Buzzed…

For the record, I am the Worlds Greatest Alcoholic Lightweight – which is quite the accomplishment being a native of a state that only runs when fueled with fermented hops.

Don’t believe me?  The last study done of the ’20 Drunkest States in the US’ listed 12 cities in Wisconsin.  Not only did we breach the 50% mark on the list, we DOMINATED the top 10.  We are, in every sense of the word, a beer state with a Green & Gold Problem…

Wisco drinks copy

I place the blame for my personal anomaly regarding Wisconsin’s #1 leisure activity on the 1st adult mistake I made, which was getting married before any of my siblings so I’d have bragging rights.

…It ain’t easy being a middle child…

The man I selected as my compatriot in this disaster came from a long line of slightly-functioning alcoholics.  It was quite the eye-opening experience for the young and idealistic (OK…stupid) me to find out that some people simply canNOT behave responsibly with liquor.

Being the sober one in a mentally-abusive alcoholic relationship makes one learn how to NOT want to drink…so, naturally, I’m out of practice.

2015-new-hot-sale-ipop-toilet-stickers-carved-removable-wall-stickers-english-toilet-stickers-for-toiletsAlthough I do occasionally have an adult beverage or two…it takes me decades to ramp up to an evening getting full-on drunk-as-a-skunk – because these occasions invariably end with me clutching the Porcelain God…who’s personal name is Ralph…

…I prefer the other end of me closest to the business end of a toilet…

Here’s where alcohol ends up in the Keto world…

  1.   It’s the ‘4th’ macronutrient – with 7 calories per gram, 2nd only to fats, with 9.  But this nutrient is an empty one, as it only produces a slight energy uptake with no real nutrition, and hasn’t much lasting power.
  2.   As alcohol is a poison, your body recognizes it as such, and immediately begins to process ‘that damn stuff’ OUT of your body.  This is why drunks get drunk – that woozy feeling is the body going into overdrive to metabolize the stuff.
  3.   This is also why you have to pee so much when you’re drunk, because the kidneys don’t want that stuff in residence any longer than necessary.
  4.   Alcohol in the body is ‘cushioned’ by glycogen stores in the liver (glycogen being the storage-mode of sugar and carbs) in a normal diet.  In keto, we’ve depleted those stores by eating minimal carbs – so we have no cushion to pad the hit of the booze.

 

So – long story short – when you drink on Keto, you get drunk…FAST.

I did an experiment this weekend – a shot of Captain Morgan within a glass of diet Coke.  I started to feel the effects of the booze as soon as I walked into the liquor store.

I like to bring shame to my state whenever possible 😀

Here’s the weekly Keto update:

Thursday -The SQO was feeling a bit down over his work situation, so after work I made an emergency trip over to Milwaukee to offer support & dinner.  We ended up at the Denny’s next to his store. Sit down dining doesn’t have to be a carb-zilla experience.  I filled up on a sweet ham & cheese omelette,  putting the toast on D’s plate, and shoving aside those hash browns.  For a side…a salad.

Friday – I found some freezer sausage patties that were flavored with maple (sweet & savory meat – one of my favorite combos) with only 3 net carbs per serving.  Paired those with the (read this in a low-pitched, loud & echo-y voice) ULTIMATE salad bar.

As I had extra bodies eating dinner, what I did was get a huge bag of a pre-chopped lettuce salad blend.  Chopped some leftover chicken, ham, peppers, bacon, onions, olives, pea pods, assorted shredded cheeses, and left all the toppings on the counter in individual little bowls.  Served true salad bar style – everyone got a bowl, and assembled their own salads just the way they wanted.

Paired those huge salads with baked potatoes (for everyone else, not for me…) so they could load them with the salad toppings as they saw fit.  And – extra sour cream in the fridge to play with throughout the week.

Saturday – Wheeeeee!!!!  I got drunk for science – but not drunk enough to visit Ralph.

Sunday – Hmmm.  That single glass of booze last night has me hungry today – almost like I’ve been punted out of Ketosis.  Keeping the faith, though – with a scramble comprised of various stuff left over from the salad bar, and some bratwurst patties for dinner.

