Wednesday, May 27, 2009


That's the ICD-9 code for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), and a code I have become familiar with seeing on my charts.  I know this is a food blog, but I decided I needed a place to vent and tell my story about my struggle with infertility.  

I have been dealing with infertility as a result of PCOS for about 7-8 months now.  I have gone through 7 rounds of Clomid alongside a healthy dose of Metformin, all to no avail.  The problem is getting me to ovulate.  This month, the Reproductive Endocrinolgist has told us that we can move on to injectable medications.  This is both exciting and scary at the same time.  The exciting part is that it's a new avenue to give hope that a baby will be conceived!  The scary part is the price tag.  Unfortunately, my insurance does not cover a CENT of my infertility treatment.  I have to pay for every office visit ($86), every ultra sound ($280), the medications (~$1500/month), Intrauterine Insimination (IUI) ($240), any blood work they might require, further diagnostic testing, etc., etc. 

Thankfully, I have the best parents and in-laws in the world (see my Mother's Day post), who are all willing to lend a hand financially.

Today, I went to the Dr.'s office to get trained in giving myself injections!!!  Little did I know they were going to make me give myself a shot of saline right then and there to practice!  It took a good 30-60 seconds of psyching myself up to jab the needle in.  They also gave me my Follistim Package and some meds:

My medicine case
The pink cartridges contain fresh needles that are placed into the pen.
This is the pen.  On the left is where the cartridge of medicine is inserted, and the needle is inserted onto the end of the yellow part.  Then, the part on the right is the dial, this is how you dial up how much medicine the pen will administer when you push it down.

All together in a tidy little case, along with alcohol wipes and medical information.
Here are my meds alongside the hummus, eggs, and butter -- so appropriate for an infertile food blogger!  ;)

One HUGE drawback about these meds, is that I was told I can't do any significant working out while taking these.  I am not supposed to let my heart rate exceed 130!  And I was just getting pumped up to start some day classes at the YMCA!  Boo.

On the other hand, I'm really hopeful that this will work!  So, anyone reading this, please send good baby vibes my way!

I've started reading a book, that may help in this area:

Certain diets are known to be helpful for those suffering from PCOS, especially diets containing, not low carbs, but slow carbs (beans, fruit, veggies, etc.).  So far this book is very well written and informative!

Dip baby dip!

Last night we went to an "artsy wine" party held by the Metropolis Wine Club of St. Louis.  They host wine tasting events at various interesting locations throughout the city.  Last night our neighbors up the street hosted it from their business, Urban Eats.  Then, the party moved up to their AWESOME loft!  We were to each bring either a bottle of wine with an artistic label and/or an appetizer.  I brought both, because there were two of us.  I wish I had taken pictures of the party, but I forgot!  I just get too wrapped up in the moment and forget to take my camera out.  But, I did photograph the appetizer that I brought.  This is a delicious go-to dip recipe.  My mom made it all the time growing up, and always called it "acapulco dip".  It tastes best served with nacho cheese Doritos, but I tried to maintain some healthful dignity and served it with multi-grain tortilla chips.

Take two blocks of non-fat cream cheese (1/3 fat cream cheese or full fat tastes creamier, but this worked just fine and really cut the calories!).

Mix in a packet of taco seasoning, I chose hot and spicy, because I love spicy food!  Then I added about 3/4 cup to 1 cup of Old El Paso HOT salsa.  These ingredients are blended with a hand blender to the smoothest texture possible. 

Then, finely diced green bell pepper are mixed in.  This is one of the few times that I choose green bell pepper over red, yellow, or orange.  I don't typically like them, except in this case and in fajitas.

Voila!  A delicious dip that is sure to be addicting and cause you to consume a whole bag of chips with it. . . not that that would ever happen with me. 

Der Erdbeeren Strudel, Ya!

