csi amsterdam.

We generally eat pretty well around here. But, gross photography notwithstanding, the last two days have included a couple of the best meals we've made in a long time (luckily there was an external witness that can verify this). Of course: we didn't write down anything we did, so what follows here is strictly a dramatization.

Mara wanted something along the lines of "those red chile mussels you made that one time". Scouring my memory banks revealed that this was based on a Mark Miller recipe for clams, my major modification being the addition of a significant quantity of butter and hard cider. I've tried reducing the butter and it's just not as good, which is probably not shocking news.


mussels in chipotle-orange broth.

2 kg mussels
1 liter water or vegetable broth
1/2 cup orange juice
1 cup Strongbow or other British cider, or French cidre
zest from 1 orange, minced
100gr butter
6 shallots, chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 chipotle chiles, pureed
3 tbsp new mexican chile puree
1 can tomatoes, crushed
1 tsp dried marjoram
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

In general, the goal is to get your broth tasting heavenly via 30 minutes or so of reduction, and then add the mussels.

Specifically, ehm...you can start out by sauteeing the shallot and then the garlic in some of the butter, etc. But basically yeah just combine everything but the mussels and the fresh herbs in a big big pot and simmer for 30 minutes or so. Salt to taste, a little bit on the undersalted side, then add mussels and herbs. Cover the pot and simmer for 8-12 minutes or so. Serve with bread and butter.


squash ravioli in brown butter and sage.
mozzarella and parmesan ravioli with tomato-basil sauce.


Then, the next night. We still had squash leftover from Sunday's lameness, and since we've made squash ravioli quite a few times in the past, and Mara felt like she needed some Dough Therapy, yis: homemade pasta. It's really a perfect activity for a gunmetal-gray winter day where the temperature is hovering just above freezing, there's a serious drizzle outside, and essentially no motivation whatsoever for you to leave your cosy apartment.

In the past we've always made our squash ravioli with some amaretti cookies crumbled into the filling, but this time Miss M lobbied for an "unsweet" filling. So this is just roasted squash (roasted for an hour at 175C cut side down in a 1/2 inch of water), Parmesan, salt and pepper I think. 

Since the filling is so simple, your brown butter sauce needs to be pretty rocking, and this was pretty perfect if I don't mind saying so myself. Basically take 10 fresh, plump sage leaves and a stick of butter and put on medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes. CRITICAL DETAIL: Watch your sauce very closely after the first 5 minutes, and keep scraping the bottom of the skillet with a wooden spoon so you can see how brown your solids are getting.

cook eat FRET has an excellent description of how to brown butter here. A notable difference is that I leave my sage leaves in for the whole browning process, resulting in crispy fried sage leaves at the end and a distinctly sage-y butter (but mellowed by having been cooked).



rainy days and sundays.

Here's where Karen and I part ways. I like both rainy days and Sundays (OK, ja, I know it's Mondays, thank you). Then again I also like head cheese and Merzbow, for which I'll wager that Karen had little or no affinity (the Usage Panel here at VDuck HQ gave that deployment of the word affinity considerable attention).

Yesterday's rainy Sunday, however, was a bit of a cooking bust for the ol' Duck. When it came right down to it I wasn't very inspired for some reason: everything was just OK. The squash was an OK substitute for the shrimp in the risotto, but I think that that risotto recipe is just so good that you could substitute bath pearls or wood screws for the shrimp and it would still be "OK".

And my appetizers were kind of unfinished: the artichokes tasted good but they weren't tender enough to eat whole; my crostini were boring, etc, blagh.

The leftovers, on the other hand, are absolutely chompable. I just had a baguette loaded up with spuma di tonno and caponatina, a combo which I considered serving last night but did not and which surely would have been better than anything I did serve. Like Alanis said: etc. etc. etc.

Food aside, fun was had, pets were introduced, nude pictures were shared, a nice new affordable red wine was discovered, music was discussed debated and laughed at, scrabble was played, et cetera and yis.


Elsewhere: some opportunist took my tip on the Unlimited Delicious macarons and followed up on it, and in doing so separating the real macaron-lovers in town from the macaron-buyers and -crushers.


Tonight? Mussels!



words from the heavy set.