Monday -Strange that I’ve been fighting hunger for the last 2 days – it can’t be JUST because of the drink.   So – I did a search on the one little thing that I changed up.  The Mio water enhancers.  Turns out, Sucralose (the sweetener in these little drops) can cause some people to experience hunger, because the sweet flavor tricks your stomach into believing there is a sugar-laden carb bomb on the way down, so it prepares for it.

I have to believe that pairing these drops with heavy cream, though, does not induce the hungry, because the body has something to digest.

Soooo – back to the unsweetened iced tea for me – I’ll keep the water flavorants for my morning drink (2T heavy cream, 1 squirt orange Mio in a travel mug filled with ice & water).

Tuesday – Tonight is Marcus Theater’s special $5 admission night – any movie you want to see, all seats are a measly $5.  The SQO wanted to go see The Awakening 2, so dinner was a scramble.  I ended up with a pair of hot dogs along with a plateful of pan fried green beans (plenty of garlic & onion in dem beans…).   With dinner being so light, I was a bit peckish at the movie, but I nimbly avoided the popcorn once again, and celebrated the carb-avoidance with some extra egg salad when I got home.

And the movie?  Crazy bizarre & scary.  It’s based on a real-life couple who did a lot of paranormal research in the 70’s, and their encounter in a haunted house in England.   It made me give out involuntary exclamations (but no screams) in 3 separate occasions, which may be a record.  Usually…I giggle at the bits the rest of the audience is jumping out of their skin over.

If you’ve got a taste for scary ghost movies…go see it.

 

 

 

 

She’s such a BRAT!

Brats

The Pinwheel of Deliciousness

Keto update again.

OK..I may have mentioned I live in Wisconsin.  Besides beer & cheese, the next thing that Wisconsinites worship as a divine foodstuff is Bratwurst.  In this state, the grill isn’t a backyard appliance, it’s an altar.

Baby Beer Bottle

Now, beer isn’t a problem for me, as I was one of the few children in this state who DIDN’T have fermented hops in their night-time bottle, so I dodged what some of the Keto bloggers out there have called the ‘liquid bread’ bullet.  Lucky me, eh?

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Cheese is also not an issue on Keto, although I did have to learn a little something about this thing called ‘portion control.’  Whodathunk an entire brick of Brick was MORE than a single serving???

Crazy, I know…

But brats?  Now that’s something I can really get behind…because while the rest of the world is quaking in terror over this fat content of this glorious, spicy, thick tube of pork and beef…

**I love this bit!**

It’s just the kind of meat that’s encouraged in Keto. 🙂

Granted, I can’t easily get my FAVORITE brats, as they reside in a mom & pop store about an hour away, but I can get the commercially-available next-best-thing.  I still have yet to find a local butcher who’s sausage-making comes close to  Glenn’s Meat Market‘s meat-art.

If you want the best Wurst in South-Central Wisconsin, you should check out his shopping page.  He’s got a brat to fit every taste.  Seriously.

I can highly recommend:

Packer Brats (green pepper & cheddar cheese)

Greek Brats (you can REALLY taste the lamb)

Philly Cheese (motz, onion & peppers)

Beer, Garlic, Cheese…the list goes on and on.  He’s even got some new ones now – corned beef and Ruben.  Damn…I may have to make a road trip!

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And, if you’re in the little town of Watertown, WI on any given Saturday, summer afternoon, Glenn will be happy to cook you up one (or more) of his fantastic sausages in his Brat Haus. (proceeds of the Brat Haus go to local charities, schools & organizations).  He runs his grill every Saturday afternoon from Memorial day to Labor day.

JUST FOLLOW YOUR NOSE!

Here’s my weekly Keto check in:

Thursday – Found yet another sweet experiment that didn’t quite work.  I blended some heavy cream with Mio Lemonade drops – WAAAAAAY too much of the flavorant.  I think I’m still puckering a week later!

Friday – The star of today’s show is two-fold.  Breakfast burritos for dinner (I’m non-traditional, what can I say) and the END of the damn heartburn!  It was the summer sausage I’d been eating, not the egg salad.  We’re crossing that little foodstuff OFF the grocery list!

