Tuesday, May 25, 2010

sugar and spice, and everything disgorged


not good.  i do not feel good.  double dose of promethazine and some tylenol and i am still head-achey and flagrantly nauseous.

admittedly, i did have a lot of sugar today... not smart.  i do not feel smart.

this evening, i wanted nothing more than to eat my yukons scalloped in rice milk and read my book on Eve Ball.  alas, i made some poor decisions today (like not running; eating three mini gluten-free cornbread muffins, a quarter of a chocolate waffle and four pieces of salt water taffy; not drinking any water until 2pm).  not hungry.  i do not feel hungry.

i was hoping to avoid a repeat of the last year, but this whole back-to-where-i-was-last-April business is not promising.  not promising.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

food for the soul (ailing)

Tonight, we are ill.  For once, 'we' does not refer to the gracious majesty of yours truly, but instead, to both Heroic Knight and myself.

It seems we are stricken with various strains of Miserable.  H.K. is suffering from what I am convinced is a sinus infection that has gone untreated and is now chronic and may require surgery (I like to fret in long term portions).  I have some combination of sinus mystery and Confused Throughput, both of which have me in a mess of tired.  I take a sick pleasure in H.K.'s being more ill than I am -- this is a man who gets sick perhaps once every few years -- as it means that I, The Stronger, get to take care of him.  

Thus, I made our trusty favorite, coconut lemongrass chicken soup tonight.  I have mentioned this dish once in passing, but never expatiated on its awesomeness.  I originally happened upon this soup with my Lovely Lymey Lizzy in Zao's Noodle Bar.  It was addictive, and craved on a weekly basis.  It was decided that, since H.K. and I are poor (read: I am poor), we would have to figure out how to make it ourselves.  

Our first attempt (read: my first attempt) was interesting but lacking that distinguishing Thai pazazz.  H.K. then fixed the problem by hunting for an actual recipe -- cough.. cheater.. cough.. hack... gargle.  I made it tonight for our ailing hero as he lay helpless on the couch with his DSLR in hand learning how to shoot a time-lapse of our flowers opening and closing with day and night.

1.  bring 1 quart chicken broth to a boil
2.  cut chicken strips
3.  toss chicken strips into boiling broth and set at medium heat
4.  add 2 1/3 tbsp fish juice (not fish oil or fish chips)
5.  add roughly 2 tbsp of lime juice, a handful of lemon grass stems, and let simmer
6.  meanwhile, peel/julienne carrot strips
7.  wash and strip fresh cilantro leaves (unless you hate them, in which case, use basil)
8.  find some form of soba or ramen noodle
9.  when chicken has simmered in broth for 5 min, add ramen/soba
10.  when ramen/soba is soft, add carrot strips and 2 cans of coconut milk
11.  simmer for 2 min before serving
 12.  garnish with cilantro (or basil; i like to add cayenne pepper, because i like cayenne pepper with everything)
* taste test approved by Lovely Lymey Lizzy

Progress and Food

1.  My hair has stopped falling out at the obnoxious rate of four handfuls a day.  Though it is a little less than half of what it used to be [as measured by hairband wraps (before, 2-3; now, 5)], it is regaining health.  Half of my head is covered in 2" long wisps that so admiringly wish to be part of the world of the longer strands.  Dandruff has returned -- not the problematic kind, but the kind that everyone has when their scalp is healthy -- to help buffer the re-growth process.  And some of the curl has returned to the body.  While lacking it's awesome fullness and fellow-bus-passenger-comment-earning curl, the red sheen has returned and promises that I will at least not look like a corpse on my wedding day.  Thank you, steroid recovery.

2.  Note to self: pseudoephedrine (yes, the premium stuff you can only get from a reluctantly signed prescription) makes my tummy hurt.  It is the kind of hurt that mimics the pain of the two-week steroid withdrawal extravaganza of several weeks ago.  And by "several weeks", I of course mean two months.  Similarly, Ny/Dayquil does the same damn thing.  So no sinus infection relief for me unless I decide to go to urgent care.

3.  Forgive me Father, for I have sinned.  It has been four days since my last poop.  Dr GI, who has triumphantly redeemed himself at last week's appointment (in order to show off to his hot resident observer, no doubt), demanded that I treat this constipation situation with Metamucil.  I've eaten these crackers before, the little apple cinnamony ones that go down rather thickly but go down never the less.  I don't recall their ever having caused problems or failed in their mission.  This time, however, after two days I awoke at 2am not from lack of oxygen or stomach pain or having to pee (which all occurred at other points in the post-sleepytime night), but from the need to release Throughput.  This has never before occurred in the history of my being... awoken by urgency to poo?  I was fascinated.  However, nothing came out but mucous (you're welcome).  I was disappointed.  So no more Metamucil since I certainly do not need another thing to wake me up 6 times a night instead of 4.  I'll take the constipation.  But thanks.


