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MarketStEl

eG Foodblog: CaliPoutine, MarketStEl & mizducky - The Shrinking

305 posts in this topic

Greetings, everyone, from quaint, charming and tranquil Yardley, Pa., where I have worked since this past December 4.

I'm also posting from a low hill overlooking a semi-vast expanse known as the Two Hundred Pound Plateau. You saw the view from that hill in the teaser photos for this foodblog, and one of the things I hope to do in the course of this foodblog is climb back down off of it -- the plateau as well as the hill.

Our co-blogger mizducky, who knows me from when we were both young whippersnappers at Harvard, was supposed to have started this blog in the wee small hours Pacific Standard Time from her perch on the Left Coast, but the Invision PowerBoard servers that host eGullet had other ideas. So, reckoning that she is resting to face the new day (or probably rising right about the time I post this), and with the blessing of our third participant, CaliPoutine, I'm kicking off yet another tag-team eG Foodblog.

We chose this week to blog because it's the first full week of the month when roughly one in every two Americans makes a New Year's resolution to lose weight. Of those, roughly nine in ten (all figures pure conjecture) either abandon that resolution within a short period or succeed, only to put the weight they lost back on.

All three of us are watching our weight: two out of medical necessity and a third out of a desire to get into better shape overall. We thought that a foodblog devoted to weight management would be an excellent way to examine the whole subject of diet, weight loss, overweight and obesity, and some of the tensions and compromises inherent in being at once a food lover and a person who must watch the food they eat.

It strikes me that gourmandry and weight management are at heart at odds with each other: I notice that truly svelte people appear to be absent from the ranks of food lovers. Yet at the same time, I also note that truly obese people are not overrepresented among them either, though we may have a disporportionate share of overweight people like myself. Perhaps we will figure out why this is so in the course of this blog; perhaps not.

We will take a look at the diet-industrial complex, though, an entity that (I believe) all three of us have managed to avoid getting overly entangled with. One of my unused teaser photos was designed to illustrate one of the things I try to do in balancing a love of food with a desire to get rid of a gut:

gallery_28660_5521_48350.jpg

And we will look at the role of exercise too. More about that from my perspective in my posts later today.

BTW, Tracey: That salad was homemade. I picked up several packets of salad dressing from the Wawa just up Main Street from my office so I would never be without dressing on days when I forgot to bring in my own.

With this introduction out of the way, we can now take (it) off.


Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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Good morning all,

This is going to be great. I'm always interested in someone else's pespective on weight loss.

Looking forward to this one more than you know. :smile:

Now, let's get this party started!


And this old porch is like a steaming greasy plate of enchiladas,With lots of cheese and onions and a guacamole salad ...This Old Porch...Lyle Lovett

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I should note that there will be several other issues that my co-bloggers and I will touch on in the course of this blog. I'll let my colleagues explain those in more detail.


Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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I guess I'm up.....

Good Morning from Exeter, Ontario.

I’m Randi and this is my 4th foodblog. You can find links to the other 3 at the bottom of this post. Some of you may know me from the Senior Dining Thread. I cook 2 x a month for 50 senior citizens. It just so happens that this Thursday will be one of those days. I still haven’t decided what I’m making yet so I’m getting a tad nervous about that.

I know the theme of this blog is weight loss and I feel a bit nervous about that too. In July 2005, I started a drug called Byetta. It’s for people with type 2 diabetes. My sister and I think it’s a wonder drug as we’ve both lost about 35lbs since starting it. The weight came off very quickly (within the first 6 months). Byetta controls blood sugar, but it also prolongs gastric emptying. This means, you stay full a lot longer and you need a lot less food. I had a lot of nausea pretty much the entire first year, there were actually times that I forced myself to eat because I just wasn’t hungry. Unfortunately, I haven’t lost anything this last year. I actually gained a few back, then lost it again, then gained, then lost( its a vicious cyle). That’s been my pattern, especially when I go back to California or Florida.

Another unfortunate event was I stopped working out. Right about the time I started Byetta, I had a gallbladder attack. The doctor said I’d probably have to have my gallbladder removed so I put my gym membership on hold. My gallbladder is fine, but I never went back to the gym. That all changed starting today because last Friday, we had a brand new gym quality treadmill delivered.

