Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween! ...and a Scone

Happy Halloween!

Today is the first year in recent memory that I am not partying hearty on All Hallow's Eve. My friends and I usually cause trouble and make mischief for Halloween, either at someone's house or in a (groan) bar.

Either I've gotten old, or I'm very low energy because of my post-cleanse dietary restrictions (still sticking under 1,100 calories per day, trying to stay away from red meat, sugar, and anything overly processed). I had no desire to figure out a costume or drink. I haven't had a drink in a few weeks, and I don't think I could handle any liquor right now.

So I decided to retreat back into the kitchen (sorry ... more food!) and bake like crazy. My mother had asked me to bake something for the Sunday early-morning prayer group that meets at 6:00 IN THE MORNING every Sunday. They usually eat something store-bought, like pound cake or muffins or Danishes. Wouldn't home-baked be better?? I would hope so.

I opted to bake two different types of scones. I love scones, my dad loves scones, and my mom loves butter. Win-win!

I made a very basic sweet scone with dried cranberries and candied ginger (leftover from the banana bread of last weekend) and then decided to be adventurous with the other scone. I had read Smitten Kitchen's post about jalapeno-cheddar scones and decided that I must try them. I love jalapeno-cheddar bagels, so how could the scone version be bad?

They weren't. They are delicious and amazing, though a touch too sweet for me. I was also temped to double the amount of jalapenos and resisted the temptation, though I think that twice the jalapenos would be delicious now that I've tried the original recipe.

I also learned after baking that I need to mince the cheddar, not dice it. The dice yielded rather large pieces of cheese which melted into (delicious, crispy) gobs on the (thankfully) non-stick silicone mats I used. I wouldn't use shredded cheddar for this, I don't think it would work well. I used a very sharp cheddar and I loved it. I don't think I would buy a beautiful cheese for this, since you can't really tell what the cheese is, but I'm going to try doing half-cheddar and half-aged Gouda the next time I bake this (which will be soon, as my parents inhaled the one scone we all shared).

Jalapenos are a staple in my family's house in both fresh and pickled forms. It explains why we are not phased by the spiciness of them. If you're sensitive to spice or didn't grow up in a Korean household, maybe try one pepper first as a test (Smitten Kitchen tried just one pepper and couldn't taste the heat at all).

Jalapeño-Cheddar Scones
Adapted Peter Oleyer at Calexico Carne Asada in Brooklyn, via NYMag and via Smitten Kitchen

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons cold butter, diced
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 eggs, divided
1/4 pound sharp Cheddar cheese, minced
2 small jalapeños, minced

Preheat oven to 400°F.

In a small skillet, melt 1/2 tablespoon of butter and sauté the jalapeños in it until soft, about two minutes. Let them cool, then place them in a small bowl with the cheddar cheese and coat them with one tablespoon of the flour.

Combine the remaining flour with the baking powder and salt. Cut in the remaining butter with a pastry blender, fork or two knives, until the butter bits are pea sized. I used my fingers to squeeze the flour into the butter. Work quickly, since the butter really shouldn't melt.

Lightly whip two of the eggs and cream and add to the flour-butter mixture. Using a wooden spoon, fold mixture until it begins to come together. Add the cheddar-jalapeño mixture to the dough and mix until everything is incorporated.

Turn out the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead gently for less than one minute. I think I kneaded for about 20 seconds, or just until combined. Pat dough out into an 8-inch cake pan, then turn out onto a floured surface and cut into 8 wedges.

Make an egg wash by beating the remaining egg with a teaspoon of water. Brush the scones with egg wash and place on a parchment-lined (or well-oiled) baking sheet. I lined my baking sheet with a Silpat.

Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown. I baked mine for 15 minutes, turned the baking sheet, then baked for another 10 minutes.

Mmmm, cheese crisps! So delicious, those little bits of melted cheese. The Silpat prevents the cheese from sticking to anything, and you end up with these lovely little crackers made entirely of cheeeese.

I ate them, of course. Don't be silly, I'm not going to throw them away!

Cool the scones. And try not to devour them right that second, though you will want to. Melted cheese gets MUCH hotter than hot dough. I love cheese so much that I've been scalded on flaming hot cheese several times. Patience is truly a virtue when it comes to baked goods.

Delicious. Just a hint of the peppers, lots of kick from the cheese, and the sweetness of the dough- a great combination, and definitely my new favorite scone.

I also made a batch of macarons today. Dismal, epic failure. I don't even want to talk about it, other than to say that I think my nervousness got the best of me- I'm nervous of anything involving whipped egg whites and pastry bags.

I'm going to conquer macarons- perhaps next weekend. On the upside, I made ganache and it was (still is) beautiful.

For now, I'm listening to the neighbors having a raucous party in which everyone is singing "Thriller" while the bunny is trying to escape from his extremely large pen, badly behaved animal that he is.

Great Halloween.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Egg 밥 (Egg Rice)

Whenever I think back on a particularly eccentric aunt that I have, I always recall one dish. This aunt, though I call her 이모 ('eemo,' which means 'sister of my mother'), is not my mother's sister. She is my mother's friend.

My beloved 이모 has always been something of a character. I don't remember a time in my life when I didn't know her, because I was introduced to her when I was about four or five.

I mentioned this very briefly in a list, let me reiterate: I was astonishingly shy all though my childhood. 이모 knows this very well and she's told me that she's amazed at how I've managed to not become a recluse. This is because she is one of the feistiest people I've ever met, and if you've ever met your share of Korean women, that's saying something.

The things I remember about her that still hold true today:

- The poodle perm. The ubiquitous 아줌마 (ajumma*) hairdo that she totally rocks.
- Designer purses and shoes. The woman loves her some Chanel and Louis Vuitton- no knock-offs here, the real deal only.
- Mauve-fuschia-purple-red-pink lipstick. I can't even tell you what color it is. Though she varies it up, all her lipsticks are cut from the same eye-searing cloth. She reapplies her lipstick more frequently in one sitting than I do in a month.
- She calls my sister and me "강아지," which means "puppy." She does this because she loves us, not because she's calling us dogs.
- Flavored coffee creamer, about a gallon per teaspoon of actual coffee. She prefers Coffemate's French Vanilla right now and stocks up with about three or four bottles at a time.
- She adores orchids but has trouble keeping them alive. I buy her a potted orchid pretty much every time I see her.
- Egg rice (egg 밥).

What is egg rice, you ask? Well, first of all, even in Korean, we say "egg 밥" (pronounced "eggu bap") instead of "계란 밥," which would literally translate to "egg rice."

Second of all, I'm going off on a tangent- "rice" is "rice" in English. In Korean, though, uncooked rice is called 쌀 (ssal) and cooked rice is called 밥 (bab or bap, but more accurately, bhap), which is also the same word used for "food." As in, "let's get some food." Confused yet? I read somewhere years ago that many countries use the same word for "food" as they do for their main carb, be it rice or bread. This is definitely true in Korea.

Third of all, though egg 밥 is the easiest dish ever, it gives me more comfort than any bowl of chicken soup ever could. It brings my childhood and my family all back to me in a rush, as soon as I smell the sesame oil hit the hot rice and egg.

I'm pretty sure that every Korean family has their own variation of this. I think most people use raw (!) eggs. Our family's variation was very much inspired by my kooky 이모, but has been tailored and perfected by my sister and me over the past twenty years.

1 or 2 eggs
Oil for frying
Sesame oil, to taste
Soy sauce, to taste

Optional additions:
Toasted sesame seeds, whole or crushed
김 (toasted and salted laver)
고추장 (Korean red chili paste)

- Scoop some rice into a bowl.
- Fry the egg.
- Slide the egg onto the rice.
- Add sesame oil and soy sauce.
- Mix together, breaking the yolk into the rice and breaking the white into pieces, adding sesame seeds and/or red chili paste and/or laver (or the laver can be eaten alongside, wrapped around bites of the egg 밥).

The things that my sister does:

She fries her egg in quite a bit of oil and crisps up the edges of the white until brown and lacy, with the yolk still quite runny.
She likes crushed sesame seeds in her version- a lot of them.
She always eats hers with laver on the side.
She likes a higher proportion of sesame oil to soy sauce, making her version looser and more of a dish to eat with a spoon, rather than chopsticks (oil slicks the sticky rice prevalent in Korean cuisine and prevents them from sticking together).