Excuse my German, I don't know any.  This month's Daring Baker's Challenge was Strudel!  Immediately I was brought back to thoughts of Prague, where Chris and I hiked through the post-communistic slums of the city just to find this little Strudl stand in the "projects" as recommended by Samantha Brown.  Let me tell you, it was quite a hike.  On top of the fact that we walked a crazy distance for strudl, we had to do it twice, because the first day we tried, it was closed!!

Score!  Here's Chris with one of the THREE strudls we bought (they were uber cheap -- like $3?!).  We had to point to ask for the kinds we wanted, because the man spoke no English.  We ended up with cheese, poppy seed, and apple.  They were pretty good, but I'm not sure they were worth the hike.  But, hey, now we have some funny memories.  Look at how long they are!

Anyway, as I was saying, back to the Daring Bakers: The May Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Linda of make life sweeter! and Courtney of Coco Cooks. They chose Apple Strudel from the recipe book Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague by Rick Rodgers. 

I'd have to say, Strudel was much easier to make than I had anticipated.  I was a little nervous about the dough, but it worked beautifully!

Here I am measuring the flour to 200g, to that some salt was added
The wet ingredients were simply water, oil, and vinegar.
To the Kitchenaid it went, and was mixed, then kneaded slightly with the dough hook.
Pre-hand kneading
Hand kneaded and shaped into a ball.
Dough is rolled out tissue-paper thin.

Then it is covered with breadcrumbs that have been sauteed in butter, and the filling mixture is spread down the length of the dough 3" from the edge.

The dough is rolled up and made to fit the cookie sheet.  Then, butter is spread on top . . . mmmmm.
Golden brown and flaky.
So cheap and JUICY! 
Inside of the Strudel -- I chose to use strawberries and rhubarb.
It definitely needed the powdered sugar.  I had never tried rhubarb before and didn't realize just how tart it is!!  I should have adjusted the recipe to add more sugar!

Follow the directions below, and you can easily make your own!  I think I have discovered that I am not the biggest strudel fan in general.  This really needs to be eaten right away or it loses its flakiness quickly, and I enjoy desserts that can be munched on throughout the week.  But, it was a very fun new baking technique to learn!

Preparation time
Total: 2 hours 15 minutes – 3 hours 30 minutes

15-20 min to make dough
30-90 min to let dough rest/to prepare the filling
20-30 min to roll out and stretch dough
10 min to fill and roll dough
30 min to bake
30 min to cool

Apple strudel
from “Kaffeehaus – Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague” by Rick Rodgers

2 tablespoons (30 ml) golden rum
3 tablespoons (45 ml) raisins
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (80 g) sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick / 115 g) unsalted butter, melted, divided
1 1/2 cups (350 ml) fresh bread crumbs
strudel dough (recipe below)
1/2 cup (120 ml, about 60 g) coarsely chopped walnuts
2 pounds (900 g) tart cooking apples, peeled, cored and cut into ¼ inch-thick slices (use apples that hold their shape during baking)

1. Mix the rum and raisins in a bowl. Mix the cinnamon and sugar in another bowl.

2. Heat 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high. Add the breadcrumbs and cook whilst stirring until golden and toasted. This will take about 3 minutes. Let it cool completely.

3. Put the rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a large baking sheet with baking paper (parchment paper). Make the strudel dough as described below. Spread about 3 tablespoons of the remaining melted butter over the dough using your hands (a bristle brush could tear the dough, you could use a special feather pastry brush instead of your hands). Sprinkle the buttered dough with the bread crumbs. Spread the walnuts about 3 inches (8 cm) from the short edge of the dough in a 6-inch-(15cm)-wide strip. Mix the apples with the raisins (including the rum), and the cinnamon sugar. Spread the mixture over the walnuts.

4. Fold the short end of the dough onto the filling. Lift the tablecloth at the short end of the dough so that the strudel rolls onto itself. Transfer the strudel to the prepared baking sheet by lifting it. Curve it into a horseshoe to fit. Tuck the ends under the strudel. Brush the top with the remaining melted butter.