I moved here 5 years ago from Long Beach, California. I grew up in Florida and California and it was a major shock to my system moving to the cold weather. I turn into a slug come November each year. I think also the lack of sunlight has a really negative effect on me so I’m hoping a daily dose of treadmill will help.

I left California and moved to Canada so I could legally marry my same-sex partner Robin. We’ll be married 5 years this June.

I’m no stranger to dieting, I could do it blindfolded. As I mentioned upthread, we were in S. Florida for Xmas and we ate way too many bagels, NY style pizza’s and pasta. We’re both ready for some clean eating. We’re going to follow Weight Watchers( but we're not spending any money attending meetings). I also use Spark People to keep track of calories.

The greatest thing for me is that I’m seriously not hungry. If I followed a plan this last year, I could have probably dropped another 50lbs. For a variety of reasons( stress, boredom, etc) I just didn’t so I stayed the same. So here we go……..

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Robin, my spouse is diabetic as well. She isnt taking Byetta( its not availble in Canada, I still see a Dr. in MI for it) though.

However, she is gung-ho about starting this plan with me, especially since I do all the meal planning and prep. Last night, I made her lunch and got her breakfast ready. I like to mark all my food products with the number of WW points so I know the value at a glance.

gallery_28660_5521_363314.jpg

She's having 2 portions of cereal. I really love Nature's Path Cereal( Its a Canadian brand too!!). We have a liquidation store in a neighboring town. They get the majority of their products from Costco so I always find some great deals there. A small box of this cereal is 4.49 in the grocery store so I scooped up this bigger box for 5.00.

btw, ignore the kahlua in the background. I don't drink any alcohol. I made a kahlua cake for a party I catering last weekend!!

I also prepared a lock and lock container with some snacks for her. She has 1 light baby bell cheese( 1 point). I serving of triscuits( 3 points). 1 tangerine( zero) and 20 almonds( 3 points).

gallery_28660_5521_184674.jpg

Her lunch is half a serving of chips( 2 points). 2 slices high fiber wheat bread(4), 2 slices black forest ham( 2). Mustard( zero), a smidge of mayo( I'm not counting any points for that) and 1 slice of cheese( 1 point). We both really like to have a few chips when we have a sandwich so we allow points for that.

I had 1 serving of cereal(2), 1 mini box of sunmaid raisins(1), half a cup of skim milk(1). I did 30 min on the treadmill and felt a tad shaky afterwards. I took my blood sugar and then ate 1/2 cup of low-fat cottage cheese.

gallery_28660_5521_147195.jpg

eta: fixing pics!!


Edited by CaliPoutine (log)

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A doctor specialising in diet and nutrition likened dieting to holding your breath: you can have an effect for a while, but your base metabolism will always win out. What you eat accounts for maybe only 5% of weight gain, except in extreme cases, and those typically need surgical intervention.

That said, dropping sodas and other refined and sugary foods can have a dramatic effect. Much US food has sugar or high fructose corn syruo in it; changing from white to wholemeal helps as well.

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One of the aspects I hate the most about dieting is the near total obsession I aquire when meal planning. I always decide what we're having for dinner so I can plan the other meals around that.

Tonight's dinner will be from Sept 2006 Cooking Light Magazine. The weather is unseasonable warm( 55F) so I'm going to grill on our new deck.

gallery_28660_5521_234647.jpg

Now I'm off to do some errands.

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This will be an interesting, and very appropriately timed blog... I hope to be inspired as I started my healthy eating plan today, trying to get rid of the 8 or so pounds I piled on since November..

It strikes me that gourmandry and weight management are at heart at odds with each other:  I notice that truly svelte people appear to be absent from the ranks of food lovers. 

I do know a couple of really svelte foodlovers. It does really seem to be different for everybody.. one of the issues about weight management that baffles me most is how some people can eat all they want and stay thin, and others have to watch every calorie!

