Friday, April 27, 2012

Gluten Free Redhead

I'm finally caving to peer pressure, and starting a separate blog for gluten-free stuff. I've found that a lot of people seem to think those of us who eat a GF diet are living off rice cakes and celery sticks, and I can assure you, that's just not the case. I eat a lot of good stuff - look at me, and it's clear I'm not starving. I like to cook, I like to eat, and I like yummy things. Food should be an adventure, a celebration, a cause for joy and rapture -- not a chore that makes you feel sad and pathetic. So stop in over at Gluten Free Redhead, to see what I'm doing over there. I promise not to flash my boobs at you.

Although those, too, are gluten-free.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

How to Horrify Your College Student

Text her with inappropriate comments about the good-looking guy at physical therapy.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Review: The Keeper Cup

Warning: this post talks about things like periods and vaginas. If you're squicked out by either of those, you might want to just back up to the last post because it has a picture of my puppy looking cute in front of a bowl of popcorn, and no vaginas to be found.

Okay, so here we go. I'm writing this in case any of my friends are thinking about trying this sort of product but feel funny asking about it. You know you're wondering.

Anyway, about a month ago I read an absolutely horrifying story about a woman who had found bread mold in her Kotex tampon (prior to insertion, thankfully). And it got me thinking about things like brand loyalty, personal safety, and stuff like that. I'm a Playtex girl, myself, and for the past coupla decades, those pink boxes have sat happily in my bathroom cabinet every month. But the bottom line is, unless you peer inside the applicator each time you use a tampon, you really have NO idea what you're sticking up into your ladybits. Combine that with my increasingly-minimalist approach to living and spending, and I decided I'd look into using a menstrual cup instead of buying disposable products each month.

There are several different brands available out there - and apparently an entire community of Yay I Love My Cup! folks - so I did some research and decided that I'd experiment with the Keeper Cup brand. At $35, it would cost me about the same as a year's supply of tampons - but if all goes well, I should get about ten years of use from it. I ordered it online, and a few days later a plain yellow envelope showed up in my mailbox, postmarked Cincinnati. Inside was a pretty little floral cloth bag (hand stitched by retired seamstresses!) containing my Keeper Cup, which looks a bit like the business end of a plunger for Barbie's Dream House.

First thing you need to know: menstrual cups seem to be sold in two different sizes - one for before childbirth (or if you've only had a C-section), and one for after childbirth. Now, I've had one c-section, and it's been nigh on twenty years since a giant baby came shooting out of my vagina, but I went ahead and ordered the Party Size one anyway. Yes, it's bigger in diameter than a tampon, but much smaller than some other things that normally end up in a vagina. Don't be intimidated by it.
Second thing you need to know: insertion may take multiple attempts until you get accustomed to it and develop a technique that works for you. The instructions tell you to fold the cup in half, and then in half again - it looks a bit like a taco, no kidding - and then relax and insert it. Well... yeah. If you let go too soon, there's a weird slurping sound as the cup forms a vacuum inside your vagina, and your cup will sit too low, which will feel weird. Make sure you hold on to it as you position it inside - once you let go, the latex pops out into place, the tiny holes form suction, and bang, you've got a cup in your vagina, all ready to catch whatever sort of things might be headed out of you. The first time I did it, took me three shots. And it's definitely easier if you hike a foot up on the side of the tub, like you did the first eleventy-four times you tried to use a tampon.

Once it's in place, it's pretty comfortable. Certainly no less noticeable than those tampons I've been using all those years. For removal, there's a little stem at the base of the cup, which sits right up inside, but honestly, I didn't even notice it. If the stem moves around, don't worry, you'll still be able to catch it later when you need to remove your cup, it's not going to end up in your appendix or anything. And if you're squeamish about sticking your fingers in there anyway, for the love of Pete, we learned in kindergarten to wash our hands after using the restroom, right?

To remove the cup, I found that if I grabbed the stem with my fingertips and then pushed the base of the cup towards the center, it releases the vacuum with a little popping sound, and then you can slide the cup out and simply dump the contents into the toilet. Have a piece of toilet paper handy so you can wipe off the rim (and your fingers) while you move it to the sink for a quick rinse. Then re-insert.

Upsides of using a cup? Well, it's environmentally sound, it's cost effective, and OMG NO LEAKAGE. That's huge, as anyone who's ever had to borrow an emergency tampon from a stranger knows. Also, it's comfortable as hell once you get used to it.

Downsides? Well, I can see how it could be a little messy, depending on the volume of contents in the cup. If I thought I was going to have to empty it in a public restroom I might consider using a tampon for the afternoon instead. Then again, you don't have to empty a cup nearly as often as you'd have to change a tampon, so it's a pretty good trade off.

