Category Archives: weight-loss stunts

Goodbye to all that

Yay! This is the last day of the dreaded cleanse. I’ve been told that I seem almost aggressively mellow. It’s true: I feel like I’m in a cottony torpor sans caffeine. I can’t wait for my first cup of real tea. I’ve even imagined the scenario of making my morning tea a couple of times. I’m really looking forward to my day of unhindered eating tomorrow. Not like I’m going to go crazy and eat a bunch of hamburgers or anything, just the idea of eating a peanut butter sandwich seems unbearably luxurious. That’s why I love to do these silly stunts. They help me value what I have. And, it makes me feel lucky that I can feed myself with what I grow. Here’s what I ate for the last two weeks:

3 winter squash triamble (i’m working on getting the seeds sent out…)= approx 10 pound

3.5 quart jars of apple sauce

2 quarts elephant heart plums

3 pints Italian plums

6 quarts canned tomatoes

5 pounds potatoes

bunches of kale and chard

15 lettuces

6 carrots (they’re really not ready yet)

several leeks

several lemons/limes

head of cauliflower

many stems of mint/nettle

2 chantrelle mushrooms

10 quarts of milk

5 rounds of goat cheese

3 rabbits (cooked in various ways)

11 eggs (chickens are really not laying much yet)

I didn’t weigh myself so I don’t know that I lost weight, but ghod, I feel so much lighter and stronger. This might have to become an annual almost-spring ritual. Did I learn anything?

-Small plates make a small meal seem big

-Portion size is crucial: we just eat too much because we have too much

-Early to bed and up early seems like the best way to deal with hunger

-Exercise makes you forget you’re hungry

-Feeding yourself with homegrown food isn’t really that hard, you just have to have a bit of a stockpile of basics, and become creative with what you have.

-Caffeine makes me who I am.

Now that Bill’s back from Mexico, we’re going to clean out the cupboards with the catastrophe diet!

My failures

The stunt is only 14 days. Two weeks. And as I’m nearing the finish line, I’m realizing there have been failures.

1. still have muffin top. even my fattest jeans are tight. i didn’t think the pounds would fly off–but i may have even added more. lesson: cheese diets don’t work and exercise might be a better idea.

2. acorn flour. my dear wonderful friend D brought me some acorn flour. I immediately began eating it. I made a weird gruel first with some milk. I ate it but reluctantly. then i remembered my failure with the gnocchi and tried again. I mixed egg, baked squash, and the acorn flour. it turned a strange brown color. i paid no attention and boiled a few in salted water. they sank like tiny turds and stayed that way until i prodded them. then they warbled up to the top, floating and glistening. as i brought one out of the drink, i thought: what if i’ve discovered some new genius recipe that chefs will soon be imitating? what if they’ll name the gnocchi after me? (starvation diets make delusions of grandeur). then the brown ball passed my lips and was chewed. it was, dear readers, a monstrosity of sog combined with grit. tasted like dirt. then i thought: i should fry these brown balls. like falafal. which i did. they actually tasted good, like a falafal type food. nutty and crunchy. then i went to bed and developed the most splitting headache i’ve ever had. failure.

3. i visited the good students at USF the other day. they have planted a beautiful garden, and some freshmen farm and live in the dorms as an interest group. they are adorable, and grow food for a farm stand and make value added products, and learn how to graft. it made my heart sing to see these good citizens fired up about growing food. And then, they offered me lunch. it included, homemade foccacia and soup with (sweet baby J) barley. i lost all resolve and sucked down all those forbidden carbs, comforting myself that at least the vegetables had been grown on their little farm. failure, but i would do it again.

however, i’d like to report one success in the last few days: i accompanied tamara wilder (the instructor for the rabbit hide tanning workshop here at the gt farm this weekend) to a dim sum restaurant post-class, and watched her eat approximately 27 dumplings. and never once, never, did it cross my mind to grab one of the pillowy pork and cabbage dumplings, dredge it into the sweet soy/ginger nectar, and have it explode in my mouth. not once. i swear.

