Hangout Fest 2015

 

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Music + beach = risky fun

Thursday night we opted to skip the pre party and eat a gorgeous meal at The Gulf then headed to the Flora-bama Bar where we saw Adam Doleac perform. He was so good.

11050832_10153284761424513_2757750949363164411_nWe piled 18 people into 3 condos and this is what I woke up to every morning:

IMG_4888_2Ahhhh bliss.

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Here’s who you should know:

Day one-

  • DJ Windows 98 (with Preservation Hall Jazz Band)
  • J Roddy Walston & The Business

Day two-

    • The Suffers
  • Beats Antique
  • Preservation Hall Jazz Band

Day three-

  • Tove Lo (amazing show!)
  • The Lone Bellow

The best show of the weekend goes to the Zac Brown Band.

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this guy owns a bar and this was his very first yelp review upon opening. they are celebrating 10 yrs of business this year. boom!

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Ginsberg Follow Up

“But you don’t look sick.”

It’s one of the most irritating things to say to someone dealing with a chronic illness. I only hear this on my good days – the few good days I have each month. When I am out, have washed my hair and applied makeup, am social and having fun…

<welcome to my dark place…>

What you don’t see are most nights typing this blog at 3am, then finishing and switching to folding laundry and watching Netflix until 5am. I haven’t owned a television since 2011 and was never much of a TV watcher. Over the past 2 years I’ve more than made up for that. And you know what’s scary?? I LOVE it! I love watching TV! I’d rather just sit on the couch with my boyfriend and binge watch Gran Hotel or House of Cards instead of going dancing. Yes, yes I know that sounds lame. But my body has stopped producing dopamine so what do you expect me to do?

Currently my sleep schedule is 5-8am. Why 8am? Who knows. Bodies are weird. Especially mine.

I gave myself a pedicure last night at 2am. Why? Because I knew I’d have plenty of time for it to dry before I went to sleep.

But my world isn’t all glamorous toes. I stay in bed most days, coked out on Xanax and haunted by medication-induced nightmares where I wake up crying. Those nightmares…they stay with me for days. It’s unsettling. Black circles under my eyes, lethargy so intense I don’t bother to shower or get dressed.

You don’t see how I feel like a complete loser every day for not being able to work, and the daily internal battle that comes with being dependent on so many people in order to function.

I realize my need to justify and explain all of this just points back to my own insecurities about where I am, as well as my lack of acceptance of my situation. People are a mirror, yadda yadda yadda…so obviously this is a major trigger point and something I need want to work on. This is my issue, not yours. I get that. I’d really love to get to the place where someone <harmlessly> makes that comment and I just reply with a neutral “thanks”. Because “not looking sick” is always a compliment. But for now, I still feel this nagging need to explain how things really are. So, I’ll work on that. <gentleman’s agreement>

Here’s my update from my follow up with Dr. Ginsberg:

Thyroid – check.
All clear!

Cholesterol – 252 (high is 220)
cholesterol is needed to deliver hormones (fail) and decrease inflammation (double fail)

Trigylcerides – 200 (high is 100)
typically a result of a high-sugar diet.

these numbers are something you would see in an obese person. obese, people! something is seriously fecked. ginsberg suspects that my liver is producing cholesterol in an attempt to fight inflammation, which isn’t working, so it keeps producing more, and it has turned into a viscous cycle (see what i did there?). she didn’t seemed too concerned about it.

Pregnenolone – 12 (normal is 100’s)
this is the “mother hormone” needed to make all other sex hormones. a 12 is what an 80 year old woman would have. 

Homozygous A1298C MTHFR mutation (double mutation)
this little fecker has been silently ruining my life for the past 33 years. it has to do with methylation. what is methylation? i didn’t know either. but google and my doctors told me its an enzyme to help your body convert stuff (think b vitamin krebs cycle). since mine is a double mutation, my body is functioning at less than 60% of yours on a good day. it also means low dopamine and inability to detox. BFD.

B vitamins – critically low
turns out these guys are pretty important. help liver detox, convert food into energy, and have a starring role in the Krebs cycle. dr. Ginsberg kept stressing how bad it was that my body was not producing the b’s. also play a huge role in converting excitatory neurotransmitters into inhibitory, which makes you sleep. mmhmmm….

Stool test
3 days of doing what no human should ever have to do with their own feces revealed I’m not making any pancreatic elastase. that means my food isn’t getting absorbed. pretty much just an in and out agreement we have at the moment.

Short assessment: body is in a hyper-inflammatory state, and shit is shutting down because of it.

Game plan is to load me with b vitamins, digestive enzymes, and pre/probiotics to get my gut absorbing food. Also no alcohol, dairy, gluten or sugar for the next 6 weeks to get inflammation down. I see them after 6 weeks to reassess.

in the past 2 weeks, i’ve attended 3 parties without being able to drink wine. (one of those was a pity party.)

IT. SUCKS.

Future game plan will be discussing switching birth control from oral contraceptive to nuva ring, which doesn’t go through the liver. OR….(drum roll)….getting off bc entirely. WHAT?!?!?! *screeeeeeech halt. Yes. Ginsberg thinks the endo developed due to me being estrogen dominant. If she can balance me, then the endo will rest quietly with a “do not disturb” sign on my uterus. But we aren’t even touching that right now, and ultimately I will stay on the bc if that is what I think is best for my body. But I’m open to there being other possibilities.

 

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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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