It's funny - It doesn't look dramatically different in photos, but BOY is it different!
It's funny - It doesn't look dramatically different in photos, but BOY is it different!
In Tennessee, we have already had days of sunshine in the upper 70s. The grass is beginning to grow again. Our daffodils are just about finished and tulips are on their way. And we have asparagus for cheap in some markets.
That's right, Spargelzeit is upon us in Tennessee a full month before Oregon. The Germans go crazy for the vegetable during this time of year, hence the name "Asparagus time" or "Spargelzeit." Upon seeing the good price and fresh-looking sprigs of this ancient vegetable with many health benefits, I quickly bought about eight bunches.
We have been including it in all our recipes, but here are a few that center around the vegetable...
1) Cut as much asparagus as you want into one-inch lengths and boil. Drain.
2) Allow them to cool and melt a pat or two of butter over them.
3) Salt and pepper to taste.
4) Cool in the fridge and serve in a large salad bowl with olive oil drizzled over them.
1) Make your pasta and red sauce as normal.
2) Cut asparagus into bite sized chunks.
3) Sprinkle them on the top of your pasta dish, add parm, and you're ready to rock n roll.
Oregon Grilled Asparagus
1) Cut the asparagus into lengths and soak in soy sauce for about 30 minutes.
2) Grill on low until the asparagus is tender.
Asparagus / Butternut Squash Enchiladas
1) Make this recipe: https://nicolesauce.com/2006/12/15/the-polotics-of-a-winter-wonderland-and-butternut-squash-enchiladas.aspx
2) After removing from the oven, sprinkle already boiled pieces of asparagus on the top.
3) Place casserole back in over and broil for about 2 minutes.
I saw another interesting recipe for grilling asparagus where you take a stick of butter and seal it in tinfoil with the vegetable, then grill it.
Of course, Mark asked the logical question after we began eating piles of asparagus: Will this make my pee smell funny? It is interesting to note that, at least on the blogosphere, many don't get the allure of the vegetable. One writer found the whole process of Spargelzeit in Germany baffling. He/She goes on to review the whole urine effect. Note in the comments that buttered asparagus-tinfoil-grill recipe.
Now, I can understand not liking this veggie. As a child, I seem to remember a time or two when I was served (not by my own mother) this delicacy stringy and cooked until it hardly kept its shape. Sort of an asparagus mush. It was bitter and terrible.
So some tips:
OK, OK - I have gotten many an email, call and now a comment waiting for the kitchen results...
I have good news - It is DONE!
Day Three Skinny: The kitchen was all back together, but the dishwasher would not turn on. Luckily, we got a sink. When I asked about the garbage disposal, the contractor said, "Oh Sh*t."
Day Four Skinney: I came home from a very rough day at work to a fully functional, remodeled kitchen with no tile countertops.
Day Five Skinny: I laid all the tile, except the backsplash. OH YEAH! The BACKsplash!! Back to the store to get more tile.
Day Six Skinny: I got up early and finished the backsplash. We grouted later in the day. We toasted a job well done with a little bourbon.
Mark has all the other photos on his computer. I will upload more soon.
That's right, a hole in the wall. Luckily no BFB (big <expletive> boulder). However, getting the piece of drywall to patch the unexpected hole proved to be more than a four hour adventure, during which time the work crew sat around with nothing to do. At the end of the day, there were no cabinets in the kitchen, still a hole in the wall, and no sink or dishwasher installed.
We reconvene at 8:30am tomorrow...
As is often the case, day one arrived and there was no contractor. In fact, a former job was taking extra time, so ours got rescheduled until Wednesday.
At 7pm, the contractor dropped the new cabinets off... We made pancakes in honor of Fat Tuesday.
Well, the post Atkins transition is done and, though my weight fluctuated abut 5 pounds, it is now a steady 158 and lowering on the sparkpeople.com method. One of the really good things about their method is that it allows me to eat pizza, with the crust, and encourages a lifestyle change. Their web tracking system is pretty good too!
That said, we've been cooking almost solely at home these days and making quite a mess of things. With no dishwasher to keep up to the task and counter tops that always look dirty to me, the time has come for a little kitchen remodel.
