Wednesday, May 22, 2013

This Week's Woes: Fractured Ankle

Hrm, seems like my food blog has turned into my public rant space.....

This week has just been pretty bad all around.

On Sunday morning, I took my dog out on a morning run to the dog park. I had woken up with this joyful plan to get so much done: jog with my dog, go grocery shopping, buy cold meds for my BF, finish up a reaction in lab and prepare an experiment, enjoy Sunday...

But that was not to be.

Lately, I felt like I was eating and sitting too much; I was itching for some exercise. I decided to combine Hershey's walk and playtime with my exercise time; thus, I ran with him to the dog park and wanted to run around the dog park with him.

I met these cute little girls at the dog park with their beagle. Their dad was there was well, chilling on the bench around the small pool of water in the center of the small dark park. I had ran a circle around the little pool with Hershey and the beagle trailing. After one round, the 7-year old said

"Wow, you're really fast. I wonder if I can beat you!"

I joked with her a bit, then we took off running, the dogs chasing after and in between us. Suddenly, the beagle decided to dash out of the circle we were running in - right across me.

Reacting in surprise, I jumped over the beagle and then everything went so fast. I think my foot skid across the wet pebbles and I came crashing down on my right side. Pebbles had cut into my left leg. Pebbles indented my right body. I held my lower left leg as shock and pain coursed through me.

I just lay on the floor, somewhat silent, somewhat moaning, left leg bent up and cradling my left ankle. The father crouched down next to me, asking if I was all right.

I could not answer. There was pain and fear that it could be bad, really bad.

Finally, the pain subsided enough that I could push myself halfway up from the ground.

"Can you get up?"

I muttered something along the lines of a maybe. I tried getting up a bit, but I could not get up all the way. The man offered and carried me to the bench nearby. I sat and lay my left foot straight on the bench. The children were still jabbering and clearly did not understand the seriousness of the situation. Some others at the dog park stood at a distance. One woman I met there before stood nearby and spoke with me. Her cute long-haired dachshund, Mojo, sat on the bench quietly with me. Hershey was still running around, playing with the beagle and the other terrier.

"Haha, thanks a lot for the love and care, Hershey!" I jokingly yelled to him.

Suddenly, I began to gasp. Nausea took over, pushing the urge to retch. I did not understand. My ankle was the part of me damaged. Why was my gut responding in this way?

"You should lie down," the woman owning Mojo advised. "Sitting up may feel good at the time, but it actually makes you feel worse." I followed her advice and lay down on the bench. The urge to retch subsided.

The man came back with water. After asking my state, we settled on taking me back to my apartment so I could go to the ER (it was a Sunday). He carried me to his car, loaded the kids and the dogs, and drove me home. I thanked the man and confronted my BF with my situation.

It was off to the ER. St Joseph hospital is so nice compared to all the times I have been to the ER in Oakland. We were admitted to a room pretty quickly, although the wait after the X-ray seemed to be a while and they never came with the water I requested.

The X-ray machine was so cool. They have this portable X-ray machine, kind of like the X-ray machine at the dentist office with the adjustable head, but with a rolling cart as well.

I was diagnosed with a fractured ankle - specifically the lateral malleous. They gave me a walking boot and crutches, as well as a prescription for anti-inflammatory and pain-killer medication. After the ER visit, I asked for my X-rays because I always am fascinated by these cool biomedical devices. You can see my lovely little fracture below, as well as the cool look of cancellous and trabecular bone! Check out the porosity. (I often worry I have low bone density, which would make me more at risk for bone injuries and osteoporosis).

So, since Sunday morning, I've been struggling to go about my usual life without my left leg, hobbling on crutches, avoiding moving my foot in ways that aggravate my ankle. It's been tough, but I've been getting better at it. Luckily (and not so luckily), my BF got sick and couldn't go to work, so he could drive me around and be my caretaker. Truth be told, he has only been a bit of a help. I have been able to do a lot things by myself, but with extreme difficulty. I just wish he would help without me asking a bit more.

