I Discover I’m a 36H

May 29, 2013

By Karen

The other day while wandering through Dillard’s lingerie department, pulling up the straps on my new Soma bamboo 38DDD bra every 10 seconds and trying not to flinch at the underwires’ incessant poking, I noticed cup sizes like F, G, and H.

Just then, a lovely saleswoman named Margaret asked if she could help me.

Could she EVER!!

Margaret measured me and quickly fetched several styles and sizes for me to try on. One size she immediately eliminated was 38DDD.

Turns out I’m a 36H. Now, you’d think an H cup would be HUGE, but it looks smaller than that Soma job. And for the first time in years, the top half of the cup isn’t empty, and there’s no boob bulging out the top, bottom, or sides.

Here are some ways to tell you’re wearing the wrong bra…

  • The straps fall.
  • The “bridge” on an underwire between your breasts doesn’t lie against your chest. I’m guessing 99.9% of you reading right now in underwires have floating bridges.
  • You can hook the bra in front, then spin it around.
  • Your nipples are down by your elbows, or heading there.
  • It rides up when you lift your arms, or your boobs spill out the bottom.

My new Wacoal underwire completely corrals “the girls.” But I’m not happy that it’s so tight overall, I’ve developed a mild case of muffin back. However, my nipples are sitting at mid-upper arm, all my shirts suddenly feel several inches looser, and the bra doesn’t move when I reach for things on top shelves in the kitchen.

Raising the boobage above waist level takes years off, and now I can run without knocking myself unconscious.

But wearing a “nonstandard” bra has downsides (besides being nearly impossible to find)…

  • It’s frightfully expensive – in the $50-75 range. Bra makers say you’re supposed to replace them every 6 months because the elastic goes. At those prices, it’s not bloody likely.
  • The weight is now all on my shoulders, so I’m expecting deep grooves.
  • The higher cut to contain the underarm boobage chafes.

On the other hand, getting out of the damn thing at the end of the day has never felt so wonderful!

I wish I had a time machine so I could go back and skewer on their own underwires the Soma saleslady and all the others I’ve met over the years who cheerily stuffed me into ill-fitting bras and pretended dumpy was my perfect “look.” Shame on them all.


Bourdain Releases His Inner Wolf in Libya

May 21, 2013

By Karen

Anthony Bourdain is clearly feeling CNN’s once-considerable “weight” on Parts Unknown. Who knows? Maybe he’s what the foundering network needs to stop being almost as big a joke as Fox “News.”

As Tony navigated through Libya, I felt like I was watching him grab the next rung up in his career  — and I was cheering for him all the way.

With each new Parts episode, Bourdain’s confidence grows almost visibly as he tries new ways to expand beyond food. He’s seeking out people involved in historic upheavals, and expats who love and live in danger zones. Then he lets them take center stage to talk about life and politics — instead of food — while Bourdain mostly listens and learns.

His narrations fill in just enough history to make it all make sense for viewers.

As he drove through Gaddafi’s destroyed, deserted compound and scrambled alone through the rubble of the dictator’s palace, I thought how, if he were still on Travel Channel, that probably would have been a scene of him lunching in Tripoli at some trendy new drive-through called Muammar’s.

I was the first blogger to follow him closely “way back when,” before Eater started hanging on his every word (e.g., their “Quotable Bourdain”), so I’ve seen him rise and begin to descend once, in spite of all the award nominations that started rolling in for No Reservations. It’s truly awesome to see him ascend again at CNN.

To foreign audiences, he must serve as the antidote to the cliché of heedless Ugly Americans who spew like mold spores from air-conditioned tour buses and cruise ships everywhere, often ignorant about where they are, and interested in nothing beyond a perfunctory glance at how “the other half” lives and cheap souvenirs.

When Bourdain was in Libya, the death of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens was still fairly fresh, and warnings were being issued about Westerners’ safety., which must have been giving him flashbacks to Beirut. As I watched Tony travel to Mizrata, I hoped to God I never awaken to news that he’s injured, missing — or worse — in some godforsaken hellhole.

