Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Wednesday musette

I'm taking niacin to reduce my cholesterol. It's only 100 milligrams, but I bought the regular niacin not the 'no-flush' pills. I took one this morning just before leaving for work. Within a few minutes, my face and ears were uncomfortably warm almost as if I were blushing deeply. Not that I've had occasion to blush, of course, but I'm told that's what it feels like.

When I went outside to get into the car, the temperature was about 25F. It felt good! My ears were warm!

Maybe that could be the cycling tip of the day with some caveats. If your head and ears get cold, take some niacin. The problem, though, is that when the skin is red and flushed, it's because the body is pushing blood to the surface. This causes rapid heat loss.


Since I can't have beef, She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed has been making veggie burgers for me. The texture and flavor are very close to the real thing, and I'm particularly fond of the southwest style burgers. They have a bit of added spice. The only problem is that they're made from beans. I can eat one without problems, but two.....

One morning after I'd over indulged in burgers the previous evening, mother and daughter were talking in the kitchen while I made coffee. "You tooted all night long," She said. "Once, you were so loud you woke yourself up, sat up in the bed, and said 'What was that! What was that!"

"I don't remember waking up," I said.

"I told you to go back to sleep," she replied, "and I told you to stay on your side of the bed!"

Number One Daughter was giggling so much she nearly dropped her coffee.


I went in to see my doctor for the annual checkup. He renewed my prescription for blood pressure meds, went through the ritual of poking and prodding, and wrote up an order for some of the usual lab work. Basically, I'm good for another 50,000 miles.

I asked him about getting back onto my bike and if he had any recommendations or cautions because my knee is still hurting. "Don't over do it," he said, "and back off if it hurts."

Now, I've started from zero a few times before, and I know how hard it is to get started. Even short rides can be difficult, and I already know it's gonna hurt. There's a difference between 'good' hurt and 'bad' hurt, but I wasn't going to try to explain that to the doc or he'd probably refer me to a shrink.

Saturday, January 21, 2012


She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed fumbled our ancient and venerable Belgian waffle maker onto the floor earlier this week. The impact broke it in half. The hinge cracked and the only parts holding top and bottom together were the wires. It probably wouldn't have been safe to use it.

Naturally, I was not informed of this at the time. But since I'm the breakfast guy here in Castle CycleDog, responsible for pancakes, waffles, crepes, French toast and a variety of eggs, a new waffle iron was definitely needed. Mother and daughter went off on a shopping expedition to track down another one.

The old one was a round model from Black and Decker. They market it as a Belgian waffle maker, but it's so difficult to find real Belgians here in Oklahoma. All I can find are the cheap, imported ones from Mexico or Singapore. I've been reading about 'real' Belgian waffles, though, and I found that what we regard as breakfast food is more a snack over there.

First, Belgian waffles are largely divided into two types: Liege waffles and Brussels waffles. Both use yeast rather than baking powder to raise the batter. Liege waffles (according to one of the foodies) are heavier and dough-like, and they include some pearl sugar just before cooking that carmelizes on the surface. Sounds yummy.

And yes, it's that Liege. The same as Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Hard men. The Koppenberg. Hell of the North. It's the season for all that, with high winds, slimy cobblestones, incredibly steep hills, and the Spring Classics. The big tours may offer the planning, strategy, and tactics of a military campaign, but the Classics are a rowdy bar fight.

But let's get back to waffles. This new iron seems to run hotter than the old one as the waffles are coming out much crispier. I like that. Number One Daughter opined that they'll go better with ice cream, though in truth, everything is better with ice cream as far as she's concerned. Besides, she won't be the one making the waffles.

The only thing that bothers me is that waffle batter takes a lot of cooking oil. That's a bunch of calories. One recipe recommended substituting melted butter instead. I tried it once - just once - and I can say that adding a quarter stick of butter improves the batter tremendously. But outside of special occasions, I won't do that again. I'm thinking about substituting olive oil, making a kind of Italian/Belgian waffle.

Tomorrow morning, I'm planning to make crepes with fried apples and whipped cream. Stop by the castle if you're hungry!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The sheer badness of comfort food

So sweet they make your teeth hurt.

Yes, it's a high dynamic range photo of a sack of Zingers. I love Zingers. They're the perfect compliment to a cup of strong, black coffee. Besides, I need the hot liquid to get all the sugar off my teeth.

A lot of people were saddened by this week's news of the bankruptcy at Hostess, the maker of Twinkies. If they go off the market, all the references to them in Zombieland will be dated. I've never been a big fan of Twinkies, preferring Zingers or even Tastykakes.

The only problem with Zingers is they won't survive in a jersey pocket like an energy bar. They're reduced to mush. I've carried hot coffee in a stainless steel water bottle for years, but there's no energy bar that compares to a Zinger. I don't care whether it's good for me. I don't want anti-oxidants, glucosamine, organically grown free range wheat, or soy milk. What the hell is soy milk anyway? I have yet to see a plant equipped with teats. I want gooey chocolaty goodness...and preservatives...lots of preservatives. At my age, it's a good idea.

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

An awful week

It began with the realization that our two senior cats, Patches and Mittens, would have to be put to sleep. They were eighteen and nineteen, respectively. Both were losing weight and becoming incontinent. Mittens had arthritis and frequently stumbled while trying to walk. It was time. Putting them down would be a kindness.

Then Jordan found a job working for a marketing company in Tulsa. It lasted three days until he found out that his normal work week would have only one day off, and he couldn't have flexible hours in order to go to night classes. He didn't like some of their less than ethical practices. He told them he was quitting on Friday afternoon, and called me to see that it was OK that he do so.

Shortly after talking to him, my phone rang again. Mary was sobbing and I couldn't understand what she said at first. When she calmed a little, she told me her brother had just died.

Danny was 47 years old when he died in his sleep. He hadn't been healthy for quite a while. As a teenager, he was seriously injured while cutting down a tree with a chainsaw. The tree split unexpectedly, hit him in the head and nearly killed him. He endured the after effects from it for the rest of his life.

Dan wasn't perfect. He suffered from depression, drank too much, and had trouble holding a job. Yet his funeral service was so crowded it was standing room only. He touched other lives in ways he never realized. The family discovered just how much effect he'd had when the funeral director told them an anonymous donor covered the entire expense. Dan left behind his son, Jimmy, his step-daughter, Christa, and his former spouse, Debbie. He'll be missed.