The things that I do:

I like two eggs cooked over medium heat so the whites turn opaque but don't brown, and the yolks set about halfway. I have weird thing about really runny egg yolks- I can't eat them.
I like a higher proportion of soy sauce to sesame oil, making my version much thicker than my sister's, easy to eat with chopsticks and without a spoon.
I only rarely like crushed sesame seeds in my version.
I like laver and very fermented kimchi on the side.

My dad's the one who like red chili paste in his, though he'd rather also add every side dish in the refrigerator into his bowl, technically making it 비빔밥 (bibimbap, literally translates to "mixed rice").

There are endless variations, but the constants are always the rice, egg, sesame oil, and soy sauce. And never a raw egg- that would make me just about keel over.

I really don't know why the posts about food keep emerging from the hamster that occasionally sprints on a wheel in my brain, but I can't stop! I keep thinking about different things, like my volatile aunt, and somehow, my thoughts meander to food. Very strange, but I'm going where inspiration takes me, not writing assigned posts (wouldn't assignments make blogging so much easier??), so I guess I'll embrace my sudden food-obsessed streak.

Anyways, thanks, 이모, for showing me how to find comfort even when I'm not near my mother and her cooking. Anecdotes about her completely irrational behavior will have to come some other day.

* I don't even know how to describe what an 아줌마 (ajumma) is. She's a lady that is married and generally has children. To call a younger, single woman an 아줌마 would be insulting. To call a shopkeeper or restauranteur an 아줌마 is appropriate. To call someone familiar to you but not related to you an 아줌마 is a term of affection, and probably what I should be calling my 이모 were I not calling her 이모 (aunt), signifying that we are almost as close as family.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009


I've been in a state of deep and dopey drowsiness lately. I can't seem to help it. I sleep a lot, about eight hours a night, and my body refuses to wake up before those eight hours are up.

I have these spots on my body that ache as though bruised, but when I examine myself, I have no bruises. The small of my back, my shoulder blades, the sides of my arms and legs- all mysteriously tender, making me yelp when I brush up against a pillow.

I don't know if I'm getting sick or if this is the effect that coming off the Master Cleanse is having on me, but it ain't fun.

Contrary to what critics have written, I have not gone off the deep end and started eating everything in sight. I have remained a pretty good vegetarian (technically, an ovo-lacto-pescetarian) and not had any processed or overly-sugary food since coming off the cleanse. I even tried to stagger my way back into eating a normal amount of food:

Friday, 10/23 (the day after my last day on the cleanse): 335 calories
Saturday, 10/24: 638 calories
Sunday, 10/25: 594 calories
Monday, 10/26: 888 calories
Tuesday, 10/27: 1,056 calories

Okay, maybe I'm not very consistent in the amount of food I'm consuming (what happened on Saturday, for instance? Ate an obscene amount of pineapples, that's what- it was the first day I was active and running around and I couldn't help myself), but I'm getting there.

What with all the care that I am taking, I really don't understand the aching and the sleeping.

I'm going to attribute it all to the insane weather we've been having lately. I know that L.A.'s version of "insane" is pretty lame for people who live in "real" weather, but for us, it's been positively crazy! The wind was so strong yesterday that one of the palm trees at work collapsed. Got knocked over, right on top of one of the security buildings.

Not a typhoon, certainly, but we're delicate flowers out here and aren't at all used to the weather being mean to us. Boo wind.

I just realized that I've been working a lot more than usual, as well, and that's probably adding to my problems. It's sad that I don't realize that I'm working a lot until I stop to think about it, even though it's pitch black by the time I leave this building. I've been trying to leave by 9:00, and mostly succeeding (hooray! I think...?).

Halloween needs to come back some other time; I'm not ready for it yet. I don't want to celebrate it at all this year. I think I'll actually stay home and pass out candy to trick-or-treaters instead of getting dressed up and partying like a 20-year-old. I haven't had a drink in three weeks, I will not be able to handle Halloween liquor.

My mother and roommate have both reported that the weight lost during the cleanse is gained back, though not all of it, so I'm mentally preparing myself for the horror when I step on the scale this weekend. Halloween candy is most definitely OUT this year!


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips and Candied Ginger

After I had finished making chicken pho, cleaning the kitchen of all traces that I had ever made such a thing, I spied with my little eyes two bananas sitting on the counter. My mother makes lunch for my father every single blessed day, and the bananas were proof that, no matter how healthy they may be, he does not voluntarily eat them. He'll eat the banana that is packed into his lunch because he has to (or maybe he trades someone at work for an apple?), but doesn't just go about eating bananas at home.

Since it was the weekend and there would obviously be no eating of the bananas before they went bad, I decided that I was going to save the brown-skinned and neglected little fruits. I remembered hazily that I had read a recipe involving exactly two ripe medium bananas online, so I hunted down the recipe.

It was actually really easy- I had all the ingredients at hand except for chocolate chips, candied ginger, and walnuts. I ran off to Trader Joe's and returned with the supplies, then threw this bread (more like a cake) together and had the kitchen spotless once again before my parents got home from their dinner party.

Glenn's Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips and Candied Ginger
Adapted very slightly from Orangette

1 cup raw sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter at room temperature
2 ripe medium-sized bananas
3 tablespoons half-and-half
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped candied ginger
2/3 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a loaf pan with butter or cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, cream sugar, egg, and butter together. I did this by hand, because I couldn't find the electric beater (I have a sneaking suspicion that it is at my sister's house). The hand-mixing didn't hurt the final product, though it did hurt my entire right arm.

In a separate bowl, mash the bananas. Then mix in with the half-and-half. Easy, and supposed to be done by hand. Thank goodness.

In another bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and baking soda.

Stirring by hand,

Add 1/3 of the flour mixture into the butter mixture.

Then add 1/2 of the banana mixture into the butter mixture.

Then add 1/3 of the flour mixture into the butter mixture.

Then add 1/2 of the banana mixture into the butter mixture.

Then add the last 1/3 of the flour mixture into the butter mixture.

Stir in chocolate chips, walnuts, and candied ginger (which has been chopped into bits).

Turn out the batter into the previously greased loaf pan and smooth the top with the back of a spoon (or with the spatula, in my case- I already had too many bowls to wash, I didn't want to add even another spoon).

Bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (watch out for the melted chocolate, which will mess with this test). I rotated my bread once during baking just in case the oven had hot spots, but I'm a paranoid baker.

Allow the bread to cool for a few minutes, then remove from the pan and cool on a wire rack.

Slice and eat!

It's a lovely cake (cake, cake, CAKE, it's a cake!) that tastes like autumn and dessert and warmth.

I can imagine that it would be lovely with another banana added, as the ginger rather overpowers the two measly fruits, or with less ginger. I'm loathe to reduce the amount of ginger, though, because my family is full of spicy people that like spicy food.

Maybe a pinch of cinnamon and a tiny bit of nutmeg to make this even more autumnal, but it's pretty amazing just as it is.

One other quibble- I would use mini chocolate chips, as the regular-sized ones melted into big spots of oozy goo. I don't mind that in a cookie, but I want my cakes to stay together! I would also go for dark chocolate, but I couldn't find any and ended up with semi-sweet.

I'll try to stop posting about food now. But no promises.


Country Livin'

Have you seen this website? The Pioneer Woman's website, that is. It amazes me to no end.

I have always had this dream of being a simple country girl in a simple cotton frock with a simple gingham apron on, making a simple apple pie. Of course, this does not fit in with the Korean idea of what the country is. I would have to be blonde and blue-eyed in my version of the simple country life, which I am most decidedly not. And I'm not the simple country type, really. I love the city, and I am used to the city. It runs through my blood so deeply that I can't even feel it- it's just a part of me.

So I know that I cannot do what the Pioneer Woman (Ree Drummond) has done: give up city life, marry a rancher, homeschool the kids, and survive on a cattle ranch, feeding cowboys and being the woman of the ranch. Oddly enough, she was a bona fide L.A. girl before moving out yonder, and claims that she never thought she had it in her to become a rancher's wife. Maybe that's why I relate to her, and I feel like she could be one of my girlfriends, had any of us ever met a rancher and decided to give up tapas bars and Hollywood clubs in exchange for calves and educating our own children.

