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eG foodblog: Kim Shook - Dreams of an Everyday Housewife


Kim Shook
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Yes, it’s me – I’m amazed at how quickly I was ‘outed’; I’m awful at guessing!

The title is a bit of a misnomer. I am not a housewife, but wish I was. I always say that I was born in the wrong decade. My ultimate dream is to stay home and cook and take care of my home and family. Circumstances haven't allowed that very much in my life, but I still love doing all that stuff! Mr. Kim promises that I can retire in 3 years (but he's been saying that for at least 5 years....hmmm). We live in Richmond, VA with our daughter, Jessica who is back home after graduating from college last spring. The first teaser picture was of our summer house. I kid, I kid - it's the state capitol.

I cannot believe that I have to follow Chris. I feel especially grotty and slobby when I look at the pictures of his beautiful, bright, CLEAN kitchen. The things that normally show in my house aren't as clean and tidy as the stuff that normally doesn't in his! Please know that while I am messy and my floor might be questionable, I keep all surfaces and objects clean. I promise.

I've decided that my 'angle' for this blog is going to be new stuff. I am an incorrigible recipe/cookbook collector (hence, my second teaser picture). I have them stashed all over my house. Here are some in the island that Ted Fairhead made:

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In the last picture is also our ‘bar’, some storage and ‘my’ drinks (more anon regarding that).

I have a file drawer in the family room full of recipes that I’ve torn out from magazines and printed out from the internet:

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Here’s a shelf and a half in the living room:

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Upstairs in our bedroom, I have cookbooks under the TV:

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and beside the bed:

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Oh, crap, there’s some more:

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So for this week (at least for dinners) I will only cook new recipes that I have collected – some from my fellow eGulleteers. If we eat out, it will be at new restaurants I have wanted to try. In my files I have a 'Richmond restaurants to try' file stuffed full of newspaper/magazine articles and print outs of internet suggestions.

I'll tell you right now that, except for the weekend, breakfast will be boring. I am not a breakfast fan, so you're going to see a banana and a Special K bar or yogurt most days. I love breakfast food anytime of the day and if I can have it an hour or so after getting up, I do. But that doesn't happen on work days. Lunch is more varied. Sometimes I have leftovers and since I work in a doctor's office, we have drug company reps that sometimes bring us lunch. This week we are supposed to have lunch brought on Monday, but that’s all so far. I only have 30 minutes, so eating out doesn't happen very often.

One thing that you should know about me (some already know) is that I had a gastric bypass in 2003. I lost about 100 lbs. My before and afters:

Before:

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After:

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In the before picture, I am the large flowered object on the left (amazing amounts of self delusion were going on that day), my daughter is in the middle (she also had a gastric bypass and lost even more than I did) and my momma (Ted Fairhead's wife) is on the right. Ideally, I would like to lose another 40 lbs. and I am trying to lose another 20 right now. I am told that if my insurance company would just approve the skin removal, that would be 20 lbs. right there (which just skeeves me right out to even think about - the idea of 20 lbs. of SKIN <shudder>). I would never, ever recommend the operation to anyone else - that is a completely personal decision, but I haven't ever regretted doing it for one minute. I weighed almost 270 lbs. and was getting fatter every day. I had tried every diet in the world and couldn't seem to get a handle on my food intake. I was on diabetes, blood pressure and cholesterol meds. Except for cholesterol, all of that is gone now. Because I eat less now, there is a chance that I won’t get all the nutrients in my food, so I take a lot of supplements. Here is my daily dose:

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from left to right – flaxseed oil, multi-vitamin, calcium, vitamin E, vitamins A&D, low dose aspirin, Nexium and Lipitor. The Nexium is for acid – a common consequence of a little stomach and the Lipitor for cholesterol. My blood chemistry tests are always good now. I walk for exercise and feel good. I am 48 years old (49 in July), so I won’t ever be toned and buff, but I look good for my age and my former weight. Flab is ok - I just cover it up and Mr. Kim is a kind man! I eat so much less now that it is just unimaginable to think about the amounts of food that I used to consume. I can eat most any kind of food that I want - as long as I watch portions. There are only two things that really bother me - I can only eat a bite of steak or rice. Some days my tummy is fine. Other days, nothing seems to 'sit' well. Or something gets stuck in the little exit from my stomach. Bad days (which are not very frequent - once every few weeks) I live on cheese, pretzels and Tic Tacs (they settle my stomach without being overly sweet).