1. Caramelize chopped onions and garlic in a lightly buttered skillet
2. Meanwhile, mash 2/3 of a can of black beans in a bowl
3. Mix in other 1/3 of black beans, caramelized onion/garlic mixture (keep the pan heated)
            optional: add cilantro and green bell pepper to the bowl
4. Mix in 2/3 cup bread crumbs (we used Matzoh Meal, which, oddly complemented the bean mixture supremely well)
5. Stir in two beaten eggs
6. In the still-heated pan from the onion/garlic mix, add a quarter inch (if you dare) oil; pan should be on medium heat
7. Layer a plate with cornmeal (or Matzoh Meal, or whatever "meal" you want, really), and coat both sides of a formed black bean patty
8. Place the bean patties in the oiled pan for roughly 1.5 min each side
9. Set over paper towels to lose some of the oil
10. Serve with some variety of greenness and salsa

We had ours with sautéed mustard greens.
Test run.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Fatigue vs Stamina

In this tale, H.K. will play the part of the strapping young bulk of a man, Stamina, whilst your "humble" (who are we kidding?) narrator will play Fatigue.  H.K. often deals with the stress of not only my illness, but my persistent lack of confidence or pride when I am ill.  It's a load on him, and I do not pretend to not notice; in fact, I owe him decades of tantrum-free Ragalove to make up for the last year and whatever other spurts of self deprecation may occur in the future... and lots, and lots of Legos.


T'was the night before Friday, and all through the apartment
no creature was stirring for they knew what compartment
of Hell they would occupy, should they cross Fatigue's way
as she raged against the defeat of a very long day.

Calm was her manner as Fatigue attempted to hide
the day's exhaustion that was melting her insides
and cooked, she, a meal of potential glory;
"potential" being key to the outcome of this story
for Fatigue was... fatigued, and she undercooked the broccoli
and the way-too-bland chicken simmered so mockingly
which was tolerable to her taste buds until Stamina tiptoed
into the region where no other creature dared go.

"Darling," he whispered, so cautious and patient,
"this broccoli's not quite done, if I may be blatant;
could I give it another quick spin in the pan?"
and Fatigue's eyes went red as she glared at the man
and then, an explosion of surprising magnitude
was aimed to attack Stamina's loving attitude.
The tears flowed in streams from Fatigue's boiling eyes
her obdurate upset in no kind of disguise.

T'was a culinary failure, she sorely proclaimed
and swore no more dinners would henceforth be maimed.
For Fatigue had decided that this single supper
was a representation of all that she blundered;
her pattern of failure to remain insurmountable,
her tantrums toward Stamina seemingly uncountable,
Fatigue simply gave up with a mucousy blow
and poor Stamina, a kiss and a hug did bestow.

"Don't do this to yourself," Stamina appealed
"it's been a long day, and this is just one meal,
we'll do it together the next time around,
and we'll follow the book so that things turn out sound."

When an hour of crying had passed, the truth was outed:
Fatigue was embarrassed of all that she touted
to be able to give Stamina in return for his love
and felt she could not, despite all she had hopes of.
The undercooked broccoli and under-spiced chicken
weren't hints of a long day, but marks of a quickening
realization that Fatigue was no good
at providing the things that a good partner should.

T'was the day after Thursday, and with her eyes dried
Fatigue began battling the inadequacy inside
admitting that exhaustion was likely to blame
and she still had this gift to give Stamina unmaimed.
Fatigue returned home from another long day
rhapsodic that she had not driven Stamina away,
and promised him a weekend devoid of strife.
Happy Friday to all, and to all a good life!


Just so y'all know, when prepared correctly (below), this dish is scrumptialicious.

1. defrost two chicken breasts
2.  dice yam into 1" blocks to match banana chunks
3.  caramelize onions in pan
4.  throw yam chunks in with onion
5.  in a separate pan, stir fry broccoli with olive oil, salt n' peppa for 2 min on med-high followed by 5 min on med-low
5.  when yams are halfway to their peak softness, add chicken
6.  after 1 min, add 1tsp garlic, 1tsp turmeric, 1tsp cayenne
7.  add bananas to chicken/yam/spice pan and cook on med-low until everything is soft and chicken is cooked

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

meet Julienne...

I christened my Julienne peeler this evening.  Simply, I am in love.  I must now find every peelable vegetable that might potentially be Julienned into vegeghetti.  My first experiment, courtesy of H.K.'s sexy 50mm f/1.4 Nikon from the 80s, sports Ragapesto chicken on a bed of zucchini with oat bread (aren't I posh).  Next; carrots, broccoli stems, yellow squash, potato, turnip, parsnip... what am I missing?