Anyways. Just a link I wanted to share because I cannot stop reading!


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Chicken Phở (월남국수)

**edit again, 11/7: I have just typed out all instructions in Korean, too. With my mother. It was a fun-filled time, really! All the laughing with inadvertently hilarious mistakes that I made? Awesome.**

**edit: I have just typed out all the ingredients in Korean. If they're wrong, let me know so I can fix 'em. It's exhausting trying to remember the mother language, let me tell you!**

Whenever I need a break from ... well, everything, I pack up and drive 30 miles southeast to my parents' house. Yesterday night, I felt like I needed to get away from it all, so I showed up at my parents' doorstep, pineapple juice and two laptops in hand. Because I am a workaholic, even when I am taking a break.

The thoughts of the Daring Kitchen had been on my mind constantly since I first posted about it, so I told my mom last night that Saturday would be a pho-filled adventure. She and my father both love pho, while I only like it when I really want it (about once every two months).

Today, after a breakfast of nonfat plain yogurt and a small dollop of black cherry confit, we set off to the chaos that is the Chinese market. Between the crazy Chinese women, the crazy Vietnamese women, the crazy Korean women, the crazy Thai women, and their collective inability to drive, it was a white-knuckle parking lot excursion.

We got back home safely, supplies all snuggled in my car. After my mom had a sandwich from Lee's Sandwiches, of course. (The vegetarian, for the record.)

Then I set about making pho, something I was scared of, but hey! Turns out that it's easy! And I liked the process!

Chicken Phở [월남국수]
Slightly adapted from Jaden Hair's recipe

Serves 4 [4 인분]
Total preparation time: 30 minutes (if using white meat chicken), 1 hour (if using dark meat chicken) [준비 시간: 30 - 60 분]

= For the broth [육수]:
2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds [2스푼 고수풀 씨]
4 whole cloves [4 정향]
2 whole star anise [2 스타 아니스]
1 1/2 quarts chicken stock [1 1/2리터 닭고기국물]
1 chicken leg and thigh [1 닭 다리, 허벅지]
1/2 onion, cut in three chunks [1/2 양파]
3-inch chunk of ginger, julienned [7.5cm 얇게 썬 생강]
6 cloves of garlic, sliced [6 얇게 썬 마늘]
1 tablespoon sugar [1스푼 설탕]
2 tablespoons fish sauce [2스푼 액젓]

= Noodles & accompaniments [국수, 양념]:

1 pound pho noodles (rice noodles) [.5 kg 월남국수, 쌀 국수]
Basil, washed [바질]
Bean sprouts, washed [숙주나물]
Lime wedges [레몬, 라임]
Chili or jalapeno, thinly sliced [얇게 썬 고추]

The coriander seeds, cloves, and star anise, measured out. The French and the foodies call this mise en place, I call this a photo op:

Toast the spices until fragrant, about 3 - 4 minutes. I believe I toasted the suckers for about 4, but they started smelling lovely a bit sooner. I shook the pan around and then cut up the onion and threw out the grocery bags. I'm all about multi-tasking.

고수풀 씨, 정향, 스타 아니스를 향이 날 때까지 3-4 분 동안 팬에 볶는다.

Half an onion, the ginger, and the chicken. The original recipe calls for a chicken breast, but my father likes dark meat, so we bought what he eats. Women serving the man of the house again, of course! We only used the larger piece of ginger, didn't use the smaller piece to the right.

Though the original recipe calls for the onion half to stay whole and asks that the ginger be sliced and then smashed with the side of the knife, I thought that the more surface area that is exposed to the broth, the better. So my mother, with her superior knife skills, julienned the ginger and sliced the garlic. The original recipe does not ask for garlic. But I'm Korean. I can't help myself.

Everything gets thrown in the pot and boiled. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to simmer until chicken cooks (20 minutes for white meat, 40 minutes for dark meat). Being stupid, I forgot that I used dark meat chicken, which takes much longer to cook than white meat. So I simmered for 20 minutes, per the original recipe, and the chicken wasn't cooked through. Back in the chicken went, for about 20 more minutes.

육수의 재료를 모두 냄비에 넣고 끓인다 (가슴살은 20분 정도, 허벅지살은 40분 정도).

The broth after the chicken's been removed. Mmm, oil. I drained the portions of the broth that were eaten today with a coffee liner inside a sieve. The rest of the broth, I boiled a bit more and am now cooling, so the fat congeals and I can easily take it out.

고기가 완전히 익으면 고기는 건져 놓고, 육수의 양념을 체로 걸러내고, 육수 위에 있는 기름도 걸러낸다.

The accompaniments- mung bean sprouts, basil, and lime wedges. There was also Sriracha sauce for my father. He wanted Hoisin sauce, too, but I couldn't find it (my mom found it later and told me where it was for tomorrow's breakfast).

My mother's version, with bean sprouts and tons of basil and one wedge of lime. She likes the vegetables.

국수를 삶아 그릇에 담고, 육수를 붓고, 숙주나물, 바질, 라임과 멕시칸 고추를 취향에 따라 넣고, 매운 소스나 호이신 소스를 적당히 넣고 맛있게 먹는다!

My father's version, with tons of bean sprouts, not so much basil, and a liberal dousing of Sriracha sauce. He also likes thinly sliced jalapenos, but I forgot to slice some up until he was almost done eating. Oops.

Seriously, this pho was easy (less than an hour, including clean-up) and really, REALLY good. I'm not Vietnamese, obviously, so I couldn't tell you if it's authentic, but it tasted exactly like the pho we get in the several restaurants that we go to.

I don't know why it took us so long to try making pho- we probably thought it was like seollongtang (설렁탕), which is insanely annoying for the home cook to make.

Read the original recipe on the Daring Kitchen to see what else I changed, because I'm lazy and forgot what else I disobeyed, but I tried not to veer too far away. I'm very good at following instructions for baking- really, I am. But I am terrible at following a recipe for a savory dish. Korean cooking is all about touch, feel, taste, smell, and appearance, not about measurements, so I'm used to that method. I can't break the habit!

I was told that pho is usually a breakfast dish in Vietnam, so my parents are having the rest of this batch for breakfast tomorrow. With Hoisin sauce and sliced jalapeno, of course. Oh, I also undercooked the noodles. I like all my pastas very, very al dente, and my parents like their pastas cooked until dead, beyond al dente. Oops!

I didn't eat any- no complex foods for me still: yogurt, cherry confit, pineapple juice, and tofu is as far as I'm going today.

I'm so excited that this worked! I'm going to try cooking and baking all kinds of recipes now- hopefully they're all as successful as this one was.

(And no, I was not tempted to eat while cooking. First of all, that raw chicken totally skeeved me out. I am not a huge fan of chicken, and raw chicken makes me a little nauseous. Second of all, I felt full just off the smells from the toasting spices, the broth, and the basil.)

Hooray cooking! And baking!


MC, Day 11

No, no, I'm not still doing the cleanse.

I'm now weaning myself off the cleanse and onto regular food! Hooray!

Today (technically, yesterday- Friday) was all about pineapple juice. I had pineapple juice and pineapple, and that's it. And I feel great (it's a bit past 1:00 a.m. here). I had more energy, I wasn't as cold, and things seemed "normal" for me. Except for the thing where I was at work for just about twelve hours, but that's beside the point.

I weighed myself today, using the same scale as I did on Day 5, and I've lost 7 pounds. So in 10 days, 22 pounds have gone away. The average weight lost per day is supposed to be 2 pounds, so this is pretty much normal. I was not prepared for most of the weight to come off in the first five days, but that's okay, I can accept it.

Tomorrow, I'm seriously going to eat something other than pineapples (though I do dearly love them). Yogurt in the morning and whatever sort of soup I can figure out for lunch. There are errands to be run and things to do, so I'll need some extra pep.

I'm seriously thinking about doing this again in a while, probably just after Thanksgiving. I'll give it some thought and see how I adjust back into the wide world of food, then go from there. I want to observe how quickly my body goes back to craving and eating junk food- weigh the pros and cons again in a couple weeks before I make any hasty plans.

Meanwhile, there is a very cute bunny that is hopping madly about and he needs some love.


