[It was great to read so many positive messages from all you okra fans in response to my last post.  Who knew there were so many okra supporters out there?  Here’s to a new image for our pal okra!  To the dawning of the age of okra–a new era is born, and it’s brimming with green pods and seeds! Okra is cool!  Okra is au courant!  Okra rules! O-Kra! O-Kra! O-Kra! Whoo!]

 

[No, you’re not allowed this on the ACD diet. Image courtesy of Naijablog.]

Now that I’ve completed my first week of strict adherence to the Anti-Candida Diet (ACD), I thought I’d put down some thoughts and reactions for those of you who are contemplating embarking on it, or for those who are simply curious. (If you’re here seeking a new recipe, please come back tomorrow–we’ll have cookies!)

First, I am thrilled to say I have not veered even one iota from the procrustean parameters of the diet.  Having said that, I’m also amazed at how difficult I am finding it this time round.

Maybe I’d just forgotten how painful the process was last time, nine years ago, but I don’t recall struggling with it this much back then. Somehow, a decade made all the difference!  True, I am also nine years older, and nine years closer to the dreaded “M” stage of life. ** Or maybe those little candida critters have been pumping iron in the interim and are now more resilient than ever. 

[You are allowed burgers (sans bread)–but who would want one? Image courtesy of Beltway Confidential.]

As I mentioned in my previous post, this diet requires elimination of any food that could feed yeast or help yeast to grow (ie, allergens, toxins, etc.), leaving precious little to eat.  For omnivores, the bulk of the diet would become meat, chicken, fish, eggs. But if you don’t eat those foods, not much else remains once you cut out all grains and fruits, plus some veggies (okay, not all grains; I’m allowed 1/4 cup of one gluten-free grain per day)–not to mention sauces, condiments, alcohol, fermented foods, and so on.

Here’s what you should know if you’re curious about trying the ACD.

The Challenges:

Because I’d done this before, I was already aware of a few of these challenges, which made it a bit easier to follow the diet.  Still, it can be very difficult to stick with it unless you’re prepared for some of the following. 

  • No Dessert for You.  Since most people on this diet are addicted to sweets, cutting out the usual baked goods, puddings, candies, cakes, pies, etc. is really tough.  Initially, my body went carb-crazy and I had to eat something every two hours or so to keep my blood sugar levels steady.  This passed by day three (thankfully–it can really mess up your schedule!). I’ve also managed to create a few ACD-friendly “desserts”–which I’ll post anon.

carrot1

[Here’s your dessert on the ACD. Image courtesy of Innocent Creativity blog.]

  • Precious Few Grains. The first phase of the diet eliminates most carbs, and allows very few of the “acceptable” ones.  To my mind, it seems very similar to a low-carb or low-GI diet.  Which would make sense, I suppose, since its purpose is to starve off candida albicans–an organism that feeds on sugar (including blood sugar).
  • Hunger.  Perhaps I should more accurately designate the feeling  as “unresolved cravings.”  I mean, I can count on one hand the times I’ve experienced true hunger.  On this topic, I think Mark Bittman has something useful to say. A couple of weeks ago, I heard an interview with the man, discussing his newest tome, Food Matters.  Among other things, Bittman mentioned how his “vegan until six” diet plan helped him lose 35 pounds and regain his health. 

In the radio interview, he was asked how he managed to alter his diet so radically and still stick with the plan. His response was enlightening (and I paraphrase liberally here): “Well, consider the three major needs in our lives, for food, sleep, and sex.  We all learn to control our sexual urges fairly early on; and certainly most of us in the working world regularly ignore our need for sleep.  Yet we never, ever, in our society, are willing to allow ourselves to feel hungry.  Like needs for sex and sleep, why can’t we just ignore it when we feel hungry sometimes?” 