Half Way There, oh oh

Did you see it? I was in the paper of record and then I got to do a guest blog, too.

It has generated some hate. Scroll down to comments. I know I could just erase their crazy talk, but somehow, I kind of love them. They’re like, “Hmmm, maybe she doesn’t know rabbits are kept as pets. I’m going to set her straight.” People: I know you keep rabbits as pets. That’s great! It’s not like I want to eat your rabbit. Christ.

Now: onto food. I’ve gotten used to feeling vaguely hungry. Which is a good thing for any chowhound. It means I can wait for something really good to come along. Which it did. Check out this beauty!


A friend came by and bestowed a couple chantrelles on me. I promptly fried them up with some chunks of poached rabbit (ahem), sprinkled some parsley over the top, and there you go, heaven on a fork.


Served with potatoes (running low) and kraut. For dessert: Bebe’s ricotta (she’s a wizard in the kitchen, her cloven feet really don’t impede her at all) topped with peach preserves. Heaven.

Speaking of kraut and whey. I attempted to make chickweed kraut. There’s a scrambling mess of chickweed near my office, and I heard you can make a fermented product out of it. I chopped the chickweed, added salt, poured in some whey, then poured in some liquid from a batch of “real” kraut. After a few days I sampled it. It’s actually kind of good. Chickweed has a nice grassy, springtime flavor to it. And don’t worry–it’s not just cat pee–I washed it, OK?

No Idea What Day It Is

A lot of fancy chef people don’t like squash. I love it, mostly because I love to grow them. My favorite squash–the triamble or shamrock squash–yielded a pretty good crop of five or six big ones this fall. I noticed that I hadn’t been eating them, partially because they are so beautiful, partially because what the hell would I do with an entire squash? During this little stunt, I found that I can eat a whole squash quite easily.

1. Squash soup obviously. I made mine with rabbit stock, squash, a jar of tomatoes, and a bit of milk.

2. Baked squash. God, look how gorgeous this looks! A ramekin of ricotta is lurking in the background….

3. Gnocchi. Squash gnocchi? Yup. With just a couple cheat tablespoons of flour, these squash dumplings per Ms. MFK Fisher were weirdly outstanding. The recipe called for 2 cups baked squash, 2 eggs, 2 tbs flour, and a pinch of baking soda. I let this concoction drain overnight, then dunked full spoons of the goo into boiled salted water. Amazingly, they held together and bobbed up to the top. I let them cook for a bit longer before scooping them out with a slotted spoon. Served with pepper and parsley. Baby! Like little carb and protein pillows. Note that I doubt I would make this dish again. The texture was kind of bizarre. But when you’re starving….

P.S. How did everyone else’s turn out, if you got Triamble seeds from me? I’ve saved the seeds, let me know if you’d like a few for your garden and I’ll send some over. Just email me at novellacarpenter@gmail.com with your address….

day 4

What a difference three years makes.

Last time I attempted the 100-yard diet, it got pretty ugly. Maybe because it was July, sort of an awkward month, while February in Oakland is time for spring greens and potatoes and carrots and beets AND the winter stores of winter squash and canned tomatoes haven’t run out. I haven’t had to resort to the corn cobs on the mantle, but I’m waiting until day 10 or so. Here’s what I ate for dinner.

It’s definitely easier this time because of the goat. Also I cheated last night (knew I would, though) at my friend’s house last night. But he mostly made things I could have had anyway: corn soup, salad with feta and pumpkin–except for the mind-blowing seafood thai noodles from Christine Manfield’s book Spice. Oh my god. I brought goat milk and meyer lemon sorbet for dessert. Today involved squash soup, steamed milk, carrots, apple/plum sauce with milk, fried potatoes and greens and a little rind of cheese. It’s, as they say, all good.