Friday, October 23, 2009

Link: Komushin (고무신)

I love this website, especially the page with pictures that have doodles on them. So cute!

Narcissus, reinvented as a French fry:

The dried jujubes on the right are saying, "Oh, this feels so refreshing!" while the poor little yellow thing (I want to say it's a clove of garlic, but it looks smoother and rounder than garlic!) on the left is muttering, "It's hot as hell, hmph!"

I also really love the website's name. Komushin, or gomusin or gomushin, is pronounced "go-moo-sh-een," without the 'w' sound that the word 'sheen' has in it.

Gomu (고무) literally means rubber.
Shin (신) literally means shoe.

Cute, no?

I loved wearing these shoes as a child because of their pointed toes. And I really loved the socks that went with the shoes, called beoseon (버선), because they were also pointed and usually decorated in ways that little girls love, with embroidery or flowers or tassels. I could pretend I was a little elf!

I have only ever worn white gomusins, but they make them in black, too.

Now I want Korean food and some pointy socks.


MC, Day 10

DAY 10!!

(Or, the Day That I Succeeded.)

I love accomplishing goals. Seriously, I do. I am a very strange and OCD person (who among us isn't, really?) and I like to know that I can accomplish things. I will make little checkboxes on my notebook for work and check things off, because it makes me feel satisfied.

Working in VFX is a big cycle of relaxation, panic, and finally, catharsis. But those cycles take a long time (I'm usually on a single movie for 6 - 9 months). I like little goals that I can tackle daily or weekly or monthly. Drink at least a liter of water a day. Check! Sort through my clothes and really throw out the ones I don't need. Check! Get to work by 9:00. Um ... working on it.

So yesterday, the whole day, I basked in my sense of fulfillment. I had finished something that I was very reluctant about and unsure of. I didn't think I would be able to do it when I had first started, but I did! It helped that I also was able to write a little function in Excel that made one of the producers love me forever, because I am a nerd like that. Mostly, it was about the final day of the cleanse.

I had decided, after the Disneyland fiasco, that pineapple juice was exactly what I needed and wanted. It was, in a word, perfect. It has some vitamins, plus it's enriched with Vitamin C so I don't get scurvy, it's delicious, and it is tart, similar enough to the lemonade I've been drinking for the past ten days that my body won't go into shock.

One thing that I did after I was really sick the week before this cleanse was to eat yogurt as soon as I felt better. I don't like sweetened yogurt, because I don't think it tastes like yogurt- it's congealed milkshake. (I also have a thing where I think oatmeal should be SALTY. Like rice porridge. So I eat plain oatmeal with salt or soy sauce, none of that brown sugar flavor for me, thanks.) Plain yogurt, specifically Fage, delicious Greek yogurt, is perfect. Though dairy is bad for someone who's been ill with some undetermined stomach ailment, yogurt has bacteria that is supposed to help. I ate the Fage (2%- full-fat yogurt is too rich for me). I never looked back.

So my very unscientific reasoning was that I could ease back into the real world with pineapple juice and yogurt for a day and then try soups.

At the end of Day 10 (yesterday), I went to the grocery store. I needed to buy some yogurt and some pineapple juice and a small can of pineapples. I worried for a moment that all the roasted chicken, pre-made cookies, chips, shrimp cocktail, and aisles and aisles of produce would make me a lunatic that bought everything in sight. I doubted my own willpower as I walked from my car into the air-conditioned haven of food.

Apparently, I should not doubt my own ability to resist temptation. I breezed past the bakery section, felt no pull towards the fried chicken, and walked past all the cheeses with just one backward glance. I found yogurt, pineapple juice, and a tiny Dole tin of crushed pineapples. Off I went.

Of course, I forgot to eat the yogurt and pineapples this morning. I'm not used to remembering that I have to eat! To make up for it, I had pineapple juice at work. And it was perfect- got me started but didn't get me too hyped up, and a couple hours later, I'm still happy.

I work very close to a Trader Joe's, so I'll probably go get some yogurt for lunch. I'll peruse to see if they have canned pineapples in juice (not syrup).

In reading the billions of food blogs that I've found in the past couple weeks, I came across The Daring Kitchen, which includes the Daring Bakers and the Daring Cooks. They have a challenge each month to bake/cook a specified recipe, as stated by the host, a different blogger every month. I kind of want to try it, but I'm scared. What if something comes up that I hate? What if they want me to cook (horror of horrors) mushrooms??

So October's Daring Cooks challenge is pho, a Vietnamese noodle and soup dish that my parents LOVE. I think I'll try it this weekend, while I'm at their house, and see what happens.

Did anyone ever want to see what the delightful lemonade medley looks like? I snapped a picture of the very time I had to make the stuff.

This was made with mostly limes and just a bit of lemon. I make two small glasses with everything but the water, then let them sit together overnight. I mostly do this because I hate those little floating bits of cayenne pepper, and I feel like maybe the acidity of the lemon/lime juice will help them dissolve into smaller specks. Then I pour each glass into a liter bottle and add water. Yum.

I was actually terrified this morning of eating. Outright fear. I'm so afraid that something bad will happen to me once I am re-introduced to food. It's very strange, and I hope I get over it in the next few days.

Thoughts about the Master Cleanse:


  • I've never been so aware of everything. My senses of smell and hearing, in particular, seem insanely sharp. Somehow, the way I see things is different. Colors are crisper, truer, and I'm more observant (I was already freakishly observant, so this may not have been a good thing).
  • Thriving on so little sleep is wonderful. It's like my day just got four hours longer, so I can do more stuff! Okay, do more useless stuff.
  • Saving time on anything food-related. Another two or three hours added to my day!
  • Best sleep of my life. It could be described as "deep slumber."
  • Noticeable improvement in respiration. I used to wake up with a stuffy nose every single morning that gradually dissipated throughout the day. No more stuffy nose!

  • Worst. Cramps. Ever.
  • Aching. My joints, back, legs all ached. Not too terrible, but not ideal.
  • Low energy. It's not that I was completely out of commission, but I wasn't eager to walk places that were two blocks away.
  • Constantly cold. Brrr.
So would I do it again? YES. I've read all kinds of stuff about this cleanse- t's not good for you, it doesn't provide enough vitamins, it's detrimental ... blah, blah, blah. I feel cleaner and somehow taller. I don't know if it's a placebo effect or what, but it does seem like toxins have been scared away and I am free to start with a fresh slate. I like it.

I am now on a quest to maintain and healthier lifestyle, particularly when it comes to food. The making of movies is known to breed terrible eating habits. Craft services is always full of junk food, from tarts and cookies to chocolate and gummy bears. We work late and end up shoveling crappy burritos or burgers down our throats. It's no wonder that so many people in this business are in such bad health- between working up to 16 hours a day and eating nothing but fried food, how can anyone stay healthy??

I'm going to try to break out of the horrible production-schedule slide towards high cholesterol and stay on solid footing with fresher foods, more packed lunches, and less of the greasy Chinese or over-buttered pasta that we get fed.

This is going to be even harder than the cleanse.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Overheard ...

Conversation with my concerned friend, after explaining the Master Cleanse:

Her: "So how long are you doing this??"
Me: "Ten days."
Her: "TEN DAYS?? Jeanny! I'm worried for you!"
Me: "People fast for longer than ten days! And they only drink water! Look at Gandhi!"
Her: "But you actually DO things!"
Me: "Like what? I don't exercise!"
Her: "You drive. And you work!"
Me: ".... That's not really doing anything physical."
Her: "Gandhi just sat there! He didn't have to do anything!"

Oh, the humanity. She thinks I'm going to die. Or faint.


Best Wedding Invitation!

It's been making the rounds on the internet, but I thought I'd post anyway. Such a cute wedding invitation! I love it. Click for a larger (legible) version.

I like the scroll idea, with the many different fonts. Very creative, even if it was a foot and a half long and probably was a pain in the neck to get printed!


MC, Day 9

I can't believe I'm on Day 10. Already. It actually feels like it's gone by in a flash.

Yesterday was the horrible, wretched, no-good awfulness that was Day 9.

This post, unfortunately, will include some talk about that time of the month. Boys, avert your gaze lest your eyeballs burn out of your skulls over such unmentionable talk.