I still cook and prepare dinner for both of us on my right leg. I inch my right foot to position me closer to walls and counters, then push and hop myself along the counters to get farther. I do army crawls on the ground now when I take my heavy walking boot off, then stand up on my right leg when I reach a counter or table. I practiced using just one crutch to free my left hand, but I still have not got this yet. Today, I can put my foot down and put bit of pressure on it, but not all my weight yet. It's not too bad a fracture, considering the lack of pain I feel and the ability to place it on the floor already. It looks bad still, much puffier than my right ankle and blue-purple around my ankle.

I went to work (lab) yesterday and today. Such simple tasks have become remarkably difficult now. What I could have done within 1 hour, I do over half the workday. I lay my body over the pushcart and use my right leg to push myself down the hallway, then I struggle with my crutches or the cart to keep doors open and get inside one lab, then struggle to open the door to leave this lab and go back to another lab. Research is so exhausting when you are disabled. Halfway through the day, I am tired and frustrated.

I am kind of a crazy workaholic.

To make matters worse, I think I am catching a bit of my BF's cold. Today, my stomach and bowels were not agreeing with me. I don't know if I ate something bad or what... My right leg is so sore at having to hop around and prop myself up all the time. And I feel like my BF could pay more attention to me than his computer games, offering a bit more help or care. I see he's sick and offer cough drops and meds and easy home remedies (hot tea and honey) to make him feel better. Don't I get a little "Are you feeling okay?" or "Let me make dinner for you or buy dinner tonight" when I clearly show I am having some stomach issues or am tired from this handicap?

Boys. Psh.

Good news is that I bet this will heal pretty fast. I think I should be able to walk on it within a week. I just have to consult my doctor or the orthopedist the hospital suggested to me.

Once I'm healed, I can hopefully get back to running. Mostly, I want to get back to biking to and from work so I do not have to bother others to give me rides. That's a thing about me; I hate asking others for help. I know I should sometimes, but I hate bothering others. They are busy and I can do things myself, granted at a bit more difficulty...

So, yeah. Otherwise, I got back into crocheting thanks to this fractured ankle, and I made quite the scene at work hobbling around and gliding down the hall on a pushcart...

Sunday, May 19, 2013


I've discovered something about myself. It is something that I didn't realize was growing ever since I graduated from high school, did my undergraduate at UCB and then moved onto graduate school.

I have become more cynical, impulsive, reckless, thoughtless, unfocused, bitter, and fearful.

Most of all fearful. I fear that I am not good enough anymore. As I met so many people, I realized that each one of them is very good at things that I always wished I was good at. There a lot of things that I aspired to get good at. These include baking, and cooking, drawing and painting, academics, dance, speaking, running, writing...

There are so many things I wish I was in real life, things that I aspire to. I often look to the people who do things really well as inspiration for me to strive to become better. I want to reach the level that they are at.

But when I realize my own inadequacies, that I will never reach anything close to it, I start getting scared that people will see me not performing well. I have always been viewed by my family, friends, and colleagues as a smart and skilled person, ever since I was little. When I got out to the real world, I discovered that I really am not.

I began to get scared. If I am not truly good at anything better than people I know, then I fear that I cannot truly succeed. I want to be able to be independent and show I am capable of doing this and that. I often try so hard to show it that I become pushy, brash. Then, I lash back when my weakness peeks out or my ploy starts to unravel. I become mean.

I am not a good nor a skilled person, despite everyone perceiving me as so. I am not intelligent, selfless, nor skilled. I just make it seem like I am. Everything I am is a facade, a porcelain shell I put around myself to hide the true person inside.

This porcelain shell is cracking.

I cannot hide anymore.

Everything bad that happens to me, or happens to those around me, is always the fault of my doing. My oversight, my carelessness, my self-hatred culminate into problems for others, for the ones I care about around me. It would be better if I just became a recluse and kept my bad aura away from others...

I cannot cope with my feelings or my thoughts.

Why am I sad and angry at myself all the time? Why can't I accept myself?


30 minutes later...ate a Klondike mint chocolate chip ice cream bar, browsed Tastespotting, laughed at one post about making the ridiculous "Skip's Scramble" (everything on this brunch restaurant's menu in one $50 order), and feel a little happier. Will most likely be short-lived happiness till my next mess-up (which is likely to be soon, knowing me).

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Monday Munchies

I'm going to try and start this blog series every week. Inspired by Detoxinista's "What I Ate Wednesday", I wanted to try and do a regular post to give some more insight into my (eating) life and get a conversation going. I hope to do it every Monday (so I can write "Monday Munchies" every week), but most likely I will post on random days whenever I get the chance (like today)...