For me, Bittman’s comment was a little epiphany. Clearly, my appetite is telling me to eat when I don’t actually require more food; the ACD supplies all the nutritional requirements necessary. What I’m fighting is the desire for those last six Hershey kisses just because they’re left at the bottom of the bag (and really, why would you leave six little kisses sitting there?) or the mindless crunching on handfuls of Red Hot Blues because I just got home from work and dinner won’t be ready for a couple of hours and what else am I going to do while I peek intermittently at Oprah?–well, you get the idea.  Remembering Bittman’s advice this past week allowed me to overcome those cravings, at least most of the time. 

  • Die-Off Reaction.  As the yeasty beasties die off, they release toxins into the system that must then be filtered and cleared out by your own detoxification systems of liver and kidneys.  This can be tough on your body.  The second day of the diet, I was convinced I was coming down with a flu: my forehead pulsated, my muscles felt weak, all I wanted to do was sleep.  By day three, it had disappeared.  Even though you may feel worse initially, it’s important to push through.

The Benefits:

It’s been a mere seven days, but already I can recognzie a few of the benefits of this cleanse:

  • Symptoms abate.  Almost immediately, I noticed that my chronically blocked sinuses began to clear.  I had a strange sensation of, “hey! What’s all that air in my nose?” before I realized, “oh, THIS is what it feels like to breathe out of both nostrils.”  Similarly, the muscle weakness disappeared, some tummy grumblings cleared significantly, eyes were less swollen in the AM, and so on.
  • Clarity of Thought. One of the oft-mentioned symptoms of candida overload is fuzzy thinking or inability to concentrate.  This will begin to clear once the yeast begin to die off, after about 3 days or so.
  • Energy.  Yeast and other toxins sap your energy.  Once they begin to take a hike, your energy returns–and you’re suddenly intensely grateful for the extra hours you have during each day to blog, read, meditate, spend time with loved ones, or do anything else you please.

chaserrollgrass

[I concur, Mum–it’s great to have boundless energy! You should try rolling on the grass some time!]

I won’t be chronicling the events of every week in this much detail, but will likely mention the more significant milestonres every now and again as I move through the process over the next five weeks.  If anyone has any specific questions about the diet or the experience, please let me know and I’d be happy to address them in an upcoming post as well.

Um, Mum, you know that no one could be more serious about food and eating than we are.  .  . but really, I think you need to take a chill pill on this one.  Because this post is really a downer.”

girlsscaredfaces

I don’t mean this post as a downer.  The ACD will tax your willpower and force you to confront your worst eating habits. . . but that can be a really good thing.  For me, it’s a necessity.  Well, every nine years or so, anyway. 

** no, not “Marriage,” though that might throw me just as much.  I meant “Menopause.”

© 2009 Diet, Dessert and Dogs

Please Standby

March 11, 2009

I’m going to be dashing around town for the next couple of days, doing cooking classes (short notice, but if you’re in the Toronto area, I’ll be at the Bayview/Sheppard Loblaws tonight at 7:00–would love to meet you!), and then my friend Babe is coming to town tomorrow, so I won’t have much time for cooking (except for other people, that is). 

When we were undergraduates, my friend Babe had a roster of what she called “permadates.”  These were straight guys who were no more than friends, but were willing to stand in whenever a male presence was required–at a work function, say, a family wedding or bar mitzvah, a school reunion, etc.  She’d call up the permadate and he was always happy to receive a free meal, free booze, and maybe some dancing in exchange for allowing Babe hang on to his rippled bicep and elbow for the evening.  A win-win!

I think the same concept extends to foods as well.  Don’t we all have our own favored dishes, the go-to recipes that we whip up when we need something that will impress, will look good and taste good–and which won’t expect any “favors” at the end of the evening?  These are the “permadishes,” the old standbys that never disappoint.

I’ve been relying a lot on “candida standbys”–simple foods that are compatible with the ACD–this week.  A lettuce wrap here, some baked tofu (without soy sauce, of course) there, here a roasted veggie, there a baked sweet potato, raw almonds and pumpkin seeds everywhere. 