Day 9 brought, along with the most uncomfortable period I've ever had, A PIMPLE. They go hand-in-hand, I know, but after enjoying and abusing my newly lovely and soft skin, it was a shocker to wake up to.

I have tried not to talk about any bodily functions because ... well, ew. I don't want to hear about them and I don't want to talk about them, no matter how relevant they are to the cleanse (they are). But this one bears typing, because HOLY CHEESES, the cramps. The cramps!

I've never been much of a cramper. I lucked out with my (almost always) iron-clad stomach and my lack of cramps. But yesterday. Oh, yesterday! I was literally doubled over in pain, clutching at my abdomen and trying not to squeak from the hot white daggers being stabbed into me, slowly and reflectively, by a completely maniacal sadist. It was THAT BAD. It made me want to promptly schedule a C-section for when/if I have babies. It made me want to never ever have babies. OW.

In giving up food, I had also decided, arrogantly, to give up all forms of medicine during this cleanse. My mother tells me (repeatedly. Some might call this 잔소리. Hi, Mom!) that I depend too much on drugs. I tell her that if I have a headache, what else am I supposed to do? I cannot take to my bed with a compress perched upon my head, I have work to do!

So to appease my mother and supposedly save my liver, no medication, no drinking, no nothing during this cleanse. My liver has been resting peacefully for the past week and a half, with nothing to do but yawn. Recuperating from the shoddy treatment over the past few years, no doubt.

Yesterday, in the face of such pain and horror, I caved. I took one Excedrin (I usually take two). I left work, went home, slapped on a heating pad (TheraCare is my new best friend), climbed into flannel pajamas, and with my steamy hot laptop perched on my lap for an extra boost of heat, I worked from home.

At some point, I realized I had a fever. The pain plus the fever equaled me wanting to throw up repeatedly. I am a stubborn, hard-headed girl, though, so I kept the nausea (and stomach bile) down and kept working. I believe this is what they call "being a workaholic."

The silver lining of this literal belly-aching yesterday was that when my roommate came home and began cooking and eating, I wanted nothing to do with it. I didn't even want to smell it, it was making me feel so ill.

The bad news: I only managed to drink about half a liter yesterday, and maybe a liter of water. Not enough fluids. I tried to force more down, but it just wasn't going to happen. It wasn't the lack of food that was bothering me yesterday, it was the hideous process that allows me to dwell, every month, on the fact that I have one less chance of having a kid. Oh, the fun!

Day 10 is fine so far. ThermaCare packages the type of heating pad that I bought in threes, so I threw one on at home and the pain has been manageable (so far) without any Excedrin. Hopefully I don't keel over from the pain later. If I don't post tomorrow, it will have something to do with this, undoubtedly.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

MC, Day 8

Well, I lost another one. My roommate has also quit the cleanse. I'm all alone now! (My roommate is in the kitchen right now, making about eighteen tons of vegan food. I think she's literally making every recipe that appealed to her from four or five cookbooks.)

Yesterday, Day 8, was fine. Normal, shall I say? Weird that this has become normal for me now.

I'm still afraid of the salt water flush (2 teaspoons of uniodized salt in a quart of warmish water, chugged first thing in the morning), so I have not tried it. I know, I'm wimping out. But it's scary, the idea of downing straight-up salt water. Ew.

Very oddly, I find this easier as more days pass. I don't know if that's typical, but I'm going to guess it's not, as everyone I was doing this with has stopped before the 10 days were up. So much for accountability partners!

It's been amazingly wonderful not having to think about what I'm going to eat, or what groceries I need to buy, or trying to remember what I have at home that's fit for human consumption. I come home and I don't have to cook- all I have to do is juice lemons or limes and I can get back to whatever I was doing (usually, working from home).

Oh, yesterday was also the first day that I used limes instead of lemons, because we ran out of lemons. I have to say, it tastes distinctly different. I prefer limes, actually- they are somehow not as astringent, but sweeter and mellower. I wish I had figured that out sooner.

I have begun planning what I need to make for Thanksgiving. Masochistic, I tell you- constantly thinking about food, though not craving it.

Traditionally, my family has all the typical American Thanksgiving food (turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, corn, rolls or cornbread, gravy, stuffing if anyone wants it, salad, two kinds of pie, and whatever else looks good in the store) as well as a variety of Korean food (kimchi (김치), glass noodles (잡채), spicy bean sprouts (콩나물), small tofu pancakes- a must! (두부전) and other types of small pancakes, plus whatever other side dishes (반찬) we decide we must have).

My mother, the stout-hearted, makes most of this giant spread. She's quite a cook, and I will have to one day document the making of all these dishes. She also makes a mean Coke-doused ham for Christmas and Easter... but I'm getting ahead of myself.

My sister always makes the mashed potatoes (with about eight pounds of butter) and gravy and some sort of dessert, which changes yearly. I think she made red velvet cake balls last year- balls of cake doused in a layer of chocolate, really delicious cold, straight from the fridge, with a glass of milk. She mentioned adding macaroni and cheese to her contributions this year, which would be great- more butter AND eight pounds of cheese. Mmm.

I always make green beans, because I am very particular about the way I like them (snappy and not overcooked), and the pies. There are always two types of pies because my sister loves (LOVES) pumpkin pie and hates pecan pie, while my parents really love pecan pie ... and pumpkin pie. I generally also fry up the tofu pancakes (두부전) after my mother mixes up the batter, because I have the patience to sit in front of a giant electric griddle and fry for an hour.

So the reason I have been trolling the internet for recipes is (not just because of my cleanse-induced self-torment but also) because of my newly ambitious goal of making my own pie crust this year. I have been a lazy baker and used refrigerated pie dough until now, but I am feeling ambitious.

Martha Stewart, don't fail me.

Meanwhile, I think I'll make a practice pie or two. Test out my dough-making prowess. I'm sure I'll be able to find someone to eat the pies.

I'll post about my cleanse progress as well as my potentially disastrous pie dough experiments.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

MC, Day 7

**edit: recipe was modified 10/21. Because I'm stupid.**

So! Consistently getting a really great seven hours of sleep, which I am very happy about. Tongue is still lovely and chalky, but it's not like it's hindering me from, you know, tasting anything.

I'm getting used to being cold all the time, but that doesn't mean I like it. I really dislike it, actually. I used to be able to regulate my body temperature a lot better than this, and not being able to control my own body is a frustrating experience.

Work has also been a tad on the obnoxious side lately, what with the longer hours and the fact that it's gray when I come into work, and I don't leave the building until I go home at night (no need to go out to lunch, after all), when it's pitch black. I don't enjoy being out in the sun, as I am very pale and burn easily, but I do need the sun because it makes me believe (falsely) that I have many hours left until the end of the day. Of course, when you leave work at 8:00 or later, it's a moot point anyway- the sun's long gone. Sigh.

I don't know if I've already mentioned this, because as usual, my brain is a bit floofy right now, but I've changed my recipe for the dreaded grog (original here at the bottom of the page):

Modified Spicy Lemonade
- 1 liter purified water
- 7 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup, Grade B if you can get it
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
, plus another pinch
[I previously said it was 1/8 teaspoon, but glanced down at the measuring spoon as I made my batch of yummy concoction and DUDE it was 1/4 teaspoon.]

The reduction of the maple syrup (from 7 to 3 tablespoons) and the extra bit of cayenne pepper make this much easier to drink for me. And reducing the maple syrup is perfectly legal.

However! The first day that I tried my new and improved recipe, I found that I was a little light-headed. I assume that this is because all the calories in the lemonade come from the maple syrup, and I was basically cutting my daily caloric intake by 57%. You know, from 350 calories to 150 calories. I was feasting before this drastic cut!

On the whole skin front, I did something stupid on the Day 6 and went to bed without taking my makeup off. I was exhausted and lethargic, sue me. I woke up yesterday with dread, but my face was fine. Better, even! Ah, lemonade, perhaps you are of some use after all.

I've eliminated peppermint tea as of Day 4- I don't crave something different anymore. I kept thinking through Days 5 through 7 that I would drink tea again, but I haven't. I am not sure why that is.

Time for meetings, reviews, notes, hundreds of e-mails, and walking past our craft services area. Those mini bags of Swedish Fish are calling out to me...


Monday, October 19, 2009

MC, Day 7 (In Progress)

It's Day 7, y'all.

