice it now... intermittently, of course :) I just think that everyone else is covering it so well there is no need for me to sing its praises at this point.

Instead, I will blog about weight expectations.

I think once you start dipping into the territory of 'normal weight', things start happening. Firstly, people get excited and are happy for you. Then, they inevitably become concerned. I cannot tell you the number of people who have told me that I've 'lost enough weight' or that I need to 'slow down', which is ridiculous, considering how slow my weight loss has been, or that 'you're already so skinny!', when meanwhile, I outweigh them by 20 lbs and I'm 2 inches shorter than they are. Or even if I don't outweigh them and they are overweight, the still get freaked out by the idea of me becoming 'normal'.

"I think you're meant to be a bit chubby! You look good that way! Don't get too thin!"

Um, is it just me, or is that totally offensive? Meant to be chubby?? What the hell does that mean?

Why do people do this? Are they genuinely concerned? Are they just so used to seeing a fat face that anything else is foreign to them? Are they jealous or threatened? I had a 'friend' the other day tell me in this unimpressed tone: "Oh my God. You've lost your ass, you know."

Who says that? Who takes it upon themselves to let someone know that they have no ass anymore. Would I say, "Oh my God. You're ass is as big as a house,"? No. No I would not. Even if it were true. I would probably keep that little nugget to myself.

People can be real assholes.


Friday, July 28, 2006

Unnecessary post containing lots of whining... oh and some kombucha stuff

I am bloated. Bloated and PMS-ey and depressed and crappy-ocious. This week blows and I just want 4:30 pm to come so I can get the hell out of here.

Whine, whine, whine.

My sweetheart is also going through a depressed phase right now, so in way, I'm sure we're egging each other on. His depression is career and identity-related. Mine is just hormonal and food-related. But both suck. I need my Cuba holiday, stat!

And a big glass of kombucha.

I haven't been drinking it lately (surprised that I'm feeling low? Me neither.). In other, more positive news, I left that yeasty batch (that never really got un-yeasty, even after adding some cognac) and just let it ferment to vinegar for a couple of weeks. So now I have kombucha vinegar, which I may try to use in some way in the future. Since I don't eat much in the way of salad because of the salicylates, that may be a challenge. Maybe I'll give it away as a gift. But my scoby (the baby from the yeasty batch) was nice and thick by the end of the fermentation, so I put the mother in the fridge in some of the kombucha vinegar for storage and started a new batch with the baby scoby and it seems to be coming along swimmingly. Today is Day 5, so I'll have a taste when I get home and see how it's coming along, flavour-wise. The new baby scoby is quite thick already. I used green tea this time - jasmine green tea, actually - since I heard green tea makes for a better stronger brew because the kombucha grows better in it than it does in black tea (and green tea, apparently, isn't as good an environment for yeast). This may all be b.s., but it's worth a try and it seems to be working this time, so I can't exactly disagree.

I have grown to love the taste of kombucha. I never disliked it, at all, but now I really enjoy it and I'm wishing I had some here at work so I could have a glass. I can't wait to see if the jasmine tea gives it a different flavour, or if the kombucha taste just overpowers any flavour nuances. I need more bottles! I've been drinking Perrier so that I can use the bottles for Kombucha. They're nice because they're glass and I can't imagine that using plastic bottles to store something that's supposed to be detoxifying is a good idea! I already feel funny about using spring water from plastic bottles to make the brew, but what can ya do?

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