I hate my kitchen. Square footage-wise it seems pretty good, but I have terrible cabinet and counter space. The pantry is one of those pantry/laundry room things. The top shelves are almost impossible for me to get stuff down from even with a ladder. Thank goodness Mr. Kim is 6' tall! Ted Fairhead made me the island when we moved into the house:

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It adds much welcome storage, counter space, an eating place, etc. He does nice work, huh? Since I have such crappy storage space, we have stuff all over the house: Living room closet, attic, even under table skirts. It's insane - I try to keep a list on the computer of what is where, but I still lose stuff. I’ll post those pictures later.

Richmond has a pretty active food scene and some very good restaurants. We live out in the 'burbs - Glen Allen if anyone knows the area. My favorite area in Richmond is actually in town - the old neighborhoods known as the Fan, the Museum District and Carytown. You can read about them here. It is where VA Commonwealth University is located and where I lived while I was in college and right after we got married. It has a cool city feeling without being too raw-ly urban - very diverse as far as age, ethnicity and even economics. It was always our intent to move back there after Jessica graduated from high school, but they priced us right out of the market! So I live in suburbia and shop, eat and walk the city when I can. I'll probably get down there during the weekend and both the restaurants that we plan on going to this week are there, too.

So here I am - I am so nervous and scared that I will disappoint/bore y'all! Everyone who has ever done a blog, will, I'm sure recognize those fears! If anyone has any questions, please ask! My favorite blogs are the ones that are like conversations!

Mr. Kim’s two cents:

So, if Mrs. Mike is nervous and scared just writing about her food this week, imagine MY trepidation as I look ahead to trying to keep up with her this week. You should just TRY being the only person in the house WITHOUT a gastric bypass when Kim starts working her kitchen magic. I mean, someone has to eat what she can’t. So I wage a constant battle not to eat myself into a fleshy imitation of a Macy’s balloon.

Okay, battle may be too strong a word – I don’t resist Kim’s culinary wiles too vigorously. I am glad to be along for the ride this week, and based on the menu and Kim’s likely portion sizes, I look forward to a new wardrobe by the time she’s through blogging. Do they even MAKE grown up clothes in Size Husky?

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Good on you, Kim, for doing what you thought was best for your health!

Having corresponded with you acouple of times, I'm really looking forward to your blog - especially if you're going to be trying out new recipes!

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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Kim, you're on this week! Don't worry, there's a lot of us who look forward to seeing you blog. Especially after the great meals that you've been posting in the monstrous Dinner thread. I can't wait for this blog to develop. And like I said, don't wory, after half a dozen posts, you'll get a hang of it.

Doddie aka Domestic Goddess

"Nobody loves pork more than a Filipino"

eGFoodblog: Adobo and Fried Chicken in Korea

The dark side... my own blog: A Box of Jalapenos

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Mr. Kim’s two cents:

So, if Mrs. Mike is nervous and scared just writing about her food this week, imagine MY trepidation as I look ahead to trying to keep up with her this week. You should just TRY being the only person in the house WITHOUT a gastric bypass when Kim starts working her kitchen magic. I mean, someone has to eat what she can’t. So I wage a constant battle not to eat myself into a fleshy imitation of a Macy’s balloon.

Okay, battle may be too strong a word – I don’t resist Kim’s culinary wiles too vigorously. I am glad to be along for the ride this week, and based on the menu and Kim’s likely portion sizes, I look forward to a new wardrobe by the time she’s through blogging. Do they even MAKE grown up clothes in Size Husky?