For the breakfast burritos, scramble around a dozen eggs, brown a 12 oz tube of sage breakfast bulk sausage, and mix the two fully cooked proteins together.  Put a spoon of these mixed proteins in a soft tortilla shell (I use the 5g carb ones), add a bit of raw onion, a bit of chopped green bell pepper, a sprinkling of dark green leafy’s of your choice, a few sliced black olives, chunky salsa & sour cream to taste.  This was one of my pre-keto favorite meals, and I’m over the moon to know with a simple modification I can still have it.

Saturday – Egg salad (thankfully heartburn FREE!!!) and not-quite-Glenn’s brats.

Sunday – I really gotta stop experimenting with insanely weird stuff.  I picked up some hemp protein powder, chocolate flavored, blended it up with some water & heavy cream, and….EWWWWWW.  The stuff was grainy.  I spat out little bits of hemp fiber the rest of the day.  But it was OK, because I ended up not leaving the house all day.  In fact, I didn’t even bother to change out of my jammies.

The reason I didn’t leave the house?  I didn’t know that the Park & Rec department had sponsored a bike race from 11am to 9pm on Sunday.  I also didn’t know that the parking lot I usually keep my car was smack dab in the middle of the race route.  But…a little sunshine with this setback was I got to watch, from my living room windows,  extremely-well toned men (and women) race down the street like demons.  Front Row Balcony seating (with air conditioning) for the kids race.  The various sets went on All Day Long.

 

Monday – I.  Wanted.  Chicken.  So I got one of the good, marinated chicken breasts from the local Pick & Save, roasted it up, paired it with more sauteed green beans.  Killer Dinner!

Tuesday – F*&&^^!!!!  –  S*+^&^%$#!!!!   –  A@#$#$!!!!  –  B@$%&#$@#!!!!

I’m a little frustrated with work – so it felt good to let off a little steam.  Sadly, booking a ticket for the next flight to the left coast so I can kick my boss in the butt (REAL hard!!!) is unrealistic and would get me fired, so the next best thing is comfort food.

In my book up to this date – comfort food equals carbs, which will derail my ketosis.  Hmmmmmmmmm.

I settled on a walk, down to one of my favorite bar & grills in the downtown area:  Mainstream.    While I’m fairly familiar with their menu, I took a quick browse through the online version, to plan out exactly what I’d be putting on the bunless burger I needed.

Swiss Cheese

Lettuce

Tomato

Pickles

Bacon (definitely a requirement tonight!)

Fried Onion

Bell Pepper

And a generous shot of Spicy Brown Mustard.

The waitress was a bit taken back when I placed my order – but, then again, I was 1) ordering more stuff than can reasonably be piled between 2 pieces of bread without making a huge mess, and 2) I worked up the the finale of my order  with “OK…now here’s where it gets a bit weird…” before I asked her to have the grilled bun and the home made chips put in a take out container (I can’t eat these, but everyone else in the household can – so why da hell not???)

The waitress understood once I told her “I don’t do carbs…but everyone else at home does…”  That’s all it took to get complete understanding.

What was presented to me for dining was delightful.  The cook spread the lettuce on a real plate (usually, they serve in those plastic basket-thingies) centered the burger on top, and then piled on the ordered toppings.  She spaced the pickles out in a ring around the edge of the plate.  And added the mustard in a plate-spanning star shape.  It was BEAUTIFUL!  And filling.  And the comfort food I really needed.

My only regret?  That I didn’t bring my phone to snap a quickie shot of the plate before I dug in.  The presentation deserved to be shared on the WWW.

Next time (and there WILL be a next time, believe me!) I’ll rectify that.

mainstream-bar-and-grill

Creamy is Dreamy

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Well – last week, I said I was determined to have coffee-flavored whipped cream.  I actually did a Mad Max Fury Road-style witness demand.

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I did it.

It took a whole lot of cream – 1/2 cup, to be exact, in the bottom of my blender cup.  A full tsp of my Mocha Java Mio followed.  The blender was dutifully dunked to the bottom of the cup, and the switch pushed.

Little, itty bitty splatters worked their way up the side of the cup and out, coating the blender stick, my hand, and the ‘in the wrong place at the wrong time’ coffeemaker sitting oh so innocently on the counter.  BLARG!