Along with my loss of cohesive thought, I have become Southern. Perhaps because I am craving buttermilk biscuits? Also craving ham and mac-and-cheese and still, persistently, kale. Strange, yes.

I'm about halfway through the day, thankfully, which means that just another half until I get to rest my fuzzy brain on my pillow and sink into blissful sleep. Sleep is a great replacement for food, I've found, but my body is still indignant and won't let me sleep as much as I would like to.

Last night, I got a solid seven hours of sleep, which is much more than I've been eking out in the past few days. And those seven hours? Really great, amazing sleep. I woke up so rested and so perfectly alert that I was scandalized, thinking that I'd gone throughout the previous portion of my life never having experienced true wakefulness in the morning. Which is probably true, for I am not a morning person AT ALL. Well, that's not true- I really love 4 or 5 in the morning, when everything's dewy and quiet, but I only like it if I've been up the entire night leading up to sunrise. I can't wake up that early; that's obscene.

My stomach has stopped growling, for the most part, and has gone back to being content with lemonade and water. I forgot to write about this, but I've managed to drink two liters of the sainted brew for the past two days. It's tough and I have to force down the last pint or so (why aren't Americans on the metric system yet??), but I can do it.

I'm planning (to take over the world!) my ease out of this cleanse, because I feel that without a meticulous schedule to follow, I will eat whatever I want, be it complex carbohydrates, chocolate, ice cream, steak, or a stick of butter. That would be disaster, since my system won't be able to handle any such nonsense.

With the success of Dole's splendid pineapple juice still in my mind, I'm thinking of starting with juices (100% juice only- I will juice my own fruits if need be, or subsist solely on pineapple juice) and thin, clear broths. My mother said to start with "vegetable juice," which is basically boiled vegetables, or what I think that vegetable broth would taste like if it were made without any herbs or seasonings. It could be good. It could be bad. It could be meh.

My mother and sister have both eased out of the cleanse with minimal fuss. The day after my sister's announcement of her cease-and-desist, she was eating French fries (very few of them) and clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl. No issues.

(By the way, my sister lasted for five days and lost ten pounds. I've lost more weight, but it's because I had more to lose- the sister is back to being a svelte 'size 2 is a little loose on her' shape.)

At work, and I'm still cold whenever I'm here. Brr.

Also, I've noticed that I am more fidgety than I used to be. One of my feet will tap up-and-down at a rather frenetic pace for a long while before I realize and still myself. I would think that I'd get slower, what with the lack of energy, but my body wants to burn even more energy doing something completely useless.

Can't wait for the joy that will be pineapple juice on Day 11...


Sunday, October 18, 2009

MC, Day 6

I only have a few minutes left in Day 6, so I figured it was safe to post a recap of this day.

The newest addition to my list of odd new behaviors I have: gurgling stomach.

This is probably due to the fact that I ate food yesterday. My stomach got used to have something solid in it for a change and is heartily protesting today that it has only been filled with the heinous lemonade that it is sick and tired of. Well, too bad, stomach! Deal with it just a while longer!

No changes otherwise. If it weren't for Growly-McGrowlerson over here, I wouldn't even feel like I had done anything different yesterday.

I am so sore from the miles that I hoofed all over Mickey Mouse's lairs yesterday that I am walking a little funny. My hips feel like rusted hinges. Oof.

Korean people are funny, and here's one more reason why:

It is considered a very desirable trait in Korean women to have small faces. Yes, I said faces. Not waists or hands or feet, but faces. I find this funny because I have a rather large noggin (thanks a lot, Dad). Because of the aforementioned skull of mine, I will never have a small face.

At church today, some of the ladies told me that my face looked smaller. They meant this as a compliment, not that I was shriveling like a prune or anything. One lady asked me if I was sick, telling me that I didn't look well.

On one hand, I'm really glad that the 15-pound loss is visible. On the other hand, I certainly don't want to look like I'm ill!

I am choosing to go to bed early tonight (around midnight!) in the hopes that my body will allow me to sleep for more than five or six hours (please please please).

Strangely, I am overwhelmed with the desire to cook and bake and make candies. Not to eat, but just to make. This is an odd sensation, but then again, I'm getting used to having strange new sensations overtake me every other day.

Update on the condition of my skin: I stared long and hard at my face in the mirror (brightly lit and magnifying, horror of horrors) and noticed that my pores are smaller and my face seems softer. Not necessarily smoother, but at least it's softer! Here's hoping that the improvements keep on coming...

Officially over the halfway point! Hopefully it's a breeze from here on out!


MC, Day 5

Day 5, a.k.a. The Day I Fell Off the Wagon.

Sigh. Where to begin with Day 5 (Saturday, yesterday)?

My dear friend that moved up to San Francisco earlier this year told me that she was flying down for an impromptu weekend in L.A. I'm pretty sure that she was just sick of the foggy weather and wanted some of our 80-degree sunshine, but I'll take any excuse I can get to see her.

I didn't go to sleep until past 3:00 a.m. because I was seriously not tired (I watched "Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay," which was funnier than expected- it helps that I love Neil Patrick Harris). I thought I was going to wake up just before my friend landed and jump in my car to go get her, but I woke up at 7:30 without prompting, and couldn't go back to sleep. I wasn't tired, I didn't have trouble getting out of bed, I was just awake.

The friend landed at 10:00, I picked her up and brought her back to my house, explaining the Master Cleanse to her. We sat on the couch and caught up for a while and left the house around 12:30 to go to Disneyland (we're both Disneyland freaks).

We got into the park around 1:30. The park was insanely crowded and it was about 90 degrees outside. After the first couple rides, having walked around a quarter of the park, I started feeling dizzy. Never in my mind have I ever felt like I was going to faint ... until yesterday, standing in the hot, hot sun, my stomach full of nothing but water.

If you've never been to Disneyland, you will not know the campy joyfulness that is the Tiki Lounge, full of singing animatronic birds, flowers, and tikis. Seriously, it's amazing. The best part about it is that there is a little stand outside that sells Dole pineapple spears, juice, and whip (like frozen yogurt).

My friend wanted a Dole whip float, which we always get every time we go to Disneyland. I figured that since Dole juice is 100% pineapples, it would give my blood sugar the boost that it needed. Cleanse begone, I would rather not faint at Disneyland!

About ten minutes after I had the juice, I perked right up. It was like magic. My dizziness abated, my nausea disappeared, and I stopped breaking out into cold sweats. It was the best decision I've made on this cleanse, even if I was cheating.

After the juice, I knew that I would crash again, and I would need something else in the evening, depending on how long we stayed at Disneyland. Sure enough, after going from Disneyland to California Adventure, then going back to Disneyland, then going back to California Adventure (we're insane), I felt myself start to grow faint again.

It was dinnertime by that point, and my friend, plus my sister and her boyfriend, were all famished. We stayed in California Adventure near the "San Francisco" area so the sister could have clam chowder in a Boudin breadbowl. I milled around- my choices were pretty limited. I decided on edamame from Lucky Fortune, which is the closest that I would get to any sort of pure food.

Well, the edamame was a good idea. Got me back in business. The chunk of sourdough Boudin bread ... so delicious, not such a good idea. Luckily, I didn't have enough to form a heavy lump of dough in my confused stomach, so I felt fine.

I felt like I ate so much yesterday, but it was really just pineapple juice, edamame, and the equivalent of a small slice of sourdough bread. That's just a snack to most people! I decided not to feel guilty about it, because I didn't go overboard and I didn't eat something insanely processed or full of artificial flavors or chemicals. (I actually felt good this morning, albeit sore from all the trekking through Disneyland and California Adventure yesterday.)

So, I'm on Day 6 and it's going well as of right now (4:15 p.m.). Two things:

1. Skin
William asked if the cleanse would make my skin better. Days 1 and 2, no. My skin was worse. My mother claims this is because all the toxins need to leave my body before the benefits can be seen, so I suffered through. And wow, she's right! My skin is better, clearer and softer. Hopefully this continues!

2. Weight
My scale at home is broken. I would probably be maniacal about weighing myself every day, so that might actually be a good thing. Because of the broken scale problem, I only get to weigh myself once a week, at my parents' house. Weighed myself this morning ... I have lost 15 pounds. In five days. Holy. Crap. Even if it is water weight and mostly whatever was lingering in my digestive system, that's a lot.

