so long, 'taz.

So, for anyone who finds this site as a result of searching for experiences using mirtazapine or Remeron for insomnia and/or depression (or trying to get off of those meds), I should bring my coverage of this subject to a neat(ish) close: I stopped taking the shit about seven days ago after a little more than one year of daily use. I'd tapered down to a dose of 3.75mg, which my normal doctor and my head doctor were both pretty sure was too low to be having any useful medicinal effect on me.

I'd been planning on stopping, or at least I'd been planning on not taking it for the rest of my life: the sleeping part was (as already covered here) unprecedentedly fantastic, but the nighttime post-dosing irritability and the incredible, unignorable appetite stimulation when I did find myself awake between the hours of 11pm and 11am seemed to be getting worse instead of better, and I just decided I couldn't take it anymore. It was a year of great sleep, thank you.

Now, after seven days of what I'd guess you'd have to call "withdrawal symptoms", I can say that, yes, mentally, I can kind of see myself from here, and not in a bad way at all. So that's good. But I can also say that if you're considering a similar cessation: don't plan anything for at least a week. You will essentially experience a non-contagious "serious intestinal flu" of indeterminate length, and that's all I'm gwine say about it. There's been an arc to it, from mild to extreme to highly variable, which is where we are now. I am now wearing two homemade anti-nausea wristbands and I look like even more of a total cock than usual. I had a Coke today. It was like that.

But it shows no real signs of stopping. I'll continue this post when things noticeably improve.

UPDATE: OK, and then all of the sudden it was kind of over. about 10 days in total. Things still aren't perfect, and I'm now constantly itchy, sneezing, and not really sleeping all that well, but that's an improvement. Apparently mirtazapine's strong anthistamine properties can inhibit your body's natural anthistamine tendencies.

UPDATED UPDATE: Well, not totally over, 14 days later. Some kind of return to seesawing queasiness and general discomfort, plus itching, lots of itching. And not a whole lot of sleep. Was on a diet of primarily fish, ginger tea and cultured yogurt, which I didn't realize was doing me good but maybe it was.



crunchy numbers.

For future reference:

30 picnic guests=
4kg bone-in pork shoulder
5kg chicken wings
9kg beef brisket
2 kilos tomatoes
80 mini buns
4kg potato salad
2 cucumbers and 2 onions' worth of bread and butter pickles
1 head of cabbage worth of slaw
2 pork tenderloins

It was *all* eaten over the course of 4 hours or so.




The recipe worked perfectly, apparently even defying the laws of physics and biology to allow me to cook 8 pounds of pork butt in 4 hours. And, for posterity, a 4kg shoulder yielded 1 liter of pulled pork, do NOT ask me how that metric shit works, I just look at the packaging and what my containers say they hold; science and math do/does the rest.

Our full contribution to the ghost-pepper-centric menu tomorrow is as follows, because I'm a senile old man and keep losing the scraps of paper where I keep writing it down:

Georgia-style BBQ pulled pork with raw sweet onion on squishy little white buns
red cabbage chipotle-buttermilk slaw
a nicely mustardy potato salad
bread and butter peach-cucumber pickle

chicken wings two ways:
1) brined for slightly too long (4 hours was just on the verge of too salty, I'd do two next time) and tossed in Momofuku's octo vinaigrette (soy, garlic, ginger, rice vinegar, sesame oil, scallions)
2) spice-rubbed and tossed in a lemon ghost brown butter (unsalted butter, whole dried ghost pepper, lemon zest, lemon juice, miniscule amounts of Frank's and Old Bay.

maybe a smoked ghost jerk tenderloin if i feel uppity

probably not:
ghost pepper oil (details undetermined)
ghost pepper-pickled mustard seeds (if I can make it work)



bread and butter.

Above: last night's visit to the Red Light (for a zine launch, which I understand for some people will be more offensive-sounding than if I said "for paid sex with a stranger", I understand this. Still, it was fun).

Below: Pickle of The Week.


bread and butter pickle.

2 onions, halved and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
2 large cucumbers, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
2 or 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp celery salt

1 fresh red chile pepper, halved, seeded, and thinly sliced
1 pinch red pepper flakes
2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups raw sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 clove
2 fennel seeds
1/2 pinch ground allspice
1/4 pinch ground cinnamon (just a hint in other words)

experimental option:
2 or 3 peaches, halved and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices, in which case decrease the amount of sugar above by 1/2 cup.

Toss together first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Bring vinegar and next 37 ingredients to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat; boil, stirring constantly, 5 minutes or until sugar completely dissolves. Let stand 5 minutes.

Pour vinegar mixture over onion/cuke mixture. Cool completely. Chill overnight or over two nights before serving. Supposedly good for 2 weeks in the fridge.



Someone please remind me that I put the pork in at 4:30pm, noon would be smarter but as we all know, etc. This is 8.3 lbs of pork, it should be done cooking by next month or so.

I can't emphasize enough how helpful these pages are if you're not a pork butt scholar.


daily commute.

Could be worse.


pink flamingo.

I would link to their website but they've committed the unpardonable sin of autoplay music, against which I have to lodge a small protest. "They" are Pink Flamingo, a French non-traditional pizza chain that's just opened up shop in Amsterdam. I went with KK last night and we ended up with the Almodovar (foreground, kind of a riff on paella, with chorizo, shrimp, chicken, crème fraîche and saffron) and the Poulidor (background; duck, green apple, goat cheese).

We knew that they were going to be unusual, but the first bites were more confusing than anything. Not bad at all, but there was some kind of distracting tension between the crust and the toppings, like they weren't supporting each other's goals. And then five minutes' worth of eating later, everything made more sense and we were happily crunching our way towards clean plates. Don't know what it was, a mismatch of expectations and experience, or whatever, but by the time we were leaving we agreed we'd pretty happily go back for another round sometime, I think I'd go even "weirder" next time.



polenta pil-pil.

Alton Brown's savory polenta plus a pil-pil sauce. Plus shrimp. Plus bacon.


gambas pil pil.
1/4 cup neutral oil
2 tbsp butter
6 to 8 pilli-pilli chiles
1/2 large onion, chopped, this is optional
1 roasted or fresh red pepper, cut into fat julienne (we often sub or add a tomato or two)
salt and pepper

24 shrimp, halved lengthwise
2 tbsp butter

3-6 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup celery leaves or parsley, chopped

Add oil and butter to wok, saute the little pilli pilli chiles for 5 minutes or so to infuse the liquid with a little heat. Then add onion and pepper (and/or tomato if using) and saute until tender or however you like your onions. Bring the sauce to taste via salt and pepper. Remove the sauce from the pan and reserve.

Heat the wok to high, melt the 2 tbsp of butter and then add the shrimpies. Saute for a minute or two, until they're almost done, then add the reserved sauce and the garlic, and heck, a bit more butter if you feel lucky. Leave on heat for another minute or two until everything's warmed through, then serve in something properly Spanishy like an earthenware bowl, with lots of good crusty bread for dipping. You could remove the chiles first if you were serving guests who are chile-sensitive: these are hot. But it'll still have a kick even without them. Garnish with the herbs if you want. Serves 2ish.