I just went back and reread everything! I really like how nice Mr. Kim is and how much he enjoys your cooking! It is nice to be so supported! Good for Mr. Kim!! Now I am waiting to spend the week with your family!

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Are you sure that in one of your other lives, you aren't a college professor as well as/instead of an everyday housewife? Your love of literature (culinary division) rivals -- nay, exceeds -- that of any academic I've met, and I am familiar with the affliction, for my partner's one, and we're both voracious readers.

And speaking of literature, cooking and housekeeping, are either of Peg Bracken's proto-feminist classics of the early 1960s, the I Hate to Cook Book and its sequel, the I Hate to Housekeep Book (my mother had that one), in your collection? You might say that those books did as much as anything Betty Friedan or Germaine Greer wrote to advance the idea that women don't need to stay at home and pour all their energies into keeping a spotless house.

I visited Richmond in the mid-1980s, during which time we dined and hung out at bars in the Fan District. It really has a lot of vitality and funky urbanity, and I look forward to revisiting it. You should really throw in a shot of Monument Avenue for the non-Richmonders reading this blog too.

I guess your experience with weight and dieting goes well beyond what Ellen, Randi and I cataloged in our tag-team foodblog, and desperate times do indeed call for desperate measures. Glad to see that they are working for you. Welcome to the ranks of eG foodbloggers, and carry on; I'll be hanging on every word and picture.

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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Love your contributions to the Dinner thread, can't wait to enjoy this blog!

Edited to correct my "Loved your last blog" comment. Had it confused with another blog.

Edited by Kerry Beal (log)
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Hi Kim!!!

First off, you are a hottie!!! Congratulations on your weight loss.

I absolutely love your flowery wall paper. And, please don't be alarmed if you find me in a corner of your house somewhere reading cookbooks :raz:

Can't wait to read your blog this week!

P.S. Your house looks very clean--mine is clean until you see a tumbleweed of dog hair roll by :laugh:

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kim-

looking forwward to spending the week with you! i see i'm not alone with the

cookbooks-recipes-magazines-in-every-room thing. i also love your blog idea of "new" things.

ever best,

leslie

Leslie Crowell

it will all be fine in the end. if it isn't fine, it isn't the end.

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Loved your last blog, can't wait to enjoy this one!

She had another one? Where was I for that I wonder??

Yay, I was right!! I dont think I've ever been right before( guessing on the blogger, I'm always right at home!!)

Love all your cookbooks( and your online cookbook). I see you have Marcy Goldman's A Passion For Baking", thats my newest aquisition too. Have you baked anything from it?

Btw, I've seen other pics of you and you look great!!

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Thank you all for the wonderful welcome! And for the compliments - hearing I'm a 'hottie' is music to these almost 49 year old ears!

I just went back and reread everything! I really like how nice Mr. Kim is and how much he enjoys your cooking! It is nice to be so supported! Good for Mr. Kim!! Now I am waiting to spend the week with your family!

Mr. Kim is a treasure. He supports me in (almost) everything I try to achieve (he wouldn't go for chickens or bees when we lived in a more rural area :biggrin: ) and is willing to be my prep partner, dishwasher, editor and photographer this week - not to mention the object of my culinary endeavors at table 1 Chez Shook this week. Good or bad, he still eats it and when I am tired of it (I always make too much and hate leftovers), he takes it all to work and eats it for lunch every day!

Are you sure that in one of your other lives, you aren't a college professor as well as/instead of an everyday housewife?  Your love of literature (culinary division) rivals -- nay, exceeds -- that of any academic I've met, and I am familiar with the affliction, for my partner's one, and we're both voracious readers.

And speaking of literature, cooking and housekeeping, are either of Peg Bracken's proto-feminist classics of the early 1960s, the I Hate to Cook Book and its sequel, the I Hate to Housekeep Book (my mother had that one), in your collection?  You might say that those books did as much as anything Betty Friedan or Germaine Greer wrote to advance the idea that women don't need to stay at home and pour all their energies into keeping a spotless house.