1.  defrost chicken (what? I need to be reminded to do this)
2.  Ragapesto: mix 1 tsp coriander, 1 tsp cumin, 1tsp garlic, 2 tsp basil and 1tbsp lime juice in mini dish
3.  wash and julienne [veges of choice]
4.  toss chicken in pan with 2 tsp olive oil (substitute broth for oil if flaring)
5.  toss julienned [veges of choice] in another pan with 2 tsp olive oil (or broth) and add salt and pepper
6.  when cooked, spread Ragapesto generously over chicken and place over sautéed [vege of choice] on an aesthetically awesometastic plate
7.  serve with toast and... honestly, almost any wine -- a Zinfandel or Sauvignon Blanc, if I must be choosy.

Friday, May 7, 2010

what dreams may come

The following is a tale completely unrelated to Crohn's except for that it was likely spurred by the night sweats and every-ten-minute pees that have returned since the last non-infection-infection quieted, which, btw, is now theorized by the Ob-Gyn to be an allergy (gasp!!).  I'm not complaining, however, since as of today I have not had above baseline instances of Crohn's pain in almost two weeks.  Two weeks, bitches.  Yay, body!

And on that note...

Upon returning to my pillow in a cold sweat after having gotten up to pee for the third time last night, I fell immediately into the deep slumber accompanied by psychedelic dreams.

Scene 1--
I was late to work, and worried that the last express bus had beaten me to the transit station.  How fortunate that when I turned around, there was the last 64 bus approaching a stop fifty feet behind me.  I ran.  Having waved my arms madly in front of the doors to get the driver's attention, he reluctantly stopped in the middle of a busy intersection to let me board.

If my dreams are typically accompanied by smells and humidity, they are not memorable.  What flushed my face as the bus doors closed behind me may stay in my olfactory memory for a week.  First of all it was a dirty, sulfur-soaked and muggy atmosphere as one would expect to find on a hot summer day in 'Nam.  I sat down in the only empty seat I could find without processing the imagery before me.  An entire side of the bus had supplemented stretchers for seats, upon which bodies lay bleeding, stinking and slowly dying.  The remaining seats were filled by beaten bodies in bleach-white Tees and trousers, seemingly untouched by the blood that spilt from a melange of man-made orifices.  Perhaps it was because I work in a hospital that I did not initially question the new population of my morning commute.

"Isn't this bus going to Marquam Hill?" I finally asked the driver.

"No... this is bus 393..." [NOTE: where the hell did 393 come from?]

"Where are we going?"

Silence from the only body on that bus with a face completely bereft of affect.

I got off the bus at the next stop, which was oddly thousands of miles and years away from the familiar intersection where I had boarded less than two minutes prior.  Surveying my questionable surroundings, I could only conclude that I had been dropped into a massive cluster of majestic Medieval buildings so congested that they seemed half maze and half shanty town.  The bus made a left onto a half-cobble-half-dirt road, and I was left alone.

Scene 2 --
The stuffy sulfur atmosphere diluted to a cold grayish blue.  Frightened out of my mind that I would now never find my way back to Portland, much less make it to work on time, I began to walk backward along what I was sure was the route by which bus 393 from Vietnam had brought me here.
Having walked for several "blocks" through infinitely high and mysteriously bubbly stone buildings, I noticed I was being followed by no less than a dark and handsome but quite creepy young fellow who was about to try to rape me.  I ran.  I was chased.  I tripped.  I begged.

"I will pay you twenty dollars to guide me out of this place and to not rape me." [NOTE:  where was H.K. during this terror, you ask?  sleeping peacefully like a damn baby in the sunshine beside my sweating and probably kicking physical self... thanks for jumping into my dream to save me, jackass.]

He said nothing, but backed off and helped me up.  I then followed him in the direction that bus 393 from Vietnam had come from, which had reappeared before me.  He ended up leading me in circles through this increasingly gorgeous but eerie and untouchable city, whose frozen blue mists seemed only to bother my nostrils.  Everything around me began to smell like moss, which was, for whatever reason a soothing gesture on the part of my psyche.  When we reached the "beginning" of the bus route for the last time that I was willing to tolerate, I tried to break from my captor, racing down what had turned into a muddy cobbled hill road.  Giant wooden French doors of a massive cathedral appeared before me and I flew against them nearly cracking my now glacial lungs. 

I slid on my belly to a marble floor with some religious images that I could not make out.  Rolling onto my back to see if I had lost my predator, I looked up to see him standing over me.  He sat, out of breath beside me on the floor.