[starting at 01:00]

Dance with the mantis, note the slim chances
Chant this, anthem swing like Pete Sampras
Takin it straight to Big Man On Campus
Brandish your weapon or get dropped to the canvas
Scandalous, made the metro panic
Cause static, with or without the automatic
And while I'm at it, yo, you got cash, pass it
It's drastic, gotta send half to Dirty Bastard


Although I just now realized that there is a video for this 7-year old track, lyric excerpts have appeared on VDuck before, here. It's not really a good video is it, but at least you get to see all nine MCs (yet no ODB) do their thing. And almost everybody says at least one quotable thing, or at least something that gets stuck in this big head (evidence of quotability may be found here). GZA's verse at the end is so tamely non-gangsta and almost mature-sounding in comparison to the rest, I wonder what the others thought when they heard it.



falling into place.

Fuck, will I be glad when this election is over. I can barely stand to be on the Internets these days.

But whatever. Good news! I am way ahead of the game on cancer-proofing my diet. But seriously, this is news? For how many more years will we be reading that "cruciferous vegetables fight cancer".


In less cranky news, I'm cooking on Sunday. For what was supposed to be a joyous, manly occasion. But have you ever purchased something really amazing-seeming, waited for weeks for it to arrive, and then been completely deflated by the complexity of putting it together/installing it?

Well, Sunday was supposed to be a day of installing some new toys that J-Kim bought (one for me as well! of course, it was the "Robin" version to his "Batman" version...I am just the sidekick after all), followed by a triumphant Italian dinner.

However, me and my technical Tiem took a very close look at the situation yesterday and well, it's a bit more complicated than advertised. I believe the manufacturer's propaganda said something like "Snaps Right On!" or "Installs in Seconds!!!".

As usual, reality lived up to its name and here's what really has to happen to get this installed:

I don't know if you can read that, but there's no "snapping right on". Perhaps to make up for this lack of snapping, there are several opportunities to drill new holes in your guitar. And the upshot is: we're not comfortable drilling a bunch of new holes in J-Kim's main guitar right before he has a bunch of important gigs.

So, it's just dinner tomorrow. Italian. I'm going to make a caponata even though Mara thinks she doesn't like eggplant. I bought some tiny artichokes at the Marocs (formerly the Turkish guys) today so I'm going to try carciofi alla Romana. I think that's what I mean (ETA: it is). Yes I know that the video above is not alla Romana.

And then...a vegetarian twist on the semi-famous Sage and Saffron Risotto, this one will feature petite cubes of roasted butternut squash instead of le shrimpuses, so we get risotto al zucca, salvia e zafferano.

Oh, and here's how to peel a butternut squash.



missed it by that much.

I was this close to joining the prestigious ranks of Amsterdam Macaron Foodbloggers this afternoon. The photo above would suggest that a highly-detailed and sophisticated tasting session was underway, and I would soon be discharging my massively informative tasting notes in your direction.

However, there was a problem:

Something crashed into my macarons, I don't know what or how. They were safely ensconced in my bag, I knew they were in there, etc. They were totally mangled.

I'll try again tomorrow. Not that we didn't eat these, but.



good things i did yesterday.

That's actually Mara filling in her Official Absentee Ballot, but she filled in mine too (psst: I think I voted for the same person she did!). Now if I can just get off my lazy, dope-smoking, atheist, elitist, homosexual-loving, pacifist, socialist, terrorist-supporting, America-hating ass and get this to the post office today, maybe our votes will even count for something. Probably not: this is Georgia we're talking about remember.


Maybe as a subconscious tribute/farewell to the current President of the USA, meat snuck back into the kitchen today in the form of chili con carne.

Naw, this was in reality a request from one of my regulars. And when requests for comfort foods come in to the kitchen, I find that they should generally be executed in their original form in order to actually be comforting.

This also gave me a chance to cook something out of a new cookbook, The Feast of Santa Fe by Huntley Dent. This was a souvenir from Klary's southwestern vacation (which you can read about here), and although initially I wasn't totally sure I needed another southwestern cookbook, this one is pretty distinctive in that it focuses on home cooking (vs. restaurant cooking), and is really about the way things are really done in Santa Fe.