I visited Richmond in the mid-1980s, during which time we dined and hung out at bars in the Fan District.  It really has a lot of vitality and funky urbanity, and I look forward to revisiting it.  You should really throw in a shot of Monument Avenue for the non-Richmonders reading this blog too.

I guess your experience with weight and dieting goes well beyond what Ellen, Randi and I cataloged in our tag-team foodblog, and desperate times do indeed call for desperate measures.  Glad to see that they are working for you.  Welcome to the ranks of eG foodbloggers, and carry on; I'll be hanging on every word and picture.

Sandy, I do love reading. I don't even have a particular genre that I stick to. I am all over the place, but my two favorites are mysteries (of the 'cozy' variety) and culinary and when they merge: BLISS! My favorite mysteries are the Agatha Christie types that take place in small villages - they are always having scones and strawberries and tea sandwiches. I have always been an Anglophile (Ted Fairhead - who posts here is my stepdad and is English - so that helped) and can remember as a kid absolutely craving tea sandwiches and trying to make my own without really knowing what I was doing. We are going to England in 2010 and I want afternoon tea every day :laugh: !

I have the I Hate to Cook Book somewhere around, but not the second one. Even though I love to cook, I loved her whole casual, cooking is a choice attidude. Because if she could choose NOT to cook, I could choose TO cook. As with a lot of issues, it's all about having a choice - not making one choice better than the other. Being such a throwback, I always felt a little embarrassed by my passion for domestic things - so you can imagine my joy when cooking became cool :cool: ! I was suddenly involved in something with cache! Back in college, when I baked my own bread, people thought I was some sort of hippie leftover (of course, being in acting school didn't help with that perception!). It's funny, but my mom, who is a born business woman always felt guilty for working and I always felt guilty for not being a real career woman and giving my daughter a role model!

If you come back to Richmond, please let me know - I'd love to meet you and talk!

Randi is right - this is my first blog, but I've done a couple of regional reports - NYC and DC. Practice!

Chris - I cannot believe that you are here bright and early after your herculian task in your blog last week. I expect to be comatose next Monday morning!

Ted - He was probably under my feet and therefore invisible until I tripped. Yes, that dern door is open again. Until I started taking so many pictures in my kitchen, I didn't realize that happened so much! This is what Ted's talking about:

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Charming, huh? Yep, we have a 'powder room' directly off our kitchen. Yet another thing that I hate about this room :angry: .

Dr. Teeth - there will definitely be pug pictures. He spends his life in hope in the kitchen, so there will be at least a couple. I might even manage to get an action shot of him eating :wink: !

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Kim, amazing story on the weight loss! I've always admired your dinner pictures, and now knowing that behind the scenes you've the surgery, I am even more amazed, I know several people that have fared well after the operation, but have had to drastically change their eating/drinking habits. Are you able to drink wine at all?

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Here’s a shelf and a half in the living room:

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YAAAAAY!! I hoped it would be you---You've been blazing quite a trail across the "Dinner" thread, and this ought to be one fine ride.

As to your cookbooks---I see so many familiar faces and titles, and would be right at home curled up with any of your volumes.

I DID notice the full collection of "Cooking with Nancy Drew" displayed on your shelves---I can't quite make out all the titles---there's The Secret of the Sous Vide andThe Mystery of the Melting Marshmallows and for sure, a rare first edition of The Dining Detective. My shelves exactly.

I'm so glad to finally SEE you!!! You and your home and kitchen are EXACTLY what I imagined.

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I dont normally comment a lot on posts, but I am so excited to see this blog? I had my gastric bypass in January of this year and so far am about 90 pounds down. I know the feeling of nothing working, thats why I eventually took the plunge too. Maybe I can get some fresh ideas from this blog. I am on the total protein and nothing else diet from hell till 75% of my excess weight is gone, so eagerly looking forward to you cooking!

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Kim, this is going to be a great week! And welcome to Mr. Kim too!

First off, congratulations on the weight loss. Some GB stories haven't come out as well as yours. I'm glad your is working so well and leaving you looking so terrific!

