Hangout Fest Blues

We got back from Hangout Fest in Gulf Shores on Monday evening. 5 days of the beach, breaking my routine, seeing old friends, eating great food (oops) and discovering new bands.

I’ll write a real blog about the festival once I’ve got my photos and videos uploaded so you can see what it was like.

For now, I’m nursing my endo-hangover. Is that a thing? I think I just made it one.

And since my body is rejecting every morsel of food I consume, I’ve resigned myself to only bone broth. Again. Until my GI gets it shit together. 2 days? 3 days? Who knows.

Not in a good mood.

 

 

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Hangout Fest – Gulf Shores

Heard of Hangout? It’s a 3 day music festivus on the beach in Gulf Shores, Alabama. We’re going Thursday. Have a condo right on the beach. Holla!

We leave Wednesday for New Orleans to spend the night with the lovely Lorelei, who lives there right now. She’ll take me to get my Spotted Cat fix – a NOLA must. Then Gulf Shores is just a quick jaunt from there.

I’m scared and excited. What if I can’t do it? What if I yell at everyone because I can only sleep from 9-11am and they are being loud? What if I don’t sleep at all and grudgingly watch the sunrise (hello, last Friday night) because, hormones? What if I’m cranky and develop an aversion to music and life? Sigh. So many things to worry about with stupid endo. What if….I love it and have a blast? (hahahahahahaha. be real.) But, here’s trying, at least.

If all else fails, there’s a beach.

In other developments last week…we decided on a family xmas vacation destination for this year….ST. MAARTEN! House and flights booked, y’all. The house is smack bang on the beach. Like…back door —> sand —-> water —-> mermaids. It’s like a dream. Will be happy for tips on surfing, scuba, sailing, restaurants, bars, hikes…anything and everything! A quick internet search revealed that we can sail for the day to Anguilla and back. Um…done. And there’s a hot surf spot just down the road from our house. I can’t wait to embrace that addictive island life I love so much…

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Fish Tacos with tomatillo salsa – The best damn tacos you will ever eat!

There is no time to waste. I can wax poetic about how I’ve never had fish tacos this tasty, even at the best fish taco restaurants. But I will not! Because the fact is they are, and you must go make them this instant.

fish tacos 2

Adapted from Food and Wine: (naturally)

Fish Tacos with spicy tomatillo salsa
Serves 4

does not contain: dairy, soy, gluten, sugar

SALSA

4 tomatillos—husked and chopped
handful of cilantro
1-2 small jalapeños, chopped (amount dependent on desired spice)
1/2 lime
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
salt to taste

Dump all of the ingredients into a blender or food processor and blend to a chunky consistency. Set aside.

TACOS

1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
handful of cilantro
2 minced garlic cloves
1 pound mahi mahi*
salt
corn tortillas (homemade are to DIE for. thanks mexican boyfriend!)
garnishes: chopped avocado, red onion, cucumber

*I’ve had a lot of fish tacos in my day and I’ve found mahi to be the best. It’s got a super meaty texture that adds great density to this dish.

First, combine the first 5 ingredients and let marinate in a dish in the fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes. I like to do at least 2 hours. Make sure you turn it every now and then so it gets evenly coated.

Heat a grill pan on high heat. Season the fish with salt and place in the pan, turning once, until it is white throughout – 6-8 minutes. Transfer the fish to a plate and shred with a fork, eating a few bites here and there to make sure it’s cooked through (it will be – this is just to fool everyone and get extra bites for yourself).

Serve with warm corn tortillas, heaping bowls of garnish, the tomatillo salsa, extra lime slices, and an ice cold Mexican beer. Unless you’re GF, then you have to go with a margarita. Slip into a food coma of ecstasy, and write me a thank you note tomorrow.

This is a go to recipe for us when we want something quick and tasty, and. it. never. disappoints.

Tip: homemade corn tortillas vs. store bought are as different as night and day. DO NOT BUY THEM AT THE STORE. I cannot emphasize this enough. If you’ve never made your own tortillas, don’t be intimidated – it’s easy! Most supermarkets sell masa in the baking aisle. Bonus if you can find a cheap tortilla press – they are a total time saver. We got ours at Fiesta. Then, you just add water, mix the dough, press into tortillas and heat in a pan. Voila! Taste explosion of happiness.