So although I'm also not sure that this site needed another chili con carne recipe, I tried Mr. Dent's last night, and my adaptation of it came out, well...pretty much like my standard chili, minus a couple of extra spices I usually add. Here 'tis.


santa fe chili con carne.

300 gr beef chuck, cut into 1/2-inch cube (I used biefstuk)
2 tbsp butter
2-3 tsp ground cumin
1 large sweet onion, chopped fine
1 red bell pepper, chopped fine
1 cup beer
2 cups beef or chicken broth
3 new mexican chiles, toasted, soaked, seeded, and pureed with 1/2 cup water
2 cans tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp adobo from a can of chipotle chiles, or 1 chipotle chile, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp cider vinegar
2 cups cooked white beans

to garnish
1 red onion, chopped fine
1 cup fresh coriander, chopped
1 cup medium-hard goat cheese, shredded

Brown beef in butter, deglazing with a little extra beer if you need to and have some extra. Remove beef and lightly brown onion. Return beef and add the rest of the ingredients except the beans. Cook for an hour. Add the beans, cook for 10 minutes. Serve. garnished with red onion, coriander, and goat cheese.

These proportions would serve 4, I imagine.



healthy power time.

Department of the Interior is pleased to report that both Temperament and General Health Quotient are trending dramatically upward today, and frankly this period of Healthy Power Time showed up without a moment to spare.

Viewed through the Vegetarian Duck field glasses, Healthy Power Time over here usually means Asian food, and yes well this time it's no different. I followed up yesterday's pretty good but significantly flawed (my vegetable doneness was all over the place, I was distracted) bibimbap with an unscheduled but typically delightful stop at Toko Dun Yong this morning before hitting the gym for a punishing session of cardio and reality TV.

I really think that when I get to Heaven*, it will basically just be a slightly bigger version of Dun Yong that I can roam around in for Eternity**. Oh and it will have a big dark wooden bar with lots and lots of dark, bitter beer. And of course one Squawking Mooperbird.

Right, so today I xcaped from Heaven for less than 12 euros by focusing primarily on the cheap canned preserves that I enjoy so much. I will soon fill this very space where these words currently are with elaborate pictures and mouth-altering descriptions of what my 12 euros got me. Until then, we'll all just have to make do with another slowly growing installation of Things I May or May Not Cook.

These Taiwanese pork meatballs would sound delicious if I were eating pork. It contains one of the things I bought, hua gua, which is apparently very good for you.

* You know what I mean.
** Also.


pinks, blues.

I won't bore you with most of the details of what happened after my fast, let me just assure you that most of the details were boring and even worse predictably so.

The above picture is a subtle hint that I did succeed at making a vegetarian borscht, and it was very good (caraway and dill together are confusingly complementary), although I have to say that I had a hard time remaining enthusiastic about the beets themselves for more than a meal or two, what with the 4 days of beet-juice-only that preceded the borscht.


Something I am quite enthusiastic about at the moment is tonight's bibimbap, even though I just overcooked the fucking broccoli because I forgot that I didn't really know how to use the lovely Robot Steamer that Klary gifted to me:

I was a tad skeptical about whether or not this would be better/easier than my bamboo steamer, and I must admit, I think it is. Assuming that one manages to remember to check on the damn items being steamed.

Luckily my gochujang condiment thingie didn't require any steaming so I couldn't fuck it up. I've been looking for some new and exciting things to do with broccoli, and this gochujang business is, though not "new", pretty great on broccoli. Score.

The paste itself is called gochujang, I'm sure that the condiment I'm about to provide the recipe for is called something different, I just don't feel like looking it up at the mo.


gochujang condiment business for bibimbap.

3 healthy tbsp gochujang paste
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp rice vinegar or 2 tbsp cider vinegar + 1 tbsp water
1-2 tbsp water

I just shzoomed all of this up in the food processor b/c the gochujang is really thick and resists whisking pretty fiercely. The ratios above resulted in a better-than-usual mix of spicy, sweet, and salty. Just go easy on the water at first.

see, saw, etc.

Hopefully there will be bibimbap for dinner, featuring among other things, this yangbaechu moochim (양배추 무침) shown above. Speaking of italics, you will definitely want to mute this video if you watch it.



slowing down.