Second: I love love love the cookbook collection! I see a lot of overlap between my library and yours: lots of old friends there in your collection. Which do you most regularly use?

Finally (for now): with all my cookbooks and magazines, I keep seeing more recipes that I want to try than I have time or we have meals. There's always a stack of mags and books with little sticky notes in them, until I go on a cleaning binge and stuff them away, untried, for future efforts. How do you keep track of the "must-try" recipes as well as the "must-do-again" recipes? Have you hit on some wonderful cross-referencing system?

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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I feel your home! It looks so , so uhm, welcoming to come home to type of house/home- a place people live in and laugh and cry and gather. Definitely my type of home!! I love it's irregularities like a powder room off the kitchen. Send my regards to Mr. Kim!!

Well, we certainly live, laugh, cry and gather in it :laugh: ! We usually have 40-50 for Christmas dinner and this Easter with just 4 of us felt, honestly, a little lonely! And it has plenty of irregularities - like the family room used to be the garage and was made over by the original owner!

Kim, amazing story on the weight loss!  I've always admired your dinner pictures, and now knowing that behind the scenes you've the surgery, I am even more amazed, I know several people that have fared well after the operation, but have had to drastically change their eating/drinking habits.  Are you able to drink wine at all?

I can drink a little alcohol. I really have to watch it with anything carbonated - my pre-surgery favorite cocktail was a vodka tonic and now I can sip one all night long. I am the world's cheapest drunk. One full drink and I am fully buzzed and two and I'm dancing with sailors! Mr. Kim says its like partying with a 4 year old - drunk-sick-asleep all within 10 minutes :wink: !

YAAAAAY!!  I hoped it would be you---You've been blazing quite a trail across the "Dinner" thread, and this ought to be one fine ride.

As to your cookbooks---I see so many familiar faces and titles, and would be right at home curled up with any of your volumes.

I DID notice the full collection of "Cooking with Nancy Drew" displayed on your shelves---I can't quite make out all the titles---there's The Secret of the Sous Vide andThe Mystery of the Melting Marshmallows and for sure, a rare first edition of The Dining Detective.  My shelves exactly.

I'm so glad to finally SEE you!!!  You and your home and kitchen are EXACTLY what I imagined.

:laugh::laugh::laugh: Sweetie - I wondered if someone was going to notice those! I should have known it would be you! Among my mariad of collections is my children's and vintage teen lit collection. The editions don't have to be old, but the text does. I don't hold with modern Nancy's flitting around in some sportscar instead of a 'roadster' :biggrin: .

I can't imagine anything nicer than finding one of my eG buds curled up with one of my cookbooks :wub: !

I dont normally comment a lot on posts, but I am so excited to see this blog?  I had my gastric bypass in January of this year and so far am about 90 pounds down.  I know the feeling of nothing working, thats why I eventually took the plunge too.  Maybe I can get some fresh ideas from this blog.  I am on the total protein and nothing else diet from hell till 75% of my excess weight is gone, so eagerly looking forward to you cooking!

Welcome and congratulations - 90lbs. in 3 months is awesome! I hope you are feeling good. Any questions you have, please ask away - I'll be glad to answer them. And once the blog is over, please feel free to PM me with anything anytime! Also - I hope you'll comment more from now on - this is a great place, with wonderful people and to get involved and feel a part of things, you just have to dive in!

Kim, this is going to be a great week!  And welcome to Mr. Kim too!

First off, congratulations on the weight loss.  Some GB stories haven't come out as well as yours.  I'm glad your is working so well and leaving you looking so terrific!

Second: I love love love the cookbook collection!  I see a lot of overlap between my library and yours: lots of old friends there in your collection.  Which do you most regularly use?

Finally (for now): with all my cookbooks and magazines, I keep seeing more recipes that I want to try than I have time or we have meals.  There's always a stack of mags and books with little sticky notes in them, until I go on a cleaning binge and stuff them away, untried, for future efforts.  How do you keep track of the "must-try" recipes as well as the "must-do-again" recipes?  Have you hit on some wonderful cross-referencing system?

