Having fun cooking for myself and Puzzle

I had no clue what to title this entry, but if I forget to give my entries a title when I start out, I end up messing up somehow, so that’s the title I ended up with.  Let’s face it: People and dogs like food.

If you’re curious as to how I’ve been doing, or even if you’re not, I’m going to clue you in: I’ve been doing awesome lately.  Now of course I still have to be a bit careful when I go see Dr. P Wednesday (I’ve decided I might as well show up) NOT to use the well-known buzz-words, “I’m on top of the world, Dr. P!”

See, shrinks are well-trained to listen for these exact words.  Shrink’s translation: mania.  However, I am not manic.  Fact is, we all live on the earth’s surface.  Humans have yet to make a home within the core of the earth or anywhere near underground.  Yeah, there are basement apartments and you can spend many, many hours, I suppose, working underground in a mine.  Now when I was a kid, we were all thinking we could dig a hole from my backyard to China, and we occasionally tried but never did quite reach China.  Good thing, cuz even now, I don’t know a word of Chinese and would never get by over there.  So we are all on the earth’s surface, on top of the world, which is just plain fact.  But when your shrink asks how you are doing, do NOT say your are on top of the world, not in those exact words.  You will be handed pills.  Or even sectioned.

But guess what?  The shrink has been indoors “working” (in other words, pushing pills) all day in an office with no windows.  The shrink has no clue that the weather is the best it’s been in weeks.  No wonder you might feel so damned good.  A lot of “normals” feel damned good today and they are not handed pills. Why?  They didn’t end up with a label so they didn’t have to go to a shrink.

I think one reason I feel good, actually, is that I stopped taking the Abilify I was taking mid-February.  It was a bit hard at first cuz for a few days, I went through a small amount of withdrawal.  Yes, I went off cold turkey.  10 mgs to zero in a flash.  They say this is inadvisable, however, at 5mgs, I was barely sleeping, and at 10mgs, not sleeping at all.  I think I’ve already explained the whole half-life thingy and my thinking on it and how it took a week to get out of my system entirely.  The withdrawal was barely noticeable.  I guess if I worked a job or had to drive a car, it would have been more risky, but these are non-applicable.  At its worst, my sentences were a little jumbled.  I suffered no jitters, no flu-like symptoms, no sweats, nothing like that.  It took ages, but finally, I began to sleep a tiny bit.

I have mentioned how I spent a month hiding in my bed just laying there, withdrawn from the world entirely.  Much of this was cuz I was trying to get my sleep back, and a lot was of course because of the bogus therapist I unfortunately crossed paths with.  Yes, I will indeed file a complaint and I hope he is plenty surprised and I hope I feel empowered because of it and I hope this prevents him from doing further harm to patients who end up duped by him the way I was duped.

So what about the sleep problem?  Dr. P gave me more pills, of course, as I told you, and kinda shrugged when I asked for a therapist.  I have tried the benzos but refused to even fill the prescription for the antipsychotic, Latuda, which, according to documentation, causes breast enlargement, increases blood pressure, and does indeed cause weight gain.

Why was I put on the Abilify, back last fall, in the first place? The symptom I described to Dr. P was my “anger machine.”  Constant anger.  Well, gee, if you’d been subject to an abusive therapist, M, whom I’d endured from Thanksgiving 2010 till March 2012, who every single session threatened to put you in the state hospital, and constantly manipulated you and accused you of things you didn’t do, you’d turn into an anger machine by the end of all that, too.  Not only that, I’d gone through withdrawal from Imipramine.  Antidepressant withdrawal sucks.  (I hear that some people are doomed to stay on Effexor, for instance, forever only because withdrawal is so intolerable.)  I’d been treated like an animal by the “sitters” and in the psych ward at Mass General, and badly deprived of water for no medical reason, and to make things worse, I got out and nobody believed me.  Anyone would turn into an anger machine after that.  Even a “normal.”  It would be kinda normal, actually, to feel distrust of the world after all that, wouldn’t it?

I’m over my anger machine phase.  I no longer feel constant rage.  Yes, even off Abilify.  Especially now that I experience sleep, so being off Abilify is helpful in fact.

Sleep is still a huge problem.  One of the pills she gave me was 2mgs Klonopin.  This might keep me asleep about 2-1/2 hours or so.  The other pill I have is Ambien 10 mgs, which only keeps me asleep an hour.  Neither is good sleep.  I only use the Ambien for a nap, not at night.  Neither is really worth taking.  I’m always just plain exhausted.  Often, I have to cancel what I’ve got planned, and just lay down all day, I’m too tired.

I tried Somnapure, which I think is how it is spelled.  Here’s a hint: I read the reviews, and one reviewer said you can go to their website and sign up for a free bottle of samples.  Then you are put on automatic subscription.  Just call the number and cancel before you are put on automatic subscription and there is no penalty.  They will connect you to a “sleep technician” or whatever.  Sleep technician?  Well, who are these folks?  I guess they are like those folks who work in mattress and bed stores.  They are selling you a product.  They will tell you you have to keep on taking it so it will “build up in your system.”  This sounds like baloney to me if it is “non habit forming.”  But get this: they will mail you another bottle, no delivery charge, entirely free.  That’s what I found out.  Then call them by the deadline and be sure to cancel, cuz if it works for you, you can buy it cheaper in a store on sale.

