Tag Archives: Food

A Gaggle of Twin Freaks

A week ago I attended my first EMOMs event.  EMOMs stands for — wait for it — Eastside Mothers of Multiples.  Yes, it’s a real club.   And yes, I was a little cagey about attending a meeting.

Something about the concept of the group hinted at a freak-show…like gathering because we all have red hair or we’re all left-handed, both clubs for which I would be eligible for membership but wouldn’t attend if you paid me.

Right before walking in I said a quick prayer that this would be helpful, not intimidating, and not make me feel like I had just joined an illicit underground network of society.  All of these prayers were answered.

First of all, there were snacks, which always warms this pregnant lady to a group of people.  Secondly, people were sitting awkwardly at various tables, not speaking, and I made the Herculean effort of sitting at a table occupied by just one couple  and introducing myself (and my snacks).  I normally loathe this sort of interaction, but my desperation to learn from the bedraggled experience of others pushed me outside my normal confines.  It turns out that being a member of EMOMs has two sides to the coin: you don’t know anyone in the room, but you have endless discussion topics with everyone because what you have in common bonds you instantly.

I found it amusing that everyone put on name tags with their twin stats:

Sarah
B/G 2 years

Adrienne
G/G 15 mos

I didn’t know this little rule so my name tag just said my name.   I suppose it could have said, “Abby, B/G due in a month” but my stomach was doing all of the talking.  Every person introduced themselves with an incredibly detailed rundown, but it didn’t sound at all TMI to me, because I  wanted to know every detail of others’ experiences.

“Hi I’m Jen, I have fraternal twin boys who are 23 months and were born at 36 weeks 5 days via c-section.”  Sometimes they’d state where they gave birth or if their kids had to be in the NICU.  It was like listing war wounds from ‘Nam in a support group while everyone nodded in understanding.

Nearly everyone already had their twins; there were only two other pregnant women in attendance.  But it was shocking to me how veteran I felt compared to them — they were saying things like “My doctor told me a lot of twin moms stop work at 28 weeks” and I found myself replying “That’s really only if you’re on bed-rest or having complications.  I’m 32 weeks and still working full-time.  You’ll be fine.”

We separated into groups based on the ages of our children, so I was in the first year group.  Our discussion topic was “Feeding the Whole Family” and they passed out great recipes for protein snacks to grab while breastfeeding your litter.  Naturally, a big part of feeding your whole family in the first few months is relying on others to do so — they highly recommended taking advantage of the free meal support EMOMs offers or having friends and family deliver dinners.  After the initial survival period, they recommended time-savers like crock-pot meals and roasted chicken from the grocery store.

It wasn’t long before we were swapping tips on everything from breastfeeding to sleep schedules, with reviews of baby products mixed in.  I grabbed for a pencil and started scribbling notes while eating my second cookie.   It was incredible to have an entire table of women who were going through exactly what I was, and some who even said, “Don’t listen to the people who say your life is over and this is the worst, hardest thing you’ll ever do.  It’s not that bad; you can do it!”

It’s a welcome sentiment right now, because lately I oscillate between uncontrollable excitement at meeting the babies, and mind-freezing terror at what lies ahead of me.  At any given moment I’m either ecstatic with anticipation or paralyzed with fear.  From what I’m told,  this is normal.  Mike feels the same way, and it’s amusing when we’re having opposite experiences.

“Oh my gosh can you imagine that a month from now we’ll be cuddling them and holding them all day?” one of us will say happily.

“Holy crap, it’s all day.  It’s every day, with two, and twenty diapers a day, and what if they scream all the time?” the other will reply, hunched in panic.

This is why I’ll continue to attend EMOMs events.  I need the cold shower of reality mixed with the soothing balm of reassurance.  And snacks.  I need lots of snacks.

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Rubies, Emeralds, Aquamarines

The region along Italy’s west coast is so spectacular, so stunningly beautiful and exceptional that when asked what it’s like, it’s hard not to sound like your IQ is dangerously nearing single digits.

“So it’s a beach town,” the skeptic says.

“Right, except it’s built into a hillside!” you exclaim.  “There are century-old buildings and houses on cliffs!”