5. Bake the strudel for about 30 minutes or until it is deep golden brown. Cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing. Use a serrated knife and serve either warm or at room temperature. It is best on the day it is baked.

Strudel dough
from “Kaffeehaus – Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague” by Rick Rodgers

1 1/3 cups (200 g) unbleached flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons (105 ml) water, plus more if needed
2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil, plus additional for coating the dough
1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar

1. Combine the flour and salt in a stand-mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix the water, oil and vinegar in a measuring cup. Add the water/oil mixture to the flour with the mixer on low speed. You will get a soft dough. Make sure it is not too dry, add a little more water if necessary.
Take the dough out of the mixer. Change to the dough hook. Put the dough ball back in the mixer. Let the dough knead on medium until you get a soft dough ball with a somewhat rough surface.

2. Take the dough out of the mixer and continue kneading by hand on an unfloured work surface. Knead for about 2 minutes. Pick up the dough and throw it down hard onto your working surface occasionally.
Shape the dough into a ball and transfer it to a plate. Oil the top of the dough ball lightly. Cover the ball tightly with plastic wrap. Allow to stand for 30-90 minutes (longer is better).

3. It would be best if you have a work area that you can walk around on all sides like a 36 inch (90 cm) round table or a work surface of 23 x 38 inches (60 x 100 cm). Cover your working area with table cloth, dust it with flour and rub it into the fabric. Put your dough ball in the middle and roll it out as much as you can.
Pick the dough up by holding it by an edge. This way the weight of the dough and gravity can help stretching it as it hangs. Using the back of your hands to gently stretch and pull the dough. You can use your forearms to support it.

4. The dough will become too large to hold. Put it on your work surface. Leave the thicker edge of the dough to hang over the edge of the table. Place your hands underneath the dough and stretch and pull the dough thinner using the backs of your hands. Stretch and pull the dough until it's about 2 feet (60 cm) wide and 3 feet (90 cm) long, it will be tissue-thin by this time. Cut away the thick dough around the edges with scissors. The dough is now ready to be filled.

- Ingredients are cheap so we would recommend making a double batch of the dough, that way you can practice the pulling and stretching of the dough with the first batch and if it doesn't come out like it should you can use the second batch to give it another try;
- The tablecloth can be cotton or polyster;
- Before pulling and stretching the dough, remove your jewelry from hands and wrists, and wear short-sleeves;
- To make it easier to pull the dough, you can use your hip to secure the dough against the edge of the table;
- Few small holes in the dough is not a problem as the dough will be rolled, making (most of) the holes invisible.

Friday, May 22, 2009

What could be in the box?!

What could be inside?!


Another box!

Jars!  But what's inside the jars, you might ask?

Nut butters!!!  I have been wanting to purchase these ever since I saw them on several other food blogs.  I'm the kind of person that likes to taste every flavor of whatever product it is I am trying out.  So, of course, I had to buy almost all of the Artisana products!  I spent a small fortune on nut butters amidst a recession, which may render me slightly insane.  But, whatever, I'm just stocking up for the end of days!  And when you're wondering what the hell to eat, I'll be sitting in my nuclear fall-out shelter munching on some nut butters! ;)

I had to try this one right away, because it just sounds so blissful!  It was very good, definitely organic!  It is kind of bitter, which means Chris will love it!  And you can really taste the chocolate-coconut combo . . . might have to make some cookies with this one!

I also had to immediately taste-test the Pecan butter, because pecans are one of my favorite nuts.  It is delicious!  It pretty much tastes like ground up fresh pecans!  This will be good on sandwiches.

I have yet to try the cashew butter, coconut butter, goji bliss, and walnut butter.  But, I really thought it better not to open every single jar in one day!  However, I will have to open the goji bliss soon, because the bottom of the jar says it expires in a little over a month!  The rest of them will stay good for a year or so.

Well, I'm off to go read . . . with my new sense of freedom of zero responsibility!  Ah, the perks of working in a school-setting.

