Category Archives: Food

Sans sucre

At least for the next seven days

At least for the next seven days

I don’t know if you’re anything like me, but insulin problems have plagued the Fink women for decades. Hypoglycemia, hyperinsulinism, glucose intolerance and Type II diabetes are familiar terms, and a couple are sad bedfellows. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t affected, truly. To wit:

  • During my growing-up years, Mother always made a huge Sunday dinner after church, replete with standard Midwestern favorites. After consuming mass quantities of mashed potatoes, noodles, biscuits, sugary desserts, and all manner of processed carbohydrates, everyone would repair to the living room couch or to the bedroom to take a nap — except me. Oh, I wanted to, believe me, and sometimes I couldn’t resist drowsing, as all that starch made me very sleepy, but I knew if I did, I’d pay. As soon as I lay down, my heart would begin racing like a Porsche. Once, I took my pulse while lying in my bed, looking at the second hand on my clock, and I was at 170 BPM — at rest. That and the accompanying acid reflux — when I felt that all the food I’d just eaten was backed up into my esophagus — made napping impossible.
  • As many of you know, I’m a chocolate fiend. Milk chocolate, to be precise. Seriously, I think I could live on it. One of my favorite chocolate items is Hershey’s Syrup. I could drink it right out the can. (Ask me how I know this.) Trouble is, it’s mostly high-fructose corn syrup, which turns my digestive system into a nuclear holocaust. We’re talking nausea and distress and bedrest and headaches and weakness and general searing misery. So it’s a “red light” food; I simply cannot ingest it, unless I want to pay that price every single time. Same goes for Hershey chocolate bars; and as they’re among my favorite candy bars, I’ve willingly and knowingly suffered on more than one occasion.
  • Any food that involves heavy cooking oil has the same effect. So let’s see: that takes care of cake, donuts, anything deep-fried…pretty much anything fun.
  • Bananas with the slightest green hue in the peel will keelhaul me for an entire day.
  • I haven’t drunk orange juice or eaten an orange in…I can’t remember how long. Oranges make me sleepy, woozy, sweaty and sick.

I could go on, but I think you get the picture. Celiac disease, you say? Nope. Been tested. SIBO (Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth)? Negative — tested for that as well. I’m thumbs-up for hyperinsulinemia, though, which has its own set of interesting gastrointestinal side effects.

So why am I sharing all this ooky stuff with you today? It’s because for one week, I’m going off sugar (including starches, which are also sugars). I need to clear my head. After that one week, I’ll let you know how things went, and what the plan is after that. Time to stop slapping myself around and do something nice for me. I’ve done it before with good results, so I know it works. Have you ever done a sugar detox? I hate the word “detox,” as it’s been overused, but to me, sugar — at least in some quantity and to some degree — is poison to my system.

Off to the experiment (Mavis is doing it with me, so that helps) — I’ll keep you posted, after the initial withdrawal subsides. :-D

Quiet day

The boisterous laughter and silliness and love from last night’s Hamsgiving celebration is a pretty sharp contrast to this morning: a freezing cold, quiet day of slow beginnings, napping pups (Pax was definitely overstimulated last night and loved every minute of it, while poor terrified Remy mostly just hid in the basement), watching football on TV in jammies, leftover ham for lunch, and vroča čokolada later.

This pretty table was heavy with lots of good food, precious family and tons of laughter.

The dining room table was heavy with lots of good food, precious family and tons of laughter.

Hamsgiving is not a long-lasting affair; we start at 5:00, and by 8:00, the house is quiet again, with the only sounds being the Thriller and me, tidying up. Mavis and I really appreciate all he did to help us yesterday, up to and including washing all of the dishes afterwards, which is no small project, as we don’t own a dishwasher. After being up since 3 a.m. and cooking all day, I ran clean out of diesel after putting food away and straightening up, so he did the lion’s share of cleaning the kitchen. (We had kind offers of help from family, of course, but we declined. I guess we’re funny that way.)

While I cluck at the silliness and totally wrong-headed history of the Thanksgiving holiday, I’m very glad we have it. With our kids having busy families of their own, it’s incredibly difficult to get everyone together anymore, and I will jump at every chance I get for it to happen. Awesome night. I’m looking forward to Christmas Eve, when we do it all again. Fun!

Have a beautiful Thanksgiving Day, fiends, and reflect upon how fortunate and blessed we are!

Fink, hoping for a Bears win for the Thriller today

It’s Hamtastic

I am grateful to pigs everywhere for tonight. For those who don’t know: our children make the Thanksgiving rounds to two-three different homes every year. Several Thanksgivings ago, I decided to try something different for our November family feast, to give the kids a break from turkey, turkey, and more turkey. Hence, Hamsgiving. I’ve claimed the night before Thanksgiving to offer a classic Midwestern menu, but with a perfectly paradisaical porcine personality. :-)

Fiends who have followed my little blog about nothing for going on seven years know that I harbor a particular affinity for cooking and baking, so days like this are enjoyable for me. Better still is the fact that Mavis and I get to cook together all day long for a big crowd (“big” around here is 13 people, including Bob & Kay, who are very much “family” to us), which is usually a laff riot. We all don’t get together near often enough for my taste, so it’s great to have everyone in one place for one day. Although, if our family continues to grow, Mama is going to need a bigger house.