“So it’s crowded?” they continue.

“There’s no cars!  You can’t access it except by train or boat!  And you can walk between the five towns!”

“So it’s a beach you can’t get to, it’s overcrowded, and I have to walk everywhere?” they say, turning away.

“…….(sigh in defeat),” say you.

This was a little of our dynamic the day we took the train to Cinque Terre from Lucca — it was Kelly, Amy and Brian’s first time, and the rest of us were trying to describe the majesty of the place, but failing miserably.  Finally we decided to let it speak for itself and we settled back in our seats to read on our Kindles, or in Brian’s case, rescue the princess on his Gameboy Color.

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The train ride there is largely uninteresting, with slightly shabby towns pockmarked across stretches of fields.  There is no evidence that soon one will be on the Mediterranean, much less in one of the most beautiful places on earth.

We switched trains in La Spezia and rumbled through tunnels, the last of which ended with a split-second view of the water making everyone gasp and dive toward the window.  We knew we were close and became giddy at the thought of the day ahead.

After getting off the train and purchasing our return tickets, we walked down the stairs from the station into the first town — Monterosso.  The sight stopped us in our tracks.

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It was even more spectacular than I remembered — rich colors filling every inch of the landscape, enormous emerald hillsides reaching out of cobalt waters like cathedral ramparts, tanned Europeans lounging under brightly striped umbrellas, relaxed tourists sipping wine and licking gelato before noon.  It was paradise.

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We were so overwhelmed we didn’t know what to do first.  Erin and I walked around to re-familiarize ourselves with the place, while Brian lead Amy, Mike, and Kelly  to the nearest tropical drink shack to celebrate our arrival.  Soon we all had handmade smoothies, some with booze, some without.  I made a quick pronouncement.

“Let’s make every effort to eat and drink in every town.  Yes?”

I got signed contracts from everyone in the form of happy grins.

Erin, Mike and I had extremely fond memories of a particular bruschetta restaurant in Monterosso, and we were determined to return.  After exploring the town a bit more, we headed off in search of the perfectly toasted bread, tomatoes drenched in olive oil and basil, and the perfectly proportioned dusting of sea salt.

When we found it, right where we’d left it three years earlier, we shouted a little for joy.  When it was even better than we remembered, we felt appropriately validated.

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Kelly, who avoids gluten, was beside herself at being able to savor this treat with abandon.  It turns out that Italians don’t modify their wheat the same way we do stateside, so even those who can’t eat gluten can eat it in Italy.  As if Italy weren’t perfect enough?

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Next we hopped on the train for village number two, also known as Mike’s favorite: Vernazza.

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As we walked through the quaint town of small shops, we saw a large poster commemorating the disastrous mudslide that rocked the town a year ago.  It was hard to believe that 18 feet of mud covered where we now stood.

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When we reached the center of town lining the beach, it was like stepping onto a movie set.  It was so colorfully radiant, so decadent in leisure, and so unaffected by tourism; if this place were almost anywhere else, there’d be cheap carts set up everywhere with key chains and towels and hats with I’VE BEEN TO CINQUE TERRE printed garishly across the front.  Instead, it seemed perfectly untouched, as if we were the first to discover this European heaven.

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We wandered off to take pictures, enjoy the view, and walk along the rocks in the water.  Before I knew it, Amy came up behind me and made a little announcement.

“Brian went swimming,”  she said.

“Wha — he didn’t bring a suit!” I replied.

“Apparently that’s not a problem for our Bri Bri,” she said.

And it wasn’t.  Up walked Brian, dripping wet in the 90 degree weather, wearing the expression of a child with a free unlimited tickets to Disneyland.

It took about two seconds for Mike to light up like a rocket, a bigger explosion of excitement than if he’d seen a dozen puppies.

“I’m going in, too!  YES!  THIS IS AWESOME!” he hollered.  At first I was aghast at the idea of my husband running around in public in his underwear, but then I remembered I was in the Italian riviera, and people were changing in and out of swimsuits in broad daylight.

Amy wasn’t far behind, having made the wise decision that morning to select undergarments that were both black and very swimsuit-like.  Kelly, Erin and I were not as lucky, so we agreed to hold clothes and take photos.