I just had the best Granny Smith apple of my entire life (well, half of one). And the best bite of banana ever. Yes, I ended my fast this morning, on Day 5. I'm not too bummed out about it, it was my first fast and I learned a lot, I'm sure it won't be the last one. I just need some more energy at hand to accomplish what I need to accomplish this week. Y'know?

So it's fruit and raw vegetables only for the first day back on the horse. I'm really looking forward to chewing. Then pureed cooked vegetables and fruits as well as whole grains can be introduced. No fat until Day 3. Now we go vegetarian for the rest of the month as a more practical exercise in discipline. Recipe/plans to follow.

Oh, and caffeine? I missed you. SO MUCH. Welcome back.


Today I'll be making borscht for tomorrow and points thereafter, based on this recipe. I say borscht, but I have a feeling that no Eastern European would consider this a real borscht as it will have no meat in it. How many times can I type borscht in this paragraph? Borscht. 


vegetarian duck.

Welcome to Day 4 of Real Fasting. I did indeed cross a border at 14:00 on Day 2, I haven't been exhausted or starving since then. Tired and listless, yes. But not totally, cartoonily deflated. And I do get hungry, very hungry, but usually only when it's just about time to eat. 

Something that has helped immensely has been the aforementioned addition of fresh herbs to my juices. This morning I made another "carrot soup" that I think I really enjoyed (it's hard to say if it was truly good or if I'm just desperate for something that tastes like something): carrot, ginger, cilantro, and togarashi, the Japanese spice blend of chili pepper, black sesame seeds, seaweed, and a couple other harmless things (no MSG). It's almost like eating! 

I've also forgone the optional vegetable boullion that was included in my fasting kit in favor of Bambu "coffee". It's a coffee substitute made from chicory, malted barley, wheat, figs, and acorns. Tastewise you'd never mistake it for coffee, but I think it's really good on its own terms, it's got that roasted and slightly bitter flavor profile that seems right first thing in the morning. I assumed it was OK to sub in because the optional vegetable boullion had wheat in it as well, and anyway....it's only a tablespoon a day. 


So I told myself yesterday that today might be my last day of real fasting. For a lot of reasons. Although I feel much much better than Day 1, I've still got a constant headache and I'm not sleeping very well, and as a result I'm not getting very much accomplished during the days. On the plus side, I started weighing myself yesterday, and my weight today was down at least one kilo almost two from yesterday. Who knows how much I've lost since I started. Perhaps hundreds of pounds.

But I think I've decided to keep going. I apologize for the TMI, but my pee just turned dark today, which supposedly means that the toxins are coming out. So it seems like my body's just getting started with the important work. Plus, there's that kilo per day to think about. 

For late lunch, we have a "borscht" of beet juice, dill, coriander, caraway, and lemon juice. 

As soon as I'm really cooking again? I'm going to try and reverse engineer some of these Jeremy Fox ideas from his restaurant ubuntu, rare examples of compelling vegetarian food pr0n. Here is the eGullet thread, and here's the cauliflower recipe.


UPDATE: Flip-flop. I hate being all Flaky Spice, but I've decided to stop in the morning...my energy level is just too low to accomplish what needs to be done at the moment. A lot of it is creative work that doesn't respond well to coercion or stubbornness: you can't just bark "toughen up" or some other similarly motivating machismo-taunt...your creative engine just looks at you like a scolded cat. No comprehension, nothing happens. 

So, this was my first ever fast, 4 full days, not bad. I learned a lot, really. I think I'm going to try and eat vegetarian, maybe even vegan for the rest of the month, I've gotten used to the idea of vegetables only. 

Here are some more Jeremy Fox recipes for my perusal:


new developments.

Couple of new tidbits.

1) Your sense of smell goes into overdrive when fasting, or at least mine has. With the exception of the candy makers at Papabubble and the fish frying at Volendammer Vishandel 't Centrum, I have never smelled food cooking during any of my 4,382 bikes or walks down the Haarlemmerstraat, until today.

I almost swerved off the road when I drove through a thick cloud of airborne beef and onion molecules, followed immediately by a warm mist of croissants or some other buttery baked good. And those were just the first two...shoarma came after that, and I think I even smelled a piece of bread someone was eating as I rode by.