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In July 2005, I started a drug called Byetta. It’s for people with type 2 diabetes.  My sister and I think it’s a wonder drug as we’ve both lost about 35lbs since starting it.  The weight came off very quickly (within the first 6 months).  Byetta controls blood sugar, but it also prolongs gastric emptying.

Byetta is an adjunct treatment for persons with Type 2 diabetes who do not use insulin but do use any number of oral medications. Byetta is injected. Symlin, another drug from the same manufacturer (Amylin) is designed for use by Type 1 and 2 diabetes who take insulin and is injected before meals. Neither has been approved for treating obesity, although Amylin has such studies underway for Symlin.

I've been taking Symlin since August and it has assisted greatly in managing my blood glucose. I've also lost significant poundge: in the first six weeks I went from 315 to 280 pounds, and have held at that level since. The sheer quantity of what I eat has been significantly reduced (though not my desire for good food, just less of it). The quality of what I eat has also improved, though I'm still savoring a much reduced volume and frequency of chips, fast-food burgers, fries, etc. I did not experience the nausea that others have in first starting the drug, which must be titrated for a few days when commencing therapy.

Oh, the inspiration for the research that led to these two drugs was a study of Gila Monster venom. Although neither drug is made from that poison, they are analogs of hormones first discovered by studying the Sonoran lizard.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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Thanks to you Sandy/Market St. El, mizducky and Calipoutine for starting this blog. I'm open to any and all suggestions when it comes to weight loss, and may even have a few tips of my own to share.

First of all, something quite odd but welcomed happened to me. Between early 2006 and Spring of 2007 I dropped 40 pounds AND I REALLY WASN'T EVEN TRYING. I credit this weight loss, at least initially, to two things:

1) Stress. That period was a very stressful one for me, both personally and financially. I'd actually skip eating just to make sure a bill got paid. Also, 2) hormonal changes. In women this is usually a bad thing meaning lowered metabolism, increased appetite, weight gain and stubborn fat that refuses to budge. With me the hormonal changes--as well as the stress--caused my appetite to decrease. I noticed that even at times when I fully intended to eat myself into oblivion, I just didn't have the appetite or the interest to do so. What helped as well was that I cut way back on snack foods/convenience foods as well as foods that many others find irresistable like pizza, fries, etc. They just don't have the appeal for me that they used to. I really crave real food and have come to truly abhor a lot of processed foods.

What makes a lot of people I've told this to really crazy is that I refuse to eat "fake" foods. For me that means, lowfat mayo or sour cream, or margerine instead of butter, or fat free cheese (which is truly an abomination IMHO). For both monetary and taste reasons, I prefer to cook pretty much the majority of what I eat. I'll eat out at a good restaurant every now and then (I'd like to do more of that really in 2008) and in other people's homes, and yes I'll have the occasional candy bar or potato chips, but I try not to do that very often. Essentially, during the weight loss (I still have a lot more weight to lose, about another 40 pounds or so) I ate whatever the Hell I wanted just way less of it and it was a slow, steady dropping of the pounds as well as 4 clothing sizes.

Our office building just revamped/expanded the gym, use of the facilities is free for all building occupants, so I'll be starting an exercise program soon. I look forward to following everyone's adventure in getting healthier in 2008.


Inside me there is a thin woman screaming to get out, but I can usually keep the Bitch quiet: with CHOCOLATE!!!

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I am loving this already.

Randi, I have a kitchen full of items with points already marked on the packaging as well. I also do Weight Watchers , but I pay the monthly pass price and attend the meeting. Part of the price allows for the use of free e-Tools on their site which include Points tracker and Recipe builder which will calculate the points in your own recipes, IMO well worth the cost right there.

Is our third blogger up yet??

Tell us more???

edited for spelling


Edited by caroled (log)

And this old porch is like a steaming greasy plate of enchiladas,With lots of cheese and onions and a guacamole salad ...This Old Porch...Lyle Lovett

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Our office building just revamped/expanded the gym, use of the facilities is free for all building occupants, so I'll be starting an exercise program soon.  I look forward to following everyone's adventure in getting healthier in 2008.

Along with my job in University Relations, one of the other things I lost at Widener back in October was free access to the Wellness Center, a state-of-the-art fitness center that opened in March 2006, shortly after I started working there.