Then I realized I’ve already got quite a few candida-friendly dishes right here on this blog–dishes that are already in my repertoire, but happen to be suitable for the ACD.  These are great for anyone who’s battling candida, but even more, for anyone who’s seeking a cleaner, less toxic, anti-inflammatory, immune-boosting diet as well. 

Until I cook again, I’ll leave you with some of these reliable favorites.  Nothing like a good permadish to get you through a busy week!

ecleancpaw1

Mum, how about considering us permadogs?  You know you can count on us.  And of course I always rely on my big sister to take good care of me, too.” 

“Aw, zip it, Chaser–you’re making me blush.”

chaserkisselsie

Dog Day: Be Mine

February 14, 2009

elsieface

“Mum, I heard it’s Valentine’s Day, so I’m practising my best come-hither look. . . do you think that cute Henry will notice?  In the meantime, would you mind peeling me a grape?” **

chaserface2

Hey, Elsie, is this how you do it?  How’s this, huh? What do you think?  Is this come hither? Huh?  Well, I don’t like grapes, anyway.  Sigh.”

** Yes, I know grapes should never be fed to dogs.  The references was for quoting song lyric purposes only. 

Happy Valentine’s Day!! 🙂

Featured in Clean Eating!

February 12, 2009

[Diet, Dessert and Dogs has moved!  If you’re reading this page, you’ve landed on the old site.  Please visit the new location by clicking here–and don’t forget to update your readers and blogrolls!

As always, thanks for reading.  I look forward to seeing you at the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs!

“Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans than you do on this blog.”]  

* * * * * * * * * *

Just a quick note to share some exciting news: my recipe for Orange-Infused Chocolate Almond Cake is featured in this month’s Clean Eating magazine! 

choctorte3

When I was asked by the folks at the magazine to create a recipe for a healthy, fudgy chocolate cake (that met the Clean Eating requirements, of course–basically the NAG diet that I follow anyway), I was thrilled and got to work!  I actually submitted the recipe last summer, but that’s how far in advance the schedule is planned. I didn’t want to mention anything until I saw it in print with my own eyes. . . and now it’s finally here–yay! Wow, did their food stylist ever make that cake look gorgeous (the pic above is mine, not theirs–the magazine version is much more attractive!)

For those of you who can get the magazine where you live, it’s the March/April issue, with a bowl of Black-Eyed Pea Stew on the cover and the banner headline, “Try Our Chocolate-Almond Cake: Enjoy a Second Guilt-Free Slice”.  And while my recipe was mentioned on the cover, to see my name credited, you have to squint really hard, then look at the teeny, tiny, teensy weensy little print along the fold to the right of the recipe (which is on the last page of the mag, in the “Happy Endings” section).

For those who are interested, the magazine is based on the philosophy/diet of Tosca Reno, who wrote the book Eat Clean.  Some of the articles in this particular issue include 5-ingredient entrées, nutritious snacks, allergy-proofing your home, risotto by Food Network host Aida Mollenkamp, and antioxidant berries, goji and acai (and no, I have no personal stake in the magazine–I’m not affiliated with them in any way except for having developed that recipe for them). 

I wish I could reprint the recipe here, but I can’t, as Clean Eating purchased the recipe rights as well.  But I think you can at least get an idea from the photo above! 

New recipe next post, I promise 🙂

PS  Vegan/Vegetarian readers take note:  while 22 of the 68 recipes in the magazine are vegetarian, most do contain eggs or dairy (mine doesn’t, of course!).

Mum, if clean eating means ‘cleaning out your bowl every time you eat,’ then I think we could write for that magazine, too.  Or maybe we could just be taste-testers. Much better than eating snow, I’m sure.”

chasersnowface

Have a Wonderful Holiday

December 25, 2008

To everyone celebrating today, whether Christmas or just time off–

Hope your holidays are joyful, relaxing, fun, filled with delicious food and in the company of loved ones!

