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eG Foodblog: mizducky - The Tightwad Gourmand turns pro

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#1 mizducky

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 12:23 AM

"When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." -- Hunter S. Thompson

Greetings, fellow food freaks! Wow, has it only been nine months since my last food blog? Feels like I've crammed a couple of lifetime's worth of changes into that short span of time. And two of the more noteworthy ones are definitely on-topic for eGullet and this blog:

--On the weight management front: when last I blogged, I was 20 weeks into my weight-loss project, with about 47 pounds lost to show for my efforts. I am now 60 weeks in, have lost a total of 114 pounds, and am still going strong. All of that progress, along with corresponding improvements in my mobility and overall general health, has been accomplished the good-old fashioned way: no fad diets, no drugs, no fasting, just basic day-in and day-out healthy cooking and dining, plus whatever physical activity my bod feels up to. I have managed to make this healthy eating thing into a way of life that is pleasant and maintainable even for a foodgeek like me; I will be showing you a little of how I work it in the course of this blog.

--And regarding the quote from The Good Doctor with which I started this post: since last I blogged, I've finally done it--I have at last managed to slip over the line from crazed amateur food blogger to paid professional food writer. I am now the editor of and a contributing writer for a brand-new restaurant-recommendation website known as SanDiego.Eats.It. As you will see if you follow that link, we are still in beta test mode, so there are still little bits and pieces needing to be filled in. But already it's looking pretty darned spiffy, if I do say so myself. I've been having a helluva lotta fun with my part of this project--if nothing else, I now have a professional justification for my obsession--erm, I mean hobby, of casing every little hole-in-the-wall eatery I spot on my rambles about town.

In fact, the teaser photos for my blog were both taken on restaurant rambles that resulted in write-ups:

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This is the so-called "Goat" salad (goat cheese, dried cranberries, and candied walnuts on mesclun) served by Influx, a lovely modern little coffeehouse in the Golden Hill neighborhood.

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And this is the beautiful verandah (it seems inadequate to just call it a deck) of Krakatoa, a rather funkier coffeehouse in that same neighborhood.

All of which hints at how I manage to stay on a weight loss regimen even while doing my food-writer beat: I put in for the "healthy/light dining" beat. :laugh:

As the blog progresses, I plan to take you all along as I check out a couple of restaurants I might write up in future. Other dining extravaganzas on my schedule for the week include a dinner at The Linkery, an innovative little restaurant that makes some fabulous sausages and other "handmade cuisine," as well as a Saturday dim sum brunch. Ethnic cookery, especially Asian cuisines, remains one of my passions, so there will be visits to various ethnic markets and a cooking experiment or three. And it wouldn't be one of my blogs if I didn't work a food-and-music connection in there somewhere, now would it?

For now, I will leave you with this foretaste of things to come:

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This was my dinner just prior to coming home and getting this post ready: a big bowl of Nagasaki style champon from Dao Son, a very good (and very spicy--"Dao Son" literally translates to "Hot Chef) Japanese/Vietnamese restaurant in San Diego's North Park neighborhood.

Onward and outward ...

Edited by mizducky, 19 March 2007 - 12:30 AM.


#2 prasantrin

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 01:12 AM

114 lbs!?!?!??!! Holy moly! You go mizducky! That's amazing! I can't wait to read the rest of this week--I hope you show us before and after pictures!

#3 Chufi

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 01:28 AM

Congratulations mizducky! That is some achievement.
I'm looking forward to this week and seeing your food, the restaurant-type and the home-cooked.
I'd also love to hear more about your going 'pro' - a process I'm going through myself, so I need all the advice I can get :smile:

Edited by Chufi, 19 March 2007 - 01:29 AM.


#4 SuzySushi

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 01:30 AM

Whoa! Way to go!!! Congratulations on both accounts, Ellen!!!

I'm so glad you're blogging again, and I'll be following this one with bated breath! :biggrin:

[Edited to correct the spelling of "bated" (it's not "baited") which I just learned from Domestic Goddess's post below! Thank you, Doddie!]

Edited by SuzySushi, 19 March 2007 - 03:42 AM.

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#5 Pan

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 02:14 AM

Just amazing! Congratulations! (And I think the incredible weight loss is much more extraordinary than the pro writing beat. Compared to weight loss, writing is a cinch, I think. But maybe I think that just because I'm better at writing than losing a large amount of weight...)

#6 Domestic Goddess

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 02:41 AM

Mizducky!!!! So it's you! Snowangel finally stumped us on guessing who the next blogger was gonna be. I am so glad it is you. You lost 114 lbs.????!!! You're my hero!