I had made lunch-hour workouts at the Wellness Center part of my daily routine, and while my weight had not gotten below 197, I was doing pretty well with my cardio figures and beginning a weight training regimen.

I'm back to Square One with all of this. I'm not in a position right now to join a commercial gym (there are two good ones near me*, one of them right across the street from my apartment building), given other things I want/need to do with the bigger income I'm earning at Activant Solutions, so for the short term, I will need to build in some exercise into my everyday activities. I've read up on some non-workout workouts one can do while, say, seated in one's cubicle, but haven't tried them yet.

My office has a shower and lockers in one men's room (the one nearest me, as it turns out) but no gym. This might still offer me the opportunity to get in some exercise outside when the weather gets better again.

*One of them -- the one closest to me -- is very popular with Gayborhood denizens and has a reputation for attracting gym bunnies. I'm not sure that I'd want to join this gym for that reason...and that reason also touches on the subject of body image, about which I'm sure we will all have more to say later.


Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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Our co-blogger mizducky, who knows me from when we were both young whippersnappers at Harvard

Have you and Ellen kept up with each the whole time since whippersnapping?

Oh, and Sandy, do you always bring your lunch to work? Do they have a fridge? When I worked outside the home, I'd keep hardcooked eggs, a big bag o mixed greens and an ample supply of homemade dressing in the fridge (which was safe because I cleaned it out regularly).


Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

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Good luck in the weight loss quest, foodbloggers!

I lost 56 lbs between August of 2006 and August of 2007. And better yet, so far I've managed to maintain that weight loss and my weight has been very stable. My goal was to lose 50 lbs, but I didn't change what I was doing after I reached my goal, and this is just where my weight has stabilized. I think taking that long to lose the weight was key to the fact that I'm able to maintain - I had a lot of time to completely relearn how to eat and to recalibrate my understanding of portion size.

I used Weight Watchers point system, just on my own, not going to meetings. Like some others have mentioned, I avoid fake foods and low-fat versions of the real thing. I'd rather not have cheese than have fake cheese, for example. I did (and still do) eat a Lean Cuisine or something like that for lunch every day. There are some that actually taste pretty good, and it's just easy - I think of it as my meal replacement program. :raz:

I'm sure this will be a fascinating blog.


Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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Good luck in the weight loss quest, foodbloggers!

I lost 56 lbs between August of 2006 and August of 2007.  And better yet, so far I've managed to maintain that weight loss and my weight has been very stable.  My goal was to lose 50 lbs, but I didn't change what I was doing after I reached my goal, and this is just where my weight has stabilized. I think taking that long to lose the weight was key to  the fact that I'm able to maintain - I had a lot of time to completely relearn how to eat and to recalibrate my understanding of portion size.

I used Weight Watchers point system, just on my own, not going to meetings. Like some others have mentioned, I avoid fake foods and low-fat versions of the real thing. I'd rather not have cheese than have fake cheese, for example. I did (and still do) eat a Lean Cuisine or something like that for lunch every day. There are some that actually taste pretty good, and it's just easy - I think of it as my meal replacement program.  :raz:

I'm sure this will be a fascinating blog.

Yes you did, and you look great!! I have no aversion to Lean Cuisine either and when I first started the Byetta, I wasnt that hungry so it was perfect portion control. I find now, that I need to add some salad or another veg to round it out.

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I had lunch at 1pm. I honestly wasnt very hungry, but I was starting to get a little light headed.

I had a turkey sandwich with red leaf lettuce. I also had 8 "light" pringles. In my teaser pic, I included some of the products and books I plan to use this week. I always save points so I can have a piece of chocolate each day. Today I had a piece of Baci( dark chocolate/hazelnut). I think its about 2 points. I also drank a 16oz bottle of crystal light lemonade.

gallery_28660_5521_6952.jpg

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Have you and Ellen kept up with each the whole time since whippersnapping?

Actually, we had not been in contact with each other from the time Ellen left Boston until we ran across each other here on eGullet! I thought her member ID looked familiar and dropped a pearl (IIRC, class year, then House affiliation) in a post; the affirmative response confirmed my suspicion.