[NB.  No dogs were harmed in the making of this photo, despite the fact that Chaser looks like a terrified deer in the headlightsShe really is a drama queen.]

xmascard22

“Oh, Mum, I always thought I was royalty!  Tell my subjects that Elsie and I send our very best wishes, too!  And I just can’t wait to go out and romp in the snow this holiday!  And maybe you and Dad got us some new toys this holiday, wouldn’t that be great?  And maybe we can get to go for some extra walks over the–“

“Zip it, Chaser, or we’ll never get that treat Mum promised us for wearing these ridiculous hats.  *Sigh.*”

DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS HAS MOVED! PLEASE VISIT US AT THE SHINY NEW HOME OF DDD, BY CLICKING HERE.

[I’ve decided to offer a mini-post every once in a while, for a dish that comes together incredibly quickly, or else is so easy to make that no recipe is required.  Here’s today’s “Flash in the Pan.”]

ccvcerealclose2

One of the blogs I read and enjoy on a regular basis is Katie’s Chocolate Covered Vegan.  The ever-adorable,  squash-loving, mulitple-meals-with-same-dish, search-term reporting, Photoshop-proficient, cupcake-baker extraordinaire blogger provides great advice on cooking up healthy, delicious meals in a snap, many of which are quick and easy to make. And if you’ve ever read her blog, you’ll also know that Katie loves to use her blender (one of which she just acquired gratis–lucky gal!!).

Well, I may be a breakfast person, but that doesn’t automatically make me a cold-cereal person. Oh, I used to be a cold-cereal person, all right; throughout high school, I think I ate a bowl of Special K, Corn Flakes, Shreddies, or Cap’n Crunch (well, I had to have some indulgence, didn’t I?) with lots and lots of skim milk (ew!), every single day (and I wondered how I turned up with IBS!). cerealbox Ever since I changed my diet, though, I’ve relied more on cooked whole grains and soy or almond milk as my “cereal.”  Constants in my diet now are steaming bowls of steel-cut oats, brown basmati rice, millet, or even buckwheat for breakfast.  (In the longstanding DDD tradition of “Ricki and the HH must be diametrically opposed on every single issue,” my Human Honey loves cold cereal. So, when I buy the mega-box of Raisin Bran that he so adores, I often pick up another carton of something wholegrain for me, for those two times a year I have a hankering).

Well, over a year ago now, I read about the recipe for Banana Bread Blender Cereal on CCV’s blog.  I thought it sounded great–the perfect way to use up that box of cereal I rarely touched–but it was cold, and I crave warm during the snowbound months.  Problem solved:  I simply warmed it up instead.  

And you know what happened?  Just as Katie predicted, the banana caramelized a bit and the blended cereal absorbed the milk, smoothing up and softening–resulting in the most delicious, pillowy, creamy and self-sweetened cereal I’ve ever eaten!  I was hooked, immediately, and have made this for breakfast countless times since.  I’ve played with the recipe a bit since then, but the basics are the same.

Here, then, is the perfect comfort breakfast for a cold, snowy morning when the chill accosts your feet as you scamper across the kitchen tiles to the coffee maker (or teapot, in my case).  It takes only a few minutes to prepare, and rewards you with a warming, soothing, sweet and satisfying meal in a bowl.  Thanks, Katie!

(Oh, and Thanks to all from Elsie (and moi, of course) for the outpouring of support over our flagrant disregard of our vet’s advice, taking that cone off early anyway (stitches are scheduled to be removed Saturday).  Oh, and yes, Scott, I guess it would have been a little more effective if our Girl had turned on the computer first.)

[“What?? You have to turn it ON??”]

CCV’s Warm Blender Cereal

adapted from Chocolate Covered Vegan

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

ccvcerealtop

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

© 2008 Diet, Dessert and Dogs

Im FReE

December 10, 2008

elsieconeless

Mi Mum tuk off th kone becuz i wuz so sad. **

Now Im happee I playd with Chsr tody. But she bits my ear maybee i shud put th kone bak on.