The joy radiating from their faces in the water was contagious.  It was a moment that made us stop and recognize what was happening: we were all together in Italy, swimming in the Mediterranean, living a day most people can only dream of.  We were so, so grateful.

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The good people of Vernazza kindly provided a hose to rinse off the salt, and the swimmers rinsed while we found a table for a glass of wine and refreshing Pellegrino.

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We stopped at the next train station, for Corniglia, but when we were told it was a 400 stair climb to the town, we immediately got back in line for the next train.  It was blazing hot, we had two towns to go, and hiking up a hillside sounded laughably unappealing.

When we arrived in the fourth town, Manarola, we split up to explore and take photos.  The girls combed the town, pointing out buttercream yellow buildings and hundreds-year-old churches.  We posed for pictures by terraced vineyards so steep we marveled that the grapes were able to be harvested.

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We eventually found the boys exactly where we’d expected: having a cold lager on an outdoor deck.

We walked to the water’s edge and saw dozens of people swimming among the rocks, some climbing dangerously high to free-fall into the aquamarine waters below.  We couldn’t believe how high the cliffs were, and it made my palms sweat to watch them stand at the edge and dither about whether to jump.

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It wasn’t two minutes before Brian was again casting off clothing and descending the stairs into the water.  We all watched nervously as he disappeared behind the black rock, with Amy calling for him not to kill himself.

When he finally appeared at the top we held our breath, laughing nervously as he hollered words in English that were thankfully lost in translation, like “Here goes the salt water enema!”

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He flew through the air and we cheered when his head bobbed back up to the surface.  His earlier prediction hadn’t been far off, for the landing ripped his shorts in half.  Luckily he still had his clothes to throw on, so all was well.

Our last destination was Riomaggiore, or as we nicknamed it, Rigamortis.  The path along the hillside to walk there is called Via dell’Amore, or The Way of Love.  It’s a famous place for lovers to walk the kilometer-long road and take in the spectacular view and dedicate their love by putting a lock into the fence (Sam and Aaron did this on their walk with Dave and Nancy).  Mike and I took a photo there in 2009 and decided to recreate the moment in 2012.

2009:

Europe 2009 717

2012:

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We semi-forced Amy and Brian into the same thing, which they only found mildly cheesy.

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In our final quest for food we were hoping for a real meal, but truly came up short in ways we couldn’t have thought possible.  We found the most stunning location, a restaurant high on the hill built into the rock, overlooking the ocean so forcefully it was hard to look away.

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But the food.  My word, the food.

To say it was appallingly bad would be like saying Honey Boo Boo is a little tacky.  It was inedible.  We quickly discovered how bad it was going to be when we saw little asterisks on items of the menu that signified “frozen meal.”

We ordered as best we could, and made up for it with glasses of white wine, but there was little that could be redeemed.  It was completely obvious that there was no kitchen in the establishment, just a bar down a steep flight of stairs that presumably held a freezer full of frozen entrees and a good stock of booze.  The entirety of the restaurant’s appeal was its location.

But honestly, there would be no true complaining from any of us.  We knew we were sitting on top of the world on one of the best days any of us would have as long as we lived, and a thawed panini wasn’t going to shave an inch off our ecstasy.

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I could tell you that our day in paradise ended with missing a train connection in La Spezia and having to spend 100 euro on taxis to get us all home.  I could, but I won’t.  With a day like that, even with an ending that makes a tightwad like me want to light my hair on fire, I will never regret a second.  Doing so creates a person who wins the lottery only to whine about the taxes.

Le Cinque Terre, a place so magical you’ll be filled with envy on behalf of every other place in the world that calls itself beautiful.

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It Wasn’t All Sunshine and Roses, but Mostly it Was

When we weren’t homicidal with road rage, things in Italy were actually pretty spectacular.  Take our first dinner out, for instance.  We were staying in a town called Vorno, which is just outside the medieval walled city of Lucca.

This little town is pure Italia.  It is nestled in the hills with views into a larger valley, and it is void of tourists, apart from us, of course.  That was part of what made it a jewel of a town; we were joining their authentic lives, they weren’t contorting themselves to become the American tourists’ version of an Italian town.