Now, several years ago, I embarked on a similar project. 12 moths later, it was not done and my lovely roommate was about to move out from the frustrations if living in a perpetual construction site. This time, I tried a new method: waiting 7 months to schedule the update so that the contractor is tried and true, I have a window in my schedule to do my part, and I have saved enough money to deal with surprises.
Here is the plan, we will see how things shake out:
Tuesday: Phil (contractor) comes in and removes the cabinets and counter top in the kitchen (and makes them disappear forever). He then sets up the plumbing and wiring for the dishwasher and disposal. Mark and I pick up the dishwasher at Sears. Phil installs new cabinets (which I bought today) and the subcounter top for tiling. In the evening, Mark and I spread a thin layer of adhesive on the bottom of the marble tile so that it sits level tomorrow.
Wednesday: I get up really early so that I can set tile first thing in the morning, even before cooking coffee, then go to work. Mark takes the tiles that need to be cut to Lowe's for cutting and comes home to set them. After work, we grout together.
Thursday: Phil drops in and installs the sink and dishwasher and they miraculously work the first try. Mark and I move stuff back into the kitchen.
This is our fantasy. I will give a daily update of the actual time line and project cost as we go. It should be interesting. Meanwhile, we are having the lazy man's pizza before we lose the kitchen for a few days.
Half Homemade Pizza
Put your pizza stone in the oven and heat for 15 minutes at 400 (if you don't have a pizza stone, run out and get one, they are really cool). Open oven and assemble pizza on oven rack. Place crust on stone. Put on sauce, mushrooms, onions and olives, then a layer of cheese, then the pepperoni. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes until the pizza is done. Serve.
A friend was amused that I could not eat the amount of meat required on the Atkins diet to stick with it. She remembered travelling high and low in Germany, seeking vegetarian dishes for me. This was a near impossible task in the erly 90s. Especialy in EAST Germany. Subsequent visits have been much easier for the vegetarian visitor, with many menus having more healthy options than the typical American restaurant.
Though I do eat meat and am healthier for it, my vegetarian years taught me many cooking tricks that have made my meat dishes turn out better than standard fare. One trick I learned in my early vegetarian days was how to make a vegetable soup stock. Keep in mind:
It starts like this:
Wait for the pile of vegetable scraps to grow.
I use this stock in many things, from Rissoto to squash bisque (I got over my dislike for squash). The best part from my small l libertarian perspective: It's super cheap to produce!
Today, I was so sick that I almost lost my cookies after dinner. After doing a little poking around online, I decided that Atkins, while it has caused me to lose weight this week, is not the right choice for me. On Thursday, I was so weak, I couldn't make it through my Pilates class, and swimming 2,000 yards would have been impossible. My conclusion? An active person really needs carbs to function.
The whole time I was on the diet, I did not crave sugary foods, but rather fruits and grains. Mark, having lost 10 pounds in a week, agrees that we need to slow down the weight loss and go about things in a more balanced way. WebMD.com has been a good source of information, as has simply googlesearching "How to safely stop Atkins." We decided, since most of the initial weight loss on Atkins in only water weight, to be careful about how much fat we consume.
We are transitioning int he following ways:
1) High fiber, whole grain foods. No white foods.
2) Lots of veggies
3) Low fat consumption
4) Seeking protien somewhere besides meat - but not cutting out all meats
www.sparkpeople.com has turned out to be a great resource for this strategy. They set up an individualized plan for you, tell you what you can consume, then give you all sorts of online tools to track what you are doing and compare if it is what you should be doing. They are much better than WeightWatchers because they are FREE!
Hats off to those of you out there who are able to stick to this diet.
Recipe of the Day: Low Carb Glazed Ahi
Lightly salt and pepper both sides of the ahi, rub the rosemary and peppers over the outside of the meat. Drizzly the brandy on the steak. Grill until it is as cooked as you like it.
Day 5 Summary
Consumed: two cups of coffee, 2 tablespoons cream, 2 bites of steak (2oz), 2 hard boiled eggs, 4 cups lettuce, 1 cup broccoli, 3 slices summer sausage, 3 pieces cucumber, 3oz grilled chicken breast, 1 tablespoon blue cheese dressing, 48 ounces fizzy water, one cup jasmine tea.
Calorie Count: This is approximate - 650.
How I Feel: Nauseous. Headachy. Lethargic. Weak. Like my stomach lining was eating itself.
How Mark Feels: Worse than I do.