But now that I have the benefit of a few days hindsight, I can think of some better cleanses/stunts for people to try. Feel free to run with these:

1. Catastrophe diet. Pretend like there’s no grocery store because there’s big earthquake or tsunami. Your house is intact, but what would you eat? Most people don’t know it, but they have a shit-ton of food in the cupboard. You should really eat it, and this is a good motivator to clean out the old stuff. Just looking through my cupboards (believe me, I’ve been looking), I have: 2 quarts of dry beans, granola, pumpkin seeds, thin rice noodles, almond butter, coconut milk, dried mushrooms, all kinds of flour, powdered sugar, arepa corn stuff a friend gave me…. This is all in addition to what’s in the larder of home-made stuff like wine and pickles and canned tomatoes. Paired with vegetables out of the garden, I could really make some good food! Maybe that’s what I’ll do post-cleanse, as it’ll force me to cook at home.

2. How to Cook a Wolf diet. I love MFK Fisher. The book was written during the war years, when money was tight and people were constantly being reminded of it. She used her imagination to make it kind of fun to be cooking the same boring shit everyday (I can relate). She also diverges from food talk to talk about making soap or stuffing pin cushions with old coffee grounds. I can’t believe some blogger hasn’t gotten a book deal for following HtoCaW. I’ll probably try out a couple of the book’s recipes, like the Southern Spoon bread (with the corn), Potato Soup, and Eggs in Hell (sans bread). I just love the section where she talks about having toast for breakfast. Lots of toast, and nothing else. But have fun with it and try lots of different kinds of jam. So easy. And so cheap. Aitkins rolling in his grave, I’m sure. God I miss toast.

As a sidenote, I’m reading her diaries now and just came across a line she wrote during the Depression: “Even now I feel it–a nostalgia for the present!” I wrote a similar sentiment in Farm City, but had never read MFK’s line until now. It’s strange how going through something difficult or challenging or uncomfortable makes us feel like it’s really important. That it shapes us and makes us who we are, so later when we are comfortable, we can draw upon the hardship and feel a proud about that hardship. Humans are weird.

3. Insect diet. I know this is gross, but you can take it. I did two hours of garden bed prepping, and during that time, I encountered many, many bugs. Big huge earthworms, spiders, snails. And one of the snails was caught laying her eggs. They are lovely and white. And I thought: caviar. And took a tiny sample. Actually, quite good. I’ve already “gone there” and eaten snails, but had never thought of their eggs. Might be a delicacy soon enough.

Okay, I’m addled. Goodnight!

Day Two

Feeling more human, but not quite.

Last night I cooked up the best part of the rabbit, as a gift to myself. The loins. They are the two strips of muscle running along their backs. Like a pork loin, these muscles don’t do much so they are tender, tender, tender. I fried them in duck fat, sprinkled with salt, and a side of home-made Gravenstein apple sauce. Heaven. Still, I went to bed hungry at 9:30. Now that I look back on it, I was going out to eat almost every fricking night! I had really gotten used to eating way too much food. I blame Bill.

Couldn’t get up this morning. What do I possibly have to look forward to? Usually the thought of the tea with milk and honey was a huge motivator. I settled by into bed for a long morning, cuddling with cuzzin the cat. But the chickens kept coming up to the back stairs demanding their food, and then the goats whinied, etc. You can see how people live longer because of their demanding animals.

Once up, I made what will surely become my new tea: frothed goat milk with honey. And two aspirins because there is no caffeine in either of those things.

Then I devoured a quarter of a baked trimable winter squash. Holy carb day-dream.

Since there was a rainstorm, I made some tomato soup from the rabbit bone stock, and enjoyed the fringed side area of the rabbit, which is flat and should taste like a veal milanesa but I didn’t pound it, so it was like an insole of a shoe. Still, pretty good when fried in duck fat. The soup is amazing. Also, a garden salad was picked before the storm. Then I think our chimney blew off the house. Oh well, I’m doing a cleanse, dammit, I can’t worry about my rented  apartment’s infrastructure.

More applesauce. Discovered two of the baby rabbits are missing, and one is wounded. What is going on out there on the deck? Is it like Watership Down? Separated everyone. Fuck. Now I have two baby bunnies (the albino survived) in my apartment.

Dinner of soup, rabbit forelegs (sorry little guys, ignore that frying smell, it’s just your aunt!), and applesauce with dollop of Bebe cream. Mercy.