Vorno only has one full service restaurant, but one is all it needs.  We knew nothing about the place except that it served rich cappucinos every morning with sugary croissants on the side.  We figured if they can make foam that well, they can probably cook up a great meal.

We spent the day biking the walls of Lucca, which is something I’ll remember as long as I live.  We rented bikes for three euro an hour and took off exploring the ancient city.  Once inside the walls, we found ramparts in various places, so at the first one we pedaled right up and were instantly charmed at the sight of the city below us.  The walls are forty feet high, though there isn’t any danger in biking them; they’re about twenty feet wide, more in some places.

We felt like a cross between Peter Pan and Mary Poppins as we flew in the sunshine along rooftops and brick chimneys.

This is from the top of another building, but shows a great view of the city.

We made the three-mile loop, stopping along the way to point out major buildings or a rooftop deck overflowing with Bougainvillea.  The chestnut trees lining the road provided desperately needed shade, as it was 95 degrees and we were exercising, like fools.

Back at the house we swapped bikes for bathing suits and jumped in the refreshing water of the pool.  After showering and dressing, we made plans to go back to Lucca for dinner.  My parents and Dave and Nancy said they’d rather stick close, so they walked to the restaurant in Vorno, which was about 300 meters down the road.

The other eight of us were in our toy cars when we passed the restaurant and saw the four of them sitting outside with glasses of Prosecco.  It was too much.  We screeched to a halt and popped out of the car to see if they might be able to change that reservation from four to twelve.  You know, just a tiny increase.

Luckily they were, and we ditched our Lucca plans faster than you can say “Ciao.”

We grabbed a table near theirs for our own apertivos, and nodded at each other in grateful approval that we’d made this choice.  Rather than navigating roads and struggling to find parking, we were watching the sun go down with our hands around cold beers and white wines.

Before we knew it they were seating us in the restaurant, on their large outdoor patio strung with lights.  It was one huge table and we were delighted.

I think it was Dave or Nancy who made the genius decision to order the entire antipasti menu for the table, and it was absolutely the best decision of the night.  Before we knew what was happening, waiters were pouring out of the kitchen with platters of food so delectable we considered canceling our main courses.  At first we thought we’d have to split everything, but then the waiter said, “No!  No!  You order the special so you get many for all.”  “Many for all” was exactly the kind of abundance we hoped to find in this little back-door town.

So out it came, plate after plate of olive oil soaked bruschetta, soft and hard cheeses, salamis and prosciutto, toasted cornmeal fried potato cakes, small mountains of olive and tomato tapenade so good we thought this was the first tomato we’d ever tasted.  Just when we thought they were done, more came.

My dad said, “This is the best meal I can fathom, and my entrée isn’t here yet.  How is this real life?”

That was the sentiment carried across the table as we opened another bottle of wine and leaned in for further conversation.

Midway through the meal, the owner came around to greet us because she lived for a couple of years in the states.

“Which one?” we asked her, thrilled that she spoke English and had a love of our country.

“Ohio,” she said with a smile.

“Oh…” we replied, not sure how to proceed.  Ohio.  Oh…hio.  Not much to elaborate on.  Should we ask what she thought of Cincinnati?  Eh, we didn’t really care.  We were far more interested in what she’d done in Italy.

“Look, my son.  Your waiter.  And my husband is the chef.  You like what you’re having?”  she asked.

We practically choked on our words trying to tell her fast enough how much we loved her food, her son, her restaurant.

When Dave nonchalantly said, “This one’s on me,” at the end of the meal, the rest of us were so overwhelmed by his and Nancy’s generosity that it put the evening completely over the top.  There were now unicorns dancing on rainbows, as far as we were concerned.

We’d already faced some adversity, and we were somewhat sure more was ahead, but during this meal, in this town, with these people, we were certain we were exactly where we wanted to be.

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Glimpses of Significance

October has been chaos.  Not a little chaos; a lot of chaos.  And I haven’t handled it by writing; I’ve handled it by avoiding writing.  I don’t have one long story to tell, because the chaos has crowded out lengthy experiences that are worthy of being retold.  Instead, I’ve mined the month of October for a few glimpses of significant moments; times when I’m sure I am where I am supposed to be.