I love my cookbooks and have a hard time giving them up, even when I don't cook a thing from them. I use the old standbys like Joy of Cooking and Fannie Farmer and that sort for basic information rather than recipes. For recipes, I go to Heritage of Southern cooking and Simple Fare a lot. I especially love my Southern Living Annuals - I hardly am ever disappointed by them - you have to choose well with them, because there are lots of shortcut (in a bad way) recipes, but there is also lots of good, solid Southern cooking. When I get a cookbook or a magazine, before it goes in the bookshelves, I look through it and decide which recipes I would like to try. I write it down on a piece of paper that gets taped inside the front cover. Then, when I'm browsing, I can look just at the front to see what I liked. When I've tried the recipe and thought it worth saving - it goes in my online cookbook - you can access that from the link under my name. I also print out each recipe, so I've got it down on actual paper (did I explain that I'm nearly 49 and don't trust all this technology stuff? :biggrin: ) and keep those in binders in the island:

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I don't have some great cross-referencing system. Sometimes when I am looking for inspiration, I'll look in a magazine for the current month (but often for a long past year), or I'll just grab a magazine or book that doesn't have many recipes in it and just 'cook through'!

I am at the office right now and will be on my way home in a few minutes. I'll try to post my breakfast and lunch pictures then, before starting dinner!

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Kim, I was excited to see you were blogging. After reading that you live in Glen Allen, it got even better. DD#1 & her DH just moved from Rockville back to Glen Allen, which means I have to learn a new route to Short Pump Mall :laugh: (and the Asian market).

I'd live in the Richmond area in a heartbeat if I could talk DH into moving. There's so much to do there and the weather.... so much better than MI.

You also grabbed my attention as my 20 something niece had gastric bypass surgery about a year ago. She's lost a little over 100 pounds and is now playing ice hockey. Gotta luv it!

You look great & I'm so envious of your cookbook collection. Can't wait to read more and see where you're going to "take us".

Cheryl

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Wow! Love those cookbooks; I thought I might be the only one with the Southern Living habit... :blink::biggrin: I find that the powder room is the ideal place for the books with brief articles, I'm currently working on Cornbread Nation 1 a birthday gift from my son. This going to be such a great blog! Thanks, Kim and congratulations on the weight loss! Keep it goin'!

"Commit random acts of senseless kindness"

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      I live in Brooklyn with a lovely guy who likes to eat and a small corgi mix dog. I cook pretty much every night and do a nice brunch on the weekend. I am not a crazy dog lady, but I do admit to cooking food for the dog. I have an excuse, beyond doting, he had seizures that have stopped since not feeding him dog food.
      Foods I cook:
      Spicy foods! If you look at my blog I have a simple papaya ketchup with habanero that is pretty darn good.
      I love great cheese. This may be the week for Beer Cheese Soup.
      I try to limit carbs, though I do cheat.
      In any given week C. and I probably eat cauliflower, broccoli and green beans as a side.
      Tonight's dinner will be Vietnamese inspired. We'll see how it goes. I'll post about it as soon as I can.
      Any requests? Questions? I'd love to hear from you.
      -Grace
    • By Duvel
      In these challenging times, a full summer vacation is not an easy task. For the last 1.5 years we have been mostly at home with the clear plan to visit Catalonia (or more precise my wife’s family) latest this summer. And it looked good for a while. Unfortunately, the recent rise in case numbers in Spain have resulted in …
       
      OK, let’s skip this part. Long story short - my wife and me are fully vaccinated, as are >90% of the people we care about in Catalonia. After some discussion (after all, Germans tend to prefer to be on the safe side of things) we simply fueled up the car, got each a test (for the transit through France) and started to drive …
       
      After a leisurely 11h drive we arrived at a small fishing town somewhat north of Barcelona around 3.00am. We unloaded the car and my wife an the little one went straight to bed. 
       