I, too, like the others am waiting for more with your blog with bated breath. Blog on, Mizducky!
Doddie aka Domestic Goddess

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#7 Dejah

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 03:46 AM

Congrats, misducky , on both weight management and new job! :biggrin:

Your blogging is very timely as a collegue of mine and his wife are off to San Diego this weekend for spring break. I'll send them eGullet to follow so they will be well prepared. :wink:
Dejah
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#8 Rebecca263

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 05:54 AM

Yay! Welcome venerated Madame Canard! I've been following your 'blog and am so thrilled at your progress, on all counts! How are your joints lately? The knees AND the bars, clubs and restaurants, LOL! I'll just be following from here...
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#9 Tess

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 08:21 AM

Congratulations on everything! Losing weight while doing a food-based career must be most people's idea of impossible. I think there's a book in there somewhere.

Really looking forward to your blog.

#10 cakewalk

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 08:47 AM

WOW!! Good for you, on all counts!! And I know there's some good reading ahead. :smile:

#11 racheld

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 08:48 AM

Oh, Ducky Dear!!! It's YOU!!

You've brightened this rainy thundery Monday like Dorothy's door.

Looking forward to following that purple feather high and low, and enjoying every minute of your fun life. And onward and outward, of course.
Fairy tea has its own magic, for it never does run out;
And the flavour you imagine will come streaming from the spout.
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#12 mizducky

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 10:38 AM

Good morning, all! And many thanks for all the congratulations and well-wishes. I confess some small part of my brain immediately felt like the Weight Loss Goddesses were going to smack me down for hubris for parading my weight loss so blatantly ... especially since a serious part of my day-to-day mental game is to strive to forget the number on the scale, and just concentrate on eating healthy and staying with the regimen. But hey--I won't deny that it feels fabulous to get all the strokes.

One of the joys of being a freelancer (which I remind myself of whenever I run into one of the non-joys) is the freedom to be the nightowl that my bod naturally wants to be. That means I also rise late, so I'm only up and having at breakfast now.
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Just a simple bowl of plain lowfat yogurt and a cup of coffee (Equal Exchange organic French roast, bought from my church's UU Service Committee rep, and I'm almost out, so coffee goes on the shopping list). Breakfast is usually way simple with me ... and sometimes morphs into brunch/blunch/lunch.

Today's agenda is relatively low-impact: I've got a bunch of errands to do, including a grocery run for a lot of basics, such as the coffee. But even for basics, I tend to hit a number of non-basic shops, so I hope to get some fun photographs. And you'll also get to see what staples I find essential to making my foodplan go, both from a weight loss and a taste standpoint. (Rule one--party on the vegetables!) Plus I'll be needing to grab lunch somewhere along the way...

I've got a meeting at church in the early evening, and then I aim to come home and cook stuff. What I cook will be majorly determined by what I see at the market that inspires me. I'll probably check back in here a couple of other times during the day as

#13 GordonCooks

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 10:45 AM

Many congratulations on your weight loss!! I commend your perseverance and hope more people follow your example.

#14 mizducky

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 10:45 AM

Yay! Welcome venerated Madame Canard! I've been following your 'blog and am so thrilled at your progress, on all counts! How are your joints lately? The knees AND the bars, clubs and restaurants, LOL! I'll just be following from here...

View Post

Hi, Rebecca! My joint pain is very well improved, now that I no longer have that excess weight pounding my cartilage into smithereens. However, there is some damage that is already done, most notably to my left knee, which will go out if I'm not careful, and sometimes just goes out anyway out of sheer randomness, usually following Murphy's Law. In fact, it started trying to flake out on me over the weekend, and visions of limping my way through a foodblog filled me with dread. But I make with the ice packs and Ace bandages, and it seems to be behaving this morning.

I'll be showing you how those other joints are doing as the week progresses. :biggrin:

#15 mizducky

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 11:21 AM

Okay--I'm off! Talk amongst yourselves until I return. :smile:

#16 little ms foodie

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 11:22 AM

mizducky how wonderful to hear that you are able to do so much more now! great job to you for doing it the right way- I'll be very interested to see the types of meals that have helped with this weight loss!!

and san diego is part of my sales territory now so I'll be making notes on places to go the next time I'm down there!

hadn't you moved at the end of your last blog? am I remembering correctly? how has that gone?

blog on!

