Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Busy, busy, busy

As you can tell from the lack of updates – we are in Vermont, continuing to plan the wedding, meet with carpenters, landscapers, electricians and whatever you call a guy who redoes the stones in your driveway.

For those regular readers, you will know that I am going to have an operation on my eyes to replace the lenses and put in artificial lens that will never wear out and my vision will never deteriorate with age.

I am very excited.

In the meantime, my eyesight continues to deteriorate and I continue to 1) bitch about it and 2) need stronger and stronger reading glasses. Except they’re not reading glasses because I wear them from dawn to dusk.

Wendy suggests I get contacts.

“Those are like six hundred dollars. At least, they used to be.”

“Why don’t you look into it?”

I am surprised by what I find. I make an appointment at the nearest Lenscrafters. Guess how much an eye exam and disposable contacts that last 2-4 weeks costs?

Go ahead. Guess.



It takes me ten minutes to get the first one in. My eyes are so irritaded I have to take them out after three hours. This is normal. The next day it takes me almost half an hour to get them in. I have to take them out after two hours. The next day I look online for tips on how to put in contact lenses and find out a magnifying mirror is best to look into. Luckily, we have a nice one hanging on the wall upstairs for Wendy’s make-up. I get the right one in on the first try. The left one takes me a bit, but holy God what a difference. I am able to leave them in the whole day, moisturizing my eyes every couple hours.

Wendy thinks I look hot without glasses.

That’s a good thing.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Welcome to Reality

Tentacle ala Fanari turned out to be much less satisfying than we had hoped. It is a very complex dish and we could not flambé it because the alcohol was boiling so much it would blow out the lighter every time we got near it. We will need to work on technique and research more. A work in progress.

We have returned to Vermont.

Every time we come here, the main hazard is gaining weight. We went shopping the other day and, my God! The temptations! They don’t exist like that in Madrid. We eat healthy there. It is tough to walk by the bags of chips and salsa, the ice cream bars, the massive frozen pizzas, the cans of chili, the frozen dinners, the little snacks and easy to prepare processed food that doesn’t do your body much good.

We have been on a journey lately. Our friend Lena turned Wendy onto a podcast called Inside-Out Weight Loss. It is a real psychological approach to losing weight and keeping it off, instead of a diet where you lose the weight then put more than you lost, back on, weeks later. It is about changing your mindset about food, and seeing it as fuel instead of pleasure.

This has been reinforced by watching “The Biggest Loser” which we thought we would hate, but in fact, takes the same approach IOWL takes. This show also has the added effect of making us push ourselves harder in the gym. Wendy is running longer and I am continuing to break down muscle when I might have quit before. Heart pounding? Feeling dizzy? Arms completely limp? Five more sets buddy, get to it.

Jillian – “GET UP! I’m not kidding around, GET UP!”

Jillian is one of the trainers on the show and a captivating personality and an amazing screen presence. We love her.

It’s easy to adopt the mindset that food is fuel when you start listening to your body. You stop eating when you’re full, you eat slower, and you listen to what your body needs instead of what your mind’s pleasure center wants.

We went out to dinner the other night at Two Brother’s Tavern. It is relatively basic food but with high end, quality preparation. Both of us were feeling a little ill so we wanted an appetizer, found nothing we really wanted and ordered a side of onion rings. I thought I was going to have the shepard’s pie then decided on the Philly cheese steak. Wendy had a salad. Instead of bringing the onion rings first, the waitress brought everything together. I started with one onion ring, then half my cheese steak. Wendy ate three-quarters of her salad and stopped. She had two onion rings. I had two more. I asked the waitress to box up my remaining half of the cheese steak.

Now you’re thinking? Nice eating there Wakefield, a cheese steak and onion rings?

Yes, actually, because this new mindset isn’t about denying yourself- anything. I could have eaten more rings, I could have finished my Philly. I stopped when I was satisfied. The rings were lightly battered, real onions and very good. But after three I realized my body was telling me that they were not good fuel. Anyone could have easily finished my cheese steak and plowed into the rings. So could I. Then I would have been stuffed and felt like crap and laid on the couch for four hours like a python that has swallowed a baby hippo.

Learn to listen when your body says “that’s enough.” Don’t listen to your mouth that says “I want more of those.”

