Of Ice To Reach Your Soil

Previously on Poor Impulse Control, we took on the thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle that is our acquaintance’s Allergies Kick My Ass challenge.


In comments, Miep noted:

Corn is a grain and paprika is a nightshade.

That list of off-limit substances practically describes my diet. Well, except for HFCS. Are there really people who are allergic to garlic? How tragic.

Miep has just met us and doesn’t know yet that I’ve been outwitted by yogurt but I’m seldom unarmed, Georg can do anything unless someone sprays perfume, Siobhan is allergic to wheat and run on sentences and at least one of our lurking readers lives where his eyelids can freeze open, so details matter. Our off-limits list contains foods that turned itchy our acquaintance’s skin; he may or may not be allergic to these foods. He told me years ago he was allergic to alcohol, so we’ll take that for given. Sometimes an itchy spot on a patch test doesn’t mean an actual allergy. Corn turned my epidermis a brilliant vermillion, but I’m not allergic. I crave corn. My kitchen currently contains six different corn flours, all of which look nervous when I feel peckish. Your results may vary, but I am making tamales Tuesday night.

No, I have little idea why HFCS is on the list unless it’s that corn thing. Neither do I have a clue why paprika and why not peppers. Our acquaintance’s wife, who is a genius, has mentioned he is eating potatoes; we may conclude nightshades are not a problem. We also do not know why someone would have difficulty with garlic and not onions, but my mother and daughter have difficulty with onions, not garlic, and who the hell knows? Let’s just work with the list, shall we?

The Fair Georg:

I’d start with tapioca flour, taro, and arrowroot. Taro isn’t common unless you live in Hawaii, but you may live in an area that has enough SE Asian groceries. Think Thai and Polynesian recipes, though citrus makes them tricky. You can make meatloaf with ground meat and tapioca flour. Arrowroot can thicken any sauce as good as cornstarch.

the hardest part is avoiding corn – it’s in fecking everything.

Tapioca, taro, arrowroot and agar agar are all good thickeners. Taro is highly addicting. Eat taro chips and next thing you know you are standing in the snack aisle, growling at teenagers eying the Terra Originals. Maybe that’s just me. I came back from a vacation in Maui and experienced withdrawal symptoms and sloth. Fortunately, I like sloths. And it’s all about me.

We can avoid corn if we eschew prepared foods. The same is true for soy and garlic.

Let’s talk about mid-morning snacks.

Carrot sticks and tahini
Celery with berbed cream cheese
Fennel with sliced ham
Dried fruit
Plain yogurt with dried cherries
Veggie chips fried in safflower oil
Cherry or grape tomatoes
Fruit salad
Cottage cheese
A banana

Produce aisles are full of fantastic snacks. I don’t know why we’re even worried: if we happen to be at home when we need a snack, we throw fruit, yogurt, a frozen banana and some juice into a blender and set it on Stun. Yes, this diet might be the best thing that could happen to your entire self.

You Make Me Feel Like I

Previously on Poor Impulse Control, we took up the curious case of the deceptively fantastic diet.

The difference between a restrictive regimen and a culinary adventure lies in one’s frame of mind. Are you willing to settle for feeling like you’ve lost out on what everyone else does or can you see past everyone else to what you want? Our off-limits list may give us pause, but after that hiccup, all I see is glorious eats.

No grains, then. Is breakfast impossible? No. Breakfast is actually our easiest get. In America, we think breakfast is cereal or oatmeal or a cup of coffee and ennui, but in other parts of the world, people eat some variation of rice and vegetables. Rice is off our ingredient list, but so?

Combination One
Cheese omelette
Fruit compote

Combination Two
Fruit salad with cottage cheese

Combination Three
Plain yogurt with honey and sliced banana
Ham steak

Combination Four
Prosciutto and mozzarella pinwheel
Melon balls

Combination Five
Scrambled eggs with swiss cheese
Sauteed spinach with lemon juice

Yes, it is that easy. This is just a template anyone can use to create simple, nutritious and filling breakfast plates, and anyone should. There’s also a whole class of breakfast thingies we should not overlook: custards.