Last week, I grabbed a single box of Cascadian Farm's oats and honey granola cereal and some 8th Continent Original Soymilk for breakfast. I poured the granola into my coffee cup (standard 11 oz mug) and it filled about halfway. That is a good amount. The box (54 g) has 230 cal (50 from fat), 6g of fat (1g saturated, 1 g polyunsaturated, 3.5g monounsaturated), and 5 g of protein. It has 14 g of sugar, which I think is pretty high in comparison to Honey Nut Cheerios (9g sugar). The flavor of this granola was spot on. The sweetness was not overpowering like you were eating dessert for breakfast and tasted natural. The crunch of the granola was well-maintained after sitting in the milk for several minutes. Even when softened by the milk, the texture still appealed to me.

The ingredients are:
(taken from their website)

The molasses and honey and vanilla melded together into a great natural and complex sweet flavor. I liked the use of crisp rice to give it an extra texture dynamic.

What made me like this granola much more than Nature Valley or other granola is the lack of after-taste and after-texture. Whenever I eat Nature Valley granola bars, the bars are just way too crunchy and I am always left with some strange grainy sugar-oat coating in my mouth. Not with Cascadian Farm's granola cereal.

It's hard to pinpoint exactly unless you eat the two side-by-side, but I never liked granola so much as I did with this box just now. Next time and all future times, I think I'm just going to buy this brand. The only thing that makes me hesitate to buy it in the future is the high calorie content for just 2/3 cup (230 calories). I think they could reduce this by reducing the sugar content to maybe 9-10 g. Then again, granolas are typically high calorie and somewhat high sugar content, so this is not that bad for its market.


Silk is the most common soymilk brand throughout the US, but I prefer a different brand. I've been all into almond milk lately, not for dietary reasons or restrictions, but because I like the flavor. The original almond milk is just really tasty and they get the texture nice and creamy by using carageenan (polysaccharide extracted from seaweed). I'm a researcher so I'm not bothered by these chemical or polymeric extracts used to enhance food (unless they adversely affect your health or their extraction is not eco-friendly).

My favorite brand of soymilk is 8th Continent. I used to drink this more often back in high school, but during my undergraduate years, I had more trouble finding 8th Continent Soymilk. My favorite brand was being edged out by this Silk stuff.

The reason I like 8th Continent better is that it retains more of its soy identity than Silk. I feel like Silk Soymilk was made to really be a milk substitute, whereas 8th Continent is solely trying to be soymilk. It hints at more of the natural soymilk you find in Asian grocery stores. In Asian markets, soymilk is made fresh from real soybeans, water, and sugar. Pandan flavoring may be added as well. 8th Continent gets a bit more of the natural soy flavor than Silk does, and this is why I prefer this brand over Silk.

If you want to taste true soymilk, and not "soy-based milk substitute", I recommend trying out 8th Continent. But don't just take my word for it; 8th Continent is preferred over Silk 2 to 1 in taste tests. Other people know what I'm talking about!


Another breakfast item that I'm totally digging is the Muller FrutUp Yogurt. I just picked up the strawberry and blueberry flavors at my local HEB for for $1 each. These are lowfat yogurt topped with fruit mousse on top.

Can I just start with OHMYMUFFINS!?!?!?

The flavor and texture of these yogurts are AMAZING. The mousse on top is airy but not empty like what eating Yoplait Whips are like. They have substance. And flavor. I like to spoon straight down from top to bottom to get both layers in each spoonful. The bottom yogurt layer is so silky too. Oh my gosh oh my gosh oh my gosh. I already am thinking of how much I need to go back to HEB and buy a buttload more before the sale ends! Lemme just say, forget you, Greek yogurt fangirls. Mousse yogurt is where it's at!

As I was licking the remaining bits of yogurt from the cup (I wanted it all!), I looked at the nutrition facts.

140 calories for a whole cup...not high fructose corn syrup, check...blueberries actually in the ingredients, yay!...23 g of sugar, a bit high...dextrose...gelatin...Contains...TILAPIA!?!?