Luckily I wasn't in the grip of debilitating hunger at the time. I did stop by Jay's Juices seconds later however, for a Fast Booster (carrot, beet, celery, and ginger), but I'd planned on doing that.

2) My sweat smells incredible, as in I don't believe it. I kept catching a whiff of something fairly unsavory on my beautiful 30 minute bike ride back from KNSM-eiland today (pictured above, it was 60F), but I didn't for a moment consider that it could be coming from me, because I really don't sweat that much and when I do it smells like raindrops and morning dew. But this is awesomely bad: it smells like the cats' litter box if we let it go a couple days too long. Ah, but maybe it's just my heightened sense of smell.

3) Something that smells gorgeous right now is my fingers. Continuing my Fresh Herb Strategy, I bought some cilantro and dill today and warmed up some carrot juice and tore them herbs up and sprinkled the results over the "soup". This was leagues better than the "tomato soup" from yesterday, maybe even twice as good...I give this a 5 out of 10.



deep thoughts.

Just a little update here...hopefully I crossed some sort of hunger/energy border today: slept like shit, was in a terrible mood this morning, thought there was no way I was going to do this for another five days, and then...

I had some random blend of herbal teas after "lunch", and suddenly felt almost human. Went for a walk, studiously avoiding looking at anything tempting on the Haarlemmerstraat, and came home still feeling OK. And in fact, I wasn't even starving at "dinner" time. 

This is very good news! If the massive energy vaccuum and constant growling stomach are gone, that means all I have to deal with is the relentless boringness of knowing what my next 15 meals are going to be. That and constantly being surrounded by people eating and drinking whenever I leave the house. But that part is at least somewhat interesting, the unusualness of constant deprivation and the appreciation it generates for the simplest things, like a cup of coffee and a croissant. With jelly maybe even.

OK, that's where we get into trouble. It's still far too soon to be considering fast-breaking possibilities. It's too soon, but that hasn't stopped me: Mark Bittman's ricotta pancakes would sound like just the thing if I didn't have to spend my first fast-breaking day eating pureed vegetables. 

One last bitch: I've mentioned before here that there's pretty much only one or two foods that I really don't enjoy at all, and will avoid consuming them if I can. So of course 9 of my next 15 meals consist of one of them: tomato juice. On the plus side, you're allowed to warm up the juices and throw some fresh herbs on top. A sprinkle of cayenne pepper probably wouldn't derail the fast either. So that's what I just had, tomato-basil "soup" with a shot of red chile. Not bad, I give it a 2 out of 10. 

(The photo above is the next day's carrot, dill, and cilantro "soup", which was at least twice as good). 



fasting hacks.

Forget procrastination hacks. I need a fasting hack. The hardest thing so far is this feeling that I'm very used to having that goes like this: I'm working on something and thinking, "Hey, I'm hungry I think. How about after this little piece of work we go have a bite of food." 

The difficult part about right now is that I'm still having that "about to eat" feeling, but...no food. Also, when I got out of the shower, I thought, "Ah, a perfect time for lunch...I'm quite hungry. Oh, right." Sauerkraut juice. Maybe I'll have my daily teaspoon of boullion now as well...it's 1:24pm and I feel a bit weak. 

Be strong, VDuck! This is a test of your will!!!


LATER THAT DAY: Our hero is still very hungry. Andy came by after his first post-fast dinner (pumpkin soup) and I told him that I had a mostly shitty day of being too hungry to do anything productive. He said, "Oh yeah, that goes away in a couple days." Frown. 

The best thing about all this is that it's been made abundantly clear to me that food is a significant component of "relaxing" for me (perhaps too significant?). Planning a meal, or the cooking itself, or yes, even eating...these are kind of my default relaxation activities. And it's an oddly constrained feeling not to be able to do any of those things. It's not an entirely bad feeling, though, I feel like I'm learning something. 

In fact the only real bad feeling I have right now is guilt over a wasted day...at about 2pm I went to work out (just some cardio, that's supposed to be a good idea while you're fasting) but I got shakily hungry on my way there and had to just come home and lie around for awhile. Like 8 hours. Boo.  I was too distracted to do anything creative, so it was just Spinoza lectures from YouTube and a Demi Moore/Michael Caine movie that was honestly just fine for what it was (Flawless. I mean that's the name of the movie.) 