Ta darling, you exclaim, custards are dessert. We can’t have that for breakfast! That’s – It’s – Am I a bad person if that sounds exciting?

Too many rules! For every little voice in your head that says, No no no! you should hear mine purring, Ya hunh. Got any gum?

Yes, but only flourless chocolate cake for you, my darlings.

What’s in custard? Beaten egg, milk, sugar and usually an extract, either vanilla or almond. For our purposes, skip those. You can think of this adventure as permission to consider other flavorings. Lemon, orange or grapefruit zest are traditional custard flavorings, but you can consider brown sugar, jugo de naranja or dried fruit. Simple egg custards are wonderful and flan or tembleque make fantastic breakfasts. Where will you get recipes? Fortunately for you, you’re sitting next to the world’s largest encyclopedia and cookbook and evidently both your curiosity and hunger are insatiable. And don’t forget marvelous curds.

Remember these exciting words: whatever else you make, fruit is your best friend and tropical fruit makes your life positively thrilling.

Things Haven’t Really Changed As Such

A taciturn acquaintance, running in the same social circles I used to walk, has many food allergies and decided recently to test drive a diet plan. There may have been an ER visit and prick tests, but it’s not all glamour. His wife is an award-winning baker and the two of them are briliant, capable researchers. Even so, he kvetched a bit about “hippy food” and “rabbit food” on Facebook. He has to live with it; I don’t, so to me this is a puzzle and I love puzzles. Want to play?

These foods are off-limits:

High Fructose Corn Syrup

These foods may or may not be problems, but I don’t know:


You have questions? I have questions. How about corn? Chocolate? We don’t know. Next week, our acquaintance will try adding in bread to see if he goes all Violet, you’re turning violet, Violet!

No one wants that.

I’ve been thinking about this task for several days and what I like best about the list of no-nos is that it offers no easy ways out. Once I settled into it, I found myself thinking about all the possibilities in the produce aisle and everything I wouldn’t usually consider in the meat, poultry and seafood sections, because if grains are verboten, bulk is an issue.

But – and this is the bright, shiny, upside: a person eating this way could feel super healthy in very short order. So this week, I’m going to put down pieces of this puzzle and invite you to try your hand at it in comments.

Let Me Be Your Ocean

We’ve already seen this movie. It starts with an epithet, in the middle there’s an apology pie and it ends with a food fight.

Maybe I missed the meeting of all people in the whole world in which the news spread that it was hunky dory to close talk at the only person on the entire planet whose body may be more closely guarded than the pope’s. Well, if that’s the case, I’d like to apply for an interview in which Mr. Obama and I have a knee to knee chat about how Tim Geithner and Larry Summers are not actually his friends and Austen Goolsby, while often hilarious, does and says some very unfunny things. This would be an excellent use of my truth-telling powers. Also: Mr. Obama and I are nearly the same age, so we could chitchat about how super-cool and regrettable are those fading pictures of us as awkward teens at Bicentennial celebrations on opposite ends of our country.

Governor Brewer wanted the president to go places and do stuff with her, but she already told her friends he’s not her secret boyfriend, no backsies. Then there was this tete-a-tete, during which he walked away, leaving her without a prom date. I’m not a fan of either one of them, but when the music starts, none of the popular boys will ask her to dance.

A Guitar To Punish Your Ma

Sweetpea's favorite chair, where my butt is currently parked.

This morning, Sweetpea began making the Take me to the hospital noise at Pete, who recognized it from last Memorial Day weekend. Pete called me on the verge of panic, but couldn’t really explain why he was nervous. When I got home, I opened the front door and smelled illness. The vet had an open appointment at 6, which gave me plenty of time to rub half our house with disinfectant wipes. At the vet’s office, a new vet in the practice saw Sweetpea, who curled up in my arms until we were both sick-stinky. The vet agreed our darling was sick and needed an overnight with fluids and medicines. I was reluctant to leave her and briefly considered a weepy retreat, but I had to go to a union contract ratification vote on the way home. And I did. Tomorrow morning, we hope Sweetpea will feel better.