We had, however, been out to each other prior to Ellen's departure. More on that as the week progresses.

Oh, and Sandy, do you always bring your lunch to work?  Do they have a fridge?  When I worked outside the home, I'd keep hardcooked eggs, a big bag o mixed greens and an ample supply of homemade dressing in the fridge (which was safe because I cleaned it out regularly).

This is not a direct answer, but:

I will be batch processing photos on this blog, as I have neither a USB cable for my digital camera nor image-editing software on my office computer. IOW, the answer to this question will be revealed in due course.


Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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A timely blog from three excellent egulleters! Thank you times three!

Randi, can you explain more about how you assign points for food - e.g., your cereal box is marked "2", but what size portion equals 2 points?

Second, how do you determine the number of points that you should consume each day in order to lose weight? I take it that you first plan your dinner (and number of points) and then work backwards to plan the rest of the day?

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Fantastic Blog. Looking forward to all the future entries.

My new years resolution to keep the pounds down is to bring my lunch to work. Such a simple thing, all it requires is a little planning on my part. Thus far I am 4 for 4 in the new year. Yay!

CaliPoutine, you mentioned sparkpeople.com I use that site to track my calories and exercise as well. Works much better for me that a handwritten food diary, and the calculate everything up for you, including nutrients and minerals.

Good luck to all three of you in your weight loss endevours!!!

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Hello, world!

Sorry for the delayed appearance on my corner of the three-way blog! But I stayed up till 2am PST waiting in vain for eGullet to come back up, and finally gave up and went back to sleep. So here I am, a little over eight hours later, eating breakfast at my computer while I catch up with the program already in progress:

gallery_28660_5521_158495.jpg

Here we have what has become one of my standard breakfasts: a cup of lowfat plain yogurt sweetened with a shake of stevia powder. I'm drinking lapsang suchong tea from Peets, mostly because I'm out of decent coffee. There will be a grocery run shortly to replenish that, among other items.

The design on the mug, unfortunately illegible in the photo, touts the Gay Men's Chorus of Washington DC; it's one of my roommate's, who had a role in founding that chorus years ago. Mr. E, my roommate, is a senior for whom I provide some personal-assistant support, including cooking and grocery shopping. That represents a whole raft of changes in my life since last I blogged at y'all.

Mr. E has some very finicky food preferences, many of which are exceedingly challenging for me to incorporate in a meal we can both eat happily. In particular, he's not into the high-veg/low-meat proportions I prefer for weight management--let alone any food much more exotic than Hamburger Helper! How I manage his meals and my health needs will be just one highlight of my part of the blog.

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A timely blog from three excellent egulleters!  Thank you times three!

Randi, can you explain more about how you assign points for food - e.g., your cereal box is marked "2", but what size portion equals 2 points? 

Second, how do you determine the number of points that you should consume each day in order to lose weight?  I take it that you first plan your dinner (and number of points) and then work backwards to plan the rest of the day?

I use the serving size on the box of cereal. In this case, 2 points is for 3/4 of a cup. WW has determined the points for me. I need to dig up my old materials, but I think I get between 30-33 a day( its based on what you currently weight). I also get 35 flex points to use for the week. You can also earn points for exercise.

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Other current issues for me: I'm coming up on the two-year mark for this weight-management/healthy-eating project of mine. I've had some really gratifying success, if I do say so myself--not only losing a significant amount of weight (about 138 pounds at this point), but just plain old sticking to the darn regimen that entire time, through all the various crises and distractions that life can throw at one.

But I'm definitely noticing a certain two-year-mark blahs setting in. On one level, that's good, because the eating habits I've been programming into myself have become routine. On another, it's definitely a hazard, as boredom can start talking to one's unconscious and egging it on to getting sloppy with the routine.

My regimen does allow for a certain amount of splurges, but I confess those splurges definitely got a bit more frequent during this last holiday season (which includes my birthday). I managed to fit it all into my food plan, and the splurges did not show up on the bathroom scale. However, my routine is not about the number on the scale so much as general health and wellbeing ... and now, afterwards, I feel a little overindulged, a little too "rush-y" and restless around food, and I know from past experience that those signs, if ignored long enough, can snowball into a binge.