Hopefully tomorrow is easier. 



procrastination hacks.

Sigh. It's become clear over the past 120 minutes that under normal non-fasting circumstances, I eat when I'm procrastinating. Not a lot, just like a nut here or a prune there or maybe a bite of leftovers, but it's one of the things I do to break up the monotony of "single-item procrastination", like compulsively checking email. 

I can only drink so much water/tea...I'm up over 3 liters today. My mouth wants to chomp. I guess this is why people smoke, huh. 

OK, so I'm going to hack myself. I've linked to this before, but it really seems to help me if I can manage to remember what I'm doing. This is called Procrastination Hack: '(10+2)*5'. As the article mentions, the payoff comes after you've managed to complete a couple of 10-minute segments and you fall into a rhythm, at which point you realize "Hey, what if I didn't take all of these breaks..." It's ludicrous that we have to trick ourselves, but that's what it's come to. Ludicrous, but effective. 

Here's how sorry my ass is: I downloaded a nice freeware stopwatch app to remind me about the 10 minutes of work I'm supposed to be doing. 


The above actually worked really well this evening, I accomplished things. One thing I accomplished was to finally see this Giada Delaurentiis creature in action. Holy fucking Jesus in hell is she annoyingly perky. And not even her not-insignificant jiggle could sufficiently distract me from that ahhhhhhhhhhh, that voice.  And those teeth. Why is she constantly showing them to us? She's like a Greyhound Barbie with an upset stomach. 



fast buck.

The compound eye of this cute little guy is my segue into the unlikelihood of discovering a new food during a fast. 

Wha? Ja, I guess the fast part of the fast hasn't really started yet: I'm still eating. Today I bought some honey at the Natuurwinkel because we haven't had any honey here in weeks/months, and it sounded good at the time, like to put into my tea or whatever.

Anyway, because I'm a big, big geek, I generally buy monofloral honey. The Natuurwinkel has a huge selection of these, and today I sort of randomly plucked a jar of buckwheat honey. And I get the thing home, and yeah, it barely even tastes like honey...it's malty, caramelized kind of like molasses...good, but strange. It actually reminds me of, um...sex, for reasons I haven't quite put my finger on yet. 

Regardless, I mixed some with a bit of eye-poppingly serious Zaanse mustard and put it on a tomato. And then on an apple (minus the mustard). I have a feeling these are not the best uses for it. Suggestions? 

Apparently it's also quite healthy. According to honey salesmen at least.  



The answer to yesterday's closing question is: Colon Blow.


Actual Breakfast: same thing as yesterday.

Planned Lunch: Probably oatmeal with two cinnamony apples stewed with hazelnuts, raisins, and walnuts. And an Activa prune yogurt. And some fish food. 

Snack: 75g of brown rice crackers and 1 pint of carrot juice. 

Planned Dinner: A potato sounds good. Maybe even like a ratatouille if I feel wacky. An oil-less, fun-less ratatouille. Maybe even more than one potato. Two potatoes. What might one put on two potatoes if one is not eating any fat? Waaaaaah. Maybe I've got some Turkish condiment tucked away somewhere that can help. 

UPDATE: Potatoes, good. A little olive oil...good. What I should not have done was add 8 cloves of garlic to my roasted potato wedges. This is only a problem because they take an hour to cook and the smell is killing me. Nuts and yogurt will not satisfy when there are garlic potato wedges in the oven. This is my last meal before...you know.   

VERDER: This ended up being really good. The other fasting person in the building came down to complain about the smell as well...it was almost intoxicating. When they came out of the oven, all crispy and crunchy, I sprinkled them with vinegar and dusted them with smoked paprika, and....hey! That oughta be called something! It's really good

And well it is something, basically patatas bravas without the aioli. 

OK, goodbye food! See you in a week!  No, I think I get to eat something tomorrow but not a whole hell of a lot. Like half a leek. Mmmm.


I should have made something with a Butternut Reduction (right, so this isn't that funny, but I think it's well-done and I do like the animation when Snoop Dogg starts in on the day's specials):


Image at top: from Petter Thoen, used without permission.


fast food.