Ok, so I was not that shocked. Rather, I was more intrigued. I just thought it funny that tilapia would be inside my yogurt. Never saw that before. I looked back at the ingredients and reread "gelatin." Gelatin is a gelling agent often used in food (think Jell-O) and is typically derived from animal collagen. The FAQs report that gelatin is used in maintaining the texture of the mousse. I had thought the gelatin was used to give the creamy gel texture to the yogurt and that the last ingredient (nitrogen) was used to give the fluffy texture to the mousse. I would imagine nitrogen gas would be bubbled into a fruit puree to aerate it and give it pores. But I guess I was wrong.

Even if nitrogen and tilapia are contained  in this yogurt, I really don't care at all. It's damn tasty.

So those are some products that I've been munching on and really enjoying.

Question of ze day: 
What are your favorite breakfast items? What is a typical breakfast like for you?

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Vanilla Souffles


You hear the word and the image of a delicate dessert set in a cute French bakery on a light Spring day crosses your mind. After the pleasant image plays to the end of its reel, another takes it place. Cartoon characters rush into a kitchen just as you pull the souffle from the oven, excited to see its risen cylindrical golden top.

Boom! Clatter!

The characters crash into pots and pans and yell in surprise.

The souffle exhales a big fat POOT! and crumples into itself. The expression on your face is that of priceless horror and sadness.

Oh, souffle, oh souffle.

You put the ramekins down and chase those cartoon characters into the horizon as cartoon-y music plays in the background. Th-th-th-that's all folks!


Is that what you imagine when you hear about souffles and thinking about making them? There may be a misconception that souffles are hard to make and that they deflate if there is a large sound. Quite the contrary. Souffles are very simple to make and the deflation is a matter of time not audio agitation. Because souffles deflate so quickly, they must be served right away and I think this contributes to its perception as a difficult dessert to make. It is only difficult because it must be made and served at the right time.

As an aspiring baker, I believe you have to make a souffle at least once. It's like a requirement to call yourself a baker. Muffins, brownies, cookies. Yeah, yeah, we can all make those. But when I imagine a true European baker, I imagine the careful creation of decorated cakes, tartlets, croissants, and souffles. My goals to becoming a better baker include making these items at least once in my life, and eventually coming back to perfect them.

You have already seen the labor-intensive devil's food chocolate cake that I made for my sister's graduation. (which I realize I never posted about. Whoops. Typical me. And I can't find all my photos from my sister's graduation...there were so many good pictures T_T ... That cake was so awesome and I put so much work into it)

I made a healthy fruit tart that was tasty enough but could use some work with the crust.

And I made whole wheat croissants before that took so much butter and so much rolling. The whole wheat croissants were tasty (despite a little more time spent in the oven than I had wanted) but it is definitely something you have to have a lot of free time and energy for. (Again, I cannot find the pictures. And I totally thought I had posted about them or at least the pictures before, but I went through all my posts and see nothing! Oh sadness)

My grandma would agree; she recently made croissants too and said she would probably not try and make them again. Costco croissants are fine and dandy, thank you very much.

I decided to make a classic vanilla souffle. My decision was prompted by this new YouTube baker I randomly found one day. Eugenie Kitchen is such a pristine cooking blog and series of cooking videos. Eugenie is this adorable Korean lady who talks eloquently, speaks French, and teaches each recipe through straightforward, well-explained steps. She even has every ingredient placed in such cute bowls and plates. I watched her video for vanilla souffle and was impressed by how easy it seemed. When I came home for winter break, I was excited to try it because my sister bought ramekins (she had bought them to make creme brulee, but I don't think that has happened yet).

  I followed her recipe to the dot and my 4 ramekins full of souffle came out so perfect and amazing! With a light dusting of powdered sugar, they were the perfect degree of sweetness. It was like an eggy, airy pancake. It was still warm inside. You pierce the top with a spoon and then it sinks through the moist spongy interior. You put it in your mouth and the flavor of vanilla and custard hits your tastebuds while the warmth enhances the experiences.

Souffles are such an awesome dessert. I would like to make them more often, but it is sad they only last around 10 minutes. They start deflating around 5 minutes, so you really have to eat them fast. Even after deflating, they are still edible and still have the same flavor, just not all of the awesome flavor of fresh.

I would highly recommend trying out this recipe at least once in your baking career. It is little effort with big reward.

For the recipe, hop on over to Eugenie Kitchen!