Soooo -- I am officially not ignoring them! :biggrin: One of my personal goals this week is to get my groove back on my whole health mission--and that includes both reviving my cooking creativity, and once again putting more energy into the part of my program that's lagging: the exercise bit.

(edited because I never find typos until after I post)


Edited by mizducky (log)

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I'm looking forward to this triple-threat blog. Congrats to all of you on your progress so far. I'll be interested to follow along and see your different strategies.

A question for MzD: what do you mean by "rush-y" with regard to food?


Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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The design on the mug, unfortunately illegible in the photo, touts the Gay Men's Chorus of Washington DC; it's one of my roommate's, who had a role in founding that chorus years ago.

There, of course, is yet another connection between Ellen and me, as eG regulars probably know all too well by now.

Shortly after I got myself elected to it as Vice President of Marketing, the Philadelphia Gay Men's Chorus' board met with the artistic director and some of the board members of the GMCW to find out how they handled growing pains and governance issues. Some of their ideas we plan on implementing. We're just starting the rehearsals for our next subscription concert, in March, so there will be very little proselytizing for PGMC in this blog, though it will show up if for no other reason than the dinner that follows Wednesday night rehearsals.


Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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A question for MzD: what do you mean by "rush-y" with regard to food?

Heh. It's a little hard to describe. It's a kind of hyper, compulsive feeling, as if the food is exerting a distracting, hard-to-ignore magnetic force upon my attention. I think it's primarily psychological, though it does seem to be hooking into the body's physiological food-responses. I call the feeling "rush-y" because I identify it as similar to the anticipatory rush of pre-binge food-mania from my bad old days.

I've checked my camera, packed extra batteries, and am just about ready to head out the door and do a load of groceries, plus lunch. Details to follow!

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      The family met us at the airport.  We were greeted with a shot of a traditional Chinese spirit from a traditional leather vessel.  Nothing says welcome like a stiff drink at 9 AM.  We were supposed to have a three shots (may be they were joking) but family took pity on us and limited it to one only.
       

       
    • By Panaderia Canadiense
      Wow, this is my third foodblog for the eGullet….  Welcome!   I'll be with you from Palm Sunday through Holy Sunday to give you all a taste of the veritable food festival that is Easter in Ecuador.  As usual, I intend to eat on the streets, visit a plethora of small shops and vendors, and talk about (and eat copious amounts of ) the specialty dishes of the holiday.
       
      A bit of background on me and where I am.  I'm Elizabeth; I'm 33 years old and since the last foodblog I've ceased to be a Canadian expat in Ecuador, and become a full-fledged Ecuadorian citizen.  I run a catering bakery out of Ambato, and I deliver to clients on the entire mainland.  I've got a large customer base in nearby Baños de Agua Santa, a hot-springs town about an hour downslope of me to the east; I'll be visiting it on Wednesday with close to 100 kg of baked goods for delivery.  Ambato, the capital of Tungurahua province, is located almost exactly in the geographic centre of Ecuador.  It's at an average elevation of 2,850 meters above sea level (slightly higher than Quito, the capital) - but this is measured in the downtown central park, which is significantly lower than most of the rest of the city, which extends up the sides of the river valley and onto the high plain above.  We've got what amounts to eternal late springtime weather, with two well-marked rainy seasons.  Ambato has about 300,000 people in its metro area; it's the fourth largest city in the country.  But maybe the most important thing about Ambato, especially to foodies, is that it's a transport hub for the country.  Anything travelling just about anywhere has to pass through Ambato on the way; it gives us the largest, best-stocked food market in South America.  I have simply staggering variety at my fingertips.
       