If you want, you can make a bunch of tortillas at once then pop the leftovers in the fridge for next time!

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Shrimp Pasta with Bone Marrow

Now let’s deal with these bones. As a bone marrow lover, I knew I wasn’t going to just toss out those old bones without finding some other use for them. Perhaps its the Native American in me. You know their thing with buffalo and not wasting any part of it…

I hastily scooped out that gelatinous mess into a bowl. It looks disgusting, I’m not gonna lie. How disgusting? This disgusting:

marrow

But TRUST ME – this is the perfect moment to spread some of that buttery goodness on a piece of toast and go to town. I mean, really go to town on this toast. Have I ever led you astray when it comes to food?

Once the bones were cleaned out, I had no other use for them, so in the trash they went.

bones1

But the bone marrow? Oh yes…I had diabolical plans for that marrow…

shrim[

I call it: Bone Marrow Shrimp.
I know, I don’t know how I do it either.

Bone Marrow Shrimp

does not contain: gluten, soy, sugar, dairy

Shrimp (10-15)
brown rice pasta (the best GF pasta I’ve found…at Trader Joe’s)
onion
mushrooms
cherry tomatoes
garlic
spinach
ghee
coconut oil
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup bone marrow
red pepper flakes *

*if tolerated

First, get the pasta going. Once the water was boiling I poured enough for 2 servings and set the timer according to the package instructions.

Then I got out my wok (you can use a large saucepan if you want) and tossed in the onion, mushrooms, garlic and red pepper flakes with a spoonful of coconut oil. After 5 minutes, I added the shrimp, ghee, tomatoes and wine, and let cook until the shrimp were done, about 5 more minutes.

While that’s cooking, taste the pasta to make sure its the consistency you want, and drain when ready. Toss into the wok with the other ingredients, along with a handful of spinach and the bone marrow. Stir on medium high heat until the marrow has completely melted and coated the pasta and the spinach is slightly wilted.

I’ve never cooked with bone marrow before and it provided an unbelievable depth of flavor to this pasta dish. Rich, decadent, hearty flavors burst forth in an unexpected way. You won’t hate this dish. I kind of do. But only because I ate so much it gave me a stomach ache. Don’t do that.

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Why you should be drinking bone broth…i guess

When I left Dr. Ginsberg’s office, they gave me a sample of recipes that are good for leaky gut. They didn’t come right out and say I have leaky gut (which IMO is one of the ickiest names for a condition, amirite?) but that it might be a good idea to start incorporating some of the recipes.

Enter: bone broth.

I researched the hell out of it and much to my surprise discovered it’s the miracle elixir of life…or so claims to be.

You can read up on it here, here and here if you desire. If you don’t desire, here are some bullet points:

  • alleviate joint and gut pain
  • boost your immune system
  • brighten skin
  • eliminate cellulite as it supports smooth connective tissue
  • heal leaky gut

Now, do I necessarily buy into all of this? No. I’m no longer the coked out alternative medicine zombie I once was, eschewing all other forms of healing. Do I think that it can still help? Sure. Ain’t gonna hurt to drink it, so I set about making it.

I bought some grass fed bison bones from Whole Foods. You can find them in the freezer section. I asked the butcher if he had any behind the counter, but alas he did not. Not sure how frequently that happens.

Bone Broth

2-3 lbs grass fed bones
couple tablespoons apple cider vinegar or white wine
2-3 celery stalks
3 garlic cloves
handful of baby carrots
1 onion
seasoning

Roast the bones in the oven at 350 for 30 minutes. The roasting is supposed to make the flavor of the broth more robust. The marrow will be jiggly when you take it out of the oven. You will be tempted to scoop a spoonful into your mouth. I very much encourage this.

Then I just plopped all the bones in my slow cooker, along with the chopped veggies, garlic and whatever seasoning you want. I used salt, pepper, Herbs de Provence, rosemary, and more salt. Then set the cooker on the lowest setting and let cook for 48 hours. The acidity in the vinegar (or wine) helps to leach the minerals out of the bones. Leach. I like that word. Leach.

bonebroth1

The broth turned into a light boil even on the lowest setting, which I had read was too hot. I had to turn it to the “warm” setting instead. You only want a few bubbles every now and then.

