The Junk Food of Asian Cuisine

Thanks to the glories of LivingSocial, Matt and I took a Thai cooking class yesterday for a mere $35 a piece. I consider myself a pretty confident cook, and I’ve always wanted to take cooking classes. In fact, I humor myself sometimes and imagine life without j-school, and what it would have been like if I had ditched my love of words and instead, learned the culinary arts. (Now I know I’m too much of a pansy to survive in an industrial kitchen – I’m way too sensitive to be scolded about things like uneven julienne or bad knife technique).

The chef preparing some noms

Our class was at a really cool industrial test kitchen called Surfa’s Chef Paradise. Our class subject was Thai, which the teacher informed us was the “Junk food of asian cuisine” due to all the coconut milk, sugar and oil. The teacher was very no-nonsense and east-coast, but was also informative and professional. At one point, Matt was delegated the task of cutting the raw chicken into strips for satay, and she grabbed the tray after he’d done a few, and sharply said “These look nothing like I showed you. Do it again!”. I giggled for a few seconds at the wounded baby deer look on Matt’s face – cuz he’d just been TOLD by a professional chef. Matt, please pack your knives and go.

Chicken Satay, Finished Product!

We took the class with a friend of ours, and she brought her cool friend Heather. We had a good time talking shit as we were delegated our various cooking tasks – at one point, Heather was pulling tails off tiger shrimp and lining them up on a tray, and the teacher said, “That’s so cute, but they don’t need to be perfect.” We snarkily joked for the rest of the class that the teacher was threatened by Heather’s perfect shrimp-organizing skills.

Christina and Heather

I fried bean thread noodles, chopped bell pepper, de-stemmed mint leaves, and fried tofu. Good times. I also learned that you should never use olive oil on high heat (the smoking point increases carcinogens that can cause cancer), a fancy way to cut a bell pepper, and that to re-use a contaminated cutting board (that’s had raw meat on it) , you can just flip it over and use the other side.

Mee Krob with fried tofu and bean thread noodles

After we cooked, it was time to plate and eat! Everything we made was yummy, but my favorite was the Thai Pork salad – loaded with cabbage, cilantro, mint, peanuts, marinated pork, carrots, and a sesame-vinegar dressing. NOMS!

Thai Pork Salad

I had a glass of white wine and we chitchatted with the professor about her travels and cooking. All in all, it was a really fun and unique experience – and now I want to do it again, maybe this time for a baking class, since I’m not so much of a confident baker. Or, I’d be interested in taking a knife skills class, as I know my chopping and slicing skillz could get better, and I’d be at less risk of hacking off my finger. You know. It’s the small things that count! If you could take any type of cooking class, what would it be?

Yan Can Cook

Watching my weight without weight watchers

Hello bloggies! Today was my last Weight Watchers meeting. While I know the program definitely works, I’ve faced the sad realization that for it to work, you have to be at least 90% committed to the program. As somebody who hasn’t tracked in over a month…. I’ve admitted to myself that there is no reason to continue to pay for a program I’m not following. It’s a bit of a tricky subject because we have Weight Watchers at work, which is a bit more expensive and requires at least 15 people to sign up for a new session to start.

I feel a little guilty because without my membership, they’re under the minimum people to join. Luckily I’m not the only dropout, but I just can’t part ways with $200 if I’m not REALLY gonna do it, you know? There’s a few other reasons I’m not joining too – the meetings were not inspiring to me anymore, and the meeting is scheduled at 12 pm (lunch). Since I work in the wild wild web, lunch happens when it happens… not always at noon.

I’m getting back into a steady gym habit and that seems to be helping, and I may go back to my old friend the Atkins diet for a few weeks to shed some excess flubber before my friend’s wedding. (I’m a bridesmaid!) I know the Atkins diet is crazy controversial…. but it really works for me, despite the first few days of intense, heroin withdrawal-type cravings for bread. Before my wedding, I took off a good 10-12 pounds in 3 weeks, where as Weight Watchers had taken me two months to shed that. (Again – I know which one is healthier, but let’s not get into the debates).

So – it’s with a little twinge of guilt and regret (that I lacked the commitment to give the program my all), but mostly, a happy wallet, that I step out of the Weight Watchers world and into the losing-it-on-my-own world – a less expensive, but way more personalized approach to the body I want to have. I lost 27 pounds in college just by going to the gym, cutting my carbs, and meeting with an on-campus nutritonist – so I’m feeling good about wingin’ it on my own. I’ve always been kind of a loner, anyways 😉

The buffet opens right when you get on the ship…

When I first started dating Matt (now my husband), I would be flummoxed when he’d say that he’d forgotten to eat. “Forgotten?!” I’d think, in shock- “I count down till my next meal!” The concept of FORGETTING to eat just didn’t make sense to me. You FORGET to take out the trash or take a birth control pill. You don’t FORGET to eat.

Food is often times a highlight of my day, because you can always control food. You choose when, where, what and how you eat. With food, you can pretty much satisfy any desire, from something as weird as a poached emu egg to something as simple as a slice of cheesecake. It’s kind of the most dependable thing in the world (for a spoiled middle class American like myself), and it gives me immense pleasure.

We have a great inside joke in my family about cruises: more specifically, about how the buffet opens right when you get on the ship. My family is fond of cruising for many reasons: the chance to see many places without having to re-pack your stuff, the cheesy on board entertainment, the hideous buffet sculptures made out of wax and rotting fruit, the little animals made out of towels that creepily show up in your room everytime you leave…

Watermelon Warrior

A few weeks before our first cruise EVER, my mom started excitedly telling us each time we brought up the cruise that “the buffet opens RIGHT when you get on the ship!”. The look of excitement in her eyes was like a poor person finding a bundle of $100 bills, or a mouse stumbling upon a cave built out of Gouda. It got to be pretty hilarious that she wasn’t excited about lounging on white sand beaches or climbing the famous Dunns River Falls in Jamaica. Oh no-  She was far more excited that the buffet was open all day… every day… right when you got on the ship.