Do observe the ingredients: mostly valerian root, 500 mgs per tablet, and you’re supposed to take two tablets.  I can buy valerian root, loose powder form, in bulk, at my food coop and I think last time I bought it, food stamps paid for it, but that didn’t matter even cuz all you really want is a little, little bag.  Seal the bag, keep it dry, and put the little bag in a dark, air-tight bottle, such as an old pill bottle.

The other ingredients of Somnapure are as follows: Lemon balm extract 300 mgs (never tried), L-Theonine 200 mgs (never tried), hops extract 120 mgs (this is supposed to be real good), Chamomile flower extract 50 mgs (this is one that works real well for some people, but I’ve heard you can be allergic to it),  Passion flower extract 50 mgs (never tried), and melatonin 3 mgs.  Regarding melatonin, I need at least 20 mgs to sleep at all, so I’m sure the 6 mgs in two tablets of Somnapure does nothing.

Now they will tell you never, never take more than two tablets.  Not that I took this stuff very much, I didn’t, just tried a few times and gave up.  But one night I got all frustrated, took four, and actually slept.  Not a whole lot, not real good deep sleep, but sleep nonetheless.  Meanwhile, I had had very good results from the powder Valerian root I’d purchased and still have quite a bit of.  I plan to purchase a small amount more next time the coop has its discount day.

I do have to take a whopping dose of it, far more than the 1,000 mgs that would be in those two Somnapure tablets.  A thousand mgs sure won’t cut it for me.  This valerian root I get is total powder, like baby powder.  Here’s how I measure it.  I’ll bet herbs come in varying strengths and grades, which complicates the matter, but I weigh it with a jewelry scale, for better or worse.  You can purchase a simple pocket jewelry scale from Amazon.  Then I mix it with water and drink it.  There are various teas that contain Valerian root but these appear to contain very, very little and are very expensive teas.  Or you can buy a bottle of tablets or capsules of the stuff, and there are tinctures and the like.  This is all in the experimental stages for me, and please don’t take my word for it on how to measure the stuff.  Or if it’s bad for you or good for you.  Think of all the crap you put in your body.  We can obsess forever on this.  I honestly don’t know.

The absolute best thing is sleeping with Puzzle.  She gets practically comatose when she’s asleep.  I can’t imagine sleeping with a human.  The whole idea of sleeping with a human, and all the complications, broken promises, and long-term consequences that go along with it kinda grosses me out.   Does this mean there’s something “wrong” with me?  Am I deprived?  Naw, it means my life is someplace else, someplace far better right now.  I’m enjoying myself plenty.

I guess I’ll get to the recipe part now.  I made a recipe the other night, and had a blast.  First, I had to go out and get the ingredients.  I did this because I absolutely had to get food for Puzzle anyway, so I figured I might as well pick up a few things for myself.  I had a recipe tucked away in my computer that a while back I’d stolen off the web, so I decided I would cook it up.

But let me diverge for a sec to say that another really, really good thing that’s happening to me is that stopped doing dairy.  Now, what did they tell us at what my brother called “the food hospital”?  That if you leave out a food group, you have an eating disorder?  I think the Brain Bio Center at Princeton has been around a lot longer than the “food hospital” has, and folks of course still think these Princeton scientists are a bit nuts.  I know a lot of “mental patients” who got dragged to the Brain Bio Center by their parents and did, indeed, find Princeton’s Brain Bio Center’s scientists a bit on the kooky side. They talk about “brain allergies.”  People still think it’s nonsense.  But I do know this: When I do dairy, I get depressed.  Like very.  Every pseudo-dairy, such as soy milk is a downer for me, for whatever reason.  Or I just plain (to be politically incorrect) go off my rocker.  So I very deliberately stopped dairy.

Maybe dairy is sort of like a very, very bad trip for me.  Once someone who is alcoholic learns that alcohol is no good for them and it does bad things for them, learns that it makes them act in bad ways, they get educated.  They learn that “non alcoholic beer” is not going to do them any good, either.  This Joe explained to me one day when we were at a restaurant, at least so it was in his case.  This was of course eons ago.  He said it wouldn’t bug him in the least if I ordered non-alcoholic beer, but he would choose not to give me a kiss later on.  He wanted no reminders, not a taste of his past, a long, long time ago, which was even before we had met.

I remember last fall when I was feeling real good for a while, I had stopped dairy, too.  So there you have it.  I have stopped binge eating.  What a blessing.  You can imagine what chowing down on a pound of cheese would do to me, and has done to me.  Been there, done that.   People have allergies and the like.  Maybe they are allergic to almonds.  They eat almonds and get then get sick.  So then once they learn, they know not to do it again.