#17 Maison Rustique

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 01:21 PM

Ellen, I'm so glad you posted--I was getting concerned!! Congrats on your rapidly improving health/weight loss!!!
Deb
Liberty, MO

#18 KatieLoeb

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 01:39 PM

Good on 'ya, MizDucky! You are an inspiration in many ways. I'll be eagerly looking forward to your healthy recipes as I'm currently enrolled in a medically supervised weight loss/maintenance study myself. I was very bad over the weekend so I'll take a cue from you and try and keep up.

Blog on, Sister!

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Cheers!
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#19 lovebenton0

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 01:58 PM

miz ducky, fabulous news. congratulations on all counts. losing is winning and you've obviously been doing a great job with that. and turning pro, what a coup. lots of hard work there too. :cool:

looking forward to the rest of the week's blog. i think you and i must have a fairly similar approach to food. and we love it, don't we. :biggrin:
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#20 Kouign Aman

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 02:27 PM

Brave woman, thou, doing a third blog!
Congratulations on your successes. That is awesome news.
I've played with your new website and am looking forward to spending more time with it, as it does meet a need.

I'm looking forward to a fun in the sun week with appropriate musical selections.
"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

#21 mizducky

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 04:26 PM

Hi--I'm back, and in the process of uploading a whole bunch o' photos for your viewing pleasure. Let me catch up with one question:

hadn't you moved at the end of your last blog? am I remembering correctly? how has that gone?

View Post

Very close--I was just about to move when I did my first blog, in January of 2006. By my second blog, I had been in my current abode about three months or so. So far, so good! More on that anon.

Okay--back in a flash (so to speak) ...

Edited by mizducky, 19 March 2007 - 04:26 PM.


#22 mizducky

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 05:17 PM

Okay, here we go ...

By the time I got rolling, the morning clouds and haze had burned off and it was a beautiful day in the neighborhood:
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I knocked off my non-food-related errands, and then it was time for lunch:
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Arirang House, in the heart of the Convoy Street nexux of Asian restaurants, groceries, and businesses. I have no idea why they keep putting that "grand opening" banner up, especially since I keep seeing the same (very friendly) woman staffing the front desk. Maybe it keeps changing hands but they keep the same staff in place?

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There are definitely better Korean restaurants in the area, but Arirang's lunch buffet remains a guilty pleasure of mine. It's hard to beat all-you-can-eat banchan.

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Here we have chapchae; two types of kimchee (napa cabbage and daikon); two types of bean sprout salads (a milder one with mung bean sprouts and a fiery one with soybean sprouts); a soft mild white gelatin-type item which tastes like egg whites and which the woman in charge says is made from some kind of bean and is very low calorie; some sort of greens, possibly bok choy, with a pungent dressing tasting of sesame oil; a seaweed salad; and a lone barbequed chicken wing. Off on the right is a bowlful of a very tasty soup--greens in a chicken-based broth with a mild chile kick. The buffet also included a few additional meat items and a few more banchan: white potatoes with a sweet/savory glaze, apple chunks in a mayo-based dressing, and some plain steamed cabbage. Their meat selections never vary, and are okay at best; but their banchan offerings change frequently and are pretty darned good, at least to my admittedly newbie-to-Korean-food tastes. I'm probably going to write this place up one of these days, simply on the strength of the banchan buffet offerings--all these inventive veg preparations are healthy eater's heaven as far as I'm concerned.

To be continued ...

#23 mizducky

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 05:36 PM

I was now suitably fueled for grocery shopping. (Never shop while hungry, or the Lizard Brain will make you buy half the store! :laugh: ) First stop, my old pal, the local 99 Ranch Market:
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I love poking around the bargain aisle--never know what you'll find:
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Lately I've been fascinated by all the prepackaged herbal soup mixes--only thing that has stopped me from buying any is my cautiousness about knocking my system for a loop due to not understanding what herb has what effect. If any of you readers can shed some light on this stuff, I would be intensely grateful:
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Oops--forgot to take the Obligatory Pocky Shot! But I did get this shot of 99's bakery case:
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I'll be showing you my purchases in a soon-to-follow post, but meanwhile on to the next stop: Windmill Farms, a local independent health-food supermarket:
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Windmill carries a full line of produce, meats, bakery items, and groceries, but I was mainly here for nutritional supplements--their in-house brands are very reasonably priced. They often have very good prices on their produce too, but I know several places that beat them regularly, so I moved on--but not before buying a little boost for the next leg of my journey:
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Heh. Talk about opening up a can of whoop-ass. Yes, I know that some outfit did bring out an energy drink named Whoop-ass ... but it's all whoop-ass to moi. Plus this one has the advantage of being zero-calorie. Mmmmmm ... caffeine and sucralose ... :laugh:

To be continued ...