Schoooooooooool's out . . .

for the Summer!!  In about 1 hour, I will be outta here!  I will have 10 weeks of wonderful free time to do whatever the heck I want to do: bake, cook, eat, sleep, read, watch crappy television, WORK OUT (including the fun classes at the Y that I could never take before because of my work schedule), vacation to Washington DC, NYC, Boston, and Cape Cod, blogging more, fixing up things around the house, training my out of control dogs!

I will be back for a fun afternoon/evening post that involves a package I have to go pick up from UPS.

Monday, May 18, 2009

From scones to beer floats

Well, once again yesterday was a day that didn't turn out quite as I expected.  Chris and I set our alarm clock for 8 am on a Sunday . . . not typical.  We were going to go to the YMCA as soon as it opened.  But first, I wanted to make a creative breakfast.  So, I found this Cooking Light recipe for scones.  Magnificent!  I don't typically love scones, but these were the perfect blend of crumbly and moist.  Plus, scones are so easy to make!

First, get your dry ingredients: AP flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

Pulse ingredients together in a food processor, or just mix them in a bowl.

Cut chilled butter into small pieces.

Pulse butter into dry ingredients until it is mealy and coarse (butter pieces the size of small peas).

Pick out your add-ins.  I chose to use dried cranberries, lemon zest, and dried blueberries.  The recipe called for dried apricots, cranberries, and orange zest.

At this point, I had to make my own buttermilk, because we didn't have any.  So, I just used 3/4 Tablespoon vinegar to 3/4 cup soy milk.  It worked like a charm!

I then added in my cranberries and blueberries and pulsed them a couple times with the butter mixture.

After mixing together 1 egg, 1 egg white, the "buttermilk", and lemon zest, the ingredients were added into the rest of the ingredients and pulsed just until combined.

Then, the dough is kneaded about 4 times, shaped into a rectangle, then rolled out into a 12x6 inch rectangle.  After this you cut the rectangle into 8, 3-inch squares, which are then cut into the classic scone shape -- triangles.  If you don't know how to turn squares into triangles, you need more help than I can offer.

Shaped scones, before baking.

Finished scones with a little cherry jam and peonies.

So after making the scones, we headed to the Y as planned and got in a descent work out.  Afterwords, we headed to Old Navy so I could make some long overdue exchanges.  Next the plan was to go to Eckert's Farm to pick fresh strawberries.  I have been wanting to do this for a long time.  I dressed in a strawberry-like shirt, grabbed my camera, and was so ready to pick some strawberries and get some good blog-worthy photos while I was at it!  Of course, we get there and all of the strawberries are picked out for the day.  To make it feel like it wasn't a complete wash, we bought some of their strawberries from the country store.  Boooo!  They were not good!  Fortunately, I have plans for those berries that you will soon find out about . . .

Today I met my friend Katie, and her friend Maria at Square One Brewery for happy hour!  I started out being very in control of my eating (seeing as though they had free appetizers):

Park Ave. Pale Ale for $3.50 = good deal!

Free apps. -- mini egg roll and 2 homemade potato chips (with dips).

And this is where, as Beck Hansen might say, I started "getting crazy with the cheese wiz": 

Yummy sirloin and corn salsa nachos with fresh jalepenos = HOT!

At least they were split three ways!  Katie's my partner-in-crime for nacho devouring.

Everyone else was getting more drinks, so I couldn't resist and ordered a mojito -- yum!  The weather was too nice not to.

Then I made the mistake of bringing up the infamous "beer floats" at Bailey's Chocolate Bar, just down the street.  Maria was sold, and we just had to get one:

These are so delicious: stout beer with cinnamon ice cream, and the ever present free cookie!

Katie was a party pooper and just got two scoops of ice cream . . . and a chocolate cigarette!

It was a beautiful happy hour, thanks to the gorgeous weather, fun friends, and delicious drinkage!