       
      This view, which was a teaser for the blog, was taken from my rooftop terrazzo.  It is a fraction of the panorama of the river valley that I see every morning, and since Easter is traditionally somewhat miserable weather-wise, the clouds stick to the hilltops.  The barrio you can see in the middle distance is Ficoa, one of the most luxury districts in the city.  Ambato is notable amongst Ecuadorian cities for having small fruit farms (300-500 m2) still operating within city limits and even within its most established barrios - it's from this that the Ambato gets one of its two sobriquets: The City of Fruits and Flowers.  The tendency for even the poorest barrios to take tremendous pride in their greenspaces gives the other: The Garden City.  My barrio, Miraflores Alto, is a working-class mixture of professors and labourers, and my neighbours keep a mixture of chickens, turkeys, and ducks in their yards; someone down the hill has a cow that I frequently hear but have never seen.  Consequently, if the season is right I can buy duck eggs from my neighbours (and if the season is wrong, entire Muscovy ducks for roasting.)
       

       
      Today, I'll be doing my largest fresh-food shopping at the Mercado Mayorista, the largest market of its kind in South America - this place covers nearly 30 square blocks, and it exists to both buy and sell produce from across the country.  Sundays and Mondays it also opens up to a huge, raucous farmer's market where smaller quantities are available for purchase.  Sunday is the day of the freshest food and the largest number of vendors.  And I'm going to cross more than half the city to get there - I've moved since the last blog, and my new house, on the slopes of the river valley is further away than the old one on the high plain.  I promise to take many pictures of this - particularly close to the High Holy days, the Mayorista is alive with vendors and there will be special sections cordoned off for sales of bacalao, truly enormous squashes, and if it follows the previous years' trends, a festival of Hornado (about which more later).  Apart from mangoes, which are just finishing up their season, it is harvest time across the country, and the Mayorista will be well stocked with all manner of fruits and vegetables.
       

       
      To start us off, I'll demystify one of my teasers a bit.
       

       
      The Minion head that peeks out of my cupboard every day belongs to my jar of ChocoListo, the Ecuadorian equivalent of chocolate Ovaltine.  Since I gave up coffee for Lent, it's my go-to morning beverage.  ChocoListo normally comes in the plain white jar with orange lid that you see in front of the Minion; that's now my hot chocolate jar because I just couldn't resist when the company came out with the specialty jars.  I firmly believe that one is never too old to have whimsical things!
       

    • By therese
      Good morning, y’all, and welcome to the party chez Therese.
      As per the teaser, this week’s foodblog does indeed come to you from Atlanta, where I live with my two children (hereafter known as Girl and Boy) and husband (hereafter known as The Man). Girl is 11, Boy is 14, and The Man is old enough to know better.
      Atlanta’s huge: the total metro population is about 4 million, and there are no physical boundaries to growth like rivers or mountain ranges, so people just keep moving (and commuting) farther and farther out of town. Atlantans can be divided into ITP (inside the perimeter) and OTP (outside the perimeter), the perimeter referring to the interstate freeway that encircles the downtown area and surrounding neighborhoods, separating it from outlying suburbs. The politically minded may note that these areas could be designated red and blue. I’ll let you figure out which is which.
      We’re about as ITP as it gets, with home, work, school, and restaurants all in walking distance. The neighborhood’s called Druid Hills, the setting for the play/movie “Driving Miss Daisy”. The houses date from the 1920s, and because Atlanta has so little in the way of “old” buildings the neighborhood’s on the National Register as a Historic District. Charming, sure, buts lots of the houses need some updating, and ours (purchased in 1996) was no exception. So we remodeled last year, including an addition with a new kitchen, and this week’s blog will look at the finished product.
      So, some encouragement for those of you presently involved in kitchen renovation, some ideas for those who are considering it.
      But never mind all that for the moment: What’s for breakfast?


      Dutch babies, that’s what. And even better, these Dutch babies are produced by my children, the aforementioned Girl and Boy. The first picture is right from the oven, the second is after the somewhat messy job of sifting powdered sugar on top. They are delicious (the Dutch babies, I mean, not the children) and a great weekend treat.

      The Man drinks coffee in the morning whereas I prefer tea. He's not up yet, having played poker last night. I'm hoping he makes it out of bed in time for dinner.

      I also eat fruit whereas he prefers, well, anything but fruit. This is not such a bad thing, as it means that I don’t have to share the fruit. Pomegranates are a pain to eat, but not so bad if you’re reading the newspaper at the same time. This one’s from California, but you can also grow them here if you’ve got enough sunshine (which I don’t).
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