So, I’m off to get ready. Gotta swing by and get Mavis, then hit the grocery for a couple of items I forgot.

I wish everyone who reads this the happiest Thanksgiving (and to those who don’t celebrate this most dubious of holidays, I’ll just say I’m happy you’re here). I love reading about other people’s plans, so please feel free to post what you’re doing today and tomorrow.

PS — Fellow foodies: there’s also a new cornbread recipe I’m trying today. It’s “designed” to wow those who don’t even like cornbread. We shall see…

PPS — I really enjoyed reading your comments from Sunday’s Greek post — I look forward to responding tonight, when the dishes are done and the house is quiet.

You simply must try this.

Leave it to me to go from posting serious and personal thoughts about suffering and other existential issues yesterday, to writing “HEY — BUY THIS CUZ IT’S LISHY.”

Rat Fink, Rat Fink. What a donkey. ;-) But for good or ill, it’s what makes RtB RtB. I wasn’t joking about the “at random” part of the slogan up there, Jim. Anyway…

If you are a fan of conserves/jams, you haven’t lived till you’ve tried this. It trumps all the homemade jams I’ve ever eaten, and I’ve taken home some great stuff from private kitchens over the decades. I’m not kidding; this beats all.

On last weekend’s bimonthly trip to Earth Fare, I discovered some jars of St. Dalfour on the shelf. Having never tried it (indeed, I never knew it existed), but noticing that there was no cane sugar added, I picked up two jars: blackberry and apricot. I also noticed it’s imported from France, which made me feel all foofy & such.

Fiends, I’m here to tell you that there are whole blackberries and huge chunks of apricot in that stuff.  And the aroma, oh my. Of course, the proof is in the tasting, and it was divine. Just the right amount of tartness, and most importantly, not cloying, which many jams can be. Of course, it’s not a treat for every day, but…wait, scratch that. I’ve had it every day since I bought it. haha

This morning, I went to Amazon and bought the black cherry and strawberry varieties. My excitement is visceral.

Are you a jammer? I know several in my family who are not (sister Mavis, son Seamus, others), but I’ve been hooked since childhood, when Dad would bring home Hostess powdered donuts, and we’d make an extra-special dessert by putting Welch’s grape jelly on them. To this day, I won’t eat a Hostess powdered donut without grape jam on it. Ah, the curse of connecting food with emotions…story of my life. (But that’s another long, serious, existential post.)

Well look at the clock, wouldya. Five-ten a.m. and I’ve been up since 3, thinking about the rehearsal schedule starting today. Bring it. Well actually, bring it after breakfast, which, of course, will include a slice of toast with St. Dalfour on it.

Happy Tunesday!

Je me souviens

And I’ll bet some of you remember, too.

Yesterday — and I’ve forgotten how I got there — I ended up on some blog site where a woman shared her memories of growing up in the 1960s. I thought I’d never see the day when I’d say, “Those were simpler, happy times,” but there you go. They were. Mavis and I have tons of great memories of going to church, singing with our friends, shopping with Mother (especially at F.W. Woolworth’s candy counter, where we were allowed, if we were very good, to get a quarter-pound of the chocolates of our choice), winter ice skating, and summers at Brown Deer Pond.

But today, this post is about FOOD, dude! Does anyone else remember…

We drank this by the gallon


Burger Chef & Jeff!

Burger Chef & Jeff!


These were extra-special treats, because Mother let us eat them on TV trays in the den. Whoa, camel.

These were extra-special treats, because Mother let us eat them on TV trays in the den. Whoa, camel.


Mother and Grandma Johnson made these all the time. Yummy.

Mother and Grandma Johnson made these all the time. Yummy.


Think kettle corn. And no, Mother never let us buy any, so I had to beg it off friends at school.

Think kettle corn. And no, Mother never let us buy any, so I had to beg it off friends at school.


On the rare occasions when Mother bought it, it was like Christmas.

On the rare occasions when we were allowed to buy it, it was like Christmas.


The waiting was the hardest part.

The waiting was the hardest part.


I loved the beef kind; Mavis liked the chicken.

I loved the beef kind; Mavis liked the chicken.


Food was so awesomely bad for you back then, but nobody really knew that, or noticed, or cared, or whatever.

You know the drill: pony up with some food memories of your own. Find a link to it somewhere if you want to, and we’ll all see if we remember it.

As for now, the orchestra cuts won’t edit themselves. Over ‘n out.