"We had a deal," I said, "I promised to pay you twenty dollars to guide me out and not to rape me.  Aren't we friends?  Can't I get the money to you later when I find my wallet?"

Unbeknownst to me, but perfectly apparent to the place from which my pleas were originating, I had lost my wallet in the chase... or the walk... or on bus 393 from Vietnam, and could not pay my predator to leave me be. 

"We aren't friends," He chided, and then added something whiny and mumbled.  The gist was that I had not been a good enough companion to warrant friendship.  Perhaps I should have let him rape me to encourage camaraderie.  All smells diminished here, and He fled through the open doors of the cathedral as if I had insulted him beyond reparation.

Scene 3 --
(Enter Gregory House, MD)
No sooner does my predator leave than another's presence is observed.

"I found your wallet in the mud," House grunts in typical House fashion.  The chastising that followed was primarily confused and inarticulate in a very, very atypical House fashion. "Something is missing from your documents..."

In place of the cathedral's altar there appeared a great digital screen that was supposed to display the contents of my wallet.  Oddly, there were no cards or monies -- only pictures.  House kept giving his befuddled speech as various images of pictures I kept in my wallet appeared on the screen.  Finally, when the screen was full but for a large black gap in the center, House's words became clear again:

"After you dropped your wallet in the mud, I paid 'Him' to follow and try to rape you."

"Why??" I was thinking, horrified, but could not utter because Dream Mode set in and my words were soundless.

Scanning the images in front of me and recognizing none of them, my dream self suddenly realized: "My son?  You're jealous of my son, Darren Rosé?!" [NOTE:  who the crap is "Darren Rosé", and how/when did I produce a blonde-headed, ice-blue-eyed stuffed animal of a human being?]

Upon uttering or screaming these words (not sure how they came out in Dream Mode), I found myself inside a digital image on the screen, holding a small ice-blue-eyed blonde-headed baby boy and screaming in silence after House, who walked casually out the giant French doors of the Cathedral.

End Scene.

And all the while writing this, I've been humming "Steady as a beating drum" from Pocahontas, a song and movie which have not heard or seen much less thought of in at least six years.  Touché, Crohn's.

Hega hega yam-pi-ye-hega...

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Method

The recipe-posting hiatus has gone on long enough.  Tonight's dish celebrates my most reliable comfort, my most beloved enemies and my troubled hypocrisy.

1.  Nuke sweet potato
2.  Whilst nuking, dice a yellow onion and get sizzling in a tiny amount of olive oil
     a.  "tiny" means a quarter teaspoon, mixed with chicken broth if you need to dissipate your saute
          medium in a big pan
     b.  because there must always be a "b" for every "a"
3.  Wash and dice creminis and kale
     a.  oyster mushrooms are also great in this one
     b.  remove kale shreds from main stem
4.  Toss creminis into pan with half-carmelized onions
     a.  open and rinse a can of navy or black beans
     b.  pour glass of Johan Vin Gris 2007 (yes, a good Pinot from this year is hard to come by);
          water, if you are a less masochistic Crohnie
5.  Add turmeric, coriander and pepper to the onions and toss
6.  Dice softened nuked sweet potato and add to pan with kale and a can of navy or black beans
7.  Pile onto whatever aid you need to get it to your mouth
I've been atrociously weak this year.  Atrociously.  There has been no fight in me.  I blame it on H.K. for giving me something to persistently lean on.  Despite an outwardly aggressive and invincible daytime manner, I come home at night and crumble into depression.  About what, you ask?  About my unreasonably perfect life, and how maladroit I am trying to keep up with it.  H.K. combats my crumbling with reason.  And yet, he always wins; my fears are consistently proven obdurately nonsensical (read: in fact, I am responsible for some of the awesomeness in my life). 

He reminds me of how difficult it is to judge oneself objectively, and urges me to trust his assertions as the objective party to my madness.  Suffice to say, his assertions are that I am doing just fine, and have a bad habit of defending everyone else's set-backs but my own.

And he is right.  I have this self-deprecation complex which, before H.K., I was always told was very unattractive.  For whatever reason, it hasn't driven him away (yet).  In the end, though, it inevitably seems to come out that I have spent the evening being upset about something simply because I had found time to relax (read: veg in front of a movie), and felt outrageously guilty about it. 

This happens because the Compulsion has projects it wants to do (read: Raganovel 20XX remains twenty pages of research and three pages of verse).  I think the problem there is that I'm too oriented about the goal, and not so much about the Method.  The Method, however, is what I live for in every other arena.  Particularly when Crohn's is feeling neglected does my pace retard and the Method become more important to appreciate.  And so I cook.