Monday, October 29, 2012

cookin up a storm

I am currently ensconced in my basement listening to the wind howl(ish) outside. Relieved to have the day off and not have to drive in this, relieved to have the excellent company of my cat and boyfriend, relieved to be wrapped in my sister’s Snuggie she foolishly did not bring to college. Still have power, for now. It’s going soon, inevitability.

Anyway, obviously it’s been awhile, so here’s a nice update on my life, in the form of haiku!

We begin with stress. Stress begets somewhat atypical and not particularly virtuous food choices. 

roasted tomatoes
boxed macaroni and cheese
surprisingly good


plus from the freezer
ravioli and dumplings
Can you tell I love carbs?


Woke up one morning
only a grilled cheese sandwich
would gladden my heart


I put a leftover okra-tomato mix inside with the cheese. The tomato was great. The okra was not, with cheese. Live and learn. Took it out.


I was pushing the calcium for the week before my bone marrow donation because they gave me blood thinners they warned me could lower my calcium. So. Yogurt!


Injections that stim-
ulate blood stem cell growing
make you feel like crap

I discussed this in my last post. Man, being nauseous all day suuuuuuuuuuuuuucks. I have a new sympathy for pregnant women, and a continued desire to never become one myself.

Oooh, plain oatmeal with sliced banana I gagged down for breakfast!


My mom made me soup for dinner, which was very kind of her since the only thing more disgusting to me at the time than eating food was cooking food.


Then I took phenergen, which really never did that much for my stomach (awesome.) but was also difficult in that for it to be most effectively absorbed I had to take it two hours after eating or one hour before. With the schedule of meds I was on, it meant I would have to take it and then have a midnight snack. I called Steve and was generally sort of weeping weakly at the thought of food, and he recommended buttered noodles. Thank God for buttered noodles.


But enough of the griping, eh?

I made the donation. While I wouldn’t call it fun (when you wear a tourniquet for a few hours, you start to feel as if someone is stabbing you over and over in the arm), it was an amazing thing to be told that my bone marrow had produced 335 million new stem cells (!!!) and that they were going on an airplane to Europe that night (!!!) to be given to the recipient the following day.

I will hopefully receive an update on her condition 30 or 60 days after the donation. I think about her often.

Anyway, I got well! Slowly, and a little weirdly (the day after my donation I was awake for maybe five hours total; and the day after that, my first day back at work, I had Wendy’s for both breakfast and lunch- a surprisingly delicious egg sandwich with a REAL egg! and a baked potato- and then went to a bar with Steve to watch the Nationals heartbreakingly lose and had tater tots for dinner) but eventually, I was okay.

Back in fightin’ form
Charm City birthday weekend

Steve took me for a belated birthday weekend in Baltimore. We had an amazing time. No pictures!

Then my mom wanted to do something the week after to celebrate my birthday. I don’t think turning 24 is a big deal, but I agreed since she had a cake she’d won at a silent auction she had to claim. So we called it a “cake eating occasion'”, and it was actually really fun to hang with the fam.

And ohhhhhhhh the cake.

It was gorgeous (I had to freeze the rest due to lack of self-control, but kept a big ol’ slab in my fridge for a few more days). The remains of the beautiful writing and gold leaf dusting:


Awesomely dense cake
Then hazelnut mousse atop
Crunchy choco-shell


All that celebrating was fancy but expennnnnsive. So Steve and I took a vow not to eat out for a month. And lo and behold, I have had a BLAST actually COOKING again!

Afghani pumpkin
So rich! So sweet! You should try!
Recipe online 

God, SO delicious! Wonderfully sweet and tender pumpkin, perfectly seasoned; and the garlic-yogurt sauce on top perfectly balanced it out.

DSC01473 DSC01474

To accompany:

On a quest for naan
First recipe just okay
Set off smoke alarm


Kale chips ala Steve
Unphotogenic but great
Olive oil; soy sauce


Steve has also stepped it up- he made a wonderful improvised curried roasted sweet potato soup when I came over to his place.

Classy new backdrop
Steve’s new couch from Ikea!
Neutral; good lighting

DSC01487 DSC01489

Also from Ikea: the table I helped build. We used it for… POTLUCK!

It had been a lonnnnnng time since we did the potluck ritual. Frankly, it got to be a bit much for awhile. But after a break of, oh, 16 months, it seemed fun and exciting again. And great to get everyone together.

The following is a haiku in three separated lines.

Fab cheese and crackers…


…Two STRONG types of sangria…


…Identical lentils!


Patricia and I both made lentils. Hers involved coconut milk. Mine was inspired by a shockingly tasty spice packet I got at a fab new little Indian store I discovered.