The Keeper brand also offers the Moon Cup, which is built the same way but out of medical-grade silicone, for those of you who might have a latex allergy. Other brands include Diva, Lunette, Softcup and Miacup -- I'm sure all of them work essentially the same way, it's just a matter of finding the one you like. And nearly all of them come with a money-back guarantee, so if you really hate it -- or you just can't use it -- send it back.

Anyway, this is one of those rare products that makes me stop and say OMG WHY DIDN'T I DO THIS SOONER? Super easy, super comfy, inexpensive, and just toss it in some hot soapy water when I'm done with it. I want to buy one for all my friends, but that might be seen as creepy.

Totally giving this one five stars. Or BeaDazzled vaginas, because they're sparklier.

Microwave Popcorn

So recently I’ve been reading about all the bad things in microwave popcorn. I’m a huge fan of the stuff, and I snack on it three or four times a week. It’s by far my favorite snack food, and keeps me away from cookies and potato chips. It’s also laden with, as reports are showing, all kinds of really bad shit that causes really bad things to happen if you consume it in mass quantities - which, one could say, four times a week might be.

And it’s not just that delicious buttery topping that’s bad - it’s the linings of the bags themselves. Apparently the stuff used to keep the oil from seeping through the paper releases, when microwaved, deadly toxic fumes that then SEEP INTO YOUR POPCORN.


Recently an article about this very topic was posted in one of the Facebook groups I belong to, and another poster commented that she and her family made popcorn in paper bags just to eliminate all the non-organic icky crap that’s in the bags. I was immediately intrigued - partly because of the healthy aspect of it, and partly because I spend a small fortune on Orville Redenbacher’s stuff. So, when I hobbled off to the grocery store this morning (first time driving in three weeks, thanksverymuch), with my faithful assistant, Breanna the Wonderful (who’s sitting right here reading over my shoulder as I type this), I thought HEY! I CAN HAZ POPCORN TOO!

I bought a $2 one-pound bag of popcorn kernels, and a 50-count pack of paper lunch sacks - blessedly chemical-free paper sacks, I should point out. I was already saving money, because a 10-count box of Orville would have set me back $5.79. And that was the “on sale” price.

So here's how to make your own:

1/2 C popcorn kernels
1 tsp olive oil (you can probably use canola, but I prefer the taste of olive oil)

Blend these together in a bowl, and put them in a brown paper lunch sack. Fold the top over a couple of times so it's closed, set the bag on its flat bottom on a plate (so you don't have to clean oil out of your microwave later), and nuke for about five minutes. Watch your times - my microwave sucks, so I needed five minutes, but you should stop whenever the pops are a couple of seconds apart.

Remove from bag, top with your favorite popcorn topping, and taunt the dog.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Remoulade Sauce

So after the previous post on how to make mayonnaise, I figured I'd better share the Remoulade sauce recipe too. There are a lot of different ways to make Remoulade, and it depends, apparently, on what kind of Louisiana-style flavors you like, but this is the one I make because it's amazeballs.

Basic Remoulade Sauce

1 1/4 cups mayonnaise
1/4 cup mustard
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp horseradish
1 Tbsp paprika
2 tsp Cajun seasoning (I like Zatarain's)
2tsp dill pickle juice
1 tsp hot sauce
2 tsp lemon juice

Blend it all together in a bowl, and serve with shrimp or whatever else you're eating. I'll definitely say the flavors meld together even more nicely if you let it sit for a few hours before serving.

Make Your Own Mayonnaise

So any time I make a comment about making my own mayonnaise, inevitably I get 87 emails from friends along the lines of OMG YOU MAKE YOUR OWN MAYO NOM NOM NOM, so rather than sending out the same response over and over, I figured I'd just post the recipe here.

I should preface this by saying it's a recipe my mom has been using for as long as I can remember, and I have NO idea where she found it (I'm sure she'll tell me), but it's a pretty standard mayo recipe. I like to jazz it up sometimes with things like curry powder, dill, and other good stuff, and I use it as a base for an amazing Remoulade sauce.

Oh, and as to WHY you should try making your own mayo? Have you ever read the list of ingredients on a jar of store-bought mayonnaise? This tastes a thousand times better and has stuff in it you recognize.

Basic Mayonnaise

1/4 C. Eggbeaters
1/4 C. Olive oil
1/2 tsp. mustard (powder)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 C. lemon juice

Add all of these to the bowl of your food processor, and blend together. Then slowly pour in 1 C. canola oil.

That's it. That's mayonnaise. This gives you about a cup and a half of delicious creamy mayonnaisey goodness, and it'll last you about two weeks in a tightly sealed container in your fridge. Try it. It kicks ass.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

And THIS is the Face I Made...

... when the physical therapist prodded my right hip.

Yes, I let her live. For now.