Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Quinoa, Part Deux

Wowy, wow, wow. Just when you think the Universe can't get any weirder…just this moment, as I'm reviewing my post to correct any errors, I scroll to the bottom of my page and looky what The Vancouver Sun has as an article of interest today…TODAY!


Strange, yes?


It's pronounced Keen-wa, not Queen-Noah I've just learned. I've never paid attention to it before because, frankly, I never had to…to me it was weird, hippy-grain that was an odd man's risotto. Or an allergic woman's… who knew? I have now been educated and apologize to any of the hippies that don't like quinoa and to the quinoa who aren't fond of hippies.

Don't worry – you'll all be sick of my allergies l-o-n-g before I am, I promise!!!

So here we are…allergy watch – end of day 2. Only 28 to go and already I'm feeling super healthy…NOT!!! So far I feel pretty much the same as I did on Sunday – minus the hangover, of course. My environmental allergy symptoms have not abated, and my insides, to date, are still inside. Good!

A trip to Whole Foods this evening proves to me one thing – no one is allergic to everything. Except, seemingly, me. There are breads and pastas and cake mixes and flours up the whazoo – but all have at least one of the following ingredients: wheat, yeast, gluten, rice, potato, soy or sunflower.
I want to cheat, but can't fake it. I'm trying to be good and follow the rules. Anyone can do anything for 30 days, right? Shows character and stick-with-it-ness. Like college – minus the hangover, of course.

There is hope, says my doctor as he shines a bright light into my dark, carb-free room. Quinoa. The one grain I am not allergic to. YIPEE!!!! I'm on it… I have no idea what it takes like (probably chicken) but am hopeful that it's good!

Question: what the hell do you make with this stuff??? All the recipes I've found so far have at least one of the "bad" ingredients in it…I am hoping that I can cook it up like rice or cous cous, but no luck with recipes so far…can anyone help me out with a recipe that is both good and good for me?

Here's hoping you won't find me keeled over in a huge vat of quinoa when it probably would have been healthier for me to eat some s'ghetti on occasion.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Maintenance Squared

Ah, Hollywood (probably Los Angeles, in general)…where nothing is ever shocking. Where , in other parts of the country, conversations usually confined to a quiet corner bistro on girls' night after a few cosmopolitans are discussed casually over a non-fat decaf double shot with a twist at 7:00 a.m. This is my home. Where I live and love. Where I get my hair and nails done. Work on those love handles. Groom the chin hair. Chatting with my pal Kate, I've been enlightened to the existence of such strange grooming "maintenance" as vaginal rejuvenation and anal bleaching. Dear Lord…!!!! Really!?! http://katedating.blogspot.com/2008_04_01_archive.html These things to me are like Mikey from the Life Cereal commercial dying because he ate Pop Rocks & drank a Coca Cola at the same time…and the Ban du Soleil gal dying of skin cancer…rumors, but surely unfounded and untrue.

Tomorrow promises to be one of the warmest days of Spring. Ergo (that's Latin!) (I watched Rome on HBO!) I decided that I will probably want to put on a pair of shorts – maybe a bathing suit if I have enough wine – so I place an emergency 9-1-1 call to the person that knows more about me than my priest and manicurist combined….Lottie, the gal that waxes my unmentionables. And Lottie, understanding gal that she is, says yes, Bubbula, come in, we'll fix that embarrassing mess tout suite. Thank God, because the pasty white skin is enough to scare anyone away…I don't need the Fay Rae Stalker Hair to go with.

So I tottle in, disrobe & wait. And Lottie comes in with Someone Else following behind her. "Is it ok that Lily practices on you? She's new, but she's good and I am here, too. She'll do one side, I'll do the other. OK?"

um…"practice" ?????

If you've ever had your unmentionables waxed you know that this is not an enterprise you take up lightly. There is a comfort level that (for me, anyway) that needs to be achieved. I can't just have any Jane, Sally or Mary maintaining my hoo-hoo. Is it too late to dress & leave?

But Lottie rocks and what can I say? I got a last minute appointment that I was told was a 'squeeze in' because I'm me (yep. Thankyouverymuch) so I wanted to return the favor. Besides, Lily seemed sweet, if a bit nervous. Which is never good when you're holding a hot wax wand & a cloth.

Neither here nor there.

If you've ever had ANYTHING waxed in your life, you know it's not a pain free experience. But, have you ever had your hairs ripped out from the belly button south, you know it's an exercise in zen. Remember the beauty that comes after. No shave-rash. No Shave Rash. So I lie down. And then I'm thinking, I'm getting waxed tag-team? Oh. My. God. I can't even begin to tell you how weird and painful and strangely clinical the experience was. It was definitely a teaching session. "No, you missed here. Don't be afraid to just pull. It hurts worse when you don't". LOL! Small fumbles aside (no shave rash. no shave rash.) I was done lickety split (no pun intended) which was the really good part of it but when I got to the car I let out the primal scream of all primal screams. OWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!