Wendy has lost 18.5 pounds using this method. And unlike any other time in her life, doesn’t feel like she is on a diet and can’t go back to eating the things she wants. She’s eating them now so she doesn’t feel deprived.

I have lost zero weight but since I am working out like a fiend, I now fit into my skinniest jeans, have lost a good portion of my gut and my skinny arms are now twice the size they used to me. I’m not saying they’re huge, but they look a hell of a lot better than they did six months ago.

In sort of related news, we love food TV. Usually competition food shows. Our newest discoveries are “Chopped” and “Food Networks next cooking star” (or something like that.)

Chopped is quick, light and moderately good. Four contestants come in each week and must make an appetizer course with their mystery basket. All the mystery baskets have the same ingredients inside and they are usually things that you can’t imagine how they would go together.

Appetizer course – your basket includes:
Emu Egg
Corn Chips
Miso sauce.

WTF are they going to make with that? Person who makes the worst dish goes home.

Main Course – your basket includes:
Goat leg
Cotton Candy
Long Beans
Dried Cactus

Loser goes home.

Desert Course is the hardest because they never give them anything like dessert ingredients.

You basket includes:
A screwdriver. Go!

Best overall performance wins $10,000

Other than the fact that Judge Scott Connant is such a pissy little bitch, we like it.

The other show is the long term reality kind of live in a house with 12 other people and try to win challenges and in the end to get your own show on the Food Network.
The stupidity of the contestants is incredible.

“Today your challenge is doing a fifteen second promo for your show. Write down a fifteen second script then we’ll film it, and show it to diners at the meal you’ll be making later.

None of them appear to have practiced in front of a camera before. None of them have an idea of what they want to do for a show. None of them can deliver a line without “um” or “ah” in it.

What were you thinking when you signed up to be on this show? The prize is the greatest of any reality contest out there. Get your own show. Become a star. Get paid. Possibly become the next Martha Stewart or Anthony Bourdain.

We can’t understand why the second these people were accepted to the show they didn’t practice in front of a camera and use their friends as an audience. Why did they not time themselves cooking in front of their friend while explaining what they were doing?

I think it’s like the random contestant on “So you think you can Dance” who has no professional training and goes into the audition thinking “My mommy says I’m special so I’ll win. I have a nice personality.” Then Nigel rips them a new one and they come out crying and confused.

Welcome to reality kid.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Tentacle ala Fanari

Spaniards are… different. There are times when they drive us bat-shit crazy, and times when we find them charming.

The other day, Wendy is at the post office. She asks if she can use a credit card to mail something. The man behind the counter tells her no. The woman next to her, not involved at all, speaks up and says indignantly “This isn’t a department store. You have never been able to pay with a credit card. What makes you think you can pay with a credit card here?”

Wendy, having been forced to watch too much MMA with me immediately tackles her to the ground, achieves full mount and starts throwing down elbows. “I’m sorry, Did anyone ask you?



“Then why are you talking?”


“I don’t know! It’s my culture! “

/fantasy over. In reality Wendy stared at her blankly wondering why the hell she was commenting at all. This would never happen in the states.

Which brings us to today.

We are going to attempt “Tentacle ala Fanari” which is boiled, grilled, flambĂ©ed octopus limb that we discovered in Oia, Greece and ate so much of they allowed us to watch how to make it, in the kitchen, before we left.

We discover that you cannot buy raw octopus tentacle in Madrid. You must buy a whole octopus. At the first place we stop, the tentacles are eight feet long and the entire thing costs over a hundred dollars. We try another place and find one with four foot tentacles for only thirty dollars. We ask for advice from the woman behind the counter on how best to cook it.

The woman next to us says “You have to cook it for an hour, then let it sit in the water for an hour because it is very tough.”

Another woman chimes in with “Cook it with a potato, then you know when it’s done.”

First woman says “Oh yeah? MY husband owns a restaurant specializing in seafood and I know what I’m talking about.”

Second woman leaves. The first woman gives us some good instructions we plan on following. Random guy says “You have to pull the octopus out of the water three times, then dunk it back in, 1,2,3 to break down the fibers.”

Original woman agrees. Girl behind the counter agrees.

Random gay man tells me “your shirt really doesn’t go with those shorts little boy.”