Bowling with John

It’s the final countdown of our hour-long bowling game, and in three minutes they will shut down our lane.  It’s John’s turn, and he’s slowly walking up to the line.  I hand him his ball and tell him this is his last turn, so he’d better make it count.  He swings the ball by his knee like the pendulum of a grandfather clock, and finally lets go.  It cruises down the hardwood floor and knocks down all but three pins.  The screen above our head flashes a warning sign of sixty seconds.  “I’ll go grab your ball and then you have one last turn,” I tell him.  “We only have a minute!” 

I pass him the ball and he starts swinging again, faster this time.  He releases it down the lane and, to everyone’s delight, he gets a spare.  We cheer and he lights up with the joy of victory.  We’re all gathered around him and he’s clapping furiously, and then it dawns on us:  he gets an extra turn.  I race back to the retrieval and hand him the ball, but I’m too late — the lights have dimmed.  It doesn’t matter, because John is glowing.  “Throw the ball anyway, John,” Mike instructs him.  “You earned it.”

***

Death Cab for Cutie

 
“…they would make your name sing, and bend through alleys and bounce off other buildings…” we sang as we danced, all shoulders and elbows, until the purple light turned toward our faces and Lindsay asked, “Is that a spotlight for us!?” and my reply was, naturally, “what else would it be?”  And so we kept dancing.
 
 
 
***
Family Birthday Lunch for Mom
 
After a month of coordinating schedules and switching appointments, we all finally gathered at Mom and Dad’s to celebrate our number one gal: my mom (you know, the volunteer of the year).  She’s officially gluten-free now, which presented its challenges, but we dove in head-first.  Everybody brought a dish, we all gathered around the table, and we proclaimed that we were just as satisfied without the pesky wheat products.  Even the cake was rich and chocolately, despite being made with garbonzo beans.  “Who knew we could be so progressive?” we thought.  “We’re so cutting edge.”
 
As we left, we realized it wasn’t gluten that we missed at all, but each other.  Flocking from our respective homes to one table became a fresh priority, and we renewed our dedication to family gatherings.

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The Chicken, the Whole Chicken and Nothing but the Chicken, so Help Me…

Let me be clear: I have an aversion to chicken.

It dates back to my childhood years of poking my meat with a fork to check for veins or other signs that my entree used to be a live animal.

I wish I was past this.  I wish I didn’t care that there are things in chicken like fat and “gristle” (a word that still makes me shudder).  Mostly I just wish I was a vegetarian.

But then I couldn’t have steak or fish, both things for which I salivate.

So.  The chicken.  I deal with it on a semi-weekly basis because it’s easy, cheap and the husband enjoys it.   I usually just cut it up and cook it with some simmer sauce.  But do I like it?  Unclear.

Recently I’ve been flipping through various cookbooks and the same recipe keeps jumping out at me: whole roasted chicken.  Every single recipe taunts me with how easy it is, how low-maintenance, but they all seem to forget one little tidbit:  I have to TOUCH the chicken to make it.

So, without actually touching it, I managed to get this 4.5lb chicken from its packaging to my chicken-only cutting board.

Ten minutes later, the chicken still looked like this, because I was pacing back and forth in front of it after reading the following in my cookbook: “Remove organs from cavity of chicken.”

Surely there must be some other way.

I finally decided that without rubber gloves I was going to have to resort to using a paper towel.  I wrapped my hand in the paper towel and stuck my hand into the “cavity.”   It only took about two seconds for me to realize that I could not feel a thing, nor could I move my hand to grab at anything.

I was going to have to do this the hard way.

I took off the paper towel, counted to three and dove my hand in so fast I convinced myself I wouldn’t feel a thing.  But I did feel a thing.  His organs.  How do people do this?!

I promptly threw them in the trash and then washed my hands within an inch of their life.  Only I should have kept reading because it wasn’t long before I was rubbing salt and pepper all over the bad bird and then shoving a lemon up his rear.   Good times.

I became a huge fan of rosemary in the process, because I quickly discovered that I can jam it into the chicken without ever touching the slimy flesh.