I hate making a mess when making something sweet in the kitchen.  All those little droplets of coffee sweetened cream WASTED?

**sob**

**sniffle**

I…need…a….tissue…

Sorry…was overcome for a minute…now, where was I?

Oh, yea…

Oddly enough, I had to lift the blender off the bottom of the cup – which stopped the spatters, and quickly turned my liquid cream into thick, fluffy whips.

Extremely quickly – I couldn’t believe how fast this little blender did its job.

I also couldn’t believe how quickly the stuff vanished…

It.  Was.  Delicious!!!

 

This week, I’ve been fighting the return of my heartburn.  Yea…I did kinda brag about it last week, and Murphy, damn his hide, shot me in the ass for it.  The heartburn revolves around either 1) the egg salad I’ve been making, or 2) the summer sausage I’ve been taking to lunch, or 3) the combination of both these proteins in my stomach at the same time.

At least I haven’t had any huge cravings for formerly sweet and/or savory stuff lately – and I’ve stuck within my daily numbers all week long 😀

 

Here’s week three in review:

Thursday fell into pretty ‘normal’ patterns – the kids & I had to run to the store (sigh…again) and we picked up some steaks.

Friday:  I.  Went.  To.  A.  Pizza.  Place.  There’s a new restaurant just around the block – and the SQO was in the mood for pizza, so we walked down and got a pair of pies.  Mine was a Greek Veggie Pizza.  Once I slid the toppings off the crust onto one of my low-carb tortillas – I was free & clear.  And…nom.

Saturday:  Coffee.  Whipped.  Cream.  ‘Nuff said…

Tubrine 2Sunday:  Strangely enough, I only ate 2x today, and was thoroughly fed.  I think it helped that I was equally engrossed in making a turbine out of jump rings and scale mail scales.  Crafting gets me into the ‘zone’ where food no longer exists 😀

Monday:  I’ve found another new way (well, for me, I’m sure someone in the culinary world has thought this up) to do my evening vegetable.  Frozen green beans, a good dollop of butter, and 2 cloves of garlic – sauteed quickly to get the heat through the ice in the beans, but not enough to make ’em mushy.  A bit of salt & pepper – I could eat beans like this for EVAH!

Tuesday:  Laundry night.  Now…while we DO have a washer & dryer in the basement of my building, the kids & I prefer to go offsite to do our washing. (yes…we’re weird).  Laundry night is also Take Out night…we usually buy burgers or subs and eat at the laundromat.  Tonight…we went to this sub shop called Jersey Mike’s – you can get any of their sandwiches ‘in a tub’ – making it into a salad.  And, bonus, Jersey Mike’s has a wonderful nutrition section of their website.  Simple to pull the numbers off the web.

Wednesday:  **Sigh**

This is the third day in a row where I’ve had heartburn after lunch at work…getting frustrated on this whole egg salad thing.   Might try eliminating the mayo all together, and whisking up an English Salad Cream instead.

 

Salad CREAM??? You ask?  If you’re not a die-hard Brit, I can understand the confusion, as this is one of those regional ‘class-identifying’ condiments from across that big pond we call the Atlantic.  It sounds interesting, though, and certainly Keto-friendly, so I’m willing to give it a go…and I should be able to scale it down to the 2 eggs I use for egg salad.

Until next week, here’s the Salad Cream recipe I found on the big-ole’-web.

English Salad Cream

The stuff:

  • 6 -8 free-range fresh eggs
  • English mustard or Dijon mustard
  • salt
  • pepper
  • vinegar, of your choice
  • single cream
  • lemon juice (optional)

The Build:

  1. To start you will need to hard boil some eggs, I normally do 6 or 8 depending on the size of the egg. (Fresh salad cream will only last for about 3 to 4 days in the fridge, so it’s pointless making a huge batch.).
  2. Boil the eggs for about 10 minutes then place in ice cold water to cool. Once cooled remove the shells and slice in half, place the yolks in a bowl and wrap the whites in cling film and place in the fridge, you can do something else with them.
  3. To the egg yolks add a teaspoon of English or Dijon mustard, a pinch of salt and pepper, and a splash of vinegar. You can also add a sqeeze of lemon juice too if you want. Blend all these together to form a thick paste. Now start to add some cream, do it slowly and keep mixing. You don’t want the sauce too thick or too runny.
  4. When you think it’s nearly at the right consistency, stop and do a taste test. Now is the time to add more mustard or pepper if your taste buds demand it. Finish off by adding a little more vinegar until you acheive the right consistency.
  5. Of course if you don’t want to add more vinegar add a little more cream, as I said earlier this is a flexible recipe so make it how you like it.
  6. Store in a clean jam jar in the fridge for up to 3/4 days. Use in sandwiches, salads, dips, dressings etc.

 

Tune in next week for all the fabulous results….

Batman & Robin copy

 

 

That’s some Salty Language

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It’s Thursday again, and the 2nd one in Keto.  I don’t want to sound too optimistic, because Murphy’s out there with his big book of laws, but I do believe I’m getting the hang of this thing.

Last week, Thursday, I wanted a Coke.  Every cell in my body wanted a Coke.  So I made a sweet-ish fat bomb instead.  Ate one of those.

And the rest are sitting in my freezer, ready and waiting for the next sweet-demand to hit.

 

bowl-potato-chips-fbFriday strolled on in with the next carb-heavy demand from my stomach.  I wanted potato chips.  Salty, crunchy, greasy little carb-wafers..the really good ones, where you lick the grease and salt from your fingers, your lips, and (if you’re a REALLY messy eater) pick the crumbs from between cleavage to get every last morsel of fatty, salty, potato-y decadence.

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Mmmm – fat and salt.  By themselves, easy to ignore.  But together?  You might as well paint them luminescent green and stick a big red ‘S’ on my chest, because that combination is my Kryptonite.

But instead of running to the store or the evil vending machine in the break room, I pulled a Google search to see if I couldn’t find salty/crunchy fat bombs to soothe this latest assault on my willpower.

Yup.  Some interesting ideas surfaced.

Mixing cream cheese with Italian herbs and a dash of sun dried tomato, smearing a bit on toasted pepperoni – pizza fat bomb!

Cream cheese mixed with Mediterranean herbs, smeared on crispy bacon.

Melting little piles of hard cheese (Parmesan, Asiago, sharp white Cheddar) in the oven until crisp.

Nuking wedges of American cheese in the microwave – again, until crisp – makes keto style cheese nips.

The one I focused on, as it was a simple run to the store – was using pork rinds to scoop flavored cream cheese.  Mmmmm – onion & chive creamy goodness and a slightly salty crunch from the pork rinds.

So long, potato chips.  Have fun hanging out with the Coke!

 

Now, I may well be imagining things, as a week and change is hardly enough time to really start melting fats, but I believe my pants may be JUUUUST a bit looser.

The other body change that I’m ecstatic about since starting this Keto thing – is my frequent heartburn.  I figured I’d be heavy into almonds or other nut-meats to combat the raging heartburn I’ve fought for over 25 years, or back to the tums.  After all, in the past, when I’d consume anything really spicy & fatty (say…pizza with loads of pepperoni and/or a tomato sauce) I’d be paying for it in pain for the rest of the day.

Nope.  My heartburn is all but gone.  The only time I had to take a tums was with the faux-tato salad I made, and a single tums wiped it completely out.

I’m starting to realize how inefficient and wrong the American Dietary Recommendations are for the human body.  Is there a single segment of ‘Public Health’ that cares about actual Public Health anymore?  Or are they all just visible marketing mouthpieces for Corporate Food & Drug?

 

Here’s how this week went:

Friday – needed chips.  Solved chip dilemma without resorting to salty language, eye patches, or peg-legs. (Arrrr – avast, ye’ dogs, an’ get to swabbin’ the deck!)

Saturday – My Keto buddy recommended Mio flavoring drops, so I grabbed a few on my latest trip to the store (I should buy stock in Woodman’s, as I’m probably propping up their sales) including Mocha Java.  This one does have a few carbs, so I’ll have to be careful with it – but damn – I can have sweet coffee drinks!