But like his predecessor, the world-renowned (now largely forgotten) English writer, Somerset Maugham, Bourdain is compelled to travel to exotic places and collect stories from ordinary people, digest them without judging, then spin them into something fascinating for the rest of us.

Unlike much of Maugham’s work, Bourdain’s dominant genre is nonfiction, which takes more courage to write.

Instead of closing the Libya episode with another relatively easy meal scene, Bourdain trekked to the ancient Roman ruins of Leptis Magna, where he noted he was the only foreigner because the country’s never-ending strife has killed tourism, and that someone had “chipped off all the dicks” from the statues.

Would Samantha Brown ever share such a tidbit? I think not. But that’s just the sort of detail we expect from Bourdain.

Then, in the show’s most shocking moment, he joined a troop of Libyan Boy Scouts on a field trip, recited the pledge from memory, and revealed he was once a scout.

Anthony Bourdain — BOY SCOUT?

That notion was even wilder than the beard he sprouted there, “going Blitzer,” the reason for which was never explained.

I’m really liking this more-than-a-foodie Tony. I think he’s on track to earn that personal Emmy that’s been eluding him.


Preakness Looking a Little Peaked

May 17, 2013

By Adele

Since Orb won the Kentucky Derby fair and square, I’m giving him 4 paws up to win the Preakness on May 18 at Pimlico. Any horse who’s got a decent shot at the Triple Crown deserve the cat vote, and Orb is the strong favorite with humans, too.

This would make his 6th win in a row.

If he pulls it off, I hope they don’t say it was slam-dunk because he’s running against only 8 other horses.

Orb drew post position 1, which puts him against the rail. This could be a problem, since jockeys gravitate to the rail to give their horses the shortest distance to run. If Orb doesn’t have a flying start, he could get crowded out to the back of the pack or worse.

You don’t want to be the horse with all the others kicking dirt in your face.

There hasn’t been a winner from the rail position since 1994, when Tabasco Cat did it.

None of our Kittens are running in this Preakness, which has disappointed Max no end. He’s just getting into the sport, and his Derby pick, Fear the Kitten, isn’t running — again.

If Orb happens not to win, my alternate favorite is Mylute, ridden by the only female jockey, Rosie Napravnik. We girls must stick together. Mylute and Napravnik also ran in the Derby and came in 5th.

The temperature should be in the mid-70°s with possibly scattered storms. I hope it’s not another mudbath like the Derby.

Best of luck, Orb! And may all the horses be safe.

BONUS: Here’s a list of Preakness winners going back to 2000.


UnFoodie Tries Collard Chips – Twice

May 15, 2013

By Karen

“At 20 calories per (1-1/2 cup) serving, these collard chips crush the potato variety on virtually all nutritional fronts.”

Reading that in the Wednesday food section of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, I was all over this recipe because, at 20 calories with no fat, 4 grams of carbs, and 2 grams each of fiber and protein, that’s a Weight Watchers® zero PointsPlus snack.

(FYI on “veggie chips” in the grocery store: Not so great. When you calculate the points, you’d do just as well to eat Baked! Lay’s® Potato Crisps.)

Making Collard Chips is incredibly easy. All you need is…

  • 1 bunch collard green leaves (10-11 leaves)
  • Cooking spray
  • Sea salt, to taste

What could go wrong, right?

Well, I’m sharing my second attempt because the first one turned out so badly, I figured I must have screwed up. Fool me once…

Backstory: I never heard of collard greens until I moved to the South. Which is not to say I’m a greens snob. My Italian grandmother used to speak lovingly of dandelion greens, although I never actually saw her pick and eat any.

But dandelion greens are sheer lace next to collards, which are large, thick, and tough…

Collards1

On the elitist foodie pyramid, collards must be the vegetable equivalent of roadkill.

The recipe says to preheat the oven to 375°. Wash the collards (it neglects to tell you to dry them, a CRUCIAL step), then remove the center stem and rip the leaves into “chip-size” pieces. Next, “coat” each piece with cooking spray.

