22 November 2005

Pie, Oh My!

I volunteered to bring the pies for Thanksgiving dinner. Chocolate, pumpkin, apple, and either a cranberry or lemon meringue. My mother, both her sisters, one of their husbands, and their mother are all diabetics. Despite all evidence to the contrary, I am not a horrible person and thus have always intended to bring pies suitable for diabetics. I'm using recipes from the Splenda website for the pumpkin ("'The Great Pumpkin' Pumpkin Pie") and apple ("Old Fashioned Apple Pie").

I made a test apple pie last week and everyone enjoyed it (not everyone knew it had Splenda in it). It tasted as apple pie ought to taste -- no grittiness or bitter aftertaste. I haven't tested the pumpkin recipe, but it seems basic and I don't expect any weirdness from it. The chocolate pie (Kraft's "Chocolate Ribbon Pie") is especially for The Husband and so is full of fat and sugar, because that's what he needs to survive holidays with his in-laws. That and lots of Coke. And the vague promise of future sexual gratification.

18 November 2005

Poop, There It Is

This isn't going to mean much to most readers of this blog (do I have any?), but I'm feeling grumpy and what else is a blog for?

I have had my ileostomy since 16 August 1998. I have an ileostomy, because I had a very bad case of ulcerative colitis that went undetected for too long. Maybe I shouldn't say undetected so much as undiagnosed. I knew there was something seriously wrong with me for quite a while, but being an over-achieving college student who lived in her head much more than her body I ignored my condition or wrote it off as stress, anxiety, poor diet, change in environment, and a whole lot of other rubbish.

Ultimately, I was hospitalized and my colon was removed. When I tell people about my surgery and my ostomy, they generally express such dismay and bafflement. Especially, as I'm usually pretty blasé about the whole thing and say something like "yep, they put me on the table and gutted me like a fish." Yes, so I go for the shock value instead of the tasteful or pitiable. It's more to the point than going on about being sick in a foreign country, dealing with the unfamiliar health care system, lying in bed for weeks, trying not to die on the flight home, looking like "an AIDS patient on the way out" (my dad sez) at the airport, talking to infectious diseases experts at the hospital, having some stupid heart doctor tell me my blood pressure's too high, undergoing batteries of tests and x-rays, swelling up from all the drugs, experiencing really scary mood swings. And then surgery. Surgery wasn't a big deal. It was, after all, the only solution. It also came with a post-op morphine drip, so it's not as if I was in the mood to mind.

Oh, sweet morphia!

From what I've read or heard from other ostomates, I feel I've had a fairly easy time with my ostomy. Oh, yes, it was pretty freaky in the beginning -- weird gurglings, frenetic output activity, inability to digest anything, gas, gas, gas, and (let's not forget) spontaneous leakage. Oh, and the fear I would never ever ever in a million years again have sex with the lights on. However, those are all standard "body adjusting to renovations" behaviors and went away fairly quickly. I also realized pretty fast that given a choice between being dead or being alive with ostomy, I could put up with being alive.

If anything, I believe having an ostomy has given me a much stronger sense of my physical body, what it wants, and how it works than I ever had before. Oh, god, before I would have rather died than take a shit in a restroom. I am certainly less shy about bodily functions and physical needs than I used to be. Shit doesn't mortify me, anymore, but it can still annoy me.

So why am I telling you all this?   Considering all the fucked up taboos and stupid jokes concerning body functions, I figured you should know that pooping into a bag is totally, boringly normal. So enough the colostomy jokes and body-shaming, already.

15 November 2005

Pity Poor Pumpkin

Surely, the third try is the charm? If only. I made the "Golden Pumpkin Corn Pudding" from DeeDee Stovel's Pumpkin: A Super Food for all 12 Months of the Year (Storey Publishing, 2005) for dinner today and while it was good, it did not taste of pumpkin. If it were not for the rather lovely shade of orange the pudding baked up as, I would think there was no pumpkin in this dish.

Also, while the recipe says this dish is best served warm, my taste buds preferred it piping hot. I let it sit for about twenty minutes on the kitchen side before sampling it the first time, and the texture was both gummy (the pumpkin batter) and chewy (the corn). After reheating in the microwave for thirty seconds, the pudding was less gummy and had a better overall flavor. However, it still needed a hefty dose of extra salt and pepper and I kept thinking it would have been a good idea to have mixed a little cheese into the batter.

Is it weird that I haven't tried the pumpkin pie recipes in this cookbook? I have several good pie recipes already and I don't want to screw around with what I think of as a sure thing. I can withstand gummy pudding, dry cake, and un-pumpkin-y pumpkin joes, but I might set my cookbook collection on fire if confronted with a bad pumpkin pie.