I mixed 2 T of heavy cream with a teaspoon of the Mio, and tried to get a froth going with the immersion blender, only to realize I needed more volume (and more servings) to get coffee whipped cream.  Not one to abandon a perfectly good food-project, I drank the stuff straight out of the glass. HOLY COW – WHAT A COFFEE RUSH!  Next time, I’ll take K’s advice, and mix it with a tall glass of ice water.

Sunday – OK…I have a new way to love veggies.  Roasted broccoli & cauliflower with onions, green pepper & garlic in olive oil – mixed them all together, spread on a pan, and into the oven until slightly browned.

Monday.  Oh.  My.  Gawd.  I can have PIZZA!  I found low-carb tortillas (5 net carb) at the store.  Topped with a white sauce made of several blended cheeses & spices I also found at the store, some chicken, green pepper, onion, cheese & bacon.  No need for bready crusts 😀

Tuesday.  I survived a trip to the movies.  You know how EVERYTHING at the concession stand is carb-loaded?  Not a single kernel of popcorn passed these lips.  (The movie was awesome, too…)

Wednesday.  Mixed some Orange Vanilla Mio drops the same way I do the Mocha Java ones – in a tall glass with ice & water.  YUMMMMM…orange creamcicle for breakfast.

When I’ve time this weekend, I want to try a greater volume of heavy cream, the Mio flavoring drops, and my immersion blender again.

I WILL have flavored whipped cream.

Witness…200881_1

 

 

Just how low can you get?

Coco butter bomb 1

20.  That’s low.  For carbs…

 

Last week, I went on a rampage about Coke and my ass.  The two have spent way too much time in each other’s company lately.

That’s changing.

I’ve been researching the low carb lifestyle for a bit, inspired by a friend of mine on FaceBook who’s been Keto’ing since January.  She’s a bit of a foodie, and she kept posting pictures of all the stuff she’s been doing in the kitchen.

I’ve decided to join her.

The eating style called Keto (short for Ketosis) has diners limit their carbohydrate intake drastically.  It also puts some limits on protein – and allows you a metric ton of fats per day.  My personal numbers, based on a calculator I found:

120g fat      25g carbs     100g protein                 per day

According to the calculator, this will put me at a moderate caloric deficit, in which my body (once it reaches ketosis) will start to burn my personal stores of fat.

Although ‘store’ is really too light a word – My personal fat stores are somewhere between a WalMart SuperCenter and the Mall of America’s available merchandise.

So almost a week on the low carb thing – how did I do?

Saturday:  A dry run, to see if this was feasible.  I made it to around 1pm, then dug out the leftover Chicken Noodle Soup from the ‘fridge.  Hello, Carb Bomb!  Did some grocery shopping to be better prepared for tomorrow.

Sunday:  Did pretty good.  Any ‘diet’ that allows me to eat bacon in the morning is my kind of diet…Stayed on target for total carb intake, went over on protein, low on fats.  Howinhell am I gonna eat that much fat???

Monday:  Missing bready things.  Why do the bready things not love me anymore?  Tried to make a bready-muffiny thing (Kitchen of Horror, anyone), got disgusted, ate some more bacon.  Bacon ALMOST made things better…but the cheese sauce I made to pour over my nighttime veggies made up for it.

Tuesday:  Back to work.  Bacon and no bready things in the morning (I miss my morning toaster-waffle).  Sausage, cheese, and cauliflower dipped in ranch dressing for lunch.  Tried to make an avocado chocolate pudding (Kitchen of Horror, take II).

Have I mentioned I HATE Avocado?  Getting desperate for enough fats…

Turkey burger with lots of cheese melted on top, slathered with real mayo & spicy mustard.  Bacon for a side.  Maybe I CAN do this thing, after all…

Wednesday:  I made a ‘potato’ salad with cauliflower instead of starchy potatoes.  It was sooooo yum I couldn’t eat all of it.  Taking the remainder to work tomorrow.  I’m starting to feel confident in doing this keto thing!

And that brings us to today.  Maybe I’m in the throws of the dread ‘Keto-flu’.  No matter how much fat I shove into my stomach, I can’t get full…and I want a freaking Coke.