#24 mizducky

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 05:45 PM

Final stop, North Park Produce:
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This neighborhood grocery caters primarily to Mediterranean, Eastern European, and Middle Eastern shoppers; they have a Halal meat department, lots of great imported groceries and dairy items, and some excellent produce:
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Sorry to stop on a cliff-hanger, but the clock is telling me it's time for me to bolt out the door to my church committee meeting. When I return: photos of all the stuff I bought, plus the Obligatory Kitchen, Refrigerator, and Pantry shots. See you soon ...

#25 bavila

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 05:51 PM

Yay ducky! Congrats on reaping the rewards of all your hard work. I was wondering about you the other day, as I haven't been on eGullet much at all the last few months, and have been hiding from the WeightWatchers thread in great shame of my lack of portion-control.

All this Korean food (here and DG's recent blog) makes me think I really need to do some hunting for Korean foods in my little town. All those gorgeous veggie dishes...


PS
I think our church (also UU) sells the same coffee. Isn't it yummy?
Bridget Avila
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#26 little ms foodie

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 05:54 PM

Yes, I know that some outfit did bring out an energy drink named Whoop-ass ... but it's all whoop-ass to moi.


Jones Soda from right here in little ole Seattle! also known for their Thanksgiving dinner flavored sodas :wacko:

#27 nakji

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 07:14 PM

Do my eyes deceive me, or is that eight kinds of feta for sale in the photo above?


Sometimes I hate living in Asia.

The white jelly-like thing you had for lunch was probably some sort of muk. The brown kind of muk is made from acorns, I believe. It's really nice with a bit of sesame oil and chili flakes sprinkled over.

Will there be any Vietnamese food stops in this blog? I'd love to see what your bun bo hue looks like!

#28 TheFoodTutor

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 09:46 PM

The white jelly-like thing you had for lunch was probably some sort of muk. The brown kind of muk is made from acorns, I believe. It's really nice with a bit of sesame oil and chili flakes sprinkled over.


That's what I was thinking. It's sold in our Asian grocery stores with the label "mung bean jelly." Very low in calories, but not a lot of flavor until you spice it up with chili paste or other condiments.

Excellent start to the blog, mizducky, and I want to add my congratulations to those piling up so far on your tremendous weight loss. Such courage you must have! Bravo!

Did you get anything from the pastry case? Or are you not terribly tempted by sweets?

#29 mizducky

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 10:04 PM

Back from my meeting, and busy inhaling a hastily-prepared dinner--which I will show you shortly, along with the other photos I need to go process. But first:

I think our church (also UU) sells the same coffee. Isn't it yummy?

View Post

Yes, it really is. I seriously need to hit the Service Committee folks up for some more. Nothing like having an addictive fundraising item! :laugh:

Yes, I know that some outfit did bring out an energy drink named Whoop-ass ... but it's all whoop-ass to moi.

Jones Soda from right here in little ole Seattle! also known for their Thanksgiving dinner flavored sodas :wacko:

View Post

That's right! Now it all comes back to me ... I was working for Microsoft when Jones was debuting that stuff, and they brought their big promo RV on campus to do some kind of marketing event. Lots of Softies got cans of the stuff to keep around their offices as souvenirs, but I think there was rather more humorous brandishing of the cans than actual drinking of their contents. :laugh:

Do my eyes deceive me, or is that eight kinds of feta for sale in the photo above?

Sometimes I hate living in Asia.

The white jelly-like thing you had for lunch was probably some sort of muk. The brown kind of muk is made from acorns, I believe. It's really nice with a bit of sesame oil and chili flakes sprinkled over.

Will there be any Vietnamese food stops in this blog? I'd love to see what your bun bo hue looks like!

View Post

Yep, that is a whole lotta feta in that shot. And I couldn't even get the whole deli case into the photo--not only is there more feta, but there is also a bunch of different types of olives. But to cheer you up, yes, I can fit a bowl of bun bo hue in some time this week--and I know just the one to show you. :wink:

And thanks for identifying muk for me--now that I know what it's called, I have discovered that Wikipedia does have an entry for it.

Okay--off to do dances with photos. Back soon ...

#30 ruthcooks

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 10:17 PM

I don't remember why the "duck" in your name, but perhaps you'll have to change it to a swan, after all that weight loss. Congratulations!
Ruth Dondanville aka "ruthcooks"

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