Well, anyway, the recipe.  It calls for the use of a wok.  My stove is plain impossible and won’t do a wok.  Only two of the four burners work at all.  I substituted quinoa for rice because I had it in my head that rice automatically sticks to everything and is difficult to clean up, and quinoa is a bit more practical.  The recipe called for fresh peas.  I gasped at the price and no way was I gonna buy them.  I wasn’t gonna even walk down the frozen food aisle, either, just wasn’t in the mood.  I figured I had enough veggies at home, all bought on sale and cheaply, and I’d find some colorful, nutritious substitution that would work as well as fresh peas.  Cilantro wasn’t too expensive, so I purchased a small bunch.  Of course, if you live alone, you are doomed to live and breathe fresh cilantro for the next few days and be very creative with it, just like everyone is with turkey right after thanksgiving.  Or it will go bad and you can throw it out.  I bought the smallest piece of fresh ginger I could find in the basket, trying real hard not to appear like I was touching stuff and getting everything germy.   I knew I already had ginger at home but I wasn’t sure if it was still in decent shape.

I bought Brussels sprouts, these being on sale for the second week in a row at Stop & Shop, kinda rare.  I like Brussels sprouts mainly because they are almost as cute as Puzzle.

Of course, I went to what I call the “dented can aisle,” this being the rejects, the throw-aways.  You know my analogies.  “On the fringe of society.”  That’s where occasionally I find a real steal, but not always.  This past week I found a bag of barley marked half price and a lot, lot, lot of legumes, but I only bought the barley and decided I have plenty of legumes at home already.  Last week, I purchased a lot of produce in the “dented can aisle” including yams marked way down, but this week, I didn’t see anything I needed.

The day before Easter turns out to be an awesome day for shopping for meat for your dog.  Of course, I had no clue that this would be the case until I arrived at the supermarket.  I found lots of stuff marked down, lots of organ meat most humans don’t want, all sorts of stuff, and yes, red meat marked down too, so Puzzle is a very, very happy camper right now.

My food total this week was I think $20.  Or maybe more.  I also replaced the dish that got busted in the microwave and I got a roll of paper towels.

So anyway, this recipe, I’ve made it twice now.  My stove is rather useless and always has been, but I made do.  I used my veggie steamer to cook the quinoa.  The recipe says, “tofu, cubed.”  It doesn’t say what size cubes.  So both times I did the recipe, I made little sticks.  I figured there was no harm in making little sticks of tofu, and indeed, they were as cute as Brussels sprouts, no harm at all.  I put the little sticks on top of the quinoa once the quinoa was finished cooking.  It all heated up very, very fast.  Meanwhile, I had chosen a veggie, broccoli, to substitute for peas, just for the heck of it, and steamed that as well in the veggie steamer.  I made sure it didn’t overcook.

But while this was all happening, I had to do the flavoring.  This was on the crucial, rather tricky side, but much easier than I thought it would be.  I used my old cast-iron pan, the one I’ve had since I was 17 years old and lived in a college dorm.  I can’t use my large cast-iron pan because my large burner is completely non-functional.  I cut an onion in half, peeled it, chopped it up, and put the pieces in a dish.  I minced a chunk of ginger.  Sure enough, all the minced ginger immediately dumped onto the floor.  The only good thing about that was that I had plenty more ginger, the container that the ginger was in was plastic and not glass, and now my floor was kinda ginger-smelling which may be a good thing considering my microwave exploded and the fire department was in here the other night.  Of course, I swept it all up, minced more ginger, and laughed my fool head off.  Next time, I kept all my stuff far away from the edge of the counter.

The recipe says to grate the ginger, but both times I have minced it, and it seems that I am very much still alive and well.

The recipe says you’re supposed to stir-fry the garlic, ginger, and onion (or scallion) in the wok with a small amount of olive oil.  I was using pre-minced garlic out of a squeeze bottle, so I knew to add this late in the game or it would burn and get gross.  Of course, I was also using a cast-iron pan and not a wok.  Meanwhile, I had chopped up some cilantro and set it aside.  Every recipe I’ve got that has fresh cilantro in it says to add the fresh cilantro at the very, very end.  This recipe states that as well.

As soon as all these flavorings were nicely browned, I turned off my burner and transferred all this stuff into a large pot.  I took the quinoa and tofu (these were in different amounts the two times I did the recipe, and the second time I’d thrown in a lentil or two for the heck of it) carefully out of my steamer and added them to the pot.  Then the veggies.  The first time it was broccoli only, but the second time I did the recipe I added different, more varied and colorful veggies.  I quickly cut the cooked veggies into smaller pieces while they were still hot.  Luckily, they were not at all overcooked.  Last but not least I tossed in a very, very tiny amount of Ponzu sauce (the recipe calls for “low sodium soy sauce,” which I didn’t want to purchase, but I already had Ponzu sauce), and a very small amount of toasted sesame oil.  And the fresh cilantro.  I mixed everything up, and it was ready to eat.

All this was quite thrilling to me.

And  no, this food was not for Puzzle.  It was food I cooked for myself.


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