Weight at 8pm: 159.0 pounds.
Work Out: Are you kidding me?
In 1999, I got my first telephone from you. We chose you after extensive research on cellphone providers because you had great customer service.
After only six months on that first phone, it started to crack into two pieces. I did not know it at the time, but it turns out that I am really hard on things. As much as I try not to break them, the act of carrying them around in my briefcase makes things break. Your customer service folks politely refused to replace the phone, but gave me another one for free in exchange for a one-year service agreement.
A word on your customer service. They were helpful, listened and came up with a reasonable solution to my problem. The lovely Nokia that I got as a result lasted for years with nothing more than a little scratch on the monitor. Sadly, it lasted longer than you did.
Shortly after this time, T-Mobile bought you, dear VoiceStream, and I hoped that they would be smart enough to keep the VoiceStream customer service model, but add T-Mobile coverage and efficiencies. Alas, it was not to be.
Within a year, customer service had gotten so bad, that when I called with my first problem, the customer service representative actually tried to give me, A GEN X FEMALE, a fatherly lecture on proper cellphone plan usage. And this was the guy you employ to try to KEEP customers. A word of advice: Gen X female professionals don't respond so well to dominating male take charge of your life attitudes. It's not that I don't respect biological differences, it's just that these differences do not translate into my ability to know what good customer service is and the value of loyalty.
That's right, loyalty. I would have stayed with you VoiceStream turned T-Mobile, had you simply shown me that you cared about my business. Now, for years, I had never gone over my minute allocation and paid my bills on time. Had you simply met me half way on that phone bill, I would have increased my minutes and stayed with you until now in spite of your crummy network. But instead, you forced me to leave you for another provider.
When you realized that my number was about to port away, you called to ask me why and I told you. At that time, you mentioned that you would have met me half way had I mentioned that I was leaving. I decided not to bother explaining to you that your own customer service guy was too busy giving me a lecture to listen to the customer's issue.
Goodbye T-Mobile, hello Verizon Wireless.
PS - I consider this experience to be the first among an increasing amount of horrible customer care experiences in an increasingly customer comes 3rd or 4th world. Anyone who knows of a cellphone provider who has excellent customer care, kindly comment below.
PPS - Read my letter to Verizon Wireless in a few days. Comcast will eventually follow, as will AT&T.
Mark was reading about Atkins and it was described as the "Starvation Diet." This is how it feels. You feel like you are starving but you are not hungry. Everyone I have spoken with about the diet has said the same thing. The first four days or so, you have a low grade headache and feel weak, but then you get over the hump and feel great as you lose weight.
Well, we made it to day four and have started discussing if we will quit the diet early and just try counting calories. We fantasize about pizza, donuts (I don;t even like donuts), and crackers. Last night, Mark pointed out that the net effect of this diet has been that he and I want different foods. I was craving chicken celery soup and he wanted chicken breast salad.
Luckily, we managed to compromise on grilled Ahi and this new veggie puree I dreamed up. Now, this is not a strictly Atkins initiation phase compliant recipe, but it is about 6 carbs per serving and a welcome break from boiled eggs, celery sticks and meat.
Recipe of the Day: Veggie Puree
1.5 cups chopped broccoli
1 dries red pepper from the Ristra
.5 cups chopped brussel sprouts
.5 cups grated cheese
salt to taste
1/4 stick of butter, unsalted
Boil the heck outta the veggies and drain them. Put them in your food processor, add the butter and cheese and puree. Salt to taste.
This dish made us so happy after eating all that meat in the last few days that we bucked up and watched some Soprano's on the 'puter.
Day 4 Summary
Consumed: two cups of coffee, 2 tablespoons cream, 1 bite of steak (1oz), 1 celery stock, 1 pork chop, 1 hard boiled egg, 8 tablespoons of sauerkraut, a shot of brandy (on the outside of the Ahi, 1 cup veggie Puree, Ahi steak grilled (about 6 ounces), 4 cups lettuce, 72 ounces fizzy water.
Calorie Count: This is approximate - 950.
How I Feel: Nauseous. Headachy. Lethargic. Weak. More energy after dinner.
How Mark Feels: Like I do.
Weight at 8pm: 162.0 pounds.
Work Out: 1 hour of Pilates - I could not hold certain positions at the end and got really sore muscles afterward.