And only then did I take two seconds to consider the oddity of the appointment. On one hand, everyone has to learn, but why was I chosen as the human guinea pig…or Rhesus monkey? Clearly lots of material to work with. On the other? Weekend beauty, worth the price.

Happily Mikey and the Ban du Soleil gal and the aforementioned fringe grooming practices are still a mystery to me.


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Allergies and the Art of Gastronomic Maintenance

Unbelievable! It's been about three weeks, but the irony still makes me laugh.

Allergies. These are the things that make you sneeze when Fluffy or Butch or Floppy come into the room. The invisible floaties that make your eyes water and nose run when Spring begins to spring. The mistaken anaphylactic reaction that sends Scully to the floor – interrupting The Kiss not seen 'round the world in the first X-Files movie.

Allergies. I've had them my whole life. Cats, pollen, dust, cheap perfume…they've been as much a part of me as the brown hair and perfect pitch. All right. The brown hair.

As recently as two years ago, Happily Ever After and I had become convinced that I've developed an allergy to avocados. A food allergy. I've heard of them. Poor little children that can't get peanuts at the ballpark because they're allergic. My nephew is allergic to mangos. I pretended to be allergic to spinach simply because I don't like it. But I've never had a food allergy in my life. Then we arrive at that one fateful Cinco de Mayo: I made a vat of guacamole and proceeded to drown my corn chips in the green yummy goodness. Then the rash started. The tingling swelling I felt around my mouth was only slightly less scary than the tightening in my throat that was beginning to occur. EEK!! OK. Not to be paranoid – and because I dig me some guacamole – we decided to try again another day – another batch of guac made with different avocados. This time with the Benadryl insta-tabs at the ready. And once again, the rash & swelling begins. When I awoke from my Benadryl nap, we decided that avocados were something to avoid. I mourned. But it was ok. There were moments that I was sad, sure. Something you ate your whole life is now verboten. It sucks. A pal makes guacamole, you have to content yourself with just salsa. You're at lunch with your gal pals, request no avo, but somewhere along the line the request gets lost, everyone's lunch comes, and yours has to go back. Making you late. You content yourself with chips & salsa, but you feel bad for dragging the lunch on when everyone (including you) has work to return to. We're all grownups, but still…ya know?

But just to be sure, I made an appointment with the allergist. And for laughs, let's just test everything. (Thanks, Blue Cross!) I knew I was allergic to everything out- and in-doors in the Western New York area, but CA? The land of the allergy-free? Surely I'd be spared.

First the news we already knew. Cats are cats – West or East coast. Apparently their allergic magic works on both sides of the Mississippi. Pollen? Dust? Tree spores? Yep. Still allergic. (Thanks, Zyrtec!)

Now the good news (yay!) NOT allergic to avocados! Not at all! Not a whit!! Tested twice just to be sure!! Oh Happy Day!!!!!!!!!

Now the not-so-good news. Apparently I'm allergic to the corn chips I was woofing the avocados down with. HUH???????? Corn? Oh, no, boys and girls…not just corn. Baker's yeast, wheat, potatoes, rice and soy. All Nature's starchy goodness. All of it. Why, Dee, that doesn't really sound TOO bad…Aren't you indulging in a bit of self pity?

Let's quickly take a look, shall we?

Baker's yeast – anything that rises…cookies, cake, bread, brownies, everything along those lines. Everything.

Wheat – cookies, cake, bread, brownies, pie crust, pasta, four tortillas. PASTA!!! What kind of Italian girl is allergic to pasta!??!?!??!

Corn – those guac'ed out corn chips…corn on the cob, corn bread, corn tortillas, popcorn.

Soy - Every. Processed. Food. In. America. EVERY. Besides soy sauce, tofu & edamame, the dreaded "partially hydrogenated soybean oil" which happily makes an appearance in things like salad dressing, mayonnaise, jarred pasta sauce, many processed cheeses and lots & lots of other things. LOTS.

So my friends console me…"That's ok – you can't have pasta, but you can have gnocchi"…no. potatoes."You're allergic to gluten…easy! There are lots of gluten free products on the market now." Yep! They're all made with rice as a substitute. "At least you're not allergic to avocados!" Tru Dat.

When my results came back I asked the doctor how I could possibly be allergic to foods that I had no idea I was allergic to? I've never ever had a reaction to these foods. He very ominously replied, "Not that you're aware of. We don't know what these foods are doing to your insides."


The game plan is to put me on an allergy diet – take me off everything I'm allergic to for one month then slowly reintroduce speisen
verboten back into my diet one at a time to see how my insides are reacting. Dear Lord. Again I ask: how can a gal that can honestly say that she hasn't had a meal in her life that hasn't included one or more of the above foods, abstain for a month?

Apparently I have to look at bread & pasta like pre-marital sex…

Hail Mary, full of Grace…