I discovered the hard way that you don’t “coat” the leaves, but toss them with the merest spritz or they go soggy. The first time, I also over-salted. It doesn’t take much.

This time I tried adding some some onion powder for flavor. Big mistake: it burns.

Collards2

So far, so good.

The recipe says to “mist a baking sheet with cooking spray.” But again, too much spray equals soggy mess. This time, I lined the sheet with foil and no spray. Arrange the collards in a single layer.

Collards3

Is your mouth watering yet? (Sorry for the blurriness. Still getting the hang of the Nikon.)

Bake for 8-9 minutes “until slightly brown and crisp.” Go put a good movie into the DVD, pour your favorite beverage, and get ready to nosh.

Voila!

Would you serve these at your next party, let alone put them in your own mouth?

Would you serve these at your next party, let alone put them in your own mouth?

Bottom line: It doesn’t matter if you follow the recipe to the letter or not, the result is the same. If your house burned to the ground and scorched all the trees in your yard, collard chips are like what you’d find in your driveway the next day. Just add salt.

They turn surprisingly thin and delicate so they crumble in your mouth, but they still taste like torched weeds.

I’m still looking for that elusive low-point chip snack food. But I’ve learned one thing…

Any damned idiot can get a recipe published in the paper.


Basking in the Weight-Loss “After” Glow

May 13, 2013

By Karen

Through the decade of my 50s I spent fat, I had squirreled away some favorite “skinny” clothes with the slim hope of “What if…” They included 2 pairs of Gloria Vanderbilt jeans in 12 and 14 petite. But even after I had dropped 40 lbs., I still wasn’t even close to zipping those suckas, even though I was buying new slacks in size 10.

So we now know that Gloria Vanderbilt pulls sizes out of her ass.

I had blocked the jeans out as too depressing, until I was recently purging the closet of more “fat clothes” and found them again.

Today I’m sitting here, down 49 pounds (at 128 — I yo-yo between 128-130), and I’m pleased to announce I’m comfortably wearing the GV size 12.

It’s a freaking miracle.

Last weekend I was in Coldwater Creek buying blouses (yes, I can button blouses without them gapping) and the cashier took my driver’s license to get some info.

My DMV mug shot, taken in 2009, is downright scary. They don’t let you smile, and I look like some redneck matriarch of a family of bank-robbers…

DMV-pic

The cashier did a double-take and exclaimed, “There’s no way I would recognize you from this. This is truly your ‘before’ picture!”

Wasn’t that sweet? Because here’s me today, with my rediscovered jawline…

DSC00957

Losing pounds is one thing, but I’ve been taking measurement since I started with Weight Watchers® in May 2012. Let me lay out what it’s meant to my overall mass…

 

177 lbs.

128 lbs.

Arm

12

10

Bust

51

39

Waist

44

33

Hips

48

39

Thigh

22

18

TOTAL INCHES LOST

 

38

I’m not telling you this to rub your nose in my success, but to let you know that SUCCESS IS POSSIBLE, even after menopause. It’s not easy, but if you make up your mind and stick with it, you can make your driver’s license picture look like a bad memory.

And you CAN get back in to your skinny jeans.


UnFoodie Discovers the Joy of Brining

May 8, 2013

By Karen

In spite of being a severely chicken-challenged cook, I eat a lot of it, mostly prepared from frozen bags. When I make it myself, it’s invariably dry and awful. But on a recent cruise vacation, I ate a melt-in-your-mouth chicken breast, and a fellow passenger suggested it had been brined.

That got me thinking…

I have this recipe for herb-brined, walnut-encrusted chicken that I mostly ignored (because I didn’t have the kosher salt; apple juice; ground coriander; fresh thyme, rosemary, and savory; and orange zest it required). But it gave me a basic plan of attack.

I bought 4 boneless thighs as a hedge against failure because they’re moister to begin with. I’ll tackle dry breasts another day.

Step 1: Make the brine.