Thnks for asking abut me.  Wht grate blog buddys yu all are.

xoxoxoxo Elsie

**Also becuz i kept hittng th wall and got stuk on the stairs.

DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS HAS MOVED! PLEASE VISIT US AT THE SHINY NEW HOME OF DDD, BY CLICKING HERE.

* Or, “Nothing Like Fried Rice, Really, But Still One Darned Tasty Cauliflower Salad”

rawfriedrice

[Sorry about the blur.  I may need to return to my old point-and-shoot until I finally read that new camera manual!]

For those of us fascinated by the topic of food, December is more or less highjacked by baking projects.  Cookies for the cookie exchange.  Bars and squares for the gift tins.  Cakes for the pot lucks.  Croquembouche for the neighbourhood party.  

Taken to its syllogistic conclusion,  the state of affairs in which many of us find ourselves this month would go something like this:

Major Premise: December is filled with many types of baking. 

Minor Premise: All types of baking require taste-testing. 

Conclusion: Therefore, December is filled with all types of  tastetesting  sampling quality control eating–something like 4,287 different sweets, types of chocolate, candy, cookies, fudge, frosting, glazed nuts, trifles, truffles, cakes and pies–thereby creating a massive spike in caloric intake for the month, which will lead to outright neglect of all other food groups and the overindulgence of rich, alcoholic and chocolate-based comestibles during the next four weeks or so, to the inevitable result of chocolate overload and the proverbial 7 pound weight gain over the holiday period. *

Well, given my own propensity to binge on sweets and carbs over the holidays, I thought I’d take some advice I heard dispensed by a dietician on a local CBC radio show the other day about “How Not to Gain Weight Over the Holidays.”

Get a load of this:  the dietician (who shall remain nameless–she probaby wouldn’t want you to know her name after this advice, anyway, but mostly because I can’t actually remember her name) said something to the effect of, “Well, I know that people are always told to eat a meal before going to a party to avoid overindulging, but I find that people will overindulge anyway.  And then they’ve basically eaten two meals, which is really not so good.  So what I suggest is, if you do eat a bit too much at a party, then–and I’d never suggest that you do this on a regular basis–but then you can just skip a meal or two the next day to compensate.  If you follow this plan over the holidays, you shouldn’t really gain any weight.”

Hallellujah!  In a nutshell, here’s December: Pig out.  Fast.  Pig out.  Fast.  Pig out. Fast. Pig Out. Cut back a wee bit.  Pig out. Fast. Drink champagne and kiss a bunch of strangers.

Truly, I don’t think this plan is very wise, but I’m going to adapt it to my own needs, anyway.  During this festive period when I’m more likely to succumb to the siren call of chocolate, I’ve decided to deliberately make the rest of my meals as clean, simple, and vegetable-based as possible.  To wit, Raw Imitation Fried Rice.

I came across this recipe a while ago and then, a few days later, happened upon this version by Veggie Delight.  Since the dish is raw, it’s much easier to digest than a cooked meal, and won’t tax the digestive system the way heavier, fatter meals can. It’s also mostly vegetables with a hint of dressing, which provided me with yet another novel way to incorporate cauliflower, a vegetable I’m otherwise indifferent about, into my diet.

The salad is crunchy and even a bit juicy, with a hint of toasted sesame and just enough saltiness from the tamari to provide a satisfying contrast to the neutral cauliflower. It’s incredibly easy to make and comes together very quickly courtesy of the processor. I thoroughly enjoyed it and could even feel virtuous as I chomped away. 

And it’s the perfect light meal to help you detox between all those tastings of baked goods and treats.

*Okay, so it’s not technically a syllogism.  And the conclusion is drawn from the predicate of the premise rather than the subject (totally illogical).  And (well, according to Giz, anyway) the average weight gain is only 1.5 pounds over the holidays.  As if.

Raw Imitation Fried Rice (aka Cauliflower Salad)

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

rawfriedricetop

Asian-inspired flavors meet light and refreshing salad in this mock fried rice dish.  Makes a great side salad or raw main.  And a sneaky way to include cauliflower!

