Trying dieting

I’ve never been the person watching what she ate, until I came to Spain. Then it was simple: overdose on protein and stay away from sugar and caffeine. Until I got back from the States this fall and my blood test revealed shocking cholesterol numbers. 

Genetics? Yes. Well, partly. Also, my love affair with cheese. After visiting France a couple of years ago, I thought it would be nice for God to call me to a country where one can eat a different kind of cheese every day of the year. Now I’m thankful I’m in Spain, where cheeses are outstanding, but numbered. 

The doctor gave me a “to eat and not to eat” list. I did my own research, plugged a basic menu into a nutrition calculator and stuck to it for the most part. I’ve been eating well, make no mistake, but food prep takes longer than it used to. Plus, I spent a couple of months enduring my roommates snickers when I weighed almost everything I ate. I also had to endure my sister’s judgment when I feasted on a rosy salmon fillet, roasted brussel sprouts, rye crackers with homemade hummus, with a mango and 85% chocolate for dessert. 

I love baking. I would probably bake every day if it weren’t for the piles of dishes. Or the piles of sweets. When I had a roommate, it was easier to dispose of my leftover baked goods. Granted, she was not always pleased to see another plateful of a sugary something with an attached note: “EAT!” 

Honestly, I am a healthy eater by discipline, not naturally. If you’re going to trip me up, set out a cracker variety and a luscious cheeseball, chips and salsa, or just mounds of greasy potato chips. I don’t even like bread, but once and a while, I pig out on bread, especially if it’s loaded with heart-stopping slabs of cold butter.  It hasn’t been all that long ago since I ate an entire bag of chips in one day. Or one day, I was walking down the street and smelled hot dogs. Hot dogs! And I could taste them, roasted over a fire, overloaded with tangy mustard and a heap of shredded cheddar. I admitted this craving to my roommate who, after watching me carefully blend kale smoothies, was amused. Rightfully so. 

For us first-worlders, food, like so many other things in life, is a choice. What we choose today may affect our tomorrow. 

Do you have a food plan? What do you do? Do you make allowances or take days off? Wedge in a bit of space for that mousse au chocolat? Speaking of which…

Photo by Cody Pulliam on Unsplash

Cheese, soap… and plants?

“Are you going to write about this on your blog?” my roommate asked as she watched me tie a dish towel full of curds on the cupboard handle.

“I don’t know. Should I?” This wasn’t the first time I had made cheese, but it was the first time I had tried making paneer.

The man at the Asian store looked at me funny when I asked if they sold paneer. “Paneer? No, you make that at home.”

“I’d rather buy it,” I assured him. But since that wasn’t an option, I picked up a few liters of milk instead.

All of the YouTube videos crow that it’s the easiest thing in the world to make. Blah, blah, blah.

I couldn’t even find cheesecloth for sale.

But you know what? It is the easiest thing in the world to make. At least close. Heat one and a half liters of milk and add a bit of vinegar and zaz. Cheese. Well, at least curds that are easily pressed into cheese with the help of a brand new cotton dish towel.

I used the cheese to make saag paneer. But was more pleased with the cheese than anything else. (I think I may have even convinced my sister to try making cheese too, although she scoffed at my use of a “linty” dish towel.)

A few days later, I was making soap. (Sort of. I was stirring the soap that someone else had masterminded.) Homemade soap! So cool! I had been dying to try it for ages but was afraid I’d burn my arm off with lye. At least, my roommate was afraid I would. 

But together with a good friend who has been making soap since forever, we made little bars of soap so smooth it took hours of stirring. We watched music videos and talked about dreams and life in general. The hours passed quickly. 

The problem is, the soap is refusing to set up entirely. (Maybe with some more time, we hope.) My friend isn’t sure what went wrong. I guess I don’t know either, but I’m pretty sure my inexperience had something to do with it!

And what’s my next project? Well, I’m currently trying to keep two plants alive. One is a birthday gift (only one more day until I can give it away!). And the other was a gift for me. It came with the guarantee that it was easy to keep alive.

We’ll see. The day I received it, I forgot it at work in a dark windowless room… for the weekend. Fortunately, my roommate rescued it for me, but it hasn’t forgotten. Oh, no. I can feel it glaring at me from the windowsill.

plant in window sill against blue sky