I'll report back tomorrow, of course. The weight loss has really made me feel much better about the lack of food (well, except yesterday!) and is a great motivator.

In the meantime, off to see the friend for a little while longer before I take her to the airport so she can go home to fog and rain!


MC, Day 4

Day 4 was on Friday. I'm behind on updates, for reasons that will become obvious in the Day 5 post.

Day 4 was rough because I was freezing cold the entire day. It was also the day that I started to become incoherent- I would hear myself say something, and I would think, "Hmm, that didn't make sense," but I couldn't bring myself to either care or think hard enough to fix whatever I had said.

This, I believe, was because I was finally starting to burn my body fat off, so my body was using all its energy to physically do what I had to do, and there was no spare fuel left to power my brain cells.

The lethargic feeling that Day 3 had brought eased somewhat, which was nice, but in exchange, I got a backache that was akin to a persistent headache. My joints (I sound so old) and my back protested all day long, kind of a slow, burning ache rather than a sharp pain. It was tolerable, but annoying.

Day 4 was also the first day that I really missed caffeine. I've been amazed that my sudden decrease in caffeine intake had not affected me until the fourth day. I didn't even miss the caffeine, I missed the taste of coffee. It wasn't too bad; a mug of peppermint tea made the thoughts of coffee recede pretty quickly.

The whole sleeping less thing seems to be a gradual development- I slept even less than on Day 3 but didn't feel that droopy exhaustion that too-little sleep brings.

I did everything I needed to do to go about my day, and other than the aches, a perfectly fine day.


Friday, October 16, 2009

MC, Day 3

Yesterday was a cinch. I think Day 2 was perhaps my hardest day, so Day 3 decided to treat me well. (Although today, so far ... not fun.)

I have to mention something completely gross. Please skip the next paragraph if you don't like reading about bodily functions:

Imagine, if you will, what lemon juice (yellow), maple syrup (brown), and cayenne pepper (red) would look like when combined with water. Orange-y, kind of a mai tai color. That is exactly what your urine will look like should you ever do this Master Cleanse. Disconcerting, that.

I'm getting better with the fatigue, though I'm constantly cold. I'm wearing a cashmere sweater today and I'm still cold. And it's 80+ degrees outside! I think the rain on Monday and Tuesday made it just that much harder to accept this disturbing and sudden second bout of summer weather.

One effect of this cleanse that I really am enjoying is the ability to sleep less and feel more rested. It's paradoxical, because I started awake at 7:00 this morning and was not able to go back to sleep (I usually wake up at 8:00 ... or ... hmm ... 8:30), but once at work, my body begins slowing down and craving hibernation. Wouldn't it make more sense for my body to sleep more and then be more alert throughout the day?? I have a sneaking suspicion that this may also have to do with the fact that my house is warmer than my office, meaning that I don't have to expend any energy to heat my own body at home, but I do (in spades) at work. I ain't got that energy to spare no more!

The tongue is still chalky pink. I think the lemon juice must coat the tongue or something. Or I'm just slowly dying, either one.

I managed to drink about 1 1/3 liters yesterday, and am probably going to end up drinking 1 2/3 liters today, so I hope that I'm up to 2 liters by tomorrow.

Perhaps this is just delirium and 3 1/2 days of starvation talking, but I think that I'm going to go vegetarian for about a week or two after this cleanse. I have to wean myself off of this on juices and thin broths for a while, so I might as well try to keep myself healthy by very slowly introducing meat back into my diet. This, of course, will probably be redacted the second I see a steak. Or a can of Spam.

I am an omnivore by nature, heavy on the carnivore, ever since I was a wee young child, and I've never wanted to be a vegetarian. This is the first time that I actually feel like maybe it would be good, maybe I could even enjoy it.

The oddest craving so far: kale. Specifically, I want an Indian curry with a tomato base that has kale, garbanzo beans, and tofu in it. I've made it before (only with meat in it) and it is really delicious. I'm generally a fan of Korean curry, which is just like Japanese curry except that it tends to be less sweet and more spicy. This craving of Indian curry is puzzling. Kale, I understand. I love kale.

Hopefully I am soon able to maintain my body temperature and don't catch pneumonia.

My sister sent me this fascinating website by Dr. Michael Lam. I skimmed a few different articles, but it was really the blood-type diet that sucked me in. He specifies what each blood type can and cannot eat, and for what reasons. It was eerie how spot-on he was, for the most part, about what my sister (Type A) and I (Type B) should/shouldn't eat, because the specifics almost exactly line up to our natural preferences.

The sister, by the way, is going off the cleanse after today, her fifth day. After detoxing with juices and such for a day or so, she'll go on a health kick and eat what's good for her (and her blood type). This cleanse, it's really not for everyone.

As I trudge through until next Thursday, I'm plotting my future meals with glee, awaiting my freedom with bated breath.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

MC, Day 2

Oh, cheese and crackers.

Yesterday, Day 2, was tougher than Day 1. Not because of the hunger, but because of the exhaustion.

I think that not eating combined with a spicy lemonade that (really effectively) cleans out your system will naturally lead to fatigue, because your body has no fuel going into it. It could not have helped at all that I only managed to finish 1 liter on Day 2. I thought perhaps my tolerance would grow as the days go on, so we'll see.

The most surprising side effect of this cleanse is not the lack of hunger, but the white tongue. My tongue. It has turned white. Not totally white, but a very chalky version of its formerly pink self. I don't quite know what to do about it ... white tongues aren't a sign of impending death, are they?

I have been having the most incredibly vivid dreams for the past two nights. People that I know are in these dreams, but more importantly, there is a crazy amount of food in my subconscious!

Day 2 ended with me going to bed ... and dreaming about eating. I ate one piece of penne pasta in my dream, with some cheesy dripping down it, and I promptly woke up feeling immensely guilty.

I dream-cheated on my cleanse!

Though I was told that the first three days are the toughest, I'm not faring too badly. I am achy and (no, not breaky) sore, though I'm not exercising. My mother tells me that this is the result of toxins leaving my body. Yeah, we'll see. Maybe it's my old age catching up to me.

I resisted the lovely cheeses in my fridge (I really, really miss cheese) and managed to stick to water last night. Day 2 concluded with happiness, though I left work past 9 p.m., as "Cougar Town" and "Glee" were both on the DVR, waiting to be devoured.

Hopefully it gets easier from now on, and I stop having technicolored foodie dreams.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

MC, Day 1

Blogging will be sparse for the next week and a half. By "sparse," I mean it will be pretty boring.

First of all, I have a trailer to work on, and that means more hours than usual spent at work.

Second of all, it's raining! I love the rain, probably because I never get to see it, and this is the first rain of the season (of the two seasons that L.A. has). I really love driving in the rain, because I'm a total nutjob (LA people, by the way, cannot drive in a sprinkle to save their lives. The news last night literally had a whole "STORMWATCH 2009" segment). There's something soothing about driving in the rain to me, as long as I am not around the people that can't drive in weather.

Third of all, I am too busy reading recipes to blog.

I think that warrants a bit of an explanation.

Last week was hellish for me because, for the first time in my entire life, I could not eat. For five days. FIVE. DAYS. I think it was food poisoning. The first couple days, I threw up everything that I ingested (gross, I know). It hurt. I hate puking, which is why I am eternally grateful for my lovely father's amazing drinking genes (and Teflon-coated liver) that he has passed along to his children.

Then I made cautious forays back into food with jook (죽), better known as congee. Basically oatmeal for us yellow people, made of rice rather than oats. My loving mother made me a giant batch, because jook is only really good when your mommy makes it for you, and this is what I subsisted on for the following four days. Jook plus gim (김), seaweed (nori) that has been toasted and then brushed with sesame oil and sprinkled with salt, is my idea of get-well-soon food. Sort of chicken noodle soup for the Korean soul.

Having grown up on Korean food, I am pretty much immune to garlic, ginger, onion, and any of the other foodstuffs that most people consider "smelly" or "oh, God, how do you eat that??" I have no qualms about eating oddly colored food or fermented vegetables. I generally have an iron-clad stomach, another reason to thank my dad. My mother and sister have much more delicate constitutions and can be laid up by a single meal that slightly disagreed with them, but my father and I don't have such problems.