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

elsieconeheadbed

Yes, it really is the pits, Mum.  It’s also very difficult to lick all the crumbs off the floor with this thing on my head.”

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

Last year at this time:  Dog Day: How Elsie Got Named

I had intended a lovely post today, in honor of the upcoming Thanksgiving long weekend to the south of us.  But time constraints (read: massive, unwieldly pile of essays and assignments to mark) have prevented me from following through. So I’ll just have to wait till the next batch of holidays in December to post about some new, frost-and-snow inspired, treats.

Instead, I thought I’d pull together a few recipes from previous posts that are suitably festive for a holiday table, or the breakfast table the following day (I’ve also got a few detox recipes on the blog–I’ll let you seek those out yourselves, as required).  Most of these are fairly quick to make as well, as long as you’ve got the ingredients on hand.

Hope everyone enjoys some togetherness with friends and family, great food, and a bit of time to relax and play.

See you after the holiday!

chaserunderbed

Mum, will Elsie be able to play again after the holiday?  I mean, it’s just so boring with her out of commission. . .

Main Meal Dishes:

Side Dishes:

Desserts:

Breakfast Dishes:

Recently, I was tagged by Kelly at The Pink Apron and River of Wing It Vegan to share 7 random facts about myself, and Giz at Equal Opportunity Kitchen to do a blog-related meme.

I do enjoy memes (and love reading about others through their memes), but I must admit that I am finding it more and more difficult to come up with new facts about myself.  That, and I suspect some of you are growing a little weary of reading about me and my various eccentricities, when what you’re really here for is the food! 😉

“Um, Mum, your readers may be a bit overloaded on YOUR memes, but what about us?  There are still plenty of random facts we could tell you about the two of us. . . .”

“Yeah, right! Hey, Elsie, how about that we love to play!  And that the yellow ball is my favorite!  Oh, oh, and that we LOVE to jump up on people!  And what about that we bark at cars that drive by outside!  Or that we love Greenies!  Or how about the way I pull on your ear every 30 seconds–“

“Zip it, Chaser. I am sure they get the idea. But there will be no ear-pulling for the next ten days, at least.”

Ah, yes, that reminds me: before I get to the meme, I should also mention the “Injury” referred to in the post title.  Once again, our accident-prone Elsie Girl has had a brush with the law  mortality a metal post. While frolicking with her sister the other day, sweet Elsie ran too close to a steel goal post at the park and whacked her side against it, ripping off a chunk of her haunch.  Poor baby!  And so the HH and I (and Chaser, who, after all, couldn’t be left all alone at home) spent our Saturday evening at the Vet Emergency clinic, where Elsie was treated to a bit of a shave, a cleansing of the wound, some staples to reconnect the skin, and a lovely cone on her head, which she absolutely abhors, poor thing.

Here she is, in all her misery:

elsiecollar1

[“Help. . . . me. . . . . “]

The worst part is that Chaser is terrified of the cone and won’t go near Elsie right now.  No more ear-biting, indeed.

And now, on to the meme, and seven random facts about me.  I won’t tag anyone else (it seems many of you have already done this one), but please do feel free to participate if you’d like.  

1) I didn’t learn to drive a car until I was about 30.  Well, I first acquired my license at 16 like the rest of my friends, but then moved away to university and didn’t have the opportunity to drive again until I was married.  I’d taken lessons for about a week when my husband and I decided to separate, which meant I was driving myself to work (about an hour each way) along busy provincial highways long before I felt ready to do so.  Talk about baptism by fire! (In this case, by ice, actually, as it was mid-winter when all this transpired).  A couple of dents to the fender and more than a decade later, and I’m finally comfortable behind the wheel.