And I feel bad bitching about this cookbook, because I like this book very much. It is visually attractive, well organized, and quite informative. But the recipes are just not working out for me at all and it annoys me to no end. My mad cookery skillz are not all the l33t and it is possible that these dishes are disappointing because I sux0r, but I'm following the recipes exactly (and I'm not generally an exacting cook) so I don't know what I'm doing wrong except, perhaps, I have bad kitchen karma when it comes to advanced pumpkin cookery?

10 November 2005

Have Your Phone & Eat It Too! (Banana Phone)

When my parents were over last Saturday, my father made fun of the sorry state of our bananas and I said that I was planning on making banana bread. Because, you know, the idea is always there in the back of my head whenever I look at browning bananas and because there is something about having my mother in my house that makes me feel I need to prove my wifely skills (even though I know The Husband doesn't care about shit like that). So I said I was going to make banana bread and then, before I could stop myself, I found myself promising my father half the loaf. Gah.

Banana Bread IngredientsSo yesterday I made banana bread. The bananas had gone all dark and squishy and were right at the point where, if I didn't do something with them, fruit flies would start appearing. I used the recipe from Here in America's Test Kitchen (same book the cheesecake came from), but tweaked it a little bit.

The Husband had used nearly all the vanilla extract in the cheesecake, but I had not known that and use it so seldom I didn't think to check before I started the bread and so was a bit peeved to pick up the bottle and see a scant half teaspoon at the bottom! Instead of 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, I used ½ teaspoon vanilla and ½ teaspoon orange extract. Since I was using the orange, I also chose to add the cinnamon and nutmeg listed in the "orange-spice" variant of the recipe.

Also, because I was not being mindful, I nearly forgot to add the melted butter to the dough. I was pouring the dough into the loaf pan and thinking that the dough was rather thick when I espied the measuring cup of melted butter hiding behind the apple bowl. I dumped the dough back into the mixing bowl and worked the butter in. Happily, despite adding the butter at the wrong time, the bread came out just fine. Moist, but not doughy. Flavorful, but not overwhelmingly banana-ish or cinnamon-y. Excellent when smeared with a little maple butter and paired with a mug of tea.

04 November 2005

Dry Cake Is Not Good Cake

I made the "Pumpkin Bundt" from DeeDee Stovel's Pumpkin: A Super Food for all 12 Months of the Year (Storey Publishing, 2005) and brought it to work to test on the co-workers. While they are like scavenging dogs when it comes to sweets, this cake was a slow mover. While one was expecting a moist pumpkin-y cake, one instead bit into something very dry and vanilla-ish. What it needed, one of the supervisors suggested, was a dose of pumpkin flavoring. And, lo, we did discover upon searching the Internet that The Baker's Catalogue sells it in 1oz bottles for $5.50 each and we did count our search as a reference question, because we are that sort of librarian.

If I were to make another pumpkin bundt using this recipe, I would most definitely invest in the pumpkin flavoring and use it instead of the vanilla. Granted, when I added the vanilla to the dough, I did think that it was a lot of vanilla, but I'm not sure how strong the underlying pumpkin flavor would have been, anyway, as there was only a cup of pumpkin puree in the cake.

As for the dryness ... I know not. The wet to dry ratio seemed to lean toward the wet and I baked the cake exactly as directed.

So far, I am not impressed with this cookbook. It seemed so delightful when I brought it home, but neither of the recipes I have tested are turning out that great. Yes, the "punkin' joes" were good, but they lacked the punch of pumpkin I was hoping for. I shall just have to hope that the next recipe comes out better.

01 November 2005

Holy Savory Pumpkin, Batman!

Brought home a copy of DeeDee Stovel's Pumpkin: A Super Food for all 12 Months of the Year (Storey Publishing, 2005) last night, because there's nothing like Halloween to make me feel pumpkinish.

Even though it lacks photographs, it appears to be a really nice cookbook. Right now, I have riddled the library's copy with torn bits of post-its and it is extremely probable I will give up on photocopying the lot and just purchase my own copy. Much depends on how the first few recipes turn out.

For my first recipe, I made the "Punkin' Joes." I was really curious to see what a savory pumpkin dish would turn out like, but I didn't want to anything too complicated on my first go. Also, I figured, I could doctor the dish up with extra chili sauce or whathaveyou to drown out the pumpkin taste, if need be. Well, I need not have worried, because I could not taste the pumpkin at all. They were very nice joes, regardless, and even The Husband seemed to enjoy them (he did not know they were laden with pumpkin puree). I would definitely make them again.

(My only beef with the recipe is the call for an 8oz can of whole tomatoes. I have seen 14.5oz and 28oz cans, but never an 8oz one. I ended up measuring 8 ounces of tomato out on my kitchen scale and then used the excess tomato juice in place of the optional water).

Mmmm ... I think I'll try the "Pumpkin Bundt Cake" next.