You knew that one was coming, didn't you. 

Day 1 of 10 is OK so far. My main goals for today are to have my last cup(s) of coffee, eliminate animal products and refined foods from my diet (no biggie there) and to begin my general "vermindering" of food intake, which means "reduction" to you and me. 

I am allowed supposed to eat six times today, and for this next segment I'd like to present what's happening via a dynamic and challenging sort of DePalma-esque split-screen writing style (minus any you know actual "split-screen" due to a catastrophic vermindering of my technical wherewithal) that includes both what I thought I might eat and what I actually did eat. Confusing and unnecessary? Perhaps. Does it help me to engage with the fasting process? Hard to say. Let's continue.

Breakfast (ironic, don't you think? [eyebrow raised in jest]): 2 cups of black coffee. 1 apple, two slices whole wheat bread, 2 tbsp "real" peanut butter, 2 tbsp of ground linseed, all in the form of a sandwich (minus the coffee). And 2 fish food tablets. (ACTUALLY EATEN: Yes, what I said.) 

Snack: 6 prunes, 10 walnuts, and 125 grams of Activa prune yogurt. Stand back!!! I had this at 12:30pm, I'm kind of behind schedule. (ACTUALLY EATEN: Ditto.) 

Lunch: Hmm, kind of hard to think of something inspired to eat. I really need to start drinking some liquid. Beer would be counter-productive I imagine. I shall have some mint tea and a piece of toast with honey. Except that I have no honey. I shall have a piece of toast with no honey and no butter, and...well, that's really just a piece of bread isn't it. Blast! I shall have some (unsalted) mixed nuts! (ACTUALLY EATEN: Two fish food tablets. And eventually a handful of nuts and raisins.)

Snack: Oh, I know: I've got some whole-wheat pasta in there, plus a whole bunch of almonds and a basil plant. I shall have pasta with almond pesto minus cheese, which is not really pesto is it but I guess c'est la fucking vie. (ACTUALLY EATEN: a tomato sandwich. Half with salt, balsamic vinegar and fresh basil where my mayonnaise would normally be, and the other half with mustard and basil. Mustard won, but it's no mayo.) 

Dinner: Regarding the "split-screen". You may or may not be able to discern that I haven't actually eaten any of these meals yet, I'm just trying to figure out what the fuck I am going to eat when Mr. Low Blood Sugar shows up. Right now I just finished my Activa yogurt from Meal #2. See? Just like a DePalma movie. (ACTUALLY EATEN: a little too much of a delicious Moroccan-ish bulgur thing with tomatoes, ginger, raisins, almonds and lots of red chile pepper. Also? My tummy hurts. Probably my stimulated in-tes-tine getting ready to blow. Take cover.)

Snack: I imagine this will consist of fish food, crushed linseed, and something decadent like vegetable broth. (ACTUALLY EATEN: Nothing. My timmy hurts. I mean, my tummy hurts. Alien or Colon Blow?)

Liquid Consumed: just over 2 liters, not really enough.  


life in the fast lane.

AAAAAAAAAAAahahhhahahahahahahahahahahahhaha. Thank you, we're here all week. Seriously, get used to these fast puns, I'm going to try to keep them up for the next 10 days, assuming I still have enough energy to move my limbs once The Deprivation occurs...

OK, so I'm beginning my Top Ten Sucky Things About This Fast list as of about an hour ago. Not that I've got a bad attitude about this whole "no food for seven days" thing: au contraire, I'm actually looking forward to it quite a bit. Nevertheless I did have a moment this morning where I realized that it's not going to be a non-stop dopamine fest. 

So, Sucky Thing #10: The Fish Food. 

Three times a day I have to take these spirulina tablets which are exactly the same spirulina tablets that I had to break in half and stick to the side of the fishtank (um, yes, the inside) when I was feeding our neighbors' aquatic friends last summer. It has a very distinctive smell, equal parts seaweed and damp vegetation, yes I realize those are the same thing it's a joke. Bottom line: spirulina in tablet form smells like the Forgotten Bag of Salad in your refrigerator. But at least it tastes great! 

