Well, this has been a depressing month. Back at the end of October I was sentenced to gum graft surgery, something which I had never heard of before and hope to never experience again. The surgery itself went fine, and apart from the general unpleasantness of having stitches all over my mouth, weird putty bandages on my palate and one particularly nasty evening of uncontrolled bleeding from the graft donor site after said bandages came off, my recovery went well. Things went south when I was laid off from my day job, which admittedly was a mixed blessing, since the job was one of those things that seemed perfect for me on paper but was turning into a sort of living hell, then things got even more thrilling when I turned out to be allergic to the antibiotics I was taking. Through all of this, I was completely unable to eat solid food or drink any quantity of alcohol. Here’s what my diet looked like for those first couple of weeks (I know these pictures are hideous, but this kind of food doesn’t deserve good photography):
Day one. Post-op instructions, lots of painkillers, a completely numb face, and a banana smoothie with protein powder. I ate a lot of bananas, particularly since I couldn’t have any sort of acidic fruit or anything with little seeds. Continue reading
This is ridiculous. Just as I was beginning to feel somewhat recovered (apart from what I consider normal – if irritating – seasonal allergies), Jon’s back went out in a spectacular manner. He’s beginning to feel functional again, but I’ve been keeping busy trying to cook interesting and comforting things that can be eaten while propped up with pillows.
I made braised lemon-olive chicken with couscous, which made a wonderful soup the next day, and baked cookies (my grandmother’s sugar pecan cookies with white chocolate added in), and made an enormous quantity of minestrone, and baked hamburger buns from scratch, which made for some truly fabulous burgers. I also ordered a pizza one night, but I rather felt like I’d earned it.
Sorry for the radio silence this past week, but for the last eight days I’ve been out of commission with the nastiest cold/allergy/something-or-other I’ve ever had the displeasure of suffering through. Hack, cough. I’ve been eating, but for several days I completely lost my sense of taste – a distressing state of affairs.
Early in the week, Jon and I were signed up to help with a cooking class taught by our friend Peter. I felt that the customers might not appreciate my coughing into their food, so Jon went on his own, and he came back laden with fabulous leftovers. The class theme was Southern food, in particular New Orleans-style, featuring shrimp fritters, cornbread and chicken-sausage gumbo, and there was more than enough food for everyone. I lived off of that gumbo for the next several days, it being one of the few things that could penetrate my personal fog.
If you’ve managed to catch the crud yourself and need some hot soup full of pork fat, or if you’re just in the mood to celebrate Fat Tuesday with a little gumbo, here’s the recipe.
Being sick all week, I haven’t really been motivated to cook. Or eat. I’ve been drinking a lot of hot weak tea.
Our Saturday night was pretty exciting. We took a container of frozen leftover soup out and heated it up, played Scrabble and went to bed early. Woo hoo! The soup was pretty good, though, a thoroughly unreproducable blend of chicken, leftover Indonesian braising liquid, chickpeas, rice noodles, lime leaf, galanga and god knows what. Plenty of sambal oelek to unplug the nasal passages. The rice noodles didn’t really benefit from the freeze/thaw action, but they were still tasty.
Hopefully more real food reporting to come in the near future.
This whole soft-food thing has been a great brain exercise for us. I’m feeling like I’ve eaten enough white carbs to do me for a while, so thinking of things that are soft and flavorful but NOT bread/pasta/rice is a real challenge. I managed a small bowl of chili at a restaurant last weekend and realized that beans are my friends – soft, nutritious and full of protein. We decided to make red lentil dal for dinner, one of the softest and most comforting foods out there. To round it out, we made one of our favorite Indian dishes, saag paneer (spinach with panir cheese). Panir is the tofu of India: bland on its own, but a great foil for and absorber of strong flavors.
I love saag paneer not just because it’s softly spicy and full of cheese – it’s also really easy to make, assuming you can buy panir at your local shop like we can. If you have to make it from scratch…well, in that case, you might want to make something else (unless you have better luck making cheese than I do). Same with the greens – you could certainly buy a bunch of fresh spinach, but this is a dish where I think it’s better by far to just pull a bag of chopped spinach out of the freezer.
In further pursuit of soft foods I can eat after my oral surgery last week, I’ve been going through cookbooks and looking for recipes that use white fish – I figure it’s one of the few animal proteins that doesn’t require much chewing. I’ve also been getting bored, so I thought a curry might be nice, as long as it didn’t have too many chunks in it. What I ended up with was the Padang fish curry, a sweet and slightly spicy coconut milk dish, from Cradle of Flavor. Thank goodness, it was actually like eating real food again!
Padang fish curry for two
adapted from Cradle of Flavor by James Oseland
2 oz shallots, coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1 piece fresh ginger, thinly sliced
2 unsalted macadamia nuts
for the curry:
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 stalk lemongrass (ideally), tied into a knot
2 kaffir lime leaves
1 daun salam leaf (if you have it)
10 oz coconut milk
1/2 tsp sugar
two serrano chiles, tops cut off
Ordinarily I’d think this was a nice lunch: homemade macaroni and cheese with cauliflower, and a bowl of Pacific brand roasted red pepper and tomato soup. I am so tired of it. I’m starting to be able to eat a bit easier, but nothing chewy or crispy any time soon – and I’m amazed at how bored I’m getting. I’m tired of ice cream (I know, shocking).
I have ideas for something more interesting for dinner tonight, but in the meantime – anyone out there have any good ideas for soft foods? I can chew on one side, but I’m supposed to avoid acidic or caustic foods, or anything too hot, cold or spicy. What are your favorite foods for après-dental work?
Things may be a little quiet around here for a couple days. I got a tooth pulled yesterday, and in between naps and trying to remember which pills I should be taking, I’m now casting around for ideas of things to eat with as little texture as possible, with the added fun of nothing hot, acidic or alcoholic.
As you might imagine, I’ve had a lot of yogurt. And cream of tomato soup. We had macaroni and cheese with steamed cauliflower last night, that went down pretty easy. So I’m not starving, but it all seems a little dull. And not very photogenic, either.
On the other hand, it was a perfect excuse for J to make me some ice cream! We dug out our copy of The Perfect Scoop, which hasn’t been seeing much use the last couple months, and I decided that plain old chocolate custard ice cream would do the trick. So J got hold of some good bittersweet chocolate and did it up, and oh my god it’s good. Like a fudgsicle, but a million times better. I can’t believe there’s a pint of it in my fridge right now and I’m not currently eating any. After the custard had chilled it was like a wonderful chocolate pudding, we almost didn’t want to put it in the ice cream maker – but it was even better afterwards.
You don’t need to wait until your next date with oral surgery to try this ice cream – go right out and make it now! Continue reading