My jaw really hit the floor when the cruel authors of the cookbook demanded that I lift the skin away from the meat with my finger and put whole garlic cloves underneath. Excuse me?

I put the whole thing in the oven and instantly realized why people love cooking chicken this way: you can walk away for an hour.  This, in cooking, is priceless.  Usually when I cook chicken, it’s stir-fry style and I have to stand there and move the chicken pieces around for twenty minutes.  With the whole chicken method, I’m watching Bethenny Getting Married and having a glass of wine.  Why didn’t I know about this sooner?

The resulting bird was really a thing to behold: all golden brown, perfectly crispy on the outside and tender and juicy on the inside (and by inside, I mean the meat…not the “cavity”).  Mike was astonished that such a thing of beauty would come from the work of my hands, especially since he knows about my aversion to poultry.

So now I am caught in a bind: do I make the chicken more often, considering how easy it is and how much Mike likes it?  Or do I banish forever the image of my hand up the backside of a bird?

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Rephs 1, Carbs 0

As cliché as it is to write this in the month of January, I am on a diet.

Mike and I decided to eat healthier and lose a little weight in the process, and we just happen to have a trip to Cabo on the horizon for that extra hit of motivation.  Nothing like exposed flesh to make you reach for that proverbial carrot (or in this case, a literal carrot).

We have always been very active, running about three times a week and doing yoga once a week.  But the more we researched, the more we realized that food and exercise fall into that most classic of rules: 80/20.  It turns out that working out like a fiend while eating whatever one wants isn’t as effective as eating really well and working out moderately. 

And let’s face it: any excuse to work out less is music to one’s ears, am I right?

So, after a few Bing searches for easy-to-follow diets, we decided on the 4 Hour Body.  It’s written by the same man who wrote 4 Hour Workweek, which is a major bestseller, but from what I’ve heard infuriates a lot of people (the concept is so simple, yet almost impossible to apply).

We didn’t even bother to buy the book, since all of the rules were listed online.  It really is quite simple:

1.  No white carbs (we had to resist hosting a funeral to pay our respects to our favorite foods: rice, pasta, and bread).

2.  No fruit (ouch.  I usually eat two pieces of fruit a day).

3.  Don’t drink your calories (sayanara, beer.  Though you are allowed two glasses of red wine per day…clearly this is the life raft we cling to).

4.  Eat the same meals over and over (well, when you can only have certain foods, you tend to repeat them).

5.  Take one day off a week  (sweet Moses Saturdays!! Sign me up!!).

We started on Jan 3, so it’s been three weeks.  We’ve each lost a pound per week, which supposedly is the healthiest way to lose.   We haven’t changed our exercise routine, though if we miss a workout we feel far less guilt, because we can easily turn to each other and say, “Who cares?  We’re eating so well!”

Not that eating well is easy. 

The two of us at a restaurant is not a pretty sight.  A mere three seconds after opening the menu one of us says, “But, OK, like what if we traded this meal for one meal on our day off?  That would work, right?  I mean, really, what’s the difference?” 

That’s when the other one of us has to turn into a drill sergeant and yell, “Pull yourself together, Reph!  You’ll order a salad and YOU’LL LIKE IT.”

But honestly, it wasn’t until this diet that we realized how carb-heavy restaurants really are.  If we’re looking for anything more interesting than a salad, we may be looking for a very long time.

Last week we ate out with another couple at a Thai restaurant (read: noodle universe) and Mike found the only way he could be satisfied is if he ordered half of a chicken.  Nothing else.  It was the strangest looking plate. 

I ordered stir fry.

Waiter:  And white or brown rice?

Me:  (Gritting teeth, barely able to get the words out) Ahhhhhh, no rice.

Waiter:  (Eyebrows raised higher than the ceiling) Um, Okaaaaaaay.

It’s reactions like this that motivate us to invite people to our house rather than accept their invitations to eat out.  If we plan ahead, it’s really easy to cook according to this diet at home.   

And even though it’s gotten easier (I no longer fantasize about a French baguette dipped in olive oil), it’s still not something I could continue indefinitely.  We’re only planning on doing it for a month, and that’s because life without pasta, rice and bread is not a life I want to live forever.