After 48 hours I let it cool for half the day, then portioned out a large bit into a pitcher to store in the fridge. Bone broth can be stored in the fridge for 4-5 days only, otherwise it will start to develop bacteria that will tear you up.

pitcherbroth

What to do with the rest? Why, portion them out into little silicone muffin cups and freeze, of course! Be sure to put them on a cookie sheet before doling out the broth. Otherwise, disaster. Trust me.

brothcups

There’s always one…

one

Now, as fun as a project that this was, I doubt I’ll do it again. It was so messy and time consuming for what turned out to be very short-lived satisfaction. We polished the broth off in less than a week.

carnage

the carnage

 

So I headed out to Revival Market to talk to their butcher and lo and behold they make their own bone broth, reduce it down to a demi-glace, and sell 6 frozen cubes of it for $8.95. Holy ham sandwich, I’m sold! I asked the butcher ad nauseum about their process: yes they use grass fed bones, yes the bones are in the pot the entire time, yes they cook it for 24+ hours, yes it has all the minerals and vitamins and goodness of the same broth I made…yes, get in my mouth! If you don’t have access to this then you will need the recipe above. But not me. I’m a practical, modern city girl. I got shit to do.

 

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Poop

Saw a new doctor last week. I feel like I’ve run my course with Mathias. Every time I go with the same old symptoms (anxiety/insomnia) he just throws a new Rx at me and says he doesn’t know what else to do. It’s sad for me, but I appreciate his honesty, because that means it’s time to move on and find a new route.

Enter Dr. Ginsberg, via my sister in law. She’s a gyno, but specializes in hormone balancing combined with nutrition, so she really gets how the gut is the epicenter of everything in the body.

I meet with her and a nutritionist for my first visit. 8 vials of blood and 2.5 hours later I walk out with no answers other than my GI is wrecked and my hormones are wandering around like assholes, disregarding their purpose and ruining my life. Things I already know.

4 days later I returned with a urine specimen and they took 4 more vials of blood. The nurse got the vein the first time, each time, which is a huge win for me.

THIS week, I get to do a 3 day stool specimen test. Yep. You should see this elaborate test kit they gave me. I’m surprised it didn’t include a hazmat suit. I get to poop in a tray (a tray!), then scoop my poop into little prescription bottles filled with liquid. There are skull and cross bones signs all over the bottles, warning you not to drink them. Uh, warning unnecessary guys. Really. Then I REFRIGERATE my specimens. Oh and I’m temping this week, so I get to do all of this in the office bathroom and then hide it under my desk. Once that’s done I ship it via FedEx….???

Anywho, this doctor is of the same vein as my current GI in that she says my gut is totes screwed and the cause of my current anguish. She’s also the first doctor to dig a little deeper into my anxiety. “Are you anxious like someone is coming to kill you and you’re afraid? Or is it more like hyperactivity?” No one has asked me that before. It’s definitely hyperactivity – I can’t sit still. Meanwhile, my brain has tucked itself in for the night, which leaves me with just enough power to watch Netflix. Tina Fey never gets old.

I have my follow up May 28. 432 weeks later, it seems. Guess it takes that long to get the test results back. Like I said, it wasn’t anything I haven’t heard before about my complicated case, but seems like a new approach. We’ll see. This shit ain’t cheap, either. Right out of the gate put me $600 in the hole. Nothing like a chronic disease to drain the ol’ bank account. Plus, the urine and stool tests were each around $150, not to mention what future costs I will incur. Worth it.

They also emphasized how gluten is the enemy because your body will attack gluten and your thyroid at the same time because they look identical. This causes a hell of a lot of confusion and, autoimmune disease if you’re lucky. My thyroid antibodies are 28, when they are supposed to be <20. My fasting glucose is high, but then it tapers out pretty evenly so they aren’t so positive that I have an insulin sensitivity.  I’m sure a new diet will be in the works as the previous one I was going off of was compiled at the height of Belinda Carlisle’s career. For now – no cheese or gluten. Except when dining at French or Spanish restaurants. I mean, I’m not a barbarian.

If you want further information – here is the website: Women’s Specialty Healthcare

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McGonigel’s Mucky Duck

Irish jam session, baby

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