So I made Coconut Butter Bombs instead…coco butter bomb 2

These delightful little high-fat, sweet & nutty morsels may have just saved me from a full-blown Coke-fueled rampage through the bakery department at Woodman’s, Pick-N-Save, Costco, WalMart AND Aldi’s.

I still have to tweak the recipe a bit, as coconut butter is a bit grainy.  Maybe a touch more coconut oil, and a bit more heavy cream, to smooth things out…if you want to tweak my beginning work – let me know how it goes?

I can also see the appeal of melting extremely dark chocolate over the top.

Coconut Butter Bombs
1 cup coconut butter
3 TBSP coconut oil
21 drops SweetLeaf ™ chocolate Stevia Drops
1 tsp vanilla
1 TBSP heavy whipping cream
slivered almonds
shredded coconut (unsweetened)
Directions.
Melt coconut butter and coconut oil in a double boiler until liquid.  Add stevia &
vanilla.  Mix to blend.  Turn off the burner under the boiler.  Let the batter sit in its
hot pan of water, and prepare your mini muffin cups.  Put a sprinkling of slivered
almonds in the bottom, a sprinkling of shredded coconut on top.  Put the cups on a small
pan so you can easily transfer to the freezer.
Back to your mixture, add the heavy whipping cream.  The batter will immediately
thicken.  Stir until glossy.
 pour equal measures in the cups  & freeze until firm.  Makes 17 portions
 PER PIECE:    Cal  122        fat 12g        carb 1.2g        prot  1.35g

…things…

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Tonight, the dying sun is huge and red as it drops into the embrace of the horizon, painting the sky in a panoply of oranges, violets, and pinks. It casts its paintbrush onto the dirty mounds of snow choking the narrow streets as well, rendering a floral display bursting with cold life.

The Natural will always find a way to disguise the ugliness of our world, if we mere humans will only take the time to admire its work.

I register this artwork as a small detail in my peripheral vision during my run toward home, without stopping to appreciate the view.  My instinct for self-preservation is stronger than Nature’s nightly art display.  Curfew is sundown, and for good reason.

Anyone not within safe enclosure?  …things… happen.

Chest heaving, I shove the heavy glass door of my building open, barely beating the soft ‘click’ of the auto-lock mechanism inside the solid steel frame and the rapid decent of the iron safety bars in front of the glass facade.  The door swings shut to adhere to its weighty frame with a satisfying thunk.  The cage finishes its drop a moment later with an equally comforting rattle that tickles the ears and reverberates through the painted concrete floor.

In the sudden silence of the lobby, my labored breathing is deafening, and I double-up against my shaking knees, trying to catch my errant breath.

 

“A moment later…” a little voice chimes in my head.

The rest of that thought is too horrifying to complete.

 

IMG_0287I shift to lean against the graffiti-and-grime spattered wall, furiously sucking in great drafts of musty air.  The muscles of my body demand fresh oxygen after their efforts to propel me to safety, and my lungs labor to fulfill that need.

My heart pounds furiously in my chest as it, too, labors – distributing the oxygen-rich blood the lungs are busy providing.  My fingers and feet throb in time with the casket of muscle straining in my chest.

I give myself a bare five minutes to recover from the mad dash of the last minutes…to bring my raging lungs back to more normal patterns of breathing and my heart to slow its rapid pounding.  I may have passed the immediate danger of being out-of-cover after nightfall, but I’m still visible to the street…and there are 11 flights of rickety stairs with floor-to-ceiling plate glass on each landing, between me and the tiny cube of interior walls I call my sanctuary.

stair darkI contemplate the derelict risers.  Time, and endless feet, have eroded the carpet on the stairs from thick, cheerful swirls of color to a slimy streak of threadbare fabric the color of ashes.  Those same feet have worn the wood’s glossy varnish down to mediocre grayish-brown and black stains.  The hands accompanying the before-mentioned feet have wreaked equal havoc on the handrail – streaking the polished wood with infinite layers of human oils and other, less pleasant to think about, substances.

The endless circle of stairs is both the bane of my twilight sojourn home, and the reason my home is sanctuary.

…things… never happen any higher than the 6th floor.