Eventually, my sister and brother and I would turn to each other each time the cruise was mentioned, and ask if we knew that the buffet opened right when you got on the ship. It drove my mom crazy, but she couldn’t do much other than wince with embarassed laughter, because she knew that her overt excitement was the reason for this spectacular new inside joke. Even now when the Lofgren siblings get together, we’ll sneak in a quip about it… Last weekend my sister visited me, and as we headed out the door to get dinner, she tapped my shoulder and said – “Wait! Did you know that the buffet opens right when you get on the ship?”

I’ve been on many more cruises since that first one, and I’ll admit, the 24 hour buffet is pretty awesome. I’m pretty sure my 27-pound weight gain since graduating college started the first day of my western caribbean cruise, when I decided french fries and soft-serve ice cream were a perfectly decent way to start the day. Now, when I daydream about a luxurious sail through the ocean, I dream of salt in the air, wind whipping my hair, chocolates on the pillow… and the fact that the buffet opens right when you get on the ship.

Fat runs in the family

I am fat because of 1. Overeating 2. Inactivity and 3. Genetics. Some people argue about number 3, saying that fat is as fat does, and you can’t blame your parents for your penchant for butter or your tendency to count doing the dishes as exercise. But, as the full-figured spawn of many a fatty before me, I know that for myself, my family does play a large part in my attitude towards my weight and food.

Hubby is not a member of the chub club.

Meet mi familia! None of us need a crane to hoist us out of the house, but we’re all on the overweight side. (Sadly – Kaiser would classify all of us as obese. And we are. Meh). We’ve all gone through varying degrees of weight loss – right after my mom declared she was done having kids, she lost 50 pounds. Then got pregnant with my brother. My dad has lost 40 pounds on Atkins… but I think most of it has come back. My sister lost 40 pounds the old fashioned way… and gained it back. My brother plays hockey, so he loses and gains all the time. I lost 27 pounds… and gained it all back. All of us know we’re overweight, but we struggle with willpower – and none of us like to sit next to our skinny friends at the bar and sip a diet coke while they chug honey-colored hefeweizens.

So not only do we have bad habits, but we have a long lineage of the fat gene in our family – no doubt stemming from our great Norwegian forefathers, who needed their burly bodies to stay warm while they battled narwhals on the baltic sea. (One of my favorite excuses ever? From my Swedish grandmother… “I’m not fat, I’m just a descendant of the vikings!”) I get pissy when I make a few slip ups during the week and the scale moves up, because I have lots of skinny friends who eat a lot worse than I do and the number never budges. But I’ve had to accept that this is going to be a life-long struggle for me, and that my body is just more inclined to carry fat. What do you think – does fat run in the family, or is it all circumstance of choice? I think it’s a deadly combination of both!

Skinny people don’t do these things

What’s up, bloggies? So, I spilled the bean’s on last week’s gigantic gain, and tonight, I’ll elaborate on why it happened. I vowed to never be one of those fat people that’s like… “I don’t know WHY I’m fat… It’s just not fair!” I know full well why I’m fat… and it’s cuz I enjoy food in an unnaturally enjoyable way! It’s been a crazy two weeks with school getting back into full swing, and we’ve had house guests every weekend. This means gym time gets blown off, the beers and margaritas come out, and the dining out quotient goes up.

Here’s two examples of two not so good things I have very recently done that a skinny person would have ixnayed….

1) I like to cook. I like to cook good things for others. Valentine’s Day was the perfect excuse to try out the cake decorating kit I recently bought. Should somebody on Weight Watchers make 48 cupcakes? Even worse… should somebody on Weight Watchers make 48 cupcakes that are then swirled with a heaping mound of full-fat homemade buttercream icing? Nope. (But damn, were they good! And my co-workers enjoyed ’em!)

2. Matt and I go to a little hole in the wall Southern restaurant every Valentine’s Day, and stuff our faces with fried chicken, hush puppies, black eyed peas and homemade macaroni and cheese. Tonight, we pulled up to the restaurant and let out collective gasps of horror when we realized it was closed. Our next choice? Cheesecake factory. 2 hour wait. Scratch that. Next choice? Not so unhealthy Thai. Closed. Scratch that. Next choice? Red Robin. For lowbrow yet surprisingly good cheeseburgers and bottomless steak fries. Oh yes. I went there, and had an awesome “Pub Burger” with fries. (BUT, I did not get a refill on fries. It’s the small things, people. The SMALL things.)

So, the story ends with me saying how I only ate half the burger, and then went to the gym and worked out diligently. HA – like I’d really do that. Of course I ate the whole thing, and now I’m about to take a bath with a glass of rich, fruit syrah and two pieces of See’s Candy. Fat, Schmat. I’ll start the diet tomorrow!

3 Things in My House Vlog

Hi guys! I know it’s not weight loss related, but here’s this month’s Vlog of the Month – and the topic was three things around my house that represent me. Enjoy the randomness and lack of Hollywood style editing… (Damn ringing phone!).

Check out other people’s VLOGS –

Here’s KJPugs, the girl whom I ripped off the journal idea from…(cute puggies!!!)

And here’s Anni’s, I don’t know her, but she seems cool and she has an adorable dog named Sunday, and a very funny kitty….

If you do one too, let me know so I can link back!

And because this is a weight loss blog…. I gained 3 pounds. Lame. But did I enjoy doing it? You betcha – mike’s hard lemonades, cheesecake, deep fried tater tots… NOM.