…though since I do want to live as long as possible, I’m going to scale back the consumption of carbs even after the middle of February.  I’m going to try to see them as treats, rather than the incomparable force of nature that they are.

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Paralyzed Chicken Feet

I am disturbed.

Disgusted.

Annoyed.

I just watched Food, Inc.

I’m obviously grossly behind the times, since the movie came out in 2008, but still.  It’s awakening.  It’s upsetting.  I’m itching to get to a grocery store just so I can buy organic even though my freezer is already full of food.

And I’m no naturalist.  I’ve always felt that the organic movement was just a ploy by grocers to make me spend $3.99 on spinach when I only wanted to spend $1.99.  Don’t act surprised; you already read this; is my behavior really a shock?

Anyway, it’s pretty hard to get excited about a sale on frozen chicken after seeing chemically-altered chicks hobble around on their enfeebled legs from the “enhancements” farmers give them.  How’s that for too long of a sentence?

I’m literally the last person on Earth to care about where my meat comes from.  But something clicked when my sister-in-law Rachel, who was watching this for the first time with me, turned to me and said, “Yes, God gave us dominion over the animals.  But this is not how He designed them, and we’re abusing them.”

How can I argue with that?

The hard part is when I’m standing in the poultry section of the grocery store, and I’m looking at one price versus another much higher price.  I’m thinking about my wallet, but I’m also thinking about that chicken: that chicken who can’t walk because his butt-head farmer feeds him hormones that make his muscles grow beyond what he can bear.

So I guess I’m going to start paying more for chicken.

Here’s the thing: I tend to find heated political documentaries (read: Michael Moore) to be nothing more than a slanted agenda.  But this seems to affect everyone.  Who among us doesn’t eat corn?  Oh, you don’t?  I bet you eat hundreds of things made with corn syrup, considering virtually everything is made with it.

Ugh, I sound like one of the documentary directors.

Mike and I have always been very on-the-fence about locally grown and organic food, because we weren’t sure that paying more for something meant that we were causing change in a corrupt system.

Now I know that’s because we didn’t realize just how corrupt that system is.

It would be wrong to say that this movie is the ultimate authority on meat and corn; it certainly isn’t.  But at least they’ve done more research than I have, and have spoken with some experts on the matter.

I don’t know if they’ve utterly convinced me never to buy regular meat again; what I do know is that they’ve sold me on doing my own research.  They’ve shown me that ignorance is anything but bliss.

My mom once asked me if I’d like to buy a portion of her cow.  Mike and I laughed.  What?  Your own cow?  What are you, a farmer?  She looked at us like she was speaking to 5-year-olds and explained that you can buy an entire cow from local farmers and the meat will last you a year.  I was grossed out at the thought of all that meat sitting in a freezer for months on end.

Now I’m shuffling my feet around as I sheepishly admit to my conservative mother that her liberal idea was actually…brilliant.

So our brother and sister-in-law may join us in buying a cow.  We think it’s the best approach for an enormous problem that seems beyond repair.

Well, maybe half a cow.  It’s not like we eat beef five nights a week.

But I do eat beef.  Here’s a secret I share with very few people: when no one is around, and I’m out to lunch by myself, I like to visit Taco del Mar.  Or Taco Time.  But never Taco Bell…I do have some dignity.

I love the Mexi-fries and the crispy beef tacos, the shredded lettuce and the diced tomatoes.  I especially love the anonymity of the drive-thru.

But then I had to go and watch Food, Inc., and ruin all of that.  They essentially convinced me that I’m eating dog food, beef fit only for dogs, and I’m sickened…but slightly sad.  Is that weird?  Is it OK to mourn the loss of food that is repulsive but delicious?

I’m not likely to tell people how to eat better or more organically.  I think everyone is entitled to their own choice — all I can do is inform people to watch Food, Inc., and see what they find.

When your conscience won’t let you order a burger after watching this film, I would not be the least bit offended if you wanted to punch me in the face.  In fact, I cry the same crocodile tears about my loss of Taco Time.  The pain is real.

But then, so is the cost.

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