With a sigh of inevitability, I place my hand gingerly on the slick/sticky rail, setting my foot on the first of countless steps.

Tap.  Tap.  Tap.

Behind me.  On the glass enclosure of the lobby.

Two fingers of ice slowly walk their delicate way down my spine as I freeze in place, left hand on the railing, right foot on the stair.  I suck in a very slow and cautious breath, careful not to let the movement of my chest disturb my exposed back.  My heart hammers in my ears, furiously pumping adrenaline-spiked blood through my veins.  It’s a titanic effort of will to keep myself motionless against the beating demands of unleashed chemical instinct which is screaming at me to run, hide, conceal myself in the convenient shadows just 3 steps up.

…things… happen when your movements draw attention.

Chemistry changes tactics.  If flight isn’t an option, we’ll go to option two.  The roaring blood in my ears blocks out sound, demanding I turn and face the unknown adversary tapping on the glass.  The fingers of my left hand tighten on the rail, and the right’s digits attempt to curl.

One more shallow breath, one more slow release, another Herculean effort to keep my fingers from fisting.

Tap.  Tap.  Tap.

Three sharp, staccato bursts echo through the lobby.  Lance through my head.  The urge to turn my head ever-so-slightly, just a teasing hint of movement, so I can see the glass and the creator of that terrifying sound out of the corner of my eye, is powerful.

There are some …things… that shouldn’t be seen.

A kaleidoscope of fractured images of the dank stairwell and dying carpet dance across my vision from the unshed tears crafting prisms in my eyes.  Slowly, I blink, jostling the moisture into motion down my cheeks.

One more shallow breath in…one more slow exhalation out.

***thud***                                     ***Crrrrrrrrrrrack!!***

The window creaks madly at the sudden weight thrown against it.

I bolt up the stairs, no longer able to control the mad rush of chemicals flooding my muscles and sinews, knowing from the stories that …things… stretch the truth of reality in a fiction story turned horribly real.

I reach the ninth step before the back of my left calf explodes into a bloody mess of shredded skin and fabric an instant before my ears register the crash of broken glass striking the concrete lobby floor.  I push harder, forcing the muscles of my legs to keep working, keep pumping and contracting, keep pushing my weight against the pull of gravity to get me up, up, up!

It takes me a moment longer to realize the insane screaming echoing within the vast stairwell is coming from my vocal cords.

I grab the curved railing, swinging my body around the bend in the stairs, neatly vaulting myself over the landing and onto the next flight of risers.  Frantic, screaming, wide-eyed and bloody from the knee down, I charge up toward the first of the plate glass landings.  Instinctively knowing the more sections of curving staircase I put between myself and the lobby, the greater chance I have of drawing breath past the next few minutes.

The plate glass is darkened by decades of grime – reflecting perfectly my crazed appearance…

And the surreal …things… tearing up the landing below me.

 

My chest is on fire- my lungs straining to complete the exchange of choking carbon dioxide for clean oxygen fuel.  My heart is pounding at an alarming rate, trying to cycle the blood fast enough to keep my legs pounding, pounding, pounding on the staircase.  My vision narrows to single flashed images:  the next stair above me, my grimy shoe, a patch of cleaner wallpaper.

I bang into a solid object.  All forward momentum is halted, and I grab wildly at the object to keep myself from pitching backwards down the stairs.

The object grabs back.

A navy-on-black, 3 piece, double-breasted pinstripe suit.  A bright red, (possibly) silk tie.  Perfect half-Winchester knot between the tabs of a crisp, white collar.  Gold watch chain snaking across the matching vest.  Black leather shoes, buffed to an eye-blinding gloss.  Shoestrings carefully tied in twin bows.

I feel ten very solid – but very human – fingers digging into my upper arms.

“Tsk, tsk…” The sound slides from between perfectly sculpted, pursed lips, enshrouded with a dusting of black, five o’clock shadow.  “A mad dash?  All that wild screaming?  Such sounds coming from such a little thing?  Whatever will the neighbors think?”

Five of those iron fingers slide up my arm, along my collar-bone, and tease a gold chain from beneath my clothing.

“You know …things… happen when you steal from The Company.”

 

 

All 10 iron fingers lock around my throat.