Silly theme this time
Steve is reading Atlas Shrugged
Railroad shaped pizza


I told people that Steve wanted to make railroad-shaped food items inspired by his recent reading. I said that this could be interpreted as a theme of architectural food; book-inspired food; or right wing food.

Some people had fun with the right-winger theme.

We watched this ridiculous video.


And so, we reach the past few days, hunkered down anticipating the looming hurricane. Cooking up a storm.

We have winning naan!
Whole milk yogurt is the key
So fun to watch puff!

This recipe is great and foolproof! You keep the pan dry (I used a cast iron skillet, per the recipe’s recommendation) and put in the bread til it poofs.


Flip it and admire the brown/black speckles.


Cook just til the other side is done, then remove and smear with butter (Steve thoroughly enjoyed this assignment)


SO GOOD! Actually tasted like legit naan! Albeit whole wheat, health fiend that I am (though thanks, Mom, for accidentally buying the whole milk yogurt. That’s what MADE it!)


Yummy pockets!


Here we are Sandy
Fortified with comfort food
Edgy but well fed

A lunch for Steve and I, made in a cozy and still (for now) electrified kitchen.

Split pea soup and flatbreads with a variety of toppings.


All contain cheese. Clockwise from the top left: mango chutney, tiny garden tomato, za’atar, and artichoke tapenade.


And now I have a hurricane outside and six library books to read. Life could certainly be worse.

Monday, October 8, 2012

makin’ some cells

Hello friends!

I have spent the past three days popping over to an out building of the hospital to get my injections! Injections of filgrastim, a drug that makes my clever body make lots ‘n lots ‘n lots of stem cells. Those stem cells then overcrowd my bone marrow and get pushed out into my blood. Where they will be waitin’ and circulatin’, for the very nice doctor types to extract on Wednesday. Where they will then be put on a plane to…? (they can’t tell me!) to a 33 year old woman with acute myelogenous leukemia. And, God willing, my cells will then find their way to her bone marrow and grow her a new immune system.

Actually having friends-of-friends who have benefited from these transplants, I truly do feel what an incredible honor it is to be matched with someone (your odds are only 1 in 540: thus the importance for registering! You can do so here!)

And I myself am benefiting from truly truly just taking care of myself. Being absurdly grateful for being in such good health that the benefits extend beyond my body to that of another’s.

So anyway yesterday was actually my birthday… not knowing how I’d be feeling with side effects of meds, I didn’t make formal birthday plans (though I’ve still been spoiled senseless by my loved ones and will continue to be). It was a lovely day (well,ugly in terms of weather… but lovely in terms of experiences) that involved pho (my iron’s low, per a CBC they did on my blood on Saturday, so I have medical permission to chow down on burgers and steak this week), wandering through museums (walking is supposed to improve the whole stem-cell-making process and as an added bonus it helps my near-constant lower back pain), and watching Best In Show. Real birthday celebrations will happen later on.

And in the meantime, I am enjoying all the love around me.

My boyfriend Steve is pretty great, and gave me one of my great loves, Great Harvest! Dakota bread I think is the best bread in all the land.


Great Harvest is the shizz, too, and when he told them it was my birthday, gave him a cookie to give me. There are no pictures of it because it disappeared into our bellies too fast.

Having bread is good for this faux-pregnant intermittent nausea thing I have. I can’t eat too much… but I can’t eat too rarely.. and vegetables are skeeving me out… and basically bread is what works.

Also dried fruit, and my oh-so-wise sister must have sensed this, since she sent me birthday love in the form of a really boss fruit and nut platter. I love fruit and nuts always, but particularly now. Also dried fruit=iron! Gosh, look how little of that is left.


Also, for iron, I totally demolished this banh mi for lunch today.


Back story: I went to the mall this morning in an effort to walk (slash stimulate cell growth/alleviate back pain) somewhere it wasn’t gray and cold and gross. And also to buy my friend a wedding present! But I went the apparently too-long four hours without eating (seriously?!) and got kinda queasy and also didn’t really feel like cooking anything for lunch but PRAISE BE! Was in the general vicinity of Banh Mi DC Sandwich.

And then I was like “Ok, iron, you should get the roast beef…” but was unenthused about it and then read further on and saw PATE! Aka LIVER, aka iron like whoa. I’ve been thinking about my grandmother throughout this whole process, but particularly when I ate liver. Lady loved her some liver and onions. And pate. She would approve.


This was delicious and I ate it all.

Finally, my mom loves me and has prepared for every possible scenario. She has taken Tuesday and Wednesday off work to tend to me. She emptied CVS of their heat wraps. I am rocking an incredibly sexy gauze and heat pack belt beneath my sweatpants. Just try to envision the sheer allure.She has bought me seltzer, crackers, and popsicles for possible puke-age.

And she joined me in watching/getting misty eyed over this clip. Mr. Rogers loves me (and you).