No, it doesn't. But whatever...I'm pretending that I'm a sickly gray Pac-Man, and every spirulina tablet I waka-waka is skewing my hue in a greener healthier direction.


Above: homemade lemon meringue pie from Mara's grandmother, thousands of miles away from Mark' Fish Food Emporium. 


OH YEAH: I played Guitar Hero for the first time on Friday night. The verdict: pretty awesome, maybe the best video game ever b/c it's possible for girls to like it too. The downside would have to be that I have Sweet Child O' Mine, Surrender, and War Pigs on constant rotation in my head. Also, I should file under Upside the very nice piece of salmon that HP dished up, it was just what my doctor would've ordered if she'd known I needed anything. 

OH, WIKIPEDIA, STOP IT: After I followed my own link to Wikipedia, I found this bit of hilarity: 

"Guitar Hero and the way it is used have been a focus of intense study by sociologists across the country. Most notably, a group of Duke University cultural anthropologists undertook a study of video game culture and preferences amongst undergraduates. The study concluded that Caucasian males were more than ten times more likely to enjoy Guitar Hero than EA Sports Madden football. On the other side, African-American males almost exclusively played Madden when given the choice between the two games. The study cited Duke's Psychology center at 723 9th Street as a crucial force of inspiration for the topic. The scholars admit that they have no clear conclusion as to why the results were so lopsided."

Really??????? No clear conclusion. Care to hazard a guess? I mean, could it have anything at all to do with the number of real-life African-American guitarists out there playing classic rock, grunge, and nu-metal? Probably not. I also understand there are currently quite a few African-American football players in the NFL....but that's probably unrelated as well. Scholars! Bite my hirsute ass. 



i smell hands.

This blog sure did change a lot over the summer. I mean, that's the impression that I get until I remember that it was supposed to change a lot over the summer. So, yes. It did. Congratulations, me: I now have a boring, rarely-updated blog just like 97% of the rest of the blogosphere. 

That's OK, it's not a competition! Is it??? And I'm now focused on "better", more important things, aren't I (these are rhetorical, I apologize)???


I'm reminded of how shitty different Le Blog is these days because I have a life-altering event coming up this week which should probably spur a revisitation of deeper blogging concepts (whatever). 

Tomorrow I'm beginning my first ever juice fast. Seven days of nothing but juice and water. Actually tomorrow is the first of three preparation days wherein I begin cutting out caffeine and dairy products, start eating fruit instead, and start taking spirulina and linseed to "stimulate my intestines" (I don't even want to really imagine what a stimulated intestine will want to do with itself once it gets going), and then Thursday is my first real foodless day. 

For you healthcare professionals out there who are hoping that I've got safe guidelines to follow: I bought a kit today that our boy Andy recommended to me (he's just finishing the fast now) from a company called Demeter. The kit is a big box with everything you need: the juices, the supplements, and a helpful little booklet (which you can download here, if reading Dutch or French is something you do).


The hands above are Mara's grandmother's. The hands I can smell are mine. Since today is my last day of real eating, I needed to roast this chicken I had. I'm going off the rails again and improvising: I've rubbed this one with an extremely limily fragrant Indian green mango pickle. We'll see. 




Above: tuna melt from De Kat. 


"As a confirmed melancholic, I can testify that the best and maybe only antidote for melancholia is action. However, like most melancholics, I suffer also from sloth." -Edward Abbey

Mara sent me that quote yesterday, and well, let's just say Ed and I have spent some time on the same page. Until last night, I'd been ransacking the "action" department of the SuperStore that is my life, socializing excessively since Friday's landmark show: Saturday a trip to Utrecht to catch Rosa; Sunday, a Scrabble afternoon and dinner (coconut crab soup and mussels fra diavolo); Monday, a birthday party (plantains with mole coloradito and mushroom quesadillas); Tuesday, another Scrabble and dinner get-together (leftovers), and then....

Well as you can imagine, that sort of thing couldn't go on forever ("a sales associate to Action for cleanup, please?"). Today I'll be quietly experimenting with action, but for when I really feel like de-slothing, I found a website that looks a possibly-revolutionary productivity enhancer: 43 Folders. Seriously. It's like a gentle but firm personal trainer for the procrastinator.


It's not, however, anything like a Fatty Melt