       


      I found an expired beer in the elsewise pretty empty fridge and enjoyed the cool breeze on the terrace. Holidays, here we come …
       

    • By liuzhou
      Last week, Liuzhou government invited a number of diplomats from Laos, Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar/Burma, Poland, and Germany to visit the city and prefecture. They also invited me along. We spent Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday introducing the diplomats to the culture of the local ethnic groups and especially to their food culture.
       
      First off, we headed two hours north into the mountains of Rongshui Miao Autonomous County. The Miao people (苗族 miáo zú), who include the the Hmong, live in the mid-levels of mountains and are predominantly subsistence farmers. Our first port of call was the county town, also Rongshui (融水 róng shuǐ, literal meaning: Melt Water) where we were to have lunch. But before lunch we had to go meet some people and see their local crafts. These are people I know well from my frequent work trips to the area, but for the diplomats, it was all new.
       
      So, I had to wait for lunch, and I see no reason why you shouldn't either. Here are some of the people I live and work with.


       
      This lovely young woman is wearing the traditional costume of an unmarried girl. Many young women, including her, wear this every day, but most only on festive occasions.
       
      Her hat is made from silver (and is very heavy). Here is a closer look.
       

       
      Married women dispense with those gladrags and go for this look:
       

       
      As you can see she is weaving bamboo into a lantern cover.
       
      The men tend to go for this look, although I'm not sure that the Bluetooth earpiece for his cellphone is strictly traditional.
       

       
      The children don't get spared either
       

       
      This little girl is posing with the Malaysian Consul-General.
       
      After meeting these people we went on to visit a 芦笙 (lú shēng) workshop. The lusheng is a reed wind instrument and an important element in the Miao, Dong and Yao peoples' cultures.
       

       

       
      Then at last we headed to the restaurant, but as is their custom, in homes and restaurants, guests are barred from entering until they go through the ritual of the welcoming cup of home-brewed rice wine.
       


      The consular staff from Myanmar/Burma and Malaysia "unlock" the door.
       
      Then you have the ritual hand washing part.
       

       
      Having attended to your personal hygiene, but before  entering the dining room, there is one more ritual to go through. You arrive here and sit around this fire and wok full of some mysterious liquid on the boil.
       

       
      On a nearby table is this
       

       
      Puffed rice, soy beans, peanuts and scallion. These are ladled into bowls.
       

       
      with a little salt, and then drowned in the "tea" brewing in the wok.
       
      This is  油茶 (yóu chá) or Oil Tea. The tea is made from Tea Seed Oil which is made from the seeds of the camellia bush. This dish is used as a welcoming offering to guests in homes and restaurants. Proper etiquette suggests that three cups is a minimum, but they will keep refilling your cup until you stop drinking. First time I had it I really didn't like it, but I persevered and now look forward to it.
       

      L-R: Director of the Foreign Affairs Dept of Liuzhou government, consuls-general of Malaysia, Myanmar, Laos.
       
      Having partaken of the oil tea, finally we are allowed to enter the dining room, where two tables have been laid out for our use.
       

       
      Let the eating, finally, begin.
       
      In no particular order:
       

      Steamed corn, taro and sweet potato
       

      Bamboo Shoots
       

      Duck
       

      Banana leaf stuffed with sticky rice and mixed vegetables and steamed.
       

      Egg pancake with unidentified greenery
       

      Stir fried pork and beans
       

      Stir fried Chinese banana (Ensete lasiocarpum)
       

      Pig Ears
       

       
      This may not look like much, but was the star of the trip. Rice paddy fish, deep fried in camellia tree seed oil with wild mountain herbs. We ate this at every meal, cooked with slight variations, but never tired of it.
       

      Stir fried Greens
       
      Our meal was accompanied by the wait staff singing to us and serving home-made rice wine (sweetish and made from the local sticky rice).
       
       
       
       
      Everything we ate was grown or reared within half a kilometre of the restaurant and was all free-range, organic. And utterly delicious.
       
      Roll on dinner time.
       
      On the trip I was designated the unofficial official photographer and ended up taking 1227 photographs. I just got back last night and was busy today, so I will try to post the rest of the first day (and dinner) as soon as I can.
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