Figuring sodium chloride is sodium chloride, into a saucepan I poured about 1/4 cup of sea salt into enough water to cover the chicken (4 cups maybe). Then I added a bunch of garlic powder. As an afterthought, I threw in dried rosemary and thyme, and some ground sage I’ve had for at least 20 years (it still had a smell, so, what the hell).

Heated the water just enough to dissolve the salt and garlic powder. Then I missed the instruction to cool it down with ice cubes before pouring it on the chicken. However, I did wonder if warm water would prematurely cook the chicken.

Step 2: Brine the chicken.

Laid the thighs flat in 2 Pyrex containers (with lids), then poured on the brine. The chicken edges did cook slightly. I put the covered containers in the fridge for about 5 hours. (Sorry the photo is blurry. New Nikon.)

As Emeril would say, this is when the chicken starts "getting happy."

As Emeril would say, this is when the chicken starts “getting happy.”

Step 3: Bread the chicken.

At dinnertime, I preheated the oven to 450 degrees, removed the chicken from the brine, rinsed in cold water, then patted dry with paper towels.

My wash was one egg white and a tablespoon of Hellmann’s Light Mayonnaise, which immediately clumped and took a lot of stirring to smooth out.

I probably could have done without the glumpy mayo.

I probably could have done without the glumpy mayo.

After dipping, I slathered the chicken with panko breadcrumbs, about 3/4 cup.

Step 4: Bake the chicken.

The breaded chicken went on a Pam-sprayed sheet to bake for 20 minutes.

The crumbs didn't stick great, but well enough.

The crumbs didn’t stick great, but well enough.

Here’s the (blurry) finished product. (I need more practice with the Nikon’s “food” setting.)

Half-cup of rice, with 0-point tomatoes and a pickle on the side, Weight Watchers-style.

Half-cup of rice, with 0-point tomatoes and a pickle on the side, Weight Watchers-style.

Oh. My. God. It was a TOTAL success. So moist, I vowed on the spot to NEVER cook chicken again without first brining it. It wasn’t salty, and it held the spices’ flavors, which turned out to be DELICIOUS, ancient sage notwithstanding.

I had enough for 4 meals, and reheating it in the microwave or on the stovetop didn’t dry it out. Every piece stayed moist and tasty.

Consider me a brining convert.


A Cat’s 2013 Kentucky Derby Picks

May 3, 2013

By Adele

Triple Crown season is here again. The horses are at Churchill Downs, ready to run the 139th Kentucky Derby on Saturday, May 4.

Rain may make the track a muddy mess, which is always worrying. And my pick has never even run on dirt before, so I’m sticking my tail out here.

This year, the post positions I’ll be watching are 14, 15, and 16. That’s where Verrazano, Charming Kitten, and Orb, respectively, will be running.

My pick to win is Charming Kitten, ridden by Edgar Prado. He’s finished in the top 3 in his 7 lifetime starts (winning 2). For the Derby, he’s one of the long shots, with odds of 20-1.

I think the Kitten’s got the stuff to pull it off. Running between the two favorites may spur him to greatness. Also, he has a Virginia connection. His father, Kitten’s Joy, once won the Virginia Derby.

Watch Charming Kitten’s last winning race, which was in January. Appropriately, he did one for Dad in the Kitten’s Joy Stakes at Gulfstream Park.

Verrazano (4-1) and Orb (7-2) are considered the horses to beat in the full 20-horse field.

The other horse to watch is Revolutionary in No. 3 position, ridden by Calvin Borel. Borel is famous for sneaking along the rail to win, and he’s in the perfect position to do it this time.

Revolutionary, Verrazano, and Charming Kitten were all trained by Todd Pletcher.

PS: Max has been showing an interest in horse-racing because it suits his short attention span. He is bummed that his pick, Fearless Kitten (who happens to be Charming Kitten’s half-brother), ended up just missing the cut at No. 21, so he’s the first alternate for the Derby. If any horse gets scratched at the last minute, Fearless Kitten is in, and then the Run for the Roses becomes the Run of the Kittens!

May the best horse win, and all cross the finish line safely.


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