oddcupandsaucer12

2) I collect odd cups and saucers, and champagne flutes.    When I was a kid, my mom had a collection of odd cups and saucers that seemed to exist just outside our awareness in a glass cabinet in the kitchen. When I moved out on my own, however, my sisters starting giving me similar items as gifts, and I began to really appreciate them.  I love the varying patterns one finds on the older designs, the delicate structure of the cup and saucer, the nearly transparent quality of the fine china, and the elegance they exude (I always feel I should raise my pinkie when I sip out of one of them). 

oddcupandsaucer2

A few years after I began to collect the cups and saucers, I was introduced to champagne (or, at least, sparkling wine) when a friend served me a glass of Segura Viudas.  Well, I was so impressed that shortly thereafter, I began to collect champagne flutes, too.  I’ll often buy them on sale at the end of the season–who wants to buy just one flute, right?–and have amassed about 3 dozen so far. 

champflute  My favorites are a couple I received for birthdays, the voluptuous pewter-stemmed one the HH gave me the first year we were together (see left), and the Waterford crystal pair the HH and I purchased for the turn of the century. 

3) I memorized every word of Beowulf in the original Old English during my PhD.  For our final exam, we were given a random passage in Old English and had to translate it.  Not wanting to take any chances, I decided to memorize the entire poem.  How much do I remember today?  This much: “Hwat! we, Gar-dena, in yeor dayum. . .”  Yep, the first five words. Well, it got me an “A” on the exam, anyway.

4) I was asked to be Valedictorian at my high school graduation, but I was too shy and said no.  Decades later, I’m still shy, but when I was given the opportunity again for my graduation from nutrition school in 2003, I decided I couldn’t pass it up twice, and said yes.  Very happy that I did!

5) When I was a teen, some of my friends and I worked as cashiers at the local drugstore (called a “pharmacy” in Montreal, even though the actual pharmacy dispensary was a small space at the back of the store).  We used to call it “The Phunny Pharm.”  My friends Babe, Sterlin, Phil and Angel also all worked there, so on any given day, it was guaranteed that I’d be working alongside one of my best friends.  We often created code words to alert each other when a cute guy came in the store. The names were connected to various cigarette brands (which, in those days, were sold out in the open from shelves behind the cash).  The cuter the guy, the stronger the brand we chose for his nickname.  When we saw a REALLY cute guy, we’d call across the aisle to each other, “Hey, Ric, do you have any packs of Rothmans at your cash?” or, “Um, Sterlin, I think I’ve run out of Du Maurier over here. . . ” The men never twigged in to it, even though sometimes three of us would come running to the counter at the same time, all ostensibly “looking for a pack of Rothmans.”

6) I started smoking in my 20s and didn’t quit until I met the HH in 1997 (at which point I was smoking about 1/2 pack a day–though nothing as strong as Rothman’s, of course).  Now, don’t go thinking that he was such a great influence on me, or anything. . . I quit because of my various health issues, not for love (how very unromantic of me, I know).  When I revamped my diet, I figured I should give my lungs a break, too.  The only smoke I’ve inhaled since then is second-hand. 

7) I once got to meet Chris de Burgh in person (true, not very exciting to all of you out there too young to recognize the name!).  At the height of his popularity, some friends and I went to one of his concerts in Montreal.  Because my friend Angel had met him while traveling in Ireland and they’d become correspondents (in the days before email, folks), he arranged backstage passes for her and five of her friends.  Somewhere in a box in my basement is a wine-stained scrap of paper on which is scrawled something to the effect of, “For Ricki, With all best wishes, Chris de Burgh.”  (Hey–maybe I can sell it and become one of those mansion-people I wrote about in the last post?)

So there you go, seven random facts.  I know I mentioned yet another meme to post, but I think I’ll save that for another day and avert a real Meme Overload.  And on the subject of overloading, I’ve got a nice, light and not-too-filling post-Thanksgiving recipe for you next time round.

To those of you in the U.S., hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

elsiecollar21

[“I bet all those people outside are having a great holiday weekend. . . and all I can do is stare out this window. . . *sigh*.”]