I have been spoiled for 27 years by my mom's cooking and my dad's digestive system, so I didn't know what it felt like to be restricted and limited in what I could eat. I've never had to think about what I was going to eat, other than to plan what kind of food I wanted. I have no allergies, no sensitivities, and unlike most Asians, I am not lactose intolerant. Such a blissful existence.

This all changed last week, when I learned what it felt like to be crippled by my stomach. My stomach, which had always been a (sometimes too) good friend to me. Fickle body parts! If this is what getting old feels like, I want none of it!

I recovered by Thursday night and was able to go to dinner with friends on Friday night. I even felt well enough to test my body by having Korean barbecue and soju while singing. I know, I was tempting fate, wasn't I? Just asking for a relapse!

Luckily, I woke early Saturday morning and felt great. I think the soju helped.

Sunday, my sister bounced up to me and told me that we (Mom, she, and I) are all going to do the Master Cleanse. Um, what?

I had heard about this strange thing before. I had witnessed my friends doing it. My current roommate has gone through the experience a couple times. And I never once felt like I should participate.

My sister bought her supplies (lemons, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper) while I mulled. I spent Monday gorging myself on food, because COME ON, it was only the third day I'd been able to eat! I went to the store after work and picked up the supplies, then trekked home (to a face that I really didn't want to see, but that's a whole other post).

My roommate saw what I had bought and immediately told me how great the Cleanse was and how she would do it with me. I need all the accountability partners I can get, so we hopped to and concocted the brew. She also had the book (really more of a pamphlet) by Stanley Burroughs, so I read it. And though the book is full of typos and archaic wording, Burroughs totally sold me on his particular brand of crazy.

If this heals me of whatever I had last week so I don't need to go through that again, then I will do this twice a year and praise Burroughs, though I suspect he was a misogynist and racist (he published his book in the 1950's, I think it's a given that he hated women and non-whites). If it gives me better skin, I will do this three times a year. Not that my skin is bad, because it's not- I'd just prefer better skin.

Since I was busy stuffing my face on Monday, my cleanse started yesterday- Day 1.

It was fine, I was not as hungry as I thought I'd be. The lemonade concoction is kind of unpalatable, because I don't really like maple syrup and I'm not a huge fan of the little specks of cayenne pepper waiting to get lodged in my esophagus, but it's decent. Certainly not disgusting or anything.

The only problem yesterday was that I could not, for the life of me, drink two liters of the lemonade. It's really difficult to get down a single liter, which I just barely managed.

As per the book, other than the lemony moonshine, I allowed myself only water and peppermint tea, which never tasted so good. After what is basically spicy lemonade, peppermint tea is like manna from Heaven.

A very weird and masochistic side-effect of this cleanse is that I cannot stop reading recipes. Food blogs are my new best friends. My typical blogroll is more about news (I am a BBC and NPR junkie), but that's all changed now. It's so weird how I know that I cannot go and make whatever dish I'm reading about ... but it's somehow satisfying to know how to make it. Because that knowledge of making a salmon souffle? It will totally come in handy one day. Very odd.

My sister's been having the same problem- we like to see, read about, even smell food. It's gratifying despite the fact that we can't eat it. I was watching TV (the oddly compelling "So You Think You Can Dance," courtesy of the roommate, which I had never watched before, but it's sucking me in) and even though we were fast-forwarding through the commercials (DVR, how I love thee), we could still see whatever food was being advertised. I was like, "ick," and she was like, "I MISS FOOD."

Maybe it's just a strange quirk that my sister and I share? This bizarre masochistic streak that I never even knew we had? Things to ponder as the days go on.

Here's the recipe for the lemonade, should anyone want it. You're supposed to drink two liters a day, so double the recipe below. I broke it down because I'm using 1-liter bottles (thanks, SmartWater!), since lugging around a big ol' 2-liter bottle would depress me.

Spicy Lemonade
- 1 liter purified water, lukewarm (I am using filtered alkaline water, thanks to my parents' awesome water filtration system that lets you specify what pH level you want)
- 7 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (I was tempted to add pulp so I could chew something ... just barely refrained)
- 7 tablespoons pure maple syrup, Grade B if you can get it (I use less, as I don 't like it)
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

I am going to try to stay on this for ten days, which would be a nice goal to achieve. We'll see how it goes from here.

Day 2 is almost at a close ... but I'll write about it tomorrow, after I go home (almost 9:00 and still at work!) and resist the temptations offered in the refrigerator (I just bought two amazing cheeses a week and a half ago- a five-year-old smoked Gouda and a sharp, creamy aged cheddar that is basted in butter every day for the first month of its life. GAH).

There's also a salt-water flush that I have not done yet, because it terrifies me. When I'm in a more zen place, I will describe the terror and the method. Hopefully, I'll actually do it around Day 4 or 5.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Books, Books, Books!

I am so amazed by Nina Sankovitch. She's doing a sort of Julie Powell, but more specific. Whereas Julie Powell had the rather loose (but immensely ambitious) goal of cooking through Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" in a year, Nina Sankovitch's goal is very, very specific: Read one book every single day. No repeats- each author only once, no books previously read before the year started.

I thought perhaps she was reading Sweet Valley High books, or some other such inane dribble that wouldn't require much thought, but no. She's reading some intense books, some very long books, some literary classics- a bit of everything.

I wish that I had the time to commit to a project like this. I love books with a passion that I have for very few things. Something about the paper, the serif-y font crawling across the pages, the smell of the binding glue ... it's magic between a front and back cover, with a spine holding it all together.

I know that I knock my profession a lot, but here's another sound wallop: Books convey more than movies ever could. Books can and often do encompass all five senses. The description of tastes and flavors, the prose used to describe scents, the words dedicated to the feel and textures of things- none of these can ever be properly captured on film.

People (ahem, students) often cheat and watch the movie version of a book that they are supposed to read. It is never the same, and unless that person is some whiz kid, they will never get the same impressions from the movie that they would have from the book.

Two words: Harry. Potter.

I just finished "Life Expectancy," by Dean Koontz. I don't generally like Dean Koontz books, but it was sitting on the bookshelf, courtesy of my roommate, so I picked it up.

I devoured that book whole. Well, in two gulps- it took me two nights to finish it. I have a job and (sort of) a life, after all.

It was much better than I thought it would be. It was an easy read, kept me engaged, and I enjoyed it. I don't know if I really enjoyed it because the last books I read were by William Gibson, and therefore made me go through a mini-existential crisis after every other chapter, or if I just legitimately liked the book, but I'm willing to accept either scenario.

When I read a book, regardless of whether or not I liked it, the thing rattles around in my head for a few days, or even for a few weeks, depending on how memorable the book was. "Geek Love," for example, still catches me off-guard every so often. I find my thoughts wandering back towards Oly ... and invariably, where "Geek Love" goes, "Middlesex" follows.

I like these wanderings that my mind takes when I think of books. And I'm not above any type of book- it's true that I won't read those "Twilight" books because I am just vehemently opposed to the brouhaha surrounding those movies, but I loved all the "Harry Potter" books (some more than others) and I read fluffy beach books with no shame (Michael Crichton, Stephen King, Candace Bushnell, and Sophie Kinsella all fall under the "fluffy" category).

I also love biographies (not so much autobiographies, for some reason) and books about, of all things, wars. I appreciate the Bronte sisters but re-read "Ender's Game" with no compunction. I can read cookbooks the same way I read novels, and have very much the same reactions. I love children's books, like "Harold and the Purple Crayon," as much as I love Anne Frank.

All of the books, magazines, newspapers, pamphlets, blogs, articles, and cereal boxes that I have read throughout my life have contributed to who I am now. I am grateful that I loved reading and still love it, so that my brain can refer to all those words.

Nina Sankovitch must have a very zen focus or a very single-minded brain, because if I read an entire book every day, my mind would turn to mush and all I would do is draw and write all day long, to try to get the trapped ideas out of my cranium.

Her year is up at the end of this month, and I am so excited for her. She's been through a lot (read about it on her website) and she deserves the sense of accomplishment that I am sure she will have.

Now I'm off to find my next book. Or maybe I'll re-read a William Gibson book, since I've been thinking about "Spook Country" since I first typed his name...